Posts by Darryl Joel Berger

Darryl Joel Berger is the author of two collections of short stories––Punishing Ugly Children (2010) and Dark All Day (2013). His fiction and illustrations have appeared in many magazines. Punishing Ugly Children won the 2007 David Adams Richards Prize and was short-listed for the 2011 ReLit Awards. His short story "Scissors" was a finalist in the 2007 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. He works in graphic design and painting. You can find his visual work at www.etsy.com/ca/shop/cigartinstories.

cigar-tin stories number one hundred nineteen / / how to bake a butternut squash

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This Tinyletter is dedicated to the vanity license plates

ILANDER
FUNTASTC
MR BINK
THE FIFTH
R CEMES
MURRPORT
WEAZZY
TRCTR DR
GIZZ 1
PIKA PI
MAD CAD
GEOGER
SOLD TWO
RIGG P
JTM IGM
RANA 001
PHE 95

I don’t know where you’re going, but you’ll probably cut someone off along the way.


How to Bake a Butternut Squash

1. Buy the butternut squash. It’s the beige-coloured thing shaped like a big light bulb. Don’t be afraid. Also, don’t get one that looks too new or it will take a million years to cook. At the check-out, give the cashier the reusable shopping bags that you’ve brought along. You’re saving the environment! Then, when the cashier asks if you’ll need any bags today, say — No thanks, I’ll use the ones I gave you. When this embarrasses her, tell her that your nine year-old loves it when you misspeak, and comment on how tough it must be to stand there and say the same words over and over and over again, words like will you need bags today or brush your teeth brush your teeth brush your teeth.

2) Get some sleep. Every night, as I put Oona to bed, she says, “I hope you have a good sleep, dad. I hope the cats don’t jump on your face tonight.” Because a nine year-old’s sleep is important, I shut her door. My own door has to stay open. “The cats will cry,” C says. As soon as I shut off the light, they race in and jump on my face.

3) Wash the squash. Most people wouldn’t bother, you’re only eating the insides, but I wash everything like it’s 1988.

4) Move through the world. Avoid the single white guys leaning in doorways (skin like something found at the bottom of the recycling, patchy beard, drifting somewhere between 25 and 50, Giant Tiger camouflage fleece, those pants with the pockets on the thighs, cigarette, baseball cap, dreams of murder) who are always staring at some distant star. Also avoid the starter packs of young Asian guys (name brand knee-length hooded puffer jackets with faux-fur trim on the hoods, sneakers that look like space ships, ankle socks, cuffs, no hat) who are always in your way and laughing.

5) Cut off the stem end of the squash. You’ll need a heavy, durable chef’s knife for this (thick blade) and, in fact, all squash cutting. Squashes are not tomatoes. Or even wildebeests.

6) Acknowledge the ghosts that are all around you. How many people are haunting your house? At least four. Time to meet the deceased!

7) Cut the squash in half. This will take some patience and doing; you might have to work your way along one side, then turn it over. Then, using an oversized metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and alien-looking bits. These are especially haunted.

8) Look: other people are not real. They exist because you think they do and because they answer back. Still, your simulation self needs squash. It is loaded with vitamins.

9) Treat the squash to some light stabbing I mean piercing (it’s probably committed some kind of crimes, somewhere). Rub butter into all the cuts. Leave a healthy-sized pat of butter in the scooped-out part of the squash.

10) Do not have disasters. Global warming, predatory market systems, surveillance capitalism, never-ending mercenary wars, species extinctions … these are all bad things. Avoid them!

11) Sprinkle the squash with brown sugar. Put a tablespoon of brown sugar in the scooped-out part, on top of the butter. Finish things off with dashes of cinnamon.

12) Go through your closet and throw out some clothes. Why are you hanging onto this stuff? Your history doesn’t live in an old pair of capris.

13) Arrange the two squash halves, skin side down, in a baking dish. There’s probably going to be some spilling and burning of minor juices here, so if you have baking parchment to line the bottom, use it.

14) Napoleon said, “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” In 1988 there was: Rain Man, Big, A Brief History of Time, Sega Genesis, Gorbachev, perestroika, Rick Astley, Prozac, George Michael, INXS, Contras, Winter Olympics in Calgary, IRA, Monica Lewinsky, Iran-Iraq war, Die Hard, Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Benazir Bhutto becomes Prime Minister, Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, China Beach, Don’t Worry Be Happy, Andy Gibb dies.

