“none of which are taken very seriously.” By Julia on Amanda’s red chair

Tuesday December 18, 2018
9:40pm
5 minutes
From an email

The girl downstairs blasts her stereo. It’s new. She never used to blast anything before. She has played Drake and no one else I recognize. It’s past my bedtime but aside from today she’s been pretty good about turning it off by 9pm. 9pm is my bedtime. I’m waiting to see if she figures that out or if a guy leaves her place. That would explain the volume. She’s entertaining. I don’t hear voices. Maybe they’re dancing. I could go down there and throw a stone at her door but this is something my therapist advises against. She says I can take certain things too seriously. I’m being really patient for the reccord. I haven’t thrown anything at all yet. I haven’t banged on the floor like some people would at exactly 9:46pm on a Tuesday. Maybe Tuesdays are her new Fridays because Wednesdays are her new Saturdays.

“Better than a landfill.” By Sasha at her desk

Thursday December 13, 2018
12:35pm
5 minutes
Dust
Brianne Battye

“You’re a mess, Robbie,” Val shivers and zips her coat up past her chin.

“Jesus, it must be minus twenty-five – ” Rob looks up at the sky.

“Don’t ignore me!”

“I’m not, I’m just sayin’…” They stand there for a full minute, Val stamping her feet to get feeling back in her toes.

“I am a mess, but it’s okay… Like, I don’t usually let my life get messy, right? When have you ever seen me like this?” He makes a good point.

Val’s cheeks are turning bright red. “I just think that you should talk to someone, a counselor or something. You might even be able to find something subsidized?”

“Thanks. Yeah. I’ll look into it.” Rob pushes his hands further into his coat pockets. He feels something round.

“You could get lost there.” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday April 17, 2017
12:02am
Up
Margaret Atwood

“Claire?” A gentle, but assured knock. “Are you alright?”

How long have I been here? How long have I been hosting a Moon Circle for one?

“Um, yes, yes, I am. Be right out.” I pull up my underwear (threadbare and elastic a bit stretched out), my jeans, and then realize I forgot to wipe. GET IT TOGETHER, CLAIRE. Back down, wipe, up, wash hands, holy eff, here we go.

“Come on in,” Noreen opens the door to her office and I go first. She is the perfect gentlewoman.

A lavender couch underneath a window. Spider plants, succulents and African Violets line the sill. Not one dry leaf. Of course she has a green thumb. She sits in a caramel leather chair, perhaps Moroccan. Paintings on the walls, all in blues, greens, purples.

“There is a dream I remember having” by Sasha in the wicker chair

Thursday, February 22, 2018
6:59am
5 minutes
The Wilds of Sleep
Kat Duff

Dr. Sandhu is wearing a linen cream pantsuit today. Did she think of me as I thought of her when choosing my blue sweater that covers my bum and stretchy grey tights and my fun boots that I usually only wear out in the evening for evening plans? WHY DO MY BOWELS FEEL AS THOUGH THEY WANT TO EMPTY?

“How was your week, Claire?” She says my name like it’s a pastry or a perfume or something a little bit biblical.

“It was okay. I brought my Dad a roast chicken on Sunday because at the home the chicken is dry and I never hear the end of it.”

“Tell me about your Dad.”

“What do you want to know?”

“How long has he been sick?”

“Both my parents had Alzheimer’s at the same time so if you want to know about him you have to know about her, too – “

“Your mother?”

“Yeah, they really overlap a lot inside my – “

“little package” by Sasha on her couch

Tuesday December 26, 2017
6:55pm
5 minutes
From an email

“You mentioned in your voicemail that you’ve seen several other counsellors. What has your experience been like with them?”

“I, I… We… It wasn’t a good fit.”

“Why do you imagine that might be?”

“My insurance only covers psychiatrists and psychologists, so – “

“I’m a psychiatrist – “

“I don’t want to go on medication – “

“There’s no shame in supporting your healing with – “

“I DON’T WANT TO GO ON MEDICATION.”

A silence like Don Mills station at 1:15AM.

“Let’s take a step back.”

I nod. “Okay.”

“When you say, “episodes”, what do you mean?”

“Um…” A silence like Thanksgiving with Al and Carly, Dad and Penelope with her stupid sweet potato pie.

