I started a new therapy group at the beginning of the month: depression management. So far, it’s a lot of stuff I know, have learned before, but which I’ve never been able to put into action and actually, you know, feel better. Something they want us to do is an activity checklist. They gave it to us on a piece of paper, but it was overwhelming. Tracking energy levels–morning, noon, and evening–as well as meals, thoughts, and social contact down to the minute.

I made my own in a spreadsheet. Just nine objectives each day. I was tempted to add one more for the symmetry, but nine is enough. I printed it and stuck it to the inside of my door where I’d see it every day. So far, it’s working. It’s the action I’ve been looking for, with a tiny bit of validation in that unbroken row of penciled checkmarks.

Instead of starting a brand new blog, I smushed all my old blogs together into this one. I’ve been online since 1996, started my first blog in 2002, and now I’m here, with my name dot com. This is the last time I’m moving, so I might as well bring everything with me.

I really like reading my own writing. I know some writers who can’t, but after enough time has passed, I can read a story I wrote and enjoy it like I didn’t. The whole reason I blog is to remember this stuff, my life, the books I read, the movies I watched, the cities and friends I visited. To remember, I have to go back and look. This is why I keep a paper notebook, too, and why they sit, in chronological order, on my bookcase.

As of right now, you can scroll back through the archives here and find posts from Tumblr, from WordPress.com, from past domains, and soon, from Livejournal, too. I’m going through them all, slowly, deleting some, tagging others, general digital cleanup. This is ten years of my life on the internet. It hasn’t been a waste of time. Look at all the things I made.

It’s probably not a coincidence that I’m thinking about blogging again in the new year. New Year’s is always a little more for me because my birthday is New Year’s Eve. The turning over of the calendar is a little more literal. When I finished my Sunday Zine project last May, I thought I would carry that momentum into a book a month. But I was more burned out than I knew, and by the end of summer, I wondered if making art was even worth it anymore. That’s when I started blogging again. Just short paragraphs, one thought fleshed out beyond the 140 characters I’ve been so used to writing over the last ten years.

But it didn’t take long before my brain started asking, what’s the point? Actually, I should call it depression. It’s not my brain; it’s my brain depressed. I’ve been down since Brexit, numb since the US election, and this winter has been colder than ever. So I stopped blogging again. I’ve done it so many times before, so who cares?

I do. And if my depression doesn’t, then I have to care harder.

Opposite Contraries, edited by Susan Crean

“Don’t worry, paint steadily, day by day, just to the level you know. Next day you’ll creep on a little higher.” (137)

Truly, I had more quotes, but I just want to post this one and leave it there. Emily Carr thought a lot about the artist process, as I’m sure every artist does. When things aren’t working, we tell ourselves stories to explain why. “Keep trying” is the universal story.

Hundreds and Thousands by Emily Carr

“Is it better to say nothing politely or to say something poorly?” (18)

“If we keep right on something is bound to happen.” Lawren Harris to EC

“This coming year I must work harder, must go deeper.” December 31, 1930 (47)

“Little book, I have toiled all day and caught nothing.” (95)

“Nothing hurts like nothingness.” (134)

“It must be my fault somewhere, this repelling of mankind and at the same time rebelling at having no one to shake hands with but myself and the right hand weary of shaking the left.” (156)

“Such a lot of folk are licking the icing off the other fellow’s cake.” (160)

“You’ve got to love things right through.” (188)

“Oh, I’m sure I wasn’t nice, not a bit nice to people tonight. They liked my evening and me in spite of me not because of me. I’m a cat.” (204)

“It’s a little person who can’t paint big in a small place.” (233)

“Funny about friends, you want them frightfully, but you can’t find any to fit.” (235)

“The world comes into my room, kicks the silence about, mashes it into smithereens, builds little cobweb bridges so your thoughts can cross to Germany and Russia, to France.” on her new radio (314)

“It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she’s something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are part of.” (383)

“You felt your job, the job of every soul, was to go on as reasonably and unselfishly as possible.” the day WWII was declared (402)

HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS is Emily Carr’s journals, edited and collected in the years after her death. (If you can, read it along with OPPOSITE CONTRARIES, which is the good parts edited out, collected by Susan Crean.) It makes sense that I wrote down a lot more quotes this time around. This book hit me on every page. The entire entry from November 12, 1932 is the best advice for artists. Emily Carr struggled for a long time. Even when she found success, she didn’t believe it because it never lasted very long. Reading how much it hurt to be so far away from the centre of the world (Toronto), but knowing that she could never be happy away from home (Victoria), it’s me.

She has always loomed large on the west coast. She is always hanging in the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is always there when I go hiking in the woods. So to read about a time when people didn’t love Emily Carr hurts a lot. If Canada could ignore her then, who are we ignoring now?