the problem with being trans is cis people. The problem with being queer is straight people. The problem with being disabled is abled people. The problem with being Black is white people. In other words, prejudice.
ID: yt woman with red hair and blue shirt, profile
painting by Eaton Hamilton, acrylic
How was your week? I had a troublesome one after one of my kids got hurt in an accident, but I think now that she’s okay, so I’m standing down with an ever-vigilant eye.
Happy to say I finally wrestled my procrastination to the ground and am back working on novel revisions at the same time as my memoir. It’s good for me. Usually November is a great writing month, but this time around after all the housing shenanigans (which must continue in the spring … do everything you can not to become a disabled senior without much of a pension, because Canada doesn’t have a safety net for disabled people, but, instead, programs of eugenics) I was too exhausted to stand up. I don’t get rid of any disabilities simply because there’s need for me to do extra things, and I don’t have more money to fund those things either.
But making stories is a good way to pass the time. I love that feeling of finding someone’s character. Well, hello! I say when they announce themselves. Hello and where have you been all my life? It doesn’t even have to be a person I have anything in common with, or even someone I like or admire–they just have to have some pop and sizzle and I’m all theirs. Character-driven work writes itself. Maybe that’s why cnf will always come second in my heart.
How about on your side?
Meantime, support my literary and visual art endeavors at Patreon at Hamilton Art. For as little as $5/month, you can join me as I talk through writing and art dilemmas, joys and techniques. You can ask me any questions you like, and, if we can get a big enough group together, I’ll be happy to do mini-classes too. Let’s make the site together. Join me!
painting: Eaton Hamilton, Nov 20 2022, unfinished, oil stick on canvas board, fingerpainted, 8×10″
What’s to say about this week, folks? Life, ever precarious, grows more so by the day. Watching kiddos without updated covid vaccines or flu vaccines navigate schools is daunting because so terribly dangerous. Every day I hear the wait times for BCCH, where one of my grands once spent time in an isolation room, and I wonder how parents are not breaking. I know how frantic one is when kiddos are seriously ill; to then wait with that sick kiddo in a room full of coughing need-to-be-patients for hour after hour only to finally give up after a day in exhaustion and hunger? What the hell are we doing, Canada? What the absolute hell?
We know that covid is a chronic disease now. We know it affects every bodily system–from brain to heart to liver to kidneys to vasculature. We know it stays in the body even after a so-called “mild” acute stage, and we know, now, that it is working to kill people a few months hence. Young people without comorbidities, usually quickly by heart attack or stroke. We now that the “brain fog” people have identified shows up as dementia-like damage in brain scans. We know that the damage caused by reinfections is unsurprisingly much, much worse. We also know that because of the PHO’s “let ‘er rip” DIY pandemic that most people have gotten ill again and again.
But we also know how to slow down (and even perhaps stop) the bastard. We know that N95 masks and elastomerics work a charm–their electrostatic charges attract and trap virus particles (we also know we can’t pick that virus back up from the filters of these masks). We know that easy-to-make CR boxes work brilliantly at cleaning indoor air. All they need is duct tape, a box fan, and 1-4 filters the same dimensions as the fan and about two hours of your time.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy safety.
Here’s one a 6 and 7-year-old made almost alone. I steadied the sides while they applied duct tape to hold them together, then after that all I did was cut a lot of tape, check it when they were through, and cut shapes they asked for to decorate “Georgie.”
HEPA filters work a charm, too, and guess what? There are portable ones now! You can take them with you, whirring away on battery charge, to the doctor, the PO, the pharmacy, the grocery. School! You can even loop them around your neck and wear them like a purring pet kitten.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that I’ve had two positive people between a small HEPA and my 20×20″ CR box, and I was masked (they were not) and I did not get sick.
These protective measures work! I can’t tell you how relieving it’s been to be without viruses the past few years. What a feeling to know I’m not going to be plugged up and coughing my lungs out several times a year.
There is oodles of peer-reviewed studies on twitter covid or mastodon to read. We haven’t been getting the straight goods from PHO or govt. This is an on-going pandemic that is worse now than previously (more deaths in 2022) and that is now striking kids hard. At this point, it’s child abuse not to send your kids to school in masks as good as you can possibly provide to them. We don’t fully know what covid’s doing to developing bodies, but what we know without a scintilla of doubt is that it’s nothing good. This virus strikes to harm, long-term.