15) Bake your squash for an hour at 425. Squash takes forever. It’s pretty difficult to overdo it.

16) Draw a tiger smoking a cigar. Give him a name. I like ‘Paul’.

17) This is a deep-winter meal, so choose your accompanying dishes, condiments and existential crises accordingly. I went with Italian-sausage meatballs, maple syrup and lingering disquiet.

Have a good week, everyone,
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

p.s. This is a version of my weekly Tinyletter, which you can subscribe to here.

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T Tauri Stars / / cgtn stories #118

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So: Wednesday is a gong show headlined by a FREEZING RAIN WARNING and the continuing problem of NO CLEAR AUTHORITY, that condition where organizations seem to exist only to sustain and multiply circular firing squads of middle managers, who are absolutely superlative at raising awareness and enforcing spreadsheetable rules and giving out morale-boosting plaques and badges and forwarding emails saying FYI and PLEASE ACTION but completely helpless when it comes to making real decisions.

So: suddenly C is texting me that Oona’s school, while not closed, is encouraging parents to COME GET YOUR CHILDREN, which to any parent in 2019 means RIGHT NOW, and I have to drop everything and leave work (not hurting very much, but it might to someone with a real job) and the stinging freezing rain is starting and it’s the windshield that’s the key struggle because freezing rain is VERY OBSCURING. The scene at Oona’s school is right of out of the fall of Saigon, mobs of parents and kids looking lost and skyward and I’m supposed to sign something but goddamn it if I know where the line even starts. Luckily her teacher does the signing for us, and we get the hell out of there.

That night I painted THE TEACHER.

The next day is a FREEZING DRIZZLE WARNING, something they colour in grey instead of red, which is confusing because I think freezing drizzle is just as treacherous as freezing rain. In fact, Environment Canada’s little story for the day is

Periods of freezing drizzle changing to periods of rain this evening. Risk of freezing rain and a thunderstorm this evening. Risk of a thunderstorm late this evening and after midnight. Wind east 20 km/h becoming south 40 gusting to 60 late this evening then west 50 gusting to 80 before morning. Temperature rising to 7 by morning. Risk of ennui and becoming haunted.

so I pull the plug on the day. I still go to work because I have a dental appointment but C and Oona stay home. Also because it’s fine when it’s just me risking life and limb.


The dental appointment is the last installment of a very terrible series called ROOT CANAL, the first episode revolving around a failed attempt by the dentist (even leaving a bit of metal file in there), the second episode being a consultation with the endodontist (yes, I am the root canal guy, and I will do a root canal, gosh root canals are tricky, please pay the receptionist on the way out), then the climactic episode with actual root canal-ing (not recommended, unless you enjoy dental dams), and at last the final episode being kind of like a Christmas special, catching up with the old gang by returning to the dentist for a permanent filling over the root canal. Ta-dah.

The dentist is half an hour late (in fact, I almost pull the plug on that, too) so I have an opportunity to watch the television in the waiting room. I have not seen regular television for quite a few years now. There was no sound, which might be the best way to see it.

The commercials are especially awful. Blinkist? Looks stupid, like reading for people who hate books. Wayfair.com? Existentially obnoxious. We used to call this soccer mom stuff. It wasn’t a compliment.

Also, Tylenol still has to advertise? L’Oréal? Hair commercials never change: flowing hair, over the shoulder, gloss, hair, gloss, product shot, end.

The Cat Lake First Nation story is appalling. Class and economics: these are the only issues that matter, that eventually resolve all others, and we should not have a poverty problem in this country, full stop.

And finally: Diana Krall is still making music? When I wake up tomorrow, is George W. Bush going to be president?


The visit goes about as well as can be expected. There is no anaesthetic. The feeling of drills against your teeth with no anaesthetic is strange, unnerving.


There’s something going on my dentist office. Have I mentioned this? It’s entirely staffed by women now, and all the other patients seem one thousand years old. What does this mean?


The theme for Friday is WIND, the kind of wind that makes it difficult to walk across wide open spaces. I’m dressed for BIG COLD as well, but that never really comes through. The wind is enough. I have a few eye-opening moments crossing the causeway. Downtown there are people walking around with no hats. I can’t do that anymore. This means I am one thousand years old.


