VOLUME 10 ISSUE 4 NOVEMBER 2010
Adventures in Night Shift
A Server’s Hands
Knowledge Is Your Wallet
Feed the Priests
You’re A Slave To Money, Then You Die
Give and Take
The Art of Happiness
EDITORIALS The Cost of Dissent
The Cost of Money
A Conversation With Pablo Neruda
The Whore’s Breakfast
SARAH COLLEEN DILLON
NUNO TEIXEIRA EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Morgan Alan email@example.com
THE MONEY ISSUE
Production Manager Lakyn Barton firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography & Art Manager Emily Kennedy email@example.com
Editor at Large Devon Butler firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotional Director Sarah Georges email@example.com
Community Outreach Director Erin Oldynski firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising Director Jonathan Antfleck email@example.com
Brantford Outreach Director Vacant Application at wlusp.com/volunteer
Interns Brieanne Berry, Jim Cavill, Lydia Ogwang
CONTRIBUTORS Ellie Anglin, Emily Bednarz, Sarah Colleen Dillon, Veronica Fredericks, Richard Garvey, Kevin Hatch, Emmanuel Xerx Javier, Carly Lewis, Sarah MacDonald, Laura McDonald, Lost Nowhere, Maeve Strathy, Nuno Teixeira, Kat Watters
ADMINISTRATION President Bryn Ossington General Manager Angela Foster Production/Advertising Angela Taylor Chair of the Board Jordan Hyde Vice Chair Erin Epp Treasurer Tarun Gambhir Director David Goldberg Corporate Secretary Vacant Distribution Manager Kari Singer
By large or small effect, every aspect of human and social interaction is affected by money. From the pursuit of a higher education to satisfying daily subsistence needs, and yes, even the production of an issue of Blueprint, money plays an important role. Its influence seems inescapable. In seeking submissions for this issue, common tropes arose that one would expect from a largely student readership - worries over money’s absence, difficulties that come from attempts to procure it, dreams of a life where it was plentiful or had no effect. It would be incorrect to suppose that that a ‘starving student’ mindset alone provides the impetus for these concerns. Money is pervasive regardless of its accessibility to any single person; the power it wields is alone cause for insecurity. It is tempting to imagine a utopian world where money holds no effect, where true equity exists without financial bias. Though this world seems unlikely, especially in a capitalist system, a society forged on this ideal is a certain possibility even without large systemic change; the processes of creating community, art and learning can easily occur within this framework. A seminal music quartet once asked us to imagine all the things we could do if we had a little money in this rich man’s world. I would ask, in a world is defined by money, what can come from a life without?
Morgan Alan Editor-in-Chief
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COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community.
COVER Art by ANDREA MANICA
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. Content appearing in Blueprint bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. Blueprint reserves the right to re-publish submissions in print or online. Opinions in Blueprint are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Blueprint’s management, Blueprint, WLUSP, WLU or CanWeb Printing Inc. The circulation for a normal issue of Blueprint is 3000. Subscription rates are $20.00 per year for addresses in Canada. Distribution of Blueprint is provided in part by Dino Deliveries.
NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Fetish” On stands January 12th Submissions due January 7th
It is silly how we must give a little piece of paper to someone in exchange for anything. As young people we are constantly having to choose what is the best thing for us - what do we want to acquire? It all is fun if you have enough...you can splurge on a pet or a plant. How unfortunate, though, when your pockets are empty.
Adventures in Night Shift CARLY LEWIS
eing a creature of the night is a peculiar thing. One must be resilient and resistant in overcoming the body’s relentless and necessary desire to sleep, and one must be fearless, alone in the dark. This is the sinister time, the witching hour. To survive nocturnally requires vigilance. Night belongs to the strange, and if you consider yourself normal, you need to adapt or you won’t make it through. People’s most shining acts of strangeness are reserved for the midnight to 5 a.m. slot. I know this because for the last year of my undergraduate degree, I stayed awake while the rest of the people in my time zone slept. I worked the front desk at a hotel and agreed to become the unofficial night shift girl. As someone who despises the concept of alarm clocks and rarely eats breakfast without a predeceasing hangover, it didn’t sound too bad. Every guest at the hotel being asleep meant solitude and quiet for me, and an extra fifty cents per hour on my pay cheque; as if being able to escape the general public weren’t bonus enough. And so I clocked in at 9 p.m. and out at 5 a.m. Staying up all night isn’t exactly ideal, but it was the only way I could keep a job whilst simultaneously being a student, a writer, and an intern. More often than not, my nights would be spent doing homework or reading, interrupted only to deliver the occasional towel or corkscrew to a guest. But this job was not without adventure. Like I said, weird things happen at night. But weird experiences translate into sources of wisdom. Here are five of them: If you let people sneak into the pool after it closes at 11 p.m., they will have sex in it. I’ve got empathy for nomads. For a long time, I felt like one, so when two travelers from Germany stumbled up to the front desk after hitchhiking from Montreal and seemed disappointed that the pool had been closed for hours, I understood their dismay and let them swim. The lighting system in the pool area would automatically turn the lights off fifteen minutes after the pool was closed and locked for the night, so I told them that as long as they were okay with swimming in the dark and didn’t leave their towels behind, they could go in. I probably should have taken note of the up-to-no-good glances they exchanged when I told them the lights were out, because not ten minutes later did I see them fully immersed