Eaton Hamilton. One of Matisse’s windows, re-visioned. ID: Open shutters seen from indoors. View of ocean/palms. 2022
I painted this small painting this week, 9×12″, oil sticks and finger painting, so keeping up in the studio, at least. Most of the paintings I want and need to work on are still (endlessly/frustratingly) wet, so one waits, and starts other pieces that, too, will also be wet wet wet. My drying rack is full to the brim and paintings dry all over the place, probably interrupting the drying of pieces behind them.
I’ve been trying to figure out Squarespace and wasting a good amount of time trying to decipher how to arrange art galleries there. I am useless at this. Hitting head against wall useless. When I was a photographer, we just bought a template and plunked things in–effortless. But this is not that. I’m about at the spot where I’ll go back to those days and find a ready-made site.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a short story I wrote on Salt Spring Island in the 80s. I did many drafts of a novel based on it before collapsing the project. I’ve learned some lessons about simplification since then, so if I could ever clean my desk of books-in-progress I’d go back to it and do it down and dirty without all the complications.
It was a very good week at the races (election); may we forever entrench democracy’s wins. It was also a very good week for the Giller Prizes, where Suzette Mayr took home the prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter,’ entrenching queer wins. It was a wonderfully diverse shortlist, and I look forward to reading all the books.
How about you? How are your short or long pieces going these days, folks?
After Matisse, paint on acrylic paper, 2022, 9″x12″, depicts a woman playing guitar from a stool and another woman sitting on the floor listening. Flower throw carpet. All in black and white.
I never take time off. It’s a problem. I have so many sick days that I feel any other days, I ought to be working.
Are you better at taking time for yourself? I identify *as* my work, so without it, I’m a bit lost. It would take someone else to divert my attentions. Meantime, my procrastination is severe, so I spend a lot of my working time feeling guilty.
The life of the artist.
May you have a lovely, Democratic week, folks, with pleasant surprises across the map.
Lovely to be notified via twitter that I have a Notable essay in Best American Essays this year. My essay “Splinter” was published in the LA Review of Books (LARB) and edited by Gina Frangello. With many thanks to BAE, and thanks and gratitude to Gina and LARB. “A collection of the year’s best essays, selected by award-winning journalist and New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz.” (Amazon)
Congrats to the essayists included in the volume due Nov 1! I’ve been reading them the past few days. So far, really enjoy Debra Gwartney’s “Fire and Ice.”
And I’m still way behind. I work a lot, or feel like I do, and feel like everything is reeling regardless. The pupster does require a lot of attention until 4, when she conks out for more than 12 hours, so for sure, she’s part of this pressure that mounts for Sept and Oct without let-up. There are more things. Spending so long watering trees doesn’t help. The poor things. Years of drought and they’re going to topple anyhow from all the stress of being alternately water-logged and too dry to function. Toppling is dangerous to everyone, and a fine reason all of its own that we should address climate change.
And, Bonnie Henry, is BC planning to ignore Ebola just like we have monkeypox (still circulating), polio, and covid? Respectfully, to you and Dix: bite me.
In any case, it’s been a great, if highly stressful, work week. Got a ton done. Got back in the studio, finally, and did a rough draft of an oil stick 24×24″ in the new series, along with several drawings.
How did your creative week go? Wishing you all the best for the upcoming one.
I’m late due to repasts, and isn’t that the best reason? It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Ours is less colonial than in the US, mostly a secular holiday marking the end of summer, the coming end of harvest (see our dregs, above), where we’ll eat hearty and forget the fact that we’ll need all the canned goods we put up in the heat of August to bide us through the long, wet and sometimes powerless, winter.
As always, even as our summer continued with my first-ever outdoor Thanksgiving without jackets necessary (endless summer, or as the trees like to say, endless drought). Tonight we’re scheduled to have our first windstorm, with, perhaps, some of those unhappy trees coming down.
Wishing you the best weeks possible in your circumstances. Fight fight fight the powers-that-be. Covid and monkeypox are still things, and more and more people are recognizing that the best ways around how terribly sick folks are getting is to not catch them to begin with. It’s a tragic time in BC where I live–with fully 1/3 of hospital patients, disabled all, thrown out into their own devices so more worthy new (younger, more abled) patients can take their places. For shame, BC.
