Category Archives: Ex Girlfriends

Digital Blehs of the Afternoon

Editing is my favorite part of making films and videos. I even like old school editing with actual strips of 16mm workprint, and destructive linear 3//4″ to 3/4″ editing. But for most of my career we’ve had fancy computer editing programs. I remember when they first came out video art went through an awkward phase of computer editing overload. Every effect possible was used, to the point where a serious look at race or class could be upstaged by a constant fly in transition to another interview subject. I mostly avoided that phase, primarily because I was broke and taking advantage of the fact that the last few linear editing suites were dirt cheap. Generation loss be damned, I was making a 5 minute video for roughly $80.

But I really do like the way editing has changed with technology. When the technology works it’s a pretty intuitive process. There’s a lot more freedom. People compare it to the leap between typewriters and word processors.

That being said, ten hours of editing inevitably involves two hours of troubleshooting and two hours of rendering. If you’re really good it might be a smaller ratio, but you will always always have to spend some of your time tinkering around with settings and so forth. If you want a predictable workhorse, old school editing is where it’s at.

But I kind of like the inevitable problems. It’s like a puzzle.

Unless you have a deadline in four hours and are beginning to suspect a process circle is just an “ahhhh! I don’t know what to do with the program!” circle.

I’m transcoding some video, and when I read the manual for the program I’m using it said something along the lines of “Don’t be surprised for this process to take a day or more depending on your computer.”

It’s like rendering.

Rendering takes a really really really long time. Or it used to, I don’t know if it’s better now. I used to set my video to render and then walk away for an hour and drink coffee and smoke with my film school pals, and the ever suffering intermedia students.

Intermedia students had the shittiest program at Emily Carr. It was a grand idea, but since they never had priority for various media classes they ended up not being able to learn a lot of things, like 16mm film. I remember an ex-girlfriend of mine used to try to compensate for being in crap Intermedia by signing in for twice the allowed number of editing hours by using the name Maya Deren.

She was nervy, that’s for sure. She did it for two years before anyone noticed. How an art school can overlook Maya Deren using the editing suites is beyond me. You practically get assaulted with a print of Meshes of the Afternoon as soon as you walk into the film department. The second film print they whack you with is Un Chien Andalou, which has some creepy misogyny in it and I still get grossed out with the razor and the eye scene.

My friend Elaine and I were having a beer once and talking about film and she said “I know we’re supposed to like Peter Greenaway and oh, he’s so amazing blah blah blah, but he is FUCKED UP about women, it is so creepy! Why do we have to like this guy?” I love Elaine.

It has been two hours and only seven minutes of video have been rendered.

Well, I think I’m nearing the end of this video process, so I should go do other computery things to it. Here’s scenes from Meshes of The Afternoon and other Maya Deren clips set to Aphex Twin care of YouTube.

Sex Work

Being a dyke I’ve been intimately involved with sex workers both as lovers, friends, and colleagues. I think straight people get surprised by the link between sex workers and the lesbian community. The fact is, a high percentage of female sex workers are queer. I not only know sex workers, I was one for a very very very brief time. It was phone sex, it was terribly boring and silly. I pretended to have an orgasm while watching t.v., and then I quit when a foot fetishist kept asking for me, just because he talked and talked for a REALLY long time. I did, however, come really close several times to doing street based sex work. In that case, it wasn’t because I actively chose that kind of work, it would have been survival sex work. I lived in grinding poverty for several years in Vancouver, I often had no food, I skipped on my rent several times, I ran up bills I couldn’t pay, I had a very difficult time being hired for work, mainly for being a butch woman. Sometimes I had no phone. I wasn’t going to do sex work for drugs, I just want to go eat at least one meal in a day. And through all that I still self funded a video art practice.

God, let me say again, I have only ever gotten one grant in my entire career. I honestly don’t know where this idea that I’m getting tons of money for being an Indian comes from.

So yeah, sex work. My family helped me out some, but they did the guilt trip thing, and I never told them about wandering along the strolls wondering about getting into the next car that stopped for me.

I had a girlfriend who started doing sex work again while we dated. Friends were really fucked up about the whole thing. They thought she was some kind of low life (she was going to university), they felt bad for me dating her (no way, she was cute and sweet!), and one friend even asked me if I was jealous for her doing sex work. I had to laugh at that one. I didn’t really care that she was having sex for money, my only concern about her was the very real possibility of being assaulted on the job.

