Acceptance and Openness

I am still working on accepting myself as I am, and not feeling pressured to change myself or constantly try to be “better” when really I know there are just things about myself that seem pretty innate and maybe shouldn’t be considered liabilities. And the changes I DID need to make to be a more functional person have mostly all happened, like getting a handle on my addictions and keeping on top of my mental health.

But one of the things I am still working on is being open with people close to me. And sometimes I do really poorly at that, but more recently I’ve finally been able to talk about some stuff with a close friend and work through it and it’s funny, because I was anticipating horrible outcomes. And overall it was actually really nice and sweet and like, relieving, because now I don’t feel like I’m keeping secrets from her that she probably needed to know about. I’m not going to talk about the details of it here, just that I am glad being open with her is still going well and that now I’m feeling pretty safe with her as a friend, and I have gotten closer to some other friends in the last few months too.

One of my main problems was missing a relative who I had a rocky spring with, with some unfortunate fights, and it was really hard because she and I talked almost everyday before that. Anyway we have gotten back to chatting and it’s not exactly the same, but it seems like the rift was kind of healed.

And another friend of mine I am still trying to get closer with again, and it’s hard sometimes, and we aren’t totally there yet. But it’s getting way better than it was a few months ago.

There’s something about writing emails or messages or opening up conversations where you need to deal with interpersonal issues that is still really terrifying to me. I think it has to do with how I was raised, I wasn’t really taught conflict resolution skills at all. I still hate conflict, and I have had a bad history of just running away when it happens. And even when there isn’t conflict, if I know a conversation is gonna be hard, it’s very difficult to bring it up. I know I need to get over this problem I have with conflict, because I DO eventually want a serious relationship, involving parenting together, and I don’t want to be that shitty partner who gets mad and sulks and ignores someone, because I know what it’s like to be on the other end of that, and it’s awful and abusive and miserable. And mostly when that dynamic has come up in my life again, things DON’T get resolved, someone just resigns themselves to the fact that the silent angry person is never gonna change or apologize, and ends up trying to make things work again, even if it really isn’t healthy at all. So yeah, learning conflict resolution skills and how to work through problems and have honest conversations with friends is really important to me right now.

Obviously I’m not open with EVERYBODY! Like this is a select small chosen few close to me that I am trying to stay open with. Ha ha that probably sounds weird when you read this blog, but it’s true! I have secrets, sort of, sometimes. And when they impact other people or my relationships with them I want to talk about it, because I’ve seen so many things happen because of misunderstandings and shit going down and unsaid things. And things can be resolved a lot faster if people just communicated a little better. And although I have a blog and an oversharing fb (ha ha which is mostly shit like “I just washed the floor!” “here’s me cooking!” “look I ate this thing!”) AND I am a filmmaker/video artist/whatever I am, I have been a bad communicator in the past. Like sooooooo bad. So I am trying to be braver about talking about what I want and need and think with my friends. And talking about it doesn’t mean they have to agree with me or anything, but being able to talk about it really does make things easier, and I think stops situations from going sideways.

So anyway, I was able to talk about a scary thing with someone, and it went okay, and life goes on, and that’s really nice.

This weekend I am going away to Winnipeg and hopefully meeting my little brother for the first time ever. I’m pretty excited about it, the sister I grew up with is disabled and non-verbal, so I’ve never had an actual conversation with a sibling before.

You know, the funny thing about that is I remember when I was a little girl I wanted a baby brother. Mom already had her tubes tied by then, and also even if she hadn’t I think she was pretty done with having babies. But then many many years later my Dad told me I had a brother. I have another one somewhere else, but I don’t know anything about that one. Anyway, the brother I do know about is my fb friend and I’ve never been able to meet him, until this weekend (HOPEFULLY!). I’m so curious what he sounds like when he talks, cause Dad talks a certain way and people who meet me and have known him say we talk alike.

Anyway, big life events! Ha ha, I hope it goes okay. I’m also doing arty things in Winnipeg with Videopool’s Isolated Landscapes show. So that will be awesome.

I think things will be okay. And being open is helping me, in various ways.

2 Spirit Grief

The last time I saw them was in the ground.

It was a rainy day, the end of May. The clouds had parted just enough to let a sliver of sunlight through while we drove their coffin to the cemetery. There were horses in a nearby field, and as the cars followed my uncle’s truck to the gravesite, the horses galloped back and forth.

I was sitting in the back of the truck with my cousins, Shar, Jenny, Shawn, Lorne and his son Jordan. We were the pallbearers for my Grandpa, who was being laid to rest with my Grandma’s ashes in an urn cradled in his arms. It was the first time our reserve, Little Pine, had women act as pallbearers. Although all of us women were also two spirit, and for me especially the label of woman doesn’t always stick as neatly as it does on other people. Either way, two spirit people by definition bridged the genders, and we were supposed to have some cross over in roles.

Gender roles in Plains Cree culture, especially in ceremonies, can be very rigid, something I always bristled at when I went to things like funerals. I would feel left out, feel misplaced. Feel disregarded and disrespected. I’ve been asked to leave if I was on my period before, even though two spirit elders say people like me who are having periods should just be treated the same as the men, like we don’t even have any. I got rid of my periods in a medical procedure a while back for other reasons. But that doesn’t mean anything for the gendered positions in my community.

