Volume 13 Issue 1 June 2013
The Exploration Issue
VOLUME 13 ISSUE 1 JUNE 2013
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. MARK TWAIN (1835–1910)
Millions O’ Words
Beyond the Flag
Back to Today
Wake Eat Love Sleep
SIDRA SYED & ALASKA R.
Gold and Gleaming
Thoughts: A Brooding Exploration
The Infinity of Exploration
Wandering in Words
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Fiorella Morzi
THE EXPLORATION ISSUE
Production Manager Jessica Groom Literary Editor HIRING Art and Photography Manager HIRING Promotions Manager Stephanie Lesdow Radio Manager HIRING Interns Joshua Howe
CONTRIBUTORS Ron Butler, Sidra Syed, Alaska R., Natasha Davey, Maria Ricci, Kylee Francirek, Matt Long, APM, Shawn Trask, Sarah Zoschke, James Blake, Mary Ferguson, Amelia Rose, Ashley Newton, Jessica Teixeira, Jody Waardenburg, Brian Limoyo, Andrew McNamara, Diego Jeri, Trevor Waurechen, Katie Parkes
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher & Chair Allison Leonard Executive Director Bryn Ossington Advertising Manager Angela Taylor Vice Chair Luke Schulz Treasurer Thomas Paddock Director Kate Turner Director Shelby Blackley Corporate Secretary Alexandra Abbiento
If a curious alien from a planet far, far away wandered to Earth, what would they think of human explorers? Of our seemingly innate longing to encounter novel spaces, search for the right head of cabbage, or create meaning of even our most insignificant moments? I bet they would find us funny, special. Often exploration as a concept is constructed in geographic terms, however, it is important to acknowledge all of the other exploring that happens without extensive travel. What about your choice to try honey-flavored lip-chap instead of your usual peppermint? Or a first date? What about the morning you wake up and realize a revolution is tingling at your fingertips, intimately begging you to resist, invent, or modify? I encourage you to ask yourself what, where, how, and why you explore. Most of my exploring has happened in books. With each passing text, I dig deeper into me, on an expedition (gear in tow) to untangle the cobwebs of my heart. I read to discover more of myself in an attempt to communicate sincerely, love wholly, and inhale deeply. Connecting with the notion that in part of our anatomy lies yearning and a sense of wonder, I am not baffled by the multiplicity of our questions, observations, and decisions. We may differ on our navigational instrument of choice, but Earth remains its nurturing, exposed self.
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NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Education” Submissions due September 6 On stands September 18
COVER Art by ANDREW MCNAMARA In the spirit of exploration, this piece merges messy paint application with fine marker detailing to create a disorienting and foreign landscape. My hope is that you, the viewer, enjoy exploring the image as much as I did shaping it. Medium(s): Gouache, Marker, Digital
Everything Changes AMELIA ROSE
The world was quiet. An unnatural, eerie quiet where every footstep echoed off the empty trees, the washed-out paw prints of animals who left their burrows and did not return. I stepped through the forests, the deserts, the oceans. I walked and I watched, and all was quiet. The air was still, the sun unmoving in an eternal moment of not-quite-dusk. No crickets chirped, no squirrels chattered, there was nothing left. I was the only one, in an empty shell of a world where nothing grew, nothing healed, nothing changed. What could I live for, when there was nothing left? No creature called out for aid, no human slashed at the beautiful foliage in their destructive development for the betterment of their own species, and none other. My legs to my chest, watching the perfectly still ocean reflect the world around it with not a ripple, contemplating. If there was nothing left to live for, then I would live for myself. One day, things will change. One day, I will wake up, and it will be dawn. There will be a sunrise. There will be a breeze. The world cannot stay the same, motionless, empty; it cannot be this way forever. I have nothing left, but I will press on, because one day there might be something. And that is hope enough.
