Hahihay

Hey blog. I didn’t think I’d be back this soon. I stopped writing as I felt I had outgrown the medium. It was part of an old life and identity that I wanted to move away from. I did think I’d do a Christmas post on how well I’ve done but that was the only intention. A little time ago I realised I missed writing in English and had nowhere to do it. Still, l didn’t come back – the earlier points remained valid. I didn’t want to write like I used to write. I wanted different.

Now, however, back with the most throwback post imaginable, coming from the fresh and less fresh depths of misery.

This August has been shit. It’s been shit like no August before. It’s so shit that that we are not talking of dog poo but an entire binload of elephant poo.

Last night was nostalgic. I hadn’t been depressed or truly anxious for a long time in the way that used to be a monthly occurrence in my previous life. Lying in bed in a state of immbolity but mind racing, heart pounding, no thought, just pain. Even the tranquilizers did not help. I felt like on stimulants. I got up and walked to the window and remembered how these states used to be so frequent before. Then they disappeared and since last December I’ve been mostly depression-free with negligible anxiety episodes.

But right now, all the old stuff is right back here with me. The desire to stop existing. Not caring. The thought that it’d be better for everyone and a solution to many problems if I stopped being. Usually thoughts of my cat would interfere with this line but not this time. I knew she’d be alright and well-looked after and wouldn’t miss me all that much. Just thoughts.

Today, the physical passivity and inner anxiety has turned to bouts of crying and not being able to eat. Or when managing the brave feat, crying straight into my stew. Also old familiars.

For a while now, I experience an absurd tendency to cling to things of the past, even the bad and trivial ones. They are familar, secure and don’t seem half as bad from my current perspective. Nature and the videos of Elton John have been my few comforts.

The other day I got myself new earphones. The last ones had broken from excessive use. What I did: I didn’t have the heart to throw the old ones away because I had spent so many happy hours with them. My sentimentality and nostalgia are skyrocketing because the thing I’ve wanted more than anything else has been for my old life back, the quiet upward journey I was making out of the social deprivation and into the light, which sadly got interrupted.

I need help very much but there is no one to turn to. The local mental health professionals are not to my taste and I don’t think I even need a professional. Just someone like myself who gets it. And doctors won’t and can’t do nothing because it is not drugs but understanding I’d like to find. I knew the stress I’ve lived with for a long time would cause something to snap eventually and I guess that was the snap.

Maybe I feared worse. This is getting off lightly because it is familiar. Misery like that. It’s not getting off though. It’s like Act 1, Scene 5. There’s loads and worse of it ahead. I’m afraid.

I feel very bad, but I also know that once it won’t be elephant poo any more, I will be an altered person, whether worse or better I do not know. Some people might have noticed a few early signs already, like my reduced fear of things I used to fear. Much has become insignificant that seemed a big deal and vice versa.

The biggest of the lot is that I don’t care about my social anxiety half as much any more. It’s peripheral now. And this, I guess, is some positive side-effect of having your life turned to elephant shit.

Goodbye, everybody

And good luck.

It was really beautiful that night and I was still old. Now I’m new. I thought it’s a myth: that last drop, that last straw, until it happens to you.

This chapter and this blog have run their course for me.

Some more films

The Father

Very good. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone, but especially those dealing with – and being frustrated with – their declining elderly family members. It doesn’t much matter if it is Alzheimer’s or something else. It’s very good at making you look at it from the perspective of the old and frail. It lets a person try on the shoes many might not naturally be inclined to try on because the gap between health and old-age-related illnesses is quite big. This film makes one feel how it ultimately doesn’t matter. Fear and anxiety are always there, it doesn’t matter that reality differs and memory is poor. It’s not a totally gloomy film. It’s deeply sad, but there’s a lot of love in there from the daughter to the father. For me, there was even some lightness. At the start I thought Anthony was just a loveable eccentric man. I also loved the sunlit apartment. It gave me comforting vibes.

Million Dollar Baby

Also very good. Stayed with me a while. I like these stories about different kinds of love, not just the romantic kind. I didn’t expect it to end the way it did, of course. I was expecting typical sports film tropes but as such it is definitely more interesting, albeit much less cuddly. Very good supporting characters too.

