Monthly Archives: January 2020

Baker Miller Pink!

Last night I went to sleep thinking about this video game I worked on years ago. I always meant to finish it. It was covered by Vice when it was half finished, they did a lil video showing me and this woman came and played it at ImagineNATIVE. ANYWAY I sort of shelved it for a while cause I kept trying to get grants to finish the last half. But the last year or so I’ve thought maybe I don’t need a grant anyway. Not for this in any case. But I was still stuck.

So last night I started dreaming about it. In the original it follows someone who gets depressed, takes antidepressants, has a manic psychosis episode, and is taken to the hospital. But it ends there. In the rest of what I wanted to make there were three more levels, the psych ward level where you talk to patients, the mental health group home after getting discharged from the hospital, and then the last level was gonna be about going back into the community and trying to stay on meds and level. So I don’t even remember what was going on in my dreams last night, all I knew is I woke up determined to work on my psych ward level. And I did!

I made a list of assets and backgrounds I would need for my last three levels. I started drawing and scanning some of them. And then I spent the rest of the day in photoshop making a hallway background in Baker Miller Pink, and making doorways with cartoonish interiors based on photos of psych rooms. And then I did a test and put the doorways onto the hallway background to see how it looks. It looks awesome! I even looked up the exact hexidecimal values for Baker Miller Pink which I am pretty proud of ha ha! I wonder what the hexidecimal values for Yves Klein Blue are.

I was so hyperfocused on my work and only had coffee and a couple babybel cheeses when I woke up, so around 4 my stomach started gurgling and I realized I needed to eat. I ordered KFC and kept working until 5pm.

I’m making myself take a break but honestly I want to keep working. I was gonna put some weird things in the doorways instead of only rooms, like a big iguana, and some graffiti and a dog, and maybe a photo of a set I got to tour. Who knows! I think it looks pretty cool tho. And I drew heads for the five characters I need to have floating around to talk to on that level. I’m having fun.

It’s using my brain in a bit of a different way than when I make a video. Like, I haven’t even started doing the programming for it yet, today was just making assets. And probably tomorrow too. And then when I finally start putting it together I know I’m gonna start hitting walls when it comes to coding. I bought a couple of books on C# coding and building 2D unity games. I’m hoping that helps me out.

It was a super exciting creative day today though. I feel like I’ve made a big step in finishing this video game. I don’t know where I could release it. It’s really just an art project, I don’t see myself as making money off of it. I think it just might be cool for psych consumers/survivors and people who work in mental health to play it and relate to it. I am hoping that it demystifies the experience of having Bipolar 1 and going through the psych system. I am keeping heavy shit out of it though. Like rape threats and restraints aren’t in here. And other forms of psychiatric coercion and abuse. So I know even then it’s still a very “sanitized” version of what I went through. But I’ve already made a video about psychiatric abuse, so I feel like this video game can be sort of different.

The last level is gonna be about crossing a park to get to a hotdog cart to buy a hotdog. But your character keeps floating up and sinking down and you have to try and catch pills at the right level at the right time to stay even enough that you can get the hotdog. I picked a hotdog cause the first time I got hospitalized I had to eat all that institutional food. And then my friends took me to the hospital cafeteria and I got to have whatever I wanted, so I ordered a hotdog. It was the best hotdog I ever had even tho it was a lil wimpy Montreal steamie. It was the taste of freedom.

I think people who haven’t be institutionalized in some way don’t understand that kind of first taste of freedom after confinement. You just take it for granted that you can do a lot of whatever you want most of the time. That you can leave a place anytime, eat whatever you want, wear whatever you want, smoke whenever you want. When you are institutionalized that all gets taken away and it is very disorienting when you get out. I remember too there’s this other weird feeling when you get out, where you miss the safety of the institution. Like it’s oppressive in there, but there’s rules and eventually you learn them and other people have to follow them. And out in the world, people are unpredictable. It probably sounds weird to an outsider that I ended up feeling safer in the ward than when I went back out into the world, but sometimes it was true.

Anyway, this video game can’t possibly tackle all of the things I think about being a psychiatric consumer. I think it’s more of a leaping off point for thinking and talking about these issues. And I am really glad I am working on it again, I’ve wanted to see this project to the end for a long time.

