March 4th, 2012

Ten in Toronto

When I moved to Toronto, on March 4, 2002, I had two friends, two jobs, no money, and no interest in the city, plus I was scared to ride the subway. How far I have come!

A friend of mine recently said it is good that I don’t engage in too much “counter-factual thinking,” which turns out to be psychology-speak for regret. It’s true–I’m not big on regrets, but only because I have a shockingly poor imagination when it comes to my own life. I’m totally incapable of imagining the future–the fact that the sun comes up again and again, my friends still like me, and cake is still delicious are all always pleasant surprises for me. And I can’t retroactively counter-factually imagine, either–I can only think my life had to work out the way it has so far–no alternative path was possible. And thank goodness.

I know the things that have happened to me are the things that happen to most people in most places in their twenties and thirties, but they happened to me in Toronto–and I can’t counter-factually imagine otherwise.

In the past ten years I have had 3 addresses, 3 phone numbers, 9 jobs, and 0 cars. I have had mononucleosis, food poisoning, cockroaches, a car accident, and jaw surgery. I have been whistled at, shoved, honked at, offered a bazillion rides home, hit by a car, and asked if I was in a movie. I went through a period where my nose bled everytime I went out in the cold. One time, I was standing on St. George street, bleeding, and someone came up and said she’d give me $100 if I’d agree to be an extra on a tv show. I said yes, and she never noticed the blood.

I have gone from being virtually friendless to regularly running into people I know on the street. Once I was walking on Bloor and I heard someone call my name, but I couldn’t find the source. I asked on Facebook, and it turned out to be a friend riding by on a bike. I have run into friends while walking with other mutual friends we didn’t know were mutual. Certain friends, I run into over and over because we use the same grocery store.

I have gone from terror of the subway to visiting almost every subway station, even Glencairn and Bessarion, where no one goes. I remember when busses all had stairs and the seats had a different configuration. I remember when the bus driver had to yell out the names of the stops. Once, a bus driver asked me out (I was flattered but not interested.) I like busses better than streetcars, and the 54 is my favourite, followed by the 7. I have a soft spot for the 51, and my least favourite is the 122.

I have learned to describe a location by nearest major intersection, hug in greeting even people I don’t know well, and tolerate germophobia–my three least favourite Toronto traits. I have learned to be very quietly friendly to strangers, my most favourite Toronto trait. More than once, I have been walking down the street in the rain and the stranger walking beside me has deliberately covered me with his/her umbrella for as long as we walked together. I have become friendly with my supermarket checkers, the lady at the dollar store, and the guy at Pitaland (who is doing a great job).

I survived SARS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, the blackout, and I’ll survive Rob Ford, too. I know where to walk alone at night and where not to. I can take the bus anywhere, and I can probably give you directions. I know when the library is open, and some great public pools. I know how to get my passport, driver’s license, and health card renewed. I know where to get the best Chinese pastries.

I have seen my friends fall in love and split up, have babies and buy properties, be happy and be miserable, get sick and get better (touch wood). I have told someone I love that someone he loved was dead. I have taught a student who carried a knife. I have counselled the suicidal. I have worried about my own mental health.

I have been on dates where I received a real estate sales pitch, and ones where I had absolutely nothing to say. I have been dumped by email, made to walk home alone in the rain, and told there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my body. I have been in love.

I had two books published, have read to audiences dozens of times, and even received applause. I’ve been in newspapers and magazines and on the radio, and if you count the extra gig, on tv too. I did a stage monologue and was never in a movie, but I had a small part in making one, which I figure counts. I have done more than I ever dreamed possible.

I got proposed to in the Beaches–the Beach? I have walked from midtown to downtown, and from the Danforth to High Park. I’ve lived in Leaside and the Annex and St. James Town. I have worked in Scarborough and North York, spent lots of time in Etobicoke and East York, and I think people who think Toronto is Dufferin to Yonge and Bloor to the lake are pathetic. I dare you to find a bus I won’t take.

I am in a book club, a writing group, a women’s salon, and have a range of unaffiliated friends. I have learned to talk to people at parties…mainly. I have a job, an apartment, a small but real reputation as a writer, a cat, and, very soon, a husband. I know Toronto didn’t give me these things, but it did help me get them, and I am so grateful.

March 30th, 2011


Two grade-eight girls on the bus, talking about what high schools they want to go to. Dressed in eighties reflux: side ponytails, jelly bracelets, identical pink plaid shirts hiked up and tied to reveal their bellies. Both with very loud voices, very severe speech impediments (of the sort probably caused by extreme orthodontia, but I couldn’t see for sure). Crowded bus, but very quiet. School names redacted because I have already forgotten them.

