April 29, 2011

The whole sky was a spectacle. In all directions. by the ocean, by the mountains, over the bridge, to the south. So many hues of blues, grays and whites, shadows, gold and darkness. Rain showers in the distance to the north, Sunshine to the west. It’s so glorious.

the cars keep zooming by. I kept zooming by. It’s almost disrespectful. Such a display we should all stop and absorb.

I finally stopped, the sun’s almost gone. I took some photos of the very end of it. On an elevated road, by a farm, and shot away.

It was a generous peaceful day. Thank God. And so is today.

Angels are among us and they respond to the call.

This too shall pass.

April 27, 2011

The lady unbuying the sculpture was screaming via the phone in my ear : “IT’S ALL LIES, IT’S ALL LIES…  WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME!!!” She’s out of her mind. That is why she bought the sculpture in the first place. A sad reality but it does make sense. “I WAS AT THE HOSPITAL LAST NIGHT!!! I WAS AT THE HOSPITAL TODAY!!! She had told me last week that she had had minor strokes after a car accident and that it had changed her usually controlled personality into a more aggressive one. Despite the screaming she sounds frail. I was afraid she would just “pop” on me right there on the phone. 

I had been thinking about all this misunderstanding and anger between us, I wanted to put love in there. Let go of my fear of losing that money that would have made quite a few things a lot easier right now… I just wanted this whole outcome to be peaceful and fair.

I took the most soothing voice I could muster, “I’ts OK, calm down, just relax… I don’t want war with you.. it’s all ok, I’m not trying to do anything… ” tried to pass on as much love as I could over the phone line… she relaxed a bit. 

It’s such a mess.. it’s so upsetting to me.  As if the madness oozing out of the phone was insidiously seeping into the recesses of my mind turning me into an idiot. All logic and good sense gone. All arguments lost. She has me doing all this stuff for her that is detrimental to me… She is leaving me with sculptures I can’t carry around on the bike when they would have been safely on the truck bound to California. it’s costing me money, time, emotional distress, financial chaos, bank fees… and now it’s as if I am the cause of her relapse… But maybe I’m doing it to myself and if that is the case I don’t know how to stop it… like I am truly mad myself. My heart is pounding, my hands and arms have this weakness overcoming them.

She wants me to go get the sculptures tonight. And for the life of me I can’t say no because I so want this to be over. I want this HELL to be over NOW. But my haste is my self destruct button.
It’s 5:20 PM. I now need to get insurance to run the van so I can pick up the stones, another $35 bucks… I stop at the bank, get her a certified cheque so I can give her the money back and be accused of whatever. $6.50. At this point I still feel somewhat collected and calm. The idea that I may conclude this tonight keeps me rolling. I then stopped at the insurance brokers’ office next door. Oops…I have the wrong papers… Nooooo… I crumple a bit. The right ones are inside the van, which is 15 miles away. 5:35 PM… I get out of the office, walk to the bike. I am starting to unravel. My phone rings… I got from moaning to shining in an instant


“Hi Danielle? Here’s Brian, can you come tomorrow to our office? 1 PM. You can park in the Home Depot parking lot”

Brian is a guy I talked to earlier about possible work as an extra on movie sets. I need to make some money… I sent them my info and they called back immediately. So I have to sound good.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll be there” I said all sparkly.”

Whooooo… that was like turning on a switch and becoming someone else in a second and that made me feel even more mad.

I don’t want to ride as I feel so unsettled. But I got to. I put on the helmet and ride to where the van is parked. There I get the papers, get back on the bike and run to the insurance office…I get there, “office hours : 9 to 5:30” It’s too late it’s closed.

“OK, OK, figure it out” I tell myself.

“Well… there is insurance brokers at this drugstore… I pull out the GPS to find a location… the GPS says : “Low Battery”. It dies two seconds later. Black screen. A kind of digital “f@% you” that hits me too hard.

