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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 12


-15F/-40F

I love the idea of Christmas. The smell, the white white of outside, candles, candy and cookies. Stupid movies on tv, Christmas carols and concerts. That’s the idea, but the reality is stress and forced gatherings with too much alcohol. Christmas is like a beautifully wrapped piece of shit. It’s nice, until you open it.

*

I’m going to audition for the Youth Singers of Ontario. This adjudicator from the music festival sent me a form to audition. I have to go to North Bay to audition on tape at some college there. My singing teacher has to sign the form, or I can’t audition. I’m not sure she will sign it. I started singing lessons when I received my first scholarship at the annual singing festival. My parents felt lessons would be a good idea, so for six years I took singing lessons from Mrs. Peck. She always wears mini skirts, like she just stepped out of the sixties, she never adjusted to jeans and elephant pants. Her jewellery is bright, primary colours and plastic. She has a short pixie cut and a face scared from teenage acne that is covered up with make up. She is oddly confident and has that meanness that comes from surviving a tortured youth, or at least I’m guessing that her cruel streak comes from that. She would sometimes make fun of less fortunate kids when they weren’t at choir practice. Maybe she wanted to be one of the cool kids, maybe teaching high school was like a big do over for her. I never practiced for my lessons because, as I said, I’m lazy piece of shit. Luckily, I found it easy enough to learn and memorize. When I decided to stop taking lessons in grade ten, I quit choir. She wasn’t happy about that, but I didn’t care…till now.

*

Julie did some great poses for me in my room. I played a Cat Stevens song called Sad Lisa. I had her look sad and stare in different directions. I turned my relationship with Julie into a series of creative projects. I wanted her to be my Muse. I wanted our relationship to be more of a partnership and less of boyfriend girlfriend thing. I felt more comfortable with that. It makes me feel more normal…my normal.

*

Gabba Blabba

I started a school newspaper in grade eight called the Gabba Blabba. I had this vision of being a reporter, getting the news, reporting the news, telling it like it is, or isn’t. No one asked me to do it and I didn’t ask for permission. I just started it with a few pieces of paper stapled together and some random shit I thought was important, or funny. As it grew, I started to create assignments and give them to people. I asked Susan to cover the swimming beat, another student to find out what’s happening in sports, someone else to give me the weather…snow, snow, and more snow. It was going great; I sold each paper for five cents apiece. I put the money away in an account that was marked for school projects. I was given permission to use the office printer. Eventually the principle called me down to the office and asked me what was going on and where the money was going. My answers satisfied her, so I continued to print.

Then I thought, Dear Abby, that works, I’ll call it Dear Gabba Blabba and put a box out in the hallway for students to put their personal problems in. I would print them and be give answers that would save souls. People would talk, who is Gabba Blabba, why is he, or she so wise? Eventually the Northern Times would come calling and then, New York. I would keep my identity a secret, but those close to me would know and secretly come to me with their problems. I would eventually reveal myself and go on Johnny Carson, telling him I really don’t know how I do it, save all those people. I will act modest, but deep down I know, I’m better than them, all of them.

One day the principle came to our classroom. She stood in front of our class and screamed at us. Telling us who ever put this paper together was an idiot. There were articles in it that were stupid, and no one is allowed to create a newspaper again. She knew I created it but wouldn’t look at me while she was yelling at everyone. I was angry then sad, but also confused. I never found out why she did that. Later someone told me she ripped the Gabba Blabba box off the wall after she read some of the notes.

I was starting to learn that all individual efforts were pointless. You had to be connected to the right people and not piss off the wrong people.

*

In grade eight, our health teacher told us that homosexuals did not grow body hair.

*

(click) That's my recorder turning on...remember? This is Jutta.

Why do I think I’m here...do you mean, what’s the meaning of life, my life? Now that’s an interesting question, good for you, you need to think of these things. Life doesn’t carry meaning, you create it. You’re not born with a purpose; you’re born into purpose. It’s up to you to grab onto a string and pull. It’s also up to those around you, let’s call it society or family, for lack of a better word, to help you hold on. No one is an island, no one is self-made. (Pause, unidentified noise in the background) We are either born with the benefit of certain genetics that fit the mold of this reality or we are born into a system that is beneficial to our mental and physical survival. I inherited emotional and mental strength from my parents. When I say strength, I mean…a body and brain that can move through this world without being destroyed easily by it. (pause) I think strength is just the ability to reduce the amount of information that we take in. People who absorb and feel the world around them are too quickly ripped apart. They need to be protected by the rest of us. They are not weak, they are what will save us, they see what we can’t. They need to know how to control it and share it, without losing their mind, their anchor…without going crazy. It’s almost impossible to live with one foot in and one foot out.

Sorry, let’s get back to the question of meaning. Maybe when it comes to life, meaning is how we interpret our experience in this world. Meaning is how we connect, what our consciousness decides to focus on.

(click)

The tapes are working out. Jutta is getting more comfortable talking into the mic. Her thoughts are like gold.

*

Heavy snow today.

*

My father used to pay my friends and I fifty cents an hour to shovel the parking lot at the apartment. After we were finished, he would pay us by taking quarters out of the dryer and washer in the laundry room. The parking lot was huge so we could make a couple of bucks each, in quarters. I made sure I remembered where the keys for the washer and dryer were, so I could take money out on my own. Nothing that could be noticed, just a hand full.

*

Mark wants Animal, so I quit.

*

Did my ritual last night.

I move my tongue over my teeth. I move it along certain teeth up and down thirty times, top teeth then bottom teeth. I do this between twelve and one in the morning. Once this is finished, I can relax and go to sleep. I feel this pressure every night, getting bigger.

*

I took Sasha, our dog, cross-country skiing yesterday. I had to carry her back. She just sat down on the trial as if she was saying, I’ve had enough, you can carry me now. She had gone skiing that morning with my parents. When I approached her, she wagged her tail while she tried to chew the ice from between her toes. She didn’t look up at me before I picked her up. She knew I was going to carry her, we’ve done this before. I want someone I can’t see, just to be there for me.

*

Sasha is a dog we got from my sisters’ ex-boyfriend. They didn’t want her anymore because she grew too big. They were going to put her down. I remember when we took her back to his place for a visit, my sister said to Sasha, “Looks like shit now, doesn’t it Sasha.” I thought it was funny, not sure her boyfriend did.

*

I would feed my goldfish tiny bits of baloney, my turtle too. I would create a world with plastic containers that were connected by hot wheel tracks for the turtles. John had turtles too and would come over with them and we would put them in a tub of water and watch them swim. I always thought that they must be so happy to have such a huge space to swim in, but when I think of it there was no where to swim to or from, every direction was white. Maybe they were terrified, maybe my idea of freedom was their idea of torture. Some people here are like my turtles, happy to stay in one small place connected by miles and miles of highway. After I stopped having turtles I would find their empty shells years later, tucked away in the strangest places. Our cat would take them now and then and hide them. Either that or they tried to escape, tried to leave their shitty life. I hope those empty shells aren’t my future, slowly becoming hollow, always thinking there’s something better…fuck, that’s depressing.

When I was finished with the aquarium, I gave it to our neighbours across the street, it still had my biggest goldfish in it. They were a large family, catholic, my mother told me, like that explained it…maybe it did. They killed my fish, which pissed me off. How hard is it to feed a fish?

*

My music teacher won’t sign my form for the youth singers unless I perform in a musical they are doing. It’s called Where is the mayor? It sounds awful…I said yes.

*

When I’m at Mikes place, his parents touch each other, showing affection to each other. It makes me uncomfortable.


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