That night at the studio, I paint a Victorian lady in darkness on the face of an obsolete Verbatim Rewritable 1.3 GB Optical disk. Sometimes I just like to see how an irregular shape takes paint. And this works pretty well; after looping a wire through the back, it hangs quite nicely on the wall. I thought about the idea behind painting over (and sealing in) a memory device, and then a quote from Zadie Smith

Women often have a great need to portray themselves as sympathetic and pleasing, but we’re also dark people with dark thoughts.

and came up with the title Dark Lady, Dark Thoughts.


The bus ride home displays its usual charms. I’m not going to miss this in the spring.

Walking home, coming around the corner, there’s an elderly woman standing awkwardly with a cane and some bags in the middle of the street. It’s late at night, and the wind is roaring, so I make a lot of noise so as not to startle her (an old trick from my newspaper-delivery days). She gives me a look that I recognize from living downtown, where people always have story ready.

Could you help me across this driveway? she asks.

I can (although you always have to be careful not to pull their arms out of their sockets), and I ask her where she’s going, and she tells me about her mom dying, and her sister telling her to come stay with her, and the house is right there, across an expanse of icy driveway.

We get across, and I help her to the door. Should I ring the doorbell? I ask. Are they expecting you?

Of course they’re expecting me, she says, and then goes right through. Inside I can see some mild craziness — the almost-managing flavour, with boxes on the floor, open cupboards, random lights left on, etc –– but she seems like she’s fine now so I go on my way.


My own house is full of sick people right now. It’s been a few years since this happened, but it was going to catch us eventually. I’m just getting over it, while C is halfway through, and Oona has just started. Kind of like the three bears, only with more iPad and yelling.


Today’s fun is called WINTER STORM WARNING, where we could get 35 cm of snow with 70 km/h winds. It’s 7:05 a.m. as I type this, and there’s nothing yet, but it might be a short work day. Localized power outages may occur!

Have a good week, everyone,
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

T Tauri Star / / shake your body / / Can a sleepless night awaken creativity? / / The Bugle / / Capitalism in the Digital Age​

cigar-tin stories number one hundred sixteen / / i can only please one person per day

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Early on a Sunday morning, I walk through a little snowstorm to catch the bus. The world is black, and blustering, but looks much worse than it is. I’m the only one on the bus. The bus drivers chatter away at each other over the radio –– this thing broke, that thing is half broke, I can’t figure this other thing out anyway, why is my consciousness so littered with tiny mysteries, all these lights going on in distant buildings that aren’t there. A middle-aged woman who is not dressed for the weather gets on at Reddendale. Despite the darkness and driving snow, her face shines like forced happiness or plastic surgery. I look out the window and see a middle-aged guy with grey in his beard.


I raise the blinds in the studio but there’s too much snow and cloud and absence of meaning piled up against the windows to allow much light. I resort to fluorescents. This isn’t the best way to paint; things tend to end up overexposed. So instead of fighting it, I turn into it, and paint something to do with an office, with its yellow-eyed office life.


The next day I’m on the internet (remember when people said they were going on the internet?) looking up quotations to put in the listing for this painting (I always put quotations in my listings/descriptions, because they make me seem clever) when I notice in the sidebar of the quotations site an ad for ArabianDate.com that reads Meet Kuwaiti Women and Join Free! This seems like a very specific thing for the algorithms to pin on me. Like a getting an ad to meet Utah Farm Girls, Join Free!


I’m trying to think of the word for someone who doesn’t get enough sun, who is pale, who looks especially white. Do you know the word I’m trying for? I ask C.

Do you mean pallid? Or wan? she says.

Wan? Am I in a Monty Python sketch? I’m sorry, but we’ll have to let you go for being so terribly wan.

And then ten minutes later it comes to me: anemic.


Bad names for hipster shops:

• Rubber Boots & Coughing
• The Ends Justifies the Beans
• Wander Jars
• Damn It, Jims
• Static Nonsense

 


Twenty-two billionaires now own as much as the bottom fifty percent of the world’s population. Or, to put it another way, 22 people have as much money as 3.5 billion people.

In another lifetime, I used to know a poster that showed a wealthy couple embracing under some reverse type explaining how the top twenty percent had as much as the bottom eighty (or something close to that). I wish I could find that poster now, how quaint it seems.


I turn 51 this weekend. That’s fine. Psychologically, I’d compare it to a permanent toe injury: nagging, persistent but not debilitating. Yet. The other day I had a conversation in which someone described the psychic difficulty in addressing her work these days, the not-wanting-to-do-this-anymore aspect. The price of gas for this age, I think. It would be nice to clear that hill and accelerate neatly into who-cares territory, but there’s always the question of money hanging around.

