VOLUME 10 ISSUE 1 SUMMER 2010
My Broken Biological Clock
What Lies Ahead
In Praise of Age
BY DAVID PAUL BORCSOK
BY RACHEL LEHMAN
BY MAEVE STRATHY
The Quarter Life Crisis
I Miss You
BY CARLY LEWIS
BY CHRIS MARC READ
BY ASHLING LIGATE
BY JOEL HENTGES
BY JOEL HENTGES
Inside Back Cover BY EMILY KENNEDY
BY DEVON BUTLER
BY LAURA CARLSON
In Pursuit of Youth BY SARAH ILLMAN
An Old Man Watches the Farmer Break
BY LUIGI DI GENNARO
BY KEEGAN TREMBLAY
BY ERIN OLDYNSKI
No Cure for Bad Seeds
BY SARAH COLLEEN DILLON
BY STEPH YATES
BY NUNO TEIXEIRA & EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER
EDITORIAL Editor in Chief Morgan Alan
Production Manager Lakyn Barton
THE YOUNG ISSUE
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
In your hands you hold the summer issue of Blueprint Magazine. Blueprint is a creative endeavour by the students of Wilfrid Laurier University and members of the greater community. To the incoming students who have received this issue in the mail, I hope you enjoy this slice of our campus’ culture, and use Blueprint as a tool to orient yourself to the few months of pre-university life you have left.
Advertising Director Jonathan Antfleck email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS David Paul Borcsok, Laura Carlson, Sarah Colleen Dillon, Luigi Di Gennaro, Eric Hanson, Sarah Illman, Emmanuel Xerx Javier, Yusuf Kidwai, Nick Lachance, Rachel Lehman, Carly Lewis, Hayley Lewis, Ashling Ligate, Chris Marc Read, Maeve Strathy, Nuno Teixeira, Wade Thompson, Keegan Tremblay, Steph Yates
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
CONTACT Blueprint Magazine 75 University Ave W Waterloo ON N2L 3C5 p 519.884.0710 x3564 f 519.883.0873 blueprintmagazine.ca
Upon reviewing the submissions contributed for this issue, I found that most had a tendency towards waxing nostalgic. Many dealt with the telling of childhood stories, or recollections of a simpler time. It seems that among the memories we hold to ourselves, we cling most steadfastly to those of our youth. The fleeting nature of our childhood makes these memories all the more valuable. Youth is, indeed, a precious commodity. These interpretations of youth are largely dependent, however, on exactly how far one is looking back. Students are faced with the responsibilities and planning expected of adults, but with a safety net of immaturity and carefree idealism that can act as a fall back. Adults face a full onslaught of obligation and duties, while the elderly are both revered as wise and derided as useless and ineffectual. Esteem varies based on one’s age, but in our youth, we are blessed to be unaware of these external perceptions. To be young is to be innocent and untroubled by the ills of our world. But youth is also a time of ignorance, where growth is a necessity for social and physical development. One must be aware if their memories of youth root them in the midst of an uncertain future, or force them to be bound to an idealized past. Morgan Alan Editor-in-Chief
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COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community. Started 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 a board of directors. Content appearing in Blueprint bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. Opinions in Blueprint are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Blueprint’s management, Blueprint, WLUSP or WLU. Blueprint is created using Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.5 using Adobe Creative Suite 4. The circulation for this issue of Blueprint is 6000. Subscription rates are $20.00 per year for addresses in Canada.
NEXT ISSUE Monday, September 2nd on the theme of “Orientation” Submissions due August 23rd
ART BY Joel Hentges The cover is a collection of memories and moments from summers as a child. It is the very vivid memory of exploring the forest near my grandmother’s cottage, and seeing hundreds of fireflies light up for the first time. It also includes moments from my favourite books and my first doodles collected, mixing as memories of childhood do.
BY DAVID PAUL BORCSOK It is certainly a truism that whenever there is mention of youth, one’s thoughts flutter to ideas of childhood and memories of their formative years. With the recent passing of this year’s spring convocation, ideas of youth, questions of maturity, and the experience of liminality are reintroduced in a purposeful manner as to embed this stage within our life course. As one stage of life ends, another begins and we are forced to consider and reconsider our choices, preparation, and become cognizant that we are now empowered with the ability and responsibility to become the determinants of our future. It is at this stage of newfound power and duty that we once again enter a stage of youth; relative neophytes to the responsibilities of adulthood and to the monumentality of the choices that we soon will be forced to endure. It is at this stage where we, as those experiencing this movement and growth, would be wise to recollect and reflect on the conditions that made our life’s achievements possible thus far. This is of course in consideration to the parents, family, friends, and any other manner or means of support that provided the necessary conditions to navigate our lives thus far. As we begin this new stage fuelled by the pride and confidence that our achievements have afforded us, we must
be wary of looking past and forgetting about the virtues that the experiences of others can offer. Being in the midst of this change and transition into adulthood, with all the responsibilities and duties that it entails, can seem as daunting as any task one has ever experienced. As feelings of isolation and pressure begin to mount, staying confident and open is essential. While there will be situations that cause wariness and feelings of insularity to creep in, questioning both your preparation and ability to thrive into the next stage, these obstacles much like those in your more familiar youth shall also pass. The difficulties and challenges presented by today’s situation are not as dissimilar or as unfamiliar as they may superficially seem. In a thematic sense you have experienced these challenges before, and the fortitude, support and ability that guided you once will serve you again. When in doubt, or when the difficulties begin to increase and appear to be unmanageable, I for one find my best advice and source or reassurance not from the bottle, or from any sort of self-help book but rather from my blood donor card: B Positive. Please note that this short article was merely a vehicle to use that cheap joke, but the message is still valid and holds some valuable truth.
