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Wednesday, the 23rd of April, 2014.

On Continuing On

Throughout my life, I have faced a great deal of adversity, so much so that I began to believe that life was about overcoming adversity.  Sometimes life is about just being, moving through the day and continuing onwards.

As a person who has struggled through adversity, the calm sometimes seemed to me to be the eye of the storm.  I constantly waited for something to happen to ruin everything.  The problem became, that things would come and go and because I had changed, the shoe never did drop.  I was sitting there, waiting for some impending disaster that may never come.  

I was used to the self who didn’t know how to cope, who had all of her traumas like a minefield spread out before her.  Now I am that woman who has walked through the mine field.  I am the woman who has experienced those traumas and come out alive.

I still find it exceptionally odd to be living a life where “nothing is happening”.  I mean, things are happening.  Babies are being born, people around me are getting married, falling in love, falling out of love, dying.  I feel in it, in that I adore these people and am invested in their lives but at the same time feel outside of it.  I feel that I am feeling life through a pane of glass.  Everything is muffled somehow.  The pain too is muted.  My spine doesn’t ache as deeply anymore.

It’s a strange feeling to be both in and out, to be living and out of life, to be and to observe what is happening to me and all around me.  I think this is what it is like to be sane.

I feel emotions, but still retain a sense of who and where I am.  I am not lost to my experience but rooted firmly within it.  Perhaps I am at the center of the storm, but that the storm is fixed around me, raging around a calm and watchful eye.   

Sunday, the 19th of May, 2013.


Why do people despise themselves,

when what they really want to do is to admire someone and be more like them.

his warm body like a perfect whip

his every touch, guiding me to perfection

his hand, resting on my neck, smoothing away everything else

so that I can live in that moment

be like him

open and pure

why do I hate myself so much, when really all i want is to be like you

i walk through the day, my little dance shaken

everything is wrong

i need to be more, and am awakened to the possibility that I could be more

it’s excruciating to be left alone in this awareness

that I could be better, but am not

that I could move with the grace of a slithering ribbon of water

that I could hold onto something and shape it like clay

and have it become another holocaust of passion

leaning against stone in dark ignorance of the path to heaven

i am mouth open, sprawling, natural bosom, opening like a sieve

eighteen times, twenty years amazing recollections of little bits of silver

taken time ticking, long tongues like fire, wanton

your muscles like the haunch of a dog

your smile soft as bread

your stomach a bludgeon

you milk me like a surgeon

i am broken by your caresses

i am washed apart, fraying bits of string

each step, i learned to be frozen

my arm is still and invisible

it hurts to remember that it can move

my surgery scarred my body and my spine curves to the side

i want dignity before i cry


 you are the slow burning darkness

that is that little bit of something i can’t remember

you won’t talk to me because i am most likely and idiot

and i respect that

i have everything i have ever wanted

my whole self full

and when i fall over the brim of my own container

i am empty

i spilled over onto everything

and the tin that rings like mud is glistening

angels killing dark eyed landscapes

the sun still and broken in the sky

alone in a footstep

making a privileged judgment about relationships

sometimes it’s enough

to suffer until something beautiful comes out

perhaps it’s a sign

perhaps i was waiting to be broken

perhaps i wanted to writhe under my own sense of self-hatred

and go crazy and break it apart with my fists until they are bloody.

perhaps it’s time

Sunday, the 2nd of December, 2012.

Darkest Before the Dawn
Thursday, 20 December 2012 20:00 until 1:00UNIT 2, 163 Sterling Road
Addressing the emotional reaction to the growing darkness that reaches it’s peak on the winter solstice, performance artists and dancers will be collaborating with noise and drone musicians to create dark, vulnerable and volatile work.
Cassandra Witteman & Daci-L
Annie Wong
Dorian Lebreux
Filip Endula
Alex Wimbush
Victor Cirone
Zoë Alexis-Abrams

Darkest Before the Dawn

Thursday, 20 December 2012
20:00 until 1:00
UNIT 2, 163 Sterling Road

Addressing the emotional reaction to the growing darkness that reaches it’s peak on the winter solstice, performance artists and dancers will be collaborating with noise and drone musicians to create dark, vulnerable and volatile work.


Cassandra Witteman & Daci-L

Annie Wong

Dorian Lebreux

Filip Endula

Alex Wimbush

Victor Cirone

Zoë Alexis-Abrams


Sunday, the 2nd of September, 2012.

