Tuesday April 29, 2019
A quote by the Dalai Lama
I wish for happiness the way I wish for
a seat sale to fly me back into the swell
of my mother’s longing. I wish for her
linguini and clam sauce above all other
things, and dad’s Shrimp With a Vengeance.
He does not make them the same way twice
and for the first time in my life I am happy
that I inherited that from him. Earlier I
told J that I didn’t know how I was going
to cut the potatoes until I put the knife
to one. She thought I was being self-
deprecating again, a trait I did not get
from him. If I have to trace it back, I’d
say I got it from my mother but hers has
gone away now since she started swearing.
I think I’m the one she got that from.
The first time I came home from theatre
school she was shocked at how easily
my tongue had turned to fucking mud.
Tuesday April 23, 2019
This, my love, is for you: I want to acknowledge your life. What a great gift. Isn’t that funny, that even on your birthday, you are still the one giving? I love you. I want to say that first in case I run out of time. I LOVE YOU! I wanted to yell that once so you could hear it all the way where you are. Where are you now? Taking a moment out of time and stringing it on a long chain to wear around your neck? You could do that. I think you could do anything. If I were there I’d say this to you, but hearing it so many times would get old. Here’s a good place to make a joke about age but I actually don’t find that funny at all. I find it inspiring. I’m so glad you are growing and knowing and finding yourself inside. What’s to laugh at about that? I’m not saying no laughter, cause let’s be real, your perspective is never boring. It’s perfectly dark. Perfectly edgy. Perfectly you. Happy birthday! I love you. Ah see, I would never run out.
Thursday February 7, 2019
There is a box of unopened envelopes in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. I remember it like that. You, I believe, think you left them in the alleyway with our old tables and laptops and extension cords.
I gave that box to you before I went away. It ended up being one whole year away. I didn’t see that coming either.
I even bought you stamps, I see now that was ambitious. Also a waste of money since I don’t think you thought to save those. To you stamps are miniature pictures of things you don’t need: a tiny boat, a maple leaf. To me they are freedom of communication, luxury items, covetable if I am without and in need.
I thought you could write me a letter while I was drinking an espresso at the bar. While I was sipping on Aperol Spritz or eating a tramezzino sandwich in Venice. I daydreamed about waking up to words thought up by you, about me, about us.
Friday January 11, 2019
From a Christmas card
You’re grateful I’m here. I can see it in the release of the line on your forehead, an inch above your eyebrows. It’s been disappearing slowly, and now it’s gone. Three days in to my visit. We haven’t even had sex. I have my period. We’ve kissed a lot. Made tuna sandwiches. Watched Seinfeld.
“Why don’t you move here,” you say, casually folding laundry on your bed. I’m knitting a sweater for Cassidy. James Taylor plays on Spotify.
“You know I can’t.” I look up.
You are grateful I’m here. You usually come to me because it’s hard to get away. My kids. The cat. It’s easy for you to travel. You have less baggage.
Sunday November 18, 2018
Overheard at the Fairmont Pacific Rim
I told them when you were gone I smoked your weed. This time when you are gone I’ll clean the house and have a personal party. I’ll try on all my clothes and take a photo of the good outfits. If my hair looks right. I told them when you were gone I fell asleep on the couch. That will probably happen again. No chicken wings this time since you threw away our grill. I believed you when you said it didn’t work anymore but I wished I had tried it out myself.
I told them I did not cry and I did not cry over you. I will cry this time over me and that is the beauty of you being gone. The writing songs as soon as I wake up, the sleeping on your side of the bed. The silence will be all mine. I told them when you were gone I ate ice cream and that will probably happen again too. And I’ll miss you. And I’ll wish you were coming home soon. And I’ll wish you had never left. And I’ll watch a bad movie that I wouldn’t want you to know about.
Thursday October 11, 2018
Poor and Poorer
Most families are not all families. I have to tell you I’m lucky.
Lucky that I never had to prove myself anyone. Lucky that I could
move out and move far and the guilt wouldn’t be there. The guilt
wasn’t given to me. I am lucky that my father shows love in sauteed
shrimp and that my mother will talk to me on the phone for an hour
if I’m walking that far. I am lucky that my sister sees my insides.
That she thinks my growth is beautiful. That she isn’t afraid to
tell me the truth. That she never pulls me down when I’m up.
