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blueprint magazine

the roots issue voume 9, issue 7 march 2010


the

roots issue

Every social context and situation has historical roots that stretch back in time, and encompass moments that led to how our world, our communities, and our very selves exist today. We cannot understand anything about the world around us, the local or the global, without also having some knowledge about our history. This is why the concept of roots is so interesting; it at once encompasses how we came to be, yet also holds so much potential for creating our own present, which in time will become a new history. This makes the term ‘grassroots’ fascinating and exciting; it offers an opportunity to build our story from the bottom up. To me, grassroots organizing usually consists of the most ordinary activities turned into extraordinary social moments. These moments could be an impromptu jam session with friends, a weekday potluck with your neighbours, a workshop or craft session at school. These moments are all radical in the most fundamental sense of the word, pertaining to the root from which they stem. By looking to our friends and neighbours, deciding together what our ideal world would look like, and living this out, we are actively changing the world. We are denying external forces the power of affecting our moments of joy and celebration. Roots keep us grounded, remind us where we came from, and nourish us from the bottom up. To me, roots are about learning the history of why things are the way they are, and working from the grassroots to change these for the better. For some, this means integrating ancestral cultural practices into a contemporary context. It means coming to terms with and channeling past injustices and current pain. For others, it means radically rethinking how we view our bodies, our communities, and ourselves. People deal with their roots differently; for some, their roots offer a solid base from which they can grow and flourish. For others, they are a mess to untangle. Nevertheless, everyone is rooted to something, whether they like it or not. Know your roots, whether that means coming to terms with your past, or building a more joyful future.

in this issue Essays Roots 2 Travellin’ Zinta Avena Auziņa Radical, Rooted Musical 6 ALaura McDonald the Roots 7 Attack Adam Lewis Roots 8 Disconnected Sarah MacDonald 10

Untitled Anonymous

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These Are Your Neighbours Erin Oldynski

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Untitled Kelly Grevers

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Roots and Wings Anne T. Donahue

75 University Ave W. Waterloo ON, N2L 3C5 (519) 884 0710 x 2738 (519) 883 0873 (fax) blueprintmagazine.ca Next Issue June 2010 For advertising info contact email: angela@wlusp.com phone: (519) 884 0710 x 3560

Art 24

Dear William Andrew Posen Good Genes Sebastien Bell

Beholder VI Nuno Teixeira Emmanuel Xerx Javier

Poetry to Garlic 4 “Ode” Janice Lee 23 Uprooted Romi Levine 23 24

Clara Hilts, Laura Adelman, and Lauren Munro

Ex Rachel Ann Brickner The Big Rooted Tree Devon Butler

new content • every thursday • blueprintmagazine.ca

Editor-in-Chief

Volume 9, Issue 7 March 2010

19 22

Feature Bodies 12 Radical Art and Monologues

Erin Epp

blueprint magazine

Literature Fairytale 5 Sunflower Hayley Lewis for the Interview of 15 ROOTS Matt Mousseau 18 Love Keegan Tremblay

Management

WLUSP Administration

Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor: Print Content Managing Editor: Visual Content Promotional Director Production Assistant

Erin Epp Morgan Alan Carly Lewis Kelly Grevers Lakyn Barton

President General Manager/Advertising Production/Advertising Chair of the Board Vice-Chair Treasurer Director Corporate Secretary Distribution Manager

Bryn Ossington Angela Foster Angela Taylor Jordan Hyde Luay Salmon Suhail Hafeez Kyle Muizelaar Maeve Strathy Nicole Weber

Contributors Ellie Anglin Anonymous Laura Adelman Zinta Avena Auziņa Sebastien Bell Rachel Ann Brickner Devon Butler Anne T. Donahue Kelly Grevers Zoey Heath Clara Hilts Janice Lee Adam Lewis Ann Lewis

Carly Lewis Hayley Lewis Romi Levine Sarah MacDonald Laura McDonald Matt Mousseau Laura Munro Erin Oldynski Andrew Posen Nuno Teixeira Keegan Tremblay Emmanuel Xerx Javier Myles Wilson

Colophon Blueprint Magazine is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community. Started in 2002 as Bluprint, Blueprint Magazine is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by a board of directors. Opinions in Blueprint Magazine are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the management team, Blueprint Magazine, WLUSP or WLU. Content appearing in Blueprint Magazine bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. The circulation for a normal issue of Blueprint Magazine is 3,000 copies.

cover by erin epp & lakyn barton inside front cover by nick lachance inside back cover by devon butler back cover by myles wilson


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’ve got travelling roots. The kind that seem to need only a jar of water and a good dose of sunshine. They come from my grandparents, displaced during or after the second world war, and the community of Latvians that managed to find each other and gather together in Southern Ontario. They started schools and credit unions and folk dance groups and published cookbooks, holding onto the culture of their homeland while far, far away. My roots are woven from ancient and more recent Latvian history, personal anecdotes, and folklore. It’s pretty obvious that in the early years, discovering and building a Latvian community was the easiest way to have a fulfilling social network for these immigrants. My mom remembers a group of Latvian ladies sitting on a neighbour’s porch, crocheting for a well-known local hat company. I suppose it’s the schools and social circles and neat folklore that kept the momentum going. Most Latvians are pretty proud of their Latvian-ness. We have books and books of tiny (& sometimes big) folk poetry, compiled by Krišjānis Barons and others. In the late 19th century, someone went around the country, collecting folk songs, more popularly known as “dainas,” directly from the creators or from the people they were passed down to. They are arranged by subject, ranging from the sun (especially the sun, the sun is a really big deal in old Latvian lore) to old school gods and goddesses to the stages of life and all the celebrations that coincide with the seasons. On your birthday, it’s expected that your great-aunt will give you a card in which she has printed a daina she has selected specifically for the occasion...which you might or might not actually read. And most of us love singing. We have a song festival in order to celebrate this fact. Singing is widely believed to have helped oppressed Latvians through tough times and there have been a lot of them. Latvia has a long history of being occupied and controlled by richer, more powerful countries (including Prussia, Poland, Sweden, and Russia) who wanted its sweet, fertile land, its sexy amber, tall pine trees (for ship masts), and the polytheistic homesteaders to convert...or just its strategic location as a trading port. wMy favourite history teacher told me that during the early conversions of Latvians to Christianity, a German priest taught a group of them how to build with stone on the condition that they be christened. The ritual was performed in a nearby river. Overestimating the role that water played in their “Christianity,” the Latvians returned to wade in the river soon after in order to wash it all off. Latvia was declared an independent nation in 1918, but during World War II the dreamy idea was crushed by Soviet occupation in 1940. Nazi Germany occupied Latvia for a few years too, then the Soviet Union moved back in 1944 and lasted there until 1991. This means that the land has been occupied more than half of its life as a modern nation. I guess these immigrants had had enough shitty, oppressed times (imagine having to choose which