in the throes of passion on the security monitor. Nighttime is for having sex. Sometimes in public. The one time you decide to take a nap in your boss’ office will be the one and only time a delinquent teenager pulls the fire alarm and the hotel has to be evacuated. It’s the classic ‘security guard sleeping with his feet on the switchboard’ scenario: it’s been a long day. You put your feet up on the desk. You haven’t seen another human being in hours and you know with absolute certainty that your boss is fast asleep in his very warm, very comfortable bed an hour away. In my case, I hadn’t slept in two days because I was a writer/student/editor in addition to being a front desk warrior, and I feared insanity was one sunrise away. I swore I’d never do it; napping at work was so Homer Simpson, and I was more of the Daria type who preferred to endure the agony and be cynical about it later. There had been no one in the lobby for hours, but sure enough, I awoke to the shrieking shrill of the fire alarm blaring not only in the lobby, but also in every single one of the hotel’s two hundred suites. By the time I got lucid and remembered where I was, guests had begun exiting in fear of a late night blaze and the fire department was on its way. As it turns out, the perpetrator, aged 16, was in town for his brother’s hockey tournament, had looked around the corner when he couldn’t find anyone at the front desk for vending machine change, and pulled the alarm to entertain himself. While the fire department disabled the alarm that sent me, this hellion and every other guest in the hotel out into the parking lot to wait in the cold night, we locked eyes and made a pact. If he kept quiet about my nap, I’d skip telling the fire department that there was a surveillance camera directly above every fire alarm. If a guest locks their new husband out of his hotel room, it is the front desk girl who has to deal with it. (And it’s weirder if they’re wearing a lion costume.) I’ve seen a lot of weddings. I come from a big Italian family, so someone is always getting engaged and the majority of my friends apparently took an oath that mandated them to get married before they turned 25. I like weddings, I really do. I like seeing little kids in tuxedos because I think they’re
The Five Experiences EMILY KENNEDY
really cute. Bad speeches are funny. Intoxicated grandparents: even funnier. Of all the newlyweds I watched parade through the hotel, though, there is one couple forever etched into my mind: the ones who got married on Halloween, in head to toe zoo animal costumes. Lions, to be precise. The bridesmaids: giraffes. The groomsmen: gorillas. The flower girl was dressed up as a zebra and earlier that day I spotted a four-year-old boy dressed as a frog who I now suspect was also part of these nuptials. Perhaps it was the lack of oxygen inside the lion masks or the inevitable itch that comes with a rented mane headpiece, but the newlywed lions came roaring, literally, through the lobby in a screaming match that rivaled any actual survivalin-the-jungle footage The Discovery Channel has ever seen. The wife - the lioness - accused the lion of hitting on one of the giraffes, and the animal kingdom was subsequently up in arms. The lion was locked out of his room without his wallet, keys or dignity, left to make small talk with the front desk girl (me) until the lioness let him back in. Have you ever had a guy in a lion costume ask you what the weather’s supposed to be like the next day when it’s 3 a.m. and his new wife just locked him out of their honeymoon suite? It’s a new level of awkward. Sometimes you have to save your sanity by swapping the smooth jazz in the lobby for the mix tape you brought from home, but as soon as that Moldy Peaches song comes on, a convention of Catholic priests will arrive. Upon occasion, situations will arise in which you find yourself stranded in a city you’ve never been to before. Maybe your car broke down, maybe you got lost. It happens, setbacks are a fact of life. As the night shift girl, you come to expect these kinds of surprises, few and far between as they may be. The hours between 2 and 4 a.m. are usually extra desolate though, especially on weeknights. This is the best time to avoid a systematic meltdown and put your own tape into the tape player that controls the music that plays throughout the hotel. Having lost my mix tape making rhythm in exchange for getting really good at my iPod, I forgot to pause the CD I was taping off of when I made that week’s batch of sanity tapes,
resulting in a particularly vulgar song by The Moldy Peaches accidentally ending up on the mix. Never before had my desperation jams been discovered, and I thought I was safe in my assumption that no one ever shows up to the front desk during the hours that I put my own music on anyway. Oh, how wrong I was. Before I could scurry to the back room and rip the tape from the tape player/pray for my soul, the hotel doors flung open and ten priests in full Chastibule were cringing over the foul sexual euphemisms that were blaring through the speakers. They had gotten lost on their way home from a mass in a nearby town that they were visiting and reluctantly checked in despite being subjected to my sinful taste in music. Previous to this, I thought catching two people having sex in the pool would be the most embarrassing thing that would ever happen to me at work. I was mistaken. If you’re nice to the pizza delivery guy, he’ll bring you coffee and cigarettes in the middle of the night. Much like a prisoner in a jail, a front desk agent who works the night shift is stuck in one place for the whole night, unable to communicate with the outside world and spends their time fantasizing about the hedonistic pleasures that will become available to them once they escape - or, once their shift ends. The only connection to the world outside the front desk comes from those who can freely move about it: paying guests and food delivery people. It would be inappropriate to request that a guest swing by a convenience store to procure cigarettes for you, so the pizza guy will become your best friend based on one simple flow of logic. Inevitably, guests will get drunk. Drunk people like pizza, and because they don’t know the area, will ask for the phone numbers of late night pizza delivery places. All you need to do is give out the same phone number twice and voila - it’s like your own personal cigarettes and coffee delivery service. The first time you see your pizza delivery guy compadre, you give him your order. When he returns with pizza for guest number two, you can receive said contraband. Everyone wins, and you’ll really appreciate those cigarettes should you find yourself talking to a guy in a lion costume.
