All posts by Thirza Cuthand

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.

Missing Him

So it’s after Christmas. I had kind of a rough Christmas. I was listening to Fairytale of New York and it brought back all these feelings I had about a friend of mine who committed suicide 8 or 9 years ago. I just heard that song right after I found out he had died and it made me cry super hard. Anyway it made me cry super hard again, and then just think about him, and miss him.

This Christmas was hard for a lot of people. There were a lot of deaths in my communities this season. And some were very violent deaths. And some were suicides. And the daughter of my old late babysitter and friend Jasmine died recently, which brought up my feelings about Jasmine’s death which was also a suicide. It really isn’t fair, any of this, for any of these people. When I think about people I have known who have died, very few of them were people who lived to an old age and died peacefully. A lot of deaths of very young people. Like 20’s and 30’s.

I remember when I started struggling with feeling suicidal, like at such a young age, like seven or something, I honestly didn’t think I would live past 30. I sometimes wonder if that’s why I was so ambitious, because I wanted to burn really brightly before I left. Kind of tragic.

But that’s not how it worked. I have been suicidal so many times, but each time gets a little bit easier, as weird as it sounds. I find my suicidal episodes are really intense but brief. Like they ALWAYS pass. And like not even in a long period of time, in the last few years my suicidal episodes last less than 24 hours. And I’m turning 42 next year, I’ve gotten really really good at coping mechanisms. I know who I can talk to. I know excuses I can give myself for why I need to stay. I can take care of myself really well even if that just means ordering food and staying on my couch watching shitty tv for a day. I know which people close to me are NOT good to talk to in those situations, because they aren’t empathetic, or they just get annoyed by my distress. So sometimes I just won’t talk to those people for very long, even if they are close to me and you would think they would have their shit together.

But people in their 20’s especially, haven’t had the amount of episodes I’ve had now at 42 that taught me how to look out for myself. I think when I was most in danger was my 20’s, because of so many reasons. Like, I didn’t have a plan for my life in my 20’s so there wasn’t a long range vision of my future. I was using substances which increases the chance of impulsively doing something. I didn’t know where to reach out to for help. I did call a suicide hotline though when I was in Vancouver and it got me in touch with a counsellor who was SO HELPFUL. But even my last manic episode when I was 29, AFTERWARDS when things seemed so bleak, like so so so bleak, it was very hard to see the future and what good things could be waiting. I knew there must be something but I had to do a lot of visualizations to try and see it. A lot of people did try to help me, and I’m glad they did and some of them really did get me through long dark nights.

Anyway, Matthew’s death day comes up in January. And I still wonder with him, and with Jasmine, if there’s something I could have done that would have helped them. Like if I called, or if we had seen Jasmine, or anything. Like everyone left behind has those questions I think. And I wonder what they would be doing in their lives now. It’s a lot to grapple with.

I didn’t realize this Christmas would feel so dark. I don’t feel suicidal though, which I’m glad about, but I did have some thoughts a couple weeks ago, which was hard to deal with. BUT I made it, again, like always. I dunno. I’ve kind of made peace with it, that this dark thought just likes to come up in my head. It’s totally because I’m bipolar, it’s not really me wanting to die, it’s just a symptom of my mood disorder. And I haven’t had long depressive episodes like I used to, not for a long long time. There are just these intrusive bursts of despair that leave as soon as they arrive. I’m sure there are bursts of extreme happiness too, but generally people don’t worry about that too much unless I’m like, TOO HAPPY and get aggro and then it’s like okay Thirza you’re manic right now. But mania has really stayed away from me for a long time.

Anyway, I miss Matthew. And Jasmine. And I worry about who else I am gonna end up missing. And I don’t know how to save people. And I’m not even very good at being with suicidal people myself. Although I do remember sometimes the best thing was just being with someone who were gonna make sure I ate and put me to bed. And just be around them, and not even to talk to them all the time, just like sitting there quietly while they did laundry or something. I dunno.

When I think about having kids, I remember that genetically they have a really good chance of inheriting bipolar disorder. And I think about the challenges of raising a kid who has suicidal feelings. That’s really hard. I think about ways I might be more prepared for it than my Mom was. I think I would take my kid to a psychiatrist sooner than I went.

