Volume 11 Issue 6 February 2012
The Family Issue
VOLUME 11 ISSUE 6 FEBRUARY 2012
In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry. MARGARET LAURENCE (1926 - 1987)
On the Construction of the Bauer Lofts
The Tofurky Manifesto
What You Make It
A Blueprint for Community
You Loved Me
It and Other
‘Make It Look Trippy’
Eclectic Daughter FIORELLA MORZI
On Dickens and Depression DEVON BUTLER
The Great Divide
Customer Appreciation Day
24 Front Cover
NUNO TEIXEIRA EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER Inside Back
THE FAMILY ISSUE EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Morgan Alan email@example.com
Production Manager Lakyn Barton firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing Editor Devon Butler email@example.com
Promotions Manager Lydia Ogwang firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio Manager Katie Parkes email@example.com
Brantford Manager Leisha Senko firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Contributors P.G. Gallant, Emily Holmes, Andrew Savory
CONTRIBUTORS A.G.D., David Alexander, Ellie Anglin, Kiley Bell, Alexis Castrogiovanni, Amanda Couture, Graham Engel, Erin Epp, Carly Lewis, Emmanuel Xerx Javier, Sarah MacDonald, Fiorella Morzi, Erin Oldynski, L.M. Olsen, Josh Smee, Emily Slofstra, Maeve Strathy, Nuno Teixeira
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher & Chair Erin Epp Executive Director Bryn Ossington Advertising Manager Angela Taylor Vice Chair Judith Brunton Treasurer Thomas Paddock Director Mike Lakusiak Director Jon Pryce Corporate Secretary Morgan Alan
What started as a bi-monthly student life magazine, founded by a student interested in gaining magazine production experience, now enters its decennial year of publication. In your hands you hold Blueprint’s tenth anniversary issue: the culmination of ten years of culture and expression at Wilfrid Laurier University. To say that our little magazine has had a ‘torrid history’ would be somewhat of a vast understatement. From its early roots as a lifestyle magazine, Blueprint would quickly shift its editorial direction to cultural criticism. This perspective was generally maintained until the late 2000s, when the magazine transformed itself into a radical political ideologue. Though critical politics would remain central to Blueprint’s mandate, the magazine has leveled in a more literary direction in the past several years. This abridged history is to say nothing, of course, of budget woes, heated cover discussions, and an entire year where not a single issue was completed on time. I could wax poetic about “Blueprint as a family”, but the vast outpouring of submissions in this issue from former contributors does that for me. We’ve assembled a ‘greatest hits collection’ of past editors, managers, and writers, each representing a cross-section of Blueprint’s editorial history. For even those years removed from their time with Blueprint, it is heartening to see that literature and self-expression are still something held so close. To the next ten years, and the next ten after! Morgan Alan Editor-in-Chief
CONTACT Blueprint Magazine 75 University Ave W Waterloo ON N2L 3C5 p 519.884.0710 x3564 blueprintmagazine.ca Advertise email@example.com blueprintmagazine.ca/advertise Contribute firstname.lastname@example.org blueprintmagazine.ca/contribute
COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community. Founded in 2002, Blueprint is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by its board of directors.
COVER Art by JOEL HENTGES
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NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Future” Submissions due March 2 On stands March 14
When I think of family I think of returning home and how the idea of family is attached to the house itself. Whether it is my parent’s house or a grandparent’s house, the object holds the idea of family even after strangers move in and family moves on. The back cover represents the disconnect many people feel with regards to family and those objects.
On the Construction of the Bauer Lofts Behind my Family Home, Kitchener-Waterloo, from 2003 - 2008 ELLIE ANGLIN
The soiled roots of our sister-cities resisted gentrification by any means at their disposal, and their tactics proved highly effective. Secret societies of dirt began the good fight: asbestos vined its way towards God between steel girders and damp drywall. Mould splatted spores like Pollock’s paints, feeding on a blank canvas. The old mattress factory spat out a young labourer fourteen stories down, back-breaking on the main drag, for trying to transform it into tasteful lofts for the Young Urban Professional.
cased in crystal, embedded in space and time revolve slowly and twinkle in the spectral dust of ancestral ghosts. Crests, medals, portraits! Iron, copper, Lyme! Family secrets unfurl like streamers wound tightly for years in disquietude and dyspepsia. I want everyone to know! You were that turbine the sun that spins forever! You too are the iron blanket of winter that rusts over time. You’re fading to shadow now but I want them to know: you wrote letters and told jokes and collected coins once.
Yes, the soiled roots of our sister-cities resisted gentrification at every step, but progress and economy stepped on also. The buildings and landmarks of a city anchor us in time, and my anchor lost its hold. I watched from my bedroom window as the lofts came to dwarf our house, and the city I grew up in became foreign to me. Yes, the soiled roots of our sister-cities resisted gentrification at every step, but progress and economy stepped on also. The buildings and landmarks of a city anchor us in time, and my anchor lost its hold. I watched from my bedroom window as the lofts came to dwarf our house, and the city I grew up in became foreign to me. All that remains of that rockin’ 1980’s ghost-city – the bowling alley, the ashtrays, my Mother’s clear nail polish, the smell of mattress factory fire, my Dad whistling Hotel California, the Dollar Store, the train tracks – are Memories. But oh, how they evaporate! See them float skyward like cottonseed caught in the wind. See them take flight from us like unsecured helium balloons! And see me (shamelessly) leap, jump, and snatch them to my body in a desperate dance of recovery. As I see an elder so dear to me turn his chair toward shadows, see him retreat within to contemplate the corners of his mind, I direct my energies towards genealogy. With a crowbar and might I open the attic door at night. Those corridors – unending like an anvil that falls but does not drop – of geometric faces and cut glass minds! Names en-
With this I am forced to concede that it is not just this new set-design of a city that has pasted itself over my past. And outrage and resistance just take so much energy these days! To be honest I was drunk and melancholy at the Residents Meeting to lobby against the Bauer development. I concluded, in the end, that letter writing campaigns are no match for entropy. Nor are draftsmen, nor money, nor architects, nor mortar. Young urban professionals are but soft-headed souls like me, who will make memories and forget to keep them. I guess we all just have to roll with the sucker-punches of change, loss, death and time. It did get pretty lonely living amongst construction for so many years, but at least there was this one day that I saw the sunset squeal through the gaping metal mouths, and I felt the giant crane loom its make-shift cross over the city, and for a minute I felt its arms connect the cracked sidewalks between my present and my past.
