“between the kitchen and living room” by Julia

Saturday, May 2, 2020
5 minutes
From a text

I have been floating
today between the kitchen
and the living room
doing most of my living
in the kitchen where the food
is being turned into action
into love

At 8am I chop the red pepper
the green bean the red onion the purple cabbage the garlic the mushroom

I like the way they sit cut side by side like different age groups in a church leadership club

I turn off my need to wonder at myself through the outside lens
I listen about David Wojnarowicz
to Thomas Beckman and his Violance
to the sound of the egg crisping up on the bottom

The living room, where I am now
is a place to record all the living I have been doing while alive in the kitchen

the packet of pens and coloured pencils lay outstretched

“conducted his own laboratory experiments” by Julia at her mom’s dining table

Monday May 13, 2019
5 minutes
The Flouride Deception
Christopher Bryson

In the laboratory (kitchen) my mother is filling
the espresso machine with more beans.
She is on the phone with her sister in Italy,
speaking in dialetto and switching to English
when it’s easier to explain. I am conducting my
own experiment about which Animal is aligned
with my authentic essence and which medicine
I should take care to recognize as an offering
to the world who needs it. I am asking which
animals do I reject? I asked her earlier, and she
said snakes. In Italy there are snakes all over
the place. I saw my first one in the mountain town
where my mother grew up and where my nonna lived.
There are a few more experiments to participate in,
the animal of my family, the tribe that I belong to.
I’ll have to ask more questions, write down more
findings and one day draw a map with all the right
tree roots connecting. We all have a specimen to
study. Some inner worlds become one and when they
do I want to be able to notice them. I want to
vibrate buzz with the truth reflected around me. I want

to arrive and stay arriving with my heart out, collecting.

“making dinner for my family” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday January 20, 2019
5 minutes
The Other, Invented Man
Matthew Vollmer

I used to think that I’d be
keeping long hours in dank rehearsal halls
Poorly heated
Poorly lit
Weaving stories out of breath
blood bones
breaking beauty like bread

I used to think that success
was measured in letters
in selling out a run
in someone saying
“I saw myself on that stage
in that stranger”
“I know myself better now”

Now the sacred carrot
celery and onion
meets lentils and then broth
I spend Sundays in the kitchen
listening to Emmylou Harris and
This American Life
I lie down when I’m tired
and sing to my belly until
I drift off to sleep

Now I think that success
is having a fridge full of goodness
ready for the week
and that the stories we weave
at the table over steaming oats
the story of right now
is the greatest win of all

“the woman’s anonymous appearance” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 4, 2018
5 minutes
Beauty Beheld
Sara Harowitz

She shivers from her shoulders down to her thighs
crossed tightly feeling a little tremble forcing its way in
He hasn’t noticed how cold the house had gotten
hot blooded, covered in thick skin built for winter
It was bad enough that her whole body was prone to shaking
but she didn’t know how to fix the heat
Chalk it up to co-dependency
She’d rather that than have you think she is just too afraid
to learn how to do it on her own
He tells her he’ll be home for dinner, remarks something about
chicken thighs
She thinks about walking into the oven chest first
but having it on would at least warm up the kitchen
When he leans in to kiss her, he misses her mouth by an almost inch

“It gave her a deep sinking feeling” by Julia on the couch at Alma Beach Manor

Friday July 13, 2018
5 minutes
Stephen King

She spent an hour reorganizing the spices. Rosemary in front,
Chinese five spice in the back. Somehow she has more Chinese five spice than anything else. Well not somehow. She doesn’t like it. She’s only used it once.
After that she moved the sugars and honey to a different shelf. “Everything has its home” and now everything looks like company’s coming.
That was the plan all along
But really it was just the catalyst. She needs clean cupboards so she can see all the spices she isnt using.
She slammed the cupboards around as if he wasn’t sleeping in the other room.
She didn’t feel much like being quiet. Especially now that she had “exhausted him” into an early evening nap.
He said some things earlier that she rebutted well but the tears came as they always do, as the Niagara Falls always does. She wondered if he was right about one thing. Maybe two.

