High on mushrooms with my best friend on my 22nd birthday, sitting in the dirt, watching him play in the trees on the mountain, all of time seemed to have collapsed on itself, and at the risk of sounding like hocus pocus, everything in material reality seemed like a big inside joke. It seemed obvious to me that our bodies are new, but our souls old, if old is even measurable at all; but that the soul and body are not the same. Faced with the physical reality that is my body; one of a young woman, of what I’ve learned is “classically beautiful”, “striking”, a genetic lottery of sorts, and at the same time, in a constant immune battle against itself and in near daily danger just for existing, just for being a female person, the lesser sex; all things I struggle to consolidate inside myself everyday, I remembered, re~learnt, decided, that my body carries lessons I can learn, this time around. That the vessel I carry doesn’t define me, and doesn’t decide my fate necessarily, but has much to teach, it has much to inform my experience of living, and is an essential tool in my art.
A sister piece to ‘Fall is for the Ultimate’
I wrote most of this around the end of April and I’ve been building on it since.
I’m already nostalgic for Spring now that Humid Summer is upon us (even my eyeballs feel sweaty!).
Spring is for the romance. Spring is for wanting (to have) someone to pet your hair, because just the feeling of the wind moving through it in the sun is enough to make you cry.
Spring is for wanting to eat burgers everyday, so you do.
Spring is for first encounters skipping handshakes and moving straight to hugs.
A Mile End landscape drawn on diner place mats. The reflection of rainbows that last nights top sends casting across the table and your bagel. Comparing the colors of your eyes and ending with, “well there’s so much here!”
Spring is for a new book for every sleepover. And for only ever reading the fist three pages of every one of them when I can’t sleep. And for borrowed books, fiction and otherwise, about sexuality.
Spring is for men saying to me, “I think you’ll really like this.”
(over breakfast and beers)
Spring is for friends who look like all of Tumblr at once, and up all night talking until 9am because whatever.
Spring is for, “Can I touch your scabs?” said romantically. She said, “You are quite literally an open wound.” Highly sensitive people discussing sensitivity and MDMA hangovers in sunrooms and over cigarettes. She said, “It sounds like you don’t need to do drugs, you can already feel it all.” I feel so much.
Spring is for skin theory, surface contemplation, sensory overload. And should I be a lab rat? And exactly how deep does my disease go? And how much of myself can I expose before vulnerability will be misinterpreted as performative.
Spring is for meet me in the rain would you like a cigarette?
Spring is for blueberry pancakes, when the sun feels dark, visiting the animal shelter for emotional therapy, and every Vitamin water tasting like, “are you hungover?”. Can I buy every shade of lace and plaid and blame my art?
Spring is for a fresh new notebook soon filled with sprawling letters written while kneeling in a gravel alley way. A notebook like a companion to remember the overflow. The overflow of living presently.
Spring is for school is over, seems like it’s someone’s birthday every other day, how many days can celebrations last before they become benders? Is there such a thing as a date bender? Can you overdose on feelings? Fall into a pit of romance, down down down the rabit hole only to find yourself lying in a park sharing a beer thinking, ‘Oh, I think I’d like to get used to this’.
Spring is for April feels like some sort of time joke, like no, I haven’t had enough of purgatory yet.
Spring is for a roommate asking what the poem you read was about and when you say, “being a girl”, her saying, “ahh” with a smirk because this topic seems to consume all of you and by extension all that you create.
Spring is for can everything be a photoshoot? Are you filming? Is this a vine? Am I on the internet already saying this? (and I haven’t even finished my sentence yet.)
Spring is for I can finally write this outside. And we can finally make out outside. And we are drinking wine and making out in the park. He said, “We are the people we would normally laugh at, but also feel happy for.”
We are spinning. Twirling around the poles on metro cars like this is a Jon Hughes movie and I’m sometimes scared it could be.