Cinderella Man

That’s a cuddly sports film. In the sense that it ends happily and the hero triumphs. Boxing, poverty and hardship aren’t so cuddly.

The Insider

This one has a good Gladiatoresque soundtrack, which doesn’t seem to fit the film. It’s a relatively modern-day sacrifice and justice film, but quite realistic in characterisation. There’s people trying to fight the system (tobacco firms) as it continually shows itself to be more powerful than them, they are afraid, they are weak and they lose much by it. Let’s say: they aren’t heroed up. At least the chemist isn’t.

 

This disease and other things

I miss going to the pool.

I managed the entire winter not missing it at all, not even thinking of the lack, but last two weeks I’ve felt very out of my balance point. There’s a lot of anxiety and even suicidial ideation. At the same time, it feels foreign. It is not me that thinks or feels it, but it is an imbalance, a disease outside of my identity. This makes it a little easier to handle. You can dismiss it because it has little personal source. You can think of it as a very bad viral infection that will go away by next week.

Meanwhile. I got very excited about filming a little video story. It started as I saw a scene in a music video that made me go “that’s so me!”. Then I thought I’ll restage it for a laugh. Then I thought: why just that part, I’ll do it longer. Followed by: I’ll do it as best as I possibly can and do a whole story, with costumes and everything. I don’t know how to film and edit, of course, but it’ll be fun.

It was enlightening to realise some things in relation to it. In spite of my excitement, I kept trying to veto this plan. It’s going to take a lot of resource, in time, some in money, but mostly time. I have better things to put my energy into. I have to write to get better at it. I have to read to get better at writing. I can’t be dillydallying. This is silly.

Then again. Every moment of it, from planning my outfits to camera angles, I’d be in a state of happy flow. I love doing useless things that mean nothing. That don’t lead to anything. That don’t have to be anything but what they are. Also, cosplayers spend a lot of hours on their outfits too. Why can’t I?

I have taken the lightness out of writing for myself. I see it as my only way out. The only thing that could save me that I have any control over. It has become a thing I should do. One of those adult things, responsible things. While dressing up as a footballer or Veronika Lake is childish, silly and irresponsible but really great fun. I figured I’d choose fun and try to learn from it, as it so accidentally landed on my lap.

Writing this, the very bad brain virus is doing its work. I tried to write to escape it a little, without having much to write about. It worried me a little at one point too. If a hormonal imbalance can cause me to have suicidial thoughts while not having been particularly depressed before, suppose it got worse, suppose I was badly depressed beforehand? It’s very annoying, this skinless state where every unsmooth corner hurts and only very soft things are safe. Underneath it I feel my old happy mood though. That’s what makes it feel like a disease. I know it’s a surface thing I just need to go through, not something that had roots or meaning.

 

High spirits

Where does a good mood end and hypomania begin? I’m not quite sure anybody knows but I do know I’ve been walking on that line the last two days.

Today I was thinking that perhaps it isn’t so bad to be able to do so little useful in these moods. It’s a celebration. Isn’t it after all perfectly natural that I’d want to celebrate getting a pause from depression sometimes?

I went for a starlight walk by the seaside, remnants of snow were still hanging around by the road. It’s the 16th of March. This means there’s only a month more of winter. I felt sorry for the first time in my adult life, if not for the first time in my entire life, that the winter is leaving us. It’s been my spring. I’m going to miss that time. Once in the future when all the things I now feel are within my reach have turned out to be phantoms and castles of air.

Please don’t, of course. Leave me some.

Hehe.

wahgahjaphjsph

I’ve been feeling very restless since Friday, grumpy, irritable, unable to do anything but unable to sit still. I had no idea what caused it at first, but later figured it’s an excess of my amazon energy (I’ve switched to that term over saying masculine energy because I’m about as masculine as a tomato). I haven’t had a struggle in a while and I’m somewhat used to there always being some serious unpleasantness breathing down my neck. So when there isn’t, when all I can do is sit back and be chill, some days my brain starts missing my battles.