ERIC HANSON er-h.com
What Lies Ahead BY RACHEL LEHMAN
University is described as a next step, a new adventure, and a chance to discover who you are. My first year was all those things and many more. I was recently able to select my courses for my second year of studies, thinking it would be a chance to explore my interests and dive into what I am passionate about. However, it has taken me most of my life to figure out what that is. I have gone from unrealistic dreams, like professional actor or singer, to wedding planner or interior designer. I even had a phase when all I wanted to do was be a crime scene investigator, a dream that faded once I realized it was a field highly dependent on the math and science skills that I seriously lack. It wasn’t until I was in my final year of high school that I began to seriously think about what my future would be. The final year of high school is full of decisions and pressures coming from every direction. I was not exempted from these stresses, having been caught between going to either the University of Ottawa or McMaster University. I decided to study political science; it was something that I found an interest in, I saw it as a logical and practical choice of study, and there will always be some form of government. With a deadline to finalize my university acceptance, I was stressed out more than ever. However, I had a place where my worries would always seem to take a back seat in my mind. To cover my tuition costs, I had taken a part time job at a nursing home. While I was working there, it was as if my stresses and worries just went away even for just a short period of time. It was a feeling that I didn’t even know existed, but I knew right away that I loved it and wanted more. At first, working at the nursing home felt strange and foreign to me. Having minimal experience with the elderly, I was quiet and reserved and constantly in fear of various things while at work. Part of my job was assisting with dinner, feeding residents who were unable to feed themselves. I was terrified. What if I missed their mouth, or made them choke by accident? What would we even talk about? I feared the inevitable uncomfortable and awkward silence, I had nothing in common with these people. But by my second month of work, I was finally getting the hang of my job. I was learning the personalities and quirks of the residents, and I had yet to make anyone choke while feeding them. I was happy and having the time of my life,
and I was getting paid to do it. I was transferred to secure area as the summer progressed, where residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s lived. Although I loved all the areas within the nursing home, the dementia unit became my home. The residents were witty and fun, and I heard many heart-warming stories that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. There were some bad days, from residents throwing food at me to unfortunate deaths, but the good days outweigh them. I realized I was relating to these residents better than I ever thought I would and they were changing my outlook on life. There was one female resident in particular whom I will never forget. Though she could never remember my name, she always recognized me when I’d come into work. Before I’d leave for the day, she’d take my hand, look me in the eye and say, “You are so beautiful. You have a bright future ahead of you. Don’t you ever change.” It wasn’t because she was complimenting me that causes me to remember her. It was that she, like many of the other residents, could see the amazing lives that we as students have ahead of us, even when we ourselves cannot. When September came, I quit my job and headed off to university. As I sat through lectures and attended tutorials, I quickly realized that political science wasn’t my thing. I had taken and enjoyed a gerontology course as an elective, but as the program was in jeopardy of being cancelled, it seemed an unrealistic choice for a major. In early January it was announced that the Gerontology and Health Studies programs would be merged into one new program named “Health, Aging and Society”. The program combined gerontology and a practical study of accommodation for a rapidly increasing aging population. I immediately applied and was ecstatic to find out that I had gained acceptance. I am now impatiently waiting to quit my new summer job and go back to my school in Hamilton. When I tell people what I am studying they usually comment on its practicality, not on the way I get a little excited when I explain it or how my smile grows when I share the reasoning behind my choice. For me, the love that I have for my program is stronger than the happiness I have for the practicality of it. I have a special place in my heart for the residents that helped me realize my passion without even knowing it.
My Broken Biological Clock BY DEVON BUTLER
There’s something disturbing about children. Perhaps it’s their pudgy faces, smothered with ice cream and selfishness, or perhaps it’s their freedom from responsibility and reality that unsettles me. While many women may listen religiously to their biological clocks and blush with maternal instinct, I remain unsettled and unwaveringly opposed to motherhood. My reasons for such a strong stance on childrearing are not as selfish as they may appear. Like any other careerdriven person, I strive for success and independence from any weight which may hold me back from achieving all that I am capable of. Besides my own personal aspirations (which do not include mother of the year) I can’t help but feel grief for all the children who are unwillingly brought into this world. While experiencing the 24/7 high of adolescence, there is an inescapable ignorance to the worlds of war, drugs, sex, pressure and disappointment. Being a pessimist I call this condition ‘ignorance’ while some of my more optimistic friends may simply refer to it as innocence. Perhaps it’s my oversensitivity which urges me to feel sad for all the children skipping outdoors, who in only a matter of years, will be swearing to look cool, having sex to satisfy their self-esteem issues and faced with life-altering decisions, in which case they will most likely end up making the wrong ones. In tight situations I often ask, What Would Childhood Devon Do? Childhood Devon would cry until she was cuddled next to her parents and reach towards Buttercup, a white stuffed bunny of great significance. Childhood Devon was filled with wonder about how things worked and what lay beyond. Childhood Devon was full of great ideas, stories and inspirations. Then she became Pre-teen Devon. Pre-teen Devon hung out with the wrong crowd, was embarrassed by the parents who once comforted her and tried with every fibre of her being to hang onto her imagination.