At funerals the women cooked the feast food, the men did the pipe ceremony and prayed and served food and usually gave away the deceased person’s possessions to the community. I have been constantly reassured by women that if there was a woman’s pipe the women could do a pipe ceremony too. Still I’ve only been in two pipe ceremonies in my life, and one was with another trans/two spirit person. The amount of times I have been on the sidelines watching men pray in a language I barely understand even though it is my ancestors, doing something I can’t be involved in, it’s difficult.

But this was my Grandpa’s funeral, so things were different. He wasn’t that kind of man in his life. He was an old Cree person, he knew a lot of things from how the old ways were. But he was also very modern. If he said something about what women couldn’t do, there was always a twinkle in his eye where you knew he was half lying just to tease you, or that even if it was a traditional belief he was kind of egging you on to challenge it and think for yourself.

I didn’t cry at his funeral. I know a lot of people did, and I wanted to, and I felt badly that I didn’t. I was having a hard time with crying at that point in my life, I’d gone through some psych related trauma back in my 20’s and that combined with some heavy duty anti-psychotics made simple emotional responses like tears hard to access. It’s easier now. Things changed, I don’t know how but I was able to cry again. But at his funeral, it was hard. And we had cared for him for a solid month, going to the hospital every day, cleaning out his apartment, cancelling his phone service. All the things that must be done to wrap up a life. Saying our goodbyes to him. He was delirious in the end, but there were two points he recognized me. When I first came home and went to see him, he looked at me and said he was so glad. Another time was in the hospital. We were sitting there watching over him and he looked at me and got such a big loving smile on his face, and I remembered all the things he and I had done together, fishing and camping and visiting and talking and watching him make jokes, and I think I did cry then. And I didn’t want to cry because I knew he was saying goodbye and that he loved me, even without words, and I didn’t want to make him feel guilty for leaving me or like he shouldn’t.

But aside from those two times it was like he was already halfway out of this world. He talked in Plains Cree again, telling nurses to awas when they tried to change him or give him injections. He shook hands with spirits and watching them coming to take him away. There were violent thunderstorms the night before he died, and after that he was still and left.

Grandma and Grandpa were good people. They raised me just as much as my mother did, and he was the closest person to a constant father figure I had, even tho I did know my father and he lived in the same province.

Carrying a coffin is hard, and I know people were nervous about half the coffin being carried by women. Everyone has to apply the same strength, the weight has to be distributed evenly. But it was good for me to do, and nobody dropped it, it was fine. We carried it out of the band hall and loaded it into the back of my uncle’s truck, and it all went smoothly. I was glad to be able to carry my Grandparents out of this world. To be one of the first women pallbearers, even though I only feel like a woman half the time.

Grandpa really wanted all his people, his relatives and friends and community, to achieve their dreams. He was one of the first Indians to go to University in Canada. He supported education. He listened to people and told jokes and when he was angry it was awful but I rarely saw him angry.

When I lived in Saskatoon I visited him a few times a week. He didn’t have a lot of his grandchildren visit regularly. I recognized how lonely old people got, how some of the people at his home felt so forgotten. After his wife died, he lived on his own for the first time since the 40’s. I wish I had been able to see him more, but I had moved to Toronto by then. I remember he didn’t want me to move away, and I was genuinely sad to leave him behind, even though I came back to visit him.

But I was there the last month of his life, every day, and I was there with his body, taking him to the cemetery where his mom and dad and grandpa and sister and brothers were. I was there to drop a handful of dirt on him when we finally said goodbye.

After a Cree funeral, there is a feast for the dead. Everybody sits around and the food is blessed and we all get a bit of everything, and then give pieces of what we have to a container to feed the deceased person. It takes a long time, and often the soups have really cooled when everyone can finally eat. Children get squirmy, and the men have a pipe ceremony. But this time I was one of the people who got to distribute his clothing and random things to the people in the hall. There was some rules about how close I could get to the men who were praying, which was a totally gendered thing and frustrating. But still I was able to participate in one more thing that normally I wasn’t able to.

Grieving as a two spirit person is just as hard as anyone’s grief, but being seen as my real gender made it easier. Feeling like I got to embody my grief and do things for the community and for my Grandfather made it easier. I didn’t feel slighted or bristly like I sometimes get. I felt recognized, and I really liked it. It might sound so strange, to feel touched by something that on the surface seems so simple. But gender in Plains Cree culture can be treated as a really cut and dried binary topic, and those of us who slip through the cracks of gender and want to be recognized are often treated badly. We can be seen as a bit of an irritant by people who don’t understand non-binary genders, like what’s the problem why don’t you wear a skirt is it really so hard to do that look everyone else with your perceived gender is doing it? Or worse, with outright scorn and hostility by the really hardcore transphobic and homophobic people.

But this was different, and it felt like love, and it made saying my final goodbyes to my Grandpa easier.

THE ONE

People are really weird when you’ve been apparently single for a long time. I say apparently because I’ve had weird relationships over the years with people who keep me a secret or never commit to calling it a RELATIONSHIP or some such nonsense that I for whatever reason go along with. It’s pretty bad. And tiresome. And makes me look very lonely, even tho I’m more or less content with my life and still have just as many orgasms as people in real relationships.

BUT I do want a relationship, and this year has been really weird because I went on dates that were actually called dates for once. Nothing came of any of them. But it was at least a step into a more obvious direction of possibly romancing someone. Anyway, the point is, I think the reason I am not having a real Relationship is because people don’t seem to realize I’ve been single so long because I’m waiting for someone I can do something pretty fucking major with, and not just for a few months or a few years but FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. It’s not like I’m not wanting a relationship, I don’t have a fear of commitment, with the right person.

