Tag Archives: writing

Three Cents Short of a Nickel

This is not the beginning or the end. Others have come, others will follow. You are not the first, nor will you be the last. You have to trust life. Life has a purpose for you. Everything will be ok. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t stress, it will only make things worse. Why don’t you talk to someone? It’s not you, it’s me. It will only make you stronger. Time will heal. You need to focus on other things. You should focus on your career. You should focus on yourself. Why don’t you join a class? You should try mediation. You should get out there. It’s time to move on. You should drink lemon with honey. You need to rest. You should take some Tylenol. You need more sleep. You shouldn’t be drinking so much. You should eat lots of garlic. How do you feel? Are you feeling better? You should drink mint tea. Let me rub your back. I’ll make you ginger tea. You shouldn’t smoke so much. You should drink less coffee. Don’t worry so much, everything will be ok. Having you been taking any meds? You should go out for a drink. You should eat something. Drink lots of water. You should wear a jacket, it’s cold outside. Just eat some plain rice. Just eat some bread with butter. Do you have an umbrella? I think it’s going to rain. How many times have I told you? You need to try harder. Are you even trying? Don’t worry, you’ll learn. Just try again. Take it slow. Don’t rush things. You can’t force things in life. If it’s meant to be, it will be. You should call him. Don’t talk to her, it’s too soon. You need to give it space. Don’t see him. Have you told her how you feel. I’ve been there. The exact same thing happened to me. Follow your gut. Well, what do you think you should do? I just want the best for you. I’m worried about you. Don’t over analyze. You need a hobby. We’ll have a girl’s night. You need to get laid. Let’s do shots. You’re way better than her. He doesn’t deserve you. Remember what she did? You don’t need that in your life. You need to concentrate on being healthy. You should eat less red meat. You should eat less processed food. You should go on a walk, it clears the mind. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t still care. Don’t take it personally. He doesn’t know what he wants. You can do way better. You should go fuck that guy. Practice makes perfect. You need to concentrate. You can still be friends. You need to sweat it out. Everything will work out for the best. At least you have your friends. At least you have your family. At least you have your health. Don’t give up. I believe in you. You can always talk to me. I know how it feels. We don’t have to talk if you don’t want too.

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I forgot the future, I lost my past in the moment

I forged a way through the barriers of my preconceptions. I allowed myself the freedom to live, but lost it in the realization of my existence.

Complication brings satisfaction, accompanied with unease. Grasping for what’s there and thus losing it all together. Pressure is an excuse, physical limitations are inconsequential. Trying to find the words to describe a feeling is fruitless. Everyone knows the answer but is unwilling to commit to the solution. Reveling in your weaknesses only brings comic relief. But straying from a familiar state, no matter how miserable, brings anxiety. How easy it is to despise others, those that lack the prized quality of insight, for which we feel superior, but there is also envy at the ease with which they live their lives.

We colour the world with a spectrum that has yet been proven to exist. And when we forget ourselves a true bliss emerges, a bliss that has been suffocated, waiting for the opportunity to emerge. Is it possible to find a balance? Do we need to lose one part of ourselves to gain another? To sacrifice that which we take pride in for what we ultimately crave. We know the choice we’ll ultimately make, we can’t help but make, it’s a part of us that will not dies, it’s a part of us we will not kill.

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Alex and the Ants

Alex is watching the ants. So tiny, like three periods put together. Dot dot dot. He learned about periods in school, it’s when you were supposed to breath when reading. “Patch sniffed the turtle.” (Gasp) Mrs. Craig’s told him he should just read normally and didn’t have to make such a ruckus about it. Acting normal while thinking about trying to act normal confused Alex, he doesn’t like periods. He follows the ants erratic movements as they traverse the desert of sand, a breeze pushing them back a days journey. Where are they going? They were all following some unmarked path. He lays on his stomach and puts his head down to take in their perspective, his hair gently caresses the surface and an ant or two make a detour up his locks. He gets on his knees and blows on them, they dance in a wild frenzy before settling back in their predestined path. The affect of this simple act fascinates Alex, a breath of air can create such disorder. He varies his exhalation, sometimes emitting such a gust that a few unfortunate ants go flying, but realizes that even the faintest breath still causes scattered scurrying. Alex’s mom is calling him. He stands up, attempting to crush several ants underfoot, but their tiny bodies sink easily into the sand to escape their demise. Alex is unsatisfied with his inability to destroy and stomps more vigorously in the sand. The ants disperse and he is unable to discern crushed bodies from granules of sand. His mother calls again. With annoyance Alex kicks an arch of sand in the air. He walks in a circumference around the spot where he lay, in an attempt to locate the mouth of their origin. He feels a tickle on his leg, he sees an ant that confused his smooth skin for the sandy terrain, the vertical being no hindrance, he crushes the ant between his fingers creating a black smudge. Alex finds the hole beside the tree roots, the ants pouring out on their path of purpose. He sees a twig laying by a bush and proceeds to ravenously plunge it into the  opening, black bodies being melded unceremoniously. The third call. Alex goes running, displacing a society in his wake.

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Losing Faith

I was plunged into the luke-warm water, trying to remain in the sarcophagus position I was advised to hold. Awkwardly cradled in the ex-Nazi fighter pilots arms, I was exhumed from the watery grave with a ceremonial ring of water arching from my body.

