Monday, October 31, 2016

Cardiac Testing Begins

First of all, I was out of the house this morning at 7:30 am to go to see Dr. Pimstone at UBC Hospital.
I did a stress test and couldn’t complete it. Next I wear a monitor for 24 hours, I get an echocardiogram and then I see him again. He mentioned a pacemaker as a possibility but he also said many people with arrhythmia are not treated. I had an immediate instinctual response that I am not going to need one. On the other hand, I could not complete the stress test and when I hurried for the bus, I seriously regretted it due to the angina I experienced. So this could go either way.
My next big adventure is doing The Flame. It’s the story of losing my voice. I’m feeling as confident as I did for all my past stories there, so that’s good.
Just in time for The Flame, I discovered another way to speak. It’s another amazing weirdness about my speech but it’s not likely something I am going to do very often until I practice some more.
But here’s the thing: I’ve been closing my eyes a lot when I talk and I told Dr. Shoja. She said she was not surprised; other people with speech disorders often do so because it shuts off visual stimuli allowing them to focus on speech.
Because I don’t stutter when I read, I wondered if I visualized the words I wanted to say, if I would be able to speak better. And sure enough, I can. I speak slowly when I do it but if I practice, I think I can get better. But I don’t stutter.
It’s exciting because one of the hardest parts of life for me right now is using the phone. I find it really hard to talk on the phone, but now, if I close my eyes and visualize what I want to say I can talk far better.
A weird postscript: I always see blue lines like in scribblers when we were school children when I visualize my words. I can’t help it. It’s just what happens —every time. And my eyes move as I read the words. I can feel them moving.
They follow the line and move down constantly because it’s JUST like in a scribbler. I have to drop down to a new line after several words. I run out of line just like in a real book. I can’t just endlessly read along an unending single line. Weird eh?

My mother co-starred in a movie with
Sophia Loren. As a kid, I saw A Boy on
A Dolphin
 and thought I'd seen a goddess.

Heart Day

I saw it. I saw Stutterer. It’s only thirteen minutes long and it won the 2016 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. You can see it here.
No surprise: I wept watching it.
There’s the moment when a person approaches him on the street and he signs to his mouth and ears, exactly as I do, to opt out of speaking. We both “lie” in pointing to our ears because we can both hear just fine, but I do that too.
And he’s a typographer, a job I had for years helping my father. He has typography trays just like me and he draws words just as I did.
And right beside his work area in a prime location on his desk is a book: “At Swim Two Birds.” One of my two favourite books of all time is At Swim Two Boys.
And of course, he talks to himself in his own clear voice.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the film for me is that often in the background you hear, softly, the voice of telephone operators and phone messages. It makes me wonder what general audiences will make of that because for me it very effectively captures the communication anxiety we (stutterers) experience.
I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. Losing my voice forced me to get a cell phone. It allowed me to text. That was the reason I changed over from a landline. Then I got Colloquo2Go, and app that can speak for me when my speech is ridiculously bad. So the phone is a vital part of my life now.
On the other hand, it’s very hard to speak on the phone — much harder than speech with a live person. For me that’s the case; it may not be the same for all stutterers. So I found the soundtrack of auditory commercial telecommunication clich├ęs to be powerful in the film.
The tension in the film involves his, Greenwood’s, impending first meeting with Ellie, a girl with whom he has been texting for six months.
I’ve already watched it twice, provoked by a narcissistic-like pleasure of seeing “yourself” in a movie. It’s a powerful talisman-like thing for me like the magazine of the Stuttering Foundation
Becoming a stutterer has been an emotional experience akin to realizing I was gay; the emergence of each of these aspects of my character has brought about a shape-shifting change in my life. Not for the worse, just big, and requiring some work with self-acceptance and adjustment.
Now I am off to see Dr. Pimstone: I will find out what he thinks about my heart. It’s going to be interesting.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Met Gala Inspires

Oh my God. I watched a documentary on Netflix about the Met Gala and there were tons of shots of historical Chinese dresses and dresses by modern Western (elite) designers inspired by Chinese culture — as seen through representation in Western film. Oh my God.
The dresses and the materials were extraordinary. But there was also “Andrew,” the curator of the costume and fashion department at the Met. When we see a photo of him taken at age seventeen, we hear him state his life’s passion at the time: to become the head of the costume and fashion department at the Met.
If I had been true to myself, I’d have become a costume designer.
When I was finishing high school, I took steps to apply to Marimekko to become an intern and Fortuny was an early idol, so the seeds of what I do today were planted early. But I was so ashamed of being gay; I could not comfortably pursue my passions.
Thank God I have the time and resources with which to dabble in my passion now. Seeing that film on Netflix has me raring to go again. Today, I am going to Dressew to see if they have cheap mannequins and what kind of faux pearls they have.
I want to embroider on paper. I want to smock paper. I want to do beadwork on paper. I want to weave with it. And I want to make lace with it.
I love my idea about a show with text — “with text” being the most important part. The text, in my mind anyway, will tell people who see my show that I’m not pretending to be an accomplished paper sculpture maker. The dresses are just objects. The text — at least this is my hope/plan —will make you laugh, move you or make you think and you’ll realize that the text is as important as the dress.
And if there’s a play, too, so much the better — then the dresses are props.
I am relieved to note that there’s not a molecule in my body that wants to wear any of my creations.

Stills of the Met's China: Through the Looking Glass

Friday, October 28, 2016

I'm Not Writing About PTSD/Speech Any More!

I always need “a way in.” For each dress, some aspect of its design or construction has to excite and challenge me. Plus, I have to believe that I can do it — that I can not only make it but that it will be, in some way, beautiful. The challenge draws me in and meeting the challenge is the reward. It was iffy there for a while with the cardinal dress, but in the end I am thrilled with it.
For the bird dresses, the feathers were the attraction. For whatever reason, I love endless rote tasks like feather making; I’m addicted to finicky work. The idea to do a pearl dress came about because I have a whack of fake pearls. Since seizing on the idea, I’ve been ruminating on how to use them and today I think I may have my plan — at least a starting point.
Many of my plan As don’t work, however, so anything could happen. But the plan As get me going, the challenge keeps me at the task.
And speaking of tasks: I pretty much have my Flame talk memorized. I am thrilled about that because it means I can go on with making dresses. I am on to the pearl dress now.
The big challenge now is the mannequins. For one thing: They are expensive. The other challenge is storing them. My home is going to fill up with them as I keep going.
Cathy is in Mexico. Nicola is in Nova Scotia. Bruce is all over — London, Toronto and now New York where he will be for the election. Stephen is in Uruguay.
And I am here and the days are shorter and the rainfall is endless. Worse: I loathe TV and reading … well if I try to read I fall asleep. Hence the importance of the dresses: Working on them gives me something to look forward to every day when I get up.