Monthly Archives: July 2012

Be jealous, I get to go to a concert

I seem to have gotten worse at getting these done without a clear idea of what I’m writing beforehand. The thirty minutes to post idea worked well for that, but I don’t like the idea of doing it with a timer anymore. I kept having to start it again and figure out the negative time I had left. Instead of doing that, I’m just going to ramble. I’m pretty sure if I let myself skip a whole week my blog will die, and apparently some people like my blog.

I’ve been pretty bad at working on my music for the past week or so. I keep opening it up and just staring at it for hours before closing it again. I’m worried that because of the lost time, my goal will be impossible. Unless…what if I really embrace the assignment aspect and pull all-nighters? I’m sure that would lead to some interesting/trippy/stupid lyrics.

In other news, I have tickets to see The Fratellis in September and I’m super-excited. I wasn’t even expecting them to get back together, let alone to be able see them if they did. So for the past couple of days I’ve just been listening to their albums and, when no one else is in the house, dancing to it. I almost never dance, and I look really stupid doing it, so I need to make sure no one else will see. This weekend will be dangerous though. I have a friend here who wants to catch me in the act.

And, for the most important news, 39 days, 15 hours, and 37 minutes until I’m back in the UK.


Hey, listen!

At the end of 2011, I wrote an essay about Ligeti’s Atmosphères. It might turn up here someday. Right now you should just listen to this. When I first heard it, I had no idea what to think, but then I listened to it a zillion times because I was writing about it, and now I love it.


I don’t have monsters in my head

Sorry for this being a day late. This post has been difficult to write, and has the distinction of being the only post on here that I did not write in one sitting. Aside from writing it, the decision whether to post this was a hard one, as I know it will make people I know worry about me. Please don’t. I’ve been managing so far, and there’s no reason to believe that I won’t continue to be okay.

—–

I have had a list of diagnoses for the past six years of my life. Obviously that length of time is nothing to a lot of people, but for me, at twenty, it encompasses most of what I remember about my life. Actually, I have large gaps in my memory, so I don’t even remember most of that. If you ask me about the past two years, I’ll probably remember it, but before that there are just snippets. Most of those make me hope nothing ever comes back. I also don’t remember much of February through May, so if I started talking to you beyond pleasantries and became friends with you then, if I tell you the same stories or forget things about you, I’m sorry. I’m pretty sure I was paying attention when it came up the first time.

One thing I do remember from before six years ago is sitting on the floor of the living room with a new issue of Time looking at the cover story about children with bipolar disorder and wondering what it was like to have it. Now it seems like everyone wants me not just to idly imagine, but strive for, life without it. I mean, they don’t say it that way because that would be stupid. You don’t “cure” bipolar disorder.

I’ve said before that I’m not on medication by choice. It works for me. Bipolar disorder generally manifests in cycles and I’ve been pretty aware of when I need to pay closer attention to my moods. This year was different. My least functional time occurred in the spring, as usual, but the intensity of everything was turned up to eleven. As far as anyone can tell so far, it’s probably stress exacerbating it. I started talking to doctors about a month and a half ago. In one appointment, I was asked “Why didn’t you talk to anyone in November, when you first became aware of problems?” I didn’t really answer the question, but it’s because the good reasons to have never outweighed the bad. Ever.

I remember as a teenager being under constant surveillance, ultimately not having a say in my treatment, and most of all, people’s comments. A lot of people didn’t even try to hide that they thought I had no future, that I was a burden on my parents, but the most egregious was from a therapist I was seeing when I was 18. I wasn’t having real problems, just trying to figure out what I was doing with myself over a gap year. I’d seen her before, so she knew my history. She thought I was doing great until I came in having decided to go back to uni. There was an instant switch and she told me I was just going to end up on disability anyways so I shouldn’t take out the loans or go anywhere far away from my parents. I always tell the story about her in outraged tones, but honestly it’s hard to feel shocked by it. It’s more of what I’ve been hearing since I was fourteen, just stated more bluntly. It’s the microaggressions, the constant reminders that my brain is different, that there is something “wrong” with me. I know most of you don’t consciously think of me as being broken or different or any of those things, but when you make comments about how my brain is “interesting,” that I’m just sick, that bipolar disorder or any other of those diagnoses I have is just an affliction, well, it hurts.

