Renee-Dumaresque

Crip Times Episode 2: The Renee Dumaresque Episode

This week, Kristina and Kayla are joined by Renee Dumaresque, a PhD Student, writer, artist, and community organizer. 

The episode starts with a conversation around how we’ve been dealing with the isolation of the pandemic (shocker), the ways that interdependence has been deepened these past months, and how boredom can plant seeds of creativity. Renee offers us reflections on chaos and fragmentation, as well as some observations about COVID-19 headlines and ‘hysteria,’ and how they are using found poetry to offer commentary or counter-narrative. 

Renee tells us about Crip Rave Collective, how they’re working to make night life spaces more accessible, and how we can all get more thoughtful with our accountability practices.We hear a bit about Renee’s foray into film festivals, our adventures with imposter syndrome, and real vulnerability versus performed vulnerability. 

Last but not least: Are dog parks the key to being the least judgmental versions of ourselves?

Image description: A colour photograph of Renee Dumaresque, holding their left hand over their heart. Overlapping the photograph is large, right-justified pink text that says ‘Renee Dumaresque’. ‘Renee’ is in all caps and ‘dumaresque’ is in all lowercase. At the bottom of the image is the Crip Times Podcast Series logo. The image was designed to evoke a vintage floppy disk, with bold, rounded text, and a lighter blue box containing the logo.

Crip Times’ Favourite Quotes

“So, my process, when there’s not a global pandemic is uh … absolutely and utterly chaotic. And completely out of control, fairly painful. And honestly the pandemic hasn’t really changed that. Period.”

“I find that related to the chaos, my ideas often come out or even form in fragments. So, bite-sized pieces that have maybe fallen off of some larger idea. And often I don’t even know necessarily what that whole is. As the fragments are coming out.”

“So poetry, just as like a medium, is really supports that sort of like non-linear mess. Both as an aesthetic and also for me as a process.”

“But really, like, shit’s complicated always. And our thought processes are complicated, and we sometimes have to – I – sometimes have to make them appear differently. But when we are engaging in conversations about Covid-19, about medical and psychiatric violence, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous violence, these are big conversations and I think that like … the messiness is important when we’re trying to connect with one another and just imagine new ways of being together and taking accountability.”

“I saw imposter syndrome reframed another way which was if you’re in a space or relationship with folks and you feel like an imposter, it’s like, well don’t you trust them? Like whether it’s your mentor or your peers or your teacher? They probably asked you to be there. Like they want you to be there because they believe in you whether it’s your current ability or your potential to grow. It’s not an accident. It’s not like you stumbled into something – chances are, right? So if you can reframe your faith in your community and your mentors, as well, then it’s a way to kind of like reverse engineer your own confidence.”

“Q: What is your dream for the spaces that you occupy? What would you like to see in a vision in the future for art spaces, for Crip Rave Spaces, or academia or social work? What is the dream?

A: There certainly isn’t one answer for that. But there’s also not one answer for those spaces. My dream for some of those things you mentioned is that they wouldn’t exist anymore, you know what I mean? And for other things that we’d all invest in them, you know? I’m being vague on purpose there. But I think the thing that ties it together though for me, right now in this moment anyways, is listening to each other’s dreams. 

“I think that joy and wasting time—I don’t think it’s actually wasted time, but like wasting time according to some people’s standards—is such an important thing to do. And my dog really gives me no choice but to do that, actually. Cause she just wants to hang out and flick a ball, you know?”

Additional Links

Renee’s Instagram 

Twitter Account “Room Rater” Judges TV Journalists’ Home Decor. We Asked a Few About Their Scores. 

If You Can’t Stop Staring at TV Anchors’ Home Backgrounds, You’re Not Alone

Follow Crip Rave Collective on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can contact them at crip.rave.collective@gmail.com. Follow Crip Rave’s co-founder Stefana Fratila on Instagram.

Bricks and Glitter

Sick Theories

Images Festival 

Re•Vision digital storytelling 

Full Transcript 

[Sound of an electric wheelchair]

Voiceover: You’re listening to a Wheels on the Ground Production.

