Australian film-maker and artist Sarah Watt died last night.
Within the last few weeks, I was reading an article about her on The Age website - probably after sifting through some high ranking stories about paying an imaginary tax or the size of a celebrity’s arse…or paying an imaginary tax the size of a celebrity’s arse.
This article on Watt stuck with me, because in it I saw an artist who recognised a too-close mortality and threw themselves into saying what that wanted to say while they could, and with tremendous passion and joy in the ordinary.
Now, it’s 10:05am, and I have about twenty minutes before I shove off to a doctor’s appointment, which I made because of precisely four strange freckles (one next to my bloodshot, green eyeball) and also to check on some other not-so-promising-maybe-nothing-better-check symptoms which I have had the misfortune to be familiar with. So this isn’t really gonna be much of a funny one, I’m afraid. Throw in a “knock knock” here and there, if it makes you feel better. Imagine there’s a killer punchline brewing. That’s what I do when I’m watching [insert name of personal-grudge comedian which I clearly don’t have the fortitude, guts, or callousness to do] perform.
I kid, I kid.
When I first had to sit my parents down to watch out for some test results while I was overseas, it wasn’t that the results were that serious - yet. I was OK. We were in early stages, but it was a moment when my specialist frowned and fixed his gaze on me and said “You can’t let this slide, you know. You have to act on it”. Throw in some thyroid treatment in the same year, and all the scary stories about losing your voice to surgery, and I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around for a while (chorus of: “what’s with the past tense, Quinn?”).
However, it is probably significant that it’s about the same time that I shifted gears, personally and professionally, and not only reinvented what I was writing and doing onstage, but also became significantly less of a shit personally. Yeah…there’s still some work pending, but baby steps, people, baby steps.
And in the last week or two, as this next doctor’s appointment looms - and it might all be fine, of course - and I watch every available episode of ‘Breaking Bad’, about a chemistry teacher who makes some terrifically bad decisions, all to earn enough cash to leave his family when he dies - it’s in these last weeks that I remembered that the shittest bit of that time, the most heart-breaking, terrifying moment of all the prods, appointments, lasers, follow ups, tests, for years and years and years - and that was to treat NEARLY cancer, not even the real thing - the most horrible bit was my mother’s face when I said “Mum - Dad - can you come over here? I need to get you to watch out for some mail for me”.
Because all I could think was how she lost one brother in 1968, and another in 1982, (and another this year). Not to mention my dad’s sister dying in her 50s of breast cancer. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t actually feel sorry for myself about a thing that might happen. Not that it’s a better reaction, but I felt bad that I had to worry them at all.
And my mother does not do scared. That’s a face I have seen once or twice in my life. I never want to see it again…but I know that I probably will.
So when I get back from my appointment - don’t ask me how I am, I’m sure I will have referrals and tests to follow up on, and will be suitably pissy about how very busy I am don’t you know who I am, etc., etc. - I am going to try to write something - anything. Draw a picture (yes, I do draw), start that naff ‘zine I promised I’d do when I was 16, practice my scales on the guitar, anything. It isn’t that I wouldn’t have done it anyway, but…I might do it for a bit longer before I get bored and start playing ‘Age of Empires’ or jumping on and off some soul-sucking social network site and miserably comparing my life to that of my friends.
Or maybe I’ll get off my arse and go see an exhibition.