That my brother let’s me call him whatever I want. That he wears
the bracelet I got him for Christmas 6 years ago. That he will pick
me up from the airport during a blizzard. Drive me to the airport
on his only day off. Tell the story at the table that makes me look
hilarious. I am lucky that my family gives what they have and doesn’t
count favours. That they send me photos of their meals when the only
thing missing is me. I am lucky that my family holds me. That they
think I’m important enough to wait for.
Wednesday May 30, 2018
Overheard on Oak St.
I know you’re leaving when I see the bowl of left over tuna salad in the fridge.
This is what it looks like when you go away.
No more cooking big meals in case you don’t get a chance to eat them.
Butt ends of broccoli and too few mushrooms to make a difference.
I think our mouths have been meeting in our sleep again.
You are saying goodbye with every dream I think I’m having.
In the morning it is still dark and you are half beside me, half out the door.
Who do I thank for giving you wings when they are breaking my heart?
Do I blame it on the big men in the big buildings in the big city?
In the quiet of our goodbye, you’re the one who says you’re sorry.
I am so happy for you.
It hasn’t even been a full day yet.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Northern Ireland: The Case Of Bloody Sunday
We sit at the cottage and eat breakfast built for two. You and me. One ordinary woman and one ordinary man. We tap forks the way we taught ourselves to love. Out loud. Ceremony. A reminder of all the good between us. You have managed to make perfect eggs and I have done the kale this time good enough to write about here. You can see the mountains from where you sit and in the reflection of the print above your head, I can see them too. They look nice.
The day is a heart beat away from making us wish we wanted to stay here. You are busy thinking of how to live somewhere else. I am wondering a lot at the thought of you going. What kind of letters will you send me? Ones filled with sorry, or sweet, or cash. I hope the latter. I don’t think my jobs pay enough for me to live in this apartment without you. Who will I eat my ordinary breakfast with? With who will I sit on my ordinary couch? Do phone calls and text messages keep the love alive? We will find out. One ordinary woman and one ordinary man.
Sunday April 22, 2018
somehow the moment you walked out the door
the clock on the wall sped up twice its usual tick
I am almost sick at how little has happened
in how many hours have magically passed and
the drum of the crows outside my window have
faded into a night that does not need to
I would lie for hours in the bathroom at the
mirror with a false smile and an empty stomach
tell myself a story to keep me busy and away
from that buzzing fridge
I would lie for hours on the bed staring at
the lonely space on the wall where the choices
should go and wonder how I managed to leave
them all tucked in between the books I care
less to read
Saturday April 21, 2018
From a quote by Carlos Fuentos
He asks you if we are the kind of couple who needs
to spend every second together
He asks this while you are living in another province than me
I think it is one of those questions that doesn’t need an answer
But you answer in full sentences and give a thought out response
I would not have thought about it as long as you and
I suppose that is because I am not like you
You say it has taken a long time to get here
that once upon a time we were too codependent
and once upon a time after that we were too independent
and now we have found this happy medium where you can
go away and I can go away and we can live our individual
lives but still miss the other person
I would have simply said No
we’re not that kind of couple
And yet I appreciate all the history of us you are remembering
You know where we’ve been because you are not like me
and have been paying attention to the arc of things
I sometimes pretend like half of of our lives toegther
didn’t even happen in the first place
It is good that you are not like me
Friday, April 20, 2018
The Art of Aging
Get here later, take your time
ask the elderly man if he needs
to borrow your elbow while getting
off the plane
bring him to the luggage carousel
and wait for his bags to pop through
the shute so you can help him pull
Be the kindness that I know
Be the patient peace
Let the family of five go ahead
of you in line for the taxi
do not ask your driver to put a
rush on the ride home
Lover, I will be waiting for
your arrival with all the
bounty and welcoming of a midday
I will kiss you like time is
not the enemy
I will be close to sleep but
being closer to you will keep
me rested until we are in each
Stop for french fries if you’re
hungry and bring your bags up
one by one
Do not worry about the clock now
I will be here when you get here
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Hope In The Dark
The last conversation was a bad one:
you on the phone with the love held up
to your ear, me at the good plate trying
not to miss you. And maybe it was dinnertime
for me and bedtime for you and we
couldn’t get our wires uncrossed, or it
was just me, as it always is, when the
volume rises for no reason.
All you said was no more canned tomatoes.
It could have been so funny.
But lately I’ve been trying not to sway so
damn easily at the nudge of you. I made
a deal with the body I get to visit
that I would not wait for you to
come home for me to start deciding.
You managed, like a duck diving,
not to mind the dark and cold at all.
Monday, March 19, 2018
It is under the covers of this empty bed where I feel the most like nothing.