And when I was more fucked up and actively using substances and my mental health was kinda shitty, it wasn’t really something I could even conceive of. Like maybe having a life partner, yeah I could see that SOMEDAY. But now I’m actually thinking about having a family with a partner, like me and her and our two children and our dogs. Or dog. Little Mister is super old I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t around when this all happens. I can see grumpy Posey being with us tho. And I know there are ways we could get not super expensive housing because I’m already in a co-op and hopefully I could go on an internal list for a place with more bedrooms. It’s hard to get into the 3 bedroom places, but 2 bedrooms aren’t so bad.

BUT it’s very weird to me to approach women and be like “Do you want to have a family together?” Like I know obviously I wouldn’t say that straight off the bat. I’d probably bring it up after knowing each other for a while. But it’s like, people my age are starting to make relationship decisions based on the family question, who wants to have kids and who doesn’t. And for a long time I was like “bleh I don’t want kids and I will be in poly relationships sure I guess if that’s all I can get.” Which is pretty sad. I mean the accepting poly relationships even tho I know I’m built way more for monogamous relationships. But changing my mind about having kids kind of shifts me into this whole other sphere of serious relationship requirements.

I decided I want to have two kids by the time I am 45. I don’t want to be super super old and trying to have kids. I can’t have bio kids myself, because I have no endometrial lining anymore. But there’s other options for getting kids. I don’t know, I might get with someone who wants to go through a pregnancy or two. I might end up with someone who wants to get on the list for adoptions. I thought about fostering queer kids, but I’ve been hearing more about how the foster system works and it sounds pretty brutal and kids get moved a lot. So I’m super dubious about that.

But yeah, it’s a lot to bring to someone, wanting to have kids. And being queer and having a history of dating cis women, there’s not a lot of chances for accidental children. So I think really first of all I have to let go of some weird shit I have about dating women who don’t want to treat me like a serious partner. Like I am not sure what that is about. Probably some weird self esteem vibe I give off or something. It’s been pretty infuriating to be honest.

On the other hand, I don’t have any old flames or exes I want to be with again. I’m not hung up on anyone. No one still hurts me when I think of them. I don’t have completely COOL friendships with all my exes, but I don’t dwell on any of them or what could have been anymore. Which is kind of the sort of person people want to get involved with, someone who doesn’t feel shitty about old relationships and isn’t still secretly in love with someone else.

I do still have a crush or two or whatever. But like, I dunno, those are also dubious for other reasons.

My psychic said I was gonna get into a serious relationship within the next two years. She also said I needed to get out more, and to be more clear about what I want in a relationship, because I think people are very confused about what I want, or willfully obtuse about it anyway. So yeah, someone to live with and come home to, to raise a couple of weirdo children with, and play with our dog together and walk kids to school and help with homework and make art and do arty things and keep having a career but also this family thing. It’s just like, the next phase of my life, but I kinda need pieces to fall into place before it happens. And also someone to be with in a serious way. Like, for a start it would be nice not to be anyone’s secret or whatever, like Jesus at least change our facebook relationship statuses for a change. Which I haven’t done with any of these weird non-relationship relationships I’ve been in because oh god that might turn off their other potential lovers.

Ugh I really need to quit dating poly women.

Dangerous Nostalgia

The other night I had a using dream. I was grinding weed and rolling up joints and doing all that stuff that goes into using marijuana. I don’t remember where I got it from. I just suddenly had it and was using it and justifying it to myself by saying I only did it sometimes, I wasn’t gonna be a chronic again, etc etc. It was weird tho because often I have felt deeply guilty during these dreams, whereas this one I felt calm and in control even tho I was making a really bad choice for myself.

I woke up and was relieved I hadn’t really smoked weed. I live in an area where I smell it all the time, well that could be anywhere in Canada really, but when my windows are open I can often smell it coming from the courtyard. Anyway, the point is, I’ve known for a while that it would be really easy to get here. There are dispensaries all over the city, I could probably ask my neighbours, and although my friends don’t usually smoke around me, I could probably ask anyone and they would have three to four different connections each. It’s really weird, especially with the new laws coming into effect next year legalizing it.

That doesn’t mean when recreational marijuana use is legal I’m gonna run out and get high. Alcohol is legal too, and I am still not drinking and haven’t had a drink since 2012. Ditto tobacco. So it’s really just going to make things a little bit more visible. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with that, but realistically the only difference is that people won’t be trying to smoke discretely, because even now I could walk down the street and pass people smoking it, maybe in quickly palmed joints but you know. It’s fucking hard to hide it’s so smelly.

Anyway. I’ve noticed I have a bit more nostalgia about my substance use these days, and it’s kind of dangerous. I don’t want to be thinking about how much fun it was to take a pill in the shape of Obama’s head, without reminding myself I blacked out and woke up safe in my own bed the next morning but so much could have gone wrong in that time. Like there’s some shit that went down, and I’m still trying to be like “ha ha drugs when I used drugs blah blah.” BUT NO they weren’t great and like, there were so many ways my life became fuller after I quit. I remember the last several times I got high how anxious and paranoid and freaked out I felt, how much I wanted to be high when I was sober, and how much I wanted to be sober when I was high. That horrible out of control feeling, and the darkness. UGH! It got really gross. And then how long it took to quit, I wanted to quit for three years before I could finally do it, and even quitting originally started out as a six week break just to see how my body felt after detoxing from it.

And the detoxing was so horrible, I was miserable and bitchy and irritable and made everyone’s life hell. And my dealer was part of my friend circle so I still saw him around which was kind of weird. Ugh so weird.