“What!?! I had the damn thing on the charger all night. Now I can’t do anything. I slowly slid down to the ground sobbing. I was beaten.  Without the GPS I can’t find the insurance broker and I can’t get to her place because the address is in it. and it’s late, and I’m tired and I’ve been running around all day and I just failed miserably again in pulling this thorn out of my flesh.

The sun is going down and some gigantic storm clouds fill the sky blotting the light. It gets cold in a hurry. The asphalt is cold too but I can’t move. I’m sitting down on the ground of a parking lot of a non-descript multi ethnic-shitty shopping mall on 152 street in Surrey BC.

Check Mate. Beaten every step of the way by a madwoman’s wishes who is making me do mad things endlessly.  She is running my life like the conductor of a demented orchestra. And I obey.  Like an idiot puppet on strings, with a fake smile on my face and it freaks me out. Why am I doing this? Everyone tells me I should just keep the money and let her go to hell, but I can’t. some kind of conscience.

“She’s playing you, she’s evil” I was told… I can’t stand the thought of leaving bad vibes, to be called a thief or to think that someone would say that I used anyone for financial gains… “She wrote the cheque? Didn’t she?” yeah, she did. but it’s all wrong. Something is so wrong.

When she had told me she was going to buy the piece my first gut feeling was bad. Didn’t want to do it. Then I reasoned : “could be a lesson in letting go of some of that stuff and you need the money”

I’m trying to see clearly and there is no coherent answer that comes to me.

Time runs faster and faster and California starts to look like some distant dream, like an impossibility… Money, borders, miles, conditions, can’ts and “reality”… and I feel like such a loser. I should be on my way by now. But I can’t seem to be able to not fuck up, to get all confused and dumb. And every fuck up keeps me here where the tentacles of the place slowly but surely wrap themselves around me. How am I doing this to myself?

It’s a strange powerful mix of good and awful. Light and darkness. One moment is jubilant the next I am utterly unable to handle the situation.

Why do I have to get in there so deep?

I got back up. Pulled the helmet over my head. Got on the bike. Started the bike. Beowulf. I look around the parking lot sitting there with the engine running for a little longer than I should. I get back on the road. I end up at 80th and highway 15. It’s 7 something PM. To the West apocalyptic skies. To the North big tall mountains shrouded in some gigantic white and grey clouds. I stop. Turn off the engine. Sit for a moment then get up, get the camera. Take photos. I will want to remember this moment.

I cross the road and take more photos then walk back to the bike. As I do, I see a motorcycle across the intersection. Two people on it. They approached, slowing down. His round headlight shines, it is some sort of Japanese cruiser.

“Everything all right?” he asks above the engine sound.

I smiled, gave him the thumbs up.

“Yeah, everything’s all right”
the girlfriend was blonde and had the gentlest smile. They went on. I watched them go away on their evening ride, amazed and thankful for this little moment of perfection among the cataclysmic skies, forbidding snow covered mountains and the farm fields that won’t come to life this cold spring.

I got back on Beowulf, took off and hit a 100 MPH in a hurry. Took a deep breath.
This too shall pass.

Well, it’s been an uphill battle ever since I left California, with weather, fatigue, physical demands of moving boxes, hundred pounds stones, cleaning and scrubbing, facing all the “can’t do’s” and overcoming them, facing the emotional pull caused by tossing away art work, things I cared about and all the intangibles of letting go. So far I managed to take the curves with relative grace, a few tears but much determination and ultimately got things done with amazing friends blessing me with their love.

This Easter week end proved to be filled with challenges I did not expect.

