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BY Joel

10/01 Direct Link
The weather changes, the leaves change, your routines change.

You realize that there is no honey in the house, that you will have to purchase some of the golden sweetness the next time you're at the market. What else will brighten the hundreds of cups of tea you will be drinking all winter?

Tea. You will delight in teas of all sorts in the cold months to come. Tea will keep you hydrated, full of energy and vitamins.

You take the kettle out of the pantry, find it a good spot on the counter where it can smile upon you.
10/02 Direct Link
This is why I moved here, I remind myself, spading dirt out of the hole.

What a good feeling, to realize that my life is going according to plan. Here I am in our yard, planting shrubs in the front beds.

Maybe life is better when you regularly use a wheel barrow.

Am I dying, going to heaven?

This week I'll start a new job. I'm going to be working in a bistro, serving food and lots of coffee. Organic food, Fair Trade coffee.

Slowly but surely, my lifestyle is synchronizing with my beliefs. Cognitive dissonance dies a bit everyday.
10/03 Direct Link
His aunt makes the most wonderful grape jam. Turns out we have the same type of grapes growing in our own yard so we will make our own batch.

"Then what will I give you guys for Christmas?" she teases. She gives the best kinds of gifts, you see.

It is discovered that this is not some heirloom recipe - simply the instructions found inside a package of CERTO.

To peel a concord grape, one only has to pinch. Frosted, sweet purple skin splits, giving birth to tart green flesh. A bowl peeled will leave you sticky from fingertip to elbow.
10/04 Direct Link
Gonna be a pop star. Give me the makeup, the clothes, the wigs, the shoes - whatever it takes for me to look nothing like myself. Now help me write a song about having sex with lots of different people. Could we also make it about heavy drinking? The chorus should enthusiastically promote dancing in a way that artfully disguises the lyrics about whoring and boozing. Research which drugs other pop stars are singing about and we'll top them. Make up a new drug if you have to. Tweak my voice to robot perfection. Naked models all over the video. SUPERSTAR!
10/05 Direct Link
Who am I to be critical, cynical? However clever, cynicism serves no purpose but to make the cynic seem soured.

In this moment, I reject bitterness and fill my spirit with universal love.

*****

I worked my second shift in the café today, and as I realized the simple pleasure of washing dishes in a tiny but adequate kitchen, I felt like Amélie Poulain. Not a male version of Amélie - do not be mistaken. I was there, feminine tenderness adorning me like an apron.

I will bring magic to the patrons here, poignant accordion notes accompanying every elegant gesture.
10/06 Direct Link
When I told my grandmother that I was gay, her response was to, after a pause, ask me if I hated women.

Hate women! What a thought. I can see how she might reach this conclusion, but oh no. If anything, gay men love women excessively.

I can only account for myself, of course, but when I think of the women in my life, I can't help but revere them all as goddesses. I have no desire to experience their sexuality because I feel it would degrade them and mar their perfect beauty.

Men are beasts and therefore totally doable.
10/07 Direct Link
Ontario had its election last night. The socialist NDP (of which I am a member and supporter) wound up in third place, behind the Conservatives and the victorious Liberals.

Pfft. Whatever. Nothing shocks me after what happened in Canada's last federal election, the Conservatives winning their majority.

Perhaps the politcal arena is not where we belong anyway. Let the money-driven deal with money, the war-driven deal with war. Art-driven, we will continue to immeasurably influence culture through art.

David proposed last summer, but last night he finally gave me a ring. I will never take it off.
10/08 Direct Link
It's my job to make the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. A former version of myself would be in a frenzy right now, searching the Internet for the most gourmet recipe in order to impress the inlaws.

A year has passed since I moved to this little town and I have learned in that time that the best way to impress anyone is to be straightforward.

And so I will be serving Brad's Mashed Potatoes tomorrow night. Yukon gold, cream, butter, salt, and pepper will be honestly and lovingly combined to form the perfect bed for his mom's gravy.
10/09 Direct Link
They're rolling another joint at the picnic table. I guess they're not high enough. I guess the first two didn't provide enough laughs.

