A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hi guys. It's Britt.

This little turtle is going on vacation! We're leaving on Wednesday bright and early, and though I've got a fun little story in mind about a family of pylons, I'm just too darn busy to post it today. 
So we'll have to wait. Be back here on the 27th, story-makers. 

Here's to sand, fun, and margaritas. Whahoo!! 

xo Britt

Friday, April 13, 2012

Casual Fridays: The universe waits

Hi guys. It's Britt. Sometimes I worry that the best days of my life are behind me. Of course I know that's not true, not really. Things really are getting better, and I like that as I grow older I have more and more of a sense of who I am. 

Still, I used to feel absolutely invincible. As time passes and all the little rejections and mis-steps pile up, it's easy to loose sight of the bigger picture. 

When I was twenty-two and about to start traveling for the first time, a professor friend of mine sent me this message. I want to share it today. (Hope you don't mind, John, wherever you are!)

Dear Brittany,
Here's a poem for you, written by Jorge Luis Borges in his old age.  He
was going blind, but was trying to teach himself Anglo-Saxon so he could
read Beowulf in the original.
 At various times I have asked myself what reasons
 Moved me to study, while my night came down,
 Without particular help of satisfaction,
 The language of the blunt-tongued Anglo-Saxons.
 Used up by the years my memory
 Loses its grip on words that I have vainly
 Repeated and repeated.  My life in the same way
 Weaves and unweaves its weary history.
 Then I tell myself:  it must be that the soul
 Has some secret sufficient way of knowing
 That it is immortal, that its vast encompassing
 Circle can take in all, can accomplish all.
 Beyond my anxiety and beyond this writing
 The universe waits, inexhaustible, inviting.
Wishing you a heroic voyage,
Have a heroic weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Matthew tries not to cough. He rolls the cigar smoke around his mouth the way his Dad does, and exhales. 

His new guitar is resting on the curb beside him. Matthew worked all summer at Popeye's restaurant to buy it. He came home every night smelling of grease. His bedsheets and towels were sticky with oil. Mom complained when she did the laundry.

Popeye's sucked. Matthew got a rash on the back of his neck from the polyester uniform shirt, and he was too exhausted after work to ever go out with his friends. But it didn't matter because he was going to buy that guitar. 

Matthew stubs out the cigar leaving a black smear on the concrete. He itches the raw spot on the back of his neck. His fingertips come away bloody and he lights another cigar. 

At work he would watch the strips of potato bubble in the grease as they whirled and spun. He'd scoop the fries out of the oil with a metal basket, rescuing them. He imaged what would happen after he bought the guitar. 

Dad would take his own Gibson out of the closet and the two of them would play. In between songs, Dad would tell stories of the old days on the road before he gave up music and started working at the tire factory. Then they'd toast to the future. Father and son.

But this afternoon, when he finally had his new guitar, everything happened differently. Dad was in the den with one of the headaches he often got from the rubber tire fumes. When Matthew switched on the light he said: "Turn that off. You trying to kill me?"
"Dad, I got something to show you," Matthew said. He opened the case and pulled out the guitar. 
"Where'd you get that?" 
"Millers. I've been saving all summer." 
"Well you've wasted your money. Now switch off that damn light and leave me in peace."

Matthew escaped into the backyard, carrying the guitar. He wiped his tears with the back of his hand and pulled out the package of Colt's. 

When all of his Dad's cigars are smoked, Matthew feels like throwing up. Instead, he stands and picks up the guitar. He smashes it against the pavement again and again, shattering it to bits. He turns and heads inside, leaving the pieces of wood scattered in the alley.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Casual Fridays: War and Peace or Water for Elephants?

Hi guys, it's Britt. 
I'm getting excited about my sister's wedding and trying to decide what books I should bring on the trip. I've got a big ol' stack of unread ones and I definitely can't pack them all. (I know that's what an e-reader is for. But I don't think electronics and sand go together thank you very much. Not to mention electronics and salt water, and cocktails.)
Okay, so...what do you think? Should I bring a really thought provoking, dense, meaty book or a breezy page-turner? 
It's the same battle I face on my daily subway commute. I always grab something important to read (the outline for a course I'm thinking of taking, the letter from Toronto Hydro to explain my new bill), but instead find myself scanning the newspaper restaurant reviews, or those love and sex advice columns. (Come on, you know which columns I'm talking about!)  

What about you? What's your favorite vacation reading?

Have an inspired weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt

Monday, April 2, 2012

Never trust a pencil. Belinda knows this and yet time and time again, she's surprised when they disappear.  

"What did I tell you?" her best friend Jessamine says. Jessamine is a paper-weight and loves to give out advice. "You should be dating someone more reliable. Like the copier. Or that orthopedic roller chair, Colin. He's nice and very supportive. Don't be so choosy. It's not like you don't have some tears in that blue seat of yours."  

On the other side of the office, Colin listens. He feels a sudden surge of joy upon hearing his name. Colin has loved Belinda since the moment she emerged from her box. But the next day, Belinda sets her sights on Ted, a new mechanical pencil.

Then, on a particularly dull Tuesday afternoon in the office, one of the employees does something strange. He picks up Stanley, the tape dispenser and puts him into his briefcase. The sound of the briefcase snapping shut echoes through the office like the closing of prison bars. Stanley is gone. The following day, the man swipes Vic, the stapler. 

One by one the office supplies grow frightened of being next. The paper clips chitter nervously. The erasers let out a low, slow moan. 

"Do you think it could happen to us?" Belinda asks. 

"Ha!" Jessamine says, "not likely." 

But the following day, the man comes back and his hairy grasping hand reaches for Jessamine. 

"No!" Belinda shrieks. "Help!

Something strikes the man from behind, knocking the paperweight from his grasp. It rolls beneath a filing cabinet. He turns, ready to fight, and finds only a grey office chair sitting beside him. 

"What the--?" The man grabs his briefcase and runs. A cheer goes up throughout the office.

No one cheers louder than Belinda, who really sees Colin for the very first time.