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side to fight for your Soviet occupiers or nazis) and now they could finally flourish and celebrate who they were in mid-20th century Canada, or Australia, or Britain, or wherever. They were (and still are) really into passing down their cultural heritage, for which I am very grateful. It’s standard for Latvian heritage schools to teach about homestead layout and life, which is pretty cool because homesteads are pretty cool. Keep bees, grind grain, brew stuff, make bread. There are so many folk songs about the awesomeness of growers and growing food. I suppose it’s been romanticized to some degree, but the fact is that someone was enthused enough by the life ze led to compose songs/words of praise and wonderment that I love singing nowadays. (Yes, that was a gender-neutral pronoun.) I actually feel connected to the homesteading narratives that have been taught to me at Latvian school. I can’t say that about Canadian lore. Here “pioneer villages” just contain people dressed up, churning butter. They don’t look like your grandma with plum and apple trees in her front yard, planting tomatoes like nobody’s business (but maybe that’s just me). Roots are funny, and they’re what you conceive them to be. I’ve just recounted random bits of information that somehow help form an idea of how I’ve come to be who I am and why I exist at all. Through a formalization of cultural teaching and a vast displacement of people, my roots include a whole old way of life, a whole old history I could never completely know, a lot of people pushed out of their homeland. So my roots are not just a family tree. They are big and full of stories and usually I embrace them. This benign cultural propaganda has shown me that people live through struggle, people can adapt, people have lived happily in times when having a field of grain could mark you as well-off. People have cooperated and helped each other and have had a great or hard time doing it. Because of this, I can see a present and a future in which vibrant, self-sufficient community is possible. I’m growing my roots to slip into the ground next to that field, the river, the lover. I’m growing my roots and when I’m ready, they will be too, to support growth, not only in myself but in others too. These are my roots; they come with me where I go, they stay behind in people and places I have spoken love and wonder to. They trail behind me; they want to soak in travelling water jars and they want to spread in the earth. They want to nourish. They want to let go of the negative. And they grow.

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Sunflower Fairytale Hayley Lewis Image by Ann Lewis

Once upon a time, I was just a little girl. Born under the burning summer’s sun into a teeny, tiny town where I lived for years and years and years. In this little town of mine, there were rivers and lakes and streams. There were fruit trees and bushels and all of the raspberries, peaches, cherries and pears any little girl could dream of. Most exciting of all, there was a family of giant sunflowers that grew right in my very own backyard, growing so tall that their petals reached all the way up to the very same summer sun I was born underneath. My grandmother, gleaming and ginger, loved the orchards just like me, and so we played outside for hours, singing with the breeze that sent our songs up to the sky, throughout the trees. And me, I was wild! Always running amok out in the fields. Building secret tree-houses and forts, coming home all covered in mud, and everyday back into my grandmother’s arms, out stretched and waiting for a hug. “I love you, Grandma, will you stay my grandma forever and ever?” I’d ask. But she was getting old, and knew she couldn’t stay. And so, she decided we should go for a walk. She took my tiny hand in hers, now wrinkled and warm, and walked me to the orchard, where the always-stretching sunflowers grew. She said to me that she couldn’t stay forever and that when she was gone, when I missed her at the very most, I should come and sit with the sunflowers and remember her there. Eventually, as all things do, my Grandmother passed. I spent the rest of my youth growing up without her. The sunflowers kept on growing, tall and brilliant out of the earth and up to the sky. I tried not to look, but every now and then, the flowers would catch my eyes. As if they were really alive, they would shed a few pedals, just to say hi. As time past and the years blew by, I finally started spending more and more time venturing back to the ancient orchards where I had once learned to fly. Summer days melted away into the creaking-cricket nights I would spend picking fresh fruit with

warm winds from every side. I would lay in dew soaked blades of grass all afternoons daydreaming of the days I would fly so high on my swing set, my grandmother teaching me to take flight and stride. And then, one day, out of the blue I felt a horrendous tremor. I jumped! Armies of tractors, bulldozers headed straight for me, tearing trees from their roots, shaking fruit from their stems. The orchard was being destroyed right before my eyes. Powerless and panicked, I ran to the sunflowers for shelter, and begged them for help. They couldn’t hear me, but still I pleaded at their roots on my hands and knees, “Please, O! Please, make them stop. Our home is being eaten up!” I wished so hard, with my eyes shut tight that my grandmother was there to hold my not-so-tiny-anymore hand while I ducked and cowered from the greedy-machines that tore, without mercy, through the fields where so much life had lived. But nothing happened. And so I sat beneath the flowers, And I wept and I wept and I wept. The bulldozers were coming closer, their violent beep echoing through the now sparse field, and I knew I couldn’t stay for long. I wiped my eyes and stumbled back up to my feet. I turned to face my beautiful flowers one last time. Just as I lifted my hand to wave goodbye, the entire family of golden blossoms stretched their stems out as far as they could reach and slowly let their petals rain down over me. Unmoving, beneath the cascading petals, my eyes opened wide at the once abundant orchard. I stood, and I thought of my grandmother, remembering with my chin held high that nothing lasts forever, not the orchard or my grandma. Not even I. The flowers had coiled back into the earth, but one still stood tall. Heavily it heaved one final breath, and then let it’s whole flower drop off from it’s stem, into the palm of my waiting hand. The inside of it’s core brimming with seeds, asking me to plant it in new fresh grounds.

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LEFT: The original ensemble cast of Rooted: A New Musical, photographed by Zoey Heath.

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A Radical, Rooted Musical

Laura McDonald, Producer: Rooted: A New Musical

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’m sure your attention has been brought, throughout this issue, to the connection between the words “radical” and “rooted”. Rooted: A New Musical was created in the space where these two words overlap and diverge. It emerged ‘from the roots’, rooted in our own lives and communities and experiences, but stretching beyond these, and seeking to become rooted again in the new community that grew around it, and to spread seeds of change. How can a musical be radical? By breaking out of the usual stories and tropes, and challenging the status quo instead of reinforcing it. By addressing things that matter to you and to your audience. By not spending money unnecessarily on disposable sets and costumes and instead relying on the performance and the story and the music to do the work. By asking the audience not to “suspend their disbelief ” and “get lost in the story”, but to consciously engage with what they are seeing and hearing and think about how it relates to their own lives and actions. By giving opportunities to people who’ve never been on stage before, because you don’t need to be perfect to make good art. By putting every ounce of energy you have into it and showing the audience how much everyone involved really cares about what’s being said. By giving everything you get out of it back to the community that helped it grow. How does a radical, rooted musical grow? The same way all activism grows. It is rooted in community, in ideas, in people, in passion. It has a firm foundation of love and collaboration from which to draw strength and sustenance. It grows from these roots, from the ground up, in a community garden, developing and expanding with each rehearsal, each new move, each note, until it is suddenly there, in full bloom. It scatters new seeds in its audience - seeds of thought and of change, and, hopefully, some of these seeds take root and grow in others, and help make the world a better place.


