Dreaming of a caring economy 

I dreamt about holding my mom while she ugly cried. About her letting tears roll in ugly sobs. Of holding her & stroking her hair while she shoke with each painful breath. Of her feeling so small & helpless in my arms. I couldn’t calm your fears.

Before that we were in the kitchen after a big meal I was late too. Everyone clinking glasses & merry. I chewed hubba bubba gum too big for my mouth. My words were awkward around the slippery mass. You didn’t mind. You picked me up by the thighs & carried me up the many flights of stairs. You told me that you loved me & always will while you set me on top of cabinet 6 ft high. I was skeptical that you meant any of it, but your words were so velvety rich & reassuring. Resting your hand on my knee we talked for longer than it seemed. I got gum stuck in your hair which shone redder than usual in the bedroom light. As I carefully & tenderly groomed the pieces from your hair I knew you meant these promises this time.We talked about how living at home is weird, and the state of the job market. About family & music, old friends & new ones. You’re reassuring gaze never leaving mine.

Just as I let my gaurd down & placed my trust back in your hands, mom came to call me subtly distraught to the other room. As you waved from the bottom of the stairs I had no idea that I would not see you again.

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Dreaming of my cat

Dream cat told me what I suspected to be true so matter of factly and innocuously I had to question where it came from. You told me that it sounds like he is repeating your advice, and I have to stop and look at you different. Is that true? Do I let you speak to me that way? Yes I encourage it. Because I believe first and foremost that love is something I have to work for. I am not perfect but I can try to be for love. I am a good worker. Meticulous. Through. Enthusiastic. He will see. He will be impressed. Why aren’t you impressed? Because I don’t trust people who think I am enough. Don’t they see how broken I am? What is wrong with them that their expectations are so low? Is he trying to fool me? Must be so because I’m busy running away from him, out the backdoor into the arms of the one who will hurt me and leave me. This would never work anyways I assure myself. And surely it doesn’t because I won’t let it. When I am heart broken and love sick again I come to you over pints, and you reassure me by telling me all the things I could do better next time. I’m just too intense. I can’t present myself that way or I will be hurt. I shouldn’t text back first. I should just try harder to seem like I’m not trying so hard. I shouldn’t ask for so much right away. I should convince them to commit to me first. I shouldn’t talk about my feelings. Don’t share so much online. I tip my hand too early. I go all in without looking. I should wait to have sex. I shouldn’t have sex at all. Don’t say I love you until they say it back. I need to build mystery. I should talk less. I’m not really that interesting people just like me for my body. The sad part is that these are the things I want to hear because it’s what I’ve come to believe is true.

. . .

After my dream cat told me these things he morphed into Nathalie off of Be Here Nowish and seduced me until I realized she just wanted me to stay home more so she could have me all to herself. Driving home the point or making light of it I’m not sure.

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Dreaming of loosing you

Dreams of zombies who can’t let go of the past, searching for something familiar, and the sweet release of death.

I hate zombies but I hate loosing you more.

At least if you want my brains you want me around.

Convineance store at the end of the world only selling banana ice cream pops.

Smile & nod.

Don’t let on that your afraid, “I’ll be right back” you promise.

I don’t know what’s worse watching the people you love turning into what you hate, or waiting to turn yourself.

Either way there is a lot of waiting even at the end of the world.

Sweaty nightmare combining my worst fears: zombies & abandonment.

I can’t out run either.

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A personal history of sexual violence

I am five years old playing at the park next to my house with a little boy. I tell him I have to go home to pee. He tells me that I’m not allowed I have to pee on the tree in front of him. I tell him no I want to go home, and he gets mad and throws a truck at my head. I have a goose egg for three days. I have to tell my parents what happened, they are mad, but I still believed it was my fault for making him angry.

I am seven years old attending a backyard BBQ. I am excited to wear my new red sheer top from value village tied up at what is suppose to be the belly button but hangs down past my waist on my tiny frame. As I step out of the car one of the boys runs by and yells “Slut!” At me before disappearing into the party. I am instantly devastated I hide in the car for the next ninety minutes until the one of the other girls coax me out with a t-shirt and a wealth of clever insults her mom taught her to yell back at rude boys. I am too shy to use any of them because secretly I think the boy was right.

I am eight years old and all I want in the world is a boyfriend. There is a boy who lives across the street who agrees to be my boyfriend if I kiss him and show him my tits. I don’t have any tits but I let him watch me change anyways. We play house and I kiss him on his way to work while I take care of the kids. He never wants to play with the kids he always wants to play nighttime when mommy and daddy go to the bedroom. Eventually I break up with him and he yells at me and tells me that I’m not allowed to and grabs my arm and twists it when I try to leave. He isn’t allowed to come over anymore but he still yells at me from across the street.

