Saturday June 17, 2017
Phil Stutz and Barry Michels
I find myself in the afternoon
but I lose myself every morning
it’s a hunger I don’t feed much
because it will eat whatever it can
find whether I like it or not
and why do extra work
the alarm was set for early o’clock
the day sneaks past me like
it’s trying to keep something
I assume it’s time
I am sure it’s grace
in the bathroom I can
be alone with my family of
I can close the door
waste the water
light a candle
I find myself among the faces
in the shower tiles that have all
begun to look like me
Monday January 25, 2016
overheard at PTC
Andie used to be a performer, but she doesn’t tell anyone that now. Whenever she meets someone new at a coffee shop, or the library, she actively chooses not to bring it up or even reference it.
It’s hardest when Andie meets someone who is a performer or also used to be a performer because they tend to be the types that always want to discuss the nitty gritty or the pain or the joy of being in front of a big audience night after night. Her insides are screaming a million curses at the people who act like they’re the only ones who truly understand their lives and as a result, how eccentric everybody else must find them. Andie bites her tongue, trying to remind herself she doesn’t need them to think one thing or another about her, that chiming in with a “Yes, I do, in fact, understand,” or “No, I haven’t always been a florist,” won’t change her life choices or her past or her reasons for saying goodbye to it all. Some nights Andie dreams she is the only thing on stage, crying alongside the most beautiful and haunting violin playing that ever existed.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Overheard on Gerrard St.
I’ve been the praying type before! Not really so much now, but before? MY GOD.
HAHA. That was a joke. But in all seriousness, I used to write letters to Jesus. I used to pray asking him for guidance and protection against my nightmares, my fears, my flaws. I had to ask for so much forgiveness just because I couldn’t keep my 11 year old head on straight enough to stop “accidentally” watching the Sunday Night Sex Show, or finding my mom’s electric nail buffer and “accidentally” using it to explore all of my “sacred” places. I said I was sorry at least 15 times a day, followed by a promise that I would be better next time and not do it ever again. I got good at making promises I couldn’t keep.
Saturday July 11, 2015
Overheard at Higher Grounds
After she named her first two boys Matthew and Mark, everyone thought she’d name her third one Luke. She didn’t name the first two with any religious references in mind, she simply wanted the names and that was that. She might have named the third one Luke but she never liked the name. It felt too small for a man once he grew up. That and it reminded her of the first boy she ever agreed to marry. Luke Walker had asked her to marry him in the first grade and she said yes because that’s what six year olds do. He was small and feminine and had a horrendously small nose. She only said yes because she thought Andrew Griffith was going to ask Sylvia Van Kasterin to marry him. Turns out Andrew liked her all along. She found out when he left school to join the army.
Sunday May 3, 2015
If I had stayed in class that day, I would have graduated high school, with just less than honours. Maybe less than less than honours cause I don’t know what graduating with just less than honours is even called. I would have been a person with a real diploma. I would have been a real person. But instead I skipped class with Erin cause she wanted to go to the aquarium and see what it’s really like to be trapped. I didn’t want her to go alone cause I was scared she was going to try to show them what it was like to be really free. We didn’t make it to the aquarium though. We weren’t even close…
Friday March 27, 2015
When Andrea lifted her head from steering wheel she didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know that she had just crashed her cream coloured Toyota corolla into a city transit bus, inhibiting 50 people from getting to work on time, or to school, or to the first job interview the two or three people were able to secure since getting back on their feet. She felt her stomach doing summersaults, regretting in that instant her choice to consume only spicy salami cut up into thick round chunks for breakfast. She saw smoke all around her and thought it was only a dream; the rising and falling of a dragon’s breath, heating his layer and keeping himself warm in his cave.
Sunday February 22, 2015
Nothing But Money
Greg B. Smith
She never had a record until she did and couldn’t say that anymore. She didn’t say it enough, in fact, when she could freely and honestly do it. Now she has to announce that it’s no longer clean, pristine, untouched. She has to tell potential employers that she isn’t legally allowed to drive until 2017 because of a current DUI charge. She’d like to tell them that it wasn’t really her fault in the first place, but people don’t hear excuses when all they can see is “criminal record”. Criminal. That’s what she had become. And again, she wished she would have started more conversations with “I’m not a criminal” because now she isn’t able to identify with anything else. She hugged the woman she got to chatting with in the line at the post office who said to “try to stop identifying yourself with things in this world. Things are not you. And you are not things. Your failures do not define you. Your successes, though we’d like them to, don’t either.”