Attack the Roots Creating Resistance to the G8 and G20

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he time is coming in which we will need to begin to seriously consider enhancing efforts of resistance to systemic injustices that are rooted within society. The time has come to ‘attack the roots’ of capitalism and the ills that it brings and reinforces throughout society. It is time to consider community-supported forms of struggle and resistance against the very system that has, for too long now, been predicated on oppression and injustice so a few may benefit. This is the time to resist. From June 25-27th, 2010 the leaders of the largest nations of the world will meet for the G8 and G20 meetings, in Huntsville and Toronto respectively. These are the very nations that continue to push the destruction of capitalism onto others throughout the world and in their own countries. These are meetings that have no participation by broader society. We, as citizens, are fundamentally stripped of any say about what goes on in these meetings. They are fundamentally undemocratic in this sense. Are we prepared to let the leaders that perpetrate wars against other nations, create police state conditions in our own countries, have an allegiance to financial capital and not human concerns, that fundamentally have interests that oppose those of society, are we prepared to let them dictate how the world will be run? The answer is a resounding no! The time is now for resistance to the global cult of leaders who structure policies around “capitalist progress” and not the needs of society. It is time to ‘attack the roots’. Beginning on June 18th, with a People’s Summit, followed by Days of Resistance from the 21st – 24th and finally ending with the June 25th-27th Days of Action, there is a resistance movement building towards opposing the G8/G20. This is a movement that allows space for all forms of resistance, one that incorporates a diversity of tactics. There is no one mode of resistance so all forms must be accommodated if we are to build a strong movement. The forces of power will throw all they can at us to diminish our efforts of opposition. We need to be willing to do what is necessary to foster resistance against the current system so we can begin to imagine a better world. This also means that we need to foster a sense of solidarity between different types of actors (and avoid the condemnations and infighting in the media that occurred after the Heart Attack Black Bloc Action against the Olympics in Vancouver). Solidarity should be our bond, what brings us together as a movement and what unites us against the forces of oppression and repression. If we begin to break apart and use the media (which is rarely on our side and cannot be counted as such) to condemn our allies, then our effectiveness will be diminished. We cannot be susceptible to infighting that divides us and turns different groups against one another. We all have a dream: a better world. We need to do what is necessary, in our own ways—

ways in which we feel comfortable and empowered—to realize such a reality. Some of that dream means organizing within our communities on different projects (such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Centre for Social Justice in Kitchener). Another part is taking direct action against the forces of injustice when they come into our communities, just as they are doing in Huntsville and Toronto. Their presence means that we need to act. To show resistance. To show that we are willing to take a stand. To show that they are not free to simply orchestrate the world as they see fit. To show that we are growing. The G8 and G20 are coming. We may not be able to shut them down as in Seattle in 1999 with the WTO, but we will be there to resist. And we must, if we want to begin to imagine another world. We must take a stand and fight back against the forces of oppression and injustice. We must stand in solidarity against those forces. We must engage in a variety of ways, taking different actions, but unified as a movement. We must ‘Attack the Roots”! The time is now: RESIST.

Adam Lewis

For more information see: peaceculture.org (also for the KWCCSJ), http://g20.torontomobilize.org, and http://peoplessummit2010.ca

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have a photocopied handout of my family’s origin that was passed around at a 1994 family reunion: The Borutski family reunion. I didn’t attend because I was so small and unaware of where they—my family—came from. They came from Round Lake; that is all I ever needed to know. In this handout, something of which I have poured over many times since it was given to me a year or so ago, reading and re-reading it, I discovered the origin of my family on my mother’s side. I saw the first house built by my great-great-great-great grandfather and his dozens of sons. I read about the lives of these people I am so distantly related to and where they ended up. Some of them ended up buried in the ground before they could do anything significant with their lives. Some had dozens and dozens of children of their own and many of them lived for a long time to go on and have their own babies and farms. The postmodern cynic in me says that there is no such thing as an origin but the historian in my blood craves the knowledge of their exact starting point so it can validate my own existence. Because that is why we pay so much attention to family heritage and trees and personal stories - this is what it’s really all about. Each person has a set lineage and history that they take on the moment they are born. They have a mother’s side and a father’s side, plus a plethora of other perspectives and stories from deceased individuals. I am missing the other side of my history. The town to which I am referring that holds all the secrets to my history is Round Lake, Ontario. A few minutes drive away from this place is the first Polish settlement in Canada: Wilno, Ontario. My great-great grandmother lived in a small house next

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to this massive Catholic Church that is both gorgeous and ominous. Round Lake, too, came to have a very large Polish population, if not the majority of the approximate 250 residents (on a good day) that are living there today. My grandmother’s family and my grandfather’s family—from Renfrew, Ontario— came together over time and they all bounced around from one Northern Ontarian town to the next, until settling back in a place named after a lake that is not very round at all. My grandmother likes to tell me about what kind of Polish we are, which is to say Kashubi. Before strict borders and nation-states, the distinction of territory that we know of now was far hazier during the latter half of the nineteenth century when my family immigrated to Canada. Our family hailed from Prussia but with connections to other parts of Eastern Europe and possibly from the Baltic or deeper Germanic regions. I joke and say I am not really Polish to my Polish friends but apparently, I am. I am whatever I want to make of where I come from. I never learned Polish. I know one word and I don’t even know if it means apple or potato. But I have stories from the people that came after my very distant relatives and they have even older stories and it goes on. I have stories from my greatuncle going to Woodstock in 1969 and really being involved with the liberal movement’s characteristic of the 1960s that I can only dream about. I have a great-great uncle down the line who was a Canadian POW in a German concentration camp who stole Nazi books with pictures of inmates and corpses. He adopted two displaced Jewish children after the war. I have an expansive family