Because they’re not these monsters in my brain. They’re part of who I am. Try and separate me from them, and unless you’re related to me, you probably wouldn’t know me. If I had no anxiety, I might be better at social situations, and I might have grown up with more friends I’d originally met in person. If I hadn’t been hospitalised I might have stayed more in touch with the ones I did meet in person, and I probably wouldn’t have gone to uni when I was sixteen. The music I compose would be different, or maybe I wouldn’t compose, because the albums that inspired me meant so much because the feelings that connected me to them would be different. Because of everything that happened as a teenager, I have felt a constant need to leave the country, get as far away from where I grew up as possible. And I did. I feel better outside America. How can these diagnoses not be who I am if they have visibly affected the last six years of my life to the point where I live in a different country?

But still, whenever I bring up a problem remotely related to my mental health, whenever I feel suicidal, or like self-harming, if I tell anyone, the first response is always “See a doctor,” or “take this pill.” When I consider telling anyone anything, I am risking losing the trust and support of everyone around me. People tend to either pull away or get too close when mental health issues come up. I stop being someone who can take care of myself and become someone fragile, someone who needs to be watched.

This doesn’t have to be the response. A few months ago, I came off of a manic episode during which I had cut. I went and knocked on the door of someone I didn’t know all that well. We’d been friendly all that year, but we never specifically hung out together. He was just the closest person I knew who I felt sort of comfortable going to. So I pretty much came into his room crying, and he didn’t suggest I should be medicated or anything. We went for a walk. We bought some frozen pizza for later. That was all he needed to do in the situation to make me think “this is someone awesome who I should make an effort to stay friends with.” Really, I don’t need advice if I bring this stuff up. I don’t need you to tell me things about bipolar disorder or feeling suicidal. Trust me, I know it already. Just be around.

Really, I won’t break.


The Paper

She doesn’t read the paper anymore. Wrapped in crocheted blankets and clutching a feather pillow, she stares at the dust-covered ceiling fan as the long bundles in yellow plastic congregate on her front walk. Surrounding the bed are piles of old comics sections, from when she still liked the crossword. Now it irritates her, the clues fighting for her attention and the finished result dizzying to look at. Her bed is still full of dull pencils, the erasers worn and black.

She’s been so free since she stopped reading the paper. No more bad news, no more puzzles she feels obligated to do. She no longer has to go outside in her torn nightgown to stumble barefoot down the steps to the wet bag of paper, or wash dead pine needles from her feet once inside. There is no longer ink on her fingers.

Now she has more time, she can do what she wants. She can read other things, books she’s always meant to read, the books that still sit in small green bags, price stickers adorning their covers. She could even write herself; she was told in college she had the knack. So many possibilities, so much time, she thinks as the faded paint on her bedroom wall cracks.


A Million Miles

One day off for last day’s post and it nearly throws off my whole schedule. I only remembered I needed to write this now, a mere two hours before it’s Wednesday. I am definitely a uni student.

Lately I’ve been working on a massive music project that I’ve assigned myself for the summer. I have told myself that I have to have fifty pieces recorded by August 30th, because, like all professors, I don’t believe I have a life outside of my work. And now I’m at least two people, wait, no, three, because I also assigned myself this blog post.

Anyways, I have twenty-some pieces in progress or ready for recording and honestly I’ll be thrilled if I even get thirty done. I’ve been searching through old pieces that younger me has left unfinished because I don’t just re-use old writing. In my search for musical ideas, I found something I thought was lost forever – the music 13 or 14-year-old me wrote for the dreadful song lyrics I posted here ages ago. For those who don’t remember, these were written as a game with three of my friends. Here they are again:

a million miles away i am lost inside my head
my body floats in space the world is turning
all my synapses burning
my amish friend dropped my lightsaber down thither
it cut off my hand so slowly turning
ah my mangled arm so damaged
even more than vader could have managed
i am falling falling
great times compared to tatooine

And here is the single hand-written copy of the music I wrote to them:

You can tell how much this music meant to me from the marks where I tested pens on it later.

I’m currently developing it into a cello and guitar duet. I decided to leave out vocals because I can never unhear the original lyrics with this music, and let’s be honest, these lyrics are pretty awful. I love them, but no. I am making the title of the piece A Million Miles though, because it needs the connection kept clear, if only to Sarah, Patrick, Micael, me, and whoever reads this blog.