Girl #1: And if I don’t get into School A, I’m totally going to School B.
Girl #2: Yeah?
Girl #1: That’s an art school too.
Girl #2: Yeah?
Girl #1: Because with an art school, you get aaalllll white.
Girl #2: Yeah?
Girl #1: Yeah. I mean, I don’t mean to be racist, but like, black people? What can they do.
Girl #2: (pause, then very firmly) Sing. And dance and rap and stuff.

I doubt the conversation meant much; the girls had already classified most of their classmates as skanks, hos, bitches and sluts, all of whom are ugly. I can’t even imagine where in Toronto their current school might be, that they only know white people so far.

I also feel really bad for *really really* disliking those two girls. They’re just kids, right? I feel like I should have gone and sat with them and explained diversity or something. They probably would’ve stolen my purse if I’d even made eye-contact.

When I was getting off the bus, I walked down the aisle and realized everyone was listening, and that these two guys in their early 20s were adding little comments to the dialogue, making fun of them. I felt better that those dudes agreed with me, and then terrible that the girls were being mocked by exactly the demographic they most wanted to impress.

Life in the city is weird.

August 21st, 2010

Toronto Tidbits

I was sitting on the edge of a planter reading outside of some random office building (I was early to meet people for coffee) and various corporate types were striding down, purposefully inhaling a cigarette in five minutes or less, then striding off. Two gents in suits, one my age, one a little older, cruised past, not smoking, and I caught just the moment in the conversation when the younger said to the elder, “I really just try to cry as little as possible.”

I found out the City of Vaughan is twinned with Sora, Italy, which seems like a nice, friendly, slightly random enterprise (until you realize how many Italian folks live in Vaughan). I also found out that Vaughan is a city–I always thought it was part of Toronto. To be fair, this week’s visit was only the second time I had ever been there. It not being part of Toronto would certainly explain why the TTC doesn’t go there, and the TTC not going there is the explanation of why I don’t go there either. It was a lovely visit–people made me tasty food, I petted an orange cat, and sang karaoke! If anyone volunteers to drive, I’ll go back–it’s likely the closest I’ll get to Sora.

I was going into my apartment building when I saw through the window a woman coming out. I stood waiting for her to open the door, rather than fumble with my keys, but when she opened it she turned awkwardly in the doorway, as if trying to block me. I reached into my bag to show her my keys–that I wasn’t a burgalar trying to sneak in–when she said in a thick Russian accent, “Excuse me, could you…?” I looked up; she had her back to me and her snug black sheath dress was about halfway zipped up. “Oh, of course,” I said, and did it up. She shot me a look between gratitude and shame, said thank you and scurried off.

If you somehow can’t be in Toronto or even Vaughan right now, but really want to be, I highly recommend you check out the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It is set in Toronto. Not Toronto-disguised-as-New York-or-Chicago, but actual unabashed Toronto. Sightings include: old-school (ie., getting rarer these days) red rocket buses, Honest Eds, Lee’s Palace, Pizza Pizza, Casa Loma, the CN Tower, etc. But, actually, even if you don’t care about TO one way or another, you should still see this movie. Unlike the very fun One Week the locational love note is just where Scott Pilgrim begins, not where it ends.

This euphoric little action movie is about a 22-year-old goober (played by the uber-goober, Michael Cera) who falls in with a cool girl with a complicated past, and has to fight her seven evil exes to win her hand. The whole movie is set up like a live-action video game: when we see Scott’s apartment for the first time, tiny letters pop up labelling each item and saying who bought it (mainly his roommate, Wallace, in an incredibly funny performance by Kieran Culkin, whom I adore without remembering ever seeing him in anything else). When Scott goes to the bathroom, a pee bar flashes full on the top of the screen, then drains to empty. And the fight scenes are bang-pow fantastic, and involve a lot of leaping and ducking and spinning; when a villain is defeated, he or she explodes into a shower of coins (Canadian coins–including toonies!)

There’s skateboarding on the stairs at Casa Loma, a show at Lee’s Palace, and lots and lots of Annex-y self-referential irony. And I personally love Michael C., but even those who don’t have pointed out that he is less annoying than usual in this pic. Oh my goodness, so much love!

