Friday September 8, 2017
overheard at 16th and Oak
I do not like to be right
whole world can challenge me on that
might think I don’t know how to be wrong
that I won’t stand for it
as the world might think I am
I still Leave drippings on the burner
I still Set off the fire alarm after asking other hands to be more careful
I still Pee sometimes before pulling down my underwear
I still Find myself wearing my heart on my cheek like a cat scratch
I do not like to be right
oh how the kingdom does fall when I get what I want
and I do not want to be right
there is not enough time in a day to beg for the opposite
nobody gets it
they don’t know how painful it is
Not just about other hands
about who I thought I was
The reckoning tastes a little
too much like an avocado
on its last day in the basket
Wednesday August 16, 2017
we didn’t use to ask each other anything
shuffled through the corridor with too much heart at stake to risk
we didn’t know what we didn’t know
you thought my favorite colour was blue,might have gotten away with it too if I didn’t walk right on out
it didn’t seem strange when we assumed how each other was feeling
it didn’t seem to bother us too much that all these notebooks were half-filled
now I want to know
I don’t know about you since you don’t know what you don’t know
but I want to ask every question that rolls through mush and makes it out alive
why do you tap your feet like that
why do you forget to book that flight
why do you hate your own eyes so much
why do you lie about how cold your hands get
Thursday August 3, 2017
Rivers and Roads
The Head and the Heart
Rebecca starts walking to work in April and she feels like a real winner. Frankie gives her the once over and she rolls her eyes. “Come on, you like it,” he whispers. She doesn’t. She cocks her head to one side and says, “I will not let you take away my endorphins, Frank. Please go away.” He sneers. She never thought much of that word, but it’s the only one appropriate for Frank.
Rebecca thinks about reporting him to Diane in HR, but she’s worried about the backlash. Malinda once said something to Diane, and Diane laughed in her face. Doesn’t help that Diane is married to Frankie’s twin brother. She knows that he’s a creep, but he’s family. Nepotism is a carbon monoxide, Rebecca thinks, as she watches Frankie re-fill his coffee cup for the third time.
Friday July 28, 2017
overheard on Kits beach
You walked into your new office right, you stroked your beard, you adjusted your belt, you waved at everyone? Right? You made your presence known? You held a baby ( I don’t know, Shelley from HR can never get a sitter, okay, she’s tired, you cooed at him, it was a good moment, everybody loves a pair of stylish suspenders holding an infant) and high fived the custodian? You walked all the way over to your boss’ desk and you put your foot up on it. You let him see you, right? You look him square in the eyes and unleash the most deadpan almost too-close-to-home joke and you wait, right?
Saturday June 17, 2017
Phil Stutz and Barry Michels
What’s the point, Milo thinks as he squints at his computer screen. The usual flood of dark worries is worse today because Justin quit and now he doesn’t even have eye candy. He wonders if the dimensions of his cubicle add to his feelings of claustrophobia. He wonders if he actually called his family back in Denver if the week might start a little brighter. All the numbers on the screen start to blur. Um, Milo thinks. He closes his eyes.
Thursday June 1, 2017
Monica makes the sign of the cross and sits down at her desk. She wonders if she’ll have the courage to do it today. The phone rings.
“Dr. Kent’s office, how may I help you?” Her voice sounds different here than at home, when she’s talking to Bozo or singing to the radio as she makes dinner.
“I need to speak to Dr. Kent right away,” says the woman on the other end of the line.
“Dr. Kent is with a patient at present. Might I pass along a message?” Monica reaches for her green tea and sips it. It’s cold.
“I just read something online about how stress hormones can cross the placenta and reach the babies? I’m freaking out! This has been the most stressful three months of my life. It’s bad enough to give one child issues, but two?! I need to speak to – ”
“Take a deep breath. In through your nose and out through your mouth.” Monica rolls her eyes.
Friday April 14, 2017
from a business card
Barry is my boss and also my father. He does not let me take home extra envelopes or paper clips. Once he said I could have the left over pinapple from the staff party, but other than that he’s a pretty big stickler for the rules. He’s the middle child so I guess you could say he was a big advocate for justice. Things always needed to be fair. Barry is a good boss and a good father. He sends me letters when I travel, he walks me all the way to the baggage drop off at the airport. Barry has a picture of me in his wallet singing into a toy microphone. He tells his other emplpoyees very little about himself. I’m the only one who knows his birthday.