“Do you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior?”

“Yes,” came my mousy reply.

The music started, the same song always played for baptisms, just as there was a song for funerals and matrimony, this way the elderly members of the church had a clue for their required response.

I dragged myself out of the tepid waters, weighed down by the needlessly baggy clothing I had been provided with, even when they clung to you, they left a mystery in all the folds. I don’t know whose clothes they were, they weren’t mine, they must have resided at the church solely for emergency baptisms, or fools like me who only came equipped with a swimsuit.

The next in line for emersion was waiting patiently with a stoic look on his face. This one had even prepared a speech; savior’s pet. The only active part I took in my baptism was choosing who would perform it for me, a family friend who I felt most comfortable with. Otherwise, this whole endeavor was my mother’s doing.

There was much hinting in the weeks before the ceremony. These were disguised as part of the announcement, “we will be having a baptism coming up, if anyone else feels inclined to participate in a symbolic rebirth through Jesus, please inquire with your nearest elder.” My mom took this as a direct message aimed at me. I was the last of my age group that hadn’t yet partaken in this watery ritual. But, most likely, this was just their attempt to get the most out of a tank full of water. Even pensioners blessed with spiritual bounty only have so much material wealth to spare. It’s easy to look back on this occasion and put the blame entirely on my mother, although she is completely to blame for the ridiculous haircut I was sporting at the time, which repeatedly had me mistaken for a boy. I undoubtedly had some motives of my own. I felt the unworthiness as the tray of wine and bread bypassed me during the morning communion, the shame of my unadorned head when I was surrounded by lace. All of my friends had already been baptized by the time they were 6, some even claimed to have done so several times, and here I was 12, one birth short of the rest. What was most likely my main hindrance in perusing the matter could be attributed to my crippling shyness; the whole process of approaching the elders and having to undergo the mandatory Q&A, to ensure that no pagan was trying to sneak a dip.

As I made my way stage left upon leaving the tank I was handed a towel and given some hugs and pats accompanied by remarks of well-wishing. An added perk of any occasion in the church when you were young were the gifts. Most of them ended up being dunces, objects with feel good spiritual scriptures scrawled all over them, obvious re-gifts, but sometimes there was the odd gem, namely edible goods. I didn’t even mind the books. If anything, they helped my sleep better at night. They would become part of my nightly ritual. I had a fear of evil spirits, stemming from bible camp demon stories, and thought if I read some sort of spiritual text before going to bed it would create an invisible shield around me. But, as it turned out, I was only able to sleep more peacefully after I had given up the holy ghost. A standard gift for a baptism, for a girl anyways, was a head covering. I unfortunately had mine made for me by Florence. She was a sweet lady, she perhaps came a little too close to your face and held your arm a bit too tight when speaking to you, but she desired to reside in that grandmotherly role among us youth. Little did she understand that the young are cruel, especially when it comes to the elderly, and sweets are the only surefire guarantee of loyalty.

As I wore the elongated doily she had handcrafted for me, I enviously looked at my friend’s quaint lacy accessories. It looked even odder perched atop my big curly hair. Like a delicately fashioned landing strip for Jesus to find his way home into my soul.

Years later when we changed to a more liberal church, I was no longer obligated to wear a head covering. I was more than happy to retire my doily. Some still set in their ways held on to the custom a little longer, but soon assimilated to the hair liberation. Women were also allowed to speak and participate in the service here. Baptism’s still occurred, but it was no longer to prove to the church you were devout, but as part of a personal, spiritual journey.

The warm and welcoming environment with feel good sermons was a nice change from the fire and brimstone scare tactics I had grown accustomed to. But at this point it was already too late. I had seen the dark side of religion and the anger was already brewing.

My previous church couldn’t exactly be labeled a cult, but it did share some the qualities. This included kicking out members whose ways of life they didn’t agree with; a single father who started dating another Christian woman, a mentally ill man who’s mumbling during communion was determined as too distracting and disrespectful to god, and our youth pastor, who was a Calvinist (believed in the pre-ordained). The final straw came when one of the elders was asked to leave after he had become personally bankrupt. What resulted was a Kafkaesque show trail, and the splitting of the already dwindling church.

I try to pinpoint when exactly I came to the realization of the farce I was being subjected to. There were moments of doubt and questioning, a sense that something was holding me back from giving myself up completely to the faith. It wasn’t until an intervention was held by an atheist boyfriend, who gathered my friends and presented a thoughtfully organized binder full of facts that would make any doubting Thomas quiver, that I finally confronted my beliefs. It didn’t help that my best friend Michael, who is gay, was present. He is not the confrontational type, and would never be offended by anyone’s beliefs, but when I was asked if I believed he was going to hell because he’s a homosexual, as the scripture says, he did seem a tad offended.

The scripture I was choking on was damning, and not in the way it would for a sinner seeking redemption, but as a hypocrite having a mirror held up to their lives. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t realized it before. Making sure to set an alarm after my drug, booze and sex filled night in order not be late for the Sunday school class I was teaching. I wasn’t about to compromise on the pleasures of life for a God who didn’t even make me feel safe from psychos after watching Scream 3.