There’s a story called “The Bank Robbery” by Steven Schutzman which is propelled by a series of notes that the bank robber hands to the teller, and in one of them he writes

This is a bank holdup because there is only one clear rule around here and that is WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF MONEY YOU SUFFER, so keep your hands where I can see them and don’t go pressing any alarm buttons or I’ll blow your head off. 

The bank robber being, of course, for most of us at least, life.


I got up extra early this morning (there was a number four still in the picture) to do some work before having to go out and shovel snow. Environment Canada has both a SNOWFALL WARNING and SNOW SQUALL WATCH in place today, in competing red and yellow bars (it’s not too bad; if it was a Crossfit racket, the shovelling would be some kind of beginner workout). Yesterday was freezing (minus twenties) but today it’s going to climb and climb all the way to minus two. And then tomorrow minus fifteen again. And then minus one on the weekend. Normal, right?


This is the last Tinyletter that you will see on Facebook. So if you only see these Tinyletters as a link on Facebook, and you’d still like to read them in the future, then you’ll have to subscribe here.

Otherwise, God bless and good luck!


This Tinyletter was dedicted to the vanity license plates …

IDOBLEAF
4CENTS
GRANDOC
FWEEP
TAWBY
FORMYJO
5CHASE2

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things,
djb

cigar-tin stories one hundred fifteen / / a cold-weather episode

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This Tinyletter is dedicated to the vanity license plates

PWRTOMVU
DISISLIS
1MAN1KIT
J DOL
LOL GAS
LRN MATH
ANNE333 and
TOADWORT

 


And then winter shows up. Not the calendar event that started on December 21st, or the nuclear winter that Kingston usually has, those -6 C days of dusting snow and 20 km/h winds, chance of freezing rain tomorrow, but real winter, the kind I used to know in Saskatchewan and the lost city called Winnipeg, where you had to plug your car in or it wouldn’t start, and people did this awkward scurry/run thing from building to building, and everyone looked like they worked in a baking sugar factory.

So: first it gets very, very cold, followed by a snowstorm, followed by more extreme cold. I miss my Sunday morning studio so I can shovel snow drifts in sections, from the top down, like removing layers from a cake.

On Monday morning it is -25 C with 40 km/h winds. The wind chill is -36 C. EXTREME COLD WARNING reads the Environment Canada forecast, making the most of a snappy red bar. Frostbite in minutes. So I insist on walking Oona from the car to the door of the school.

No, don’t do that! she says. Because I am something like Lyme disease.

Look around, I say, gesturing to the schoolyard. Do you see anyone? There’s no one out there. Not even the yard supervisors. Parents are walking their kids into the school. I will be doing the same.

So we hustle across the schoolyard. Dad, quit waking so fast! My face is totally freezing!

That’s the wind, I say. But of course she doesn’t believe me.


Poor Oona. This week she’s got Spaghetti Day, Pizza Day, Skating Evening, Library Field Trip, Art Field Trip, Movie Night and Acting Class. It’s like purgatory, only with sparkles and Italian catering.


The deep cold makes me deeply tired. Mornings are long but then the rest of the day goes by quickly. I’m in bed by nine, read four or five pages and then call it. Are you okay? C asks. I’m probably just dying, I say. Best to move on. You still have plenty of life to lead.


It seems like whenever I watch something set in a cold-weather location, the characters talk a lot about how cold it is and wear parkas with fur trim and warn each other about frostbite but at the same time you can’t see their breath and the snow looks half-hearted and actually there’s puddles of water on the ground. Does this actually pass muster with most of the viewing audience?

One movie that at least tries to portray the cold weather is John Carpenter’s The Thing. Everyone looks like hell (yes, even Wilford Brimley) and the main star (Kurt Russell) is seen several times with a face and beard full of frost. Of course he also pilots a helicopter wearing a stupidly gigantic Mexican hat, but no movie’s perfect.


I first saw The Thing in a downtown apartment of the aforementioned Winnipeg. It was right across from The Hudson’s Bay department store (in fact, from my street-facing window I could look directly into the parking garage… fancy!). At the time, Hudson’s Bay was a classic example of a formerly elegant shopping experience that was on a slow but sure decline. The basement, especially, was a strange, badly-lit mix of clearance racks, bargain bins, and empty shelving. It also had a small grocery(!), which was handy for a guy who survived on cereal and peanut-buttered toast. I rarely shopped in the rest of the store, where the clerks in their black slacks and pearls wouldn’t spit on you if your hair was on fire.

