September 2019's Post-it note art from Instagram

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 September's posts.

September's Theme: Private Patterns

My baby sister is back, choosing more post-its from the days when my Post-it Note Project was just a baby too. September is my birthday month, but it is also hers — and hers takes precedence, because she is truly the baby, born a decade after me, I have to be gracious. She is so far from being middle-aged that it astounds; perhaps there’s still time for my parents to become grandparents after all. In honor of her birthday, these early-days post-its all connect slyly back to her. Coincidentally, she’s the only person living Seattle life with me who also lived the England one from back then; she spent one high school semester sleeping on a cheap fold-out chair (not even a fold-out _couch, mind you, just a chair!) in our cramped living room, treating me confusingly like a parent. When our dad came for a short visit, she confided teenage transgressions to him like a sibling, commanding her baffled actual parent DON’T TELL CLARE I had wine at that party. In my first year of turning days into post-its, though, I was in London for grad school. By July my future-ex-wife had moved back there too, at 11:26pm I was probably attempting forced sleep, still living someone else’s schedule, not yet able to embrace my truer 2am-bedtime self. The post-it feels a bit mysterious, because listening to favorite songs just before bed — naked on top of the covers, head to the foot of the bed near the speakers, freezing on my back lights off, just me and the cold dark quiet of The Hot Rock track 7 — was a leftover ritual, never worked with a partner. I don’t know what I was doing. My sister chose it because years earlier I took her to see Sleater-Kinney at the Showbox (On a weeknight. I recall numerous advance debate sessions with our parents, in which I apparently successfully argued the special merits of her attending such a show). Internet sleuthing confirms that concert was a December Sunday; I was in college, just arrived home for my final winter break, my sister was 12. Cat Power opened, along with Smoosh — a local duo who were also, strangely, 12-year-olds. I’d seen both grown-up bands before, and for me this was all about Sleater-Kinney — earnest and intricate queer excellence, loud guitars. But the online evidence remaining now is from a Cat Power fan site, dotingly detailing her “belligerently drunk” performance, arriving onstage carrying “her guitar, a cup of whiskey, and a post-it note.” It felt like I’d uncovered a sharp, tiny clue, my memory-sleuthing unearthing coincidences that could overpower distances of time and space. But we all have private patterns, and post-its are just ordinary. The 2010 pieces look benignly similar to 2006, but that 4-year leap takes my breath away, lands badly. We’re now just barely after marriage. One month into my new life in Seattle, this one I live now. My sister and I were sharing a fold-out couch in Tennessee, our grandma moved there for a late third marriage but I’d never been, always living too far away. It had been so long since I’d taken a domestic flight — after years in England, flying cross country seemed suspiciously, delightfully fast. My baby sister was in college by then, we went for her break. An awkwardly mistaken variation of “totally” from the movie I Love You, Man had briefly become part of her vernacular... and I, being a TRUE ARTIST, felt compelled to illustrate the pictures this made in my head. Rare lighthearted drawings in an era of much darker memories. The ordinary relief of joking at bedtime together and thank goodness, even when I’m heartbroken; luckily my sister thinks I’m funny sometimes.