“I do not know how to smile” by Julia at Oak and Broadway

Sunday July 8, 2018
11:02pm
5 minutes
From a text

I want the world to know that I wont be smiling from here on out. I wont be laughing either, in case you were curious. I have been smiling and practiced smiling and I have done a good job but now that’s over. No more giving away for free. That’s what I’ve been doing. And at first that felt good but then they started taking my smiles for free which is different than receivng them. Smiles shouldn’t cost anything and I’m the one who’s giving and paying. Forced smiles have cost me the most. When someone thinks they’re entitled to my smile, my good, my honest light. That’s when it leaves me dead and wondering. Maybe I should be saving them all for the children. They never take something worth so much for free.

“make strong choices on the fly” by Julia at her desk


Sunday November 8, 2015
10:18pm
5 minutes
from nativeearth.ca/w28series/

Okay so I started taking this improv class-that’s what they say, it’s so cool, they don’t even finish the word. It’s every week on Tuesdays and the class is 3 hours long and it is the best thing in my entire life. It’s so funny. People really are hilarious in this class so I never feel like it’s a waste cause I’m always laughing and sometimes till I’m crying and that is the best feeling. Our instructor, Vijestica is a hobbit sized woman and she has a big laugh that starts, I am convinced, in her groin. She’s always snorting and shooting snot out of her nose because she loves to laugh and gets us really excited about our choices! In improv you learn how to YES AND which means nothing is wrong and everything is a good idea and you say yes to the first choice that comes and just keep building on that until you’re really rolling with it all and the jokes just flow and the laughs just follow. Vijestica says this is a safe place to leave the everyday at the door. I am so glad to leave my everyday at the door because working in a cubicle the size of an outhouse in my everyday is actually the thing that might kill me. It’s awful, there’s no silliness or fun, only deadlines and people telling me “nice maroon sweater, Alma,” or “Did you eat my peanut butter tuna sandwich, Alma?” Here, in improv class, we all just smile and tell each other how great and brave we all are.

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


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


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

A photo of Jack and Daisy by Julia on Katie’s couch


Sunday January 11, 2015
12:17am
5 minutes

Jack and Daisy

Held my hand out for you and I waited
Hours went by and I waited
Days turned into butterflies and I waited
Still
Like the night
Like the only moment between us that you wanted to paint
I stood there, facing the light
Hours went by and I tortured myself with thoughts of you
Of your smile
Of your depth
Of your tiny birthmark hidden in the crack of your upper lip
Hours
Days
Lifetimes went by and I waited
My arm got tired from holding onto an escaped hope
It had flown away into the wind long ago
My heart got tired from beating for both of us
My head got tired from trying to convince my body to have patience
To wait there for you until you were ready
And finally
I left
I left you there with the rain cascading down
All the veins of every heavy hearted tree

“What a liberty!” by Julia on the train to London


Saturday December 27, 2014
12:22pm
5 minutes
from Chocolate And Cuckoo Clocks: The Essential Alan Coren
edited by Giles and Victoria Coren


I’m stuck on a train with a surprise murderer from Vancouver island. He’s reading right now, don’t worry. But he just spent the last half hour explaining the plot of his book that he’s trying to get published. He doesn’t have an agent. His protagonist just so happens to be a surprise murderer from Vancouver island. He lives alone. So does his protagonist. He’s a lumberjack. Has access to an axe. Knows how to wield one. So does his protagonist. Captures a traveling circus that’s moving through town. Don’t know how to prove that both of them do it. But his protagonist does. Told me he’d watch my bag while I went to the bathroom. Didn’t trust him. Didn’t go. He doesn’t know yet that I don’t trust him. Too big of a smile trying to reassure me he absolutely will never kill me. I think surprise murderers have to practice that smile. Over and over and over again.