Anyway, I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to feel miserable when I’m high and miserable when I’m clean. I just want to not think about it anymore. How long do I have to think about being clean and sober? Why do I keep having using dreams? Why does it seem so easy to go buy a drink, and yet why do I feel this looming dread if I even entertain the thought for a moment?

It’s also weird because I got clean and sober without using the 12 step programs. I went to a group for psych consumers who had addictions issues and we talked with each other and with an addictions counselor and a mental health nurse. It was really not like 12 step programs at all. We just talked, and some of us were really unstable and it was difficult. I was pretty together mental health wise when I started going, but some people were just out of the hospital, and some people talked and talked and talked until the rest of us wanted to die or crawl out of there. It was more health region programming based than NA or AA or any of the A’s. I liked it. I know a lot of people believe in the anonymous groups, but those didn’t work for me. I didn’t like giving up my life to a higher power, especially because what I know of God is that we all compose this entity known as God which means I’m responsible for myself really. And that doesn’t exactly gel with what 12 step groups are selling.

But I like accepting that I am ultimately responsible for myself. I mean I still do spells and create intentions and go to ceremonies and things, but ultimately I know if I want something to happen I have to make it happen, which includes staying clean and sober.

So I wish I could go back to that group or a group like that and talk to people. There’s a concurrent disorders group near here, but they are an anonymous 12 step based group also. And that just doesn’t work for me. Also sometimes people think of marijuana as such a soft drug to not even be able to be addictive, and then I feel judged like I was never enough of an addict. Whatever that means! There is a weird hierarchy of addicts tho, it’s bizarre. Anyway, I might keep looking for another secular health based group to join.

People have very particular ideas of how people should get and stay clean and sober. This society is very 12 step group heavy, even though there are a lot of flaws in it. But encouragingly a lot of people get clean and sober on their own. Which is what I did sort of and am still trying to do. I say trying even tho I have already done it, because I still have to wake up and make choices that keep me away from buying beer with alcohol in it, or visiting a dispensary, or saying I could have a puff with friends etc. I will always be trying just as much as I am always succeeding.

Defensive Postures

It has been a hell of a time on Facebook right now. This #metoo social media thing is going on about people who have been sexually assaulted or harassed disclosing en masse. And it’s pretty overwhelming. I didn’t do a specifically #metoo post, BUT I did disclose the day the metoo campaign started that a woman in the Sask arts community had assaulted me as a teen and then kept coming up to me and touching me at every art event she saw me at and made my skin crawl. I think that was the situation that upset me the most, because it was so constant and even tho I got into really defensive postures and avoided her and blocked her on all my social media pre-emptively, she still felt fine to harass me. I HAVE been harassed and assaulted by men also, and at least one or two other women. But saying rape culture is just a men’s issue is really simplifying things in a way I am not fully comfortable with. And especially making it seem that it is a mainly cis heterosexual thing, no way. No way. I know some gay men are discussing it in their community though, and some brave queer women on my friends list have also specified it coming from other women too.

And then I also have to look at my own role in this situation, which is uncomfortable because I have pressured women before, we didn’t fuck or anything but I know I crossed some boundaries by being persistent and made at least two women uncomfortable who I was close to. And that is really shitty, and in one instance booze was involved on my part which complicates things. But saying I’m not responsible for my actions because I was drunk is really shitty. I think people still are responsible for things they do when drunk, especially violence or coercion. I’m glad nothing I was involved with went really far, but knowing I felt like I was so entitled that I could be that pushy is pretty fucked up. I think since those things have happened I have thought about them a lot myself and tried to figure out ways to be accountable to both women. I have apologized since to both of them long ago, and while that didn’t make us able to have any real friendship again, it did make me feel a little bit better. BUT I don’t know if that made either of them feel better which is the more concerning part.

So there’s a lot to unpack around this whole thing. And I know there are definitely more people who need to interrogate how they approach potential partners or friends or strangers, how we ask for consensual encounters, how to have really hot sex that is wrapped up in things like domination and submission without being shitty to each other. Being an Indigenous queer non-binary masculine of centre submissive leaning kinkster myself really can make things difficult. Like the kinds of women I want to have sex with have different issues than me usually, being oftentimes white and femme. And the types of sex I like having can have some power dynamics going on in it anyway which is hard to negotiate and I’ve often in my adult life NOT even been very good at verbalizing what I’m into. Like you could read my whole Fetlife fetish list and that still wouldn’t explain to you that I hate being called a bad girl/boi and like being called a good girl/boi. Or that I only get submissive when I fall head over heels in love, and otherwise I’m just more of a sensation bottom. And then there’s just things I want that I don’t talk about, except maybe to my best friend because I know she’s proven herself over the years and years to be solid and there for me and non-judgy.

BUT YES! I am not liking that this discourse is centering sexual violence on only male perps. Because I know for a fact there are definitely women and trans and non-binary people who haven’t respected others boundaries either. And I’m not sure what they are thinking right now when all this is going on, if they even recognize like I have that there are things they have done that aren’t fully consensual or were shady for some reason. Or if they are secretly relieved that all this responsibility for being honourable and respectful to other people and partners is something cis men need to look at and not them.

I don’t think we’re going to dismantle systems of oppression if we don’t recognize how they are complicated. Like the woman who harasses me is way older, white, femme, and in a position of power right now in another professional way. That’s a lot of power right there. Maybe it sounds weird to some people that a masc person would be assaulted and harassed by a femme person, but that’s really not surprising to me because anyone could be a shitty person to someone else. I had a mostly emotionally abusive and physically abusive girlfriend too, who made me feel like absolute shit by the time she was done with me. She was also femme. AND White. And older. Things are complicated. And it’s not going to get better if we absolve abusers because they don’t fit a particular demographic.

