“your face remains close to the ground” by Sasha in the bedroom

Sunday June 14, 2020
5 minutes
Inmate of Happiness
Elizabeth Metzger

Annie orders extra plates of things when she goes on dates. Because why not. Because she deserves the smoky eggplant dotted with pomegranate jewels. She must taste the pickled carrots on a bed of yogurt and mint. She wants to see this almost-stranger’s face as they dip a triangle of warm fresh pita into silky hummus. She orders with confidence and curiosity, unafraid to try the dishes on the menu that might be skipped over. Tripe, liver, chicken feet, mousses, raw beets shaved into snow. She is kind to wait staff, asks them their name and how they are and listens deeply to their answer. She knows what she wants. This adds inches to her beauty and shimmer to her glow. If you saw Annie walking down the street you might not notice the fullness of her presence, but if you are lucky enough to dine with her, you will be as enraptured by the depth of her noticing as you are by the spread. She has an impeccable palate, whispering, “is that sumac?” Or, “Saffron! Saffron and raisins!”

“Any sense if Sunday can work?” by Julia at her desk

Friday September 6, 2019
5 minutes
From a text message

I don’t remember the day now because it was 4 years ago. 4 years ago you gave me the idea: we could move to a new city and start new lives. That was it. That was as far as it got. And I thought you were nuts. Out of your tree. Lost your mind. You were tired of living in a place that required a block heater but I was never good in the rain, so why did I let you explain what you were hoping to do? Too early to head back home because you weren’t ready to settle down. Too cold to stay where you were. Too small.

Maybe you told me on a Skype call while I was filming that TV show. Was it Providence? Was it the day I missed you so much I decided I would go where you go and stop putting up walls around all my soft, gooey, fleshy parts?

Tonight we celebrated some of our recent successes, one of them being living here for 4 whole years with new lives. You said you loved us as adults, and it hit me in that moment that when we met we were kids. Children. What could we possibly have known? This city has been good to us because we chose to fully be here. We saw ourselves rising and we did. We really did.

Finally, we go all out at the restaurant we’ve been meaning to make reservations at. Finally we manage it and finally we don’t limit ourselves by only ordering the cheapest items. We try things. We love things. We clink forks with every bite, every embrace of where we are. And then at the end…the beautiful man beside us pays for our entire meal. We don’t find out until he leaves. And we can’t believe it. How much this city has given.

“Flying Housewife” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday April 28, 2018
5 minutes

crouching behind the counter tears staining wood
neko case on the stereo my favourite thing about
this place is that i can play my own music
pretty things on the patio ha ha ha caw ha ha
woman nursing in the third booth at the back
a party coming in thirteen minutes and i’m
all mascara stream all chest breath and salty lips
we grow to know the taste of being fucked over
because of our woman-ness only 24 and we know it
the lilt of our voices the tonic of our smiles
the cup size maybe or the calf muscle from walking
back and forth from kitchen to patio to kitchen
twelve minutes and twenty people who don’t get it
who think that maybe i’ve just had a bad day
pretty thing they think maybe her boyfriend dumped her
more like this place this man upstairs says his wife
doesn’t like me doesn’t like me doesn’t like pretty thing
more like the loyalty turned bad orange juice
oops fuck oops i’m sorry i never meant to
oops i’m sorry i didn’t mean to be
too alive for this hierarchy of buttered toast
he always did like the pretty things but i didn’t
think i was one of those i thought i was something
else a good conversation a killer joke a knack
for smoothing over the discontent of cold eggs

“You know I will oh baby” by Julia at her desk

Friday March 17, 2017
5 minutes
Never Had A Dream Come True
S Club 7

For almost two years we have been meaning to go to Burgoo. For almost two years the blue name lit up on the front of the restauant always called to us. Tonight, we finally make the dream a reality. We had heard good things from friends and locals. And it’s Friday, we want to get out of the house, we want to spend time together, it’s raining; it’s going to be Burgoo. And then we sit down, read the menu, and we realize…that we have spent almost two years assuming that it’s a burger place. There were no burgers. Because Burgoo is a stew from Kentuky that has okra in it.

