Creative Writing

Eight Months In the Making

Journal entrees by Kelsey Marek

“Concept: a book, 9 months ago you wouldn’t leave the house without it. A little book about him, and who you were during the time you were with him. The book was not in order, when something hit you, you opened up to a random page and scribbled it down. A little book, eight months in the making, filled with tears, love, him, more him, you, 3am thoughts, 10am thoughts, and goals now just another book on the bookshelf.”

Learning To Be Alone

Words by Ellie Connor-Phillips

Photograph by Daniela Bologna

Photograph by Daniela Bologna

My friend recently lent me the novel ‘Cien ãnos de soledad,’ or ‘100 Years of Solitude,’ by Gabriel García Márquez. I have spent many hours during the summer dwelling within its paper world, and the city between its pages. It follows the life and death of a town, before phones and computers, internet and Instagram; and the lives of its founders. Each have a life, an experience of the world around them that exists undocumented by picture or video, who without this book (were they real people, that is) would never have had their stories told. And yet, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant colours of their day-to-day lives; the way moments shape their whole being, the dedication they have to craft, work or learning without the pressure of online presence to motivate them, or the rose-tinted glasses of social media changing the way they behave into something shaped for the public eye.

It awoke in me a sense of longing for this free world, where actions alone spoke as loud as those witnessed by others. A place where tasting, smelling, feeling was as valuable as capturing an experience on camera, or staging photos to present a false life to strangers on instagram. I wonder at what point I lost this freedom? As a child, moments were mine and I collected them like conkers falling from the trees, keeping them as they hardened and wrinkled. I used to listen to birdsong and try to separate the individual songs from each other. I would sit, knees bent, reading on the kitchen counter upstairs, reading and watching the wildlife outside. Spending time with others was about what you said, and what you did, not what photographs you posed for or what ones were posted on whose story.

I noticed it most on the first night alone in my new home, a shared house in which I inhabit along with friends. I watched myself in the mirror, getting into bed after taking care of my skin, and realised I was now the only person who witnessed these small moments. What I ate, how I cooked it, how much work I did, how well I slept – all moments I no longer shared with anyone else, or was seen to have done by anyone else. Wrapped in warm water, rubbing olive oil soap into my hair, I marveled at the fact that this enjoyment and comfort of a bath was only mine. An urge pulled me from the pit of my stomach to tell people, to share this with people in some way; why couldn’t I be content with just my own company and observation? Why did I only feel content when others knew that I was feeling content?

Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone picks up on probably the most interesting part of this inability to be happy by one’s self: “these days, I don’t think the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.” It is suggested that this sort of loneliness, this incompatibility to being unwatched, is firstly not fixed by other people, and secondly, not caused by us, but potentially the society and systems to which we have grown accustomed. Perhaps, as Laing says, we have fallen out with ourselves, lost touch with the self we maybe knew as a child. A life spent working, fitting into social circles, trying to “be” something – it’s easy to imagine how a slither of clarity over your own being could be lost along the way.

I tried, with this in mind, to hold off on my urge to share my solitude, and instead focused on trying to fill my alone time with positivity. I fed myself, took baths, slept well, worked – and tried as much as possible to allow myself to enjoy these moments undocumented. I just want to feel content with my own mundane moments, the normality that is living from day to day. It isn’t always easy, but I have discovered the wealth of benefits there are to living in the real world and not a virtual one. My kitchen boasts living herbs, my garden flowers; succulents grow in my bedroom, which remains tidier and as if someone lives there, rather than just someone visiting. My bookshelf is growing yet not remaining unread; and my long-lost desire to make art and write has returned with a vengeance. On my birthday, I checked my phone only once, living every moment, even the ones spent alone, or in transit from one memorable moment to the next. The hours passed like months, the day like a year, and I swear the air tasted sweeter and the wind felt softer on my skin. It’s not about giving up technology altogether, or becoming a recluse; it’s learning to live in the moment, enjoying it with your senses, and not always through posts you share to others on a phone screen.

November Playlist

Words, artwork, and playlist by Blakey Bessire

NOVEMBER

The cells in our bodies are tiny. They are so tiny and there are so many of them that maybe the “I” that we think of as “ourselves” is actually a misinterpretation and could be considered “we.” We practice life as symbionts, amidst private microscopic biota that are tiny and yet retain the ultimate use-value of biological subsistence. I like thinking about all of the things that will happen to my body after I die, these small mechanized and bodily programmable pieces will continue on. 

Maybe it’s just November, right? There is something so raw about it. So sucky. So small. My mom was texting me about being sad. We are both sad right now. It’s Scorpio she says. She is a Scorpio herself but doesn’t identify with it. I’ve been reading a book of short stories. One was by Abe Akira and it was called Peaches. It’s about memory and being a baby and peaches. He tries to recall a memory but each piece of it is jumbled. He never figures it out. But an image of the moon and peaches that could be bruised easily keeps returning to me in the last week or two. 

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 “Peaches. Fruit like pure, sweet nectar – nothing else. Easily bruised, quick to spoil. And each one heavy, almost unnervingly so. Filled with several dozen of these heavy peaches, the pram must have been more difficult to push than if it had held a live baby. And like the downy skin of a newborn, each could be scuffed and bruised in an instant if my mother did not push the pram slowly and carefully.”

