Thursday, October 11, 2012

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

I have been thinking. A coffee-green tea- knitting sort of thinking and today is so beautiful you would swear there was some sort of God behind it. And there probably is. What I've been thinking about mostly is connections - so many in Halifax everyone a friend of a friend and isn't that delightful to look at your neighbours and know someone you know who knows someone knows and loves them. It is humbling. Especially when your downstairs neighbour writes flowery notes in old-lady handwriting that says I'm too loud when I walk around my apartment at night in my slippers. Someone I know loves her and I guess that's enough for me.

Writers group is tonight and I'm hosting, happy to fill up my little apartment with such amazing people. I'm not sure what I will workshop tonight, but I thought I'd share a bit of a piece I wrote with you called "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear":

You are closer than I even remember, your lips my lips, your eyes my eyes, your eyebrows twitch and lift like mine I am confused you are a fool and I know it, I know everything, everything you can do I can do better.

I am better than you.

No you aren't.

Yes. I am.

We aren't the same, no, we aren't but still it feels like you start where I start and there is no distance between – not even breathing room – and everywhere you go I go you follow I lead I follow.

I can't even miss you cause how can I miss myself. Tell me. How.

There was never a doubt you would find me despite the woods, despite the heat, despite the dark, despite the hour. I can never hide from you even with the camoflague from the Military Surplus store. They assured me I would be invisible among the shrubs and bushes, long grasses that keep the pheasants covered until they squeak and flap and the guns shoot and it's all over. You don't like guns, their cold steel barrels, their empty sockets full. I don't like the sounds they make, I prefer fireworks or thunder and lightening storms.

I didn't come home for four days eating berries and drinking from streams using leaves as blankets and moss as my pillow. It was okay to be here – away from you – I thought it could be okay as long as I didn't die cause there would be no leaving you in heaven, we'd share the same wings wouldn't we. God is like that, right. You said so yourself one night when I had mistakenly locked myself in the bathroom and you had to break the door down and explain to our cranky landlord that it was a life or death situation and you'd help him install the new one and even mow the lawn for the rest of the summer, no questions asked. Ask no questions you told him with your eyebrows, he gave in and you obliterated the dandelions for the season with a sputtery old lawnmower with a rusty handle. I didn't tell you it was a mistake, the latch caught all on its own, I felt trapped, wanted to get out, crawled into the bathtub and put my warm cheek against its cold porcelain and feel asleep while you splintered and shook. You scared the shit out of me you silly little muffin dragged me from the tub and put me to bed and I wouldn't have woken if you would have left me alone to have dreams of toilets on stilts and old men with plaid shirts and grey faces. Never leave me, don't you ever even think of leaving and you held me so tightly my ribs ached.

I could smell you you said when you found me huddled against an old tree trunk, rings too many to count, older than me and wiser. I didn't sing even though I wanted to, I had to be quiet. You have to be quiet when you hide and breathe slow and shallow belly barely moving up and down to give it all away. When bears come, play dead. You could feel me warm from a hundred yards away you said and you picked me up and took me home and I didn't have to explain because you already knew. I can never be too far away from you. You will always know where I am, there is no point in hiding even though its fun. You don't like my silly little games do you. 

We don't need any mirrors, they just distort everything and make images too crisp, too real. You just need to look at me and I just need to look at you. You will always tell me if I have broccoli in my teeth and I know if my hair's a mess by just looking at your head windswept. We broke all the mirrors, didn't we, that night when the snow was heavy and thick and made us feel like we were in a cave with bears and raccoons and rabbits. Mirrors are just glass you know, easy as pie to break and no bad luck either. All the splinters in the garbage bag looked at each other and got confused, reflection reflected and we laughed. We taught mirrors a valuable lesson. Stop looking. I'm right here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I write a lot about dogs. And blood. And death. And teeth.

This is part of a story "Break Your Teeth" that I am going to share with my writerlies tonight. Thought I'd get back into the blog thing now that its almost winter again...

Teaser, just a little taste:


But the teeth were the first thing. The teeth were unmistakeable, long and sharp and white, so white they dazzled. I remember being dazzled, stopped in my tracks dazzled, the first time I saw them, huge, not quite fitting into my beautiful husband’s beautiful mouth, distorted by bones that didn’t belong. It was dark, the lights were out, but still those teeth gleamed. The moon shone in through the window and my husband’s teeth gleamed in response, gleamed with pleasure “the better to eat you with my dear.” He turned to me in the bed, warm, warmer than he had ever been, and his big shiny white teeth gleamed. His mouth opened wide and he let out a yelp that I didn’t recognize. He held me down and licked me all over, nipped at my fingers, nipped at my toes, but licked me all over. My skin was raw in places from his tongue. He slept like the dead when he was done.

