Jane Street and Woolner Ave

I grew up in Toronto, Ontario Canada. For those who don’t know where Toronto is, it is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. It is the most multicultural city in Canada.  It is the provincial capital of Ontario. It’s where everything happens.

This is the place that I immigrated to at the age of 5 and left at the age of 29. It is the city that I am trying to desperately move back to.  My current community is not home anymore.

I grew up at Jane Street and Woolner Ave in a high-rise building. We lived on the fourteenth floor. As a child, I thought my street was the safety place in the world. The kids I hung out with and grew up with had tons of freedom. We would leave our apartments in the morning and not return until dinner time.  We got in tons of trouble.

The illusion that my street was safe changed when I was 12. The year I was raped by two men on my way home from the corner store. As soon as I could get away, I did. I never looked back.

As an adult, I found out that my street was a well-known area for dealing drugs. I was shocked because I never saw that part of my community. Now when I do look back at my childhood, I do recall things that were a bit….odd.

There were always guys hanging out at this one store, they were there everyday.  All day long. They never left to go to work or to go anywhere else.

Also, I recall coming home from vacation one summer to hear about a man who lived in my building who had killed himself, his wife and his child. He left another child alone in the apartment with the dead bodies. He jumped in front of a train. I am not sure if this was true or not.  But that was the rumour.

So, as I write this I am interested to know if anything has changed about my childhood community.  I haven’t been back since I was 18 and now I am in my forties.  I found out that:

“Jane and Woolner is home to many new immigrants from various backgrounds, this area was once ruled by drug and gang activity, but now is slowly emerging from its troubled past. The main gang inhabiting the area are the South Side Gatorz as well as their subset the Junior Gatorz, but members of transnational Hispanic gangs such as the Latin Kings as well as MS-13 have been known to frequent the Woolner Apartments as well.”  If you want to read more, click here.

I am shocked that there was gang activity. It’s funny how your world is so small when you’re a child, and you see what you want to see and nothing else.  Jane Street.  Woolner Ave.  I don’t think I will be going back there anytime soon.

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Insert Swear Word Here

So, they want us to write about our favourite childhood meal!  I am not sure why they think everyone has wonderful memories from their stupid childhood.  My mother was an abusive bitch and my father was emotionally unavailable.

There is nothing in my childhood that makes me happy.  The only good memories that I have as a child is  it’s over!

I guess everyone assumes because their childhood was great that everyone else had the same experience.  All I remember about food is that my mother would force me to eat shit that I never wanted to eat.  She got it in her head for some reason that I should fucking eat celery and peanut butter.

All I remember is being forced to sit at that damn table and eat that shit.  All I remember is the fucking tears running down my face as this crazy shit ass woman, was in my face telling me to eat this celery and peanut butter crap!

She must have seen this shit on television or something.  Some brilliant idea that I must feed this to my unsuspecting child and if she don’t like it, fuck her, she will sit there till the cows come home.

You know what mom? I don’t buy that shit in my house. I don’t freaking buy peanut butter or freaking celery! And I don’t force my innocent children to eat shit they don’t want to. Hell, I don’t remember seeing you cobble down celery and peanut butter.

So there!

celerypb

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It’s All About Perspectives

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Perspective 1

The old woman watches as the couple walk  by as the man cries, pulling his hand away and covering his face.  The woman doesn’t say anything, but continues to walk as if nothing is happening.

The old woman sits and watches the couple in a distance.

The man stops walking and says something to the woman.  The woman looks at him and shakes her head.  She continues to walk but the man stops her by putting his hand on her shoulder.

The old woman doesn’t want to stare, so she pretends to knit her sweater.  The old woman watches the couple for a few minutes. The man is talking to the woman and crying and the woman is just staring at him and not saying anything.

The old woman shakes her head at the couple and wishes that she had brought her hearing aid with her so she would be able to hear what they were arguing about.  It seemed that these young people these days, were always arguing about something.

Perspective 2

I yank my hand away from Sara’s. I don’t understand how she can act like nothing is wrong with this whole situation.  She has always been like that.  Calm in the storm.

We continue walking and I know that old lady on the bench is probably watching us now, but I am so angry that I don’t even care to make a scene.  I glance over at Sara and her expression hasn’t changed.

The woman has just told me the most horrible news and she is acting like she just told me she got some milk from the grocery store.

I stop walking and I stop her in her tracks by touching her shoulder.  Sara stops walking and looks at me.  “Are you not afraid? Are you not upset? Are you not mad at the universe?”

Sara looks at me, there is a tear that has fallen on her cheeks.  She shakes her head, “What good would that do me?”

“I don’t know,  Sara.  Maybe it would show me you care!”  I say to her under my breath.