Friday, the 24th of August, 2012.

Saturday, the 11th of August, 2012.

Tuesday, the 24th of July, 2012.

Needs and Validation

Let’s face it.  We can’t really get by just patting ourselves on the back.  We need other people to look at us and see something worthwhile. We need them to tell us that we’re okay.  Sometimes we don’t even need them to mean it, just say it.

We all want people to love us, but so many of us are surrounded by entire empty houses with no one in it to care for us.  Others are surrounded by people who spend most of their time trying to defend themselves against their so-called friends.  Some others still spend their time trying to defend themselves from the voices in their heads that endlessly regurgitate a stream of bile, poisoning even their greatest achievements.

Constantly straining to be something that is unnatural to my being requires a great deal of energy, attention and resources.  The fact that it is unsustainable means that I am going to fail.  My failure will cause me to feel weak and the fact is, that if I am lacking in the kind of communal support that would sustain me through this kind of helplessness, I am going to need to turn to consumer goods in order to make myself feel better.

If I put on a pair of pants that doesn’t fit me, why should I try to fit myself into them and not alter them to fit me?  They are an object, devoid of judgement and yet by snugly pinching at my stomach, they seem to communicate with me.  I tell myself that I need to fit the space that I am given and mould myself into that space rather than demanding something that fits me better.

The more make-up I buy, the more difficult it becomes for me to see my face as something beautiful as is. If I am buying clothing because I don’t like the shape of my body or feel that I need to change in order to be beautiful, I am not going to buy the kind of clothing that will make me look and feel good.  I will buy myself things that are unrealistically aspirational.  They will look bad on me and the cycle of self hatred will be complete.

There is a definite benefit for the system if I am consistently buying the wrong things and am generally confused about what my needs even are, because if this is happening I will buy more than necessary.  It is good for the economy if I lack self awareness because I will be open to suggestions for what I should do to fix my problems.  However, most of the things that are suggested as fixes to problems, cause more issues than they fix.  It is not within the scope of a consumer product to actually fix problems.  Their goal is to create dependence, and sell commodities.

I have had a closet full of clothing with nothing that made me feel good.  Most of my clothes didn’t fit me properly.  I had a great deal of clothing where the material made my skin feel funny because of how synthetic it was.  In the end, I felt that because I had so many things, that nothing really had the kind of charge that came from specialness and care.  If I have something that I don’t feel happy about when I pick it up, then what is the point of having it at all?

What is the hole that I am trying to fill?  Well, there are many gaps and needs and desires that come up during the day.  It’s my job to figure out how to satisfy my desires without letting that part of myself be the boss.  Sometimes it does ultimately feel better not to do something than to do it.  Sometimes it is better to do something.  It all depends. 

The truth is, that sometimes a physical thing will make me feel better but it won’t make me feel better forever.  This is life.  If I can accept that physical things provide temporary relief while I continue to do internal work in order to become a better and wiser person, then I can create a routine full of things that make me feel happy and good about myself.  I can be moderate because I will understand what makes me feel good and this will be good for me personally, my community and the environment. So, being happy is good for the environment.

At this point in my life, I am trying to tackle one of those needs.  It’s a need that just so happens to be a little trickier than the other ones.  It is one of the most central needs in my life and that is the need for external validation which I define more specifically as care and love.

I am not objectively the most special person in the entire world, though I do personally think very highly of myself.  It is probably true that not everyone in the entire world would judge me to be the best at what I do and I am certainly not the only one doing what I happen to do.  I have a lot of complexes that a great deal of other people also struggle with.  I am not going to be liked by everyone and not everyone is going to be attracted to me (thank God).  

I don’t do things trying to be the best at anything.  I am not going to be the most beautiful woman in the world.  The fact is that when I accept that I don’t need to be, I can move on and get to doing things that I want to do.  It’s not a competition.

It’s not important to be the best at something, or even any good really.  The point is to do it.  The point is not to think that I am the most beautiful woman in the world, but to accept myself and get on with it. 

One of the most difficult things in the world has been to accept myself, especially in a society that seems to be struggling to prevent me from coming to terms with who and what I am.  It’s a political act to love myself for who and what I am naturally.  It’s political to do what comes naturally to me and embrace what I am good at and like to do.