Some people say that the dangers sex workers face is exactly why it should be eliminated and more aggressively prosecuted. I think this is problematic, because it pushes sex work even farther on the margins. People who do Shame The Johns campaigns and push sex workers out of neighborhoods put these women into even more unsafe places, like industrial areas where there’s more isolation. The more prostitution is criminalized, the easier it is for predators to prey on women. Even filing a rape report if you’re in the biz becomes a humiliating venture where cops refuse to believe a sex worker can be raped.

If people are serious about keeping vulnerable women from doing sex work out of survival, they need to look at the bigger picture. The minimum wage should be raised, women’s labour should be more respected and improved, and for sure butch women and other marginalized people need to have more job opportunities. Consider how many transwomen end up in the sex work biz.

And there are sex workers who like their jobs, as much as people hate to consider. Some women I know have certain clients who are their favorites, there’s a certain level of intimacy that happens that while it is not romantic, falls under a category of therapy. While there are assholes out there, there are also a lot of johns who are genuinely just looking for some closeness and release which they may not get for certain reasons like age, disability, the recent death of a wife, etc.

I remember one time I went to visit my girlfriend when she switched from the streets to a massage parlour. We were hanging around talking with her coworker when a client came in. The coworker started laughing and said “Oh my god, what if a client came in and picked Thirza!”

Basically, I think that feminists pathologizing sex workers are misogynist and classist, and that the battle for sex worker rights should not be allowed to be dampened by women who infantilize the people doing these jobs.

Another thing, when people say sex work shouldn’t exist because it is demeaning, they should consider other jobs poor people often do which are equally demeaning. Outbound call centre work, McDonalds, Production Assistants, all of those are demeaning jobs which have a demoralizing effect on their workforce.

We’re all a little Kogepan some days

A girlfriend of mine turned me on to Kogepan, we used to go strolling through Sanrio based stores in Vancouver’s Chinatown so she could buy Kogepan related items. This is Kogepan:

Kogepan was supposed to be a high quality elite red bean bun but got burnt during his birth when he fell back into the oven and was forgotten in there for thirty minutes. Depressed and despondent because no one wanted to buy him, he went on a smoking and drinking binge (milk is like beer to him) until he hit bottom and went back to the bakery of his birth to prostelyze on the meaning of life.

Some of us who have been through some harsh moments in life can completely relate to the feelings of a little burnt bun, especially his struggle to understand his place in the world and deal with a society which has little care for a burnt bean bun. Anyone who has been marked by difference or a traumatic life changing event can understand the life of a Kogepan.

Here is his premiere:

Kogepan meets his drinking buddy, another Burnt Bun:

Kogepan traumatizes young pretty bread and then teaches the meaning of life. Then he gets them drunk:

There are ten Kogepan episodes in total, and probably you can find all of them on YouTube. If you’re having a rough day, watch some Kogepan!

Give Me Life, Give Me Pain, Give Me Myself Again

**** !!!! This blog contains triggers specific to sexual assault survivors, if you need a support person or safe place please find one before reading. If you need to skip this blog there is some cuter lighter fare after this post. If you know me but don’t want to know this part of me please stop reading. !!!! ****

I have over 70 Tori Amos songs on my iPod. That means every 6th song that comes up is a Tori Amos song on shuffle. Sometimes it will be a run of Tori Amos songs. I first got turned on to her in high school when Cornflake Girl came out. Maybe it came out earlier but I didn’t buy the album until high school. Whatever. I continued to buy every album that came out since then. My favorite songs currently are Little Earthquakes, I Can’t See New York, Marys of The Sea, and Original Sinsuality. I love Icicle because I had never heard a song about a little girl discovering masturbation before and it’s so adorable, it reminds me of my childhood explorations. When my younger cousin Christopher died in an industrial accident this summer I listened to 1000 Oceans on repeat for hours and cried.

For some reason I have left Me and A Gun on my iPod, even though I can’t listen to it. It’s a great song, I’m not all “Bleh, don’t tell me your rape story, art isn’t for therapy!” I’m more like “I don’t want to think about my rape story right now.” If I listen to it I just start bawling. But I keep it, because, because I’m not sure. Sometimes I just feel better knowing I can hear it if I want, that it exists, that it’s out there.