I am eleven years old walking to the ice cream store with my little brother, my friend, and her little sister. As we get near 33rd street a car pulls up beside us and starts following us, a man in his forties rolls down the window and starts calling to us “where are you going? Can I give you a ride? How old is your friend?” I walk faster and pretend it’s funny so as not to alarm the younger kids. I laugh at him, and tease him, and pretend not to hear his questions, when we finally get up to the street he turns right and speeds away.

I am thirteen there are men yelling at me and my friends all of the time where ever we go. There is the homeless man who asks me to marry him in the library, the teenagers at the bus stop who offer to give me booze in exchange for party favors, there is the boy at Sunday school who tells me all pretty girls are bitches because they won’t date him, there are the two old men in their sixties sitting in a red pickup truck who yell and honk at me and my friends as we hug on the street corner, there is my dad telling me not to yell back at the cat callers because it only makes things worse. I develop thicker skin, I stop making eye contact with people on the street, I learn to not accept kindness from strangers.

I am thirteen and my boyfriend tells me he will break up with me if I don’t have sex with him. I hold firm to my position, but I spend considerable time calculating how to get out from underneath him if I had to. His feelings are hurt so I try to comfort him by agreeing to do other stuff until his mom comes home.

I am fourteen and my new boyfriend has friends over upstairs. He convinces me to come to the bedroom with him to help him look for something. He tries to take my clothes off and pushes me against the wall as he keeps saying “you like that huh?” Even though I’m insistently suggesting that we go back upstairs. His friends take turns bursting into the bedroom, but he made no effort to lock the door until his dad came home. He broke up with me two weeks later because he had a bet with his friends that homeschoolers are easy and I didn’t put out.

I am fourteen it is New Year’s Eve and I am drunk on too much Amarula. I am lying on the couch, the room is spinning, while my friends are out smoking. My best friend’s boyfriend comes and sits beside me I can’t quite make him out, he is talking to me telling me how he’s always liked me, as he slides his hands up my shirt and under my bra. I can’t comprehend what’s happening I just keep saying “what are you doing?” Over and over while he pulls at my jeans. The outside door opens as everyone comes back inside, he is across the room before anyone knew what happened. We never talked about it.

I am fifteen and there is an older man interested in my acting career. He convinces me to stay at the after party past when the buses are running. He keeps buying me double rum and coke. We go outside for a smoke and walk six blocks through residential alleyways looking for a garage that doesn’t have a sensor light. He holds me so tight against his beer belly I couldn’t escape even if I knew where we were. I go limp like a doll and let him undo my jeans and grab my panties. I start muttering about “I have to go see my boyfriend” and he laughs at me “everyone is sleeping” he said “it’s late”. He follows me as I walk home and tells me what we did was innocent, and that I shouldn’t make a big deal out of it.

I am fifteen and one of the older boys at the party starts flirting with me and giving me drinks. He corners me in one of the bedrooms and pushes me onto the bed. He starts taking my clothes off while the other people at the party peer through the window. Someone finally gets through the door and tells me to put my clothes back on. I get lectured, he gets high-fives.

I am seventeen and working nights in the kitchen at a restaurant. I get off at my bus stop at 11:00 pm every night and walk two blocks to my house. Regularly there is someone who follows me home half a block behind. I walk faster with my keys in my fist and turn all the lights and tv on when I get home to try to make it seem like there are lots of people home instead of just me again. One night there is a man who tries to smash the living room window in while I am watching tv. I check to make sure the doors are locked and turn the tv up and try to show no fear hoping he will get bored and go away. Eventually one of my neighbours calls the police and scares him off. The police never come. I sleep with my light on that night.

I am twenty-one and my boyfriend tells me that he will leave me if I don’t have sex with him. “What is the point of having a girlfriend if I can’t get laid?” he says unironically. He convinces me that there is something wrong with my libido and that I need to fix it in order to save our relationship. I scour the internet for advice from sex therapists to marriage counsellors. We agree on a sex schedule, I push for once a week, he pushes for four, we meet in the middle at three so long as I will pleasure him in other ways when I’m not in the mood. I’m never in the mood but we learn to have sex anyway “for the health of the relationship”. I didn’t think of it as rape because I had agreed to the conditions under duress. When my depression got worse I blamed myself.

I am twenty-two and recently single. I still believe there is something wrong with my sexuality. I sleep with the first person who shows any interest in my body. He lives in my first boyfriends house and I have weird flashbacks. He gets me drunk and chokes me when I’m not expecting it and cums in my hair. I thank him for agreeing to sleep with me, and vow not to let this happen again.