What I lost along with my religion were a group of people who I had considered my close friends, but once it became clear that I was becoming wayward, they didn’t have much time for me. What I gained, and which may bear some semblance to what those turning to religion say, was peace of mind. I was finally able to rid myself of all the superstitions surrounding religion, I no longer had to feel guilty for a lifestyle which I enjoyed and gave me more satisfaction than sitting around discussing what god really meant when he said, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God,” or playing board games and getting a sugar rush off hot cocoa. I was also finally was able to reconcile my logical thinking with my beliefs. Sure, science still needs a level of faith, but the results are a lot easier to attest to the patterned behavior of quarks than the whims of the omniscient.

I can see my religious friends shaking their heads and saying that I wasn’t able to stand firm against the pressures of the world, that I fell too easily into temptation, some may even still be praying for me, I’m sure my mother is, that I will once again find the one true path.I was once one of them, and I can understand how it is to perceive the world through the eyes of the redeemed, adorned with a WWJD bracelet.

Ultimately, religion became an explanation for our existence that was full of holes, these were filled with faith in an all-knowing, all-powerful god. Any belief, even scienists or athiests can fall into the same trap, feeling a necessity to explain away everything. In the end, I was much more comfortable accepting the mystery, I would prefer not to label myself as an atheist or an agnostic, at the moment I’m happy being free from any doctrine and am satisfied that there is no fool-proof answer out there that explains life, the universe and everything, except of course 42, which seems perfectly reasonable.

If I were to rediscover my headcovering a few years back, while I was still dealing with my anger towards religion and drunkenly arguing everyone I encountered on the topic, my first inclination would have been to burn it. But now I see that it should be kept as a relic, as I was part of a dying breed, and religion was all part of forming who I’ve become. If anything I should be grateful for my biblical upbringing, at least it provided me with an easy go-to essay topic in English class.

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If You Can’t Join Them, Beat Them (or Sex n’ Drugs n’ Drum & Base)

I don’t actually hate hipsters. The thing is, I kind of envy them. I would give anything to be one of them, but my parents aren’t rich enough, and I can’t conform enough to their individuality. Every time I go back home I’m reminded of how inferior I am. No matter how tight my pants are, or how genuine my cold disdain for humanity is it must shine through that I still thing The Black Keys are cool, that I work, and not at an approved profession, (I was unable to score the position of telepathically taking patrons orders at the local vegan brunch nook) or that I unironically think the Belushi Brothers are funny.

The last time I was home I was determined to get invited to one of their awesome, drug-filled snobfests. I hadn’t realized how bad the hipster epidemic had spread since I’d last been back, but I could almost make out the sneers as I walked down LoJo, as lower Johnson Street has now been renamed. I wasn’t off to a good start, especially since it was impossible to make eye contact with any of them. I checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally worn my Gap sweatshirt by accident. I quickly realized I needed a little assistance if I were to make any progress on my way to hipsterdom.

Many Canadians associate the west coast with granola munching, pot-smoking, mountain trekkers, that and Asians. In Victoria, the hippies still reign, and not the burnt-out zombies roaming Height and Ashbury, leather belts permanently embedded in their skulls since 1962. These are hippies 2.0. They may not have a war to protest or anyone shunning them for their long hair, although their habit of not bathing does provide them a wide berth, but they still profess ideals of living off the land, AKA not working, free love, although perhaps with a little added protection, and drugs. Therein lay my connection. Alcohol is said to bring people together, but as far as hippies and hipsters are concerned, it’s drugs. I have a few hippie friends left back home, some of my friends would even consider me a bit of a hippie, but I failed to pass the crystal healing test, so I don’t qualify. Nevertheless, I still managed to get myself invited to a Cosmic Caravan Carnival. Before going I made sure to down a bottle of raspberry vodka, which I shared with some Swedish exchange students down by the harbor, but I was still relying on obtaining something in the stalls to keep me going through the night. I can only feign enthusiasm for electronic music unassisted for so long, let alone the accompanying spastic dance moves. After ingesting some organic shit labeled Scooby Snacks I was beginning to have doubts about the success of my night. I had trouble convincing myself that the ginseng and honey were eventually going to start to kicking in. It didn’t help matters when the friend who I had come with, and whose house I was expecting to crash at, started making arrangements with several of the girls gathered around him. They were obviously attracted to this free spirit, who wasn’t even letting the frigid weather stop him from baring his chest, with only a thin layer of sequins and feathers to protect him from the elements. When I realized that I wasn’t going to fit into his plans for the evening, I stood awkwardly between the crowds of multi-colored folks, feeling as out of places as I always did in my hometown. I weighed my options, I could find a park bench, preferably away from the addicts, to rest until the first morning bus, or I could finally find out how long it would actually take to walk home from the city to the suburbs, my estimate being between 2 and 7 hours.  That’s when a mustachioed boy approached me. He was wearing a coonskin cap, with a long feather earing dangling from one ear and the signature painted-on red pants. It was just a relief to finally have someone to talk to. He then proceeded to invite me to this after party that I had heard the others talking about as being impossible to get in to because it was sold out. As we started making our way, accompanied by his equally fabulously dressed posse, he pulled out a pill case and invited me to have my pick. I couldn’t believe my luck, and should have realized that he had ulterior motives for me, but I still had at least 6 hours to while away until dawn.