“all these obsessions we’ve believed” by Julia at her desk

Monday, February 26, 2018
5 minutes
Wake The Dead
Julia Pileggi

They told me they like the way they could see the room that we were in,
the kitchen, to be exact (and isn’t it always)
I told them it was a true story and some of them nodded along, grateful

I plan to one day have a kitchen of my own that my kids will want
to write about
When they think of me, maybe they’ll place me by the toaster oven or
the built in cutting board, raw from the busy family of serated edges
I have not yet held my mother in my own kitchen
I have never cooked dinner for my father
They have no idea what I know and what I know from them

The other day my mother was surprised when she heard that
I don’t skip breakfast
I was surprised that she would think I was the type that did
In her own way, she is complimenting me, thinking me independent,
autonomous and wise enough to know
In my own way, I am insulted, thinking she thinks I am too irresponsible
to make sure that I properly feed myself
Some of these are stories that I tell myself, maybe as a reminder
to write them down later in case I happen to forget

“It never rains but it pours;” by Sasha at Lewis St.

Sunday January 14, 2018
5 minutes
Rhona McAdam

It’s hot as balls back here and Dylan keeps throwing prawn bits at me. Fuck off, I say, but he doesn’t.

When I first started here I was at the cold station, but now I’m at the fryer.

Chef said we’ve got some VIPs coming in tonight, but none of us ever want to know who.

We did three hundred and nine covers last night which might not sound like a lot but if you saw the size of our dining room, you’d get it.

Turns out the VIPs are a hockey player and his family, some old guy who doesn’t play anymore but is on the Sports Network now. I couldn’t give a fuck about hockey but I know more than to open my mouth in this kitchen. Dylan played AAA before having one too many concussions. He stares at the guy all night, grinding his teeth, flipping steaks on the grill.

“fumbling as she removes” by Julia at her dining table

Saturday June 11, 2016
5 minutes
from an assignment

It’s the second time they’ve fucked in 2 hours. She is eyes closed, veal roast in the oven, 15 minutes left, oven mitts on and panties down. He is grabbing, grinding, purring in her ear pushing pants down, hers, his, lower, lower. She is arched back, kicking off tight jeans, kicking tight jeans aside, making more room, getting better grip. He is neck kissing, hair pulling, t-shirt over head lead her from the kitchen counter, all the way to the living room floor. She is focused, free, committed. He is thirsty, licking, willing. She is sniffing his skin and sighing deep. He is groaning each second, spilling into her, spilling out of her.

“No, I’ll never come back down,” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday February 1, 2016
5 minutes
Portugal.The Man

Guilty pleasures? Oh god. I don’t have those! HA. I do. I really do. My life is a guilty pleasure. No. It’s not. But I wish it were! HA.

Fried chicken? Cigarettes when I’m drunk? Molly? Salt water taffy?

No. Actually. If I had to choose just one it would be snooping into other people’s stuff. Fridges are my favourite. No! Pantries. Have you ever just like gone to town looking through someone’s pantry?! It’s a riot! And, if you ever do, help yourself to a thing or two! They’ll never know because who in their right mind does that? A kitchen is sacred. It’s personal. It’s intimate. I once ate a handful of mini peanut butter cups from someone’s (who shall remain nameless) secret stash and saw them lose it but they’d never guess it was me! Blamed it on the roommate. Poor soul. HA!

