In this section you will find the various credited and uncredited works composed during the COVID-19 quarantine saga.
This section exists as an effort to share my passion of writing and storytelling with others in the hopes that they may find it helpful. I use writing for entertainment, solace, therapy, creative expression and self-empowerment.
As an exercise it exists to fill the day with a task that becomes something greater, either a hobby for a cathartic experience. As a reader, it is created to demonstrate that even in this time of mandated social distancing, isolation and seclusion, that we are all going through the same thing.
Solitude may be alien to some, but it is a crucial necessity for us to get through this, as one. And we all are experiencing emotions and frustrations, which may seem uniquely individual, as a collective.
You can submit anything that you please: A story, a letter, a diary, a poem, a haiku, a thought bubble. It doesn’t even have to be a written work, just whatever you created in this strange time and feel like sharing.
Email to [email protected] if you wish to submit, add details or say what up.
Alsina Merry – I Want to Die – March 20, 2020
I want to die
He says it feels wrong All he can think about is that I’m not Victoria I can’t be her and I’ll never be her
Carcass roaming around thin black ice The sweet memories of the old They comfort me in death more than anybody alive
I never realized how awful loneliness could be “As if that’s a real thing,” I once thought The coldness within these four walls pierces right through the bone
I’m still not her and I never will be “You’re not Victoria,” Replaying over and over in my head A broken record rusted
Thought I knew him Thought I could make it better I tried and I couldn’t I don’t know him at all He’s but a stranger that lays with me at night
I’d climb Everest but his walls are even higher He thought he had found the perfect girl Only for her to leave him for the drummer
I want to die
He says he’s still hung up on her “It just feels wrong,” He says he’s sorry I’d rather be thrown in solitary
Jessica Svelander – March 20, 2020
Instagram submission @jessica.svelander
Te Odio – Corey Croft – March 20, 2020
The rock finally eroded to dust.
It’s not even a pebble in my filthy hands. There’s still some room left on these walls to write on, not much. My nails splinter and break apart when I try to scratch it in.
My teeth will start falling out soon. Grim. Although, they might make a deeper and longer-lasting etch than what are now bloody stumps at the ends of my hands.
I miss you, can you tell? I love you and I hate you and I miss you. Those words, repeatedly engraved upon these concrete walls, like graffiti, like pattern on some child’s wallpaper. You could probably guess how I feel, but you can’t see. Know that I have created a museum, rather a shrine to sanctify you. Not because I am worried of forgetting you, but to honour you. I love you and I miss you and I hate you.
I am alone. My voice returns to me a moment after screaming. I don’t scream anymore. I don’t even talk. I can barely breath.
Your name is repeated twice as much in my head as it is scribed into these walls. I wonder what you’re doing, who you’re with, where you have gone and where you are going. I’m a slave to my past while you control your own destiny. Will your path lead you here? Ever?
The walls worm closer, I can hear them, with your name, closing in, touching my nose. My hate and my love, buttressing my skull on both sides. It holds me up before my knees buckle and my legs give away. The chance to see you again, to tell you how much I’ve hated you, and loved you, and missed you, are the pillars that support the will of my existence.
When the sun hides and the bats circle, it’s your name on these walls, like cavern lanterns, they extinguish the abyss and its hideous darkness. I don’t fear the dark, what I fear is the unknown. The unknowing reality of when, not if, but when, I will see you again.
Why do I love you? Because I hate being away from you. Why do I hate you? Because love is too powerful an emotion to live without fulfillment, without expression, without contact.
For a moment I become embarrassed. Have I reconstructed Babel? Is it only I who speaks this hateful and loving and wistful tongue? Would you shake your head at the exotic sounds that explode from my jaw?
I pray no. Even though I am not a religious man. But, if I was, I would pray that my love, and my hate, is the wordless language that our souls would use to communicate.
Your name is now carved into my arm and I am drowning in the ink. A foolish premise: to immortalize the thief that stole my heart. Yet, if you ask, I would gladly give it to you. It’s more yours than mine. I didn’t know it was there until you found it.
Fougere Adam -Overcoming/Accepting the Shadow March 21, 2020
Instagram submission @pandamonaeum
Oh, how the fiend twists, he grits
Oh, the sweet shadow of mine, I
Fuck this; pain without pain.
