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The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell. —Ben Okri

Omg she’s perfect! Goals! —Sound familiar? “Perfect” is a word that gets thrown around a lot. A lot a lot. When a first date goes exactly as we plan it to, we call it perfect; when we finally get that slice of pizza we were craving, we call it perfect; and when we have a generally great day, we call that perfect too. It seems like “perfect” has come to be synonymous with “amazing.” It means beautiful, praise-worthy, satisfying, and jealousy-inducing. When something is “perfect,” it is the best that it can be. But why should perfection always dictate what’s worth celebrating? Why should flawlessness always be the highest ideal? This month’s theme, “imperfection,” serves as a homage to the struggles, challenges, flaws, and setbacks in our lives. Our experiences and achievements are never perfect, but that doesn’t stop them from being wonderful. Our blemishes give us character. And as we move into dark times—whether personal or political—it becomes evermore important to remember that our imperfections are what drive us to keep getting better. This theme was inspired by aspects of the Buddhist-derived Japanese concept, Wabi Sabi: a worldview that ascribes beauty to that which is imperfect, ephemeral, and incomplete. As an aesthetic, this striking message can be found in certain styles of pottery made with intentional “imperfections.” At first glance, these tea bowls are rustic, simple, and unrefined. But when you look a little closer, the true quality and remarkable design become clear. In effect, the “flaws” are what make the pottery even more beautiful. As a philosophy, Wabi Sabi describes beauty in that which is transient and incomplete. Nothing lasts forever and nothing achieves perfection. And this can be a beautiful thing. Our flaws make us unique, and our setbacks make our outcomes unique. The point here is not that we shouldn’t think of what we want as perfect (although this probably best avoided), but that we should question whether “perfect” always be what we really want. Once again, a big thanks to all of the artists and writers who contributed to this issue. Incite Magazine is the product of many talented McMaster students, who make it the entertaining, insightful, exciting publication that it is. As well, a big thanks to the extremely devoted editors-in-chief, Jason Lau and Sunny Yun, who deal with many of the most imperfect parts of the process. And to our readers, thank you for supporting us—we hope that the art, articles, poetry and short stories in this issue bring the beauty of imperfection into the spotlight. Sincerely,

Lauren Gorfinkel Art Director 2016–17


CONTENTS 6 8 11 14 16 20 22 25 26 28 31 32 35 36 38 43 45 48 50 52 56 58 60 63 64 67 68 71 73 75 76

Editor Stories Transcending the Black and White World of Dichotomous Thinking / Angela Xie Ekphrastic / Chukky Ibe The 4- or 5-Story Bright, Yellow, and Glamorous Hotel / Griffin Marsh triphasic / Emma Hudson Chill the F*CK Out! / Gali Katznelson Decaying House / Harry Krahn A Plus / Valerie Luetke Where Do Eyes Meet / Aranya Iyer Heirlooms / Alexandra Marcaccio Oddity / Robert Feurtado Unnatural Selection / Coby Zucker We Are All Forgotten / Jordan Samuel Anastasiadis Gogo’s Hut / Ruvimbo Musiyiwa Something Old, Nothing New, 27 Things Borrowed, and Something of a Greenish Hue/ Aminata Mageragat A Lion and His Girl / Srikripa Krishna Prasad Brittle November / Sherri Murray Coming Out of the Coffin / P.V. Maylott Conglomerates / Sonia Leung Torn Photographs / Zoe Handa Winterlust / Nicholas Schmid False Reality / Abeera Shahid A Journey Back to Myself / Sameera Singh Baby, I Love You / Catherine Hu Daddy, I Got to Study Abroad! / Asefeoluwa Abodunrin The Treachery of Memories / Rachel Guitman Something Old and New / Linda Nguyen Reaction / Isabella Fan The Subtleties I See / Grant Holt Beauty in a Cracked Bowl / Annecy Pang Keep Talking / Takhliq Amir


“What’s the best worst thing that’s ever happened to you?”




he best worst thing that happened to me was developing debilitating anxiety. I hate it for making me feel like a complete imposter in my own body. For making it hard to focus as the anxious voice in my head puts me down and makes my future seem bleaker than it should. However, I’ve grown to see it in a positive light as well and to accept that it is now a part of who I am. Anxiety has put me in a situation where I am forced to abandon the stigma I once had towards mental illness. I understand now that mental illness is debilitating, exhausting, and painful just as a physical illness is. It has made me an advocate for my personal wellness. I was never mindful about treating myself well and to be honest, I’m still terrible at treating myself nicely. Although now my mental and emotional wellbeing is always at the back of my mind. I constantly remind myself to go for a run, to practice some mindfulness when I feel too stressed out, and to take break and naps. It has forced me to love myself when my brain constantly tells me to hate myself. Being loving and kind towards myself is a really empowering and positive thing that I’ve learned from my experience with mental illness. So, I think that a change in brain chemistry is the best worst thing that has ever happened to me. x




know that when you spend 20 hours straight in the ER with an injured family member, it feels like there are no more prayers left to pray. I know that when the boy you loved for four years breaks up with you, it feels like all the air has been sucked out of the world. I know that when you feel the sadness of your mental illness take over you, you go through all the possible ways you can leave this world. I know that when you cry tears of resistance and say the word no, you still take the blame for what happened because you gave in. I know that during all these moments, they felt like the worst times of my life. But I also know in reality that all of these bumps, scars, tears, and moments of doubt are the times that make me who I am. And because of that, they are the best things. x



ong Kong, 2016. Nestled between strangers in interwoven crowds, shaded by towering edifices above—there was something about then and there that delivered an undeniable warmth, enough, I believed, to fill this void within. Each day my defences melted bit by bit, revealing parts of my heritage I never knew existed. x



n middle school, due to a rare skin condition, bright red lesions covered my body from head to toe. Adults and kids alike would stare. Classmates would ask if I had the chicken pox, why so many mosquitoes had stung me, and if it was contagious. During the biopsies and dermatologist visits, the doctors would debate over what they thought the condition was (long scientific name that held no meaning for me), but no one taught me how to relate to this new part of myself. I became extremely self-conscious about how I dressed, wearing sweaters and jeans in the hot summers—even when I was alone—and purposefully avoiding short-sleeved shirts and shorts. Phys. ed. was worst of all. One class, a boy looked down at my legs and let out a loud sound of disgust, causing everyone to turn around and look. I felt the tears well up in my eyes, but another boy soon said to him, “Hey. Leave her alone.” Those few simple words of kindness meant the world to me. Ten years later, while I can never fully erase the unknowingly harsh comments kids made about my appearance, I know that without my scars, I would not be me. For that reason, I am thankful for every bump and blemish, every callous, pockmark, and imperfection. x




hy can’t you speak your own language?” was what a teacher asked me during my first day at school in China. As a Chinese-Canadian, I felt shameful to be blinded by a hyphen—the literal link between “Chinese” and “Canadian” had in fact made me neglect a fundamental part of my identity. So, despite being lost and repeatedly ridiculed as a “foreigner” in Chinese school, I came out of my experience more appreciative than ever of each character in my mother tongue. x



used to have this square ring. When I lost it, my finger was naked, missing the silver band that it wore every day for six years. I lost something to which I had attached so much meaning, and was overwhelmed with mixed emotion. I thought about every time I pressed my ring into my hand for good luck, everything that had happened to me in the time I had the ring­—this ended up being a rewarding experience and showed me that the value I had put on the ring had not disappeared. x



n grade one, I had a best friend who introduced me to her other best friend from kindergarten, whom I took an immediately disliking to. We decided to play leap frog, which I had never played before. At one point, as I realized that the other best friend was going to jump over me, I couldn’t bear such an offence back then, and it ended in a throbbing bruised head for me and the other best friend with a missing first loose tooth. That other best friend has now been my best friend of 8 years. x



hen the topic of “Best Worst Thing” was proposed, I was instantly transported to the Great Locker Debacle of grade nine. As any student coming out of middle school can relate, aside from course selection, wardrobe and arranging an immaculate stationary set, the next biggest item on the high school preparatory list is deciding on locker partners. It so happened that there were an odd number of individuals within my circle of friends, and it was even more unfortunate that I ended up being partnerless. I began high school sharing a locker with another classmate from middle school, who was in the same position as me. One month into the first semester, my locker partner explains that she would like to share our locker with new friend of hers and asked for me relocate. Being the pushover I was, I packed up my belongings on a search for a new locker. A week later, the office informed me that there was a transfer student using a locker by herself and asked for me to join her. I recall the day I arrived at the dark teal, slightly misshaped locker in the back of the school where the rowdy seniors spent their days; I had little idea that this locker would be mine for the next four years. I had even less idea that my new locker buddy would become one of my closest friends and current roommate. x


s a kid I never took criticism well, so when I had an English class with one of the toughest teachers, it’s needless to say I was traumatized. I had every intention of dropping this class due to the crippling anxiety I dealt with everyday. However, little did I know this teacher, who broke me down on one occasion, built me back up as a stronger writer. I have never had someone impact my personality and abilities in such a short amount of time. She taught me how to organize and elaborate on my ideas, but most importantly, she taught me how to be resilient. x



hen I was nine, my older sister became interested in drawing portraits because of her high school art class. I emulated my older sister and as a result, I decided that I too would become interested in drawing portraits. I later discovered that this was harder than it seemed, but I was a very determined and stubborn nine year old. I can remember the satisfaction of finishing that first portrait and proudly showing it to my Mom. Now, nine year old me could not draw, and this drawing was actually so bad that my Mom couldn’t help but burst out laughing. I was so upset that I cried and swore off drawing forever (which I was only successful at doing for all of one day). That was probably the worst reaction anyone has ever had to my art, but it made me extremely motivated. That motivation, to create something which is beautiful and has meaning for others, has never left me and is the sole reason why I still draw today. x IMPERFECTION



Transcending the Black and White World of Dichotomous Thinking

I was so young, but already I had defined the world in shades of black and white: winners and losers; success and failure; imperfection and perfection. 8


