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
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
Let go of J_____ and all your hopes and illusions of what you wish. What you think you need. Let go. Open your heart. Allow feelings – embrace them, then let them go.
Self–forgiveness. All is OK. Pain to light. All will be as it should. You don’t need to try. It is time to stop dwelling. Analyzing. Just live now. Ana accept you are wonderful and your place in your life is yours…
For four years my heart has been breaking, till finally it did break, Wide open. Now it’s simply QUIET TIME…
January 3, 2002
I am a painter again. But it is different now. I have been fighting the realization for a long time, though it has been obvious in my work, that the arthritis has affected the quality. It is really physically hard to paint and do details, it has been for a long time… But I don’t care as long as I can express in a new way within those limits. The trees themes are giving me new ideas and directions.
January 5, 2002
My broken heart tells me I deserve better than to have experienced what I did. It is not easy to be happy around him while I’m mending. I don’t want to have low self-esteem, but I do when I am around him. That’s just the simple truth. Hewants to see me express high self-esteem. Well, he certainly challenged the hell out of me and I’m doing the best I can.
January 6, 2002
Rode to the edge of my pain last night and this morning, and didn’t shy away from awareness, of looking at myself, my need for control, my resistance to painful experiences., my shyness, my aggressiveness. I ride the edge and ride through layers of anger and frustration and other emotions that are actually directed at myself and the way I live.
As I open further there is a glow of love. A personal understanding that there is no such thing as a soulmate for me. We die alone with our own souls bared. There is a universal connection to all things, but the soul is alone until it leaves the body.
January 9, 2002
I am so glad to divorce. I accept now that our marriage is OVER.
“Understanding is the ultimate seduction of the mind. Go to the truth beyond the mind. Love is the bridge.” – Stephen Levine
Back home after a wonderful, intense weekend in Vancouver at our beloved Rosedale. Recall my conversations with J___. A new time in our life, the need to develop the ego, to cut my umbilical cord that ties me to my guilt to mom.
February 23, 1999
In March I go for a mammogram- my first and it does well up a lot of old memories of the parotid gland tumour. I do not want to find myself using this moment as an escape from the guilt as I continuously feel around mom. I hope I can also simply forget about it and not have that little kernel of “hope” that something is wrong, so that I am “released”… sickness is a “way out” from guilt. It always has been.
March 9, 1999
Oh, precious life! I am reprieved – healthy and well! Julian and Anna are doing so well at school. J____ is undergoing a change, a new awareness… I watch Julian’s chest moving up and down as he breathes, as he sleeps. Hear Anna’s sweet call “good night!” And I don’t need any more than this – just to love, to tend this family, and to create some art.
“he sat naked and drunk in a room of summer night,
running the blade of the knife under his fingernails, smiling,
thinking of all the letters he had received
telling him that the way he lived and wrote about that–
it had kept them going when all seemed truly hopeless.
putting the blade on the table, he flicked it with a finger
and it whirled in a flashing circle under the light.
who the hell is going to save me? he thought.
as the knife stopped spinning the answer came:
you’re going to have to save yourself.
a: he lit a cigarette
b: he poured another drink
c: gave the blade another spin.”
This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection. Today’s sample journal starts about a month and a half after J_____ and I decided we were going to divorce. He is living in Vancouver and I am on the Sunshine Coast with the kids.
It’s early and I’ve been reading in bed. Anna is doing her makeup and Julian is still asleep. I have a tired cup of coffee beside me. My life seems to be a waiting game of sorts. I want to shed that feeling. I’m about to turn 40. I wonder how long I am destined to live? I am alone, that’s OK. But I want to travel and fuck and share and laugh. I want to be mind blasted by love. Magic. I want to see the world with Anna and Julian. I feel full of direction. In my parenting, my studies, my art. But my spirit is tired or asleep or something. At this moment I could easily shed my clothes and go into the ocean and just drift away. But it’s too cold, and I’d just get a bladder infection. No- this house BEATS with LIFE and I am glad to be a mother. Sometimes, though, I have the overwhelming feeling of: “What is it that is happening?” “What is coming?” “When?”
February 26, 2002
Trying and loving –> then trying not to love. But this didn’t work. So don’t try and let love simply exist.
Too tired to go to North Vancouver today. My kidneys cry to stay home…
What is my destiny?
February 28, 2002
I have to let J____ go – OUT of my being. Out of my heart and my soul. I don’t trust myself to survive another heartache. With him. With anyone. Why does my heart remain committed to him? How do I turn off the light? Do I even know how to live anymore? Where’s the innocence?
March 3, 2002
I am profoundly sad for losing him, but also profoundly sad for not letting him go after the affair with M____. I want to undo myself from our history. Our love. I need to stop thinking. I can’t offer him friendship now.
March 7, 2002
I wish there was a way to have total silence. So that J____ and I can experience life without each other. But we are connected through blood… We are engulfed in each other. But there is unlocking occurring. A disillusionment. The disappointment has passed. Discarded hearts thrown against cement walls. Trampled on by each other. But I have shoved my heart back into my chest, bruised but not defeated. Chewed up, but not beyond recognition. Beating, despite. That’s what I don’t understand? How can it continue to beat?
March 8, 2002
There were two distinct times that J____ expressed to me that he felt a COMPLETE CONNECTION to me:
When he was in the tub and talked about his deep love for his lover C____ to me while I sat on the bathroom floor and listened…
When he complained about her and their problems while I listened to him on the phone…
But I had removed myself in those moments in order to listen to him speak of his lover- the woman he had been with for more than a year without my knowledge. I split from my soul… and yet he claims to have felt completely connected to me. Who was he connecting to then?