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history and all of that, whether or not I am truly conscious of it, is in me somewhere. It is in these very stories that I am relaying back to you. I am partly made up of all of this and more. But I do not know where I come from on my father’s side. The unfortunate part about estrangement from family is not really knowing the rest of your own story. I don’t like that a giant chunk of my story is missing; it’s unsettling and always leaves me wanting to learn about everyone else’s to fill this metaphorical void in me. I know a few bits of my roots on my dad’s side but they are disconnected, fragmented, and possibly false. The same can be said of what I know from my mom’s side of my family, because history is subjective to whatever it is referring to and people inherently embellish for effect, but I have more footing with them; I have access to those histories if I want them. When my parent’s split up a decade ago, the connection I had with my father’s family was severed forever. They do not speak to me; I do not speak to them. They live in the same town as my grandmother, the very place my parents were born, but I do not see them. I don’t think they would even recognize me now. Here is what I know from that side: I am Scottish. My grandfather is Scottish and his father married a native woman. So I am native as well. My step-grandfather is Irish. I am not Irish. This is what I know from my father’s side. When I tell people that I am native they look at me a little perplexed because I cannot answer the question about which tribe or group I have connections to. It seems ignorant, and to some degree it is, but it is just inaccessible for me to know that information. I have to guess. So far I

have come up with Algonquin or Métis. But I do not know, nor will I ever know. My grandfather left my grandmother when my dad was only a baby. He lives in Montreal (maybe). I have twin uncles (maybe). My story is not so cleanly written on this side of my family tree. I fill up the space with questions and musings and quips about being from a rich Highland clan in Scotland, almost believing it for the sake of having at least something to grasp hold of. I can list all of the ways I am connected to the great events and people of Europe, even claiming that my family was part of the first something or other to ever come to this country, but does this validate my existence? Am I, as a person, not taken as seriously because I only know half of my own story, my own history? I suppose that is not true in the least. It infuriates me that my punishment for circumstances I had no control over leave me with questions about who I am and where I come from, what I am connected to, but being mystified is quite liberating. Lineage seems to be less important these days than what it was fifty years ago. Even fifty years ago, it was not as strictly monitored as it was fifty or so years before that. Where my family has come from is significant to me as a person but it is no longer cause for a validation of self. My roots are all jumbled up and I am sure I am not the only one. I used to fret about it when people would talk about family reunions because they seemed more solidly whole than I was. This is no longer the case, because I am rooted, grounded and whole all on my own.

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t has taken me twenty-three years to come to the realization and acceptance that my identity has experienced trauma. It has been hard; hard to accept and even harder to heal. I am First Nations and I am Cree. I moved to Waterloo in the fall of 2008 and it was by being here, living away from my friends and family and away from my comfort zone, that being First Nations first took hold of my identity. Before then, my native heritage always took a backseat. It was something that new friends would find out six months or a year after meeting me. It was something that I used to counter a racist remark, but it was never a solid aspect of who I was. Living in Waterloo changed that. My native identity started to become something that I was proud of. It is now something that I want to discover, to learn, and to preserve. I found myself blurting out my mother’s experience in a residential school in class one day, and I could hardly breathe, it all hurt so much. And it is that pain that I’ve come to realize is a part of my identity. My mom had gone to residential school in Guy Hill, Manitoba from the time that she was 4 years old to when she left at sixteen. My aunts and uncles, her brothers and sisters, were all in the same school. I heard a story of my mom’s first weeks at that school; my uncle used to risk being beaten to sneak up to the girl’s dormitory to sit on her bed and hold her hand while she wept herself to sleep. I also heard a story when I was in elementary school about the children playing Cowboys and Indians, and none of the kids wanted to be the Indian because they knew that the Indian never won. My mom is really very cool. She is the strongest person that I know. After a horrendous childhood spent at a residential school, she became the first female Aboriginal dentist in Canada. My parents did not marry until after the Indian Act was amended so that my mom would not lose her Indian status and neither would my sister or myself. My mom has always said that my sister and I are a product of residential schooling, as are my cousins. My mom was never apart of the typical family, but managed to raise one nonetheless. The effects and the pain that resulted from my mom being in residential school was essentially passed down to us. This summer I had a profound opportunity to attend my mom’s final year at medicine camp. I was surrounded by teachers and elders and got to discover more bits and pieces to add to this collection that I call myself. I got to mend patches of my wounds and discover more of my hurt and pain. And it is through this, the hurt and pain, that I want to do more for my people. I feel like I need to do something because I’ve been given so much, so much more than the majority of First Nations.

Anonymous

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Image by Devon Butler


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From March 11-13, the Women’s Centre will present Radical Bodies: A Collection of Monologues, a short series of monologues affirming all bodies, especially the ones that our society shames or dismisses as “less than” (fat bodies, hairy bodies, trans bodies, disabled bodies, intersexed bodies, bodies of colour...), and embodied experiences. Published below are excerpts from some of these monologues, along with art from the Radical Bodies Art Exhibit. Read these monologues in full at blueprintmagazine.ca

5<''=$(#<%( Lauren Munro

Stick Life, Laura Adelman

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It may cause confusion. It may alter your sense of taste. It may cause nausea or vomiting. With prolonged use, it may cause modest weight gain But it will also make you happy, maybe, with the right dosage, for some people, did I mention it might also cause a worsening of symptoms, might increase suicidal feelings? The list of side effects goes on, it’s especially long when you’re taking up to seven different psychiatric medications. Oh and the “modest” weight gain worked out to be about 30lbs, and I already had body image issues. I was never satisfied with my size, with anything. I hated myself and when I gained those additional 30lbs I got more than just the weight, I got stretchmarks. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. 21years old, terribly depressed and now stretchmarks. It was as if my body wanted me to hate it even more. The pills weren’t worth the weight gain, I got worse. When I started an inpatient program the doctor told me I’d have these stretchmarks for life, they might fade but they’d always be there. I couldn’t stop myself from crying, but she shared with me a profound insight that wouldn’t sink in for a year. For a year I obsessed, slathered my stretchmarks in vitamin e, bio-oil and any other product that claimed to work - though none of them did. I decided to abandon the medical route; I don’t know if I could put the experience of withdrawal into words. Pure and simple it was hell and in that time I was in too much pain to care about anything. I couldn’t get out of bed so what the fuck did it matter if I could fit into my skinny jeans? More at blueprintmagazine.ca