“If I don’t end up writing the Incite article, it’s because of my all-or-nothing thinking,” I laughed halfjokingly to my boyfriend over the phone. “You should make that the first line of the article,” he replied earnestly. Four hours later, I found myself staring at an empty page, trying to recall the exact words I had said over the phone. The familiar thoughts began to creep stealthily into my head. What’s the point of writing the article if you don’t have the perfect first line? How irrational and inconsequential. Of course, it didn’t matter—or at least, it shouldn’t. Yes, but what’s the point of submitting something if it isn’t perfect? Thankfully, I was able to get a grip on myself long enough to chuckle at the absurdity of the situation. The irony of nearly giving up on writing a piece on imperfection because of the very fear of imperfection did not escape me. I don’t know if I’ve always been this way. But for as long as I can remember, all-or-nothing thinking—the mindset of extremes and the platform of the perfectionist—has coloured my perception of myself and of the world. I distinctly recall Googling the words “scared of losing at swim meet” the night before my very first swim competition. I was 8. I should have been as exuberant and full of adrenaline as the other girls on my team, chugging Gatorade and cheering on fellow teammates as they practically glided through the water. Instead, I sat in the corner, inhaling the familiar, comforting smell of chlorine and choking back tears at the thought of failing. I tried to pray; I tried to hum to myself; I tried to distract myself by watching others race; but try as I did, I couldn’t shake the dread that weighed heavily on my chest—the fear of failing, of falling short of perfection, whatever that meant to my 8-year-old self. If I didn’t get first place, I was a failure. I was so young, but already I had defined the world in shades of black and white: winners and losers; success and failure; imperfection and perfection. That night, I cried the whole 40-minute ride home from Pickering to Toronto. I had placed 2nd at regionals in my strongest race, the 100-m backstroke. I was inconsolable. I was a failure.

I don’t think I could have ever foreseen the amount of physical and mental damage that my extreme, dichotomous thinking caused later in my life. In high school, I suffered from depression and later developed anorexia nervosa. In my first year of university, everything worsened, including my all-or-nothing thinking. It got to the point where it bordered on an obsession with “perfection.” My thoughts dictated that I either do everything perfectly or not bother at all. If I was late by a minute to lectures, I wouldn’t go in. If I knew I wouldn’t do well on an assignment, I didn’t do it. If I got below a certain mark in a course, I was a horrible human being. Why bother if I was always going to be a failure? I stopped going to classes. I either stayed up for 24+ hours at a time or slept for a day straight. I either restricted and ate nothing for a day or binged and purged everything and anything I could get my hands on. Everything had to be either perfect or as fucked up as it could possibly be. More often that not, it was the latter. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I managed to get back up from rock bottom. When I first started writing this piece, I wanted to detail my journey of self-discovery, transcendence, and that magical moment when my cognitive distortions were miraculously reversed. I realize now that no such moment existed, because my journey is far from linear and most certainly was not perfect. It was—and still is—a painful experience where I feel like I’m being shoved three steps back for every step that I manage forwards. Such is life. What I can say is that I began by admitting that I had a problem, by learning to look inwards and introspect, and by seeking help. I began to confide in others. I learned to tear down the walls that I had built around myself and allowed myself to be vulnerable and imperfect. What once was my greatest fear set me free. I am learning to live in the grey zone. As much as it frightens me, not everything has to be defined in black and white. I am learning to live a life of moderation, of self-love, and of peace. Don’t get me wrong though, my life is far from perfect. I am learning to be okay with that too. I am learning to accept imperfection, blemishes, flaws—the very essence of life. I am always learning. On that note, today I accomplished something I’ve been meaning to do for the past two years, but was always too afraid to because my thoughts weren’t “eloquent” enough. Today, I finally wrote for Incite. x IMPERFECTION





Ekphrastic Turning painting into poetry


Master. At least. This you owe me. For I serve you well. Before I leave. Do me this justice. Paint me. With hog bristle. Baptise me. In oil. Pour me on canvas. Uncompromised. Unapologetic. Holy. Basquiat passion. Crayon crooked. Crown of thorn. Last supper. Popping bottles, breaking bread. With righteous homies. Make this your great commission. Make your servant divine. I too deserve. To be. Painted. Majestic. Christ-like. Knife grind me open like Picasso cubes. Paint me by number. What colors do you know? To paint my portrait. There are a million shades of black. I am all of them. Uncompromised. A million shades of black. I am none of them. Unapologetic. Sky below feet. Clouds of moonlight. Pregnant to sweat. Sorrow and granite to paint skin. Paint me. As lost boy. As town boy. Black boys. Don’t get lost in the dark. We become it. Codify my smile. Calibrate my survival. Paint the rising and setting of spirit. I have been with you all this while. Watched you flower in renaissance. Staring. At how you make broken things breathe. I am past redemption. Too ugly to live with time. Still. I ask you. Paint me. Leave nothing to imagination. When oil is dry. Masters will flock to see me hang. On the line. Gallery 2. They feel safe here. Watching a boy hanging. Out of breath. Strange. Fruit of labor. Pay price of my entry. Dada and surrealism. Contemporary abstraction. Batter boutique politics. Do me this justice. Burn this painting. Collage the ashes. This will be my portrait. This accurate reflection. Make me stay. Forever. In this frame. x







The 4- or 5-Story Bright, Yellow, and Glamorous Hotel In the spring of 2009, my family was on an Eastern European cycling tour, journeying 4000 kilometres from Istanbul to Tallinn. On the day that this story concerns, we were travelling through rural Hungary to our next accommodation—we were only two days away from arriving in the grand city of Budapest. This day was different than the others, though, because we had booked our accommodation in advance on the internet—something that was rarely possible or convenient for the places we were travelling to. Anyone who has cycletoured will know that from one day to the next, your life revolves around: 1. Eating, 2. The location of your next bed and warm shower, and 3. The distance you must travel to get to 1 and 2. So, on the day of this story, the location of our beds and warm showers were known ahead of time. Easy peasy, we thought. The ride to the town where our accommodation supposedly existed was beautiful, and the weather was warm and dry. Everything was going according to our plan, but maybe that was the issue. We had the address for our hotel that night, and as we arrived to the town’s centre square, we began to ask locals where this address was (using mostly hand gestures, due to our non-existent Hungarian). The website 14


we had used to book this accommodation displayed glamourous photos of a 4- or 5-story building, painted bright yellow— so it isn’t hard to understand why we had a mental image of a landmark. We showed various people the address and the picture of where we were supposed to be, but no one had any idea where this was. Finally, after speaking to maybe a dozen people, a man recognized the address and was able to describe the directions by writing out road names and using hand gestures to lead us left or right. After the slight hiccup, we were back on the road, and worryingly heading out of town. His directions took us deep into the countryside, which consisted of derelict barns and grassy fields for as far as the eye could see. There was no glamourous, 4- or 5-story bright yellow hotel; that was for sure. But we kept on, blindly trusting this man from the town. At times, we were lost and confused, but eventually we would find the road we needed and carry on. This probably took an extra hour or more of cycling. Finally, we made one last turn onto the road where our bed and warm shower were supposed to be. To call this path a road would be a stretch. Potholed and cracked, the chip-seal pavement lead to two barns in the distance, neither looking

promising at all. But we rode on. We rode all the way into a dead end, finding a shack that was fit for a horror film. It certainly was not a 4- or 5-story brightly painted glamourous hotel. This was not looking good, so we turned back, now lost and confused. As we turned back, an old couple emerged from the barn house-ish thing we had unassumingly passed on our way up the dead-end road. “You found us!” they exclaimed, and my family looked at each other and burst into laughter. There was no 4- or 5-story, bright yellow and glamorous hotel. Instead, there was a refurbished pig shack with beds for a tired family. There was the kindest Hungarian couple who cooked a glorious pasta supper, and spoke impressive English considering our whereabouts. There were 3 of the cutest puppies I had ever seen. There was a pool table, which provided my brother and I entertainment for hours. And there was this story; my favourite part. The 4- or 5-story, bright yellow and glamourous hotel turned out to be a picture of the city hall in the region’s capital, many kilometres from where we were. As we departed the next day, we realized that no part of that experience had gone according to our plan—and yet none of us would have done it any other way. x




triphasic 1 timing

They met within a six-degree rotation of a clock hand. Time is relative; we exist as a product of our perception of the world. We exist as a product of the unstirred cream in our coffee. He felt that he might be getting too old to be cynical just for the hell of it; there is an artless joy in being underestimated. Every morning he awoke feeling that he was waiting for something. She wasn’t it, but damn, her innocence was refreshing.


validation For some reason she becomes acutely aware of her own restlessness on Friday afternoons. Something about the distraction of weekdays makes everything seem less transient. She doesn’t know if she should be afraid of loving him or afraid of losing him, because both share the alarming consequence of misplacing herself; there’s no graceful way to change who you are. She is strategically naïve, but knows enough to call her mistakes what they are. She likes to imagine that one day she’ll be good enough for him; some days she runs her eyes over the disconcerting perfection of his skin and imagines that his insides are made of stainless steel.


vitality We were afraid of the uncertainty of things that had already happened. But we were fireflies, we were unstoppable. You became the hope as I filled my new prescription. You became the sound of my blinker as we reached our exit. You were my inevitability, pristine in your shortfalls. I hear the ocean between your shoulder blades. We pretend to know where we’re going. Fear frays around the edges if you don’t watch it closely. x







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The Colouring Phenomenon

Adult ‘colourists,’ as this online community’s members call themselves, are out there and purchasing millions of books. The question is, why?