“Now that I’m free from any such shackles” By Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday March 6, 2017
5 minutes

saved by the ivory
tower but not for long
good god i hope i don’t
have to
saved from the beer
spills and “our house wine
is a dollar an ounce”
from roll-ups and tip-outs
and “can we have more
i’ll tell you what
the magic word is
it’s please

the summer i was
twenty one i worked
at a place where
the bartenders were
always high and the
sous chef called me a
stuck up bitch
and i cried in the
basement and ate shrimp
in the stairwell
and everyone seemed to
be fucking each other

then there was the
sous who would request
my presence in the kitchen
only to undo my apron
so that i’d have to bend
over and pick it up

then there was the
sous (is there a theme
here holy hell) who
would stick out his
chest when i’d come
to ask a question like
those are just my breasts
it’s how they are i
am not sticking anything
out or up except my
middle finger at your

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday October 7, 2016
5 minutes
overheard on Oak St.

I’m not sure why… I guess, it’s always been a dream. I thought I wouldn’t do it until I had some sort of stability, until James or I were doing really well and we wouldn’t be sinking everything we have into it, but… Well, we’re doing just that and I have no regrets. Lots of people say, “You must be crazy to go into business with your husband!” “You must be crazy to open a restaurant!” “You must to CRAZY!” And, well, maybe they are right… I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’ve never been so excited for something in my life.

“it would be like not listening at all” by Julia at Starbucks

Friday July 8, 2016 at Starbucks
5 minutes
When I Am King, Dilly Dilly
Don Cummer

I wake up everyday already loving you, you’re at, let’s say 20%. You know, like a server at a restaurant: I go in and I give you the benefit of the doubt, I start you at a 20% tip and if you mess up by being rude, I knock a couple percent off. I have no ill intentions, I don’t go to a restaurant expecting to be disappointed. I expect kindness. I expect good food. I expect thoughtfulness. And I expect, sometimes more than I should, a freebie of some sort. And then because I’ve eaten out at other restaurants before, I compare this service to that service to this service to that service, and I know when I’m not being treated right. I also know because I was a server once too, and it’s not hard to remember what was involved in a customer experience job. I wake up everyday at the top of my love for you. And then you forget to buy the garbage can again, or print off the movie tickets, or you bring home the light mayonnaise even though I specifically asked you NOT to get the light mayonnaise, for reasons that don’t need to be stated here. I’d say you’re lucky if you’re getting a base tip of 15% by lunch time.

“flat-out rejected” by Julia at her dining table

Tuesday May 10, 2016
5 minutes

I told him how I feel and he said nothing. Well that’s not entirely true, I suppose, he did say “Ciao.” Like I said, you can call me sometime other than for Halloween and he said, Okay, ciao. With this weird sliminess that I wasn’t expecting from him. And he never did call me. And then he stopped coming for brunch. And I swear he came to that terrible restaurant too many weekends in a row for him to not have had an ulterior motive. And once he helped me clean behind the bar when we were understaffed and I got slammed. He manned the glass-washer. And he made me a couple coffees. And when I tell him to call me, he says, “Ciao”? I guess part of me wondered if I was supposed to learn the “don’t assume shit lesson” because I assumed he liked me. Because he acted like he liked me. He tipped huge. He asked me for opinions on his flooring. And he introduced me to his friends? He even came to eat at the new shitty restaurant I was working at after I left the first one.

“In my house we never had enough” by Sasha on the pullout

Tuesday March 8, 2016
5 minutes
The Artist’s Way
Julia Cameron

I try to take her plate away and she flips! “I’m not FINISHED!” So I feel like shit, like I’ve tried to rip a bottle away from a newborn or something and then she shoots me devil eyes for the next half hour… But I love my job. I really do. I love my new job. I love it because you have to be in the present, you know? You have to be current. You can’t get ahead of yourself or think about that rent’s due in a week or your boyfriend was an asshole this morning or whatever because all you’re thinking is “bacon or sausage? Milk or cream? Sunny-side up or scrambled? Cheddar or feta?” And there’s something about that’s that is really refreshing.

