Monthly Archives: August 2004

Killing Nurse Ratched

Today my friends and I innocently stumbled into a prime example of the power paradigm implicit within the structures of the mental health system. We went to Coast as we had often done for the friday free dinner. My friends were members and in the past I had gone as a guest. But this time a butch Nurse Ratched type decided to kick us out, including my friends who were members. Was it that we weren’t the right kinds of mental patients to be frequenting Coast? In the past I had often gotten the feeling at Coast that I wasn’t welcomed, someone even asked us if we were students once. Are students not allowed at Coast? Can’t you be both mentally ill AND a student? Apparently not.

Once you become diagnosed as a person with a “mental illness” a peculiar thing happens. You are suddenly shifted into the subhuman category, and there are many expectations for your behaviour. Within the mental health system a good crazy person is someone who accepts medication with a smile, doesn’t talk back, doesn’t have feelings, dresses badly, and accepts their position in life as someone lesser than. Your dreams for the future are pruned back, even by well intentioned friends and family members.

And the people who are drawn towards working with crazy people can be of even more dubious sanity than those who they are working with. The Nurse Ratched who kicked us out seemed to be getting off on her power trip, she enjoyed turning people away from a free meal. She relished the power that she possessed over the already disenfranchised crazy person. And what’s worse is they way she talked down to us, she expected us to enjoy being bullied out of the building as well. What the hell kind of sick person is that?

It reminded me very much of being locked up in the hospital in Quebec.

Power trips happen to crazy people all the time. In fact, while you may read the news and assume that crazy people are violent and unpredictable, it is more often the case that it is the crazy person who is the victim of violence. However that kind of news doesn’t make the papers, because we’re considered subhuman and nobody cares what happens to someone who’s not even a human.

I want to kill the Nurse Ratched’s of the world. I do, and I’m not even a violent person. But when I see One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and McMurphy is strangling Nurse Ratched, I’m all “Yeah! Slap her silly!” Because I know what it’s like to be made to feel insignificant and stupid simply because I have a brain disorder that is still for the most part shrouded in mystery, no matter what the doctors say.

And I am tired. I am tired of me and my friends being disempowered by the very people who purport to be helping us. I am tired of all of my feelings getting pathologized. Things like falling in love or being angry are suddenly symptoms, instead of just letting me be with my own soul-feelings. Some of the drugs they give us completely obliterate feelings (that by the way is why people don’t take their drugs, try living life with a cottonball heart and you’d ditch them too).

How to end this blog about killing Nurse Ratched? I think for me the most important thing is that people become more aware of how they behave towards the crazy people in their lives, whether it be on the job or in social situations. We are not children, or mentally handicapped, or plain stupid. We’re regular people with un-regular brains trying, sometimes fighting, yes, to keep our dignity. So let us have some fucking dignity.

And don’t work with crazy people if you don’t have a grip on what it means to be on the other end of Nurse Ratched.

Rats!

Some people think that because I own a rat I must be some kind of freak. It’s true, I am a freak. But once you’ve had a rat, you can never go back. They are so adorable. Aside from having kick ass personalities, they are so sweet. They grind their teeth when they’re happy, they don’t vomit, and their scaley tails are actually not so bad.

Plus they are smart. They are about as smart as a dog, which in animal land is pretty smart. Although they have a bad habit of chewin wires.

My best ratty friend was Nikolas, I used to sing “Hey Nicky you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind!” when I came home to him. Ironically my friend Stef ALSO had a rat named Nicholas and she used to do THE EXACT same thing!

You still don’t believe me when I say rats are cute? Well check out the links below and then come back and say with a straight face that you still find nothing worthwhile about the little rat people.

The Dapper Rat A site with good ideas for rattie toys and some CUTE pics!

Pet Rats Canadawith some good info on owning a little rat friend.

Pet Rats in the UK with a little rat fellow playing gee-tar! Come on, that is sweet!

Why Pet Rats A good intro to the little rat for people with prejudices, plus there are some more cute photos.

Suite 101 – Pet Rats an informative site for those who love and care for wee rat folk.

And there ends my blog on rats. ONe more thing! Little Clive has been having ongoing problems with his water bottle leaking, and then I bought a supposedly leak proof bottle. HOWEVER it has turned out to be THE WORST leaky bottle! It doesn’t just leak, it runs right out. If anyone has any suggestions Clive and I would be delighted to hear them, just post a comment here.

Out On Screen opens tonight!

And yours truly is on the jury this year! This means I get to see films for free, my favorite kind!

