Please take your conspiracy theories elsewhere. Might I suggest a literal echo chamber, so you can’t hurt anyone else? If you don’t have one at home, simply bend over and yell up your own cavernous arsehole.

Stay home, wear a mask, be nice to people in service industries who are risking their lives. Twat.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

We are in the middle of a pandemic. The world is closing, bubbling up for protection. Now is the best time to bake banana bread and make promises towards 30 days of yoga. We are re-dedicating ourselves to wholesome pursuits, gratitude, self-care. We are serenely terrified of the new quiet, the sweeter air, the birds strobing through clear skies, the dead piling up silently, just off screen.

This is the backdrop as at 31, I begin to have my very first seizures.

A seizure is a simple spark with a complex flood of potential results. It’s a stray wire, a…

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

My partner just left to get alcohol-free beer, because I am white-knuckling it through this fucking pandemic. Did you want a nice smooth intro to this story? Not happening. Let’s dive right into the middle of what it’s like to be in this anxiety hurricane as a sober addict.

It is not easy to be sober. Social pressure (“Just have one!”), professional pressure (“Why aren’t you going to the Christmas party?”), the well-meaning dismissiveness of friends (“You were never a bad drunk”): being publicly dry is a state of constant tension in order not to cave. When the voices around…

The world is full of strange and wondrous things. Photo by Tavis Beck on Unsplash

When was the last time you thought about anglerfish?

It’s a fascinating subject, right from the get go. A creature that has evolved a protruding lie, growing straight out of its forehead, a luring lamp glowing in the darkest depths of the ocean. Knowing that such an odd creature is out there, beyond the normal scope of human tread, lends a certain richness to the world, like a very clever creator imagined a landscape heavily populated with intriguing details we were never supposed to find. We live in an endless curiosity shop packed with weird and wondrous things, many hidden…

Photo by Rob Mowe

My brother, CJ, lives in an empty house he used to share with our dad. There are three bedrooms, an overgrown garden, a kitchen, living-room, and a cold, damp outbuilding where the washer and gardening tools squat. For brief periods over a decade ago, I also slept under this roof, though inconsistently enough it can’t be called a former home. Back then, the backyard housed a chicken coop, and was generally kept tame. Since CJ has lived alone, the house has, appropriately, come to look as though it is under the sole care of a growing adolescent.

Although our dad…

“man writing in dark room” by Steven Houston on Unsplash

Writing narrative non-fiction is the art of squaring circles: conveying the squishy, random order of life into a neat, linear story, to draw themes and insights from the mess of experience. Editorializing reality is always a challenge; no conversation can be recounted with perfect recall, though we suspend our disbelief when autobiographers and personal essayists pretend otherwise. It is a forgivable sin. Yet, once we allow ourselves to paraphrase, other temptations creep up — some of them not immediately obvious.

Narrative non-fiction is unique in its earnest account of human experience. It blends together the factual reporting of standard non-fiction…

Not Another First Time Story

Photo: Donald Iain Smith/Moment/Getty Images

“Whether a gesture is alarming or charming depends on how it’s received.” Ted Mosby delivered this sage advice in the last season of How I Met Your Mother, about 15 years too late by my timing. It’s known as the “Dobler/Dahmer theory”: The idea that any romantic gesture can be perceived as coming from a Dobler (as in, Lloyd, from Say Anything) or a Dahmer (the Milwaukee Monster).

There’s a fine line between those two, a tightrope I fell off long ago — the first time I fell in love.

Adolescence is a lonely place; it is emptier still in…

Going in for the kill. Photo of author by Lily-Ann Hyland.

I was halfway through a dramatic weight loss, when things started to plateau. I’d lost thirty pounds eating vegetables that smelled like farts and walking a little every day. I knew working out would be an eventual part of my journey to a goal weight, but I was avoiding it. I hadn’t seriously exercised in 10 years. To finish making myself smaller, I decided to take up roller derby.

It seemed like a sport for people who weren’t into sports. Like the misfit team of a feel-good 90s movie, grown into thirty-something smokers with desk jobs and mortgages. We didn’t…

The author with her mother. Photo by Gareth Pedrick, supplied by author.

I am not a religious person. Still, I try to be consciously grateful for the things I have. A roof over my head. A persistently patient partner. Eggos in the freezer.

The fact my mum is fat.

I know she would find this gratitude strange; she doesn’t like her body, softer and larger than it has ever been. She chunters at her size, poking the round swell of her tummy like a foreign object — because, in a way, it is. In her early twenties, she boasted a 22" waist, accentuated with bell-bottomed trousers. She was smaller then than I…

FOX promotional image for Lucifer, Season 2. Source: IMDb

When we think of class ladders, the only way is up. Social mobility is like Dante’s vision of purgatory: no one ever descends the mountain, no one passes you the other way.

When a working class person ascends to a new level (usually by taking on white-collar work and the associated larger, less frequent paycheque), they are assimilated into the strata. You may have grown up a latch-key kid with a coal mining father and an unshiftable accent, but as an educated person with a career, you can no longer claim the identity you were born to. …

Sephy Hallow

British-born, Vancouver-based copywriter and storyteller.

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