I had heard of this Sunset Lounge before, it was Victoria’s only after hours club, and it’s the closest we could get to a rave scene. Alternative seems like a half-ass way of describing it, just like calling someone who meditates occasionally, ‘spiritual,’  but I fail to find a way to sum up nicely the crowd I encountered there. That night I got invited to a swinger’s party, was confronted for advice on how to get rid of constipation in the toilet and given a pair of angel wings to accompany my flower child dance, which was finally accepted as a perfectly reasonable form of dancing.

Throughout the night my new friend kept a constant check on me and repeatedly told me how much he and his girlfriend liked me. I should have known something was up, but I really did need a place to stay, and they seemed nice enough kids. The girlfriend seemed even innocent of the fact that her nipples were clearly visible through her white lace top.

Back at their place, after showing me a trapeze they had constructed for their acrobat act and feeding me some gluten-free cake and an herbal energy tincture, the girl began to set up a bed for me in the living room. The boy chirped in that that wouldn’t be necessary, as I would be sharing their bed with them. I received this news as naively as possible. Perhaps they wanted to continue our discussion on how best to raise a captive monkey, or maybe they were just trying to lower the cost of heating by sharing body warmth. As we snuggled into bed I was informed that they had chosen me because I was special. I wasn’t sure if I should have felt flattered or insulted that they would think I was that easy. I wondered what sort of vibe I was giving off that they would perceive me this way. Was it my kinky hair or the curious owl tattooed on my back?

The next morning, as I made my way to the bus stop, I realized that maybe I didn’t quite belong with the hippies or the hipsters. Maybe it was all just part of another passing trend, like the emos and goths, and all I had to do was wait a little while and make sure to catch the next one early. Hopefully the next fad would harken back to the puritanical days of the early settlers, with laced up collars and proposals before kissing, and maybe by the time it rolled along I would realize that I was getting too old for this shit.

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Boob Tube

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I remember as a kid encountering classmates who didn’t own TV’s. I pitied these forsaken children with their hippie parents who thought they were protecting their offspring from brain numbing rubbish. While instead they were unknowingly excluding their children from important cultural references for years to come. We felt it was our duty to invite them over after to school to catch up some mandatory viewing; otherwise how would they know which character to vie for during our lunch time Power Ranger playacts, or maybe it would be to our advantage, one less girl wanting to be Pink. I eventually became one of these kids. When I was just weaning myself off Barney and Sesame Street, ready for some harder stuff; to brave Goosbumps and maybe even test the waters of some dumbed down sitcoms, I was rudely forced into the company of those raw veggie eating, hand me down clothed, children of the Earth. But this wasn’t for any self-betterment on my parent’s part; it was, as usual, to save a buck or two. My father, always out for a long term deal, had made an investment in a satellite dish. This was not the satellite dishes that adorn the roofs of so many suburban houses; this was a satellite dish that sent messages to aliens. It was the size of a trampoline, and was probably why I was never able to get a trampoline; no room and no money. It scarred our backyard, despite my mother’s attempts to fence it off and disguise it in vines. Since part of the long term bargain was that we illegally picked up our satellite signal from our surrounding area, and everyone in the neighborhood was using cable our channel selection was limited and fuzzy at best. The only children’s TV I was exposed to being a promo for a Disney channel, which played the same episodes of My Little Pony every day, leading me to carefully rotate my viewing periods. Therefore, for the most part I grew up with the best of the oldies. When asked to make a personal profile in grade 4, I listed my favourite TV show as Green Acres. When we were given a colouring sheet of the Simpson family I mistakenly, and to the horror of the entire class, coloured Marge’s hair brown. A few years later, after we turned our house into a B&B, my parents finally conceded and got cable and I was eventually able to catch up with my peers, although mystifyingly Power Rangers was still off limits. My parents were convinced some poorly costumed villains fighting in broad daylight in a park was too frighting for me, little did they realize that it was in fact the martians from Sesame Street that haunted my dreams.

Nowadays, almost everyone I talk to chooses not to own a TV, and they say so proudly; they’ve been on the commercial-free wagon for 6 months and no low price cable package is going to tempt them off. I can understand, with computers you can watch what you want, when you want, and best of all, for free. (I just hope I’m not the only one prepared for this joyride to end abruptly any time soon.) The last time I was home and surfing the channels, after about, 3 years of being clean, I witnessed how far basic cable had degraded. I wouldn’t have thought it possible near the end of my TV viewing years, what with each new reality shows trying to top the others with ridiculousness and grotesqueness. I thought it couldn’t be beat after witnessing a bachelorette type show, where all the contestants wore wrestling style masks throughout, so the decision couldn’t be based on appearance, and it was hosted by Monica Lewinsky. Now the majority of the channels were devoted to shopping networks, there were a few more foreign channels and the few channels I was actually able to watch were ran the likes of Two and a Half Men, with whatever washed up cast they have managed to scrounge up at this point and dumb blonde bitches trying to tackle day to day tasks, breathing and so on. The only time I could stomach to watch was late-night.

Gone are the days of channel surfing, unless you constantly want to have your finger on the next channel button. And the sans TV option, is no longer the hippie family choice but the sensible one if you want to keep any wits about you. Let’s just hope that when our satellite finally does make contact with the outer realms, that it transmits Honey West rather than Honey Boo Boo, otherwise they may invade us for our own good.