I don’t know any movie stars or super models, nor have I ever even seen them or talked to them.  They are illusions as far as I’m concerned because the only things that I know about them or see are specifically prepared and doctored to impart a message.  I have no interest in seeing their flabby bellies at the beach or them not wearing make-up because it’s self-evident to me that they are normal people caught up in an illusion. 

My world is small and the people who I surround myself with love me and accept me for who I am because I love them and accept them for who they are.  They have really funny personalities and tons of flaws and I laugh to myself about the strange things that they do that are not the kinds of things that I would do.  I love being around people who are really different than me and who think different things.  I think that daring to accept and love is a key ingredient in the journey to love myself.

I am working every day to break down the barriers that stop me from doing what feels right.  I think that’s part of developing a warrior attitude (or ubermensche-ness).  It’s just being, learning how to look around without words floating around in my head, standing on my legs and breathing and looking, seeing grass without thinking that it is green and ultimately escaping from the story that we are telling ourselves.

The essential thing in trying to figure out how to love myself and for my existence to be validated is to present the entirety of who I am in a totally uncompromising fashion.  It’s actually effortless when done properly (in a manner befitting a child or an imbecile).

Wednesday, the 4th of July, 2012.

Why I Shave My Head

One of my first acts of rebellion was to cut off all of my hair. 

In the first grade, I made the bold decision that I didn’t really want ass-length ringlets anymore and opted instead for a clean bob, much to my father’s disappointment.

It seems to me that this early act of will was the first of many attempts to define myself outside of my father’s image of his pretty little girl.  Not only was it important to me to be able to define myself in my own image, instead of the one that was being imposed on me by the men in my life,  but I also wanted to send a message to these same men that I was not to be ruled.

My family dynamic was old-school.  My mother stayed home as a housewife, to raise the kids, make the food and to basically wait on my father.  He spent his days ‘slogging his guts out’, as he called it.  So, I suppose the arrangement worked for them at the time.  Unfortunately, at around the age of 11 or so, my father became disabled after a motorcycle accident and after that, things were different.

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, my mother was secret feminist.  I had been firmly instructed on my rights as a human being from the age of 3.  She didn’t agree with my father’s style of corporal punishment and since he was rather difficult to reason with, decided to turn the troops against him.

My mother’s choices aside, it became an important part of my character to be able to cultivate a level of strength, forbearance and bravery in order to stand up to my father a 6’4, 200 some ‘odd pound frontiersman with one of the loudest voices I have ever heard.  It was especially important when he became handicapped, because he was around ALL THE TIME.

With my mom experiencing severe depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it became increasingly important for me to pick up the slack in raising myself.  I learned to cook and started to keep more and more to myself.  I began to consider myself my own guardian, signing permission forms and homework slips (as instructed by my parents, who couldn’t really be bothered).

Around this same time, I began to really push at my limits with them.  They didn’t seem to show an interest in the things that I was doing and I felt it more than a little unfair that I should have to give a shit about what they wanted from me.  Since even before the accident, we were lucky to see my parents at dinner time.  They were so consumed with their own problems, there didn’t seem to be any room for the issues of a maladjusted preteen.

Needless to say, in school I didn’t really fit in.  With my over sized clothing and now closely cropped hair (nearly at my scull), I wasn’t the prototype of a catholic school girl, especially in a small town where any little difference will stick out like a sore thumb. 

The girls didn’t know what to do with me.  After dealing with my father’s intimidation, their comments seemed rather banal.  The physical intimidation that came from the boys was something I understood a little better.  It was the kind of thing that I had been fighting against for most of my life.  I understood the mentality and how to deal with it.  I had no fear of physical violence.  After facing threats of being slammed against the floor by what at the time was an actual giant, the thought of being punched in the face didn’t rattle me all that much.

So when they stole my hat, or crumpled my drawings in my face or any other annoying little provocation, I showed the same stoic but thinly veiled rage that kept my father at bay.  I was crazy too.  I had a lot of suppressed anger and I think that I was looking for an excuse to funnel it at someone.  It scared me sometimes, how angry I would become and I tried my hardest to protect the people around me from something that I recognized as dangerous. 

As a woman, there’s no easy outlet for anger.  As the perennial peacemakers, it would be unseemly to indulge in such outwardly confrontational behaviors. 