Anyway, my apartment was also so close to the downtown bus transfer point that it was constantly vibrating and rumbling with bus traffic. So between the freezing and the shaking, my viewing of The Thing was definitely enhanced.


This wll be my second-last Tinyletter shared on Facebook; after that, I’m deleting my Facebook account, and all associated groups, for good. So, if you’re like many people who only see these Tinyletters as a link on Facebook, you’ll need to subscribe to continue to read/receive them.

That said, I know that come February that I’ll get all sorts of questions about what happened to “that thing you used to post”. But at least I won’t be on Facebook to answer them.


There’s not much to say about deleting Facebook. It’s junk now, and the company is vaguely evil. Flickr, long a sinking stock on the uselessness index, is also destined for the bin. Tumblr, now mostly populated with ads and censor labels, will be going, too. And then a small parade of other white elephants as well (over time, one tries all sorts of places to share work). Corporatization of the internet is sad but it certainly sharpens the landscape.


I’ll continue these Tinyletters for as long as they have meaning as a clarifying exercise. People do tell me how much they enjoy them, and how it’s nice to get something other than sale offers in their mail box. But then again others unsubscribe when they find the commentary too dark. And I’m not here to depress people.

Much.

Okay, have a good week, everyone,
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

this time we shall test for odd numbers (we need a loop to print to)

thistime9x

this time we shall test for odd numbers (we need a loop to print to)

mixed media on cradled wood panel

8 x 10 x .5 inches

an original painting, a gel emulsion transfer onto primer, more gel, found paper collage, selective abrasion

another “ruin” painting, weathered and scotched like an old billboard

a great art gift filled with endless detail

I have three quotations for this one…

Man is the measure of all things, of the reality of those which are, and of the unreality of those which are not.
~ Protagoras

There are many worlds and many systems of Universes existing all at the same time, all of them perishable.
~ Anaximander

Nothing exists until it is measured.
~ Niels Bohr

cigar-tin stories number one hundred fourteen // scientific dogs

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We watch The King and I. The accents are problematic. C speculates about Yul Brynner’s baldness, hairlessness, overall shininess. This is the only Yul Brynner I know, I say. He is magnificent but he cannot sing. In fact, the movie is boring, all icing and no cake, except for the fantastic sequence called The Small House of Uncle Thomas, which is so fun and inventive that you sit up and remember that this was done in 1956.


I read a small book called The Strange Bird by Jeff Vandermeer. I enjoy it but in a removed, detached sort of way. As something constructed. Things happen and there are dreams and then it ends.


I listen to a BBC podcast series called The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, a modern take on the H.P. Lovecraft original. It is difficult to do a good dramatic podcast –– most often the acting isn’t there –– but this largely succeeds.


Despite the way it poses itself (resolutions, new calendars, new starts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera), January is a mess of dropped threads, and constant course correction, as if it’s simply a matter of getting dressed and pointing yourself in the right direction. Just keep going forward, one says to the mirror. You’re doing fine? January is also the month of massed memory; if one could just get a fix on where we went wrong, on everywhere we went wrong, arranged in categories and themes, then we’d have some kind of working list, and at least the future business of forgetting would be organized. You’d have reference. You could line up all the scars and say, Look, science.


Judgement, explanation, justification: people measure this against their capacities for confusion or anger. Usually this means coping or quitting. I’d say either is fine. So few of us understand our motivations for anything. This is also fine as long as one doesn’t make too much of a mess of it along the way.


Which might explain why the news seems to have lost all its volume lately. I mean it’s still there, and it’s still very crazy, but I’m not really registering it these days. There was a small but interesting burst of side stories about Mark Burnett and how much of our current mess was seeded by reality television, but I wonder if that will stick.


I make a painting called The Traveller, in a style that feels like a reversion–– just paint, and constructions of colour, and the complete absence of lines except where I’ve written in the title at the end. I used to make all my paintings like this. Strange, how if you keep at something long enough, you find yourself where you started.


I walk to catch a bus one night. The bus is late. When it finally arrives the inside of the bus is slick and wet and stinks like drunks and the vocationally challenged coming home from a Frontenacs game. There is a young woman desperately trying to exit at the back, awkwardly pushing with one hand while holding a giant coffee cup with the other, but the doors are stuck and her little boy has just thrown up and is crying and there are several expletives directed at the driver and the evening and life in general. Fair. Once she and the little boy are gone, the driver opens some windows and suggests that we all sit more towards the front.