Knowledge is Your Wallet SARAH MACDONALD
My OSAP bill came in the mail yesterday. Inside a thick brown envelope with even thicker paper were details of how much I spent on broadening my mind and thinking critically. It was all in a language I did not know; ‘capitalized interest’ and ‘amortization period’ were cavalierly used as freely and openly as any of the terms I read in my textbooks. Though the utility of a degree in English and History over the practicality of a Business Administration or Economics degree is debatable – with Arts always winning in the end, for me anyway – this language of money, loans and repayment were not naturally in my vernacular. The tone of the letter, the repayment instructions and the fine print on the back of both were borderline hostile; like I had enjoyed this almost-free ride of freethinking and now I had to pay. It was time to capitalize and collect on my knowledge. Knowledge is a tricky commodity. It’s the kind of asset that one doesn’t normally think can be capitalized on, but is the one thing people can monetarily profit from most. When you think about thinking, money is always the issue. I walked through hallways on campus, going from building to building, room to room, and class to classes, where I freely paid to be taught a certain way at a certain institution. Money doesn’t necessarily dictate the way the institution administers knowledge, but it is hard to see it as anything but an object to be purchased, loaned and repackaged for someone else to collect on. There is a domino effect which ripples through every level and hierarchy of our constructed existence that is dependent on the relationship between the money we use (or lack) to gain knowledge. The ebb and flow of capital, supply, and demand facilitate how thinking critically becomes the theory behind paying back the very theory that got you there in the first place. You pay a little, or a lot, to attend a school, obtain a degree or diploma of some sort, pay back loans, and most importantly, use the knowledge you paid for to become a functioning member of society to bring in more money for someone or something else. But we still continue to purchase knowledge, and knowledge is still one of the most important commodities we can ever have. Because of its intangibility, it is elevated far higher than many other things of value in our lives. It is what makes us powerful, but to obtain that power, one must purchase it and ultimately cater it to the power of the dollar. The giant bill accumulating each year as I re-applied for my loan was always in the back of my mind. It was so far back past all the other stuff that I barely remembered what I had to do each year to make sure my form was correct and honest. It was never truly that important to me. It wasn’t something that I needed to remember on a day-to-day basis, like how to identify a metaphor properly or fix my syntax or remember
a certain historical event. That was knowledge that I needed and wanted to know. The ability to harness and utilize my knowledge became a very important tool for me. Desperately trying to figure out the self/other relationship in texts became useful theory to apply in my everyday life, but I paid for it. I bought my books and paid tuition, and was able to learn. I could have walked into a bookstore, pick up a book and absorb it wholly, wishing I could learn its content through osmosis, and learn all of these things a different way. In the end, no matter which way you figure it, I would pay for my knowledge. Knowledge is a tricky commodity. It’s a product masked as something different. Those pretentious quotations from dead white guys and used out of context that say knowledge is power, and without it you aren’t much of anything is the trickiest way possible to camouflage the purchasing power of the theory. But is it so bad? The dreams of socialist or communist societies and peoples are long gone, and it’s fair for one somewhat idealistic quasi-socialist like me to admit that
“The ebb and flow of capital, supply, and demand facilitate how thinking critically becomes the theory behind paying back the very theory that got you there in the first place.” we are the very personification of capitalism. We are no longer governed by our so-called democratic governments, but are part of the corporate wheel that holds power, money and knowledge. It is a rather pessimistic view, I agree, but where is the revolution to disrupt it? Is purchasing a book a better option than purchasing your education, only then have to pay it back with your gratitude for obtaining that knowledge? I pose this question: how else can we become critical thinkers without spending a little bit of cash? In an effort to not totally destroy my lofty ideals of socialist grandeur, I am hopeful that the power relationship between knowledge and money will be altered in some way; that my wallet, my cash, is meant for something bigger.
The Whore’s Breakfast MAEVE STRATHY
She was enjoying the whore’s breakfast: coffee and cigarettes. She had considered stealing a piece of bread from her roommate, but she wasn’t even that hungry. She was at peace just sitting there on the balcony, smoking and drinking coffee. It was at that moment that she saw a beige-coloured, massive, and terrifying SUV pulling into the building’s parking lot. Terrifying, because it belonged to her landlord. She dove off the balcony into her apartment, dropping her cigarette and leaving a black burn on the carpet. She crouched under the window and slowly moved upwards to peek out. The car door slammed and her landlord moved from the parking lot to the door to the apartment building. He entered. She stood up and began to pace her living room. Maybe he’s here for a maintenance issue. Maybe it wasn’t him at all. She felt her heart beat fast and pains in her chest. The anxiety crippled her knees, making them feel so weak that she could barely pace anymore. Knock. Knock. Knock. Maybe he hadn’t seen her. Leaping off the balcony wasn’t exactly inconspicuous, but maybe he hadn’t noticed. In the case that he hadn’t, she didn’t have to answer the door. If he had, she’d be a fool not to. She couldn’t know whether he’d seen her or not. She had no choice. Knock. Knock. Knock. She approached the door on wobbly legs and opened it. “Oh hi Craig,” she said, staring up at his inexpressive face. “Your rent didn’t go through again,” he replied gruffly. “Which, this month’s?” she asked, playing dumb. “Yeah.” “Oh, well, that’s weird, because I thought I had the money,” she paused, contorting her face to look as though she had no idea how this could’ve happened. “Well, I guess I’ll have to call my parents. Maybe they didn’t transfer the money on time? I’m not totally sure. Can I call you after I get in touch with them?” “Alright.” She feels the anxiety subside as he turns on his heel to walk down the hall. She still had to figure out how to get her hands on $500, but for now, she might as well get back to drinking coffee and smoking on the balcony. It was, after all, where she does her best thinking.
The Breakfast LAKYN BARTON
The Cost of Dissent LAURA MCDONALD
Light EMILY KENNEDY
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the cost of the G8 and G20 meetings held in Huntsville and Toronto this past June. Over a billion dollars, most of it on security, and we’re still finding out about more expenses. I’m writing to talk about the costs you probably haven’t heard about. Over 1000 people were arrested – another number you’ve all heard, I’m sure – hundreds were charged, and over 100 are still facing charges. This costs money. What does that $1.1 billion climb to when you add in the costs of all the legal proceedings? Twenty of those arrested before, during, and since that weekend are facing serious conspiracy charges, after community organizing groups were infiltrated by undercover cops for over a year. Is the likely enormous expense of that “investigation” included in the $1.1 billion? How much are you, as a taxpayer, shelling out for the G8/G20 meetings, and for the subsequent prosecution of dedicated community organizers? We are all paying for this. Some of us are paying considerably more; like me. My partner, a recent Laurier graduate, is an alleged “conspirator”. He’s not some ‘hoodlum’ from Toronto that you have no connection to. These people aren’t just numbers, and they’re not crazy radicals who ‘knew what they were getting in to’ and were prepared for this – they’re people you know, people you went to school with. The people on the streets of Toronto were your friends, your classmates, your TAs, your professors. And now they need your support, because getting charged with conspiracy (or “mischief ”, or any of the other things people have been charged