Ellie Anglin has been a Blueprint contributor since 2009.
Disjointed DEVON BUTLER
Torrential clouds of grey trouble bubble overhead as we sit unified around papa’s mahogany table. Hand in hand we give thanks and say grace while projected smiles create our little family fable. We haven’t yet had dinner, but a roast is coming. We wait in eager anticipation as the fire flickers and with each passing moment a blazing anger amounts until father takes a swig of jack and sputters an inebriated curse. The volcanic tension erupts as mother barks and sister whimpers for it all to stop! but it wont, and it can’t, and her bark is now a roar. Suddenly there’s a pop! Father’s hit the floor. His lifeless thud reverberates around the room. The body of what was once a man lies sleepily on the carpet. Evidently, family dinners are nothing but doom.
Andrew Savory has been a Blueprint staff writer since 2011.
It and Other P.G. GALLANT
It is found in wild and untamed, Uniting and holding up thousands. Many have them and lose them. The other is found in and on the work, Binding the structured and organized. The other is easily bent out of shape. Run millions, and know how common it is. Stack dozens, and then bend them for fun. The tap will show their chase, And the profile of connection. It is quite rigid, and many say inflexible, But see it accentuate whatâ€™s beautiful. The other is ordinary if not outdated, Though the other coloured will shine. Together other carries it, And the two make one, Like the millions, Like the dozens. In boxes and on board, It and other do accord.
P.G Gallant has been a Blueprint staff writer since 2011.
My Brothers MAEVE STRATHY
I love my family. I have a mom, a dad and four sisters. All of them are wonderful and unique, interesting and smart, and beautiful in their own ways, inside and out. I love my family. Obviously, I didn’t grow up with brothers, but I have them now; two of them. I met my brothers while at Laurier. As with my family, I didn’t choose them; we came together organically. I can’t tell you the first time I met one or the other. I don’t know where our connection begins or ends. All I know is that they might as well have always been there, because without them I am absolutely useless. My brothers are my limbs; I’d feel less without them. My brothers are my oxygen; I can’t live without them. My brothers are me and I am my brothers are me and I am. Thank You. Be Well.
Maeve Strathy was Blueprint’s Culture Editor in 20078. She is Blueprint’s most prolific contributor, with over 20 contributed pieces to her credit since 2005.
What You Make It ERIN EPP
If my second-year roommate had not thrust a Blueprint copy editor application into my hands in the winter of 2008, my life would be very different. As a relatively shy student, I needed a friendly nudge to get involved. As soon as I was hired, I found my voice and gained the confidence that comes with being published for the first time. Blueprint helped me find an alternative community on a campus where I felt I could not relate to most students. It gave me a safe space in which I could explore my creativity with others who were interested in social justice. Most importantly, I was so enamoured with Blueprint from the first time I picked it up because I knew I could have an impact on its production, content, and aesthetic. Blueprint will continue to be whatever those involved make of it. It changes with every editorial team, and maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe Blueprint’s importance is its ability to adapt stylistically to those who care most about it. I have seen Blueprint change its focus from Laurier student life, to hyper-political commentary, to literary content and cultural criticism. Blueprint is now out of my hands and in yours, and will be what you make it.
Erin Epp was Blueprint’s Copy Editor in 2008-9 and Editor-in-Chief in 2009-10. She currently sits as President of Student Publications. DEVON BUTLER
Distance JOSH SMEE
Distance is important. We step away to rethink ourselves, to prioritize, to make choices. We walk around campus unafraid to take a few risks because there’s real distance between our lives there and our lives on either side of it.
I’m sitting on my couch, 3000 kilometres from Waterloo, ocean air drifting in the window. My friends are sitting in prison. I watch the rage and resolve flow out in a stream of articles and photos and sentences and I can’t help but think that “distance” needs some serious redefinition. Wait. Rewind. June 26th, 2010. Out for a walk with a few thousand new friends on the streets of Toronto. Small-town cops in dusted-off riot gear. I have a job interview the next day, for a job in a city where “G20” doesn’t mean much. I play it safe. Not involved in the organizing, and I feel like a tourist. Two months later, I move. Even from far away, the pulling-together is palpable. The hum of caring and support becomes a roar. I feel a flash of pride – these are my friends, standing up to a threatened and angry State. This is a community, a family, that I – and, indeed, Blueprint – played some part in building. But what does that amount to, now? What does it mean to be far away, when the surface of our social life stays with us so easily? Watching people you care about go through a struggle is a good way to start sorting that out. A couple months of Facebook-checking will give you hints of all the new bonds being built, the allies in unexpected places – but these are just hints. More often, it’s a reminder just how backward looking our socially networked lives are. I live in St. John’s and have a job doing community work. A good part of my online self still lives in Waterloo, still works with Blueprint, still goes to Laurier. What does this mean for our responsibilities as friends and allies? To be honest, I don’t know. I read all the articles. I get angry. I repost. But do I step back from my keyboard and actually do much about it? Nope. A friend went into prison, served his sentence, and got out before I even got my act together to send him a letter. While we’re now fed far more detail about the lives of our distant friends than we once were, it’s placed into a box that we don’t really know what to do with yet. I think this matters – maybe more than we acknowledge. The telephone and the web did a pretty good job at shrinking distances in space; Facebook and its ilk are doing the same for distance in time. Distance is important. We step away to rethink ourselves, to prioritize, to make choices. We walk around campus unafraid to take a few risks because there’s real distance between our lives there and our lives on either side of it. This isn’t about becoming a luddite, or a hermit. There’s no need to be so drastic to realize that our ability to divide our own stories into chapters is starting to fade. We’re becoming more accountable to our past selves, for better or for worse.
