“provide reasonable protection” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday, September 1, 2016
5 minutes
From an external hard drive warranty

Margie adds a scoop of cumin to the chilli and watches a cardinal land on the big old maple that has seen it all. Craig putters in the basement. Jazz plays on the radio. She hasn’t been cooking much this winter, what with the tragedy at the school, and so many long hours. It feels good to have soaked the beans, stewed the tomatoes, chopped the garlic, onions, peppers and sweet potato, and toasted the spices, just the way her mother taught her. There won’t be cornbread, but there will be a thick nest of old cheddar on top. “Almost ready?” Craig calls up. He’s hungry, having met with a struggling student through his lunch break, causing him to forget to eat. Margie often finds sandwiches in Craig’s briefcase from days before. She shakes her head. He cares so much, she thinks, putting turkey and swiss, ham and cucumber, rye with almond butter and banana, right into the compost pail on the counter.

“It is important to notice the differences and similarities in the success stories” by Julia at her dining table

Sunday March 20, 2016
5 minutes
from authorspublish.com

When William came home from his first day of grade 1, he showed me a chart he made- a Venn diagram with the titles:



William had scribbled in Colouring and Playing and Fun and Story Time in the At School Circle. In the At Home one he had written Eating and Bath Time and Bed With No Dessert and Chicken Nuggets
I realize how little I can control what he will do or say when he’s not around me. How I can’t protect an identity or a culture that I’ve built in my own home because people will always have their opinion no matter what the context. I realize how much he absorbs and how he defines himself as a member of my household. It makes me want to make a spinach salad for dinner and spend time cutting out magazine images for a collage to hang in his bedroom.

“Welcome visitors from Denmark” by Julia on the 47 going north

Saturday April 4, 2015
5 minutes
from a school sign

What do we do, children? Yes very good, children. Rise to greet them, children. Yes very very good. Everybody is equal, aren’t they, children? Yes, of course they are. Yes, yes. How do we receive them, children? Yes, children, very good. With open hearts and a friendly smile, right, children? Yes, very, very very, good. What don’t we do, children? What are the things we must never do, children? Yes, remember well, children. All together now, children. Let’s recite them all together. Pretend like we don’t hear them. Yes, excellent remembering, children. What else, children? Let them hug you without returning the action. Yes. No one-sided embraces, children. None at all, children.

“MADE IN CANADA” by Julia on her couch

Monday March 31, 2014
5 minutes
the hotel shampoo bottle

I was born here, wishing that I wasn’t, cause, when I was young everything was better when it wasn’t, when I wasn’t, when it just wasn’t. Hoped for the things I didn’t even know were things, but wanted them just cause I wanted them, just cause I didn’t have them, and that somehow made it better. I wanted what I didn’t know. Cause I didn’t have to milk any cows growing up, didn’t have to stay up late watching any infants while mom passed out on the couch watching TV instead, didn’t have to run from my parents after the age of 6 cause they weren’t chasing me anymore, they weren’t out to get me. They were never out to get me. But when I was good and young, I thought everybody was. Didn’t trust the people I should have trusted most. Thought maybe it came from reading, maybe it came from the teachers who shouldn’t have been teachers, who didn’t like kids and so didn’t like teaching kids things teachers should like teaching. But I wanted those things too. Wanted someone to see my stories and tell me they would be great some day. Wanted someone to tell me I’d grow into my face and not to listen to those other kids who had parents who didn’t want to be parents who were teaching them things they shouldn’t be teaching cause they weren’t teachers or the kind of people who could be.

“THE BATTLE FOR CONTROL” by Julia on the 506 going east

Thursday December 12, 2013
5 minutes
cover of aux magazine September 2013 issue

And it was a real battle
Hair pulling and ripping
Teeth grinding and popping
Skin scratched and bruised
Clothes torn and stained
It started early Monday morning at the jungle gym
Theresa was hosting a “peaceful protest” about My Little Pony being banned from recess. Turns out teachers don’t like when little girls and boys make believe they’re unicorns.
Theresa was trying to make a difference.
She was calm and she was smiling.
But Nadia didn’t think it was right. For whatever reason, and no one seemed to ask her, she was against the protest from the start. She had rallied her side and there were tomatoes and mashed butternut squash involved.
It had taken about 2 days to fully escalate.
Theresa didn’t know it was coming. Suddenly at the end of lunch, a group gathered around them, black zinc face paint under each of their eyes, and all hands cocked:
ready, aim,fire.

“BLUE & GOLD” by Julia at Kerr Hall at Ryerson

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

In a room of strangers, she looked like she didn’t want to stand out intentionally. She was the only one wearing her school’s colours. With pride, even. She looked great. She thought everyone would have the same spirit, the same attitude toward game days. She had moved from a school that celebrated every single moment, game day or not. She didn’t realize what a beautiful thing she had, or had come to know until it was basically forbidden. The teachers all looked at her as if she had broken the uniform code. There was no uniform; unless you counted the uniform judgment that she was experiencing on all fronts. Bright blue. Bright gold. Stars and glitter across her face, pompom strands in her hair. She was trying not to let it bother her that everyone was staring and laughing at her. She was trying to keep it together more than she ever needed to before. Did she really not belong? Could this not be a perfect moment for rallying the troupes and collecting school spirit to pass out to everyone who might, show it or not, actually really want some?