First of all, I learned that a song of mine that is particularly significant to me (and that’s saying it mildly) has been recorded without my knowledge and permission despite a very specific verbal agreement. That was a shock, and again, that is saying this mildly. I felt absolutely violated. This song is the story of my heartbreak and incredible sense of loss when my husband left. Can’t be more personal. I had been told nothing was going to be done with it. Now I learn it’s already been re-recorded. It felt like rape. If only they had asked…

Then the next thing I learn via email : the lady I sold a sculpture to last Tuesday decided she had a change of heart and tells me Sunday that she wants her money back as the sculpture “does not match her decor” and that she tried “everything she could” to sell it and did not succeed. (that was a full 3 days of asking her friends if they wanted the piece) Now she says to me that there is a “trial period” for such things… that I had no bill of sale, and that I knew she didn’t want it… well she wrote the cheque, no?? This morning we had a phone conversation and I am not proud to say that I lost it when she told me : “You are in this just for the money”

Me? In it for the money? I offered her a 7 thousand dollar piece for $1500. That is greed for sure. Yeah, I’m just a greedy, mean, ill-intentioned artist trying to pry money out of frail little old women. Yep, for sure.

To top this all up, the following news I got via email came from my tax accountant. I learned that I owe more money than I have which makes me officially destitute.

I kind of lost it for a moment.

And for a moment my mind only gave me the picture of a dark, narrowing tunnel into unavoidable oblivion. I questioned my choices. My decisions. I very much felt the weight of time and space heavily upon my heart and shoulders.

Now what?

Ground Zero.

I gotta make it work. Gotta rise. Gotta have faith.

It was a gorgeous day. Everyone was out enjoying the warmth and the sun. They both have been a rarity around here in Vancouver.

Yesterday was a day for mess ups. I thought I had lost the van keys, I had lost my phone, all my plans fell apart. I had traveled all the way to Vancouver to hand a set of keys only to realize I had no keys… I felt like a complete idiot. There has been so much moving, changing, displacing, reorganizing and all that sort of stuff that I suddenly can’t keep track of anything. That puts me in a very weird state of mind as I cannot afford to make those kind of mistakes by myself on the road.

They are the kind of mistakes that are a threat to my survival and well being… in the sense that if I lose certain things, I’ll either be too cold, out of money, walking or in some kind of jeopardy. Can’t do that.

The day left me all bent out of shape but I should not forget one miracle. I told you about Russ, the man at the heart of Richmond Mobile Brake and Tune… well, I had called him regarding the van’s throttle… the problem was that it would either be wide open with the engine going full throttle WAAAAAAAAAAH!!! and the vehicle would feel like I was barely holding onto a horde of wild horses, which was dangerous as it was litteraly going out of control with too much power and not enough brakes to hold it back at a light… or it would be almost closed which means that it would not even idle enough to keep the engine running which meant I had to go to neutral and pump up the gas everytime I stopped or the engine would go dead… Thursday night I had forgotten the phone in the van, so Friday morning I didn’t know Russ had called and was on his way.

When I finally caught up with him, he had already been to the van and fixed the whole issue. I was blown away… So the thing was fixed but I did not drive the van until today… then, I was blown away again… The machine was purring like a cat. It was running like it used to in some distant past. All smooth, civilized and efficient. “yeah… this used to be like this…”

I don’t know if you’ll read this but Russ.. You ROCK. I don’t know how else to quantify who you are, what you do and how you do it. THANK YOU!!!

Today was a much better day. I had good rest last night so I was ready for a more productive day.

After some errands, a meeting with my accountant and the delicious ride in the van I took the bike and rode West towards Vancouver. I ended up in Steveston meeting with Erika. We had loads of laughter, good coffee and we went around the boutiques here, just browsing and checking things out. Everyone Knows Erika around here. She LOVES Steveston and Steveston loves her back.

Steveston is a fishing village located on the south-Western tip of Lulu Island, which is Richmond, just south of Vancouver. The village had to grow and evolve, so now it’s part yuppies and part industrial with fishing and fishermen and all the related industries like boat building, boat motors, nets and all that kind of stuff.

So side by side you have the new moms wearing the latest Lululemon spandex and pushing space age tri-wheeled jogging stroller and grizzled fishermen, welders and mechanics. It works for now, but I think the corporate vision will eventually win and erase the fishing industry to build more designer boutiques and ocean view condos. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Erika had been at my show on the 13th and had taken photos… here are some of them.

