Character Portraits

#10 Mary Sue

Here he sits, the sunlight reflecting off the blonde strands of his hair. He is sipping coffee (very black). He talk, talk, talk, sips, and then talks. He is sitting with a brunette: she is thin and proper. Her lips are red, her legs doesn’t end. He tells her about how a gram of cocaine in Panama will set you back 2 bucks. 2 measly fucking bucks. Can you believe it? About the war in Palestine, missiles in Russia. Hackers called Anonymous. Snowden.

She nods and she listens.

She has very clean fingernails, cut to the proper lengths, they are not chipped nor they are stained. Her legs are crossed, and she doesn’t wear heels. She’s wearing shorts and a white v-cut top: she is showing just enough skin to keep him at the edge of his seat–please note:

She isn’t me, but I imagine her quite well.

On her back is a tattoo of a swan, about to take flight, its wings stretched to the edges of her shoulder blades – if you look close enough, the black ink against her skin can be substituted for her wings.

This tattoo is complete. It’s elegant and well-thought out, not rushed, nor typical. Everyone who sees it stare in bewilderment, and doesn’t use it as an excuse to touch her body. It also goes well with the edelweiss tattoo on his shoulder. On lazy days, they like to lay together in bed and watch each other’s tattoo rise and fall with the rhythm of their breathing.

Her back is straight, her eyes strong: she is listening to every word he is saying, she completely understands, she doesn’t ask questions. She doesn’t know anything about heroin, or cocaine, but she knows a lot about marijuana. She probably likes hash. She probably only smokes purple cush. She can recite all the countries at war in alphabetical order. She has monitored every move Trump has made after winning the election. She participates in rallies and is the head of an anonymous anarchist group. Her favourite band, above all, is Portishead. But she can tolerate The Smashing Pumpkins on a really good day.

She drives. She’s lived in one place her whole life but she can dream about going to Cuba from time to time. Probably to volunteer. She replies to every text he sends, to emails within a day. SHE IS RELIABLE.

She has her own magazine. It’s online and independent but it’s a start. She is on the editorial team of two magazines, a financial journalist for some investor’s blog and an occasional contributor to the Toronto Star. He can call her and she knows the rights words to make him happy – because she believes in every word he says. That’s key, I think. She also tells lies: it keeps him entertained. It keeps them together for four years. It is what she tells him, what he tells her, on nights when they smoke joints on the roof of their university. It is what brings him to her after a shift at Second Cup, his heart boiling with unhappiness and distaste for his co-workers: it is what she sees on his face when he showed up at her door bruised and broken, having just spent a night in jail for sitting in Queen Street with a backpack full of European maps, protesting G20. It is what keeps him hard when he fucks her, it is what gets her to moan and clench a fistful of his skin from his thighs—

It is what’s in the letters, passed back and forth, from Berlin to Toronto: marked by dates and clumsily drawn hearts and I love you’s and I miss you’s and when are you coming back to me?

She isn’t me.

And she sits, her back straight, calm and serene. She sits, confident and aloof, hands on top of her lap.

She sits, and she is still, and she does not doubt.

She sits, and she smiles.

She sits, and does not weep.

Character Portraits, Day to Day Writing


Here are simple tricks to make people like you:

1. Don’t shame them when they laugh too loud – join them in their candid laughter, even if you don’t find the situation humorous.

2. Listen to their secrets, and never argue with what they feel. Everyone’s emotions are valid and legitimate, they’re not talking to you to tell them how to feel rightly, they’re talking to you to listen to themselves narrate the story and meaning of their own lives, and to include you in that epic.

And 3. When they talk to you about what makes them passionate, about dreams and wishes that bares their naked excitement they can’t hide in their eyes, don’t interrupt them – encourage them to tell you more, and join them in their wild, pounding passion – be the listener you would want another person to be, while you tell them your own story.

Character Portraits, Day to Day Writing

Day to day writing # 23: Gamer chick

Hi, I’m a gamer chick.

Not the kind that’s sexy and ironic, but the kind that doesn’t bathe for days when a new expansion of Skyrim comes out.

Not the kind that knows how to throw out a Star Wars joke or two, but one who will talk your ear off about how Han Solo shot first — and yes did you know I can recite the whole  Jedi and Sith code  by heart?

Not the kind that seems to get all the guys either, but one who guys roll their eyes to at pre-releases and Friday Night Magic and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns because I insist on killing them with my level 70 vampiric pixie and Lilliana Vess decks in bright pink Dragon sleeves.

Not the kind that can lose gracefully at Injustice tournaments and know when to quit but one who RAGE QUITS and cries out, “That’s so unfair!” And will list out a million reasons why my controller had lag and how it wasn’t working properly especially for me but seems to work fine for everyone else and I call bullshit on your faces and stew in a corner until I get ahold of my temper.

But it’s that need to win that keeps me trying, that keeps me from giving up the game until I get good enough to completely annihilate anyone who naively agrees to play with me.

