Monthly Archives: August 2004

I quit my job

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way of going back to school and making it through this time, with the most minimal amount of stress. Soooo, I offloaded the job. I was quite terrible at it really, I’m not a very good telemarketer. Excuse me, teleFundraiser. People treated me as if I was a telemarketer anyway.

So, the job is gone. It’s a bit of a relief really, I was getting sooo miserable from so many people griping at me about calling them at home. I think that kind of a job has a high burnout rate, although some people have been there for a long time.

What else? Life’s okay, getting ready for school. My mommy bought me new school clothes, which was awfully nice of her. And I got a new belt, my other one became way too small, what with the weight gain caused by the drugs I am on. Anyway, it made me feel like a sausage.

Belts are expensive!

What else? Hmm, gearing up for Back To School. I really hope it all works out. I hope my crazyness doesn’t interfer this time around. I have to take some special form to my doctor so that I can get some more access to resources for students with disabilities. Hopefully that will all work out. So many things to think about! I’m excited. I feel like my brain has atrophied. I need intellectual stimulation, not marshmallows. My sister needs marshmallows. That’s like, her absolute favorite food. If she had a choice she would live off of marshmallows. That’s just how she is. Working at a telemarketing place turns your brain into marshmallows. Or maybe that was just me.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

. . . is dead.

“Dying becomes lonely and impersonal because the patient is often taken out of his familiar environment and rushed to an emergency room. He may cry for rest, peace and dignity, but he will get infusions, transfusions, a heart machine, or tracheostomy. … He will get a dozen people around the clock, all busily preoccupied with his heart rate, pulse, electrocardiogram or pulmonary functions, his secretions or excretions — but not with him as a human being.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

More at:

My reserve is funding me for another year!

Many of you may have noticed my ongoing struggles with getting back into school so I can go on to my Master’s program. Okay, maybe you didn’t notice. Well little crazy me is going back, BACK to ECIAD where I spent 4 1/2 years and then took three years off to wind myself into a completely psychotic state, only to slowly unwind back into what could reasonably be considered normal and grounded. Or at least, as grounded as I think I’m gonna get. Sometimes I still have days when I’m sad, or when my feet seem to be floating off the ground, but I’ve pretty much kept a nice stability for the past year or so.

Anyway, I realized this past week that I have yet to get a letter back from my reserve saying I was going to be funded to go back to school. And little me started to panic. Panicking, trying not to panic, trying to be normal, but with a little knot of worry forming in my guts. Oh god, what if I don’t get funded because I flunked a bunch of classes way back before I quit because I couldn’t cope with school? Eeeeee!!! And I’m so ready to go back, so ready to throw myself into it and really be serious and do it and say “I have a bachelor’s degree!!”

So I emailed. And I called. And I called. And finally today the woman at my reserve’s post secondary office called back to say it was ok. Hooray!! They are sending the letters out this week. Yay! I was so worried I would have to keep working and listening to people tell me off on the phone, getting more and more miserable.

What else? I’m back in Vancouver after my dramatic and also nice trip to Saskatoon. It was good to be there for my family. I came home with a heavy suitcase full of new clothes my mommy bought me, six braids of sweetgrass, Saskatoon berries, and six new york Bison steaks. I didn’t know they had Bison in New York. Ha ha, okay, maybe only I find that funny. Such an Indian’s suitcase. I suppose I should take Salmon back to my mom, but I much prefer bringing back Bison for my friend, maybe because I am a prairie Indian. Plains Cree, and don’t you forget it.

Thank you Little Pine Reserve! Thank you Mommy! And thank you bison, you will be good in my little tummy!

Suicide Attempt

I’m not quite sure what to write today. A person very close to me attempted suicide last night and is now in the hospital. I’m really worried and trying to send her lots of love. I know what it feels like, to be that desperate and sad and feeling lost. I think I will just re-post a link for all those people out there who might be in the same situation. It’s a good read, and so important.

Suicide . . . read this first

OH! Wait, I have a few other tips for people in the midst of a suicidal crisis. These have helped me in the past.

1. Instead of doing it now, procrastinate! I have in the past made myself suicide deadlines, after many years of recognizing that suicidal urges often dissipate over time. This past year I was having a crappy winter. I decided if I wasn’t feeling better by april (I gave myself a good four months) then I would do it. Of course by the time April came around it was sunny and all the cherry blossoms were out, and I was in a much stronger place. Yes procrastination can be a wonderful thing.

2. Make a list of all the things you would like to do before you die. Get grandiose! Plan dream vacations, make a movie, write a book, stand outside Barbara Sukowa’s apartment building (ok, I have a crush on her, leave me alone!), see an alien space ship, WHATEVER! Once I wrote out a list of about FIFTY things I wanted to do and see and try.

