Tearing down walls

If you haven’t heard Heavyweight yet, why not start with episode 5, Galit?  In this episode, our hero Jonathan meets with his first love, and examines the impact of his first broken heart.

“‘We all get hurt,’ she writes.  ‘And we all build walls to protect ourselves… and then spend the rest of our lives trying to take down those walls. […] the ability to fully give and receive love seems to get more complicated as we get older.'”

In love, isn’t it all about painstakingly deconstructing walls that seemed to go up in an instant?  Now that I know that the hurt won’t kill me, I feel like most of adulthood is an attempt to retrain my heart and brain to be as pure and open as it once was.

The same goes for education.  Somebody tells us, once, that we’re not good at something, and we veer so sharply.  In my creative program area, we have implemented curriculum that encourages risk-taking, and turns failure into learning opportunities.  It’s a step in the right direction, but my students are already so damaged by the time they arrive.

A fellow learner in an online teaching MOOC shared this Ted Talk with me, and I’m grateful for the reminder – this is why I’m here.  I work to provide safe environments for students to tear down their own walls, and mend the broken children inside.

Makes me think of Kintsugi – the Japanese art of repairing broken china with gold.  It is the scars that make us beautiful.





A portrait of the artist as a rhubarb

I am endlessly intrigued and inspired by the Carol Sawyer: The Natalie Brettschneider Archive exhibition on at the Vancouver Art Gallery right now.  I have gone once with the distraction of performance art and alcohol, and again with a 5-year-old.  I’m planning to skip work Tuesday to have Natalie Brettschneider all to myself.


Carol Sawyer/Natalie Brettschneider Archive, from the artist’s website.  My best friend said this was me when I’m 80.  One of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me!

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Exposing bots

I get great pleasure at accusing chatbots of being chatbots – especially if they’re trying to hide it.  It’s a strange feeling – gleefully trolling a robot – while imagining the programmer through the looking glass.

Today I was trying to get clarity on an aspect of Canadian Copyright Law (ugh, don’t ask), and naively (or desperately) tried a chat window on a ‘free legal advice’ website.  Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 11.17.17 PM

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Culture Shift?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the #metoo thing.

At first, it seemed like it would just be another meaningless internet fad, rife with vague half-tellings and moral highground.

Then women I knew started getting specific.  One described harassment in high school by a teacher, and institutional resistance to pursuing a complaint.  Another spoke of deliberately avoiding presenting as attractive, to avoid unwanted attention.  Yet another spoke of the moment in adulthood, when a waft of cologne brought her reeling, vomiting back to childhood, and she realized she had been abused.  One woman spoke of how several incidences of abuse robbed her of her sexuality before she left childhood.   Continue reading

One man’s trash is his great-grandson’s treasure

I have a friend who works at a recycling plant.  He says that one day, we’ll be mining landfills.  HOLY SHIT.  Of course we will.

This kind of foresight is so exciting to me – a new perspective that seems so obvious once you encounter it, but it completely changes the way you think about the future.

I recently listened to a Stuff You Should Know episode, “What was the most peaceful time in history?”  They discuss the Global Peace Index, a rating system developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace, that ranks countries regularly on their peacefulness.  The ranking uses a rubric that measures a variety of factors, including militarization, violent crime, number of jailed citizens, and access to weapons.

Examining this same rubric to determine the most peaceful time in history, there is a decent case to be made that it’s now.  (!!!!!!!!)

So yes, of course the world is going to shit, but it’s not all shit.  We’re getting better at some things.  And one day we’ll take the shit and we’ll mine it and build the world anew.


I had to put the cat down today.

It was awful.  Such a difficult decision.  Morally, I’m against the idea of prolonging life, whatever the cost.  But I feel I understand it better.

Even now, I’m feeling guilt for not holding out for a few tests, a hopeful chance that he’d be curable.  But even the Doctor said, he’s 14, he’s had diabetes 10 years, most cats only live 6 or 8 with the disease.  He’s stopped eating and is showing other signs of decline.  Even if the issue is something simple, we’re looking at prolonging his life for months, probably.  There would be lots of work to stabilize him.  Lots of stress.  But by getting that test, I would put off the decision.  And of course I’d hold on to him a bit longer, get another chance at goodbye.  Be a better pet owner for the end.  I’d wait for a bit more information, and hope for the decision to be made for me.  Right now, I have to live with the fact: I chose to end his life today, when there was a chance he could get better.  

Tonight, I will have to talk to my daughter.

Caring for Creatives

I’ve been thinking about what makes creative people the magical and impossible beings that they are.  It makes sense – I’m a creative person, many of my friends are creative people, my students are creative people, I’m attracted to creative people.

On a personal level, I’m more concerned with protecting myself from artistic narcissists (relationships).  My friends are great.  My students are… complicated.  I have a delicate balance to manage – guiding and nurturing them, without taking on too much of their weird shit.

It’s so wonderful to find The Creative Independent – coincidentally, on their 1st birthday!  The Creative Independent is “a resource of practical and emotional guidance for artists/creators”.  I can’t think of anything we need more.