There’s some people who don’t think people should have kids if we have bipolar disorder, like just because of genetics. But even tho I have this disorder, I still am glad I’m here. I still feel good MOST of the time. I still have a life that is worth living. I hate the idea that people think my life isn’t worth living just because I have a mood disorder. Like that’s so shitty, how can you think that about a human being? Gross.

My kids lives will be worth living, even if they did inherit my mood disorder. At least I would know where we are starting from, at least I could get them help. Everyone has some kind of thing they have to live with. At least I know how to live with it right now.

I feel bad for the ones who couldn’t make it though. Sometimes people’s pain is just too much. Some people I know, I kind of think there was no other way it was gonna end. It never makes it less tragic though.

Anyway. Dark Christmas. But the sun is coming back. And a new year is starting. And there’s always good things coming, not ALL good things, but enough.

Less Bitter in time for the Holidays!

Ok so I am definitely less bitter than I was last time I wrote here. Things have been going really well for me, with the exception of a hellacious cold that’s been going on since last Monday, or rather, the Monday before last. A week and a half for sure. I was wiped out and still had to work and was feeling shitty and kinda glad the date I was looking forward to got cancelled cause I was in no shape to get my home ready for a visitor.

I mostly lay on the couch, watching rando things like CBC News Network, Kat Blaque True Teas, various Christmas song videos, and more recently the entire first season of The Good Place. I just tried to power through it. But I felt better this week, so I started cooking again. Made myself a stew. Today I finally started my Christmas baking and made a cherry cake. It’s wrapped and sitting in the fridge for a few days while the flavours develop more.

I also got my Christmas snacking in order. I have two kinds of chocolates (Lindt white and Quality Street), various cheeses (danish blue, Irish porter cheddar, Brie, Boursin cranberry and pepper), pate, crackers (I need more vintas tho), salami, a raisin and candied citrus panettone, chips, dip, various soda and near beer, Cheese puff pastry hors d’ouvres, and regular food like bacon and steaks and stewing beef and stuff. And I think chicken?

I need to get oranges tomorrow tho, and stuff for the dogs. I know Christmas is still a ways off but I want to be prepared.

I found out some fucking amazing news for my career and it is kind of the achievement of a long held dream of mine. I don’t know when it will be public but I’m super excited and looking forward to going to one of my fave cities.

The dogs are good. They’ve been excited by the snacks in the house. I’m gonna bake some sugar cookies tomorrow I think, because that’s basically the last Christmas baking I need to do to feel like I have celebrated the season.

I went googling Transparent cause I wanted to know if they ever released their last season and it turns out they released a musical finale this fall? I had heard nothing about it, cause I guess either no one liked it or no one cared. I have issues with musicals, like I like them sometimes but other times I just get secondhand embarrassment for the actors. It’s something I’ve worked on, but I have a feeling I’m gonna get it if I watch this finale.

Anyway, I’ve been avoiding seeing people cause I’m so sick, but now I feel better and I don’t think I’m contagious anymore. I didn’t really get lonely while I isolated and recovered. Which kind of made me feel good. I know being a recluse is not me, but more like I feel content with myself alone. Which is good since I’ll probably be single for a while longer.

At the same time tonight I did get on Tinder again, which might be a mistake, I dunno. We’ll see. I wish snoopy straight women weren’t on there, they are so annoying. I mean on there as in in my search results because they put bisexual options down when really they are only looking for men and are being tourists.

Anyway. I’m feel better because I have a lot of delicious things in my house, my health is returning, I’m enjoying consuming various media, I’m really giving myself a holiday, and something spectacular is gonna happen in my career next year. A few spectacular things really.

When I look at my calendar tho, especially for February and March next year, I get a bit overwhelmed. It will be fine. It’s just A LOT of work in two months. And a LOT of traveling. I think I’m gonna try and stay in Toronto in April. Something happens in May tho? Oh wait! Never mind. I am filming in Saskatchewan in April and doing something in Banff in May. I hope my dogs do okay at the sitter. They need to be there for like, three weeks in Feb and March, and three weeks in April and May. And Little Mister is so old. I don’t want him to die while I’m working somewhere. Awww. He’s fine right now tho. Bouncy even. Poor guy, poor aged guy.