Perspective 3

Stan and I just passed the old lady on the bench.  She gave me a little wink and I couldn’t help but smile back.  It was a bit awkward to smile while your husband was crying,  but there was no reason to be angry anymore.

I just told Stan what has been going on for the last few months.  I was hoping that when I told him the truth, it would be with us being thankful that it was all behind us.

My doctor told me that I had to tell Stan myself or he was going to.   Stan let go of my hand and continued to cry.  I couldn’t feel anything, it was his time to grieve.  I had already done that.

“How much time?”  Stan asked me.

“A few months….” I began but trailed off. “I don’t want to focus on that, I have so much I want to do.”

Stan stopped me gently by placing his hand on my shoulder.  He always does that when he wants my undivided attention.  He looked so crushed, so small and so alone.  I couldn’t bear to look at him.

“Are you not afraid? Are you not upset? Are you not mad at the universe?” Stan asked me.

I wasn’t even sure what to say.  I was all of those things.  I was afraid to die.  I was afraid of the cancer in my breast.  I was upset. I was angry! I was mad at God.  But none of those things changed the fact that I had cancer and that I was dying.

I was more sad for my husband, who was standing in front of me crying because he valued my life and me so much.   I know how lucky I was to have  a man who loved me for so many years of my life.

I continued walking and took hold of my husband’s hand in mine.  It was so beautiful out today that I wanted to enjoy it with Stan before it was too late.

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breast-cancer-october_o

Box Up Your Dreams And Wait For A Miracle

Over the course of the past two years, I have gained many lessons on love, life and relationships.

It’s been over a year since I officially became a single mother.  The first year that I separated from my ex, we parented our children together.  My cheating asshole ex provided financially for his children and never complained about doing it.  He also would help me with things that I couldn’t do on my own.  We still remained partners and parents.

We would try our best to make amends in our relationship, but for some reason we couldn’t get past all the ways that we had hurt each other over the years. We tried to remain friends, after all we were each other’s best friend for 16 years. We couldn’t stop pointing fingers at each other.

In year two of our separation, my cheating asshole ex met the woman he is now dating.  A woman who has slung racist comments towards me.   A woman who accuses me of being “greedy” and wanting child support.  A woman who sat in family court and winked at me, believing the break up of my family and the ongoing battle between my ex and I were some joke.

My ex is now verbally abusive and intimidating.  He also got lost in a world of booze and drugs and no longer cares about anything else. My ex has lost a job making $100 grand annually, to being unemployed.

My ex has moments of regret where he would apologize to me for all the mistakes he made.  These lucid moments do not last very long and when his new girlfriend is around his mean streak is over powering.

It was in this year that I became a single mother and where I mark our separation.  It was no longer a team effort on our part, but rather me a single person left to raise two other human beings.

I guess nothing lasts forever and I still struggle with the idea that my family is broken and will never be the same.  I feel anger because I want my children to be raised in a two parent home, but I know that this will never happen and I am left to sort out all these emotions on my own.

I do miss my ex, because he represented what I thought a family should be.  I miss that I knew or I thought I knew what the next few years would look like.  I thought it would be him and I against the world.

I have been struggling with the idea that my relationship is over.  Maybe it’s because our anniversary of breaking up has come and passed.  Maybe its the one year mark, since I had to drag my once caring, supportive, loving partner and father into a courtroom to pay child support.

Maybe it’s because I was going in front of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and I felt so damn alone and wanted him there. Maybe it’s because he should be there and he has chosen not to be.

I usually get tired of dealing with so many emotions on my own. So I put them on the doorstep of my friend.  I didn’t have to go on and explain to her the relationship ending or how lonely I was feeling.  She gets it.

My friend told me that he probably does not have any insight into the depth of the impact his leaving has on me and our family.  She went on to tell me that I was probably a reminder of his own shortcomings, he  knew he wasn’t good enough for me and when he looked at me, he was reminded that he was flawed and that I was  so much more together than he was.  Finally, she said that he found somebody who could look up to him and make him feel better about himself.

What my friend had to say about our relationship, made me feel more alone but at the same time, I understood.  It does make a bit of sense, because he was always telling me that I deserved better or I was better off.  If only this man knew that having a broken family and a broken heart, is not better off.

I don’t know if I could fall in love with another man.  There is trouble on the horizon with the man I am currently dating.  I don’t know if I could fall passionately in love with him as I loved my ex.  Maybe the fact that I am pulling away from my boyfriend is that I may be totally falling hard for him and it scares me.  Or maybe I am fearful I am settling because I was want so badly to be in love.

I don’t know.  I still believe in love. I still want to fall in love, be loved and stay in love.

I think I still am in love, but it is not with the man I am dating. I feel horrible about this fact.

Relationships are like fruit, once it goes bad you have to throw it out.  Can it be salvaged? You could eat a rotten apple or swishy orange but it just won’t taste the same.