!"#$%&%'()* Laura Adelman

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came here to tell you a story about being a trans person. I have a hundred stories to tell you. I have stories about the looks of revulsion, anger, shock and naked confusion I get when I use a public washroom. About the men on the bus who undress me with their eyes, like my identity is a puzzle they have a frantic need to put together. Looks that evaluate me, compare me and change me around, like a paper doll with a million fold on outfits and identities. I could tell you about the sick, gut-wrenching fear of coming out to my parents, people who don’t understand anything about gender and have no desire to. I could tell you about the twisted coil that took root the first time I was told that I’m ‘loved’ in spite of who I am, not because of it. I could tell you about the back pain from binding my chest, the raw places on my skin from when it’s too tight. I could tell you about packing, and all the other lurid body-tricks that make me sound like a suffering liar and an illusionist. Maybe you’d like to hear about the yellow Tonka truck I had as child, the one that I loved while I spurned Barbie dolls and all things feminine. That would be a lie, actually. Or I could charm you with the classic recitation of how I’ve found myself now, how years of misery and confusion have cumulated in loving myself as a boy, how the cliché of knowing yourself truly has to mean that it’s all gonna be okay. None of these stories are false. Well, except the one about not loving Barbie. But they don’t actually tell you anything about me, or how I experience being trans. They’re about other people. About living in a world not made for people like me. They’re about coping with people’s ignorance, about making my life a teachable moment for others, about negotiating how people read me when it’s far beyond my control. These stories fulfill expectations. They make a movie montage, creating a cohesive narrative that an outsider can take in comfortably through bites of popcorn. Distrust, persecution, affirmation, inevitability: all themes for someone else’s story. It is difficult to make palatable narratives for other people about confusion, nonsense and indecision. I can tell you about the hateful sense of disconnect I used to feel when I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. Perhaps less welcome is the knowledge that even now I still don’t, sometimes. I can tell you about the struggles to get people to use my correct pronoun, about the elation at a new name. But there are no tidy narratives about my indecision, about how no pronoun seems right, and how I hover and balk at answering the question what is your name? More at blueprintmagazine.ca

Battle Scars, Lauren Munro

+,&)#-./#0&1(-* Clara Hilts

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ews Everyone. Big News. My thighs are beautiful. Not beautiful like the lifeless 2-dimensional photoshop thighs. Those are, well, like I said: lifeless. That set of thighs has no character, no qualities that would distinguish them from the 2-dimensional photoshop set of thighs on the next page. Do we really think our bodies should look like that? I would gladly pin-up my legs and stare at every single imperfection, every loving dimple, every vein, scar, scratch...everything. Those are the things that are mine. I was on the subway this morning and I ran into an old high school friend. We’ve sort of grown apart, but that’s a totally different story. What I’m getting at is the picture she was meticulously picking apart in her magazine and saying things like “see that white smile line under her butt cheek? That’s from tanning... I have one of those too”. I smiled at her and laughed my fake little laugh, (laugh) biting my tongue and waiting for the next stop. What I really wanted to say was: Great stuff, kiddo! Look at you, all grown up with a painted smile on your bum! Don’t even get me started on tanning. You want to know what I have? I have a treasure trail up to my sternum! And it was because I had the brilliant idea to shave my belly when I was in 4th grade, along with the rest of my body hair. See, I’d been given the illusion that the hair on our bodies should never have been there. Like we’d evolved improperly... I bought into it all! I had a mirror on every wall of my room, constantly checking my reflection for chin hairs, fixing my eyebrows and the oh-sosuave upper lip check. I, thankfully, did eventually change. A few summers ago, even after I thought I truly loved this body of mine, I was given an incredible chance to do something I’d never ever done before. I let my armpit hair grow. At first, it was just carelessness, but I eventually got curious. What would it look like? How would it feel? Would it smell? Would it stick out of my t-shirt? All of these innocent questions about this new and exciting part of my body I’d never explored were running through my head. How could I have lived so long and never known these things about myself ? More at blueprintmagazine.ca

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ROOTS for the Interview of! Matt Mousseau Image by Matt Mousseau

Blueprint Correspondent here! I was afforded the rare opportunity to interview the prolific writer Arthur Rousseau, who is best known for his memoirs (remarkable, considering the market is oversaturated with memoirs) and non-fiction. Here is an excerpt from the interview, which I have noted for Rousseau’s frequent use of the word ‘root’ (perhaps a strategy to promote his latest memoir, “Killing the Tree at the Roots”—available June). BC: You have been compared by some critics to a poet, while others call your prose “confused in their inconstant lyrics”. AR: Critics are useless, worth less than the paper they waste. BC: One critic questioned English as your first language. AR: My work doesn’t translate well into English. BC: What language do you write it in? AR: English. BC: What are you translating? AR: The idea is rooted in the mind. It must be translated to the pen, of course. BC:I was going to say... I thought you spent your life in the Canadian countryside, speaking English and maybe German... AR: I have no German roots. My parents abhorred the Germans after the war. (...) AR: I tried to write fiction, but people thought it insulting to be called ugly. Humanity is ugly, but I had to take another route if I wanted to get published. The memoir is assumed truth. BC: The memoir is truth, perhaps the best truth, isn’t it? AR: In fact, the memoir is a lie. Fiction is rooted in truth, with the exception of popular writers, who clot the arteries of their readers. BC: Are you suggesting that health problems are caused by reading Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown, Ian Rankin, Nora Roberts, Mitch Albom, Clive Cussler, and Stephanie Meyer? AR: They are, undoubtedly, the root of the problem. (...) (Rousseau is looking at my notes, which I carelessly dropped on the table.) AR: When I spoke, I put a period right there. BC: Oh, I thought it was a semi-colon... AR: I hate semi-colons! How dare you put semi-colons in my mouth! BC: I’m sorry! It won’t happen again! AR: Kurt Vonnegut, the writer, said, “All they do is show you’ve been to college.” I believe that is true. It is a hideous invention, the semi-colon. The root of all evil. (...) BC: Final question – What do you consider the biggest difference between North America and Europe? AR: I have no roots in America, only the natives do. And I don’t get asked mundane questions—like yours—in Europe. That was embarrassing! Guess I should have left that last part out. It was otherwise a pleasant interview with Arthur Rousseau. That’s all from your Blueprint Correspondent. Keep reading!