Josh Smee (formerly Smyth) was the Global Editor of Blueprint in 2006-7 and Editor-in-Chief in 2007-8.
What I really desired was a community, a group of people who shared a family of values...and that with that family of values we would be able to move forward, stronger, together.
A Blueprint for Community GRAHAM ENGEL
Once, in the hallowed pages of the Blueprint, I proclaimed that I was ‘starting a cult’ (ed’s note: see “Graham’s Startin’ a Cult!”, July 2008). At the time, it seemed like a cult would be the solution to my problems and needs. Lonely? Why not be surrounded by a sea of dependent others. Tired of perpetual bickering? Then it is time to drive out opposing voices through a cleanse of your compound. Looking for love? Create a group of brainwashed followers who adore your every word and deed. Sadly, this became boring. While my dreams of starting a cult never actually came to fruition, thinking about the process and the ultimate product of that dream made me say “Nay; ‘Tis not truly what my heart desires…” What I really desired was a community, a group of people who shared a family of values – not always the same, but common enough that when individual ideals came up in a conflicting way choices could be made to cherish our commonalities instead of to cultivate crisis – and that with that family of values we would be able to move forward, stronger, together. This community held the love, challenge, and companionship I wanted out of my cult, and without the zombielike obedience and pathetic sycophancy I had grown to reject. During my university days, Blueprint and other groups, off- and on-campus, were where I found communities founded on challenge and compassion, and became a better person through those contacts. Outside the cozy womb of university life, it could be argued one needs to put more effort into seeking these contacts out; after all, it’s not like a university campus where you’re as likely to trip over any of the myriad of
groups presenting themselves to passersby. If you want the relation to a common cause, you need to forge it for yourself. If you would consider yourself a seeker after community, as someone who wishes to create a non-biological family of folk promoting ideas and collaborative effort towards a unified goal, I would like to offer a suggestion. Since our days with the Blueprint, myself and others have begun the process of establishing a publication available freely in the KW community and beyond. This is a forum available to anyone and everyone who wishes to share in the spirit of peace, and this forum is Highbraü Magazine. Whether you write academic argument or dry satire; whether you see the world through your telephoto lens or through an explosion of paint on paper; whether you wish to slam poetry or slip us a short story, Highbraü could be for you. Highbraü Magazine is an independent, locally-organized print forum that looks to provide opportunities to those who seek them. While our magazine is currently small scale and obscure, our intention is to sustainably grow the publication and facilitate dialogue in the KW community. Don’t let the ‘culty’ beginning of this essay fool you - all opinions and ideas are welcome, encouraged, and delighted in. No need for brainwashed sycophants here; I only ask for those in my personal life…
Graham Engel has been a Blueprint contributor since 2007. Visit highbraumagazine.com to learn more about the magazine
You Loved Me SARAH MACDONALD
Family is a concept I have never “gotten.” There was no light bulb inside my head that went off at one point or another and left me feeling totally secure in myself and “my family.” I’ve never felt particularly illuminated about the notion of family. It’s abstract and almost always out of reach. It is this grand idealistic, dreamy support system that I have never known. In terms of divisions and classifications, yes, I do have a family. I have cousins, second cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and so many more people that have formed this circle around my life. To me, that’s not a family. It’s hard, mean and obligatory. This family is from a catalogue. It’s not real. They tell each other lies under the guise of “This is for your own good” and “You are better to be seen and not heard.” Maybe this is just what I have come to know from these people; these relatives. That in itself is a tricky idea because I feel in no way
My roots braid together and spiral into a solid trunk, forming a lush and old tree. The branches of the tree aren’t people connected to me but experiences and memories that bring me back to my roots. Each root is vastly different from the other.
related to them. I live in a city and support choices that were whispered about decades ago and they live in a hamlet where those choices should remain as whispers. Somehow, in the midst of all of this mess, I formed a family. I formed what I think is a family. Let me tell you about my family. My family is a great big tree. The cliché of this is not at all lost on me. Instead of following the branches to see where they go and how they have informed me as a person, I traced
the veins in the bark with my fingertips and found myself at the roots. I have two thick roots at the base of this tree and they are the most solid things I have ever gripped. Believe me: I haven’t always treated this tree with the kind of respect and care it deserves. Somewhere in-between the earth-shattering heartache that was growing up and getting my life together, I sat next to this tree and whispered all of my deepest, darkest secrets, knowing that it was finally time to say all of the things I never could. My roots braid together and spiral into a solid trunk, forming a lush and old tree. The branches of the tree aren’t people connected to me but experiences and memories that bring me back to my roots. Each root is vastly different from the other. The oldest root is my mother. She is warm and kind and wears her struggles on her sleeve. There is something so heartbreaking in knowing there are invisible marks along her beautiful skin but having to watch her fight to live in a harsh, hard world. She is weary but moves along and loves fiercely. The youngest root is lighter, tender but strong. They are both so strong. This root is my sister. She anchors the rest of the tree with a stark stoicism that is a rarity to find. Her eyes are quiet but can say so much without really saying anything at all. She has my heart in her hands and knows, in spite of all the destruction I did to tear this root from the ground so long ago, her happiness now is the only thing that matters to me. From what I understand about family, the very basic idea is love: to love and be loved by another person and for them be a sanctuary to help you survive living. Love doesn’t always happen that way though, but this is what we want, right? Instead of fighting and forgetting what we fought about, we tell jokes to one another. We laugh until our bellies are sore and throats so hoarse no sane thoughts can be formed or expressed. We talk until the sun turns into the moon and back to day once more. We rest upon one another when everything gets so heavy and can barely move, holding everyone together because that is just what you do. We do it because we want to, not because we have to. My family is so small but I like it that way. I don’t know how to exist around the people I am related to. We’re aliens to one another. Their family is different from mine. They see me and figure that based upon some scientific data I must be family. Our blood and genetic make-up may be similar, we may have the same bone structure in our nose, but this is not a family. You both loved me but I loved you more. And that’s what a family is; what my family is.
