“I am weak willed when I want to be” by Julia on her couch

Monday September 23, 2019
9:30pm
5 minutes
The Doctor and the Soul
Dr. Victor E. Frankl

Some days are hard, darlin’, and you with your feet up
on the coffee table tell us all, us all in the room
exactly how you feel.

The headaches are worse this year than ever before and every
time I speak to my mother on the phone she tells me she’s
looking into it. A sufferer of migraines her whole life,
my mother is now worried about my liver.

I don’t drink much and when I do I curse the bottle and
the ice, and the cup, and the loud bar, and the quiet
will too weak to say no.

What am I supposed to do when the headaches come without
the liquid, and when they are here all I can do is feel
cold inside.

I am angry that a boy coughed in my face when I was trying
to rock him to sleep. I am recovering from the stress of
getting it wrong, and living like a backyard animal.

There is so much to do some days and when they come it
is easy to find a bad movie and watch the whole thing
even if you tell yourself you will shut it off after
30 minutes, get your stuff sorted, then go back to it
if it’s worth it.

Darlin’, on the couch, in the quiet, it can all feel
hopeless and when the rain bounces off the pot holes
in the alley behind my apartment it can really paint
the whole room a certain shade.

“Slicing lake Ontario” by Julia at her desk

Sunday August 11, 2019
8:27pm
5 minutes
Catastrophe that Nearly Brought Down a Plane
Sabyasachi Nag

Darling tonight did you hear me ask you
a less than hypothetical question about
our children and about the future that
might show you just how much I’ve thought
about these things?

You didn’t seem to clock it and that
didn’t bother me then but it’s bothering
me now and I wished I had said, Excuse me
did you hear what I said about our kids
without you leading the charge?

These are moments for me to reflect on
by myself I suppose, because did I say
it out of truth gargling against my cheeks
or did I say it out of poetry and the
persistent chase of perfect phrases?

Are you changing your mind now that
I’ve got mine on straight? It would be so
sad after all this time if we had found
ourselves on different pages again. It
might break my heart into weapons.

I think about this future family of
ours and where the hell are they going
to live? In this one bedroom apartment?
In this city that you said yourself might be
too soft for them and for us and everything.

“retirement and investment savings” by Julia on her couch

Saturday August 3, 2019
9:34pm
5 minutes
From a piece of mail

It’s true what they say, the banks are out to get us.
Mine charges me for being self-employed by making me pay a fee every time I exceed 12 transactions in a month. I could look into options that don’t include throwing money away but this stuff scares me because it makes me feel stupid and being stupid is one of my major fears.
I wouldn’t be able to admit that to just anyone. I am afraid of feeling small and helpless and useless and dumb and this perpetuates the cycle. I let the banks get me. I let them keep me small. I have no plans for investments or retirement because my brain doesn’t know how to think any further into the future than the next word after this. Maybe that’s fear too, keeping me believing that.

“It must be nice to hold” by Julia at the cabin in Galina Bay

Thursday June 27, 2019
9:45pm
5 minutes
Calypso
David Sedaris

Like the front scruff of a standard poodle, the soft of a blind dog’s ears.
There is more to feel than the fur or the bone. It must be nice to hold the trust of your companion–in a small dish, or a pocket. Safe there from the heartbreak of losing the other half of his soul.
We offer choice to a dog who has lost the ability to decide whether to stay in or go out.
A lap for a lay, will he or will he remain upright for the third day in a row?
Will he stop trembling?
Will he say yes? Or maybe?

“Alabama” by Julia at J and R’s kitchen table

Thursday May 16, 2019
7:17pm
5 minutes
http://www.thecut.com

I don’t know what to say. I screamed already. In the presence of my 7-month
old nephew. I didn’t realize until it was too late. I think I scared him.
We’re all scared. To think of a child having to go through more than she
already had forced upon her. This world. Why are we sliding backward? Why
is science and medicine and knowledge progressing and the only thing staying
the same, stubborn, stuck in the mud, is the law.
Alabama. Goddamn.
Heaven forbid our girls get their periods young. Heaven forbid our girls
find an adult worth trusting and who won’t expose their tiny human hearts
to a pack of wolverines, hungry from tasting all the blood they’ve already bled.
We are not moving toward the future with expansion. We are not moving at all.

I don’t know what to say.