“rather than something crafted from odds and ends” by Julia at her desk

Sunday November 23, 2014
5 minutes
from a quote by Mary Catherine Bateson

She leaves a note on the kitchen table
Says there’s pizza in the oven and yogurt in the fridge if you’re hungry
I observe her life without her there
Taking it in, seeing how big of a fan she is of Bob Dylan
The sink is filled with a paste of flour and water
Pancakes, she says, taste better at midnight
I wander through her closet, see her obsession with shoes
Shoes and shoes and belts and shoes
I leave her drawers
I don’t go in them even though I want to
Even though I want to know everything
I can’t stop thinking about the kiss she didn’t give my mouth
But the kiss she wrote on paper
I can keep the one she left there
On the table top with a small bowl
A spoon
And a coffee pot on a cutting board
She wants to care for me in her way
And I could stay all day in her dirty kitchen
Scrubbing the stove free of pancake paste
And smiling to myself

“this folder is empty” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday November 11, 2014
5 minutes
from the library tab on a computer

Josie browns her butter and smokes a cigarette. She regrets not going for a run that morning but doesn’t regret the butter. How can we ever regret butter? She stirs and listens to the bubbles. Nothing better. She ashes her cigarette in the earth of the cactus on the window ledge and then feels guilty. She gets a spoon from the drawer and removes the ash. She puts in the compost and then feels guilty. When she goes to remove it, it’s already mixed in with the coffee grinds, the grapefruit peel, the chicken bones. She smiles at herself. She thinks about quitting smoking. She turns off the stove and pours the butter into the eggs and brown sugar. She mixes with a wooden spoon.

“Castorland Puzzle” By Julia at her desk

Monday October 6,2014
5 minutes
from the Castorland Puzzle box

Ok Go. You have. Yeah. Two. Two minutes. So what? Seriously. Do it. Do it. What? Do it! Ok. OKAY. Full words only. I will try. I will try! Describe the furniture. Shit. In the living room. No, shit! In the kitchen. K. I mean Ok. Sorry. Ok. Table. Brown. Wood. Wooden? Brown wood. Whatever. Four legs. Obviously. Yeah. I know. Ok. Wood chairs. Wooden chairs? Ugh! Three of them. One broke. Broken doesn’t count. So three. Yeah. Cushions. Don’t count? I don’t know! Do they? Ok. No cushions. Well, two cushions. No not three. One broke! Ok! Three wooden chairs. Wood. Whatever. Done. That’s it! I know. It’s small. It’s a small. Kitchen. Right. Ok. Living room now! One couch. Ummm. Shit. Grey. Cotton. No. That’s so stupid. Flannel? Ummm….. Fuck! What the shit. Is it ribbed? Materials. Ribbed? Like CORDUROY! Yeah. Sweet. Ok. One table! One wood/ wooden table. Coffe table, shit! One TV stand!

“We can help you” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday August 31, 2014
5 minutes
a TD bank envelope

She says, “What are you doing?” I say, “I’m cleaning the kitchen…” She says, “It wasn’t even dirty to begin with – ” I say, “It doesn’t get dirty because I clean it every day and that way nothing can get out of hand.” She says, “You’re paranoid. You’re pretty much a paranoid schizophrenic.” I say, “That’s a really mean thing to say…” She say, “I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m saying it to be real.” I say, “I’m not even cleaning the fucking kitchen! I’m watching Game Of Thrones! I did’t want you to judge me because it’s two in the afternoon and I should be doing something productive!” She says, “It’s Sunday! What the fuck is wrong with you!” I say, “Why did you even call me?” She says, “To see if you wanted to have sushi tonight…” I say, “So?” She says, “Do you want to have sushi tonight?” I say, “I guess…” She says, “Great! New Gen?”

“STAY THOUGHTFUL” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday April 29, 2014
5 minutes
The Holiday Inn note pad

When I look in your fridge I get to know you better.
And that feels good.
That shouldn’t have to be a clandestine, secretive thing.
I see the probiotics on the back of the shelf…
(Probably from when you had strep throat and were on antibiotics for two weeks. Your mother called and told you that you needed to get the good bacteria back into your body. You listened. For once.)
I see the two dozen eggs.
Who eats that many eggs?
“I have two soft boiled eggs, three pieces of flax toast and an orange for breakfast every single day,” you say, not the least bit defensive.
I see the ketchup, the mustard, the Sriricha, the mayo. You must make a mean burger. You must top it with all these delicious things.
No pickles. No yogurt. No apples.
I see the head of romaine, the spinach, the cilantro.
You’re on a salad kick.
I get it.
I see the thoughtful way you organize your sandwich meats.

