How is your heart today? What’s going on in there? What are those emotions you’re a-feelin’?
In the past weeks, I’ve found myself continually referring to my emotions as a pack of wild dogs forever running from me. Even though this clumsy, more-than-slightly-overused metaphor is one I’ve only recently employed, I do think I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember: Being in love felt like an exercise in slowly maddening humiliation, crying felt like a shortcut to ensuring that what I said could never be taken seriously, and getting angry or frustrated was grounds for being ignored, dismissed, or in some cases, laughed out of the room. My emotions were wild and uncontained and ran ferociously on all fours. They had teeth and claws and were to be feared. Obviously, the revulsion associated with being perceived as “emotional” - this dismissal of acting with one’s heart as irrational and dangerous – is highly gendered and problematic. It is deeply rooted in systemic oppression. It is hard as fuck to unlearn.
On Sunday, lying in the park with a friend, I said, “I feel like I can never catch up to those damn dogs.”
They were quiet for a moment. Then: “But which part of you is chasing the dogs?”
I watched the slow-moving clouds between the leaves and branches of the sturdy, solemn oaks in Queen’s Park. Not logic, certainly. Logic is not where I live. Logic is not what I feel is the essential, immovable part of my being. My inconvenient, interrupting, restless heart is. That is to say, my emotions are.
Look. It’s been a weird, challenging, flabbergastingly didactic year. I’m not gonna chase my pack anymore; I’m just gonna learn to run with ‘em.
Oy vey. I am having a year. To list each crisis would be vulgar and also probably wouldn’t capture the magnitude of each situation, so I’m gonna skip it and just say this: 2014 has been so difficult that I’m writing a graphic memoir about it.
There’s a little sneak-peak for you. It’s me, lying in bed and singing an ill-conceived mash-up of “Can’t Let Go” as covered by Lucinda Williams, and “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. Lucinda and Fleetwood have seriously been getting me through this wild ride, along with The Supremes, Talking Heads, The Blow, Pavement, and (mutters under breath) Bob Dylan (mostly just Blood on the Tracks, let’s be real here).
I also want to address some weird internet culture that’s gathered around my “Be Vulnerable Or Go Away” piece (viewable here), which is, I want to remind folks, a self-portrait, not a gee-dee advice column. Nobody owes anyone else vulnerability, and vulnerability is certainly not something to be wrested from others. Access to your vulnerability is a privilege, not a right! I received some feedback about this recently and discovered that maybe the message of that piece was being misconstrued. Just wanted to clear that up for y’all.
The delightful effects of pseudoephedrine are slowly wearing off (I have a bit of a summer grippe), so I’ll sign off here – but expect more updates on the book about 2014, and let me close by saying this: If you love pictures of me wail-singing despondently in bed, are you ever in for a treat.
Perhaps one of these days I will be able to update this blog without prefacing each post with a shame-faced apology for lack of timely updates. But today is not that day! So, here I am, in all my blushing-too-easily glory, sorry for not being a more regular poster.
Some quick updates about my life: I moved! Well, I guess I am technically still in the process of moving, but for the past month, I have been hanging my hat at a lovely queer collective house with five lovely roommates. Yes, five! It’s a very big house, and it does not feel crowded to me. I never thought I’d go back to collective living, but I’m so glad I did. Conversations around the kitchen table, the sweet sounds of roommates singing in the shower, and two mischievous cats prowling the hallways have brought an unexpected amount of joy into what has been an otherwise rather tough month.
Plus, I have a wonderful neighbour who lives a mere five minutes away:
This is a little two-panelled illustration of my friend Tom, who I have only known since November, but who is already one of my favourite human beings. Tom writes beautiful things and will do pretty much anything for a laugh, including bowling over your attempts to switch the conversation topic while he builds momentum from a previous joke (this is both infuriating and very funny). Today, we hung out to work independently (but side-by-side) on projects and listen to Arthur Russell and Brian Eno. I whipped up this little drawing while he did actual real-person work. The detail panel (top) is of Tom’s very beautiful altar.
I am currently working on a behemoth of a story (not drawing! but there will be accompanying illustrations because who am i kidding) AND a little comic about (surprise surprise) feelings. I hope to share some of that process with y’all very soon.
I am in a weirdly productive groove these days. My winter survival strategy is listening to Paul Baribeau‘s Grand Ledge on repeat, drinking way too much coffee and root beer, and being the busiest bee. Some days, it’s like “Oof, my heart!”, but on others, it’s like “Yeah yeah yeah keep doing all the stuff and making all the things!”
Here is a portrait I did last night at my kitchen table:
This is my lovely co-conspirator Jeff, who you might know as Finn if you have read Radio Antarctica V. Jeff is a kind-faced, soft-spoken dude who takes his coffee with 18% cream and a veritable fuck-tonne of brown sugar. Jeff would like to be given a bunch of kale over a bouquet of flowers. He takes pictures and plays guitars and blushes easily. I like Jeff a whole lot!