In the first grade, I had a Disney colouring book. I spent hours colouring palaces under the sea and dancing teacups. It was magical. Over the years, I have become painfully disillusioned with Disney, but I’m not sure I can say the same about colouring books. What is there to say about colouring books? I recently received a “Zen Colouring” book as a gift. Before I give in to the trend, let’s explore the adult colouring book phenomenon that’s sweeping the world. The recent explosion in the adult colouring book industry began with the publication of “The Secret Garden” in 2012. Today, colouring books come in various genres; from animal patterns to bible quotes to McMaster bookstore’s very own “Chill the F*ck Out!”—a swear word colouring book. Adult ‘colourists,’ as this online community’s members call themselves, are out there and purchasing millions of books. The question is, why? Therapists, yogis and researchers have begun to tout the benefits of colouring. Words such as “mindfulness,” 20


“meditation,” and “calm” have become a selling point for these books. The stress relieving qualities of colouring seem plausible and scientists have long acknowledged the therapeutic qualities of artistic creation. There is an entire field dedicated to helping people overcome illness with the help of art therapy. However, critics have condemned the colouring fad, pointing out that colouring within prescribed lines requires little artistic agency and is not a legitimate form of art therapy. Others, such as an article that appeared in the New Yorker recently, have situated the phenomenon within a “Peter Pan Market,” an industry appealing to our inner child, the one who refuses to grow up and willingly moves back in with their parents after graduation. And what about people for whom colouring only leads to more stress? What colour should you pick? You’re going outside the line! Can’t you do anything right?! Will colouring helps you de-stress, feel like a kid, or drive you up the wall? Try it out and see. x



Decaying House





The bus jostled and swayed as it drove down the highway. Jason watched out the salt-encrusted window to catch a glimpse of anything familiar, but could see only blurry shapes. Soon the shapes grew more angular and were punctuated with the glow of traffic lights. The bus slowed as it entered the town, stopping at last with a heavy sigh as the doors opened to let in gusts of damp winter air. Jason made his way to the front, holding a heavy backpack at an angle so as not to catch the straps on any armrests. He nodded at the driver and stepped off into the slush. With a farewell creak, the bus threw its doors back shut and rumbled off west. It was almost exactly as it had been preserved in his memories. Signs had grown dirtier, the roads more cracked, some storefronts dark, but nothing important had changed. The sun was low on the horizon as Jason crossed the street to meet his mother. She had told him to find her in the little franchised coffee shop that was the beating, caffeinated heart of the little town. As he trudged down the snowy sidewalk, the panes of glass that made up the shop’s windows let him look into it like a diorama. Hopeless fluorescent light shone down on melting heaps of slush that had been gently strewn across the floor, and molded plastic undulated into the shapes of benches and chairs before plastic tables. She was sitting in the far corner, her head down, fiddling with a teabag. Jason pushed the door open and walked past the till to stand before his mother. She raised her head to see him and a smile crossed her face, to be erased by a heavy sigh. He couldn’t meet her eyes when she looked like this, bundled up in cheap fleeces, her plate empty but for a few crumbs, her face like a piece of paper that had been crumpled up and smoothed out again. She hooked a few gray-black hairs back over her ear. “It’s so good to see you,” she said. Jason grunted. “How have you been?” she tried again. “Fine.” They were silent for a few moments. “My bus leaves in two hours, can we get going?” he asked. She nodded and stood up laboriously, before putting on a tattered black coat and turning towards the door. “Let’s go.” — They followed a road north that soon dwindled down to a narrow dirt track, covered by snow. On the other side, beyond a rotting fence, frozen trees trickled up into a cloudy darkening sky. In spring, the base of the fence would be dotted with white

and purple wildflowers. The trees, decked in their new regalia, would plant their feet in the field’s soft green, the sky soaring clearly above them. Now, there was only the muddy footpath, the deadening snow, the mess of frayed hair bobbing before him. Mailboxes marked where paths split off of from the road. They turned right at a green one and walked up the short driveway to stand before the house. For now, the old farmhouse looked sturdy, standing upright and austere. But, in time, dampness would seep its cold fingers up the ceiling and between the floorboards. The vines, which winter had beat back from its walls, would soon grow to grasp the house in its entirety. The foundations would crack, the shingles fall, and the roof collapse. The thought made Jason uncomfortable. For now, it was sturdy. “Where is it?” he asked. “In the basement.” “This whole time?” She nodded. “Look—” she said, but he had already pushed past her. The door took a great amount of effort to push in. He stepped into the house’s mausoleum air. Everything was almost familiar. The kitchen table where they had eaten was gone, and most of the books in the living room had fallen onto the carpet to be ruined by dirt and mold. The walls had white patches where decorations had fallen off or been stolen. But these weren’t the kind of memories he was looking for. He made his way down the flight of stairs at the back of the kitchen. The power had been shut off for months, so he fumbled at his lighter with yellowed fingers. The basement was bare except for a dresser, so he pulled a drawer open. A book lay in the drawer with the words DIARY printed across the front. He opened it up to read his father’s inscription on the inside cover, giving his name and address. Jason looked for the date, the one that he knew would have pictures—of his mother holding him, of his family, of his father. He started to cry. — Jason came out of the house silently. His mother was still standing there, looking worried. He stopped in front of her. “Look,” she said, “I know we haven’t talked in ages, but,” she trailed off, before gaining strength, “but I think you should stay for the funeral. It’s the right thing to do; you need to see everyone again at least one more time.” Jason raised his eyes to meet hers. He was still clutching the book across his chest with both hands. “No,” he said. And he walked back to town. x IMPERFECTION





A PLUS I am a B. A B, that’s me. A Big, Fat, Black B, sharpied on my tee. I’ve seen C’s and I’ve known D’s But I will always Be a B. B positive runs through my veins, B how I take my coffee B my cup size B my average just let me Be B. Because as A plus, I may not Be By any means the Best, But I think that you will find, the Best Begins with B. x





Eyes Meet Smile This is me. Name? Tea? Coffee? Monday? Sunday? Dreams Superpowers Art Good bye Tell me about your day. Work Study. I feel like I can talk to you about anything. Thoughts Thoughts


Eyes Eyes Meet Embrace Let Go Break I missed you (too) Presence. I got you something. It’s the way he’s so freely himself. I look up to him in all that he is. What does she feel? What is she thinking about? I can’t believe you exist. I’ll stay in touch. You rock. Disconnect. Is he thinking about me? I know she’s doing fine. Does he care enough? I miss her scent. Are we going to make it through this? I miss her touch. I miss you (too). I’m thinking about you (too). Reconnect Why does this feel like this isn’t going to last? It feels so good to have you back.

Eyes Eyes Meet Passion Another chance? What does THAT mean? I love you. Can I even love? I love you, too.



Eyes Eyes Meet Uncertainty He does have amazing thoughts. I can’t be inside your head. You need to let me in. I have nothing to give. I need more. Does it have to be enough? This can be enough.

Eyes Eyes Meet Enough. Tears. Eyes meet reflection, truth. Eyes meet reflection, truth.

Eyes Meet Acceptance. Change. x





(as inspired by author’s photo)


The first time my Nonna told me to take things from her house that weren’t food, I was confused. It was during one of my visits three years ago when out of the blue she turned to me and said, “Alessandra, is there anything of mine that you want?” When I asked her what she meant, she replied, “Nonno and I have a lot of things in this house. I have many rings, some glass statues. You should take something.” My immediate thought was “You’re dying. You’re dying and this is your way of telling me.” I had no idea how to react, and wound up tearing up. She looked at me in puzzlement, then clarified that she wasn’t dying; she only wished to be able to see us enjoy the things we took. I thought the idea was kind of morbid, that if I took anything from her house it would be like burying her. Not wanting to be rude, I told her I would think about it. A few months later, I was at my Nonna and Nonno’s house learning to make lasagna. As we let the dough rest, my



You could see the love they had for one another in the way they worked together so flawlessly. They didn’t even have to speak with one another, and yet they still worked as one fluid machine. I was so moved by the simple beauty of watching them that I took out my phone and snapped a photo of them.

Nonna called to my Nonno to get the pasta roller ready to use. He turned to the right side of the table we had been working on, and lifted a towel that I hadn’t realized had been resting there. Underneath was what looked like an oldfashioned hand-crank laundry wringer. It was a rusted metal instrument with a wooden crank that looked like it was about to fall off and was covered in fine white dust. On the opposite side was a strange looking dial with numbers spaced unevenly along its circumference. The main body was comprised of a thick, open metal box encompassing two parallel cylinders with a small space between them. My Nonno took a tiny brush and cleaned off the white dust, then announced that he was ready to roll the dough. I watched as my Nonna carefully cut a small piece of dough, flattened it, and pushed it between the two cylinders as my Nonno turned the hand crank. It turned out that the strange contraption was the pasta roller. After preparing a few sheets of pasta, my Nonna turned to me and asked me if

I wanted to try. I was surprised; usually our cooking expeditions involved me watching her do everything. I decided to give it a try. I cut the dough and flattened it on the table just as I had watched her do, and then put it in the center of the roller and waited for my Nonno to start the hand crank. Before he started, he had to show me how to work with the machine. The two rollers were no longer perfectly parallel, so the pasta sheets were dragged through crookedly unless you fed them through on a very specific angle. The hand crank was a bit sticky, meaning that sometimes it wouldn’t roll the pasta smoothly. There was a lot of dried pasta dough stuck to the two rollers that could get on the fresh sheets. There were so many little rules to follow that I struggled and eventually asked my Nonna to pick up where I left off. I watched, mesmerized, as she and my Nonno worked in tandem to roll the remaining sheets together. Even though they were completing a rather menial task, I felt like I was watching something intimate. You could see the love they had

for one another in the way they worked together so flawlessly. They didn’t even have to speak with one another, and yet they still worked as one fluid machine. I was so moved by the simple beauty of watching them that I took out my phone and snapped a photo of them. The next time I saw them, I finally had an answer to the question my Nonna had asked me a few months prior. I was so excited as I told them that I wanted the pasta roller. They were perplexed. They couldn’t understand why I would want a broken, hand-crank pasta roller. It couldn’t roll sheets straight, it took forever to use it since it was mechanical, and I already had an electric one at home. But that wasn’t why I wanted it. I wanted it because I found something beautiful in its flaws. It was a reminder of the hard work and labour my Nonna put into every single pasta dish she ever made us. It served as a memory of that afternoon, of my grandparents and the love they had for one another. Every time I make pasta now, I use it to roll the first sheet. x






