“Ice on the sidewalk” by Julia in Joe’s childhood room

Tuesday December 24, 2019
5 minutes
Or Death and December
George Garrett

This city is colder than the one we left. I haven’t missed the rain once. Not in my life, even during the draught. When we left the first time coming back was like a time stamp on where we had been and how much we’ve learned. Seeing the CN Tower used to make me cry. Every street is a buzz. There are people out and about, wearing layers, walking slowly on the icy sidewalk. Back home, I guess we’re calling it that now, the cold was welcome when it came. It wasn’t too much or too hard. Not for someone born to a cold far harsher.

I don’t have the right gear for this city. Been known to keep a parka around just in case but the reality of this no longer being my home has finally sunk in. Why keep a coat around when you live in a place that doesn’t need it.

“I have continued to struggle” by Julia on her couch

Tuesday November 19, 2019
5 minutes
From a letter 

you were born in toronto
you thank your lucky stars
when people ask you where
you’re from you don’t have to lie or embellish

now after all these years your area code is worth something and when people discover you never changed your number they seem offended and you are proud

didn’t think you’d be here this long, but here you are, still here, still here

you remember the day you looked out at the skyline and said two years max as if the timeline were drawn in the sand without factoring the storm

it takes longer than you thought it would to find home in a new place and three seems like the magic number; the beginning of the not so terrible, maybe even good

you’re still here now
still here

“Get an alert when the price drops” by Julia on her balcony

Monday June 17, 2019
5 minutes
From FlightHub.com

dad wants to see me
pay for my flight wants to see me
I speak to him on the phone and I tell him don’t worry
about the money right now

but I dont think my narcisism will rest if I let it believe that he just wants us all there together.
I was just there.
Last month I was there and we saw each other for 3 Sunday lunches in a row and 3 Monday dinners.

I chose to live far away.
I didn’t realize how often I’d want to go back.

Summer in the city is packed with juice. I like to be there for that so I can suck it dry, let it crust on my chin.

I don’t want to say no because of money but money becauses me much more than I’d like it to.
It’s always more than it says and the deals come with an asterisk.

“I take the streetcar alone to Nathan Phillips Square” by Julia on her couch

Friday, May 25, 2018
5 minutes
Demchanizing Our Politics
Maggie Hutcheson 

It is 2009 and I am living downtown for the first time. I am afraid of the streetcar and of this city. Its open heart a pulse I cannot yet dance to. Its screaming life, unimaginable still. I am sitting on the streetcar going east when I am supposed to be going west. I wonder how I got this wrong and why I am sitting this long going in the opposite direction. I learn everything the hard way: feet on the ground and running backwards, the feeling of being lost, an echo of who I am growing out of, slowly. I am riding the streetcar alone and I am in awe of all the people here who know where the water is without looking at it. Who weren’t born here the way I was but who know its secrets the way I don’t. I am home and I am back and I am unsure about how to get anywhere but I am sure that here is where I’m supposed to be. The stop names don’t mean anything to me yet. The voice calling out Nathan Phillips Square blends in with the sidewalks, the hotdog stands, the concrete rushing.

“I take the streetcar alone to Nathan Phillips Square” by Sasha on her balcony

Friday, May 25, 2018
5 minutes
Demchanizing Our Politics
Maggie Hutcheson 

I take the streetcar alone to Nathan Phillips Square. It’s the first time I’ve been out of the house in what feels like weeks, but is actually days. Four days. It’s winter, and winter in Toronto is meant for hibernation and not leaving the house. Don’t judge me. I haven’t skated since I was a kid, and I certainly don’t own a pair. I rent some hockey skates for ten dollars and decide I definitely need a hot chocolate. I drink it before lacing up, watching the people go round and round. A few teenagers show off with quick stops and I wonder who might come to my rescue if I wipe out.

