Pineapple. The plastic one taken as a token of the deceased grandmother I had not been close to. That had denied the cancer that claimed her blood cells. Taken also were two mixing bowls, two chipped plates and a squirrel painting she’d done. Most embedded memory of her – telling my father I’d been picking at foods when he worried about my chubbiness, pre-puberty. Grade 4. The same and only year, two boys fought over me. It was carrots I’d taken. The pineapple hung by stoves, gathering grease and dust in kitchenette after kitchenette over my “formative years” in Montreal. Wiped with a damp J-cloth occasionally. Receiving questions, but mostly compliments, from the many singular, often one-time or short-lived guests that passed through my place. Cool girls. Cute boys. None of whom were keepers, or the marrying type.
Pineapple juice with Malibu. Vice while bartending, even if it was the drink of choice of Texan housewives with whom I had nothing else in common. Sweet tropical smoothness. Add blue curacao and vodka to make a blue lagoon. With Galiano – a take on a Harvey Wallbanger called “slow bang up against the wall” or something to that effect. My favourite drink of all drinks for a span of time.
Pineapple a mess to cut. Skin coarse and hairy. Mole-like holes. Mixed into vanilla yogurt. Or skewered and dipped in chocolate.
Pineapple lip gloss drying out on my lips as you leave me. Or I leave you and you say it’s perfectly okay. Say you wouldn’t ask me to stay. Because you’re an unmoving Pole. And they don’t swing that way.
Grape. Classic. Koolaid, Jello, Jolly Ranchers, Pop Rocks and Ring Pops. Welch’s and icewine. The white grapes in the linguine with vodka sauce and… maybe blue cheese? I never got to try at the ex’s restaurant worked in. We went once, for my birthday, never to return. Me left wondering about this pasta forever. Much earlier…The summer of sour grape blasters. $5 for a box at Au But, the wholesale warehouse in St. Henri. Tongue roughened. Stifling high-ceilinged room. Crazy lady down the hall. Window could only open a crack. Writing daily, transcribing nutsness to paper. Cabin fever without the cabin. Fever of no ventilation. Microwaved hot dogs cut into pieces and frozen corn. My favourite meal of poverty from my youth. Pita pizzas for a lone guest from out of town. But once. Or the 2 in unconventional relation of relations with. Contemplations of breaking into Bjork concert. The feminine dream boat from high school magically became mine. One illness replaced with another. Heath replaced with the cold of winter. Bundling in 10 layers to walk 45 minutes uphill. To the dream boat’s mile-end apartment. To watch him and his friends play videogames amidst warm smoke. Saves the Day and Superdrag. A move to a slightly saner , more spacious space.
Lychee. Favourite fruit. Sticky sweet true candy of nature. Odd appearance that puts many off. Causing them to miss out. Bumpy, rough, brown shell protects transluscnt jelly-like pulp around a bitter black seed – oval-shaped evil eye in its centre. Lychee the reflection of nasty evil in the centre of good. One must eat around it carefully. Martinis and bubble tea. Precious. Short, finicky season. Shipped from Asian for brief mid-summer stint. Searching China town in burning heat. Easily and often missed. Canned ones a poor representation. A fragrant liquor called Soho. Too syrupy sweet for most. Combined with grape Sour Puss, the result is a martini called Barbie Doll. At Crabby Joe’s with half price appetizers on Fridays after 9 pm. Luxurious lychees. $25 for a net. Often eaten sitting on floor, with fan blowing on me. Eating the whole net at once, trying so hard to stop, to save some for a friend who hasn’t tried them yet. And failing.
Apple. Of cliches. Of one’s eye. One a day til you die. Falling not far from its tree. Countless varieties, in the mall-like Loblaws. With names like “Jazz” and “Pink Lady”. Too sweet at times, too sour others. A fruit so tiresome, yet convenient. Waxy. Eaten without utensils. Places easily in one’s purse. Though hands left sticky have recently resulted in preference for the pureed sauce variety for eating at the office. How things come full circle. Once a childhood treat. An exciting dessert eaten at the neighbors’. Full fruit specimen disgusting when mealy. Or too warm. Enjoyed cold, but not too cold. Sticky juice, stickier still when combined with booze. Drunk most evenings for 4 years with the man one had hoped for a future with. The colour of beer or wine. Apple cocktails ruined. Eternally the fruit/drink of disappointment. Remaining irresistible in martini-form. Torture for the weak-willed. A favourite lip gloss a constant portable apple martini. That no men appreciate the same way I do. Kurt Cobain never brushed his teeth – only ate apples. No cavities, or so the myth goes. A sugar that cleans vs. rots? Maybe only in short-lived, most-special rock stars.