ODDITY A footprint in the newly poured cement sidewalk. Using three eggs when the recipe calls for two. Ignoring the legend of a colour by number. To the masses, these things appear to be unorthodox and imperfect. These things seem out of place, incorrect, and obscure. However, to some these stand to be just right. In the same breath, we can also say that both are perfect, Giving us the equation: imperfection = perfection. Every day we are judged by our peers and superiors. And every second of the day we are judged by ourselves. Striving and straining ourselves to be the best. Striving and straining ourselves to be better than our best. The never-ending mission to achieve the unachievable leaves the mind weak. Seeking to appease its appetite from the inside-out. But what if we realized that our faults were nothing more than figments of the mind? What if we stepped back to admire our efforts? What if we realized that merit laid within? After all, how does perfection gain its definition? And who is the judge of that perfection? The idea of perfection is simultaneously constant and nomadic. However it gains truth through the eye of the beholder. The sight of the mismatched colours on an outfit can be comforting to the wearer. Staying home all day instead of going outside to be “productive” can be a blessing. Taking all the time in the world to complete a task can produce wonders. Though these things may disturb the balance of others, the pain of one may be another’s pleasure. Taking a different route home everyday. A shoe with two different coloured laces. Using green and red before Christmas. x



Unnatural Selection 32



“James Sanderson, is it?” “How d-d-do you know my name? W-w-where am I?” Dr. Jonas Matheson shot a crippling look at the man, Sanderson, who shifted uncomfortably. There was a long pause before the doctor let his eyes drop, continuing to scan through the contents of his clipboard with an air of casual disdain. Then, a “Yes, hmm” before he finally sat down behind his desk, looked up, and made cold, clinical eye contact. “You may call me Dr. Matheson.” He leaned forward and crossed his hands on top of the desk. “Do you know why you’re here, James? Well, good. You shouldn’t know. The work we do here, though of the utmost importance, must be done in secrecy, such that we do not upset the general populace.” “Wh-wh-what’s going—” Dr. Matheson cleared his throat pointedly, “James please do not interrupt again. Now, I’m going to tell you a story that will perhaps illuminate your situation. Before our time, before the War, there were billions of varieties of living organisms. All shared a similar purpose, a common drive. Procreate and replicate. Such was the nature of the animal world that only the fittest would survive to accomplish their task—thus, all offspring would be borne of the most desirable traits for their species. A variety of fish called salmon, from when there were still rivers clear enough to drink from, would swim miles upriver against the current just to mate, before succumbing to their demise. Male apes fought each other for the right to a certain female. Such was the necessity of their lives.” Dr. Matheson had become feverish in his telling of the story, his eyes shining with zealotry. He took a deep breath, mastering his emotions, before continuing soberly. “That was before the War. Humanity had grown weak. Technology and medicine, those noble pursuits, proved a doubleedged sword. Even the weakest of us could live to reproduce, contaminating our collective gene pool with their inferiorities. Oh, some had an inkling of what was happening, usually misguided lunatics pointing at race or religion as the chief culprit for their diminishing strength of mind and body. For our mistakes, the War nearly ended us when we were forced to return to our ancestral roots of hunting and foraging. Yet, here we are today. And here

Humanity had grown weak. Technology and medicine proved a double-edged sword. Even the weakest of us could live to reproduce, contaminating our collective gene pool with their inferiorities. you are James. I was appointed to the position I am in now to help avoid the mistakes of our past, to cut off weak links and cull the frailty from our still-vulnerable new world order.” Dr. Matheson, as Sanderson began to grasp what was transpiring, caught the wild panic settling into his patient’s eyes. Sanderson became increasingly agitated, and soon it was all he could do to suck in shallow breaths. Out of habit, his hand drifted into his pocket in search of an inhaler, but found he wore the provided hospital gown. He began to panic even more, and could not draw in enough air to beg assistance. His hands clutched at his throat. Dr. Matheson pushed back from the desk and stood up, once again picking up his clipboard. “Ah, James, it seems you understand why you are here today,” he started, idly flipping through the pages of his clipboard, “Chronic asthma, weak eyesight, nerve-induced stuttering, below average on your State-Administered Intelligence Tests…the list goes on. If it were up to me I would simply let you die here and be done with it.” Opening the top drawer of his desk, Dr. Matheson pulled out an inhaler and tossed it onto Sanderson’s lap. Frantically, Sanderson opened the cap and pulled the inhaler to his lips, simultaneously pressing the button. He drew in four shallow breaths before he began to relax, as the medicine did its work. Dr. Matheson looked on in disgust, a sneer contorting his thin lips. He continued as though uninterrupted: “But I have orders. You will be chemically sterilized. Allowed to live out the remainder of your feeble life far from your home, lest you raise discontent amongst whatever unpatriotic maggots exist that might call you a friend. VANESSA! LEE!” Dr. Matheson watched as the able-bodied nurses dragged his latest patient out of his office. He felt that perhaps a small part of him should pity these individuals, but he knew his duty. He did it well. x IMPERFECTION







“Yes, you’ve been saying that for the past two hours.” “I want to be a writer, Ali.” “Jordan, why do you do this? Just be a writer if you want to be a writer.” “You know, it’s not that easy! First I have to understand English, which remains doubtful as it is, and then I have to have a perfect command of the language. What’s next? I have to be able to arrange those words—which I am still supposed to understand, mind you—into a coherent string that creates a full sentence.” “Go on, Professor.” “Then I have to arrange those sentences into paragraphs, and then pages, and then chapters, and then volumes, and then books, and then several books, and then I have to totally change the fabric of English Literature at its very core!” “Good to see you’re being realistic.” “Who will read my writings if I haven’t written as prolifically as G.K. Chesterton?” “Probably no one, because you’re an awful writer.” “Who will remember my writings long after I’m dead? Which universities will scramble to create an archive in my name? The Jordan Samuel Archive—doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?” “No, but if anyone ever makes an archive of your work, I hope someone would roll it off a cliff.” “Ali.” “Jordan.” “Everyone is going to forget me if my writing isn’t perfect.” “No, no, that’s not true. Everyone will forget you anyway, there’s nothing to worry about.” “…” “…” “Huh, you’re right.” “Yup.” “Wow, thanks Ali. Hey, maybe you should be a writer!” “…” x IMPERFECTION



Gogo’s Hut

(That’s what I call my grandmother)

“Welcome to the Royal Ontario Museum. We have a number of exhibitions and galleries running. If you’re interested…” Buhle was not interested in art and not in the mood to spend her first weekend in Toronto at a museum, but her best friend, Ranga, insisted that they should start getting acquainted with the city. “We hope you enjoy your visit and feel free to ask any questions.” Buhle was planning to put on a brave face for an hour, and then persuade Ranga to go and see the CN Tower. They began walking around the museum surveying different exhibitions and art pieces. Buhle was surprised to say that she was impressed with the work on display. The collections of old typewriters and the spectacular silks from Madagascar opened her eyes to new cultures and the creativity that existed all those hundreds of years ago. As they were preparing to leave, one painting caught her eye. The painting was not part of any of the exhibitions on display, as it was hanging on a wall near the exit. It was a painting of a southern African hut. She remembered the type; 36


made with basic materials like mud, thatching, wood, and some bricks if one could afford. She stood there looking at this image that brought her back home. The hut looked so beautiful; set in an open savannah landscape and covered in morning mist. It didn’t look perfect like the Madagascan silks or the intricate typewriters she had seen earlier, but it was still striking in its own right. The painting reminded Buhle of her formative years,

when she dreaded going to the village because she’d have to sleep on the floor of her grandmother’s hut, packed like sardines with her annoying cousins. She didn’t like how the hut had no functioning water pipe system or electricity, and she never understood why her parents subjected her to two weeks of torture out of her four-week holidays. The smoke and soot from cooking pap in the hut would irritate her eyes for hours and made her clothes smell terrible for days on end. She thought of the times she would sit around the fire with her cousins and other village children, listening to the tales of ancient warriors and fictional stories about talking hares and monkeys. For some reason, she always wished she were anywhere but there. Anyone from the village was welcome to her grandmother’s hut. Whatever food she had, she shared; whatever advice she could give, she offered. Even with her grandkids visiting, she found space in the hut to offer someone a place to lay their head for the night. Everyone could share in the warmth from the fire. Her grandmother would always notice Buhle’s sadness when she visited the village. On a small rug in the hut, where

her grandmother usually sat down to knit, she would often call Buhle for a chat. She would tell her how Nkulunkulu, the Great Giver of Life, wanted everyone to have a smile on their face. While Buhle appreciated her grandmother’s efforts, she still missed home and her parents. When she was a little older, she managed to convince her parents to stop making her go altogether. But now, looking at the hut that resembled that of her late grandmother, she couldn’t help but feel sad for not appreciating even the little cracks in the walls of that small house. That cracked and often mended hut housed so many people, so many stories, conversations, music, laughter, and tears; but most of all, her beloved grandmother. In the five minutes she was looking at the painting, by an unknown artist, she realized why her parents had insisted that she go to the village. Not only for her to learn her culture or roots, but to appreciate the life that had moulded them into the people they had become. Her grandmother’s hut was more than a dwelling, it was a home; it was the beating heart of the community. x IMPERFECTION