Slow Down NATASHA DAVEY
How do you visualize meditation? Just as you may have seen in Hollywood films, is it someone sitting cross-legged, humming “ommmm”? Or are you thinking of those most enlightening moments when you have flushed anger from your heart while sitting in complete silence? Meditating can be what you find works for you. Some people enjoy going deep in the woods to sit on a log overlooking a lake. Some appreciate rolling out a yoga mat on their bedroom floor and lighting a candle. Some may do it while sitting at their computer, listening to music and focusing on their breathing. Meditating does not have to be done in any traditional way. However, Buddha was once asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.” If you learn to become still and relax your mind, you may have problems answered that you never imagined were possible. When refocusing your attention on what you don’t want, and all the emotional charge around it, placing the attention then on what you wish to experience may just allow it to happen.
Some answers in life cannot be answered on Google. When you are struggling to find the answer to that mysterious life question such as “what is the meaning of life?” or “what am I going to do once I finish my undergrad?” – mediating may be your answer. I assure you that mediation will eventually promote inner peace, serenity and tranquility in your heart, mind and soul. Be aware that meditation does not come easy. It does take time to motivate yourself to take time out of your never-ending day to sit down by yourself peacefully. However, it is possible! Yes, you may want to do it when your housemates are not home, so they do not come running into your room talking about the professor they have been inspired by. Needless to say, remember meditation will carry you along the journey of life and allow you to reflect on the path which you are on. May you experience freedom from your thoughts and emotions. The simplicity of life rests in your heart and in the silence of your mind.
East City APM
There is a distinct line where my city stops smiling let me take you east past april pines with Christmas lights and needles where no sharp stares meet - we’re all windows empty for rent in hard brick where I think the cold mothers must laugh, warm arms when the concrete isn’t watching where the man in torn pleather yells “hang it up, hang it up” to God or no one at all they say you don’t see brick like that anymore but they don’t cross the dividing line into our east
ASHLEY NEWTON I am a circle until I break Until the fragmentary light tears through me With a plea to be boundless I am my own mystery To wander through mistakes Through everything I donâ€™t know I am meant to be With enough valour to stand I am my own mystery My heaving breaths correlate Breaths that fight against unknown dreams With one whisper I search I am my own mystery I should travel again Travel somewhere far enough to reach the deep With my heartâ€™s confines left to grasp I am my own mystery Until I search I will never know The secrets of my destiny With no clues but those of life I am my own mystery
Back to Today RON BUTLER
I sit on a chair in my kitchen gazing wide-eyed at the beautiful green overgrown lawn in my backyard. The sun has begun to peek out from the clouds, giving life once again to the flowers and the weeds. I open the old tattered case in front of me and pull out my guitar, bringing it closer to examine every handmade piece of it. I gently touch each dent and scrape I have accumulated upon it over time, remembering the cause of each one and the places they were created. I begin to play. Nothing coherent at first, just chords. Strumming, then picking, then back to strumming again. Uncle John’s Band begins to play in my mind, suddenly transferring to my hands and before I know it, the guitar is playing along. Seconds later I am lost on a mountain in New Brunswick with my cousin. “We’re running out of gas, fast,” he says. We’ve been lost for a little over six hours, and it was true; we were quickly running out of gas. “Pass me a cigarette,” I say. “You better put on some tunes. If we’re going to die out here, it might as well be enjoyable.” He puts on a 10 or 15 minute version of Love Light
by the Dead and I light my smoke. I’m ready to die. Suddenly, I’m back in my kitchen. I’m no longer playing the Dead. I strum, then pick, and then strum some more. I think of my dad and start playing Beast of Burden. I’m transferred to a hospital. Now I am 14 years old, rolling around on a wheelchair I found in the hallway waiting for the doctor to leave my dad’s room. The door opens and I hear crying. I get up from the chair and walk into the room. No more Stones I think. It’s bright outside so I think I’ll play some Simon and Garfunkel. My hand begins to strum and I soon hear The Boxer spreading its holy waves upon my ears. I am utterly fragile and immersed in pure emotion, not knowing whether to cry or smile. This song does something to me, and there is nothing like the feeling of playing it for the first time in a long time. I attempt to start the second verse but before I can I am gone, transported to a patio in Niagara Falls listening to my best friend play the same song for 50 people who are furiously eating and drinking. I attempt once more to sing along but before I can I am taken to a car
in Italy. I’m in the backseat listening to my headphones as we drive from Rome to the mountains. I look over to my brother who is staring at downtown Vancouver from the top of Grouse Mountain, and I am there too, headphones on, listening to The Boxer. When the song ends I am back, back to now. The distant memories fade away once more. In time they become less and less detailed, but there are more of them to remember. I reach down to open the case, gently place my guitar inside, and walk towards the window. I can hear birds chirping above me and it sounds like they are singing Brokedown Palace. I listen carefully, but this time I am not taken anywhere, not to any strange and wonderful place I long to be back at once more. I hang my head, but in seconds time my longing is replaced by a sense of peace, of hope, and I feel a profound and soul-awakening desire to step outside and sing with the birds.