Dreaming is Free

I used to write here all the time. Then I felt weird about writing personal stuff on a site where a lot of people interested in me as a professional artist come to. So I started writing the actual real stuff on another site. But I still like writing. I’m gonna try and NOT talk about my career for a change this post.

SO I went back to the fertility clinic last week with my donor. We were presented with a lot of options I wasn’t really anticipating. I was just thinking about freezing sperm for this future day when we make embryos. But the doctor said I could get free IVF and do a whole new cycle to get MORE eggs to make sure I have enough for a baby. The problem is, that costs about $6000 in medication that isn’t covered. And I thought oh shit maybe I could pay into insurance that would cover it, but like, no insurance really covers fertility medication. Unless you already had the insurance and didn’t know you were infertile. So now I’ve got this quandary, I could honestly probably get another 10 eggs, do this whole fertilization process, pay the same amount I would with just the eggs I have now, but for MORE eggs, and get a better chance at having a live birth in the end. Like my chances would double. And I did the egg calculator and I’d probably still have the same amount of eggs this time around. BUT FUCK it’s $6000. And I just, I could afford the process without the $6000. But adding another $6000 onto it is just very cost prohibitive for me right now.

Anyway the funding for IVF ends in January, and then they don’t get funding to cover it again until April. So I know for sure I can’t do another cycle this year. It’s just, no. I’m not psychologically prepared to fuck with my hormones in the darkest part of the year. And like, I have someone coming to see me hopefully and it would just be shitty if I had to ditch her so I could go get a transvaginal ultrasound at 7am again like you have to every other day during an IVF cycle. And like oh god the way my ovaries feel, and then trying to have a date, nooooooooo omg that would be hell. SO I guess I have to decide by April.

But of course this leaves my poor donor just like, waiting. I still might approach the clinic about freezing sperm cause he’s over 40 and I know sperm quality goes down and it might only be like, a few months but it could make a difference I don’t know.

I wonder if they have any payment plans? Ugh $6000. It’s not as much as I paid last year for my cycle. It’s like, less than half. But this time I would also have to pay for genetic testing, which adds another $4000. I might get a commission to make a video/performance next year, that would cover it, but it’s still so early to say. And plus I need to live because I have to eat food which generally costs money unless I start stealing from Loblaws. But geez. I should at least use that $25 price fixing apology grocery card first.

I’ve heard about people doing gofundmes for IVF and stuff but shit that seems like, so nuts. I don’t know why I would feel very guilty about doing that. I did a gofundme for my grad school when Student Loans was being a dick. But that was like, grad school. I don’t know why I think friggin’ grad school is more important than a baby which is a living human being. I guess I just feel like people would be dubious about giving me money to make a few embryos. Like there’s people who get money for surgeries and stuff all the time, why do I feel bad about making a baby? If my baby was in a fire and needed expensive medical supplies I’m sure I wouldn’t feel bad about making a gofundme. But like calling this being into existence makes me feel guilty cause it costs money? UGH. It’s not even like I’m paying for sperm or eggs, those are all free, it’s just these medical interventions that make this all possible that are costing money.

Now I’m trying to think if I can monetize my experience enough to pay for my baby. Aww fuck but then my baby would be this famous baby and people would want to know what he or she was doing with her or his life. People were always telling me to monetize this blog and sometimes people still send me emails about it trying to make this like it’s a commercial site. But no I always refused cause what if I had an off day and just wanted to talk about a moldy loaf of bread or something? And then all my advertiser pulled out? Ugh. I fucking hate capitalism.

Last year to pay for my IVF cycle I made a doc for the CBC and wrote a screenplay a few times. Like I am sure things like that could happen again this next year. It’s not like there AREN’T possibilities for that. Maybe I’ll win a prize. Maybe I’ll win the lottery. Maybe I will partially fund my cycle with a gofundme and try not to feel so damned bad about it. I mean Canada makes it very hard to make Indigenous babies. We get sterilized, and the government won’t pay for fertility meds, and our kids get taken away, and doctors encourage us to abort. I’m sure some wealthier settlers would feel better if they could pitch in some dollars to my baby fund. I would feel better I guess. I mean it would honestly double my chances at making a baby.

