It was Grand!

IMG_4462Dear ones,

Well, I did it! I got myself a job at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. For their production of ‘Silence’ (a world premier! written by Trina Davies, Jan.19-Feb.3, 2018), I set up my ‘this is a post office’ installation inside the balcony lounge. The play tells the story of Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell’s relationship – first person from Mabel’s perspective. Mabel herself was deaf, and so the layers of story we were exposed to in this production (directed by Peter Hinton), including human invention, communication, and connection, involved a sensory component, making ‘Silence’ something you experienced. Many of the letters written between characters in this story (spanning the years 1876-1922) are highlighted in the play, and so through the ‘this is a post office’ display, we enabled the audience to participate in part of the communication they were seeing on stage.

For 17 performances, I offered postcards (pictured below), pens, clip boards, inspiration when needed, and a mailbox. Audience members wrote messages to whomever’s address they knew, or could look up. The Grand Theatre provided the postcards, and all of the postage for this project. I told patrons, ‘It’ll all make sense after you see the first act…I’ll be here at intermission if you want to come find me.’ And come find me they did.

365 postcards were written and mailed throughout the run of the show. Postcards will arrive in 12 different countries, and 120 Canadian cities, in 8 provinces, 17 American states, and in 6 languages (7 if you include drawing as language, which I do!).

Only but a single-handed few didn’t mention the Grand, or recall a memory of being at the theatre together, or insert a beaming adjective of ‘Silence’ and it’s production, or write of love, or give their own interpretation of ‘Silence’ and what they would take away from it, or recommended this play and the story of Mabel and Alex, as a beacon. A heartening few took note of their own shifting perspective on disability, hearing, deafness, correspondence, penmanship, and the ways in which we communicate with one another.

My overall take away from this experience, is one of community, and accomplishment, creativity, and profound hope. From that first email back from the Grand asking for more information, to the way they supported and added such intentional details to the installation itself, to what I learned listening to ‘Silence’ night after night, to the people I found there…and then for me to show up every night, as myself, to do the work I feel called to do – it was all so Grand!!

I am excited for everyone receiving their postcards (messages of ‘thanks’ have already started coming in!). The implications of this project are far reaching and lasting, both for the participants, and for me too, on a personal level – there are legs growing on this little idea of mine, and I can’t tell you what that feels like. There is a glimmer of truth coming from that old adage, that if you work to follow your heart, the universe will conspire to help you.

I know this is a long letter, but I didn’t have the time to write you a short one. I hope I didn’t bore you. And I hope you will either write me back, or come find me the next time I set up shop, to continue this work I am being called to do.

Until then, much love,

Smudge

 

 

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In Transit: Route 1A/B (Kipps/Thompson)

In Transit

Route: 1A/B Kipps/Thompson

Time: 1:05pm

Starting Point: Colborne & Pall Mall (Northbound)

Song: Little Birds by Be Good Tanyas

Sept.4

We got our first woman bus driver! Woohoo! Gender equality. I’m not in my usual spot and I’m adjusting. There’s not as much arm room in this spot, nor can I put my feet up. Adjust. Every time, beginning these pages feels so weird. It’ll take a second to find my voice, here, with you, on the page. It is a holiday today. Labour Day. A Monday. This route is a quieter route to begin with, and I thought would be even quieter today. I want space to think. Room to think on this bus. Empty seats. I’ve been thinking about what I would write you this time. What ‘something of substance’? What I am understanding is that these pages are a revealing of myself. There is no choice in that matter. I will reveal myself. What to reveal, and how, that is my choice. My choice is to let you see how I think, what I pay attention to. I’ve started reading a new book. A memoir. Diane Keaton. It’s written as a memoir of her mother too. I’ve been thinking lots about memoir, and memory. Is that what I want to write? Is that a way forward in my writing. To look back. To remember. To write my memories. Sometimes I thing I’ve worked so hard to forget. Memory seems a painful thing. Again, I must