His teeth make impressions that they shouldn’t, his body heals from the scratches I give him instantly. In the morning, the morning after, he is smooth and unblemished. Every morning he awakes anew. But the marks stay on me, they stay and they stay. The bruises get deeper, more purple, more yellow, more red, his powerful fingers marking the same place over and over again. I am a map to his neediness. He can find his way by the pin pricks all up my arms, the punctures his teeth make. My body is a salty river, taste me. 


Monday, January 30, 2012

Writing Happy & Martha gets a real job

There is something to be said about being happy and being quiet. For me, a happy mind is a calm, peaceful one; I live in the moment and accept the contentment of the day. I don't have to tell myself stories to make it through the figurative or literal snow and rain. While always optimistic when I am truly happy, I am also quiet. And I probably sigh, you know the good sigh that comes from deep within and has a bit of a high pitched squeak to it, a lot.


I've been happy lately and of course I am not complaining. I have wonderful family and friends and I have met a lovely young man who makes me giggle and feel special. I even got a job! A real one! In publishing! As Production Editor for a small Canadian publishing company located here in Halifax, I get to keep editorial and production projects on track and in doing so get an insider's view to the entire process from idea to book in hand. I even have some of my own editorial projects, more in the upcoming season, and I am delighted to work with authors and see a story come to life. It really is delightful.


And I feel like a bit of a cliche - writer can't make it as a writer so she becomes an editor?

Please pray for me that this is not my fate - please pray that I may provide guidance to wayward writers and in turn help bring my own stories to Can Lit Magazines and Anthologies - dare I dream big?

I've been missing my own stories, so caught up in the real life peace and happy and quiet of my world at the moment. I may have to do something dreadfully dramatic if only to write about it. I promise not to start fires.

Who really wants to read about happy beginnings, middles and endings? 

Friday, December 9, 2011

mistletoe harlequin / Mr Darcy: the ultimate centrefold

December. Snow. Christmas. Trees. Red. Green. Mistletoe. Harlequin? 

Christmas party season: this afternoon I got to wear my new black sequine-y shirt, drink wine with nuns and archivists and get lost on Mount Saint Vincent's campus. The walk to the Sisters of Charity building is up a hill with sparse trees on one side and cookie cutter Mount residences on the other. As I walked dusk approached and all the neighbourhood crows gathered on a few dead looking trees cawing to me and each other, a true murder of crows, a council of crows, beautiful, ominous, festive?

Sure why not. 

Tonight I get to work on writing a harlequin novel with new pal Jaime who has actually read romance novels and can follow the strict structure the genre requires.  I will leave on party clothes for romance writing brainstorming / wine drinking / cookie eating / egg nog dunking experience.

Past writing teacher thought I should write for Harlequin. She thought I had the imagination but could use a little structure, she assumed I was a romantic (true) and that I had read romance novels (false). Most girls have I suppose, the romance genre isn't limited to Harlequin. I love Jane Austen and her books deal primarily with love and relationships, sisters, parents, lovers. An old boyfriend actually duped Jane Austen a pornographer of the written word, Mr Darcey the ultimate centrefold; surely her writing was meant to entice fantasy of true love and the effortlessness of virgin sex. 

Our main character is named Finn and he's a construction worker from a broken home. Let's see where this goes...Darcy in a hard hat?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SPEAK! / red plaid

Heya tonight is Speak! Word Iz Bond event at the Company House (this site is never up to date, eek but it gives you a taste of what its all about, their Facebook page is more reliable :)and I am going to be performing during the open mic, time permitting!

It has been a productive writing day for me. The script TRAILER TRASH *finally* goes out tonight to all my lovely actors, I have been waiting for it to be perfect, but since we know writers can edit forever and still never be satisfied, I have decided to let my (horror) baby out into the world. It is about time. Sigh.

Babies have been quite a theme of late. 

Tonight I am planning on performing "Baby Mama/ Lit" a piece I shared with my lovely writers' group The Wired Monks a month or so ago. It is silly and fun, here's a taste:

"I don't wanna be your baby mama / but that don't mean I don't wanna / be pregnant with your stories / forever/ or whenever / I feel like letting them drop / pop pop / pop goes the weasel/ to save the damsel in distress / but her hair's a mess / and she's not his type / would up too tight / anyway / I'm big with them / synonyms / of wild free sex / forbidden texts / to tell your mother / you'd never fuck her / whatever Oedipus says / you bow your head / to the power of it all / my belly to fill up to devour / pretty pictures in rhyme / it's time...

My piece "I am cigarettes and I hurt babies" may also be on the agenda for tonight. It is new and may need a few tweeks but it feels fitting anyway:

"I am cigarettes and I hurt babies
and not just the ugly ones
bloated bellies and scabies
but the perfect ones too
with all their fingers and toes
and rosy cheek glow
I hurt them too
because I can    thank you
Philip Morris..."

