“The great task in life” by Julia at YVR airport

Sunday October 29, 2017

7:36pm

5 minutes

from a quote by Iris Murdoch

The great task in life is being kind when things don’t add up to nice or good or in your favour
Half of us are waiting for the world to turn down the bed
for the sheets to be clean
for the roads to be paved                                                        What kindness do we keep when the world is busy keeping bridges suspended        art and freedom in love                                                          What do we choose when we aren’t being so damn entitled

Sorry

I said kindness                                                                  I am figuring that out myself                                                    Honesty isn’t always butterflies
(In case anyone was wondering)
Kindness isn’t always weak                                                    And honest kindness sometimes cuts with a serrated edge
It shouldn’t always be easy                                                      Easy isn’t always good                                                          We don’t know what we don’t know                                                And sorry
I was talking about me                                                      I think the kindest thing I can do is be tell the truth                            The truth doesn’t always stay for tea

“meeting your heart’s longing.” by Julia on the 99


Tuesday September 5, 2017
8:12pm
5 minutes
The Invitation
Oriah


Hello, I say to her
tender teeth and Milky Way.
Hello, hello you humming bird wing
you olive oil drenched skin
you whistling Lilly
I have waited for you.
I have been here being here
and I have been waiting for you.
Hello.
You found me.
Would you like to stay the night?
I have some things I’d like us to do together if you have some time to rest.
I know how far you’ve travelled,
let me rub your sandy feet.
Hello.
She is unlike midnight and yet she sits perfect in the sky.
She glows like she’s been drinking from a river cried by the Moon.

“When your music ends” by Julia on her patio


Sunday August 6, 2017
5:07pm
5 minutes
Spotify

That feeling when your guts are in your throat
when you want to breathe deeply but nobody will let you
the empty swallow that burns your chest
that makes you wish for more time or a disguise

The last song has to be a good one. Maeve and Alexis lay on the floor touching skulls, feet outstretched in opposite directions. Maeve has been planning for a long time and Alexis knows patience. She goes along hand in hand with everything. She is not a pushover. She just never gets tired. Maeve is close to tears. She doesn’t know which one to choose and everyone is putting their two cents in. Alexis has stopped suggesting options. Instead she lays there without thinking about the clock and lets her friend quietly cry.

“I love failure!” by Julia at her dining table


Thursday February 18, 2016
9:06pm
5 minutes
from a text message

I love failure. I do. I didn’t before but I love it now. Like a long lost sister, or a cousin you used to fight with. I think before there was this understanding that I could make it pretty far in this life without actually leaping, jumping, risking anything. I think I wore a lovely outer mask that said, I am confident I am going places, but on the inside a traumatized child had the fear of how much longer were we going to play make believe. I think, now, maybe for the first time, I can hear both voices at once. Things are suddenly less hard than they used to be. Because living truthfully and unafraid of being wrong? That’s the most freedom you’ve ever felt. Because it connects you with the spirit of your surroundings, the integrity of your self-love, your deepest soul. It’s such uplifting necessity. I do not understand now how I thought feeling confined in my skin, trapped in all my conjured narratives, was easier than letting anything go; than lightening my load; being kind to myself.

“this music has more religion in it than any church” by Julia at her dining table


Wednesday February 17, 2016
9:54pm
5 minutes
from a YouTube comment by GB3770

I pray at the church of kindness, I can’t settle for anything less than that as my temple. I don’t believe in a God that won’t invite us all to play, that condemns for ignorance, that promotes the weak and bludgeons the strong. I don’t believe in a God that withholds, that accepts money as the only currency, that won’t forgive us for very arbitrary, yet non-negotiable acts. I bow my head at the alter of generosity. It’s the only home I ever feel safe enough to lower my shield in. It’s the only thing that moves me to a state of rejoicing. Don’t give me that hearsay scripture, that haunting, beautifully crafted by poets rule book. I worship at the church of soul music. The kind that lifts your skin off your bones just enough to make room for grace.

“You have to love” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday, January 12, 2016
11:17pm
5 minutes
Monecristo Magazine

If it’s in you to give, give it. I’m talking money, magic, moral support, listening, love, loyalty, life, kindness, time, patience, understanding, food, empathy, encouragement, hope.
That’s all we can do, give it when we have it, receive it when we don’t.
And that’s how the world goes round. Or that’s how the world wants to go round. It wants us to need each other and help each other. Its ON button is the scratched out CARE button. But we forget that sometimes because it’s not always easy to care, or to give, or to help, or to wait. We want what we don’t have now and we want to give what we have later. But I’m telling you, it’s not worth it. Immediacy is our biggest killer. We need to play the long game with ourselves and with each other. Giving chances and getting them.