This hazy place between childhood and adulthood fascinates me as it is only vaguely understood, even while you’re experiencing it. While these impressionable years are valued in many cultures as representing the mark of becoming a man or woman, I feel they also signify the loss of imagination and the loss of ignorance. Don’t get me wrong; in this case ignorance is a good thing. After all, ignorance is bliss. ‘Adult Devon’ has rekindled what’s left of her mangled imagination; after it’s been trampled on by negativity, criticism and rejection. I’ve managed to salvage whatever potential I have left after my pristine imagination has been corrupted by the corrosive forces of adulthood, responsibilities and deadlines. It seems to me that our adult years are spent fulfilling these obligatory tasks in fragments while desperately trying to reconnect with our carefree pasts. Perhaps this is why I feel so strongly about never having children; because having children won’t be the same as becoming one again. Children add new layers of responsibility and accountability. Looking into a child’s eyes after having passed through the blind wonderment, all I can see is a person who will one day experience everything I’ve already suffered through; a being that will cry and take their clothes off and question their identity. What is so unsettling about children is that they are exactly what I want to be; I am envious of them. Sure, we as adults get to feel pleasures they can’t conceptualize and drink alcohol and make money, but who wouldn’t trade these crutches for a continuous feeling of safety and purity. I cannot feel maternal because I am young. I am a permanent resident of that hazy place in which I am constantly questioning my identity, my purpose and attempting to understand what ‘reality’ is. And while I am positive these questions won’t be answered until after my biological clock has completely broken down, maybe that’s when I will come together as a ‘real’ adult, however unsettling that may seem.
In Praise of Age BY LAURA CARLSON
People find it odd how much I love old people. I don’t mean it in a patronizing way, but when I see old people and interact with them, I get the feeling that many have about children: I absolutely love them. The elderly are so confident and comfortable with themselves; they not only appreciate what they have had in life, but also the time they have left. Society tells us that youth is the highlight of life, and that as we get older, we’re simply getting closer to our inevitable death. I, however, can’t wait to be a senior citizen. Good health providing, retirement is my ideal lifestyle. Heading south for the winter, not having to stress about work or children, having time to drink my daily coffee and read the newspaper, morning walks, afternoon naps and being surrounded by friends I’ve spent a lifetime collecting sounds pretty perfect to me. Instead of always wondering what’s next and stressing about what the future will hold, you have a life to reflect on and good times to cherish. So as the years roll by and those around me come to dread their birthdays and lament their lost youth, I eagerly await what I view as the best part of life.
Standoff NICK LACHANCE
Friends WADE THOMPSON
BY MAEVE STRATHY
For any of us in the 22-25 age range, who either have graduated, are currently graduating, or will be graduating soon (God willing), we are in a stage of transition. We’re leaving the One Card existence and entering something totally new - which I will not call the real world, because it’s either always been real or never has. This something new, whatever it is brings with it doubt, fear, discomfort, excitement, anxiety, and everything in between. I’ve gone through somewhat of a crisis myself. I’ve spent pretty much all my time since January thinking about what’s next and all of the questions that come with that thought. All the contemplation has resulted in many crying sessions, breakdowns, and phone calls to my mother. After laying out all of the options, making dozens of pros and cons lists, drinking wine and eating brie - perhaps feigning sophistication brings you closer to it - and talking to just about everyone I know, I made my decision. Now that it’s made, no crisis. So I guess that’s what the crisis is: the confusion, the doubt, the thoughts, the questions, and which possibility is the right one. I don’t think we have anything to worry about in terms of what’s next; we just have to worry about making the decisions in order to get there. Once you’ve made your decision, don’t look back. Have courage in your convictions. Now that I know what I’m doing, I get to - and should - enjoy getting excited about it. That brings me to my second point: don’t look back, and especially don’t look back to high school days. I scoff more at people who reminisce about high school than those celebrating quarter-life crises for their 24th birthday. What on earth was better about high school than now? Fake ID anxiety? Listening to “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne on repeat because your best friend doesn’t love you back? Lying to your Mom and saying you’re going out for “appetizers” when really you’re going to a bar in the village where you order a lychee martini even though you have no idea what a lychee is? It looks like seafood in the bottom of your glass, but it tastes kinda fruity, but I digress. I don’t think there’s anything to look back at and wish for. I think all the fun is ahead, and that it doesn’t stop. I have a feeling things will just keep getting better. Embrace the crisis, but don’t wallow too long, because there’s a lot to look forward to.
The Quarter Life Crisis BY CARLY LEWIS
I sat at my desk with the letter unfolded in front of me. The envelope it arrived in had my name written on it in calligraphy and was torn up somewhere on the floor. I scanned the text for reassuring key words: “Congratulations.” “Welcome.” “Accepted.” Nothing.