Working in the New Year

I made myself take time off this December because the fall was intensely busy and wore me the fuck out. I needed rest and I was just constantly working my ass off and feeling exhausted. And it was starting to make me grumpy. Like I’m talking constantly working for months. Even this summer was a lot of work. Anyway, I had promised a friend I would take December off, and then still ended up working for part of it. But then I did rest. I could feel creative thoughts starting to come back, and ideas, and passion. And it was hard NOT to go back to work. Today was gonna be my first official day back at work, but instead I went back to work on January 1st and filled out forms, made stills, sent files. And it wasn’t hardcore work but it was definitely work again.

Today I started working on my Canada Council project I got funds for. I’m making a documentary installation about racism in Saskatchewan. And I was really hesitant about it as I started working on it actually. I was like “What am I really adding to this conversation? Is this just a narrative about feeling defeated by colonization?” But today while I was highlighting sections in the transcripts I realized it was way more complex than that. Like there is a lot of discussion of injustice in it. But also a lot of discussion of resistance, and questioning structural racism, and even questioning how whiteness plays into desireability politics as a queer person. I don’t really think the people I interviewed are victims even when they talk about witnessing or experiencing racism. They are all really strong people. And thoughtful. And I feel like if a white person did stumble onto my installation, they might be open to question racist beliefs they have held. I mean I’m not gonna fix racism in Saskatchewan with an art project. But there’s something here that I really like and that doesn’t feel defeatist. I don’t know.

I’ve had a lot of questions since the new year began (ha ha just two days!) about a few things. One was questioning my career. It’s changed recently. Like I was doing a Q and A last year and mentioned how my practice has changed from being very insular and about myself and my place here, to being more about my communities and our relationships with the world and this planet and larger forces. It’s nice to see that progression. I’ve achieved some milestones I was working really hard to get to the last while, and that’s also made me question my career because what do you do when you’ve passed those milestones? I know there’s bigger stuff happening in my future, even things floating around my head now. But it still feels like floating in space. Like I don’t have a trajectory anymore, now it feels like I could do anything (and I don’t say that in a manic sense) and not feel so much resistance cause I’ve worked hard for so long. And when you start getting to a place in your career where you could do anything, it seems weird. To me I guess. Maybe because I struggled for so long. And now it’s different.

I guess the other thing I’ve been struggling with is my endless search for a romantic partner. I mean it still makes me feel a lot of complicated feelings. But I’m starting to wonder if it even matters? I really really like sex and being romantically connected to someone. And I want a family. But it’s just not happening and I think I need to stop thinking about it or something. I tried to do the Tinder thing but it feels like everyone there is looking for hook ups and polyamorous relationships and I’m not really down for that lifestyle. And then the baby thing feels like a big weight on all of this. I still want a baby though and it feels like I’m back to waiting for a partner so I can have one, and fuck, maybe I should forget about the partner altogether and just be a single parent. It would be a lot easier. I’ve spent pretty much my whole life single, what would be the difference if I raised a kid while I was single?

The only thing is I need a surrogate to have a baby because my uterus doesn’t work, and that’s expensive. I could write a really good script and sell it to someone else to make for thousands of dollars and not look back. I mean there are options. They all go back to my career that I feel confused about. At least I’ve got a career I’ve been working on for years and years. Decades! OMG. But I mean if I refocused on my career for a few years I could probably save enough money to pay for a surrogate. Or meet someone super altruistic. Or win a prize, who knows.

I started buying lottery tickets just so I can win enough thousands/millions of dollars to start a family alone. Not like, A LOT of lottery tickets though. Just the big ones a couple times a week. Not scratch and wins or anything. I’m not going to the casino to try and win baby making money. I know the odds are I will get baby making money from my career and not from the lottery though.

Anyway. I guess this year is about my career even tho my career is a little bit different since I achieved things I wanted to achieve. There are still projects I have to finish, and projects I’ve only thought quietly about and that are in the queue. I could still do amazing things in my career. And who knows, maybe I will get enough money to pay for a surrogate. And maybe I will quit Tinder finally cause it makes me sad no one matches with me. Or very few people anyway. I don’t know. My Mom has been single pretty much most of her life, she seems happy. She does her career thing and has a good life. It’s not like no one has modelled a life with no partner for me. And I have a lot of friends, and good friends even. Close friends. Friends I would trust with my life. Like that’s pretty good I think.