I drew this picture rather sloppily this morning, also at my kitchen table, while my new & wonderful friend Mariel was over for a work-date. Mostly we drank coffee and giggled and swapped secrets. Mariel is a special, lovely human who I’m so lucky to be getting to know! Anyway, this picture is a reminder to myself to keep workin’ and writin’ and drawin’. It can be a reminder to you, too, if you like.
After my last post, I figured y’all could use something a little more posi (knuckle tattos: MORE POSI), so here’s a little something I just did at my kitchen table while my friend Carly worked away on her zine. She’s still in my kitchen right now! Zining! What a dreamy life I live.
Untitled (Dream Date), 2013
There are actually maybe a few people who could be considered dream dates in my life, but I’m definitely one of ‘em. In the words of Margaret Cho, I’m the one that I want! Maybe you should consider being the one that you want, too? Go on and take yourself out for a milkshake. Take yourself for a three-hour date to the library. Go for a walk at midnight and giggle and listen to pop punk. Hold your own hand & bask in the glory of your own good company.
I’m really liking this trend on tumblr that could basically be described as “rude things in nice packages”. Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of feels – tapering off of psych meds will do this to you – and have decided to channel my rage into a series of text illustrations. Here’s the first:
Happy Halloween, y’all! If you’re into that kind of thing. Today I hung out with my homequeer Maranda Elizabeth, which was lovely. We drank coffee, read, wrote, drew, dreamed & schemed on their bed, surrounded by their cats (Amélie & Lily-Biscuit), tarot decks, and zines. Then we traipsed over to The Gem for snacks and they gave me a quick but magical tarot reading while we listened to 1, 000, 000 Halloween novelty songs. Uhmazing.
My snack was served on a doily, which naturally I decided to draw on:
So, this is basically my new motto. Maranda and I were talking about vulnerability and how important yet undervalued it is. Honestly, you can probably figure out what I mean by this, so I won’t go on and on. But, to sum up: no pain without vulnerability, but also no magic. And the magic’s what we’re after, right?
The past few months have involved so much drawing, and so little posts of said drawings! So, I’m gonna try to catch y’all up on some of the funnest projects I worked on this summer/early autumn.
One of the things I like doing best is designing pretty much anything for bands. Have you ever been in a band, readers? What an exhilarating, thrilling thing. I credit playing violin in a super pretentious post-punk band when I was 16 as my official entry into teenagehood rebellion. The first time I ever drank beer was sharing a pitcher of complimentary Great Western Pilsner with my bandmates as payment for a show. Oh, Saskatchewan! Playing in a band also made me more confident & strengthened my non-musical creative resolves. I miss playing music and would really love to do it again!
So naturally, I was pretty thrilled when my friend Shira Mario asked me to design a t-shirt for the band they drum for, Forty Whacks (you should go to that link immediately and listen to my favourite track, “Back to Olympia”, which is NOT a Rancid cover). I spent a day listening to their demo and making little thumbnail drawings of various images that their giddy pop-punk flooded my head & heart with. In the end, I came up with three rough designs, and Shira and their bandmates chose the one they liked best, which I then prettied up.
I wanted something that looked a little raw and sketchy, but remained high-contrast & t-shirt-friendly. The above is what I came up with, and I think it’s pretty fun.
Hopefully, I will be sporting a t-shirt bearing this image fairly soon, and I can show you how the image translated to fabric. Until then, lovelies!
Hey y’all – I’m here yet again, rather sheepishly scuffing my toe and apologizing for a lack of updates. Hi! Hello! How are you?
Let’s just jump right into it. Jenna Brager is an amazing artist, a total babe, and a deadly phD candidate who I somehow tricked into being my friend when we met last year at the Chicago Zine Fest. At the end of September, I visited her for a week and witnessed just how incredible her work is and how she’s a super tough academic turbo-babe that Gets Shit Done. I used the word babe twice. Is that okay?
Anyway, because I’m a flaky odd-job-jill/freelancer, I spent most of my week across the kitchen table from Jenna, drawing little vignettes of our days together while she read thousands of pages of theory and planned the class she teaches and put on amazing leather pencil skirts to go to school (seriously, the woman has style).
Here are three of these little vignettes – I have more, and will post them soon – which I think are kind of cute:
(Here we are at Highline Park in New York City, where Jenna picked me up, unwashed and smelly from a 12 hour bus ride. We ate pizza for breakfast.)
(On the second day, I made pretzels for the first time ever while Jenna was teaching, and we ate so many pretzels, omg.)
(On the third day we ran through this charming little park and then fed baby deer and their parents at a forestry farm/petting zoo in New Brunswick.)
Now I’m home and new things are happening and I’m trying to reorder my life and maybe go to school again and WHOA. I’m working for a few friends, part-time gigs, and drawing lots. Making new friends and meeting new giggly co-conspirators. Things are great.