remember, I get to choose what to remember. What to write about. These pages are mine and so are my memories. I’m not ready. Even the thought of it scares me. To put my memories down in ink, on paper. Not yet. Not here. Not in this way. Not like that. Not for self-pity. Not to regurgitate. One must think of these things, and rewrite rewrite rewrite. Memory is a funny thing. I would tell my story, my memories, to reclaim. To reclaim my life and my experience. To earn my wisdom. (1:25pm). To know what I know. To belong to myself. To own my story, as Brene Brown would say. I know I have searched for love my entire life. I know I have searched for my worthiness. I know I am done searching for either. I know where to find them. I know they have always been here. Oh, there you are. Why have you been running away from us all this time? I gave up my car, and my bike got stolen – stay put, they say. Stay put and you will find what you are looking for. You don’t get this stuff til you get it. Live it. Have things taken from you. Give up hiding. Be brought to your knees. And then you find yourself sobbing, again, not even really sure why. Only there is a sadness. A sadness needing to escape. If I choose to no longer run away, it is my sadness that needs to flee.

…A moment of pause… This bus is full of all sorts of people right now, from different countries, speaking different languages. Ah, Kipps Lane. So many immigrants and refugees live in this neighbourhood. I love seeing colour. Multicultural colour. Thank you for teaching me to see something other

than myself. Thank you for colouring my world. My cousin lives in this neighbourhood and works with many of the families here. He works with them, and they are each other’s community. Jacob has always been generous of spirit. … and now back to me. Ha. Narcissism. No. That’s not what this is about. Maybe it is. But it’s what I’ve got to do. I keep getting told that too, in not so subtle ways, to ‘focus on you!’ I’m not going to change, to become this magnanimous woman I see in my heart unless I do. It’s time. I’m 39. Enough fucking around. Enough running away. Enough. Come home to me. (As I take the bus to take me away…I’ll run every chance I get, still, apparently). Like a child being told to sit still. I am an adult. I’ll do what I need to do. If I need to look inward and remember my story… I’m going to ride these buses to give me that sense of change and movement I crave. I want to see it, and feel it. The train moving my thoughts and emotions moves much slower. You can’t see it, and it feels weird, a little unnerving, almost like I’m hungry, an comfortableness. The bus route/ride is an analogy. A much faster one. This stop is called regret. And that stop is called doubt. And the stop after that is where fear usually gets on. Maybe he slept in today? Maybe she got frightened too? This route is about relationships. That route covers the tracks of your dreams. The next route, the one you’re afraid to take,

that’s the one that holds the greatest secrets. There’s even a key hidden along the way. (1:54pm). This bus ride is going along swimmingly. I am ready for this day and for what is about to happen to me. Isn’t it funny that I have to prepare myself to accept joy, and good things. I have to work hard to let them come in. My own human nature is what I’m up against. My own years of mind games and vicious thoughts. Be gone! You cowardly fools. You demented vice grips. These pages were always going to take me somewhere, and I knew sharing them with you would take me places I’ve never been. I’m going to switch seats. Be more comfortable. (2:01pm). I got my foot up and feel much more comfortable now. Keeping the body happy and the hand happy are key to sitting still and writing for long stretches of time. I used to ride this bus when I worked at South St. hospital [Victoria Hospital, South St. campus], and I lived on Maitland. A long long time ago. About 15 years ago.

We just passed the yard of my elementary school. This route, like so many others, has memories. Holy Rosary. My elementary school. Roundtree Park. All the kids that used to live in these houses, were my friends. My schoolmates. My classmates. My community. All those kids, all those years ago. (2:18pm). We’re on the final loop of this route. I hope. I may get off this route two or four stops early. I have an

appointment at my studio after this and will save myself some steps if I can. I forgot to change out of my flip flops before I left the house and these shoes ain’t the best to walk in. I’m getting tired. Writing can sometimes tucker me out. I have to let go and let whatever comes come, to keep going, to rejuvenate. …Haha! I just got left alone on the bus. (This bus stops for long periods of time, a lot). The driver walked away to go get a coffee, and closed all the doors – Photo shoot!