“IT’S TRUE!” By Sasha on her couch


Wednesday March 8, 2017
10:49pm
5 minutes
Overheard in the kitchen

It’s true, Jenna thinks. She does hate to disappoint. “I wouldn’t say that’s the primary thing going on here, though…” Dr. Hendricks looks over her wire rimmed glasses and raises her eyebrows. Jenna has been a patient for long enough to know what this means. “You’re full of shit.”

“You’ll need to investigate your feelings about disappointment, Jenna. We’ll do some of that work here, in session, but you’ll also need to keep a close eye on when you’re feeling disappointed, in yourself or in others, and how that effects your behaviour. Are you lashing out more? Are you quiet? Pay attention.”

“special thank you” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday October 1, 2016
9:11pm
5 minutes
a Vista print ad

Today Corinne told me to look into his face and tell him what I appreciate about him. I was like, Corinne, I don’t have anything to say that he hasn’t already heard. And she told me I was resisting because I didn’t like that I was being told what to do and not to let the work I have to do on my control issues and ego get in the way of making my partner feel loved. I told her that maybe if she was staring into her husband’s face she would get it and that to do it on command isn’t natural and that he won’t be offended if I save it for when the moment is more organic than this curated experience. Then she told me that every minute I spend resisting her, I spend double the time resisting myself and my feelings and the truth that I might actually have some that I’m too afraid to visit.

“spread the word” by Julia at Starbucks


Monday July 11, 2016 at Starbucks
7:01am
5 minutes
from an e-mail

There are crazy people everywhere. Waiting to get on a bus, complaining about a dirty table, screaming about the bugs in their hair. Some days I am this way. I can see myself reacting, overreacting to things and I don’t recognize my face. It’s like some crazy person has hijacked my body to do all their crazy things. I know it’s me, but it feels like a movie or video game. My therapist says I can’t be held responsible for things I do or how I behave outside my “window of tolerance”. She says that trauma can lead to the window being broken wide open and that’s how things become blurry; hard to control; hard to keep rational. I told her, I don’t know how I could do it, I never wanted to do it, and she said, well it’s that “window of tolerance” thing we talked about and would you like to go back in time and speak to your six year old self right now?

“stop making assumptions” by Sasha on the couch at Bowmore


Sunday, December 27, 2015
9:35pm
5 minutes
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz


Gemma vows to stop making assumptions. She vows in bed in the morning before she puts on her slippers and pads down the hall to pee. She vows while rubbing on face cream and again while pouring soy creamer into her coffee. Judy, the therapist at the community centre that Gemma’s been going to see every second Tuesday, told her to practise her special mantra when she walks Harold, Mrs. Grange’s schnoodle. Judy wrote it on a recipe card that happened to have someone else’s name written on the back.

“I approach life with curious wonder.”

Judy has grey hair that she wears in a braid that falls over her right shoulder and sometimes gets trapped in her armpit. She doesn’t wear make-up, except for mauve lipstick, which she clearly reapplies between sessions. She says, “Hi Gemma. So good to see you,” every single time Gemma arrives in her office. It’s near the pool, and Judy tries to mask the smell of chlorine with an essential oil diffuser. Once, when Gemma sneezed, Judy said, “Does Ylang Ylang irritate you, Gemma?”

“Looking for a therapist?” by Sasha on the couch


Sunday, April 26, 2015
7:49pm
5 minutes
From a PRS subway ad

Incense and pillows with tiny mirrors and embroidered flowers
Sponge painted walls
yellow and orange
Soft feet
Soft soft feet
A couch over-steeped
smells like blue
smells like now
smells like tissue dust
I want you to know me like no
father
or
friend
or lover
I want you to know me in watercolours
Soft belly
Soft forehead
There’s a moment
still
Where I want to know how you are
Where I want to ask if you’ve known this grey
this deep growth low
There’s a moment
still
Handing over five twenty dollar
bills
Where it’s achy

