2010 – REVIEW
2010 was something of a mixed bag for me. Depression, hypochondria, suicidal tenancies, breakup of a three year relationship, three new tattoos, finishing my novel: Lost in Iceland, six weeks travelling Scandinavia, the launch of my first poetry collection, finishing University and going on the dole, moving house, publication of Beautiful Scruffiness issue two and three, the beginning of new relationships…yeah, pretty damn busy.
I’d have to say, the main thing that I wanted to achieve in 2010 was balance. I still have a way to go, and I’m hoping that 2011 will see me getting closer. In January, I was still something of a hypochondriac, unable to think about anything else except for cancer and death. Everything else in my life was still on the backburner, and the thought of cancer was overwhelming. No matter how much, how badly I wanted to think about my boyfriend, my writing, my life, I couldn’t. I was constantly overwhelmed and suffocated to the point where I very nearly did away with myself on numerous occasions. When the thoughts about cancer were just simmering, other things would have the chance to boil up, like the fact I had a meager social life and not enough confidence to make more friends. I filled my diary with pictures, in an attempt to create some form of escape. But my mind would find a path through the thicket, find me again and strangle my thoughts.
I remember, in February, I went to Ullswater with Jake and his Dad. There was large patches of iced over snow on the moor and we needed to get down and slide across these dangerous stretches. It was excellent. We hiked for hours and hours and the fresh air and wild nature fed my lungs, my heart and my head. I felt, for the first time in months, as if I could breathe.
The good feelings didn’t tie February with a bow though. I continued to spend obsessive amounts of time on the internet, searching through health related websites and scaring myself and Jake shitless. The worry would naturally spark off migraines, nausea and aches. Jake would be at the receiving end of this.
I went to a Marduk gig in Glasgow mid February but standing outside the venue, my head started to play tricks on me again, taking my thoughts and skipping with them. Black Metal, my life blood in so many ways, was unable to cease the persistent chatter. So, there I was, at the front of the crowd, covering my ears with my hands, not because of the music volume but because my thoughts wouldn’t stop kicking out and injuring me.
I took part in a four day business course, in order to help me sort my head out before I charges onwards with Slice of the Moon. I was confused more than I’d like to admit, and stuff about tax returns and such like went straight over my head. I didn’t feel like a business person then. And I still don’t.
University had, for the past however many months, been a misty time. I wanted to write, I needed to write, but for the life of me couldn’t. How I eventually managed to get back on track, fucking hell, I’ll never know. But I am so glad I did.
2010 was a year for good quotes.
“The western mind has the idea that there is a dominion over animals. If you see animals in a zoo, you do not see an animal, you see a creature of loss that has been created by humans, a marginal creature. All of its significance has been taken away. The animal is without his environment. It has no den, no place where it catches food; it has nothing. Animals lose their very selves. Animals love very complex lives and have their own significant intelligence in their true environment. The Western mind does not see that.” Linda Hogan (Native American poet)
“language contains the potential to restore us to a unity with earth and the rest of the universe”. (Linda Hogan)
Here is a brief entry from my blog in March.
The season of rejection
I shouldn’t be reading an article called ‘Publishing: The Revolutionary Future’ by a bloke called Jason Epstein. I shouldn’t be listening to songs with titles along the lines of ‘Fuck it,’ ‘Fade away’ and ‘Broken’ by an angry South African band. I shouldn’t have tear stains in my foundation. But I do. Why? Because for me, the current season is not Spring, but Rejection. Almost every poem I have sent out since January has been rejected. That doesn’t bother me as such. I just send it out again after a quick edit. What does bother me is rejection from ‘people things.’ I feel practically friendless in Carlisle, and the friends I make after much effort, last for five minutes and then run away into the trees and behind computers before they know me properly. I think my openness about things like my mental health and my enthusiasm for life in general scares people, who prefer people (and life) to be safe and only noisy when they want to make it so. Maybe even the Pagan announcement I make, when religion and such like crops up in conversation makes them feel unnerved, as scenes of the Wicker Man and other such things pop into their minds. I know it unnerved people in Zavvi.
Why am I talking about this? Because I know I’m not the only feeling alone one wondering what they did wrong. Even if they have done nothing. My boyfriend is at a party, while I’m sewing patches on shirts. Life is lonely.
I was a fool to really ‘big up’ my expectations about Burton’s Alice in Wonderland . Here is what I wrote about it back then…
Alice in Wonderland wasn’t a Burtonesque film. It had Disney scribbled all over it. It significantly lacked the atmosphere that his others films create. True, it was something of a visual feast, (it would have been so without the 3D effects too) but the story lacked any emotional depth. I didn’t care about any of the characters; mar the March Hare (SPOON!) and the Red Queen’s frogs, especially the one who ate three of her tarts. Alice irritated me, I wanted the Cheshire Cat to eat the infuriating mouse voiced by the ghastly Barbra Windsor and Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter was, well, nothing special. All in all, it was a poor film with a dreadful soundtrack by one of the worst female ‘artists’ in existence. I’ll leave you to figure that one out for yourself. I liked the White Queen’s dippy characteristics (although she did look like a crack addict), and spent the majority of her scenes, fantasising about having her beautiful white hair. Alice also looked like a teenager who stayed up too late smoking weed and watching 3rd Rock from the Sun. Alan Rickman managed to sound seductive as a hashish smoking blue caterpillar.