“that they might have life” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday April 17, 2014
5 minutes
John 10:10

This is the time of year for fiddleheads
Or it should be
If winter would finally melt away once and for all
This is the time that the fiddleheads grow on the banks of the river
Peeking through the moist ground
I’ve heard that if you close your eyes and listen
You can hear the earth opening
They can grow four inches in a day
Fiddleheads taste like asparagus’ illusive cousin
Related distantly to mushrooms
And broccoli
They are my mother’s favourite
She used to steam them
Half an inch of water in the bottom of the pot
Just a few minutes
They should still crunch
She’d spoon a bit of butter
A sprinkle of salt
Fiddleheads are coming
There are no fiddlehead farms
Just foragers who find them
And sell them
Who can make a pretty penny
On those early spring days
When we so crave something from the earth
Close by to where we life

“kind of contrary” by Sasha on her bed

Sunday January 26, 2014
5 minutes
NOW Magazine, January 23-29, 2014

In the woods, I forage for mushrooms. Chanterelle, oyster, porcini and portobello. You try to tell me that we can’t find all of those varietals here but we can. And I do. I clean them with a cut-up sheet, covered in lilies of the valley. I chop them up all together, finely, dicing and mincing until the cutting board is blacked. I warm a skillet with a slab of butter and a sliced clove of garlic. I add the mushrooms. I stir, rhythmically. I close my eyes and I breath in the smell of this place. I eat a bowl of this with nothing else but a curl of parmesan cheese. I use a fork that used to belong to my sister. I watch the sun fall behind the trees and I listen to the owl reminding me of night. You’ve been by the water, trying to catch a trout. You come home once it’s dark, empty handed. But not for long… Soon you, too, have a bowl of mushrooms and a glass of elderflower wine.

“Real slow. Real good.” by Sasha at her desk

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
5 minutes
from Phil’s Original BBQ storefront

I’d been craving baked beans for a whole week. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the crappy, canned kind that we used to take camping and heat up over the fire. “I’m going to make baked beans from scratch!” I proclaimed to no one other than myself. Ben was reading about weather patterns on the sofa, a cup of miso broth steaming on the window ledge behind him. He’d gotten a cold playing ultimate frisbee in the snow. “I’m going to make baked beans from SCRATCH!” I say again, this time for him. “Hm,” he grunts, sipping his broth and turning the page. It’s a long process. First, I soak the pinto beans overnight. Then, I simmer them on the stove for an hour. Then I prepare the mixture of tomato paste, molasses, caramelized onions, maple syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper. Next, I stir the sauce into the beans and pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Finally, I bake it for six hours, stirring it all only once, after hour three. Around seven, Ben emerges from his cumulous clouds and hail storms, and asks what’s for dinner. “Another two hours til the beans are ready, honey,” I say, “have a snack.” “The what?” Says Ben, perturbed that I’m not his mother. “The baked beans! I’m making baked beans from scratch.” “Wow…” he replies. “Why would anybody do that?”

“Behind the new shopping centre” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar going West

Thursday December 19, 2013
5 minutes
The Globe and Mail
Thursday December 19, 2013

I am the sort of woman who brews strong coffee
I wear rubber boots with pride
I curse like I drive long highway nights
I find a promise behind the new shopping centre
I’ve been trying to avoid it
(Both the promise and the mall)
But I find myself pulled
A moth to the light of the unknowing
The promise is to see each one of you
You and you and you and you
With compassion
With the knowledge that you’re trying your very best
You and you and you and even, yes, you
Sometimes I am the sort of woman
Who takes herself very seriously
Last night’s lipstick staining this morning
Cries in the kitchen when a man
Her man
Tells her what he found
Behind the new shopping centre
Tells her that he, too
Is looking for a promise
But his is threaded
to his father
And his aunts
And his mother
In her fierce fragility