Polaroids I HAYLEY LEWIS
What I saw became a confusion that I can only equate to losing something that you’re positive you remembered to bring: “Although your application was impressive, we regret to inform you that we cannot, at this time, accept you into this program. We wish you all the best in the - ” . That was enough. I had been rejected from a school for the first time in my life. A pursuit that I thought would come so simply - being accepted to any and every Masters program I wanted - was not such a breeze after all. There had been a bump in my plans, a change in the game that I was not expecting. And I could not take it. Continued on page 12
Polaroids II HAYLEY LEWIS
Faster than I could Google “flights to Berlin”, I contacted every graduate school I had applied to, begging them to formally withdraw my applications. Being rejected from a school that I did not even want to go to was all it took to shake my self-perception. For months I agonized. If I was as intelligent as I believed myself to be, why was I not getting accepted into every grad school I wanted? In my previously more nomadic days, I was rarely settled, always moving. I would have to become this way again. That was when I started my nightly cruises through Craigslist. I considered Paris, New York, Berlin, even returning to a cabin in the Thai jungle that I had once visited. That would be the ticket: something unorthodox and faraway, a place where I could ignore my looming, inevitable 24th birthday in peace and escape the horror that was the rejection letter I held in my shaking hands. How old I will live to be I cannot know, but a quick look back at my family’s average life expectancy brought me to one conclusion: that I was nearing the end of the first quarter of my life. I have friends who are married, friends who are mothers and fathers, friends who are executives for powerful companies and friends who tour the world in famous bands. My life, although fun, happy and generous, was not as exciting as playing guitar at Japanese music festivals or having a business card that people cared to have in their wallet. I was now in my mid-twenties and an intern, with enough travel experience to know that I didn’t want to be where I was, but no money to go anywhere else. Nights of tossing and turning and creative strategizing about how I could climb the corporate ladder fast enough or somehow inflate my bank account to a size that would afford me an apartment in Florence ensued. After I awoke from these haunted slumbers filled with nightmares of forever having to brave the morning commute or punch a time card day in and day out, I would
head straight for the mailbox and my e-mail account to hopefully hear from another university, finding out that someone had accepted me. It was on a particularly gloomy trip to the mailbox (I had a sneaking, and as it turned out, accurate, suspicion that I was about to be rejected from a university in Vancouver) that it hit me: there is nothing that I’m doing that I can do better at this very moment, and my qualms have nothing to do with me. Rather, I am experiencing a crisis. I had heard of these before. Soccer moms trading in their mini-vans for Mustangs, grown men suddenly showing up to work wearing leather jackets in hopes of reclaiming their youth. An impossible feat I knew, but the thought of going back a few years and being a little bit younger, having a little bit more time… It was not a viable option, but it sounded better than so strongly resenting my age. And that’s when I knew: I, at the age of 23 years, was experiencing a Quarter Life Crisis. My Google searches went from “Williamsburg loft” to “What the hell is a quarter life crisis or am I just insane?” The results I found were as follows: The Quarter Life Crisis is a term applied to the period of life immediately following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the early twenties to the early thirties. I read on: Characteristics of a Quarter Life Crisis may include: Disappointment with one’s job Financially rooted stress Re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships Desire to have children Insecurity regarding personal accomplishments Nostalgia for university or school life Boredom with social interactions In order of appearance: I’m a freelance writer, so being “disappointed with one’s job” is just part of the routine. Enter “financially rooted stress” also part of the job de-
I was now in my mid-twenties and an intern, with enough travel experience to know that I didn’t want to be where I was, but no money to go anywhere else.
scription, and particularly harrowing when you recall my previous affinity for sleuthing Craigslist for apartments in faraway lands. Come to think of it, I had just whittled down my Facebook friends list because I was questioning how many of those names were really my friends. I had also been hearing almost weekly from my very old fashioned, very Italian, very concerned aunts about how hard it is to have a normal pregnancy once you’ve passed the age of 22 - which does not jive well with a promise I made to myself to never become engaged (or for that matter, pregnant) before the age of thirty. I did miss the ease of being an undergraduate student, and I was working so much that I barely had time for Taco Tuesday. Of course I was experiencing “boredom with my social interactions!” It was all starting to make sense. I was bored, I was on a cusp. I was worried and I was skeptical, but I was not doomed. Seeing the phrase “Quarter Life Crisis” on paper calmed my tangled nerves, not because it cured the agony of walking with my head down to the mailbox everyday and checking my e-mail with my eyes peaking through the hands I kept cupped over my face, but because I realized I was not hopeless; I was simply adapting. I had previously thought of myself as something of an extremely well adjusted beast, but here I was questioning my self worth because of a few rejection letters. When I finally confided to some friends about my secret nightly freak-outs and unrealistic apartment hunts, I found I was not alone. My world traveling musician friend admitted that he feared the sophomore slump so much he had nightmares about it, and another friend who had just graduated from the best business program in the country had yet to find a job for himself despite finishing at the top of his class. I took comfort in their instability first, and then in my own. My fear was actually just possibility draped in uncertainty. For the first time in a long time
I was not coasting along a semestered school schedule or a summertime that would ultimately end in onward academic progression. I was free, albeit a little fucked up about it. Fear can be a great educator, and through what could very well go down in history as the worst Quarter Life Crisis of all time, I learned what I wanted and what I didn’t. My expectations were based on unrealistic goals, laid out for me by the MTV generation and the twenty year old millionaires who parade across our television screens. But, like all of us, these figurines of modern life will eventually expire their contracts, be taken off of television, and be just as jobless as any of us have found ourselves at any given time. The months between applying for graduate school and figuring out my next move will forever be remembered as miserable and discouraging. There were tears, I will admit and there was an excessive amount of waxing existential over excessive amounts of bottles of wine numbering far beyond what my freelancing income should have allowed. There were frequent phone calls to my mother, with whom I could share the secret of my worsening madness, and there were moments in which I questioned whether I was cut out for grad school in the first place. But in this meltdown - this Quarter Life Crisis - I learned that even if things don’t end up the way you want them to, there is always something else. Even if that thing is temporarily punching a time card day in and day out, and even if that thing is an irrational flight out of wherever you do not want to be. There will always be Berlin. Editor’s note: Carly will be attending Ryerson in the fall, to work towards a master’s degree in journalism.
