No. 7 (and last) in a series of short things I wrote in J-school

The smallness of the stop sign caught my eye. Most places have installed the new, larger, uber-reflective ones. But this is a small town. This is my town. I’m not certain my grandfather would have approved of this new sign. The old one, even faded, did its job; no one ever fully stopped for it either.

In the blurry edge of the photograph I catch a glimpse of something else; my grandfather’s home. Built up to accommodate a growing family, literally raising it from its foundation and digging out a basement.

It’s a Monday and many years have passed since he died. He died as he lived, with a dignity that earned him special friendships and generous helpings of love. I can’t recall if Mondays were when I would cycle over to cut his lawn but it may have been. There were plums from the one lone tree he tended, fresh and cold, beside the Tupperware bowl of celery sticks in the refrigerator. After cutting the grass, we would clink our water glasses together in mock celebration and divvy up some plums; never the celery sticks for some reason.

This town is still so small and my memories of him still so large.

The house is not his anymore and a new fence has gone up. Children play on the grass that I cut under my grandfather’s watchful eye. He was a stickler for detail and, like me, I think he enjoyed the checkered patterns on the turf. There was a sense of order, not just to the grass cutting, but to to every little job I helped him with. I found out, years later, that no matter what little job it may have been, he proudly spread the word of our little successes to friends he bumped into at the post office.

Small towns afford an upbringing perfect for introverts.

This is the last short thing I have. The rest are much longer and I’m not re-typing them. :-)

He’ll Be Okay

No. 6 in a series of short things I wrote in J-school

It’s just one of those things people say in situations like this and really the only thing that feels right to say. “He’ll be okay,” from my mother upon my arrival. “He’ll be okay,” from my sister during my meltdown near an ambulance.

Nothing about a massive heart attack seems okay to me. But in 12 hours, I want to hear “He’ll be okay,” from a surgeon.

My inner voice is screaming at me and I struggle to make sense of the noise. GET UP. CALL THE DESK TO EXTEND STAY. WHAT IF… ? DON’T THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IF HE DIES. That’s not going to happen, because it can’t. There is nothing in my inner voice or my inner being that can deal with that.


Hearts are not pumps. To view a heart as a simple pump, operating like clockwork, is too detached and unworthy of heartbeats. In truth, massive waves of blood pound DNA beaches made of grains of hope, fate and genetics in a sea of dynamic, immeasurable chaos that is never static, never still.

These waves travel like tsunamis across time and space, joining others, crashing through bloodlines, rippling in a universe residing in the ultimate complexity — life.

He’ll be okay.

A triple bypass, lots of pain and healing… but today he’s okay.

Tomorrow: Introverts

A sighting at 37,000 feet

No. 5 in a series of short things I wrote in J-school

She laughed the same way she did when I said I was going to surprise her with dinner or make plans to spend the day with her on a weekend; a mocking, half-snort of derision that made me instantly aware she didn’t believe a single word of my observation: “There’s something in the sky out there,” but it was nonetheless a fact; there was a large, black line on the horizon and it was getting longer, wider and seemed to be making its way toward our plane and it didn’t matter that my significant other thought I was joking or that at first the flight attendant didn’t see it either, it was there, it was big and as the flight attendant leaned across laps and laptops — moving from oval-shaped window to oval-shaped window — looking past the wing and straining her eyes against the bright, blue sky, she excitedly let fly with something I’m sure startled many travel-weary souls who were half-napping their way through another boring B movie or cellophane-wrapped offering: “There it is!”, which of course, caused all eight rows of Scotland-bound passengers (who were not already aware of what the few of us were doing with our noses pressed to the windows) to swivel in their seats simultaneously to see if they could perhaps get in on the excitement of what was turning out to be a mass UFO sighting at 37,000 feet.

Yes, that’s one sentence. As I said, we were doing modelling exercise to limber up our writing brains.

Anyway, our UFO turned out to be a meteor burning up in the atmosphere… running roughly parallel to our flight path. I’ve now seen three daytime meteors; one in Victoria over the Strait of Georgia from the Save-On Foods parking lot (Blanshard Street) and another in Chase at approx. 4:40 pm February 9, 2009 which was probably the most spectacular. It was too high to be heard but witnesses in Prince George reported hearing a boom. It was extremely bright green, white and orange and moving east to west faster than anything I’ve ever seen in the sky.

I won’t discuss in detail my other two UFO sightings. They were… weird. And still freak me out to this day.

Tomorrow: He’ll be okay


No. 4 in a series of short things I wrote in J-school

Upstairs neighbour, how do you do it? How can you make such noise with only your feet? Amazing. Your heels must be made of steel. I’m trying to sleep, upstairs neighbour. You walk so much. I’m sorry you get no daytime exercise. I’m sorry you remedy that nightly. I’m sorry I live below you. Maybe your heels are not steel; perhaps your slippers are titanium? Perhaps you sport fashionable concrete socks? What is the deal up there? Is there a path worn? I want to understand. I want to visit sometime. Perhaps when sleep doesn’t matter ,which happens rarely, upstairs neighbour. I may have to kill you. I can probably do it. I walk softly, cat-like. You wouldn’t even hear me coming. Incredibly, I’ve heard noisier footfalls than yours. However, I was at the zoo. My friend Dumbo sends regards.

Again, these were just short modelling exercises. I’m not going to post the essays and long-form pieces I wrote because I can’t find the digital versions.

Tomorrow: Sighting at 37,000 feet.

Dr. Vagyi’s office

No. 3 in a series of short things I wrote in J-school

The smell of Dr. Vagyi’s office hit when the bells on the top of the door jingled. The acrid, too-clean, ammonia-esque scent went straight past any nasal barricades or filter systems to my brain. It made me instantly sick to my stomach, if I wasn’t before I arrived there.

Sadly, I was accident prone and there a lot… usually for stitches. I would come to learn this smell is a living thing, capable of modifying itself to dentist offices, hospitals and nursing homes.

Tomorrow: the upstairs neighbour.

The hands of a logger

No. 2 in a series of things I wrote in J-school

The hands of a logger are awesome; real loggers’ hands, not those of an equipment operator or foreperson. My grandpa’s hands reminded me of my first baseball glove… perfect for the job, leathery and big. When he shook my hand, I feared it would not come back to me in the same shape. My hands are small, possibly stunted by intimidation.

I said these would be short.

Tomorrow, a visit to the doctor.


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