Where are your knotted legs to wrap mine around?
Where is the soupy whisper in my ear telling me I am good enough already?
Boys are so damn dangerous
when you let them love you so good
the lack of them creates chaos in the sweet stream
A kink in the neck now from piling up your pillows
it is my back, desperate
to be held by something other
than this muscle spasm, kidnapper and cruel one
I rub the void between my legs until sleep takes me
I wake up wet from the dream that I said I’d meet you in
I used to think I slept better when you are gone
but when I let you love me so good
the sheets change all of their demands
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Garlic In My Ear
Jerie told me she’d only move back to Vancouver if I could find her a two bedroom apartment that wasn’t being eaten. By what she did not specify, but the easy answer would be “at all”. I first asked her to come back when Elliot got in that car crash and was put into a coma. Surely someone in a coma couldn’t work the corner office. I wasn’t hoping for him to die, just, stay where he was. Jerie said it was a shitty thing to do and wasn’t moving on principal. I hadn’t touched her skin in 5 months. I guess I got desperate. She was right. But how do you woo someone with a bachelor apartment and a bachelor salary? The second time I asked her was after I got the side job at McDonalds. I started writing her reasons why on napkins. Wrote her sonnets on the backs of greasy placemats.
Saturday February 17, 2018
Errata and Addenda
Rachaela Van Borek
Can’t tell her the truth even though that’s what we both promised we’d do.
When she tells me hers, she apologizes a month later and says, “Maybe when
you asked what I thought that night I shouldn’t have answered at all.”
I tell her “No, you should have, I want you to be honest with me,”
but I don’t know if that’s just because I don’t know what else to say.
I have some ideas about the questions she doesn’t ask me and
I know I can’t tell her what I think so I agree inside that maybe she is right.
A blanket gets thrown at me when I look cold but feel sweaty.
That’s probably on account of all the discomfort.
Some people sweat when they lie.
I put it on my toes and count the minutes before the pizza arrives.
Maybe when we’re eating we will have less time to peer into each other’s
souls and risk ruining a perfectly good family.
Suddenly her phone rings and she answers it in the middle of my good story.
She covers the receiver, tells me that our mother is frying shrimp dumplings again and asks if I want any.
I tell her to tell her yes.
She tells our mother we’ll be right over.
When she hangs up she shakes her head.
“Not sure what Mom is doing making dumplings at midnight.”
“Not sure what Mom is doing thinking we all still live in the same time zone.”
Sunday August 20, 2017
the Shaw pamphlet
Mom gives me the phone card passcode so I can call Nanna in Berlin. She lives there now. She said it’s nicer than Whitby. I tell her that I probably don’t have time to call her cause I have finals this week and she doesn’t let me finish my sentence. She doesn’t think school is a good excuse not to do anything. Probably because she only finished the 8th grade. Probably because she knows when I’m talking out of my ass. Mom tells me to keep that info handy and maybe taake a photo of it on my new fancy icamera. I tell her it’s not an icamera, it’s an iphone, and it’s not fancy, it’s a 4s, and life is not as easy as she thinks.
When I ask Mom why she cares so much if I call Nanna or not, she laughs for longer than is necessary and comfortable. “If you have kids,” she says, “and they don’t call me, I will always blame their mother first.”
Saturday April 1, 2017
Hold Me Tight
Dr. Sue Johnson
when she calls me
at night it makes my heart shake
i answer quickly
in case someone is dying
in case it’s all of us
in case it’s her
she doesn’t want to bother me
“mom, please call me whenever you want to. i don’t want to always be the one to call you.”
she tells me she knows and that’s what she’s doing- getting better at reaching me when she remembers how far away i am
she says maybe now she needs to get better at timing things
“No, you asked what i was doing and i answered ‘discussing dinner’ because that’s what i was doing. if i couldn’t answer i wouldn’t answer. please always always call me.”