In Pursuit of Youth BY SARAH ILLMAN
When hair is dyed, concealers and polishes put on, dietary supplements taken and the shapes of bodies altered with plastic surgery, thoughtful consumption is deferred in favour of a youthful pursuit of beauty. The ideals on which these decisions are modeled, however, are inherently flawed. It is time to reflect on what one does to themselves when their bodily appearance is physically and chemically altered. Cosmetic surgeries contain the most obvious and perhaps most destructive risks of the methods by which physical appearances are transformed. There are medical risks associated with the use of anesthesia and with surgical intervention. Psychologically, one must adjust to seeing a different body in the mirror every morning and recognizing it as belonging to oneself. Some people find this difficult to do, as some cosmetic procedures are associated with depression and body image issues. But what about the majority, who opt to merely decorate the body we have as opposed to have it surgically made to look younger? Many beauty products (particularly shampoos, deodorants and skin creams) contain a class of chemical preservatives called parabens. Although Health Canada considers the current level of exposure to be within safe bounds, parabens have been under fire in recent years due to their possible link to cancers, particularly breast cancer. Not surprisingly, hair dyes contain some pretty heavy-duty chemicals as well. One chemical in particular is phenylenediamine (PPD). Although not classified as a carcinogen, it is on Health Canada’s ‘chemical hotlist’ and is restricted solely to use in dyes. PPD is a common allergen, has links to asthma and potential connections have been made to several types of cancer. That said, we don’t just put chemicals on our bodies – we also put them in. Anti-oxidants have been thrust into the mainstream in recent years as a necessary anti-aging tool. Anti-oxidants are found in a variety of foods such as green veggies, citrus fruits, nuts, and tomatoes. Their basic function is to hinder the destructive impact of our normal physiological processes, such as the processes that make us old. This is a good thing – eat up your leafy greens for their nutrients as well as their anti-oxidative properties. But should supplements be taken to aid in this? Anti-oxidants are toxic in large quantities, and have different functions depending on the type of antioxidant and body part in question. The use of medications, nutrient and enzyme supplements are widespread as a means of dietary control, and we lack a comprehensive understanding of how it all fits together. As a bodily manifestation of youth is sought, the essence of what it is to be young at heart is missed. In pursuit of the vitality of youth, society may be slowly destroying itself. So what separates a person from being youthful and being decrepit? For me, it is laughter. It is the pursuit of knowledge and love and it is a lifetime of being yourself and enjoying the world around you. Painting by SARAH GEORGES
Aged Hydrant YUSUF KIDWAI
BY LUIGI DI GENNARO
All the poets are dead, And every lover is no more; So too the words that quills once writ and too the words they bore. And math and machines and technology have invaded sombre heads; And now the feathers are put to flames The books are no more read.
Where is romantic mystery That found the lips their kiss, inspired by devotion From the woman one man missed? Where is that careless curiosity that bloomed that doomĂ¨d Poison Tree? Where are the nothings diction smoothed on pristine papel sheets; Sweet nothings to make two gorgeous lovers shine their ivory feet. Where are the words no longer read? Who decided to leave the poets dead?
I Miss You
BY CHRIS MARC READ It was around the time that I switch from beer to whiskey, no breeze and Indian summer, that my ex-lover walks onto the patio and asks to move to a table in the shade. We catch up on all the weekly boy/boy drama: who’s fucking who, who’s in Toronto doing what, a funny anecdote about run-ins with drag queens. I drink, laughing and smiling. Then something shifts. He has more to say about who he’s made cry in bathrooms at parties and who he’s made out with on kitchen counters than anything I could whine about from my past work week. I find myself staring at the smudged admission stamp on his wrist. I realize that while he’s here to relish in his present, I had waited all week for us to sit and remember the past. A song comes on from two years ago; I stop his story to laugh about the one time we danced to it while waiting for a cab home. He doesn’t remember. I sit and stare onto the street, watching busses and beaters go by, thinking about when everything was simple. Fake-IDs and drinking away the tips I made waiting tables during the day. Retro nights, with hair dye and old men winking and willing to buy us drinks. Everything I could do and say, opinions I was allowed to have, no fear of commitment or strings, and no reference to repercussions. When people had an idea of who I was when my name was uttered in a room, or called out across the floor. A reputation. I shake his hand on the way out, smelling the same cologne that had been there years before. I tell him it was my day off, and that I was off for a workout. He talks about the plans he had for the rest of the day, all reminiscent of the lifestyle and culture I’d once introduced him to. I look off in the distance as I say goodbye to him, feeling old, bored and tired. I miss what it felt like to skip down the street wasted, thin-skinned, young, and dancing, waiting for a cab to be called. Waiting for You NICK LACHANCE
BY ASHLING LIGATE