Cis men CAN OFTEN be really shitty and cavalier about the way they treat women, trans, non binary people, especially feeling entitled to sex and attention. And it’s a major problem. But also denying that women, trans, non-binary peeps, and butches and femmes can be equally abusive to people around them isn’t really going to solve the problem.

I think sometimes women (cis straight women maybe to be more specific) think the queer women’s community is some kind of utopia where things are gentle and loving all the time. But I’ve heard all kinds of stories and seen things that show that isn’t the case. Like my friend who got beat up by her girlfriend, or some of the more shitty ways polyamory ends up treating people, or even sexual assault and shunning and things. Like we aren’t a perfect community. We can be really fucked up and harmful to each other.

SO I guess to wrap up, I would just like people to also acknowledge that sexual violence happens between women. And it’s a major problem too. And it’s a small community, so we run into each other all the time. I would just like for people to keep space for women, trans, non-binary people who have experienced that kind of violence from each other. Because it’s hard to go online and see people saying this is a men’s problem, when it’s any of us who is capable of this.

A Shambles!

Ha ha I try not to write personal things here, especially about relationships, I have failed at that rule sometimes though. My romantic life is a shambles right now, and I’m not seeing anyone but things are weird. But I mean things are always weird for me. I quit my OKC and HER accounts, because HER was tricking me and being a shady app, and OKC was demoralizing because I’ve answered 700 questions and so when I see things people answer in certain ways I’m just turned off and I’m sure it goes both ways. And because I haven’t gotten a date from there since March. I’m still working at this Meeting People Through Life thing, and it’s definitely let me get to know people in a way better way than dating profiles ever could, or wayward first dates where I’m totally awkward and shy and unable to reveal my personality because I’m terrified. Like I think there is definitely some merit towards the Friends First philosophy of dating. It’s just getting beyond that that is hard for me.

It’s been so fucking hot ever since I came back. Boiling! Today it’s finally cooling off, but even my A/C wasn’t cutting it. It was brutal. Last night Little Mister refused to sleep in the bedroom with us because it was so hot (and he’s a longhaired dachshund!!!) so he slept in front of the air conditioner even tho I worried all night that This Was It! The night Little Mister died! He was fine, he just does his own thing. But as he gets older and older when he doesn’t come to bed I get nervous he fell asleep under the couch and died overnight. So every morning that he’s not in bed when I wake up, I worry and call his name and he comes running up wagging his little tail totally happy and ready to kiss me until I get out of bed and feed him. I wish I could guarantee that every morning he’s gonna be there for me.

I’ve been getting used to being back in Canada. It took almost a week to get back into working. I’ve made good progress on a grant, and I applied for another commission. I have to do a budget and I hate those and it’s a large budget and I feel really incompetent about the numbers I am using. I kind of know what I am doing, but also there are probably lots of people who could be doing this better than me. BUT I am good at all the other stuff in doing a production. Just writing budgets is like uhhhhhh! It’s right up there with my film dyslexia. Like which way do you wind it? Once I fucked up winding a super 8 and it was like, backwards AND upside down and I think weird in another way too and I was like “oh lord jesus how did that even happen and how do I fix it?” I did film school, I learned about actual Super 8 and 16mm film, like I am not an idiot, I know enough to load cameras in a black bag. BUT still video is my thing. I know my strengths and weaknesses!

I should bring that up if I ever have a job interview again. “What are your weaknesses?” “I cannot wind a reel of film to save my life!”

OH I KNOW I had my tattoo appointment last week! Tomorrow it will be a week exactly. It made me cry a bit when I finally saw it, I was really touched, and so were some people in my family. It was my memorial tattoo for my dead grandparents, and was an empty canoe with two paddles with a background of the boreal forest behind it. It really really really hurt getting done. It’s on my upper back, so I couldn’t watch it being created, I could only feel it. And it felt like everything sharp digging into me all over that section of my back, which basically it was. I’ve never made such terrible faces before, but they kind of helped. I normally chat with the artist when I’m getting done, but I was like, totally quiet, and she was chatting with another artist and client, so I just listened to them. But she was so fast! I was amazed. It was just over an hour and she was totally done. Like I told her I needed a break, and she literally only gave me two minutes then sprayed me with bactine and went right back in again and finished five minutes later. It was pretty amazing. And while it was getting done I had all those feelings I have sometimes gotten about tattoos, like can I handle this? Am I gonna wimp out? What have I gotten myself into? I can’t quit now or I’ll have a fucked up tattoo! How much longer omg? But I’m glad I got it done. It’s super itchy right now and scabs are peeling off, my least favourite phase of healing. And it’s a terrible location for applying lotion. I’m only supposed to put on lotion if it drives me crazy from itching, but it’s hard to reach and I don’t have a girlfriend to put it on for me!

What’s up? I got addicted to these Reese Big Cups, and then someone suggested I try the Reese Big Cups with Reeses Pieces and now I am going to the store everyday to get some until they run out.

I’m trying to be more direct, open, honest, and caring about my relationships, which are basically all friendships right now. I’ve worked things out with some friends I was worried would be gone for good. I’ve cleared things up. I’m still trying to be more honest about my feelings with people, and it’s starting to get better, but is also still scary for me. I’m seeing my therapist on Friday so I’m looking forward to that.