“BLUE & GOLD” by Sasha in her bed

Wednesday November 27, 2013
5 minutes
a poster in Kerr Hall

When you walk in you feel immediately at home. It doesn’t matter that the stairs need sanding. You’ve never lived on your own before. In the kitchen, you smile. Sure, the floors could use a good scrub and the walls have scuff marks. Okay, you wish that the living room wasn’t grey but you just heard about a cheap paint store where there are leftovers from the biggest and best paint jobs in town – The Opera House to the Shangri-La Hotel. You hear the upstairs neighbour calling to her child. “Lunch!” You walk into the bedroom and your breath catches in your throat. Blue walls with gold baseboards, not muted gold, bright, shiny, sparkly gold. Marisa, the landlady, her red fleecy zipped up under her chin, laughs. “The last tenant, she was a leetle crazeeey…” You sit down on the floor and you cry. Marisa rubs your back and you apologize and you say you’ll take it. You say you’d like to move in on Monday. You say that you need this place more than anything, that you’ve been couch-surfing since September and you’re going crazy. You don’t mention your cat. You wipe your cheeks and Marisa hugs you and says she’ll call your references and if everything checks out it’s yours.

“Modesty. Timidity. Humility. Respect.” By Julia on the 511 going south

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
5 minutes
The Art of Pantomime
Charles Aubert

I don’t have none of that. None of that stuff to be proud of. None of that dainty fingernail shit. I’m not dainty! I never was! I just pretended for the first part of my life cause it made my mama happy. She’d tell me all the time to just keep my head up and smile. I didn’t feel like smiling! All I wanted to do was run around and play and scratch the boys and make them weep with mud pie tears. I’m mad about it now. A little. Cause mama never knew what I was up to or why I liked to be outside so much. Maybe I didn’t need a reason at all to do anything but it felt like I did cause she never seemed to understand. I’d always have friends with perfect cuticles and friends with the types of soft skin that never required makeup. I never seemed to be as put together….still ain’t! Still don’t care for manicures and mascara. But still sometimes wish on very special holidays that I had some sort of practical kitchen skill..that I could entertain guests like my mama did. She never liked reading unless it was the back of a recipe card, or a bank invoice.

‘ONE DRY PINT’ by Sasha on her couch

Thursday, April 4, 2013
5 minutes
from the cherry tomato carton

We could cut slices of the tension, like cheesecake, moist and lemony. Instead we pretend. We’re very good at it. From the outside, no one would know. Actually, that’s a lie. Your sister would know. She would raise her eyebrows and say, “What the heck, you guys?!” It had all started when you came into the kitchen and I was eating a whole quiche. “What the fuck, Kelly?” You said. “I’m… upset -” was all I could say, a little piece of crust falling out of my mouth. “He’s dead, I can do what I want,” I continued, you shrinking your eyes so they looked so much less kind, less green. “You’re going to regret everything you’re doing, Kelly,” you said, like you were smarter than me, like you’d figured out the magical recipe of how to grieve well.

“they descended on him,” by Julia at R Squared

Monday, November 12, 2012 at R Squared
5 minutes
Pest Control
Bill Fitzhugh

“What a whiny baby Adil has.” I find myself saying out loud to Eliot as he fixes the clasp of my bracelet while it still sits on my wrist.
“Don’t be mean, Katie.”
“I’m not,” I say, “It’s just honest. He whines, he doesn’t just cry. It’s not very cute, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Don’t be mean.” He says to me again without looking up. “There. Your thing is fixed.”
I shake my wrist like a gypsy to test how strong the new clasp is. Eliot takes off his glasses and stands at the sink.
“Why do you do that?” I ask him, the water cutting out of the tap at first, turning into an even flow in seconds.
“Do what, Katie?” He asks, drying his now clean hands on the dish towel hanging from the stove.
“Why do you wash your hands like that every time you touch me.”
“I don’t.” Says Eliot, leaving the room now.
“You do, actually. It bothers me.”
“It’s not intentional,” he says,coming back into the kitchen.
“Well I don’t like it. Because it makes me feel like I’m dirty.”
“The metal is dirty, Katie, that’s all.”