[Jazz music intro]

Kayla Besse [KB]: [00:00:20] Hello, and welcome to the second episode of Crip Times!

Yousef Kadoura: Today on Crip Times, we will be listening to Renee Dumaresque. An undisciplined writer, community organizer,  and PhD student. With your hosts, Kayla and Kristina. 

KB: Hi Renee, thank you so much for joining Kristina and I on Crip Times this afternoon.

Renee Dumaresque [R]: So nice to be here, so first like, thanks for having me.

Kristina McMullin [KM]: First things first, how are you? How are you feeling today? How’s the body/mind?

R: Today, I’m doing ok. I’m feeling ok. Um, I’m just sitting in this room right now, uh … that I like to call my office but really is like more of a ‘collection of junk’ room, you know, one of those spaces where you just like put everything in your life or in your place that’s been rejected from 

your life. Um …

KB: Yeah I think we all have one of those, especially working from home right now!

R: Totally. And the Zoom life is so funny too, hey? If my screen were on and you could see me there’d be this lovely bookcase behind me. And then to the front of me there’s uh, just like reality. Right? The complete wreckage.

[all chuckle]

KB: Yeah, I saw like Twitter posts where people were saying that you know, news anchors and similar were being judged hard by the background of their, what was on their bookshelves, or whatever. 

R: Amazing.

KM: So we are recording this in August, which I believe is month five or six of quarantine amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. So how, how have you been? How have the last few months of quarantine, isolation, surviving a global pandemic been for you?

R: Hm. Yeah. I mean, it’s been a really wild time. Obviously. Um, like so much sadness, and hurt, and violence. Um … I think a time that like, really has emphasized the deep social injustice that’s really always been there I guess in new ways, sort of um, coming to the surface. Lots coming to the surface. Um, not new stuff though you know? This stuff has been at the surface, um, for many people for a really long time.  

[00:03:00] Me personally, um … I’m not too bad. The people around me are mostly well. Um, my uh, my mother-in-law lost a close friend to Covid in the early months. But otherwise, people are, yeah, people near me are well. Um … yeah. It’s been an interesting past few months. Um, characterized for me and probably for a lot of people by a ton of disconnection and also matched with a whole lot of new connection, different connection. You know? Whether that’s organizing online, in new spaces, um … or like virtual stuff, just all the virtual accessibility and the connection that’s sort of made possible in new ways. Um, and then just like, connecting differently or more um, with more intention and care to a family or friends or partner. Uh, you know, for a while there I was like waking up and calling my parents every day at 7. And just hanging out uh, spending time with people um, that I care about – either on Zoom or like with – my partner watching Netflix or something. Nothing terribly romanticized or like um, sorry – nothing terribly romantic – or rose coloured, but just getting um, having space to get bored with people. And the sort of, the seeds of connection um, that are sort of planted in boredom.

Someone said that one time, and I wish I remember who it was, so if you know, please let me know right now. But that really stuck with me and jumped out to me a lot. How about you, Kayla, Kristina, how have you been holding up?

KM: I mean – this is Kristina speaking – um, it’s been interesting. Um, I live in Toronto in a relatively small but also very lovely apartment. And I think definitely going into August the like, monotony of living in the same 700 square feet for six months and never leaving, um, got a little bit heavy. And it’s just been trying to like find ways to like, shoulder the weight of that heaviness. 

R: Mm.

KM: And I think that in many years past, I would have just like not asked for support and just tried to be like independent in all of this. That I think for me in the last four years of working in disability spaces and community spaces, I’ve really learned that like when things feel heavy to like, speak on that. And like speak on when I’m feeling sad or feeling overwhelmed or just exhausted by the work of being a human, and I’ve just found having those honest conversations with my community members, um, maybe not made anything lighter.

[00:06:10] But have just made it a little bit easier to carry that weight with a little bit more support. So I’ve really felt all the negative feelings of like quarantine and isolation, but I’ve also just felt like I have the space to ask my community for help in ways that I wasn’t comfortable with a few years, even a few months ago.

R: Mm. That’s super powerful, yeah.