with) costs a lot of money. Many people already have legal bills in the thousands – even tens of thousands – of dollars. And we’re just getting started. People are facing years of being tied up in this, and whether you agree with the protests and protestors or not, they deserve a fair chance at defending themselves, and reasonable bail conditions. Everyone in Canada is supposed to have the right to a fair trial. But a fair trial is pretty hard to come by when you don’t qualify for legal aid because you had $2000 saved up for school, or legal aid doesn’t cover all the meetings you need to go to in order to coordinate an adequate defence, or you can’t afford to appeal the bail conditions that prevent you from leaving your house to go to work. It’s easy to see why people might plead guilty, even when they’re not, rather than go to trial, simply because they cannot afford to keep paying their lawyer, or have things drag out and interfere with their lives for so much longer. And when activists have to plead guilty for organizing protests, a very dangerous precedent is set. And if this relatively privileged group, largely consisting of university students, can’t afford to defend themselves, what does that mean for the less privileged communities that face targeting and legal oppression on a regular basis? There are people currently still in jail for G20-related charges who haven’t been released on bail because they don’t have families able to put up tens of thousands of dollars to get them out. Then there are the even more hidden costs to defendants and the people around them. Almost all of the “conspiracy” de-
fendants are under strict house arrest, most of them with their parents, often living hours away from their lawyers and the courthouses in Toronto. Many are not allowed to go to work, or to live in the city in which they’re supposed to be attending university. So they’re facing a loss of income and quickly accumulating travel costs to get to school, to meet with their lawyers, or
“When activists have to plead guilty for organizing protests, a very dangerous precedent is set.” to attend their court dates – plus their parents and sureties are taking time off work to escort them everywhere. Many of them are probably still paying bills for cell phones and cars they’re not allowed to use. Some had to default on housing leases, paying rent after moving in with their sureties. I was supposed to move in with my partner this fall. But instead of saving money by having shared living expenses, I now have the added cost of travelling 150km each way every week or two to visit him, either in a rental car or via a se-
ries of buses. I’m piecing together a variety of freelance work because a full-time job, or one with scheduled shifts, would mean less time spent with him, and that’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice, especially considering I’m the only person able to visit him regularly. It’s bad enough that, at 22 years old, he can’t leave the house without his parents; I can’t leave him sitting around with just his parents to hang out with the entire time, too. It seems to me that most people think that the G20 came and went; that it’s all over now. But it’s not. Not for the defendants, their families, their friends. Not for me. And not for you – you’re still paying for it. And you’ll be paying for it even more when the outcome of the meetings – the so-called “austerity measures” are put in place. And these are just the financial costs – even worse, in a way, are the emotional costs of being isolated or people not being able to talk to their best friends, and the cost to society of this criminalization of dissent. So what do I want you to do about it, other than listen to me complain? You can donate money, if you’re able, to the legal fund. You can come out to fundraising events. You can get angry. You can research the events that led to this in the first place – and I mean actually research, not in the mainstream media. You can write to defendants. You can visit defendants. You can read up on the issues people were protesting about – KW Community Support is running a ‘G20 Reading Week’ in November to help you do just that. If you want to do any of these things, please visit kwcs.2010resistance.ca or g20readingweek.2010resistance.ca to find out how.
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A Precious Moment EMILY KENNEDY
Precious Moments ELLIE ANGLIN
Miss Hilda Grimbley entered her commode at 9 oâ€™clock on a serene Saturday morning in the early part of the twenty-first century and sat down on her toilet as if it really were, as the colloquialism goes, a throne. She was not a handsome woman, but she prided herself on being a lady; and that appellation, with its accompanying net of connotations, guided her every movement. And so, her knees modestly pressed together, her skirt covering much of her lap and her cotton drawers pooled on the powder pink linoleum around her sturdy but comely ankle boots, Hilda was at ease regarding the worn but still-pretty hand towels on which she had embroidered delicate seahorses with gold embroidery floss. Conâ€™t on page 12
She was at ease, that is, until she broke wind, A mouse-like “oops!” escaped her lips as she clenched the gabardine of her skirt in her mortified fists, followed by an “excuse me!” She was, of course, addressing no one. Naturally, there was no other soul but her own in the lavatory. Hilda Grimbley lived, in fact, entirely alone. She had done so since she graduated from Smiles for Christ Bible College, moved out of her parent’s bungalow and into the conveniently located apartment above Celebration, a religious gift shop where she had since been employed. Nevertheless, she had been bred by a woman of the 1950s through and through, and the “excuse me!” rose in her throat more instinctively than her completely unresponsive knee-jerk reflex – a condition that doctors had recorded as “inexplicable”. Hilda had almost entirely subjugated or made acceptable her every bodily function, so this lapse of control disturbed her deeply. She was incidentally, menstruating on this day, a burden that she sought to mask with the old-fashioned menstrual belts she had to special-order that came in pretty packaging and had a powdery-fresh scent. She had never before experienced what she had heard some immodest women speak of as “P.M.S.”, but perhaps this slip of propriety had been a result of that disorder. When others chose to speak to Hilda about crude subjects such as these she would deflect their attempts by baring her long teeth in an approximation of a smile, batting her thin, light brown eye-lashes, and sort of jiggling her weird hair-do. Hilda sat, recovering her composure, and trying to convince herself that there was no possibility that her neighbours down the hall, nor a passer-by in the street below could have heard her, when a brassy jangling clamour ripped through the small room. It rang in her ears, it echoed boisterously off of the blush-pink walls, and her thoughts were drowned in a metallic din. This noise, much like that of a slot machine spewing its significant spoil into its tin receptacle after hitting the jackpot, but without the blinking lights and circus music, was being emitted, to Hilda’s abject horror, from below her. In a primordial, fight-or-flight panic, Hilda spread her legs and looked down. She would have immediately stood and ran from her home at the shock of what she now saw, if she weren’t presently spewing a massive quantity of metal pieces from her vagina. “Clangalangachinkchinkitychinkityclangjanglyclangachinka! Etc!” screeched through the small room as the metal hit the clean porcelain bowl, continuing their flow for what seemed like half an hour, as Hilda sat paralysed with fear and disbelief. Amazingly, her distress did not encompass physical discomfort – the coins slipped out of her birth canal painlessly. In this shocking state, Hilda’s flabby neck, no longer able to support its charge, folded her small head towards her chest. From this viewpoint, her watery eyes peered downward, and she spied something shiny laying on the bed of her feminine napkin. Focusing her eyes, she perceived what glinted there to be two coins: one Canadian dollar and two-dollar coin each, newly minted and slick with her own fluids. As she attempted to comprehend the meaning behind this