Spring is for he is in my bed again and he literally blends right in. And where does one naked hug end and the next begin. He said, “I wear lace shadows on my face just for you.” And I can’t keep my eyes open, and I can’t see you this up close, and are we talking about hamburgers or sex, actually? And in how many different contexts can that last question apply before it will feel like a city wide joke?
Spring is for the lipstick smudges over my tattoo gave me an idea for a painting.
Paint me your brain in watercolor. And I will send you my name in flowers since you like to say it so much. Spring is for you say so much, I wish I had a tape recorder at brunch. Spring is for brunch became a picnic and picnic became life. Sleepovers and goodbye parties trail from the park and back again for days on end.
Spring is for “Are you titillated?” Tittylated. Tittyland.
“You’re breasts are even nicer than mine.”
He said, “Are you actively into girls?” and she (the girl I like) said, “You and I will be wearing leather for very different reasons.”
Spring is for gender neutral pronoun politics making me self conscious. But only because I’m so relieved to be living in a sexually progressive city. He said, she said, they said. We are a galaxy. He (they?) said, “Madeleine, what if the galaxy really is reflected on your skin?”
Spring is for NO PARENTS. And this means sex in the kitchen. And texts saying, “Your kitchen is an erogenous zone.” And I’m, beginning to wonder what’s not. And your hip fits perfectly in my hand like side of a pin ball machine. And I want to play you like a win win situation.
Spring is for having erotic passages about pinball read to you in the park.
Spring is for the rain giving me mermaid hair. And for mermaids giving me hope. And for mermaids who smoke like 1950’s movie stars to match their haircuts.
Spring is for this threesome or that one?
Spring is for this city is smarter than people give it credit for. Not just a pretty place, not just a La Bohemian lifestyle. This city brings personality to knowledge, and it brings people together in living rooms where we gladly share beer and poems and are kind to each other even when we’ve been sleeping with each others lovers. Imagine that.
Imagine a place where I have not been home yet.
Spring is for if you see me out in the world somewhere before 7pm imagine that I haven’t been home yet. But also imagine that there’s a 30% chance I’m just earnestly up at a decent hour and probably trying to be productive or find coffee or round up a picnic.
Spring is for do I have a cold because:
(1) I kissed someone with one
(2) rolled around the city all night wearing something sheer
(3) put substances up my nose
or (4) all of the above.
Spring is for I hate to admit that I kind of judge people based on their nail polish color.
Spring is for at this rate everybody could be married by the weekend.
Spring is for there was a moment this morning where I forgot how to write so I wrote this instead.
Spring is for group writing parties. And fact sharing. And cross pollination between disciplines to procrastinate the morning away. And caesars at 8am when you haven’t been to bed yet because maybe this will bribe the essay outa me?
Spring is a place where one lover is saying to me about another lover, “For someone who falls in love so often, I just don’t understand people who make such a big deal about it, just be nice to each other.” while I’m making a big deal about it.
Spring is for we can hear you fucking while we say our awkward, lingering, tension filled goodbyes.
He cut all of their faces out and filled them with light. And I left my eyes blank because I’m unsure of what I see. And my prof considered this unfinished but I consider it self aware (optimistic).
Spring is for I have been taking pictures of my reflection reflected onto other surfaces for months, and then I met a boy carrying around a gigantic sheet of a reflective surface all day. And he said, “Oh you and I, Madeleine Black, we’re going to be great friends.”
Spring is for can you choke me and he said, “Gladly”.
Spring is for sexy socks. And friends running into my bedroom screaming, “Maddy! I feel like you’re the expert on boys!??” only to find me in bed with a girl. Spring is for booty calls have dress codes and hers was black socks, which she didn’t have and I gave her. Mine has become no makeup, and sadly that is actually something I have reason to feel proud of myself for.
Spring is for all I can think about is skin. And so I pulled it all off, in public. And a new friend told me a month later that the first time he saw me I was standing on a bench surrounded by a crowd and he thought, ‘What the fuck is she doing?’ And I got an A.