I’m ready for this trip to be over. Sorry my friends, but I need motion and this bus has been sitting still for far too long. I’m bored. I want to move. To get moving. To keep moving. I don’t want to sit still any longer. These pages are hard enough. Revealing myself in these pages is hard enough. Keep moving. Feeling stuck is not a healthy feeling right now. I can’t get stuck here. I can’t remain stuck here. I’m in transit. This is the in-between place. This is not somewhere you stay. You MOVE THROUGH this place. It’s the hardest place to get through, but none of us were ever supposed to stay here. Staying the course on this route is testing my patience. Staying the course, on this path I’m on, is even harder. More trying. Requires even more of me. Patience. Patience. Determination. Letting go. Trying again. Courage. Patience. Patience. Even more patience. Writing is my sanctuary. Writing

is my way to comprehend, to regroup, to remember, to keep going forward. 2:43pm. This is my first afternoon trip. Normally I ride the bus at night, or in the evening. It feels good to have things to do today, creative things, beyond this, after this. Maybe I’ll bump into you know who. I wonder what my hair will look like when it turns grey. Will it? Will I get my mother’s hair [still black]. Probably. I’ve gotten every other thing about my appearance from her. The hair, the smile, the voice, the heart. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It may have been my father that taught me how to speak, but it’s my mother’s words coming out of my mouth. I am tired. I need to take the headphones out and give my mind some quiet room to breath. Back to Holy Rosary, again, and Bond St. There are more memories here, too. 2:50pm. This is a very long bus ride. This is the 6th page already. I’m going to get off soon and walk to my studio. Just down the road from the stop. Oh wait. I’m not sure where I’m getting off. I need to pay attention for this bit. Thank you for being here with me. Thank you bus driver. Thank you LTC. Thank you fellow passengers. Thank you movement and motion and even emotion. Thank you for being here too. Much love. Until the next time. May I reveal even better, the way this heart and this woman work. ♥

Ending Point: Wellington & Horton

Time: 2:56pm

In Transit: Route 15/21 (Westmount/Huron Heights)

In Transit

Route: 15/21 Westmount/Huron Heights

Time: 6:02pm

Starting Point: Dundas & Richmond

Song: Everlasting Light by The Black Keys

IMG_3609[1]

Aug.21

Today is the solar eclipse. I have my homemade shoebox viewer packed in my bag. I carried it around all day today, periodically checking the state of things. Today I am full of the energy of the sun and the moon, the same energy that runs through me. I am ready for change, it is already upon me. I am here, on this bus, doing this again. Keeping going. Trying again. I read over the past trips and want to try something different. To write slower and with more purpose. What do I want to write. What do I want to say. I took this bus because it gets me as far away, as a city bus can get me, from where I started. It gives me the greatest sense of travel I can get. The greatest sense of being, going somewhere else. (A child just switched spots with me so I could have my most comfortable seat in the very back. To be fair I didn’t take it from the child. She vacated it and I asked if she didn’t mind if I went and sat there). I want to ask the bus driver’s name. For personal records. These guys are letting me do my work, they are driving the bus that is taking me places, and I am thankful to them. I also took this bus because it goes to passes through Wortley Village. There is energy there I want to be in touch with today. Do you have dreams? Do you have dreams that you’re not sure can become real? Dreams that nevertheless

keep telling you to hang on, to keep believing? Do you have those dreams? I do. I have dreams. I have dreams. Where I can see my life. I have dreams that include me. Personal dreams. Intimate dreams. I have dreams. It is no coincidence these pages are called In Transit. That is where I am, in my life. In transit. These dreams are not like ones I’ve had before. My role in these dreams is different than it’s ever been before. My dreams are ‘in transit’, from in my head, to right before me. Dreams are making their way int onto my to-do list in my day planner. One item. A lone item will appear. And that item has never been there before. Even when I imagined that thing…and then there it is. In ink. On the page. In my handwriting. In transit. Some of my dreams even have faces and names. These dreams aren’t abstract. These dreams have needs, they demand attention and work. These dreams. I can call them by name. …but not to you. Sorry. They are precious still. They need time. I am in transit. I don’t even know where we are right now, exactly. We’re somewhere. …Huron Rd. There. Here. There. In between. In transit. From there to here. From there to here to there. In transit. Where are you going? Where are you coming from? Where are you right now? What are your dreams? This subdivision…this area. I think it’s where Aunt Joanne & Uncle Len, Aunt Dolores & Uncle Fred, and Great Uncle Lloyd live. …I think I recognize it. The style of homes. The feeling of the city. What do I