3. Learn problem solving skills. Often a suicidal crisis is precipitated by a life problem, like losing a job, a lover, whatever. Figure out the things you need to survive. Make some plans around finding a new job, join a job club. Or if you are without a girl/boyfriend, then develop some interests. Build up the other parts of your life so that being single doesn’t seem so lonely.

4. My favorite words: mental health break (as opposed to breakdown). Have a day just to yourself where you do something pleasant, like sit in a park looking at the clouds and listening to uhm . . . Roxette? I dunno, Roxette is cheery. Oh, but then there’s that song, what’s it called? Oh, you know it. Some sad song. Well, you don’t have to have a day like that, but think of some quiet relaxing stress free quality time you can just spend being YOU and learning to love yourself even when you’re sitting on your butt.

5. Call a crisis line. Once I did this and ended up connecting with a wonderful councellor who I did therapy with for two years. They are a good resource, they know all the places you can go in your city.


Hellooo from Saskatoon! Beautiful Saskatoon, where there is an airshow, Folkfest, and general prairie entertainment. Today I walked by the Saskatchewan River and saw frogs and toads and their houses. I also saw a beaver dam, haven’t seen one of those in a while. I took a small chewed up stick from it, I hope the beavers don’t miss it.

I also went to the German pavillion at Folkfest to do some research for Red Oktoberfest, coming soon to Vancouver. Aboriginals do German culture. I figure it’s about time, since Germans have been doing Aboriginal culture for so long. Then me and my mom went to the Australian pavilion, yawn. Left soon after drinking an Australian beer and went to the Irish pavillion, which was way cool. I’m part Irish, maybe that’s why I liked it so much. I wish I could dance like that, arms straight down, slamming my feet on the floor. I should take a class.

Anyway, I am visiting my family, but I will keep posting things as I think of them and when I have the time. Hope everyone’s summer is ending nicely!

The first time I saw something . . .

…that wasn’t there.

I was living in a tiny white house with my mom and dad and sister. My sister and I slept in the same bedroom. I have to give you a bit of background so that this story makes sense.

My sister is severely mentally handicapped with a very rare syndrome called Patau’s Syndrome, however she is fortunate enough to have survived well into adulthood and is remarkably cute. I love her, but she could be a pain in the ass to grow up with. I think that was because she was the older sister, and she liked to power trip on me. Plus she was jealous of me for most of my early childhood, until she decided I wasn’t such a bad little person after all.

Anyway, we had bunkbeds, and I was on the top bunk. I had to sleep in the very middle and lay like a stick, because late at night small hands would creep up and try to pinch me. If I moved to one side of the bed, so would the hands. Pinching like little lobster fingers, ow, cut it out! We would also get locked in at night, because otherwise my sister would escape and go run out into the neighborhood.

And sometimes she pooped the bed. But she wasn’t content with just pooping the bed, she had to smoosh it all over our stuff and the walls and oh gosh it was just a mess.

So most of my early memories are of waking up to the smell of shit. Shit stinks!

Anyway, one shitty saturday morning I was banging on the door trying to wake my parents up to let me out of the room. I was probably three years old or so, my sister was about six. They weren’t waking up and I was getting upset and crying, because I didn’t want to be in such a stinky shitty room. I banged and I banged and wailed. And then the strangest thing happened.

The door was white, and wooden. And this image came up. It was as clear as if there was a film being projected onto our bedroom door. I was so stunned I stopped crying and banging. It was an aerial shot of the parking lot of the Buy Low Furniture Store downtown. The cars parking were late seventies models (this would have been about 1981 when it happened, so it makes sense). That was it. Cars parking at the Buy Low Furniture Store.

What did it mean? Not much of anything really. It was just this image, thrown out there to make me stop crying. And I was flabbergasted. I’d had a vision. And as far as I could tell, it didn’t mean anything.

Then my father opened the door and the image vanished, and I looked up at him and he had sleep in his eyes and I never saw anything like that again.

The Buy Low Furniture store was later torn down. My parents split up. And eventually, after a couple of decades my sister stopped smearing shit.

And I got a room of my own.

Thirza writes on making Low Budget Video and Films

What follows is a short paper/manifesto on making low budget work which I presented earlier today at Out On Screen.


I was alone out there, on the plains. I was a lesbian teenager with no one to hump, where the hell were all the other teenage dykes? I was horny and lonely. I went to a queer youth group and hung out with the baby fags, and they taught me to stand proud and loud. I blossomed into a butch dandy, and was still alone. I went to the art house theatre by my underage self, and watched independent films all alone in the dark.

I wanted to see someone like me. I wanted to not be so alone.

My friend Christopher was putting together a Queer film festival, the first one for Saskatoon. It was held in the basement of the Mendel Art Gallery. He put out a call for workshop participants. Make a video in three days. I was game. I wanted to know where the fucking hell all the teenage dykes were. That was my quest. That was my video.