Something Old, Nothing New, 27 Things Borrowed, and Something of a Greenish Hue



Since Anita was old enough to dream of her wedding, she could only think of three things she wanted to happen: 1) for her groom to show up, 2) for there to be some light snowfall, and 3) for her cats (yes, plural) to be a part of her wedding party. So far, her orange tabby cat was poised to be her flower girl, and she knew her grumpy Savannah cat would make an excellent ring bearer. She’d considered adopting a few more cats to complete the rest of her wedding party, but alas, she had to draw the line somewhere. It was the day of Anita’s wedding, and unsurprisingly, nothing was going as planned. Her fiancé Niko always joked that she’d get married to her cats if she could, and seeing as how he was stuck in the blizzard currently crippling the city, she was kind of considering it. Yes, you read that right. Blizzard. Anita only wanted a light dusting of snow on her wedding day, the type of mellow snowfall characteristic of a snow globe. Evidently, the powers that be had other plans. It was as if Elsa had decided to “Let it Go” in Philly. She had no groom, a sparse number of guests, a questionable stain on her white dress, and the bobby pins in her hair were launching a personal attack on her scalp. Oh, and her wedding was due to start in exactly 73 minutes. Her only consolation was that if she did get married today, it would be one hell of a story to tell 40 years down the road. In the meantime, she needed a drink. Several hours later, Anita was sitting in the corner of her dressing room, half of her makeup undone, bobby pins strewn everywhere. The sun was on the verge of setting, and the snow had (mercifully) stopped falling. Anita had sent her guests home what seemed like eons ago, but most had stuck around seeing as how many of the roads hadn’t been cleared. The wedding had been postponed indefinitely, and she watched her cats wrestle with each other, lost in her thoughts. She heard the familiar “ding” of her iPhone, but chose to ignore it. She could deal with sympathizers another time; right now she really just wanted to be left alone. Her phone went off again. And again. And again. Frustrated, she left the comfort of the floor and crossed the room to set her phone on silent. Glancing at it briefly, she realized it was Niko who had texted her. “Anita!!!!,” the first

message read. She rolled her eyes. Niko always had a flair for the dramatic. “Come outside to the reception hall, it’s important. Do it NOW!!!!!!!” She assumed Niko wanted her to look at the sunset. They shared a love of sunsets, and she thought it sweet that though he was currently across the city, Niko knew exactly what would cheer her up. She didn’t want to leave the comfort of her room, though—so she settled for looking outside her window. That’s odd, she thought. The sun has barely set. This isn’t even a spectacular sunset. THWACK! Something (a snowball?) hit her window. “Anita! I said come outside! Baby, why can’t you follow simple instructions?” Anita looked down—was that Niko? She quickly pulled on her Uggs and ran out of the reception hall, not caring that she was in her sweats, or that she didn’t have a coat. Niko looked a little dishevelled, he had definite helmet hair, and the scattered snowflakes in his beard made it seem as if he had greyed significantly since she last saw him that morning— but all of that didn’t matter. Somehow, he’d made it. She ran into his arms, talking a mile a minute: “How did you make it here in all the snow!? Did you drive!? Are the streets clear!? Wait, none of that even matters, you’re here!!!” She could not contain her excitement. She kissed him deeply. “Woah, woah, save it until after I marry you guys, eh, Anita?” their obnoxious friend Eli, who was going to ordain their ceremony, whistled. “Eli?” Anita looked around. Most of their guests were gathered outside and had witnessed their intimate moment. Someone had shovelled a makeshift aisle that she and Niko were standing in, and the trellis had been taken outside. “I love you, Anita. Did you really think I wouldn’t do everything possible to make sure we got married today?” A single snowflake had fallen on her nose, and Anita was so overwhelmed she began to cry. And right then, under the twilight sun, the snow lightly falling, Anita got married. It was a beautiful ceremony, perhaps because of the unconventional looking bride and groom. The cats, left behind in Anita’s dressing room, didn’t participate in the ceremony after all, but the moment was still everything she could have dreamed of. x IMPERFECTION






A Lion and His Girl



He comes alive and falls in love, both in the same second. A burst of golden warmth infuses him and he surfaces to consciousness. The first thing he sees is a tiny, pudgy face, eyes blinking at him in wonder. The baby reaches for him and he is tucked into her small arms. “Oh, Sebastien, look!” says a woman above him. “Isabella loves him!” There’s a warm chuckle. “Let’s call him Spark, hmm?” says a man. “Little Isabella’s first friend.” The baby coos and hugs Sparky tighter, and he joyfully hugs back. For the first few years of Bella’s life, she and Sparky are inseparable. Bella can see him and talk to him, unlike the adults around her. Her babbling sounds unintelligible to them, but not to Sparky. They talk about everything and spend all their time together. As the years pass, they both bear the marks of their antics. Bella gets scrapes and cuts and scab marks. Sparky’s seams start to fray, one of his eyes falls off, and his tawny colour starts to fade. They both grow up. — It starts one day when Bella is nine. “I can’t understand you,” she says as he’s speaking. “Say that again!” After a few more tries, her face clears and she brushes it off… but Sparky’s heart is in his throat and there’s dread settling deep in his chest. It keeps happening. Each time, it takes longer for Bella to hear him. In the moments in between, Sparky catches himself gazing at his human. The glint of the sun on her hair, the bronze of her skin, the light in her eyes as she laughs—he never wants to forget all these which make up his beloved Bella. He can’t lose her. But then it happens. She wakes up one day and looks at him frantically. “Sparky?” she says. “Sparky, why aren’t you saying anything?” Sparky calls her name as loudly as he can, but she does not respond. She can’t see him at all anymore. “Mama!” Bella screams. Tears crawl down her face. “Mama! Sparky’s gone!” Sparky shouts louder, but she can’t see him! All he can do is watch as she collapses in on herself and weeps. Bella’s mother

comes into the room and sweeps the little girl into her arms. Good, thinks Sparky, she has someone to hold her. But that someone used to be him, and he has no one…and he feels, for the first time in his life, alone. — Bella’s mother puts him in the back of the closet and leaves him. Some agonizing part of him still believes that Bella will fling open the door and save him, that they’ll be what they used to be, a girl and her lion against the world. She never does. Sparky doesn’t know how much time passes—he spends his time in a stasis. He can feel dust settling into his fur, and one of his ears, already floppy and torn, falls. With the eye that never got replaced and fluff falling out, he knows he’s a mess. Even if Bella comes back, she could never want him again. — Until one day, the door opens. Long, calloused hands lift him into the light. He opens his eyes. Bella. She’s an adult now. It can’t have been that long, Sparky thinks. He’s crying. He thought he forgot how to do that. Bella is crying, too. “Sparky,” she says, and her voice is rough and cracked. She laughs a little. “Look at you. You look wonderful.” Sparky can hardly see her for the tears blurring his eyes. Of course she would think that. His lovely, kind human. She loves him. He forgot that, too. “I’m so sorry,” Bella whispers. “I love you. And I know someone else who will, too.” A few days later, Sparky is taken to another house in Bella’s arms. “Bella, are you home?” A woman arrives at the door. She sees Sparky and grins widely, her expression not faltering at his stitched-up state. “This is him, Sophie,” Bella says. She puts an arm around Sophie and they all enter a nursery. Bella walks over to a crib and places Sparky into it, right next to a sleeping baby boy. “Meet Carlos,” Bella says, and Sparky, filled to the brim with new love, is born again. x IMPERFECTION






Brittle November

It’s a cold Saturday morning in November, the air feels crisp and my hands are bitter and are chipped in paint, I stayed up ’till three again, as usual, nothing new. Outside is bitter and dark, reflecting my enthusiasm for today. ’Cause today’s the day my work gets ripped apart, or at least I think it will, who am I kidding, I know it will. At least my more talented friend is coming with me today, he knows what he’s doing and we’ve always competed against each other. Our art teacher told us that we are the two to look out for, whatever that means. I wonder what his feedback will be, maybe they will consider him a genius and swoop him into a gallery right away, I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s the type of ‘crazy mad artist’ that people love; I’m just the shy misunderstood girl, you could pick those types from the dozen. Either way, today is happening and I’ve made this decision, I want to go to art school, I’m doing it, I just need to get through this rigorous progress. As I step outside the house with my large black portfolio that’s the size of my torso, I find myself wading in the sea of my anxieties again. “I’m not good enough, I’m a fraud, I will never be an artist, I should just back out now.” I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my life, I feel that when the Professors come interview me they will take one look at me and think,

“Nope, troubled girl, got enough of those.” At least, I’m positive that’s what they will think of me. I look down at my hands again, the right one covered in blue paint, and the left has so many paper cuts from cutting out images. An accurate abstract representation of my mumbled brain. I find my way to my friend, he has the perfect dishevelled art type going on, you know the one, the one that’s best friends with everyone but seems to not understand how perfect he is at everything. But he’s my best friend, he’s just oblivious to how amazing he is, how irritating. We finally make it downtown. It seems like another world, it always has. Bright lights, tall buildings, people with so many dreams and places to be, that know what they want and go for it, I’m envious. That drive and determination is far and few between in my world. Hopefully I will get there one day. Hopefully I will know what I want and go for it wholeheartedly. It’s a cold Saturday morning in November, the air feels crisp and my hands are bitter and heavy from holding camera equipment. I stayed up ’till three again, the usual, nothing’s changed. Outside looks bitter and dark, separate from my smaller hope for the day. ’Cause today’s the day I speak about my work. x IMPERFECTION




Hopefully I will get there one day. Hopefully I will know what I want and go for it wholeheartedly.






Coming Out of the Coffin “I am a vampire,” I say to my mirror. I didn’t always know, not like those reality TV kids—you know the ones. The vamp kids with stuffed bats who drink blood out of sippy cups, and have those supportive parents that love them just the way they are? Those kids always look so happy living their authentic, undead lives. Don’t get me wrong, I used to take walks at night and fantasize about being one of the undead, but I didn’t know, not like they do. The truth is, I was successful being a Normal human—maybe that’s why I didn’t clue in earlier. So, here I am, mid-thirties, past the time transformative blood needs to have the optimal effect. No matter what I do, my transformation will always be stunted. My voice will never emulate a proper Eurotrash accent and I may have to wear fake teeth. As hard as I may try to fit in, I may still become the inauthentic vampiric parody that society has taught me to fear. Don’t worry, I’m getting help. The vampire psychologist’s office is in the basement of his house. I go through a door which has a tiny bat-pride sticker. Across from my plush chair is a wall of books, many of them deal with my condition and have titles like Opening the Coffin: Understanding the Vampire and, Bats about Being Out. He diagnoses me with “Vampirici Dysphoria,” which sounds like a disease, but at least that means he officially agrees that I am a vampire. Initially, coming out is easy. I start with my partner and end with my boss. I delete my social media and rebrand myself. At first, everyone is shocked, but supportive. However, when the transformation begins, when the fangs appear, and

when my pale skin starts to show through my bronzer, things go bad—country song bad. My partner asks for a divorce and we sell the house. My friends and family get spooked and distance themselves. I lose my job and my car. No reputable place considers employing me mid-transformation since I’m unable to pass as Normal or vampire now. I run out of severance money. Next thing I know, I am a heartbeat from living on the streets. Even though you hear how vampphobic everyone can be, it is still surprising how fast society can discard you. I look for a supportive coven, a meeting space for vampires. I find one in a church basement, of all places. I’m nervous—not because I’ll burst into flames, mind you, but because the church has not historically been appreciative of vampires. Despite my fears everyone is very welcoming—it’s what I imagine going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is like. Some of the vampires wear fake teeth, capes, or have penciled-in widows-peaks. Many, like me, are struggling with their accents. I hate myself for beginning to understand how we might make for good comedy. There’s a tangible discomfort here, or maybe I’m the only one who feels uncomfortable. I search my feelings to figure out why I feel this way. Then, one more thing transforms within me. I realize that it’s not me but instead society making me think this way. I begin to recognize their beautiful authenticity—and my own. I realize that I am not looking at others, I am looking at reflections of myself. When it comes to my turn, I meekly wave and say, “Hello. My name is Paige, and I am a Vampire.” x IMPERFECTION