Millions O’ Words MATT LONG
I stepped into the car, shut the door, and stuck the keys into the ignition. I turned to Kerouac, who sat in the front seat beating his khaki knees with his palms and bobbing his head, and said, “You’ve got everything you need?” Kerouac didn’t respond. I glanced in the rear-view mirror at Shakespeare, who sat in the back. The top of his velvet cape draped over his shoulders and crawled down his silk shirt. He sat straight as a statue but his thin moustache ruffled as he exhaled. “You ready to go, Shakespeare?” Shakespeare nodded. I turned the keys in the ignition. The car fired on. I tugged the car into reverse and crawled down the driveway. As I turned onto the street, I said, “Everyone better put their seat belts on.” Kerouac mumbled something about “his day.” I buckled mine and glanced back at Shakespeare, who held the buckle in amazement. I placed my eyes back on the road and turned right. “I want to write a book,” I said, “But I can’t quite figure out what to write. I don’t know what I need to say. Why did you two write your books?” Shakespeare piped up. “Money.” Kerouac looked over so that his dark eyes glared into the side of my head. “You sound like you’ve got a choice whether to write or not. If you’ve got a choice, you ain’t a writer.” Kerouac lowered his head again. A gap in his hairline ran through his crown. “What can a man do but what he must?” Shakespeare exclaimed, without moving his head. “Not a damn thing,” Kerouac muttered. Kerouac lifted his head.
“Are you even a writer?” “Sure I am,” I said. I turned my blinkers on and boarded onto the highway exit out of Oakville. I drifted with the sharp curve and merged onto the highway. The only other car around sped ahead of us. “Yeah? What have you ever written?” “I’ve written lots of stories, and poems, and comic strips. All sorts of stuff. And I’m thinking of writing a novel now, too.” “Thinking of writing a novel? If you were a writer, you’d already have pounded out that novel and be working on your fifth. You said you were 21? By the time I reached your age, I already had a million words piled up behind me.” “Let the boy be,” Shakespeare said. “He will be what he is to be.” “I write all the time,” I said, “I just don’t know what to write about. I guess I don’t know what story needs to be told.” “That’s your problem?” Kerouac said. He scratched the gray scraggle on his cheek. “What kind of a problem is that? There isn’t anything to write about but yourself and your own story. Put your own life out there in all its heavenly glory and you’ll never run out of words.” “Your own life?” Shakespeare squealed. “What audience would care to hear anyone share his own life un-extraordinaire? I wrote about the universal experience of man, of great men, great love and great loss, because what is there to write about but what I know all people know?” “The only thing we know is where our life has taken us,” Kerouac sputtered. He laid his head on his fist and looked back at Shakespeare. “You’re just scribbling lies if you aren’t writing truthfully.” “To write with truth is surely what you need to do,” Shakespeare said, “But this truth need not have run through your own veins. Its nights can be spent merely in the mind and still a supremely splen-
did seedling of a story may be sown. The truths of other men can be borrowed and moulded to form the story you need to tell in truth.” Kerouac turned back. He patted the car door, tappity tap tap taapp tappity tap tap, and grinned. The lines on his bloated face grew deep. “Well Bill, there’s a reason you are who you are. But if this boy wants to get anywhere without spending his life researching through books he doesn’t want to read, he’s got to write what he knows.” I turned off the highway exit at Mississauga Road. I followed a silver truck down the suburban street, where gigantic houses lay on massive lots. Soaring trees stood over the street. I nodded. “I could write about my life, but I don’t know what other people would care about. I kind of agree with Shakespeare that you need something more to it.” Kerouac stared at the gray floor mat for a while before he said, “What hit you? If it hit you, it’s bound to hit other souls. We’re all part of the same fabric, after all. That is, if you write how it really went down and how you experienced it, people will care.” “All I’ve lived is a suburban life, chilling with my friends. Sure, there’re stories, but they ain’t the road adventures you wrote.” “All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare roared. “And all-” “We all know the speech,” Kerouac snapped. He bolted his head to me. “If you’re a writer, you’ve got to write everything you need to write. Make your story what you need it to be. And write it as many times as you need.” “Oh?” Shakespeare gasped. His eyebrows stuck high into his large forehead. “If you write with truth, all you should need is to write it once and it will be what you meant to write, if you write the truth.” Kerouac shook his head. “I tried that. Doesn’t always work.”