KB: This is Kayla speaking. Um, this year’s been real tough. Whole year’s been really hard. For personal reasons beyond the pandemic too, but um, I remember feeling at the start of the pandemic that it – that the, you know, stay home orders – felt, I remember saying to a few friends, this is kind of sometimes what life is like for me in the winter as a disabled woman, physically disabled. Where you know we have a few weeks or a month where it’s so icy and it’s so cold that I literally can’t walk down my own street. Like I’m no stranger to feeling stuck in the house, not that it makes it any easier. 

But that was really interesting to observe other people’s reactions to um, to being stuck at home. As someone who feels like that’s not always … it wasn’t that unfamiliar to me in some ways. 

But, I agree with Kristina that I feel really fortunate that I have um, first of all a bunch of really amazing relationships. People who are really excellent at communicating through like the written word, like you know, to be able to text people anywhere in the world and still feel connected in those ways is really a privilege. And I don’t know, I think friendships like Kristina and I – I live in Guelph – we don’t see each other in person that much anyways. So I have a lot of relationships that were already existing in online spaces. But those were definitely deepened out of necessity for sure. 

But um, yeah. Oh my God, the lack of like human contact is … is kind of bleak at times. For sure.

R: Totally, totally. For sure. And like ongoing, right? 

KB: Yeah.

KM: Yeah.

KB: So you were talking about boredom as planting seeds which I think is really beautiful. I wonder in what other ways being in quarantine has impacted your processes for your work or your creative life or what have you?

[00:09:10] R: Yeah. Uh … so like, my process um, when there’s not a global pandemic is uh … absolutely and utterly chaotic. And completely out of control, fairly painful. Um and honestly the pandemic hasn’t really changed that. Period. 

Um, still at home, still struggling like hell, like you know sort of pulling one strand of hair out at a time, metaphorically speaking, with every word that I have to put on the paper. Um, yeah. And it was like that before and still sort of is. But, the one thing that the pandemic um, has sort of shifted at times is that it’s – yeah – giving me some space. Um, I guess before things shut down, I was really foot on the gas. And like not in a ‘hero’s journey’ kind of way, but in a way that wasn’t serving me or anybody else for that matter. And was definitely a reaction to the spaces that I was in and the pressures that I was experiencing. Um, I’m doing a PhD right now and like navigating that space as a Mad or neurodiverse person can feel pretty brutal at times.

I mean it can feel pretty brutal um, no matter what you’re carrying. But, yeah. Like I think that the space has let me think about or maybe relate to the chaos a little differently. Um, and you know, to be clear – I don’t really know the first thing about chaos theory – but something that I heard and that I’ve been thinking about and find interesting, or um, this really resonated lately is this idea that um, chaos is this like big blank sort of nothing-ness. This expanse. 

But, chaos can also be understood um, whereas maybe the other side of the same coin as uh, like formless mass, um, like a formless mass that existed before the universe came into being. Like contained all of the ingredients.

And I think that before, um like, all I could really relate to was that uh, nothingness. And .. there’s nothing wrong with nothing.

[00:12:00] But I was really experiencing that as a lack. As a, just a real problem. And I think that … I don’t know, being able to sort of just live my days a little bit differently for parts of the last couple months, I’ve been able to just like re-learn or refamiliarize myself with the kind of ebbs and flows of my systems and thought processes. Um, to not only experience the blank but actually see, like, the magic’s in there too. All the ingredients are there and really be able to hold that with a new appreciation.

KB: Hm.

R: But my days have often looked very similar in terms of like, I worked at home before. I still am at home in a lot of ways. But my partner’s around more and just like the external world has shifted of course. But yeah, the like – refamiliarizing myself with my own sort of processes – has been uh, impactful I think. 

KB: Spoken like a true poet.

[Laughter]

That’s, that’s me segueing …

[Laughter]

KM: Kayla, those, that was an absolutely beautiful segue. I can’t wait to see where you take this.

R: It’s a perfect segue.

KB: Where could this be going, this conversation?!

So I know you do writing as a PhD student in an academic capacity, but you’ve been writing some poetry too, right?