As far back as I can remember, I used to beg my mother to tell me stories. Some would start with princesses and castles, or ponies and adventures. Most days, these would quickly be interrupted with a plea for a “real story.” She would often give in to my requests, offering stories about her life or mine. Some she told were about her when she was little—my mother, the tomboy, sisters hung by ankles down the laundry chute, summers spent barefoot in Martha’s Vineyard. My favourites, ones I would ask for again and again, were about me and my brother as babies or toddlers. These stories usually went with the glossy photographs on the wall outsides our bedrooms—apple picking in carriers on my parents’ backs, zipping into one piece snowsuits to sled down the snow pile the plow left on our small street. My most favourite was the story of our birth—the day my twin brother and I came into the world, and, as I liked to obnoxiously remind my mother, the very best day of her life. I knew the story like I knew the blue of my mother’s eyes when she told it. My parents checked into their hospital room. We didn’t come. They watched hockey. We still didn’t come. Finally, my brother arrived. 11:29 p.m. And then they watched some more hockey. The game ended. All the doctors and nurses wanted to go home. They pulled me out with forceps at 11:41. Not the perfect delivery. But idyllic enough. There were other details about our birth that were added on in other stories or as I got older. Details with significance I didn’t really understand until much later. Details that had easy, simple enough explanations that didn’t challenge my ideas of

what took place that night. We were born a month early—pretty standard for twins. My mother only breastfed us for 10 days—I never knew much about that anyway. She had short hair when I was very small. My father didn’t like her to cut it. Well, that made some sense. She always was a tomboy, after all. Never much liked to dress up or make a fuss. The details were simple. They made sense. I didn’t realize they were never parts of the story my mother actually told. They were things she glossed over, gaps in the story that I filled in myself without even being aware of it. They were scars I never saw. Until the day I did. I never thought my family was the type to keep photographs tucked away in secret drawers. My mother told me stories for 16 years before I ever saw the photo of her holding us as babies with a shiny, bald head. Chemotherapy will do that to you. Or so I hear. It’s funny how the pieces click together and something becomes so clear that you realize in some ways you’ve known it your whole life. I thought my ideas of filling in the blanks were the simplest solution. But there was something simpler. There was cancer. We were born early—cancer. My mother stopped breastfeeding—cancer. The short hair I couldn’t for the life of me understand—that was the cancer. The story my mother created for me on twilight evenings before I fell asleep was full of folds and ragged edges she didn’t share. But those cracks and tears are part of her story. They’re part of my story. And so is the drawer she hid those photos away in for sixteen years of my life, choosing instead to look at shiny, glossy pictures in frames. x IMPERFECTION







Winterlust The wind that breathed down his neck had just enough warmth to remind him that summer was a fading memory. He tugged his scarf higher until it scratched his cheeks to hide the rosiness beginning to burn along his face. His steps crunched the little grass icicles that peeked through the first snow of the year. His footsteps left a trail of dark green in the rapidly whitening meadow. When he reached the cover of the trees, the wind whipped the snow off the branches to pirouette down to the forest floor. Spurred on by whatever success it thought to have achieved, the wind bore through the forest with no longer any warmth. Even the trees seemed to huddle closer together against the icy embrace. 56


His stride grew unsteady as he moved through the gathering drifts of snow. He buried his hands even deeper into his pockets and again cursed not having any gloves. The path was becoming less and less navigable to follow, whether because he was deeper than anyone else cared to come or because the snow had set its will against him, he was unsure. At last the path disappeared into the woods and brought him to a halt. He was not going anywhere, yet he knew exactly where he was going. He resumed walking. The trees seemed tighter and the air stiller. He entered a grove of birches barely distinguishable from the surrounding white. The thin trunks seemed to protest at the larger trees as if

jealous of their size and the warmth it offered. He scoffed. The sound echoed out amongst the trunks, breaking the silence in an irreparable way. Chastised by the disappearing echo, he shook his head instead. He knew most people could find little beauty in cold, but here he had hoped to find otherwise. He was not yet trudging, but his steps were beginning to labour. The snow had come late this year and now that it was finally falling, it clearly intended to make up for the time lost. The clouds had covered the moon in a blanket thicker than the one forming beneath his feet. The light was meandering as dusk’s last effort to stay up was pulled under by the night. The trees were thinning and he could see a small lake sleeping be-

neath the first ice of the year. The wind roared across the frozen water, whisking any snow that might think it could land in peace off into the night. He stepped out onto the ice, gingerly at first lest he break through. There was the faintest crack, enough to make him shiver but not enough for him to turn back. With strides more confident than he felt, he slid his way out into the middle, each step causing cracks to flicker out like spider webs clinging to his feet. He reached the centre of the lake. Looking back, he watched as the cracks danced through the ice in every direction. He smiled as the wind sung. x IMPERFECTION







Snap Snap, Tweet Tweet, Beep. Beep. Sound of perfection created, False reality painted, No in-betweens. Wires connected to trees, Learning to breathe, Without machinery. Dissected. Human body. Put together. An open-heart surgery. Still Diseased. Click. Click. A picture conveys a thousand words, Crafted carefully. False reality finds Comfort. Broken pieces, Laid in the shadows, No one wants the ugly. Would I shine golden If every bone in my body Was glued together? Tragedy disguised, In profile, Smiles and Lies.

No one wants the truth. False reality succeeds. Show the best parts, Forget the hard. Only the summit, Never the climb. No place to hide From the right. Demise. Growing up to realize Love is blind Father not flawless. Mother not model. Sharing not caring, Deception. The art breaks. False reality fails, The imperfect prevails, No more fantasies. Turn down, Virtual Volume. Forget defect. Perfect regret. False reality, No. More. x



A Journey




to me meant control and certainty. And happiness, a product of it. It was impossible to see beauty when my perfect ideas of identity, success, and happiness were shaken to the core.

In a vipassana meditation retreat, one has to wake up at fourthirty in the morning and sit cross-legged in a room full of equally exhausted people. The task is simple: feel every sensation in every inch of your body from head to toe, and don’t react to it. Let go of all the interpretations and attachment to these feelings. This seemingly trivial and futile task does not seem so futile anymore when a tear rolls down my cheek because I finally feel something. Buddha believed that we can alleviate our sorrows by accepting them; it allows them to come to the surface to finally dissipate. This is an amazing sales pitch for a desperate college student caught in rut of unfulfilled dreams, dissociations and existential angst. The problem, as I learnt in that moment, was that I was trying to achieve perfection in the act of letting go. University is a magical place of learning, exploring, and discovering who you are. But when you are struggling to juggle all the uncertainties from how to create a positive impact in the world to how many hours of sleep is optimal when you need to study but also be awake in the test the next day - all these ideas and dreams and perceptions become convoluted. Dissociation is then necessary, if not an inevitable outcome. Perfection to me meant control and certainty. And happiness, a product of it. It was impossible to see beauty when my perfect ideas of identity, success, and happiness were shaken to the core. I came to Canada for university leaving my family and life back home in India. The summer after my first year I went

back and meditated in a retreat in Dehradun. Spending eight months in the west had taught me a lot about myself, but I felt that I needed to go back and rediscover myself. When I was not meditating, I was travelling Dharamshala, the Buddhist hub of India. I felt peace in the Dalai Lama monastery, I found joy in the art and restaurants in McLeodganj, and I found happiness in the serenity of the Himalayas. Growing up in a place of chaos, I found comfort in the buildings and streets that never look the same. Non-symmetrical, broken in places, imperfect. I found beauty in uncertainty. Buddhism has taught me that the inevitable transience and imperfection of life is not something to be feared, but to be embraced. If my day went exactly the way I planned it, would it have the same wonder and beauty? Kierkegaard once said, “It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite.” Every day of my life, and every day of my retreat, I felt impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete. But I don’t fear it anymore. Instead, I find peace in it. I think we all blindly strive for perfection, which is completely bizarre because we were made to never be satisfied. Instead, we should be striving for beauty. If we strive to make our art beautiful, to appreciate the beauty of one’s partner and friends, to be grateful of all the beauty we do have in ourselves, maybe we will finally realise what we are missing while we chase for “perfection.” x IMPERFECTION






Baby, I love you As I step from the subway onto your concrete skin Sunlight freckled on a cold grey sky This is what I’ve been missing—breathe in Warm nights in K-town A streetcar trundles by, curling electric smoke Basil smoulders a balm in your throat On date nights the spice rolls off your tongue As we dream of flowers in the summer Waxing poetic, your voice clings like retro Echoing off the sewers below Let me listen, baby, To the stories clutched To every naked inch of your asphalt chest Stories missing, maybe Fresh starts pockmarked beside wasted dreams Slicked into stains on the sidewalk Your cracks are beautiful Lately they’ve been set in gold By the gilded leaves of the fall I love you in the quiet hours When our lungs stir old air in a romance of the suburbs And your pearly breath is braced with the coldness In which you take so much pride, speak Softly now, for there are children resting here From the weight of the family trees nestled in their backs Hop the fence and meet me by the weed-choked courts I want to relearn your secrets, the markings on your face Our fingers trace the strip malls and hydro corridors Lonely roads and winding rivers, pressing the passages of your palm Up grass-bound, meadow flower trails and underneath The lush stars tracked through the Scarborough sky I love you on hazy west end afternoons When the sun drums a blush into patios and gardened gates And the rush of A/C lifts the fragrant notes Of lychees, apples and pears through market doors Lilacs bloom in your cheeks, as if to hint At the sweetest charms I have yet to know From the twinkling promises strung on your most brilliant strands To those you stitch deep in your most vulnerable seams Because in every moment, every corner In every whisper of wind In every year that has passed and has yet to come Baby, I love you And a piece of you stays with me, still No matter how far I may go x IMPERFECTION