Monday March 6, 2017
Of course he asks what I’m working on the moment I leave my work to check my Facebok account.
“Nothing really,” I tell him, because saying, “well, I was working on my novel, and before that the pitch for my television show, and before that I was busy securing some income so I was working on that” just sounds like an excuse train. In this very moment, no, I am not doing anything, and at least in this very moment, not doing anything means also not lying. I don’t need Facebook although I tell myself I do. It’s filled with opinions and videos of cats and maybe some event information that otherwise NOBODY would e-mail out. It’s filled with endless scrolling down the lives of others who are also not doing anything right this moment because they are on Facebook too and have posted an article to their wall to make it seem like they are working very very hard.
I imagine him giving me a pittying smile and saying, “oh, yeah, of course you are” with a snide undertown of prentiousness since he’s already been off Facebook for a month and a half. He doesn’t smile at all. He says nothing.
Saturday February 11, 2017
Vancouver Tree Book
Ellen leans back in her new office chair, trying out the arms over the head posture.
She looks around the room and notices that this exact view she has of her office now is the same one she had envisioned when she told herself that she would make it here some day. Ellen has made it and it feels good. The making it she expected. The power she half-prepared for. But the goodness that it created–the light–was unfathomable. Remarkable like staring out at the top of a mountain after climbing it for years. After years climbing a mountain that nobody thought could be done.
Sunday January 22, 2017
from a tweet
And then we cried and
then we cried some more because the road, though paved with many,
is a long one and we will travel it far…
But then we wrote
and wrote and then
we wrote some more
because the pages were begging
new history books in the making
New essays to recount and remember
new letters to fight
New anthems to cling to
New poetry to heal by
We wrote out our deepest hurt
and bled the deepest
We told ourselves in cursive or in print to remember
Wednesday January 18, 2017
from a Google search
He was selling used cars on his uncle’s lot
working the graveyard shift at Tim Horton’s
crossing his fingers
dotting his eyes
dressing up as a Smurf for a promotions company
working as a phone sex operator on his sister’s landline while she was at work
selling cannabis products at the dispensary near his house
raking leaves at the cemetery
hosting murder mystery dinners
taking photos of his feet and selling them on Craigslist
teaching creative writing to the elderly
selling lemonade on the side of the road for 25 cents a cup
Friday December 16, 2016
from a recruiting email
My favourite herb is cilantro and I HATE when people call it coriander. I asked Jedene if she wanted me to stay and take notes but she didn’t think it was necessary-the first graders either liked the thing or not. They either thought it tasted good or like dish soap. I told her I would be happy to stay and record the data for her pro bono. Really I just couldn’t risk someone fucking it all up by writing “coriander” in any of the boxes, or heaven forbid two people shared the task and wrote the different words interchangeably. Jedene was hoping to get out of there by noon but I secretly projected 1:35pm as first graders are not highly cooperative and especially when in groups of other first graders. I know this because I was once, unlike Jedene, a first grader. Jedene skipped the first grade. She has no idea how stupid it was to do that.
Thursday December 15, 2016
From a recruitment email
The clock in the entrance way is off by seven minutes and it aggravates you. When it chimes you wonder where on the list it says that one of your duties is to wind it. You wore sensible black shoes today, after Mrs. Smithers commented on your red boots yesterday.
“Well, well, well…” She’d said, looking you up and down. Her roots were showing, clawing their way back in. The kettle had boiled and she’d made herself a Jasmine tea.
“Are those appropriate for the office?” She’d asked, dropping a sugar cube into her “WORLD’S BEST MOM” mug.
“I thought so,” you’d said, peeling a clementine.
Thursday December 8, 2016
overheard at JJ Bean on Cambie
I had to act like I hadn’t just spent a year covering her ass every time she drank too much to come into work. Where’s Wendy? She’s sick, she’s stuck at the airport, she’s adopting a puppy, she’s at a doctor’s appointment, she’s at home waiting for Rogers, she’s at home because there’s a bat in her living room, she’s taking a personal day, she’s helping someone do something, she’s figuring out something for someone, she’s not coming in today, she sends her regards, she’s sorry she has to reschedule, she’s not coming in today. And part of me still felt bad that I couldn’t come up with a more convincing lie. Or that people probably knew because I had gotten lazy with my excuses. But what was worse was she was still so sad and there was nothing any of us could do. Or maybe there was. Maybe I could have said something. Or offered to take her out for coffee just so she’d remember people cared about her.