At the end of the day, you have to throw out the old fruit and replace it with new fruit.  I guess the same can be said for relationships.

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Blue Shirt vs Pink Shirt

Both mother’s sat across from each other.  They were both called to the school because their children had been suspended.

The mother in the blue looked quickly at her cell phone, she was checking the time.

The mother in the pink shirt was upset that her son was suspended and couldn’t wait to speak with the principal about this problem.  It must be this new kid that he is hanging out with.

“I hope that I can see the principal soon.  I have to get back to work and I am already late” the mother in the blue says.

“Your daughter is beautiful” the mother in blue says. “What daycare does she go to, my friend is looking for a reputable daycare provider.  She seems so happy.”

“My children do not go to daycare.  I stay at home with them”  the mom in the pink shirt said.  She was annoyed to be talking to this woman about her children.  She felt that these working moms thought badly of her.

“Oh” the mother in blue responded.  “I wish I could stay home with my kids too.  When I have a day off from work and I stay home for one day, I really enjoy it.  My youngest son, always cries when I drop him off at the babysitter.”

“Then why do you work? Why don’t you stay home with your children.  I would never let anyone watch my kids all day.  It’s like they are raising them.  I couldn’t do it” the mother in pink said.  “It must be hard to be a single mother.”

“I am not a single mother.  My husband and I are still together”  the mother in blue said.  “I think its presumptuous of you to think that because I work I am a single mother….”

“No….I don’t know why I said it.  I mean, if you don’t have to work then why work, I would just stay home with my kids….”

“Your sitting there judging me as a bad person because I work.  I don’t work because I have to.  I work because I want to, because I worked hard to get my career off the ground.  I work because I love to and I don’t want to sit at home all day long raising children.”

“It’s not easy to raise children.  It’s hard work too.”

“I never once said it was easy.  I am a mother.  I may just be a part-time mother to you, but never the less I am a mother.  I know its hard to raise children.  I have to do your job and work my full-time job in one day.”

“My husband makes good money.  I don’t have to work.”

“My husband is probably your boss” the working mother said.  “Our house is probably bigger than yours.  Our bank account probably triples yours and we probably could afford a nanny but we don’t.”

“It’s not about saving money.  I just like staying home. with my children.”

“Well I think there is more to life than having children” working mother replied.  “How about self fulfillment?”

“I get fulfilment in watching my kids grow and being there for first moments.  Why would you have children if you don’t feel fulfilled by them?”

“But your children should not complete you” the working mom replied.   “You should find fulfillment in yourself.”

“I am nothing without my children.”

“I am nothing without my career.”

Both mother’s looked at each other and didn’t say another word to each other.  After each mom met with the principal and was told that their boys would be suspended for breaking the school rules, they went their separate ways.

The working mom walked quickly to her car and cursed under her breath because she was due back at work about an hour ago.

The stay at home mom got into her car and started to drive home.

When the  mom in the blue shirt got back to work, she grabbed the clip board, threw on her scrub and went to check on the patient that was just brought in by ambulance.  The woman was hit by a drunk driver and from what the report said, she may not survive.

The working mom drew the curtain back and went in room where this woman was brought in and put on life support.  “Does she have a family? Have they been contacted?”

The nurse nodded yes and left the room.

The working mom walked over to the bed, she hated these moments. “Holy crap” she whispered.

The mother in pink was crying, the pain was terrible, “save me please, the boys need me,” she reached up and touched working mom’s arm.

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The verdict Is In…….

And the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board held their hearing regarding my application.  They have  decided that I will receive an undisclosed financial amount for pain and suffering and additional funds for ongoing therapy.

I have never seen my hospital report after my rape, but today I was told I had severe physical injuries.  I have been vindicated!

SOLDIER-BOY

User Name: Michael****

When your relationship ends you desperately want to talk to someone about it.  You want to rage against the unfairness of the situation, you want to hide away under a rock and hope no one turns it over and you want to find someone who understands how you feel when you wake up and when you try to fall asleep.

It’s been a year since the friendship between  Michael S. and I developed.   We met in a group for separated people.  We both had just recently broken up with our partners and wanted to find a way to get them back.  We were both struggling with transitioning from being a couple to being single individuals.  I was so tired of travelling that dirt road alone, I wanted someone who was willing to travel with me.

Mike seemed to be dealing better with the breakup than I was.  I read a few comments he had posted on the group for a month before I felt brave enough to ask his opinion on my situation.  He often gave other members of the group great advice, he was likened to a social worker, a therapist or someone who knew what they were talking about.  He knew how to handle this tough situation and I wanted to draw some of his strength and take it as my own.

Mike was direct and didn’t mince his words to make you feel coddled.  If he thought you were being out-of-place, or needed to be redirected he would give it to you.  He would just tell you how he saw it and it was up to you to take it or leave it.