“What kids want” by Julia at Kibune Sushi


Friday September 11, 2015
6:48pm
5 minutes
from the front page of the Globe and Mail
Life and Arts section


What kids want is to be born into a family that wants them. Then after they’re alive in this world, after they’ve traveled from one distant universe to the one we all share, they want to be held and warmed up, and spoken to very softly. They need someone else to carry their spongy bones for a while so they can rest after their long journey. That’s not asking too much. That’s the least we can do. And after they feel like they’ve been shown a kindness or two, they start to want a couple more things. They want love and they want home and they want patience and they want security and they want comfort and they want ice cream and they want to cry and they want to laugh and they want to shriek and they want to imagine. These and all the other things they want, are the things we can give them. They don’t ask for everything. They don’t need that. We do all the complicating. We do all the blaming.

“When, Finally and inevitably,” by Julia at Barb’s house in Vernon


Tuesday, September 1, 2015
5:28pm
5 minutes
Bits
Louis Taylor


I’ve seen the sun, he was locked away, hiding.
I whispered to him often, reminding him to take his time.
I said hello to him every morning, and I bowed my head down deep.
He didn’t want to come out.
He didn’t want to be my guide.
Sometimes facing the day is hard for everyone.
But he was there and I could tell that he needed to set himself free.
I knew because I had lived that way before.
I knew because revealing feels bad before it feels good.
I knew because in the shadows no one can see your smile, or the one you think you’re wearing.
Then after all my meditations and salutations and exaltations, I asked him quietly if I should go.
I leaned in close to catch it: he didn’t want to be left alone.

“And for some reason these men fit the bill.” by Julia at Barb’s house in Vernon


Monday, August 31, 2015
10:27pm
5 minutes
Cowboy Poetry
(ed)Hal Cannon


Mama had a ranch and she lived a good life
With her dogs and her horses and her cows and her ribbons
Mama had a good life and she wrote herself letters for 45 years
Today we branded 20, yesterday Henrietta rode on Lyla for the first time
Mama made her own history and she changed into someone she liked more
With her spirit and her intentions and her sanctuary and her home
Mama made us meat loaf and made us take seconds
Cause we are family, eating like family, reminding each other of what’s important
Mama knitted life lessons in afghans and couch cushions
With her advice and her kindness and her generosity and her magic
Mama stayed up late walking outside under the stars
With her open heart and her open hands and her rain boots

“But a song” by Julia at Ryan’s place in Calgary


Sunday, August 30, 2015
11:29pm
5 minutes
from a poem by Roy Croft

Sing to me little bird and I will count the promises on all the strands of hair on your head
I will love you forever
I will want you
I will help you
I will hold you
I will need you
I will please you
I will defend you
I will preserve you
I will encourage you
I will enjoy you
I will inspire you
I will charm you
I will disarm you
I will guide you
I will follow you
I will dare you
I will give you
I will remind you
I will kiss you
I will soothe you
I will understand you
I will accept you
I will protect you
I will learn you
I will study you
I will know you

“Why do we do that?” By Julia at Christie Pits Park


Thursday, August 13, 2015
12:48pm
5 minutes
Overheard on the Spadina streetcar

So I met her on a subway platform. She was going to jump and I didn’t say anything. I just stood close to her thinking maybe she would feel something from me and decide not to do it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I can’t say it was my brightest moment. But I felt bad interfering. She had decided this would be how she goes and who was I? Someone she didn’t even know trying to convince her not to take her own life. I started humming. What else do you do when you’ve basically resigned yourself to assisting a stranger’s suicide? It was Chariots of Fire. God, don’t ask me why cause I’m still trying to figure that out. But it was like a movie. Maybe a badly written one. She started humming a long. I kept going. I could keep going with that song more than others. Maybe that’s why. Maybe not. I could see the light on the train coming toward us. She hadn’t looked up from her feet yet. So I just sang louder. She sang along with me, and then she looked me in the eyes, tears in hers. I smiled.

“2 hours or longer” by Sasha in lecture


Tuesday January 27, 2015
12:30pm
5 minutes
the Air Canada cafe booklet

How to hold a stranger’s hand

Sitting on the bus
Minding your own headphones
You watch the rain make caterpillars
on the window.

