“Covid Crafting Therapy” is my ongoing personal process for relaxation, a type of journaling, a type of meditation. Every stitch a thought. It’s different from drawing, painting, writing. I’m not trying to find the style, the form, the character. I’m not trying find the perfect color, the perfect brush stroke. The perfect narrative. Crafting just… is.
The Little My Pillow
Little My, character from the Moomin stories by Tove Jansson, is a personal obsession. I draw her continuously. I aspire to be like her, though, according to all the Moomin personality quizzes I have taken, I am Snufkin.
I love drawing on cloth or layers of paper and embroidering along the lines. No end product in mind. No rush. Just a place to land those thoughts. This project (using an old tablecloth as canvas) has become a pillow. (still in progress)
This all started because of a family Vacation Summer 1982 with my Dad, Mom, little brother. I am 20 at the time.
Fort St. James
100 Mile House
On a visit to South Hazelton on August 23 1982, we met William (Bill) Rea, age 75. I think the family and I had parked the car and gone to a cafe. When we were walking back to the car, we stopped to admire a quaint little house decorated with leprechaun paintings and its yard filled with treasures. My brother and I may have come across a little white kitten:
That’s when Bill stepped out and started up a conversation. We chatted with Bill for a long time.
He gave us vegetables from his garden.
He ended up suggesting that I move in with him and if I did, he’d buy me a “new” (i.e. refurbished) washing machine! My mom commented later on how beautiful Bill’s skin was (“like a peach”).
Bill was a local treasure and he would dress up annually as St. Kevin and walk about the town.
I am so thankful for my Dad who captured the visit.
Bill and I began a correspondence and these are some of his charming letters:
December 16, 1983:
Dear Miss Katarina
So nice to have got your letter for last Xmas, 1982. Did you guess who sent you the flowers from the 14th Feb last with a note from faraway places, over the HILL? I am sending you the same plus some interest on what you sent me last Xmas. I hope to hear or see you sometime, next year, or the next.
I sure had a nice day on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe one day you would like to be St. Alena and come around with me, and have a grand day out to visit my friends.
Will as ever, Bill
I sure hope you like my story:
Extra little envelope inside:
To St. Alena From You Know Who (St. Kevin):
Last year I pulled a piece of bone out of my foot with my Vice Grips. It was in my foot for 11 weeks and 4 days. What pain for all that time. Also, I sent a lady flowers and a pot of gold (chocolates) for her return overseas.
February 7, 1984:
I am sure glad you still remember me! I have lots of stories to tell you, but I am not much good at putting them on paper. I like to tell them to others, so I guess you will have more fun out of the them one day when we meet. I was in Smithers 2-2-84 to do my banking etc. I went into the Florists to send you some flowers. I could not make up my mind what kind you would like for Valentine’s Day so I thought to myself, Katarina won’t mind if I send her the cash, so I got you a cheque at the Royal Bank so you can go with your mom to the florists and pick out some kind of plant you would like and maybe there will be something over and you two can have a pot of TEA on me, sure, that would be nice. I gave your love to our cat and the cat said to me, “don’t forget to send Katarina our love, Bill.”
So, with lots of love from the two of us up here
As ever, Bill
In a few weeks when you get time let me know what you got for Valentine’s Day. Oh yes, give my love to the Deer. She is beautiful.
Bye for now, Bill
I enclose some mint. Sure is nice.
April 12, 1984
Hellow St. Alena
I am sure glad that my Valentine’s present made you feel much better? If you and your mom and friends call on me in May or some other time, try to let me know ahead of time and about the day. I have no time for a phone in my cabin. I may be away working on one of my other houses or in Smithers or Terrace and would not wish to miss you.
I am sending you a Birthday Present. It is not a lot, but I think you will like it? I have a feeling you will. If you folks have a day or two you would like to spend around the Hazeltons, there is quiet motel, and trailer, camper and camping, lots of room, or if you are camping there is lots of room down by the river, quiet as you wish. Why the hotel is so quiet, they moved Highway 16 over now the folks there can’t sell the place. What a shame. Nice place. I will foot the BILL in full for the FOUR of you up to two days or 48 hours, wherever you stay, if you have time to spare.