We are made up of cells that make up a greater being. We are made up of skin that is easily bruised. Scuffed. I keep thinking about the pram and pushing it, or being inside of it.It is in the treatment of small peaches that I want to melt into. We have to push these prams slow and breathe in the air that let’s our cells expand and contract. This November let’s take care of our bodies, remain shielded against this month of genocidal holidays and grey skies, take big belly breaths. Hold our forms like symbionts with the sky and reject a cold month of stasis.

Have a listen and hopefully feel a bit brighter. A good bop can do wonders, you know. 

 
 

Trascendental South | A Personal Essay

Words and visuals by Frankie Climenhage

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A month ago, my band went on tour for three weeks in the United States. We drove from Montreal to Texas, with shows along the way there and back. This was the longest amount of time my bandmates and I had spent on the road and our first time in the South.

“It’s 9 AM in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The air is is sticky and grey from the neighboring hurricane and I am restless. I go for a walk around a little suburb tucked behind the highway and sprawl of motels and strip malls where we had stayed the night before.

The houses on these streets sit on large plots of land. Some are well kept with fresh coats of paint and well trimmed lawns that display politics and football team preferences. The other houses are decomposing. There are no sidewalks. It’s a cross between farmland and subdivision. A flock of domestic ducks waddle from yard to yard between cactus gardens. I see acres of land and rotting barns but only rusted trucks sit on the back plots. Rocking chairs and strollers on sunken front porches indicate multi generational households.

Residents give me dirty looks from their driveways. Maybe it’s because I am not a neighbor or a familiar face to them. Or maybe it’s because I look like a “weirdo”. A young girl waves at me from her yard and I relax my shoulders and feel like a person again.

I don’t take any photographs in this neighborhood.”

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On tour, there is never enough time to really explore the cities where we play. The days are spent in the car, driving from one show to the next. I see the states through highways and gas stations, fast food chains and farm land. It doesn’t really look all that different from Canada this way. It is in the bumper stickers, BBQ joints, cotton fields, firework stands, gun stores, discount liquor warehouses and dirty looks that I am reminded that I’m not at home. I take photos of my meals and the places we sleep in the morning light before getting back on the road. The taco bell menu is better in America and I feel less safe using its bathrooms. I opt for the single stall washrooms at coffee chains like Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme to keep negative eye contact and comments to a minimum. The cashier at a Dunkin Donuts in North Carolina tells me to “be careful out there” as she hands me my sour cream glazed and small coffee and for a moment I forget that she is talking about the hurricane.

These American landscapes- the neon signs and beat up station wagons, bungalows, star spangled flags and old school diners- are all scenes I had admired in the works of my favourite American photographers. These men that I look up to who have the confidence to ask someone if they mind being photographed and who navigate most American streets with ease. Maybe this confidence can be learned, or maybe it's not safe for me to ask a blue collar Tennessee truck driver if I can make a portrait of them.

And so, for now, I photograph myself and empty parking lots. Motel signs and houses that I can only speculate as to who might live inside them.

Remembering the Small Moments | A Photo Series

Words and visuals by Rachel Shoppy

There is more than just being known and understood. There is a desire to be free and unruly. Uncut. Uninhibited. Raw. An expression of humanity so real that those around you question if you are honest or crazy. Real or imagined. 

How can we love when we do so with legalistic intentions? Love is not bound. It’s not supposed to be understood. It’s meant to be treasured. Two souls that recognize each other. Perfectly broken and perfectly honest. Real. 

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November Poetry Slam

The monthly poetry slam idea was inspired by a friend of ours: Emma Czerwinski at Messy.


by Ellie Connor-Phillips

by Ellie Connor-Phillips

“Late October Nights” by Elida Vargas

Saxophone song and sirens sway,

caressing the inner most corrosion 

for a moment i feel the world stand still

my breath trickling down the street 

four full blocks of neon 

where angry bluish men standing guard 

and I

imbalanced as if on crows feet,

shift my weight 

thinking about parmesano garlic fries

and another caipirinha.

Photograph by Ellie Connor-Phillips

Photograph by Ellie Connor-Phillips

Untitled by Bree Cranfill

To the stars who listen,

I’m trying to breathe in the healing I require, but the suffering sets fire to my lungs. It’s weighing tons on my chest, I’m begging the universe for a rest, asking for some release. I’m so tired of my struggle being used as a conversation piece.

 

To the stars who listen,

I’m proud of who I am, and what I’ve overcome. Pushing through even when I thought “I’ve had enough.” This being is not what I wanted, it wouldn’t have been my choice. But damn, now that I’m here, all I can do is raise my voice. 



But, stars, if you’re out there, know that i feel like no one hears me. And If I don’t get my message out then I soon might disappear. It’s clear, in some ways, where my purpose lies. But I’m running low, and all that’s left to show- are the silent cries behind these tired eyes, from 6 feet down below. 



So, stars, please if you’re listening, send out some love and guidance. I can’t promise I’ll get it right but I’ll listen to what’s provided. I’ve been misguided. Life has been one sided, but I truly have belief. If you’re there, I know you care, please send me some relief.



Photograph by Julia Morgan

Photograph by Julia Morgan

Untitled by Julia Morgan

Cement


I have an aversion to fall.

Garish pieces of it

Litter and die

Along with my hope

But

The earth cries with me

Validating my mourning with

Mountains jacketed in mist

Acoustic tones

Settle sediment

Into my bones