Today also feels like a red plaid day. I have a long wool skirt and a houndstooth scarf that when worn together make me feel like a hunter or a lumberjack. Not too shabby methinks.

Poetry is not dead but rather vocal and maybe a bit angry or angsty. Amen.

Do something nice today. While doing research on cigarettes and of all things gang rape (don't ask, a long story, I need some horrible graphic research for a piece I am working on), I found too many atrocities on the Internet. Surprise, surprise. So hug a stranger, maybe wear pink instead of sombre black and grey and think how lucky you are not to be imprisoned for political and spiritual beliefs, all that Occupy stuff aside, you are alive and I am pretty sure you got to eat today. 

Love each other.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Digging through the garbage for returnables/ worth the effort

Writing is hard work. This has been said. This will be said again.

Writing is also terrifying, uplifting, hilarious, insightful, mood-altering, vulnerable, deletable, lasting, and relentless.

Some of my writer friends lament the existence of their old journals, unpolished stories, teenage poetry and B- papers on the origins of the species as though they were physical sign post failures of mind and spirit. I wrote this, this was true once, what did I know? They have promises from loved ones to burn and destroy upon death, the only words left the publishable ones and the epitaph. The writer is both extrovert and hermit - read my words but only when they are perfect and know I had something *important* to say. It is so easy to paralyze oneself for fear that words and images will be taken out of context, will mark the writer as illegamate, as ignorant, as foolish.

I have allowed myself to be paralyzed. But just for a little while.

I quit writing every few years as though that will somehow make things better, as though writing is an addiction to seek therapy for - I've done it, sought therapy, burned poetry, stopped buying pens and pencils, tried to shut off the stories that come and come and come, relentless beasts! Story will not go away no matter how hard I try, no matter how I try to demote her as  some sort of mental deficiency - Doctor I have these voices in my head...

My beautiful creative writing teacher at U of T, Elizabeth Ruth, made it clear to me, how dysfunctional the writers internal world can be. It is a gift and a curse and there is nothing more satisfying than getting down on paper what has been puttering inside one's head for minutes, hours, days.

There has been a piece that has been particularly dominant the past little while and I don't want to write it but I know I must because it will torture me otherwise. It leaves me feeling dark and vulnerable but maybe when it hits the light and the page it will become something else something multi-faceted and not at all as scary as I imagine; this is the truth for most things, fear of the unknown.

There is a soft spoken man in my neighbourhood who gathers returnable bottles for exchange. My roomie and I leave a bag outside for him. I met him for the first time today while I sparred with a crossword puzzle. He said, "Lady, you've got to know what you are looking for, digging through the garbage, well you know it's worth the effort."

I couldn't agree more. I want to share something with you...


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zine-tastic / Mine (found)

Hfx Zine Fest ( a part of Hfx Pop Explosion) was this past Saturday and I am totally inspired by all the lovely ladies and gentlemen to rekindle the flame of zine making in my heart. Yes, I used to make zines. And yes they were mostly for me and kinda sucked but still they hold a special place as a part of my teenage angst years that went on for way too long.

Coming home after eight years away, I have rediscovered shoe boxes and shopping bags full of bad poetry and lame short stories and drafts of my first novel called Mine in which nothing really happens but the narrator can't sleep and likes to watch ants and hates happy people. \

Excerpt: "Mine" / Martha Tuff c2000 This is where the main character has a job interview and I try my hand at dialogue, oh dear.


Bachelor degree”

In what?”

Does it really matter?”

Do they all cost the same nowadays?”


No, I guess not”


Neutral, fairly agreeable”


Sparky? Like a flame?”


Like the fire dog?”

No... funny. I like that. Why do you wanna work here?”

Nice architecture”

Anything else?”

I need to get out of the house”


I want to learn more about this town.”

And why is that?”

Because it is my town. I grew up here and I know nothing of it.”

Oh really?”

Sure, why not?”

And you think it is important to know about the town where you grew up?”

Yeah, how else are you going to know who you are, if you don’t even know where you came from, what geography is in your blood?”

Good a reason as any. I’ve heard better but I’ve also heard worse.”

Oh, yeah?”

Yeah, can you type?”



I guess so.”

What do you mean you guess so?”

Is 90 words per minute good?”

Ummm yeah sure. With or without mistakes?”


Look of forced approval.

Ok, yes I can type.”

I’ll see you Monday morning. Nineish”


Punctuality isn’t worth much anymore as long as you get your work done I don’t really care. And if you could do it from home, I’d say good for you. Monday morning.”

Sure, thanks”

What the hell are you thanking me for?”

How delightful. I have also rediscovered handmade button jewellery, my collection of rocks *not* found on a beach and rusted metal anything. I used to wear rusty metal on necklaces that would turn my skin green and I thought it awesome.

So zines. Yes. I will make again. And it will be special. And maybe I'll share them this time.

You should make one too:

Hug a stranger! Make a friend!