It’s not a healthy longing but there it is. I only cheered up this morning when I remembered I could make myself a boat licence and discovered they had course material up online. Then I wrestled with that some, full of spirit and dreams, but it seemed so hard for a total outsider to enter into that world, so the excitement soon wore off and was replaced with the conclusion that a paddle board is my limit.

On a good, even great and awesome, note: I discovered I got a button to turn off anxious responses. I cannot use it, of course, but who’d have thought I even had it? It’s like this: I start thinking of something I want to do, then a cascade of anxiety drowns it out, I’m terrified and decide “I can’t do that, oh no way!”, and then, one time I glimpsed a new path, a path that completely cut the anxiety and made me feel brave and able. Just a switch of a button and the thought changes, with a parallel road opening up.

This vision has appeared to me twice recently. It’s no more than a pretty vision at this point, I cannot press that button to take that path, but it’s a new hope. I’m so very convinced that recovery has to be a bottom-up process. I could never have made any progress with my social anxiety if I didn’t build up confidence first. It was always completely ineffective, these countless times I told myself “You be brave, you talk more, don’t be a coward, don’t be shy, you go and do this hard thing”. It never worked. I tried and I failed or immediately went back to the same level after my feat of bravery. It was just operating on a fight or flight mode. It wasn’t doing anything to the source of my fear. Now when I’ve dealt with the roots of it for the past years, things are showing improvement. Not massive great improvement, of course, but it’s at least hopeful.

Also and furthermore: I haven’t been depressed since December. I remember how astonished I was last summer about getting a depression-free month. Now I’m going on my fourth month and I don’t know which is the normality any more. Is that a good thing?

Back in June I was certain I’d be losing it and pinched myself every day – mentally – not believing it is still there. Maybe I did that in December or January, but I’ve stopped by now. I still don’t dare to think it will last because I’ve been struggling with depression my entire adult life, but there are moments when this depression-free state feels like the new normality, whereas the times of depression have acquired the taste of slight alienness. Oh, I remember them well, but there’s an element of looking back sometimes.

Of course I still feel negative emotions and anxiety but that’s a different matter and much more bearable because it doesn’t last very long.

I think I just have to keep myself away from new “battles”. I’m quite certain I’d be depressed in no time if I started car school in April.

All this is awesome progress. There’s been regress too. What started out as an effective strategy of not worrying about exams or presentations in advance, by blocking them out of my mind until relevant, has turned into excessive avoidant behaviour with all things I consider potentially emotionally impactful. I simply won’t do them. I push them far far far into the future, ignore them and excuse this behaviour with whatever excuse is available “I’m too happy today to be dealing with THAT” or “I’m anxious as is, I don’t want THAT on top of things”. This sort of thing has gone too far. It’s not good I push going to buy glasses forward a year or don’t read an e-mail I fear I may not like for two weeks. I understand why this behaviour developed. It was the only way to stay sane under heavy stress, but it’s gone too far. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like the most pressing fault, even if there’s a lot to be said in favour of getting unpleasant things over and done with quickly.

Such news to report now.

World

I’ve been reading a lot of adventure stories lately and one of the most striking things is the contrast between the flourishing wildlife and resource of the bygone eras and the pollution and shortage of the world of today.

It wasn’t that long ago when people could drink from streams without special straws, catch fish without a care about toxins, while animals, trees, birds and bees, with few exceptions, thrived. People took from nature what nature could cope with losing.

I read these parts of these novels with a mix of joy about the plentiful world that was described, but also sadness. It’s definitely been one of the biggest eye-openers – not that I needed it – so let’s say illustrations – of where we were and what we have lost.

In Robinson Crusoe, he is afraid to land in a specific part of Africa because wild beasts rule the land there. This is the single most memorable part of that book to me. It’s fascinating to contemplate a world where humans had not quite enslaved wildlife and made it cuddly.

 

 

East of Eden

Can I say I liked it, when on its last hundred pages I wanted it to end so I could go back to reading some cozy sea adventures instead?

I certainly didn’t dislike it, but I do have mixed feelings. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a 7/10.

What were my problems?

