Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hello 2015

January 2015 selfie

In classic style I have missed making a big statement at the beginning of the year. Here it is a few weeks in and I have had some time to think about what I might attempt to achieve this year. And let's not forget things happen. I have come to expect this. Sometimes the thing is predicted or suspected, sometimes it's a complete surprise. Since I cannot control such happenings I am dedicated to making good use of change because it seems to be plentiful.  Every change is an opportunity to work harder, try a new approach, change my mind, be happy.

I began 2014 thinking I might die shortly but it turns out I likely have a way to go on this earth. Realizing that, I have made a list for 2015:

Keep on going as I have been only more so

Go to the dentist

Keep thoughts organized through daily journaling

Do more cardio

Use the internet for more productive things than browsing social media

Swear less

3D print a pair of shoes

Write an artists statement

Plant an herb garden

Write 12 letters to 12 people about art making

Consider blurring the line between art and design

See more art/theater/film

Write a memoir

Make more clothes

Travel somewhere in a plane

Celebrate birthdays of friends and family with more gusto

Preserve food

Read more

Watch TV less

Post signs

Embrace my mammalian existence

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I heard this poem this year and I was struck by it. Growing up in Northern BC I knew about residential schools. I knew they were unhappy places, I saw the unhappy results of them on the streets of the town where I spent my childhood. During a recent trip home I was astounded at how separate the two cultures were, ours and theirs. Hearing the voices of First Nations men and women during this time of truth and reconciliation I feel there is so much work to do to. As westerners we cherish our heritage, going to great lengths to preserve pieces of the past in an effort to stay connected to it. We don't seem to offer the First Nations the same regard and they are fighting against the strong current of time that threatens to wash away many of their traditional ways. Maybe it is paternalist to suggest they need our help but I feel we can't stand by and let the culture collapse any further. I give you this.

MONSTER POEM – Dennis Saddleman

I hate you residential school, I hate you,
You're a monster,
A huge hungry monster,
Built with steel bones. Built with cement flesh,
You're a monster,
Built to devour innocent native children,
You’re a cold-hearted monster,
Cold as cement floors,
You have no love, no gentle atmosphere,
Your ugly face, your monster eyes glare from grimy windows,
Monster eyes through evil, monster eyes watch and terrify children, who cower with shame.

I hate you residential school, I hate you.
You’re a slimy monster, go away you’re following me wherever I go,
You’re in my dreams, in my memories, go away, monster, go away,

I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster with huge watery mouth, mouth of double doors,
Your wide mouth took me, your yellow-stained teeth chewed the Indian out of me,
Your teeth crunched my language, grinded my rituals and my traditions,
Your taste buds became bitter when you tasted my red skin,
You swallowed me with disgust, your face wrinkled when you tasted my
strong pride,

I hate you residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster.  Your throat muscles forced me down to your stomach,
Your throat muscles squeezed my happiness, squeezed my native ways,
And you throat became clawed with my sacred spirit,
You coughed and you choked and could not stand my spiritual songs and dances,

I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster,  your stomach upset every time I wet my bed,
Your stomach rumbled with anger ever time I fell asleep,
Your stomach growled at me very time I broke the school rules,
You didn’t care how you ate up my native culture,
Your veins clotted with cruelty and torture,
Your blood poisoned with loneliness and despair, your heart was cold,
You put fear into me,

I hate you residential school, I hate you.
You sqeezed my confidence, squeezed my self-respect,
Your anals squeezed me and then you dumped without parental support,
Without life skills, without any moral character, without individual talents, without a hope of success,

I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster.
You dumped me in the toilet and you flushed out my good nature,
My personality, I hate you, residential school, I hate you.
You’re a monster.
I hate, hate, hate you.

Listen to Dennis read this poem.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)
"Whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice," writes Louise Gl├╝ck in her poem "The Wild Iris." I think that will be a key theme for you in the coming weeks. There's a part of you that is returning from oblivion -- making its way home from the abyss -- and it will be hungry to express itself when it arrives back here in your regularly scheduled life. This dazed part of you may not yet know what exactly it wants to say. But it is fertile with the unruly wisdom it has gathered while wandering. Sooner rather than later, it will discover a way to articulate its raw truths.

Chew on that.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Risk and Romance

My dad, who is 87, is taking a trip this week, to New York city to see a ballet. My stepmother was a dancer in her early years, she danced with the San Francisco Ballet for a time before she returned because of emotional pressure from her boyfriend at the time. I don't know how talented she was but she loved ballet and she shared that love with my dad. Their relationship has changed over the almost 3 years since her stroke. He visits her almost daily where she lives, and depending on the weather he takes her out for a little stroll in her chair and fusses over her, something she always did for him. He cheers her up, sharing little stories and amusements. He is sad. He doesn't get so much back but he is dogged in his dedication. On the weekends he goes to the Ballet. Not the real ballet, the simulcast ballet, downtown at the Scotia Center. He loves it. He has fallen in love with one of the ballerinas and that is who he is going to see in New York this week, he hopes. There is always the chance that the understudy will be dancing in her place.

I heard about the trip through one of my brothers. I assured him the trip was likely a fantasy. Dad has some fantastic ideas these days but none of them come to fruition. He feels his age. Many years ago he and my stepmother went to New York and had a fabulous time. She took care of everything and they went to many performances of music and ballet and art. Dad described feeling "stirred-up". He sent me an email letting me know about the trip and I sent one back but it was too late. The trip was booked. He was really going to go. He bought his ticket to the ballet and had his travel agent book a trip around it.

