Making Time for Art

Photo of an open colouring book on a table with a partially coloured-in illustration of the Pokémon Mew on it, and a background of magic crystal balls and spirals.

I think we can make time for art if we are willing to prioritize it. There is always something else you “should” be doing, but if you can choose art, I’d recommend allowing yourself to do so.

I moved two days ago AND just got a new kitten. I’m also still working and only recently recovered from being quite sick. There is So Much I have to do. I should go to the store for supplies. I should put my art up on the walls. I should deal with the tall stacks of boxes piled everywhere. I should clean up and organize my new place.

And I will. All of this will get done in due time.

What I have recognized is that I also need to prioritize these three things:

  1. Rest
  2. Time to bond with my new kitty
  3. Art

My brain and body are very fatigued. I’m letting myself nap and sleep in so I don’t crash.

I have a new little friend who lives with me! It’s important to slow down and ensure we’re hanging out, playing, and learning each other’s habits and rhythms.

And art! Not creating anything for long stretches leaves me feeling deprived. Considering how busy and tired I am, this can be low-pressure. The short story I’m working on that requires a lot of brain power can wait. Instead, I’m writing this in the morning and then meeting a few friends at a cafe to catch up and do some colouring.

Yes, there are about 1,000 other things I should be doing, but it’s just as vital I take care of myself and my new feline friend. I don’t have to unpack and get set up at record speed. There’s no deadline for that; it’s just something I need to chip away at. Though there’s a lot I should be doing, there’s also what I can choose to do, and I’m making sure to prioritize that as well.

Just One Piece of the Puzzle

Close-up photo of a dark brown puzzle piece sitting on top of a wet, foggy pane of glass.
Photo by Modnar at Morguefile.com.

There are people working on a puzzle. They are contributing pieces to the whole picture so that they can look at it together.

There is also a person who is tightly holding on to a puzzle piece they’ve found. It is all they’re aware of, all they can see. They won’t contribute to the larger puzzle. They don’t even know there is a larger puzzle. They are exclusively focused on their own piece—holding it up to the sun, examining it through a magnifying glass, not looking away for even a second. They obsess over it like it’s the only thing of its kind in the world.

How do you reach this person?

They won’t bring their piece to the puzzle. They won’t even acknowledge that there is a puzzle. They think their one piece is all there is, and they’re sitting in their corner yelling, “Look what I have! Pay attention to me!”

The other people say, “Yes, we know. We see you. We know you have a piece. The puzzle is made up of a bunch of pieces. If you come over here then you’ll be able to see the others, and you might find the spot where yours fits. Why not come take a look?”

They don’t. They won’t. They think their piece is the whole picture, and they won’t listen to anyone else. They won’t even look where the others are pointing.

What can you do in this situation? How do you work with someone who won’t work with you? How do you show a person who is tightly gripping a single piece that it does, in fact, belong to an entire puzzle? That person’s world would grow a hundred times over if they would just acknowledge the existence of the rest of the puzzle, and the puzzle cannot be completed without their piece. Their contribution is necessary, and they won’t make it.

These kinds of situations come up a lot. I myself am guilty of having been the single-minded puzzle piece holder before, though I’ve always come around eventually. But what about the people who don’t come around? How do you illuminate the puzzle for them? How do you show them that, while their piece matters and is important, it’s a part of a larger whole?

I’m the Hot Potato

Photo of muted blue sky shot from below. There are yellow flowers out of focus in the foreground, and many little branches behind these flowers. Beyond this is the underside of a lit streetlamp with a no parking sign attached to its post.

I am not proud of how I behave in public. I don’t ever feel like myself. I am the star of the world’s least sexy peep show. I fumble. I try and fail to speak to you in French. There are about a billion eyes on me, and I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ACT. This isn’t cute and endearing. It’s just concerning. I look around and think, how does everyone else do it? Other people seem so confident.

Though I continue to learn and grow every day, I will always be the same little goblin. It’s me! I’m the hot potato! And I’m going to end up in the corner coated in city grit next to the dust bunnies. I can’t do anything but drop me. I step out of bed in the morning and into the world, and sometimes, I just CANNOT handle it.

I Move to a New City

Photo of a field with dirt, dead grass, and some shipping containers stacked on top of each other, with one sitting up vertically. Some warehouse buildings are in the background with a taller apartment building to the right. Dark clouds in the sky above. Wooden pole and part of a deck in the foreground.

I move to a new city,
Ask it to read me poetry.
The city obliges,
But do I listen?
Not always.

