From her days with the Zellots—written about here—to her Aural Heather spoken word CD to her semi-autobiographical, delightfully-titled novel, The Town Slut’s Daughter, Heather Haley has proven herself a versatile creative talent and an important member of the Vancouver punk scene—and the California one, too, since she took a version of the Zellots with her down to California.
And make no mistake, she’s not done with rock yet: attendees at Slow's massive 10-gig stand at the Penthouse last year were treated to her fronting the band for a version of the Pretenders’ “The Adultress”, where Haley’s rock-star charisma was in full swing.
Alas, a recent arm injury has set her back a bit.
“It was a bit of a freak accident,” Haley relates to the Straight. “I was sitting on the floor, reaching under a desk with my left arm while resting my right on a folding chair when it suddenly collapsed, crushing the radius. It's the same limb I busted in a horrific car crash at age 16; must be my Achilles heel.”
The initial accident in the car crash had required surgery, Haley explains, This time, with a new injury in the same place, “surgery was required again, this time to remove the metal pin used to set it, way back when, to be replaced with lighter, stainless steel hardware. I got an upgrade!”
Unforunately, Haley didn’t have the best of luck with the medical system after her injury, she says.
“I don't like to complain, because after a long expat stint in the U.S., I appreciate our health-care system, but the ER doctor on duty at Burnaby Hospital screwed up, somehow missed the fracture on the X-ray and sent me home with a tensor bandage and some T-3s, claiming my injury would heal in two weeks. I returned to work. Eight days later my GP called after seeing the report/X-ray to inform me that my arm was indeed broken and I must return to the hospital. After a long wait the orthopedic doctor examined me and booked surgery the next day. I asked him and several other people on duty how the break was overlooked. I, a layperson, could see it, and they all hedged, one nurse explaining, ‘Oh, sometimes these things are easy to miss.’"
Since the break, Haley has returned to social media, and some slow, careful keyboard use, but as any writer would know, an arm injury is nothing welcome. Plus, “it hurt like a mofo!” she declaims. “Fortunately the worst of the pain has subsided. A monster cast is a bit like having a log attached to one's torso. I can't work, drive, the most severe fallout. Applying makeup with one hand—my left, suddenly I'm a southpaw—is a huge challenge. I’m a klutz, especially in the kitchen, knocking stuff over, dropping things. Every endeavour takes twice as long, at least. I wrap a garbage bag around my cast in order to shower and shove cotton balls in and under to ease chafing. Any degree of debilitation makes me cranky so I try not to inflict myself on friends and family when I enter that mode.”
Haley has turned to crowdsourcing to keep her afloat during the injury. “GoFundMe is incredibly helpful. Being self-employed I’m not eligible for EI and such benefits. I applied for income assistance but was ignored for weeks then subjected to several more weeks of bureaucratic hoop-jumping-limbo-as my meager savings dwindled. I was working hard not to push the panic button when dear friend Thesa Pakarnyk facilitated the crowdsourcing campaign, for which I am eternally grateful. Other angels; my son Lucas, his compatriot Julie, my partner Lyle who has filled in for me as much as possible and all my friends and loved ones who have rallied, contributed. I am one fortunate woman.”
The Slow gig, she says, was exciting, but sadly, no further musical endeavours are planned for the time being.
“I was thrilled to sing with Slow last year,” Haley tells the Straight, “but alas creative pursuits have been shoved to the back burner since a reversal of fortune about seven years ago. These days I'm running a small business, working full-time.”
That doesn’t mean she’s not active creatively, however. “I have managed to complete a collection of verse, Skookum Raven, and am in ‘seeking publication’ mode—another endeavour I don't have time to pursue. There is talk of adapting my novel, The Town Slut's Daughter, to the stage, which I hope turns to action this year. Several of my poems are to appear in this month's Event magazine and I blog when I can at my blog, One Life, at heatherhaley.com.”
Haley’s GoFundMe campaign has exceeded its initial goal, raising over $4000 in the space of 19 days, but it is still open, as she heals. Those wishing to donate can go here.