“The owner kindly said it was not working out” by Sasha on her couch

Friday, January 8, 2016
5 minutes
A Facebook status

She slides three fifties from the last tab she closed into the back pocket of her jeans and the rush is like a fountain, is like drinking a whole Coke, opening up your throat like a valve and letting the caffeine and sugar in. Come in come in come in.

Luis asks if she’s cool to close tonight and she says, yes, absolutely. He sends Monique home and a half hour later he leaves, too. “Text me when you’re locking up,” he says, like he does every night to whichever server is closing.

She voids a purchase, writing on the receipt, “SERVER ERROR”. The fifties buzz in her pocket. What will they turn into? Gold, gold, gold. Silver hoop earrings or a new belt or the shoes she’s had her eye on that might finally be on sale.

“The owner kindly said it was not working out” by Julia in Amanda’s bed

Friday, January 8, 2016
5 minutes
A Facebook status

I usually don’t, but sometimes when the light is right I feel like I should apologize for all the prosciutto I used to steal from the very first restaurant I worked at. I know there are worse things to steal and I like to tell myself that I had my reasons but even justifying it makes me sort of wish I had chosen a different way to rebel. I mainly remember sneaking the expensive and coveted cured meat for the following reasons:
1. I was trying to punish my boss for making me work every brunch by myself
2. I was trying to punish my boss for never having enough cash to pay me in full
3. I was trying to punish my boss for hating women
4. I was trying to punish my boss for only offering to feed me at midnight

“Truth is what works” by Julia at the Bloor/Gladstone Library

Tuesday February 17, 2015 at the Bloor/Gladstone Public Library
5 minutes
Man Seeks God
Eric Weiner

I’ve always thought so. I’ve ALWAYS said that haven’t I, Aims? I live for that shit. When someone just tells you like it is. How is it, one might ask? LIKE THIS. BAM. Like a roundhouse kick to the face! I have always appreciated roundhouse kick honesty. I value that shit over my entire LIFE, dude. So when I was sitting there at that stuffy, pretentious, God-forsaken shit hole of a restaurant on Bay, I was internally like, WHERE ARE ALL THE FUCKING STEAK KNIVES BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO STAB THE ENTIRE WORLD. Externally I was sitting there quietly wishing I could just be honest. Then he goes, You know what? This place is not exactly what I was expecting. Kind of not my style. And I BREATHE again for the mother-fucking first time, Amy! I was like, I mean, externally I was like, YES. I KNOW, BRO! I’m so glad you said something cause I was thinking that I need to either set this place or myself on fire and I’m totally not prepared to ruin this outfit. And he laughed, dude. It was so fucking refreshing.

“have a beautiful night, beautiful” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday August 26, 2014
5 minutes
Overheard on the streetcar

My heart flutters and I try not to spill the glasses of wine on my tray. “The Shiraz, the cab sauv, the Pinot Noir…” “Are you okay?” “Yeah, yes, yuppp…” I walk back to behind the bar and close my eyes and replay the moment. I pretend that there’s no bell dinging or beer bottles being popped open or obnoxious laughter.

“You were late today…”
“My bike got a flat tire and I had to walk up the hill on McDonald.”
“Want me to fix it?”
“My bike?”
“Your tire.”
“You know how?”
“Sure! That would be amazing! I was going to go to the bike shop tomorrow but they always rip me off, I know they do, just cuz I’m not a guy in one of those little hats or whatever…”
You smile. You keep stacking dishes.
“You’ve never been late before. Boss isn’t mad. Don’t worry.”
“You’ve been keeping track?”
“I notice.”
“Oh you “notice”…”
“You live close to here?”
“East End. You?”
There’s a pause like a rainstorm, or a collision of stars.
“I was wondering if – …”
The kitchen door swings open and in comes Boss.
“Sefton, are your bothering her?”
“No. He’s not.”
“No, Boss.”
“Get to work Fatty, you gotta make up for that lost time…”

“I ordered a half sandwich” by Sasha at The Holy Oak

Saturday February 1, 2014 at The Holy Oak
5 minutes
The True Secret of Writing
Natalie Goldberg