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I

n January of this year, I began writing a weekly column for Imprint, the University of Waterloo’s student newspaper. Called These Are Your Neighbours, my column focuses on progressive community organizing and collective action in Kitchener -Waterloo. Each week, I interview a local person who is involved in mobilizing members of our community around a common issue and who works together with these people to develop creative ways of addressing and responding to the issue. The process of developing content for my column has given me a kind of energy and sustained momentum which, until January, I had only ever experienced in short bursts. For the past two months, however, I have felt continuously energized, motivated, and optimistic about our community because of the collective power of “ordinary” people. The weekly process of writing my column can be divided into the following steps, each of which are equally as important and integral to the whole: seeking out a person whom I’ve never met; talking with them about what they do and why they do it, and; crafting a story from our conversation. The first step, seeking out people whom I’ve never met, has been surprisingly easy. It is incredible how many community events and organizations I find out about every week simply by keeping my ears and eyes open. But developing an awareness of the different ways that people are organizing themselves is only the first part; I then have to follow-up by writing down the names, places, and times as-

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sociated with each of the groups. The second step, talking with people about what they do and why they do it, has proven to be a bit more challenging than simply seeking out people whom I’ve never met. But I’ve found that, for situations in which an opportunity to interview does not easily present itself, the stories become all the more compelling. I found out about the Kitchener Waterloo Community Centre for Social Justice (KWCCSJ) through a co-worker. We were talking about the activist community in KW when he told me that the KWCCSJ had just opened up in a former industrial warehouse in downtown Kitchener. I was immediately intrigued and went to the centre’s website to look at the “events” page. The event that really caught my attention was a Saturday workshop called “Know Your Rights” led by local legal professional Leah Henderson. Attended by about 30 participants, the workshop focused on sharing narratives of Canada’s legal system and discussing how our race, class, and gender shape these narratives. At the beginning of the workshop, everyone introduced themselves. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I said that I was there as a columnist for Imprint and I explained that my intention was to discuss the content of the workshop within the framework of community organizing. Henderson then suggested that participants make a consensus-based decision about whether or not I should be permitted to write about the workshop. Everyone closed their eyes and Henderson said, “Raise your hand if you are


uncomfortable having an article written about this workshop.” My stomach tightened. What if somebody raised their hand? I wouldn’t have a story anymore! But I knew that I had to respect the desires of the group, so I held my breath, listened carefully for the sound of a hand raising, and hoped that everyone was comfortable with me writing about the workshop. When we opened our eyes, Henderson said, “Okay, we’ve decided that you can write about the workshop!” But there were certain parameters: I could not write about participants’ individual personal stories and I could not disclose any of the participants’ names. I could, however, write about Henderson’s personal stories, and I could write about the content of her presentation. I’ve found that my column on the “Know Your Rights” workshop is particularly compelling because it gives an insider’s look on a confidential meeting, which I had nearly been prevented from writing about. These are the stories that can be difficult to access, and therefore extremely rewarding to share with others. The third step, crafting a story from the conversations I’ve had, is secretly my favourite step. It allows me to become the closet introvert that I am, reflect on my experience with the person I’ve talked with, and to craft a plotline from the notes I’ve scratched out into my little black notebook. This is also where journalistic integrity comes in. In most cases, the people I’ve interviewed have been extremely honest with me. They’ve told me things that could make them look really bad if I decided to include it, or focus on it, for my column. They’re honest with me because just as I’ve gotten to know them, they’ve gotten to know me as well. After all, I’ve dedicated the better part of a day, or in some cases an entire weekend, to attending their

organization’s event and to getting to know its members. This is when I have to remind myself that the purpose of my column is to provide an accurate representation of a community organization and to tell the story of that organization from the perspective of one of its members. Of course, this process is never objective, but objectivity is not something I have to worry about as a columnist. Instead, my intent is to craft a story in which I, the subjective storyteller, tell the story of a community group, from the subjective view of a member of that group. Ultimately, my aim is to give voice to that person and to respect their views, even if they are not the same as my own. However, because it is a column, I allow myself to reflect on the interview and to ask critical questions about the goals of the group. A column that I wrote on “Culture Camp” comes to mind. Culture Camp is a series of workshops that brings together city planners, architects, and graphic designers to discuss how to make KW attractive to the “creative class.” Although I dedicated most of my column to discussing Culture Camp from the perspective of its founder, ultimately I had to ask, “Who really benefits from changing our city to attract middle class creative types?” Which begs the critical question, “Who does this further marginalize?” So there you have it. My three step process to documenting the progressive community organizing that is currently happening in KW. Now that I’ve taken a step back to look at all of the community organizations that I’ve written about so far, it creates a vibrant representation of our community, don’t you think? So get out there and join one of these groups! Or write about them! After all, this is your community and these are your neighbours.

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Love

Keegan Tremblay Image by Myles Wilson

A

man of good stature leaves the CEO’s office, closing the door behind him to end the day. In a fine suit, younger than his newborn daughter, he makes his way out of the office building and to his car. “Going home to meet the flowers,” he sings to himself. The flowers in tune are the multi-coloured roses that were delivered to his wife this morning. “If she’s got ‘em in a vase it means things are well.” This particular verse he sings jazzily. “Briefcase first.” The man tosses his briefcase into the car ahead of himself. He turns on the car and it runs. It runs on the road under the sky and through 20 minutes of the evening. It runs from his office to his house athletically. “Bonjour my petite perennial,” he kisses his daughter. “And Madame!” He kisses his wife and eyes the flowers beside a vase on the kitchen counter. The man’s expensive imported shoes drop off his sockfeet and he ‘wooshes’ his baby around the kitchen and to the dining room where he places the baby in her highchair. Forkfuls of green beans, chicken, and mashed potatoes make their way to parental mouths while much attention is paid to the baby. Baby you’re a comedian. Rubbing a handful of food on the side of the highchair? Peeing your pants at the dinner table? Baby, you tiny quipster, you little object. Husband sterilizes baby and dinner dishes while mother rests on the couch in the numbing blue light of the television screen. With dry plates and dry hands, husband finds toys behind baby’s ears. Baby laughs a joyous laugh. “Come on my wee flower.” Husband and daughter join wife to swoon. With flash-

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ing pictures, sounds, and light, the television tells of today while the bambino chews on the corner of a book, her hand, and then the book. After stories, lights out, and walkie talkie tears, parents are in pajamas and pajamas are in bed. “Did you like the flowers?” asks the man. “It was thoughtful of you,” the woman tells the wall. “Thanks hunny, but did you like them?” “They were great,” she explains to the backs of her eyelids. There is silence for a moment. “Great?” “Sorry dear, they were god-damn unbelievable.” The silence is repeated. “Why can’t I make you happy?” “I’m going to bed husband.” “That surely won’t solve anything.” “There wouldn’t be anything to solve if you understood me.” “Come on wife.” “You know I don’t like shit like that.” “Shit like what?” “Flowers, jewelry, babies.” The man is silent for some time. For some time the woman looks at her crossed flannelled arms for support. The man drifts in search of a solution. “Do you remember wife, when I used to chase you around?” “When’s this?” “When we were younger. Remember I used to be hypnotized by you and followed you around?” “Yes husband I remember.” “You dated heaps of other men and I waited until you finally saw me.” The baby radios in a whimper from the other room. Parental patience. The room is silent and only headlight shadows from passing cars move along the bedroom wall. The bed is a King, the sheets are silky, and the room was recently re-redone. The baby’s whimpering subsides. “I settled, husband.” “What?” “I said: I settled on a husband.” The man watches the shadows blindly. The furnace hums in the distant basement. His lip quivers. He thinks of many things to reroute his tears. The furnace hums in the basement. He hates this more than he hates himself but that is something he will not know. In the morning, with a fine suit no wiser than his daughter, a man of good stature enters the CEO’s office, closing the door behind him to start the day.