I play games because inside, I’m still waiting for that euphoria that gripped my heart when I was a kid and spent hours of my afternoon playing Sega and Super Nintendo until the early hours of the morning when I had to go to school again. I play games because I learn from them – I learn how to be a hero, the nobility of sacrifice, and the honour in following things through until its completion.

I’m a gamer because I’m in love with the idea that a life can be manipulated into achievable goals that can make me feel rewarded, a life where the good guys have a chance to win, a life where our main objective will always be to help the less fortunate.

Hi, I’m a gamer chick.

And I love to fight.

I see every problem as a chance for victory and education. I see every person as a warrior going through their own battles. And I see every encounter as a chance to join forces and help other players complete their quests, because every battle lost or won, is another chance to gain XP points, to help me level up to the kind of hero I always wanted to be.

Character Portraits, Day to Day Poetry, Day to Day Writing, Epiphanies

Day to Day Poetry # 21

I am in an unspeakable high —
riding the waves of progress and motivation,
blowing kisses at problems that seemed too heavy,
now lifting me in a mixture of cloud nines and sunshine waves —
I am a writer, a titan, a motherfucking woman,
hear me roar in daring expletives and nonsensical paradoxes,
the paradigm shift of the depressed and the fearless,
I am quivering in ecstasy and bathing in immortality –
Your negativity can’t touch me, toxic, poisonous woman –
I am in the throes of lightning speed movement –
and I keep going.

Character Portraits, Day to Day Writing, Epiphanies, Flash Fiction, Short Fiction

Day to Day Writing #19

My doctor, my executioner.

The Khan sits in front of me. His eyes are two portals across  his face that reflected not the person sitting across from him, but the glaring computer screen beside him. He has knobby, stubby little fingers that dance across his keyboard every time I talk, like a symphony of mental disorders and behaviour.

I am arguing with him. He asks, “Do you really think I’m here for my own benefit? Or am I here for you?”

He doesn’t look at me when he says, “I do care about your recovery. Otherwise, why am I here?”

I imagine him waking up in the morning. He won’t kiss his wife before he leaves. He will probably cuddle his newborn baby goodbye, to gain reassurance about the why, to strengthen the how – how he’s going to keep paying the mortgage on his house, how he’s going to pay for his baby’s care, how he’s going to keep up his and his wife’s lifestyle.

Because once you get intertwined with the why, it gets ugly. It gets subjective. It gets to that feeling of pointlessness and hopelessness creeping in.

Because it’s the how that keeps his hands on his steering wheel, as he drives through the rush hour traffic, his morning coffee burning in his Pink Floyd mug, on his every day route to the mental hospital.

“You can justify it in your head any way you want,” he tells me, “but all people are, are their actions. Everything else is construction.”

“So,” I begin, a tirade of what dug deep into my heart: “how about this story – of a girl confined here last autumn. You gave her permission to spend the day with her family for her 26th birthday. She made reservations at a restaurant and told everyone in the ward about it and got everyone excited for her. Then, they told me — she had an argument with you the morning of her birthday. And as she was entering the elevator with her parents, you threw the form at her as the elevators were closing in.”

I pause for effect. He shows no emotion. Just flagrantly blank. Fingers forever composing that symphony on his keyboard.

An eyebrow raises. “And so?”

I fall for the trap – lured, bait and hooked. “You formed a patient on her 26th birthday. On her birthday! How is that anything but a blatant misuse of your authority? How is it that you allowed her to have day passes and as soon as she disobeyed you – you trapped her? In here?” I throw up my arms to show him the place we were in – his office, my prison.

“I am not at liberty to talk about other patients here. And you know better than to bring another person up when you’re supposed to be here for your recovery.” He stops typing and sits back, cocking his head a little to side to indicate that he is now observing me. “Nevertheless, I’ll satisfy your curiosity. I’ll satiate your need for a conclusion. I don’t do things without a reason – you’ll just have to trust me that she displayed such emotional fragility that made me believe she wouldn’t be safe outside of the hospital.”

What a professional answer.

“Did I answer your questions?” He asks, challenging me. “Have I reassured you of my good intentions?”

I will carry this conversation with me, long after my discharge date. Another patient, a 40 year old superwoman, would smile at me and tell me she recognized the Khan’s humanity after seeing his Pink Floyd mug. I will be sitting next to a manic-depressive woman, cowering under her covers as music plays from her laptop, and begs me to stop being friends with somebody she hated. I will be in bed, listening to a story about one drunken night, when she comes home trying to comfort him, and then tries to go to bed with him. I will be listening to promises of being helped when I’m down, of being loved when I needed it, all the while realizing that people’s actions, never reflected the things say.

But I won’t know this until a few years later. I won’t know this until I am in the centre of distress and disappointment. I won’t know this until the moment I have to force myself to open my eyes, to move my arms, to sit, straight up – and face another day, no matter how broken.

And so I say, “Yes,” because I don’t know any better. I say, “because it’s your actions that define you. Everything else is construction,” because I can only repeat what he had just told me, imitating in vain to compensate for the fact that I lack the luxury of experience.