Here is Erika, at the potato farm… a long story I might tell one day, it was her Goulag for a while… Thanks for everything Erika. You rock it and your smile lights the world.

Thanks Erika for taking those… it’s just priceless to me…

So finally things are just about done. A few more days, many meetings and finalizings, and I’ll be back on the road with Beowulf, Southbound.

To ride is to be.

April 21, 2011

Lower Mainland

It had been a long day. I can’t begin to tell you how long, that is how long it felt. But now it is dark and there are only mere minutes before it’s over.

I pull in the driveway. The lumbering van grumbles, whines and roars all at once. It’s just about empty now.

The bike was sitting there as I left it. Lonesome, two wheeled implement, leaning on its kick stand like a cowboy in a door frame.

The air inside the van was warm, outside it wasn’t. This spring is just not bringing the happy warmth that we expect and want. The leaves refuse to come out and the blooms are shy and a month late. I step out of the van and walk towards the bike, remove the rain cover, and see a piece of paper on the seat. I had the lights of the truck illuminating the night, it was some outdoor house cleaning advert. Who would put that on a bike seat under the cover…

I click in the choke to the second setting, flip the engine switch, turn the key and the headlight and instruments come on. The clock says 10:21. I put the bike in neutral and push the starter. I now have two engines purring in the night.

I let the bike warm up and go to the van to retrieve my riding gear : balaclava, heated vest, leather jacket, rain pants to put over my jeans, and gore tex shell to finish that up. Thank God for that heated vest. I would have been frozen to death these last few weeks. I find the helmet with the gloves inside and proceed to put on all that gear.

I move the bike down the driveway and then park the van in its place, turn off the engine, the headlights and lock the doors. There is more to do with the van. The inside is littered with the leftovers from all the moving that has been going on. Empty boxes, plastic, pieces of sculpture stands, gum wrappers, wood, raw stones, blankets… Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll deal with that.

I stash the van keys in my bag. I have to be so mindful of where I put everything. My surroundings are changing daily so there are no automaticities that can take place. Losing one thing is a small disaster, like the day I could not find my balaclava. someone had misplaced it in the recycling bags at the house… I was out of my mind thinking how cold I was going to be without it…

I get on the bike. The rain pants are slippery on the seat. It’s cold. I plug in the vest. The night is dark and quiet. Get the gloves on. I roll off the gravel driveway unto the alley, the sound of crunching sharp edged gravel under the wheels. I slip a bit on the seat as I go down the curb, those pants… Nothing rides like leather.

I am so tired, my hands, arms, back… lifting, holding, pulling throwing, all the actions required to move. Today I moved hundreds of pounds of stone and I feel it now. I settle on the bike. Vibration, rhythm. I feel the cold seep in any and all opening or weakness of my clothing. For a moment I miss the van. The warmth, the thick comfy high seat, the relaxation it allows. the walls all around that can allow you to pretend that all is nice and cozy.

I get to a traffic light, it’s green, I proceed. The engine revs up. Beowulf rolls to life. I turn the corner and feel the sweet acceleration, the wind. I am alive. The cockpit of the bike is glowing from the light of the instruments, beacons in the night. I feel the tank against my thighs, the heat starting to come off the engine. We meld. Oh how I missed it. Yes. I am a complete addict. A complete bike addict.

The van now seems like this incredibly clumsy, slow, unyieldly machine. A sort of cute dinosaur.

Deep breath, the gears shift, I relax.

I cannot explain it. But I need it. I have to have it, that intensity, that immediacy, the power and the partnership.

I have to ride.

instruments in the dark

Yer done.

April 20, 2011

She said : “That’s it. You’re done.”

“Huh, I’m done? …. I’m done.”

it was around 4:30 PM.

“Wow, I’m done”

I had just signed the last form. My heart is still torn in a knot. My two favorite sculptures are sitting on the dock of a loading bay back behind this office, They will be crated and packed and they will head down to California on a truck. Without me. Jason helped me pack and I know he was thinking I was pretty neurotic about those stones… They move stuff all the time… they don’t get excited about something fragile.

