Rising from the Ashes: My Journey to Quit Smoking

By Sarah Torgerson Nestled in the heart of Vancouver Island University's Nanaimo campus is one of about a dozen designated smoking areas, where you are likely to come across a handful of generally unhappy-looking smokers wreathed in plumes of grey. I’m often among them. This mecca for the stressed-out and nicotine-addicted is where I take my own study-and-smoke breaks. I started smoking on a beautifully humid evening in November, 2009, while I was living in Perth, Australia. I thought I … [Read more...]

Is Toque a Real Word?

By Chelsea Mark “Where are you headed, and how long?” “Pullman, Washington, a week.” “Pullman?” The customs agent looked at me confused. “Yes, Pullman, it’s right on the border of Idaho—“ “I know where it is. Why?” Anyone who knew anything about Pullman had reacted in the same way when I told them my travel plans. Apparently my vacay destinay wasn’t the exciting, bustling location of many peoples’ holiday dreams. But despite the lackluster destination, I was unbelievably … [Read more...]

Powerful, and Stigmatized, Breeds

By Sheena Gnos Imagine walking in a park on a beautiful day. The sun is shining and you're basking in the summer heat, minding your own business. Suddenly, from around a corner, comes a Rottweiler. He’s bounding across the grass in great leaping strides, ears back, mouth gaping wide. What do you do? Is your heart in your throat? Do you step back and look around frantically for the owner? Now imagine that same scene -- park, sun--  but this time from around the corner comes a golden … [Read more...]

What the hell was I thinking?

Editor's note: This powerful account of an alcoholic binge contains graphic images and language that may be disturbing to some readers. For some, it may also provide inspiration to change. The author's name is a pseudonym. By Jack Craig Believing even a little that I’m just like those fun people I‘ve seen drinking in television commercials is like masturbating: I’m only fucking myself. Watching a movie on Netflix would be much easier than writing this piece, but it’s time to fess-up. … [Read more...]

The Youngest Ventriloquist in the World

By Alexandria Stuart The air in England’s West Midlands in 1907 was thick with the dust of coal fires. Once-white bedclothes, hung to dry, took on a shadowy tinge of grey. In a Birminghan home, in a spartan bedroom, the figure seated in a straight-back wooden chair towered over Ivy Johnson. The little girl stretched to reach her arm into the slit at the back of its shirt. Her small hand worked the lever, squeezing it to make the mouth move. Down the hall, her grandmother heard voices … [Read more...]

Private Function

By Mary Fraughton I walk around the main hall, keeping carefully to the edges. When I trod on someone’s toes, I turn to apologize and nearly collide with an elderly man who is wearing nothing but a red g-string. Several feet in front of me is a massage table with another naked man lying on it. A woman works busily above him, and it takes me a moment to realize that she is wrapping him in saran wrap. He resembles nothing so much as a plastic mummy. Further into the hall, two women face each … [Read more...]

Gutenberg 2.0

By Mike Calvert Ten years ago, the aspiring writer’s dream was simple. Spend two years of your life in hibernation writing a 300-hundred page novel, scrounge up a few dollars from the few friends who still knew you existed, print and mail copies of your manuscript to publishers across North America, and then pray. Pray that out of every 200 poor souls doing the same thing – let’s call them “authors” – you’d be the one lucky and good enough to make it to print. And if you turned out to be … [Read more...]

Hockey Night *is* Canada

By Meagan Dyer "Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive." — Stephen Leacock The National Hockey League entered its third work stoppage in just two decades on September 15, 2012, putting the season on hold as hockey’s doomsday clock struck midnight with no last-minute resolution. Fans would wait 113 days for … [Read more...]

Hockey Night *is* Canada (Part Two)

Hockey and geopolitics meshed differently but with just as much emotion nearly three decades later, during the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. Canada had not won a tournament in 20 years, mostly because the rules prohibited NHL players from taking part. That left our energetic but definitely B-list national team to battle Soviet players who were were also KGB and army officers, paid by the government to train year-round. We were in danger of losing our international hockey dominance … [Read more...]

Out to Lunch

By Diane Bolt Dirk Becker’s farmhouse in the seaside village of Lantzville on Vancouver Island is warm and rustic, with weathered wooden furniture and a crackling fire in the background. It’s early November and the kitchen floor is covered in patches of squash being readied for distribution. The scene reminds me of the classic British sitcom “The Good Life,” starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal as Tom and Barbara Good, a suburban couple who, having paid off the mortgage on their home, … [Read more...]