right before she ‘lets me go’ she tells me her good news
and my heart shakes
Wednesday June 1, 2016
8:38am at Starbucks
Overheard at Starbucks
My face is in the window and every single person who walks by has a dog
Every single person who walks by has a dog that looks like them
The woman in her clunky heels behind me shakes the floor so much it makes me have to pee
Holding it in, letting it pulse inside me like a flood threatening a levy, is the closest I’ve come to having an orgasm in weeks
I can’t think straight because James is studying in Nepal and I’m worried that she’ll die over there
She is obsessed with going sky diving or bungee jumping
The last time we spoke I told her to please just build a house and stay on the ground
I hate every moment that I’m awake these days
The man beside me is listening to the sound of me breathing and using it as a metronome for his typing
I want to shoot an elastic band at him for stealing my life and turning it into something I don’t have access to
The woman I bought the toaster from off of craigslist last June walks by holding a scruffy man’s hand and wearing fishing boot waders
I wave to her and she waves back but she clearly doesn’t recognize me right away
Then I see it click as a big wide smile crosses her face and she gives me an encouraging ‘thumbs up’ before walking away
Tuesday April 19, 2016
from an e-mail
I am wearing the friendship bracelet you sent me in your last letter as I write you this letter in response. It is beautiful. You have such knack for colour coordination and choosing the coordinating colours that suit me best. My favourite part is the little H stitched in. How did you do that? You must send a tutorial for me to try in your next letter. Before I forget, I wanted to enclose some photos of me and my family while we were camping at Driftwood Beach this summer. I think you’ll find a pleasant surprise in the photo with me and Elsie holding her fetch ball in her mouth! Won’t spoil the surprise but I wanted to give you a heads up to look for it. Joshua tried to kiss me again behind the big elm tree in my backyard. I told him that if he keeps doing it I’ll have to find someone else to be in my play. I heard Benjamin and his brother, Nick, wanted to be in it but are too shy to talk to me. I wonder why that is? I like talking to everybody! I hope that you feel like you can talk to me? I mean I know you do because you always write back! Well I hope you know that I want you to feel free to talk to me about anything. Even this request!
Until next time,
Sunday, April 3, 2016
The Wisdom Of Insecurity
Alan W. Watts
Saying goodbye to you was the worst thing I’ve ever had to endure.
I’ve already told you this but you like to ask it again and again. You say “what was going through your head when you had to leave? Were you sad? Were you empty?” You ask this stuff because you felt sad and you felt empty. I know it was harder for you because I was the one going and you had to stay. My neck was sore that day. I strained it from laying on you the way I did. I didn’t want to let you go. I didn’t want to stop smelling the spot behind your ear where your hair line starts. At the airport you were crying and it was making me angry. I didn’t want to cry there in front of everyone. I wanted to wait for my planned privacy sitting beside two strangers watching Gone Girl for me to cry over you. I wasn’t feeling sad, but hopeful. We needed the time apart and I couldn’t match your dissatisfaction. You wanted to relish in the misery and I wanted you to go do that in the car because it was hard enough already with a bad neck and a lot of emotions I hadn’t yet named. I didn’t think about how upsetting it would be to return to the house we used to share, see all my bath bombs and loose leaf tea, my microphone and my hair towel, and know I wouldn’t be coming back.
Monday, July 13, 2015
In The Boom Boom Room
I’m thinking about what I’ll make you for dinner when I see you again.
See, I’m debating between ribs and chicken cause you really liked them both the last time. Maybe I’ll make you both with the special sauce and the arugula salad. You went crazy for the arugula salad. Or the chili shrimp. I could make you the chili shrimp. I want it to be special. Seeing you again after all this time, I mean, It has to be special right? It can’t just be thrown together. It has to be thought out. What a mess it’d be if I made all the dishes you liked but not well because there was a lack of focus. I tend to focus poorly when there’s more than one thing to focus on. I’m thinking about seeing you again, and kissing you again, and cooking for you again, and that’s very hard for me. It’s very hard not to let my mind wander. My mind’s a mess. You know it feels especially cluttered these days. Need someone to go in and do a spring cleaning, get all the cobwebs down, reorganize all the big issues so I don’t have to trip over them just to get to the good ideas.
Saturday February 21, 2015
If I’m ever lonely, I’ll close my eyes and think of that day in April when I see you again. You’ll be ready to get out of the cold you’re trapped frozen in, and you’ll welcome the melting of all your icicles with thawing extremities. We have done this before. We have stood still in our distant lives and breathed in a time difference for months. Now good morning is still good morning, and good night is still good night, but my here is not your here and your here is not you’re here..
If I’m ever lonely, I’ll write you something sweet on the napkin beside my bed, hum the words to music and turn it into a song I sing inside my head to keep you close. You’ll ask if you can learn the chords that go with it so you can play your version on the other side of where I am.
We have done this before. We have loved from far away for days and days and days.