“And in the business library” by Sasha on the couch in Swansea

Thursday August 4, 2016
5 minutes
The Mariott wifi

toronto is smelly and dirty and
nipples showing
slivered almonds over peaches
over caffeinated over medicated pop
another bottle pop another advil
toronto hurts herself
skinned knees and chapped lips
all of the bruises on wrists and thighs
toronto doesn’t say sorry when toronto
bumps into someone
rolls over toes with a suitcase packed
but nowhere to go
toronto doesn’t drink enough water
drinks too much beer
everyone’s laughing at you and no
one even knows you’re there
in the public library practising other
languages so we can say thank you
and fuck you and please

“a work in progress” by Sasha at The Elysian Room

Monday September 21, 2015
5 minutes
from a dramaturge’s notes

Sometimes I creep you like an ex – scrolling through webpages and photographs, wondering if I’ll be able to see how you’ve changed, wondering if I’ll still recognize your grubby spots and your laugh lines. Mostly, it’s late at night when I’m home alone, too tired to read but not ready to unplug. I’ll watch a bit of Orphan Black to catch a glimpse of your smokey alleys and your graffiti, to get a hit of Chinatown and Kensington. Toronto, it’s a strange thing, how I miss you. How I crave your coffee and your noise. But when I’m there, when I’m visiting, it’s just not the same as it once was. It’s a long distance work in progress.

“You can live in Heaven” by Sasha on her couch

Friday, July 24, 2015
5 minutes
The Four Agreements
Don Miguel Ruiz

I first met Will from an audience. His band was playing at the Horseshoe Tavern and I stared at him the whole set. At the end of the show he smiled at me and my stomach flipped and flopped like a fish out of water. A few months later I saw him at a friends birthday party and I approached him. Someone was singing karaoke, loud, and I had to shout. I played dumb when he told me that he was in a band and acted like I only maybe had heard of them. At the end of our conversation he asked for my phone number and we texted the next few days. We met up for coffee and he was distracted but I didn’t care. I liked him. He kissed me on my porch and told me he was going on tour for three months in a week. We didn’t have a lot of time.

“the wisdom of the world” by Sasha on her porch

Sunday, April 18, 2015
5 minutes

I’m not sure about this place. I’m not sure about a city where pork is cheaper than chard. I’m not sure about boys in between home and school being stopped and carded and not given explanations and not being given whys. I’m not sure about some women sleeping under bridges and some women wearing jeans that cost five hundred dollars. I’m not sure about sending away the garbage we are too lazy to separate into recycling and compost. I’m not sure about cars. I’m not sure about unsafe bike lanes and people that don’t care about the people that choose to ride bikes. I’m not sure about dumping toxins into Lake Ontario. I’m sure that there’s a connection between the hormones in our dairy and the puffers in the backpacks of our young friends. I’m not sure about gender binaries and public bathrooms. I’m not sure about so many Starbucks.

“Bitch better have my money” by Julia in a taxi

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
5 minutes
Better Have My Money

Went to the mailbox today. Noticed all my letters were soaked right through. Holes. I chalk it up to holes. I expect this shitbox house I am living in with its shitbox buzzing refrigerator and its shitbox screaming radiators and its shitbox location right beside not one but TWO railway tracks to also have a leaky shitbox mail collector. I have no more hopes for myself. I’m at what you would call, rock bottom. And no, though you think it might, it doesn’t feel good. Sorry I get sarcastic when I’ve slept for only 3 hours because my shitbox neighbours were up until sunrise playing a death metal rendition of The Itsy Bitsy Spider. I LOVE MY LIFE.

“twists the whip” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday April 3, 2015
5 minutes
The Zurau Aphorisms
Franz Kafka

The fall that you swept in is now called the

a maple leaf all reds and yellows
I wasn’t expecting you on my doorstep
Lansdowne Avenue
The screech of the bus and the families overflowing
babies and trundle buggies coming straight from No
Unassuming you snuck peeks as we turned pages and showed our soft
A photograph of your parents kissing
Braided hair
God was there all salty breath and open palms facing

Nostalgia is a currency carried in my breast pocket

“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.