Daddy, I Got to Study Abroad! But I don’t know who I am...




v ery was

confi dent in my ability to re

m ai

n th



“My friend’s daughter went to the school you are going to, and she met the guy she wants to marry there,” my dad said. With a gloomy look, he turned to me and said in the most Nigerian way ever, “Girl, don’t go finding boys in school oh.” My reply? “Of course Daddy. I won’t.” Just kidding; there is no way I said that. In fact, just to make his heart skip a beat, I responded with the words, “If I find a boy, then I will date him.” My dad’s face showed that he wasn’t having it. Fun times! Now, I kind of wish boys were my biggest issue. Truthfully, I have no confidence in my judgement. I thought maybe I was a very determined and purposeful person. I was very confident in my ability to remain the same no matter how big or dense the rock was that hit me. In my equation, I didn’t factor in the stamina I would need to withstand repeated hits. Ah, it’s true I speak more English and Asian languages combined than I speak my native language, am I less? I might be white washed, bleached even, who knows? Maybe I have never experienced racism and cannot relate as much to the experiences of people with my skin colour, does that mean I am a counterfeit version? Okay, let’s accept that I might not understand the value of life, because I have never suffered or gone hungry. Do I have to put myself through a simulation of hardship, or do I just let it come to me? Every success story I have heard of, the owners of the story attribute their success


no ma tte r

how big

me. or dense the rock was that hit

to their struggles and failures. What if I have never had a big failure? Can I still be successful? All the values I have been taught as standard are now in the courtroom of my mind undergoing a cross-examination. I always thought, “I need to get away, live on my own, so I can become an adult.” Now I understand that there is no such thing as an adult, only children that have learned to hide their cracks. I have finally found the crack the in my shiny armour. Maybe the cracks are good, kind of like the spilled guts of a perfectly baked blueberry pie. I might now have a well-rounded flavour to my life. However, in a foreign land where the values are almost completely opposite of home, how do I decide which is true between what I have been taught for more than half of my life and the new ones? Can I live not having a clear idea of who I want to be or what I want do? Or should I fake it until death? Am I shattered or am I just fractured? Is my imperfection imperfect enough or am I just blowing life out of proportion? With all these thoughts still dancing in mind, I have chosen to live moment by moment, and stop getting lost in the big picture. Why, you ask? Hmm... No mountain exists unless there is a valley. Truly, only ant hills are smooth; the tensions, the cracks, and the falling pieces are what makes the mountain, the mountain. I want to become a mountain. x IMPERFECTION


You remember too much, my mother said to me recently. Why hold onto all that? And I said, Where can I put it down? —Anne Carson, “The Glass Essay”




The Treachery of Memories First, I tossed and turned. I switched pillows four times. I added a blanket; I took away a blanket. I thought about how lucky I am to have a memory foam mattress and good-quality bedding. I thought about how that doesn’t matter when anxiety is keeping you awake. I thought about people in my life and not in my life. I thought about the number of people I want to get to know better, and the number of times I had awkward interactions or that I was too scared to have an interaction at all. I thought about my supposed progression away from social anxiety, and how sometimes it seems as if there’s been no progress at all. I thought about Person X like I always do. Every little thing relating to them throughout my day gives me pseudoflashbacks to fucked-up moments. This is how I always think about Person X; with necessary ambiguity. A lack of pronouns and a lack of a name. A lack of a face or shape, and instead they just get a general aura (that’s the only part that mattered anyways). Since last February, I have had the great misfortune of adding court to my memory arsenal (these weapons are only usable against myself ). There lies the experience of being cross-examined, of having to not only replay memories but to explicitly state them and make them real. There I was, constantly beginning sentences with “I think” (even though I knew), and the prosecutor having to prompt me towards selfdoubtless vocabulary. I despised the defense treating my life almost laughingly, sarcastically, as if my story could be falsified if injected with enough attitude and disdain. Last night, I dreamt of wanting to kill myself, and Person X was distinctly related. This was a shock to me upon waking up (the killing myself ), because I am not close to suicidal and never

have been. It must have been some combination of reading an article related to suicide before bed, and anxiety, and what sexual assault does to a person, even that many years later. Before I fell asleep, I also thought about this piece. I thought about how I would make it vulnerable, and how that’s scary, and it made my heart beat fast then just like it’s doing right now. I thought about the importance and impact of vulnerability, and how oh-so-frail humans really are. I thought about how long it’s been since I’ve written a vulnerable piece, even one that no one else would see. I thought about how scared I’ve been and still am to dig deep into myself. It is so mind-numbingly terrifying to see what I find and to confront myself—not to mention the prospect of sharing that with anyone. My soul is shaking because what I’m writing about is so important and so fragile and it hurts so much. It is attached to so much pain and that bond feels like one I can’t ever cleave. These things are difficult to think about, nearly inconceivable to write, and seemingly impossible to say out loud. In the few times in my life that I have spoken any words like this, it has felt surreal; like a dream to hear them spoken aloud. But here’s one thing I think (I know): that’s okay. I create a world for myself where achievement and progress are what matters, and where I need to constantly propel myself forward. I consciously know the value of self-care and introspection, but in practice, I strive to embody go-go-go success all the time. It’s okay to not be this way. It’s okay that these memories and experiences are debilitating—that’s what trauma is. It’s not a good thing, but it is how it is, and to an extent I cannot change that. Personhood and perfection are practically antithetical; it would be unreasonable to expect anything different. x IMPERFECTION


Something Old and New




I mindlessly scrolled down on my laptop screen, all of the colours blurring together. It was so frustrating; nothing stood out to me. I needed to find the perfect dress. Graduation was one week away, and this was going to be the last time that all of my friends were together before we headed off in different directions. I stood up and went through the closet to see if there was something that could give me inspiration. I flipped through the array of clothes, and became increasingly frustrated when I saw that my sister’s old clothes were still lingering at the back of the closet. I was thinking that we should just donate them since no one was going to wear them anyway. A striking emerald green colour caught my eye. I pulled aside the other clothes, revealing a mid-length piece of fabric…my heart raced as I slowly took the fabric off the hanger and discovered that it was a dress. This could be my graduation dress! I stroked the velvet fabric, feeling the softness in my hands. I was already imagining how I could accessorize the dress with a heart-shaped necklace, which would be easily visible at the keyhole neckline. The final touch was the sparkling, glittery brooch pinned at the collar. I held the dress against my body, with its flared hemline flowing to my knees. It was beautiful, so perfect as if it was made for me…until I saw the tear at the hemline. I started to feel uneasy…I couldn’t wear a dress that was all ragged and old… “You found my old dress!” my sister exclaimed. “Oh, you’re home already. How were your classes?” “Same old readings and content. Are you still looking for a dress to wear? It’s been so long since I wore that one, but I still remember how I tore it.” “What happened?” I asked her, and she began to tell me her story. — It was the first time that we were all back together for the holidays since entering university. My friend was hosting a party, and invited all of her friends from high school and university. I sat by the couch, with the glass of water in my hand. I was worried about eating or drinking anything else, in case it spilled on my dress. When the package arrived that morning, shipped from halfway across the world, I felt nervous about whether the dress was the “right fit” for me. I wanted to be like the other girls who bought their dresses from the latest designers. However, my mom had asked my aunt to sew a dress for me, a kind gesture. I starred down at my glass, my fingers fiddling with the brooch. I was anxiously waiting for my friend to come back and sit with me. I didn’t know too many people here. I glanced up and caught his stare. He was talking with his friend. I looked down again. “You’re here to have fun. Relax. Deep breaths.” I told myself. “Are you having fun? That’s such a pretty dress,” my friend said. As I looked up at her, I could see that she wasn’t alone. He was with her. He gave me a small smile. “I’m going to go get a drink. Do you want anything?” she said. I shook my head. My friend sauntered away, leaving him with me. I didn’t know what to say.

“Um-” “Uh-” We both attempted to break the silence, and gave a nervous laugh. “You first,” I said, giving him a small smile. “It was… uh, I was just going to ask whether that was a vintage dress?” I started to feel a little apprehensive. I hope that he didn’t recognize that the dress was homemade. I knew that I should have bought the white swing dress from the boutique. That would have looked much nicer. He interrupted my train of thoughts. “I ask because I am thinking of going into fashion design. My dream would be to create my own fashion line.” A wave of relief washed over me. “My aunt actually made this dress for me.” “No way! That’s really cool! Maybe you could show me some other designs that she has?” “Actually, she doesn’t normally design dresses. It was a onetime thing for me.” “She should definitely think of creating more, because this dress is beautiful.” I smiled. —

“So then what happened?” I asked my sister. “Well, we ended up talking for the whole night. As he was walking me to our front door, I clumsily tripped over in my heels, causing that tear in the dress,” she laughed to herself. “You know what? I think I’m going to borrow this dress,” I said, as I folded it over my arms. “But wait, I thought you didn’t like the tear in the dress?” “It’s fine,” I said. I headed out the door. This was our special dress, worn to create old and new memories. x IMPERFECTION





A piece is adulterated by the ears of fullness from finite interpretation that stretches the hems of feeling over the purity of the tone. I call it pure but cannot fathom its meaning sipping its essence from the word’s barren rim— the savor of conscience turned pungent by aftertaste transcending from underneath. Double vision likens our hearing to two perceptions of one work: the piece itself mutely slipping, the interpretation intrinsically grasped. Each note sits prearranged across the five staffed lines. Our minds too in expectation across the rows of pews. As we eye the hymn lyrics our own voices ring in our head. Not the voice of the moral the composer’s words embed. In the figurative stained glass windows, we read between the marble tracery. As with the penetrating white daylight, we see disguised as coloured shadows. Yet the resonant summoning prevails as pride draws sentiment from its pockets revealing worn and naïve sighs to sacrifice at the euphony’s alter. Gracefully or gracelessly yield to the timbre: it will speak for every heart. Kindling those that master its rhythm, provoking others that clash in bitterness. x