  • Characterisation is too much in the service of the idea. It’s a philosophical novel with Biblical themes of good and evil, free will and the story of Cain and Abel, but it is very in your face. I’d have preferred suggestion. One mention of it would have been enough.
  • Too much appears staged.
  • I found the ending to be weak because it sounded like a litarary ending. Like literature, not life. It felt like a Shakespearan scene. What fits on a theatre stage and in a different type of novel, just felt a little dated and off in this one.
  • It’s too male for me. I know I’m making myself vulnerable to being called sexist whether I try to explain myself or not, so I might as well say a little. It did not read to me like a story of universal human experience. It read to me like the story of a specific type of American male experience. The world does not seem that bleak and violent to me. He writes with tenderness, but it’s a brutal world he gives the reader. I also caught misogynist undertones. I found the statement, however it was meant, that a man went through (spent? quoting from memory) three wives in his lifetime, to be very jarring. There were other similar stuff. I read up on it to see if other people had found it to be so, and some did. I also came upon the usual argument that he was writing in his time. Fair enough but I’m not sure that’s a sufficient explantion. Some things can be explained with it, but I wouldn’t explain Steinbeck that way. I’ve always believed much less in time’s influence than most people. Since it is not possible to perform a psychological experiment with people from 1850, 1950 and 2020, I remain skeptical about cultural impact on sexist attitudes being as substantial as it is alleged to be. I rather believe – believe! – that human nature is the single most important factor. Meredith wrote in the 19th century but he gives me zero misogynist vibes – quite the contrary. If a person is thoughtful and sensitive, capable of putting themselves in another’s shoes, and nothing has caused them to malform in any direction, living in the 19th century does not make anyone by default more sexist than the people of today. It is rather that today it’s going to end badly for you if you express it. Culturally it probably runs too deep, so a century does little. People remain people. Mouldable superficially but quite alike through time at their cores. So yes, I cannot relate well to this type of masculinity and its way of looking at the world. And I do believe it is a male thing: stoicism, restrictive emotionality, the only emotion allowed to be fully expressed: anger. There’s a lot of that in East of Eden, a lot of frustrated unexpressed love, too little open tenderness and open kindness. Everything good is repressed, thwarted or restrained. The women in it are either marginal or evil as well, but I don’t think that is an argument for anything. Its “maleness” is in the general portrayal and attitudes.
  • I felt that the idea that there is good and evil both in people wasn’t very well lived out in the novel. None of the good characters seemed to get anywhere with themselves. For the author, being a mix of good and evil, recognising it in yourself, seems to have been the ideal state a human being could be in, whereas being like Aron, more or less fully good, made him unfit for life. I think this is an excessively negative take on humanity. When I look around, there’s people who are truly good, truly bad and mixes. I think perhaps it is important for the ones who want to be good but feel they are bad to realise that many are like them and struggle just as them and they have a choice to do good. It could have been about that. That’d have made sense. Les Miserables makes that point. But the way the ending left me feeling was that everyone is mixed. I don’t believe it. My experience of people is different.
  • I don’t think Adam is as good as the narrative seems to suggest. How could he be so blind otherwise to what he was doing to Cal? How could he refuse his gift so cruelly and not recall his own father and rivalry with Charles? No, a truly good person would be able to put themselves in Cal’s shoes and not crush him. In that scene he is a destructive patriarch just like his father. Samuel and Lee were good. Maybe I confuse wisdom and goodness? Dunno.

Overall, the experience of reading East of Eden wasn’t unlike drinking green tea or eating goji berries. I may know these foods are healthy and wholesome, and like them well enough, but I’d much rather eat apple pie.

I might read Grapes of Wrath at one point later, I always wanted to read that and it seems a bit different, but I don’t think I will read anything else by Steinbeck. He just doesn’t write for the likes of me.

I will add things I liked to balance things out a bit: loved the descriptions, the valley, some narrative techniques were good, quite gripping, there were places where I couldn’t put it down, Lee was very likeable for the most part.

It’s good as a novel. I just cannot connect to its worldview.

Flightiness

I’ve for a long time seen myself as a bit of a fickle person. Someone that can go from adoring to indifference within a short space of time. I’ve learnt not trust any of my infatuations. Being so intense, everything just burns up fast. It’s to be feared and expected.