R: Yeah, yeah. Poetry has been super cool to play with. Kind of like picked it up, laid it down, um over and over the past couple years. Really love it. Uh, but I’ve tried or, I don’t know if I’ve tried but I’ve started to spend more time with it and take it a little bit more seriously the last little while. And that’s been healing and also just fun and exciting. 

I find that related to the chaos, my ideas often come out or even form in fragments. So bite sized pieces that have maybe fallen off of some larger idea. And often I don’t even know necessarily what that big, the whole, is. As the fragments are coming out.

So poetry, just as like a medium, is really supports that sort of like non-linear mess. Both as an aesthetic and also for me as a process.

[00:14:55] So I like I write a lot about hysteria. Uh, coming at it from a couple of different perspectives. And thinking about how it relates to gender and race, and you know, the political economy. Whether it’s in history or sort of in the contemporary context. And if I’m writing about hysteria in an essay or something, then I’ve really gotta lay out my ideas in a linear structure. And piece together my thinking in a way that lines up and makes sense for people. Either chronilogically or thematically. But finding a way to sort it all that just works in terms of communicating.

And poetry lets me arrive somewhere in a more piecemeal way. And I wrote this piece in uh, quarantine about hysteria because I was noticing that – and maybe you notice this too – but just headlines everywhere um, related to Covid-19 that had the word hysteria in it. In the title, or in the you know, in the text itself. In the body of the article.

And I was just so caught on it because it was always used … disconnect … like disconnected from historical context of what, like what – sorry – it was disconnected from context of how hysteria has been used. Um, but what it … what was, what remained the same, um, between the current and historical use of hysteria was that it was supporting conservatives or white supremacist views and positions on things like immigration or global capitalism. Um … sorry, in support of global capitalism.

And poetry um, allowed me to bring the different pieces I saw together. And I like took, you know, words or phrases from a bunch of different articles and started compiling them in a document and didn’t really know what I was saying until the pieces sort of came together and I was able to offer a commentary or counter-thought to the narrative that I was seeing in the articles. Um, but I didn’t really know, yeah, I didn’t really know where I was going until I got there. So this sort of fragmented, um, approach to thinking wasn’t just about presentation but also about process and um, the message that I sort of … not the message … but like the place that I arrived or will say stopped over. 

[00:18:04] Because certainly I’m not stopping there forever. Yeah. It’s been fun. And I also think that there’s a lot of utility in that kind of a broken approach. Um, yeah.

Because it’s like the value of fragments in this current moment um, and every moment because it’s a little bit reflective of what’s actually there and we try to just package stuff in a way that is clean and uh, digestible. But really, like, shit’s complicated always. And our thought processes are complicated, and we sometimes have to – I – sometimes have to make them appear differently. But when we are engaging in conversations about Covid-19, about medical and psychiatric violence, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous violence, these are big conversations and I think that like … the messiness is important when we’re trying to connect with one another and just imagine new ways of being together and taking accountability.

KM: Yeah. That’s uh, really beautiful. I want to come back to uh, what you said about shit being complicated and our thoughts are being complicated. Um, how does leaning into Mad politics, and Mad aesthetics; Crip politics, Crip aesthetics, support the complicated nature of our thoughts, our bodies, our minds – the shit that we currently are living through?

R: Hm. Yeah. I mean, I think in so many ways. Um … so many ways. First of all, just the imagining how we do things from a Mad and Crip position. Understanding of course that there is no, like, um universal Mad or Crip position. Um, that itself, of course, is fragmented. But, that those, that the range of politics and values create spaces um, and processes that are inclusive.

[00:20:55] And to a range of bodies and minds. But that aren’t just inclusive, or maybe it’s that, to be actually inclusive we need … that … to be actually inclusive it’s about also of course engaging in critique about like queer ideas of … if we’re talking about madness … ideas of reason or rationality come from. Or how are different bodies or minds differently surveilled in relation to like all of the other structures and systems of power and violence?

KB: Mhm. Yeah, I know um, you are involved in Crip community in many ways. Creatively and professionally. And I really hope you can tell people a little bit about Crip Rave and what you’ve built in that space and what that, what that is.