Tuesday December 6, 2016
Kevin keeps joking about the icy streets and people wiping out but no one is laughing. All I can hear is his stupid voice cawing like a crow. Sometimes I dream about Kevin and I wake up and I’m pissed. I try to stay focused –
“Hello, Milner and Associates, this is Deborah, how may I help you?”
but it’s so hard. If he wasn’t the boss I would report him. We all would. My favourite thing is when he comes and stands behind me and times how long it takes for me to type up some bullshit that he’s asked me to email to Jed.
“Nice work, Deb! You came in under thirty six seconds!”
Saturday November 26, 2016
Overheard at BC Children’s Hospital
“What are you hoping to get out of this position in regards to personal growth?”
Genevieve squints at me and re-crosses her legs.
“Um, well, I’ve always wanted to work in the charity sector, you know, like, give back?”
She doesn’t move a muscle. Didn’t they teach you about mirroring body language in your HR trainings? Are you capable of nodding or saying “Mm-hm” or something?
There are five seconds of agonizing silence. Are you waiting for me to say more? What more is there to say? I thought that this job was mine? What is happening?
“You aren’t really a people person, are you Becky?” Genevieve pulls her Blackberry out of the pocket of her blazer and starts typing furiously.
“Am I supposed to answer that?”
Sunday November 13, 2016
From an interview question
I can think of a thousand ways to say it
Sunday soothe day
Tucked in telling the truth day
Playing scrabble and cooking a meal all in one pot day
Taking a walk
to the ocean
and then back
Throwing the stress ball in the living room not caring about the fixtures
Singing loud to the good ones
and louder to the ones we don’t really know but want to
Taking turns Laying heavy in each other’s lap
And short stories
Filling up each other’s cup
and with admiration
and with lemon meringue
and with choice
Tuesday November 8, 2016
But of course he’ll leave before we resolve anything because he wasn’t meant to stay. He didn’t pack anything for overnight. He didn’t bring a toothbrush or his stamina to fight. He didn’t want to get cozy in the curve of me because he was afraid he would want to stay and he couldn’t stay. He had already committed to his other life and I was not welcome in that one. I had to ask him, Why Did You Come Back Then? And he told me, I Felt A Pull On My Heart Like I Was A Puppet and I Couldn’t Lead My Own Way. I asked, What Kind Of Pull? A Cosmic One? The Kind You Have In A Dream? He told me, It Was The Channeling of Heavenly Love And It Made Me Want To Find The Source. But of course he’ll leave before we both understand what that means, and of course he won’t consider that the source is quite obviously me.
Monday November 7, 2016
from a tweet
It’s a scary place to be in when it’s not pretty. Not pretty aka not functioning aka not safe. That’s it, it is not safe inside my head right now. There are a lot of spelling errors and stress about deadlines. Things are in full swing: there’s scheduling and penciling things in, magnifying glasses and red pens everywhere, everyone is at their desk taking calls, all hands on deck. And then you look over to the self-care desk and for some reason she’s not there? Like she slipped out to have a smoke or something and nobody else is equipped to step in. Everyone is panicking that they won’t get their thing done on time so they don’t want to abandon their post for even a second to go figure out if self-care is coming back at any time soon? Or if she has DIED SOMEWHERE? No, of course not. They’re all eating chips for breakfast lunch and dinner and throwing candy corn at the walls because obviously it’s so stupid, but it’s inexplicably appealing. Some of them haven’t even washed. Some of them are looking at old photo albums from high school and are just fucking WEEPING.
Friday November 4, 2016
from a contest information sheet
Paulette: Yeah, that’s just the thing, you give them one high five and they’ve already saved your phone number to their contacts list and found you on Facebook! Ha ha ha, you know it’s true! You’re jus–we could be having lunch tomorrow you’re right–no we won’t! Definitely not and–okay you too. No you too, I mean it. Goodnight Jerry. Goodnight. Goodnight.
Paulette throws her cellphone into the waste bin beside her bed. She tightens the belt on her robe and pulls the flask out of her gym bag.