At a party once my roommate told another friend that she thinks I’ll be a performance artist, and that was the first time I’d heard her say that. Spring is for every prof telling me that I’m very performative. And all winter I’d been trying to hide behind a scarf, but then they say the scarf became performative because it was on me, and I laugh to myself about trying to hide from the things that always find me, like performativity and kissing people (everyone) at parties.
Spring is for I’ve given up on trying not to put on a show. I am treated like a spectacle in a hoodie and no makeup at the grocery store, so I will not apologize for the spectacle that erupts when I do nothing more than add lipstick.
Spring is for sweethearts who ask, “D’you think they have performance art in vancouver?” And, “I have so many clothes because I’m a performance artist”. And no, absolutely not, my mental health has nothing to do with it. Mental health has nothing to do with anything. And how could you live in this century and not be at least a little depressed. And, “I only like people who are a little fucked up”. And I totally hated her when we first met because she was so happy and she was encouraging me to be happy and I thought, bitch.
Spring is performative in the same way that your hair always looks specific in the mornings by accident.
Spring is for your hot prof jumping up and down with excitement to show you artists whose work yours could parallel someday. And telling you that you could be a really interesting artist someday. And that you have a presence. But sometimes it’s just so hard to get your essence to the spaces where it needs to be, literally your body where it’s supposed to be when, and that’s a problem.
Spring is for the predictive text in my phone suggests, “this —> cuddle”.
Spring is for we’re so platonic he didn’t even notice he was spooning me naked in the morning.
Spring is for anxiety about happiness. The seasons are designed to make us all manic depressive and I am in guilty adoration of mania, my own and others.
Spring is for anime eyes. Wide like the way I feel to the world right now. In terrified and elated awe of all the beauty and chaos and mania that it brings.
Please, just hold me. (and pet my hair)
I haven’t been blogging! (obviously) and this is a problem!
In the wrath of the end of the semester I totally fell behind on posting about the projects, adventures and art that I’ve been creating/having/exploring. And then I fell straight from that extreme (the school haze chaos) to another (not being home for more than 3 hours for days and days at a time, all parks and all substances and all the makeouts etc.)
and for that I deserve a slap on the wrist. which I am administering to myself right now as in actually I’m just drinking coffee and eating pizza like usual.
Blogging for me is a way to monitor my productivity/progress/projects – to maintain a goal I have of creating/working on creative projects everyday, so that it becomes second nature/a way of life. I have a bad habit of falling into rabbit holes, recently having realized that I am so presently minded I sometimes can’t even remember what happened last week and I can barely see more than a few days in advance. I’m also, a possibly dangerous blend of introverted and manic-social, so I can very quickly end up down down down the rabbit’s path into some sort of ‘might be an opium den, might be a thursday afternoon’ and I haven’t slept in my own bed for three nights in a row and I forgot that I’m an artist and also where I stop and you begin and I need to be creating or else I go insane!
The thing that blogging helps with most is that each post has a date on it, so I can clearly see how long it’s been since I sat down and really invested enough time to finish something. (I am getting pretty consistent with writing daily but they’re often scattered and left unfinished in word documents, my notebooks, and digital post it notes on my phone, these days written on the walk from one lovers kitchen to another. Blogging is a way to hold myself accountable, to myself, to practice writing a lot and fleshing out ideas and to keep moving, always forward.
BUT also, SPRING! and there’s been so much happening! so many wonderful and new and varied things and people and experiences (cliche mascot over here) in my life right now! I’m even thinking that maybe my happiness can be measured by how often I blog per month (although this hasn’t been scientifically examined) because I haven’t really done much of anything on here in ages but I’ve also been really happy lately.
“Happy” – an umbrella term for I like my life and myself and my friends a lot.
(and we have a lot of fun) (Montreal knows how to love well!)