“Our self-centred fears whisper at us all day” by Julia on the 19

Monday March 4, 2019
5:42pm
5 minutes
Hallelujah Anyway
Anne Lamott

It’s one of those probing kind of voices
The one that gets in your head and lingers
Untucking sheets from bed frames
Lingering in the corner with the spiders too quick to spot
What if they’re looking at me
Laughing at me
Mad at me
Sorry for me
What if they’re all one team and I have no one left to pick to stand behind me
Pulse pulse throb throb
The echo alone enough to flip your eyelids inside out
No sleep for the talked about
No rest for the worrying
Everyone seems to have their own personal list, monogrammed into every towel meant for coming clean
The secrets etched in the base of our skulls tend to burrow into those silky memories
stripping them grey

“This is the beginning of the beginning” by Julia at her table

Thursday January 3, 2019
8:56pm
5 minutes
When Things Fall Apart
Pema Chödrön

This is excellent timing. The beginning of the beginning.
Good. Not to worry. It’s not the end, it’s all new.
Nothing to fear! The world, at this point, is your oyster!
Don’t like oysters? Don’t get caught up in words! They’re
just words! But they are excellent words, aren’t they?
The Beginning of the Beginning! It’s exciting. What will
you do? Set a schedule? Make a plan? Cross of the items on
the list? It’s all up to you, isn’t it. It’s yours to do
with what you like. If you are looking for an example of
what to do now since it’s the beginning and not the ending
then I will offer that to you. I am planning (see!) to
BEGIN the process of the end. Confused? I understand. You.
I understand how you might be. If this is the beginning,
should I be so defeatist? I have all this time to make
a new thing at the beginning of the beginning. I could
do whatever my heart desired, after all. And that is why
I am happy to announce my retirement! I am beginning to
retire from this life that no longer keeps me tuned in!
I want to go back home. I’m as surprised as you. I only
realized today how much I hate it here.

“it makes us feel insecure” by Julia in her childhood room

Saturday December 22, 2018
1:11am
5 minutes
The Book
Alan Watts

The nothing howls
like a deep seeded pit
writhing in the grass,
burying itself free
from the light touching
The pain lives not in the
not knowing but in
the inventing of what the
unknown might be-
could be,
never ever will be
I can hear it too if
I listen
I can see the blues and pinks jumping off its bones and into the night
streaking the silence with
premature dread
What if we never learn to
see the unseen as a gift?
What if the ache builds a
house on its broken back and
boards all the whispered wondering there?

“Worries are the most stubborn habits” by Sasha at her desk

Monday October 15, 2018
4:09pm
5 minutes
From a quote by Vicki Baum

Worries are the most stubborn habits. I know this by heart, like the songs we sing in the morning when we’re drunk with dreams. I have a bad habit named Worry. I count on her to visit when I’m least expecting, when I think I have a handle, when I’m still, when I’m flying. Worry is a loyal companion, especially when things are fucked up and fraying, delicious and beautiful. A habit is a thing that can be broken in thirty days. No. A habit is a thing that can be started in thirty days. Does it go both ways?

“My miracle is not that you can’t knock me down” by Julia at G and C’s house

Wednesday August 15, 2018
9:01am
5 minutes
Monday Night Class
Stephen Gaskin

weak knees she said
she didn’t want to marry someone who had weak knees
what about running?
does that just go out the window? I know how she feels. when indigo’s shoulder slipped out for the eleventh time in three days, I got worried too. how will we play catch for the rest of our lives? timidly? it’s worrisome. And it’s so very mortal. I suppose nothing lasts forever. we are, at best, temporary. I guess I’d choose an unexpected shoulder pain over a partner who can’t even take a night walk. I’d rather good shoulders though too.

“The liar’s punishment” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday April 25, 2018
6:47am
5 minutes
From a quote by George Bernard Shaw

Five minutes isn’t long enough
to tell you
about the consequences of running away
Each movie sounds like your fear through the
megaphone of your worried heart beat
Each character flaw revealed stirs up your
blood and what if you start bleeding
right here
right now
You will think it is your job from this moment
on to live with the secret heavy that has been
pulling you down slowly, slowly
The sweet stillness will be sickened with dread
and what if dread lives in the elbow skin
collecting at the crease
turning soft into sweat

“into an unmarked grave” by Julia at the studio

Monday March 26, 2018
10:58am
5 minutes
Alternate History
Bill Glose

Cayenne and Didi exchange worried looks as the elevator doors closed on them.
“Are you sure about this?” Didi whispers “Cause I’m not sure I’m sure about this at all.”
“Pull it together, D, we’re going to be fine. Kaz told us to meet him in the parking garage with the stuff and he would arrange the rest.”
“You’re very good at projecting this cool-calm-collected thing, but I don’t buy it. You said yourself you don’t trust Kaz.”
“I will admit,” Cayenne inhales, “I did not exactly think this thing through.”
“WHY ARE WE DOING IT THEN?” Didi shrieks.
“No, no yelling, that won’t help us. That’s the one thing I know for sure.”