R: Yeah! Uh, so, Crip Rave is something myself and Stefana Fratila started. We had our first one in August 2019 as part of Bricks and Glitter. But I met Stefana at, we met at Sick Theories in 2018. And yeah, that was, that community conference and we really like connected, hit it off. And we were hanging at her place sometime afterwards and having a conversation about how we both really love, um, electronic music spaces and rave spaces but also how notably inaccessible they are. And so Stephania is a DJ and a sound artist, and I am not a DJ or a sound artist, but I am a community organizer. So we tossed around um, this really loose version of what Crip Rave ended up being. We were both just super excited about it, you know. Both like the possibility of creating an accessible rave space just tended to the range of people’s needs and desires, you know, like earlier start times, ending earlier as well. You know? Places to sit or stretch on the floor. Having harm reduction supplies out and available. Like a range of things to eat and drink. 

[00:23:51] Just …

KB: As a chronically hangry person that would be a huge draw for me!

R: Hm, yes! And so of course it was important to be thinking about venue space as an um, really important thing. And also thinking about um, what else. Right? Like what else makes a space accessible. Getting in the door, um, and once we’re inside, what do people need. And yeah. Just like imagining what that could be like. And then on top of that, also just like centering Crip and Mad um, sick, deaf, disability, visions about what could be possible when sound and disability come together, right? Like all just like the aesthetics of that, um, not just like including these things into what Rave spaces already are, but also tapping into the possibility of what it could be. Felt like yeah, really moving, um, and exciting um, yeah.

KB: That’s so cool. And I know you got a bit of coverage and people were talking about this when it happened. What was the reception like from the Crip community and beyond?

R: Yeah I mean it was so cool to connect with people at the party and then afterward. It seemed like people were really excited about it. Um, and it seemed like people really loved the party, loved the vibes, the music … um … really were you know, excited about the access and the art and how those things came together. Um, yeah. I think the feedback was super positive and encouraging. We were gonna do uh, a second one in … oh my goodness, was it March or April, I’m lagging right now …

KB: In Covid times.

R: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. We’re going to plan an after party as part of Images Festival, we will hopefully be back in early 2021. Yeah. And we’re excited to just try some new things. Some, like, DJ-ing, and music production, sound production workshops. Um, yeah. Cause like you know, the education and skill sharing feels like a really important piece.

[00:26:27] You know. We know that like disablism impacts who we see on, like, represented on bills. Um, because people’s accessibility needs are just not met. And also, you know, there’s all kinds of other structural stuff that is about people even knowing that this is an option um, and I say this of course, um … also knowing that Crip, Mad, Disabled, Deaf, Sick folks have been experimenting and like crushing sound and music all along. You know? This is like not new. So we’re just sort of trying to contribute to that and be a part of that and build community and connect with community that already exists.

KM: When it comes to, um, Crip community, Disabled bodies, Disabled minds, Mad folks, Deaf folks, Chronically Ill folks, often times we experience a lot of inclusion – er, we experience a lot of exclusion – and we know how to name that, we can say a building with stairs or washrooms that are inaccessible or even uh, gender specific washrooms. But inclusion is kind of hard to name with a checklist but, you know when you feel included. As a community organizer with Crip Rave specifically, what ways do you ensure that your community feels included? 

R: Such an important question. And … you know, the first thing that comes to my mind is that work is just never done. And I don’t say that as an excuse, it’s just the reality that it’s never done. The process feels never done for me anyways of the reassessing, always how a space has been inclusive or exclusive and then finding ways to respond to that, um, you know? Like at, at the first Crip Rave um, we realized that when we were in the space, just the … you know, the, the range of access needs and in terms of sound volume being one example, right? 

And supporting what felt um, what was necessary for people to be in that space and feel safest and had most access to it in terms of the sound volume.

[00:30:03] And so sound was not – we ran into this thing where the sound was too loud, and at the same time it also wasn’t loud enough depending on what people needed. And we realized that we forgot to get ear plugs. You know what I mean? That was just like … how did we forget to get ear plugs? Um, when I go out I always take ear plugs with me. And so that I can sort of even just you know, put them in, take them out, depending on how I’m feeling. And so in that moment my partner was just like ran to Shoppers and got like a bunch of ear plugs. But you know, sometimes you can’t respond in the moment um, that just won’t be good enough. Sometimes you can. But I think what feels important is just always reassessing and listening and knowing that there’s always, there’s always more work to be done, right? 