I move to a new city,
Where there’s a lot more graffiti,
Fewer trees,
And construction that goes on all year.
My date whispers there’s a conspiracy,
Doesn’t want them to overhear.

The date I know I’ll never see again.
I haven’t loved anyone since him,
But I’ve come too far to feel bitter about that here.
So instead, I walk around the city,
Take in all the graffiti
And watch as the trains pass by.
The ones that always seem five or six cars
Too short.

I climb to the top of a man-made mountain,
Cuts of wood arranged over damp earth,
And I sit down to write
My angsty little poetry about being lonely.
When really, anyone I could ever need to know
Is somewhere in this city,
Just a phone call or a few taps away.
But I don’t make any calls.
I don’t send any messages.
I put my earbuds in and block out the sound of the train.
I walk around by myself in the rain,
Looking for what I think only I’ll appreciate
On this Friday night, this night in the city,
This night of so many.

I pass people by and dare not
Look up or look for too long.
I let sparks fade into nothing.
So many missed connections,
I couldn’t possibly write a personal for them all.

Construction, torn-up streets,
Graffiti, rain, and spring.
A new album by an old band.
The same habits I always carry with me.
Struggling to connect, to find my steps.
Wandering around, trying to get lost but knowing where I am.
Wanting wanting wanting to not be so alone,
But craving my aloneness all the same.
Seeking connection, not seeking it enough.
Seeking adventure, seeking it too much.

When I come to a new place, I look different for a little while,
But the fog always clears, and I always come out the same.
I am the person I can never leave behind.
Doesn’t matter how many times I move
Or how many steps I take,
Who I am will always remain
Through fall, winter, and another spring.

This city is melting, grey and wet.
Only half-built, yet well lived in,
Which hits me where I need it to.
So I continue to walk, to take it all in,
Knowing at some point, I’ll have to begin.

It is so easy to love a place,
It takes no time at all.
Like loving a person, really,
Though less dangerous.
To love a place, a city,
Is to love its mess, its train tracks, its ugly parts,
Is to love its clouds, its rain, its construction,
Is to love a little but never enough,
Is to wander around alone,
Meeting meeting meeting,
Never quite connecting in the right way.

early adolescence in the mid-2000s

Photo of Sage as a teenager standing on the grass in front of some trees. They are wearing a pink baseball hat sideways, a black tank top, jean shorts, and blue flip-flops with a white sweater tied around their waist. They're smiling at the camera, with one arm crossed over their midsection holding the other.

Content Note: this piece includes mention of abuse, disordered eating, and self-harm.


early adolescence in the mid-2000s
pink-and-black
gloss that gives my lips bee stings
identity reduced to the nail polish relatives buy me every birthday
holding on to stuffed animals
until a big bag of them gets thrown away
mean girls, misogynistic boys, mini skirts
learning what calories are and counting them
marking every bad thing I eat on a calendar with a frowny face
diet books that aren’t like other diet books, they swear
being thin but needing to be skinny
like the magazines we still read want us to be
being told I’m not to go out dressed like that by a dad
pretending to be a father for five minutes
being called fat
that weird homeschooled kid
the freak, the loser
needing to prove them wrong
with yoga pants, crop top hoodies, silver eye glitter
asking for too much back-to-school money
trying to cover up my acne
ending up with orange spots on my face and snickering classmates
plastic bracelets with colour-coded meanings
worn all the way up our forearms
finding a snapped black bracelet behind the school
a flurry of rumours resulting
kissing girls to prepare for “the real thing”
kissing girls but in a straight way
totally
whispers on the schoolyard about who is having sex
already?
perfume and eyeshadow overwhelming
breasts too small, butt too big, skin too weird
teacher saying I used to be one of the good ones
parents disappointed in the turn I’m taking
dad so fucking scary
knowing there’s something wrong with the way he treats me
but not knowing what to say
asking my friends what they think is wrong with me
and being mocked ruthlessly
wanting to cut myself
to be like everyone else
not being able to, feeling ashamed of my weakness
and deciding to eat less
surviving adolescence
applying mascara every morning, can’t leave the house without it
needing to look like anyone, anyone else
bleeding through my underwear and acid-washed jeans
no help from the gym teacher who likes to scream
leaving puddles of blood on green plastic seats
until another kid comes along to rescue me
dropping out of school to escape all the crazy
ex-friends on msn threatening to hurt me
saying they hate my whole family
spreading rumours that will follow me
asking who I had become
to have friends such as these
finally getting away from the bullies
except for the one that lived with me
learning that weird isn’t the worst thing a person can be
that early adolescence and the mid-2000s wouldn’t kill me
that I’d come out the other side
still kicking
and a lot more free