Fortunately for me, I did figure out that most bullies aren’t spiritually strong enough to actually destroy you.  There are some people who will stop at nothing to stomp out the defiance in another person’s eyes, but most just want the thrill of intimidation and aren’t actually twisted enough to want to physically ravage you.

No, I met those people later. 

Being the kind of girl that I am, I don’t get a lot of the protections that other girls do.  Cutting my hair off makes me prone to gangs of suburban thugs and random drunken dudes on the street.  Because I have made the choice to shave my head, sometimes people believe that it gives them the right to scrutinize me, outwardly criticizing my personal choices as though they have any say over what I do with my own body. 

The thing is, I don’t like to be dismissed as silly.  My wedding fantasy was always about me riding into the middle of a field stark naked on a cow, in front of friends and family.  I bring my boyfriends flowers.  I ask guys on dates.  I will compete intellectually with nearly anyone/everyone with ferocity.  I will also wrestle, quite willingly when challenged (and I like to win). 

I am small but mighty.

I don’t like when men feel like they can try to win me.  I’m not won over by displays of machismo, or wealth.  I am impressed by a largeness of soul, a kind of fellow warrior trying to carve a place for him/herself in the vast wilderness of being.  I want someone to come up to me and address me as an equal.  I am also just as interested in getting laid as any man would be and I respect a man’s sexual depth as much as my own.

I want to be appreciated for the things that I have worked hard to achieve, not the things that I was given naturally.  I want to be told that I am tough, and smart and strong.  I don’t want to be told that I am beautiful.  It’s nice, but I don’t really have any control over that, so you might as well tell thank God or science or whatever it was that made me the way that I am. 

I would like a soul mate.  I would like someone who can look at me for who I am and what I have been through and be impressed.  I would like to inspire and be inspired by someone who is incredible to me, even perhaps to me alone.  I would like to share myself in the most profound ways possible.

I want to be touched and loved and appreciated, but not because I match up with an expectation that a person might have in their head.  There are a lot of people out there who are happy to do that.  For a lot of people, it’s easier to fit in and it makes them feel comfortable.  I support people’s choices and often have felt jealous of those who were given a more stable foundation in life and who found it easier to be happy and carefree.

The thing is, that I have lived the life that I have lived.  I don’t have a choice to be any other way than what I am.  I am the sum of my experiences and my choices and this is how I have learned to become comfortable with myself.

It’s funny, because I actually consider myself quite feminine.  I guess that just means something different to me.  It’s scary sometimes to be the way that I am.  It scares me because I face a lot of criticism, intimidation, and sometimes violence.  It’s scary because I don’t blend in easily and sometimes people feel the need to pick at me when I make them uncomfortable. 

It feels good, though, because it is amazing to be myself.  I love how strong I feel when I refuse to compromise my true identity and no matter how hard things have been for me, I wouldn’t change a thing.

And though it may sound intense, that is why I cut my hair.


Some articles of interest about women and their hair:

The Bald Truth - Guardian, Feb 2007

- An interesting article suggesting the many different motivations women might have for cutting off their hair, both in popular culture and historically.

When She Cuts Her Hair, Look Out - And They Lived Happily Ever After

- This article seems to exemplify popular thought on a woman’s choice to cut her hair, mostly as some sort of punishment for the men in her life.  It seems like a fairly conservative examination of the emotions women have about their hair.

Why Can’t Middle Aged Women Have Long Hair - New York Time, Oct 2010

- Another perspective on hair and how middle aged women and beyond are expected to keep their hair short.  It’s interesting to think about how women at different stages of their lives are fighting different forms of expectations.  Defiance in this area takes on a very different form

Tuesday, the 3rd of July, 2012.

The Homo-erotic Gaze

Reading an article in the Globe Arts Section today by Lynn Crosbie, entitled “Leave Tom Cruise Alone”, it brought to mind some questions for me as to the quality of the gaze in North American cinema and television and the definition of a homosexual persona.

Crosbie’s article lists a number of example of Cruise’s movie titles and the nature of the gaze in each of these films as a sort of investigation in response to public interest in his sexuality.  Items that she includes as possible proof are the focus on his ass and usage of phallic objects in the movie Risky Business and the shower scene in Top Gun

These scenes, in and of themselves, are far from proof of his sexual identity.  Furthermore, what is really in question here would seem to be the interest as expressed by the eye of the camera, not the sexual identity of Cruise himself.  It is through the director’s usage of the camera’s focus that attention is paid, whether sexual or otherwise.