“I’m just not sure that I’m ready to tackle a novel yet. I’ve written a bunch of short stories, but I-” “You know what, kid,” Jack said, with his eyes beating on me, “I don’t think you’ve got what it takes. It takes a natural energy that you know you’d have if you had it.” I passed the blue sign of the University of Toronto Mississauga marking the entrance I used for the last 3 years of my university life. I drove past it and sucked in a large breath of air and released it. I pressed on the pedal as the street inclined steeply past a beautiful green forest. I never visited the university in the summer before. I turned my blinkers on and spun the wheel right. I passed construction workers drinking coffee at a site at the corner, behind a row of brown townhouses. “Well, I do; I want to be a writer-” “I must agree with this heavenly brute to my left,” Shakespeare said, “It’s not for everyone and you don’t strike me as the sort ready to write.” I passed a blue sign that read Putnam Place. I turned at the first right and parked in an empty parking lot behind the townhouses. I took the key from the ignition. “What do you guys know about who’s right to write? Shakespeare, you’d probably say Kerouac shouldn’t write if you read half his work. Hell, I think it’s all poetry but still, you know what, screw you guys. I’ll write a book and I’ll write it exactly how I want to, and that’ll be that. What the hell do you guys know?” Kerouac crossed his arms over his chest. “You know kid, I might’ve been wrong about you.” I got out of the car and slammed the door. I opened the trunk and pulled out my backpack and my last box from home. On top of the box sat paperback copies of “The Town and the City” and “King Lear.”
Just Breathe SARAH ZOSCHKE
Your name is called. You take a deep breath. Each step, although small, feels like it takes all your strength. You lasted this far but it seems surreal: all your hard work for four years paid off. The crowd erupts and is full of joy as you hear your parents faintly off in the distance yelling your name, trying to get your attention. You are overwhelmed with focusing on not tripping. You feel like you are burning up, the excitement comes in bursts between nerves, and you wish this would be over as you are tired and hungry. Then again, you do not want this feeling to end. You make it to your first stop on what seems like the longest walk of your life. As a hood is gracefully put on to your shoulders you can hardly see the crowd with the bright lights and cameras flashing. You feel like a rock star. You move on to your next stop to shake the hand of the most prestigious man you know: you have seen him give speeches but now you are given the chance to be in his presence, shaking his hand as he utters the word â€œcongratulations.â€? You realize your walk is almost complete, having reached the halfway point. Familiarly, you think about this point in school, trying to make decisions and enjoying the freedom, but now this is the halfway point on an uncertain journey. You reach your final stop and as you shake the last hand and are given the most anticipated piece of paper in your lifetime, you realize you did it. All the exams, late nights, and long essays have all brought you to this moment, the chance to take the forever-anticipated walk across a stage that separates student from adult. You made it, university graduate. Now is your time. As the speeches all echo, your chance to go out into the world, construct your path, and explore your options materializes. You have come this far. Now, take a deep breath and your next step towards the future! Congratulations!