July 20th, 2010


I have been working on an actual literarily related post that’s really long and complicated and totally not done, and now I don’t have time to work on it. But I also haven’t posted in ages, and that leaves a void in my life, so here’s a few funny things people have said and done in my proximaty lately:

My yoga teacher: “Just let your tongue sort of hang out in the centre of your mouth.”

Well-dressed middle-aged woman at bus stop, after asking me directions to a place she had only a number for, but did not know what street that number was supposed to be on: stuck her finger directly (and far!) up her nose while listening to my baffled reply.

Teenaged girl I eavesdropped on at Starbucks while she was talking to a male friend: (repeatedly) “I know I’m not, like, ugly or anything, but I just don’t think I’m *that* pretty.”

I heart this town. Especially now that is not 10 000 degrees. More soon!

July 16th, 2010

Things to do on a “writing day” that are not writing

Despite the fact that none of the activities listed below are actually writing, they all offerred comfort or encouragement to the heat-besieged writer, and I have no regrets whatsoever about anything that happened yesterday. (I also got a little writing in between all the other stuff.)

–go to the gym where, because of the air-conditioning, you actually sweat less than elsewhere
–pick raspberries
–eat the raspberries immediately. Do not even bring a bowl to put them in–eat’em right off the bush.
–read and read and read Russell Smith’s Girl Crazy. I am only at the halfway point, so I can’t fully tell you whether it is a brilliant novel or not, but I know that I am mad every time I reach my TTC stop and can’t read anymore for a while, so that’s a good sign.
–have lunch at Ackee Tree, where the staff is incredibly nice and everything seems to come with coleslaw.
–go sit on the lawn downtown that no one ever sits on (they sit on benches and stare out at it, as if it were the sea). I will leave out the exact location of the lawn to protect the identity of my partner in crime, but that is one nice lawn–all long and lush, with no worn bits (because no one ever sits on it or even walks on it) and certainly no cigarette butts or dog poo.
–give blood! I am still trying to figure out where to donate money, but at least there’s really only one place to give blood. I asked and the supply is currenly not bad, but they always need more, especially B- and O-, if you happen to have those. (Side story: as part of the usual intake assessment, the nurse asked to examine my inner arms to check for track marks. I had none of those, but I did have a cookie crumb embedded in the sweat of the crook my elbow–sex-ay!)
–watch Nicole Holofcener’s amazing film Please Give starring Catherine Keener and a really talented woman named Rebecca!! (Hall). I am not famous for my interest in complicated, serious, grown-up movies, but I did get blown away by Lovely and Amazing, also by Holofcener and also staring Keener, way back in 2001. I’m actually going to try to review this at some point, so I’ll shut up now.
–scuttle about the city in the heat, and enjoy watching folks in suits and ties eating ice-cream, skateboarders, children pitching fits, tour groups, street charity solitictations, and the nice people from a hair products company, whom I ran into both at Queen and Spadina and later at Yonge and College (I get around) and who gave me a mini bottle of conditioner both times.
–when you get home from all this, pour astringent on a white cotton pad, and then run it over your makeup-free face. If you are disgusting and immature like me, you will be fascinated to see the brownish colour of Toronto smog that has accumulated in your pores. I do this every night in summer! (Is this TMI? I never know.)

What a nice city I live in!

March 4th, 2010

City of My Youth

I moved to Toronto on March 4, 2002. I moved to take a barely paid full-time job, and only-slightly-better-paid evenings and weekends job, as well as to go to school the nights I wasn’t working. I had two friends in town, an apartment where you could see the fridge from the bed, a fear of the subway system (steel wheels–so noisy!) and two goldfish named Demetrius and Lysander.

The first thing I did when I moved was go to the Spadina Road library (shout out!) and get a UTPL card. I did this yes, partially because of my love of literature but mainly because I had neither an internet connection nor a phonebook, and I needed to find a locksmith to install the lock I had bought and installed in Montreal after the Terrible Millennial Break-In, then had de-installed at great expense when I moved.

I eventually got Jason from Spadina Security. I think locksmiths, like bartenders and nurses, often deal with people who are freaking out or about to do so, and they have to have the people skills to match their technical skills. Jason was extremely nice and comforting about my move to Toronto (he told me I had an excellent lock!) Spadina Security was the first Toronto address I added to my book after I moved, and probably the nicest conversation I had that day.

You’d think that I would have been using all my scant free time to sleep, but as I remember it now, with little in the way of friends and money to entertain me, it stretched out. I wasn’t writing much in those days, and even then my tv was only sort of functional. My principal hobby was free-trial periods at gyms. It was a form of entertainment (expecially since I found that Toronto gyms often had tvs you could watch) as well as fitness, plus the trainers who showed you around were usually really friendly. Policies were looser in those days, and I got in at least a couple workouts at almost every gym in the downtown core and some beyond, including one in Rosedale that had an in-house kitten.