***MUST WRITE/CREATE/BlOG EVEN WHEN HAPPY***
So basically this is a non-update update rant to get myself back in the flow of posting!
ALSO though! I’m done my first year of university and it went surprisingly well. I had really encouraging feedback from all of my profs, who all said very similar things, which was basically that they think that I will do/create/go very interesting things/places and that I have a really striking presence, should do more performance work and continue to push myself, just more-bigger-farther, but that I seem fairly scattered and unorganized and that this hinders me, which I really appreciate and agree with. (what this post is about basically)
^This is a picture of me (that I like, looking so happy, how I feeeeeeeeel), taken by my friend Simona while we were giggly and waiting for the Parc Ave bus on our way to the loveliest dinner party I’ve been to so far this year. so there you have proof!
Watching and reading interviews of artists, performers, writers & film makers that I admire.
Mostly so far they’ve been all of George R. R. Martin (the author of the Game of Thrones book series), the Mad Men cast and writer Matthew Weiner, and Lena Dunham (best known as the everything girl for/in GIRLS, HBO).
This was sort of inspired by a comment made by my drawing class profs during a portfolio review in December, which is that I should read about/watch the way that other artists talk about their own work (in that context I think they meant specifically the use of vocabulary choices by female performance artists), saying that I “…don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
This I guess might seem like an obvious concept, and I have of course done some of this in the past, but not much, or perhaps not as much as I need to in the future. I do feel that my artwork and the concepts I’ve explored within it have often come from a very instinctual place, without paying much attention to what has/hasn’t been done before, or if anyone would care. I haven’t even paid much attention to consciously deciding “what kind of artist I wanted to be”, or what sorts of topics I wanted to focus on. Instead I feel that those things have sort of occurred to me “naturally” (I’m anti the word “natural” right now due to large university type analytical discussions about like, society, evolution and alien robot cyborgs, but the word still feels appropriate) — and over time, by way of noticing the patterns in what I keep coming back to, what I’m most fascinated, elated and enraged by.
“Not having to reinvent the wheel” admittedly kind of saddens me in a self indulgent way, but! but! I want people to care about my raw instincts, I want to feel like those feelings are valuable. Except that then I realized why it’s also sort of a huge breakthrough ‘DUH’ moment, it means that I can build my ideas to be so much bigger than they would be if I stayed off the internet alone in my bedroom and did nothing but write. It means that I have friends I have never met, women who died long before I was born but feel kindred to me. People who, without them, the words I use to express my feelings may not even exist at all. And this is so cool! And this makes art, as a whole feel like such a collective effort to me, if we build and expand on what’s already been explored than we’re capable of pushing so may more boundaries than we would be otherwise. DUH
(this is why I’m in art school)
Also more generally, to gain an adept vocabulary knowledge, and because I find it plain old inspiring and encouraging. These are people who have succeeded in fields/areas that I aspire to, and who create incredibly intelligent work, I want to know as much about their thought processes as possible!
some jems I’ve encountered: this interview between Lena Dunham and Miranda July aka lady writer gold, it’s really long and they cover so much, I’m even tempted to read it again but I might get lost for hours.
Also, “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart and it’s conflict with the self.” – George R.R. Martin – which makes me go teary
I have also read a lot of TV show reviews lately, often excellent, and often by people who either just sound really bitter or kind of scary, which is especially interesting to see the contrasting perspectives of artists vs. people who talk about art.
So just to end on a terrifying note with this quote:
—In the bad old days, men had to court and marry a woman to get sex. He had to love her. Now, thanks to feminism, women give their bodies first and hope someone eventually will love them afterward. Feminists call this “empowerment.” —
from this terrifying article about GIRLS.
***ohhhh how silly of my to be a feminist, DUH.
1. “I had connected love and performance together. Love is a mystery & doesn’t keep score. We are worthy of love as women just as we are.” -SARK
2. In my worst nightmare I’m screaming, “No! not my metephores they’re all I have!”
3. Attention makes me feel nauseous but I like it.
4. In my romantic relationships, the characters I create in my mind are often far more complex than the people I’m pretending they are.