The hair turns grey. The face gets wrinkled. But I can say with some assurance that it’s better than the alternative, lol. I love getting older. (It’s not my birthday, actually. That’s past. But I’m 68, and concussed. I’d rather *not* be Hilary Mantel, thanks, dead at 70 [with thanks to her for her literary output]). I really love life now and celebrate something about it every day, and usually many more things than just one. The dazzle of the stars tonight around here. The dog peeing just because she got a treat. The five minute break in the yard swing. Overall, I just like the me of me so much better than ever before, with all the judgemental ninnies crowding my space gone, and how I move through the world (largely an abstract idea, since I’m so disabled and my car died [of course it did, because everything around here is breaking: two weed eaters, the fireplace, the dishwasher, the satellite, summer]). I don’t know why aging has such a bad rep. Oh yeah, the extreme poverty of it. The lessening of already-dodgy status. Oh yeah, and the death of it. The finality of not being able to live backwards. (What a gift that would be, keeping all we’ve learned intact. We’d be very with it infants!)
My life now (except for poverty and the continuing burdens of bad health)? Chef’s kiss. Oh yeah.
Have possible weeks, folks, and I’ll try to too. Admire you all for getting through this life, when I know Canada in particular is thrusting the opposite at you every damned day. Cheers!
This is me, I swear, though I am the next thing to bald (with many crop circles from alopecia):
It’s my new oil stick and fingerpainted work, on stretched canvas, one of a series of non-binary folks dressed mostly in black against colourful backgrounds. Inquire for price and size.
As far as work goes, wowsers. I’m sure it’s that I have not a second free and a list that could circle the globe of urgent TO DOs that I would suddenly, suddenly, enter a writing time warp and have to do nothing else. No, actually, it’s just as much deadlines. Now or never on those. Short work. Three full-length stories in various stages of drafts. Three short pieces out of nowhere. I need to get back to the memoir in the worst way (I ache for it and it’s owed), but, first, these necessities. What an incredibly fertile time, though, per most Septembers, and a mix of stressy and fun at the same time. Need to accomplish finishing one essay as well. Then freedom of sorts, back to painting and writing half and half each day (with loads of time off to accommodate dog and disability).
How is September for you? How you holding up? When I was parenting, I used to call Sept “Hell month.” Kids were freaked by getting up and out, new classrooms and teachers, new clothes, new pencils, and came home wrecked by having to keep up appearances all day, trying to get along, trying to fit in, trying not to mis-step. And homework! No need for anything except volunteer homework in primary–if you want to do it, please do. If you don’t care to, please don’t.
I was mentioning zoom/autism collision last week, but I have more to say now. I was trying to write flash with other folks for a couple of weeks (to spur energy for memoir revision) when I melted down (the meltdown was entirely private. No one knew. No one saw, and it was the first time I’d experienced such a thing without stuffing it deep inside rather than reacting, and I stimmed in intriguing ways which discharged the energy and got me to baseline quickly. Like, I dropped a mask. I wish I’d filmed my right hand because I’ve tried to redo what it was doing and I can’t move that fast; my coordination isn’t good enough. Wish I’d filmed it while I was looking at it). I did write two flash pieces in between all the other demands. Admittedly, I used to write a lot of flash, some of which were published, but it was largely at the time I’d stopped submitting poetry and flash (and barely submit longer forms), so I’ve never done anything with them, except I compiled a book, too, of just flash, and sent it out once, and when I heard nothing never sent it out again.
Do what I say, don’t do what I do–don’t not submit, lol. It is a self-abnegating way to live. I got tired of publishing, though, having never earned a living from it.
I sure write a lot, though, which is really what this post is about. All my figurative drawers are stacked with pieces. Full length, finished novels, stories, essays, poems, some of which need revisions and some of which would be fine to go out. Though I didn’t touch the memoir, it was still a writing-strong week. Being around the flash writers helped trigger something in me. Not what I was hoping for, which was new juice for revising memoir, but something else–short fiction. Out poured the two flashes, two full-length stories, one shorter story and a good three-quarters of an essay.
They need brushing up but they don’t need new new scaffolding or any major changes. Then they too can go into figurative drawers never to be seen again. Just kidding. I promise I’ll send them out once each before retiring them.
I used to have such passion for getting published, but 10 books was enough for me when I never gain respect, admiration nor money. Now I shrug. Why bother? They’ll never let me in. Their doors that shut in my face the day in the early 90s when I came out as queer have only thrown more locks on since.
It makes me realize the joy is in the writing. In creation. Not in the reception.