“Also, there’s more to life than power, you know.” By Sasha in her teenage bedroom

Friday, September 15, 2017
12:18am
5 minutes
Vader’s Little Princess
Jeffrey Brown

Sometimes I worry
I worry a lot
Sometimes I worry that
I don’t think more about
Power and who has it and
That it’s a sign of my
Privilege that I don’t
Have to think about
Power

My mother tells me that
She’s worried
That she worries a lot
I come by it honestly
This unrelenting
This unshakable
This courage
This power

It’s hot here and it
Doesn’t smell like salt water
My name is carved in big wood letters
Sat atop stacks of CDs that used to be
My prized possession

I worried less then I think
Or maybe it’s just rose colored glasses nostalgia
Maybe I worried just as much
Just as wide and deep and blue and red

“Rabies is a fatal disease” by Julia in her bed


Thursday August 17, 2017
12:19am
5 minutes
Health Tips for the Tropical Traveller

we all know the things we thought would kill us
if disturbed
when we were young
wasp nests
staircases
feral cats
rain storm
mouse traps
we all know we stayed behind
the line, worried
waiting
quick sand
mosquito pond
hot stoves
manholes
highways
all meant to be
left
alone

“Part of the explanation” by Julia on F’s couch


Friday June 9, 2017
9:24pm
5 minutes
The Globe And Mail

I have been avoiding calling my mother because I know I am going to cry.
She is avoiding me too for the same reason.
Earlier this week my sister tells me that the family reunion is off.
After swearing in the bathroom and crying and yelling and crying some more,
I tell her I’m sorry for overreacting.
My sister tells me she could listen to me swear for days, and if it’s any consolation,
I was not overreacting, but reacting, and both would be okay.

Today I finally phone her and for whatever reason we start speaking french to each other.
I think because this softens the blow.
Keeps things light, after all, it is only a family that will not be reuniting.
It’s not the end of the world.
I hear the sigh in her voice as she mixes in some words in Italian, some a combination of both.
I tell her I already know.
She laughs.
Then later she cries.
We both do.

“my flight leaves for Edmonton” by Julia at Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre


Thursday June 8, 2017
9:17pm
5 minutes
overheard at Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre

“Did you pack her neck pillow, Dana? You know Mom can’t travel without it.”
“I packed it, Leigh, you can officially back off now.”
“I’m telling you she won’t even set foot on the plane if she doesn’t have it.”
“What did I just say? I’ve already got it. You left very detailed instructions. Very detailed.”
“She hasn’t left the house since Dad got sick, much less the province.”
“I know that, I will make sure she is as comfortable and distracted as possible.”
“You’re not going to slip her any of your little…pills…are you?”
“What makes you think I’m still taking those little pills?”
“Dana.”
“I’M NOT TAKING THEM ANYMORE! Why does nobody trust me around here? I can’t escort mom to fucking Edmonton, now?”
“Well maybe because you like to make things about you.”
“You are such a little cunt, Leighanne.”

“it will be a tight squeeze” by Julia at her desk


Saturday May 27, 2017
10:47pm
5 minutes
http://www.onceuponachef.com

She sits on a bench near the water with her sunglasses on
She stares down the sun
She waits for a change in the air to speak

“Let me say out loud all of the things I need to do”
“Again?”
“It helps me. Please?”
“Okay so 8:30pm is dinner…”
“More like 9. 9pm is dinnner. By the time we pick up the food, lay it out, set it up–”
“–Fine, 9.”
“Fine, 9. And then I have to review my materials.”
“And that’s going to take a long time?”
“It’s going to take as long as it takes. But I can also do it in the morning.”
“Okay, that doesn’t sound like a lot to get done!”
“I’m not finished listing.”
“Okay…”
“I have to make sure I have a change of clothes. I need something for every weather system because I won’t be coming home. I need to make sure my bag is big enough for everything. I need to lay out what I’m wearing. I have to shower–Goddammit! I have to shower too?”

“super slinky.” by Julia at her desk


Sunday May 14, 2017
9:47pm
5 minutes
from the pack of guitar strings

Keaton brings home a box under his arm, covered by his coat,
he hopes for the sound of running
Daddy’s home, the moment they’ve all be waiting for
Dawn usually hears the car door and knows
Delia sometimes comes outside if Iris lets her
there is a silence where the noise should be
there is a box for the girls but there are no girls
for the box
Keaton calls out, Daddy’s home!
no one responds
Iris!
nothing
He sets down the box next to the broken floor lamp
Iris says if we don’t trip over it every
day we’ll never think to take it out
He walks slowly, the house creaking with empty
Iris?
a wash of dread pulls him under
he doesn’t know what to do
Suddenly the peep peep of a toddler unable to keep
a secret
another laugh, then
SURPRISE!!
Happy Birthday Daddy!

“Chickpeas / tahini” by Julia on her couch


Monday May 1, 2017
11:06pm
5 minutes
from a grocery list

in the event of me being put
in charge to host a dinner
party
I would air on the side of
Italian
garnish with
basil
everywhere
tomato
garlic/bread
The music would be chosen with
more stress than should
accompany
a fun night
with friends
eventually confident
Golden Oldies
no one can hate the Golden fucking Oldies
and if they arrive early
(and they always do)
there will be a cheese based
plate or chips, or dips, or good
conversation, until
the food I mistimed
is ready to be served
All Oldies All The Time

“silent as the folds of the yellow” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday April 18, 2017
7:35pm
5 minutes
Up
Magaret Atwood


I think his tiptoeing around me is louder than he believes it is.
I don’t like feeling as if he’s afraid to rock the boat for no reason.
Am I really that horrible?
Am I that much of a bear?
Lately he hasn’t been singing in the shower.
I think I broke his spirit.
He’s afraid to do anything wrong in case I might revert to the dark months.
I told him not to worry about me but he wouldn’t hear it.
Yesterday I woke up to him silently removing all the pictures from the walls.
He was nervous that I’d hurt to look at them.
He thinks a bare wall with holes in it is better to look at than a wall with art.
I don’t know how to explain to him that I am fine.
He doesn’t believe me anyway.
He thinks everything I say is a beautiful story.
He over laughs when I speak even if it’s not funny.
He brings home plastic flowers from the dollar store and sneaks them into my rain boots.
He smooths the hair on my arms in the wrong direction.