5. I like the way that the seasons push and pull us into different cycles.
6. I wish I had a tape recorder for my walks!
7. “Synchronicity is basically romance.” – roommate, Jera
8. I should write more about daddy issues.
9. “Whatever coaxes us out of hiding, to write, to record, is a revolutionary act. It says that we believe our lives count.” – SARK
Maybe, what we all (the young, us, ‘young adults’ especially it seems) have to remember (constantly, everyday, around every corner and conversation and expectation) is that no body really knows what they’re doing.
Maybe we are all anxious, and OCD, and self conscious.
Maybe we’re all floundering for some kind of sensibility in the chaos that is our perception of the world and each other and everything. Each of us and our thoughts and the words that come out right and wrong and sideways and poetically, they all get tangled like a fly in the web of a very tricky spider called life. And we’re trapped here, stuck somewhere between can’t escape the hold and loving this sweet venum.
Maybe we both wish for happiness, and pretend we know how to find it (or keep it, or stay happy in one place for very long).
Maybe we want to be travellers, lovers, artists and bohemians because to us that means we’re finding our own way with a little bit more joie de vie than the average american teen and,
and and and, we want to beleive that something somewhere, well anything actually, will ever really make us happy at all.
And in the search of this idea, this utopia far away behind (what we’re told will be) a stable income and true (ever lasting, in Christ our lord amen) love, our lives are filled with so much beauty, so much laughter, and care, and chaos, and coincedences that we will never be able to hold it all. Never tell, or write, or take enough photographs to capture the true (cheesy quote worthy) happiness that comes in the everyday crazy; somewhere between sneezing with your mouthfull and that snarky glisten in your best friends eye.
And they, the opressers and the pessimists and the scientists, they say, that our brains aren’t done developing, and that our horemones drive our actions and that one day, when we’re 32, our motabolizims will have stabalized and then we can go on to live our “real” lives. And maybe they’re right, (or just for some; the boring, sensible, lazy, brainwashed, scared and ‘faux’ depressed) or maybe there’s a movement towards appreciating the unstable, unpredicatble nature of our brains and trusting what all those funny biological chemicals are telling us in the form of libidos and emotions and personal tastes.
Maybe there’s a movement towards appreciating the messy, and the scary (taking chances on people and places and dreams) and the not so simple complexities and intimacies in a whole spectrum of relationships.
Maybe there’s a movement towards realizing that we can cultivate lives worth sustaining. Making homes into recording studios and hosting the parties we’d like to go to in our own backyards.
Maybe, there’s a movement towards appreciating community;
to appreciate living in a world filled with people just as fucked up and depressed and confused as you are (probably, and if you’re not, get out of my house) and to realizing that often, people with the biggest hearts, with the most incredible minds and coolest portfolios have been around the self doubting, depressed for days, haunt at least a few times and that some are probably on it right now.
Maybe there’s a movement towards realizing that there’s no happily ever finish line decorated with suburban home floor plans and wedding bands dripping in white white (pure) white and comfortable retirement funds.
Maybe we’re on a parasol in a web of uncertainty and maybe there’s a movement towards accepting that that’s okay (and that ‘true happiness’ makes a better post it note quote than a life goal) (and that happiness is best homemade, self made, and probably different for everybody, and found in as many different ways as there are people).
Maybe there’s a movement. Or maybe we should start one.
Today, I am seeing ghosts.
Waking to the blurred face of a man I can’t quite recognize.
Hearing footsteps and a long breath behind me as I walk down Scarth st.
But, turning to see no one.
Then every ageing downtown crazy holding doors open for me this morning.
I am struck by that feeling of proximity.
Ache heavy like the weight of a warm body heavy on my chest.