So St. Alena can put it down to the other part of her birthday present, that might give you a chance to do a painting. Sorry, can’t go into more about your letter now. We can talk later. I will be going to Smithers within the hour. The time is 6AM now. Why I am always on the go I don’t know, and don’t seem to get much done.
David Livingstone. Have you read about the great Doctor Livingstone? Born 1813. Near Glasgow, Scotland. He nearly failed his final examination through his stubborn belief in the stethoscope, a new invention, then held in contempt by most medical men. But he scraped through. Well, I must get cracking or you won’t get your birthday present, my sweet.
By the way, I call the kitten, Kitty.
So lots of love from St. Kevin and Kitty.
PS. I put your paintings over the arch in my Rest Room. Bye for now, Bill,
PSS. I have friends 10 miles out of New Hazelton and they have their own private plane and they are home. Plus if you have time, they will take you up and show you around. Looks wonderful with all the lakes.
Bye now. B.
November 4, 1984:
My Dearest little friend
Many thanks for all your good NEWS.
Will be nice for you when you have your own home, family, and car. I enclose a small present for you so you can have some nice tea when you have a party or shower. You know the tea you like, Earl Grey Tea.
I’m going to upgrade where I live in New Hazelton, then if all goes well, I am going to work on my new house in South Hazelton so when you are up this way again and if you want to find me, ask at the Post Office in SOUTH Hazelton. My place in South Hazelton has 7 acres of land and sits outside of town facing west-north on the side of the hill with view for miles only of great river, mountains and trees.
Lots of good wishes, from Bill Rea
Don’t forget to, when you get time, to SEND ME ALL YOUR NEWS.
I sent you two presents for when you got back from Stockholm on the 5 Aug 1984, one of flowers and the other one a Box of Rain Chocolates, or as it says on the Box, POT OF GOLD.
I was wondering if you got them as you always let me know when I send you presents. If you got them, don’t let me know as I will take it that you did. If you did NOT get the presents I sent to, let me know and I will try to find out who got them.
All the Best,
A good year to you all in 1985
From Faraway Places
DRINKS ON ME FOLKS
My nest in the West
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.
I send to my friends far away.
From the lights of my home in New Hazelton.
Do you like the lights on my Xmas tree? It was 3’8” when planted. Now 43’ something tall. I put lights on the tree when it was about 12’ tall and it just keeps taking them up. There is [sic] no lights within 12’ from the ground. Good thing they told me when I got them, they would last 100 YEARS for the branches are now so close together no one could climb up there to change the bulbs. All the lights go on and off in turn then they all go off for 2 minutes, then they all try to play some sort of guessing game to see who can come on first or stay on the longest, then after about 10 minutes of playing that game, they all go out, then start it all over again. The Big light in the front of my house is the shamrock. It has a game going on its own. It is nice and green, not like in the picture.
The fear that I will lose control over my project if I collaborate
Attachment to the past
The need to NOT forget all the details of my life
The need to please
Achieving my full potential
I AM THANKFUL FOR:
Essential workers (on the frontlines in hospitals, in care homes, the care givers, the care partners, first responders, shelters, support staff, teachers, researchers, grocery store staff, retail shops, coffee shops, the delivery folk, the post office, maintenance crews, garbage trucks, ecologists, those who work with animals, those who foster and adopt, donors, volunteers, activists, journalism, the internet, Zoom… etc etc etc etc. THANK YOU)
Masks and soap
PS. In 2021: eat more fruits and veggies, take more steps, bring in more plants
When I can’t write, when I don’t feel right, I feel the black ink of angst/depression well up in my brain. And I pace around and around in there, first splashing in the black ink, then wading in it, then swimming, then oh oh – am I drowning?