A woman sits beside you
A purple poncho dripping droplets
on your leg

Disgruntled
you look
Sideways
You wonder if she’s crying or if she’s just your age
You cross the divide of leg touching

You take her hand

She pulls away but not
completely
She looks like a damp version of you
only a little in the future

Friend

The water’s calm
Or
Maybe it’s just the Bay
You sit on one of twelve big logs
You wonder if they’ve been here tripe the time
that you have

A man
walking a small dog
who barks at the gulls
He sits
Not near enough to reach
But near enough for you to know

You go to him
Five
Six steps

You take his hand

He smiles
He calls the name of his dog
loud enough for only you to hear

“bless his heart” by Julia at Laura’s kitchen counter


Sunday January 4, 2015
2:44pm
5 minutes
http://www.mynewroots.com

Oh what a kindness I have known.
A man with a full heart is a gift, is a treasure. It bleeds generosity, it pumps only gentleness.
Oh what a kindness I have touched.
A man with a deep well is a blessing, is a joy. It fills understanding, it echoes only admiration.
Oh what a kindness I have felt.
A man with open arms is a fortune, is a delicacy. They embrace home, they caress only calming.

“All of you come here” by Julia at the beach in Levanto


Sunday September 21, 2014
3:36pm
5 minutes
Overheard at the beach in Levanto

And taste the salty hope of a blessing left out in the sun too long
And wait for me there while the ocean devours your fears
I’ll come to you in your dreams and whisper your fate to you
Tell you you’re beautiful and soft and beautiful
In those perfect dances no one is catching up with one another
But allowing one to lead and then to follow when the sleep sets in
And you will find your voice buried deep in your bones
A cage left open for the birds to fly out or back in
The song of your openness will caress the mountain’s top
And the fog that started there will transform into calm
A hundred gestures of kindness given in the second half of every almond biscuit I save for you
Your mouth a heartache turned into the Milky Way
Soothed by the light that emulates through you and then around you
And you will be reborn into a morning rain

“Have a good one” by Julia on the 18 bus south


Friday August 15, 2014
2:13pm
5 minutes
overheard on the 18 bus going south

The old man in the ratty suit tipped his ripped hat to a small girl with a daisy in her pony tail. She smiled shyly, then hid behind her mommy’s leg.
Poor thing, she’s shy!
Poor thing, she’s just a wee little love bug.
The old man had respect for his elders, his youngers, his same agers, his in-betweeners.
He didn’t think one person belonged on this earth with any more right than any other.
He might have been a dying breed; showing compassion to passers-by and loved ones alike.
Shouldn’t this be the way it goes?
Poor thing, he’s getting on!
Poor thing, he’s just a crumpled old dying thing.
He made everyone feel both good and bad at the same time. On the one hand he did a great job of including and inviting and making someone feel special. On the other, he was the only one who did this. He was better than the everyman.

“By a man’s fingernails,” by Julia on her “deck” steps


Tuesday August 5, 2014
9:54pm
5 minutes
a quote by Sherlock Holmes

It was unnecessary, really, for them to be so curt with their neighbours. They had, the neighbours that is, up until that point, made sure to smile each time they saw them and to greet them with a tiny wave-usually the small female neighbour did the hand gestures; the small male neighbour liked to nod his head ever so slightly. They hadn’t come over with a casserole or any baked goods out of kindness or welcoming. They simply said hello with their body language and were probably a little too hopeful that they would eventually be met with a similar greeting by the new couple who had moved in just down the hall. They did, after all, share a kitchen wall and a parking lot. When they saw the small female neighbour pacing back and forth in front of her kitchen door, they could tell she was distraught. A hello wouldn’t have been appropriate anyway. They knew exactly what had happened between her and the small male neighbour just moments before. Their shared kitchen wall was anything but thick. She had yelled at him because she had burnt her hand on the hot pan straight from the oven. She had already been having a bad day, and they assumed that was the straw that broke it. She looked up from her puffy eyes, sensing the newly arrived couple’s presence. Hopeful. Always hopeful.

“Do you have what it takes” by Sasha in her garden


Sunday June 22, 2014
5:39pm
5 minutes
from an email

My knees have splinters. I’ve been praying a lot. Do you pray? (Sigh). I used to have a problem with that word because I didn’t think I deserved it, I didn’t think I had what it takes. I was raised Catholic so… prayer was pretty connected to shame and… repentance. I was an alter boy, you know. That fucking hilarious. Father Nathan would stroke my head and his hand was hot. He had eyes like glaciers, like, like, a husky. He was a good guy. I remember telling him that I’d masturbated and he smiled and said, “better that then getting in fights like the other boys your age!” And he winked. He winked a lot. Makes you feel special, when someone winks at you, even if you know that they do it at other people too… Makes you feel like there’s a secret there, between you. Gives you a flutter in your belly.