“tie up my son and me” by Sasha on the Queen streetcar going West

Friday November 22, 2013
5 minutes
Toronto Star (Life Section)

Mika was making currant and orange marmalade tea cake and George was raking leaves. Ryan was reading a Tintin comic on the couch, trying to not nibble on his nails. Miss Christie, his homeroom teacher, had shamed him horribly on Friday afternoon saying, in front of everyone, “Ryan, do you know how many germs live underneath our fingernails?” Ryan imagined hundreds of tiny bugs, of various shapes, crawling around together in an orgy-like pile. Although he was an intelligent seven-year-old, he wasn’t sure what a “germ” really was. Sometimes his mother added “wheat germ” to muffins so that she could call them “breakfast”. George came in the back door. “Hey, bud!” He said. His cheeks were red from the bite in the air that had arrived at the beginning of the month and hadn’t wanted to leave. “What does a “germ” look like, Dad?” Asked Ryan. “Oh sheesh, bud, what have you been reading?” George peeled off his grey sweater. “Do me a favor and don’t Google that, okay?” Mika was singing along to the radio in the kitchen, the house suddenly smelling of sweet citrus.

“name the sand” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday, March 21, 2013
5 minutes
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

She looks at me like she knows something I don’t. Like she’s got a secret. Or a yeast infection. “Fiona is… really creative,” she starts in. Is this woman, no, girl, is this girl even old enough to be teaching? “Excuse me but… how old are you?” She blushes. How cute. “Twenty-five.” “Did you fast-track?” There’s a pause. She briefly glances at my left hand. Yes, thank you, we are still together. “Um, no? I… I did the concurrent education program at York…” “Oh…” I say. I’m not impressed, or, maybe I am. I don’t know. “Fiona is really a leader in the class. She is so happy to be the boss!” It’s like she thinks I don’t know my kid. It’s like she thinks that she knows Fiona better than I do. “What are you saying?” “That she’s a real extrovert!” “I know that.” “Of course you do – ” “Why don’t you tell me something that I don’t know about her…” “The function of parent-teacher time is that…” “Interviews.” “Pardon?” “Parent-teacher interviews. That’s what it’s called. What we’re having here.” “Actually we have recently updated the title, the name. We felt that “interview” was too formal. It’s really about us having a nice chat, some time together… chatting about the child, your child… Fiona.” Is she sweating? “I see…” I say, but I don’t. I don’t see the point in that progressive education bullshit. “Let me get right to the point,” she says. “Fiona has been… uh… she’s been removing her… taking off her… undergarments.” I laugh. “Oh?” “It’s… becoming a bit worrisome… as, you know, she’s such a leader… Some of the other girls, her friends, are starting to follow suit…”

“I believe my mother” by Julia at Ossington station

Monday, December 31, 2012
5 minutes
Blurred Snapshots in The History of Forgetting
Lawrence Raab

Dear 2012 Me:

I’M BACK! I’m still me but I’m older this year and GUESS WHAT!? I HAVE BREASTS! They are still small, but from an A cup to a B cup, just the way I predicted. What an excitement. I have joined a VOLLEY BALL TEAM, and I got to even play in two whole games! That’s more than Marie-Lynn because she sprained her ankle and didn’t get to play AT ALL! I have made big plans for this coming year. I have decided that I will not contact my birth mother until I learn to play more than just the theme song to SAVED BY THE BELL on the UKELELE. Last year, I was a little bit more easy going but this year, things are going to be harder. MORE WORK! No playing until the work is DONE. That’s what my teacher MISS SCHMIDT says to me. In private mostly, because during class she’s busy teaching, duh. I have had a GREAT year. A REALLY GREAT year. I learned the word DEFIBRILLATOR and I will learn how to spell it by FEBRUARY 2nd. I have also learned that BIG WORDS do not mean YOU ARE SMART. I am smart, says Miss Schmidt, but I need to stop doodling all over my binders in White Out because it gives her a head ache.
I believe my mother (not my birth one) thinks I should try to stay MORE QUIET, MORE OFTEN.

“One way I teach” by Julia at Saving Gigi

Friday, October 12, 2012 at Saving Gigi
5 minutes
Daring Greatly
Brené Brown

Dancing is a way of life. That was what my grade 12 English teacher said, and god knows she never danced a day in her life. She was a giant woman. Four hundred pounds, and sadly, counting. She had a gap in between her front teeth and she was incredibly beautiful. She had a way of making people feel great and bad at the same time. I still can’t figure out what the intention of combining those two feelings would be, but she was a master at it. She knew she was overweight. I mean, how could she not. She was as big as the entire classroom when she was sitting down. I dare say she taught us mostly from the chair at her desk in the front. Which is fine. Not one person in the class made fun of her. Not one. And maybe that was because we knew it wouldn’t hurt her. She was brave. She was strong. And she wasn’t stupid. We didn’t have to prove anything in her class. The only thing she wanted was for us to come outside of our comfort zone, and be bold. She preached about dancing, and singing, and blindly painting words of truth on the walls of our bedrooms. I wanted to be bold. I wanted to be bigger than she was. Bigger than a spirit that filled not only a classroom, but our minds.