Ok, ok. Slow down. Use the ink. Practice what you preach, and pull out the journal. Writing is simply mark making. Make some marks tonight. That’s enough. Quiet the brain.
(Ink, water-colour and coffee doodle inspired by young Princess Margaret in The Crown.)
Any story we write or picture we make cannot demonstrate its worth until we write or draw it. The physical act of writing or drawing is what brings the inspiration about. Worrying about its worth and value to others before it exists can keep us immobilized forever. – Lynda Barry
Dolls and stuffed animals make me happy. Very happy. They always have. Some of my faves are hand-sewn little pig characters… but I will get to that.
I am 58 years old and I still have dolls, still rescue dolls, make dolls. love dolls, receive dolls.
I still have the first one (“Lisa”) I received from my parents in the early 60’s:
I also collect sock monkeys and crafts made by me and those made (and given to me) by my past students (of all ages) and friends:
I just dusted, aired out and re-organized my giant collection of old dolls and stuffed animals… Including a treasured basket of props from 2009-2010 school year at a school I worked at in North Vancouver:
I just realized it has been 10 years since that very special stop motion animation project at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School!
I was going through some old journals two days ago and in the one dated June 2, 2002, I came across printouts of a very special email correspondence.
In the mid 90’s, I was told about a bookstore in Seattle by my dear friend, Patti.
My (then)partner and I went down to Seattle a while later and when visiting the shop, my partner found a lovely little book:
Mortal Lessons by Richard Selzer, MD:
In this collection of nineteen unforgettable essays, Dr. Selzer describes unsparingly the surgeon’s art. Both moving and perversely funny, Mortal Lessons is an established classic that considers not only the workings and misworkings of the human body but also the meaning of life and death. [source]
I loved this book. Read it many times.
One particular passage made me weep:
I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks, “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “It is kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. ― Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery
Why did this passage move me so deeply? In the late 70s and early 80s I had several surgeries (and radiation treatments) for a parotid gland tumor that wrapped around my left side facial nerve and the threat of facial nerve damage looms. Always looms.
Eventually my younger brother and Patti read the book as well and folded it in to their creative work. And we began collecting Selzer’s work.
Patti, ever the diligent sleuth/creative, found Dr. Selzer’s email address. In 2002, my brother visited Dr. Selzer in Connecticut to explore the potential of a collaboration. He had a glorious visit and had Dr. Selzer sign the inside of the Mortal Lessons book.
I then connected with Dr. Selzer through email and what followed was a short-lived exchange of letters. My marriage was in the midst of unraveling and this correspondence was a sweet interlude during a very painful and transformative time.
Excerpts from some of the letters in the June 2, 2002 journal:
June 7, 2002
At my brother’s encouragement, I am writing your directly. I do hope that you don’t mind. As I write this, I am sitting on the ferry heading home to Roberts Creek… I have put aside my psychology studies and read your manuscript. I know that Nabokov detested readers who see themselves in the words they read, whose hearts bleed in recognition. I admit I have felt embarrassment at being that kind of reader. But why? As Anthony Burgess writes about Shakespeare- to see his face, we need only to look in the mirror.
I read your words in “The Atrium” and they are the exact ones I needed at that moment. In this moment…
… Working with the families of the missing and murdered women this Spring, my thoughts have been centred on death…
Death has always been strangely reassuring to me (personally). I can write with sincerity that I am not frightened of my death – BUT what scares me is leaving my kids…
I read your words and cried. Could one become blind by seeing too much? I have experienced intense sadness in the past year, and during that year I often walked alone in the woods to lay down in the moss – being one in the forest – rehearsing your dream.
… I am blessed to love reading. For it takes me to places far beyond what is possible in “reality.” And today I spent time in the atrium, observing you, through your words. Thank you.
The ferry is docking.
June 8, 2002
Very dear Katarina,
You cannot imagine how touched I was to read your letter to me. I can see precisely why your brother loves you so much. You have a great heart that is both open and vulnerable.