I walked everywhere, continuing to be both afraid of the TTC and cheap about the $2.50 fare (ah, those were the days!) “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you time is of no value,” I told a work superior in the elevator one day, when he opined that me walking 30 blocks to a store I wanted to try was not an excellent plan. There was little he could say to that, I suppose.

I went to so many libraries to do my homework, so many flowershops just to sniff things, I knew the cost of every brand of everything in the supermarket. My brother (one of the two TO friends) snuck me into his film classes to watch movies about prison breaks. Someone told me not to walk through any parks alone at night and I was SO happy when I finally made a friend in one of my night classes so that together we could cut through Queen’s Park on the way home. I was distraught (though he was more so) when he had to drop the class because misdirected arsonists had burnt down his house. I don’t know what ever happened to him–I hope he’s ok. But then I made another friend and walked home with her.

I finally got a real job, one that paid decently and was only 8 hours a day. It was a shocking amount of free time, and a shocking amount of money (if I told you, you would laugh in pity). I remember buying a pair of pretty ballet flats, utterly flimsy, made out of cardboard and vinyl, for $15, and being thrilled that, a) I could afford to waste money on something I didn’t need, and b) that I no longer needed to stand for hours at a time (ah retail) so it didn’t even matter that the shoes were cheap.

As it turns out, those cardboard shoes were wonderful and I had them for 6 years. And I learned to take the TTC to get to my new job, and then to take the TTC efficiently, and then to love the TTC with all my heart. I got an apartment with two rooms and spent days doing figure-eights between them. I made more Toronto friends! I started having people to borrow books from and bake cookies for and hug when I hadn’t seen them in a while. That was, and has never stopped being, amazing.

With my friends and also alone (because I had in fact learned to enjoy my own company) I went everywhere and talked to everyone and petted everyone’s dogs. Never forgets:

–that time Jaime, Lara and I went to the Santa Claus parade in a blizzard and got amazing spots in the crowd because of the snow. And the parade was so silly and happy and the kids didn’t care about the weather at all. And these sad free-sample distributers gave us tonnes of free tubes of pudding because they just wanted to get rid of them and I wound up with dozens only to discover I don’t like sucking pudding from a tube. And when I got home my hands were so numb I couldn’t turn my key in the lock for a few minutes.
–that time Penny and I went to see Chad’s band play and then Ron Hawkins jumped on the stage and played a song
–the night I was walking on Sunnyside Beach with Jay and then fireworks started
–the big 2004 blackout, when I was not inconvenienced one iota, but everyone was in such good moods, plus I got a day off work
–finally having my scary crazy operation at North York General and being absolutely convinced that I would die under anesthetic just like my parents’ kitten…and then I didn’t, and I spent that whole spring being thrilled just to get out of bed
–climbing 22 flights of stairs with Mark J. while carrying the Penguin anthology
–the well-dressed corpulent middle-aged man who approached me on the street late one night to say he’d just been to a fashion industry event, and did I want the samples of cosmetics that were in his goodie bag? (yes!)
–when Ben and I were on our way to sushi when we ran into a naked man…and then another…and then we realized it was Pride weekend.
–when Brandon and I were walking down the street during (a different) Pride and I said, “Hey, that women wasn’t wearing a shirt.” and Brandon hadn’t noticed.
–the untoward flirtation Kerry and I discovered at Starbucks
–when Maya made me run around and around at Circle Thai because she was bored sitting at the table (she’s three).
–the day Mark and I took the ferry to Ward’s Island for Katie’s birthday, but we went to the wrong island and had to walk all the way around and then we ran into everyone and had a big delicious picnic on the beach in the freezing cold
–the night I was reading at Strong Words and brought a bunch of friends to hear me, but the Art Bar was flooded so they gave us a different room at the Gladstone, but the room was locked, so my friends and I just stood on the stairs, with me saying, “I really do have a reading tonight, I swear.” (eventually someone came and unlocked the room and it was an amazing night)
–the first time I saw Harriet (who is currently a baby) roll over
–when a man who thought he was flirting with told me that the problem with the publishing industry is “too many Jews”

And the crazy thing is that I’ve already forgotten so much, no doubt–a hundred idle kindnesses at the grocery store and on the bus, birthday cards, snowstorms, fashion faux pas, and free cheese. But that’s, I suppose, what real life in a real place is–not having to keep perfect account of every amazing moment because, while they aren’t constant, there will be more to come.