Hamilton houses little patience. Two decades and I’ve seen its brutal glory. Imperfection runs deep underneath the streets, Seeping through the cracks of fault. A boom which never quite seemed to have had a bang. Constantly reaching for notoriety that isn’t shamed with negativity. A self-portrait cursed with a broken brush. Starvation for a finish that will never come. Seven-dollar coffee mornings, Twelve-dollar cocktail nights. Every calendar change brings new shops cluttered with old thoughts. Vintage being the word of lust, Only to provide overpriced pieces of shit. Streets run parallel but in fact overlap. Overflow of mental health issues with ineffective economic resolves. Pawn shops next to quick cash hyenas, Sucking single mothers dry and workless fathers in desperation. Art trying to fill the shoes of big brother steel, for a demographic continuing to steal. Toronto casts a staggering shadow for those seeking shade; Surely the cool air isn’t worth burying us deep. Crust punks that are just a bit too crusty. Shortsighted passive-aggressive stairs. Overpriced condos carving into smog skies. One-ways going wrong-ways. Potholes doubling as a cyclist’s enemy. Though I suppose it isn’t all that bad. Slanted streets only force you to walk more slowly. Drugs dig a deep pool for free swims. Architectural decay produces a concentrative eye. Food spans spectrums, Causing empty pockets for alleviating the weight. Weeds push through cracks rather gracefully. Pessimistic civility brings forth forced optimism. Empty bottles promote recyclability. Heavy traffic will surely get you to daydream. x IMPERFECTION





Beauty in a Cracked Bowl I look in the mirror every morning. If my grades were just a little higher, my body just a little slimmer, and my demeanor a little more charming, I tell myself. Aim higher, take on more activities, be more efficient with your time. I strive toward this ideal form of a student: good marks, in shape, and involved in numerous community activities. Never be satisfied with what you have. Instead, be proactive in taking advantage of more opportunities available. That’s what I used to tell myself at least. It was physically, mentally, and emotionally draining to try and stay afloat in my sea of part-time work, midterms, and extra-curricular activities. My days were spent running back and forth between shifts, classes, and meetings. I would hardly have time to cook, much less have time to relax and hang out with my friends. Being busy was nice, I thought—it made me feel productive and “successful.” I received my first midterm mark this term and I almost burst into tears. It was the lowest mark I had ever gotten. How did I let this happen; did I do something wrong? How can I recover from this? Many hours of stewing later, I realized I could not do all that I thought I could. I was not that person that can balance numerous things and expect to excel at all of them. I needed to take breaks, catch up on all my schoolwork, spend time on self-care, and figure out exactly why I was trying to juggle all that I was.

A precious bowl can be cracked and be more beautiful because of it: there is beauty in its imperfection and in its flaws, and we should celebrate it. I am not perfect and I had to come to terms with that. I continue to struggle. A precious bowl can be cracked and be more beautiful because of it: there is beauty in its imperfection and in its flaws, and we should celebrate it. Rather than shy away from sharing my struggles, I embrace my imperfections and my inabilities while recognizing that I am ever changing and ever improving. While I continue to strive for better marks and increased community involvement, I take more time for personal wellness. I’m a visibly fractured bowl that is proud of its scar. x IMPERFECTION




a l T k i p




Stop speaking so loud. There are some words, emblazoned in big, bold letters, that you can paint across large billboards and print on small flyers, that you can shout from rooftops and belt in town squares. You want everyone to hear you and you want everyone to listen, so you shout and yell to be heard. Wow, I can’t believe they did that. Open a history book to escape the present, they said. Open a history book and you won’t just learn the facts of a war that shaded the outlines of many lives, a tragedy that occurred, a hero or a love story. You’ll sift through the words of the writer, see only what they see, understand who they were, what they felt, why they wrote this. Shh. Someone might hear you. Then there are those words, ones that caress the thoughts of the listeners but cannot be whispered, that are stifled for fear of being heard by those not meant to listen. It isn’t time yet. You must wait for acceptance, for progress. Progress occurs as progress has occurred, waiting for someone somewhere to feel that progress is needed. What about ahead? How can I leave the past and the present behind to see the future instead? There isn’t a book written for that yet—maybe I’ll make my own. You speculate about the possibilities, the opportunities, the next steps. Living life on to-do lists, completed tasks and still more to be completed. How many more? No one’s listening. You’re still screaming and yelling, but your voice becomes hoarse, something lodged tight in your throat. You speak without noise now, waiting, hoping, wishing for someone, anyone, to hear you. Your mouth is opened, and the words are forming, but no sound must come out. It’s too early for that. History hasn’t yet been made, so you must wait. History in the making. Such a telling phrase, no? We set a present record—from sports to scientific discoveries and everything in between—by breaking past ones, and yet it only lasts in the present for as long as it is in

the moment of being achieved. As soon as it is accomplished, it becomes history. For so long you work hard to thrive, to achieve your dreams. Then, it’s over, its existence a mirage of the past and no longer an emblem of the present. So what, then, is history? And what, then, is the present? Be quiet, someone is listening. The whispers are picked up and swiftly gone, racing through the hard winds to push through cracks in walls, breathing into the vents of nearby homes, swimming across tracks made by the air as they glidesthrough silent neighbourhoods and sleeping willows. Then there is one listener, one more in that house by the old hunched tree, another by the bridge overlooking the city, another, another, another. Times are changing fast, are they not? You sit there by the windowsill wrapped in a colourful shawl. You stare out at the autumn leaves as they flutter to the ground, with the warmth of summer and the chill of winter strolling together through the breeze. The buzz is all around you, the news just breaking. You can already feel it, the changed thoughts of the people who once seemed less moveable than even the tallest mountains, the changed outlook, the new direction. This isn’t fast enough. Your arms are wrapped around yourself as you huddle into the corner. There, just around the bend, is your greatest fear. So you hide out. Attempting to survive without breathing for fear that even the whisper of a breath would carry all your secrets away from the comfort of your mind. Your silence has never felt more safe, nor more foreboding. You look over. They heard a sound. You retreat into the shadows of the crevices, the chill of the silenced. — Written words. Whispers. Thoughts. History. Past. Present. Future. The past has been written, and the future as well, but the present must make way for the future by writing itself into the past. x IMPERFECTION



INCITE MAGAZINE VOLUME 19, ISSUE 2 “IMPERFECTION” Published December 2016 Incite Magazine is McMaster University’s creative arts and writing publication. We aim to unite a community of creatives by promoting self-expression, collaboration, and dialogue within our university campus and the city of Hamilton. Every aspect of Incite’s writing, graphics, design, multimedia and event production is carried out by our wonderful student volunteers. If you’d like to get involved, feel free to get in touch by emailing @incitemagazine

Editors-in-Chief Jason Lau, Sunny Yun Art Direction Lauren Gorfinkel Copy Editors Takhliq Amir, Angela Dong, Catherine Hu, Emma Hudson, Rachel Guitman, Nimra Khan, Henry Krahn, Aminata Mageraga, Alexandra Marcaccio, Jennifer Scora, Coby Zucker In-House Artists Mimi Deng, Shirley Deng, Lauren Gorfinkel, Theresa Orsini Art Curators Alexandra Decata, Camelia McLeod, Imasha Perera Layout Editors Matthew Lam, Angela Ma, Tram Nguyen Event Planner Annie Yu Promotions Coordinator Dana Hill Cover Credits We Breathe Through the Hearts of Stars by Katelyn Johnstone Art and design by Lauren Gorfinkel and Jason Lau

Contributors (Writers) Asefeoluwa Abodunrin, Takhliq Amir, Jordan Samuel Anastasiadis, Nick Bommarito, Isabella Fan, Robert Feurtado, Rachel Guitman, Zoe Handa, Grant Holt, Catherine Hu, Emma Hudson, Chukky Ibe, Aranya Iyer, Katelyn Johnstone, Gali Katznelson, Harry Krahn, S.C.L. Leung, Valerie Luetke, Annecy Pang, Srikripa Krishna Prasad, Aminata Mageraga, Alexandra Marcaccio, Griffin Marsh, Paige Maylott, Sherilyn Murray, Ruvimbo Musiyiwa, Linda N., Nicholas Schmid, Abeera Shahid, Sameera Singh, Angela Xie, Coby Zucker. (Artists) Abeer Ahmad, Daven Bigelow, Angela BusseGibson, Kayla Da Silva, Alexandra DeCata, Mimi Deng, Shirley Deng, Colline Do, Ross Edwards, Dareen El-Sayed, Deeshani Fernando, Robert Feurtado, Leah Flanagan, Emily Gaudet, Lauren Gorfinkel, Gali Katznelson, Katrina Hass, Grant Holt, William Huynh, Matthew Lam, Clara Laratta, Jason Lau, Wing Lau, Sonia Leung, Jonsson Liu, Alexandra Marcaccio, Camelia McLeod, Courtney McNeely, Sherilyn Murray, Brandon Ng, Theresa Orsini, Imasha Perera, Shelley Rottenberg, Kira Salena, Courtney Sheppard, David Shin, Sameera Singh, Jasmyne Smith, Nicole Song, Anastasia Smolina, Jessica Trac, Christina Ugge, Tess Visser, Alexandra Walker, Cassandra Whall, Hamid Yuksel. Special Thanks to The MSU SRA & Board of Directors: thanks for your ongoing support and for believing in what we do!

xix :iiiv

There are oceans in my veins, And galaxies in my eyes. There is sunlight in my hair, And constellations in my skin. My bones are made of the dust Wandering comets leave behind, My blood is made of iron Forged in the heart of dying stars. So I breathe deep and burn bright, And once in a while I fall— A meteor screaming to earth, A star freed from the darkened sky. I am fire standing on grass, Breathing air lit by moonlight, Taking in the smell of night. When I look at the Milky Way, I know From afar a star is bright. But up close, it is brilliant. x

Profile for Incite Magazine

Incite Magazine – December 2016  

[Vol. 19, Issue 2: Imperfection]—This month’s theme, “imperfection,” serves as a homage to the struggles, challenges, flaws, and setbacks in...

Incite Magazine – December 2016  

[Vol. 19, Issue 2: Imperfection]—This month’s theme, “imperfection,” serves as a homage to the struggles, challenges, flaws, and setbacks in...