up and away.

September 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

All things considered, I suppose Winnipeg is not a bad city. If my priorities were different or if I were more easily satisfied or if I didn’t mind spending my days wasting away in the summer sun and wasting some more hours in a cabin at Lake Winnipeg, then perhaps I would feel more at home. But my priorities surpass the width and length of this little town and I am easily bored by the yellow sea of wheat and canola that lie beyond the city limits and stretch across the horizon to greet the baby blue sky.

I don’t know why I went to California. I had perfectly polished answers to satisfy the skeptical people who looked strangely at me when I told them that I was going alone; like silver and gold to bribe them and keep them from asking the loaded questions I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer. I told them I wanted to meet the family I had living down there (which, if I had to admit, was one of the reasons I got up and left) and that I needed to go away in the lull between the end of my summer class and the beginning of the fall term at school (which was also good for me). In all honesty, I had the money and I had the opportunity so I grabbed it and ran for the hills. There was hardly any deliberation. No second thoughts. Just luck and nerve and a gross accumulation of subtle desperation that threatened at any moment to explode.

I suppose I was bored.

I suppose I was feeling adventurous.

I suppose I just felt like reminding everybody and myself that the things I live for lie further beyond the city limits than the farms of wheat and canola.

Virtual Reality

August 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

 

If it isn’t a pathetic fallacy,

It’s a paradox.

The blind man walks

Alone; the sun shines quite bright

Though in his eyes, it is night.

The couple on the park bench

Is engulfed by red roses’ stench.

Tell her a secret, she’ll tell

You a lie and everybody fell

Like Jack and Jill or like

The sniveling asshole riding his bike

On the cobblestone path

Along green grass and angry bushes’ wrath

Do not contain your excitement

This is no poem; there is no enticement,

No beauty, no passion

Just a ramble in a rhyming fashion.

Jack’s struggling because he’s dyslexic,

And Jill’s a little white lily; she’s anorexic.

He tries to read a book, propped on a pillow

While she pretends to lunch under a willow.

Don’t be jealous that they’re so perfect

In a world of perfect defects

If that ain’t a paradox, then what is?

Good, then seal it with a kiss

Because I’m telling the truth, and it’s all

Bordering something a little political.

There he is again, the blind man

And the hot air balloon’s flying as high as it can

It’s as blue as the sky

Which is as blue as blue dye.

Now she’s telling a secret and

You’ve told her a fib; hypocrisy never ends

Its willful reign over a happy world

The biker’s smoothes his disheveled blond curls.

 

Welcome to virtual reality.

 

 

fuelled by my hate for Academia.

August 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Lonely words on paper sing

Black ink sways to and fro

I staple the sheets to hand them in

At nine o’clock tomorrow

 

Lonely words on paper sing

Praises of a higher kind, although

These fall off their papery wings

Down they spiral, down they go

 

And hell it burns these wondrous things

Lonely words on paper lie

So for their errors, for their sins

Consumed by flame, their praises die

Under the Light of Fireflies

August 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Do me a favour and close my eyes

So I can dream ten thousand dreams

Under the light of fireflies

 

When the sun in all its glory lies

Nighttime rips the skylit seams

Do me a favour and close my eyes

 

Cursed wine dribbles as I sigh

Down my lips, it forms a stream

Under the light of fireflies

 

I treasure silence over desolate ‘whys’

As it speaks not of wicked schemes

Do me a favour and close my eyes

 

Stars shine daggers at my demise

Shadows grieve; they weep, they scream

Under the light of fireflies

 

Life will live until it dies

And stains these sheets so white as cream

Do me a favour and close my eyes

Under the light of fireflies

an ambivalent haiku.

July 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wish I could fly

Like a bird in the blue sky.

I’d jump off a cliff.

haiku for alandra.[hprp]

June 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

Alandra likes books

And treasures peace and quiet.

Shake her pretty world.

haiku for ashton. [hprp]

June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ashton is a boy

Who lives for adrenaline.