Thursday September 29, 2016
I come home with a smile on my face and I kiss you on the mouth
You say you missed me
You say this day is better now that I’m back
You ask how the conference was
You ask if I got any swag
I bounce around my tote bag (swag) and pull out the pens (swag) and post-it pad (swag)
You are impressed and I am impressed with my ability to stock up on office supplies
I would otherwise refuse to purchase
Then I reach in and pull out two tickets
You ask me what they are and try to pull them out of my hand
I snatch them away and tell you These Are Not For You!
You try to get a closer look at them and I keep them at arm’s reach
You scowl and cross your arms when you see what they are
You Won Movie Tickets?
I smile again, being coy for some reason
Maybe I Did
Awesome Which Movie Are We Seeing?
I put them back in my bag
These Are Not For You
Wednesday September 28, 2016
I came to the place in myself I always worried I’d find. The part that doesn’t have patience for people who don’t pull their weight, the part that doesn’t feel good about having to remind a group of adult children how to get by. Maybe I should have signed up for this in advance. If I had chosen to help people maybe I wouldn’t hate them so much. If I worked in a place where my help was needed…
I am so disgusted with the hole in my chest that comes from resenting other people. I don’t want to admit it but I need help too. I guess that’s where the pain comes from.
When I was in elementary school, I was often ahead of the class and I cared about school and being great. I was always assigned to work in pairs with the students who didn’t understand any concepts, or who didn’t like being there. When I asked the teachers why I couldn’t be put with someone who was going to work hard and push me to be better, they all told me the same thing: You’re a strong student, you don’t need help as much as they do.
So when did anyone look down at me and think, well there’s some potential, why don’t we try to lift that one up? Why didn’t I ever hear, well she could use a mentor or an opportunity?
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
it starts with a whisper with a promise to be better
when you don’t really mean it and you don’t really want to
commit to process
it’s opened then
when you say anything that doesn’t sound like truth and when you think
everybody only hears sincerity when you are wrong but don’t
want to believe that yet
a little crack further
and you keep far away from it because it’s calling you
it knows you by face and you pretend it’s a different you a different you with
the same name
that each day a little bit less is tried
a little bit less is wagered
and the pit beyond grace is surrounded by old flames that
you ran from because you didn’t have the courage
to snuff them out
it starts with a whisper with the song of wandering souls
you fall each day
further off the track you triumph over
Sunday August 7, 2016 at the Deklab County Public Library
It was hard to see him through the rain but I didn’t have to see his face to know who he was. Michael kept his head down as if the stream of water cascading down his hair could shield his eyes. I knew that he was crying. I knew that stance anywhere. I hadn’t seen him in months and still knew he had gotten a hair cut too. I wasn’t sure if I should approach him first or wait for him to see me. I didn’t want to disrupt whatever praying he might have been doing. I didn’t want to interrupt his ritual of getting right with himself before he came to find me. The life of his human counterpart was just as complex, and he knew that too. Hell, from behind the heavy sheets of rain pouring down on us, I’m sure he could see that I was doing my work to get right with myself just the same as he was.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
from a Facebook comment
there are a lot of people holding each other tight and saying how lucky we are
how we may have wanted to leave before, but we don’t anymore
how there are places to be proud of and how nice it is that ours is one of them
that there’s love here
that there’s change here
but we have a long way to go
we are not immune to frightened decision making
we are not ahead of the charge
we are far from perfect
because geography helps, but it can’t do everything for us
we have to rise up when it hurts to do so
we have to be better than we were yesterday when it feels impossible
we have to be examples for ourselves first before anyone else will benefit
we are lucky
we are so very lucky
but luck doesn’t mean we don’t have to keep trying
for the people who have been silenced
for those who come here looking for acceptance and still find hate on their doorsteps
there is love here
but that’s only one part
Wednesday June 29, 2016 at Starbucks
Says Hurry Up
Says Whatchu Waiting For?
Says Hurry Up
Hands me a shovel and tells me I have to and if I won’t do then I won’t do anything else today, no eating, no running, no laying down, no reading. So I do because I want to do other things but I don’t want to dig. My arms are weak from all the lifting he made me do yesterday. He sits back and watches me work while he chews on a piece of straw and rocks back and forth saying, That’s Nice, and Good, and, Very Good. The last time I tried to run away he sent his dogs. So I don’t threaten to head to the fence anymore. He wants to keep me right where he can see me. I don’t want to dig but his face is sweaty and mean today. I have to. I have to.
