Writing Home

Writing Home Podcast: The COVID–19 Edition

June 24, 2020 McMaster University/Hamilton Public Library Season 1 Episode 2
Writing Home
Writing Home Podcast: The COVID–19 Edition
Chapters
00:01:03
“On Hold” by Mark Edwards
00:05:45
“Unpacking” by Waynes Magalang
00:09:57
“Roads to Roam” by Paige Maylott
00:11:04
“First Time Out, Second Time Out” by Gordon Cameron
00:12:57
“Just Stay Home” by Lori Sebastianutti
00:19:38
“An ‘out there’ home” by Monica Plant
00:22:30
“All Hail the Sparrow, For My Safety, Control Centre” by Marco Fortino
00:23:25
“The Porch” by Stephen Near
00:26:59
26:59 “Surviving Social Isolation” by Halyna Koba
00:28:41
“Me, My Wife and This Pandemic Life” by Charlie Collura
00:31:15
“Living in a Bubble” by Jean DeLuca
00:33:46
“Container” by Grace Evans
00:40:39
“At Home” by Tracey D’Alessio
00:42:51
“No Place Like Home” by Viga Boland
00:44:13
“The Great Equalizer” by Anne Gallagher (84 years of age)
00:45:35
“Not Before Noon” by Deena Sacks
00:49:47
“The Freedom of Home” by Esther Vandersluis
00:52:59
“Coronavirus Chronology” by Janice Barton
00:54:21
“Window Pain” by Nicole Ankerman
00:57:12
“Is This Home?” by Avleen Gerwal
01:02:10
“Going Bananas in the In-Between” by Evin Huang
Writing Home
Writing Home Podcast: The COVID–19 Edition
Jun 24, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
McMaster University/Hamilton Public Library

Through poems, essays and other forms of storytelling, writers in the Hamilton community share their varied and poignant reflections on the ways in which they’re experiencing the COVID–19 pandemic.

This is the second episode in a special podcast project produced by Mohawk/Tuscarora writer, radio broadcaster, documentary producer and media and sound artist, Janet Rogers, the McMaster University/Hamilton Public Library Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer in Residence.

This episode features the voices of community writers, as well as the voice talents of Rogers and Hamilton-based Métis writer Jesse Thistle, the best-selling author of From the Ashes and a CBC Canada Reads 2020 nominee

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Through poems, essays and other forms of storytelling, writers in the Hamilton community share their varied and poignant reflections on the ways in which they’re experiencing the COVID–19 pandemic.

This is the second episode in a special podcast project produced by Mohawk/Tuscarora writer, radio broadcaster, documentary producer and media and sound artist, Janet Rogers, the McMaster University/Hamilton Public Library Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer in Residence.

This episode features the voices of community writers, as well as the voice talents of Rogers and Hamilton-based Métis writer Jesse Thistle, the best-selling author of From the Ashes and a CBC Canada Reads 2020 nominee

Writing Home Podcast – The COVID–19 Edition 

00:00:06 (Introduction read by Janet Rogers)

Writing in the time of a global pandemic during social isolation is reflective to say the least. 

 Reflective on a very personal and collective scale, confessional at times, and we, as the listener, get to peer into the lives of our neighbours to see how they’re managing the changes that come with province-wide urgings to quarantine ourselves. In this, the second part of a two-part podcast project, the authors share their COVID-themed stories and poems.

 My name is Janet Rogers, the McMaster University and Hamilton Public Library writer in residence for 2020/2020. It was my pleasure to produce this Writing Home: The COVID edition podcast for your listening pleasure.


01:03   “On Hold” by Mark Edwards         

Writer Bio: Born in Hamilton, lived outside of  the city, my wife and I  moved back many years ago. My family originated from England. Arrived in Hamilton in the early  1900’s. I have  been a self employed, business owner, most of life, By virtue of my inquisitive/entrepreneurial, nature, I have dabbled in freelance  writing.

Time, is motionless, unhitched from the physicality of community that surrounds me.  Over my lifetime, I have become aware of the need to socialize, be part of community.  Today, there is a misplaced dimension, a sudden realization, there is the possibility  the aggressive concerted effort to rid the world of Covid 19 will continue for sometime.  Hopefully, not a lifetime, at least my remaining lifetime.  At my age, the credibility of actuary tables, reinforce the reality of life’s longevity time lines.

I am not intentionally minimizing the overall impact this current situation is having on all of us. It’s made me aware of the fragility of our health system, supply chain, and relationship’s  between countries, the interlacing of politics & protocols critical to our survival.  The entire world has been put on notice, put on hold.

Venturing outside into my backyard, has become more meaningful.  Every step I take broadens my outlook, becoming more aware of the importance of connecting with nature, the healing power, the hold it has on me.  Robins, finches, the occasional blue jay, going about their business,  totally oblivious to current circumstances.  I look back, beyond the evergreen shrubs, our humble abode sits anchored in the ground, providing necessary shelter, protection from the elements. We are so fortunate.

Current day to day experience’s are central to my thought process.  Having endured many a sleepless night, wandering the hallway, thoughts of Covid circulating in my mind, it’s continued pursuit, hopping from host to host, leaving a path of personal, social and economic destruction along the way.  I wrestle these nauseating thoughts out of my mind, and return to my room. My wife, sleeping silently, unaware of my troubled sleep patterns.

Daylight arrives on schedule, I peer out the window in search of life. Is everyone following the guidelines?  Are there visible signs of recovery?  The objective today is similar to the other day and the other day prior to that other day.  On a personal level, waking up to the realization that there is really nothing going on.  The perception of an oasis of calm.  Our learned desire for relationship building, participating, planning, enjoying, dining, family, friends, acquaintance’s, hiking, strolling through a park, have been sequestered. It has been said, that we must except what we are unable to change.  Clearly a conflict between logic and emotion.

Human intelligence, resilience, intervention, has proven once again to be at the forefront of the desperate need to eradicate this rogue.  The brave medical personnel, essential workers, pitting themselves against a cunning adversary on a daily basis.  Science labs the world over ratcheting up their research.

News outlets jockey for position, aware of the excessive amount of critical information circling the globe at any given time.  The news feed is boiled down to a desirable, enticing, sound bite.  Over time, persistent  cloning and tweaking of news events, may weaken their interpretation, such as the serious impact on human life and world economies, in spite of the compelling urgency to respond.  

The legislative imposed guidelines that I must adhere to, may be cause for alarm and  frustration, yet the capricious nature of Covid, strengthens the need to be in lock step with the rest of the world.  My hope is that this invasive intruder prompts a period of co-operation worldwide.  A realization of the importance of promoting synergies in the field of medical science. Open sourcing  vital  areas of research that will benefit all of us.  No boundaries, geo politics, zero limitations.