“clearly in the context of the show” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Monday November 3, 2014
5 minutes
from an e-mail

He’s there. He’s there. I run up the stairs of the porch and I remember that my Mom has writing group tonight, she’s across the city in High Park. Shit shit shit shit shit. I get my key into the lock and I slam the door and he’s there, on the porch. Heart pounding, tears real, breath high. I call the police. “Um, hi, I just, I just was followed and the man came onto the porch and I’m not sure what to do because I’m home alone and…” This man is going to kill me. I know you’re there. I see you. Two officers come, ring the doorbell. I creep towards the door, wiping tears. “You called?” They circle the house with flashlight and report back that they didn’t find anyone. No one’s there. I say “thank you”. No one’s there.

“We can help you” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday August 31, 2014
5 minutes
a TD bank envelope

She says, “What are you doing?” I say, “I’m cleaning the kitchen…” She says, “It wasn’t even dirty to begin with – ” I say, “It doesn’t get dirty because I clean it every day and that way nothing can get out of hand.” She says, “You’re paranoid. You’re pretty much a paranoid schizophrenic.” I say, “That’s a really mean thing to say…” She say, “I’m not saying it to be mean. I’m saying it to be real.” I say, “I’m not even cleaning the fucking kitchen! I’m watching Game Of Thrones! I did’t want you to judge me because it’s two in the afternoon and I should be doing something productive!” She says, “It’s Sunday! What the fuck is wrong with you!” I say, “Why did you even call me?” She says, “To see if you wanted to have sushi tonight…” I say, “So?” She says, “Do you want to have sushi tonight?” I say, “I guess…” She says, “Great! New Gen?”

“That’s very interesting” by Sasha at ideal coffee

Monday, July 21, 2014
4:23pm at ideal coffee
5 minutes
Overheard at ideal coffee

“That’s very interesting” is Charles’ favourite thing to say. It’s his go to. I call him on it. “I have no idea what you mean when you say that, Charles! “Interesting” has to be the least descriptive word that there is!” He smiles, like he knows something that I don’t. “You’re overcomplicating it, honey,” he says. When Charles and I first met, I thought he was an asshole. That’s usually how it goes with the men I date. When I meet them I think that they’re assholes and then something flips and I’m in love. I’m not in love with Charles, but he fascinates me. He’s my Toronto boyfriend. I have Ken in Hamilton. It’s nice. It helps me focus. Ken doesn’t, the sex does. I should be specific about that. “Get specific!” says Ken, biting my toes. Charles weighs about double Ken, but Ken is taller. It balances out.

“Toronto’s real estate market is booming” by Sasha on the porch at Knowlton Lake

Saturday June 14, 2014
5 minutes
The Toronto Star Website

I ride my bike up the gentle hill of Shaw St. The burn has started to fade, a month into riding. I hear my phone ring but I ignore it, even if it’s the real estate agent, Jill, who was recommended to me by my old friend Jolene. Her father had used Jill when he decided to buy a bungalow investment property in the East End. “She’ll get you exactly what you want,” Jolene said, “She’s a warrior in a peach pantsuit.” I was going to see a semi on Shaw. The asking price was above what I wanted to pay but Jill said she wanted us to see it so that we had a “lay of the land”. The owners were a gay couple with twin three year olds. They’d outgrown the two bedrooms, the long living room, the small garden in the backyard. “They’ve put in an offer for a house in the Junction Triangle,” said Jill. I arrived and I locked my bike to a parking sign. Jill was waiting outside and she waved enthusiastically.

“let’s make this the biggest” by Sasha on her couch

Saturday June 7, 2014
5 minutes
An email from Luminato

I see him riding his bike on Queen St. near Bathurst and he looks good, he looks better, he looks older and more attuned and more bearded. I see him and he’s riding a white bike with red handlebars, the kind the curve down, the kind for racing. He fucked me over. He was so good and so charming and the sex was perfect, sweaty, euphoria. “Drummers have good rhythm,” he’d say and I’d melt like butter in a pan. Who was I then? Who am I now? The same. The same. Trees grow. The circles. “Let’s make this the biggest summer we’ve ever had,” he said, walking in the park around the corner from my apartment then, his fingers grazing my fingers, his eyes looking up and down my body.