Dear William

Andrew Posen Image by Kelly Grevers

W

hen I turned eleven, they found me in the orphanage. My orphanage. They found me and took me and they proved with their science that I’m your descendant. Your “direct” descendant. Your great grandson, eighth generation. “My God,” they said. And I sat quietly. There were blood tests. And references made in hushed voices to something called deoxyribonucleic acid. And scientists muttering inaudibly all around me. They had been looking for me. They had been looking for me, and when I turned eleven, they found me. And I sat quietly. There was a doctor there from your hometown. He said he had a map of you, he said. He said it led to me. “You have greatness in you now.” They said I would be great, they said. That I would make great things. Greater even than the eight ‘greats’ required to describe my relation to you, William. They told me I had a gift, passed down from the sixteenth century, and that my gift gave me “historical significance.” And I sat quietly. And then they gave me your last name. As an orphan, my title was negotiable. They took my name from me and gave me yours, with all the expectations that accompanied it. And I sat quietly. When I turned thirteen, I wrote. I wrote, William, just like they told me to, but it came out all wrong. Your “gift” brought me to a school for the “gifted,” but I couldn’t give it anything. The writing I wrote was too ordinary. Too much like a thirteen-year-old boy’s. It didn’t shatter anything. And their line was always the same. “Surely we would have expected better from you, child. Writing is in your blood.” And I sat quietly.

At fifteen, I staged a play at a modest theatre about a blind man and God, and it opened to an enormous crowd and its collective disappointment. Again expectation beat me down, its steady hand casting a shadow deepest black between blows while I tried in vain to protect my thousand existing bruises. The reviews called it a waste, William. They called it a waste and they called me fifteen. And I sat quietly. Before I turned twenty I did the logical thing, got bored and fell in love. I tried my hand at poetry: ballads of adoration and infatuation, twenty altogether. The object of my affection read each effort once and saved them all in a shoebox marked in pencil, which she placed in my arms the day she left. “Thanks, but I will never love you, and they’re just not sonnets, are they?” And I sat quietly. Today I turn twenty-three. Today I turn twenty-three and I leave this to you, written in most careful handwriting with a note that says “Publish.” Are you sitting quietly? You ruined what life I had, William. I spent twelve years crushed under the weight of the “greats” that precede the only name I will ever have for you, and I just can’t breathe anymore. Your legacy has left me to define the human condition in the very age that has murdered it, and my every attempt lets down, sputters, fails to blow away. This is all I’ve known, William, and there is no alternative. With so much to be, I am but little. The King is dead, the Queen is dying, and the only tragic heroes we have left are ourselves. And you yourself taught us how tragedies end, William. Are you sitting quietly? I never said I wanted to be a Shakespeare. And now I’m not even sure that I am. So I will sit quietly for all time. And the rest is silence.

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My actions are not definitive. My existence is fluid. When you think you can look at my life in pieces, reductions, fragments-single moments of action—you forget that I, like you, am a system and despite aging I do not exist in a sequential pattern based on my past, or future. There are times when I am moving because of my past, and there are also times when my currentness would not dictate the movement of my future. My actions are not defining. Though they are distinctive, I recognize the guilt of my colonial, familial lines, and I am trying to figure out how to work out creating a decolonized future. I recognize too the beautiful moments I come from; love stories, adventures, passion. How do we work towards dreams? My actions are not a definition. For those of you who look at my participation in the black bloc, writing it off as damaging to more positive change, as childish and a waste of resources, you forget that you never asked me why. Or what my dreams are. Or of my participation in so-called ‘more positive change’. My movement is a dance, a spectrum, not a delusion, not an internal political ‘definition’ of what it is or is not ‘effective’—do we really know? We are here, now, coming from a past of things that led us here. We are here, now, experimenting with the everyday; we have no answers because we are the futures. My movement is not to be dictated or instilled ‘righteously’. My movement is to create spaces that live and work and dream how I and you and others choose. My movement is to defend the earth and work to lessen the impact of my past, of the machines that insist on defining the future. My movement is to lift off the cement and make room for roots to grow again, to grow roots that I can feel. My movement is to sway in the wind, to recognize my fluidity to dance, to weave roots that roll with the shapes of the earth that crumble and ebb and flow. My definitions are a movement of the past, present, future and dreams. To reduce it is to rip up the earth.

Kelly Grevers, Image by Myles WIilson

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Roots and Wings Anne T. Donahue Image by Hayley Lewis