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Never Never Land

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Remember platform sneakers and blue lipstick, playing Girl Talk with your girls, in a room adorned with posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and The Hansons, Much Dance 2000 playing in the background. Or munching on Cool Ranch Doritos and slurping back Orbit while watching  Jem or Darkwin Duck or TGIF. Maybe you recall painful waiting on dail-up internet or when cell phones where the size of your head.

I’ve barely completed the first quarter of my life (perhaps that’s wishful thinking, let’s say third) and I’m already being perpetually invited to walk down memory lane. I understand feeling nostalgia for your childhood; the carefree summer days, the creative possibilities that were viewed in every found object, slumber parties and first crushes, and the constant giddiness that was so easily stirred up, before cynicism crept into our bones. As we are making our transition to adulthood, much slower and reluctantly than previous generations, we say good-bye to our youth, make a clean break and move on to spawn youth of our own. Now, with Facebook and websites, such as Buzzfeed, I’m stagnating in nostalgia as I’m constantly reminded of every significant emblem or moment commonly shared by others of my generation. It can be fun to reminisce at times, but it’s also slightly disturbing. Should I be experiencing such bittersweet feelings recalling my past when it is just barely behind me. Not only is technology ruining certain moments I used to savor, such as the satisfaction when you finally remembering, ‘what’s-his-name, from that movie, you know…’ after it’s been bugging you (and as a result everyone around you) for hours, or running into an old classmate you haven’t seen in years, and instead of catching up on where your lives have taken you seen you last met, there’s no need, since you’ve been constantly updated on Facebook. But now the internet is messing with my memories; this has gone too far. Forty years from now I want to be walking with my child/grandchild/godchild (we’ll see what happens) and tell them how candy used to be 5 cents, we used to write with pen and paper, and didn’t have chips embedded in our brains that thought for us. Now, I stumble home from the bar with my friends and stopping at the corner store recall how 5 cents candies didn’t used to have taxes on them, how we should go home and youtube Strawberry Shortcake, oh my god, remember trolls, we could totally buy one off ebay.

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A US Cutsom

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Recently, while watching a movie that took place in the 1970’s which involved numerous interactions at the airport; it was about a terrorist organization, I felt a little envious at the ease in which they were able to travel in those days. Characters weren’t harassed in customs, walked freely even after displaying suspicious behavior, holding copies of fake passports was considered not enough cause to be held, and they were able to puff a continuous stream of smoke from their mouths throughout.

Every time I’m ushered through US Customs I feel as if I’m interrogated. It doesn’t help that I get nervous when faced with authority. Anyone who has the power to make things very unpleasant for me if they so wish and I feel the pressure of  undergoing a test I’m bound to fail. The unsmiling, doubting faces make me question if I am indeed who I proclaim to be. ‘I’m sure I was born in Victoria, at least that’s what my parents told me, and…and, I’ve seen the birth certificate, it certainly didn’t look as if it’d been tampered with.’ Filling out my declaration form, I’m calm, I’m a world traveller, I know the routine, I’m cool and savvy when it comes to airports. The line is moving quickly, look how easily those citizens of the world are cakewalking through, all ages, races, modes of dress. Then it’s my turn, my heart starts to race as I make my way to the counter. What if they don’t believe me; is my story drill-proof. I don’t have a job right now, but I can’t tell them that, they’ll think I’m going to jump ship instead of catching my connecting flight and find work at the next farm I pass. I’m an English Teacher, I can hold that story up, I was an English Teacher not too long ago and can remember most of the facts about my job. They’ll ask me how much money I have on me, which, including the $20 stored in my wallet for a snack and a magazine, amounts to a little over $100. Am I even allowed to land on US soil with so little money to my name? I’m sure I’ll pop up on their computer as suspicious. Maybe after that time a friend and I were searched.  We didn’t completely fit the hippie vagabond look worn by so many heading to California on a Greyhound, but were backpack toting and guitar strapped nonetheless. After recounting a story that didn’t quite hold, ‘So, you don’t know the name and addresses of who you’re going to stay with in California?’ Stuttering my reply, ‘I was going to figure it out when I got there.’ I was given a mild talking to about working illegally in the states. Come on, I was thinking, out of work, youngsters, who’s bag are filled with beat classics don’t come to kick it in Cali with an itinerary, plus I really did have family in Sacramento. My slight annoyance at being disbelieved and stereotyped was overshadowed by the fact that I was indeed coming down to work illegally, on a weed farm nonetheless, and I should be happy that I made it through at all.  Or maybe they made a slight note when I was ‘randomly’ selected to have my dirty laundry sifted through on a return flight from Cuba. If anything, my Arab sounding last name would be a sure sign of compatriotism with a terrorist organization.

I manage to stumble my way through questioning, slightly flushed and gulping a few to many times, I vow not to make any detours on my way to my next flight, that no mysterious man in sunglasses handed me an unmarked package, and, a personal promise to myself, that I will avoid any more stopovers in the land of the free if at all possible. Now if only I were able to have that cigarette.