Anyway besides contemplating this next big step, I did a lot of cleaning today. I cleaned behind a bookshelf and found my duster, so I dusted the house. Then I cleaned this super gross corner of the room where I spilled a coke and broke a glass and dropped a whole bunch of small objects like bottlecaps. Then I cleaned the mice nests out of the other corner of the room. Then I vacuumed my couch. Then I decluttered the bench and vacuumed it. It looks way better here. And smells better. I’m gonna declutter the entertainment unit tomorrow and try to make it look nice again. And yesterday I did all my dishes, and picked up trash in the house. And it’s slowly getting to be a nice place to hang out again.

I love my Nintendo Switch, and I love the goose game. The goose game needs a lot of strategy though, and right now I am stuck trying to get things into a shopping basket. My other favourite game is Mario Kart, because I can play it alone or with people, and because I can play a game really fast and not get swept up in a long story. It’s so easy. I need more games, I also have Yoshi’s Crafted World and Super Mario Deluxe but I haven’t played Super Mario Deluxe yet.

BONUS!

When I got my first fertility medications I had to mix myself and inject alone, I listened to Chiquitita by Abba, and now it’s forever tied to that memory.

Woman Dress

Woman Dress Film Click Here To View

SO my film is finally available on the NFB website! You can click the link text just above this image to watch it! I’m super stoked about it. It’s been a lot of work, a lot of thought went into it. I wanted to tell a story that has been passed down through generations in my family. And it’s hard to make a doc about someone who is long gone. But the NFB was really amazing at helping me achieve my vision. And I just have so many people to thank, like my Auntie Beth, who first told me this story when I was looking for an old story about a two spirit person. And my collaborators, Kiley May our amazing actress who embodied this role so perfectly. And Maria Todorov-Topouzov, our incredible editor who went above and beyond to make this piece so amazing. And Gabriela Osio Vanden who was such a great Director of Photography and who worked really well with Maria on the green screen. And of course my producer Justine Pimlott who was willing to let me push what a doc can be. ALSO special thanks to Southern Thunderbird/Humming bird Calling Women’s Drums, a traditional Women’s Big Drum Group, for providing music. AND OH MY GOD also mega thanks to my cousin Sage Paul for creating the dress for us. All of these women were so incredible to work with and so happy to see this film come to life.

I’m also really thankful to my Grandpa, Stan Cuthand, who has passed on but who left us with an amazing legacy of traditional stories from his parents and their parents and so on. I don’t really know when Woman Dress lived on the Plains, but we think it was before contact.

It was really important for me to make this film because there have been Indigenous people who try to say that two spirit people were not really accepted the way we say we were. And I’m sure every tribe is different. But I know from this story at least that there was a two spirit person who traveled around the plains and was welcomed and accepted and honoured by the tribes and communities they traded stories with. I would love to know more about this person, but I’m not sure how much exists. Even my Grandfather was reluctant to tell this story when my Auntie wanted to make a book out of it.

I’m really happy I got to make this film and it’s definitely one of my favourite works I’ve ever done.

Allow Me to Complain About Being Tired

It’s the end of a long stretch of nearly constant work. I traveled to four different cities in two countries since the beginning of October. My Mom wanted us to go to Cuba for Christmas but I tapped out. I’m staying here until February.

I did three performances, a few screenings, pitched a feature film project, helped finish a grant application, did all the schmoozy stuff I need to do, tried to keep on top of contracts (and failed). It was just a very overwhelming month and a bit. I also had computer difficulties, and my laptop was out of service for about three weeks. Which was a lot, especially when this was all going on, all this work. I’ve been to five festivals in that time too, one of which I was an organizer for, and that just like, finished me. Tomorrow my film I’ve been making with the NFB gets launched and then it’s like, free time for a while.