“Every day 6-9 PM” by Sasha at Allegro Coffee


Monday April 3, 2017
8:57am
5 minutes
From the napkin dispenser at Allegro Coffee

Smells like something’s burning in here. Can’t bug Tina cuz she’s restin’. I’ll go and check things out. Can’t open the oven though. No hands. Don’ know why Tina puts the dinner in when every day from six til nine she’s passed out in her bed or on the couch. Sometimes I wake her right up with barkin’. She doesn’t like that though. She’ll sometimes even hit my snout or my back, sayin’, “Why you screamin’, Rocky?!” Poor Tina. Ever since the twins went away to the oil sands she’s really not feelin’ good. Those kids were her whole world and now all she’s got is the TV and her part time job at the pharmacy.

“joke poem about a black bear” by Julia at her dining table


Tuesday January 31, 2017
9:53pm
5 minutes
Upstream
Mary Oliver


“I had that bum tooth of mine finally go” she says, tapping the nub left inside her mouth. “I got over zealous, you could say. I got too comfortable with my routine and it turned me careless.” Lorna looks off into the distance for a while. I wait there, my finger hovering over the pause button. I don’t want to use battery while she drifts off but I don’t want to miss anything. It isn’t the first time it has happened. I remind myself of my privildge. I am desperate to know this woman and she is desperate to keep something for her for once. “Did I ever tell you about that joke poem? That joke poem about the–” She catches herself abruptly and her eyes dart around the room. I try not to move. I do anyway. I ask her, “is there something wrong?” She stares at me, nodding her head very slowly.

“I’ll stop now” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday November 1, 2016
8:44pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

Every time I approached him with my arms out he thought I was going to hit him. It made hugging very tense. It made playful physical contact a struggle. I didn’t know how to convey to him that I was safe. That I wasn’t going to hurt him–that I didn’t want to hurt him. At first it was endearing. I had to compensate for his jumpy disposition. But then it didn’t dissipate. It didn’t quell with work. Eventually I thought, yes he might need me but I need to be touched. I need to be a comfort to him not a cause for concern. How can I be myself when I’m not allowed to act on my impulses? What if not being allowed to hug really is the deal breaker? And so I told him. As gently as I could. That this is me admitting. I’ll stop now but I won’t be staying.

“He got a gun to his head” by Julia on her couch


Saturday September 17, 2016 at the Shadbolt Centre
11:43am
5 minutes
Overheard at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

If there’s a reason why we’re meeting here, none of us know it yet. The sky is dark and ominous. There are casual signs promoting danger or intrigue popping up in shadows and creaky floorboards but we haven’t seemed to take heed because we are convinced that this is a dream and nothing bad can ever actually happen to us because bad things only happen to other people or to humans in movies. It’s dark and cold. We don’t speak much in case talking gives us away somehow. Ali and Strat have both cried into their paper bags. I have been inhaling and exhaling in mine, assuming that’s why we were given these to hold in the first place. Cece said she would be here by ten but since none of us can reach her we have already accepted that she is probably dead by now or swallowed up by the night.

“traumatic for a baby” By Julia at The Marriott In Decatur, Georgia


Monday August 1, 2016
11:59pm
5 minutes
overheard at the Marriott in Decatur

We didn’t want to put any clowns in her room just in case she wasn’t one of those kids that loved them. I’m talking nice clowns too. We didn’t want to risk it-no marionettes (gifts from our friends, sent from Mexico), no figurines (a doll my sister in law built out of a mop head and some satin), no posters, and no photographs. We made the mistake earlier with Keegan and I’m worried about him becoming a psychopath. I blame Stephen King. I blame him and whatever mother didn’t love him enough to give him such twisted ideas. I also blame Charles, who grew up with clowns all over his damn house and never once murdered anything with a heart beat. Charles told me it would be fine, but I wasn’t convinced. There are so many things in this life that pose less of a threat to psychologically damaging a child, like bunny rabbits, and flowers, and Marilyn Manson.