I’ve gotten a lot of work requests lately, along with this ongoing script writing. It’s pretty interesting. Like I am basically a full time artist now, I’m making some cash, I haven’t been on welfare for a while, and I think I’m busy enough that I legitimately cannot handle having a full time job in addition to being a practicing artist and stuff. There’s still a lot of voluntary work I do in the community, like sitting on the Charles Street Video board and my involvement with TQFF. But it’s been pretty decent, and I’m happy I got to make so much work this last year. I’m really happy that when people ask me my advice for different things related to the art world, I actually have a long list of good answers. It’s nice.

Anyway, that’s what’s up! I am seeing my psychic next week. I have a thing at Nuit Blanche in the Campbell House Museum which Cherish Blood is doing. I have some friends to hang out with and I am getting closer to people because I’m being more accountable and thoughtful (I hope!)! It’s been interesting.

2 Weeks in the Kingdom!

Yesterday I finally got back from my two weeks in the UK! Scotland was fun, but we travelled all over the place and had to get on a train almost everyday and my bags were heavy and I was getting wore out and so was Mom and Auntie Beth. We did eat some glorious food tho, including Sticky Toffee Pudding with custard at this Gun Lodge just outside of Inverness. And I had this fucking amazing Venison steak in Wick which was bloody and delicious and resting on some beets and beet puree. SO GOOD omg! We stayed at this tiny Bnb just outside of Keiss in Northern Scotland and it was totally rural and we needed to ask cabs to come get us and bring us back from Wick and John O’Groats. There were chickens all over the place, and a couple of growing chicks which were pretty cute. I tried haggis there and I was pleasantly surprised and ate all of it, and then had it again the next day. When we went back to Glasgow I tried blood sausage, but I was not as impressed. It had a nice texture, but it just didn’t taste so great.

London tho was without a doubt my favourite place, we went there just Mom and I (Auntie went back to Canada from Glasgow) to spend a week in a YHA hostel off Oxford Street in Soho that was actually a really nice quiet place. I was a little worried about going to a hostel, because I have had some rank experiences in them, mostly in sleeping in the dorms tho. We had a room to ourselves. The bed was not the greatest, BUT it was quiet and safe. They gave us a decent continental breakfast that kept us getting up early so we didn’t have to go forage for food on our own. The first day we went on a hop on hop off bus tour, saw many things. The next day we went to Stonehenge because we checked the weather network and it was supposed to be the one nice day, AND IT WAS! It was windy, but it didn’t rain on us the whole time we were out there. Stonehenge is pretty majestic and humbling, and surrounded by hundreds of burial mounds. They don’t let you go right into it because they need to conserve it obviously, and so many people visit. But the path gets you pretty close, and we listened to the audio guide as we went around. They have found pottery there that is the same kind as found in the Orkney’s, which is interesting because there are standing stones up there too which we have seen. And some stones are from Wales. And anyway, it was a really interesting site to explore.

We went to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers studios the next day. It was pretty fuckin amazing. They had so many of the sets, including Diagon Alley and the Forbidden Forest. They have recently included most of the costumes also. And there were props, animatronic creatures, some mermaid heads, dragons, basalisks, etc. It took a few hours to go through the whole place, and we had their butterbeer which was pretty delicious. I ended up getting some souvenirs like a Hufflepuff Seeker shirt and a Butterbeer glass and some pics of me on a broom. It was awesome! I would recommend anyone go there. It was a little intense that they played the soundtrack everywhere, BUT over 8 movies or whatever the soundtrack has many variations so it wasn’t too bad.

We went to the Tower of London, and I think Mom’s knees took a beating. When you go into the buildings there, you have to keep going because the stairways are too narrow to let two people pass at once. So we went in the White Tower and it was 204 steps, and Mom was like omg. And I checked my iPhone at the end of the day and it said we had gone up and down 34 flights. It was a lot! After that we went on The London Eye and got a view of the city, which was ok, not amazing tho, and Mom hated that because she is afraid of heights, but I really appreciated that she was willing to try it out.

What else did we do? I’m sure I’m forgetting some things. We went on a ghost tour by bus, which happened the day the terror attack happened. Ha ha oh yes we were there during a terror attack. Really it was a failed terror attack because thankfully the bomb didn’t go off the way it was meant to, it was loaded up with nails, but it ended up being a big fireball that gave people flash burns, and the nails didn’t act as shrapnel. What shocked me about being there when that happened was the way the Londoners just went on with life. Like they didn’t cower, or act shocked even, or even talk about it. We spent the day on Oxford Street shopping, because WE were nervous about going on the Tube again. But everyone else just got on with things, going shopping, seeing friends, going to the pub, etc. The police presence really stepped up, we had hardly seen them previously, but suddenly they were everywhere, the stations, the touristy places. We accidentally walked through London Fashion Week where all the models were being photographed, and cops were stationed all over there too. The threat level went up to another attack being imminent, and thankfully we were leaving a couple days later. Our last night we met up with our friend Sheila after going to the Tate and checking out Soul Of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, and some of their free galleries. She took us to a pub, where I had my first non-alc craft beer ever and it was so nice. Then we went to an Indian restaurant that was amazing. Then she left us at Kinky Boots where we had gotten cheap last minute tickets. Kinky Boots was pretty fun.

So anyway, yesterday I came home, and I was fine for a while, but jet lag kicked in and I went to sleep at 8:30pm. I was exhausted. Mom unfortunately went a different way than me, through Calgary, and her plane was delayed a few hours. I think she is currently still asleep.

