(Photo and Intro by Aidan Morgan)
Essayist, web designer, poet, auto-tonsurer, reliably up at 3 a.m.: it’s hard to describe Elan Morgan in just a few words. If I had to pick a single sentence, though, it’s this: Elan is the person who follows through on those crazy late-night ideas we all toy with and discard. Write one poem per day for 365 days? Sure. Get sober and talk about the experience on national radio? Why not. Survive the gauntlet of thankless office work and design a life on her own terms? Yup.
Elan grew up mostly in Saskatoon but has lived in Regina for the last fifteen years with her partner and three ridiculous cats (not counting the herd of virtual kitties she’s cultivating in Neko Atsume). She is a website designer, a founding member of Gender Avenger and the owner of Schmutzie.com, where she contemplates issues of gender, sobriety and whatever crosses her mind.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
I’m always involved in a number of different projects. Right now, as
far as paid work goes, I’m working on a website design for a
professional writer and blogger, I’m setting up a mobile sales system
for a pop-up art gallery, and I’m helping a restaurant implement online
purchases. My own creative projects are all about poetry at the moment.
I’m working on the design of a magazine-style book of poetry, and I’m
also publishing one poem every day during 2016.
KC: What is your day job? What do you like about it? What is challenging?
My day job is always changing, because I am self-employed, so,
depending on my clients’ needs, I am a web designer, a graphic designer,
a writer, a speaker, and a general all-around problem solver as they
work to define and promote who they are and what they do.
KC: What is important to you?
Making it possible for people to have the voice they want and need to
have to understand themselves and change the world around them. That
sounds really highfalutin’, but I mean it. Whether I’m working with a
personal blogger who wants to share their writing, an executive who
wants to make a meaningful career shift, or an organization that wants
to express itself better, they are all seeking to find and express who
and what they are. Facilitating that is a powerful feeling.
KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?
I love how culturally alive Regina is. When I first moved here 15 years
ago, Regina felt very much like a city that was meant to be a small
town — its downtown was dead, the restaurant scene was limited, and
people I met often thought ideas about living car-free or preferences
for core neighbourhoods were strange, partially as a result of the first
two issues. Over the last 15 years, though, Regina’s downtown has
blossomed, and now there are great restaurants all over the place, we have the Regina Car Share Co-operative, and there are so many music, theatre, and art events every day that it’s hard to choose which ones to go to.
I like least about Regina is the deeply entrenched racism, specifically
against indigenous people. Friends have been followed around in stores
by security and on streets by police like they’re criminals waiting to
happen. As an example of the depth and denial of racism here, the main
statue in our downtown’s Victoria Park is of Sir John A. MacDonald, a
white supremacist who stated: “When
the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are
savages; he is surrounded by savages. Indian children should be
withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence.” MacDonald
also declared “the Aryan character of the future of British America should be destroyed…” without exclusion of Chinese people, and that “the
Aryan races will not wholesomely amalgamate with the Africans or the
Asiatics”. Some claim his ideas were in keeping with his day, but other
sources admit he was an extremist even for his time. Whether one or the
other is true, the ideas he stood for and the injustice he spread for
more than a century —he also brought in British law against abortion and
homosexuality — can still be felt today. It is a heartless and a
privileged denial to display Sir John A. MacDonald prominently in a city
where so many are the ancestors of those he starved, murdered, and
declared biologically inferior. Our city government and other
institutions offer little resistance to the prevalent racism, and this
passivity acts as leadership for more of same.
KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?
I’m a fan of Saskatoon! I lived there for over 20 years from the time I
was seven years old, and it is always dear to me. I visit fairly often
and try to get in a good photo walk on the riverbank every time I go.
It’s hard not to feel attached to the place where you grew up, but it is
objectively a gorgeous city with a vibrant arts community.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
There have been a number of winters when I was pretty sure I wouldn’t
survive. I have seasonal depression, so it can get pretty serious, but I
have some things I do now that make winter not only survivable but
actually enjoyable. First, I have a full spectrum, 10,000 lux lamp that I
sit in front of almost every day. I was cynical about them for years,
but once I tried one I was converted. Second, I bought a bright mustard
winter coat with a giant, whimsical hood on it, because why not dress
like the sun? It helps the mood. Third, I take vitamin D and a higher
dose of B12 every day.
KC: (From the Proust Questionnaire) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?“
The thing I would change about myself is my battle with Imposter Syndrome.
My difficulty in acknowledging and internalizing my own accomplishments
creates an insecurity that holds me back from truly excelling at the
things I love and loving the things I do. This is why it has taken me so
long to pursue publishing a book. I know I’m not alone in this
struggle, because I bet a lot of Kindred Cities’ readers work against
the same issue within themselves, but it always feels lonely to think
you’re not enough as you are. Luckily, I’m feisty, and I kick myself in
the butt to just get over it on the regular.
recently named my imposter syndrome Ned, and I put him in an imaginary
crate like he’s a bad puppy when he gets out of hand. Ned doesn’t get to
be the boss. He hasn’t even learned how not to wreck my stuff yet.