Stillness is turning me invalid KYLEE FRANCIREK
Stillness is turning me invalid.
On distant shores, I am a golden queen, Seldom in seeking good fortune, But am good fortune itself, One thousand miles from where I stand, My heartâ€™s spoils from war, A compass I clasp to my chest. I am vacant in cold city, Tepid, with slow movement, Cursed through linear time. Soar, my little soul, A wanderer: feet bound freely in untouched soil, I cannot be born and still, Truth is found through freedom.
Wake Eat Love Sleep SIDRA SYED & ALASKA R.
There is always a bit of psychology involved in our appetite. One day you may have no real preference for eggs, and the next- after reading a few chapters from Hemingway’s Garden of Eden, riddled with accounts of countless sea side breakfasts- you may adore the idea of eggs. Enjoying food is not limited to a material experience. And it is often that there is a great story to be told about what you eat and why. I’ll tell you right now that the story is not about how much or little you eat, or with how much decadence you do so. You are most definitely what you eat, but food is also about family, it is about your past, about your preferences and it is your sensory gateway to different places and different times. The value of food is decadence in itself. Your mother’s recipes will bring you comfort no matter what time or place you use them. They will give you nostalgia and send you back in time despite any circumstances. When you are working away in your own kitchen, decades later, it will still give off the same aroma. Time may change many things, but it won’t change taste. And taste and smell are our gateways to the best moments of our past. So, it’s what we do as humans; we eat, we read, we love and reminisce. Then we go to bed and start from the top.
Beyond the Flag JOSHUA HOWE
Warning: Oxygen level critical. Twenty minutes remaining. Matt slowly opened his eyes, the robotic female voice penetrating his ears and mind. He blinked several times and squinted through his helmet’s cracked visor. At first, all he could see was black. Then, almost mockingly, his eyes began to reveal the truth. Debris floated around him everywhere. Some of it was still in huge chunks while the rest were little bits of metal gliding along lazily. The silence of the void he was in seemed extremely abnormal and for a moment, it frightened him so that he began breathing harder until he remembered the robotic voice’s words. Matt tried moving with little success. His body was unfathomably stiff and he really wasn’t sure if he was managing to move at all. He tried rotating his head and a shooting pain surged throughout his body, causing him to call out in silent agony. His eyes flitted down to his gloved hands, which were reminiscent of a mannequin’s. He attempted to wiggle his fingers. His hands didn’t move. Fear threatened to swallow him once again and Matt shut his eyes tightly, trying his absolute best not to let insanity have its sickening way with him. Warning: Oxygen level critical. Fifteen minutes remaining. With his eyes closed, Matt’s mind suddenly began replaying fleeting memories as he struggled to recall how he got in his current situation. “We are now less than fifty lightyears from our destination, Captain.” A young man no older than eighteen turned to face Matt, smiling broadly. Matt nodded and smiled in turn. “Thank you, Mr. Smith.” He rose from his chair in the center of the bridge and unconsciously fingered the tiny American flag sewn on the left side of his chest. “I am making my way to the away room now to prepare to fly down there. I’m going alone. This is a simple enough task. Besides, if things get dangerous, you’ll all be safer here.” Matt smiled warmly at the crew surrounding him before turning and nodding to a tall, broad shouldered man standing on his right. “You have the con, Mr. Chambers.” With that, Matt strode past his first officer and made his way to the elevator. Within seconds he had arrived at the away room and felt
a shock of surprise to see a woman standing there, her arms folded. “Alone?” she asked rhetorically. “You’re going alone?” “Yes,” Matt answered anyway, walking over to a closet that opened with a touch of his palm. An impressive blue, red and white suit stood before him; the glass visor seemingly peering right through him. “You can’t go alone! What if something happens to you?” The woman grabbed Matt’s arm and turned him to face her, her olive eyes full of genuine concern. Matt blinked a few times and then placed his hands firmly on her shoulders. “Nothing’s going to happen to me. This is an easy mission, Katie. What’s so hard about going down to an abandoned planet and shoving a flag in the dirt?” “Don’t get so cocky, Captain.” Katie tried to frown but she couldn’t help letting a small smile dance across her face. “You should keep that look; the smile. It works for you,” Matt said. A loud ding sounded throughout the away room as a familiar voice echoed, “We are within range, Captain. You are free to enter the pod and launch.” “Thank you, Mr. Chambers.” Matt grinned at the ceiling before looking back at Katie. “I’ve got to go now. I’ll be back before you know it. And then we can head home.” Another gentle smile touched her lips as she whispered. “And then we can have the wedding?” Matt gave her a gentle squeeze. “Of course.” Katie’s smile suddenly spread across her entire face, lighting up her complexion as she leaned up towards Matt and kissed him hard. “Safe travels, Captain,” she whispered. “Thank you, Miss Pierson.” After releasing her and watching her leave, Matt donned the spacesuit as quickly as possible and walked to the far end of the away room, where the wall opened up to reveal a small ship with nothing but a few seats and controls. Entering, Matt made himself comfy and flipped switches and turned knobs, preparing for launch. “Launching now, Mr. Chambers,” Matt said loudly before punching a large red button on his right. “Very good, Captain.” The engine began to roar as the pod came to life and Matt smiled as suddenly he rock-