Oh, merciful mechanism, why
Tony Ganto – Letter – March 22, 2020
Instagram Submission @t.ganto
I am enjoying this lazy, chill at home, be a lazy POS time. I am fully aware of the seriousness of all this, I have lost my job and many of my friends have as well. I worry about my parents, friends and myself. Everyone needs to stay the fuck home and wash your hands! This won’t be the end of times, but it might change how we interact with the world and how we can better planet earth.
For some reason I do not feel stressed or worried or panicked. I feel a weird sense of calmness. There is nothing to do. No deadlines, no motivation, no overwhelming feeling of ‘you gotta go do shit! Be productive!’. My room is still a complete disaster, might clean it might not. I really want to be retired. There are hobbies I could take up, but I’d rather not. Maybe in a few days, maybe I’ll get a weird rush of inspiration and pick up that guitar, notebook or even workout. No pressure, no guidance. I am going to chill until I am forced not to. Although I do miss going to bars. Tip your servers when this is all over! Enjoy isolation while you still can.
Piper Courtenay – Chrysalis: The diary of a reformed loner – March 24, 2020
Day 1. March 20, 2020.
I’ve blown through my entire supply of novelty pasta in three days. All the sticky sweet, tomatoey, animal-shaped goodness licked clean out of its tin cans in three. Fucking. Days. How the hell do I plan on surviving this impending apocalypse with an insatiable drive to gorge and inhale my way through all the survival supplies? An ex boyfriend once told me: “when I date someone, I try to imagine what they’d be like in an apocalypse. It’s always a deal-breaker if I think they’d slow me down or get me killed.” His demeaning metric of romantic aptitude has haunted me since. I now chronically compare things like my composting habits, pain tolerance, or personal hygiene to its applicability in some senseless and fictionalized zombie mutiny or Richter shattering earthquake, then inevitably scoff at the unlikelihood of ever having to prove myself in such a case. But here you have it, folks. Here be dragons, and we’ve sailed right into their waters, and they’re awake. Now, in the throws of a pre-pocolypse, I’ve already blown through my emergency reserve of insta-pasta and in its place are empty metal coffins containing only shame for both my careless gluttony and lack of qualifications as mate in times of scarcity. Fucking famines. Why couldn’t the historical marker of my time have been a violent political revolution? My skills are much better suited to vigilantism or looting. You know that pigeon scrawnier and sadder than the rest in the flock? The one missing a toe or two, and its dull, dirty feathers left patchy, revealing scabbed wounds from lost battles against the big boys. No one ever thinks they’d be that pigeon. But here I am, a sad, skeletal, pecked apart sky rat, scarfing down breadcrumbs and scraps while the others aren’t looking.
It must be something about being told to apply more self control in these times that has inspired my Pavlovian salivation at the slightest thought of my mildew-caked fridge. Even the dangerously expired box of Funfetti cake mix that’s lived in the shadows of my most unused cupboard since the day I moved in tempted my voracious appetite. I mean, if I’m going to get sick and succumb to this stomach churning pandemic, I’m certainly not going out with regrets of snubbing the enduring joys of a candy sprinkled confection. It didn’t even taste as old as the date implied.
Do I really think my newfound compulsion is valid evidence of my totem ranking in the postapocalyptic pecking order? Not particularly, but my lack of survival instinct is becoming increasingly worrisome. But not as worrisome as the other psyche shift that’s crept over me as of late.
Here I am: a slowly fattening loner hating aloneness for the first time in her life.
You see, long before the world’s population unveiled itself as putrid Petri dish, I thrived in selfimposed quarantine. In fact, I built a life similar to the one now demanded of our doomsday cheerleaders. I live alone with a surly, nasty roommate of the canine variety and spend most of my time lit only by the blue glow of a laptop in a dark, crumby apartment. I only leave the warm
confines of my brown-shag-carpeted cave to get drunk, or get coffee, or get laid. I can see Vancouver’s busiest street from the second floor and, most days, the uninhibited slurs of overgrown frat boys pouring out of the Italian restaurant across the street is enough social interaction for a girl like me. I order in, and binge old movies, and write, and Tweet profane commentary to illegally live-streamed UFC fight nights. And repeat. I generally hate people, with few carefully chosen exceptions, and pace the Granville Strip at 2 a.m. on Saturday nights, sober and chain smoking my way through a pack of darts, to remind myself why. But I also desperately love watching it all unfurl like an unscripted reality show with no arc or ads. As long as the characters don’t turn and begin talking through the TV screen, I can nurture this love-hate thing with other humans day in and day out without much want for anything else from them. Every subconscious microexpression, item of weather inappropriate clothing, jerk of the neck to investigate a loud noise, or snort of unexpected laughter breathes life into my casing. But directly interacting with their humanness can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. Eye contact alone can braid my intestines into the gaps between my ribs and vacuum the last hiccup of air from my lungs. So, observing, I jot notes into my phone or scrawl them into my notebook to later be collaged into more palatable characters I’ll surely enjoy more than actually having to converse with their raw, unpredictable, needy, fleshy muses. Steeling hand-selected scraps, I go home and write them: my characters. I fall in love with them, laugh at their cleverness, argue against their utter stupidity, tire of them, then go back outside to harvest more puzzle pieces at a coffee shop or dinner party or hotel bar. I only get a phone call once or twice a week from family that know I only come home on holidays and forgive my apathy toward their close regional proximity. And I like it that way. Or, I did. It was a blissfully sullen lifestyle only depressing a few days out of the year, and for the tradeoff of 300-some-odd peaceful, independent, days of aloneness, it was an easy sacrifice.