Says Hurry Up
Says I Like Watching You Drip
Says Thank You
Says I’ll Show You How Thankful I Am
Tuesday March 15, 2016
You go to sleep early because you’ve been up since 6:27am and you say that the mountains have made you tired again. I can hear you breathing from behind the living room wall. You sound like you’re trying to send me tiny signals as I stay up to paint my nails. I don’t like to go to sleep after you but it’s been happening more and more these days. I am racing against daylight and I can’t afford to take short cuts right now. I know your body’s heat by this time. I know that there’s a softness there in the curve of your back that fits most of my organs perfectly. I picture that spot while I think simultaneously about chicken thighs with preserved lemon or that surprise weekend getaway golden ticket you gave me for my birthday last June. You told me to pick wherever I wanted to go. I told you we could close our eyes, point on the map and go where our fingers land.
Tuesday March 1, 2016
Hardly slept-hadn’t been since March if I’m being honest. I don’t know if it was the construction or the lawn mowers- working nights make you stop sleeping and forget who you are, what your name is. But-I don’t know if I’m making excuses or whatever-all I know is I was fried. Wasn’t thinking. Maya couldn’t come and get me and that was fine-she said she was tied up at the shelter and some lone wolf told her he wasn’t going to leave unless she shaved his nut sack. I know I shouldn’t have left on my own-should have just waited there at the rest zone until someone could come get me, or some bus route opened up. I don’t like waiting around. Makes me feel like I’m killing time before I die. No in between. I didn’t mean to be so stupid. I didn’t need to drive I just had to get out of there-the smell of the plastic was starting to seep into me, twisting my guts up. Head pounding, all of that- I was just tired.
Tuesday February 23, 2016 at the VPL
Been fucking trying to leave it at home. Been fucking trying not to swear anymore either but as you can see, things have been a little bit rough these days. My asshole of a manager has decided that not only are we no longer allowed on our phones during work hours, but now we have to write a fucking positive message about the “team” each night before AND AFTER our shift. FUCK. How do you not swear when your life is a complete fucking joke? Tad, his fucking name is TAD. And Fucking TAD has so many fucking brilliant ideas for community building, such as embodying bullshit in the most unappealing human way this century has ever seen, or for making us walk through the back doors before we sign our lives away for 4-8 hours in a “light” and “baggage-free” way. Fucking Tad likes to tell me, “Leave your bad attitude at the door, Tegan, this place is a “frown-free” zone!” I want to fucking punch him with a fork. In the throat. Repeatedly. Until fucking forever and ever Amen.
Monday, January 11, 2016
There was something in the air that made Amanda shiver, and it wasn’t cold. She got this feeling every so often. It was not linked to ovulation or the weather. She shivered and Jamie asked if something was wrong and she said, “No,” but Jamie knew her better than that. They were sat at the shared workspace table in the main room of the office. They had started at the firm at the same time and had a similar weariness to their foreheads. Jamie’s short blonde hair made her look younger than she was. Amanda always wondered if she had long hair, how things might be different for her. Amanda played with a swatch of fabric on the table in front of her. “I’m just having that feeling again.”
Saturday, January 9, 2016
from a waiver at Moksha Yoga Vancouver
Gregory was amping himself up to call in sick while Elise stared at him from behind her book.
“I don’t think you should do it this time, Greg. It’s too soon.”
“What? You’re talking shit.”
“Okay fine. Do it then.”
“I am doing it. I don’t owe them anything.”
“I’m actually more concerned about your integrity.”
“It’s work, babe, it’s not like it matters.”
“Oh my GOD. Well…do you have to pick the most dangerous excuses? People worry about stuff like that, you know?”
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
From a Caroline Myss card
Sneaking a handful of chocolate chips from the freezer, Imogen regrets the upgrade to stainless steel. Now she can see her reflection. She spits the half-chewed mess into a tissue and puts it in the compost bin on the counter. A swarm of grateful fruit flies emerge.