I desperately wanted to have his take on my situation.  I think I must have written my question to him a million times, before I clicked the send button.  I wanted to take it back as soon as it was out there.

I wanted my ex back without a doubt and so did Mike.    I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to transition from having a family to being  just a mother.  I didn’t even know how to get out of bed every morning, but I did it because I had to.  I needed someone to get it.  My friends said they understood, but most were still happily married or happily separated.  I was neither.

From the moment, Mike responded to my question, I clung to every word he had to say.  I would respond to his comment and then he would say something else and on and on this little dance between us went.

Eventually, we left the group that brought us together.  We had each other for strength and I looked forward to just talking with him.   We exchanged phone numbers and continued to support each other along our path to surviving our breakups.

I have never met Mike in person. I have seen his picture on Facebook.  I was there when he found out his grandmother had died.  I have shared in his life celebrations and listened silently when he has felt defeated.

We have talked about meeting on several occasions.   I have never been to St. Louis, Missouri and Mike has never been to Canada.  Of all the relationships I have with people in my lives, this one has become very important to me.  Mike is one of my closest and dearest friends and I don’t ever want that to change.

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The Letter

I can see the paper on the ground as I leave the grocery store.  I am carrying two heavy bags filled with tonight’s dinner for myself and my love.

I wish the girl had been better at packing these grocery bags as she put most of the heavy items in one.  She didn’t even double bag them.

I knew this would happen.  My groceries are all over the ground. The bags broke as I knew it would.   I feel like storming right back into that grocery store and telling that girl, that her carelessness has caused a lot of problems.  I bend down to pick up my grocery and I realize that the paper I had seen a while back is a letter.

I pick it and then I glance around wondering if the owner is close by.  I begin to read the letter.  I can’t believe what I am reading, this man is a true romantic.  I smile as I wish my love could write me such sweet words.  You can tell how much he loves this woman.

I continue reading and I reach the end of the letter.  I stop as my eyes scan the name of the author.  My eyes wait for my brain to register and catch up.  I know who wrote the letter.  The wind picks up and sweeps the letter from my grasp.

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Closure

Editing challenge

I became a victim of a crime in 1985.    I never knew the offenders who changed my life but for 29 years we lived in close quarters of guilt and shame.  I lived and breathed everything about these men because they took my childhood innocence away.

At the age of 41, I went to see a therapist because I felt that it was my fault that my sixteen year relationship had failed.   We talked for a few sessions about the relationship and how I ended up sitting in his office.

After a few sessions I quietly mention that I want to talk about something that happened to me when I was 12.  He asks me if I would feel better talking to a female therapist.

My new counsellor leans in to listen to what I say.  At first my voice is very quiet almost a whisper as I tell her that I was raped by two men then molested by a babysitter.  I tell her that my mother never believed me.

She doesn’t flinch she looks right at me as if she has heard my story before.

She makes me walk through the events of my rape several times.  What was the weather like,  what did I see and what did I smell.  I was able to tell her all these things and I remembered things about that day that I had thought I had long time buried.

The more I told it to my therapist,  the more louder my voice became.  I felt stronger.   I was no longer this 12 year old victim but I was a 41 year old survivor who was telling her story.

I wasn’t angry at these men for hurting me anymore.   They held me captive for over 30 years and I was so tired of being owned by a situation that happened so very long ago

In less than three days, I go before the Criminal Compensation Board for Victims of Crime and I get to tell my story to a panel of people who can give me justice in this case.  Financial justice.

I don’t know how I will feel on that day but I assume I will be very nervous.  Will they believe me? What will they ask me? How will I feel? Is this the closure I will need to finally move on?

 

 

He Is My Son

“Get out! Get out of my house! I don’t want you here anymore!”

I close my mail box and sneak a peek down the steps to see my new neighbour with her door open.  The door slams and I slowly walk upstairs to my apartment.  My kids look at me and ask what is going on.  “None of your business!” I tell my six year old daughter.  “I don’t know, she is fighting with her boyfriend.” I tell my 16 year old son.

The yelling continues.  She keeps telling him to leave.  I hear the man tell the woman that she is crazy, they slam the door again.  The yelling continues.  Then they are in the hallway and they are yelling.  I grab my phone and I call the police.

I go in the hallway and I yell “I am calling the police.” They are standing by the steps and I am afraid that someone is going to fall down the steps.  They both go downstairs and they continue to yell, she wants him to leave and he thinks she is crazy.

The police are on their way.  He finally leaves and I ask her if she is doing ok.  She tells me that the man  is her son and that they have a strained relationship.  She says that he has hit her before. She says that he drinks too much.

I hope that he can be a good son and I hope she has been a good mother.

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