OH and I finally met my friend Nosh which was awesome and we had a great conversation over brunch, which we waited in a long queue for. So great! 😀

It was really fuckin expensive to be there, and we were having a lot of fun, but overall I have no regrets, it was an amazing experience and while Mom and I saw Scotland before, we have never been to London and wanted to do it for a long time. She was having fun buying things for her relatives, and I mailed a whole whack of postcards back to cousins and friends. I got three shirts, one t shirt of the Lesbian M&M, the Hufflepuff Seeker shirt, and also a cute red button up shirt from M&S with stars on it. And I got some random things like a puffin magnet, and a tartan rucksack, and a really cute hand thrown and painted cup from Stonehenge, and we got a selfie stick but never used it.

I don’t know when we will ever be in a financial position to go on such a trip again. It was really because we both won REVEAL awards that we went. We’d made a deal if we won we would go, so we did. I really liked going somewhere when I didn’t need to do work. No festival to attend, no networking, not anything! Just seeing some sights and eating amazing (and expensive!) food!

Holidays! :D

Sooooo it’s really holidays time for me! It’s been kind of interesting, I had one day off, then a two day mental health first aid workshop, then another day off (today), and now nothing until next weekend when we head to the UK. And then two days of travelling in a foreign country where I don’t have to do anything work related, which is SO FUCKING AWESOME! I don’t even remember the last time I went to another country on a trip that wasn’t work related. Maybe when we went on a road trip in the States when Little Mister was still a bit of a baby. But that was a long time ago, a decade at least maybe more.

Mom is making all kinds of plans of what we are gonna do there. We are going to do a day trip to Stonehenge which is kind of fun! I hope it’s interesting, we’ll see! Going to see the Harry Potter sets, Tower of London, Mom wanted to go to Coronation Street sets in Manchester but now she has changed her mind. The first week we are traveling around Scotland, mostly rural Scotland. Mom and I have vowed not to have tapas in Inverness ever again. We went to a Tapas place there in 2008 and it was so horribly awful we have talked about it ever since.

We are a little freaked out about being in London for a week tho, I will admit. Acid attacks, random vans driving into people. It’s a sketchy time to be a human bean! Buuuuuuuut also we have wanted to be in London for a long time and it’s never really going to be a super safe time to be in any big city for the foreseeable future. Even here in Toronto.

The dogs are doing well. Little Mister and Posey tried to have a big fight over two danishes they stole from me, but I took them back and then they didn’t care anymore.

Mom and Auntie are excited for our trip too. I think it will be fun. I’m stoked! We’re going back to the little town where my Great Grandmother came from in Northern Scotland. I hope we can remember all the streets. There’s a specific house she grew up in and we saw it last time we were there. Also maybe we can finally find our ancestors in the graveyard.

It’s weird having free time. I don’t know what to do with myself, I’m so used to being so busy this year. It was really good to be so creative but also so fucking stressful having deadline after deadline. I need to pace myself better next year. On the other hand I had some decent money come in this year from time to time, which really really fucking helped.

I still have to do admin kinds of things, which is like, a pain, but also that’s never going to go away as long as I am an artist. And really it’s not so bad, the only thing that sucks is forgetting emails and being shitty at getting back to people because of that.

Anyway, I’m glad the bulk of the work I had to do this year is finally done. I can go to the UK without freaking out and needing to do shit or worry about things.

Wrapping up work (for now!)

Today is probably the last writing day for this script. Monday and Tuesday I am gonna do some quick editing/improving and then hand it in to my producers. I’m totally pleased that it’s gonna get into them on time so we can continue getting more development funds hopefully. I still feel like the beginning drags a bit though, and it gets so exciting at the end but the beginning needs to have a few more exciting plot points to it. I’m not sure how to resolve that but there’s time.

After that I’m on holidays! I will have the rest of August and then most of September to take a breather. I’ve been working non-stop since spring and it’s been really good for me but also I am so so so looking forward to kicking back for a little bit. This next week I have a two day Mental Health First Aid workshop to go to at Miziwe Biik, and this fall I am doing Queer ASL 101 Classes. I’m looking forward to those two things. I’m not really sure what I’ll learn, but I am always up for adding new skills. And being able to care for people around me in crisis and have some rudimentary communication skills with Deaf people is a good thing.

I’m going to try and go for another couple of grants, there’s a Toronto Arts Council deadline and an Ontario Arts Council deadline in October. Last time I got a TAC grant I applied for half of what other people applied for as established artists and while I did get it, I also felt I should have applied for the full $12,000. I’m gonna hear from Canada Council this fall if they are going to support a research creation grant to finish my Unity powered video game A Bipolar Journey (better name in the works). I know either way I am gonna finish it because it’s a good idea, but it would be really nice to get some living allowance for a while and not worry too much for the winter about how I’m gonna eat/live/survive.

PLUS I still gotta do a dramatic short so that I can get directing experience. I’m wracking my brain trying to think of what it could be about. I kind of know, but also I am really not totally sure. And from being on Arts Board juries I know narrative work isn’t like, a high priority. If I could do a short that was a dramatic narrative enough to give me some directing cred and recognition when we go for more Telefilm money, BUT ALSO experimental enough to appease the arts board juries, I think I could do it. That’s a really fine line to walk. And I think they call those calling card films, which I DON’T want it to be, like I want it to be able to stand alone enough as a work to go have a life on the festival circuit and hopefully win some awards. My Executive producer and Producer think if I go that route it should have something to do with the feature we are working on. I just don’t want to distill the feature down to something that isn’t big enough in terms of visuals.