I am twenty-four it is valentines day and I am alone and drunk at the new club waiting for my friends to arrive. This guy saddles up to me with a bottle of champagne and is coaxing me to drink from it. I’m not interested, but he’s persistent and my friends aren’t here yet. He says that he works here and he wants to give me a tour of the place. After reluctantly leading me around by the hand while I pretend to care he ushers me into a bathroom stall. He whips out his dick and pushes my head down. He videotapes it on his phone. I leave the club confused and disorientated. On the cab ride home I run through what happened in my head over and over again wondering why I didn’t fight back, or yell, or tell him to fuck off in the first place. All my friends tell me it’s not my fault but I can’t help feeling guilty anyway. I slip into a deep depression and start having panic attacks and carrying my keys in my fist again.

Inspired by Belle Jar: http://bellejar.ca/2015/12/03/being-a-girl-a-brief-personal-history-of-violence/

my wounds do not define me

i am a survivor

 

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Spring

Currently, I am testing how to strike the balance between working in that nauseating place outside of my comfort zone and sharing the unique perspective inherent in my personal place in the world. It’s often difficult to know what is self indulgent vs vulnerable revelation. It takes a lot of practice to be comfortable enough in my own proclivities to be able to see them honestly and work my way out, and from there welcome shifts in perspective and new ideas about the work to emerge. Starting from the outside appearance of thins and working inwards rarely proves successful in my practice.

You know what they say, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me.

Assumptions are like monsters under the bed; there is no way to escape them except by facing them head on and testing them in the practical plane  against your ideas and fears about them. Most of the time they will reveal themselves in the light to be something other than you imagined.

My biggest fear of monsters under the bed when I was a kid was that my bed sat directly on the floor. I wasn’t so foolish as to think that saved me from having to worry about monsters, it just meant that  I couldn’t be sure where they would come from once the light went out. Of course this prepared me for the challenge of facing manifold unexpected monsters and assumptions when I decided to pursue a life in the arts.

Judi Dench spoke of the incredible fear associated with her practice. It’s inescapable in our work. To learn to live with that fear, and to not allow it to define you is a great gift. From the place of fear we can find the strength to face the assumptions that are hidden in plain sight.

I don’t want to live a life unexamined.

This spring has been a great awakening for me. I’ve been opened a deluge of discovery and growth that I did not expect at the top of 2015. Which all stems from testing myself against the limitations I perceive from my narrow vantage point. It reads like a tired truism, but the merit is in the practice.

It started off by deciding to apply for the Ghost River Theatre Devised Theatre Production Intensive even though “I knew I wouldn’t get in”, and then after being accepted putting together a grant in a week to be able to attend in spite of the voice saying “there is too much competition, they will never fund my project”, and then asking for the time off work when “I know they can’t spare me this time of year”.

Well it all came together, and the experience was transformative.

From there I had the pleasure of joining the Saskatchewan contingent at Magnetic North Theatre Conference and Festival in Ottawa. This was the first time I have engaged with the theatre community on a national level and meet many of the movers and shakers in the industry from across the country and around the world. The beautiful thing about Magnetic North is that it is still a size where everyone in the room feels approachable, even over the brief time I was able to attend I felt at home like I had finally found “my people”.

As a result of a connection there, I have the great fortune to be returning to Calgary to study with Denise Clark at One Yellow Rabbit next summer, and have renewed focus pursuing the next phases of my fall projects with new revelations from Magnetic North and Ghost River Theatre. I feel the question of when not how bubbling to the surface more and more as new ways of entering the work begin to emerge that exceed my own imagination.

I want to take this opportunity to send a big platter of gratitude to the fine folks at the Saskatchewan Arts Board for their support both financially and their on going support of the Saskatchewan arts scene. We are so fortunate to have a legacy of peer reviewed, arms length funding in our province, and it truly makes a difference on the ground as they understand that opportunities do not always wait for “the right time” to manifest. Without their support it would be much harder for young artists like myself to build a sustainable career in the prairies.

It is humbling to be reminded that it take a million small steps to climb the tallest mountain. As the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, and a hectic spring dissolves into a languid summer, I am happy to pause and reflect in that moment of balance as it passes through the center.

May the path be ever mysterious and the journey never complacent.

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New idea

I want to make a video of a hundred different girls and women and ladies and femmes and tom boys and broads and hags and lasses opening up jars of pickles.
It would be a tight shot of just elbow to forearm twisting the lid off of various jars of pickles, maybe some peanut butter or tomato sauce for good measure.
It will play continuously on the wall in my fantasy art exhibit that I am building in the back corners of my mind.
The fear it is over coming I think is obvious: every woman has (at least) one thing that they are mortally afraid they will never be able to do with out assistance, and that this one short coming will cause them to shrivel up and die if ever they are unsuccessful at securing a husband.
Or maybe this is just me?
At any rate mine is opening jars.
I’ve done it many times successfully but I still panic every time I’m on my own and I have to do it. I worry that maybe this will be the time, the time I die alone and hungry in my apartment because I can’t open the jar of pickles.
Now that I say it aloud I feel silly and maybe I really am the only one with such irrational spinster fears.
But I want to make the video anyways.

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