My heart, lungs, knee, and shoulder aches. My head aches, too.

I love them but they will have to realize that we are not as young as we once were.

"I'm going to play on the jungle gym," I say. "You guys can watch me."

Here I am, 26, swinging from the monkey bars, hanging upside down on the rope apparatus, trying to prove a point. I watch them watching my moonlit silhouette.

What are they thinking?
10/10 Direct Link
When you're young, you see a dandelion gone to seed and suddenly life becomes a hopeful wish. Dreams become airborne, floating off into the sunshine, lasting the peaceful while it takes you to uncurl your lips and wipe the sticky milk from your palm onto your pants.

When you're old, you see a dandelion gone to seed and life becomes war. If you don't get rid of this thing quick it will reproduce and ruin the texture of your lawn, not to mention your reputation among neighbours and passersby. And so you're out there with your trowel, pail, and poison.
10/11 Direct Link
Brad Ashtanga Day

Yoga class is on Tuesdays. At first I went alone, then with my partner, then with him and his mother. He lost interest and so now I just go with my mother in law, which is kind of nice. It's a way for us to bond.

I set up a room for meditation and yoga upstairs but it often turns into a smoking lounge when we have visitors - a Rocky Horror Zen room of sorts. I wish I could make it up there everyday to stretch, release, heal. I admire those who commit to a daily practice.
10/12 Direct Link
You went naturing in your favourite sweater and now it's covered in hundreds of tiny seed-burrs. If only there were an app to remove them. What?! You don't have a cell phone? Looks like you'll have to do it the old fashioned way - brew up a pot of tea and sit somewhere comfortably, sipping and picking. Sigh. So boring, so dull. You want to be on the Internet. No. Sip and pick, damn you. Sip and pick. Inhale, grasp, exhale, pick. Inhale, grasp, exhale, sip. You are so beautiful, so relaxed. Soon you'll look ravishing in that sweater again.
10/13 Direct Link
Where have the administrators of this website gone? Perhaps they caught swine flu and perished.

I feel like a squatter here, leaving my tag on the walls of a parkade scheduled for demolition.

I've been writing these short pieces for so long that my attention span can be measured in 100-word increments.

My squatmates are a reason to stay here.

Who will be left to witness the TNT implosion that condenses us into an error page void?

I keep no record of what I collect here. When it goes, it goes.

I probably won't even miss it. Probably not.
10/14 Direct Link
I have a large nose. Whenever I confess this to someone they will politely insist that I do not even if we are sifting through old photos and an obvious profile shot appears. Even if I'm sitting right next to them.

I have a small penis. Whenever I am brave enough to confess this to a lover they will look away, embarrassed, mutter something under their breath, and then insist that I do not.

I don't mind either of these realities. With a smaller nose and a larger penis I would be even more of a danger to myself.

Amen.
10/15 Direct Link
At work they're going to let me put a daily quote on the sandwich board. I borrowed the idea from a restaurant I used to go to in Vancouver.

I am aware that this undertaking could easily take a wrong turn. I must be careful not to use the quotes to express my own beliefs and political views. I must draw from a variety of neutral sources.

I just want to add a little more poetry to local life. Let it not be about fair trade and organic blah blah blah business BS. Let it be about love and happiness.
10/16 Direct Link
The wind in Fall! It has been so windy here lately. The trees, which had been lazily letting go of leaves on calmer days, are now holding on tight to their rainbow foliage.

Whee! How it must feel to be out there all day, all night, raging and twisting, giving in to the motions of thousands of swollen, veiny sails, thrashing punk rock neon hair before the dead of winter hits. Let's do this, motherfuckers! Bring on the chills - we're ready!

I'm out there among these giants, these gods, for only a moment. I'm overwhelmed, I can barely even breathe.
10/17 Direct Link
Poverty is your treasure, say the Zen monks.

This message is what comes to mind when I hear about occupying this, occupying that, 99%, 1%, Bay Street, Wall Street, Rome...