“Toronto’s real estate market is booming” by Julia at the motel in Keewatin, ON


Saturday June 14, 2014
9:53pm
5 minutes
The Toronto Star Website

I looked over at you while you tested out the massage chair we bought off the home shopping channel. You had those stupid blackout sunglasses on and those headphones and that blissful grin. It was such a relief to see you like that after so much recent pressure had been put on you. You were angrier than you might have ever been, and more aggressive toward inanimate objects than I ever would have predicted, but you were also a real gentleman when I was at my worst. When I would yell at the wind for blowing my life around. When I would scream at you for making me decide between keeping my blue punch bowl set or the garage sale vase. I looked at you during the minutes of this activity and saw your gracious and generous heart as you laid there in complete calm and freedom and abandonment for anything but the moment. And I remembered why I said yes to you and why I keep on saying yes to you. Because your kindness is a weapon and I am weak.

“safety matters to us” by Julia at Starbucks


Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at Starbucks
12:24pm
5 minutes
TTC subway poster

We salt the sidewalks, we do the whole thing. We get all the late night volunteers to bring their shovels and if they have them, their snow blowers. We take the whole street by storm, and if we’re feeling particularly energized, why hell, we take the whole subdivision. That’s how you get things done in Bimble Lake. Small citied people but big worldly hearts. I started operation GO-SNOW in 2001 after the Cearsons’ car got stuck in their drive way right as Eva was going into labour with Matthew, or maybe it was Logan. They weren’t the kinds to ask for help, but I could see them from my dining room window, and I had the tools so I went on over there and helped before they could say no. Not that they’d say no, I mean, Eva was pretty close to a car delivery! Would have been a great story for the town, but I’m doubting it would be as wonderful for Eva and Cam. I enlisted some neighbours’ help the following year to dedicate a couple nights of the week to planning, and to prevention. We started using my garage as a storage locker for all our materials and I gave Eddie, Tim S., Tim L., and Orval a key.

“warmest of wishes”by Julia at her parents’ kitchen table in Baden


Tuesday December 24 2013
11:42pm
5 minutes
A Christmas card

Selling them by the basket, by the armful. Wishing they were smiles or something simple like that, something that wouldn’t require payment at all. Rode all night in a car without heat just to be ready in the morning for the swarms of people, the origin of the exchange. Couldn’t wait to tell them, reduced prices for today only! Waited all afternoon by the machine while it pumped out the heart songs, the warmest wishes, the apologies. Nothing is free anymore. Nothing is free but at least these ones aren’t expensive. Excited to set up shop on the street, reserve a spot that can be decorated with love and kindness. Then when the people see how easy it is to give them out, they’ll buy more just to give the rest away to their loved ones. They’ll smile without buying a smile. They’ll forget that once it felt complicated. That’s the hope. That they forget whatever reasons made them refuse to buy before.

“Was it good or was it evil?” by Julia on her couch


Sunday March 2, 2013
10:34pm
5 minutes
East Of Eden


I didn’t know I had it in me to turn a blind eye to someone in need until I did it without thinking and never looked back. I always considered myself a good person. A generous person. Kind, even. I don’t know what gave me that idea. Perhaps I was slow to lose my temper, or because I was bullied in primary school. Maybe because I didn’t have the voice attached to my anger when I was young, and I would have said some nasty things if my tongue were free then and unabashed. I know now that I am not a nice person. I like the people I like. I love the people I love. But I don’t care one way or the other about someone who isn’t in the room. I don’t miss anyone. Not even my mother. I don’t even think about her to be honest. I don’t think about anyone. If a small child were on the street, wandering around with tears in their eyes because they had lost a mitten and their hands were freezing, I would probably stop, certainly, but only to first look around to see if anyone else was also stopping. I wouldn’t remain there long. Only long enough to make sure that I could go on my way without feeling guilty. That’s not quite nice, is it? It’s not quite good. It’s the opposite. I thought I used to be good. But quiet and good are not the same thing. Shy and good do not quite equate. Just because someone doesn’t open their mouth to scream profanities doesn’t mean they don’t think them over and over and over again.

“3,200 year old” by Julia on her couch


Friday February 15, 2013
2:28am
5 minutes
National Geographic pull-out feature

There’s a girl I know, we call her Heather but I’m pretty sure her name is Marlene… I don’t know why she hates her name so much. It’s not a bad name just sort of an old one. There’s been a lot of teasing of Heather Marlene because she’s so quiet and likes to wear dirty trench coats. When I first moved here they said she smells like pee because she is too poor to wash her clothes that she peed in. I smelled Heather Marlene and it wasn’t that bad. She sort of reminded me of camping or cottage smells. I told them, maybe her mother does her laundry while she’s at the cottage, and they laughed at me too saying her and I should be best friends. I was nice to Heather Marlene right away because she looked sad. I didn’t want her to eat her white bologna sandwich by herself at recess. My mom likes to toast my focaccia bun and put prosciutto and mozzarella on it for me. I sometimes trade with heather Marlene so she can taste it. And also I have never had bologna before. I never asked her why she liked to go by Heather instead.