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.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Casual Fridays: If you can't be with the one you love

Hi guys. It's Britt. 
I've always had a love-hate relationship with Toronto. Truth be told, I'm not much of a city girl. I prefer small, nowhere towns and big open spaces. Mountains make me giddy and being near the ocean is cause for crazy dancing. I know eventually I'll make my home in a little cabin somewhere off the beaten path.
Me and my BFF by the ocean doing some bad ass crazy-dancing.
So what's the deal? Why am I living in the big smoke?

The answer to that question changes all the time.
A few months ago, I wrote a tire swing story inspired by a pole that was covered in a kind of knit cozy. Then the other morning, I was out for a walk in my Parkdale neighborhood and I found more of them.
These brightly colored cozies filled me with a huge rush of love for my crazy neighborhood and for Toronto, this big, messy, maddening, wonderful city.

So there you go. I live here because people knit sweaters for the poles.

Love the one you're with this weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Truth be told, Nell hasn't had a man in her bed since Brian left. On Tuesday she had lunch with the girls and they discussed it. "I'm actually pretty happy," Nell said, spearing a piece of romaine lettuce with her fork. 
"But, how is that possible?" Rhonda said, draining her sangria and leaving little chunks of swollen fruit at the bottom of the glass. "I'd die without Rob there beside me." Around the table went murmurs and nods of approval.

That night as she was drifting off to sleep, Nell felt loneliness uncurl in her stomach. Tears arrived, and she cried into her shabby old pillowcase. 

In the morning, she made a decision. She would transform her bedroom in order to attract a man. It would be a regular love-making Field of Dreams.

At Bed Bath and Beyond, Nell walked up and down each aisle, filling her cart with luxurious, sensual things. She chose a soft duvet the color of milk chocolate. Matching sheets made of Egyptian cotton. Why buy one or two pillows when you can have five? As the pile in her cart grew larger, Nell's loneliness shrank. 

But then the cashier passed back her Visa.
"Um," he said, "it's rejected." 
"It's what?" 
"Rejected. Your credit card. You'll have to put something back."
His tag said his name was Khalil.
"I can't put anything back," she said, feeling tears threaten.
"Of course you can. Let's have a look." 
Khalil held up the curtains with the gold tassels on the bottom, "what about these?" he said, "or," pointing to the vanilla honey candles, "a couple of those?" 
"You don't understand. I need all of this." 
He lifted a wrought iron candle holder with a fat cherub on the bottom, "you need this?" 
"Well, I..." 
And then something amazing happened. Nell started to laugh. She laughed until she was out of breath.
"I don't need any of it, actually." 
And she didn't.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Casual Fridays: Love and Cement

Hi guys. It's Britt. I stumbled upon a sidewalk message and I want you to help me fill in the blank. 

Love is....

-all you need 
-a pain in the ass 
-weathering the storms of life together
-hard work 
-bearing witness  
-letting go 

or what about: "Love is." With a period. I like that one.

Let me know what you think here, folks. What is love to you?
xo Britt 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vivian was worried about the state of the world. 
In her grade six class, they were learning about global conflict. There were so many different groups of people fighting out there, it made her dizzy. 

One afternoon she stayed after school. "What can we do?" she asked her teacher, Mr. Pomeroy. "Nothing," he said, smacking the chalk brushes together and creating a cloud of dust that got into her nostrils, "peace begins at home." 

Vivian thought about her home. She saw her Mom's clenched jaw and her Dad's forehead creased with anger. She heard her older brother, Brian shouting.

In Afghanistan, kite flyers coat their kite strings with shards of broken glass to cut each other's wires in the sky. That's how it feels in Vivian's house: cris-crossed lines stretched between them, taunt and sharp. 

The next morning, Vivian got up before everyone else and used Brian's handcuffs to lock herself to the front door of their house. 

Her Mom found her first. "Viv, what on earth?" she said.
"Is this some kind of joke?" her Dad said.
"You moron," said Brian. 

There wasn't a key to the handcuffs. Brian had lost it at camp last summer. Their arguing began.

"Oh, for god's sake, Brian. If you just learned to take care of your things," Mom said. 
"Don't talk to him like that. It's not his fault," said Dad.
"Well, Henry, I can't just stand around. I'm late for work."
"I'm running behind too and you don't hear me complaining." 
"Why can't you ever take my side?" 
"How about when you've actually got a good point, I'll take it." 
"Oh, here we go," Brian chimed in, "you two make me sick." 
Their voices arced and dipped, searching for a weak place to slice. As she listened to her family argue, Vivian's dizziness grew. She sat down and leaned against the front door, closing her eyes. 

Then something happened. Their fighting stopped. Vivian opened her eyes to see her Mom sit beside her on their dirty welcome mat. Then her Dad in his suit and tie lowered himself onto the floor and joined them. Brian hunkered down too, still wearing his jacket and ball cap. 

