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Four Years Later...

...I return to LiveJournal, just to see what it's like. I also recently came across the PDF I made of my first LJ blog, and, not long after, on 26 January, re-read the 'Letter of Intent' I wrote (9 years ago to the day) for my application to Ryerson's Documentary Media MFA program. A reflecting-on-the-past-as-I-evaluate-the-present theme emerges: where am I, and is it where I wanted be; where do I want to go, and has that changed?

Today I went skating with my 7-year-old niece R and her friend E (they play hockey on the same team).

This evening I picked up knitting needles for the first time in, I dunno, decades probably, cast on 30 stitches, pulled them all off, cast on again, knit two rows, then stopped because my hand was cramping.

Murphy and Mickey continue to be adorable:

It's been a long time coming, it's a little late arriving (in time, that is, for the 30th anniversary of the event), and I've been even slower to announce it, but here it is:

Three Thousand and Thirteen is a 7x7 hard cover (with glossy dust jacket!), full colour photo book.

Artist Erin Clarke revisits various sites of the 1981 Toronto Bath House Riots, retracing the path of her involvement and weaving a personal narrative with the unfolding of this momentous event in Canadian sexual politics.

“Erin Clarke's photography is sharp and playful, and the accompanying text - a kind of prosetry - defies clear categorization. Clarke is thoughtful and brave in her excavation of personal and public queer histories. ‘Three Thousand and Thirteen’ shows art and imagination as integral parts of a larger movement towards personal and political liberation.”

- Elizabeth Ruth, author of Smoke

Preview and buy Three Thousand and Thirteen here:

A Cosmic Christmas

This was my favourite TV Christmas special when I was 10 years old. I remember that the Toronto Star ran a full-colour image of the poster (front page of the Entertainment section, most likely), which I brought to school and earnestly replicated with pencil in art class.

Over the years I waited in vain for it to be rebroadcast, wondered where I could buy a home-viewing version, and if I'd ever see it again. Some thoughtful person, possibly in possession of a rare VHS copy, uploaded it to YouTube (a few years ago) and I made a playlist of its three parts for the continuous viewing pleasure of anyone who cares to watch it:
A Cosmic Christmas

My First Hockey Injury

Did I mention that I've been learning to play hockey with my sister?

It started last spring when she asked if I'd be interested in taking a women's beginner hockey skills class at Bill Bolton Arena with her over the summer. Needing some more vigorous form of exercise than walking and biking, and wanting to spend some leisure time with my sister (who, as a working mother of three, doesn't have much), I signed up, though I had never had any particular passion for hockey or any other team sport as a child, introverted proto-artist that I was.

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Half-way through last Tuesday night's class, during an exercise, I fell backwards on a stop, not just on my butt, but also my right wrist, which took a lot of the impact. It really hurt, but I shook it out a little, inspected, wiggled my fingers and kept going. Not long after, we moved onto stick handling exercises and the pain worsened while range-of-motion decreased to the point where I couldn't even hold my stick. I sat out the scrimmage.

By the end of class my thoroughly swollen hand sported a fine set of sausage fingers and my sister asked if I knew where the closest hospital was. Indeed, it was the one in which we had both been born. My sister helped me get my gear off (and home), my clothes on, and drove me to the ER, where a hockey-jerseyed lad with a *really* broken right wrist was going through triage. Two hours and an x-ray later, I was sent off in a tensor bandage with assurances that I had merely sustained a soft tissue injury and instructions to follow up with my family physician. Well, whew! I was worried I'd killed my hockey 'career' before it even started, but it looks like I'll be back on the ice next class - after, of course, I get my skates sharpened.

Sprawl and Silence

Today I turned my attention (back) to managing my various web presences. I am trying a service called Hootsuite, which lets me track my FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and (one of my) WordPress accounts, though that last one doesn't seem to be working properly.

On the topic of blogs, awhile ago I created WordPress blogs (which I like for the management interface and widgets that pull from other sites, like Twitter, del.icio.us and Flickr) for erinclarke.com and rackle.ca but haven't posted much there since. I've been looking for a way to have whatever I post at erinclarke.com show up here automatically, but there appears to be no option for this, not on either the LiveJournal or WordPress side. So, for now I'll post a link: http://erinlynnclarke.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/long-slow-juggling-act/

If I tame the sprawl I'll break the silence more often.

Reclining Mickey

There's been nothing but crickets chirping in my tiny corner of the blogosphere for quite awhile, and even my Facebook forays and Twittering have been scant and lurkerish. But I am cracking my blog-writing knuckles and rubbing my bleary social networking eyes to announce a feline addition to my home. A friend for Murphy, the most placid little cat I've ever known, the sweet, the slothful, the gluttonous and ridiculously adorable, Mickey!

Although Mickey cried his first two nights at his new home, in just a matter of days he has settled in well, has mostly won over Murphy, who only hisses at him occasionally, and has already befriended my downstairs neighbour's cats, the boisterous Casey and the gentle giant Finnegan. So now we have a house full of cats with Irish names (Mickey came with his and he's keeping it, despite sharing the handle with a certain cartoon mouse).


Shreds of the Past

Late getting into tax season activities, I am shredding old bills, bank statements, pay stubs, etc. and finding it a strange look back, not just on what I was doing 15+ years ago, but on how certain things have changed, such as how we generally pay quite a lot less for much more these days, computer and Internet-wise.

My first payment to an Internet Service Provider (Internex Online - io.org) of $50 (May 1996), a $138.65 ($USD100 - an exchange rate that's changed dramatically since then) payment (January 1997) for the first domain name I registered (hexa.net, which I still have, though have been thinking of letting go since it hasn't been attached to an actual web site or service in years) remind me that I was dialing up at 28.8kbps and now enjoy 5mbps DSL.