It was called Lessons In Baby Dyke Theory, because I was sixteen and so far it was all theory and no practice. I was and still am one of the most socially awkward people around, so I didn’t want to deal with a cast. I went to the hobby store. I bought pipe cleaners, a glue gun, some foam, and some googly eyes. I also didn’t want them to be white dollies, because I wasn’t all-white, so I made them green and purple, and blue. Some were butch and some were femme. I made a small studio out of a desk in my mother’s basement and spent a day on set, talking into the onboard microphone of a Hi-8 camera.

That was the first time. And when the credits rolled, the audience roared, and I started to not feel so alone.

The next video was about Colonization, and how all these white people were on television talking about aliens landing and putting things up their bums. I thought it was mainly a fear of the colonizer that the roles could be reversed. My alien was made out of a piece of foam core. My space ship was my gramma’s vegetable steamer.

I have since grown up, and yes I did eventually get to have sex with someone, at a queer film festival no less! Over the past decade I’ve made twelve videos and films, some with budgets, some without. My mantra is that you don’t need a million dollars to make a priceless tape. In fact, I believe that sometimes being on a limited budget and working within those constraints can foster a more creative tape. I’ve seen some pretty amazing low budget work that continues to resonate long after I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen bigger budget work that is in my mind pretty worthless and forgettable.

Mainly though, my motive was to tell stories, to tell my stories, to tell the things I thought about that I felt weren’t being addressed. Nowadays there’s a lot more media depictions of teenage dykes, but even so, they are usually white, usually femme.

I’ve had fairly positive responses to my work, I’ve been shown in galleries, on television, and in many festivals, both queer and experimental festivals. Sometimes I get shy about my work, because I do live on the poverty line and it shows in what I make. But that’s a class issue, and it’s something that is also a part of the message inherent in my work.

Some people think low-budget low-tech is good to start out with, but eventually you have to move to big budgets and wait for grants. I’m not of that ilk. I have received grants, and I’ve been denied grants, and either way if a story is bursting out of me I will find a way to make it. I’ve had my own hi-8 camera, and I’ve borrowed other people’s equipment. For a while Video In had a linear editing system that was really cheap to rent time on, and I used that for Untouchable. In camera editing is another trick I used for Bisexual Wannabe, all of which was shot in a one room apartment I lived in on 12th. I think it’s a shame when people wait around for someone to give them a grant.

Mostly though, what I want to say about low budget work is that it is where the revolution happens. I’ve been to swanky festivals where the privileged show their latest slick piece of crap, and for me that is the most boring environment ever.

I make videos because I was lonely, and I was sad, and I was tired of being lonely and sad and I knew somewhere out there were the rest of us. I make work because I don’t think people should be lonely because some mogul with the money doesn’t think a manic depressive halfbreed boi dyke is a good target market. I make work because somewhere out there someone else is lonely for different reasons, and I want them to feel inspired enough to tell their own story, something I wouldn’t have thought of, something that challenges me.

Friday the 13th

At my call centre job, calling Americans. Someone in Florida gets right uppity, “We’re in the middle of dinner and a hurricane.” Ookee, so I guess you won’t be making a donation today.

Went over to a friend’s place to make tacos for us all, she especially needs the food-love because she’s been sad. I don’t know the magic words to soothe her soul, so my best offering is food and conversation.

Together we watch an old Twilight Zone with William Shatner. The plot is thus: A man has just been released from the nut house after a mental breakdown. He’s on a plane where a Gremlin appears on the wing and starts trying to get into the engine. Whenever he tries to show someone or tell them about it they act as if he’s just a nutter. Finally (sorry, this is a spoiler) he opens the auxilary exit and shoots the Gremlin off the plane. He’s carted away in a straightjacket, but the evidence of the prised off engine cover will later prove him right.

Sometimes paranormal things happen. Sometimes paranormal things happen to crazy people. Sometimes paranormal things happen to me. And like William Shatner’s character, I am not believed.

A week after I got out of the bin, a ghost started knocking on my floor. Bang bang bang. I turned down the television, I thought it was the diner downstairs saying my t.v. was too loud. It was a nice thought to have, something more appropriate, especially given all the spiritual maelstrom that a manic psychosis had just thrown me into. But then one night the banging decided to follow me as I got off the couch, went to the bathroom, and it climbed into the wall and started banging next to me as I was sitting trying to have a piss.

My mom didn’t believe me. “Have you told your psychiatrist this?”

Sometimes the best person to talk to is another crazy person who has experience with the paranormal. I asked a family member for some advice. She told me to burn incense and ask it to leave; or if it did want something from me, if it came from the Creator. So I did that, and the banging vanished.

No boosting of medication would have solved this problem. Luckily banging on the floor, while pesky and mildly malevolent, is no where near the same urgency as a gremlin trying to crash a plane.

What other things has Friday the 13th brought to us today? Well, the passing of Julia Child is one of them. She will be missed. Goodbye Julia, and whip us up a little something something for when the rest of us join you in the afterlife.