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A Romance

Jeremy lay immobile in his bed. He was tired. He blinked his eyes in the muted light that was filtering in through the smeared window, he made no effort to keep them open and they drooped back down. He had nowhere to be, no one to meet, no urgency in his day, so he slept longer. Why are they always screaming, kids, why do parents let them scream, do they just give up, or don’t care, probably some nimrod that thinks it’s letting the kid express itself. He reluctantly admitted that it was time he got up, he felt a sense of guilt, but from where or for what he was unsure, but it made him get up, plus that infuriating kid that wouldn’t shut up.

Jeremy made it to the metro after an unnecessarily drawn out morning routine. He supposed he’d go to the market, the only place he enjoyed in the city; it didn’t need the preparation of a proper outing, but still felt like sufficient activity to while away a day. Also he needed socks.

Angela sprinted towards the train, she squeezed through the doors, just as they were closing. Made it. She scanned the compartment, spotted Jeremy. Jeremy was staring blankly out the window, then focused his gaze at the floor. Angela studied his movements, but they ended there. She became intrigued by his look, his unkempt attire, crumpled and stained, his stubble and sparse hair sticking whither to out of his toque. He appeared detached, disinterested in this earth, as if he had long ago transcended material things. Angela knew it was fate that they should encounter each other, she had barely made this train, and out of all the compartments they both ended up on this one. She was sure he would agree. He was probably into Buddhism or some other eastern religion, or spiritual on a level that was beyond labels such as religion. He no longer cared about earthly appearances, he was aware of a superior purpose for our bodies then as mere portrayers of shallow fashions. Although he did have potential, with a bit of a scrub and maybe a proper diet he could be quite handsome. She noticed a square shaped bulge in his jacket, he must be an avid reader, most likely he’s off to buy the latest edition of some scientific journal he’s following, or maybe an obscure title has been discovered at the second hand shop that has long been overlooked, only he having the patience and insight to appreciate its worth.  In his humble dwelling he’s sure to have shelves stacked with tomes on every subject, he could have an intelligent conversation on any topic, but needs to be coaxed, because he is modest and uncomfortable that his knowledge far surpasses those around him. Or perhaps it’s a notebook, he’s working on a novel about the human struggle and is constantly drawing from real life experiences he’s witness to, seeing the depth and beauty in the everyday occurrences of life. Or maybe it’s a sketchpad. He sits in cafés and produce perfect renderings of the waitresses. The homely looking one, long forgotten, treated as a servant to do the biddings of her customers, never receiving any signs of appreciation. On leaving he would place it under his mug to be discovered as she clears away his dishes, she’d keep it secretly in her brassiere as a reminder of the value of her existence that someone took time to acknowledge.

At the next stop a seat cleared next to him, she shoved her way in front of an elderly woman who was ambling towards that direction; no one was messing with her destiny. She sat next to him, she held her breath, then exhaled slowly, she regulated her breathing, she needed to appear natural, coy even. He emitted a heavy odor of smoke. She was aware that many intellectuals were prone to smoking, it helped them with the creative process. She of course would convince him to quit. She wouldn’t do it in a forceful manner, or give him the impression that she wanted him to change. She’d just make him realize that it was for his own good, and because she cared about his well-being.  She tried to appear mysterious, but was unsure how to exactly convey mysteriousness, she glanced to the side and up, as if deep in mysterious thought and to escape the off putting smell. Jeremy continued to stare at the floor. She uncrossed her leg and gently pressed her right knee into him, she became flushed at the contact. He’ll need a muse, inspiration when he goes through slump periods, someone to inspire him to carry on when the weight of the world lies heavy on his soul.

Her stop was coming up, it would be a sign if he got off at the same stop, there had already been the initial sign of their first encounter, one more was all she needed for guaranteed proof of their shared fate. She turned to look at him, he as yet failed to notice her, deep in thought most likely, or maybe he has noticed her but is too shy to speak. She’d make it easier for him.

“What does it all mean, back and forth, back and forth on this train, where is everyone going, does it even matter?” She spoke softly in his general direction.

Jeremy made no sign of acknowledgment. Perhaps he’s deep in thought. She waited. Maybe he didn’t hear. She waited another minute, just to ensure that he wasn’t being particularly pensive on his response.

She nudged him gently, to make sure he noticed this time, the look he gave her appeared rather annoyed. She hadn’t expected this hostility.

“Uh, where is everyone going… ?”

“ I’m not sure I follow.”

“You know, like, what’s the point of this journey, back and forth, back and forth all the time, does it matter?”

He shook his head and returned his gaze to the floor. You always meet nutters on the train, he considered moving, but there weren’t any other seats and he didn’t feel like standing.

Maybe she had been too vague in her attempt at profundity.  Her stop was approaching; he made no sign of movement. Maybe he didn’t realize this was his stop. Jeremy glanced up at the sign, then back down at the floor. Angela was uncertain at how to best fulfill  the star’s biddings, she promised to meet her sister and was already late. Her sister was already pissed off at her for bailing that last time, but she had been waiting for a phone call she was sure she was supposed to receive. If we’re supposed to be together fate will find a way, but she was beginning to grow weary of how long fate was taking to arrange things for her, maybe it needed a little assistance. She rummaged through her bag, everything personal was on her phone, she’d need a bit more assurance of its return before using it as a prop in destiny. She flipped through the cards in her wallet, she wished she worked somewhere where business cards were necessary, maybe she should look into getting personal ones, does that come off as desperate? SIN card? Could be a problem if it landed in the wrong hands. Library card? No one would bother to return that.  Care Card? She could do without that for a few days, there’s not much someone can do with that, she didn’t think anyways, has my full name, he will probably take it upon himself to return it personally. The doors opened, she dropped it on the floor right in front of where he was staring and squeezed out just before the doors shut. Peter came over to occupy the seat Angela had vacated, before doing so he picked up the card he had noticed laying in front of Jeremy.