Presently, we are witnessing an unparalleled escalation of collaborative research.  This is the  binding agent that will set us free.


05:45   “Unpacking” by Waynes Manalang

Writer Bio: Waynes Manalang. I’m a graduating student from McMaster University for Honours Biology. I have started many stories but I haven’t finished one until now. Other than writing, I also love rock climbing and playing the violin.

Ma painted all my walls three coats of white. She said she almost fell off the ladder when she was painting the upper-right corner of the wall. I looked at the spot she pointed at, the almost-fell spot, and tried to find any mark, any stroke, that would indicate that Ma did almost fall off the ladder. 

She dragged the smallest luggage by my bed, gripping the handle so tightly that it made me scratch my neck. 

After a few minutes of chit-chat about my flight, she finally left me alone to unpack. I could hear her humming in the kitchen, and soon enough, the smell of sauteed garlic and bok choy filled my room. I welcomed this familiar scent from my favourite meal and allowed myself to feel nostalgic. 

I remembered my childhood friends and searched for the scrapbook we made in 8th grade. I went through my dusty bookshelf still filled with young adult fiction I used to love: the secret teenage spies, the Greek gods and goddesses, the shadowhunters and the witches. I found my halloween costumes and tried them all on again. And under my bed, a box of old love letters. 

I noticed a very faint orange streak on the wall which had turned darker under the white paint. I thought that it could very well have been part of a marigold I painted there before. Maybe it was one of the petals. I wanted to trace the orange line with my fingers, to feel the paint under my skin, but it disappeared as soon as I moved closer. Three coats of white, I reminded myself. 

“Luna, come out for lunch,” I heard Ma call out. 

The golden light from my desk lamp shone over the single remaining luggage. It was my smallest one but it contained the most. I stared at the bulkiness of it and through the blackness of the leather, I remembered what it contained. I could see my ironed out and neatly folded pride flag, photos from the photo booth with my girlfriend, and a pile of love letters accumulated from our two years together. I could hear Ma singing in the kitchen and my hands started sweating. It didn’t help that these white walls felt like they were growing taller and moving closer to me. I stared at the emptiness of it and through the whiteness of the wall, I remembered what used to be there. I remembered what happened to it, what happened to me, what happened to us. I felt suffocated in this shrinking box. I held my neck as if I couldn’t breathe. 

“Luna,” I heard my mom call from outside my room. I quickly hid the luggage under my bed. She entered with a plate of freshly cut apples. 

“Do you want some fruit?” 

I looked at the plate of apples— washed, peeled, and cut. All I had to do was put them in my mouth, chew, and swallow. I said ‘yes’ because I have yet to learn how to say ‘no’ to some of Ma’s affection. She smiled as she placed the plate on my desk and left the room humming. 

I ate the apples one after the other as if it was a task I needed to check off from my list and almost choked on a seed. I held my neck as I tried to cough it out. I eventually swallowed it with ease. 

Then, I heard a knock on the door. “Where do you want me to put this?” 

Ma came in with a large picture frame. She turned it to show me that it was a photo of my marigolds. It looked as bright and smelled as sweet as I remembered them to be... before the fight, before I threw orange paint on it. I held it in my hands and watched the marigolds grow by the second. 

Ma went to the empty white wall where the marigolds used to grow. “What are you painting next?” she asked.
 “What’s your favourite flower, Ma?”

09:57   “Roads to Roam” by Paige Maylott 

Writer Bio: Paige Maylott has published several short stories in Hamilton’s INCITE Magazine as well as a self-published tabletop game book. She is currently writing an intersectional memoir on critical illness and gender transition through this period of physical distancing. A life-long resident of the Hamilton, ON area, she lives with her partner, her dog, two cats, and a pet rabbit. She works at McMaster University in Library Accessibility Services, helping students with disabilities to find creative alternatives for their course materials.

Roads to roam because for now, I cannot leave my home

And profoundly crave this warmer weather,

Within my mind. I will find roads to roam. 

 

I'm learning to fear my micro-biome. 

So six feet apart, we stand together;

Because for now, I cannot leave my home. 

 

Some days this house feels like a catacomb:

The dusty air shuttered in and alone ­­–

Retreat to my mind and find roads to roam.

 

But with windows wide, joyous, inward blown!

A child's laughter and scent of evening meals –

Because for now, I cannot leave my home.

 

Thankfully, I've got escapes of my own:

I'll tour books and games with friends online –

Away I travel on the roads I roam.

 

I’ll longingly recall this the sanctum dome,

With fresh united ways we've lived apart

Though just for now. I cannot leave my home,

So in my mind I will find roads to roam.


 11:04   “First Time Out, Second Time Out” by Gordon Cameron     

94 years old , Hamiltonian     

First Time Out 

From my window I can see the little oak tree in the park. That big grey squirrel keeps chasing the little black one away from the bird feeder. 

Dad says I have to stay in my room all day and think about things. He says it’s for my own good. He says I’ve got to learn not to do stupid stuff that might get me hurt. 

 So maybe it was stupid to run out after the ball. Those screeching brakes were kind of scary, but I was ok!  I’ll bet Dad does some stupid things sometimes.

 Mom brought me red Jello and a Nanaimo bar for lunch. She says if I’m good I can go out in the yard this afternoon for some fresh air, but not to tell dad.

 I’m trying to be good. 

Second Time Out

 From my window I can see the old oak tree in the park.  The black squirrel won’t let that old grey squirrel anywhere near the bird feeder.

I have to stay in my room all day. I do a lot of thinking. My son says I’m vulnerable and it’s for my own good. I’m lucky to have people keeping me from doing something stupid. 

 I can’t complain. Everybody’s friendly and the meals they bring are great. I had red Jello and a Nanaimo bar at lunch.  If I’m good, I get out for twenty minutes every afternoon for some fresh air and exercise.

 I’m trying to be good.
 

12:57   “Just Stay Home” by Lori Sebastianutti   

Writer Bio: Lori is a writer and teacher from Stoney Creek, Ontario. She is the managing editor of the Fertility Matters Canada blog. You can read more of her work at http://www.lorisebastianutti.com.

Just stay home. It turns out a global pandemic provides a good opportunity to ponder privilege. Well, my two young sons tell me that they miss their school and friends, that they wished they could go to the park or to the mall, I tell them that I understand. I tried to find the words to let them know that although the situation is bad, there are people who had it much worse.

I wrap them in my arms, stroke their backs, and remind them that their grandfather was born in the middle of world war II. I whisper in their ear that my father's first memory of his childhood was climbing over broken pieces of cement that his mother cooked their meals over an open fire pit instead of a stove, and that the first time he used an indoor toilet, he was 16 years old.