On the painting side, though, super fun. I’ve been doing a series of paintings of non-binary folks with only oil sticks and fingers (in gloves), going fast, doing a “draft” a day, coming back to do most finishing work the next day while also doing a new canvas at the same ramped-up speed. Really enjoying it, though it’s slid since I had a concussion earlier this week. Now I have to sit like a potato; I’m surely not supposed to be on screens. Anyhow, I’m not allowed to use brushes. Instead, I have to cope with the limits of the oil sticks and my fingers. (No, this is not a rule in painting, in any way, but I set exercises for myself just to keep things interesting.) The down side has been being back in the world of big $ for supplies, which come from a US source with Cdn exchange and customs.
Anyway, I love the work that’s coming out. I’ve been painting over old paintings that were in the studio waiting for me to scream and slice them apart or something. This is better. Gesso and away we go again. Mostly the underlayers are acrylic.
Peculiar week where nothing went as planned. Had a freaky meltdown using zoom. Always knew I couldn’t manage it but had no insight as to why (obviously, autism, but when it was first around I imagined it would be a wet dream, and it was the opposite, and I had to stop. I still wanted the contact, and the reading or workshop or whatever I was on there for, but I couldn’t handle it so quit zoom altogether). I’ve talked about it a little and it’s actually quite common. We’re not good with phones as a population, and we’re not great with zoom either.
As for painting, yum, going great, but oils are so *wet.* Using a lot of RF oil sticks this week because I ran out of a lot of colours, and those of course require whacks of driers resulting in an instant headache. My Corsi-Rosenthal filter is helping with this a lot, thank goodness. I’m using only oil sticks and fingerpaints, and anyone who knows this media knows they’re as good for fine detail work as, I dunno, socks? Still, I’m learning to control them, in part by painting bigger (covering old work I never finished). The two brands I really love, RF and private ones I have made, are sooooo sexy and buttery, but the driers for the former exhaust me. The sexiness reminds me of Kroma tube paints (Granville Island, Vancouver); it’s like lubing up a canvas, I swear.
Writing, well… I seem to keep running away from the difficulty of it. I know I have many, many pragmatic and urgent things to do and ordinarily that would keep me head down, writing, right? (The way the urgency of having to clean behind your fridge with a toothbrush only arises on a writing deadline.) I am procrastinating, and it’s the thing I despise most about myself. It gives me days and weeks and months of agony for utterly no reason at all.
Have a good one, wherever you are. Mask up, keep your kids safe(r) in their schools. Promote ventilation to every business you use.
I doubt anyone writing a childhood memoir is not writing, at least peripherally, about some kind of trauma. We have to, after all, have an issue at the center of our self-inquiries. Of course that may be an illness, an unusual death, or any number of other topics, but childhood memoirs are often quite focused on troubling events from the past, and, sometimes, how those reach out to affect your current life.
Certainly mine is such. I can’t even, people advise, tell the complete story, for it is, they say, too awful to read. This infuriates me. Reading it is, to living through it, as a puddle to an ocean. However, nevertheless, I’m constricting it. Jury’s still out on my third attempt to land at a workable first draft. I’ve just edited and printed the first 100 or so pages, so I’ll see how they read, whether I’m getting anywhere at all or just making things worse.
Probably I won’t read it. Probably I’ll just use my headstrong energy to go ahead and make more mistakes I’ll need to repair.
…except when it’s not. But when it’s going well, oh my, oh my, those days or moments are worth their weight in lightbulbs. Talk about illuminating your way forward.
How’s your writing going? It’s a terrifically hard month to write because of all the distractions and interruptions. I manage less well in August than any other month. My garden, though, even at its worst, is a paradise of calm, a true oasis of scented beauty, and this is what this month has been for me creatively this year, as well (yes, despite the gruesome news cycles including the attack on author Salmon Rushdie. May he live on), calm inside the storm. You know what that’s like, right? The way forward announces itself to you and off you go, chasing it like the rainbow it is.
Good luck to you in August, creators. I love how the days stretch and morph. Don’t forget to smell the martini as you drift by.
Hard to be enthusiastic these days. No matter how hard I push to keep up, I seem to fall farther and farther behind. I haven’t snapped back from June surgery the way I should have yet. I’m dragging myself from event to event, and because I haven’t felt this much fatigue in a good while, I’m going to go out on a limb and call this a flare. In any case, nothing personally catastrophic is happening in my life so I’m going with that! Very concerned about the general conditions in the world (is this the beginning of dystopia? Is Cdn healthcare going to be gone in six months, once mpx hits hospitals hard? Is war going to ever stop? Where are the vaccines? Anne Heche! Etc etc. I find myself thinking about the kiddos from Uvalde, both the victims and the survivors, a fair deal). What are we doing to ourselves? What are we doing to our world/our globe?