Wednesday December 31, 2014
He likes those yogurt shakes. Strawberry. Sometimes peach, but only on Fridays. He brings Benji home a can of tuna but forgets that Benji likes SPAM. “Sorry Benji!” He watches the news and says a silent prayer for the bees and the whales and the old growth forests. He does not recycle. He only smokes cigars with his father, and on his father’s birthday. He smoked marijuana once, and only once, when he was twenty seven and in Amsterdam. One of his only regrets. His other regret is not having asked Gus Lipinski to the prom. He swears he would have said “Yes”. He swears they would have been the last couple dancing and that the chaperones and Mr. Tyler would have had to say, “Okay, boys, it’s time to go home.”
Wednesday December 17, 2014
From a Together For London bus ad
What will you do with your bright and shiny future? Unused, untouched, untarnished by expectations. Is it even possible? You might have the only one. The only one new and perfect.
I could tell you what I do if I were you. I’d wake up every morning, early, with a goal. And I would seek to accomplish that goal within one hour of getting out of bed. I would use all my time in the best way imaginable: eating, laughing, creating, loving. It sounds easy but it wasn’t for me and so I watched as the days went by and turned into things I didn’t have the ability to change.
Saturday September 13, 2014
A Schiaffini bus ticket
Of course we felt bad for guessing the wrong costume. Who doesn’t feel bad about that? Who doesn’t always wish at a Halloween party when asked to guess in the first place about an obscure costume or concept or poorly designed idea, that they’d just said, “I’m drawing a blank!” “I Can’t seem to put my finger on it…!'” The whole, “I’m so bad at these things” thing. We wished we’d been smart enough to fake it-quick enough to shove a devilled egg in our mouths and feign complete ignorance about the magnitude of it all. When Ry guessed an elephant, she almost started crying. She looked to me as if to salvage her image–one desperate hope in her eye so effective I couldn’t help but suggest an alternate. I said “Rhinoceros?” And I truly meant it as a question because I had no idea either and I was already surprised I was even there in the first place. Her eyes welled up-her skin flushed-and she started to wail in a way that made me regret even pushing through my mother’s birth canal 40 years ago.
Thursday August 28, 2014
The bottle of curl keeper
I am making a list so I can check off everything. It’s nothing new because I’m the kind of person who likes to reiterate the things I do, consistently, without fail, because I’m really just a control freak. There, I said it. I know who I am. I’m this thing or that and it’s not a big deal so can everyone just get over everything already? As if I’m the only person in the entire world who wants to control everything all the time and have things go exactly her way. I’m not the only person, because I have friends who are similar because I want to make sure that there are no variables. I controlled my friendship circle to the point that I didn’t have any fun people left in the group, and certainly no comedy, and certainly no spontaneity. You can’t trust those laid back people who leave things to the last minute and throw caution to the wind. Those are the kind of people who wear the same pair of underwear two days in a row. I know this because I used to know those people and those people never got anything done ever. So. I am making a list now about the people I kicked out of my life and I would like to see if any of them have changed all the easy-going things on which I based my decision to cut ties, and identify if any, with those life changes, have the proper amount of fun still left in them because I could use some.
Thursday April 23, 2014
Locked In To Life
Keep pushing, keep moving, keep trying trying trying.
Don’t believe you’re stupid. Don’t believe that because nobody believes that and you don’t want to give them any new ideas about it.
Yeah, it’s hard.
And yeah there will be lots of crying.
(With you, there’s always lots of crying. Get used to it.)
And there will be lots of laughing.
(With you, there’s always more laughing than crying. See?)
But there will be no regrets.
You don’t have time for those.
You don’t even have enough time to call your mother.
Or send that postcard to your boyfriend.
Or apologize to your inner person for being so damn-self-deprecating on a daily basis.
You don’t have time for that stuff.
So you most certainly do not have time to wish you did it differently.
The universe can be cruel.
I know that. You know that. Everybody knows that.
But it can also be kind.
So be a little nicer.
Be a little less quick to place the blame.
Be a little less okay with believing you’re mediocre.
Even when you forget how to spell “Disappointment” without an electronic device correcting you.
And even when you convince yourself you can’t do simple math in your head when trying to tip the server.
Be a little more confident.
Because you’re here.
Because you’ve made it this far and because if you didn’t want to be alive, you just wouldn’t be.
Saturday April 19, 2014
i knelt down close to her unmoving body. i wasn’t about to touch her just in case. i didn’t know why, but just in case seemed like the most appropriate reason. she had on the scarf i gave her. she thought she was borrowing it, but i was planning the whole time to just say, keep it, annie, it looks better on you. i never really got the chance to tell her. now she’s probably on her way to dying thinking that she was dying in my favourite scarf. i would have liked for her to go in peace; still haunts me that i didn’t let her know sooner. all the memories of us stealing earrings and toothpaste filled my head. i can’t remember now whose idea it was to take all that stuff but i do know that i haven’t felt a rush like that since. neither of us really wanted those shitty earrings. we just liked the idea of taking something with some kind of value. the toothpaste, i’m pretty sure we just needed. i reached out to let my energy sort of drip off my fingers and into her scalp just in case. i didn’t know why, really, maybe just in case that was the one thing keeping her from being already dead.