“Wish I could, you know that” by Julia at Bolpetta


Sunday November 30, 2014 at Bolpetta
3:45pm
5 minutes
overheard at Bolpetta

I’m kind of mad at you, I guess. I was really angry before but now I’m. I don’t know just upset, really. I want to explain why I’m upset. I really want you to understand that for me this is not an overreaction. I’m not exaggerating. You made me feel a certain way and it’s valid and I want you to know that.
So. Ok. So I guess I have the floor, then don’t I? I’ve been working on my nerve but it doesn’t seem to be showing. Dr. Abrahams wants me to use “I” statements. “I feel” statements. You. Sorry I mean I feel..felt..because it happened already. Um. Okay. I felt betrayed by you when you decided to eat at the meatball place without me even though I told you it was very important to me. I know you will think that it’s a petty thing to be upset over but you. I feel that you threw away my feelings and decided I was not important enough for you to wait. That’s how it felt. I am entitled to that feeling. It signifies that when it’s really life or death you won’t have the sense to keep me in mind. I am entitled to that feeling.

“chicken liver pate”by Sasha at her desk


Monday April 14, 2014
3:08pm
5 minutes
The Grid
April 10-16, 2014

When Jon got here, he looked nervous. Most people do. He was how I expected him to be, in some ways, but in other ways he surprised me. I didn’t expect the lisp. Or the combed hair, to be honest. He had light blue eyes… Almost like that actor that played Jesus in that Mel Gibson film. You know that guy? I don’t remember his name. Anyway, he sat down, stiff, like, he wouldn’t even lean back against the couch. I asked him the usual questions… The questions I always ask a new client. “You come very highly recommended…” he said. “By whom?” I asked. There was a long pause. “I can’t say,” Jon looked at the carpet and I wondered when I’d last vacuumed. “Alright…” I sipped my green tea, I think. I said, “What brings you here, Jon?” He remained very quiet for quite some time and I wondered who it was who might’ve recommended me to him. “It was Larry Pickford,” Jon said, his voice louder. “I met Larry in a chatroom. On the Internet. A special support group…” He stopped speaking and left the room. I called him a few hours later and left him a voicemail, asking him to come the following week. It took him a month to call me back. I know what you’re thinking…

“used to make them” by Julia at her desk


Saturday April 5, 2014
1:42am
5 minutes
from the box of envelopes

Sitting down with my origami paper and my origami instructions and I’m staring at my origami pictures and my origami table. I’m going to make a bunch of birds. What else do you make with origami? I want to make them small and large and smaller and larger. I want everyone to ask me to make one for them for Christmas or Easter because flight is really symbolic in both holidays. I will write a little message on each origami bird’s wing about “flight” or “magic” or “guidance” or “freedom”. I used to make things like this all the time when I had time and when I had to exorcise a lot of my personal demons on my own. I put them all into birds. I didn’t give those ones away because they would be too powerful in a negative way. Instead I’d make them and write words on the wings like “out” and “vanish” and “please” and “evil” and then I would take them up to the roof and burn every single one of them with a different match and a different glass jar. I found it therapeutic to give each bird its own holder so it could live out its issues without contaminating or influencing the other ones.
Now I’m much better so I’m giving happy thoughts out to the people I really like having around.

“Safety pocket” by Sasha at her desk


Wednesday March 5, 2014
10:33pm
5 minutes
the box of matches

I’m not sorry for calling your name in my sleep and waking up my wife. I’m not sorry. See, I never told her about you and I had no choice now and that was a good thing. I can’t blame you on PTSD. I can’t blame you on rum. I can’t blame you on forgetting that I had a wife and twin girls and a blue doored house back home. I’m not sorry.

Okay. I hear you, Eric. But when you arrived today you said you felt “sorry”. That was your word. Why did you say that?

Because I’m sorry that Rebecca feels betrayed. That’s her word. “You fucking betrayed us!” She screamed. And she doesn’t just speak for herself. She speaks for the girls, too. That’s the worst part. And it’s true, I guess. I did. But she doesn’t know what it’s like there. She doesn’t know that Kabul smells like fresh baked bread and that the women have eyes like wolves.

“dropped the iron” by Julia at her desk


Sunday December 1, 2013
7:17pm
5 minutes
Justine’s Birthday
Jean Sheppard


Oh sweet Lila, he mumbled in his sleep, the house plants are looking grim. Lila had been dead for years. Hardy hadn’t had plants for just as long. He was making little progress in getting past his wife’s death. His doctor friend, Kai, had mentioned once half heartedly that he was disappointed by the developments, and Hardy made sure to ignore him after that. He didn’t see the point in paying a friend for his opinion when he could just ask him for it. Hardy was a bit confused and began to believe that doctor Kai was his friend all along, and maybe even in the first place. Kai didn’t want Hardy to feel alone so he took special precautions during their sessions. He’d pay him closer attention and try to laugh a little more when he attempted to make a joke.