Sleep well little bird.

a series of inevitable events.

June 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

In my head, twelfth grade was something that was over when it began. I can explain this phenomenon using my name. Before twelfth grade, my name was of little significance to the general population. Then I made something of it. I put it on the back of my rugby jersey. It was on the programme at every band concert next to the star that indicated section leader. It was honorably mentioned in the newspaper, on certificates. It was engraved on plaques and medals and who knows what else. My name was something so that meant I was something. Until the end when it wasn’t and I wasn’t and my name faded into something of little significance once again.

Sometimes I wish high school didn’t happen. That my name wasn’t associated with so many sensational words. Then people wouldn’t expect so much of a sad little girl like me. Then people would leave me alone. Then I wouldn’t feel so sad. Then I can figure out what I really want.

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t have a name.

 

Just as twelfth grade was over when it began, so was our friendship. It didn’t feel that way in the beginning because high school makes something of people behind its whitewashed walls. There we were, isolated in this little building in the suburbs seeing the same friendly faces every single day. We drank bubble tea, played video games, and watched horror movies. We Skype called each other until we fell blissfully asleep. It was hard not to form bonds. It was impossible not to love what we had.

The summer after we graduated, our lives picked up. I could see exactly where the seams would tear when we would inevitably fall apart. And I was right.

Maybe it was simply a coincidence that I was right. Maybe – and this used to be a horrifying thought for me – I was the reason we fell apart. Maybe I should have been more present. Maybe I was selfish for wishing for something more. Maybe if I hadn’t wanted more than small talk and casual banter and stupid, stupid laughter, we would still be a single unit.

(But maybe you shouldn’t have pretended that nothing was wrong when I locked myself away and didn’t see daylight for hours and hours.)

 

At first, it was scary. I was part of a whole and then I wasn’t. We used to walk side by side. We used to do everything together. Then “we” became “I”. I am wandering aimlessly looking for my class. I am pushing my own way past a large group of people waiting outside the lecture hall in one of the science buildings. I am waiting in line at Tim Horton’s to buy coffee to drink while I smoke. I am small. I am lost. I am terrified.

I don’t know when I stopped being scared, but it happened at some point in January. I had predicted exactly where the seams would tear and so I knew this would happen. Like my name in twelfth grade, my place in this unit was of little significance anyway. Maybe I wasn’t the first to be cut away, but I was probably the second. Or the third. That made me angry. I didn’t need you like I thought I did and you didn’t need me either so that made me angry for some vapid, inexplicable reason. Now I see that I became distant and that was my fault. But it was yours too until the moment when I decided that you didn’t really matter to me all that much anyway. So just as you cut me out, I cut you all out as well.

That anger eventually dissipated. But I was still kind of lost.

 

I became really good friends with another group of people. That was inevitable. We were forced to spend a great deal of time in each other’s company so we made the best of it. They are good people and I grew to love these new memories just as I grew to resent the older ones. It wasn’t until I formed bonds with these people that I realized how much I hated you for cutting me out. I blamed you for taking something really good – something that made me feel so not dead – away from me. My words were cruel, even if they were only spoken in my head. I put my mistakes on the spot and I was forced to confront them to change a lot of things about myself so that I can feel happier. I don’t need any of the negative feelings I feel when I think of you, so I expunged them. And I do feel happier now.

Granted, sometimes some of that anger comes back. Tears spring to my eyes. I feel shame, guilt, and other irrational emotions. It makes me sad to think about what was, but I am determined to let that make me sad for only a little while longer. What makes me happy is the thought that I don’t hate you anymore. If you call, I won’t hang up. If you text, I won’t ignore you. It was inevitable that we grow apart – it’s part of the life process.