It seems to suggest that in the hyper-sexualized-spectacle of western culture, something as simple as observing and expressing male sensuality can become an act of homosexuality and certainly in the more conservative circles, a perversion. 

When it becomes de-naturalized for men to dance in a sexual manner, to be around each other while nude or to in any way express affection for each other, we limit the range of the masculine persona to act in a human fashion towards other men, putting an extreme amount of pressure for those men who want to be perceived as masculine to suppress a great many of their natural inclinations. 

With the greater acceptance of homosexual desire comes, for some, a greater discomfort with the murky reality of sensuality, closeness and sexual desire.  People are not definitions and as such, despite what a person may feel comfortable with in terms of sexual choice, there may be occasions where a person experiences even the briefest of moments of sensual appreciation.

Mirror neurons are those things that aid human beings in their compassionate understanding of the experience of another.  When watching another man enact a sensual action, one cannot help but experience the sensuality of that act through the observation of it.  That however, in and of itself, does not make a person gay.  Sexual preference is something that a person must declare and own.  It is not something that can be thrust on someone, no matter what someone else’s perception of that person may be.

Women’s social nature seems to be a lot more flexible towards interacting with other women in a sensual fashion without fear of reprise.  In fact, it often seems to highlight a woman’s femininity when that woman can express gentle, sensuality towards her friends and loved ones.  It is understood that there are different forms of appreciation, different forms of touch and the only thing that makes a person gay is their declaration.

The requirement for male hetero-sexuality is quite steep indeed, if it means that in order to be able to declare oneself as a hetero-sexual, that man must have suppressed every and all sensually charged thought, feeling or experience that relates to another man’s body.  Only then can the uber-masculine man be free of the scourge of gay-association. 

It is as though, the mere expression of inner sensuality, exists as a form of non-consensual sex act.  Through the exposure of oneself to otherwise sexually repressed men, a person forces those men to question their very sexual identity.  The onus becomes placed upon the individual to protect other men from the implication of homo-erotic desire, a man’s pact.

The requirement for socially-approved expressions of male eroticism becomes more desperate as simple acts of affection become tinged with the fear of becoming socially isolated, outcast from even the most basic male contact.  For some, the script of the masculine precludes even the enjoyment of physicality through dance and movement or failing to mask the body in clothing that highlights angularity and squareness, hiding any hint of its grace and beauty.

If we must label someone homo-sexual based purely on the fact that he is looked at with interest due to his beauty, we preclude any ability for the artistic expression of masculine beauty.  Furthermore, we presuppose the masculinity of the eye, neglecting the slightest possibility of feminine sexual interest.

How is it that we have become so intolerant of femininity, both in the collective gaze and in the expression of masculinity?  With such a hyper idealized sense of sexual identity, we preclude any man in the woman or woman in the man.  We ask for men to exist as emotionless, sports loving automaton and women as overtly soppy, unrealistic manipulators. 

The construction is obviously absurd and well beyond most normal people’s abilities, but that doesn’t mean that the pressure such a standard exerts on these same people doesn’t create a kind of psychic tension that may lead to identity confusion, among other things.

I would have to say, that it’s probably okay to look at a man, to think about a man’s sexuality and appreciate a man’s physique as a man, without actually wanting to have sex with that man.  Even if you do have sexual thoughts about men from time to time, it still doesn’t mean that you are gay.  Having a proclivity for people of the same sex is not a choice, but being gay is.  The sexual act is, at it’s best and most wholesome, an act of choice.  It is an execution of who we believe ourselves to be and who we want to be.  Our sexual identity is our possession and is as much an act of choice as anything else.

The specter of being identified as gay, through normal human vulnerability can only be quelled if we choose not to be rattled by it.  As a woman, I will continue to support my male friends and lover’s in their ability to define their own sexual identities, separate from the pressures and expectations of our society.  I will also continue to make light of men who still feel the need to place these pressures onto other men, continuing to hope that in supporting their growth, which may very well involve working through trauma and intense social pressures, that I can make a positive difference in the lives of men who may need to break out of some fairly intense and dehumanizing bull-shit.

Sunday, the 24th of June, 2012.

A talk on the book Intern Nation by the Author, Ross Perlin on Google Talks.

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