Walked up to the counter and thought, “this is the first day of the rest of my life.” The guy in the orange toque said, “What would you like?” “A reformation?” He didn’t get my joke, or whatever it was. I ordered a half sandwich (tuna), sat down and waited. When the guy came with the sandwich I said, “sorry for being weird. I’m having a rough week…” He smiled. He started to walk away. “I’m just… I got evicted. I’m pretty much homeless as of next month. And my family’s not from here so it’s pretty…” he turned around. “Sorry to hear that,” he said. I felt like an asshole. I felt like a walking “over-share”. I ate my sandwich. A minute later the guy came back. “Here’s the other half,” he smiled. “I think you need it more than I do. Tuna is the best.” I started to cry. “Shitshitshit,” I said, blubbering mayo and bits of fish and celery. “It’s okay…” He gave me some napkins. He looked sorry for me. He looked gentle and sweet and like he probably has really soft flannel sheets. When it was time for me to go, I left a twenty on the table. Even though it wasn’t the kinda place where you tip.

“primarily unoaked” by Julia on her couch

Thursday January 16, 2014
5 minutes
the drinks card at FRESH

She was sitting down, the only other person in the restaurant aside from the server. Rumour has it the chefs step out of the building every night after 9:25pm for their secret alley way meeting. Others say they’re just out there “having a smoke”. She was sniffing the cork of her wine bottle. She told the young girl with the side pony tail that she was waiting for someone and didn’t want to look like she cared. The girl sold her the bottle assuming her guest would soon arrive but after almost 62 minutes everyone in the place, and again it was just the two of them, had conceded that this “guest” was surely no longer coming at this point. The bottle was not as depleted as either of them thought it would be by this time, but neither one wanted to address it. The girl behind the counter was taking Instagram photos of stacked plates and sugar packets and nobody seemed to mind that either.

“Compliment, Congratulate” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday January 4, 2014
5 minutes
Actions-The Actor’s Thesaurus Marina Calderone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams

“I’ll have the garden salad and then I’ll have the Rigatoni.” “I’ll have the soup and Lasagna.” “I’ll have a beer. What do you have on tap?” “We don’t have beer on tap. Only in the bottle.” “I’ll have a Stella.” “We don’t have Stella.” “What do you have?” “The closest thing to Stella we have is probably Peroni…” “I hate Peroni…” “Well…” “Steven, stop being a dick.” “Ummmm…” “I’ll have a glass of Chianti.” “Great choice.”
Step. Step, step step step. Step. Step.
“Ohmygawd I have the worst friggin table…” “Yeah?” “Yeah! Like total friggin bitchfaces!” “What did they – ” “Can I get more bread? Can I get more hot water with lemon? Can I get a punch to the face? Um… Do you have a bathroom?! NO! NO we don’t. We don’t have a bathroom where you can vomit up your cream sauce and snort a rail! Sorry! Fuck you very much!”
Step step step step.
“It says “Chianti.” “Shit.” Pour. “Thanks.”
“Your wine, sir.” “Yup.”
Step step step step step step step.

“LESS ORDINARY” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday December 14, 2013
5 minutes
Guinness Black Lager streetcar ad

There’s a man living in the bus shelter at the end of my street. He has a chair, a recycling bin filled with an assortment of papers and Tim Horton’s cups and a yellow blanket. As it gets colder, I find myself thinking of him when I unlock the door to my warm apartment. When I walk by him, I avert my eyes and then feel guilty. I regret not bringing him a tangerine or a sandwich. Leftovers. Last night, coming home from a late shift at the restaurant, I rounded the corner and forgot about him. Then I heard a voice. Singing. I peeked in the bus shelter and he was sitting in his recycling bin, the yellow blanket draped over his head. I paused. I smiled. It started to snow. Big, fluffy, feather flakes. I thought about his toes. I thought about the socks in my drawer that I never wear because they don’t allow my feet to fit into shoes.