Maybe I'm just bitter that I now live rurally and I can't be anywhere to stand and see waves of beautiful faces passing by.

What would I say to them? What would my cardboard sign read? Maybe: Do you really want what they have? Or: We are only dreaming

It's so easy for me to feel this way, being relatively healthy, fed, sheltered, and educated.

May all need be met.
10/18 Direct Link
Risky doing my entry so early in the morning. This may produce a lot of uninspired ramble. Usually I'll wait until evening because by that time at least one of my thoughts throughout the day will have struck me as shiny, interesting, and worth writing about.

However, I also believe that morning meditation can have a huge postive impact on the unknown hours to come. A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield gave me this mantra, this gift:

May I be filled with loving-kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
10/19 Direct Link
As a teenager, I went "joyriding" with other teenagers only once. They drove from the suburbs and picked me up at our house in the middle of the Regina ghetto.

Half a block away, on 5th Avenue, the three of them - two guys and a girl - began hurling pennies at the Aboriginal prostitutes on the corners. They cursed us as we drove off.

Later that night, at a red light on Albert, the girl flipped the bird at two Indian women in a neighbouring van. They got out, came around, beat her blonde head through the passenger side window.

Ululation.
10/20 Direct Link
I am sad when I hear people hating on Christianity, hear them shadowing in the more sinister parts of its history.

We can't forget that it helped to eliminate slavery in America. We can't forget that its main principles are a formula for a happy, wholesome life.

And we can't forget that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to destroy. It is the saving grace for millions, perhaps billions.

I think we simply need a Newer Testament, one that eliminates the obvious oppressive patriarchy, one that includes the names Allah and Buddha and Shiva.

Help separate bliss from bullshit.
10/21 Direct Link
Arena
Beatles
Chocolate
Do-rag
Estuary
Filipino
Gust
Heart
Igloo
Jupiter
Key
Loom
Museum
Notebook
Oprah
Penicillin
Qat
Rest
Serendipity
Tutu
Umber
Vest
Wax
Youth
Zester
Archery
Bollywood
Cunillingus
Dolly
Elbow
Fishbone
Garnet
Hummus
Injera
Jujubee
Kite
Library
Manana
Noise
Ova
Pupa
Qigong
Rowing
String
Tentacle
Ukulele
Vision
Wing
Yoplait
Zine
Arborist
Belly
Cheese
Dream
Entrance
Fop
Google
Humanity
Idea
Joker
Kitsch
Love
May
Nipple
Ouroboros
Pho
Quest
Rodeo
Sushi
Towel
Uncle
Viola
Winter
Yon
Zelda
Amplifier
Basement
Coffee
Discipline
Example
Felt
Giggle
Hopscotch
Icecream
Jungle
Kelvin
Lung
Municipality
Nematode
Origami
Pulp
Quill
Revision
Strength
Time
Urdu
Vocals
Wish
You
Zulu
10/22 Direct Link
If I were a fish I would lead a pure life because you can't spark anything up underwater.

But maybe even then there would be temptation:

Glub, glub. Hey, man. Need some seaweed? Glub.

I'd be there in the grimy crevices between the coral while everyone else was in the school. Yep, a real reefer.

Hahaha. This is not funny.

No, I would not share this ocean of loneliness with anyone. I would not like to see, because of me and my carelessness - anybody else have to swim through the paranoia, guilt, depression, anger...

Truth is, I'm drowning here.
10/23 Direct Link
Aneeta and I met in our Shakespeare course in university.

She enchanted me when, for her term project, she got up in front of the class, assumed the character of Desdemona, and sang willow, willow, willow.

She sang Shakespeare so softly, so sweetly, so sadly, and then as one colour of the rainbow blends into the next, she began serenading in a foreign language. A Rumi poem, in Persian, she told us.

We would become spiritual lovers that Spring, after I moved her with my "Winter's Tale" presentation. We sat in gardens reading poetry together, flowers blooming all around us.
10/24 Direct Link
Aneeta taught me about Rumi. Rumi taught me about love.