I know a lot of my most-loved Toronto memories are not Toronto-centric–they could have happened anywhere, but they didn’t. Toronto is where I’ve lived the last 8 years, and where amazing and banal things have happened to me, and I’m so grateful. Here’s to another 8!


September 9th, 2009

A report on The Dream in High Park

I won’t be doing a real review of the production of The Tempest at Dream in High Park this year. Not because it wasn’t wonderful (it was) but because it’s over, so it would be pretty pointless to offer a review of something you can’t ever go to.

Instead, I wanted to write a bit about the experience of going to the show. I have been a fan of the Dream since coming to TO, and seen most shows offered since (except for last year’s, which was a repeat of the production of *A Midsummer Night’s Dream* from the year prior–baffling since, like me, most Dream devotees like to go every year). It’s always a fine performance in a beautiful spot with an enthuiastic crowd, and this year was no exception.

I had never, however, attended so late in the season as the second-last performance, and the last non-“family focus” one. My viewing companion and I arrived close to 2 hours early, in typical RR can’t-be-too-careful manner, and were glad we did. We got a lovely spot in the tiered-earth amphitheatre (the only sore point of the night was the volunteer insisting on absolutely no photos because “it’s equity”, which I don’t know has much to do with pictures of the amphitheatre). But even at 6:15, those really good spots were dwindling in number.

So we put down the blanket (actually, my Urban Outfitters bedspread from first-year rez) and edged it with a moat of food. Because that’s what people do at Dream while waiting for the show to start–eat elaborate and enormous picnics, and eyeball everyone else’s picnics. For example, for years I’ve seen people drinking wine out of those little stemmed dixie cups, but when I looked it up on the website this year, I found that alcoholic beverages are forbidden…but sure enough the couple to our right and in front had those cuppies, and the people behind us had a pitcher of sangria…I guess it’s ok if there aren’t any obvious bottles?

The thing to do other than eat and picnic-watch was of course people-watch, because there were *so many* there. About 20 minutes before showtime, one of the site managers announced that we were at over 750 people and new arrivals were still…arriving (sentence fail). There were people all over the hillsides, almost into the trees, and in our row we were rather intimate with our neighbours.

It was extraordinary to see perhaps 800 people out on a Saturday night to watch Shakespeare. Especially since they were all ages and demographics, not the feared “all oldsters” crowds of some of the downtown theatres’ “big shows”. The folks to my left were my parents age, quoting Obama when asked if they had room to scoot down (“Can we do it? Yes we can!”) and eating out of an elegantly pack cooler. In front and to the left were an extremely young and conservatively dressed pair on a date, very pleased with themselves and each other. My companion pointed out that two rows ahead was a father playing patticake with a 3-year-old girl. Later, the father and the mother each took responsibility for slathering one half of the child’s limbs in bug spray.

Behind us was my favourite group, 20 people gathered to celebrate a birthday. They had more and better food than I’ve ever seen come out of backpacks (a wheel of brie!), were all in a narrow range of midtwenties but an assortment of sexual orientations, and spent their time discussing a) food, b) alcohol, c) the iron man race the birthday boy had recently run, d) one of the guests’ recent engagement to a man who lives in another city, e) what is the *Tempest* about, anyway?

I love that people in Toronto just know that the Dream is a good time, that it’s fun to watch Shakespeare there not only because you can eat and snog and play with your kids at the same time, but also because these are good lusty plays and CanStage presents them for everyone, not just theatre people.

The Dream is Pay What You Can, so no one should ever miss a show due to lack of funds. And the “recommended donation” is only $20 anyway–an incredible deal.

Sorry, this is still a rave about something you can’t see for another 10 months, after all. But really, mark it on your 2010 calandar!!

I’ll give you three guesses

August 10th, 2009

Toronto Books

I saw Kate’s list of 15 Toronto books, inspired by Amy Lavender Harris and of course was immediately eager to do it! Exactly my thing, I thought!

Except I only got to eight!! I mean, I did have obscure rules that I set for myself: no books that just have a few scenes here (like Clara Callan or Owen Meaney). And no multiple works by the same author, although Jim Munro, Margaret Atwood and Russell Smith (betcha don’t see that list too often) each have a bunch of books set here of which I am fond. Also, no non-fic, because I almost never read any.