“Chandler, put down the scissors, arts and crafts is over now.” Imogen whispers in Chandler’s ear. He smells of play dough and chicken noodle soup. She looks at her watch – three fifteen. It will be another two hours before his Mom returns. Before she can repeat her instruction, he pulls on her silver hoop earring, ripping her earlobe down the middle like an envelope.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
from the A&W sign
More often than not do I get to the point where I suddenly remember that I have to eat something before I fall down dead. It’s true. Sometimes I get so engrossed in work and I realize after 7 hours or something ridiculous that all I’ve eaten so far is a probiotic and a couple Oreos. I can’t even think straight when I do this. I start to aimlessly wander around the house from room to room with no real plan or solution. I look in every single cupboard but nothing looks appealing cause all of it looks like it requires work. It’s sad, it happens so much, but I still don’t try to avoid that. I don’t know many adults who have to write “Eat Lunch” on their to-do list just so they actually do it! When I get to the point of fainting or falling apart mentally, the only thing that calms me is envisioning biting down on a huge and messy burger, reeking of onions and dripping a rainbow sauce concoction all over the counter. I suppose I get so delirious that I dream of doing this while standing up? Over the sink? My hunger dreams don’t make sense, really.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
From a Caroline Myss card
I no happy at job
I look for other opportunities
I ask around
I talk to all the bosses
I show skills and personality
I ready for new life
New job offer benefits
I take job
I need help
I need security
Benefits no start right away
Must wait long time for starting
I wait long all day
I wait long all night
I pray fast comes the help
I pray for family
I make sure I no mess up
I make everything perfect
Old job slow
Old job not much help
No go to dentist for 2 years
No go to department store
No buy new underwear
Even when old ones have holes
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Overheard on the bus
That’s what he says to me when I call his cell while he’s at work. He doesn’t want to let anyone know that it’s me. He refuses to use my name. I get it. I don’t want anyone to know either. It’s nice anyway, like he’s happy it’s “me” when he says it like that. Like he’s relieved. He sometimes answers the phone with just a “hello” when he picks it up in the company of others. He leaves quickly enough to go into another room, pretending always that it’s work related or family related, depending who’s nearby. I clear my throat twice, quickly, and that reminds him to adjust his volume. You never know who could be listening for key words or a flirty laugh. I can’t wait to be alone with him and when his volume is lowered I tell him this. He laughs because if he doesn’t he might do something he regrets. I laugh back.
“Were you able to rent the cottage for the weekend? Boys trip?”
“I’m working on it.”
“When will you know? I want to see you…”
“Yup! Let me get back to you, hopefully it all works out, sound good?”
“I miss you..”
“Thanks, I’ll see what I can do.”
Monday, December 14, 2015
From a Google search
Nobody is here to take your coat. Nobody is here at all. They all went home. Sanders said they could go early for Christmas. Sanders told them all they had to come to a unanimous decision. At first Donna didn’t want to go early because she was worried she wouldn’t have enough money to buy her son the snowboard he wanted. She cried for about 30 minutes straight until Lise and Desmond told her they’d chip in to help. They just wanted to get out of there. They were worried that Sanders would make them stay the whole night just cause he didn’t have anyone to go home to. Donna finally agreed and wouldn’t stop saying “thank you so very much. Thank you to the moon and back!”
I’m only here because I was waiting for you…
Sunday November 15, 2015
from the Union Gospel Mission calendar
Karen sat patiently by the phone willing it to ring and wishing that it had already. She had, earlier that week, applied to be a member of Neighbourhood Watch and was told that all successful applicants would be contacted by Friday at the very latest. Karen didn’t have anything else particularly pressing to do since she fell ill two months back. She wanted to fill her time with meaningful activities since she wasn’t fit enough to return to the grocery store. Emirel said she might have overextended herself there anyway, coming into help stack and pack when she wasn’t even scheduled to work. Karen wanted to do something other than tend to the plants she had been growing in her laundry room. She didn’t think she’d have a very strong harvest the first time around, especially because she had been relying on various youtube videos to teach her how to grow a crop of marijuana properly. Karen got bored easily. She wanted to have at least two things to watch, if she could help it.
Saturday November 14, 2015
from a tweet
Memo to staff:
Someone left their banana peel in the office garbage can again. Thank you for putting it in the trash receptacle this time, that is much appreciated and far more so than a little office prank of leaving said peel at the entrance of the co-ed bathrooms last Wednesday (Side note, Jamella is fine and will be returning to work on Monday following her post op). But now there are greater issues at hand. The peel left overnight in the bin has caused the entire office to reek of bananas and for some, that is an unkind order. Please ensure to remove the peels at the end of your break and retire them to the outdoor compost bin that has been highlighted on all of your maps in the welcome package that you received upon hire.