Um, because accessibility is different for all of us, but it’s also different um, often like for me, what’s, what I, what my accessibility needs are one moment are different from the next. And it I think that like, ongoing community dialogue and also working with different people for different events, um, and as the project grows we learn more about what um, what we’re doing and how to do it. I think that that’s sort of just the work of the process. Um, yeah. Like still have lots of work to do around like Deaf accessibility. Um, that’s a huge piece that we’re sort of still thinking about and have – and need to make connections around – and uh, there’s others, yeah. Totally. Other things that are work in progress.

Yeah. It just also feels important to be like, as part of the process to be contemplating what accountability means too when we just inevitably um, mess up or cause harm. Uh, yeah. That’s a really important question.

KB: And yeah, just, just I think being humble enough to recognize that we’re all gonna mess up and all we need – not all we need to do – but the best way we can respond is to say like Oh, thanks for letting me know. I’ve made a note of that and we’re gonna do better next time, how can I help?

[00:32:56] R: Totally. Yes, absolutely. And not airing your guilt to the person who speaks up or .., um, ‘cause that’s always such a generous thing to be told how you can do better next time. It’s like, the risk that people take on to actually give you that information … yeah.

KM: I think because our society, we don’t really have any systems in place to hold people accountable that isn’t punishment. And so, we don’t as humans, like – accountability isn’t an equal to punishment. And punishment isn’t an equal to accountability. And I think um, Crip community is kind of leading the way of what it looks like to be accountable to shortcomings and learnings. Um, and I think it just, it – even in our holding ourselves accountable – we need to hold ourselves accountable but that’s gonna fall short at some point too. And just leaning into the fact that this work is a never-ending process and that’s what’s great about it, because there’s always more for all of us to grow. And there’s kind of that helpful idea in being held accountable, that there is room to improve and room to do better by both ourselves and our communities.

R: Totally. It resonates so powerfully for me. And the knowledge that – and skills – that we can share between uh, communities, right? Like, you know, having like all of the incredible conversation right now around defunding the police. And … imagining other ways for yeah, like justice and accountability. And like, Black Indigenous Women of Colour have been doing these processes and thinking these thoughts, um, for so long. And certainly Mad and Crip Black Indigenous women of colour, and so the opportunities to yeah … just for dialogue, for conversation, for like … just, exchange and also just like noticing, tending to, yeah – like the intersections of all of this stuff right?

KB: Yeah so we’ve just got a couple questions left for you today. Um, and I have been so inspired by you since we first met which was almost two years ago now. I was co-facilitating a digital storytelling workshop with the ReVision Centre out of the University of Guelph, and you were a participant in that space. And you made an absolutely stunning film that I know went onto be shown in film festivals. 

[00:36:12] Um … you know, a person of many talents. Do you want to share with our readers and listeners what that was all about?

R: Yes, that was the best! That workshop or few days of learning was so special for me. Meeting you and like the rest of the crew was just, yeah. It really was the best. First time in Guelph too, and what a beautiful campus! Yes. Um, so many trees. It was really beautiful. Even though it was also December, but I remember there were definitely leaves on the trees.

KB: Weren’t you filming outside in the snow?

R: That’s exactly it. I was. Yeah. Uh … so that digital story, yeah, submitted it to a couple of film festivals, it played at the Montreal Feminist Film Festival. And one in Oaxaca, Mexico, which was really exciting for me, my first film festival. And that was great. The, it was called Painful Perception, and it was basically I just put moving image to uh, a poem that I had written. And it was related to my experience uh, with like gender and chronic vulva pain. Vulvodynia. And thinking through some of those pieces, the way that pain has shifted my perspective in different ways. Both in ways that have been generative and awesome and other ways that have been really tough and lots of overlap as usual. But, that was uh, that was cool.

I mean, also that workshop was also really neat for me because just how accessible I found it. Like with the way my mind operates, sometimes computer programs and stuff I’m just like nope. That, they don’t work for me. I don’t do that, I can’t learn that. I didn’t learn how to download a song on the internet until well, ever really.