On a damp December afternoon, Grandma and I were coming to the completion of a mission: Operation Onions. There was no greater fun to be had, as it never really snowed in Vancouver and there is no such thing as a rain angel. That evening’s meatloaf called for two large cooking onions, of which there was a full sack squatting by the chest freezer in the basement. Always at the ready and infinitely versatile, this hearty bulb was my Grandma’s rooted twin. I gripped one onion tightly between my eight year-old hands to make sure that I would not drop my precious loot. As we made our way upstairs, I stayed on the tails of Grandma’s talcum breezes. I kept my distance close enough so that my nose could almost skim the backs of her navy wool trousers. “Now you will go back in the front room and ask your Auntie Linda to go over that Third Sonata with you one more time,” my grandmother instructed me as we ascended the final two steps. Auntie Linda had received her doctorates in Music Theology and was a professor at an obscure Evangelical college in Missouri. Her authority was diminished in my mind. I couldn’t understand how she could claim she was a doctor when her only patients were first-year students who blushed at the mention of a pianist. My eyelids pulled together like lips at the spray of a fresh lemon wedge, though as a young thing I only knew of such tartness from reading aloud the explanatory notes in The Joy of Cooking. Grandma refused to buy citrus because it was “frivolity for the bourgeois”. The light bulbs sitting in the kitchen ceiling fixtures, covered in a film of bacon grease and flakes of dead skin, afforded the room a degree of light unknown to the depths of the basement. If it hadn’t been for our regular trips to the bowels of that old house, I’d have just as soon forgotten that the upstairs rooms were wired with electricity. The day before we had gone to Safeway to pick up a pack of toilet paper rolls, which was a rare purchase. We were only allowed to use two squares per pee, three for a number two. Grandma policed this policy with great fervour.
There was a Santa Claus sitting in the produce section and when it was my turn to pop up on his knee, I asked him for an oil lamp. I wanted to win Grandma’s approval by showing her that I was a levelheaded lady. On nights at Grandma’s house, I drifted off to the musty stables and dank root cellars of the Jeffry farm in Salmon Arm. After Grandma’s death, I unearthed her journal from 1934 from deep within a box marked as kitchen tools. Each Sunday she had written of the sinful pleasure of washing her hair, which I suppose was the only indulgence acceptable for farmer’s daughters. Just as we were set to part ways – I going to the front room, Grandma headed to the chopping block to finish dinner – I was stopped in my tracks by a pair of tiny black dots, small and piercing through a thick barricade of bifocals. Grandma needed only to bend an inch or so forward to bring her face to meet mine, as we were almost equal in stature. Valna Jeffry had always stood at 5 feet 1 inch. Such delicacy had granted her a range of social mobility unknown to her fellow oxen sisters. “By the time you leave to go back to Ontario, I will hear you playing that Sonata perfectly. Do you understand?” There was a perfect stillness in her face as she waited for my answer. I could feel her exhale on my supple cheeks. Her breath was sweetened by the perfumes of age: eau d’old flesh, flavoured with a pinch of Polident. The permed wisps that sat atop her head vibrated slightly, creating a humming halo of grey encircling her age-spotted skull. At Grandma’s memorial service last week I made an offering to our staunch matriarch, ever reigning silently from beyond the crypt. Before I lowered the box of her ashes – a small green tin no bigger than a box of biscuits – into the dank hole in the earth, I snatched the onion that was tucked in the inside pocket of my down vest. I quickly snuck the bulb into the hole and then placed Grandma on top of it. Like an Atlas who has won her pardon and now sits atop a small globe, its layers soon to be eaten through by grubs and earthworms. May my fallen goddess rest in peace.
No Cure For Bad Seeds BY SARAH COLLEEN DILLON
Back in the fifties, psychologists developed a process called Past Life Regression therapy. Oftentimes, patients will complain of a skin rash, a burning sensation or an emotional or sexual block. In other words, something that cannot be otherwise rectified by traditional therapies, doctors or medications. It is thought that these physical attacks to the body are manifestations of our past lives. They – the old us – are trying to tell us something. They are saying, pay attention. this is important. Skeptical? It works. When I say that it works, I mean that a person’s level of suggestibility, when combined with a psychologists’ height of imagination and originality, can equal one hell of a fictional ride. Or, the memories you remember are actually yours. In my case, they were real. The psychologist will then hypnotize the patient and guide them through a series of steps and then, ultimately, toward a revelation. This revelation is your past life, or lives. The patient will be disappointed to learn that they were not Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, Kathy Acker or Jesse James. They will find, however, that they become filled to the brim with guilt, sadness, anger or fear that they can’t place. These feelings are said to have derived from the aforementioned past life (or lives) and to have carried on to the patients’ current life. The intended result is for the patient to make peace with their past life by acknowledging and accepting the guilt/sadness/anger/fear and therefore heal the physical problems of their current life. While most patients claim relief, many say that they still feel some side effects from the treatment. Namely, a pushing in the parts of their bodies that were once inhabited by their former selves. A pushing. A discomfort that can only be described as a sort of sorrow. These old memories are no longer content with being acknowledged. They don’t want forgiveness. They want to be remembered. They want to be seen. They want out. In my case, the pushing of my past life made a mark. It made scars. One scar for every important event in any life I may (or may not have) had. It happened in the span of
three hours, after my first regression therapy appointment. It comes in shots and blazes. Once I remember, the scar appears. Take the first life I remembered. In this life, my father puts me up in a game of aces with an old gypsy man with no eyes. My father loses. So you see, it isn’t true that gypsies steal children. They win them. The old man and I spent the rest of our lives in silence, staring lazily into the fire, knowing that we were loved, even if it wasn’t in the way that we wanted. This was my first scar, at the base of my neck where a small torrent of loneliness cut itself into my throat. The first time I saw it, I felt it first. A pressing at my throat, a sad aching pushing. I looked in the rear view mirror of my car and there it was. I squinted when I saw it. Oftentimes, we don’t see a scar coming. It’s a sucker punch that leaves a nasty mark. A maggot-shaped clump of skin, looking very Dawn of the Dead, pushing its hand through the soil. A red and puffing up at the