“residents at a homeless shelter” by Julia at Dalston Kingsland Station


Wednesday December 10, 2014
9:33pm
5 minutes
from howlround.com

Sel walks in and she’s so happy. I see her face from behind the desk and I know she’s gonna give me some good news. After the day I’ve been having, it wouldn’t take much. I keep working so the surprise feels more real. I know she’s gonna come up to me and tell me right away so I make her work for it a tiny bit.
She has to stop herself from skipping all the way to the desk, but I’m there stapling, labelling, checking off boxes until she sees she has to request me. You busy, Middy? And I stop what I’m doing for a brief second. Mhm, same same. Would you be able to take a quick break then, Middy? And I stop fully, look her in the eyes. What can I help you with, Sel? There’s that big smile again. Oh, nothing! I’ve got it all sorted! Got what all sorted, Sel? And she holds up a bag of Roasted Chicken and Thyme potato crisps. You got yourself the munchies there, Sel? And she laughs. Don’t worry about the Christmas budget this year, Middy! THESE TASTE EXACTLY LIKE A TURKEY DINNER.

“For the Canadian Girl!” by Sasha at her kitchen table


Sunday September 14, 2014
10:02pm
5 minutes
From a note from a new friend

He hands me a glass of wine and says, “for the Canadian girl!”
I smile because this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me.
I smile because he’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen and the subway doors aren’t closing between us.
I smile because he looks at me like I am his secret.
We cheers.
He says, “How long have you been here?”
I forget, but say, “Two weeks.”
He says, “You like?”
I do, and I say, “Yes!”
He smiles because he’s never seen someone with darker skin than his in the flesh.
He smiles because he’s been waiting for the moment since the day Lucia Marzano refused to kiss him.
He smiles because I am here, now and we are both ready.
There’s a silence, but it’s not heavy, it’s buoyant like a red helium balloon.

“Hooded Shawl” by Julia at her desk


Thursday February 6, 2014
11:40pm
5 minutes
the Circle Scarf tag
American Apparel


I can remember her smile, her eyes underneath that hooded shawl. She was some kind of–don’t worry; I won’t say it. I won’t say that lame thing you expect. She was something, though. Her name was Wanda. What a name, am I right? Wanda with the big blonde hair and the face that matched her daughter’s identically. From all of the plastic surgery, obviously, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care about how she could have passed for her daughter’s younger sister, even. It just didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me was the scar on her chin that looked like someone had tried to remove the bone by going through the skin. She was beautiful in every way, including that scar, but it just made me sad to see it is all. That a thing like that could have even gone through pain at some point, some unstoppable pain completely and utterly beyond me, in her lifetime, was the single most troubling thought I could have. Wanda. Oh, that name! I almost hate it, it’s so awful, and yet, instead, I hear it, and I think to myself, That woman could be named Tree and I’d still love her with my whole being. Wanda, Wanda! I am transported back to a day where a name like that was a dream come true!

“Toronto had one film festival.” By Sasha at her kitchen table


Saturday, October 5, 2013
1:43am
5 minutes
From an article in the VIA Rail Destinations magazine September/October 2013/

People are writing their secrets on the leaves of the big maple behind City Hall. It’s starting to turn, autumn sweeping her mysterious paintbrush across it. There’s a jar at the base of the tree, I put it there, filled with coloured pens. A plaque sits behind the jar, she made it, and reads, “Tell us your secrets.” She has curly, goddess penmanship and makes writing on wood with a Sharpie look like an ancient Japanese art form. We wait, perched in a chamber with an overlooking window. “Let’s stay for three days,” she says, sipping Earl Grey from a travel mug. The first person comes and reads the plaque and walks away. A couple, in somewhat matching plaid jackets, smiles at eachother. The each take a leaf, low down and write and wait, and write and wait. I trust this tree more than any person. He’s been listening to my secrets since before I was born.

“My bones” by Sasha at the CSI Coffee Pub


Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at the CSI Coffee Pub
9:36am
5 minutes
From Kat’s warm-up at the these five minutes: resident writing group

The mortar
The bricks
The tongue
The ticks
The grind
The heave
The stretch
The weave
The bones
The break
The wheel
The snake
The smile
The slap
The roar
The tap
The fade
The grow
The story
You know

Down in the femur
Where the pursed lips hum,
The ancestor watches
And beats her drum.

Laced in the tendons
Of a well-formed face,
The pressed flowers flake,
The Queen Ann’s lace.

She takes her tea with sugar and milk.