KB: Why are – I don’t know her. Like …

R: This is it, really, truly I didn’t do it and I should have, trust me, just based on when I grew up and what was happening at that time.

[00:38:55] But I was just like no, I can’t, I don’t know how. So the thought of learning Final Cut Pro was just impossible. But it felt super possible with the support and just like the way things were set up. Um, yeah. I loved it. And also really am excited to incorporate film or video um, again with my work. And just wouldn’t have even considered that as an option without having um, visited the ReVision Centre and worked with you folks.

But, I don’t know. I like … I feel like I have my, I have like 1 toe in multiple different buckets. And like yeah, my practice feels just as sort of fragmented as my thoughts. And that is both fun and exciting and also just like makes me get to feel like a little bit of a fraud in everything. 

KB: Yeah, the imposter syndrome is real.

R: Oh, it is like the realest shit ever.

And I could be like yeah, it’s not real, it’s fine. And it is fine – and also, it’s like – who am I trying to kid? You know? Um … yeah. 

KM: But also like somebody reframed this to me quite a few years ago when I was talking about my own imposter syndrome. And they were like Yeah, but like imposter syndrome can be reframed as a really good thing because it means that you have space to grow in the space that you are already occupying. So it’s like, where you are taking up space allows you to grow. 

And I think this idea that we need to like, overcome imposter syndrome or be in places that don’t make us feel like imposters, it’s like what if we just leaned into what an offering of being in a room that made us feel like we had to grow could offer our personal growth?

R: Yes.

KB: Yes!

R: And also offer community even when we are not like, when we’re not pretending to be experts or think we’re experts. Um .. yeah, I love that so much. Like, because I am so much more likely to listen when I’m not so sure of myself. I was actually getting some education, so I’m a social worker, and was starting up a like, starting to see clients in a counselling practice. And I was getting some extra education around that from someone who’s been doing it for a long time.

[00:41:56] And was talking about some of these feelings around imposter and insecure and very similar to what you’re saying, Kristina, you know, she shared that it’s really good to be insecure um, when you’re offering uh, care or um a service to somebody that involves a high level of trust um, and I really loved that. Because I don’t know, I have a really complicated relationship to just social work in general and all of the related practices of like counselling and psychotherapy and just because of the, like, violence that is also connected to um, quote unquote, helping professionals, right? 

Um … yeah. I mean, just like – the amount of harm is unreal. But I thought that was a cool piece of feedback around insecurity, uh, as like unethical in some ways.

KB: Yeah, that’s really cool. Yeah, Kristina your comments and Renee’s, yours too, reminded me I saw imposter syndrome reframed another way which was if you’re in a space or relationship with folks and you feel like an imposter, it’s like, well don’t you trust them? Like whether it’s your mentor or your peers or your teacher? They probably asked you to be there. Like they want you to be there because they believe in you whether it’s your current ability or your potential to grow. It’s not an accident. It’s not like you stumbled into something – chances are, right? So if you can reframe your faith in your community and your mentors, as well, then it’s a way to kind of like reverse engineer your own confidence.

R: I mean I gotta tell you, this is just like great in terms of my own feelings around you asking me to be on this podcast. Cause I was like mm … are you sure?!

KB: Oh my God, stop.

R: That’s really, that’s really awesome.

KB: Yeah, the honour is ours.

R: No, all mine.

KM: Truly.

So Renee, we talked a lot about arts and community and a little bit about academia, and yourself and your process. What is your dream for the spaces that you occupy? What would you like to see in a vision in the future for art spaces, for Crip Rave Spaces, or academia or social work? What is the dream?

[00:45:07] R: Ooh. Really small question, though. That’s uh … [laughter] ah! I mean, I don’t … there certainly isn’t one answer for that. But there’s also not one answer for those spaces. Um, my dream for some of those things you mentioned is like, that they wouldn’t exist anymore, you know what I mean? Um, and for other things that they just like, that we’d all invest in them, you know? I’m being vague on purpose there. But the … the uh, yeah. I … listening to, I think the thing that ties it together though for me right now in this moment anyways is listening to each other’s dreams. 

