Sunday, 30 May 2010

I'm Off...

... to do unspeakably wicked and pleasurable things for a week. I'm amazed in fact I haven't gone mad with the anticipation. Back Saturday. Keep safe all. Dx

...and I shall be sure to bring my crochet and a leather bound, annotated edition of the King James bible. After all, how on earth otherwise will we occupy ourselves during those long secluded nights?  !!

TOMGB  (Transparently Obvious Mystery Guest Blogger)x

Friday, 28 May 2010

Continued...

That last was too terse. I had just settled the boys down for the night, and was in one of those strange moments of life when you feel that although you knew the ground had shifted, suddenly you feel it confirmed by the way it unexpectedly gives under your feet. That happened to me once: a crap job, strimming the cemetery in Bourton on the Water. I was stood on a grave, and suddenly the ground gave way. Only by about eight inches. But I worked out what had happened long ago: the coffin had collapsed, and there was a gap somewhere in the soil above. Oh well, maybe an apt metaphor, or reminiscence. Does that sound cruel? It's not meant to.

Ever since we'd been together 'longer than anyone else' pretty much, this myth started developing among all our friends, family, etc, that we were some mythologically perfect couple. Lies, all damned lies. And a fine pair of liars, too. It got to the point where it felt the universe would have to shatter before we would be able to part. Strangely, in the end, it was very easy. Tipping points... flocks of starlings turning on a nine-pin, so to speak... a seemingly inexorable projectile that hurtles on until you shift focus and realise it's only a squash ball just about to hit the wall. My camel's back broke, and I realised I wasn't a camel.

Oh well, I'm raising my cup of licorice tea, and toasting the evening. Yes, a sadness due to history, like a building that fell down, and had the weakness built into it. A relief that a sign has come (even if it was abstracted) that she is beginning to get her head around things. Happiness, well that is all for other reasons too.

Take care all, I'm all right. Dx

Facebook

I don't know whether to be relieved or irritated, happy or sad. All four at once, plus a few others seems a natural and healthy response. But I have just discovered, through the wonderful medium of fb that my ex now considers herself single. I'll believe it when she stops behaving as if she owns me, body, life, and soul.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Skinlessness

More-than-naked, peeled, flayed, excoriated, transparent, able to feel more painfully, exposed... all words for the same sense of acutely sensitive, unprotected, all-on-display internal self. I have been feeling it somewhat of late. I keep using the term, I keep coming across it used by or about people with various degrees of difficulty in inhabiting the world. But what causes it? What is it for? Why and how do we develop it? (Or should that be how did it happen that we ungrew skin?) How does it affect us? Does it have good to it as well as horror?

Genetics? Bad luck to have been born without a mental skin? Or trauma? 90% burns from some hellish psychic fire of childhood? Or something from inside, that for the hell of it one day sloughed the whole thing off for some reason, leaving it pale and glistening, like some gigantic discarded condom, and then shambled off, trying not to bleed on the carpets?

How does it feel? If on a skinless day I have the temerity to leave the house and walk down the road, then I know that other people know everything about me just by looking at me. I can cope with that by not giving a damn for their opinion. I have a misguided suspicion that solid objects could simultaneously pass straight through me and cause great pain. Noise, light, babble and confusion are all hellish and make it impossible to think clearly. I remember to walk around solid objects, and close my senses to the noise, focusing exactly on what the hell it is I was supposed to be doing, assuming I can remember. Conversation, especially with strangers or worse still, people I only half know, is particularly trying. I have to conjure some spirit to encase me in a dead layer of animate matter: something that smiles, nods, makes words sound, gestures... but it is a clumsy golem-suit, and doesn't behave with grace and ease.

Why does it exist? I suppose there must be a continuum of ability to feel from nothing to far too much. Somewhere there must be an ideal socially advantageous point, just as a pinhole has an ideal distance from the image where diffusion and diffraction of light cause least blur.

But apart from the day-to-day, have-a-normal-life, rub blithely along with one's fellow man (and woman), apart from this being far more difficult when suffering from an intensity of feeling, are there any consolations to it?