sight, the gushing stream slowly jangled to a stop. Gathering her considerable resources, she carefully wiped her feminine area clean. Then, touching her vulva directly for the first time in a very, very, long time, and finding it unchanged by its supernatural expulsion, Hilda stood, raised her underpants and left the room; notably forgetting to wash her hands. In a daze, she lumbered towards her bedroom and sat on the nearest edge of her bedspread. She stared at the bedroom wall, with her time-worn, beige-flowered wallpaper, taking nothing in. She was not yet processing what had happened to her on the toilet. Hilda was rather accustomed to strange, inexplicable things happening to her body. The day that she was visited by her first menstrual period her mother told her that she had probably just eaten too many beets – still her favourite root vegetable. Hilda had done just enough research on her own to discover the unusual mail-order company that still produced her old-fashioned sanitary napkins and that was all she had needed to know. She had never told her mother or father that although the hair on her head was thin and brown, her pubic hair had grown thick and golden – not blonde – but as golden as if Rumpelstiltskin had spun it. Her family did not welcome the sharing of personal feelings, private matters or aesthetic pleasures. Much of their contact consisted of sitting silently around the dinner table after a needlessly strenuous workday, as if the toil of their ancestors was genetically demanded of them, even as those around them accomplished as much playing solitaire or text messaging their girlfriends behind their desks. The sounds of the Grimbley bones creaking into a state of rest and the Grimbley teeth mashing food made conversation unnecessary to fill the silence. Much of Mr and Mrs Grimbley’s sparing conversation revolved around how decadently nonsensical the “kids” of today were, often while reading an account of a protest in the local paper, or seeing a segment on the evening news about an art exhibit. Little Hilda did not want to be a fool in her parents eyes, and so she had omitted to tell them that she had seen a unicorn behind a clump of yew trees while plucking potato bugs off of her mother’s cabbage plant. Also left unspoken was the shuddering orgasm – her first and last – that she had experienced that night when she was barely a teenager, thinking of her impossible vision. She did, however, draw up the courage to ask her mother to buy her a “Precious Moments” figurine for her bedroom. It was an adorable ceramic unicorn statuette that had like all “Precious Moments” figures, oversized, sad eyes that suggested both innocence and shame. She had seen it in a Christmas catalogue and had felt a desire for it so powerful that she truly feared for her life if she couldn’t have it. Her mother called Hilda a “flibbertygibbit” and hadn’t even broached the matter with her father. Hilda wept hot tears in her bedroom that long night but by the next month she had convinced herself that only children coveted doo-dahs like that unicorn, while mature young women wanted sensible things like bus passes and Epsom salts. It was also around this time that she convinced herself that what she had seen in her backyard was probably
“In a primordial, fight-or-flight panic, Hilda spread her legs and looked down. She would have immediately stood and ran from her home at the shock of what she now saw, if she weren’t presently spewing a massive quantity of metal pieces from her vagina.” just a figment of her imagination. Hilda had never mentioned any of these fantastical events to anyone. Nor did she even think of them privately. She did not allow herself to indulge in these remembrances because, if brought to the forefront of her consciousness, moments so enchanting would be unavoidably spilling over her lips and into the ear drums of her parents, her pastor, and the thin gentleman Duane that managed the gift shop. This couldn’t be. These were her private moments. This latest experience, though, brought old memories gushing into her mind. Each on its own could be explained away by a genetic fluke, a trick of the eye, or a psychotic hallucination. But the ancient spell of the number three convinced her of what she had always suspected. Hilda shrugged her scrawny shoulders and accepted that she had been Chosen. God had provided, and she would now get what she wanted. She opened the top drawer of her bureau, retrieved a nylon trouser sock, and returned to the washroom. Half an hour later Hilda was waiting in line at Horace’s Drug Store. She had just had an irritable clerk unlock the showcase where they displayed the high-ticket items and remove the most beautiful little man Hilda thought she had ever seen. He was a little Aryan boy in a pastel blue suit, holding a sadly wilted bouquet of daisies, shyly hiding behind his friend, the equally bashful cream-coloured unicorn, on a grassy mound. The statuette was made of bisque porcelain, carefully painted with pastels then glazed and fired to a dreamy matte finish. Both figures had the adorably homunculean eye-to-face ratio that was the trademark of all “Precious Moments” pieces. The little man stood only five inches tall and the tag on it read $69.99. Hilda shivered with the pleasure of knowing that it would soon have a new home on her bedside table, and that she had acquired it with her own money. With tear-dimmed vision she read the little inscription in pink curlicue script at the base of the figure: “God Sent Special Things Our Way”. With a heavy bulge in the left pocket of her navy overcoat, Hilda walked the little figure up to the checkout as if she were approaching an altar to receive communion. A young woman with an undercut hairstyle, standing behind the counter appraised Hilda from beneath raised eyebrows and then rang the prized item through – “seventynineeight”. Hilda emptied her sock of coins onto the counter with relish. The sales girl rolled her eyes, “You have got to be kidding me, lady...all change?!” She clicked her tongue and started counting.
Brush DEVON BUTLER
You’re A Slave To Money, Then You Die EMILY BEDNARZ
I want it. How can I not? I can hypothesize about fleeing, but it is ubiquitous. Run naked into the woods to escape it. The thought of being free – free from the desire, the work, the reward, the desire, the work, the reward – is tantalizing, but a fiction. Your talent is a lovely cog that fits plainly into the machine of your life. We’re built into this, what could anyone else expect? Oh yes, it’s evil and it’s a trap and it’s a corruptly spun lie to convince you of your need – but we obey, and we fear falling outside the blueprint. Let’s just ignore this thought. Perhaps we can exist and function alongside it, and not be defined by it. Let’s do other things. Let’s paint and act and scrapbook and have children and photograph and start working to find our purpose. I need some money for paint.