So, then, just over half of what I was supposed to come up with–boo! Toronto, I’m sorry I’ve let you down! Do I get any points for the fact that the first three are set in Parkdale (and are [likely coincidentally] three of the my favourite things I’ve read in the past few years)??

Anyone who also feels like doing this, please please send me a link so I can see (and maybe steal) some of your ideas!! Or feel free to use my comments-land if you are a non-blogger still interested in making book lists.

The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

When I Was Young and in My Prime by Alayna Munce

Stunt by Claudia Dey

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood (I have seen and owned multiple editions of this book, one of my favourite comic novels, and I have never seen the cover at this link before. Do you think it’s odd? I think it’s odd.)

Muriella Pent by Russell Smith

Where We Have to Go by Lauren Kirshner

Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask by Jim Munro

Heaven Is Small by Emily Schultz

You let me down easy

July 23rd, 2009


When I graduated from highschool, we were supposed to write “obits”–little responses to abbreviated questions to squish beside our grad pictures in the yearbook and apparently sum up our personalities and lives in high school and after. The queries were PP: pet peeve, AM: ambition, PD: probable destination and K4: known for. Here’s mine (if I were braver I’d scan in the picture; I’m not):

AM: to have one, to be a licensed driver, to blowdry, to reincarnate my fetal pig, to name that smell, to get the fish joke
PD: the bus 4ever, sleeping thru the apocalypse, K.N.’s floor, crushing my rage into a tiny ball
K4: too much hair, “I don’t get it…oh, yeah, I do.”

Though I did get my license (I corrected the spelling error–“liscenced”!! jeez!!) that’s pretty much the same as I would write now, especially the last bit. But you’ll note–no PP! At the time, I thought there were no peeves I wished to be remembered by (if you think I’m obnoxiously rose-coloured now, you should’ve seen high school, especially at intramural badminton!)

So things have changed, as I do have a few peeves now. And as KateN’s dissection of a pet peeve has inspired me, here’s some headliners from recent peevishness:

–the tap of a fork-tine against tooth enamel
–the rainbow-coloured spinning wheel Macs replace the cursor with when something’s not responding
–when people say “How are you?” as an alternative to “hello,” without waiting for an answer.
–Cyclists on the sidewalk! oh, my most hated ever, cause it’s dangerous and not just annoying!! Like, I get that that many drivers in Toronto are horrible to cyclists, but taking a bike onto the sidewalk is like someone who is pushed around at work coming home and taking it out on their family–sidewalk abuse!! I got clipped by a bike-rearview mirror recently and was so very unimpressed.

Ahem. So, yeah, I get a little more tetchy as I age, I suppose. But I really would love it still if someone would explain the fish joke to me.

I was waitin’ for the hot flashes to come

July 21st, 2009

Human beings: still quirky

So, yeah, Toronto’s having a municipal workers’ strike, the most visible manifestation of which is that garbage isn’t being collected (I feel bad calling it “the garbage strike” when hundreds of other city workers are on the picket lines, too). But really, the garbage thing can take over your mind when you stroll certain parts of the city these days.

The funniest thing is, if you look at the picture at the link above, you see that though we are deprived of workers to collect trash and take it to the dump, citizens are not willing to a) hang on to their own garbage and take it to the dump themselves nor b) fling things on the ground and admit to being litterbugs. No, we carefully carry our half-eaten sandwiches and empty coffee cups to a not-in-use-but-overflowing-anyway garbage bin, and lay the trash on the ground in front of it, as if it were a shrine.

I admit, this was something I was doing too in the early days of the strike–I actually attempted to shove a little ice-cream cup into a bin, picked it up when it fell down and tried again until I suceeded. Then, after a few days and some bold new odours, I realized: putting trash anywhere it’s not attended to, even it is someplace where it *used* to be attended to, is still littering. I would never just toss a pop bottle in the road–heaven forfend–but the pop bottle I leave sitting in front of one of those big silver bins is going to blow away and roll right into the road, or maybe someone’s flowerbed. Some private business have bins out front that they are attending to, and some mutant very posh neighbourhoods seem to have set up some sort of watch, but in general, you just can’t throw things away on the street right now.

It’s hard to reprogram (and even harder to carry a used Kleenex across town) but garbage bins aren’t garbage bins right now. It’s an ontological crisis, but the practical fallout is that I am going to take responsibility for myself and my ice-cream cups.

Sorry for the rant. I had a particularly Oreo-bag and pizza-box intensive walk this morning.

Tears the size of Texas / drying all around her neck

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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