“comrade in arms” By Julia at her dining table


Sunday July 31, 2016
9:25pm
5 minutes
from a text

I asked Lindsey if she wanted to come to my sister’s citizenship ceremony and she told me she wouldn’t miss it. When I reminded her that it was this week, she told me it was a date. When I called her that morning asking what she was going to wear, she gave me a detailed description and helped me choose a necklace for me over the phone. So when she didn’t show up for the ceremony I knew something wasn’t right. I called her a million times and it went straight to voicemail. I was freaking out, trying not to let my sister see me. I had a terrible knot in my stomach. Nothing was making sense, the room was spinning, and I was struggling to stay standing. My sister caught my eye and looked concerned. She motioned for me to leave. I nodded, I ran, I stumbled out of the auditorium and into a burst of fresh air. When I saw Lindsey standing there I almost threw up. She was holding her throat so the blood wouldn’t spill out.

“the jeans have not been washed yet” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday July 20, 2016 at Starbucks
7:16am
5 minutes
Grasshopper Jungle
Andrew Smith


I invited Elliot back to my apartment after drinks because he tied a cherry stem in a knot with his tongue and I wanted to see if he was a one trick pony or if his tongue could tie other things into knots…
When we got back to my place I told him to make himself comfortable while I poured us some scotch. But then I remembered he was wearing dark denim, and I had to rush out to see if he had plopped his Abercrombie & Fitch ass down on my new white couch. He had. I tried to act cool, but I could practically see his jeans forming a navy puddle underneath him. Was he sweating or something? Didn’t he know you have to wash new jeans before you wear them? Didn’t he think, oh I might ruin this sweet Norwegian couch?

“#BESTOFVAN” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday July 13, 2016 at Starbucks
6:55am
5 minutes
from a sign on a newspaper box

A couple of us decided we were going to sneak into the Kits pool and I was trying to work up my nerve. Casey and Alison had their trust funds to use if they got caught, but what did I have? Two pennies and a stick? A lighter filled with pocket lint? I told them I was having second thoughts and they both stood there on the sidewalk howling at the sky, trying to get me to cave. I can’t do this you guys, I said, I’m not lucky enough to pull this off. Alison rolled her eyes back in her skull. You think I have a golden horseshoe up my ass or something? I don’t know, I told her, I’m sure you could buy one if you needed to. Casey grabbed my shoulders and stared me straight in the eye. We don’t want to do this without you, she said, but we will if you’re not okay with it. But know this, you will be missing out. I felt like I was being bullied into a licking a frozen lamp post in the dead of winter.

“keep coming back” by Julia at Starbucks


Tuesday June 28, 2016 at Starbucks
7:31am
5 minutes
buddiesinbadtimes.com

I keep having the same dream–that I’m lying in my bed with my eyes closed, asleep, and in my mind’s eye I see fuchsia orbs coming toward me, flickering in the sky then disintegrating into nothing. I am in that paralyzed, meta state where I recognize that I’m dreaming but I can’t wake up or move or change anything. In this dream I always look past the flickering pink and can make out more colours in the distance. Flames. Outside my window the tall tree, the one that the crows perch in and caw in every morning at exactly 4:43, is on fire. The leaves are burning up and they’re going slow enough to wonder if this too shall pass…
In this dream, I scream to you to call 911 and you tell me it’s not necessary. I tell you it is because I can see it from my position and this fire will consume us if we don’t treat it with respect. You rush into the room and the sky outside is orange and red.
You stare out blankly and whisper to me, you were right…

“how she wants to move herself” by Julia at Starbucks


Monday June 27, 2016 at Starbucks
7:04am
5 minutes
Apartment Hunting in the East End
Don Austin


How she wants to move herself is her business! My father exclaims from behind the island in the kitchen as he emphatically chops up the rabbit he’s getting ready for dinner. Why are we all spending so much time worrying about her? His cleaver comes down hard and clean, splitting leg from torso. I don’t know, Honey, I think this is a call for help. Tanya needs us right now and we’re just watching her spiral! My mother remains at her makeshift office in the corner of the dining room that connects to the kitchen. Her glasses are balancing on the tip of her nose. She wants to pay a bunch of strangers to crack her mind open so they can fill it back up with useless garbage!
Rita, my father shakes his head. We don’t need to get involved. She’s a grown woman. We did our job already. I don’t know, I just don’t know, my mother grumbles to herself.

“She wants to keep the baby.” by Julia at Starbucks


Friday June 10, 2016 at Starbucks
7:10am
5 minutes
from Facebook post

-So we’re going to do this then? Is this actually happening?!
-Well you’re not exactly doing anything, are you.
-Sam. What the fuck. This is my baby too.
-How do we know if this will even be a baby? What if I change my mind-aren’t I allowed to do that?
-Woah. Yes..I mean, of course you… But I thought we talked about it. I thought we made the decision together?
-Yeah, if I remember correctly, I told you I was pregnant and you said you wanted me to keep it. The end.
-That’s not true, Sam, you wanted the same thing! Where is all this coming from all of a sudden?
-Where is it coming from? How about there’s a living thing growing inside me right now and everyone around me seems to be an expert on the situation but when I say something, it’s “coming out of nowhere.”
-Okay. I… didn’t realize–
-No, you didn’t realize, that’s the first smart thing you’ve said.
-I’m sorry, babe, I really am…