My seven year old swipes at his standbys looks up at me and says. Grandpa was poor. I nod. Yes. Grandpa was poor. Piles of rubble, which were once homes were everywhere in his town, bridges were blown up and red colored bombs line the sides of the road. His mother cooked their meals over an open fire, a reality that caused him to lose a brother in a terrible accident four years before his birth.

His main meal consisted of minestrone, a vegetable and legume soup and bread his mother baked in a brick oven. They collected eggs from their chickens, which allowed her to make pasta and they raised and butchered rabbits and pigs. On rare occasions, he drank milk from their two dairy cows. If there was any left over after the calves had had their fill. His family had an assortment of fruit, trees, apples, pears, and plums.

 They harvested tomatoes, garlic, onion, zucchini, string beans, potatoes, lentils, orzo wheat and sugar beets. They ate what they grew and not much else. Steak, what my father calls beef was a rarity. There was one occasion in which the family enjoyed the decadent protein, but not without a fight. They had raised a young calf but died unexpectedly.

 After an examination by the local veterinarian, his parents were told that the animal was not safe to consume as a dark spot had been found on its lungs. The vet insisted the calf be buried before he left. So my 10 year old father, along with other members of his family, took shovels and pickaxes and began clearing the earth for the calve’s burial as the inspector looked on. That night in almost complete blackness, the same family members as well as some neighbours began unearthing the animal where it was then cleaned, butchered and divided up among the grave robbers. 

Did anyone get sick after eating it? I asked. Looking straight ahead while rocking on his green leather, lazy boy chair,  he said it was the best meal I ever tasted. After grade five at the age of 11 my father entered a monastery in a town two hours away so he could continue his education at no cost. I wanted to keep learning he told me. So every day he donned his brown robe and attended mass with his brothers before a full day of schooling.

He enjoyed his time with the monks, not because he was particularly religious, but because the food was good and he loved to sing. So I'm impressed by his singing voice his teachers asked him to sing the Ava Maria during a mass in which the local arch Bishop would be attending. But his education by the months was short lived.

 After coming home that first summer and working long hours on the farm, his parents decided that his help was invaluable and he would not return. In 1971 my father started a business in Canada that specialized in installing indoor and outdoor sanitary sewers and pouring concrete. By 1984 he bought his first excavator previously owned for the cost of $20,000 and began digging basements.

 Within a year. He was able to buy a new one six times the price as he had procured contracts with major builders in the area. He employed 15 men and dug on average 150 homes a year. Our family had grown to eight members and my parents purchased a 3,600 square foot home that backed onto the Niagara escarpment on the border between Hamilton and Stony Creek.

 There's the running joke that every Italian Canadian home has two kitchens, one they use, and the other with state-of-the-art appliances that they don't. They also purchased expensive imported dining room and living room furniture from the motherland, which no one is allowed to sit on. Both of these scenarios are true of my family home.

 Perhaps if outsiders knew the poverty that the immigrants had come from, they would understand that the family home in Canada became the castle. The showpiece to all those who entered it, that the owners had conquered poverty and lack of education Hard work and personal sacrifice had indeed been victorious.

 We have been told to just stay home during the pandemic, a collective measure needed to ensure the safety of all. On social media I read statements declaring Covid 19 a war in which we are fighting an invisible enemy. My father lived through a world war and faced a very tangible enemy. He couldn't stay home.

 It wasn't an option. So he came to an adopted Homeland that gave opportunities to outsiders that it didn't offer to the original owners and inhabitants of this land. That's the survivor's guilt that I must contend with. During a 1988 visit to Toronto, prime minister Brian Mulroney told the Italian prime minister that the first generation of Italian immigrants built the skyscrapers that make up the Toronto skyline while the second generation owned them.

 When my children run down the long corridors of their skyscrapers and press their small noses up against the floor to ceiling glass windows looking out at all their many opportunities, I will make sure that they look back to, I want them to look back at stories of hardship and sacrifice of not enough food and no chance of education. By instilling in them the values of hard work and perseverance that my father instilled in me I will have them inscribe a plaque in honour of those who left their home in order to build theirs.


19:38  “An ‘out there’ home” by Monica Plant

 Writer Bio: Monica Plant is a writer, sculptor, and urban contemplative living in north Hamilton. She writes about topics including the urban wild and the spirituality of caregiving for such publications as Broadview magazine and The Hamilton Spectator. A recent runner up for the Short Works Prize, she is currently working on essays and drawings related to the period of helping her parents age and die at home.

I’ve never been the world’s best housekeeper. And if you came over to my place these days, amid the COVID pandemic, that claim might be even more blazingly apparent.

Home at this time has become more of the place I used to inhabit as a kid, when my Oscar Madison self shared a bedroom with my Felix Ungar sister. Instead of clothes and comics on the bedroom floor, though, here you might find a panoply of books, pens, and the odd graphic novel and DVD strewn amid personal journals on top of and under coffee table. 

And instead of drawings scattered on the unmade bed of my childhood, here in my quarantine home you might find assorted sketches, blocks of plastilene, and sculpting tools amid yet more books, journals, and candle ends strewn over the dining room table. (And yes, sometimes, still with the accompanying unmade bed.) 

This laissez-faire attitude toward housekeeping is something I’ve taken pride in. That pride came from the example of my mom who never fussed about having her place just so (though, to be fair, her place never approximated mine now). 

To me, her not stressing about house cleaning above and beyond what was necessary made her (in my mind) liberated to think about other things; and she did.

So … what -- if any -- thoughts have been liberated in my disordered pandemic apartment? 

For one, a shifting notion of home. 

The recent back-to-back at-home deaths of each of my parents followed by my siblings’ and my selling our longstanding family home shook the sense that home was first, foremost, and essentially a geography, at least a physical and a social one. 

During this pandemic time, though, I’ve come to see home as so much more beyond place. 

Home has become the space I share with others, out there in the ether. Previously shaken from its roots, my sense of home, thanks to COVID, no longer seems strictly fixed to any place or people or device. 

Sure, home is still Hamilton. And yes, home is right now in the north end. AND home feels more than ever like the breath-taking, broken, and walking-in-mystery world. And I assure you: there’s no one else I would want to share a quarantine with.


22:30   “All Hail the Sparrow, For My Safety, Control Centre” by Marco Fortino     

Writer Bio: My name is Marco Fortino and I am a retired educator living in Hamilton. After having taught for over 28 years I felt I was ready for new experiences. My interests include writing poetry, reading, travelling, watching sports, and examining art. I am currently working on the development of my first poetry anthology.


