Wednesday, 3 June 2009

TWLOHA, Glasgow, 7th June

Event starts at 12:00 PM
Ticket price: FREE
TWLOHA Meet & Greet.
George Square - Glasgow City Centre
Gathering for supporters interested in getting involved as TWLOHA starts to happen in the UK. Meet Stuart and Olivia from the TWLOHA team. Please send questions to UK@twloha.com.

If you haven't heard of TWLOHA, please check it out: http://www.twloha.com

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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A Fascination with Hair

I've been, pondering the Victorians' obsession with hair, particularly women's hair. If you have JSTOR access, I'd really recommend you check out The Power of Women's Hair in the Victorian Imagination. Like most academic reading, though, it requires effort. Hence I've not read all that much of it!

Pictures are much more suited to my mood in these post-dissertation days. Check out The Seven Sunderland Sisters. That is some impressive hair. There seems to be an element of the freak show about them - not necessarily in a negative way: there's money to be made if you can make yourself worth staring at. Hair could also be considered erotic, of course (it still is, in many cultures, hence the obligatory headscarves and whatnot), which I suppose must have had something to do with why it was usually tied up. In some of those pictures, the Sunderland sisters get as close to suggestive as can be expected of the time.

One can't neglect to mention, of course, mourning jewellery, made from the deceased's hair. Most people are grossed out by it. I'm not, particularly, though I can appreciate why people are. It has been cut off a corpse. Even so, why is a corpse itself revolting before it has even begun to decay? Victorian attitudes must have been different to this kind of thing. More accustomed to death, I suppose. Why would they want the deceased's hair? If it were simply a reminder, surely anything would serve? It seems to be a way of holding on to, literally, a little part of someone, a little part that can be immortal.

The Guns of Brixton

No guns, actually. A Counting Crows gig: me, Jon, James and Elle.

I wore my new blue maxi dress. I thought, on the tube, what a good maternity dress it would make, and hoped I still have it when I'm pregnant. Which is a bit odd, considering Jon and I don't want to start a family for another five years or so. Motherhood, pregnancy, babies... all that stuff never seems to be far from my mind. While I'm quite happy to wait, I'm magnetically, instinctively drawn to thinking about it. I look forward to it. I feel more woman and less girl than I ever have before (I suppose I would, really). I find myself luxuriating in my fertility like a cat in the sun. I feel a ripeness, anticipate a fruitfulness. And I feel myself envied by barren women, just as, approaching my wedding, I feel myself envied by lonely women. I envy thin women and slim women and beautiful women. We all envy someone. As I try to choose a career - or, rather, a path through the world - I'm simultaneously choosing a social identity and my main response is to be a fox in the headlights, yet the role of earth mother is calling me. I will dedicate myself to home and hearth and children. That was never a question, though. The questions are: How to earn money? What is my role in the church? How will I fulfil myself intellectually? How will I write? Will I pursue recognition?

But back to Brixton. I could have sworn I had never been there. But one venue looks much like another, and Jon reminded me of last time we were there. I was fourteen. A whole group of us went to see Delirious? It was my first ever gig. So the Christian rock played, and people raised their hands, and the keenos jumped up and down at the front. Meanwhile, Jon and I sneaked away to the back and sat down and made out enthusiastically through the entire thing. So that, of course, coloured this Counting Crows gig for me, and I was alternately amused and nostalgic.

My feelings about the performance itself were mixed. I wished I had listened to more of their stuff, instead of listening to the same few tracks over and over. They played Mr. Jones and Round Here and Colour Blind, my favourites. Colour Blind is the epitome of the Crows' angst music which is somehow both incredibly beautiful and hilarious in its teenage overplayed intensity. Adam Duritz looks like a cross between Bob Marley and Jonathan Coulton, which doesn't help you to take it seriously, especially as he takes it so very seriously. He's an incredible performer, raw, charges every note full of himself. But, at the same time, I can never make out the words - even when he speaks - and many of the songs went on far too long as he stuck a load of randomness in the middle. Hardcore fans probably really appreciated it. I was a little bored.

Jon and I danced like losers. It's inevitable, whenever we attempt to dance, so we just go with it. I love how much fun we have together.

Monday, 1 June 2009

The Big Red Button

I fucked up.

I hadn't been taking my meds. The more I live a "normal" life (and, oh, I'm almost there), the more I want it. I am so well, for months at a time. I fool myself. Look, look, at my well-adjusted life, my degree, my friendships, my healthy relationship. How can there be anything wrong with me? This optimism draws me like a magnet to try, time and time again, for complete "normality." And by normality, I mean health and happiness, not conformity.

When Stephen Fry did his The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive documentary, the question he asked everyone was, "If you had a big red button you could press, that would make you not bipolar, would you press it?" Most people, pretty much all except those who were really, really sick, said no. I was always in the no camp, rejoicing in the creativity, the sensitivity, the uniqueness, etc. Especially when things were really bad - as I kid, I would glorify in the suffering, in order to make it bearable, I guess. I mean, if you're going to suffer anyway, I suppose you might as well.

I've switched camps. I want the big red button. I guess I've only just realised: the reason I keep stopping my meds is because I don't want to need them. I don't want to be bipolar anymore. I've grown out of that identity. Tough shit, though. Bipolar I most certainly am. I'm going to have to find a way to come to terms with it, or I'll keep making myself ill.

I hadn't been too bad, just kind of weepy and irritable, and with the world's most ridiculously low stress tolerance. My goodness, I've been stressed, and anxious. But last night crossed the line. I'm not going into it here - I did on LJ, but that's locked. Basically, I flipped.

So, afterwards, I cried a lot and I took my meds, like taking poison after a military defeat. I took some sedatives to counteract the waves of agony shuddering through me, only 50mg (most people take about 400mg a day!) but still I passed out cold for 12 hours. I woke up feeling like I was wading through treacle. Jon wanted to go out so I shuffled around Windsor like a zombie for a few hours, my limbs heavy and everywhere a surreal, post-apocalyptic feel. Then I napped and felt better, and we went to the pub.

So, yes, I admit defeat. I take the pills quietly and I shake my fist at the sky that I have to. I don't want to be a tortured artist. I want to enjoy my life and be a happy wife, mother and friend. I've learnt so much from my illness - I would even say that I'm glad I had it: it's made me who I am today - but I want to be completely recovered now. Wouldn't it be weird if they found a cure?