want to say. What do I want to write. What do you want to read? Bubble gum. Balloons. Battlestar galactica. Encyclopedia britannica. Eclipse. Enshrine. Devise. Divine. Snail. Mail. Market place. Werthers! Yes I have Werther’s in my purse. I bought them for the trip. Travel candy. You know, something to suck on. Yum. Delicious. The silicon bubble wrap sent straight to Sunshine Studios was toxic. Ha. I’m just writing words now. Is this how stories begin, by writing whatever comes? Like how a nude torso, a mystical bird, or a distorted face come from what begins as a doodle. My worst fear is that you will find me boring, typical, disposable. What I write, who I am. My worst fear is that I will find my own life as boring, typical, disposable. Who I am, and what I do. Stay strong my friend. Stay true. It can never happen. You are too beautiful. You are too gifted. You are too unique. You are too bright. I have to fill pages upon pages, day after day, with thoughts like these. If only to believe them. You are beautiful. You are magical. You are deserving. To believe them, and to act accordingly. I like that phrase. Act accordingly. This guy is a real fuck head. A real energy sucker sitting beside me. Fuck. I just want to write… There is my studio! Good Sport! We’re heading to Wortley now. …I am happy at Good Sport. I feel supported. I feel part of the community. I feel capable and responsible. I am full of the energy of the sun and the moon and all the universe. I am one with you. I am one with all. Turtle.

and Tree. Water. Wind. Sky. Earth. Bird. Hawk. Eagle. Raven. Mountain Lion. I’m so glad I’ve decided not to waste any more time. I have used today. To get ahead. To ask for what I want. To take action. I’m on this bus ain’t I? This bus and other things too. Every day there are things to do. Inside, and outside too. Naps. Naps have been making a stronger appear presence on my list of needs. Naps. I’m doing some pretty tough emotional work these days, naps are necessary. Ha. No joking. Physical needs are coming of this emotional work. My body, like my mind and soul, is demanding better. Quality. Not more, but better. Better. Quality. This bus ride. I haven’t told you too much of the changing landscape in the seats, or out the window. …When I take my time, when writing, I dream in between the lines, and forget about the details. I’m the only one on the bus now. It’s just me and the driver. I’ll yell at him and ask his name if I get the chance. Life is in the details. No time. Here they come again. People. Welcome, on the bus. I think I have one page left in this journey. It’s 7:30pm. My goodness. That was the quickest 87 minutes! Time flew. And now we’re already here. We’re already here. You and I. Here we are. We got here. My goodness. These dreams. They are coming into my life. They are coming into my life. Bit by bit. Where are you? Where are you in this dream? I’m going to keep going. I’m going to write faster. I’m going to notice the details. And dream big. I’m going to keep

doing the work. I’m going to keep dreaming those dreams. I’m going to go back and remember who I am. I will remember what I want, what I’ve always wanted. I am not the girl I once was, and you are not the boy I once knew. I am going to keep going. I’m going to keep riding these buses. I’m going to keep thinking about you. I’m going. To keep reading, and writing, and drawing. And dreaming. I’m going to keep feeling and creating and asking for what I want. Will you kiss me? Asking for what I want. May I please live in a loving home? Asking for what I want. Can you please communicate with me in a way I understand? In a way I understand. Can you teach me success consciousness? May I please enter into partnership? Asking for what I want. Can you give me water and trees? Can you give me community? I ask for all of these things. I will give all that I am in return. I will do the work required to keep and maintain and honour these things. These dreams. 7:53pm. We’re almost there. This trip is almost over. Thank you. Thank YOU. Thank you bus driver, passengers. The sun, the moon and all the universe. I love you. You are beautiful. 7:56pm

 

 

*Author’s notes:

  • A touch of editing was done to both spelling and grammar (ie capitalizing the beginning of sentences), during the typing process. Did you even notice?
  • The bus driver’s name was Robert.