Well, I suppose there is a terrible beauty to be experienced, or perhaps a beautiful terror. Great distances and minute details simulaneously seize the heart. Everything feels charged with fate, portent, meaning, good and bad alike, or together, or irrelevantly. Everything feels as if it is spectrally surging through one's being. It both intensifies and dissolves the self. A consolation? Sometimes. Other times a hell.

And what is the best remedy of all? A peaceful, quiet, airy room, white, with a mild sun shining through an open window, and a fresh sea breeze on the air. But that is just me. I'm off to become a lighthouse keeper. Preferably one without a foghorn.

Keep safe all.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Overheard Parenting That Made Me Shudder

Ok, so next door over the high wall, the mother and the two children are in the garden. The children are playing a game, or it might have been homework. The task was to start with a word, and change one letter at a time, and a different letter each time to make new words. We're all familiar with it. The word was WORDS. The mother managed LORDS. Then got stuck. What ensued was firstly her reducing the children to tears by baiting them and offloading her irritation onto them - they sounded about five or six years old. Then completely lost it and ordered them in for their bath, while they tearfully protested the injustice of life etc. Then the vile dad came out. I've got his number. I've had to listen to the sheer evil vindictiveness in his nasal weak voice when he orders his children about. It makes my blood turn to black pudding in my veins and my temples throb. After a brief and vicious argument with the mother, he tried to do the game too, and he could only think of LORDS as well. Then he started being so completely undermining to the point that the kids were sobbing again. I cursed "For God's sake!" loudly. Then started loudly moving garden furniture. He then ordered the children in for their bath. So I sat down and I wrote down WORDS:

words / wards / wands / hands / hinds / hints / hilts / tilts / tilth / filth / filch / felch / belch / beach / brach / brack / track / trace / brace / brane / crane / crone / drone

(ok, so felch was a bit of a disappointment to have to resort to, and brach is a type of hunting hound (as in brachet), and brane comes from membrane theory, but fuck, all words I know.)

Firstly, can anyone improve on 22 new words, and secondly my god if I had ever, ever allowed things to get even half as bad as they seem to be in that family, I'd have killed myself for shame.

I was sorely tempted to write the list on a paper aeroplane and fuck it over their wall. But saw sense. Existence is precarious enough. I'll save it for when I have somewhere else to go to.

Take care all.

p.s.
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:10, KJV).

A Gleam of Good News

Neighbury Vets and Farriers,
Horseville,
Chocolateboxshire.

To whom it may concern,

Re: Old Nag 101666, Male, previously of Hellstables, Barkington.

I am writing this letter at the request of the above named patient who I have looked after for the past 6 years. In 2008 he developed a serious mental illness and has been under regular specialist supervision from the psychiatric team until April 2010. He is now in fact discharged from their care as a result of consistently improved mental health for the last 12 months without any form of medication. Old Nag 101666 has good insight into his illness and is fully aware of the type of things which should prompt him to seek further medical help. I am sure that a supervised return to work will also prove beneficial to his continuing improved mental health,

Yours sincerely,

Felix Randal, Farrier and Horse Dentist.

Well, slightly guarded, not quite as ringing an endorsement as I was hoping for, but maybe a step in the right direction. Will it convince the insurers? We'll see. I did laugh at the conditionality of 'should' in: 'is fully aware of the type of things which should prompt him to seek further medical help,' but all in all I feel hopeful.

Take care all

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Group Dynamics, Arrogance, and Humility.

Well, yes, it seems a very worthy title, but I'm sure I'll just write a load of half-digested rubbish about it. Had a visit from fellow blogger Morte, who I haven't seen since Wales last August. And bloody good to see him it was too. While we sat in the corner of a noisy pub, being given a wide berth by the rest of the clientele (perhaps it was the subject matter of our loud conversation that was putting them off), we fell to talking the about way we find ourselves working as a member of a group or team (when well, in 'remission', or pretending to be well, or not realising we're ill, etc, etc), or not, or even just interacting with 'the herd' (baaaa baaaa), as the case may be.