A Conversation With Pablo Neruda SARAH COLLEEN DILLON SARAH: If you were ever curious about the lines on my face, I would send you to a palm reader. See, my lines match your lines: my lines are leftovers from when the lines of your hand cupped my face. I don’t have crow’s feet, I have blinded-bythe-light squint lines. I don’t have furrows on my brow – they are where-the-hell-have-you-been? contours. I do not have a half-face of wrinkles, I have a demi-facial scar. Left by you. The last thing I remember. We were broke artists, never starving. Hungry and poor. Happy. PABLO: “What will they say about my poetry who never touched my blood?” SARAH: Just because you don’t belong here doesn’t mean you should leave. You haven’t looked a single person in the eye; so don’t look at me like that. Don’t tug at your collar like it’s too hot in here. The temperature is perfect and you know it. Grow up.
PABLO: “What is the name of the cocktail that mixes vodka and lightning bolts?” SARAH: She rolled her eyes and said, “gin and tonic?” I liked her. PABLO: “Why do I hate cities that smell of urine and women?” SARAH: Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Remember when we heard Beirut with new ears? We sat quiet and war torn, weeping in each other’s faces like we’d just heard music again for the first time. Remember that time we drove across that suspended bridge and I grinned so hard to hide my panic attack? That was fun. Or the time we were stealing fruit and you bellowed, PABLO: We were so broke. “And what did the rubies say standing before the juice of pomegranates?”
PABLO: “Does smoke talk with the clouds?”
SARAH: What about that time you said,
SARAH: Listen man, stop asking so many questions. I mean, who are you? Seriously. I’ma fuck you up. Fella, you don’t know what you’re up against. I’m hungry. Lend me a dollar.
PABLO: “Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?”
PABLO: “Did salt’s teeth come from a bitter mouth?”
PABLO: “Perhaps they died of shame, those trains that lost their way?”
SARAH: Remember that time we freebased rocket candies and then ganged up on the guy in the giant penguin suit? Remember slushies and brain freezes and pop rock candies? The drugs of our generation? Yeah, that was all right. You and me, man. We were cannon balls on bicycles. We used to stuff our pockets with packets of sugar. It’s still in my toes, still in my underwear. How did it get there? PABLO: “How many questions does a cat have?” SARAH: How many steps to the new world? How many licks till we break skin? Enough already. Why can’t I trust a bald hairdresser? I mean, do you know this guy? What gives him the right? Where does he get off? No, seriously. Where does he get off? I want to watch. He looks like the quiet whimpering right-before-bed-under-the-covers kind of guy. Very Mormon. Very hot. Remember when we went to that club and you flirted with the waitress? You said,
Wire EMILY KENNEDY
SARAH: You asshole, you think you’re so witty.
SARAH: Oh man, you are so depressing. PABLO: “Why don’t old people remember debts or burns?” SARAH: Good question. You still owe me twenty bucks. PABLO: “How old is November anyway?” SARAH: [I open my mouth to answer and then shake my head, rolling my eyes, crossing my arms] PABLO: “You don’t want to answer me. But the questions do not die.” SARAH: I am putting a moratorium on this relationship. Quotes by Pablo Neruda are borrowed from his posthumous publication “The Book of Questions (Copper Canyon Press, 1991, Translated by William O’Daly)
Give and Take LOST NOWHERE
The student gives $2000 for tuition, The student gives $5000 for rent, The student takes homework and assignments. The student gives $3000 for a meal plan, The student gives $500 for text books, The student takes good or bad marks. The student gives time and effort, The student take an intangible sense that they might be accomplishing something. The student gives money, The University takes money. The student gives work, The University takes time. The student gives what else is there to give - their soul, their sanity, The university gives an education.
The student takes a degree, debt and a diploma that represents the money they gave to the university. I suppose money is a lot like grades or a diploma. It is symbolic, abstract, and meaningless unless it is in the right context. University is the exchange of symbols; the symbol of wealth for the symbol of education. We pay money to look smarter. Whether that appearance is real or not is irrelevant. What matters is that we have that diploma to tell people we are smart. What matters is that we have the grades to tell people we are smart. We might have cheated, we might only be in university because we have the money to pay for it. We might not have earned the grades or the money. But that does not matter. What matters is that we have the grades. What matters is that we have the money. University is full of abstract symbols that tell us what we are worth. Give me $2000. You get an F.
The Art of Happiness DEVON BUTLER
Two Buddhist monks walk past me as I anxiously clutch my Gucci leather satchel, waiting for his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to take the Rogers Center stage. Observing the simplicity of the other audience members in their robes and clothing free of visible brand names, I feel like a walking cliché. While others are meditating, I’m thinking about how when this event is done, I desperately need to go buy some black leather over-the-knee boots. The part of my brain that desires material things seems to be much more active than most people’s and ironically, is a large source for my frustrations. It’s a sickness. Whether it’s tracing those glossy gold inverted C’s on a lambskin quilted Chanel bag or having a much anticipated purchase wrapped in crisp white tissue paper, it’s an instant boost of bliss. You unwrap the magic and see the weak stitches holding together your source of self-satisfaction. Money only buys happiness when there’s a never-ending supply. Finally, the lights dim. Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, takes the stage to introduce the Dalai Lama. Kielburger, who first met the Dalai Lama at age fourteen, was inspired to devote his life to creating positive change on a global scale. While he spoke, I could only think about how much his dapper suit must have cost. The Dalai Lama emerges; thousands of people get on their feet to great him. He slowly makes his way to the centre of the stage where a gleaming throne awaits him. He sits, he smiles. “Sit down,” he tells us. The crowd sinks into their costly seats. I’m on the edge. I’m waiting for him to enlighten me, to help me better understand myself. While the Nobel Peace Prize winner shares his wisdom, he also shares a soothing joy. His hearty laugh echoes throughout the stadium and radiates into my eager mind. How can he be so jolly? He lost his family at age 16, his country at 24. Yet he espouses ideals of compassion, love and forgiveness. I can’t forgive an ex-boyfriend for being mean, I can’t forgive that girl for giving me a weird look on the bus; how is he capable of letting go? To simultaneously accept the world as it is, while struggling to make a positive impact. At times, I feel too overwhelmed by the problems in the world, too insignificant to make a real change. My silver bracelet shimmers under the bright lights. Why do I have these things? I hate materialism. I hate my hypocrisy. “We need money.” I snap back into consciousness as I hear the Dalai Lama say: “We need money to survive, money is important.”