eted away from his ship; the pod zooming through the void. “Captain!” the voice of Chambers came abruptly and very loudly, as though he was frightened. “Yes, Commander?” “The Russians! There are three Russian Warbirds coming toward the ship! We have no idea where they came from! They’re closing quickly and preparing to fire. Their weapons are locked and we have no time to respond with proper-” “Mr. Chambers? Mr. Chambers?! GEORGE!” Matt hollered as static filled his ears. Swiveling in his seat, Matt whipped around just in time to see a massive orange fireball where his ship had just been. And it was coming closer. His eyes widening with terror, Matt flipped a switch underneath the dashboard and felt himself shoot up through a porthole in the pod, entering pure space as he surged through the emptiness, away from the explosion. The blinding orange light forced his eyes shut and for a few moments, it was as though nothing was happening. Then Matt felt a searing pain to the back of his neck and something struck his helmet before his world went black. Opening his eyes, Matt felt a single tear slide down his cheek as the memory receded. Warning: Oxygen level critical. Five minutes remaining. Matt swallowed hard and closed his eyes again; softly this time. This wasn’t what space was for. There was never supposed to be war here. They were explorers. Matt felt his mind wander, now to a place with palm trees and a sunset. And a woman in a white dress. Warning: Oxygen level critical. One minute remaining.
Gold and Gleaming MARY FERGUSON
I want to discover you the way I discovered poetry rock solid, bone deep and my words sinking like stones I want to see the dancing and the light the fragility and the fear bent open backwards the edges paper thin and caustic I want to explore the ridges of poetry your body gold and gleaming, drowsy with heat I want to find you vital and violent angry and heartsick everything that makes the air force itself into my lungs and then back out into yours.
The Infinity of Exploration JAMES BLAKE
I have never hidden who I am and where I am from. I grew up in a small city of 14,000 and had a strong rural influence in the earlier years of my life. Being born and raised in the Ottawa Valley does that to you. Once I reached that time in my life where it was time to move on to university, I had many choices to consider. I could have gone to a place similar to my home of Pembroke, Ontario. There would be little to no culture shock and I would fit in well. When it came down to decide, I went a different way. I wanted to be exposed to more. Around four years ago, I decided to embark on a four-year-long exploration in none other than Waterloo, Ontario. I did not realize it at the time, but university was more of an exploration for me than most. The furthest I had been from home had been a family trip to the Maritime Provinces and a three-day high school trip to New York City. Visiting Toronto was seen as a “big deal.” I had no idea what a Shawarma or a falafel was. My small town mind had no idea what was just about to come my way. My exploration into the new and unseen was not limited to food. I wasn’t limited to anything. I realized, probably mid O-week, that I had already met so many different people from more different backgrounds and preferences than I could ever imagine. Throughout my time in Waterloo, while attending Laurier, I did more things than I could imagine. I quickly learned that our abilities are infinite. Nothing was stopping me from going anywhere. So, in third year during reading week, I went for my first plane ride. Oh yeah, it was to London, England. There is one memory of that trip that will never leave my mind. I spent a week in England and four days in Rome and it all hit me while standing in the famed Coliseum. Standing there in something that we have all seen dozens of times in textbooks or in the media was a moment I never imagined. A native of Pembroke, Ontario standing in one of the most famous landmarks of all time? I couldn’t fathom it until I realized that the only limits we have are the ones we put on ourselves. The possibilities of what could happen with the rest of my life were infinite, and still are. Thus, the day I picked Wilfrid Laurier University was the biggest act of exploration in my life. It opened me up to new things and forced me to take the next step and explore not only these new things, but also who I am and where I fit in this world. The moral of all of this is that we must step outside what we know and strive to succeed in it. Only then will we fully realize that our possibilities are endless.