All hail the sparrow  On my porch, oblivious to death in the air. This Sparrow's continue to plan for dear spring home, one tweak at a time. All the while laughing at the peril that has all of us enclosed in our own nests.

For My Safety. Locked inside my own four walls for my safety they say. I lived through the depression and world war II. Who looked after my safety then? Now I sit here almost 90 all alone, but apparently safe. 

 From My Control Center. From my control center that is my kitchen table. The future appears uncertain and wrought with peril until I peer into the hopeful eyes of my boys providing for me a portal to a constellation of unsurpassed brightness and promise.


23:25   “The Porch” by Stephen Near         

 Writer Bio: Stephen Near is an author, playwright and educator living and working in Hamilton. He is a graduate of York University (BFA), the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (B. Ed) and the MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph.

In recent years, I've struggled with myself. I've struggled with the discipline of being a writer and an artist. The idea that I must always be busy and be hustling and be active to be a success. The identity of being a creator always carries with it the verb to create. That makes sense, right? An action doing something the opposite of rest of nothing. 

 And yet the porch is the place where I get some of the most important things done. I reflect on ideas planted like the tulip seeds in the garden by the front steps. I unearth old images like the weeds dotting my lawn and examine the roots in my mind. 

And of course I read, I read and I read and I fill up my mind with words and the stories behind the words until it's saturated like the soil after days of rain. But it's hard to shake the feeling that even in this deep seated invisible action, my time on the porch has only been spent, in pursuit of nothing. It's like an early and unfunny Seinfeld episode set at the foot of the escarpment, and I'm George. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

That's when I remind myself that sitting and watching and thinking are also verbs. I may not be riding my bike or playing with my kids or cleaning up the kitchen. That all can and certainly will come later. And if I've learned anything these past few weeks, it's that there is nothing wrong with my home.

As artists, we're often taught to break the boundaries. We're conditioned to strive for more, reach beyond our limits, and never settle. It's a solemn and sometimes painful duty, at least sometimes it feels that way, and if we're not doing something along those lines, then we're failing. We're poor artists. So sitting on my porch and sheltering at home with my family as the world unfolds hasn't particularly made me feel like an artist.

But I think I'm okay with that. I'm comfortable with just being for the time being. Will my classes with my students return? Someday, yes. Will performances of my plays be done again? Maybe, but I've no idea when. Will my novel ever be published? I hope. In the meantime, I'm staring at a hawk, circling over some unsuspecting voles scampering down the escarpment cliff side.

 That brings my eyes upon the railway tracks and the ominous sound of a coming locomotive. The wind chimes from across the street compel me to stare at my neighbours and imagine the dialogue of their silent conversation. The muted sounds of Led Zepplin from the iPhone of my newest neighbour, wafts from his porch next door.

 His daughter is playing with mine, the both of them dutifully maintaining social distance as they etch chalk drawings on the sidewalk. I sit, watch all of this and think.


26:59   “Surviving Social Isolation” by Halyna Koba

Writer Bio: I am a Canadian with Ukrainian descent and am from a large family.  Words, wine and workers helped me survive.  I've been a writer, editor, wine demonstrator and postal clerk/union steward.  I wrote poems when I was young.  Now, as a happy retiree, social isolation has given me time and more introspection for a new effort at poetry.  This poem was started when I talked with a friend on the telephone about having to stay home more.  "You change your rhythm," I had said.  When I got off the telephone, I realized I meant both external and internal rhythms.  Here are some strategies that helped me and I hope, will help others, to cope.

Change the rhythm, change the time,

Life is just a paradigm.


"Stay at home.",  scientists state.

Don't complain; be brave and wait. 

Do old things and do new things --

Imagination has wings.

 
You will surely lose your mind

If you cross the boredom line.

Books, tv and telephone

Keep you from being alone.

Computers, too, take a turn;

Turn them on to touch and learn.

Write a poem, bake a pie --

There's so much for you to try.

Clean and polish your household

Or closed thinking will implode.

Plan, and organize life's mess

To relieve trouble and stress.

Then, individually

And together, we will see

Home is not a place to hide.

There's a new world inside.

 All Rights Reserved, May 2020


 28:41   “Me, My Wife and This Pandemic Life” by Charlie Collura     

 Writer Bio: Charlie ColluraRetired credit union CEO. Born, raised and lives in HamiltonLoves to read and write poetry.


Me, my wife and this pandemic life. We were married close to 35 years ago. Been through ups and downs like others we know. We both said we’d do so for better or for worse, but never imagined we'd have to deal with this curse. All the standard vows were red. It was fairly academic. But nothing in there was said about a worldwide pandemic.

Stay at home, self isolate and do your very best. If ever there was a marriage challenge, this would be the test. We live in a modest size house. The kids are on their own. It's just fine for the two of us. We're always here alone. So far so good. Some lessons we've learned a few. Like when to stay away and to get close when we need to.

 Some days our house is not big enough for us. What to make for dinner is the first thing we discuss. Other days we get lost in here. Our whereabouts unknown. I just follow her voice. She's almost always on the phone. Each day runs so fast into the next and still together we stay. Second question of the morning is, so what day is it today?

 We watched the six o'clock news we watch on Sundays too. Virtual mass with father Rico. We still kiss for the peace be with you. In many ways there's not much difference so far that I've seen. I still bake bread. She still cooks and I always clean. Thank God for the internet. Books and family video calls.

 If not for those things, we'd surely be climbing the walls. In many ways, this test for us has not been difficult. We realize with each other, we still can't live without. It's like a microcosm of all our years so far. Maybe just helped us to reaffirm exactly who we are. And now we know again what we knew right from the start; our love will sustain us and until death do us part.


31:15   “Living in a Bubble” by Jean DeLuca       

Writer Bio: Jean DeLucais a McMaster Alumna. She is a Marketing and part time Travel Consultant who lives in Ancaster.

Cook, Clean, Eat, Work, Exercise, Zoom, Post, Watch, Play, Sleep –Repeat…

Thanks to the pandemic, we are doing it all within the confines of our homes. We are isolated within our own bubble relying on technology to keep in touch with the outside world. Of course it is a totally different story for those brave people working on the front lines exposing themselves to this deadly virus. It is startling to see the staggering impact it is having on our world and how it is literally impacting us all one way or another. It is glaringly exposing and severely impacting the underserved segments of society such as long-term care homes, the poor and the homeless. The only certain thing about the virus is the uncertainty. While many are on the front lines battling this, the rest of us are bound to our homes for who knows how long. Some have described home quarantine as “Ground Hog Day.” In many ways it is when we have to ask ourselves what day it is.  In some respects, I am okay with it. It has forced us to stop in our tracks and take a deep breath. It’s allowed us to get reacquainted with those who are the closest to us, explore opportunities for growth and assess what is important in life.