base of my neck. That divot in the center, the Achilles’ heel of the neck - it’s called the suprasternal notch – it bulged out, hypertrophic and pissed off. I thought, there is no way I am going to survive this. I clipped my eyes back to the road that was no longer a road, but a weaving, shaking labyrinth. I was going blind, I was sure of it. It started with a thump at the back of my head. It travelled slowly around and inside my ears to the grips at the backs of my eyes. It whispered, you aren’t getting out of this alive. I fucking knew it. I bet you didn’t know that blindness isn’t dark; it is a whiteness that spreads. And although you can see through it, nothing you see is real. It is the ultimate practical joke. What you see is going to get you killed. What you see is a joke. I felt as though I was swaying side to side, but when I bent my head and raised my hand to steady myself, there was a stillness that should have calmed me but only made my eyes sting and I blinked, restraining what I knew would inevitably come. I shook my head and talked myself home. Read more at blueprintmagazine.ca Painting by SARAH GEORGES
BY STEPH YATES
My friend will be here any minute now. I am packing up the small meal I’ve made for us, folding the napkins, tucking it all into my bag. I am thinking of a place I’d like to show him. Tap, tap, tap. That must be him at the door. We go by bicycle. My friend leads until we reach the city’s limits; here I pull ahead. We have met the river now and ride along its side. Its soggy banks hang low and collapse into the water. There can be beauty in a vulnerability revealed, and these banks are the bare ankle of this river’s potential to change: they give away that what is now may not always be. We lay our bikes down in the grass and sit on a bench that faces the river. My friend and I say very little, and generally between us there is not much to be said. He takes a bite of the sandwich I made for him. A herd of cows grazes on the opposite bank. We are nearing sundown now. I am aware of the cows’ smell now too, along with the smell of the wet earth, and the fresh sweat on my friend. I reach into my bag to grab the two cans of beer I brought for us. I met another river once, a great river that was also lined with cows but presented its body quite differently from this one. Its banks had been sculpted and set by the people, not left to respond to the wake like this. Its banks were paved, corseted, so that not an inch of room was left for the current to veer or expand; it appeared to be important that the great river remained just as it was. I stayed three days by that river. My skin feels cool here this evening, but I can recall a hot sun that slowed me down while walking around that great river’s city, a city very strange to me. I had seen a man, sick beneath a white tarp, lying near the bank and returned to him a day later. Approaching his crumpled shape over twenty paces or so, I grew anxious as I saw that a breath no longer moved the tarp. And finally standing close to him, stunned, I saw that he was dead. Of the many beings that loved the great river, the initial moment of this death mattered most to the flies that were humming over the exposed parts of flesh, smacking their lips obscenely. The dead man’s head arched back beside the rest of him and the little beasts crawled in and out of his gaping mouth, his hollow eyes and the place where his nose was supposed to be. I could still see the body from where I sat down on a step nearby. Now missing the light of life, what did that body mean? Was this decaying heap of human just another object to dispose of? The people of this place insisted that no, there was something special about this emptied body and that before it is given to the river, it must undergo Ritual. Ritual
Sometimes we are aware of the purring of cars on a highway not too far off. But I am having trouble staying here, inside my body beside my friend. My thoughts move like liquid, and in my mind I see things that are not here.
June Chairs CARLY LEWIS
is what crashes through the streets as clay pots are broken; flower parts scattered; there, a pungent stench; some powder, so bright; the silk is strewn; the feet, erect. Then comes the vital flame. Certainly it is captivating, but does it mean something? Oh, it is sacred, they said. Wait a second! What is that? That, there! Floating just there! I am leaning forward on the bench, squinting a little, trying to make out what that form is passing in the river before us. It can’t be a body. No, no it’s not a body, just a large shrub, and an uprooted long-leaved plant. The way it’s floating there and swaying like a sprawled Ophelia corpse set off my imagination, I suppose. I can see there are still signs of green left in it, but with its meaty roots outstretched in plain view, it is beyond saving. There, an organic mess, another dying pile readying itself for the earth; is it really so different from the remains of a man? My friend lets out a sigh. This evening, he and I listen to the river near us. Sometimes we are aware of the purring of cars on a highway not too far off. But I am having trouble staying here, inside my body beside my friend. My thoughts move like liquid, and in my mind I see things that are not here. While sitting on that far away step, in that strange place by the great river, I spotted a very young child, just a baby really, weaving through the passing people. She danced over objects laid out on the ground, brushed against the sides of goats and women’s skirts. She teetered over the dead body resting there and came right up to me, gurgling. Leaning on my knee to fumble with the folds in my pants, she then surrounded my hand with her ten round, grubby fingers and tugged at my own. This little girl, the black of a crow’s coat smeared around her eyes, looked to my face and cooed. A dead body there behind her said everything she did not. I’m done my beer now. In these last moments of today’s weak light, I look over my hands. They are calloused, creased and hardened, not the same soft hands that touched the fat fingers of a wandering baby. Surely a hundred years have passed since that day; certainly a great deal of space has been crossed. But I’m not quite sure what else makes up the difference between those hands and these. There is a sharper coolness stirring now, about our calves and ankles but inching slowly upwards, and the bugs of this river are making their hunger known. This day has grown old and is turning. It’s time to head back now.