“This yours mate?

Jeremy glanced over, “No.”

Peter took another look at the card and chuckled to himself, “Guess not eh, not unless your name is Angela.”

Jeremy partially turned his head towards Peter then back out the window.

“You see who dropped it?”

Jeremy shook his head and grunted.

“Well I bet she’ll be needing this, hopefully later rather than sooner,” Peter snorted, unsure whether that expression could be used in reverse like that, “I’ll drop it off at the ticket counter at my next stop.” Noticing that his audience had lost interest he tucked the card in his pocket. He forgot to hand it in to the ticket counter, and only remembered a couple days later when he wore that particular jacket again and noticed the foreign object in his pocket.

Jeremy got off a couple stations later, glad for his personal space after sitting next to too many fellow commuters unaware that bodily boundaries should continue to apply, even when in confined spaces. Jeremy wandered around the market for a couple hours, bought some things he didn’t need, not urgently anyways, ate too much cheap stall food, it’s convenience being too tempting, then felt annoyed at having spoiled his appetite for a proper meal once dinner time came. He sat in a coffee shop for an hour, picked through a magazine that was sitting there, Interior Design of Sweden, and searched the internet on his phone. He decided that he had spent sufficient time out of the house and he could now return home for an hour or so before going out again to get pissed. Maybe he’d get drunk enough tonight that he’d have an excuse to lay in bed all day tomorrow recovering.

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New Dawn

“Now, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the world is going to end soon.”

Mr. Philips wore his customary camel tweed suit, today paired with an amber silk shirt and mustard yellow tie with forest green triangles, it had been a gift, but he had long forgotten from whom. The combination was off putting at first, but those around him soon recognized it as an outward visualization of the warmth he projected. He sat in the usual position he took when delivering news of this kind, legs an appropriate width apart, hand gently clasped in his lap, this was accompanied with a stern expression, to make sure the information was delivered in full seriousness, yet without an overbearing sensation of fear.

“For some of you this may not come as a shock, we’ve been witness to this earth’s slow decline, although some may say rapid decline as of late, society has long ago lost its moral compass, our economic structure is failing, our environment is in despair and so on. But this isn’t a cynical severe reading of scientific hypothesis I’m referring to, nor are we doomsday prophets. We are not, what we are is brutally aware, it’s really not that extreme if you think about it, the problem is that most people don’t do just that, think… about…it…”

Andrew shifted uncomfortably in his chair, the pants he was wearing were too tight around the waist, he was aware that his belly had been expanding gradually for some time, but as of yet didn’t feel compelled to take action. He was waiting for the moment when his pants no longer fit, and he would be forced to confront the issue or concede to his new body profile and buy new pants. He felt further discomfort because he was hungry, yet he didn’t know exactly where this food would be stored. ‘I’m hungry, what should I eat, meatball sub, I had that yesterday and the day before, what’s something more healthy, ham, is ham ok, tuna’s pretty healthy isn’t it, but then there’s all that mayo, I really feel like a meatball sub.’ He wished this moron would stop talking so he could take a shit, that always made him feel better, that he cleared some room in his belly before filling it again. ‘I’ll have it on whole wheat, that’s healthy, and no pop, but I need to drink something, should I just drink diet, no that’s gross, ok, no chips and whole wheat, Jesus, won’t this guy stop talking already, nobody cares. I’m hungry.’

“Take a moment right now, before I tell you anything else, and you’ll see that the concept of the world coming to an end isn’t even that far out. It’s fairly easy to imagine before even being provided with a firm support. Just stop and think about the bigger picture, never mind your routine little lives, think about the entire earth and all the disasters, famines, massacres, all going on while we live our comfortable lives, our major concerns are what to have for dinner, what cd to buy next, should we save our money to go to the Bahamas or send our kids to school, without any realization of what a messed up world we live in.”

Marie shifted her legs to cross them the other way, she rested her chin in her palm, then she noticed that Dave, sitting across from her was sitting in the same position. ‘He probably didn’t notice, but maybe he’s subconsciously aware.’ She readjusted, put her hands in her lap, bounced her heels impatiently. She glanced at Dave again, he was staring at the wall past her. ‘Fuck, he probably noticed me looking at him, again,’ she was trying hard not to look at him, but her head was rebelling, resisting only made it worse. ‘I don’t even like him anyways, he isn’t even that clever or interesting to talk to, he’s always responding in clichés, making lame jokes, but there something kinda sexy about him, he’s so sure of himself, cocky even, I would do him at least, fuck, he’s tapping his heels too, maybe he’s subconsciously imitating me, that means he’s interested, but maybe he’s just not aware of it.’ She sat still and stared at the floor.