Could I have predicted only a couple of months ago that visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home would mean looking at her through a window or sitting in the driveway at a safe distance to wish my little niece a Happy Birthday. Am I drinking more than usual, eating more than usual, and showering less than usual? Absolutely. Do I care about that right now? Not really. Is this social distancing annoying? Absolutely.  But making the best of it, isn’t that what we should all be doing? I know it’s hard for some, but for me, I am taking it in stride, trying to follow protocol and hope that we can stay healthy, engaged, productive and be supportive to those who are less fortunate. After all is said and done to remember to appreciate and be grateful for good health, good family and friends and a good life. 


 33:46   “Container” by Grace Evans

 Writer Bio: Grace Evans is a writer living in the North End of Hamilton. She co-founded Steel City Stories, a storytelling series that provides an inclusive platform for Hamiltonians to share stories from their own lives.  


The small, scruffy rental house is where you've lived for three years and seven months, but now you really live here, live your full week here. Live 24 hours here over and over again. The house is now container that holds everything. Shower at least it feels different. Your body is dry, maybe chilled, then wet and scolded.

 A container is even smaller. A few feet of white fibreglass. The mirror clouds over. Watch a droplet of water trickle down the condensation on the small high window. Inhale damp, warm air once just hygiene now a new location and event. Groom the dog is Teddy Bear’d crouch on the bathroom floor and cut his Wheaton double coat with scissors.

 His head shrinks as his jawline appears. Landscape his backside and watch a stubbed tail emerged from overgrowth. Prune his stiff legs like a sculptor carving away. Forget your bodies. The world narrows down to scissors and his fur. It's everywhere stuck to your clothes, drifting across tile. As he shifts and moves his eyes, plead. Almost, you tell him. Do your worst work on his back. The blunt ends making a rugged nap, turning his variegated coat into patchy field. You could do this forever. Make him smaller and smaller. Fail to strategize and leave delicate work for last at his most impatient and irritable. Pull him onto your outstretched legs, form a human trough for his body.

 Snip the matted, tangles from his armpits, tripping the long Downey fuzz across the tender skin of his penis and belly. Then it's over. When you rejoin, the world of house. His excavated, body reveals he has aged. You'd forgotten. Watches arthritic legs, totter across hardwood. Talk. shout over the internet.

 Everything's a video now. Portray someone in natural, easy conversation. Whether is nice outside. Yeah, we're staying in. Talk like you're on stage. Perform, nod, vigorously frown dramatically. Struggle to figure out where to look while you click to hang up. Your neck gets tense, holding up your emotive head, repeat yourself, talk at the same time.

 Stay silent. Wait, no, you go. Sorry. Drink. Your husband's splurges on boxes of beverages. Your favourite cider bright and tart restrained, yet elegant arrives on the stoop. He drives too far to buy a bottle of your favourite gin. Supposed to smell like strawberry and spring flowers. Supposed to taste like honeysuckle and cream soda.

 Your favourite wine of pleasant aromas of soft green Apple and faint leechy refreshing acidity. It used to go poor sip. Talk, gesticulating wildly sip, grab a piece of celery and drag it through dip. Sip. Greet a new arrival, swallow the rest of the glass. Refill. Play a game of shouting and gestures. Drain your glass twice.

 Refill, sip, nibbles and cheese. Sip. Taste someone else's drink, licorice and overripe cherries on your tongue. Lay it against the wall and tell a secret. Sip some more. Smoke in the backyard. Laugh so hard. you can hear your own laugh echo off the brick of your neighbour's house. Refill. Light candles, sip fed early departures farewell.

Sit in the backyard with low voices. Laugh more, smile into fire light. Inhale the smell of burning wood. Sip a glass of water. Soften slowly sober, crawl into bed tipsy. Now it goes, pour sip. Take another sip. Eat all the cheese at once. Drain your glass refill. Stare at the backyard and dusk. Sip. The female Cardinals at the feeder again, really taste the soft green Apple and faintly leech the refreshing acidity.

 Sip. Combine activities, half a bottle of wine to clean the fridge two cans of cider to organize your closet and do whole loads of soft, stretchy laundry. Three gin cocktails. to make a pot of sausage stew, a terrible pairing. Sit outside, eat nothing. Try to replicate the feeling of company with your phone.

 Listen to music and text friends, pretend they are also drunk and doing the same thing. I am lying on the floor listening to records right now one friend types. Yes, I know we're all at the same party. Shower, just a little drunk. Feel the best you felt in weeks. Crisp gin, hot water, a warmth spreads from your belly.

 Emerge into the little steamed room. A laugh on your lips. Fall into bed pleased. Pretend. Wear headphones while your husband wears his own headphones. Pretend you were in different places when really you are always in the same room, the same loft space. Crave a door. Wish for walls. Commute via staircase backup to the bedroom.

 You were both in meetings. Fein in accessibility, revise a short story while he watches James Bond. Simulate solitude. Click through a training while he vacuums the stairs. Ignore the noise. Cook dinner at nine o'clock while he emails, students time is gooey. Fold laundry and listen to a podcast while he takes a nap.

 Fail to give each other every single thing you need. You can't contain community yourselves. Sleep best of your life and uninterrupted nine hour gulps. Wake with the dog, threaded through your legs. Wake with the dog, back to back with you. Wake with the dog, curled into your stomach. Dream. Dream you had to convince a former writing teacher to get out of the Harbour.

 Puzzled the sexual charge of the suicide rescue. Dream your husband got a promotion and an email. Exhale. If the benefit doesn't come, you'll survive. Dream a toxic ex-friend friend invited you to her pandemic wedding and badmouth you before the ceremony. Hurt all over again nine years later. Dream that you moved into the hidden rooms of the museum where you used to work, up a twisted staircase to fictitious fifth floor attic. Beam as you wander from room to room with your husband.

 All the storied space. The house contains you. The house contains everything.


40:39   “At Home” by Tracey D’Alessio                 

 Writer Bio (Tracey D’Alessio): I live in Burlington and for the last 10 years I've been writing memoir pieces. I  was born in England and emigrated to Canada in 1982. I retired from the early childhood field 13 years ago.

There’s a well-known saying “Home is where the heart is”, but do we love our homes or even like being “at home”? 

 It seems to me that many people don’t love their homes and don’t spend much time there. In our current situation of having to isolate at home during the pandemic, I thought I’d take the time (I have so much) to explore what home means to me.

I enjoy spending time at home. As a young retiree, this time is usually on my own as my husband is still working. Even during the pandemic, he’s still going to the office every day. So, in many ways not much has changed for me. 

