A stack of letters bound with string. One letter open with a photo under it.
A stack of letters bound with string. One letter open with a photo under it.
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

Everything is grey.

The wildfires in Oregon and California have formed a fog of smoke that sits over a city resigned to its existence.

It’s easy to be resigned to our failures.

I sat on the beach with an old co-worker on Sunday. We got stoned and stared out at the ocean. The horizon hidden behind a dull veil.

In January this same beach hosted the 2020 Polar Bear Swim. Everyone decked out in speakeasy swimwear.

A mass of people pressed together in bizarre ritual.

Three months later I would be grabbing one last box of donuts from Cartems on my last day of work at the office. …

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Recently it was announced that masks will be mandatory on Metro Vancouver’s public transit system. This is one policy, among a growing list since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, making masks compulsory in countries or metropolitan areas.

Currently, masks are required on public transit throughout Colombia, Argentina, Germany, and South Korea. Many countries have, at some point, made masks mandatory in any public space, and the list is varied, from the United Arab Emirates to Ecuador, from Austria to Morocco, El Salvador to Israel.

In the United States, though there is no federal requirement, 32 States plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico all have some sort of mask requirements as of the publication of this article. …

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I wake up. My eye is swollen shut and itchy. Walking to the health clinic masked faces judge me and when I do get there the doctor says he is, “very disappointed” with how irresponsible I’ve been.

I have pink eye, which means I was around people and must have touched my face. The pharmacist tells me I’m disgusting while handing over my prescription and people on the street shift away from me as I head home. I’m dreading telling my partner and when I open the bag which is supposed to contain my medicine it is empty.

I wake up. Since the pandemic I’ve had intense dreams and broken sleep patterns which I understand to be the results of a lack of physical activity and a consistent schedule. But this dream is so specifically covid related I decide (like I’ve decided about a lot of things lately) that these dreams are worth further consideration. …

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A still of the video from a Navy pilot’s camera. PHOTOGRAPH: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE


I’m sorry, are we boring you?

Because we remember a lot of you were going to “storm area 51” not so long ago.

But OK. Whatever. We get it.

It’s the end of April and you’ve been stuck inside teaching your kids Algebra between Zoom meetings and your third Jack and Coke.

I guess if we wanted to get your attention we should have jumped on your news feed at the start of the month.

Or at least before a world leader suggested you mainline bleach.

Those pandas in Hong Kong. They got the timing right.

Remember them?

Ten years of, “Naw. Maybe something better will come along”, then they finally mate. And you raise a glass of covidwine to Ying Ying and Le Le for giving you hope. That got your attention. …

(spoilers abound)

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That’s the thing. I don’t think I believe in deep down. I kind of think all you are is just the things that you do.-Diane Nguyen

It was nice while it lasted. Bojack Horseman was three seasons in by the time I started watching. Suffering through a bout of insomnia and praying I wouldn’t slide into mania I selected Bojack from my Netflix recommendations. It had enough episodes built up to binge when I was sleepless.

For anyone struggling with mental health issues, addictive personalities, or family trauma (so…a lot of people) the show’s bright dreamscape of anthropomorphic characters was one of the most representative shows to have ever aired. …

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Photo by Rebecca Diack

Around this time last year I wrote an article for Optimistic Learner called “Slight and Spite: Salving the Stings of Social Exchange”, because this lady loves alliteration as much as neuroendocrinology and game theory damnit.

It was a practical piece, where I set spite up as the toxic cousin to altruism. The Enforcer. The Punisher for those trying to cheat the game. Or, “deliberately slowing your car down to teach that impatient driver behind you a lesson (even if it makes you late…it’s worth it)”.

But I’m flipping the game’s board. Because we have and we do benefit from spite.

Well, sometimes. …

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A Terrifying Image from Canva

For years I’ve worked high traffic customer service jobs. This, combined with a tendency towards obsessive behaviors, has led me to a worry that’s bordering on pathological.

I’m worried about you.

I’ve seen you casually texting on, letting your kids sit on, running up on, blocking people on, and on, and on…the escalator.

You’re stressing me out.

If I had a choice of which character from a Kevin Smith movie to emulate I would chose the talented, sexually secure, way too good for Ben Affleck anyway Alyssa from Chasing Amy.

But here I am stuck being Brodie from Mallrats. Screaming at you to get your damn kid off the escalator. …

On reconnecting with my body and quieting the chaos in my mind

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Photo: gremlin/Getty Images

In 2014 I started going to the gym. Not to get fit or lean or build muscle mass, but to burn energy. I was crawling with it. It felt like ants under my skin. Angry ants revolting against a tyrannical queen.

So, when vodka and all-night marathon painting sessions failed to quiet the manic chaos, I dragged my messy anthill ass to the Fairmont Hotel gym at the airport. I work at the airport, so this was convenient. I could go immediately before or after my shift. I developed a routine: stationary bike, weights, cry in the sauna, shower.

My fascination was not so much with the physical changes themselves, but with how I had dictated the rules of transformation for my body. …

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a journal, the word DREAM spelled out in block letters, a laptop, hands holding a warm beverage, a succulent and an iphone, all meticulously arranged. — — A picture I look at on Instagram about writing when I’m on Instagram instead of writing

Every year, for the past five years now, I’ve committed a bit more of myself to writing. It started as a therapeutic outlet. Recovering from the guilt and trauma of a manic episode I found Vancouver’s poetry slam scene to be a place where my voice could heard. It was also a place where I could listen to often marginalized voices.

It was support from members of this community that gave me the confidence to call myself a poet and eventually to put out a chapbook.

I’m currently a member of the Vancouver Poetry House Board, the society which funds the local slam and other programs that nurture and support artists. …

I’m an old soul. As a young girl I loved the serenity of my grandmother’s retirement community, as a preteen E.M. Forster novels and cups of tea, then as a teen libraries and yoga at the YWCA.

In some ways though I’ve aged backwards in a Benjamin Buttonesque way, as the tension of an awkward anxious child worked itself out under the pressure of multiplying years. I’m no less awkward, but considerably less tense about it.

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Image of two women; one older and one younger, smiling and looking at the screen of a laptop together

An interest in the arts combined with a work history full of customer service jobs has lent itself to my having a wide age range of friends, and I highly recommend it. I’m learning from my friends twenty years older than me; about work, education, and what to expect from aging. …


Amanda Eagleson

Poet, Writer at Optimistic Learner and Digital Economy Forum. Board member at Vancouver Poetry House. www.optimisticlearner.com

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