Psychologically, this is when I broke.
And I realize it was not me he sought– he sought a friend who would just listen. But as a wife, listening to his confusion about his lover, I asked too much of myself.
He didn’t see ME. I could have been anyone. So…
I accept that what I longed for was to be SEEN by him. That I have longed for a life that doesn’t exist. He needs a friend. But I am not the right person. What I need is to be MYSELF when I interact with another person. The alternative is suicide of self.
It is OK to have made mistakes and choices that make me wince.
“Accepting the unacceptable needs no special skills. It only needs awareness.” – SARK
This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection. Several samples have left me a bit raw. This sample is another lighter one… Fall/Winter on the Sunshine Coast, fully immersed in creative process. This is more an image/idea file and sketchbook than journal.
This daily archiving series is about organizing and dating my journal collection. After processing the last few samples that left me a bit raw, this sample is lighter in its contents … Summer 2000 on the Sunshine Coast, being a mom.
Reading Bukowski in the tub and continuously struck by the immensity of his poetry; Bukowski has the ability to transport me into the story, giving me a window into a world I have never known physically, but which, ironically, speaks to my mindset… his poetry is a cool drink, a warm quilt…
The Soldier, His Wife and the Bum
I was a bum in San Francisco but once managed
to go to a symphony concert along with the well-dressed people
and the music was good but something about the
audience was not
and something about the orchestra
and the conductor was
although the building was fine and the
I preferred to listen to the music alone
on my radio
and afterwards I did go back to my room and I
turned on the radio but
then there was a pounding on the wall:
“SHUT THAT GOD-DAMNED THING OFF!”
there was a soldier in the next room
living with his wife
and he would soon be going over there to protect
me from Hitler so
I snapped the radio off and then heard his
wife say, “you shouldn’t have done that.”
and the soldier said, “FUCK THAT GUY!”
which I thought was a very nice thing for him
to tell his wife to do.
she never did.
anyhow, I never went to another live concert
and that night I listened to the radio very
quietly, my ear pressed to the
war has its price and peace never lasts and
millions of young men everywhere would die
and as I listened to classical music I heard them making love, desperately and
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.
Many moments I have completely forgotten – so it is astounding (and painful) to find them in my journals. And how remarkable to find that the latest three: Samples 15, 16 and 17 (random selections from the shelf) are very connected.
“We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic.” – Daphne du Maurier
Went to Mom’sfor the first time since Dec 20. It was an odd experience. Somehow I ended up with a $100 cheque from her and an invoice for the medical insurance of $272.90 from Dad. I was really glad seeing the kids run around, but mom was venomous. Dad seems to want nothing to do with me and very little to do with the children. I don’t think I’d see him again for the rest of my life if it were up to him. Mom was the one that invited me. I don’t exist for them anymore except through my children and their hatred of J____.
January 24, 1992
Victoria trip tomorrow. First time I’m going on a trip without letting my parents know.
I am the black sheep.
I am a…
February 7, 1992
Alley Cat Gallery had good things to say about my new dancer series. She interprets them as me coming to terms with myself, being more at peace and I tend to agree. Wants them framed to exhibit on February 11.
“Those who cut off usually do so because they feel powerless. They think the other person has all the power and they don’t see a way to be themselves in a close relationship with that powerful person.” – Dr. Richard W. Richardson, Family Ties that Bind
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.
It is important to note that I had extraordinary relationships with my parents. We had many adventures and they were integral in making me who I am, helping me raise my children and being enthusiastic collaborators in many of my projects.
In the last years of both their lives, I was caregiver but also a loved and celebrated daughter and we were very, very close. They died (Mom Nov 2008 and Dad Oct 2012) with my heart feeling full of love and being loved and with no unfinished business.
HOWEVER, throughout the journals there is a lot of pain. Many moments I have completely forgotten – so it is astounding to find them in my journals. And how remarkable to find that the latest two, Sample 15 and 16, random selections from the shelf, are very connected.
This process is becoming more important than I initially expected. I am exploring the past. Wrapping it up. I know I am about to launch into something very special as a result.
Sitting at the airport Starbucks. Julian made it through customs, on his way to Durango. Anna on her way to Mexico. The kids’ lives are expanding and it is truly incredible.
January 14, 2012
My thoughts are leaning towards creating a journal series around mothers and daughters and processing my relationship with Mamma. It’s time to dig into the boxes and face the emotions that come up around that. I want to focus on the legacy of being fiercely loved, being the child of an alcoholic. Feeling the pressures around witnessing her emotional issues and not being able to protect her, not being able to fulfill the needs she had. Bearing witness to her loss. We were so close/ so happy, yet I was so entrenched and intertwined in her needs that is was hard for me to pursue my own goals without considering her reaction and embracing her dreams. By pursuing medicine/university, I was pursuing her dreams and giving her bragging rights. That strive for perfection is deeply ingrained.
My first big “rebellion” was falling in love with J____. This spiralled her out of control. It was obvious that alcohol helped her cope with the stress that I caused.
So in moments of stress now, I go back to those moments of feeling like a failure and unable to fulfill the desires and hopes that mom had for me.
“I am an old tree with withered leaves which keep hanging and can’t fall to the ground. And a breeze from the sea makes all the receipts rustle.” – Tomas Tranströmer