That was, until COVID-19. Or the “novel coronavirus” as bag-eyed health officials call it during their daily debriefs. Though with a creeping 200,000-plus cases, causing more than 5,000 deaths worldwide at the hand of lung paralysis and wrenching pain-induced vomit, there is nothing apparently novel about it. And while I haven’t caught it myself—sanitizing and scrubbing the skin on my hands into mere flakey patches held together by heat rash—I have caught something more untreatable, more foreign, and more gag-inducing than I have ever encountered before.
I want to be around… people. And not just to exist externally latent, as if wallpaper at one of their happy hours. I actually want to… attend a happy hour.
I started noticing the itching craving on day three of the soft-shutdown—and by “soft” I mean the country’s point man hadn’t gone so far as to close the borders to all, but most, and save a few grocery stores, ballsy bars, and liquor depots, most businesses had ‘tentatively’ shuttered.
And I know I’ve caught this social disease by the growing severity of my desperation to be in the dead centre of heavily populated places—a yearning I can’t seem to assuage by eating all six of the protein bars I bought last week. I feel like some cinematic depiction of a freshly bitten victim to an old world vampire, slowly becoming more crazed at the smell of human skin, hair, blood.
The first craving was for the pool hall. Near instantly, I began missing the dingy smell of stalebeer-soaked tables. I miss rubbing chalk off my blued fingers and drunk guys badly pretending not to watch me bend over a table. God how I want nothing more than to open a tab and deep throat cheap pilsners for hours while making increasingly lewd jokes about holes and big, hard sticks. I miss my neurotic friend who insists on colour coding the balls before breaking them, and always, always flips the triangle twice toward him before putting it back point first. I want someone to check my ID. I want to sit on cracked leather bar stools. I want to hear the repetitive pings and dings of pinball in the background. I want, desperately, to dagger-eye a group of sloshed 21-year-olds until they feel so insecure and uncomfortable they fuck off away from my favourite table for jagger bombs at the Roxy. I doubt they’d even know its the best table in the bar. I’d be doing everyone a favour. I want the nods and grunts of appreciation from other annoyed patrons as they stumble out of earshot.
The second wave of social desperation came when St. Patrick’s Day hit and slid under the radar without even so much as a temporary four-leaf-clover tattoo or glittery bowtie. No green beer. No sticky floors. No one spilling their cheap tequila shot on my blistered toes. No happy, obnoxious dancing along to bagpipes or singing to the only Dropkick Murphys song anyone knows. Nothing. The one holiday that endorses binge-drinking-induced sloppy camaraderie was nowhere to be found in a world where we all exist at least six feet apart. With that much space between us, do you know how hard it would be to pungently splutter “I love you, man” into your new blackout buddy’s ear? Amidst the existential anxiety, most seemed to have even forgotten it was happening. I was devastated. I’d never been devastated at a forgotten club invitation.
Things that used to take a week’s worth of energy, now I was weighing against the fine or jailtime it might incur if I tried my luck and got caught.
Symptom three: I called my ex, just to talk. Luckily, I hung up before the barely literate dud could answer the phone. I blamed it on a pocket dial via text before launching my cell like an angry addict into the couch and asking my dog why he hadn’t stopped me earlier.
And it’s only getting worse. I quipped about the “nice weather” to a silicone-gloved barista this morning. And when they told me they too would be closing down for the next two weeks, I felt like I had just be dumped. “But… but… my coffee at home just isn’t as good!” I stammered, completely skating over the huge health risk they had already endured staying operational thus far just to serve a bunch of Yaletown socialites their oat milk lattes.