What has changed is that I’m not able to participate in the activities that I used to do outside of my home. No volunteering at the library, for the women’s shelter or the Halton Fresh Food Box. No pickleball, no Nia class and no Monday afternoon movies at the Ancaster Film Festival. No book club or writer’s meetings either.

 Of course, there’s still house cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping to be done. Like everyone else, I‘ve had my spurts of tidying, purging and finishing projects that had been waiting for some future boon. Other than that, what am I doing at home?

Even though I’ve been told by my children that I repel technology, I have been embracing new (to me) technology to enable me to do Zumba, yoga and even Nia classes virtually through platforms like Zoom.

I’ve participated in a 15-day writing challenge, taken an online class from Yale University and listened to many seminars like “How to Become a Better Writer in Quarantine, Even If You Don’t Feel Like Writing”.

I’ve had time to develop interests by participating in virtual presentations like The Food Revolution Summit, a presentation titled “What’s New in End of Life Ceremonies” and my online Scrabble skills have been honed.

 I even co-ordinated a virtual get together with family members to celebrate what would’ve been my mother in laws 90th birthday using the House Party app!

Of course, I can still take walks and I’ve appreciated the burgeoning Spring season and soon I’ll be getting my bike out and looking forward to spending time at the cottage. I’m grateful for daffodils, sunny days and I never thought I’d say this… I’m  very grateful for technology.

 I’ve been conscious of not being busy all the time, making sure I allocate time to just be still, read a book and relish this found time.

Moving forward, I hope the rest of the world will appreciate this time we’ve all had at home and that they’ll resist the urge to go crazy socializing and getting back to the busyness of life. Hopefully more people will appreciate, if not love, their homes for the respite they can offer, I know I do.


42:51   “No Place Like Home” by Viga Boland     

Writer Bio: Viga Boland has been writing poetry since her teens. She is also the author of a gold medal memoir on childhood sexual abuse, “No Tears for my Father”,  and several other books. Between 2014-2018, she mentored local writers in live memoir writing workshops for Hamilton Public Library.

There's no place like home. I have never ever felt this way before. I've stepped into another world and feel so insecure. Everything was familiar. Yet everything has changed. Like pieces on a game board life's been rearranged. Now I walk the streets alone, cross the piles around my home. There are ducks and geese on the pond, but where have the people gone?

 Then I spot some strangers walking on the other side of the street. Do they live in our neighbourhood? Our eyes meet. And for the first time ever, we smile and say hello to neighbours. we never knew we had just a few long weeks ago. Now others are coming our way. This time we stopped to talk and I feel my spirits lifting as I continue on my walk.

 Yes. Life flipped upside down and will never be the same, but perhaps it will be even better than before this virus came. Cyber hugs are good, but never will they replace a friendly voice, a loving touch, a smile, a kiss or embrace. We will settle into a new normal. No one knows quite when, but once we do, let's cherish the freedoms we regain.

 We've been given a big time out to remember what we've known. But forgot, as we rushed around. There's no place like home.

 44:13   “The Great Equalizer” by Anne Gallagher 

84 years of age]     

 Floating thru our world it finds its home in the young, the old, the strong, the weak, the rich, the poor.

 Who is this stranger whose only need is to find a home, any home, whether it be a castle, a museum, a church, a stadium, a bus, a train, a cab.

 It does not discriminate.  Its only desire is to find shelter.

 It is the great Equalizer!

 We do not wish its presence but that very presence has made the young, the old, the strong, the weak, the rich, the poor, all 'United' all "One'.

 This Equalizer has left us a gift unbeknownst to it.

 Let us 'Look To The Rainbow'- this too shall pass and let us cherish, treasure. increase and SPREAD the gift we have unintentionally been given as we continue on.


 45:35   “Not Before Noon” by Deena Sacks

Writer Bio: I was born in Montreal (1950) and moved with my family to Hamilton 22 years ago, but I still consider myself a ‘former Montrealer’. Since the move, I have worked in both provinces – as a professor of Liberal and Creative Arts in Montreal and as a social activist internationally. I love running, writing (creative non-fiction), and opera, but my passion is teaching.

Chips, wavy, large ripple chips, low sodium. I'm eating chips, chips, and more chips, and that's the bags of chips in my pantry disappear I start suffering from chip anxiety. Will I have enough chips to get me through to the next shopping day? I've been making countless lists for the grocery and for the pharmacy.

 With shopping limited to curb-side pickup or delivery I have to be efficient. The small pharmacy near my house stocks a limited variety of food along with medications and toiletries. They deliver and they sell chips. My list always includes food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, but number one on each list is chips.

 Three bags if possible. I’d buy more, but there's a limit at the store during Covid. Catherine, the clerk who shops for me at the pharmacy phones me when she's received my fax list, we review the order as she walks through the grocery store, getting my items. She knows me well enough to start with the chips.

 That's because she picked up on my anxiety with my first order, which I faxed to the pharmacy back in March. I'd written chips, specifying the brand and type of my first choice, followed by my second choice. Then my third, and finally followed with the comment, help send me any chips. I'm going out of my mind.

 So now to start each order and to relieve my anxiety, we begin with the chips, and then we check that she's also remembered to include my husband's heart medication. I'm not used to staying home. I've been working my whole life. For the past 20 years I've been juggling two jobs in two cities. The first teaching creative arts at cégep  in Montreal.

 And the second managing my husband's medical office in Hamilton. To add to this, I do volunteer work for the advancement of women and children internationally and serve this organization on both the local and national level. I thought that staying home for a few weeks would be a welcome change from my intense active lifestyle.

 When we got stuck at home mid-March, I made sure that we had some groceries in the house, including goodies. I bought chocolate package of cookies and a bag of chips. Opening the chips would be my reward for having vacuumed, cleaned a bathroom or brushed Shetty, Teddy, or Collie. That first week, I thought, this is a not so bad.

 At least I'm getting some housework done. I treated myself to chips by late afternoon. Midway through the first week, I found that the day would pass and all I could get done was organize one drawer in my dresser. I was eating chips by three o’clock. By week two I was eating chips at noon. Being careful to respect the drinkers rule of no beer before 12 o'clock but applying it to junk food instead.

 In a recent zoom board meeting with two, six hour days stuck at the computer, we ended our meeting on a personal note with each participant taking a minute to share some of what they had done during this period of isolation. Every member but me, had been productive. Some shared the titles of great books they'd read. Others talked about their creativity through writing and art and still others suggested movies or great TV shows they had watched on Netflix. A few told us about long lost friends they had reconnected with. When it came to my turn, all I could say was, I ate chips.
       