It's crazy of course. An old man alone in the city. He is a perfect target for abuse and that concerns me. On the other hand he is a risk taker, he always has been. He climbed mountains, flew planes, skied, hiked, and yes, traveled to Manhattan and many other big American cities and lived to talk about it. My dad and stepmother traveled to France and Switzerland some years ago after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimers. They were both in their 80's and I was convinced they had a suicide pact and they would never be seen again. They returned home revitalized and excited. 2 months later my stepmother had no memory of the trip. Dad still talks about it as pleasurable and extremely difficult.

So off he will go. I will feel nervous for him but excited too. New York is a wonderfully exciting place. If he dies there somehow he will have been doing something he loved. He is not a baby, we can't wrap him up and protect from his desires. Who knows how much longer he has on this earth so why not be reckless and take a long trip to see a beautiful woman dance in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. In addition to being a physical risk taker my dad is a romantic and as long as that is alive in him he is alive.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Printing day.


Rainy day. Printed an invitation for the Whatcom Land Trust. They are having an open house in mid-November. I hadn't printed much for the last year it turns out. The last project was last November, also a mad rush. These projects are fun to jump into. Time limits the whole process which causes a designer to streamline how she is approaching the whole thing. Time, budget, quality. Pick two. Nothing is perfect, the point is to keep making.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


One week post radioactivity. Yesterday I thought I detected a very metallic taste and odor. Does radiation taste. It passed. Pink insulation on the side of the road reminds me of flesh. Flesh with blood drained out, fur thrown free. I soaked in the tub and scrubbed my skin until it gave up little radioactive flesh rolls that look like gray splinters. I take extra care when I rinse the bathtub but is it enough? I don't feel capable of dealing with radioactive material unsupervised. Is the radioactivity hiding there, an invisible cloud. Or is it just inside me. At the weekend, we decide not to make love, as a precaution. All of my secretions are suspect. I discard my toothbrush and used q-tips. At the border I set the radiation alarm off as predicted but inside behind a special closed door 2 detectors fail to read what's actually in me. The device guesses Industrial Barium. I wait 45 minutes and then am approved to go home. The exercise is ridiculous and the border officer jokes with me and I am forced to joke back. My flesh knows how to react to many situations. At the hospital before the scan they wrap me up in warm blankets and the bed vibrates gently as they image me from head to toe. I drift in and out, it is not unpleasant, my flesh relaxes and I stay so still, I want to make a good image.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Low Iodine Diet Day 17, Radiation Day

I am now radioactive. 4mc. I have managed to make it to this moment despite feeling so wimpy yesterday. I even slept well last night. There were a lot more people in the nuke med waiting room today. An 80 yr old woman and her 50 something daughter waiting for testing, a woman with her husband dozing in a wheelchair. A single girl with a pink iPhone and slicked down hair. And me and my umbrella. My song for today is Radioactivity by Kraftwerk. I say this sort of tongue-in-cheek but somehow it lightened my mood about the whole thing.

I learned a bunch of new stuff about Facebook today and the algorithms that control our experience there which I have known but today it really hit home. I have been really exploring my feelings about Social Media lately. I forgot about the treatments and thought about the future for a little while. So that was good.

I'm fine, itchy but fine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


 Thinking about William Morris

Between you and me, I'm overwhelmed. Everything feels very touch and go. I am one day away from swallowing the prescribed radioactive iodine and I can't say I don't have reservations about what is about to take place. I've been to the hospital twice in two days to receive a shot deep into my ass muscle that will hide the effects of the synthetic hormone Liothyronine during the prescribed nuclear scan. 

I discovered a few days ago that I have likely been under dosing my Liothyronine. My lifeline. I've been brain foggy and was feeling like my world was closing in on me. I was pretty sure it was the early signs of dementia, seriously. I was doing everything slowly. I found myself in a kitchen filled with young people buzzing about and I could not keep up with the conversation. It was frightening. I thought it was hunger from the prescribed diet and that was probably a factor but it wasn't the whole story. In 9 months I have gone from having one healthy thyroid that I thought worked pretty well—although now I have some doubts—to half a healthy thyroid, and now no thyroid. At first the medication made me jittery so backing off on it seemed the right thing to do but I went too far obviously.

I am struck. I am without a part of my body that I barely noticed or even understood and now I am tasked with accepting the reality of living with a dependency on medication that I don't quite recognize the effects of. It all makes me want to break down and cry. In the hospital yesterday morning waiting for Mark to park the car I just wanted to weep big poor-me-tears. In that vast waiting area, so somber, so many sick people coming in and out. It felt scary and bewildering. I felt lonely there and loneliness is not something I generally think about but this whole process makes me feel profoundly lonely. It is my job alone to carry my body through this medical obstacle course. The shots make me feel sick so I can't do too much, the whole thing is distracting me from what I would rather be thinking about. Stress causes cancer you know. This is the ridiculousness of the whole exercise. Dealing with cancer can give you cancer.

My friend who has the same cancer as me but in more sites started her low-iodine odyssey yesterday. I stopped by today to give her a hug. She reminded me that I was almost done. Friday is the scan and then I can return to normal. Another new normal.
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