“you want to be chosen” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar going East

Tuesday June 3, 2014
5 minutes
This American Life podcast

They’re both wearing V-neck T-shirts (black and blue) and cardigans over top (grey and lighter blue). Haircuts like men, like the popular haircut for men right now, a bit combed over, part spread like margarine. Mancuts. They’re scholars. They’re studying feminism, all the waves of it, all the ups and the valleys of it. The taste of it. They’re wearing scholarly shoes (black and brown). Their shoes speak to their intellect. They write with HB pencils, practising impermanence, erasing away the “his” in herstory. When they fuck, it’s lighter than their bodies, it’s light like sparkles, carried by the air. When they sleep their dreams are mirrors of one another. “I’ve learned it’s better to make them like you and then tell them how what you do is a little bit weird,” one says to the other.

“she wasn’t even funny” by Sasha in her garden

Saturday May 31, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on queen st west

“She wasn’t even funny,” you say, “but she thought she was and that was funny so everyone was laughing…” I take a second, close my eyes and see what you’ve said, like I always do. I listen with my eyes closed, so that I’m not overwhelmed by the colour of your eyes, and your front tooth with a tiny chip out of it from that time you got drunk and went go-carting. You don’t have the money to fix it. Or, you do, but, you’ve got other priorities. Like books. And antique chairs that need the paint stripped and the re-painting of the chairs. You’re talking about… Angela. Your one-time friend, one-time collaborator, one-time fuck buddy. Angela. She started doing stand-up and you told her that you’d go check her out and so you did. First you ate chicken fingers and plum sauce and baby carrots and then you got on the streetcar and you listened to Angela tell horrible stories about her life. “I feel bad for her,” I say, and I do. But I don’t. She’s so brave in her discomfort, she’s reckless with her awkward nature and I realize, quietly, like a moment of heartburn – we’re just jealous.

“she wasn’t even funny” by Julia on her couch

Saturday May 31, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on queen st west

So I met Brendan’s new girlfriend on Saturday night, cause I accidentally got dragged out to a bar and had to put on high strappy shoes. Tamara said it would be good for me to get out of the house and stop telling myself I was being productive if all I was really doing was reading old e-mails that Brendan sent me while I was in Ottawa last fall. I told Tamara that they were beautiful expressions of love and youth and she didn’t have to understand. She didn’t understand or care to, so instead she kidnapped me with a tube of bright red lipstick and forced me to wear eye glitter. So we’re waiting at the bar and it’s as if I had a sixth sense that it was him, and I looked to the door and Brendan was walking in with a tiny little tanned girl on his arm. She was wearing a ball-cap and had big hoop earrings. She was pretty. She was smaller than me. I adjusted my skirt and told Tamara that I had to leave. No, she told me, I’d have to stay cause I was here first, it was my home field. Then of course, me trying to avoid him for the first 20 minutes made it more awkward when he actually came up to me with his tiny new arm piece in tow. The first thing I said was, I hate this bar! It’s filled with insecurities and perfume designed by washed-up celebrities. Brendan laughed but his little toy didn’t. I was relieved that at least she wasn’t funny too.

“I think I’m crying from happiness” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Tuesday May 27, 2014
5 minutes
from http://www.buzzfeed.com

WSW. Craigslist post.
You know when you’re walking down the street, and it’s lush and things are blooming all over the damn place and you suddenly touch your own cheek and you realize “I’m crying from happiness”! That happens to me. At least once a full moon. If it happens to you too, let’s talk. I’m taller than average, with bigger than average feet and kneecaps. I like baseball hats, James Dean, the colour orange and persian carpets. I was born on the East Coast but have called Toronto home since thinking I wanted to be in Journalism and attending University and then having a quarter life crisis and quitting. Now I sometimes hang out in a tattoo parlour and I sometimes bake vegan muffins (the former for money the secondary for pleasure and bowl licking alone). I’m not a vegan, but I dabble in animal protection. I’m not religious but I believe in something bigger than my little (tall) self.