A New Friend NICK LACHANCE
An Old Man Watches the Farmer Break BY KEEGAN TREMBLAY
I couldn’t help but watch from the deck. The day unrolling properly. The earth still pushing the grass from it’s skin, so the blades stood tall as the neighbour’s mower cut them down. I checked my reflection in the window- so not to lose track of myself- and repositioned my glasses, catching sight of the police.
They pulled into the driveway of the house across the road from ours, looking for a boy, the one who won last night’s bar fight. His father in the field with clear sight of home, brought his tractor near. And when they took the boy out from his house, he was as graceful as a butterfly: an overgrown larva, staggering through the country air.
Jesus Camp BY ERIN OLDYNSKI
When I was ten years old my mom and step-dad sent me to a Jesus Camp for one week. I’m still not sure why they decided to send me to this camp – neither of them were religious and I could count on one hand the number of times I’d been to church. Perhaps it was because my mom and step-dad had only recently been married and they needed someone to watch me while they spent some alone time together. Or it may have been the influence of certain relatives who had just become born again Christians. Either way, it was off to Jesus Camp I went. On my first night at camp, I felt ill and vomited onto the floor of my cabin. I shared this cabin with six other girls who were my age as well as a teenager who was our camp leader. For the next few days, the cabin smelled like macaroni and cheese and stomach acid. This event caused the other girls to exclude me from their group for the remaining week. Instead, I became friends with our camp leader, who told me that she had accepted Jesus into her life. On the second day of camp, I discovered that the snack shop offered a delicious dessert known as “the kitchen sink.” The kitchen sink was as many scoops of ice cream as you could eat, covered in nuts, M&Ms, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream. I ate an entire kitchen sink every day for the next week. Halfway through the week, all of the kids at camp were herded into the central gymnasium for a presentation. I remember this presentation very well. Fifty or so of us sat on the gymnasium floor while one of the camp leaders stood on stage. She held up a paper plate to the audience. “This is you,” she said to us. “Whole and pure. Virgin.” She folded the paper plate in half and held it up for us to see. “This is you when you have sex outside of marriage.” She folded the plate in half again so that it was one quarter of its original size. “This is you when you have sex with two people outside of marriage.” She folded it again so that it was no longer recognizable as a paper plate. “Each time you have sex with someone outside of marriage, you give away a piece of yourself to them. Only by saving ourselves for marriage can we be pure and whole.”
I was horrified. I didn’t want to become a shriveled up paper plate! At the end of the presentation she informed us that there were silver rings and bibles for sale. The silver ring signified a vow of celibacy. I bought the ring and bible for $12 and promised that I would wear the ring until it was replaced with a wedding band. On the last night of camp, my cabin’s camp leader asked me if I wanted to reserve a place for myself in heaven. I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by this but it sounded much better than not having a place reserved for me in heaven, so I said yes. She led me into a small prayer room and recited a verse from the bible. She asked me to repeat it and I did. “Do you accept Jesus into your life?” She asked. I remember looking at her for a while, studying her hands and fingers, and noticing how closely trimmed her fingernails were. Her hands lay palm up in her lap. Tears welled up in my eyes. “Yes,” I said, “Yes I do.” She hugged me and said, “Now you have a place reserved for you in heaven. Wasn’t that easy?” My mom and step-dad came to pick me up the next day. I ran toward them and wrapped my arms around each of them, eager to share what had happened during the week. I told them about how I’d been sick and that the girls in my cabin had been mean. I told them that I’d saved myself from becoming a crumpled up paper plate and that there was now a place reserved for me in heaven. They hugged me tight and said that they were proud. They said that we could go anywhere I wanted for dinner that night so we each ate a kitchen sink and then we drove home. I never went back to that camp or to any Jesus Camp for that matter. I wore the silver ring into my teenage years until I realized that I carried an incredible amount of guilt with it. What that week has taught me is that I do not need to think of myself as a paper plate in order to be valued, that I do not need a place reserved for me in heaven in order to live a meaningful life, and that, most importantly, overindulging in earthly pleasures such as desserts that contain ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ can be incredibly gratifying.
BY NUNO TEIXEIRA & EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER
Next Issue Blueprint’s next issue will be on the theme of Orientation. This will be our O-Week special edition issue, and will be distributed on move-in day. Tell us about your thoughts on schooling and unschooling, academia, education and more. Incoming students - what are your expectations about what university will be like? Are you excited? Terrified? To current students - what’s your advice to the frosh? If you’re not a student or don’t care about school, think about other ways the word can be interpreted - finding yourself, sexual orientation... Submissions are due August 23rd to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, go to blueprintmagazine.ca.
Volume 10 Issue 1 Summer 2010