Friday November 13, 2015
from a business card
Remember when I used to come by your work and wait till you got off so we could go get ice cream and caramel sauce and walk the perimeter of the property together before you’d have to go back to your desk and count the hours till you were actually free? Remember how you’d try to take the long way around so you could spend more time with me without saying that you wanted to? Those sticky summer evenings when you would start late and work late and forget which day you were on. Those are the ones I think about when I think about you. Those are the nights I remember how lucky I used to be. Your building looks different now: someone tried to wash off the graffiti and now it just looks uglier. I have to stop myself from going to Nucci’s Gelati so I don’t get tempted by nostalgia to buy you a coconut cone, even thought we were always so disappointed by the shreds that didn’t even taste real.
Wednesday November 4, 2015
Nonna doesn’t stop talking until you ask her to talk about herself.
In fact, that is how you get Nonna to stop talking.
It was an accident that I found that fact to be true, but it’s true none the less.
I asked her once to tell me about when she was younger.
“Tell me about the dancing! Tell me about you and Nonno dancing or kissing or both.”
“Oh, we were young, yes, a long time ago. We did some dancing.”
She tells me this, in Italian, as she lays the tomatoes out to be sun-dried.
“No, Nonna, I mean tell me about your dancing. What kind of music did you like? What kind of necklaces did you wear?”
But she doesn’t want to tell me, or remind herself, and instead she trails off in a way that makes her sound like she doesn’t quite believe the sound of her own voice.
“Okay Nonna, tell me about the tomatoes.”
“Oh, these tomatoes? I picked these tomatoes. All by myself. This morning. I hurt my joints because I picked them so long.”
Tuesday November 3, 2015
I called him from the parking lot on my lunch break.
“Hi? Is everything okay?”
“Yup! It is okay. It is all okay!”
“Okay….did you need something then?”
“Why, do I need to need something to call my lover in the middle of the day?”
“No…not exactly…What’s going on, seriously?”
“I’m just so happy. I wanted to be happy in this moment with you.”
“You got cynical!”
“And you’re cured now?’
I kicked a giant rock at my foot toward the fence. I debated hanging up right there on the spot, calling back, and pretending to be in pain.
“I didn’t say I was cured. I’m just trying to be positive.”
“If you’d rather I didn’t try to turn my life around and try to change my opinion, just say the word.”
“You know that’s not what this..that’s not what I mean.”
“No, I know, I know what you mean.”
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Let’s say that the grass was damp with dew
and the day was grey
like this one
Let’s say that Johnny Cash was playing from your
tinny computer speaks
Let’s say that finally
you put on your socks and boots and left for the factory
“Twelve years, Leila,” you say
“Eight more to go and I’m free”
Let’s say that I stand on the lawn
Watching as you pull out of the driveway
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Overheard on Gerrard St.
“Twenty-seven fifty three, please,” I try not to yawn. The baby in her cart is screaming, his face turning purple, then blue. I cock my head sideways and stick out my tongue. Nothing. His mother is rifling around in her purse. “”OH MY GOD hurry up!” Hunt Wilson is three people behind her in line and I know why he’s grouchy. He’s run out of smokes. “Shut up, Hunt!” I call and then look behind me quickly to make sure that Kevin isn’t there. Safe. He’s taken me into his office before and said, between puffs on his e-cigarette, “Three strikes and you’re out, Christie!” I can’t count how many strikes I’ve had but Kev has a soft spot for me because he lost his virginity to my oldest sister Charlene. “Twenty-seven fifty three…” I say again. I meet her eyes, tears about to escape. “I only have twenty five,” she whispers, desperate. “No problem,” I take her bills and coins and bag her groceries. I add “$2.53” to my list beside the cash. I’ll top up the till before giving it to Kev at the end of my shift.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
from a pencil case
Lana blotted the excess lipstick off with a square of toilet paper, remembering how her aunt Kathy showed her while she was living with her. Apparently Aunt Kathy was only supposed to stay for a couple weeks-a month tops- but things got complicated and before they all knew it, it had already been 4 years. Lana used to hear Aunt Kathy in the early morning when she would get up to shower and get herself ready for her receptionist job. When the water would stop, Lana would crawl out of bed and go sit beside the bathroom door, tapping on it quietly. Aunt Kathy would open the door, scoop her up and sit Lana down on the toilet seat while she did her makeup. Lana would have been two years old. She didn’t say a word, but she watched Aunt Kathy’s every move from the blush to the spacing out of her mascaraed eyelashes with the tip of a safety pin. On some days, Aunt Kathy would even put a little eye shadow on Lana, or let her taste a bit of her vanilla lip gloss.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
A Complicated Kindness
Fiona put her arms around me and coo-ed in my ears, “Shush, baby girl… Shushhh…” I cried until I couldn’t cry and then I cried more.