Although I still have projects that need working on. I just sent two audio interviews I recorded this last month and a bit to Rev for transcribing. It’s for my doc installation on Saskatchewan racism and I think it might be shown in a big show next fall so I need to get it done in time. I have some more things I need to do first, like two more interviews, and filming some landscapes and scenes right in Saskatchewan. And I have a couple of overdue projects I need to finish. So that’s stressful but I think I’ll be okay. I just need to concentrate.

But today is a holiday. Today all I did was send those audio files to Rev. I also discovered that using migration assistant to move my old files to my newly cleaned fresh OS install macbook was triggering some kind of bad file, I have no idea what, but it was killing my laptop so now I have to manually move files over. I need to get old mp3’s into my iTunes, move photos, and my whole downloads folder is needing manual moving but I’m really nervous about it in case whatever rotten file is killing my macbook is in there somewhere. I’ve been downloading my applications as I remember them, so I’m not moving over old applications. It’s actually really good, I don’t want those old applications I don’t use to just keep getting moved over and over. So far I have managed to reactivate all the expensive apps. And Adobe Creative Cloud was so easy to move back.

ANYWAY I’m probably gonna cave from my No Work rule for today just to move over old files.

OH BUT ALSO I ordered a Nintendo Switch. I haven’t had a gaming console since I had a Playstation in 2006 just to play Katamari Damacy. But this time I ordered two games and I’m also gonna download the Untitled Goose Game just because that’s honestly the main reason I want a switch. So I’m kind of excited about zoning out to play a silly game or two or three. I used to really love gaming as a kid. I played all kinds of games, my friends mostly had to help me win them. But even so it’s still fun.

Plus I am hoping it helps me figure out how to finish my game I was making in Unity. I just downloaded a new version of unity but right now my Mac says it can’t scan it for viruses so it won’t open it. Ahh It’s okay it will figure it out.

I’m excited for staying here this Christmas. I have a visitor coming to see me one day, and some other friends will be around here. And it snowed here today so I had to go dig out my boots and I found my tree and ornaments and christmas lights. So I am gonna put this stuff up probably tonight, to have something nice to look at.

I finally got rid of the mice here, or most of them anyway. There might still be one or two. I had to get snap traps, which is awful. I became a killer! UGH! I did try with the live trap, honestly, I only ever caught one though. I caught eight in the snap traps. And one in an electric trap. Anyway, the massacre is over I think, and now I don’t hear anything being riffled through, or nibbling. There was a lot of nibbling. And I put these rodent repellent noise things up, and hopefully that makes it less inviting for more to show up.

My Invisalign is almost done! I have literally only TWO trays left before I’m just doing retainers. So that’s exciting. I’m still going to have to wear them most of the time like now, for about seven or eight months. Then it’s just night time wearing. They are thicker than the trays though so hopefully they aren’t uncomfortable. I’ll probably be lispy though. Damn lisps! Sometimes a lisp will come back with this treatment, like just comes and goes. But eventually things will be normal!

And my teeth look awesome right now. Which I’m happy about.

Anyway yeah I guess that wasn’t really such a complainy post so much as a long explanation of all the work I have done the last month and a half. Because it was exhausting. I slept in today and it was heavenly!

Now I am waiting for the rush hour to ease up before heading to Loblaws to get a pork tenderloin so I can make stew tonight. I got all the other ingredients, but like, there were NO tenderloins at the store. So sad! So now I have to get on the TTC to get some. And Instacart is having some shitty treatment of employees so I feel weird about using it right now.