I remember being freaked out about the possibility of one day being raped. I knew statistically it had a high probability of happening, and I was scared as hell of what it would be like to carry around that kind of trauma. And yeah, it happened. It was the fifth time I ever had anything sexual happen to me and it did fuck me up, until I met a really sweet girl who helped me heal, but I’ll get to her in a bit.

I’m not going to tell you the specific details of the event. You don’t need to know the date, the number of assailants, the genders of the assailants, the number of hours it went on for, what particular acts happened, or anything else like that. In fact if you ask me for the facts I won’t give them to you, even if you’re my best friend in the world. The only person I completely explained it to was a friend who also had a fairly similar assault and we were both supporting each other in the aftermath. I told very few people, partially because a lot of acquaintances knew the assailants and I didn’t feel safe disclosing the event. I did not go to the police and file a report, because I know that as an Aboriginal woman my charges would be dropped and I’ll just have told some white guy about the worst night of my life for no reason.

I will tell you what happened after. I went back to my apartment in the early early morning, I think I walked home from downtown, or maybe I waited somewhere until the first buses started running again. I felt exhausted and dirty and I just wanted to sleep. I got into my apartment and it was like jamais vu. I didn’t feel like it belonged to me anymore, this apartment belonged to someone more innocent, someone who hadn’t been through that night, someone who puttered around learning to be a grownup and only worrying about trying to find storage space in a 300sq ft apartment. I went into the bathroom and had a bath, the longest hottest bath of my life. I used a ridiculous amount of soap and I probably shampooed and conditioned about four times. And after all that I still didn’t feel clean. Any sexual assault survivor will tell you this part of the story too, it’s just this automatic response we have immediately after.

It was morning but it just felt like the second half of a really long day. I crawled into bed and curled up in a ball and went to sleep. I don’t think I cried, but I might have. The sun coming through the windows was beautiful, but it didn’t make me feel anything. I was just numb.

I was celibate for a year after wards until my next lover, who turned out to be abusive and fucked me up more about my sexuality.

I was celibate for another year after that until I met the sweet girl who I’ll now tell you about. I’d actually met her when I first moved to Vancouver and I always had my eye on her, she was a super cutie and a Vancougar celebrity. It made sense for us to be together because I was a Vancougar celebrity too, at least in our particular subculture. We had a sweet summer romance. She was the kind of femme who thought nothing of necking in broad daylight at Scotiabank cashstops. Thinking back on it now I think we also clicked because we hurt the same way. We were both stone sometimes, I was really stone in the beginning actually, but she was safe enough to get silly and sexy and slappy. We said I love you a lot, because it was true.

What totally impressed me was that she took it in stride that I still had a fairly limited sexual history. She was patient and made sure I knew what she needed or wanted. She had fun doing things to me no one else had. She liked cuddling and being sweet and adorable and sometimes she would be bouncing up and down on the bed giggling in the morning yet could still do the bossy scary persona for those particular games perverts play. She’s still the only one I did breath play with, which shows you how much I trusted her.

Anyway, one day we were lounging around in bed and I don’t remember what we were talking about but I disclosed what happened. She said “oh,” in this way, I don’t know how to explain it. It was this one little word that had so much meaning in it. And she just held me and I cried and there was so much going on in this exchange of wordless communication about it. I healed so much in that one moment. I think because I finally told someone who was intimately involved with me. It wouldn’t have been the same at all if she was a friend or other platonic individual, it had to be someone I felt safe enough to be sexual with for that moment to happen. She was the best lover to disclose to. She just handled it so perfectly.

It was really nice to spend a few years after that cathartic moment with my girlfriend to be freed of rape trauma. It didn’t bother me as much, it still made me sad to think about but it wasn’t interfering with my sexuality anymore. And then I got traumatized about it again, only in a much more intense way. I spent six weeks in a Montreal psych ward, yes we all know this, I talk about it a lot, I rage about it a lot, but people don’t know the number one reason I hated the experience, hated the hospital, hated the people who sent me there, and spent three years after wards wanting to die.

It was a mixed ward. I was really pissed about this fact, because during my time there I spent every single day in the company of a patient who kept wanting to rape me. I tried to talk to staff about this problem only to be brushed off all the time as a silly paranoid loon. He got moved to another ward and I was relieved, until I was moved to the same ward, a tiny yellow affair for people who are dangerous or wanting to snuff it. (I was the latter) I think the only way I survived was by attaching myself to tough dudes who basically protected me. I had some female friends too, but I mostly spent time around guys who were benevolent and protective of me. They kept falling in love with me, but whatever.