Other items that made me pause included:

A savings account book from Bread & Roses Credit Union with only one page of hand-written entries from 1991.

VISA statements showing:

- Payments to places that no longer exist, like Computronix and Pages.

- Cash advances from ATMs in England (Barclay's) and Ireland (the AIB at Lynch's Castle in Galway) July and August 1994.

- A payment to Shifters Driving School in August 1995 (wow, Shifters is still around - I have only good things to say about my experience there).

Pay stubs from the high school where I taught Irish Gaelic for a year (1994, 1995) and every other pay stub from 1994 to 1997.

Bank statements and canceled (i.e. cashed by those I'd written them to) cheques from my first experience as a registered (sole proprietorship) business, Erin Art & Design (the hideous-by-today's-standards website for which is, mercifully, not found on The Internet Archive / Wayback Machine, though the main io.org site is).

There's something oddly compelling about these concrete affirmations that I really did these things in these places, especially knowing that such paper documents have long since ceased being the default transaction record.

There's also something timely in my destroying them...

Rumbling Murphy

It's been ten days since I brought the new kitty home and although settling in has been somewhat slow by indiscriminately-friendly-cat standards, the little guy seems genuinely pleased with his new living arrangements. An early sign of happy adjustment was his exuberant adolescent purr, somewhere between a breathy kitten squeak and the deeper big-boy-cat rumble he'll eventually have. Around day two or three, when he figured out the bed was a safe and excellent place for cuddling, he flopped and curled and nestled in the crook of my arm with wiggly abandon, eventually sprawling on his back and kneading the air with his eyes half closed in kitty bliss.

While the name his first people gave him seemed to suit (Clarkson), it seemed also that, as he became more at ease in my bedroom, he had a different name. When chatty, he frequently intoned, "murf!" which I would also say inquiringly when coaxing him out from hiding, "murf?" and it soon occurred to me that this was his name: Murphy!

Although Murphy is making himself very much at home in certain ways, he still has a long way to go toward feeling 100% comfortable in 100% of his new abode. He still spends most of his time in my bedroom and only comes out from between the bed and the wall to eat, to play with me or to cuddle. He has begun to gallop in and out of the bedroom at night, which disrupts my sleep, but which I don't discourage at this stage. Yesterday he ventured farther out during the day, but only because I encouraged this exploration using play. Most interaction with Murphy must be done sitting, crouching or lying down, as he is most afraid when I am (or anyone else is) standing, though I've been using 'play therapy' to help him trust me at my full height.

Some of his skittishness is a normal part of encountering new circumstances. Some of his apparent contentment with mostly-one-room living could come from having spent a fair amount of his young life in confinement. But I do wonder about his experience with his first people, who, as I've already mentioned being told, were going through a divorce and apparently kept him in a basement much of the time. He has even hissed at me a couple times when I've walked toward him and reached down for his empty food bowl. This is a fear reaction, not aggression, and he is quickly reassured by soothing sounds and gentle touch (once I've crouched down).

Murphy has already built strong foundations of love in my heart and, given time, I hope he comes to dwell in the entire apartment with the same degree of happy-cat relaxation he exhibits in my arms on the bed.


Kitty Welcome

Last Thursday evening I brought this sweet, wide-eyed guy home. He's still camera-shy, spending much of his time between my bed and the wall, so I'm posting his adoption ad photo.

His name, currently, is Clarkson, which is what his first people called him (though he was called 'Dick' as a wee kitten, part of a set of brothers, the other two of which were, of course, 'Tom' and 'Harry'), and he is a nine-month-old, cream tabby and white Scottish Fold (DoB Monday 14 June 2010).

According to the lady I adopted him from, his first owners kept him in their basement through much of their divorce, eventually deciding not to keep him at all. He's spent the last five or six weeks living in a cage (three of those weeks were because I asked if I could bring him home after my vacation), so he's taking a little extra time adjusting to his new circumstances.

While nervous and shy (his adoption ad said he had "trust issues"), he's super friendly and affectionate, becoming more relaxed by the day. When I croon and give him head scritches, lying across the bed to reach him in his safe spot, he wiggles with happy-cat joy, rolls over on his back for tummy pats, then gets up excitedly to nudge my hand with his head, accompanied by little grunts of pleasure, rather like my sister Averill's cat, Holmes. I look forward to the day he feels comfortable doing this on top of the bed or beside me on the couch.

As if having a new cat weren't enough to keep me at home for the weekend, on my way from work to the Queen streetcar*, empty cat carrier in hand, I performed a spectacular ass-plant with the help of some ice hiding below a puddle, and the resulting soreness further encouraged me to lounge away the next three days with the new guy, to which activity I will now return.

Update: at 12:34 EDT he began purring!

*I am currently, and likely for the foreseeable future will continue to be, carless, due to brake failure and a lack of funds, plus the mechanic's advice against throwing any more money at my aging vehicle.

Projects and Obstacles

Lately, I've been working extra hours at The Day Job™ and spending weekends (and some evenings) working on a few outstanding projects. In spite of recent efforts and notable progress, they still linger, whether due to creative struggle (as with the photo book: deep personal stuff bubbling up) or resource limitations (necessitating travel to outside resources, which then is impeded by things like snow storms and failing car parts) or catching up on other, more ordinary tasks, or simply being too tired after a busy day and needing to, heaven forfend, *rest*.

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And on that note, I should toddle off to bed as I must be at The Day Job™ for 8:30 tomorrow morning.