Friday April 18, 2014
Overheard on Queen St.
Last time I sat there for you like an idiot with a death wish. It was that bad, and don’t try to tell me that it wasn’t. I mean, I waited and waited for you, or for a sign, and you just kept making me into a bigger and bigger fool. Or I made myself into a fool. I guess that’s how it happened. You didn’t quite ask me to do it, did you? I mean, you didn’t not ask me. And you certainly gave off the impression that it would be “worth my while” even though you didn’t say that outright. You didn’t have to: I inferred. And I wish I could take it back, but instead I just hope I don’t fall into that same trap again. You know, like tomorrow when you make me want you all over again just by wearing that oversized wind breaker that you look so darn good in. But then you have your ways with me, the way you do with most women. Everyone always wants to be around you and you bring them close, but then when one gets too attached, you do some weird gymnastics dismount away from the situation and distance yourself with a kind of cruelty that I do not have the patience for, nor the ability to resist.
Friday April 4, 2014
from a receipt
Answer the question correctly, Angel, and we might actually get somewhere! We might actually get out of this hell-hole of a trailer park! Think really hard. Please. Think the best you possibly can. We might actually progress beyond communal showers and deep fried hot dogs. I love you, Angel, but… It’s harder when you’re old, like me, to really feel like you’ve got much of anything. If I can offer you one word of advice, it’s this… If you let them chain you, they will. Don’t let them chain you, Angel! I guess that’s more than one word. Shit. I got chained, I got chained too young. Barely seventeen and I was chained to that bald man for fifty three years! Can you even imagine?
Friday April 4, 2014
from a receipt
I was thinking about it all morning. It was a stupid math one, and I should have gotten it right with ease. Ease. I was good at math up until, what, grade five? Fucking graphs, you know? And ever since then it’s been downhill. I used to win fucking awards for my math. Like class-room accolades and shit. I used to get those lollipops. You know? We’d play around the world with our times tables, and I’d beat every single kid in my class, even the smart ones, and then I’d get a lollipop. I used to win so many times I could have opened a tuck shop at my desk and made 25 cents on each kid. See. Math. It’s all confidence anyway. Did you know that? I mean, sure, reading takes confidence, and whatever, Art. But math. It’s a skill you develop just by being confident enough to develop it. You have one bad teacher tell you you’re worth even a little less than you are, and you just learn to believe that crap. It’s one of those things that keeps coming back to bite you in the ass too. You know, taxes, and leaving tips, and getting the right change back from the damn Wal-mart clerk. Did she even finish high school? I don’t know. Does she assume I’m good at math because most people are at least able to calculate the simple stuff in their heads, and therefore this clerk works harder to be good herself so she doesn’t look like she’s trying to dupe a smart math guy? I don’t know. Maybe she thinks that because she’s bad at math, then I must also be bad at math.
Could have won a fucking car today. Fucking math.
Thursday April 3, 2014
-If we never get out of here, it’ll be all your fault, Rita. If that is even your real name.
-I’m not going to tell you again, I didn’t do it on purpose and it’s my real friggen name. Do you know many people who go out looking on purpose for a name like Rita?
-I don’t believe anything you say anymore.
-I was told you were the best.
-Who told you that?
-I don’t know, Dr. Arnold. Maybe someone else too, I don’t remember.
-He said that?
-Yeah. So then I wasn’t worried, because I trust him, but now I’m not so sure.
-I told you it was an accident. I’m sorry you’re missing it.
-The ceremony. I’m really sorry about that.
-Right, well your kid only gets one kindergarten graduation. Here’s hoping she makes it to high school or I’m coming after you.
-If it’s any consolation, I missed my kid’s graduation too. On purpose. I was working.
-I know, I’m a bad mother. I wasn’t thinking of him then.
-You feel bad about it at least. That’s a start.
-Not then I didn’t. When it counted.
Thursday March 27, 2014 at The Arts And Culture Centre in NL
from The Pillowman program in St St. John’s NL
I had a moment of desperation when the zipper on my jacket busted. And I was standing in a wind storm. And you were far away from me. And I couldn’t even call you if I wanted to. That’s when I knew that if I didn’t have you, I would have, cheesy as it sounds, nothing. You were around whenever I needed you to be. And I didn’t hold on tightly enough because I didn’t think I had to. You did everything right. And I didn’t understand what that might have meant until I was left searching for some semblance of your spirit. I went through every old purse, hoping I had a photo of you somewhere. Why didn’t I print any photos of you? Why didn’t I do that? I should have known better. When your phone crashes or your computer explodes, you realize how many things you should have backed up. I should have backed you up. And I think I mean that figuratively and literally cause if I had just reminded myself of how great you were, and stood on your team every chance I got, I wouldn’t be left wishing for anything. Because I would still have you. You would be right here. And I would have someone to hold me.