“Until everyone finished performing” by Julia on her couch

Wednesday May 21, 2014
5 minutes

there was a lull in the crowd as we waited for jenny to get the courage to go up for open mic night. it was her first time, so she was nervous, but i’ve never seen jenny like that before. she puked in the ladies’ washroom right when she got there and she drank a whole pint of beau’s–after the whole puking incident. we started calling that move the ‘puke and purchase’. she somehow didn’t pass out, but was still so nervous that she wasn’t being herself. i whispered to her via text-message “girl, what are you doing, it’s going to be fine <3." and she text-yelled back "I AM DYING RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW". so the crowd was all waiting for the next act, and it was really clear that the mc for the night, who did a lot of standup comedy, was even feeling a bit awkward at this point. he didn't even know if he could make fun of her, probably because a) the crowd was doing that enough and b) he must have understood. finally, after waiting way too long, jenny popped up from her chair, her ukelele clutched to her chest. the crowd booed her. she looked like she was going to sit back down. so i instinctively stuck my index finger right up her butt-crack. "GO" i hissed.

“Hair Design Inc.” by Julia on her couch

Monday May 19, 2014
5 minutes
from insurance papers

I’m gonna go to a real nice school and learn how to cut all the nice ladies’ hair. I’m going to give them high status looks and sophisticated styles. Then they will tell all their friends that they know a girl who will make them look like a star. A real movie star. I have to get a couple clients. Then I’ll show them my skills and they will see I love cutting hair so much and they will come again to see me when they need an up-do or even just a blowout for a business meeting. I’ll give them my card and say okay this is for you, you’ve been a very good customer. And they’ll tell me I was the best they ever had in their life. In their life! They’ll repeat that part cause it’s important. And they’ll walk out smiling with love cause they look so nice and they feel the way they look. So first I have to find the right school. The right school for the right kind of hairstyles.

“Hair Design Inc.” by Sasha on her couch

Monday May 19, 2014
5 minutes
from insurance papers

He gets the east side, I get the west. When we broke up, I laid it out. “I expect that you won’t travel west of Spadina and I won’t go east of Yonge. Deal?” “Deal.” He said. We shook on it. His hand was cold and my palm was sweaty. I cried into the carpet after he left for about forty five minutes and then that was it. That was the size of my grief. You’d think that after six years and three apartments, there might be more than that. He gets the east and I get the west, right? Wrong. Kathleen just moved to… Riverdale. “God!” I shouted at her when she told me the news. “Jason and I got a great one bedroom on Degrassi!” She said, all excited. “He got the east side…” I said, after she furrowed her eyebrows. “Isn’t that a little… infantile?” She said.

“Defeating death, embracing love” by Sasha in her garden

Sunday May 11, 2014
5 minutes
Reader’s Digest
March 2014

That Sunday, we all rode the streetcar to the end of the line and then we rode back again. It was Olivia’s turn. We each got a Sunday a month to choose what we would do. Leo chose the Science Centre to frequently that Eddie and I contemplated putting a monetary cap on the activities the kids chose. But seeing him so inspired, so electrified by learning, we dolled out the cash and beamed at our bright and curious boy. Olivia never chose the same thing twice. Once, we went to the park with notebooks and pencil crayons and drew flowers we didn’t know the name of. That was what she wanted – “you must not know what the flower is called!” she proclaimed. Once, she and Leo made us crepes with a multitude of fillings, both savoury and sweet. But that Sunday, in May, we all rode the streetcar. We didn’t get off once. We’d packed smoothies and almonds, and the kids had finished theirs before we even got to Pape. “It’s a long way back…” Eddie warned. At the end of the line we all high-fived. I produced fruit leathers from deep in my backpack. Leo and Olivia lost their minds. On our westward journey home, the sun was beginning to sink, and I was telling everyone about visiting Lisbon as a teenager. The kids loved my travel stories.