BUT I have a friend who works in Montreal at a VFX company and she offered to do some pro bono work for me if I need it. Which makes me think MAYBE I could do a dramatic short with the green fire fx?? Like if I can get even a deal on that I could possibly make a short that has the elements of my feature. I’d need to shoot in the prairies probably if I do the thing I want, which might be weird for the budget. But we’ll see.

Anyway, even though work is wrapping up for the summer in the next few days, there’s still a shit load of stuff that’s gonna need to happen this fall, like marathon grant writing, and taking ASL classes, and HOPEFULLY (fingers crossed) doing some Unity programming again and drawing and finishing this video game. I FREAKIN REALLY WANT to be able to do the video game, because it’s sort of outside of my field of expertise and such a random weird thing to do, and I feel like it could be a really solid interesting work. I’m kind of thinking of VR/360 things to do too, but that’s like, also in the future and not an immediate thing. I’m just trying to figure out how to apply my filmmaking/video artist stuff to newer technologies. Or new to me technologies anyway. I could do the game anyway, it’s just nice to think I could get some money to help.

Personally things BESIDES my career are pretty good. I am going on a personal trip to the UK in September and travelling Scotland and then a week in London. It’s been so long since I did a trip that was non-work related, so I am SUPER excited to just be a tourist. I’m connecting with some friends there tho, so not horribly touristy. But I know we are gonna do some touristy things in London for sure. Emotionally I’m doing pretty good, I’ve been noticing my moods seem to shift a lot in any day, but while I wondered if that was my mood disorder, I’m now leaning more on it being regular emotional shifts. Mood disorders are so weird. Because really it’s emotions, and it’s hard to figure out what are normal natural emotions (even extreme ones) and what are symptomatic emotions. I’ve been connecting on deep levels with some old and new friends and that’s been really nice too. I stay at home a lot and am shy so in some ways I come across as an introverted homebody, but also I really like having one on one connections with friends that are meaningful and that doesn’t really happen for me in a group situation. There’s probably more I could say but I don’t want to. My friend Riki is out of town for the rest of the month, and then I go away just before she comes back, so I’m not gonna see her for a month which sucks. But like, you know, people have to do things in their lives.

I’ve been getting accepted and rejected into/from film festivals on an almost 1:1 ratio lately, which has been super interesting to watch. It’s always the queer festivals rejecting me actually, which is super funny. Not ALL of them tho, but yeah, my production values aren’t high enough for them. That’s what I get for being a 2 spirit gender queer dyke punk video artist. Sigh! Or they just don’t get it. Not sure. OR it doesn’t fit their programming. I mean whatever. I am probably submitting to the wrong mainstream fests. BUT the festivals my current work is getting into is pretty interesting. I have given up predicting where videos will end up, because it always ends up at really surprising places. Like I did not expect an experimental super 8 film about disability and self injury would end up at Tribeca. What???! That still surprises me. There are a couple festivals I can always be sure I’ll screen at tho and that’s nice to know. And the Indigenous festivals show me a lot which is nice.

Someone I was pitching a project to told me it wasn’t feasible because there wasn’t enough market for Indigenous work, like it wouldn’t get picked up by territories other than North America for distribution. It was such a weird comment, and really not realistic. I know industry people believe that kind of racist crap (some of them) but also there really are Indigenous people all over the world and we don’t just want to see work from local Indigenous people. Like we do care about each other globally. It’s not like I only care about the Plains Cree people. Anyway so weird. Ha ha random.

Well, I should go wander off and chill out and prepare myself for my last ten to twelve pages of writing I need to do. It might take more than that. I might write all weekend. But I’ve been pacing myself and I think today might be the last day! 😀

Lacklustre Post

Hey hey! Here’s the centrefold of the first and only issue of Fit of Pique the ZINE based on this blog but also I just drew and wrote a bunch of stuff. I made it for a class! Some guy was an asshole to me about it tho cause I wrote a story in there about being a psychiatric survivor so it diminished me as a human being in his eyes. This is actually not a unique experience I have had, it has happened before about other aspects of my identity.

ANYWAY~! It’s Saturday night and I’m just hanging out at home. I cleaned the place so I don’t feel like a jerkface. I used to be a mega slob, then I quit weed and suddenly had energy and desire to not live in filth anymore. So it’s not too bad, sometimes there’s stuff on the floor but it’s getting better.

Today was a fucked up day, I think we can all agree. Literal nazis rallied in the USA and literal nazis killed antifa protestors. And the ACLU helped the nazi’s get their permit to rally reinstated, which makes me fucking suspicious of the ACLU now.

And then the President didn’t really come out strongly against it because a) he knows white supremacy got him into power, and b) he is also a white supremacist.

So, I dunno. Life is really sketch on this planet. So you can read this image and have a laugh or a cringe that has nothing to do with contemporary politics. Hell it was drawn in 2005 that’s a long time ago.

I’m in a relatively good mood, although earlier this evening I had like, cry eyes, like not crying but like I MIGHT CRY! Like some tears lining up to paratroop out and then changing their minds. And it wasn’t even related to fuckin anything, it was just like, feeling disappointed in myself as a person. And then it went away.

You know I was gonna try and write a really good post today. But I am fuckin wiped out and I need to hit the hay soon. And I’m just gonna hit publish. The main thing you can see is the pic anyway, which I hope makes up for the lacklustre content tonight!