Sarah MacDonald has been a Blueprint contributor since 2009. She is Editor-in-Chief of Fine Cut, a film and television industry magazine.
After kissing each small effigy of his face, his saints The crucifixes all mean something different In the garden-like calm Of a thousand bodies sleeping Canon in D is out of place But it’s playing low in the background It’s walking me down the aisle Where all the black plastic chairs are empty And my mother is whispering on the marble About the loss of my religion The names and dates are all here They’re mapping out lifetimes from one side of the dash to the other They are missing all the information in between Or maybe this is all I need to know And the flowers are just pinpoints of colour In amongst the roses and greys I’m walking in between the head stones And my grandmother is pointing and saying And there lies my friend And there lies my family And there lies my grave Waiting patiently for me And patience is the name of the game You have to try and go gracefully From conception To the beauty of the black And the epitaphs are foreign In more ways than one Some in Italian, some in Polish But they’re wishing every man woman and child The very best Wherever it may be That they have gone And I’ve lost something else today That I wasn’t missing yet yesterday I’ll just wait calmly for the enormity to hit For the last dam to break While my grandmother sits and prays In that high backed chair For her children and her grandchildren And these souls in their little dens I am a little lost I am gathering my religion
I am gathering my breaths Shard by shard And the dash they have inscribed on the plaques Means more Than all the names of the very dear to me And all the birthdays I, or anyone else has ever celebrated And all the funerals I have ever sat through With a skirt that hits below the knee In my entire life Twenty seems like a long walk When I finally stand still.
Alexis Castrogiovanni has been a Blueprint contributor since 2011.
Unusual Attitudes ERIN OLDYNSKI
Erin Oh interviews her dad about being a pilot. Dad, why did you start flying? Ralph Fowler was the next-door neighbour to our place. And he had a friend named Lincoln Ray who built his own airplane and flew it. Ralph was quite the engineer, the backyard engineer. He was building for as long as I knew him. Well into his 60s and 70s he was building an airplane. But he never did finish it. He never did get his pilot’s license. But his son Roddy, PhD in English, got the bug and became a pilot. And I sort of got the bug as well. I read in the paper that they were having private pilot lessons at the local airport. How old would you have been at that point? Um, this would have been in the mid-80s. So early 30s.
And what were you doing at that time in your life? Um, unemployed. At this point I would have been living with my brother Steve. In his basement? Yeah. You were unemployed when you were living in his basement? Part of the time, yeah. I was in and out of employment at the steel plant from 1982 to ‘87. Do you remember the first time you flew in a private airplane? Yeah. That would have been at my private pilot’s course. I wouldn’t have known diddly about it. I went on an indoctri-
nation ride: “Come and see what it’s like to fly!” Pay fifty bucks and they take you around, let you hold the controls. I thought that was pretty neat.
Why? I don’t sleep well enough. My brain’s not working a quarter of what it should be.
So while you were unemployed you started your pilot training? Yep.
But was there ever a time, when you were still sleeping well, that you felt that you could do anything? Sure. Sure. I felt I could go to university and become a doctor if I wanted to. When you’re young you come complete with the idea that the world is your oyster. That you can do anything. I think that all flying did was confirm that for me. That, “Hey I have talent here and yes I can do anything that I set my mind to.”
How did you have the money? It’s so expensive. I took a Sault College course for under $100. And then I took ultra-light pilot training, which was fairly cheap at the time, about $40 an hour. My whole rationale – why I thought I could write it off – was that, “Well, my daughter lives 500 miles away and it’s cheaper to fly there in a rented plane than it is to fly there commercially.” Where was I? In New York City at that point? You were in Pittsburgh at that time. Why did you want to learn how to fly? I guess it was because the next-door neighbours just made it seem like such a cool thing. And it was. It was a challenge – I couldn’t believe that it was something that I could really undertake. I thought to myself at one point, “If I can do this, I can do anything. The sky’s the limit! There’s no stopping me from doing anything!” Flying took intellectual ability, it took coordination, you had to be well-rounded. You couldn’t panic at all. You had to keep yourself cool. When you get in dicey situations, you just have to buckle down, do your drills, and come out on the other side. Did you ever have destinations in mind? I mean, where did you think you would fly to? Oh, I would create them. My big goal, eventually, towards the end of my flying was, “Oh, I’ll fly down to Pittsburgh and see Erin.” But in a small plane and with the various air traffic circles en route, it would have been a dicey thing. In order to fly from Sault Ste Marie straight to Pittsburgh, there are international borders you have to cross, clearances, air traffic control centres, and it’s quite an involved thing. So then, in the end, it wasn’t a practical way to get to Pittsburgh. Dad? Hm? Can you do anything now? Pardon? Can you do anything? Can I do anything now? I mean, you said that after you flew an airplane you felt like you can do anything. Do you still believe that? Um. No. No, right now, no.
When I was younger and I used to be on airplanes, I always thought I was in heaven. And it’s much like being in heaven, right? You’re defying all of the earthly, worldly laws of physics. Does it kind of make you feel like you’re God? You are defying some basic laws, yeah. After you get the fear of death out of you, and the fact that you’re going to return and it’s going to be easy to land and you know what to look for to keep yourself out of trouble. Yeah. I even got to the point where I would go looking for trouble so that I could practice getting out of it. Like, I’d go flying with my chum Ernie. I’d say “Ernie, just tell me if I’m getting in trouble here, okay?” And I would practice my drills. About the worse thing that can happen to you is that you’re flying along and weather deteriorates and you find yourself in a cloud. Once you get inside a cloud, it’s something like sixty to ninety seconds that the average pilot will lose his orientation, the plane will start drifting in one way or another. You’ll start going up, you’ll start going down, and if you don’t know how you read your instrument, you’ll end up in a spin. Or stalling the aircraft and then going into a life threatening dive. So I would practice against that by covering my eyes. And the drill for getting out of a cloud is to keep yourself flat and level, and complete a standard call, it’s called, but it’s a very slow turn. Make a 180 degree sweep and go out. Go right back out the way you came. I’d cover my eyes and pay attention just to my instruments. You can’t pay attention to what your head is telling you. Bad things are happening inside your head. My altimeter would tell me exactly at what level I was. My RPM gauge would tell me how hard the engine was working. And I would complete that 180 degree turn. It was like being invincible. It was the challenge. I’ve done it all strictly for the challenge. To challenge myself.