Love, I learned, is a young woman, born in Pakistan, showing a young man, born in Saskatchewan, an illuminated book written in Arabic, in a garden in Vancouver.

Love is two young men curled up on a couch with their dog, watching old movies.

Love is everything. All there is. Even the seemingly bad stuff is love, is good.

Perhaps someone in your life has died. Love is in that mystery.

Maybe your husband has been unfaithful. Love it.

You need not be a Sufi or a dervish to understand.
10/25 Direct Link
Easy to understand, but difficult to practice. How easily we are swept up by negative thoughts and feelings. How quickly the complexes build in our brains.

In my life right now, the easiest way for me to fall off course is to test my blood sugar and find that I'm too sweet. Sugar eats your arteries and organs just like it does your teeth. How long before the heart attack, the stroke, the kidney failure, the amputation? And so on.

But who cares? I will become nutrients for a tree, a slow explosion, a bird, an angel. And so on.
10/26 Direct Link
This is a hall of sages. Leave your jealousy at the propylaea.

Listen to the robes whispering to the marble floor as we each claim a seat between two of ten thousand columns. Shhhh, like the first breath of the secrets we shall reveal.

What truth will be told today among equals? Who will be first to call out a story, have their voice vibrate and echo under the buttresses?

Perhaps someone will be so moved that their lungs will fill with response. Calmly, gently, now, sages. Teach as you would be taught.

Tonight we shall feast on oracle boar.
10/27 Direct Link
"It's my party this year," I say to my reflection with the bratty confidence of a 60's pop princess. Flip wigs are fantastic. "What do you think, Rudy?"

I turn away from my glory only long enough to see his cocked head.

"I know, I know. Daddy doesn't like when I do drag. But it's Halloween - the only day of the year I let her out."

He snorts and scampers away, nails clicking. I throw myself onto the bed, hiding my face in false sobs.

Who cares what they think? In a few days I'm going to be Bobby's girl.
10/28 Direct Link
mandala, crest, pysanka...

they are everywhere
in every flower every tree
in our citrus reamer
in the band of roses
around thriftstore china
in the ring of essential oil
around the tub

like eyes that see only beauty
even in the seemingly mundane
patterns that have no room
for negativity
that define Truth properly

next to my robe in my bedroom
hangs a red sombrero
its bloom of silver sequins
designed to see the sky
wink at me and say
buenos dias, senor

she returns from the bay
a different woman
because she has seen
the feather circle
the sun
10/29 Direct Link
Time to wash the afghans. They're coffee stained, popcorn buttered, steeped in sweaty sleep, carrying half their weight in hair and canine butthole flakes... They stink.

Elbow deep in sudsy brown bathwater, pressing and wringing and sloshing wet wool, realizing why some women have such muscular forearms...

I begin thinking about the ladies who made these. Here they are, our grandmothers in the tub.

Suddenly it's a ceremony.

Suddenly it's a study in social status - one blanket perfect in generous airy knitted lace, the other too small in tight, rough crochet, a patch of gray stitches that should be blue.
10/30 Direct Link
His grandfather was a nice man. He loved his wife, his children, and dressing up in silly outfits. He took her to Florida every year, he ran a store, he became mayor of the town, had a street named after him. The echoes of his love are still felt within this prosperous family.

My grandfather is still a child. When his kids were still young, he became an alcoholic and started having an affair with another woman. My grandmother didn't have the courage to leave him. Nowadays, my mom, my aunt, my uncles are pretty much estranged. Our struggles continue.
10/31 Direct Link
Stop this thinking right now, Brad. You know nothing about these men. Way to ruin your diabolical momentum, Negatron. Wink, wink.

*****

So it's Halloween today. I hope everyone is dressing up, or making jack-o-lanterns, even. Or at least handing out candy with enthusiasm. Egg a house, toilet paper a tree, order a latte with some sort of pumpkin concoction thrown in. Do what writers do best and sit alone with your demons...

Next month is NaNoWriMo. I think I'm going to give it a go for the first time.

I hope we all write our fucking asses off.