I walk to catch a bus one morning. In fact, the bus pulls up just as I reach the bus stop and without breaking stride I step right on. This has happened exactly twice in my life. This morning bus has no smell at all, is warm and quiet as death. Everyone is well bundled and carrying backpacks or shoulder bags and generally seems prepared for the day. They look out at the red sunrise and think things. If two people are friends then you know it right away.


I take Oona to her drama class on Saturday morning. Just as I’m exiting the vehicle to pay for parking, two Queen’s students walk by and comment on a loonie lying on the sidewalk. Oh look, a dollar, one says, and the other one laughs. I’m going to pick this up, I say. Go ahead! they call. More laughter. I pick up the loonie and give it to Oona, who pockets it and then immediately starts complaining about my insistence that she wear mits.


This Tinyletter was dedicated to the vanity license plates

BIGPAPI
TRROUBLE
DKAHUNA
FAYE T
REELAX

Have a good week, everyone,
djb
Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

one hundred years on

100 years on; mixed media on cradled wood panel, 8 x 10 x 1.75 inches. There’s a wee movie about this painting here.


 

cigar-tin stories #113

This Tinyletter is dedicated to the vanity license plates

PARAGON2
MD BRO
MURPH C
FREEDIM
OKO
and
DIME09; that’s not the smell of burning toast you’re smelling. That’s you.

New Year, new start, so I put in a three-day work week. The place is a quarter full, feels even less so. Nothing is open. For breaks I go for walks down many long and empty hallways, pretending that I’m some defunct and lesser god. If you look the right way around certain corners it almost appears like people are working, but if browsers had ticker tapes then you’d probably see the words “BOXING WEEK SALE” over and over and over again.


My coworker is still coughing. My coworker coughs and coughs, each bout ending with violent retching and/or fleeing the room. Someone stops by to see what the racket is. “That must be hard to listen to,” he says. Then he walks out again.


Because he is young(?) and still lives at home, New Guy volunteers us for twice-monthly meetings with our manager where we can “catch up on things”. I’d rather catch ebola or an air strike but what can you do. As if to underline the futility of the enterprise, my manager asks me about several projects that were resolved years ago. Other managers have done this kind of managing in the past and it always ends the same way: a few painful meetings, then one cancelled, then another, then the entire episode never mentioned again.


It’s Saturday so I sleep in. C is on a cooking/dieting kick so I don’t have to shop for groceries. Instead I make a short list with coloured Sharpies on a stickie note. It’s a list of fun things I want to do that day. Fun! Except Oona insists that I’ve used the wrong colours, and that the list, in general, sucks. Wrong answer!


Oona and I go for a BIG WALK. BIG WALKS turn the volume down, and exercise/exorcise all the bad humours. The BIG WALK is filled with questions like,

Are you enjoying the BIG WALK? and
How would you avoid the BIG WALK in the future?
What would life be like without iPad?

 


Because I am not (wholly) a monster (and because she has a gift card for a book), I take Oona to the new Indigo store. We need a calendar. We need a physical paper calendar hanging in the kitchen, so that every morning I can stumble out and see what unwanted tasks/holidays/appointments await me. Or at the very least if it’s pizza day or veggie wrap day.

The calendar section is mostly terrible (Wonder Woman, cats, etc) but there’s one that makes me laugh out loud and it’s called Justin Trudeau Is My Boyfriend and there he is, our 23rd prime minister, on the cover, doing that pointy-chinned grin and making the heart shape with his hands. Love!

In the end I get something about aerial photography because the boxes are big enough to write in and because it’s on sale.


We wander throughout the mall, going into many stores. The joint is fairly busy. Everything’s on sale but everything sucks so we buy almost nothing. Oona gets a new Lemony Snicket book and a strawberry-banana Orange Julius and many minutes trying different perfumes. I buy a baseball cap in bright canary yellow.

There are many old people around, lounging like wet spaghetti on mall furniture. Not so many kids. As if the 80’s had been stood on its head. Who needs the mall when you have MeepCity?

Marshall’s sucks. Hudson’s Bay sucks. American Eagle sucks, too. H&M’s okay if you’re a medium or small or if your tastes run to trashy Flashdance so it only half sucks.

Okay then,
djb
Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

This is a version of my weekly Tinyletter, which you can subscribe to here.

student’s handbook of literature