Wandering in Words FIORELLA MORZI
Devouring bold coffee bean with milk, sweating shamelessly from the heavy heat, I begin to prepare myself for the day of reading ahead. Once I find a place to rest my back, I observe the enormity of the text in front of me. Tracing its worn, elegant spine, I am not intimidated by the endless scrawl inside. If today there are images to be seen and pondered about, I make sure to spend time looking. I contemplate the cover art, tail end synopsis, remarks from critics, and, finally, the “dedicated to” section, glimpsing into the life of a writer I am already in awe of by virtue of insisting on the tangibility, complexity, and relevance of storytelling. Vivid accounts of utopian communities on mountaintops and honey-sweet rivers inform the visions conjured in my imaginary through literature. My reading does not end with the absorption of words into images. Their messages become part of my vocabulary, my free-flowing blood. My relationship with the text, a wild affair, is steeped in mutual honesty: our probable friendship curbs loneliness. When I engage with stories, I do not feel alone. I try carrying reading material with me everywhere I go: a Value Village receipt, sweet potato recipes, teen fiction, an article on cyberfeminism, little black notebooks. Why do I feel comforted by scribbles, trivial or life-changing, willfully planted on paper by their scribblers? What is it about black literary magic that makes me want to try scribbling too? Something about meaning-making, about recording, about nakedness, draws me in so deep I am forever hooked. My favorite tales contribute to parts of my own story, lending me the characters, objects, and circumstances of my dearest authors, refusing to return them in fear of self-deterioration. Broadly, the act of naming, describing, and inventing, is itself a captivating process worthy of attention. Like a devoted Widow spider to her intricate, silky web, writers weave meanings into the fabric of their speech, packing agonizingly heartfelt sentiment into all. To venture into a land formed by the flowery vigor of words is to learn a little more about our very human desire to create, and above all, to share with others. Within that exchange lies real possibility for change, and there’s a good chance it will begin with you.
JESSICA TEIXEIRA As a human entity in a world full of unknown integers, the ability to explore is a magnificent concept. Exploration to me is a process of not only discovery, but rather fulfillment. The need to explore has come from a peculiar gap, one that I have been trying to fill. A slit in my soul. But, let me be clear. Exploration and the act of exploring should not be understood definitively, rather openly and subjectively. Whether I am exploring the world or new feelings, this complete process of exploration is necessary in order to seal the void. My mind struggles between what can be and what was. Everyday is a new form of exploration, and the unknown is so attractive, yet so frighteningly difficult to comprehend, that it completely consumes me. There is a whole world of people I may never get to meet, or an emotion I may never get to feel, but the unknown is what drives me – forces me to explore. Maybe this disease, this intense desire to devour all that exploration offers me, the new, the unknown, is just a temporary escape. This experience, this forceful seeking takes me away from the everyday routine I currently experience. Why is it that I cannot just exist? Why do new feelings and new places need to be experienced? I’ll tell you why. I’m running away from all of the negative emotions I feel in this everyday abode. Maybe routine and the constancy of emotional displacement have forced me to seek out the unfamiliar, in order to verify, to compare what I have in this moment of time with what is possible. My life is an endless process of exploration and I will continue to explore until I feel full. Until I am complete.