“First Sunday in May” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday April 20, 2014
5 minutes
Blue Cross Broad Street Run sign

The first Sunday in May is Penny’s fiftieth birthday. She’s going to take the ladies to the King Eddie for high tea. They are all going to dress their best, but in shades of Spring. Penny specified this on the invitations, which she wrote by hand and delivered in person, each with a single purple tulip. She invited twelve ladies in total but three had to decline due to previous plans, so there would be nine of them. She hasn’t done a birthday high tea since she was fifteen, and that was entirely pushed upon her by her mother. Funny, she thinks, that now, when it’s all said and done (said, “I’m sorry for causing you so much grief, Mother…” Done, the permanent move to Florida). Penny looks up the high tea menu on-line and decides that she’ll pay for the whole thing and though the ladies will try to stop her, they won’t. She’ll insist. At forty two dollars a person, Penny just couldn’t assume that each of the ladies would be willing to pay that for tiny sandwiches, Devonshire cream and buttermilk scones spread with elderberry jam. They wouldn’t drink champagne. They’d drink tea. Penny closes her eyes and tastes the Ceylon.

“Axe throwing league” by Julia on the subway going west

Sunday March 9, 2014
5 minutes
overheard on the 72 pape bus
I got there and I thought it would just be a bunch of hipsters with lumberjack beards but surprisingly there weren’t any lumberjack hipsters; only real lumberjack lumberjacks. Chris spoke with a northern Woodbridge lilt, and Mickey wanted to show me all his photos or his dog, Carrie, who he said spoke to him more when he wasn’t home. I was staring at the targets thinking “how the hell am I supposed to hit those?”. I was admittedly even scared that I would kill somebody on my first night and not be asked back, much less make it to playoffs. Deter was scoping out the newbies so he was on my back like a hot summer’s day sweat, sort of patrolling me and making sure I was never anything more than uncomfortable. I told the guys I didn’t need to throw in case there weren’t enough for everyone. Deter didn’t like that. He called me soft and told me to “look around”. Shayna was competing against Sid but she had a smile on for me. She came up to me after her win and handed me her axe.

“lives right here in Halifax” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Friday February 21, 2014
5 minutes
The Vinyl Cafe radio show

When you say that you live right here, in Halifax, I’m taken aback. “Oh,” I say, looking down at the snow melting. “I grew up in St. John’s but came here for university,” you blush, like your education is something embarrassing, like you might be losing your footing now that you’ve met me. “I’m from…” I don’t want to say Toronto, because you’ll probably judge me, you’ll probably think that I don’t make eye contact when I walk past a kindred spirit on the street for fear of disrupting the pace of the moving people. You wait, so patient, lips questioning. “I’m from Kingston. I live in Toronto, but I was born in Kingston. Near the water.” I add that last bit because I think, perhaps, it will make us seem closer together. I add that last bit because, perhaps, it will make you reconsider. “I’m here until Wednesday,” I say. You smile.

“when I got back to Toronto” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday February 15, 2014
5 minutes
the NOW magazine cover story
Feb 13-19, 2014

When I got back to Toronto the city smelled like you – tea tree oil shampoo, dreams of old growth forests, and your amber aftershave from the market in Jerusalem. As I descended, in the double decker jet, I watched the city come into focus. The CN Tower proclaimed the masculine power of Bay St. Row upon row of townhouse showed the ordered calibration of city. Lake Ontario stretched blue and feminine, a reminder that everything is constantly changing. I wondered if you’d be there, at the Arrivals Gate, like you’d said you would.

“when I got back to Toronto” by Julia on the 506 going west

Saturday February 15, 2014
5 minutes
the NOW magazine cover story
Feb 13-19, 2014

Everything had changed. Everything had glossed over. It was like viewing myself through a snow globe, sort of fluttery and beautiful but because I was the spectator. If I had been anywhere close to being inside my own body I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt so free. But I had taken a trip to a different part of myself and I was enroute back to the original me, the youthful, good natured me, when it went to shit. There was a detour sign and so I had to take back roads. There was a situation with a dangerous hitch hiker. There was the misread map moment taking me to the worst parts of myself. As if a tour guide were leading me there to make sure I didn’t just get a romanticized view of the thing, I was forced to stay with the group and take photographs for the album I’d make later. When I finally made it back to the centre I was not me anymore. I couldn’t recognize myself. I couldn’t recognize my shoes.