I had not heard about the disappearance of the women of Vancouver, but now I know. It is a chilling tale. To take part in the healing is your destiny; I believe it will guide you for the rest of your life.
Your words about my “Atrium” serve as reassurance that I have not miscalculated in writing that piece. Just to think that I have you for a reader is thrilling.
June 8, 2002
Thank you for your kind and inspirational words. I do feel like I’m riding a thrilling wave of learning. To connect with humans hungry to explore circumstance is wonderful. That is what I admire so much in your spirit! It is truly exciting to witness some of your creative process. The manuscript, the photo of you on the park bench…
Time for coffee on this early Saturday morning. I like this time of the year, day and week. The kids sleep in, the sun shining through the greenery, the birds singing and I have my coffee and mountain of books strewn on my bed.
June 9, 2002
It is so good to imagine you lying on a bed bestrewn with books, one of which is “Down From Troy,” a variety of intimacy I don’t often enjoy.
June 11, 2002
My brother and I wrote our Canadian Citizenship exam yesterday. We knew we arrived at the right place when we saw a line up of dozens and dozens of people from different nationalities lining up clutching their papers. It was surreal and wonderful.
The process took quite a while and as I was waiting in my seat, I pulled out my copy of “Down From Troy”… the page opened to:
For the more than sixty years that he lived on the continent of North America, Grandpa remained blissfuly stateless. The idea of citizenship never occurred to him, neither in Canada, which he had entered illegally, nor in the United States.
Miraculous coincidence. My copy is beginning to bulge with post-its… Many things I want to ask you, discuss, share! You’ll have to excuse my obvious enthusiasm.
All the best to you,
June 11, 2002
In you I have found my ideal reader. It is infinitely touching to me, the way in which my words echo in your heart. Fate was looking over my shoulder when she decreed we should come together. You are one of those things for which I am grateful to your brother. Please don’t hesitate to write to me as often as you wish.
In warmest friendship, Richard
June 12, 2002
I woke with a start this morning… my dreams were heavy with images of people I love, morphing into ones I didn’t know, words swimming around me: subatomic physics, Feyman’s Sum Over Histories, ethical issues in psychology… all the while I was spitting out little white pills that formed on my tongue – some the size of a tic tac, others the size of a pinhead.
I had fallen asleep with your book beside me. I recall the heaviness of p. 51: Whatever their true domestic drama, it was not naked but clothed in civility. Whatever their secret disappointments or resentments, each of their mouths was closed upon a pill of silence.
It is precisely this civility I have fought against, played into, cursed, embraced, uncovered, shied away from, discovered, torn apart, understood…
It’s a beautiful day. I picture you in the library… I can smell the books.
June 12, 2002
Yes, I am in the library, daydreaming away the afternoon. My mind is not mine to control; it wanderers whithersoever it listeth. It was always thus. It’s because I was a changeling. It was your lovely message that brought me back from… where was it? Scotland! I’ve never been there except in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, but I’m sure that the Scotland of my imagination is more “Scottish” than the real one. This wool-gathering can turn one topsy-turvy. I sometimes wonder if something really did happen or whether I dreamt it. One’s grip on reality loosens after a while. But then, what IS reality? Certainly it is not the truth.
You are lucky for all sorts of reasons, but the two I’m thinking of are that you are engaged in study of a new discipline; nothing is more satisfying to the spirit than mastering a new art or craft or field of endeavour. The other is that you have passed through the flames and come out whole with new understanding of yourself, having shed the falseness of a former life.
I have to tell you two things, One is that our correspondence will end up in the Archive of my papers at the University of Texas in Galveston. One day, it will be read by others. I can say that I’ll see that doesn’t happen, but whenever I’ve tried, I find I can’t sort. I just thought I’d better tell you that I’m no longer Richard Selzer but “Richard Selzer.” There is a woman in Finland who was quite horrified to think that her letters to me weren’t going to be private.
