katie merchant

Katie lives and works in Toronto.

01    Story: What’s the best story you heard this month?

This month an artist friend of mine told me that while she was at an Apple Store in a mall in a suburb of Toronto waiting for her boyfriend to sort out a phone issue, she was drawn to someone who was also waiting there and took a portrait of them. Later she saw a picture of Eileen Myles and realized it was them who she had seen in the Apple store and taken a photo of. A close second is that while I was in New York it was Julia Roberts' 50th birthday and the friend I was staying with told me her brother and Julia Roberts' husband are old friends and he had dinner with her once. And a third is the owner of Peter Pan Donuts in Greenpoint told me her friend's poodle dressed up as a baker for Halloween this year.

02    Nature: An encounter with the natural world

I was listening to Maira Kalman's episode of On Being where she says "We see trees. What more do we need?" That made me notice trees more, specifically willow trees, which were my father's favourite. My dear friend Annie lives on a street with a beautiful willow tree and I usually spend some time with her on Sundays and now I always take note of this particular tree when walking to and from her house. It brings me great comfort.

03    Art Experience: An encounter with art (in any form)

I love still lifes and was so delighted to enter a room at the Met and see a particular Fairfield Porter painting depicting a breakfast scene ... the colours of that curtain!
I also visited the Frick Museum, which was originally recommended to me by my friend Joe and I trust him completely that he'll know what I like. There is a courtyard there that we refer to as "the oasis" as it is one of the best places in the world, in our opinions. My friend Hannah and I spent some time there on this recent trip and we joked that we are happiest in environments that are simultaneously both opulent and relaxing.

04    Change: a meaningful change that impacts the way you live (either that you initiated or that entered from outside)

My phone was about to die on this trip I just took to NYC, and I realized I was near Magic Jewelry, where you can get your aura read. I went inside and scanned the store for an outlet, and was able to charge my phone. I sat in a chair surrounded by crystals that I remembered from my last visit there, a chair that helps you "charge up," as it was described to me then. I sat down and sat for awhile, me charging up, while my phone was charging up, and I waited for my turn to get my aura picture taken. My colours this time were swirls of orange and yellow with a hint of green at the top. When my aura was being read, the woman asked me if I had experienced any important changes recently. I couldn't think of any, as I've undergone major changes over the last couple of years, regarding getting sober and my father dying, which have both greatly impacted the way I live. I told her I hadn't and she said that something would happen soon - so more will be revealed.

05    New Idea: a new way of looking at things or something to attempt in the future

Can vs. How Can
Surviving vs. Thriving
Relief vs. Peace

06    Object (new): a new object that held significance

My friend Nadia gave me a gift for my birthday, an old Morandi postcard. On the back she wrote that she was so glad we met. We are newer friends, deciding to take a sewing class together last April after connecting over the internet beforehand over a mutual love of gingham. She is a reminder that meeting new people can be wonderful and energizing. I treasure our friendship.

07    Object (old): an old object that took on new/different kind of meaning

I love books as objects, and I have a few favourites that I reread every so often to see how I relate now and what I pick up on versus what was important to me in the past. This month I reread Maggie Nelson's "Bluets" which has been in rotation since it was recommended to me a few years ago. Here are some parts that stood out for me this round:

"Perhaps this is because she remains so generous within [her pain], and because she has never held any hierarchy of grief, either before her accident or after, which seems to me nothing less than a form of enlightenment."

"[Gertrude Stein] is worried about hurt colors, I tell [my students]. "A spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing," I read aloud, scanning the room for a face that also shows signs of being worried about hurt colors. "Enthusiastically hurting a clouded yellow bud and saucer." "A cool red rose and a pink cut pink." As if color could be further revealed by slitting."

"This is a simple story, but it spooks me, insofar as it reminds me that the eye is simply a recorder, with or without our will. Perhaps the same could be said of the heart."

08    Discard: Something you decided to rid from your life (or that you are particularly happy this month to see come to an end)


09    Gratitude: something you have been specifically thankful for this month:

Staying connected and in touch and being open to experiences. This past month has been so full of great days on earth and I am deeply grateful to have the relationships I do and to be able to spend time doing things I love. And watching "Notting Hill" on a projector for my 33rd birthday while eating Domino's pizza, poached pears, and cardamom cake. And seeing Eileen Myles twice.

10    Proportion: A specific moment that reminded you of the scale of the universe. That you are part of a greater whole.

One day earlier this month I was having a particularly challenging morning. I walked outside after lunch and saw a car with a license plate that read "JUNE 26" which happens to be the birthday of my late father. On the ground below were the letters GM spray-painted, which happen to be his initials. It felt like he was saying hi and sending some care. This was such a gift that day and is helping me learn new ways to have a relationship with my father who has moved on to a new journey.


< back to the lists

Stories of the month at Peter Pan Donuts

Stories of the month at Peter Pan Donuts

Fairfield Porter at the Met

Fairfield Porter at the Met

Self-reflection while phone charging

Self-reflection while phone charging

Katie's aura

Katie's aura