“Do you make those things?” He had asked me, when I said yes, he had a hard time believing it. Sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself.

The day had started early. I was awake around 7 something AM when Erika’s alarm when off. Then my head was just spinning, rehearsing the scenarios, possibilities, options and challenges ahead.

First I had to go get the studio keys in Vancouver, second, get back down to Steveston to load up the stones in the van. Luckily I had help. Erika was there and a friend, Adrian, came to lend a hand. It took about an hour and we got the whole load down the stairs and into the van.

I was already sore from the last few days, I’ve been moving stuff, boxes, heavy weights since Sunday and the heaviest was still to come.

I then drove to Karen’s house, she wanted to give one of my sculpture a home so I dropped one off to her.

I then made my way to Annacis Island one more time. Unload those stone horses one more time. My arms are getting weak…There is confusion as the person I had talked to so far wasn’t there and Abdullah started to turn “Canadian”on me saying “You can’t come in the warehouse… You can’t pack your stuff…. You can’t leave your things in the loading bay… ” Can’t, can’t, can’t… I was trying to tell him that Alain, the owner had asked me to come and get things packed here… He just would not hear me. He just kept rattling the same thing about guys coming in to work and all that I could not do… So I finally said to him raising my voice :

“OK, fine, I got that. Now then tell me what I CAN do and I’ll do that. I’m just trying to get this done. I was told yesterday to come here. if I can’t leave my stones here I will load them back in the van…” To which he retorted with massive attitude :

“Well, if you “want” to load them in your van, go ahead…”

Sigh… Gigantic sigh…

He then stood there looking far away. I know this whole vibe… This dude doesn’t know how to deal with me. He’s trying to be in control but he doesn’t know how to look good. I had seen him a week ago and I could see how he was puzzled with me, this woman on a bike taking care of business and all… it is as if there was no program on his hard drive that would handle the type of file I was presenting him, as if he could only get an error message…

Where is Alain, I asked. He knows. so finally he got his phone out and called his boss… I heard him say on the phone. :

“Hi boss, sorry to call you…”

“Well it’s this client… …you know when sometimes you just don’t click with someone… …her stuff…”

“He wants to talk to you” Abdullah said to me handing me the phone.

“Hi Alain”

“Hi Danielle, what’s up?”

“Well, I am here, I just need to know if I can pack this stuff as we discussed or what else I am supposed to do at this point.”

“You can leave your stuff there, it’s all OK. He didn’t know about it.”

“Cool, thanks”

“Put Abdullah back on the phone”

I called Abdullah, I realized that this was the first time I called the name “Abdullah” out loud.

Abdullah picked up the phone and walked away talking. He finally came back saying : “We’ll get this other guy to help you” and he left. Jason came down. He’s in his twenties, has that aloof attitude but he’s actually helpful. He started putting boxes together for me and I packed the clay sculptures in there. It takes a little while but we get it all packed, listed, marked and tagged.

“Now you’ll need to fill the forms.” he said.

So I drove the van around the front went in the office and met with the lady at the office. She has a beautiful Scottish lilt. We go through the forms. It’s quick, easy. Thank God. and that is when she said : “You’re done, that’s it”

I’m done.

It is slowly sinking in. Done. Well… Not quite, there is more to do. I still have a sculpture to find a home for, things to get rid of, one of the clay horses got broken on the trip today so that will go to the garbage, some of this is heart breaking. I put too much love in what I do, It makes it hard to separate. On the other hand, it is freeing. Ying, Yang.

I still have to wash the van,that will be hard on my hands again… I hope they forgive me all this abuse. Right now they are so hurt they are swollen and I drop things down… but that van needs to be cleaned up, and put up for sale…

Tomorrow I have a photo shoot around noon… there is one more interview… my taxes to do… appointments and a few friends to see.

a big list still but the done things are starting to make a longer list than the “to do” list.

onwards, forward.