As for writing, it’s going well. I finally had my book printed the other day (I thought I’d changed the font size but I had not, so it’s all printed in 18 pt, what a waste of paper) so that in case the web goes down permanently, I have a copy of sorts (of sorts). I made a chart of what’s happening in each chunk so I can keep track. I’m beginning to “read” it though I’ve never been good at reading my own work. I work on it as I go instead. Not very far into it yet.
Meantime, the enormous project of getting some artwork on paper ready for my new website has concluded! Hurrah! Now to build the site!
Not at all looking forward to this week. It has some challenging pieces to it.
Hope your week is looking fabulous. Have a good one!
What do I have to say for myself this week? I last saw humans Tues when the family (daughter and kiddos) dropped by to give me berries and peas from the market. Otherwise, I have been head down, working hard, and sometimes fighting sickness. (Was quite ill at points, unknown cause.)
Every boiling day I’ve been managing to get a snippet of gardening down. Can’t ignore watering during heat waves, alas, and that’s my least favourite thing to have to keep up with every day. Otherwise, it’s time for the Shirley poppies to go. I’ve been waiting for them to go to seed first. Now the seed’s collected and away their brittle brown corpses can go, down the hillside. I’ve lost the young man who did an astonishing good job cutting my grass (to a job!), so I’m trying to at least weed-eat the dandelions before they seed, though the battery isn’t properly charging so this is tedious. Otherwise working on the already seeded weeds. How did I let them get this bad? A question I ask every summer.
Since I don’t go to the nurseries (covid, inaccessibility), I don’t have my usual filler annuals. It is already looking very brown out there and once it’s clean, I imagine that will be far worse. I’m trying to be chill about it.
I’m controlling the heat in here by keeping curtains drawn most of the day and then, when they’re open placing fan in front of open door facing house, with bowl of ice, to cool the place in the evening. The heat spell is said to be about to break. I’ll be glad.
Have barely painted, and I just don’t know what to say about the mess I’m making of this memoir, so I won’t say anything. Working hard when I can on getting images of paintings sorted, named, measured and web-res’d to go up on my new painting site.
Hope your weeks as summer ends are good ones, with satisfying connections and summer play. Tonight I’m taking the girls to see (swim in possibly) phosphorescence (masked in my Flo Mask, of course)!
…and have a lot of medical appts to wade through, it never happens that I can clear my schedule for a week. It seems baggy and luxurious, like an emotional space I can fit into for once.
Moving has never really been as bad as now, since if you don’t find a place before you to have leave, there’s literally nowhere to go. Not for the wealthy, I know, but for we serfs.
So, I had a week where I could cancel a couple last things and just feel the space around me. I motored through a partial draft of my memoir having no idea if I was hitting the right direction or losing it even more entirely than I had in the draft where that was allowed. I’d laugh except the daunting task of reading this one-third book has not happened yet. I dread finding out it doesn’t work, again.
What are you writing this week? Are you getting through in a project that’s been giving you pain? Any successes to report?
…that I am no further along in unlocking the mystery (infrastructure) of this memoir than I was seven days ago, and not for lack of trying. It’s me that’s my impediment. I would give a lot, some days, to be a different writer with different skills, though then I’d likely pine for my original skills, right?
How are all y’all doing? It’s difficult with BA.5 on the romp, I know, since it’s our most infectious variant yet, and transmissible even outside–and how we want to be maskless outdoors! I suspect everything will worsen until governments realize the “let ‘er rip” plan is ruining lives, creating mass disability, wrecking the economy from record numbers of days-of-work lost, and put back in effective measures and education programs. We must protect ourselves from dirty air just the way we protect our water. We must get serious about cleaning our air!
Hope you manage to have safe and good weeks, folks.
I’m hard into composition this week, trying to crack open a roadmap to the memoir, here at the (perpetual?) start to draft 3, which is really going to be the third-go at a draft 1. Once I get that infrastructure and feel it’s working, I think I’ll feel released, but I’m not there yet. I was reading this morning about research that confirms that autistic brains are 42% more active than NT brains, and this doesn’t surprise me. But how to capitalize this extra brain power to create a work that is readable, compelling and fresh?
Are you an autistic writer? How does this work for your brain? I find I’m all about complicating things unnecessarily, because the *entire* story must be told. Which isn’t what a book needs, of course.