Peach. Schnapps too sweet. An underaged-drinking treat. Uncommon in pie and jam, for reasons unbeknownst to me. Mid-teen summers spent eating baskets of fresh, juicy Ontario peaches. Ripe as me. Slightly fuzzy and fully fragrant. Watching mid-90s alt-rock videos on Much Music. During commercials, writing punk songs with ridiculous lyrics for my half-assed band Vilify. Now peaches are purchased late-winter, frozen. Simmered in orange brandy and ginger. The resulting syrup slathered on a slice of French toast. Aside a hefty cut of super-salty bacon.
I’ve finally managed to begin the process of breaching the great-yawning-chasm-of-a-gap between me not-writing and me-writing again. I found myself notably paralysed and though to turn to some of my favourite reading materials for inspiration.
One of my favourite books is a collection of various bits (short stories of sorts, exercises in narrative and form as well as suggestions for exercises for writers, essays on writing, word drawings) by innovative writer and writing theorist Johanna Rodgers called Sentences. I love Ms. Rodger’s writing, her concerns, her sentences, her subject matter and her experimentation. The excerpt below is taken from an essay in the book called “On Writing (1998-2005)”.
“As always, the writing. How is the writing? How is the writing? How is the writing? So much concern for something that is barely there. The writing happens, it never is, so the question doesn’t make a lot of sense. Rain, money, taxes, spring. But it is the writing, of course, that matters, like vanilla in a cake or a bit of salt in bread. It’s just time, after all, words on a page, marks on the wall, money – important to remember that they are all the same thing: invisible time dressed in different costumes”.
The next step for me is to brave reading my novella that has tormented me so. I haven’t read the thing in many moons. At least 600 and something would be my guess. Eventually the plan is to rework the whole thing, but the scope of the revision is daunting, and I believe some stretching, some proper warming-up is essential. I may add to my under-5-minute-fruit/food-exercise series, or tackle any of the other ideas I’ve had sitting around collecting dust for months, years.
on washrooms and likeness
Julie’s always wondering why she’s drawn to the one washroom stall (in any given washroom) with the faulty lock. Once in it, awkwardly holding the door shut with one hand, she reflects that occasionally in life you feel like you’re an actor when you’re not even acting.
She feels like a warm-water crab in her mango-kiwi bubble baths. Partly because she is a Cancer (perhaps in more than one way). And can’t bring herself to eat seafood due to feeling too akin to sea creatures. Julie finds it ironic that mental is half of the word ‘sentimental’. And while splashing in her bathtub she thinks about how passing of time makes for the learning of lessons and attempting to move forward (not sideways like she had for some time) in shallow suds.
A program on the Discovery Channel once said: “Crabs don’t congregate; they need their own space and time to keep to themselves. Sure they come across another crab or two at times, but a brief chat is enough, some clacking of claws and they’re off on their way”. Julie sees the crab’s inability to give back massages as a fortunate one. At least for them it’s not a matter of lacking skill, but of lacking the proper implements.
I’ve stumbled upon some old, rather minimalist poems from my advanced undergrad poetry workshop back in 2005, I believe. I decided to put a couple of them up (including my post ‘train-ed’) and would like to dedicate them to the late Robert Allen, who was a great writer and friend. I have him to thank for getting me excited about poetry again, which was crucial to striking the fulfilling balance of prose/poetry my work has arrived at 6 years later.
before 10 p.m.
Ben doesn’t care that a baby died
in the pool
he wants to go for a swim
splash about, splishitty sound
while I hand wash a rug
or look at the montreal skyline
in specks of blurred light and
from 23 floors up
several seconds stretched to a century of rinsing
the funny thing
in the sink
is it’s the only time
like the dishes
she was modular
her hair, rubber cable
caused a hush to fall over the office
and the walls to hold their dry breaths
in drowned cubical calm
in doubled daily doses
in barely blue,
in moss green,
in slate grey
you – muffled
like your attire
Blue signs with white stick
men and women.
Rained and winded windows, trucks
beyond blurred metal, concrete and cold.
Places in passing.
People dispersing like gases
of green gold and grey.
Side streets vacant –
freezing rain golfballs form ice blanket
over nada nil trapped little towns,
flickering past, elapsed fast.
She was vague like the
space she travelled through.
Lined with trees.
Scrap metal wood rubbish
that she somehow saw
as ‘so pretty’.
had nowhere to go.
Thanks to all the
they’d already been.