Erin Oldynski was Blueprint’s Community Outreach Director in 2010-11.
Chosen Family CARLY LEWIS
There are ten people at my table on Christmas morning. Two of them bear the chromosomes responsible for my quiddity and the quiddity of my sister, who is also at the table. One of the people at the table is me. The other six are a smattering of idiosyncrasies who possess a coveted, longstanding invitation to the most hallowed of all brunches: that which happens on Christmas Day at my parents’ house. I am not related to them by blood. But they are my family. Across from me is my aunt, who is not really my aunt, but who I’ve called my aunt since I could speak the word. She has
Sometimes, quite frankly, blood is meaningless. Uncles can turn out to be assholes. Parents can fail at parenting. Cousins who were childhood confidantes can grow up and become vapid model-types whose conversational offerings are so insufferable that you finish an entire brunch’s worth of mimosas in one swift gulp and sneak off to the washroom for serenity.
played this part very well for several decades. At the other end of the table is my brother, who is not actually my brother. But if I had a brother, it would be him, because we interact like siblings and spent our adolescences pretending that this is what we are. Beneath the table, with her head on my feet, is my pet dog, who is also a member of my family. Emitting from the record player in the living room is Bob Dylan. He is family too, even though we have never met. (I swore I saw
him once in a bakery in New York City, but it was dark out at the time, and he doesn’t seem the cupcake type. It probably wasn’t him.) I say Bob Dylan is my family because he represents the things I think a family should be. He is timeless and unconditional and available to me quickly whenever I desire him to be. My mom is this way, too. So is my dog. But my dog is not related to me by blood, and neither is Bob Dylan. This doesn’t matter at all, because blood is confined to the veins, had no choice in getting there and thus cannot make a sound decision about whether or not it wants to be our family. And sometimes, quite frankly, blood is meaningless. Uncles can turn out to be assholes. Parents can fail at parenting. Cousins who were childhood confidantes can grow up and become vapid model-types whose conversational offerings are so insufferable that you finish an entire brunch’s worth of mimosas in one swift gulp and sneak off to the washroom for serenity. So we must assemble our chosen families, which is what I have done. Family is more of a feeling than a thing. Family means stability and roots, but these things are not always available. People change. People move. People die. The proper definition of the family — the bloodline, the thing — is not eternal. Family the feeling, however, is everlasting and agreeable and always present, even when family — the people — have changed, have moved, have died. Bob Dylan is my family because he is unrelenting. I have forgiven him for making a nauseating Christmas record and he has forgiven me for snorting cocaine off a Blood on the Tracks album cover. He’ll never trap me in a conversation about jeggings and Miami and how fun it is to do photo shoots for advertisements that go on billboards beside the highway. He’ll never send me into the bathroom with a bottle of prosecco at 11 o’clock in the morning. And if he did, it would be okay, because I selected him for my chosen family for a reason, and I would care enough to work through it. Family means giving a shit. This is the most important thing. Some members of my blood family are also in my chosen family, but only the good ones. My chosen family is comprised of approximately three blood relatives, six old roommates, five dead people, one animal, three old neighbours, a handful of friends, an accountant, some writers, some lawyers, some losers, a vagabond who I last saw in Berlin in 2007, a painter, and of course, Bob Dylan, who is really just a metaphor for someone I love because I choose to. Blood is thicker than water, but that is irrelevant.
Carly Lewis was Blueprint’s Managing Editor in 200910. Her writing has been published in Spin, Bitch, Maisonneuve and the National Post.
Customer Appreciation Day EMILY HOLMES
The light summer air of early June tousled the hair hair of the crowds enjoying customer appreciation day outside of the small business. The store catered to the needs of farmers, selling animal food, grain, seed, and fertilizers. The bright red sign in front was welcoming and friendly, and matched the large grain towers that stood beside the building. It was the summer of 2000, and business was thriving. Customer appreciation day was a hit, as farmers from all over the city brought their families to enjoy fresh food, as well as entertainment provided by two small ponies used for giving rides to children. The daughter of the storeowner roared with laughter as her Dad gave her piggyback rides around the parking lot. Some of her first memories were embedded in that building. She used to run around the storage room and leap from piles stacked with bags of cattle feed. She would chase the stray cats around the building in hopes of catching one, but they were always too quick for her. She would write secret messages and clues for imaginary buried treasure in the dust of the shelves in the back corner, hoping someone would discover them. Even growing up, as she passed the store on the busy highway it was located near, she would beam and say, “My Dad owns that.” The red towers soared high above the skyline like a beacon, and every time she saw them she felt safe. Today she stands in front of the building’s gates, fingering the chain and bolted lock holding the two sides together. The once vibrant red of the store’s sign no longer evokes warmth within her; instead it sends a chill down her spine. It hangs at a defeated angle, like it knew the world had won. Inside the dusty shelves and sacks of feed were gone. The place had
been emptied and stood hollow like a gutted corpse. She imagined her father’s bare office, which once held her poorly drawn childhood pictures and snapshots of their family. Only the darkened squares of wood that once sat behind picture frames and never seen the sunlight would prove that anything had existed there at all. It was all surreal. Everything had happened so fast that she had barely realized the implications of it all. It wasn’t just the family business they had lost; it was like losing a family friend. Guilt ripped at her from inside as she realized she hadn’t even come home to say goodbye. She sat on the ground in front of the gates and stared. She appeared to be waiting for some sign of life, some emergence of activity to shake her out of her dream and bring everything back to the way it was before. She waited until the night grew too cold to bear any longer, took one last look and headed home.