I’m thinking that the hologram of a man watching me wake had a beard like one my dad grew once, when I was around 6, right after he broke his hip.
I’m remembering the sound of his scowl in the wind, the sound of his sigh.
And with them, come memories of his smokers laugh, his story telling voice,
his groan when interupted from the newspaper, a ramble, or a nap.
As I heard the wind sighing this morning on Scarth I was about to say,
“Hi dad. I can hear you.”
But instead just smiled silently the way I have been for two days thinking,
“So I guess you heard!? I got into to art school!”
I think of how he was always so adament about university because he’d never gone.
I think of him at my age, of the life he lived before I met him.
I think of his friends telling me he would be so proud.
I think of 35 year old gossip and when C said,
“Your dad was a pretty big deal, wasn’t he?”
While we drank tea on my couch this Tuesday,
and I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by it.
Shrugging and saying only,
“Yeah, I guess so. Mr. Charisma, my father.”
meant sort of as a joke but also an impulse.
(now hoping he wouldn’t be insulted by this comment, he was a “big deal” based on tallent and kindness and important work in the arts, as well as charm)
C didn’t respond so I continued on a little jokingly about what I know of his love life before my mother, about the woman he was dating when he met her.
Then saying that sometimes C reminds me of him,
just in little snapshots like the back of his head, his shoulders in that jean shirt,
his scowls and sighs and story telling voice.
But, most do after all.
Thinking that if I added up all of the men I love, then picked and chose, I could compile the personality traits and physical feautures of my father:
From my friends the charming up-and-comers,
to the unshaven slender men wearing hand me downs that haunt bus stops,
to every dirty artist I’ve wanted for a minute or a year.
And then, sometimes everything can remind me of him.
Little bits and pieces spark up from everyday life.
From the sound of a drum circle or the smell of pot.
From making snow forts and spagetti and pancakes shaped like cats,
to every one of his many friends, to anyone with a kind hand and a passion for cooking, music, art, gardening, performing and/or people,
they are all him to me.
Today, I am seeing ghosts, but only slightly more than usual.
Hi dad, I can hear you.
I love you, thanks for the visit.
“Festivals for us, are like a hippy treat, a gypsy fix, a place to find a loving home for every silk patterned beauty we would at any other time of year need to layer over and under with fleece.”
My school teachers always told me not to run my sentences on-and-on-and-on, but but but, I just can’t stop! (and according to Vladimir Nabokov, I may never need to) Cause, they don’t teach style in school, right? So you have to make it up. Cookie cutter me out.
– I entered a poetry slam for the first time at the Cathedral Village Arts Festival! After at first feeling terribly self conscious and in no way intending to participate, I was thankfully convinced otherwise and wrote this piece called, ‘Hearts Need a Place’.
-These are my business cards! Each one is individually kissed by myself or someone I’ve kissed, ahah. I was of course doing this at some early am hour the night/day of the festival street fair so I enlisted the help of my friends Jera and Martin, to get them all done in time.
Thank you to Shawn Fulton for these photos of my friend Eric and I “working” (playing photoshoot) at the booth/store/homebase. This next photo is off a friend named Imari who’s only 6, but can play the violin like you would not believe. He was kind of like the highlight of the festival, shhhhhhhhh don’t tell the other artists, and also, his outfit! common.
– Also at the festival, was the launch of an arts publication, put together by my very good friend Katherine Boyer, called ‘The Crop‘. K-boy, as we call her, an artist and just total jem who specializes in printmaking, conceived the concept with Michelle Brownridge and Ian Jestadt, then collected the artwork and printed it herself (wonder woman anyone?).
And, in the (loveliest) of Crops, I had a piece published called, ‘Hello, My Name Is, I’ve Missed you’ which is a painting done in india ink, based on a photograph of my father when he was younger (like, early thirties) and the feeling that I have of constantly meeting (and loving) these younger, different variations of men who remind me of him.
Lately to be continued…