49:47   “The Freedom of Home” by Esther Vandersluis 

Writer Bio: Formerly an elementary school teacher, Esther is raising her three little ones in the city of Hamilton while pursuing writing in the margins of her day. As a creative, she continues to find ways to express her creativity within the every day tasks of motherhood.

We used to always be running from it, and now here we are waiting in it. Stuck or trapped are words I am tempted to use, but the complexity of this goes beyond these simple words of enslavement. Sure. It started with those feelings of being cornered, but it has evolved into a full-fledged freedom in between four walls. Home.

 How lovely these four letters have begun to feel rolling off my tongue in one short month. My three little ones, and I have established rhythms in our days that have become second nature. We begin with coffee and a time of reflection. We continue with breakfast and getting ready and we delve into a type of school.

 The real magic comes when we venture into our own backyard and eventually our neighbourhood, because this too is now home for us. One short month ago, the streets we now walk daily were foreign to us, the people too. But today we walk. We stop and admire the gardens of our neighbours and we wave to the elderly sitting by their windows.

 We chat with Tara down the street and we exchange flowers with Claire from afar of course. These people whom we didn't know the names of before. My toddler points out all the doggies and my four year old observes the birds. My five-year-old waves, to the man down the street and even gets him to wave back, which has been a challenge she had accepted.

 As the days continue on the familiarity of the streets, fill our souls with comfort, belonging, and togetherness in a time of quite literal separateness. Home. Back inside, we make another meal and the cleaning up never stops. However, the togetherness of breaking bread and pouring wine presents joy of company, no matter how small or how regular. The meals become the capstones of our days, and it is through these sit-downs with all five of us that I realized the memories are being formed with a simple dinner of beef tacos or chicken stir fry. There isn't a rush to move on, but a stillness to take hold of. The rush is easily forgotten and it is the stillness that takes shape in our souls for years to come.

 And I can't help but wonder what are the smells and tastes and sites that will cause my three girls to remember home. Home. We read and play games and craft and do all the things we can to keep the three little ones busy, entertained and growing their brains. But soon I stepped back and I simply watch.

 Their bond has never been so deep and the relationships, so full of strength. They lean on each other and they gain so much from one another. And they fight, but their conflicts train them in kindness and mercy and grace. My husband and I too. Home. Here we are not just waiting in it, but thriving in it and never do I want to be running from it again.


 52:59   “Coronavirus Chronology” by Janice Barton       

Writer Bio: founded Radical Simplicity Inc., a career coaching and business consulting company. She currently serves as Chair of the National Advisory Board for the Salvation Army, Canada and Bermuda and is an active advisor to her family businesses, L.J. Barton Mechanical Inc. and Maple Tree Farm in Ancaster, Ontario. This poem was inspired as she and her husband produced maple syrup as the pandemic erupted. The picture was taken at their farm on March 23, 2020.

Mother Nature, you get your way We were deaf to your message You had something to say 

Do not take me lightly You’ll hear my roar Ever so slightly
 I’ll cut to the core 

Local killer Global thriller Nano attack Giga impact 

Nowhere to go, nowhere to be We heed to your power You have set us free 

All at once terrifying Stay at home, a must Life rectifying
 In you we now trust 

Creative connections Eradicate infections Chaos and orders Love without borders 


54:21   “Window Pain” by Nicole Ankerman

Writer Bio: Nicole Ankerman is an author and artist living in Hamilton Ontario. She describes herself as a storyteller in all ways and has been a Blogger since 2007.    


It has become a season for watching. My toddler and I have spent hours staring out the front window of our house, counting squirrels and starlings and stray cats. He waves frantically at dog-walking neighbours and has made fast friends with the garbage men and our mail carrier, but their appearances so diverting or tragically brief.

He stays at the window long after they have waved goodbye and gone and hoping another friendly face will soon wander our way. Our home has other portals through which we interact with the world beyond our walls. Video chats with far away friends and family have become the core of our social diet, and these calls are sustaining, even a reviving many important relationships. We spend hours staring through this thin pane of glass that collapsed hundreds of kilometers into millimeters of distance, and we feel closer to our loved ones than we are in reality, but it's still a window. We miss hugs. We miss the helpers who love our child and desperately want to scoop him up and offer us a little parenting relief.

 We miss grandparents and babysitters and beloved neighbours and aunties and church folk and our village. They're all so willing and so helpless to help us from the other side of these painful sheets of glass. Our home is a good place in so many ways. We are blessed and safe and life now resembles in many ways our life as it was pre pandemic. Our baby boy has both mum and dad in the house and there's love and food and play, and yet we stand at the windows and yern for another way, other places, other faces, other things to have and to do. We escape our home at the windows of our imaginations, longing for lost access to both sides of the glass that has suddenly walled us in like an aquarium. I'm trying to redirect my gaze. It takes an effort of will to focus my heart on the precious inside things my attention has slipped away from. 

 Have you noticed, for example, how many different fabric textures exist in one load of laundry? Have you recently reveled in the beauty of a halved red onion? Small things? I know, but I want to swap out the metaphorical binoculars that I've been using from microscope and marvel at the closeup world I inhabit for a while anyway.

 I still need my windows. Birds and squirrels, distant relations and dear friends cooking shows and Mr. Rogers and marble races and comedy specials. It is a season for watching. I'm just trying a little harder to watch the world on my side of the pain.


  57:12   “Is This Home?” by Avleen Gerwal                     

Writer Bio: Avleen Kaur Grewal, born and raised in India, is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto. She is pursuing her MA in English Literature from McMaster University. She published her first novel, My Immigrant Family, in 2019.

I moved into my new home in the quiet Milton suburbs with my family on 18 September 2019.

 My family and I were never known for moving places, shifting homes, and charting previously unmarked trajectories. After my grandparents, both maternal and paternal, were forced to pack their lives in bags they could carry on their shoulders and cross the border from Pakistan to India in the 1947 Partition, we acquired a love for staying put.

 My mum lived in her home, in a small village bordering the metropolitan city of Ludhiana, all her life till she got married. She learnt to walk in the huge verandah with the help of her older siblings, learnt to write with her friends in the nearby school, and then finished her MA thesis. My dad lived in his home till he got a job as an assistant professor in Ludhiana. He learnt to ride a Bajaj scooter in the narrow streets of his village, he flew numerous kites on the terrace of his home, and he drafted his PhD dissertation as he enjoyed flocks of house sparrows fly to their homes in the evening, listening to the hymns ringing from the speakers of a nearby Gurdwara, Sikh Temple.