Saturday’s show : Awesome. I got there leisurely after a delicious coffee and Skype chatting. I was in the second half of the night so it was pretty relaxed.

wicked coffee from Wicked Cafe!

This trip has been a bit of a test for the concept of riding and performing kind of thing. Testing the Go guitar on the go and in the weather and seeing how this could all work.

Go guitar and motorcycle helmet

It does.

I arrived all motorcycle-geared up, I had to operate a transformation from that to “performer”. I had jeans and a sweater to trade for the leathers and heated vest and make up. Yeah, make up! I found my stash of make up in the van and tried it on for the Wednesday show. Somehow it helps my looks so I brought it with me. In about 12 minutes the trick was done and Karen gasped when she saw me come out with my “performer’s face”

I warmed up my hands for a good 40 minutes, trying to loosen up my motorcycle hands. I was tempted to changed the strings, they were dead… but I did not have pliers to cut the ends so I waited.

the stage

the room quickly filled up with a warm and eclectic crowd and the show got started. 4 performers, they each sang two songs and the two hosts : Karen Larsen and Bruce Gerrish were asking questions to each singer. Then a break and sound check and we were on.

Karen, one of our hosts

This was the first time I went on with the Go Guitar with absolutely no external equipment. Just a direct cable from the guitar to the board. It sounded GREAT. I was really glad. I ended up being the last of our group of four to come on. I started to play and the guitar was just sounding great. As good as all those full size instruments. I played Wish I Could Tell, a song from the upcoming album and it came out really good. It was interesting as my style was completely different than what the other artists were doing.

Another round and I played Don’t Wanna Drown and …. on the last chorus I busted a string! But I was able to finish the song minus the D string to very warm applause.

Then it was change time, back in the leathers, and back on the bike. Outside the skies were clear. Oh relief. the moon was almost full. The night was incredible. I started the engine, let Beowulf warm up as the temperatures hover just a little above the freezing point. I rode away my heart happy, thinking how perfect this all is… music, motorcycle, other artists and beautiful beings… I was gliding down highway 99 towards Steveston, the engine purring. I made it to Erika’s place, grabbed my guitar and the laptop and went upstairs where a warm appartment and the couch were waiting for me.

I woke up realizing that the nice time I had was now in the past and what was staring at me now was the tasks of moving my stuff, packing, cleaning, moldy van and all. Argh.

We both got up and went for a nice breakfast at Cimona cafe. They have an awesome breakfast, you can even get free range eggs… Erika and I had a good time over breakfast then it was time to head back to the van.

I spent most of the day pulling everything out again, repacking and trying to reduce the load as much as possible. Around 4 PM I was done, sore, and exhausted.

Monday : Big day. I rose early, ate fast and got going. I rode the bike to the van and then started the van and headed towards Vancouver. I did not know yet where I was going to start. But as I was driving over the Iron Workers Bridge I saw the sign for Annacis Island and decided to go to the movers. I got there and dropped off the stuff. That felt like a major step. Things are now in gear. I then drove to Steveston, I had some more painting stuff that I gave to Erika and some raw stones I left with her. Then to the sculpture studio to organize the pick up of the sculptures… Wheels are in motion. I go back to Erika’s and we both head downtown to the place where the last of my music gear is stored. We get there, eat a lunch Erika had made and then it’s time to do my phone interview with CBC Winnipeg.

Once that was done I looked at the stuff, repacked, and then we loaded the gear in the van. Back to the movers we go to unload all that stuff. Then to the dump for a second time… Oh my what a stench.

notice Erika holding her nose...

Suddenly this gigantic task is starting to dwindle in size, Oh My God. I might just make it…

tomorrow will be moving the the stone horses to the mover and packing them… Once that is done the “heavy stuff” is over.

Wednesday a photo shoot for the album cover with Paul McDermott.

Then it will be a few more things and I will be done… I’m so sore! but…. I’ll git ‘er done!