Emily Holmes has been a Blueprint staff writer since 2011.
The Tofurky Manifesto DAVID ALEXANDER
About A Boy is one of my favourite movies. Maybe I’m a sucker for cheesy coming-of-age stories, or romantic comedies, or Hugh Grant. Or maybe there’s something cathartic about the particular journey of its protagonist. Our hero, a hermetically boyish Will Freeman, struggles to overcome 38-years of inheritance-fuelled self-gratification after he is shaken out of his every-man-is-an-island mentality by 12-year-old (vegetarian) social outcast Marcus Brewer. Seeking a father-like figure to support himself and his emotionally unstable mother, Marcus foists himself into Will’s life, setting off a chain-reaction that sparks our hero’s eventual transformation into sensitive, responsible family man – even if the family Will comes to embrace is not of blood relations, but of his own choosing. At the film’s heart are the twin struggles of how we let people into our lives and how we accommodate them once they get there. Will finds that interdependence has its advantages, particularly as his bond with Marcus grows; but his newfound obligations to Marcus are also a source of conflict as he struggles against the limitations they impose on his freedom. I made the decision to become vegan a couple years ago, after four years as a vegetarian who avoided eggs and dairy 95% of the time. Another vegan once chastised me for my almost-veganism; I had stopped buying eggs and dairy at home and at restaurants, but didn’t feel comfortable speaking up at big family dinners to say, “Um, is there milk in this?” So I asked my vegan friend, “Well, how do you deal with the holidays?” “I stopped going.” Near the end of my time at Laurier, a friend persuaded me to accompany her to a viewing of Peaceable Kingdom, a film that chronicles an animal advocacy & rescue organization in upstate New York called Farm Sanctuary. The documentary challenges the dominant narrative about modern animal agriculture, illustrated by happy cartoon pigs and pastoral milk cartons. I was outraged to learn the truth: that family farming is dead and the vast majority of animals raised for food in North America are reared by a mechanized system commonly referred to as factory farming. In factory farms, what’s good for the bottom line goes, meaning that overcrowding, debeaking, tail-docking, and poor veterinary care are the norm for socalled domestic farm animals. Domestic is a strange descriptor for the animals we raise for human food, as there’s nothing particularly domestic about modern animal husbandry. The dominant narrative about domestication suggests that dogs, cats, horses, mules, cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep flocked to us for the mutual benefit of our species thousands of years ago. A long period of
interdependence followed, which directed the evolution not just of the human species, but of these companion species as well. By this logic, these domestic species can be thought of as members of our big, fat evolutionary family. It is therefore troubling if we accept as domestic the mutilation of their bodies, their confinement in stacked wire cages or gestation crates, and the forced separation of piglets, calves, and chicks from their mothers as early as ten days after being born. Experts in animal behaviour and evolutionary biology agree that far from being mindless automatons, these are highly sensitive, social creatures. It surely pains them to be torn away from their loved ones at the industry’s first economically convenient opportunity. The tragedy of a farm animal’s life is not just the suffering and fear caused by animals’ material conditions, although that is terrible; we’ve also taken away their opportunity to experience life. Chickens don’t get to be chickens, pigs don’t get to be pigs, many roosters and bulls don’t get to live at all, and every animal is taken out of circulation as soon as he reaches his optimal weight for consumption or her reproductive system begins to lag. For those unfortunate individuals who happen to be born as males of a dairy or egg-laying breeds, life is even shorter. It’s hard not to sympathize with my friend who stopped going to Thanksgiving. There’s a huge chasm between his family’s belief that eating animals is fine and his belief that it’s a mass injustice that exploits billions of individual animals each year. The cognitive dissonance that accompanies such a rift can be alienating, frustrating, and disconcerting. How can we love people whose beliefs we find so problematic? How can we sit through dinner when the centerpiece of the meal is an example of the very cruelty we vow to end? The time of domestic farm animals is over, and has been for years. Food animals have become post-domestic: exploited and institutionalized for our convenience – because we like animal foods, and we like them cheap. Perhaps, as in Will Freeman’s journey, a chain-reaction is unfolding across humanity. Perhaps we are beginning to move away from pure self-interest to consider our obligations to these once domestic companions. If so, I tend to think we’re better positioned to make our case at the table, mowing down on tofurky, reveling in what we share with our loved ones, rather than in self-imposed exile. As Bon Jovi once said, no man is an island.
David Alexander was Blueprint’s Editor-in-Chief in 2004-5. He is currently Executive Director of the Toronto Vegetarian Association.
Kept Woman [kept] [woo m-uh n] L.M. OLSEN
Sarah sits at the table while her mother’s friend fills her in on the past two years. As the words baby, house and husband float from her mouth and hang in the air around them, Sarah’s index finger and thumb pick at the deep fried appetizer in front of her. Her head is bowed toward the dish, but her eyes are upward, locked on her mother. When Sarah’s mother would, feeling her glare, look over, she would throw her eyes back on her plate and hum, inconspicuously. Her mother’s friend slows her speech; the words merely dribbling. She turns her focus to Sarah’s mother, pulling sto-
ries out of her. Sarah’s mother’s mouth opens and with downward curls, speaks of accomplishments, love, and stability. And Sarah’s eyes widen. She squirms in the cheap vinyl booth and takes a sip of her soda. And she continues picking at the secrets on the plate in front of her, swallowing hard and gulping long.
L.M. Olsen has been a Blueprint contributor since 2011.
