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Day One

1. I start out my day late, because I’m tired, because the dog is sleeping against the back of knees and I don’t want to disturb her. Because I intensely hate going to work.

2. The mere idea of my boss sends my body into fight, flight or freeze out of the sheer anxiety of dealing with him, and the gods know I don’t need more trouble with my body.

3. I have Cerebral Palsy. My atoms are trying their best. And as I sit here, 41 years in this body that keeps struggling, but keeps trying, I realize that as a middle-aged person with CP I am a pioneer. I am limping down that road of aging combined with disability so that those that come after me don’t have to struggle. I am building a log house of experience to shelter us all. Let it rain. I will be our roof.

4. I come from my grandmother, who was taken to residential school and stripped of all that made her anishnabae. I come from my father, who she neglected, who drank himself onto the streets and became all that Canada thinks an indigenous man can be. Absent. An addict. An abuser. An alien.

5. I come from my grandmother, the only one of nine children to not marry an Italian. Instead she married a drunken irish poet, who drank himself into pneumonia and death. He wrote his own epitaph. I never met him but I have it memorized. I come from a mother, abused and betrayed, beaten and used, but never broken. She, more than anyone, taught me how to be a warrior.

6. When she died, I did not fall apart the way I expected to. The world, in fact, kept turning. But three years later and I still carry her death with me. Thankful that I talked to her almost every day. Thankful that we always said I love you. Thankful for how much she made me laugh.

7. I feel less than without her. Like a cliché. That a part of me is gone. Missing.

8. It occurred to me the other day that I started my art practice the year after she died. And that she never knew me as an artist. Or “artist” if you will. She has never seen my paintings and never will. The fact that there is a part of me my mother will never know is something I can’t comprehend. Like humans can’t comprehend the size of the universe. Her absence is just so vast.

9. But mostly I am made up of experience, and words, and paint stained hands. I am soulmates with my dog. I am messy, and I am made up of the wounds that others have left behind. Thankfully I think scars, emotional or otherwise, are badass.

10. As 23andme says, I am “100% April”

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