Unfamiliar MARIA RICCI
The day I didnâ€™t hold back was the day I trusted whole heartedly, something I hadnâ€™t allowed myself to do in the past. As he claimed me, I swear I had never seen such honest eyes. He broke through the walls that had been paved over and boarded up, but I knew it was time. Finally letting you in seemed so right. I traced the contours of your body with my fingertips. Gripping on to flesh, this insatiable need, I allowed myself to indulge in lust. I became familiar with something that had been so unfamiliar before. As we held each other closely, I lost sight of who was holding whom. Pulling me in closer and closer with each thrust, sweat dripped from your hair on to my moist skin. There was an undeniable feeling I could not shake off as you kept my gaze, but it was only then that I was able to tell that nothing had been lost, rather found.
Thoughts: A Brooding Exploration SHAWN TRASK These thoughts cannot be compressed like someone’s dream car crushed into a small block of scrap metal. Recycled perhaps, but insignificant in terms of retelling the love story hopelessly festering in its forgotten leather seams. Impressions of your identity are willingly abandoned in the etches of these thoughts, whose questioning and dangerous black cascades of wonder are obliged by your indulgence in me, like scars of ethereal light staining the inside of my eyelids. Your happiness is the fresh beads of dew on the grass during my living cemetery’s mid-mourning hours. These thoughts are lost. Balloons rising up to the sun, popping one by one from the warmth of your eyelashes. You are something special in the chaos of your surroundings; an Alice or a Dorothy, hopelessly hopeful in following a single blade of passion on a ceiling fan of apathy ‘round and ‘round with cool, dizzy eyes.
Radiant psychedelia filters from your spirit to mine like the photo copying of a two-way mirror. All that is burnt up and used in my life becomes the Phoenix of my soul; rekindling fire from discarded ashes obsessed within and without my mind. I am Ahab. Our saga is some fairy tale read aloud to an infant’s inner-ear infection in a room blasted with hydrophonic sound. Your sovereign, severe sensitivity chaperones me to another place, where nurses, shrinks, boozehounds and best friends are inseparable. Anything left to say is wrapped snug in some warm blanket chasm with these thoughts…
Explore You KATIE PARKES
Explore beyond the fragile windowpanes, and the mystery of locked doors, and the hard finality of the concrete floors. Beyond the perfect package of the standard stuffy four walls. Beyond the oddly terrifying cage of the chain linked fence, and the false bravado of the classy white picket stakes, and the seemingly invisible boarders that separate us from place to place. Push beyond the pangs of doubt that riddle your mind and make you feel like you must remain. Close. Donâ€™t stay too close. For comfort is merely freedomâ€™s evil twin encroaching on the hunt to find you. Explore you. Navigate your way through the flourishing fields of flowers, past the rickety, rocky paths of rivers, and the darling, but dangerous personalities of people. Be everywhere and be nowhere. Teach your heart to yearn for the unexpected treats of time and the burden of unrelenting knowledge. Learn to trust the feeling of joy and embrace the pity of foolishness. Agitate your habits of fearlessness. Fear. Only yourself. For you are the leader juggling the journey and steering the voyage to victory. Explore what victory means. Bury yourself deep in pillows of potential; find holes in the sheets, stains on the mattress, and creatively crack the code that will smooth out the lumps. Explore ideas. Drive yourself to the edge of the cliff of consciousness. Spur the engine until your heart bleeds and your lungs burn and your skin stings and your brain breathes sighs of relief. Explore the possibilities of letting go. Go. Against and with the grain, sprinting, running, and walking in countless directions while you search for your inner compass. Stand still. Soak up rays of warmth and give the sun permission to help you grow. Keep growing. Grow beyond the imperative institutions that ask you to use persuasion as art, and while flying through the realms of rationality and judgment, question what classifies you as smart. Dance beyond the redundancy of canonized theories, tales, and talks, all while gracefully generating golden original thoughts. Share. Everything and nothing. For balance will calm the waves if the storm shatters your soul. Explore what you are able to control.