Fucking In Front of The Community

I haven’t been updating this blog very much but it’s not because I’m not thinking about it or because I am giving it up. I was genuinely just too busy, I went to like, three cities since the beginning of October including an overseas trip to London UK. Also just before going to London my computer started constantly crashing and just quit in London. So it’s been at the store since the day after I got back, getting looked at. I have no idea if they even started working on it, when I call a crabby lady tells me “it’s in the queue!”
That didn’t really help this last week. I had to get a pitch deck finished for my producer and I to pitch our project. In the end we had to use her computer and do a lot of work in the few days she was in town just before pitch day. Our pitch went well though, we got a lot of interest which was good, and I want to get back to my project. Today I had a handful of micro meetings with people who weren’t as interested and hadn’t seen my pitch. But whatever.
I did have some non-work excitement in my life. I met someone really interesting and cute who I want to know better. And I got to spend time with my Mom. And I saw friends in all the cities I went to.
I dunno what else? I came back here and basically did work all week because of ImagineNATIVE. There was the pitch day, micro meetings, a panel, I did a performance today. Tomorrow I am just going to see films all day though and none of them are mine so there is no stress now. And I’m fairly certain I’m not up for any awards so I’m not going to the awards show this year.
And next week I have a massage booked on Halloween. It will be spooktacular! Ha ha ok lol.
The dogs were at the sitter most of this month, and I feel kind of bad for bringing them home just before the festival started cause they have been so lonely and put out. And I’ve just been getting crabbier and crabbier with so little downtime. But next week will be a nice rest. And I’m not booking myself for any gigs in December. After TQFF my major heavy job stuff is over for a while.
I’m so tired, and every time I write in my handwritten journal (since my computer is in the shop) I just write “I’m tired.” Well, except for all the sexy stuff I wrote in it. I was actually using it this week to take notes during meetings and having nightmares of leaving it somewhere and having some stranger read personal stuff. Like I know people think I get personal here, but I honestly try to keep my love and sex life off the Internet, even just fantasies, but especially if they involve crushes and lovers cause I know people get nervous I’m gonna write about that thing they do that we both like.
There was one funny thing that happened this month tho that I feel okay talking about. I’d been going to this sex club cause they had women and trans nights. And I never had sex there cause honestly I’m too shy. But I liked someone who was there and there always seemed to be too many people around to ask to make out with her (cause it’s like a sex club right?) so anyway long story short she started making out with someone else in front of me and I was like wow I am not that mean to myself that I’m going to stay and watch this. So I left. But I did learn I can’t go to sex clubs so I mean that’s good right? And I mean I know I seem to put everything out there but honestly I’m a shy guy and I can like, quietly flirt in private enough to start things but like asking to kiss and fuck in front of The Community is actually kind of a nightmare I don’t know why I didn’t clue in on that before.
Of course I just got back from doing a performance where I was naked. Public nudity, totally easy. Taking emotional risks in highly charged public sexual spaces? Noooooooooooooooo.

New Post Finally, Finally…

So yeah that was a long break from my blog. BUT I’ve been busy making art because there’s not really a lot of time for me to rest. I have three short videos I am trying to finish this fall, along with about four work related trips between now and the end of October. I’m gonna have to ask for extensions on at least one video for sure. BUT I am almost done with another video, I was just waiting for the sun to go down to do my last shots.

Gas Mask and Red smoke
Still of new video “Less Lethal Fetishes”

I went to Saskatchewan last month to do a lot of shooting. I wanted to do a smoke bomb shoot with four different colours of smoke. In hindsight I should have ordered more smoke bombs, but I was anxious and didn’t. ANYWAY I did get four different shots with the smoke, and now I am going to finish my last shots tonight of me in the gas masks. I was gonna set up my lights to do it. First time using them and my gels.

It was a productive time in Saskatoon, although I didn’t have as much time to visit as I would have liked. I shot some super 8 which is being developed now. I’m hoping to get it next week at the latest. I also started recording audio for a documentary installation I am doing about racism in Saskatchewan towards Indigenous women. I interviewed two people I know who gave really good stories and comments, personal and structural racism. And I’m going to interview four more people so I am excited about that, although the material can be very heavy.

I am going out tonight but trying to get at least this post down. I’m going to New York in less than two weeks for my screening at the Whitney Biennial. So finally it’s gonna be my time to shine! And then it will all be over. I haven’t really known how this experience is going to affect my career. I know it’s a big deal but for the longest time it didn’t really feel like anyone in Canada particularly cared. I mean it is an American art show. I know people know it’s a big deal, I guess maybe I figured I would get more media attention or something. But the only media interview I got besides Canadian Art was the Saskatoon CBC Morning Radio show when I went back home last month. Which was still cool though. I mean I have no idea how this will play out. I’m so relieved the Kanders stuff is over now though. I think if it was still going on when I had my screening I would have had to do something.