The other confession is that there is a woman, also in Texas, who is engaged in writing my biography! I have tried mightily to dissuade her, but she persists… if you prefer, I shan’t give give her your address.
Please write to me again soon.
June 12, 2002
Taking a break from studying… both kids made it to school today – my son’s weekly migraine is looming, but he wants to make it today as it is his last chance to talk to a girl in his science class who he has had a crush on since September… in his pocket is a beeswax candle and a cinnamon stick – and ancient love booster recipe that I gave him before he left.
What is reality? “Not the truth…” concepts I have been struggling with and fighting against. And finally I accept! How often I have cried, “is this not real? and this? and this?!” There was much camaraderie when I read your words: “Things do matter, I am not opposed to owning property…”
Re: emails not being private – I have no qualms about that. Myself, I am an avid journal/image-idea-file keeper and ALL gets inserted, much to my mother’s concern. I am in full support of correspondence being kept for future eyes… I love books of letters, private diaries.
Given the choice between two discoveries – that of an unknown play by Shakespeare and that of one of Will’s laundry list – we would all plump for the dirty washing every time. (Anthony Burgess)
How exciting and bizarre it must be to have a biography written about oneself! Where does truth fit in there? If you would like her to have my email address, please feel free.
I am in awe of the “writer.” My art is the 2-D visual. Do you process your thoughts, then write? Does it flow through you? Are you a careful writer, going back, correcting, changing? Or is the final product simply a dictation of what you have already worked out? And the “surgeon” in you. Does your writing parallel your art as a surgeon? Oh, for a simple few seconds, to see the human body as you have seen.
June 13, 2002
Having spent hours in the garden, I took a break on the porch and started rereading your book, “Raising the Dead.” Your command of the English language astounds, for it is not only storytelling, but word-plays. When I teach drawing, I tell my students – you must be able to extract a small segment of your drawing, any segment, and have the composition work within those limits. I feel that technique of analysis works with your sentences.
I love when I read and have to put the book down and pace the room in excitement before getting back to it. I am completely humbled and gratified that I get to be the reader and not the creator. Creation can be exhausting.
Is that the torment of the artist? To always have to be the creator and not the observer of one’s own work? I struggle with the need to create that which I already know, see, feel INSIDE. To interpret and regurgitate in order to see it, see it, see it. But as creator, I am always a step behind. The process of creation includes a time delay between the internal conversation and the actual act of creating the work. The real vision spills out ahead of me into the dark abyss of eternity and I am left behind scampering and clawing, desperately trying to capture the minutest glimpse of what I have already experienced just a spit second before.
I love to fantasize about the writer’s palette of words. It is often theorized that “Lolita” in the guise of a prepubescent was actually the English language. Nabokov, being Russian was new to the language and he adored it, coveted it, explored it dangerously.
Here comes my cat with a garter snake in his mouth. Must be a signal to get back to work!
June 14, 2002
How to speak about the creative act? It deliquesces while you are still applying pen to paper, or, I imagine, brush to canvas. It is, in that respect, most like a moment of ecstasy, physical or spiritual. Nor can it be recalled with any exactitude. The bright colours of retrospect cannot be precisely applied, only approximated, as you so powerfully expressed it.
What moves me most is the human body. Last evening on the shuttle bus, I sat next to man whose cheek was gray, pocked and fitted as though a Satyr with sharp hooves had danced across it. Had such a cheek ever been kissed? I wondered. And thought Apollo chasing the nymph Daphne who, just as he caught her, metamorphosed into a laurel tree, thought of the lustful god pressing his ramous mouth not to wet warm flesh but to the ridged bark of the tree. What’s more, at that moment, I wanted to lean toward the man and kiss his cheek — just to see. It is the unspeakable length to which the true artist will go in search of the truth.
