56

Nhi
meaning ‘little one’
my parents called me nho, sometimes
a singular grape
a child so small
plucked from a vine

I was given an English name
so that I wouldn’t get bullied
for such an exotic background
I was reborn for the convenience
of others

Michelle
meaning ‘child of God’
my mother had two boys she loved
but prayed everyday to have a girl
the third time,
to have her likeness reflected
in such a tiny face
and in December of ’94
she did

I rejected Nhi most of my life
a relic of forgetting myself
of welcoming the parts that were easy
and holding my applause for the parts
I wanted to keep quiet

A single syllable
uttered like a sigh in the night–
why would I try to erase
the love that preceded my birth
and the affection that named me?

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55

Checkered, polka-dot, plaid;
a pattern of familiarity
an alarming consistency of what’s next.

I once met someone who admitted to me
that he may never get married;
he didn’t think he could love anyone.

Instead of asking those big questions,
“When did you start thinking that?”
“Do you really believe it?”
I started thinking,
“I can change that,
I can make him love me.”

He just needed someone to talk to
someone to understand how
loneliness can eat away at you
like ants on a picnic blanket

This pattern of trying
to fit everything
into everything else,
that I had a place
in anything I deemed
needed fixing.
Not every statement needs a response
and not every time are you
that answer.

54

Please, don’t mind the mess
place your things wherever you want
organize the pillows however you like
should we order in?

Do you like green or red grapes?
Depends which ones look sweeter
How can they look sweet?
I don’t know, they just do
somehow, he’s right every time

Tumble dry
the permanent press of life
eggs, milk, some carrots
dryer sheets and dish soap
and some wine, probably
cheers to us,
we deserve it

Mismatched saucer and a chipped highball
sugar rim my glass
we complain about the week ahead, clink
we dream about who we’ll be in a decade, kiss
we laugh at friends getting married too soon, refill
we converse til our eyes grow heavy
we leave for work in the morning
and we always come home to each other.

 

Today is my one year anniversary on WordPress! Thank you all for embarking on this adventure with me. Almost 3,000 followers later, who knew we could come together like this?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Love,
ELLE

53

Filled with apologies
pooled on your tongue
blurted out into the air
without an ounce of meaning–
because your mouth
is full of them.

As if embedded in you
like mercury in
fatty tuna flesh,
you can’t even say
what you’re sorry for
just that you think
you should be.

Feeling apologetic
you’ll say anything to be forgiven
to be rid of feeling anything but
adoration;
what a waste it is
to impress
a proud person.

The first person who died from
rhubarb’s poisonous leaves
probably thought that no good
could come from this
and now, centuries later,
we learned from those mistakes
and we make pie from the stalks instead.

52

It’s easier to assume this isn’t yours
because when it leaves, you
won’t feel disappointed.

After all your hard work
and all you have achieved
that milestone on the horizon
just out of reach
and success just doesn’t taste
as sweet as you thought.

This word, ‘just’
like a small favour to yourself
grovelling, “please, just finish this now
and relax tomorrow,”
putting necessity aside to
cross your to-do list and finally consider
this belongs to you.

Sometimes the weight of every paper stack
misaligns your spine
topsy turvy, too
aching for equilibrium.

If you fall behind because you need rest
to find your calm
thankfully, your work
is not the centre of your universe;
you are.

51

A border drawn down my spine
of believing in me
and believing others

If we were put here
to compete against our neighbour
it’s no wonder my fists are callused
and yet I still feel
defeated

Your achievements are not
my shortcomings
I’ve spent my whole life envying strong women
until I realized maybe
I’m one, too

All my failures, and their embers
the ashes of every rejection
of something done wrong and tried again
I’ll gulp the fear of not being good enough
dust off my dancing shoes
and just do my best.

Tips on How to Brave an Internship

As some of you know, I started an internship at the beginning of this summer to get my foot in the door as a first year student. I’m happy to report I’m still there and working part time on a month-by-month basis! It was such a shock to receive the offer because they knew I was going back to school, but still tried to keep me around. It was such an amazing experience this summer—and I wanted to share it with you!

First, I want to explain that the process of getting the internship was difficult from the start. I was a first year student with some great success from this blog and my content, but I was still someone who had no formal experience in the industry. On paper, I knew I sounded like a gamble.

I had put out at least 30 applications as a PR, communications or marketing intern across Toronto and came up with ‘No’ or more often, no response at all. In the same day, I had two requests for interviews. I nearly threw up from being so nervous.

If you’ve been on this site long enough, you know what’s coming next! Here are my three key things I learned about internships:

Understand that in an ideal world, an internship is meant to benefit you more than it benefits the company.

We had one-on-one chats every week to talk about how things were going, how the workload was, and most importantly—how I felt. Did I feel like I was learning something new? Was there a project floating around the office that I wanted to get my hands on?

There are a lot of jokes about how interns are tasked with getting coffees, printing documents and menial tasks. Mine was definitely not that–I worked directly on client campaigns, coordinated events and made sure to touch as many things as possible. Which leads me to my next point,

Get involved in as many things as you can, so that the moment you’re gone—people notice.

This goes down to the little things: I ran the dishwasher every evening and unloaded every morning. I reorganized the recycling and garbage system to make it more efficient. I always played music for the office throughout the day. These weren’t expectations for me—these are very minor details that I inserted myself into in such a way that the second I didn’t do it, you’d know. Even in bigger things—I’d get emails on non-work days for certain items my colleagues knew that I knew. My value became apparent both in my presence and in my lack of it.

When the going gets tough, tell someone.

The most challenging things about being an intern is that you are an assistant to everyone. Which is good because you get to cross disciplines and learn many different things, but it also means that no one person knows how much you have on-the-go. One person needs your help organizing a deck, another needs a content calendar out this week, another needs a byline proofread in the next hour. To a single person, they’ve only asked you for one task. However, four other people did the same thing—suddenly, you’re drowning.

There are a lot of romantic ideas of “always say yes!” or “keep your head down and make it happen!” but there is a limit where you’re stretched thin and won’t provide a few pieces of great work, but rather many pieces of average work. Knowing this limit doesn’t make you weak, but it actually (and this surprised me) makes you smart. This work can be distributed. It’s not the end of the world—but it might be if you don’t speak up.

It wasn’t easy, and I definitely got my gigantic foot through the door because of this experience. I was as fresh as they come—but I swore to them that I would try my absolute best. And here we are!

So that’s it! Have any of you done an internship before?
How did it go?
And if you have any questions or if you’re starting one soon, feel free to reach out!

 

Love,
ELLE