 Vivian's family stayed with her all morning, until the locksmith came.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Casual Fridays: The world is in love with you.

One of my favorite quotes from a wonderful and wacky book, The Televisionary Oracle by Rob Brezsny. This book was a gift years ago from one of my favorite people. (Thanks, Krista!) When I first read these words, I loved them so much that I typed them out using my typewriter. In time, I lost the quote and forgot about it altogether. The other day, I picked up an old notebook of mine and leafed through it and this fell out. It was wonderful to see these words again.
Have a beautiful weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday. 
xo Britt

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ruby's kitchen resents her. Her refrigerator hums with malice. Her oven radiates discontent. 

She tried to make amends. She pulled open the refrigerator door, "I'm sorry," she whispered into the empty space, "it's not you." Then she plucked a mug from the shelf and placed it into the empty dishwasher, as an offering. It's a stupid mug with a dog's face that her husband, Josh got for her birthday. And the dishwasher wasn't satisfied. The mug wasn't even dirty.

Ruby sat on the ceramic floor and leaned against the cupboards.

It hadn't always been this way. She used to have a great relationship with her kitchen. Ruby was an amazing cook. She often concocted elaborate meals and Josh called her his "Domestic Goddess."

Two weeks ago, Josh told her he'd never want to have a baby. He'd just realised it. At the time, Ruby was in the kitchen watching potatoes whirl in a pot of boiling water. She switched off the heat and abandoned the potatoes in the pot. Their white bodies grew bloated and heavy.

There are so many things that can go wrong in a kitchen. So many ways you could ruin a dish. You could burn the butter or break the sauce. Once on a t.v. cooking show, the judge looked up at one of the chef contestants. "This is broken," he said accusingly. It didn't look broken to Ruby, but it was. The chef was eliminated.

Ruby stopped cooking after that day with the baby and the potatoes. And now her kitchen resents her for it. 

From her spot on the floor, Ruby looks at the fridge, the stove, the dishwasher. She takes it all in: the eager stack of recipe books, the loyal toaster oven with its litter of burnt crumbs. The wooden bar cart cradling the sideways bottles of wine. And she knows that her days as Josh's "Domestic Goddess" have come to an end.

Ruby tells her kitchen first.

"It's over."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Casual Fridays: Vegan Graffiti

Hi guys, it's Britt. 
Have you noticed the vegan graffiti on the streets of Toronto? Like this: 

 Or this? 

this one was sprayed on the wall outside the Baskin Robbins. Tee hee!!

What do you think? I've got to admit, I do get a kick out of stuff like this. I love witnessing people's self-expression and the transformation of public spaces. I think it makes life (and the commute to work) a bit more interesting. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Have a diverse weekend, story-makers. See you back here on Monday.
xo Britt

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Fitz Carter will stay after class today," Miss Lansing announced as the kids scrambled for their coats and and raced to be the first one out the door. In the back corner of the classroom, Fitz felt his insides turn to liquid.

Nobody in the schoolyard would miss him. The other kids never let him in on their soccer game or gave him a turn at the swings. "Fitz the garbage eater," they called him. Or "Stink Carter." Or "Trash heap Fitz."

Once Josh Mincer saw Fitz's Mom take a package of stale oatmeal cookies from a dumpster behind the A&P. And it was true that Fitz's clothes were rarely clean. And their house did have a window that nobody fixed. They covered it with a garbage bag that flapped whenever it was windy.

Miss Lansing's high heels made a tick, tick, sound on the linoleum floor as she approached. Fitz concentrated on picking a scab from his elbow. He couldn't look up at her.
"Fitz," she said, "what's inside your desk?" 
"Are you telling me the truth?" 

A few months before, he started hiding out in their classroom during recess, when Miss Lansing went to the staff room. There was a nice hush in the room and it felt safer when it was empty. Fitz walked up and down the rows of desks.

"Now I am the teacher," he thought, "everybody has to do what I say."

Then he saw a blue X-Men pencil poking out the top of Robby Miller's notebook. Fitz grabbed the pencil. The next day, he found a rainbow colored one with an eraser shaped like a star in Amy Levine's pencil case. As the days passed, Fitz's collection grew. Sometimes the kids complained that they couldn't find their pencils, but they always came to school the next day with new ones.

"Fitz, open your desk," Miss Lansing said.
He was struggling to hold back tears and a thread of snot dangled from his upper lip. He wiped it with the back of his sleeve.
"No," he said.

But she lifted the lid of his desk anyway, and there were all those stolen pencils. The kids were right. He was a garbage picker. He was nothing. Fitz gave into the tears. As he cried, his small chest shook. 

Then Miss Lansing did something unexpected.  She passed him a box wrapped in brown paper. "Open it," she said. Fitz tore open the wrapping to reveal ten new pencils. Three black and seven blue.

He finally dared to look up at her.

"I thought you might need some of your own," she said.