Friday February 21, 2014
The Vinyl Cafe radio show
Oh that’s where my ex girlfriend was born! In Halifax. She used to brag about it like it was the best place on earth. Not saying that it was or that it is, but she was proud so that was the thing we went on. She kept telling me I had to go to Halifax, I had to see Halifax. I was planning to go just as much as she was but there was always something that got in the way. Big storms, delaying take off, or canceling flights all together, or someone in one of our families dying. It wasn’t meant to be I guess. My ex, she’d always say it, that it was a crying shame I never got to go. I told her that maybe someday I would. It doesn’t matter now, we haven’t been together for years.
Tuesday January 21, 2014
Tweet from The New York Times
He sat on the edge of the bed with one of those listening gun things. You know the ones that are attached to a wire and you can plug headphones in, and then when you point it and hold down the…I don’t know, I don’t want to say trigger, but, I think that’s in fact what it is…anyway you trigger it or whatever and it amplifies the sound of whatever it’s being pointed at? He was trying to listen to Nadia’s phone call through the wall. And I think it was working because he would giggle every few seconds as if he could understand. I didn’t like that he was doing it. I mean, I know he doesn’t care about Nadia, nor can he understand her thick accent. He just likes that his stupid contraption works. I just worry that if he were spying on her, then maybe he’d be spying on our kids, and maybe me. It’s times like that I have to think back to every moment I thought I was alone in the house, and retrace my thoughts to make sure I didn’t say anything incriminating. I generally like to consider myself a good person, but what if I slip, like we all do? What if I’ve said some things I just didn’t mean, or just didn’t mean to say aloud when I thought no one was around. You’d think that if he…found out anything….that maybe he’d confront me about it. Or he’s saving any and all information to use against me when I least expect it.
Saturday October 12, 2013 at Sambuca Grill
from the 2011 Toronto Star article ‘American Girl still walking tall’
Cher was waiting at the bus stop dressed like a boy because it was Thursday. She was waiting to see the driver she had grown accustomed to riding with on her usual morning route to school. Maybe she should have brought an umbrella today, she wondered to herself, even though the skies were quite clear and the forecast showed no signs of rain. Cher couldn’t have been bothered to regret things so she put the thought out of her mind and into the big bubble she was making with her gum. Today, she thought, she would ask the driver his name and maybe tell him hers. He was always very nice to her, letting her ride without paying, or just asking her about her day on the days she still dropped in the proper fare. She wondered if his name ended in an O, an R, or an L. She was usually right about things like that. She was usually right about birthdays and weight-guessing as well. Cher stood there waiting and ready when all of a sudden she felt a tiny raindrop bounce off her head.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
You have a few regrets. You don’t let them anchor. You aren’t too upset about them. You feel about these regrets how you feel about scrambled eggs – take ’em or leave ’em. Sometimes they hit the spot and sometimes they taste like throw-up. When you decide to fess up about these regrets, you’ll do it to a lover that you found on a park bench. The ground will be scattered with cherry blossom petals and the odd beer can. It won’t be your usual type of lover, it will be a bit different, a bit mysterious, a bit rare, a bit rough. After, sweaty and giggling, you’ll be moved to share these regrets, small pebbles that weighed down your pockets that day.
1. Bernice Goldstein, who you would pinch most days of Grade Two. She was snotty-nosed and greasy-haired, and exuded neediness and it frustrated you. You later found out she had killed herself. You hated to think you had something to do with it. You wish that you could apologize.
2. Your cousins wedding, which you missed because of a Foo Fighters concert, prioritizing “cool” over “family”, the first of many. Years later he told you how hurt he’d been that you weren’t there, that you didn’t care enough to sell the tickets on Craigslist and use that money to get on a train.
3. Forgetting your mother’s birthday that one year, when you were tree-planting. You’d arranged to call her, had planned to sing to her, the birthday song that was in the secret language you used to speak together.
Thursday February 28, 2013
Hit rewind on all my life’s choices. It’s been a heck of a year and I have a lot to be thankful for. Don’t go a day without feeling so much gratitude. What did I do wrong? Doesn’t matter every day is new. What about fast forward? Can’t do that either. Nothing then and nothing later. But now? Can I press pause? Things are good I’d like to pause that. Or restart if I get to do this all again. I want to remember it all. But restart is just a chance to keep living it. Does it matter? Does anything like this matter? So many decisions. So many regrets. I could have helped more people. Moved my bag off a seat on the subway, asked a homeless man to join me for lunch. Did I forget to be good when I was trying to enjoy everything? Once would be enough. There’s still time maybe then.
Preach preach preach. God does it ever get annoying. It does. That was rhetorical. A hundred times over. We’re in the middle of something and I can’t stop to do this. Somebody stop me. I will have a big story when all this is done.