Sunday September 21, 2014
Overheard at the beach in Levanto
I’m writing because Skype is bullshit. When your face freezes I feel like I’m losing something I never truly had and I can’t bear it. So, what I was saying when we got cut off is… I’m glad that you’re taking care of yourself but I worry about Bubble Syndrome. You know, that thing that happens and is awkward to talk about when you forget to call your father and you forget to text me and you end up in the bubble of your own head, of your own Halifax and it’s… painful. It’s painful the most, it’s the most painful for you, I think. You have this notion that you’re taking care of yourself, that you’re holing up with your work in a good way, but, be careful. Sometimes it’s not good. Sometimes it’s nasty and you smell like a hedgehog. Eat spinach and stuff, okay? If you only eat beef jerky and barbecue chips you will get scurvy. That’s not even a maybe. That’s a for sure.
Monday September 1, 2014
I wrote you a note
And I left it there
In the pillow case on my side
So you’d feel my dreams when you held it tight
And you could say goodnight to me
I wrote you a note
And I left it there
On the back of a bottle of wine
So when you were toasting to us
You could take an extra sip for me
I wrote you a note
And I left it there
In the drawer with your passport and socks
So when you got dressed in the morning
You could put on a piece of me
I wrote you a note
And I left it there
On the bedside table where you’d see it
Right before you fell asleep
I left it there so you could read me
I wrote you a note
And I left it there
In the case of your favourite film
And when you’d open it up to watch it alone
You’d feel like you were watching with me
I wrote you a note
And I left it there
In the basket of all your pens
With a box of envelopes, to remind you, dear
That you could write for me
Monday, July 14, 2014
from a pencil case
First things first-hi, how are you, don’t answer that, are you well, don’t answer that. Second things second-did you return that dvd to that damn store that is always trying to take our life savings, don’t answer that. Seconds things should maybe be first things. Whatever. Hi. How are you? Respect, respect. Did you-okay, sorry. I’m a nag. I was born that way. I have a lot of questions, mostly about things I suspect you’ve failed to do so asking really doesn’t change anything, but god, yes, I want it to. I was born that way! It’s in my blood, my ingrown hairs– Well, if I had ingrown hairs. I know what you’re going to say, blah blah, nobody will want to marry me if I have scars all on my arms, but I don’t have ingrown hairs because those things, those itty bitty life problems are now solved because I wouldn’t settle for leaving them where they belong. I am acutely aware that I have nagged my ingrown hairs so much so that–hi. Hi! I’m sorry. First things first! Rewind! Hi. I’ve missed you. Did you clean the litter box? OH MY GOD. WHO AM I. Don’t answer that.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Overheard by Sasha on her way up the stairs
Dear friend (who shall remain nameless),
You have taught me a lot. Did you know that? I got in touch with my five year old self earlier today and realized some things:
1)It’s not my fault that I wanted to be exactly like my older sister (who shall also remain nameless)
2) I am okay just the way I am. AKA I’m enough, I’m enough, I’m enough.
3)You belong in my life and I miss your hugs more than you know.
It was like looking inward at a blank screen, trying to connect the dots of my past and make myself feel something. Trying to outline a reason for why I am the way I am. And then your face was just there. Glowing like a smiling fire, a tiny nightlight to keep me from dying while I sleep. You weren’t speaking but you were saying so much. Something about our band, and how we’ll start it up when you get back because we’ll compliment each other perfectly. You also alluded to having a silent walk in the park while you dog sit like we did last year and ended up having an impromptu summer of dreams that excluded, nor welcomed, anyone but the two of us.
Friday, March 15, 2013 at Saving Gigi
Course you want to fly away and visit your ancestors. Trust me babe, I get it. Everyone needs to get away sometime. They all say…ahem…we all say we need to leave this city and just go find ourselves. Why would we say that if we didn’t need it, truly. You know? But you leaving for a whole year, backpack or no backpack…is it the best idea? Will you actually be visiting your ancestors? Or will you just fly to the neighbouring country with a bunch of young hostel-stayers from Australia and take photos of you all wearing head wraps and smoking from a hookah pipe? None of which would be bad, by the way, but if we could all just be honest about what we expect out of these trips…or what the purpose is, you know, then it might just be a bit better. I mean, here, I wouldn’t say I’m going to France to visit the art. That would be maybe like, I don’t know, 2 percent of my entire trip. The rest would be shopping, and touring, and have I fully connected with myself?
Babe, no, I’m on your side. I’m not saying you can’t also find yourself while shopping, but just, hey, let’s be a bit real. And like, if we’re being real, then maybe we can assess if we really need to be gone for a whole freaking year. By we I mean you. Yes.I know this has nothing to do with me. This trip. It doesn’t.