“Serve.” by Julia on her other couch

Monday, September 23, 2013
5 minutes

I hate everything, Age. So what. If you don’t already know this about me, now you know.
It’s not something I’m even ashamed of anymore. I just hate everything. I hate that my feet don’t touch the floor when I’m sitting at my kitchen table. I hate that I don’t tell everyone who I hate that I hate them. I hate that when someone mistreats a server at a restaurant that everyone in the establishment doesn’t stand up and stare them down until they leave. I hate that people are dying every single second of every single day and we spend all of our time reading about celebrities on crappy blog cites. Am I supposed to feel bad about this? I hate. At least I’m doing something. I didn’t say I hated everyone, Age, that’s different. That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s not like that. It’s like…Everything is annoying because it’s a thing. Even things I love, I hate. There’s always something to hate about something you love. Loving something doesn’t mean you can’t find flaw in it. That’s the biggest mistake human beings make. I’m serious, Age! Love doesn’t mean ‘no matter what’. Even unconditional love doesn’t mean that. It just means there’s an abundance of joy and admiration and care and whatever else love is. I’m not denying that love is beautiful. It’s just swell. But it’s not perfect. So there is room to hate things that you love. I love hot peppers and yet I hate that they burn my eyeballs if I touch them right after chopping. If we loved everything without hating something about it, we’d all be just a bunch of idiots.

“butter chicken roti” by Julia at her kitchen table

Thursday, August 15, 2013
5 minutes
from restaurant sign

she told me to meet her at the restaurant around the corner from Bobby’s grocery. She said, wear a suit and tie, I’m going to tell you something good, and if you love me you’ll pre-order the chicken marsala and ask for extra sauce.
I told her I would rather get some meat on a stick from one of those local trucks that look more like wagons than motor vehicles. she laughed as if I were kidding and told me, don’t be late, or I’ll know who you are and once I know there’s no changing my mind.
So I went to the restaurant around the corner from Bobby’s grocery and I waited for 6 minutes before I ordered the chicken marsala for her (even though they said it wasn’t their specialty and highly recommended I ordered something less like..well..chicken marsala).

“Tom, will you let me love you in your restaurant?” By Julia at Dark Horse on Spadina

Saturday, June 22, 2013 at Dark Horse Espresso Bar
5 minutes
Carolyn Creddon

If you could sweep away the dirty dishes, throw me onto the bar and tell me I was yours, I would be okay with that. Let you use my body to wipe the tables, pushing the salt and pepper shakers onto the floor with no regard for broken glass. That would be just fine. Pull the Amsterdam on draft out into a steady stream, letting it pour all over us as we try to get some of it in our mouths. That would be exciting, don’t you think? Covered in beer and sticky and soaked through. My white top, obviously, a skin plastered mess that you leave on me while you drink from my shirt pocket. The lights can be on or off. Your choice. I don’t need to decide that one. And when we’re close, and we will be more than once I guarantee it, we’ll ring the tiny bell on the pass and yell “Chicken’s up”. That would be just…. I’ll put on your chef hat and your apron with nothing else, and walk around the kitchen with a spatula and a whistle. Tell you to say “Yes Chef” and you would because how could you not?

“I wonder if she’d mind if I’d” by Sasha at her desk

Wednesday January 23, 2013
5 minutes
Jordan Moore

I sit down and hear the waiter walking towards me. He’s a man in his thirties. He has a goatee, green eyes and is taller than I’d have imagined, from the sound of his steps. “Would you like something to drink while you’re waiting?” He asks. I shake my head and murmur a “Thank you.” I don’t think he hears because he looks perturbed when he returns with a glass of water. “I’m, uh, waiting for my son…” I say, in case he was wondering. “That’s nice,” Goatee says, looking over me, towards the door. Christopher had chosen this place. He’d said that they had “the best ever French Onion Soup.” I cannot stand the stuff but how was he to know. I look at my watch. Three minutes past seven. He was late. Maybe he wasn’t coming. Maybe I’d been stood up by a twenty-two year old kid. “Walter?” I feel a hand on my shoulder. I stand and turn, at about the same time, and feel like I’m looking into my own eyes. “Christopher.” His mother had chosen his name. I’d thought it sounded a bit pretentious. “Then we’ll call him Chris for short,” she’d said. No one ever had.