“Now you may be wondering about the details, we always want proof. Oh, there’s proof, proof beyond a shadow of a doubt my friends. Trust me, I deem myself an educated man. I have read hundreds of books, have tried numerous religions and ways of life. None have provided me with an answer, all fell short in one way or another, all broke down when faced with stringent questioning. I’m a logical man, I’m a rational man, and only New Dawn has been able to withstand my rigorous scrutiny, once you explore it you will feel like a fool to have not realized it all earlier, the answers are right in front of us, we face them every day, but choose to look the other way and continue with our shallow, meaningless lives. New Dawn not only provides answers for our existence and how we should live our lives to the upmost, but they also offer hope and reassurance when facing the end times. ”

‘The world is going to end? Could this guy be for real?’ Justin looked around the room; the rest of the group had their heads down or were staring blankly in the distance. ‘I does kinda make sense, doesn’t it? There’s just so many fucked up things going on in the world, and it’s not like he’s one of those twenty twelve guys, he doesn’t sound like a nut job or anything.’ Justin looked attentively on, as Mr. Philips continued to speak. ‘I mean, everyone makes fun of him all the time, but everyone here’s an idiot. They’re just the type that would laugh at Noah, and then be sorry and beg for help when the flood came. Maybe I’ll talk to him after, but when no one’s around, ‘cause maybe he is crazy, you never know with people like him. What if he tries something weird? Maybe I’ll talk to him in the morning, that way if he gets weird at least I’ll know someone’ll show up soon. What would I do if it’s true? Move to Brazil or something, party it up till the end, wouldn’t have to worry about anything, mom would leave me alone, ‘cause it wouldn’t matter anymore. I’d try and make a move on Christie first, see if anything’s there, maybe she’ll join me, I bet she’d be fun Brazil, otherwise fuck her.’

“You may ask, how are we supposed to face a world when we have been provided with such knowledge? You expect us to continue our daily routine’s when we are aware that everything we know and that provides stability for our lives will come to a halt in our lifetimes? The answer is yes, and you must. The idea of death and destruction that comes with end times may depress you at first, but New Dawn’s message is optimistic, so that you can live your lives joyfully, how many of you can honestly say that you are living joyful lives right now? ”

‘Jamie saying I have a fucking temper, fuck her,’ Dave stared angrily down at the floor, supporting his head in his hand. ‘She doesn’t know how good she has it, constantly having to put up with her crap, complaining all the time, she never appreciates it when I do do stuff for her, like seeing that lame ass girl movie, she bitched and moaned so much, I can’t believe I wasted two hours and twenty bucks on that piece of shit movie. I’m so sick of it, maybe I shouldn’t even show up at her place tonight, make her realize she’s treading on thin ice. She’d come begging on her knees for me back. Marie keeps on checking me out, maybe I should just go for it, fuck Jamie. But Jamie’s way hotter, if only she could keep her fucking mouth shut. But that ass, fuck, maybe I should go over there tonight. Maybe I’ll just get her flowers or some shit, then she’ll shut up for a while, plus she’ll give me a good fuck. Wine too, then she’ll be rearing to go. Fuck, I’m getting horny,’ Dave started bouncing his feet up and down, in an effort to dispel some of his pent up energy. ‘Why does that freak keep on staring at me?’

“I’m not proposing that you should feel obligated to spread this message, you may desire to inform the ones you love, I only share this knowledge as I’m compelled by my love for mankind.”

‘What the fuck is this guy on about, is this place a cover up for some cult?’ Jodie stared in disbelief at the ridiculously dressed man. ‘Man, why am I even here? I have a fucking education, that’s more to say then the rest of this sorry bunch.’ She glared in contempt at everyone in the room. ‘Fucking Kate and her rich parents, funding her for a year to ‘discover herself,’ I could save her the time, you’re a spoilt princess Kate, who thinks you’re creating ‘meaningful statement pieces,’ you don’t fool me, trying so hard to be shocking and original, trying so hard to be original that you’re ending up like everyone else.’ Jodie relaxed her jaw, she had unwittingly been clenching her teeth, she relaxed her face out of the screwed up expression. ‘They better not pay me in post-apocalyptic redemption. Maybe I’ll just join them, it’s not like I have anything going for me right now anyways, that would show mom, forcing me to degrade myself by coming here. Fucking Kate, she should try working an honest day in her life, then she’d know what suffering is.’

“I know this is a lot of information to process, all I ask is that you spend some time just thinking about it. I’m not asking you to commit to anything or sway you to join, just think about it, and I hope that in doing so you’ll come to realize that some things don’t add up and start to question what exactly it is that is going on around us. I am always available to talk and have plenty of reading material if you wish to be one of the enlightened. Now, as for other matters, we will be issuing a new uniform next week, you can tell Linda your preferred size. There will be a health inspector stopping by sometime this month, it’ll be a surprise visit, now I know all of you approach your work with high quality standards, so just continue like this and there should be no problem. Justin, Andrew, there’s a box of pastrami waiting to be sliced, Marie, could you start training Jodie on sandwich making, we’ll need her on the front counter soon. Don’t let today’s meeting weigh too heavy on you, you are all valued employees of Tony’s and even if you don’t wish to wisely use the knowledge I have provided you, I look forward to continuing working with you in the foreseeable future, you’re dismissed.

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