Roots and wings. It’s a phrase we’ve heard in graduation speeches, teen films and parental heart-to-hearts, all stressing the importance of preserving your past while flying the coop and following your dreams. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s difficult, and sometimes – despite our best efforts – it’s not done at all. So what’s the big deal? Isn’t it easy to break with the past and throw caution to the wind? (Any traditional movie hero would have you think so). Or, are we all doomed to be tied to our histories and blame them at inopportune times? Where is this aforementioned balance of “roots and wings”, and how do we achieve it? Clearly, we all have histories. And regardless of what we’d like to think, they’ve shaped us and made us who we are. (I know – I don’t like to recall my Northern Getaway-wearing past as much as the next person, but I guess I owe my affinity for old lady sweaters to the 1996 version of myself.) But one of the most difficult challenges is to attempt to grow up while being bogged down by old stories and memories of who you once were. Anybody fleeing a small town can relate to the cringe factor of running into old friends, foes or exes at the friendly neighbourhood gas station or the go-to greasy spoon. Anyone attempting to escape reputations or old ways of life can attest to the dread of taking a walk down memory lane at a pubbased high school reunion. So why would you want you to hold on to that? If you didn’t fit into the box previously, why would you want to be reminded of the fact that you never will? If golf courses, cookie cutter homes and stag and does aren’t your way of life, why return to the place – whether physically or mentally – that dictated that they should be? Answer: because it’s important. Despite the fact that we’d like to shed aspects of our past (case in point: my Spice Girls two-member fan club and/or my Star Wars speech of grade six), they were the building blocks to our current existence, and without them – like a game of doomed Jenga – we’d all be reduced to a pile of pretentiousness and a false sense of cool. Without our roots, we wouldn’t have wings (just ask a baby bird), and without the experiences that have tainted us or bogged us down, we’d never learn how to overcome anything or pine for something more. What artists/musicians/actors/free spirits/members of the general population haven’t attributed their current personas to high school events or childhood experiences? While it may be easy to write off those months of studded belts and DC shoes, without them, would you still boast that affinity for fashion? If not for being told to resign to a lifetime of cubicle work, would you still try to prove everyone otherwise? If not for the awkward run-ins at morning breakfast, would you have learned from that big mistake? Would anyone try to break free of the status quo and go on to do something great? Have we achieved the delicate balance of roots and wings without even knowing it? I think we all know that the answer is “yes”. We are the sum of our parts, and by simply growing and continuing to evolve, we’ve successfully mastered the art of having a past and a present that promises a fulfilling future. While our histories dictated who we once were, we’re still in charge of who we are now, and who we’re going to be. Without our roots, we’d never have the drive to stretch our wings in the first place.

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Good Genes Sebastien Bell S

he looked haggard and tired, like sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d lived a hard life. A veteran and hero of the great war that had been her life. She would have gotten a Purple Heart. She sauntered, defiant and proud in her old age, to the front of a classroom, leaning heavily on her crutches, where she would deliver the same speech as she did every time a teacher asked her to introduce students to the marvels of her library. She stood behind her podium, waiting for everyone to get back into class and resume their seats. Mr. Henderson stepped in behind her; she smiled and tried to make small talk. He searched through his things and responded coldly, dismissing her. The hot sting of douchebaggery quickly swept the smile off her face. She was reminded instantly of a sad loneliness that had once been all too common to her. She smelled of boiled cabbages, which made everyone around her slightly ill. Few people were ever rude to her but her absence was always somewhat of a relief. The efforts of pretending to like her and of ignoring the inevitable nausea that came with her presence were exhausting. She knew nothing other than idol kindness, civility, and tolerance. Yes, people were kind to her, but no one ever called her or came to her door, which she wanted more than anything in the world. Existing socially was taxing. She was constantly swimming against a current of distaste. Her relations were tense; those around her thought they were wasting their time being with her, like there was some other important business she was keeping them from. One rainy day, many years before, during the darkest days of her war, she reached her wits end. She ached from the efforts of her life and she was dead tired. She longed deeply for rest, when suddenly her phone rang and broke her stupor. It was her father. He spoke excitedly about a baseball game and the tickets to it, which he held between his fingers. She smiled and dropped everything. Baseball was the great tie that bound them. Their shared passions for the game had built a bond between them years before, one which had only become stronger with time. She had since then been fond of his ability to live above the troubles and dramas of everyday life, a trait she had never known before. His ignorant bliss was impressive to her, it was soothing. The fact of the matter, as her mother explained to her when they returned to the old home and the two had a moment alone, was that her father had always been a dark and sullen man. He had lost many loved ones in his time, and had led a difficult life. When his first and only daughter had been born with a birth defect, he was inconsolable. It was only once the two of them had found their common passion that the old man had changed into the man she knew. She turned around and saw her father, who had been standing in the room long enough to hear the part of his life story he was ashamed of. All he heard was how he had been disappointed to have a crippled child. His daughter, however, looked at him a moment, tears welling in her eyes, and leaped into his arms and wept happily into his chest. His arms wrapped themselves around her as tears silently drew lines on his face and a great smile met his lips. She credited him with everything; it was all due to him.

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Uprooted

Romi Levine

Images by Carly Lewis

Ex Rachel Ann Brickner Last night I saw you in the field outside my window. It was light out, although I knew it was nighttime when I saw you, and I could tell that you had been laboring at something. You looked so tired then, with your back hunched over, your hands gripping the tops of your knees, hanging onto your dirty jeans as you caught your breath. You looked so skinny then, wearing my favorite red flannel shirt, the one that clung to your stomach and arms and made me want to hold you – the one that made you look so soft, and hard, at the same time – like you could protect me, and in that protection, I was somehow protecting you. The red flannel shirt hung on you as if on a coat rack, all baggy and without shape, and I began to question if half of you had disappeared since I last saw you outside my window, smiling, your cheeks full and balmy from your labor, cutting down the dead tree in my backyard. You looked less full than when I once knew you, and all I could see was your taut skin and bones, so white and hard. I watched as you stood up straight and took a deep breath. Your hollow cheeks puffed out then sunk back into their new sickly shape,

I cannot deny our history, The absence of a homeland, They’ll kill us if we pray. We are not welcome. Fleeing west for a better life, Generations ago, Escaping the ghetto. We are wonderers. This is no place to raise a family, High walls secure us, They’ll kill us for our car. We have no future here either. A new country, a new beginning, The freedom to speak, The safety to walk alone. We are at peace.

a tease of how full they had once been. Right then, I had wanted to ask you to come to me, to let me feed you, but I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t see anything except this window, this framed glass that was separating me from you, as if you were a participant in one of my experiments. Yet, I knew that I could not feed you. I had nothing to give. You assembled the chopped wood of the tree you had disemboweled for me, the last time I saw you, into a pile so neat and careful it looked as though you were building a person, making sure that they were whole, their parts all there and complete. I watched as you looked for me through the window, passing from one side of the yard to the other, attempting to arrange the tree into how it once stood, but I knew that you could not see me. It was too dark inside and the sun was shining so brightly then. You had become a glimmer of a man, and I could barely see you because you were as bright as the sky, disappearing into everything and ever-present like every man I’ve ever loved, like my grandfather and my father, and I knew that you would never recover.

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The Big Rooted Tree Devon Butler

In my elementary school playground there was a great, glorious tree. I dubbed it ‘The Big Rooted Tree’. At recess I would climb into its cosmic crevices to seek comfort from its shielding cocoon. Other children played games, To which I was never invited, But the Big Rooted Tree always gracefully welcomed me. Years later, they cut it down. It was too old, its crevices too ‘dangerous’. Now, children play on plastic and metal swings, slides And monkey-bars, High above the ground.

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The Roots Issue  

Volume 9 Issue 7 March 2010

The Roots Issue  

Volume 9 Issue 7 March 2010

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