Baby Shoes AMANDA COUTURE
Were they hiding this? I saw it. It was inoffensive. It was rational that it stood on its own, as stately and customary as it was: a testament to normalcy. So unsuspicious. You see, in the house of a large family, there are always items that must be understood as, simply, the bi-product of children: untouched candy in a tucked-away place, a wornout doll sitting with hands poised, waiting for tea fashioned out of water and a plastic cup. An army fixture halted midgame, guns at the ready, sits in a dark corner or under furniture, hoping for an eventual end to the war. In this house, during this day alone I have seen one card game left to its own tricks, sprawled across a discoloured carpet; two inflated mattresses, enjoying the sunlight while floating evenly across a pool, slowly deflating through ill-fitted patches in the material; three pictures on faded paper – two, perhaps, vandalized by the creator of the third, as a red dash of marker has been smeared across all the available paper and then abruptly stopped, interrupted in process – and lastly, four pairs of shoes, eight children’s shoes, left and right, thrown everywhere, really, just a mess. But, this was placed in the basement of the house, in the cold storage room, behind a blue tote, behind a box labeled “Baby Shoes”, smothered under a pink sleeping bag. Sleeping, this majestic item stood. I think children are capable of great things. Mainly, great destruction. I estimate their capability for such planned oblivion is lacking. No, it was parents – that selective breed – who placed this object here. Or perhaps hid it. I cannot be sure from the evidence provided. But I do know that in busy houses like this, there can exist such silent markers. I remember many years ago that I watched, as a neighbour who babysits always watches, the father of this house step into his backyard. In his rage and pain, he swept across the overgrown grass, gingerly lifted the baby swing on its untouched chains, and – in a moment of depth that cannot be understood by a stranger – ripped the seat from its place and carried it inside, cradling it in his arms. And now I face the past again. This dark and undisturbed place behind the tote and box, behind the sleeping bag, behind the school lunches and sports matches and schoolyard squabbles and all that is and is to come – the baby swing is seated in its sacred secret. I gently cover the symbol of a parent’s heart – more cherished than an unmarked grave, or a nameless jar of ashes – with the pink sleeping bag. I let it sleep again.
Amanda Couture is a first-time Blueprint contributor.
‘Make It Look Trippy’ EMILY SLOFSTRA
The most important thing I learned at Blueprint was how to make every cover look “trippy.” Following my year as Managing Editor, I followed my passion for spelling and grammar to the Cord for two more years before I graduated. Once I started working on my Masters at UW, I realized that I missed the media world, and promptly became Web Intern at Alternatives Journal. I really hope I can continue either working on publications as a pastime, or perhaps one day actually take it seriously enough to consider a career (‘cause Lord knows the environmental field ain’t gonna pay my mortgage). Every time I see the call-out for Blueprint I exercise my creativity, jot some notes on paper, then get writers block. This issue I have a lot on my mind regarding family, as I start my own at my Kitchener homestead, and connect with my extended family more than ever before. But, as you can see from this miniscule write-up: I would rather be making babies than writing about them.
Emily Slofstra was Blueprint’s Managing Editor in 2008-9.
Eclectic Daughter FIORELLA MORZI
I was born and raised in Canada, which makes me Canadian. However, I grew up in a household with Peruvian, Spanish-speaking parents, making me bilingual at a young age. I cannot express to you how thankful I am about this fact. Speaking two languages makes me feel like I am part of two distinct worlds. Attached to my Spanish-speaking parents are their lives before they came to Canada, lives lived lustfully back in Peru, standing on the beach, soaking in the Sun and drinking Chicha. It is because of them that I have been exposed to more than one language, and subsequently more than one culture. The Peruvian culture is much like what youâ€™d expect it to be: loud, passionately hungry, and dance-crazy. It is obnoxious (in the good way) and affectionate. Peruvians greet others with a kiss. This aspect of the culture frightened my Cana-
dian friends at first, not quite understanding why my aunt and uncle, upon seeing them, kissed them frantically on both cheeks. It is my experience that Canadians are more reserved than Spanish-speaking folk. With my right foot in one culture and the left foot in another, life is split right down the middle. We all know each culture is different; combining two is like gaining two separate perspectives on how to live life. My bilingual family offers me multiple viewpoints on the issues of culture, heritage and blood relations. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parentâ€™s influence on me culturally and linguistically. I am their eclectic daughter, who is happy to be divided.
Fiorella Morzi is a first-time Blueprint contributor.
On Dickens and Depression DEVON BUTLER
I am related to Anne Boleyn and therefore, Queen Elizabeth I. I am related to mayors of London, and members of Marie Antoinette’s court. I am related to lawyers, soldiers and aristocratic ladies. I am related to thieves, criminals, and men who beat their wives. I am royalty and I am rubbish. Some time ago, I trudged around London, trying to find the church my great-grandparents attended, and were married in. Imagine my surprise when it stood rough and dirty in Southwark. Imagine my surprise when I learnt it was the same church which preached to Charles Dickens. It was the same location that housed Dickens’s father, when he served in debtor’s prison. Imagine a life of dirty windows and yellow fog that engulfs your senses. A life of restrictions and rigid conventions. A life of hardships, where everybody knows their place. But Dickens knew better. He never went to prison; he wrote. He wrote legacies passed down with the promise of being a selfmade man, of escaping his prison. I am grateful to Dickens and grateful to my great-grandfather who sustained himself by slaving at a luxury hotel, so that one day I could return to have afternoon tea in a fancy dress. But how self-made can I be when the blood in my body and the thoughts in my head are pre-determined, pre-conditioned and running through another? When the state of my mental condition is subject to the anxiety and depression that runs through the veins of my ancestry. Hospitalization for their inevitable nervous breakdown is the cold memory I’ve been left with to remember my predecessors, and to reflect upon when I fall subject to the same fate. It wouldn’t matter if my relatives were crowned monarchs or drug-dealing crooks, they would still encompass the blood that builds a legacy, and forms my sense of self-awareness. I am aware that there is purity in my intentions and I am aware I possess traces of evil. Evil that was trapped in somebody years ago that never fought its way out. It latched onto the next of kin to continue its reign after being forced off a bridge and drowned. So it wreaks its havoc down the line until somebody stands up to it; to claim their life as their own. I will be the end of the line. My blood will soak into the ground with me, and only with me. I will not let it carry on and infect the pure intentions of another. I will engraft a legacy taught by Charles Dickens, to live eternal in a form that cannot be corrupted by the misguidance of a conscious that’s been reincarnated too many times. I am royalty and I am rubbish and I’ve lost the ability to relate
Devon Butler is Blueprint’s current Contributing Editor.