Hopefully my project is a success. I will let everyone know in September, and will share whatever ended up recorded. As a marker of some of my first compositions and lyrics, A Million Miles will be the first posted, and it will be up whether I complete the fifty pieces or not.


Freezing to death sounds really good about now

So there was a huge storm on Friday and my power is out, which is why there was no post yesterday. I am incredibly sluggish because for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to visit Baltimore in the summer. For the record, I do not like 37 degree weather. Recently I watched The Twilight Zone episode “The Midnight Sun” which has everybody dying because Earth’s orbit has changed and we’re going too close to the sun and everybody is dying. Then it turns out it was all one woman’s fever dream and we were moving too far away from the sun and everyone is freezing to death. This kind of has no point except I love the The Twilight Zone and I’m posting an old story I wrote that has snow in it. I promise my brain will be working for Tuesday’s post.

——-

It was snowing that morning. The type of snow she wished for every year, but had only actually gotten once before. Thick, blinding snow, that made the tree branches sag with its weight, snow so deep you had to wade through it and stop every few minutes to put on your boot that the snow had gripped and pulled off. But now, the weather was perfect for drinking tea and sitting by the sun-soaked window, staring out at the shining world.

She ran eagerly downstairs to start her snow day, her day of doing nothing, her mastery of mindlessness. But he was sitting at the table in her kitchen, wearing an insidious grin and an aura of authority. She became aware of her tangled hair, her torn t-shirt.

“I made you coffee,” he said, nodding towards the full pot on the counter.

“I thought I got rid of you last time.” She walked past the coffee pot and rummaged in the box of tea for the English Breakfast she knew she had seen the day before.

“How could I leave you? I need you.” He smiled with superiority, waiting for her to believe. She closed her eyes and took deep breaths. It was supposed to work, to calm her mind, to steady her will.

“I want you to go away. Now. Leave. Don’t come back. I never want to see you again.” She kept her eyes closed and her hands in the tea box. Her hands were shaking, rustling the tea bags. Maybe it would work. Maybe he wouldn’t be there when she opened them.

She felt breath on her shoulder and turned her head. As she opened her eyes to meet his gaze, he put his hands on her upper arms.

“Boo,” he said. She grabbed the full coffee pot and swung it at him, burning coffee spilling out down her shirt, running over her legs and into a formless brown puddle on the floor.

But it didn’t.

The floor was clean, her clothes were dry. The coffee was gone, and so was he. Her grip loosened on the handle of the empty pot as she let herself slide down the counter into a sitting position on the floor.

“That wasn’t very nice.” He was towering above her, hands on hips, almost comical in the cliché of the stance, but nobody was laughing. She met his unyielding stare, shivering on the cold linoleum. At last he grinned, his face a perfect display of good humour.

“Come now, you can’t be that upset with me. It’s been so long. We have so much to catch up on.” His caring gaze made it easy for her to accept his outstretched hand and stand up. The kitchen chair he guided her to was hard, and there was a cup of tea steaming on the table before her.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about you. I never should have acted the way I did. You mean the world to me.” He said it perfectly, his eyes sad, his voice quiet and melting. In the back of her mind she knew he had practiced, but she couldn’t stop herself from reaching out to stroke his arm where it rested on the table, to comfort him. “I want to make things better. I want you back.” As he said it, she took a sip of the tea, coughing as she burned her tongue on the bitter, scorching liquid. As she choked it down, she involuntarily closed her eyes, breaking free of his mesmerising stare. As she gained control over herself, she stared at the scratched wood of the table. She could think clearly if she didn’t look at him.

“No. Just…no. You have to go.” She closed her eyes, waiting for the explosion.

“Dana, don’t dismiss me so quickly. I waited so long to see you again, traveled so far…” Dana couldn’t suppress a short, humourless laugh. Focus now, focus…see him disappearing, make him go…

“Dana, stop.” She could sense the anger in his stare, feel the heat of it, even though her eyes remained shut. “Dana, this won’t be good. You need me.”

And she knew it was true.

She opened her eyes and he smiled, back in control. Dana took another sip of the tea, wanting the sugar, but afraid to turn her back on him.

“You have to agree that I’m in charge,” Dana said, her voice sounding loud in the silence. He laughed.

“I don’t have to do anything. I’m the one doing you the favour.” He leaned back in his chair and grinned. Dana sighed. She could already tell that it was going to be exactly like last time, and he was going to enjoy every minute of it.