The first thing we agreed on was that our habit of seeing things more inclusively, more extensively, who knows, maybe more deeply led to a certain kind of humble arrogance - we knew we could sort things out better, faster, more efficiently than others, but also knew the consequences of allowing our behaviour to be over-influenced by that 'arrogance'. We both agreed that we often found it easier to step back and allow the 'slowcoaches' to 'fuck it up' in their own good time - not necessarily a positive tendency. I recalled occasions when I used to try to help people find my solutions, as if they had come up with them themselves - again, a chameleon instinct.

Of course this same intensity of seeing and analysis has its downside - other people can sometimes simply be hell. And the instinct is to avoid them like the devil. And of course, sometimes one over-sees, and I don't mean being the boss! People's actions are interpreted wrongly, motives attributed that they hadn't dreamt of, etc, bad feeling, suspicion, paranoia, the whole big bucket of poo.

We also amused ourselves by staring at all the various categories of monkey-behaviour on display in the pub.  Eyebrow flashes, bouncing on the spot, idle scratching and grooming to avoid eye-contact, that ape dominating that ape, that one happy to be dominated, that one bored, that one avoidant, that one aggressive, etc. It all seemed so absolutely boringly obvious, and generally pointless. Sometimes I feel an almost crippling disgust at the whole seething mass; other times I feel indulgent towards it - after all, it's not as if they can help it. (edit: it is definitely a thing I get when people are in groups - never with individuals)

I just tried to think of the typical types one meets when trying to work with other people. The Prick in Need of Validation, the Useless One Who Gets In the Way, the Willing but Dim, the Practical One, the Aloof One, the Irrelevant One, The Useful Grafter, the Clever One, the Status Junkie, the Tedious Joker, and the Jobsworth. Not a particularly positive list, but (un)fairly accurate in my experience. Obviously one focuses on the practical, hard-working, and intelligent individuals, and give the rest of them something harmless to fight over. Maybe it's no accident I prefer to work alone, or to be in complete charge! (Personally I'd describe myself as a perfect combination of the three positive types, but I suppose I'm biased.)

In practice, during planning meetings, I generally would state how I was going to solve a problem, invite objections or suggestions, and either refute them, or include them, depending on their merit. I would never give an inch on matters that involved compromising either safety, or the well-being of the artwork or sculpture that I was being asked to conserve. Minor matters, such as not being able to work around a certain ex-prime minister's funeral, for instance, I was happy to defer. (Too many bloody armed police, for starters. But if I recall, I still billed them for the lost day, and spent it making fair copies of all the marked-up drawings.) But generally I remember being rather bloody-minded in most things, and it was a fairly useful skill to have. I never once negotiated my price, for example.

I have strayed from my subject. So I shall continue! Got the boys staying with me tonight. Lovely. They are curled on the sofa, watching a film about tigers (they've had no television for a while, since the pc went kaput at home). We've just eaten fish and chips in the last of the gorgeous sun, peaceful, calm, and really sheer damned pleasant. I'm writing this while grabbing a cigarette, and now, I shall stop.

Friday, 21 May 2010

An Echoing Room

Closed for business. No noise or sound here. Gone. Send an email if you want to find me. Or leave a comment here. Farewell, and keep safe all. Dx

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Right. Fresh start.

Who knows, I might have more to write about than mere self-grumbling and headstuff.

Welcome to Confutatis Maledictis. Yes, it's a dreadful name. It's from the requiem mass, and translates as 'while the accursed are silenced/confounded'. It was the first thing I thought of because I happened to be listening to it at the time.







Confutatis maledictis / Flammis acribus addictis: / Voca me cum benedictis. (Once the cursed have been rebuked, / sentenced to rancorous flames: / Call thou me with the blessed.)

From the Dies Irae.

Take care all

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Five Sonnets

(i)

Your face and eyes were once beyond compare,
your body was delicious to my taste;
upon your supple limbs I found no waste,
and many blisses I had taken there.
Your quiet mind, incisive, quick and clear,
was quite an ornament, and when we speak,
(though sometimes all our speech may well be Greek)
I prized our subtle conversations dear.
Fiery, deep and dark, as brisk as wind,
your spirit, of all elements compounded,
did never cease to leave my heart confounded,
my heart that always was with your heart twinned.
Just this remains that atrophies the whole:
Despite my best, I hate your jealous soul.