Obviously, it’s not a trait I enjoyed having, it gives me much grief. When it isn’t books or actors, but real people, it’s a terrible trait to possess. I try my best to behave, hoping no one gets the wrong end of the stick. I have for a long time had a two-month-rule, after which an infatuation might be investigated instead of dismissed outright, but before that, I must just behave myself, goddamit. I’m not very good at this. Sometimes I feel like there’s little I was very good at except bad things.

So the other day I got thinking contrarily. Wait one millisecond here. You say you’re flighty. Right now your favourite actors might be these two, but give you a Charlton Heston movie and it’s not much different even if you’re out of the active adoration phase. Um. Hmm. Yes! I love Charlton Heston just as before. And it seems that most of the actors I once enjoyed watching on screen, I still enjoy: Marcello Mastroianni, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe. The only ones who have lost that extra something would be Leslie Howard and Lauerence Olivier. I’m not sure why, but it is so.

Music. I never thought I’d be loving Elton John’s music as long as I have. It’s given me so much pleasure and comfort. I remember the times different songs came into my life and the places, seasons or people they now take me back to. Some good, some bad. But always, always, I’ve been afraid it won’t last. I was afraid of it in September and told myself to quit listening to him until spring. I quite failed in this (I needed my top cream cake to get me through school) but it hasn’t changed the adoration. I’ve had some weeks of not listening to any music but these have been short spells. Right now I’m trying to find something else to listen to until spring again, because I really don’t want to lose it. I suppose it explains why I take five years to finish Jean-Christophe too. And other mysterious behaviour normal people don’t understand and would find eccentric.

It’s like my good moods. I’m so afraid of losing them that every day I have more of it, I’m astonished, but I have less control, so I can do nothing to make it stay longer. With books and things, I can a bit.

Coming back to flightiness. I’ve been a fan of a few other musicians besides Elton John, mostly in teens and very early adulthood. Morrissey was my last at the age of 19-22. Most of them I’m always happy to rediscover. It’s fun how one still knows all the lyrics by heart. They don’t quite hold the same power over me as they did in the old days, but some of it is still there. Right now I’m listening to one of my high school favourites, Oasis, and thinking Slide Away is so very good, now replaying it for the 10th time or thereabouts. Gone much?

And with people, it’s also often true. Some of it is usually still there. I have soft spots for most people that meant something to me and did not disillusion or disappoint me to the point of no repair. It isn’t flightiness, but rather having the feeling settle down more to normal human being levels. I can’t really say I grow indifferent, as I thought I did, it is only the extremes that go. Seems such an obvious thing really, but I hadn’t thought of it so before and was feeling quite judgemental about myself.

So it’s not so much what happens after that I should feel guilty about, but rather continue to try and govern my extremes to the best of my pathetic ability.

 

Chatter

What do I write about when complicated topics are off the table?

Maybe the films I’ve recently seen.

1. 84 Charing Cross Road – I liked it, but not very much.  I didn’t understand how and why a connection developed between these two penfriends. I was told and shown it did, but I wasn’t convinced by the words exchanged between them. Their allegedly shared sense of humour surprised me because one never really sees it. I mostly liked it for the sweet concept. It made me want to take up letter-writing again. Not for romance-purposes with a British bookseller, but rather for the charm that can be put into letters and received in return. The delightfulness of the entire process. It’s like slow-cooking on a wood stove compared to instant food. And the beauty of lasting friendship and goodwill are the best things in the world methinks.

2. How to Marry a Millionnaire – that was alright too, but not all that engaging. I only really liked Marilyn’s character’s hatred of wearing glasses because chuckle, I’m the same.

3. LA Confidential – not my usual type of movie, but I don’t pick my films for respectable reasons these days and did enjoy it quite a lot. A little too fast-paced sometimes. Liked the song in it, too (Kay Starr’s Wheel of Fortune). Potentially would rewatch it.

4. 3:10 to Yuma – nice old-style modern Western. Of course I liked it. A lot of people had difficulty with the ending, but to me it felt perfectly natural.

5. State of Play – this is very far from my usual cups of tea, and since I watched it at four o’clock in the morning, I got distracted sometimes and did other things but it was still reasonably engaging and watchable, all things considered.