December 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 December's posts.

December's Theme: Close Seconds

At the close of a year publishing post-its chosen by family and friends, I wanted to revisit a few that came close but ended up unseen second choices. There were more, I’ve forgotten so many, I’m remembering one right now I’d have liked to feature but it’s too late, there’s never room for all the moments together. Last January my middle sister left behind a plucky group of also-rans sharing things I love about Seattle — or loved, there’s an ominous past tense hanging around us here — neighborhood stuff, people you run into on lucky days. Tanya at Chu Minh Tofu is unfailingly kind, before I lost my old studio this fall I could go there almost every week, years of kind lunches, the rare kind of place I can sometimes afford to take myself out. She survived cancer the same time as my mom, still asks after her, makes her spontaneous soup gifts. I walk into hugs that make me feel like a sweet-hearted giant, she slips me extra egg rolls and feeds me fake meat and kindness on top of improbable kindness. Looking at the date, I guess I drew this before any of that happened, she’s just that lovely, you can’t help but notice even when your mom isn’t ill. The second post-it is the late-night afterthought conclusion to a conversation with my poet friend Laura, unwinding over pho after our respective Lit Crawl readings that night. She told me a story — this story, I can’t, it’s terrible and wonderful, we laughed and laughed and it’s terrible — about men at night in my neighborhood. I’m wary of drunk straight guys for my own reasons, skirting the bars on walks home, safer on the side streets, trying not to wander my body into someone else’s leaking homophobia. But the THINGS these guys have said to Laura. Things I remember from younger life, things I’m maybe immune from receiving in my shaven-head adulthood, tucked into hoodies and barreling home long-legged, shaking my genders off as I go, so much gender left behind. I forgot we don’t all grow out of being hit on by men, these straight sexual aggressions still advancing everywhere, so casual, nothing reportable. Our nighttime neighborhood worries were each so complete, so overlapping yet distant, mystifyingly targeted to our separate identities as straight and gay, identities these falling down drunk guys shouldn’t even be able to sense. How are they so precise. Walking home after on the quieter main street, bars and bustle in the past, here he was just a few feet to my left, his drastically bare butt the perfect punchline. Glanced over as I passed to see this white guy in a nice button-up and clean khakis, professional-looking... in a quite striking stance. His pants-down disembodied naked bottom perfectly framed, dramatically spotlit by the entrance to a fancy apartment building. The others are close seconds from my Idaho August, things my cousin considered but didn’t go for in the end. I feel my hide-and-seek prowess speaks for itself. I have a real way with this kid, his kid and by that I mean a way which I’ll admit is not totally helpful for her parents at bedtime. My cousin really lingered over the shooting stars, mostly, he said, because of how ridiculous my sister was being that night. I love it for a fleeting closeness. Family time at my grandparents’ old house up by the lake, the three of us after dark my last night of vacation. My sister wanted to watch the meteor showers, I wanted to stay up late talking to my cousin in that spontaneous way that is ruined if you ever actually say you want to talk, it just has to work out. We dragged chairs out to the edge of the yard where it drops off in darkness down to the water, laughed about falling over, did not fall over. At first it seems like nothing’s happening, just the usual stars, but suddenly your sister is announcing proudly every shooting star, it’s so many, a competition ensues, she seems EXTREMELY untrustworthy, how on earth could she be seeing so many. And then you realize you’ve seen one, four... I’m certain it was at least a tie, she was exuberantly smug and disagreed. There may also have been a discussion about whether or not to have children, and some weakly-made arguments for me to reconsider my personal no on drugs. My sister is a pretty sparkling extrovert. My cousin laughed looking at the post-it, we couldn’t remember what she’d said but he laughed again thinking of whatever it was, whatever we did.