Um … that feels like a necessary point of, or part of uh … a collaborative praxis. That, I think we’ve been talking about. Like you know, listening. Um … and I think that’s continues to be a big part of it. But also like listening in the active sense, right? Like listening and responding and not just taking and listening, um, but like what do we do about it? 

And yeah, like coming full circle with the fragments, um, holding all of the fragments about the, in terms of the answers, that will inevitably come from that, um … and then listening some more. to all of the Crip, Mad, Queer, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour answers to the question of how we hold all those fragments and be together and build together. Uh … for me, so much of that is about like building the skills to just bear the unbearable in terms of, yeah, just all of the unbearable, you know? 

And just some of the awkwardness and discomfort and uncertainty. 

[00:47:52] Cause those things actually just like, really can take over. And my work right now is about like digging into those things in a way that is, like how to show up in the spaces that I organize or think in or just like, you know, love in. Both like political spaces or arts spaces or even just like you know, relationships with my most intimate and cherished people. Um, how do I do that, how do I do those things from a place of like real vulnerability and not performed vulnerability. 

Yeah because I feel like that is in fashion right now, vulnerability, to some degree. And that’s amazing, it’s awesome, truly. And when anything becomes really popularized, it also becomes corporatized and capitalized on and then we lose, we lose it, right? It’s the same with diversity and inclusion to a lot of like … it’s the same with diversity and inclusion um, in a lot of ways. In a lot of spaces. Like those things are necessary and politically critical. And then they also become like selling points, or like how company gets, you know, goodwill. 

KB: Or like when a bank has a pride float.

R: Like yes, right?! [laughter]

KB: It’s like “brought to you by …”

R: Yeah! And becomes the actual tool to how dominance gets reinforced, right? So for me it’s like ok, well vulnerability, how do I do that honestly. Because I can only start with you know, what I can do. Um … in terms of I don’t have the answers for anybody else. 

KB: Right.

R: Yeah. I mean … yeah.

KB: And so in spite of all these struggles and tensions, and these unprecedented times, quite simply, what is bringing you joy right now?

R: Yeah … so I got a dog. 

KB: Oh!! What’s their name?

R: Like, at the end of May. Bernadette. She’s like a Boxador, um, sorry – Boxador, so a Labrador-Boxer. 

KM: Oh my God, I love her.

R: I know, I love her so much. And I am truly the least suspecting person to ever get a dog, couldn’t have been more indifferent about dogs up until May 27th or whenever I got her.

[00:50:50] And then was just kind of joking, we actually babysat my partner’s um, like a colleague of my partner’s, um, dog last year. And I started to joke about it since then. And then it got real serious after being home for a couple of months. Anyhow, so I got her, she’s great. She really likes bring me so much joy. I find I; we go to the dog park every day and I have grown to like look forward to it so much for so many reasons. It brings me into my body in ways that feel good. Um, and also like, such a little microculture there. Like I go and I see people …

KB: Dog park culture.

R: Yes! It’s fascinating. I’ll go and see people who I see sometimes several times a week. I don’t know their names, but I know their dog’s names. And I notice I’m the least judgmental version of myself when I’m there. I’ve just, I have beautiful thoughts about people, and I get to hang out with people who I wouldn’t normally see probably, it’s ah, really cool. And as I go back into, you know as things start to pick up, the last few weeks have picked up a bit, and some of these, some of the awesomeness I tapped into over the last few months at different points has felt farther and farther away. And I’m like really wanting to hold onto that, also realizing the sort of structural pieces around why it’s difficult to do that are real. But I think that just joy and wasting time—I don’t think it’s actually wasted time, but like wasting time according to some people’s standards—is such an important thing to do. And my dog really gives me no choice but to do that actually. Cause she just wants to hang out and flick a ball, you know? 

[Jazz music]

KB: Crip Times is presented as part of the Wheels on the Ground Podcast Network. This podcast is produced by us, and supported by Tangled Art + Disability and Bodies in Translation. If you enjoyed this interview, we release new episodes every Monday wherever good podcasts can be found. 

[Jazz music outro]

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