While the intent of this lecture is discussing human approaches to world peace, the conversation drifts to the discussion of the value, importance and complexities of money. I recognize that money does not buy happiness. I recognize that in my frustrations, I use things as a means of presenting myself in a confident manner. He tells a story of a man he spent time with, travelling a lengthy distance in a car. The man, whose identity he didn’t reveal, was in a prime position of power that came with heaps of wealth and opportunity. The man turned to the Dalai Lama and began to cry, telling him how unhappy his life was, how sad he felt. While money provides the basic essentials we require, it does not, and never will, provide happiness. While the Dalai Lama is realistic enough to know that it’s
“I don’t like having to work, I don’t always like the system I feel trapped in, but sometimes, I like stuff. I like attending university, travelling and putting my money to good use. Does this mean I’m superficial, or just enlightened?”
nearly impossible to escape from a capitalist system, he is also experienced enough to say that while money is important, it is not nearly as important as inner peace. Money makes the
Wall Street DEVON BUTLER
world go round, and as long as we don’t derive our self worth from it, capitalism isn’t so bad. A person asks His Holiness that though countries that have a history of communism are much more impoverished than those that were built upon the principles of capitalism, millions of people still suffer all over the world. What is the solution? Eliminating capitalism altogether is impossible and entirely impractical. Anarchy is not an effective way to encourage love and compassion between people with a difference of opinion. With money comes power, and with that comes the opportunity to choose between greed and goodness, the Dalai Lama tells the crowd. But money, power and greed create anxiety. Our response should not be to get angry and take down those in power. Instead, we should come together as a community to solve issues. Society, the Dalai Lama suggests, is breeding a generation of passive bystanders who are no longer rooted in their ideologies. Tolerance is the key. We can’t even think about eliminating injustices if we can’t get along with each other, or ourselves. “Peace won’t drop from the sky,” He states. It requires work. As the lecture nears to a close, I feel an eerily calm sensa-
tion take hold of me. I understand that capitalism can leave some behind, but the driving force is the intolerance and callousness of countless individuals. I don’t like having to work, I don’t always like the system I feel trapped in, but sometimes, I like stuff. I like attending university, travelling and putting my money to good use. Does this mean I’m superficial, or just enlightened? Exiting the Rogers Centre, several homeless men are sitting outside with witty signs saying ‘Good Karma, $1.’ Trying to understand why some people are born into privileged positions while others aren’t is impossible to decipher. I recognize it’s an injustice but I also recognize that debating Marxism in a heated classroom is going to do very little in actually helping a cause. Unwrapping a present may not bring me long-term happiness; instead the experiences with friends and family are what resonates most. It’s in the basic, human interactions that we can derive joy and contentment. Only after we find innerpeace can there be outer-peace. I widen my eyes to the flurry of urban life buzzing around me, moving quick enough to leave you behind. I decided I don’t really need those new leather boots, my old ones will suffice.
Alley EMILY KENNEDY
The Cost of Money RICHARD GARVEY
Capitalism is really a simple idea - an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated to make a profit. Perhaps a bad idea, when we question what is private and what is public. Can our air, water and land be private? Even our public services are run by a government that is, in essence, a privately owned corporation - a distraction to make us believe we are in control, a body that exists only to maintain the military state and keep capitalism functioning. Every space, public or private, is policed and costs money to use. We are told that we must fix this system that we have been led to believe is broken, but it continues to function exactly how it was planned when Canada was first colonized; enslave or kill the natives, build a class of people who will work, marginalize those who ask questions or refuses to work, take as much profit as you can, and control the public opinion. The cost of money is poverty, war, and environmental destruction. The fuel of capitalism is worldwide injustice and suffering, so that a select few may profit. I don’t want to make a profit. I don’t want to participate in capitalism, but it is impossible. In Canada, capitalism is the bees-knees – participate in this system, or they starve to death. If I were to reject the system, buy a piece of land, grow my own food, and create an awesome, earth efficient hippie commune farm house that even Pete Seeger would visit or at least ‘like’ on Facebook; it would be built on land that is being stolen from Indigenous people to benefit those in control of the economic system.
Money comes at the cost of our community. We pay for what should be considered public or even sacred. From the day we are born we learn the importance of money. How to earn it, spend it, stress out about not having it, and go to school to learn and find a job teaching, counseling, or policing the working class instead of breaking our own backs. We will live our whole lives never realizing we were landless peasants who worked for an upper class who never appreciated the wealth they had. Money’s worst cost is its divisiveness. We fight over small amounts of money, compete for jobs, compare our assets and status symbols, and owe debts. If we would just listen to what our real human desires are, we would come together humbly. In this humility we could stop competing for money and see the need to realize we all have different skills and talents that we could use and share to build a community. In this community we are stronger, more resourceful and have less need to participate in the economy. Now being more economically free, we can work less and take part in building a movement to educate and shift the public opinion. Our notions of a capitalist society are rooted in patriotism. In Canada, we are told to be proud of our democracy, the opportunities we have as citizens, and the peace keeping that our nations military and other humanitarian causes do. We must stop giving money power in our lives, and stop being blindly patriotic. If you believe all people were created equal, don’t put yourself above one another. Do not believe that you are entitled to make money from capitalism, and that others should suffer.
