Tomboy Memories

Last night I had a super detailed dream about being entrusted with a friend’s snake, a small slim pure white snake. I don’t know what kind it was, it was cute though. My Mom was with me. We were handling it a lot because we didn’t have a tank or terrarium for it. It got really pissed off and started being bitey, so I was stopping it from biting my Mom and we were trying to find a cage it couldn’t slither out of. Finally I thought I could get it in a yogurt container if there was water in it and it slithered in. But the bottom of the container broke and it went down the drain. I got so upset because I didn’t want to be the person who failed my friend at caring for her pet. Then Mom noticed it in the cupboard. So I picked it up and then somehow found a big terrarium for it to live in for a while. Then for no reason, there was a rabbit, and opossom, and two rats in it’s terrarium with it. It was such a small snake I wasn’t worried about those animals getting eaten or killed, but I did worry about the snake. I woke up just as I was thinking I should get all those fuzzy animals out of there for it’s safety.

Today was a good day. I talked in a class at Ryerson, which involved thinking about my practice as I answered questions. I noticed two new things today. One stemmed from a question someone asked me about Alice skipping rope in Through The Looking Glass and I talked about how a lot of my early work touched on Girlhood until I made Helpless Maiden Makes an “I” Statement and got grumpy about being curated in Queer youth programs. But I do want to revisit that, the making work around the idea of Girlhood. I’m not even sure what that would look like, or how it would be different now that I am very much old (ha! late 30’s old). I mean, it’s not coming from current lived experience. BUT I do have lived experience as a tomboy kind of girl. Which is sort of interesting.

The other thing that came up today was talking about a line in Boi Oh Boi where I mention making bow and arrows as a kid and being into survival tactics and how that connects to being Butch/Two Spirit. There was a story I read a while back about how a tribe used to give children a choice between a bow and arrows or some objects commonly associated with women (a basket or sewing supplies or something) and depending on that choice is how that child would be gendered. I find that really interesting, that masculine of centre children are drawn to bow and arrows and that I was too when I was a little girl.

I remember one time (I wouldn’t do this now but it’s kind of funny and illustrative) my cousin Luke and I were kids and out in the country and we decided we were going to hunt this grouse that lived in the bush. So we got a knife from my Auntie and started following it. I honestly don’t know how we thought we could jump on and kill a grouse with our little bare hands and this kitchen knife. But that grouse was really crafty (I think it may have had babies actually just based on this) and lead us around and around in a circle until the sun was setting and we had to go back to the house. It just walked around beating it’s wings so we knew where it was, and went round and round. Round and round. We lost that knife by the way. Poor Auntie.

I also remember when Luke got the SAS Survival Manual. I bought a copy a while back actually, for a performance. I think it’s written for military people or something, but it’s like, how to build a shelter, identify venomous insects and animals, track animals, trap animals, tan hides, how to live in different climates, etc. We used to pour over that book, I remember the venomous spiders section was very popular, especially when he moved to Arizona with my other Auntie. There was a jumping spider in his living room once and we had to read up and see what it could be (it got squashed by the way, because poison!).

When I was a little girl I hung out with a lot of boys, until maybe Grade 2 or something when gender dynamics shifted and boys and girls had to play separately again. Although my boy cousins and I hung out for a long time. They took me to a lot of boy movies. I have probably mentioned this before, but one time my Auntie invited me to go with my cousins to Santa Bear Saves Christmas but when we got there we ended up at Indiana Jones or Star Trek or something. No Santa Bear for me! I wasn’t THAT put out by missing Santa Bear though I guess, because I do love Indiana Jones. Even though the colonial issues of his archaeological practice are problematic.

But when you are a kid in the 80’s hanging out with boys and the odd other tomboy, problematic isn’t a word that means anything.

Liking dudes romantically was something I half heartedly tried to fake when I got into my early teens. I think I bought a teeny bopper cute boys magazine just because my friends were into those at the time. But it didn’t take long for my boring boys taped to the wall to be replaced by a resplendent full poster of Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman! I didn’t even call myself a lesbian yet, BUT SHE WAS AWESOME! Such a baby kinkster. I couldn’t figure out why Catwoman was so exciting.

And then I hugged someone cute and not much older than me and OMFG breasts! And that was that. I had an identity.

But the tomboy thing was interesting to grow up with I guess. It’s basically how I still am. Still wear a lot of t shirts and jeans. Don’t hunt though, or even fake hunt. Ended up in a very male dominated profession. My boy cousins and I aren’t as close, because one has personal issues and the other one drives me crazy (but we get along, but he gets on my nerves). Still haven’t seen Santa Bear Saves Christmas.

I remember when I was just coming out I was really drawn to femmes, but it was confusing! Did I want to be them or fuck them? I didn’t know! I had a gender crisis, wore a lot of baby doll dresses cause it was the 90’s and then one day realized I could be involved with femmes AND be butch AND be desired! And then my first girlfriend was butch anyways so what do I know?

What’s a good end to this long post? I got into wearing men’s underwear a few years ago. Best decision of my life! They are so well made and comfortable. I don’t even own one dress anymore. Being Butch is what drew me towards having dachshunds because I wanted a masculine yet small dog. What’s more masculine than a wiener dog?

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