There was one other triggering event which totally shocked me. It was my first night there, well, the first night I wasn’t handcuffed, restrained, and in chemical restraints. I was falling asleep when suddenly two orderlies just walked into my room with a flashlight and made me take a pill which turned out to be a meltable Zyprexa (because you can’t tongue it if it melts immediately). I was appalled that they would disregard something so obviously triggering to sexual assault survivors, especially for those people who were abused as children.

And then there was the four point restraints trigger, yeah, that was fucked too.

So essentially I still carry a lot of rape trauma with me. And ironically now it’s because I was put in a place that was supposed to “heal” me. I’m pretty sure I’m healing from the “healing” now, I’m doing a lot better than the first year After The Psych Ward. It’s bizarre, people expected me to come out of there and be cheery and grateful and “fixed”, and then were confused when I walked around like an angry zombie and screamed every time someone grabbed my wrist or suddenly touched or grabbed me.

But I still remember the lover who was there for me when I disclosed, I never really got to thank her. She probably was the main reason I have a healthy happy attitude about sex again.

The last time she and I had sex we listened to a Tori Amos album, From The Choirgirl Hotel. She was a boy, and it was really great. I didn’t know it would be the last time, I doubt she did either, but it was a nice note to go out on.

Tori Amos inspires me, and probably a lot of other survivors, because she’s spoken about her experience and yet has not let it define who she is. She shows survivors that there is life after rape, that people can heal, and that they can still find/create and be beauty afterwards.

She cofounded RAINN, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. She is also the inspiration for the survivor run site Welcome To Barbados.

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m talking about this here. I guess I’m just tired of feeling secretive about it, because that implies shame and I don’t want to feel ashamed of myself. Those other fuckers can feel ashamed. I also recently read someone accused of rape who reclassified it as a grey area misunderstanding, and as someone who was a victim of what some might try to call a “grey area misunderstanding” I can honestly tell you rape has no fucking grey area.

I was going to post a video of Me and A Gun or Little Earthquakes, but Hey Jupiter seemed to fit better.

That’s not love! That’s Stockholm Syndrome!

I wanted a really cool blog to go along with this title, but then I started writing a tired ex girlfriend tirade again and felt dumb so I laid it to rest. But I still like the title. It can stand really well on it’s own. And I think everyone can understand the experience of confusing the Stockholm Syndrome with love.

I felt like a dork today. I’ve been searching for a song from the Shortbus soundtrack for the last two days on Gnutella only to find out I’ve had the damn song this whole time. It’s not like I have THAT many songs, only 1455. And I used to have 80 cds but I have no idea what happened to them.

A deadline I missed in October is coming up again already this January, so I’m hoping to have my shit together. At least the screenplay looks sort of normal now. It has more of a flow and dramatic tension and character development. Actually that’s not true, one character is still pathetically 2 dimensional. He’s practically a prop. I’m considering killing him off. I don’t know what to do with him. I think I fucked myself over by trying to put an ensemble of queer identities all together in an intimate drama. And then I further fucked myself over by pressuring myself to do something stupid like present only “positive representations.”

Positive representations. It’s what organizations like GLAAD are all about. It’s some LA femme getting snarky and bashing bulldaggers as negative stereotypes. It’s what gave us a medley of L Word characters who look the same. It’s what makes queers whisper to each other “Actually I really liked Cruising.”

Pacino and Poppers – Good Times Combination

It’s what leads to obnoxious lesbians in Michigan chasing away girls in leather and transgendered women. Fuck positive representation. I know we have a miniscule number of queer characters/movies and out actors, but god, sometimes you just need a queer villain. I’m not talking Put the Lotion in the Fucking Basket villain, but someone nasty and yet complex. That being said, I really love Silence of the Lambs.

Do you still hear the lambs screaming Clarice?

Some queer filmmakers are breathing a sigh of relief already though because we’re not tied to the positive representations shit anymore. God, isn’t Oprah enough of a positive representation for us all to get by on? Now the rest of us can be dramatic fuck ups while she and Ellen improve the daytime living of bored housewives everywhere.