(ii)

How many nights in the dark were you slaving
at your creation? From a hundred fears
you shaped a nightmare; just to please your craving
for the worst certainty, to prove your tears
meaningful; to make false fates true. From years
long gone, recall your father struggling, waving
while haring down the street - your mother raving,
infantile;- while your future disappears.
More-fool-me tried to save you. You broke me
until my pieces formed your foretold shape;-
You never would be happy til I fell -
No.- Not so: "Never would you happy be":
you feared fidelity more than escape;
and my warm chasteness you made into hell.

(iii)

It is like apprehending infra-red
and ultra-violet: shades the human eye
can commonly but fail to descry:
this seeing meaning in my bones is bred,
and I for one can see when something's dead;-
through all the blinds of humdrum I can spy
the essential fact - I do not have to try: -
the invisible words are clear as plainly read.
But you, who see less, cannot understand
these truths on which I break my broken troth,
and ignorant, you eye my wedding band,
and hate my reckless striving for new growth.
So it is, so it will be ever thus:
this misconception standing dark twixt us.

(iv)

Great sinners are great liars chasing truth:
they lie out of necessity, as one
who braves himself to leap recalls his youth
and strength and kindled thus flies to the sun.
Meanwhile the audience complains and frets,
wondering what they've witnessed here tonight:
a dissembling fraud denying his regrets,
or miracle of diabolic flight.
A guiltless pose, or smoke and mirror trick,
it makes no odds: he lives by different rules,
the truth for him is hidden, queer and quick,
and not to be gainsaid by simple fools:
So leave him be to chase his saintly dreams;
he does not mind if he's traduced, or evil seems.

v)

On a cusp, desert stretching far all sides,
a bleak peak, lonely, uninhabited,
a few blue flowers, miniscule between stones,
a hint of an oasis somewhere over
the far horizon, in the dusty air
fly scavenging birds, black as evil crosses,
a broad, inspiring hollowness of space
is their imperial and bright domain.
But in this waste resides the strangest hope,
despite the seeming desolation of the world:
a dry sloughed snakeskin cast upon the sands;
I see the skids of coils sliding down
the drifting dunes, and surely making straight
for an imagined garden and a famous tree.

So, Mental Illness or What?

In light of all the previous, how has my mental health actually been? And in light of all the previous, how would I interpret previous 'episodes'?

First off, how have I been? Well I've been sleeping reasonably well since mid March, averaging my usual six hours. Since the latest family horribleness kicked off and before I finally accepted the inevitable, I was consumed with anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, despair and a strange growing dissociated strength. Once I had made the decision the marriage was over, the predominant feeling was just horrid stress and anxiety - a fear that I would be clawed back in, sucked back into my socially conventional role as gagged and bound useless ox - fear of the MH services being used against me too reared its ugly head. However, as you know, I kept myself together, and secured my discharge. I've since been phoned by a friend who is a psych - he was checking up on me under the guise of friendly support, and he agreed with me when I told him I felt saner than I have for years, and nodded that he found it surprisingly common when tempestuous relationships finally end.

Things were pretty bad when I stayed at my coz's - another high expressed-emotion household!!! - too close to both K and myself - I needed neutral ground, hence my current stopgap playing lodgers shuffling beds at my old landlady's from 20 years ago.

Now I'm pretty calm, though still subject to stress and shaking when vile strife gets flung my way. Learning to ride through that with calmness now. I'm holding my head up. Currently in the phase where friends drop away like flies fearful of being infected by the poisoned turd that is yrs truly. They're waiting for me to back down and do the decent thing. I've done that too many times before, and then I did it some more. Never again.

Practicalities: I need to get on with my life, can't afford a car, a car is essential to see my boys - can't afford deposit on a flat, and a flat is essential to have boys over to stay - therefore I'm taking the plunge back into work whether it's a good idea or not. No choice! I hope without the marital stresses I will be up to it again.

And as for the past. What, if anything, was actually wrong with me?

Yeah, I don't deny there is a manic depressive 'type' - but as you know I don't subscribe to the 'illness' model. For me, I've always been friendly, gregarious, generous, adept, versatile and kindly - always have been prone to 'enthusiasms' and probably always will be - always had a nihilistic streak that is a support as often as a curse - suicide has always been a companion since my childhood - I've always seen vividly and experienced things that aren't de facto there, but if a hallucination has any validity as illness it should cause distress and be mistook for reality - I know things aren't real, and they don't bother me. I don't think any of the above makes me mad.