In some ways I am doing something. The film I am trying to finish this weekend is about the experience sort of. But also mixed up with a gas mask fetish I am trying to explore, and also some weird experiences I had in Chemical Valley. Layers! Like an onion!

Tonight my stepmom invited me to Bruce LaBruce’s TIFF party at the Bovine and I have no idea what to expect but honestly it could be some kind of interesting adventure so I think I should go. My horoscope for the month said I was going to be in a good position to meet someone to love, so I need to circulate. Not sure I’ll find a queer lady at Bruce LaBruce’s party BUT I COULD who knows honestly??? I have to get out of my apartment more often. Yesterday I had a few short experiences out of my apartment, like visiting with friends/getting a massage/having interesting conversations. So more of that would be nice.

Anyway I better go veg out before I have to go out. Also probably wearing sexier clothes than this black t-shirt might be a good idea. I could at least put on my leather vest.

Avoiding My Blog Like The Plague

I’ve had a rough month. I mean maybe most of it was fine, but the last week and a bit got SO STRESSFUL and I felt like if I came back and wrote something here about what was going on it would get quoted in some Art Mag and then people would pile on me on Twitter and I just honestly didn’t know how to deal. I can see why people hire publicists. I did make one statement to Art News and part of it got quoted, I mean it seemed to be a good quote, the part they picked. But it all felt immense and mostly I was concerned about presenting a unified front with other artists who were reacting in various ways.

ANYWAY yeah, as I had mentioned in a few posts I am in the Whitney Biennial this year. And I was asked to be in it last year, around November. And after I said yes the stories started coming out about Kanders, and WAGE and Decolonize This Place asking artists to withdraw from the Biennial. And it’s a really hard decision to make. I don’t have a lot of high profile shows I have been in. It’s such a huge platform. And also my work was going to be in an Indigenous film program near the end of the exhibition. I would have two screenings and have 12 minutes of video screen in each screening. So out of this exhibition I’m showcased for about 24 minutes altogether. And in many ways I was hoping if I held out I could see how this all plays out on it’s own. And I have mostly screened in Artist Run Centres and in small festivals all over the world. So to be in the Whitney was a big deal.

Anyway obviously the Kanders thing was looming over this. And I don’t think anyone wanted to be associated with a war profiteer. And the places where Safariland teargas has been used are places a lot of the artists including myself felt allied with the protestors it was used on. And then there were people bringing up the point that there are many galleries and museums and universities who are getting funds from all kinds of unethical places. Capitalism is never an innocent force.

So I had been thinking about this for a while and knowing I would probably do something to make my feelings known. There was a letter Verso put out asking Kanders to step down that I and a lot of other Biennial artists signed. And I think there was still potential for other actions to happen. But then more recently this letter came out in Artforum shaming the artists who were still in the Biennial for not pulling out.

It really stressed me out because a lot of what was going on seemed to deflect anger at Kanders into anger at the artists, and artists are generally disenfranchised people anyway. And 8 artists withdrew from the exhibit. Which I was in solidarity with but I wasn’t going to withdraw because I still wanted to figure out another way of protesting. I did come up with something I was going to do which I won’t mention here because now it’s a moot point. But I made the mistake of looking at what people were posting on social media, including Twitter, and a lot of it was really reflecting this idea of a binary of the good artists who withdrew like people have been asking us to since November/December, and the bad artists who were going to be judged by art history and have our reputations ruined. And this whole time I had been worrying that the Kanders controversy was going to destroy my career no matter what decision I made. If I pulled out I’d be like, hard to work with, and lose my big break, and if I stayed in I would have shitty politics even though I still tried to be vocal about my feelings on his participation in the board. I don’t feel like I have a lot of clout, and since my video was gonna screen at the end of the Biennial, if I pulled out no one would have seen my art at all, while other artists had shown for half the exhibition.