It’s time to start making those memories good again.

conversations [hprp]

June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dr. Leah Webb stood, dressed in her finest black attire, among ten others who were also dressed for mourning before the grave of her late husband. Due to Hans’ profession and position in life, she wasn’t acquainted with many of these serious faced people. In fact, the only three people she knew in the party were the man on her left, who was her husband’s partner and good friend, her husband’s cousin, Sofia, and her daughter, Alandra.

Hans bought this plot of land when they got married and had requested to be buried in… what was it they called those who weren’t like them? Muggle soil. Muggle. Non-magical. Leah didn’t like being the only non-magical one here. Even her daughter seemed to be somewhat familiar with the others. Leah didn’t even know the man who spoke kind words about how her husband was a spectacular Auror (which she assumed was like a cop of some sort), how he brought about the capture of this dark wizard or that lunatic or whatever.

She didn’t particularly care what they said. Hans’ career was not who Hans was. Hans was grave. Hans was handsome. Hans was wise. Hans could be surprisingly kind. Hans took care of her. Hans watched over Alandra, even when their daughter didn’t know it. Hans was everything she wasn’t. They were an odd couple, she knew. So odd that even Alandra doubted their love. Her husband was not often affectionate, but affection was nothing compared to the mutual respect in their relationship. Leah loved that they always seemed to be on the same page, different as they were. They were each other’s rocks. Without him here, she felt totally lost, unbalanced.

Soon, the speaker finished speaking and the coffin was lowered into the ground. Her husband is dead. Leah wished she were too.

 

 

 

“… Don’t tell me you’re still in England,” Leah said dryly.

“I am,” replied the other voice on the phone. Sometimes, Leah was struck by how much Alandra resembled Hans. Oh, her daughter took after her in looks, but most of Alandra’s countenance was scarily reminiscent of her late husband. She was just as serious, just as direct. And they both spoke so eloquently.

“Why are you still in England?” Leah asked. “Is there not a war going on?”

“I am still arranging some of father’s affairs.”

“Surely, you could hire someone to take care of that for you. I was under the impression that your father left a sizeable amount of gold in that bank of his?”

“Mother, I’m going to stay in London if I like. I can’t just leave. I love London.”

Leah closed her eyes. She was reminded of a time thirty years ago when a handsome man from Germany with piercing blue eyes whisked her into his arms and told her those three words. I love London.

I love you.

“Don’t tell me you’re staying for a man, Alandra.”

Her daughter did not reply, but she didn’t need to. Leah heard some shuffling in the background and the sound of a deep male voice calling her daughter’s name.

“What about that job you had in Finland?” Leah asked, raising an eyebrow to form a shrewd expression often reserved for bureaucratic purposes.

“It’s still there. I haven’t quite figured everything out yet, you see. But I’ve got another job here too and I’m doing alright.”

Leah sighed, smiling sadly in spite of herself. So like Hans, she thought. “Do what you have to do, I suppose. Just… don’t put yourself in danger.”

“I won’t. I-I love you.”

They spoke intimately as mother and daughter so rarely. Leah registered it with a bit of shock. From the terse intake of breath on the other end of the line, she could tell her daughter was surprised too.

“Love you too, Alandra.”

 

 

Leah was never the one to call.

There were two reasons for that. One was that she couldn’t be bothered to count the difference in the hours between London time and Guelph time. The other reason was that she didn’t know the number to call because she didn’t know where Alandra was living (or rather, she suspected she knew where her daughter was living and she didn’t know the number to there either). So Alandra is the one to call.

Leah comes home, deposits her keys and her bag at the doorway and heads into the kitchen with the mail. Water bill… Hydro bill… Phone call.

She leaves the envelopes on the counter and heads into the living room with the cordless phone.

“Hello?” she says into the receiver.

“Mother, it’s Alandra.”

It has been roughly three weeks since their last conversation.

“Is everything all right, dear?”

A pause. A long pause. Not good.

“Are you all right, Alandra?”

“I’m fine.”

Another long pause.

“How are – ”

“Will you tell me about you and dad?”

