Over on our Instagram page, we’re posting a weekly installation from Clare Johnson’s Post-it Note Project, a long running daily project. Here’s her wrap-up and statement from February's posts.
At the end of January my father unluckily topped off a bout of pneumonia by breaking his back. For days, a week, two weeks, the pain was so acute I routinely caught him muffling isolated stoic sobs; the number of times in my life I’d ever witnessed my father crying quickly doubled, maybe tripled. Everyone became desperate to find anything he could still do, utterly immobilized in pain, to pass time faster. My oddball, surprisingly successful idea was asking him to choose my February posts; it turned out to be a confusingly delightful family activity. He enjoys orderly patterns, and felt strongly in his heart his February choices needed to be from past Februaries. After my assurances that really, truly, he could choose however he wanted, he immediately requested the February when his mother died, declaring (kind of gleefully?) “I’M IN A DARK MOOD.” The first two are right after she died. For me, my grandmother was both a fun friend and a fierce bully—progressively supportive when I came out as a teenager, but she never really loved me the same after I cut off my hair. In later years, she got heartbreakingly mean, seemed to think I was out to get her. She was a force, but always idolized and trusted men above women; I’d visibly sidestepped out of a system she’d believed was all-encompassing. So scary and threatening, there next to her but grown up a mystery. It feels wrong to say this, she was a friend too, goofy and playful, always liked monkeys for some reason. This sudden new friend of hers—I don’t remember her name—swore she’d said these words about me the night before she died. I don’t know if it’s true but it’s a sweet thought, a gentle ouch. February 15th I arrived to help clean out her apartment, and surprised myself by telling my dad no, he should take the guest unit, I wanted to stay in Nanny’s room. Slept alone in her bed, braced myself to cuddle into the life she’d just vacated. I use her dishes every day now, feeling a distance, a closeness. In a sweetly protective parent move, the other half of my dad’s dark mood theme was exposing how tough it is to be an artist. The class in question was about writing LGBTQ children’s books; East Anglia is the somewhat obscure part of England I’d been living in before my divorce. Jumping through hoops is most definitely writing yet another funding or fellowship application—noting the time of year, probably at least 3 specific ones—which most definitely resulted in rejection a few months later. Those things are exhausting. Still, I have to say I’m awfully grateful they exist, the handful of times they’ve worked out. Honestly we all need them, and they always work out for someone.