Okay, enough with the exclaimation marks. This is my little blog about Queer film festivals and my history with them. It all began rather innocently in 1994 when I went to Vancouver from Saskatoon to see a big city all on my own. Remember I would have been a little teenager at this time. Out on Screen was happening that summer, and I wound up at Video In watching these short films about being a homo. Wow. At that time “positive” queer images had yet to explode into the pop culture, and remember, I was from Saskatchewan. We didn’t have a Pride parade because the head of the Gay and Lesbian centre was so self hating he believed it would be “rude.”

So wow, queer films. I even got the shirt I was so impressed. It had a fish on it. A gay fish? Whatever, that didn’t matter. I was inspired.

And I went back to Saskatchewan and I started to think about making videos. My videos. Videos about being a queer teenager. Videos about my life that I wasn’t seeing depicted anywhere. I didn’t even know it was possible to be a queer teenager. In fact, when I came out (at fourteen) some older queers still believed that I was too young to know. I dunno, sexuality is so in your face. How can a wet pussy or a boner be denied? And why should I waste my time with boys in dry panties?

So my friend Christopher Lefler was at the time going through a personal hell being splashed across the media outlets nationwide. He had outed the lieutenant govenor of Saskatchewan in an art piece and was kicked out of grad school for it. At the same time, he and some friends were putting together Saskatoon’s first queer film festival, including a workshop led by the lovely Maureen Bradley. I was one of the workshop participants.

And to make a long story short, with some pipe cleaner dollies with googly eyes I hit the queer festival circut with a bang. I started getting calls from lesbians in Berlin asking for my tape, and it was all very exciting.

Wow. That was nearly ten years ago, and since then queer festivals have grown and changed as well as me. Some of my happiest memories are of queer film festivals. In fact, I got together with my first girlfriend, Ivana, at Inside Out in Toronto.

Sometimes the programs are duds, but then I always remember, someone in the audience is thinking the same way I did. I could do this. I should do this. I wanna make a video. So do it. Now Out on Screen has the queer scholarship program (much like the workshop I was in, albeit much more intensive), and some really great work has come out of it.

Anyway, there’s the end of my Yay for Festivals blog. I think in the next blog I may talk about my rat. His name is Clive. He’s a creamy coloured Fancy Rat from Montreal, so he is a bit of a bilingual squeaker.

A Duck Joke

Okay, so three ducks have been charged and they go to court. The first duck goes up to the Judge.

The Judge asks “What’s your name?”

“Quack.”

“And why are you here?”

“I was caught blowing bubbles in the park.”

The next duck comes up.

“And what’s your name?”

“Quack Quack.”

“Why are you here?”

“I was caught blowing bubbles in the park.”

The third duck comes up to the Judge.

“So I suppose your name is Quack Quack Quack.”

“My name is Bubbles.”

The Scorpion Mouse

Happy belated Pride everybody. I didn’t do much for Pride this year, except go to three different parties over the weekend. I missed the parade even. Bad me.

FACT: Although people often think of crazy people as being violent and aggressive, the opposite is true, most crazy people (like me) are timid and withdrawn.

The above fact makes my social interations awkward for the most part, unless I am hypomanic, in which case I could have a conversation with anybody. But usually, oh, I am a little mouse. But little mice can still do mighty things.

FACT: The scorpion mouse is immune to scorpion stings which could kill an adult human. They double up and prey on scorpions in tag teams, and when they kill one they stand on their hindlegs and “SQUEAK!” a roar.

I am trying to accept my social awkwardness with the grace and dignity befitting a scorpion mouse. Still a mouse, still a tiny little speck in the great cosmos, but I can squeak out a roar about the moments that matter. I consider my blog to be my scorpion mouse cry of victory. I am still alive today! SQUEAK!!! I have killed the scorpion!! Fear me!

I think there are other scorpion mice out there, I have been meeting them more and more. Once you come out as a crazy person who’s been to the big finishing school called the psych ward, you start to know everyone else who’s been there. And they are all really cool people because they know what you’re talking about better than anybody else.

Which brings me to another point. Why oh why do people still think that those of us with “psychiatric disabilities” are stupid? Even the nurses on the psych ward think so, they really infantilize us. And then we get mad about it and it goes into our reports as symptoms of our illness blah blah blah. People don’t assume because someone has epilepsy that they are stupid. And manic depression is similar to epilepsy in the way it affects the brain.

There was my SQUEAK!!! for the day.

******* Lotto update *********

The jackpot is now 15 million dollars and I have won yet another free play. So eee, crossing my fingers. But this series of teeny wins to play again are really cute, reminds me of my free coke I kept winning five times in a row!