The only thing that could explain this isolation-borne illness is that my chosen lifestyle has suddenly become trendy and, worse, mandatory. Once I realized I was being strongly advised to bore deeper into my existence as a hermit crab, the shell started to irritatingly dig into the flesh of my shoulders, my spine began to ache under its weight, and I wanted to gnaw my way free of the hard casing. Where once my dingy hole of a spackled studio was a latched-and-bolted
sanctuary from the small talk of nosey neighbours, in its place stood padded walls lit by cold fluorescents.
It’s like being on a bad mushroom trip—one where dust appears to crawl, and from dark corners bulge socketless eyes, and the roof slinks inward around you, closer and closer with each forced inhale.
I think I’m going insane.
I miss people. I miss my strangers. I want my family to call. And I’ve jarringly realized a socially distant life is only comforting when it’s not prescribed by doctors.
But this is all foreign to me. And trust me, you can’t WebMD “help me, I think I like humans”. I’ve tried. If I call my parents, they’ll know something is up and send an onslaught of webinars about depression, again. And all my friends are busy posting online about their crafty achievements during #selfimposedquarantine like it’s some sort of survivalist Pinterest board. Porn isn’t as satiating as it used to be and practicing safe sex in a pandemic is just not having sex, or touching any body parts for that matter. How I yearn for the sepia-toned salaciousness of the 60s, hold the STIs. My dog isn’t much of a conversationalist and when I take him to the park, everyone just stands around the borders avoiding eye contact, waiting for their furry prisoner to shit and tire itself out before dragging it back under their sanitized rock.
I’m not entirely sure what to do. I can’t actually socialize—not because I am scared of becoming a dry-heaving incubator of viral plague, but because I haven’t the slightest clue as to how. I can’t go home—my parents will only exasperate this developing psychological disorder. My friends are locked away and my co-workers too.
So, it begins. I write to keep myself sane, or company. Or to keep some sort of record during this unfortunate and inescapable evolution in the chance I don’t make it out alive.
Sydney Triggs – For the Memes- March 27, 2020
Facebook submission @sydtriggs
First things first, let’s state the obvious. This virus sucks.
Forget the “New global emergency new me,” Facebook posts, the “You guys, let’s take this time to focus on ourselves!” motivational speeches and the half-assed “Well, it could be worse…” reminders. People are getting sick, people are dying, people are losing their jobs, people who still have jobs are unsafe and stressed in their workplaces, parents are going crazy trying to homeschool their children, people are anxious about their loved ones, the global economy is getting turned upside down and will soon be plunged into a recession… It sucks. It absolutely sucks for everyone, except for the idiots that for some reason feel like they should still go to the beach to hang out with friends because they’re somehow above the virus. It sucks, and we can’t even meet our friends for a solidarity drink at the end of the day.
Yes, I know we can meet for Zoom drinks with our friends, don’t at me.
Apart from those hard truths, I’ve had lots of mental ups and downs throughout my last 2 weeks of mandatory quarantine. However, one major thought has been running through my mind consistently…
How many goddamn MEMES is this virus going to produce?
Isn’t that ridiculous? But seriously, think about it. COVID-19 is an unprecedented, catastrophic global event unlike anything that we’ve seen during the internet age. Sure, there have been pandemics, wars and other major catastrophes, but nothing that has been so ubiquitous and universally discussed all around the world.
These are the words coming out of damn-near everyone’s mouths right now! Or, at least a translation of them in one’s own language! This makes perfect sense as at the time of writing, COVID-19 has reached 199 countries… and the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
As a result of this, the fact that we’re living in the hard center of the internet age and that pretty much everyone is bored out of their minds at home, the number of memes being created as a result of COVID-19 is absolutely INSANE! Every morning (or afternoon, let’s be honest, I have no reason to get up early anymore) I’m barraged by a storm of international news combined with NEW MEMES about the coronavirus.
That’s all well and good. Some memes are better than others, but most importantly they are often funny and we’re all in dire need of a laugh.
The main reason I’ve been thinking about ALL THE MEMES is how ridiculous they might look in the future. If COVID-19 continues to do unprecedented damage to the world in a variety of ways, are we going to look like idiots for documenting the whole process with memes? Will memes be in the history books? Will future generations think that we’d completely lost our minds? Or will they admire our comedic resilience in the face of a global pandemic?