So I was trying to keep it from being about myself, but it was starting to feel like my work didn’t matter anyway compared to this massive political art world scandal, and I was being selfish by seeing how complicated this was and not withdrawing. I also didn’t feel like I had a lot of friends to talk to about it. My closest friends mostly aren’t in the art world and didn’t really even know what the Whitney Biennial is. And I was snoozing people on social media who were posting in favour of artists withdrawing because even tho I understand it’s a powerful political statement, it felt like more pressure I didn’t want to see in my facebook feed at that time. I did have a few people to talk to but it was starting to put me in a tailspin and I felt sometimes that people didn’t see the full ramifications of the whole situation, especially for individual artists who all have different situations in their lives. And just the fact that it was a biennial of artists who were mostly BIPOC and half women being sort of demonized for not reacting the way the narrative wanted us to felt shitty. Like taking it out on BIPOC and women artists when the real enemy was this white cis male war profiteer felt like a shitty and convenient deflection.

Anyway I was stressed and if anyone asked me how I was doing there was like, a long sigh. I felt really worried about making the wrong statement, and I was going to write one with a friend who knows media better than I do (I mean press media). And also I just felt really concerned about the artists in the show, both the ones who withdrew and the ones who were staying for now. I felt that I wanted to be supportive of any way that people protested or didn’t protest or spoke out or didn’t speak out. I know people’s careers were at stake no matter how we responded, and it was a really awful situation to be in.

So right, I was waiting to see how this would play out, but I was getting pretty depressed, and my mental health is not tip top anyway, it can really vary according to whatever the hell my brain chemicals are up to. And at the same time I know it was all way bigger than me, I was like a dust mote in this tornado. And I was feeling hopeless, people were telling me he probably wouldn’t resign anyway, that there were other people on the board who also had shady dealings, etc etc.

And then Thursday morning I woke up to news Kanders resigned. I’m still absorbing it. I know it was largely those eight artists withdrawing and the question of if more would withdraw that finally forced his hand. And that’s great, I’m glad it happened, I’m glad those eight artists felt like they could take that risk on and that their gamble paid off. I’m still kind of reeling though at how much infighting happened in the art world, and I’m still wondering if people are going to take it out on the artists who didn’t withdraw. And I’m wondering when this will happen again, because pretty much every major institution is being funded by dirty money.

In some way I am a little bit sad that I never got to do my action. But that’s really just political vanity so I’m not dwelling on it. My friend Maria Hupfield was one of the protestors at the opening who got a lot of art news press when her and her friend did their action, and she got in on my invitation which was pretty sweet but also like yeah that was all her I didn’t talk about it with her besides her giving me a heads up she was gonna do an action. There was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes, and a lot of stuff, like actions, no one will see or know about because finally the situation has been resolved in a positive way.

I think however that my own conflicted feelings are starting to go away, and now I’m really thinking about how rapidly change can happen when you don’t expect it. I know it’s a big deal that he resigned, but it also gives me hope on a larger scale for change to happen overnight. For instance I have been thinking a lot about climate change and the end of the world and how politicians including in Canada are all in the pockets of the dying fossil fuel industry. And at times it feels hopeless, and like our planet really is just gonna die and we have all accepted this. But then I think fuck, maybe something will happen and one day I will wake up to news that capitalism has fallen or something. You never fuckin’ know.

So I guess besides learning change can happen fast, and that direct action like withdrawing work from a show works (even though I didn’t withdraw), I’ve also learned that sometimes you really do just have to hang on and see how things play out. I still don’t feel out of the woods yet personally in terms of how I will be judged by others who weren’t in the Biennial. But I guess I just have to find out.

In the meantime I did get a Canada Council grant to make a documentary installation. So that perked me up. And I do have work offers coming in still. And I don’t know if I will make it in the American art world, but also I’m a Canadian Indigenous Artist, and I’ll be around for a while longer in Canada at least.

Ha ha omg this probably sounds so much more personal than people would like. This is a pretty personal blog. I know it’s a big issue and not all about me. But this was how it affected me this last while, and I didn’t want to come back to my overshare blog and not be honest about what was happening for me. And I hope there is a diversity of viewpoints about how this situation played out for everyone. I still feel nervous breaking away from the group to tell the story the way it happened for me, and all the things I was worried and anxious about. But this is my blog and I was avoiding it for like, a damn month, and I guess now you know.