“How are you doing this morning?” by Julia at Starbucks


Wednesday June 1, 2016
8:38am at Starbucks
5 minutes
Overheard at Starbucks

My face is in the window and every single person who walks by has a dog
Every single person who walks by has a dog that looks like them
The woman in her clunky heels behind me shakes the floor so much it makes me have to pee
Holding it in, letting it pulse inside me like a flood threatening a levy, is the closest I’ve come to having an orgasm in weeks
I can’t think straight because James is studying in Nepal and I’m worried that she’ll die over there
She is obsessed with going sky diving or bungee jumping
The last time we spoke I told her to please just build a house and stay on the ground
I hate every moment that I’m awake these days
The man beside me is listening to the sound of me breathing and using it as a metronome for his typing
I want to shoot an elastic band at him for stealing my life and turning it into something I don’t have access to
The woman I bought the toaster from off of craigslist last June walks by holding a scruffy man’s hand and wearing fishing boot waders
I wave to her and she waves back but she clearly doesn’t recognize me right away
Then I see it click as a big wide smile crosses her face and she gives me an encouraging ‘thumbs up’ before walking away

“WIN $5000” by Julia at Platform 7 Coffee Brew Bar


Thursday, March 24, 2016 at Platform 7
2:36pm
5 minutes
from a nofrills receipt

Leda sends me a photo of her vagina and asks if I have the same rose-looking ‘thing’ on mine.

I send her back an image of a desert and tell her there are no flowers blooming here. You don’t use it you lose it. Pft. Everything turns to dust.

She texts back a hands up emoji, praising my perfect timing and accurate representation of whatever my sorry situation is right now.

I text her asking why she’s asking about her rose-thingy and use many ellipses to demonstrate that I have been left hanging and my curiosity is in fact sparked.

She texts back a photo of our matching tattoos and says she wanted to know if she should be worried or if we were fine.

I text Leda saying that I’ll get back to her but if it doesn’t hurt, it’s probably fine?

She texts back asking for a picture of my vagina to confirm that our genes are fine.

I text back a photo of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

“Electro hypersensitivity” by Julia at her dining table


Monday March 14, 2016
11:55pm
5 minutes
Common Ground Magazine

We are lying on the hard wood floors we’re afraid to ruin. You run your hand along the outline of one square and then another. You grab my fingers and trace them along the spot you just were. You say
Do you feel that?
I say
Yeah I feel that.
The little nail pokes through and keeps getting caught in my socks and ripping them just a little. I watch your face change shape as you continue to drag your soft fingertips across the ground, searching for imperfections, thinking about preventative measures. I move my head into your lap and I close my eyes. You say
We will probably have to pay for these god forsaken floors.
I say
I know that. We aren’t very good at protecting them.
You say
Maybe because we care about real things like Orcas and braiding sweet grass into tiny nests.

“who are doing anything but the typical” By Julia on her couch


Saturday March 5, 2016
11:18pm
5 minutes
ubc.ca

I don’t know where the ground is where the ground is where the ground is
Mama says I should know because my feet are there but I don’t know where it is I don’t know
She says breathe deep and feel the earth
She says close your eyes and visualize
and I am confused because I can’t see anything either
How do I know where I’m going if I don’t know where I am?
I don’t know where I am I don’t know where I am
I haven’t known for a long time I haven’t felt secure
The ground isn’t under me, nothing is supporting me
Mama says it is I just need to find my feet again
I look down and see feet but I can’t see what’s below.
Mama says trust that you know and trust that you do
I’m sorry I am not better, I’m sorry I don’t know where the ground is

“Re posting it” by Julia on her couch


Sunday, January 17, 2016
9:55pm
5 minutes
from a text

There are a lot of young girls hanging out at the corner store with their ripped jeans and their big black eyeliner.
My mom thinks those are the girls I’ll want to hang out with so she gives me run around warnings like, “Beth, don’t take any shortcuts home from school.” Or, “Make sure you don’t walk with your face buried in your phone in case someone wants to steal it out of your hands and you don’t have the time to stop them.”
I guess she has a point or something. Better to pay attention.
I can tell she’s saying anything she can that doesn’t sound controlling or narrow minded about other people. She doesn’t want me to know that she knows what girls like that are like and only has her gut instincts as a barometer. There’s no proof, no real reason other than she’s deathly afraid of me getting hurt, or falling into the wrong crowd and changing all my core beliefs.
I can’t begin to talk to her about what’s going on in my life.
So I tell her, “I will not take shortcuts home from school.”

“Are you expecting us?” by Julia at DH Lodge in St. Jacobs


Tuesday, December 29, 2015 at DH Lodge
2:35am
5 minutes
from a Kitchener Utilities Pamphlet

Elliot sat on the couch digging into her scalp, searching for the patch of raised skull flesh she liked to play with when she was nervous. It was a quarter past four and her eyelids sometimes closed for longer than a blink while she waited up for Marco to get back. He was late. He told her he’d be back at midnight at the very latest. She had called him a total of seventeen times so far and counting. Elliot fingered the bump on her head and started to yank tufts of hair out with her finger nails, pulling slowly and firmly on a few strands from the root to the ends. Elliot thought about calling the police. The pendulum of the old cuckoo clock on the wall swung out of tune.