Many historic events that by-and-large shaped the modern world happened throughout the 20th century. Imagine what would have happened if people in the 20th century had had 21st century technology and internet access. Would the Cold War have been documented (democratically! By the people! The everyman!) with memes? The Second World War? The Great Depression? The First World War? The Spanish Flu?
Honestly, they probably would have been. Regardless of the severity of the situation they’re living, human beings have a fundamental need to express themselves. For better or for worse, sharing our thoughts (even via meme) is cathartic and makes us feel better.
So, let’s keep expressing ourselves. Just some food for thought.
Black Book Diary – Angella Kao – March 28, 2020
E-mail submission @illicit_angell
Untitled – Brenda Edgson – April 1
2020. Ok… What’s going on I say to myself.. everyday..I don’t want to be afraid…I send my fears I think out of my feet instead of out the top of my head..I stop to practice my breathing.. we’ve never known from day to day what is going to happen.. so to know everyday till the virus is gone people are dying seems hard for me to grasp..so I bury it deep down inside and put on a good face.
I’ve always been a thinker and a half full person prayerful grateful and positive .. there is going to be a whole new world out there when this is done. May we learn by it is the big question? I’ve learned how much our family and friends love me which I knew already. Life as we know it. No one knows from one day to the next what is really in store for us. So I rant to myself mostly but know I should let it out.
Suppressing things in has never been a good thing. So why I say to myself why? When I was young we learned to put on a good face. It wasn’t always a true face though. I am not counting the days we are to be in solitude.. a bit claustrophobic by nature. Thanks to our home. . thanks to my life so far.. to be in situations that I never thought I’d get out of. For all my God given qualities. It’s been a slice..the upside..to every up there is a down..for every high there is a low.
The law of gravity.. for every bad there is a good. The virus is disposing of the weak.. be strong..we will get through. Grateful for our family and friends they are our visible things. To have a faith in God is pure Faith. Work on it I say…
04.27.11 – Alex Parmer – April 18, 2020
Instagram Submission @alexparmar
The oil streaks on the freshly rinsed pavement were reflecting the neon colored lights all along the intersection. The lights flashed in uniform. One after another as each metal deathtrap flew across the nose end of the Ford pick-up truck. This thing was fucking huge. The engine rumbled, shaking the entire pick-up as if it were in contest with the surround sound bass bumping some of Ludacris’ finest, “Blueberry Yum Yum”. Cheap thrills for a gloomy Wednesday night.
The truck swerved, shifting gears as it found it’s new home in the righthand lane. Traffic was about as light as you’d expect it to be on a mid-April weekday night in the burbs. The porches and decks of the towering homes were dimly lit up along the path but the street swallowed most opportunities of real light to break through the darkness. It was just another drive until I had the grave misfortune of witnessing the irreversible union of two parallel light-beams of warning and caution out of the corner of my left eye.
The thundering of the truck came to a halt leaving a crisp hint of tension in the air until the slamming of the door broke what could have been peace. Blackness engulfed the spotlight-like framing created by the street lamps. The SUV rumbled in the distance in rhythm to the heavy rap beats.
“Why is it still running?” My mind regurgitated as I traced my pursed lips with my finger.
The glistening silver caught the golden tones angled from up above. Unmistakable, like a rattlesnake playing it’s prey it’s last song.
CRACK! POW! POW! POW!
The scribbling stopped.
“Young Man?” Corey peered up from across the cedar stained work desk.
“Hm?” I mumbled as the colors of the real world flooded my eyes and reminded me of my surroundings.
Corey lowered his chin and removed the freshly lit Lucky Strike from his mouth with a cheek to cheek grin that rarely graced the presence of most.
“From now on, you don’t smoke until after the game plan, deal?”
I wiped the moisture building up from the corner of my left eye as I fumbled with the microphone cord with the faintest resemblance of a smile.
“Sorry. I’m ready when you are.”.
Anastasia Rolland – Thoughts to Share – April 28, 2020
“The wounds are unseen boils under my skin
My heart is a seemingly unendless cavern
I shake and I shiver, sometimes from the memories of pleasure, more often from ones of pain.
I grieve at the loss of a former inhabitant. While he had no right to be there, he burrowed himself into my landscape, and took with him a part of me when he left.
My life has been a constant cycle of the birth, growth, and death of love within me and around me. I accept the love of all; those who will love me the most, those who are indifferent and those who will use me and break me.
These creatures that reside inside my being, they do nothing but take as if they know that I will never stop giving. Not until there is nothing left to give. They are the humans and I am their Mother Earth.”
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