“You don’t have to look at me like that.” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Thursday January 22, 2014
5 minutes

“Let’s bury it in the back garden, near the chives,” you say, and your eyes shine like they do on your birthday. I guess I should start at the beginning. Not the beginning beginning but the beginning of you and I being the unlikely guardians of a gym bag containing half a million dollars. You’d been on the train to Kingston to visit your mother, all failing health and permed maroon hair. A man in a jean jacket and sweatpants with what you called “crazy eyes” sat down beside you and started talking your ear off. You’re a good listener. Thank God for that. You’re a trained listener, MSW on the wall in your office. Thank God. Before you knew it he was confessing and crying and eating peanuts and you were flabbergasted and overwhelmed but somehow still calm and breathing. And then he said he was going to the washroom and would you watch his bag. You said you would and were glad you’d have a second to absorb it all, to think about what should be done. And he never came back. You opened his bag, one of those cheap GoodLife gym bags you get when you sign up for a membership. Your heart sank and then rose and then sank again, at least that’s how you describe it. I’ll never forget your face when I picked you up from Union Station later that night, confused at your arrival, at your luggage, at your incessant laughter and utter disbelief.

“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.

“I’m from a lot of places” by Sasha on her bed

Friday November 8, 2013
5 minutes
overheard from a customer at Sambuca Grill

I’m from the ravine in Scarborough
With the crow’s that call
And the ants that carry their dead friends.
I’m from the yellow door-ed house off of Kingston Road
With the crown moulding
The big kitchen
Perfect for practising ballroom dancing.
I’m from the semi on Juniper
Up the street from the IGA
With walls thin enough to hear my sister
Telling secrets to the page.
I’m from Parkdale.
I’m from Little India.
I’m from North York.
I’m from this square of linoleum that’s two shades lighter than the others.
I’m from the streetcar to the end of the line.
I’m from a red-headed woman.
I’m from the bicycle tire that’s low on air but high on freedom.

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

Saturday, October 5, 2013
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.

“working relationships” by Sasha at her desk

Monday, September 2, 2013
5 minutes
The Playwright At Work
Rosemarie Tichler and Barry Jay Kaplan

Woman on the subway. Smells like four ninety nine perfume and farts. Sits down right beside you. On one of those three seaters. Plenty of other seats around. Sits right there. You see her big ass lowering, in tight. It squeezes in beside you, because there’s one of those holding poles on the other side. One of those poles with all the fingerprints. You’re squished right up. Long sigh. Look across. Across there’s three teenage boys. Must be fifteen. No. Fourteen. Fourteen for sure. One has a shrunken head. You know those shrunken head people? He’s goddamn good-looking. He’s gorgeous. He looks like he just feel out of God’s pocket. The boys sit down. You can’t stop staring at Shrunken. You hope no one notices. You hope no one thinks you’re thinking anything other than “Holy shit, you’re beautiful”. One of the other boys, the one with a shaved head, takes an eraser out of his pocket and starts going at the scuffs on his shoes. White running shoes. Nikes. You start looking at all the shoes, all the shoes around – Woman’s, Shrunken’s, the Doddle-face, and the Carrot Kid. All the shoes. Some dirty. Some clean. Some in between.

“No wonder” by Julia at The Common on Bloor

Thursday, August 29, 2013
4:05pm at The Common on Bloor
5 minutes
Film Festival Preview
NOW magazine Aug 29-Sept 4, 2013

Cabbage town, she thought. I wouldn’t mind living there. Avery was excited to tell jay about her decision to take the new position at the firm. She was reticent at first, unsure of what he’s say to moving across the city just so she could stay true to her “anti-Ttc” mentality. Now, she thought, how could he refuse. He’d see how excited I am and he wouldn’t be able to say no! He had been good about living close to Avery’s work since they started dating, and never once asked her to try riding a bike because he knew of her immense fear after being seriously injured in an MVA. He’d been good about a lot of things, she mused. About planning the unreal for Buddy in the backyard and inviting all of Buddy’s friend from the dog park, about waking up every night at 2:30 am exactly to calm her from her night terrors and rub her back slowly until she fell asleep again, and about finding a home for the abandoned ladder she rescinded from the side of the road.

