Ah. Here I am. It’s not that I ever doubted I’d make it to 10 years. Just the odd moment of fear, panic, unease. But none of those moments came true and I’m here. Here. Here and I get up every day and go about my life as if the breast cancer never happened. Well, not really, but mostly. It happened. Ten years ago.
I thought I’d have a lot to say today. But while I have feelings going mad in my head I’m not able to articulate them. So.
I’m lucky. Unbelievably lucky. I’ve made it to *the* milestone for people who have had cancer.
I’ll celebrate. When Bill gets home Japan and when I can gather my friends around me.
Ten years. I’m here. Life is awesome.
There was a lot going on today.
Many women in the western world were participating in “A Day Without a Woman” actions. I suppose I could say I *chose* not to take part, but in truth, I didn’t even think twice. My co-parent has been working away for a week and wasn’t due back until this evening. So the effort it would have taken for my young men to get themselves up, fed, provisioned, and to school on time was more than I was willing to ask of them. For families like mine, if one wants one’s children to be able to continue to function, one needs a male partner to pick up the slack of a day without a woman. I didn’t think that my young men should lose a large part of a day’s education to allow me to express my feminism by removing myself from the workforce.
But that’s only part of it. I also didn’t *want* to step away from my work today. For my paid work, I needed to meet with one of my partners, have a confab with the other by phone, and continue to look for a new teaching space.
My unpaid work is such an intrinsic part of my life that it is much of my identity. For me stepping away from my identity for a day doesn’t fit with my personal feminism. My tagline for my twitter and this website is “Mother, maker” and that sums me up, although in some spaces I have added “teacher” even though it destroys the alliteration.
And I was able to clear a small space in my home studio to enable me to make something. Using one of the crochet hooks that I inherited from my grandmother, I made a simple chain from thread and stone. Physical, metaphorical, and historical connections.
And as it turns out, one of the men in my family did pick up some of the slack resulting from me being in the Centro for a meeting. As I was on the metro and then driving home thru crawling traffic, I was dictating cooking instructions into my phone for Thomas, and arrived home to pork with green chillies and rice for dinner. Win.
International Women’s Day felt right to me today.
I’m one of those who “even had cancer” which is obviously bottom of the totem pile from those who currently have it or who have died from it. Copying and pasting stuff to your Facebook status is not helpful. Find a reliable charity. Take your credit card to your computer. Then do that thing. That thing that involves giving forward. And please don’t try and shame me for not sharing your status. I had breast cancer. I had fantastic care. If I’m one of the 97% who don’t copy and paste, please think about why that is. Cancer, and MS, and Parkinson’s research all need your money. Just pick a charity and give over the money. But if you’re going to post one of those “97% of my fellow humans don’t care”, statuses, please make that extra effort which saves me from having to read it. Block me.
I need to make something beautiful today. So I turn to fabric.
This is a Dresden plate, the pattern of the quilt my great grandmother, Twila Armstrong Beers, made for me sometime in the 1970s. That quilt is worn, and faded, and has been repaired more than once.
That’s kinda how my heart feels today. But there is still potential in me, potential to be part of the change, to help build the only thing that can make that change: community.
So of course I turn to quilting. I imagine Twila did too, in times of sorrow, pain, and disbelief. Because community is part and parcel of quilting. And very few of us quilt in isolation, it’s a craft that has its roots in community, working together toward a common end. Community, conversation and a common effort makes something both beautiful and useful.
I think Twila would have put community building high on her list of priorities, but in her day, it just was, you didn’t have to prioritise it, so maybe she wouldn’t see it that way.
I will stitch my faith in humanity and in the power of community into this fabric, and invite you all to join me in making something beautiful and lasting and good out of what we are feeling right now.
My community encompasses all of us. All you need to bring is goodwill.
I had a pretty shitty day, part of which was spent in tears. Not really worth it but a couple of things tipped the simmering pity party over the edge.
I was in the local waitrose just now (it’s actually Unimarc but they sell waitrose products, and serve a similar demographic). Often we’re asked to take a product, pay for it and then drop it in a box on our way out. Today it was for “trabajo de invierno” where senior school pupils do volunteer work over the winter holidays.
I looked at what the two young women were holding, and told them I wouldn’t pay for anything made by nestle. They looked at what they had and handed me a kilo of own brand sugar. Then they asked me why. So I told them (in Spanglish) about nestle giving free samples of infant formula in hospitals, thereby often sabotaging the breastfeeding relationship before it ever gets a chance to start. I told them how this can endanger the lives of babies in places where clean water isn’t easily available, and how it contributes to poverty because unlike breast milk, formula is expensive.
And do you know what these two young women did? They put the nestle products they were holding BACK ON THE SHELF!
Nestle has a stranglehold on food production here. It’s much harder to stick to the boycott here in chile than it is at home in Scotland.
I think right now I feel better than I ever have in Chile.
I had a sudden panic when I realised it is the 1st of May and I’m supposed to be doing Me Made May 2016.
Then I looked down and saw that I’m wearing this ratty old cardigan I made before we left Edinburgh. The main part of it is machine knit with the button bands and hem crocheted. It’s seen the de-pilling machine a few times, but it now also has holes at the neck and the sleeve.
It’s done me proud over the years though, so here I am, comfy as anything.
I, Alison Tonï @thereyougothen & http://www.fabricaciones.net, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear something I have made each day for the duration of May 2016
Ok, this year I’m going to try and do this. I do wear me made stuff most days, even if it’s just a piece of jewellery. I just have to remember each day!