Whatever else can be said of my work, it cannot be said that I have shirked the body to dwell upon the soul. I’ve never been able to distinguish between the two. And it is particularly the malformed, afflicted and even repulsive body that is the most revealing of what is called the soul. Precisely through the declaration of its vulnerability. Through the flaws and fissures and festering of the flesh, the soul swims closer to the surface where it can be glimpsed. The soul is only visible as it wears the flesh. Otherwise it is a pallid wasp.
I was wondering if I should erase all of the above. No, I’ll let it stand, and count on Katarina to forgive any unintended offense.
Today: Journal start dates November 25, 1993 and April 3, 1994
November 25, 1993
Panic! The panic of seeing all too clearly the magic of life, of Universe and realizing I’m taking all of this magic for granted. My children are creatures of God and I was the blessed vehicle that allowed their passage into this world. I yearn to relive the intensity, the reality, of their births over and over again – yet I know that I must let them grow, to let them move somewhat farther away from me – who after all is just a vehicle, a provider, a counsellor, to let them move into themselves– and not burden them with my mourning. The memories of their past, their present, their future rages inside me – I try to piece the confused bits into something tangible, cohesive…
Desperation at letting the miracle of our lives go unrecorded, unacknowledged.
And through all this viewing – through all this providing and participation in parenting – I am slowly discovering the true me – the me that can and will be – the potential me who has discarded the sore, festering scab of an exterior and let’s that glowing white inner core be free to live and shine.
My art is my life, my life is my art and what comes out on canvas, what manages to come out, despite (or rather because of) housework, the wifedom, the motherhood, sometimes captures a minute glimpse into the bacon sizzling, crackling whirlwind of my mind. I listen to my brain – just allowing no thoughts – just feeling it – and the loudness threatens to deafen me. It’s like a Lynchian electronic crackling, frying skillet, industrial booming.
I feel and hear heavy, wet, congested breathing of a bio-woman inside a large black and red and orange cave. She is so large that she is the cave – the vagina at once exterior and interior, entrance/exit, key/quay and lock. She breathes laboriously and yet the “quiet” is deafening. When I run my hand through the cave pools, I feel no temperature. The ideal temperature – the temperature of breast milk, of yeast swelling in the container of milk, ready for flour, ready to be pushed and beaten and poked and prodded into the swelling belly of dough – the food of the soul, the food of cellulite fat assess that are glorious…
Shouldn’t we beg to be able to nuzzle into our mother’s breasts and curl up in a fetal position and float, beautiful pure in a perfect-temperature liquid pool, a bubble of peach-pink liquid, a hazy skin with beautiful cloud-shaped biology? A red-glow somewhere in the distance – the unknown of life to be – the beauty and purity of life within ourselves, our own private womb world… Fed by a candy cane of smooth, thick, viscous liquid – obliterating the memory of tearing, crunching into death with jaws full of teeth that cause so much pain to the things we seek to crush. The mouth that can spew so much hate, so much misdirected venom, yet the mouth that can drink the milk and that can kiss slowly, sweetly innocently, voraciously our lover, our partner, our friend, our lifeboat…
November 26, 1993
Î want to stop biting my nails. But obviously not all of me wants to give up the “habit” – as my nails are chewed beyond short, beyond reasonable. My world is spinning too quickly and I guess the nausea is constantly a threat. I eat myself, I eat my hands for they must be occupied at all times. They ache to work! Work! Work! If not on art, then writing, cleaning, hugging, rubbing, scrubbing, knitting, drawing, wiping, designing, destroying. Am I punishing them when I take a few minutes off to rest?
November 27, 1993
Oh to be a heroine in a Spaghetti Western– strong taut body, packing a rifle, protecting my turf – alone in a desert wilderness of stinky, sweaty men – curls cascading down from a bun on top of my head, eyes blazing black with lots of eyeliner, mascara, perfect complexion and pink soft large lips – innocent, yet fully cocksure, Is that a noise outside in the quiet desert darkness? Fling the door open and shoot. Blow that motherfucker’s head off!
December 2, 1993
Instructions: to relieve neck aches, the headaches that plague me since the first operation for my parotid gland tumour.