Leah freezes. She doesn’t bother asking why Alandra wants to know this now. There was trouble brewing, perhaps, between her daughter and the mysterious lover lurking about. Leah was still grieving and she still dreamed of Hans. Hans was everywhere, even here all the way across the Atlantic. [i]No. No. I’m not ready.[/i] But there’s no such thing as being ready. She’s seen enough of her patients’ families grapple with grief and death to know that there is never a right time. There’s only now.

So Leah sits on the couch, puts her feet up and begins the story. She tells her daughter about medical school. She tells of the coffee shop, of how Hans liked his coffee black, how she approached the man after much intrigue, how she coerced him into finally dating her. She recounts her pregnancy and recalls, with a smile, the small white wedding in Derbyshire and then moving into their townhouse in Islington.

“… He was a good man. He was quiet, and his eyes were sometimes sad, but he was a very good man. And he loved me and he loved you very much.”

Leah pretends not to hear the very audible swallow from the other line.

“Thank you,” said Alandra.

And then they said their goodbyes before hanging up.

 

 

“Is it serious?”

“I love him.”

“Does he love you?”

It’s the first time she hears her daughter laugh in a long time.

“Yes.”

“So what’s the matter?”

“Things are a little complicated right now. A friend of ours died.”

“You are in the middle of a war.”

“He’s grieving.”

“And so are you.”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”

“His agent wants him to do a movie in Korea.”

“Well, you have a career waiting in Helsinki.”

“I don’t know what to do.”

“Did you not tell him?”

“I never got around to it. He doesn’t even know why I’m here in the first place. I hadn’t planned on staying more than three months, you know.”

“You know what I think.”

“I know what you think.”

“So when am I going to meet this man?”

“You already have.”

“When?”

“Summer holidays the year I turned sixteen.”

“The one you ran off with?”

“You make it sound like we were lovers.”

“Weren’t you?”

“Not then.”

“Right. What’s his name?”

“Hyun.”

 

 

“Are you staying in Guelph?”

“Oh, I suppose so. It is a lovely city.”

“I’m staying in England.”

“Of course you are.”

“But you’ll come to the wedding?”

“You don’t even have to ask.”

memoire.

May 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Just the other day, I ran into a boy who went to my middle school and who I hadn’t seen in five years, give or take. I don’t remember much from middle school and I don’t really care to remember all that much, but I remembered him for the sole reason that his last name is my first name and he used to tease me about it. I would have been perfectly content walking right past him without a word. Quite unfortunately, and to my great surprise, he cocks his head to the side and exclaims, “Joyce! Last name girl!”

“Max,” I acknowledge with a sigh.

If you don’t know me, I am one of the most outgoing people you will ever meet. If you don’t know me, I am open and coy, all smiles and eager friendliness. If you don’t know me, I am an easy conversationalist and generally just happy to be meeting you. In short, I’m real nice and dandy if you’re just a recent acquaintance. If you don’t know me in the sense that we went to the same elementary school, the same middle school and the same high school, and you stood by the assumption that I was just a girl who was sad and serious all the time, then that’s a totally different case of not knowing me. And Max doesn’t know me in the latter way.

“You went to Viscount right?” he asks.

“Yeah. And you disappeared.”

“I moved schools.”

I know this already and I never really cared what happened to him, so I don’t know to say. I never know what to say to people I knew but never actually cared for in middle school. In fact, I feel a sort of apathetic resentment toward these people because middle school in my mind is covered by a great big black hole that has sucked away all of my memories from that period. All I know is that I was such a weird kid back then and I never felt as though I fit in.

“Right…” I say.

“You remember Josh right?”

“To be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about middle school.”

“Oh… Well, you used to write all the damn time and your first name is my last name.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” I reply. I was beginning to get bored of the conversation.

“It’s too bad you don’t remember much, considering you were always writing in your diary.”

Just like that, we walk away from each other. I am left feeling like I had no idea what just happened, or whether it happened at all.

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