 I was born and raised in Ludhiana. We lived in the staff colony of the college my dad was an assistant, later associate and finally, a professor at. I knew the map of our neighbourhood by memory. I could close my eyes and count all the houses on the street adjacent to our corner house. I could correctly guess the number of Mango, Neem, and Gulmohar trees in our neighbourhood. I could walk to the park and know exactly how many steps would get me there. I befriended numerous dogs when my grandpa and I gave them our snacks when they visited our neighbourhood. I learnt to swim in the local swimming pool with my friends, had my first foot injury playing soccer, football in the street, and learnt to fly kites. I saw a peacock in our backyard one morning when I was brushing my teeth and my mum came running to the bathroom, and then we both saw the peacock snack on the breadcrumbs my grandma scattered for birds early that morning. I became a big sister in that home. I lost my grandpa in that home.

 In 2015, I finished high school, packed my life in two suitcases and moved to Toronto to study at University of Toronto. My family stayed in Ludhiana.

 My new home was Toronto.

 ******Fast forward to the Pandemic in 2020 when staying in quarantine forced me to accommodate myself to my new home. My interactions with my new home changed how I feel about it. I love the feeling of the stairs on my bare feet in the morning as I make my way to the kitchen for breakfast. I find comfort in the sound of my sister chatting about her homework with my mum, and my dad whispering “shh…” while sipping his morning tea and keeping up with COVID-19 updates in Punjab. I can figure my way around at night with all lights off, tiptoeing at 1 am to make tea and finish my course readings. I recognize all the smudges on the walls from moving furniture, and all the scratches on the floors from building IKEA furniture. I know exactly what time sunlight falls in my room so I can move my baby bamboo and it can soak up all the light it desires. My neighbours on the right have a Pomeranian, and the ones on the left have a Tabby cat. I can tell you which knobs to turn in the basement to turn off the water supply to the backyard and garage. I found the spot where my sister hides granola bars when we are running low. I know which upper shelf in the kitchen dad keeps the new packets of popcorn.

 I know this place. And all of a sudden, this place knows me.

 Is this what home is supposed to feel like?


 1:02:10   “Going Bananas in the In-Between” by Evin Huang   

Writer Bio: Evin Huang is a second year Arts & Science student of McMaster University who enjoys learning new things, in particular anything biology-related. She hails from Markham, Ontario and when she’s not on campus working on assignments, she’s often found in her hometown with her violin in hand. In addition to that, she enjoys reading, writing (especially really bad puns) and photography in her spare time amongst many other hobbies

I am a “banana”— yellow on the outside and white on the inside. It’s a common term of the Asian community used to endearingly and jokingly describe its members who were born or raised in Western societies, which essentially symbolizes the “white-washing” of our cultures. My parents are immigrants from China - twenty-one years ago, they left the only home—and family—they ever knew to pursue a better life for them and their future family in Canada. I was born in Toronto, Ontario; the simple act of taking my first breath was enough to grant me Canadian citizenship whereas my parents had to work for years to earn theirs. As an only child, I grew up in China under the care of my maternal grandparents and my aunt; my first language was Mandarin and I attended kindergarten and daycare in my mother’s native city of Jinan whilst my parents were on the other side of the world, trying to provide for me by working hard at lower-tier jobs. When I turned four, I returned to Canada to permanently reside in Markham, Ontario with my parents. As I got older and older, with school and other commitments keeping me busy, I made less trips to China and thus my ties to my familial roots frayed over time. I grew up in Markham with both East Asian and Western cultural influences – my parents’ values and traditions were instilled in me from a young age: the importance of hard work, the necessity of education and the significance of saving face – that is to say, preserving our pride. My parents and I were the only people from our family living outside of China – it was important for them to show me where my family came from. As an only child, I was groomed to work my way to a better life, the one that my parents sought after immigrating to Canada. This idea of attaining a stable successful future was juxtaposed with the more flexible Western values of independence and chasing dreams and passions and soon, I learned to amalgamate both cultural influences. This identity struggle is not characteristic of me alone, but of many of my peers who have grown up with me in similar circumstances. 

 So, what does “home” mean? People often take refuge in their homes because we feel as though home is a structure meant to protect us. However, to me, home is not the place where we take refuge, but rather, it is the feeling of refuge—a feeling of peace and safety to fully express your true identity. It is taking comfort in knowing that there is no shame in who you are. I feel at home when I am surrounded by my friends and my family because I am fortunate to be from a city with a predominantly Asian and immigrant demographic. I blend in, not just physically but also with my story. I am home when I can openly express my pride in my cultural identity: someone who is the in-between of two cultures. I am home when I can speak Mandarin openly on the streets, when I can choose to eat both fries and rice and when I choose to express my culture freely through any outlet. My comfort in my identity is the outcome of being at home

However, in light of recent events, with this virus consuming our world’s entire thoughts and actions, I have been re-evaluating this very same outcome. As I self-isolate in my house, I am also conveniently hiding in my house from the rest of the world – something that blindsided me, someone who is usually confident in my “in-betweenness”. Yet, as we’ve been in isolation, walls have been put up around us. I hear stories about discrimination all around the world, even taking place in Canada, the very nation built upon multiculturalism. As someone with parents who go in to work daily to support essential businesses, I not only worry about their health but also their safety – and I know that my family is not alone in this feeling. For the past two months, there has been a growing feeling of insecurity destabilizing the feeling of home for many others who share my cultural identity and experiences. As COVID-19 continues to plague our health and well-being of our society, many people worry about the future and the unknown. While we may be at a current standstill, we do have authority over our own actions; the situation does not need to be aggravated. We should be letting people feel safe with their sense of identity during these uncertain times. We should be letting people feel at home—that is to say, people ought to have their feeling of refuge especially when facing the unknown. Otherwise, what will home look like after this pandemic is resolved?


“On Hold” by Mark Edwards
“Unpacking” by Waynes Magalang
“Roads to Roam” by Paige Maylott
“First Time Out, Second Time Out” by Gordon Cameron
“Just Stay Home” by Lori Sebastianutti
“An ‘out there’ home” by Monica Plant
“All Hail the Sparrow, For My Safety, Control Centre” by Marco Fortino
“The Porch” by Stephen Near
26:59 “Surviving Social Isolation” by Halyna Koba
“Me, My Wife and This Pandemic Life” by Charlie Collura
“Living in a Bubble” by Jean DeLuca
“Container” by Grace Evans
“At Home” by Tracey D’Alessio
“No Place Like Home” by Viga Boland
“The Great Equalizer” by Anne Gallagher (84 years of age)
“Not Before Noon” by Deena Sacks
“The Freedom of Home” by Esther Vandersluis
“Coronavirus Chronology” by Janice Barton
“Window Pain” by Nicole Ankerman
“Is This Home?” by Avleen Gerwal
“Going Bananas in the In-Between” by Evin Huang