They Say KAT WATTERS
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Sarah’s family values her health and well-being. Every day, her mother sends her to school with a fresh Macintosh. Johnny comes from a well-off family. Every day, he is sent to school with two apples. He places the Granny Smith on the teacher’s desk. In elementary school, children are taught to line up on concrete yellow lines when recess ends. Sarah stands patiently in line, anxious to get back to her crayons and paper. Johnny is playing games with the other children in line. Teacher calls Johnny a troublemaker, but smiles to the other adults, knowing “he’s really a good boy”. They say a red sky at night, Shepherd’s delight. That’s part of the rhyme that Sarah’s mother says to her as they gaze out the window together, admiring the different colours as she reads to Sarah before bed. Johnny plays videogames, and misses the sky altogether. They say happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. Sarah likes to sit in her front yard in the summertime amongst the flowers, satisfied as she gazes at the butterflies, birds and bees from a distance. Johnny comes prepared with a net, wearing camouflage. He runs all around his property, and does manage to catch a few. In high school, teens experience their first real dance. Johnny’s aunt manages a popular DJ, and arranges for him to play at the school. Johnny’s peers are impressed, and Johnny shares a few slow-dances. Sarah made all the decorations. They say the apple never falls too far from the tree. Sarah grows to value art as an escape, worth more than a thousand words. She works very hard, and earns a scholarship to a reputable Art school. Johnny begins his career right away. He feels obligated to take care of the business that his parents left to him. In the workforce, Johnny’s company hires the studio that Sarah works at for their talent to work on an upcoming project. They meet by chance. Reestablishing a connection, Johnny asks Sarah out. Sarah politely says no. They say all’s well, that ends well. Sarah does not regret her decision. She is afraid if her coworkers found it, it could cause a scandal and she could potentially lose her job. Johnny is disappointed but does not dwell on the subject. He goes home that night to watch television and sit with his dog. Sarah and Johnny never cross paths again. Sarah goes on creating her art. Johnny continues to manage the business. Empty EMILY BEDNARZ
Being Broke KEVIN HATCH
I’ve lately been griping as a way of building up enough enthusiasm to feel strongly about something. I think this is a common process; it’s probably more affirming to the human condition in a way to feel unhappy about something than complete disinterest or apathy. This has fed into my reflections on how most people I know talk about money. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend of people with relatively comfortable lifestyles complaining about ‘being broke’. Being money conscious is certainly a valid concern, particularly with the slew of financial demands of student life. It still strikes me that most of the people I tend hear voicing financial complaints are not those who really have the most cause to be. Most of the people I’ve known who are under financial duress never seem to bring the subject of money up, whereas those who have substantially less cause to (being, despite the aforementioned monetary tolls of student life, still far from being literally unable to afford the standard of life generally associated with university students) are the ones who are more likely to voice complaints on the subject. I should clarify that I’m writing this subject as somebody who is fortunate enough to have never really had to worry about money, and who has interacted with both those in far better and worse financial standings than myself. While I do attempt to spend responsibly and budget my expenses, I like to think that I’m relatively conscious of my financial situation. I make an attempt to not complain about overstating my case by claiming I “have no money”, when I know there are those around whom genuinely don’t. I have found it interesting to see many people in financial situations nearly as sturdy as mine complaining about “being broke”, despite having far less cause for concern than others. So why would that be? Is it for the sake of trying to breed some universal cultural trope, that everyone can bond through feeling short on money, regardless of financial status? That seems silly. Is it a form of displaced anxiety about feeling too comfortable, and attempting to play up their own suffering to seem more hard done by? Certainly more possible than many would care to admit, but I ultimately think this is only partially the case. For however prominent a society component it is, I feel that money remains a very abstract concept. It runs on the most basic causality – you trade, labour or goods, for another goods, fundamentally useless unto itself, which is subsequently traded for goods essential for survival or otherwise pleasing – but only has consequences in dire extremes. The term “broke” is frequently used as hyperbole, overlooking the fact that money is not so abstract when people can literally not afford their shelter, food, or health. The opposite end of the spectrum is very different – when
watching the film The Social Network, I was struck by how fundamentally odd our world is where a twenty-something can be ‘worth’ billions of dollars, most of which he will never actually physically see. That kind of money is essentially imaginary until it is made tangible – mansions, cars, cruises and so forth. The consequences may be real, but it’s the middle ground transaction of money that remains an elusive, seemingly ‘unreal’ concept. Furthermore, if people thought using a card to carry ‘imaginary’ money was weird, how weird is the idea of all of our money being transmitted electronically, with no corporeal form whatsoever? It almost makes you wish we could switch back to pieces of eight again. This is the point I’m trying to drive at: not only is money something basically everyone has some stake in, but it’s also, as far as most of us not in dire financial need are concerned, barely ‘real’. Until its cause yields an effect, money is effectively a concept more than a ‘thing’. It should be no surprise that when those responsible for making sense of the whole complicated mess run into difficulties, money becomes real again amidst talk of ‘recession’ or ‘depression’. If we were being observed from outer space, our watchers would assume that our social interactions and measures of power were determined by extensive games of make belief. I believe this is why complaints about money come from those who shouldn’t necessarily be making them as much. It’s justified to feel anxious about our lives and social infrastructures being determined by an elusive, intangible construct. If some incredibly capable psychic were to erase the idea of money from everyone’s heads, in a purely physical sense, not all that much would change. We’d still have (or not have) as much stuff as we already do, but our ways of measuring our sense of self and making sense of our surroundings would be rendered null and void. It’s this disturbing idea that prompts people to talk about money, even if it’s not necessarily fully justified: for the purpose of mutually reassuring each other of its existence, and the order and roles it governs, thereby validating our investment into the idea of it. Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s more important to devote such anxieties towards positive rather than negative reactions. For those with relatively secure financial situations, be conscious of those who are actually not, and either be thankful for being better off or devote energy into various ways of helping them. I don’t want to digress into some kind of “you’re richer than you think” diatribe, but rather suggest that being conscious of money and your relation with it will help guide your interactions with ‘the system’ and maximize fulfillment of life within it.
First Mall DEVON BUTLER
Feed the Priests EMILY KENNEDY
I am surrounded by shopping bags that are not mine And I picture my father standing outside the church door. Feed the priests and earn your keep. He lived in the back with my grandparents and the nuns Until the checks came in And the priests slowly passed away. Sad, but that has always been the reality of life. There is a hunger, a craving, a need For the reassurance that what we own Defines what we are. We consume our own images In attempts to create them And cry at the fact that it is not enough. It is never enough. The balance between necessity and longing Was thrown in the trash Along with the plastic wrap and old tags, While Kerouac died with the bottle by his side That was given to him by the very men He had left behind years ago. What a likely, ironic reunion. There is such a dependence, And such a fear. A wretched fear Of uncertainty. Of potential instability. And anything that is We look down upon. I keep seeing those above kicking the poor chaps On the bottom of the ladder Back to the ground. I can be pessimistic sometimes. I love seeing the hands that reach down To help them back up again.
Gate EMILY KENNEDY
Volume 10 Issue 4 November 2010