“The people Fred wanted me to meet” by Julia on her couch


Sunday, December 20, 2015
7:12pm
5 minutes
from the back of matches

He was excited to have me over, I could tell cause he was wearing a pressed shirt and up until then I had only ever seen him in a hoodie. I was impressed too, his fingernails were clean, his apartment smelled of cinnamon, and there were place settings on the table. Fred told me there was a surprise and I started to get nervous, but he told me there was nothing to be worried about. Then the doorbell rang. I was like, what? What is happening? Fred sprung to the door and I was instantly upset that his efforts weren’t for me alone. Who could I possibly be meeting?
Fred came back from the door with a dark haired woman and her perfect little arm linked through his.
Amy, this is Katya.
It’s so very nice to meet you, Amy. Fred has spoken about you at length.
I laughed quietly shifting my eyes from her succulent mouth to her dainty wrist hanging in Fred’s elbow bend.
How do you two know each other?
Oh, Katya’s my ex-girlfriend!

“Safety” by Julia at her dining room table


Saturday, December 19, 2015
11:02pm
5 minutes
from the back of matches

There’s a level of discomfort that follows a perfect moment. It’s perfect until it’s not, fading into something hard to sit in. That second after the joint decision to bask in the glory of said perfect moment is made up of tiny doubts, fears, deep-swimming insecurities-or truths that we usually find more grace to disguise. I think it comes from wanting the next moment to be as good as the one before but it can only be anything close if it were the exact same moment and no two moments can be replicated no matter how badly we want them to be. So I guess it comes down to choices. Going left or right directly after the experience of tiny perfection. Does it live in us as a thing we both just know now, or does it change every moment after it by being so tightly clutched that we start to live in debt of that particular instance? Trying to pay it back forever.
I want to know…

“We talked at length about it” by Julia at her dining room table


Friday, December 18, 2015
6:36pm
5 minutes
Dispatched To The Derwent
Malcolm Dale


Greer reaches down to pull up her knee socks that never seem to stay at the knee. She leans over in her chair disappearing under the table for a moment while Brody shifts in his spot, uneasy about a lot of things, in addition to the fact that Greer is no longer making eye-contact as he explains himself.
Greer’s stupid socks keep bunching in her shoes! That’s why they never stay up, they are being pulled down but her toes or something equally as lame! She lets out a tiny laugh.
“What? What is it?”
Brody doesn’t like unexpected bouts of laughter. He doesn’t like being the butt of anyone’s joke.
“Sorry, I, it’s nothing, really. What were you saying?”
“No, seriously, just tell me!”
“It’s actually not worth repeating, but, I’m fully listening, please continue.”
Brody starts to chew on the inside of his lower lip. He Has created a patch of bite marks, raised to the touch of the tongue, a tiny graveyard of anxious scars.

“Closed now” by Julia on her couch


Monday, December 14, 2015
11:26pm
5 minutes
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…

“depending on importance & urgency” by Julia on her couch


Tuesday December 1, 2015
6:00pm
5 minutes
from a To Do list in October

Meredith is getting breast implants and she is sure so don’t ask her if she is. She’s answered that question 70 billion times and she knows what she wants. Each time someone inquires if she’s ready she becomes a thousand more percent positive that this is what she wants, answering each time with a resounding YES! Christ! YES I FUCKING AM. The only person who hasn’t asked Meredith if she’s thought about her decision is her mother who gave her the idea in the first place. Meredith’s mother said to do whatever her heart called her to do, and she would support her no matter what. Meredith’s mother was good about keeping promises. But everyone else seems to think they know better and can’t believe that this is the choice she’s come to. Meredith knew she wanted implants since her first year of medical school. She did not decide it while getting chosen to be the captain of the cheer-leading squad in high school. She did not decide it when her first boyfriend broke up with her over Thanksgiving weekend.

“best learning environment” by Julia on her couch


Monday November 2, 2015
5:21pm
5 minutes
from the post for an English tutor

Ok, hi, can I ask you a favour? My sister, Mandy is in desperate need of assistance and I do not know if I alone can assist her. Maybe if I explain to you her issues, you’ll be able to better asses if you, in fact, can lend your help, or if you my know someone who is better equipped to deal with the inner workings of a twelve year old than you or I both are.
Ok, so, realistically speaking, she is unable to remember daily routine information. She does not know the names of her teachers, or if she has been using the blue toothbrush or the yellow one, even though all our lives we have had our very specific colours. She no longer enjoys watching reruns of Punky Brewster, which was her ever-living favourite television program of all time.
She also refuses to practice her times tables or eat ricotta cheese!