The next morning I charade as okay and eat too much granola and then feel sick.
“Can’t go to work today,” I say, rubbing my belly.
She keeps her eyes on her grapefruit and says, “Go on. It’ll do you good.”
I go but regret it.
My boss tells me I “look like a bag of shit.” He’s right, but has some nerve saying it. Henrietta jumps to my rescue and says, “Allergies, eh? So bad right now.” She winks and it feels like a kiss on my temple.
When I get home, Fiona has left me pancakes on the counter with a note that says, “Breakfast for dinner!” And a smiley face.
And a heart.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
A quote by J.K. Rowling
She came home huffing in and out like she was attached to a ventilator. It was exaggerated and annoying and I wanted to punch her strong in the throat to get her to just shut up and stop bragging about how gassed she was. She had seen me earlier on the couch with the TV blaring and I guess she thought I hadn’t left that spot all day or something? I did, for the record, in case anyone’s actually keeping tabs on me. I’ve been working more than ever, more than I should be, more than her and I combined, but sometimes it doesn’t look that way at all. She was smiling at me as if she pitied me and was trying to include me in something. Conversation, self-improvement, something like that. She asked, “How was your day?” And I pretended I didn’t hear her. She repeated herself, “How was your day today?” And I refused to turn around when I said, “Oh. It was fine. Thanks so much for asking.”
Sunday, June 7, 2015
From a sign on Queen’s Quay
He worked in one of those giant lobbies, his shiny desk the only fixture in the entire space. From the outside his place of employment was like a fish bowl: glass windows all around, anyone looking in whenever they wanted to, the room itself encasing a slab of marble and a couple sparse plants. He had been trying to figure out just what exactly made him so damn anxious everyday about going to work; about sitting in his fish bowl. It wasn’t the fact that he was completely visible and couldn’t risk doing his alone behaviour. He did whatever he wanted without hesitation. It was something else. Perhaps the feeling of intense loneliness mixed with the artificial comfort of being the most important thing in a room.
Thursday May 28, 2015
Overheard at Lansdowne Station
Our work is good when it’s good
And when it’s not
Because our work
is whatever we need to keep going
even when it feels pained and full of punishment
It’s still ours
It’s still ours
Out hands and our hearts
Our hands and our burning bleeding hearts
When we wake from a bad dream
We shake imagination from our backs
Do we listen to what the muse is telling us?
Or do we toss her recklessly to the floor
Where she can’t bother us anymore?
even though it feels secondary
It’s still ours
It’s still ours
Our hands and our hearts
Our hands and our thumping drumming hearts
Say hello to her
pick her off the earth
And tell her that she’s welcome here
Tell her that she’s beautiful
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Overheard at the bus station in Kitchener
She ties the rubber in a knot and flicks the white liquid. She scrunches her nose. She adds it to the jar. Thirty five. She texts Bec. “Up yer game bitch”. Flat Face Pug Man was completely quiet when he came. His Flat Face barely changed. She’d watch them, all of them, number six through til now, focused on the tiny muscles around their eyes, the purse of the lips, the flexing biceps.
“Thank you for using Bell, how may I help you today?” She gulps from her coffee mug. “Nancy?” She recognizes the voice. Her heart drops, a bomb in her stomach. “Hold please…” She crawls under her desk and sucks her thumb. Chris finds her like that, three hours later. “Are you okay?” She nods. Her phone vibrates on the cubicle desk above her head. “It’s from Bec,” says Chris, getting down on his knees and taking her face in his hands.
Friday April 3, 2015
The Zurau Aphorisms
Twists the whip
Gets it ready
Practices in the mirror
One, two, Go on three
Takes one for the team.
His own team
He’s the captain and the coach
Today’s the day
The song sings in his head
Right now is the only thing that matters
Checking his watch
Twists the whip
Cracks it in the air
No more practice shots
It’s real now
It’s real life
But he has his weapons
He has his tools
Don’t forget to breathe
He hears his mother’s voice in his ears
Don’t forget to feel
The magic urgency fuels him
It’s exactly as he imagined
Only nothing like he hoped
Twists the whip
Gets it ready
Now he’s ready