“butter chicken roti” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday, August 15, 2013
5 minutes
from restaurant sign

“Let’s get roti!” Sam says, picking at a scab on his elbow. “Is the plural of “roti” “roti”?” I ask him, sure that he knows. He is one of those people that has facts about the home videos that Nixon made during Watergate, who knows the dates of when wars began, who remembers when asparagus is in season. He squints his eyes and looks up. “I don’t know!” He proclaims. I wish that he’d say that when it was consequential, when I was invested, when I was heavy with resentment and a cramping ego. He says it now. Maybe it’s a good start. We ride our bikes to Gandhi, Sam’s favourite spot. He gets a Butter Chicken and I get a Saag Paneer. We eat quietly, something that I used to think meant we were sad but no think means we are safe.

“GTA” by Sasha at The Common on Bloor

Monday, June 24, 2013 at The Common on Bloor
5 minutes
The Toronto Star

I was born in a small, red cabin in the Scarborough bluffs, the cabin nestled in a ravine that could’ve fooled you that it wasn’t in a city, that it was in the woods. I went down to the lake, as a little girl, and collected green and blue sea-glass, lake-glass, my OshKosh overall pockets weighed down with the old and the new, the sharp and the smooth. My parents broke up and my Dad moved West, stretching the boundaries, growing my view of my city, moving into Parkdale before Parkdale was cool, the dogs and health-food stores of The Beach feeling very far away on those Tuesday nights and weekends. At York University for my undergrad, I learned about the schism between the ghetto and the Institution, gunshots and graduation hats, house parties and rape whistles. The Annex was a stepping stone, a two bedroom, paper-thin-walled, apartment with my best friend the perfect lily-pad for early twenties landing.

“in any other brain” by Julia at Starbucks

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at Starbucks
5 minutes
Scientific American February 2013

In any other brain, I would have thought to walk right by you. Wouldn’t have heard my favourite song when I saw your face, wouldn’t have stopped to tie my boot at the exact minute our paths crossed. I would have just gone on doing everything I would have done without being effected by your smile, and your casual scarf tossed over your shoulders, and your warmth. So I’m glad I have this head with this little brain in it, because it knew what it wanted, and knew that I would be okay with deciding what I should do.
Instead you said hello, smiled at me like you already knew what I would say back, and you stepped aside so I’d have more room to tie up my pesky laces, which came undone because I was running to catch the streetcar going west, like usual. I looked up at you, somehow guided by the brain that wanted to know you; that was willing to, and I felt something…That feeling you can’t describe with words or it just diminishes it? It’s the kind that sort of runs through your whole body and then forces your facial muscles to contort into a smirk, your belly to form a laugh, and your knees to fall weak. Never would I have thought to ask you for your name, watching you strum the guitar on the street and not feeling pressure to give you all my spare change. But instead I did. Gave you a moment that I could spare, shook your hand, and was happy.

“The road” by Sasha at R Squared

Monday, January 21, 2013 at R Squared
5 minutes
The road (excerpt from a writing exercise)

You’re cold. Your arms are crossed and you’re staring. Not at me, at the picture of the lion on the wall. “Uncross your arms, for God’s sake,” I say. You don’t. I get up and turn off the music because I can’t stand that there’s a soundtrack to this quiet and that it’s Harvest Moon. “Don’t fucking ruin this record for me,” I mutter. The needle scratches. You’re still staring at the picture of the lion but your arms have slowly unfolded and your hand picks at the dry skin on your bottom lip. “I’m not sorry,” I say, punching the quiet hum of the space heater and the streetcar going by. “What’s the point of saying that?” Your eyes look away from the picture, finally, and up, to the ceiling. “I just… want you to know.” I see the vase beside me and want to break it.