Lay myself down on a soft pillow-like table. My neck gently hanging downward so my head hangs off the table.
Do a small incision at the base of the skull.
Pull out the spine easily like a cooked fish.
Gently scrub the spine with a comfortable scouring pad. Hang to dry.
Meanwhile, lift away the sore muscle tissue to reveal the scapulas, and give them a simple scrubbing. Slice away sore, red throbbing muscle and discard.
Saw away wrecked tendons and replace with new healthy white glistening ones.
Place clean muscle, enhanced with healthy tissue, back on the scapulas.
Gently snap the spine back into place.
Sew up incision and do some gently strokes up and down the spine with the palms of the hand.
December 12, 1993
Promise me nothing you son of a bitch. In this war zone of iron-lung glue, I heave up boundless enigmas of speculations. It ain’t taught, in this hot little twat, how to love thy neighbour. Enter at your own risk and thereby risk nothing. Separate the substance into soluble and insoluble constituents by percolating. Use it at the proper time as your foresaw it. Change from liquid to solid state, clot and curdle, set and solidify. Arouse yourself. Lixiviate, anticipate, coagulate and masturbate.
I attack because I am the future.
December 21, 1993
It is bedtime and I will suck in a breath and attempt to release the guilt I feel for being who I am.
April 6, 1994
To my kids,
If you are reading this right now – know how much I love you, have always loved you, will always love you… The enormity of this love is beyond comprehension. Know that I am so honoured to be your mother, that I want nothing more from you other than that for you both to grow and live and love in true happiness – happiness within yourself – and joy for what your life is (your lives are). I hope I will be there to witness you both grow into old age. I will continue to learn from you always. Continue to be humble by this task and gift I have been given – i.e. the role of being your mother. Thank you. (How old are you as you are reading this?) Good night.
June 29, 1994
I hereby kill the artist within me – the artist that threatens to split the very essence of my living body. I can no longer sustain this dichotomy of two lives: one of mother/one of artist. The artist in efforts to be heard is strangling the host. Threatening me with insanity… lashing out at those closest is the latest manifestation of the disease. Now the artist wants to sabotage my goodness. My inner peace is gone. So I hereby kill you, oh artist, you fucking leech, you egomaniacal destroyer. You destroy in attempts to get me to create. Well, fuck you! I commit you to suicide. Your voice is silenced.
It’s hard to keep up with the daily grind of living. Right now, just finished cleaning the entire apartment and that is a spectacular sense of relief. I know my life is “obsessed” with cleaning and children and cleaning children. But I really don’t mind. I really want to let go of dance. It gives me a gut ache thinking about performing, etc. Not until I get my son off the boob… And I get my energy up. Feel run down. Taking on too much in my head. Time to clean out the attic in my mind and start anew… Must stop biting my nails. And also allow myself to keep this journal going. Always have an insidious notion that someone is analyzing it and critiquing it whereas it’s really just a daily record of me.
“What is the price of an afternoon when a small girl is soothed in your arms, when the sun bolts through a doorway and both you and the child are very young?” – Dorothy Evslin
One year ago, my daughter proposed a project. I am so happy I agreed. It was a powerful and transformative experience.
Familiar is a short documentary about my Swedish mother, Karin Thorsen. Her story is told through the letters she wrote to her best friends from 1968-2001.
This project was my daughter’s Grad Film for Langara’s Documentary Film Production course.
Director: Anna Thorsen
Executive Producer: Annat Kennet and Langara College
Writer/Editor: Anna Thorsen
Cinematographer: Anna Thorsen
Lighting/Sound: Anna Thorsen
Original Score: Julian Bowers
Research Support: Katarina Thorsen
Translator: Katarina Thorsen
This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection, as well as acknowledging the self-directed violence as important therapeutic shadow work.
Today’s journal spans poignant time. My father, Roar Thorsen, was unwinding and had just a few months left to live. We shared a deep friendship. We were working hard on our book knowing time was of essence.