“The way we judge” by Sasha on her bed


Monday, October 7, 2013
11:35pm
5 minutes
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz


Amy and Dan’s therapist told them to trade secrets. They set aside five minutes on Monday night to do so.

Amy: Do you ever see someone on the street and think that they’d… taste good? I mean, not sexually. I mean, like, that if you licked their arm, they’d probably taste like… pie?
Dan: Nope… But, I respect that you do. I mean, that’s weird, but –
Amy: You aren’t supposed to judge –
Dan: I’m not! I was just saying… I like that you see strangers and want to lick them.
Amy: That’s not what I said! This isn’t working.
Dan: Don’t say that. Remain hopeful. I’m going to go. Phew. Okay… Sometimes I, well, I never want to lick people, but… occasionally I want to, like, touch their hair. Okay. If I’m being perfectly honest, I want to braid their hair.
Amy: You know how to braid?

“Softness, protection, control” by Sasha at Blazac’s in the Distillery


Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at Balzac’s
6:56pm
5 minutes
from the macadamia oil bottle

Barry started… knitting. Don’t you dare fucking laugh. I’ll kick you in the tit. His shrink told him to do it. Said it’ll calm him right down. When he’s wigging out, when he’s about to lose it? He should go on down to the fucking family room and practise his “softness”. Her words, not mine. His shrink. Never met the lady but she sounds like a real piece of work. Barry says she’s got this big ol’ nose, and big ol’ hair to go along with it. She’s “plump”, that’s what Barry says. She gives that real nurturing vibe. He must love that. Must get real gushy with her. So, we’re getting in this nasty fight because I get home and I see he hasn’t even left the fucking couch all day, watching Eddie Murphy movies or something, and I’m losing it, I really am. Barry is about to scream, his veins are popping in his forehead, sure sign he’s gonna scream. He walks away. Next thing I hear is them needles clinking. Says he making a pot holder.

“Softness, protection, control” by Julia at her desk


Wednesday, August 7, 2013
6:55pm
5 minutes
from the macadamia oil bottle

Sheena was practicing her mindfulness. She was channeling light and focussing on dying her hair a magnificent shade of midnight blue by the end of the week. Her skin was soft, her eyes turned inward. Sheena was breathing slowly, thoughtfully. She had started meditating when Christopher died because it seemed like the only thing she could do without hurting herself. Midnight blue, and then maybe turquoise by December. She let her thoughts glide to Christopher and then back again, without punishment. She was allowed to miss him. She was allowed to see other men and be reminded of him. But that was not always easy. Sometimes she’d forget where she was or who she was and start hugging strangers. It was something, her therapist calmly told her, that was not okay. Sheena knew that anyway. She just couldn’t help herself on certain days.

“the blank screen” by Julia at Tarragon Theatre Courtyard


Monday, July 8, 2013
2:23pm
5 minutes
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.

“Any siblings?” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at Starbucks
5:04pm
5 minutes
Wit
Margaret Edson


She asked me, as she scribbled something into her notebook. Probably something judgmental like, “Patient does not respond well to authority.” Or “Patient refuses to give her real name because she is paranoid that the “people” are after her.” or “Patient is not very interesting as a result of all her hardship. Hmmm.” I bet they write things like that all the time. The “Hmmm” part is the one I’m most concerned about. It’s neither here nor there and I never did well with the in betweens. Or the seeing someone who is vaguely familiar on the street and being able to ignore them. I’ve always given people a second glance, a second opportunity for us to make eye-contact and have an exchange of some kind. I don’t know where this inappropriate and extreme, because I can admit it, loyalty came from. I’m fairly certain I don’t owe the girl I used to know in university, that I just saw on the street(and with whom I happened to share one or two interests/ mutual friends)a single nod or smile, let alone a hello. And yet I give her it all. I smile with my heart like I’ve just seen one of my long lost siblings for the first time in 20 years. Ohhhhhh siblings.
This bitch really knows what she’s doing.