But pile a steaming heap of traumatic stress on top, and I'm not surprised I go manic now and again. I strongly suspect there is a grain of truth in the 'manic defence' theory.

All of which makes me doubt my diagnosis. I'm discharged, been off meds for over a year - not lost it over the last twelve months either. I think I've been reacting to various degrees of social intolerableness to differing degrees.

Oh well, hope all are well - a pain having this private - anyone know how to make the feeds update?

Take care all, x

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Status Report

Yes. The split is final. Irrevocable. It's over. Done and dusted. Dead and buried. My god, the feeling of freedom when it takes you, wracks you, makes you wonder who you have become, and who you will be in the future, after twenty years.... is both intoxicating and most curious.

There is still going to be a pile of hell stretching over probably years as we come into contact through the necessity of arranging who has the children when, how, if

I am moneyless, carless, mostly friendless, but have a safe haven for a couple of months.

I can't begin to describe how sane I feel now I am out of that relationship. Sad, true, maybe tainted with bastardry, but still true to my heart and soul.

Breaking up is so easy to do when you've wanted to for eighteen years (maybe a slight exaggeration here...).

I blame my own crap splitting parents for my fortitude when I shouldn't have been patient.

But still, I regret nothing. Anything different in the past would mean my lovely boys wouldn't be here, and I would never wish that they weren't in a billion decades.

But what is done is done.

Shakespeare summed up my situation best. I've read this to so many people. Let me do the tawdry blogger version and c&p it for you lot:

SONNET 121


'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd,
When not to be receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost which is so deem'd
Not by our feeling but by others' seeing:
For why should others false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight, though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad, and in their badness reign.

CXXI

Take care all.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Stolen Warning

(A sign, too good not to steal, found on a walk):

"ANY DOG SEEN OFF A LEAD IS LIABLE TO BE SHOT ON SIGHT.

"COWS AND CALVES ARE GRAZING IN THIS FIELD.

"STAY ON THE FOOTPATH AT ALL TIMES."

(Hope all are well.)

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Going to make this invite only

So, if you want to read, add your names here, or send me an email at dckalcock@googlemail.com - and if it comes to your attention that someone else wants to read - then pass on the email. Ta.


Desolation Row

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

Sitting in the Rain.

I sit here in the rain, bereft of home, wife, boys; in a house where the occupants hate me for being in the way of them hating each other.

I have been smoking and drinking too much. Pelvic floor exercises help at times - they stiffen the spine. [deleted]

(I'm typing verbatim from a notebook)

I have noted Bach's main subject from the art of fugue for some recondite reason.

Following....

Kate and I have split up. I'm not going to talk about it, and don't any of you dare ask me questions.

I'm currently homeless. "We always knew he'd come to a bad end," chorus the vultures, all keenly sharpening their beaks. I'm not, de facto, homeless. I'm staying at my coz's, but the bile and the emnity is not very therapeutic.

However, I am keeping my head together pretty damn well considering. A few stress related hallucinations, an intensity of seeing that is as good (or bad, as your point of view would have it) as it ever was at the best.

A huge relief. This makes me more sad than anything else. I am sane - just going through hell. One soon realises there will be no peace until I have a room of my own.

The boys are bearing up well, considering. A is brittle and putting the brave face on things. N is gentle and loving, and makes me cry. Smallest A or N is as jolly and gleeful as ever.

It is strange how many people out of their unknown depths are doing their best to make me go mad again. I suppose that would solve all their problems. Blame would be shifted onto the false and nebulous concept of manic depression as it applies to me. And they will all get off scot free, and allow themselves the luxury of pitying poor me. Adding insult to injury. Well. I'm not going mad. And am not remotely in the space where I could. I thrive on disaster. Perhaps it keeps me sane.

I'll just contract my seventh chakra, and stiffen my spine. Am not going to be abused or bullied anymore by anyone.

Take care all. Apologies for the hiatus here. But I imagine you've understood why.

Dx