“It is such a relief” by Julia at her desk


Wednesday October 7, 2015
9:51pm
5 minutes
Wit
Margaret Edson


When they took my blood to see if I was a match I remember holding my breath for a very long time and thinking that if I could get through this, I would be a different person. Stronger. More…everything. I was not referring to getting through the needle part. In fact, the needle part was the only part that I was sure I would heal from if the rest didn’t…pan out.
I also remember praying, and I was not a prayer. I’m still not. But at the time, that’s what brought the most comfort. I don’t want to question why certain words came out of my mouth because it was such a relief to get them out of my head that I would have said yes to anything if it had helped as much as praying did. I don’t like needles. I never did. I didn’t have to have them until I did.

“I still want to think about safety” By Julia on the Greyhound to Kitchener


Sunday, August 9, 2015
9:44am
5 minutes
Said by Julia’s Uber driver

Colleen you can’t be lifting that shit anymore, you’re gonna hurt the baby for Christ’s sakes.

Forget it, Richie, it’s not even heavy. I don’t like you watching over me and micromanaging my pregnancy every single minute. Give it a rest, she’s gonna hear you and decide she doesn’t want to come out!

Colleen I told you, I want to be here for this baby, I want to help you name this baby, I want to help you love this baby. You can’t be stubborn now! You’re making choices that affect all three of us! How many times do I have to hear myself tell you this?

Richie didn’t you listen to one word I said? I said she, didn’t I? You only hear what you want to hear or what?

Colleen. You said she!! She said she!!

“it didn’t work all that well.” By Sasha at her kitchen table


Sunday, July 26, 2015
10:42am
5 minutes
From an email

When we go to sleep, I will whisper ten things I’m grateful for in your ear.
You will do the same to me, if you make it past seven.
I’ll know you’re asleep from the sound of your breath.
I’ll lie awake for awhile, thinking about when we’ll have kids, wondering if we’ll need a car, considering the carbon footprint of a child, or two.
I’ll lie awake for awhile and consider all the stuff we have, here, and all the stuff we have there.
Is where more of your stuff is home?
Or, is home where no stuff is and just where you are?
Where you and I are?
You will turn over and I’ll be the Big Spoon.
I’ll kiss you back and practise meditating on the in breath and the out breath.
It turns into –
I love you I love you I love you

“sometimes you’re like a stranger to me” by Julia on her patio


Saturday May 23, 2015
11:44pm
5 minutes
Stranger
Alfie Conor


Came into the bedroom and the first thing that made me worry was your smell. You don’t like to shower at night. So why did you smell clean and sneaky and lying and suspicious?
I smelled you with a new nose. A detective’s nose. Unwilling to rest until the case is solved.
The second thing that was cause for concern was your humming. For someone who prefers to whistle. I found it peculiar. I found it unsettling. Your humming was beautiful. That was unsettling too.
I heard you with new ears. A dog’s ears. Unable to ignore the information traveling at a higher frequency right above my head.
Then, the last thing I noticed…the last thing…

“chemical or thermal irritation” by Julia at Caledonia Park


Wednesday May 6, 2015
7:17pm
5 minutes
http://www.webmd.com

According to Gwen’s self-diagnosis, she had 3 days to live and a whole lot of goodbyes to give. I laughed when she said that. “It’s just mild discoloration. You’re fine!” Gwen wasn’t amused. After spending hours googling her “condition” she was convinced that she had the rare unpronounceable disease, and this was, in fact, the very end of the line for her. “You don’t know anything, you’re not a doctor, Ian!”
I laughed again. “Neither are you! Come on, don’t put this stress on yourself, people on there have nothing better to do than to scare perfectly healthy people who are not even close to dying.”
“And if they’re right? Some small chance that this is actually happening? Then what?”

“Feed Your Family” by Julia at the Davenport branch of the TPL


Tuesday March 17, 2015 at the Davenport Branch of the tpl
3:20pm
5 minutes
taste.com

Then she slapped the cucumber right out of my hand and all I could do was just stand there with my mouth on the floor. I’m worried about her. This kind of thing hasn’t happened in 6 years now and we all thought she was in a good place. Then out of nowhere we’re right back where we started and nobody knows how to handle it. I don’t want to judge her or act as if she’s some kind of monster, she’s not. But I find myself anxious and confused a lot lately. I don’t know how to help her. It’s not like I can just give her a stern talking to and she’ll change her behavior. This has been a reality for our family for as long as I can remember but when she’s good, she’s really good, and sometimes we simply forget how she used to be.

“This woman was able to reach me” by Julia at Perth/Dupont Public Library


Thursday March 12, 2015 at the Perth/Dupont Public Library
3:35pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

This woman was able to reach me
while I hung myself out to dry
Pushed away everything that everyone thought was good
I said “let me be here on my own”
I cried “don’t love me with your pity-
I don’t want worried eyes and heavy hearts”
And so they left
One by one
with their apologetic expressions
with their baskets of misguided but good intentions
I built a wall around my pain
and tricked myself into thinking
I didn’t create a door
And this woman was able to reach me
when I thought
I’d blocked off all the entrances
Believing no one would want to come in anymore
if they could find me
in the first place