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.
painting by Eaton Hamilton, 1918, oil sticks 6′ x4′
Painting shows an impressionistic look at spring with explosions of colour.
It’s been lovely where I live the last couple weeks. The perfect moment in the garden, where spring is poised on the edge of finishing and summer has not yet taken up. Alliums, roses, lilacs all blooming together. The scent is amazing. The brilliant mason bees are completing their last nests.
I haven’t been able to either write or paint this week, alas, because I have had more earth-bound matters to deal with. I’m itching to get back to my memoir, though, and holding myself off.
painting by: Eaton Hamilton, oil sticks on stretched canvas, unsure of size
ID: Non-binary person sitting in green chair wearing black t-shirt and blue pants, orange wall. Short hair.
I’m so tired from the demands of my week, trying to do the work of three people at once, that I ended up with a bad episode of PEM from overexertion. This is hardly new. I’ve had PEM for nearly 40 years. I don’t usually have to go back to bed with it, though, just sit quietly with few demands on my attention. So that’s all for this week, I’m afraid.
painting by Eaton Hamilton, 2022, oil stick on stretched canvas, 20×30″
ID: Non-binary yt person with short orange hair and black shirt and pants sitting in yellow chair. Green wall. Three-quarter view.
Do you have dreams of your mother or guardian?
Last night I dreamed a short story. I was writing it, but also characters were acting it out. The protagonists were a male and female aging couple, I recall, but what the story was is gone. At the end of the dream, my (long-dead) mother was sitting in a car with me. I was aware that I was editing my story, attempting to deepen it, and I introduced my mother to the characters, which regrettably woke me in such a way I forgot the short story.
I had a decades-long series of nightmares that I was responsible for the horses I grew up with, only no one had told me, and when I got back home, and back to the barn, they were all bone wracks on the brink of starvation. I’d run for water and food, but of course it was going to be too late. More recently, I dreamed of the same situation, that I was feeding starving horses, but this time they were inside the barn in stalls. I ran from empty stall to empty stall. There was one bale of hay and it was soon gone. I used the last of it to feed a mare and then I scrambled around again to find food for her filly. It never occurred to me in the dream that the filly could nurse. All I could find was a pen, one of those ones with four colours, black, blue, red and for some reason green. The pens were cheap and subject to breaking, and in the dream I remembered this, and I was worried about feeding the filly because the pen was likely to break into plastic shards.
It was easy to see when I woke up that the mother was the last horse I fed (true in life, too. I barely knew her in adulthood) and that I was feeding myself the gift of writing. A precarious gift, but a gift nevertheless.
As for last night’s dream? I have no idea. I just wish I could get back the short story and submit it.
Update: Another dream of my mother last night. We were in my childhood living room and I was urging her up out of her chair to dance with me outside under the birch tree. I was saying was a pity it was that the window between chairs was painted shut, and saying I should fix that. She reached out and opened it, when it had never been opened in all my childhood. My idea was that we could play music in the den and it would reach us outside. We both seemed happy. I have no idea what it means. I’m airing out our relationship? Things are magically fixing themselves? I just watched a Holly Near concert?
I have a lot of profound animal dreams. I often dream of seeing whales, though usually from either a beach or a ship. They are generally much larger than they are in reality. Last night I dreamed my ex-wife and I, still together, were swimming in what seemed like Deep Cove, at night, far far out. I turned around and looked back at the shoreline and saw it was far, and thought I should start swimming back regardless of what my ex wanted to do. At once I was surrounded by J-pod of orcas. One spy-hopped, facing me, and suddenly my body got hit with what I knew was her echolocation. I felt it on my right side, particularly in my torso. It was not a feeling I’ve ever actually felt in real life, but in the dream it was a cross between an adrenalin hit and electricity. Without words, the whale said, “Do you speak orca?” and I answered, also without words, “Only a little. A bit.” I said, “Well hello. You’re beautiful,” out loud. I wondered if I should be scared because they were so large and so many, but I was not. Being taken out by an orca, being slammed out of my skin–can’t imagine a better way to go. I could still see whale backs and blowhole breath as they surfaced around me. The spy-hopper submerged. I turned around and watched my ex treading water as the largest whale of the pod (I don’t actually know which one that is) spy-hopped all the way up to her tail flukes, an enormous tower of whale flesh. The next thing I knew my ex and I were swimming beside each other back to shore, and I asked her if she was scared. She said she was. I said her whale had reminded me of a croc that had stood upright on its hind legs once when we were in Namibia.
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?
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.