Family Foibles KILEY BELL
I knew by the age of 13 that I was going to adopt my first child. I was convinced that I would never find a boy to fall in love with, let alone want to reproduce with. Barely one year into high school I already knew my future would be atypical. I’ve always preferred the idea of being someone’s mother rather than someone’s wife. I never really saw myself, ladle in hand, child on one hip, waiting for my husband to come home at the end of the day. I never fantasized about the moment I’d kiss his cheek and we’d both laugh as he raised his hand to wipe lipstick marks from his face. The idea of being a housewife was something I loathed. The thought made me cringe. It made my ovaries hurt. I began to feel that perhaps I was programmed differently from the other girls in my high school. I found myself tuning out of conversations when the topics were always the same: who accidentally skipped their birth control, who was dating a new guy, who blew who upstairs at some party last weekend. I had no problem feigning interest in these conversations, but the idea that I would have to actively participate and lend my own tale of sexual bravado was almost unbearable. I had nothing to add, no experience to relate. For the longest time I couldn’t decide who was worse, these silly girls, or me. Somewhere along the line my thoughts turned to having a family; a real type of family with sticky children that had goofy smiles, a beautiful house where the neighbours didn’t bore me, and maybe even a dog or two. This was the vision that kept me smiling and nodding while listening to these ridiculous conversations about why it wasn’t my friend’s fault she had cheated on her boyfriend. I had pictured my future life so vividly for years, but it wasn’t until last year that I realized not once has my vision ever included a husband. For whatever reason, my brain hadn’t believed the idea that there truly could be a man out there for me. The cynical, bitter side of my brain refused to even suggest that as an option. When I brought this up to one of my closest friends she simply told me that she wasn’t surprised the picture of my future doesn’t involve a husband. She casually said that as long as she had known me I had never even considered a husband to be a viable part of the family I wanted. Admittedly, the idea of filling out paperwork for an adoption, or flicking through different sperm bank submissions makes me extremely nervous. Knowing I’d be doing this all on my own makes the burden that much heavier. However, this is the vision I chose. I don’t want to wait on some fictional man to sweep me off my feet and give me a baby.
Kiely Bell is a first-time Blueprint contributor. DEVON BUTLER
Thank You Blueprint would like to extend its utmost thanks to the Office of the Vice-President: Finance & University Administration and Heather Jane Parkes & Wayne Parkes, whose generous donations helped to fund the publication of this issue.
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The Great Divide A.G.D.
Stuck in traffic, nine exits away from where I was going, was the last place I wanted to be. Edged in first by the buildings lining the highway, then by the highway itself, then by the sea of other cars, then by my own car, and finally by the seatbelt rubbing against my neck. The air conditioner in the car was useless, as my front was cool but my back was drenched in sweat. I hadn’t been using the air conditioning in my car that whole summer. I had been travelling and working in the backcountry of British Columbia, where the roads were seldom crowded and never slow outside of the cities. Then it was back to the road and an ever-changing collage of farms, forest, cottage-like houses and mountains. The windows were always open, the air was usually cool, and the conversation with friends and other travelers was enough to distract you from any momentary blemishes in the otherwise nice weather. Then I had to come back and from my perch in the mountains. I descended down through the Great Plains with their mammoth sunsets, on through the muskeg, and then to the stretch of the Trans-Canada highway that plays peek-a-boo with Lake Superior. Down, down, down, and now I was sitting here. My grandfather had died, and I was now on the way to his funeral. I knew very little about him. I knew he was born in England, and was a pilot in the war, that worked as an engineer at a number of heavy machine factories in Canada. He was on the advisory board for something, and when I was a child, he beat me mercilessly at chess and checkers. Attending the funeral would by my uncles and aunts, who rarely spoke, let alone visited one another. I had stayed with them in my travels and listened to their stories, about why they didn’t call and the grudges that kept them apart. My aunt kept me up with a wine-soaked rant about what a jerk my father was, as he never supported her decision to marry her second husband from whom she had recently divorced. “He
couldn’t say one thing nice, not one thing!” I smiled and nodded along. All of this added up to a room of about fifty people who shared only blood and a habit for criticism. It wouldn’t take long, I guessed, for someone to bring up some sore subject; voices would be raised, lines would be drawn, and people would storm out and wait in the hall for consolation and talking to anyone who happened to pass by on the way to the bathroom. And because of the same sense of duty that made me come home for Christmas and be compared to my more successful cousins and siblings, I was now subjecting myself to this traffic, this place, and the hornet’s nest of negative melodrama that I was about to walk into. I was almost there. Two more exits, and the traffic was clearing up. We were moving now and, for better or worse, I was almost at what would most likely be a catastrophe of a funeral. I arrived late, but no one noticed. I sat beside my father, who sat beside my aunt. I had never seen my father cry, but he came close as they lowered his father into the ground. The attendees of the reception everyone drank tea and coffee, and swapped pictures and stories. Through it all, my grandmother smiled and thanked everyone for his or her condolences. I stayed until everyone had left, and went back to my grandmother’s house with my father and a few others. We talked lightly and before I left we went to my grandfather’s closet to divide up his things. My father took a pair of gold cufflinks. I took some shirts and a pair of moccasins. There wasn’t much to take: at the end of his 85 years my grandfather only had twelve shirts, eight ties, seven pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes, and two suits: one black one blue. I said my goodbyes and drove back to my hotel room in the dark. It was quiet.
A.G.D. is a first-time Blueprint contributor.
Volume 11, Issue 6 February 2012