One of the most obscure and ghastly moments of 2010 for me, was when Jake had to boil a
We have a pig head bubbling away in the kitchen creating the most hideous stench I have ever encountered. Jake has hate to mutilate the thing further, by cutting off its ears, the top of its head and part of its throat to be able to fit it in the stock pan. I feel a surge of emotion whenever I walk in there and see this thing looking at me with its large blue eyes, but I also have a great deal of respect for Jake for being able to work with something so…I can’t think of a word, but anyway, as a fellow vegetarian, I can understand how difficult it must be for him to use any part of a dead animal. He deserves every ounce of respect.
‘This longing to commit a madness stays with us
Throughout our lives. Who has not, when standing
with someone by an abyss or high up on a tower, had
a sudden impulse to push the other over. And how is
it that we hurt those we love although we know that
remorse will follow…Our whole being is nothing
but a fight against the dark forces within ourselves.’ – Henrik Ibsen
So I completed my novel and I feel lost without its daily companionship. The temptation to go back to it and see if there is anything, even the slightest thing which I can change for the better is enormous. I’m doing well at resisting though. Its feels almost as though I have let go of a child’s hand in the Metro Centre and walked in the opposite direction, went out into the car park, got into my car and drove away. I’m focusing my attention on the academic essays that are clawing at my face to be finished. I am required to hunt out words to best describe the way in which I let a thought turn into a chapter to turn into more chapters to turn into a book. Part of me just wants to say ‘well, I just went ahead and wrote the thing, really.’ I really don’t think I need 1,500 words to say that. Either you write or you don’t. Either you get a novel finished or you don’t.
For the record, I have yet to find a publisher for it.
April, and shit happened. Jake and I broke up. I felt, well, I think that this just about sums it up how I felt.
On the day it happens. When half off your soul is ripped in two like a piece of unwanted notepaper, you don’t hear things properly. Your ears are filled with the noise of a radio unable to tune in. You swallow and say ‘what?’ over and over and over because you can’t understand the words you have never heard him use before. Your skin is peeled back like orange peel, to reveal the bloody, wet inside. Salt is then poured. Table salt so it can be rubbed over every inch of flesh. (Rock salt might miss a millimetres) It is rubbed, rubbed, rubbed until the small, white hills dissolve, and you are left unable to breathe and wanting to pass out and never wake up…unless he is the one shaking your shoulders and holding water to your mouth. Your body then hurts like you’ve never known hurt before. Your eyes hurt. Your ears hurt. Your brain hurts. Your fingers hurt. Your heart hurt. And even when you curl up like a child, the pain still keeps smacking you.
You eat when you are not vomiting, you vomit when you are not crying, you cry when you are wondering where the next breath is going to come from. The years together that had been tied with ribbon and placed on an alter are set alight and burn to ash. The years together spent sleeping with the others arms and legs entangled with yours un-stich.
You don’t want clothes on your back, food in your belly, music in your stereo. You don’t want a good book and a nice perfume or a new box of medication. You want to wake up.
After the day it happened, you feel the wind grab your legs and its drags you back into the storm you were trapped in the day before. And you, with black eyes and white cheeks, sore hands and dirty clothes can do nothing.
Yeah, pretty intense huh. Well it was going to be after three years. Course, still needing to live in the same house as your ex wasn’t something to be relished. It was hell. I wanted him back, he didn’t want anything to do with me, we had eaten dinner together for three years, etc, and for everything to suddenly stop. It was horrible. It was a really, really horrible time.
April did have some good moments though, seeing Negura Bunget and Ragnarock perform in Glasgow was a major highlight. Although I have to say that NOTHING infuriates me more than when you get a band come to play from Romania and a band come to play from Norway, and hardly anyone head bangs or claps. When you have literally ten or eleven people, max, head banging, you can almost feel the despair the bands must experience. And it’s fucking nasty. If you go to a gig, take part. Make the bands feel appreciated.
Jake and I got back together. Broke up. Got back together.
May. University finishes and I decide I’m going to go travelling around Scandinavia.
June. Hellfest was immense. Mar the tension between Jake and I it was fucking awesome.
‘How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? Everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore.” – Old Holy Wintu woman.
‘Unlike most other famous Indian figures, no picture was ever obtained of Crazy Horse, whose reply to any request to photograph him was: “My friend, why should you wish to shorten my life by taking from me my shadow?”
‘You know, if you take all your books, lay them out under the sun, and let the snow and rain and insects work on them for a while, there will be nothing left. But the Great Spirit has provided you and me with an opportunity for study in nature’s university, the forests, the rivers, the mountains, and the animals which include us.’ – Tatanga Mani, a Stoney Indian.
‘Learn now, my brother once for all, because I must open to thee my heart: there is no Indian who does not consider himself infinitely more happy and more powerful than the French.’ – A Gaspesian Chief.
‘Yes – we know that when you come, we die.’ – Chiparopai, an old Yuma Indian.
I went to Scandinavia; Norway, Denmark and Sweden and had the most amazing time of my life. I kayaked in the Sognafjord, Jake and I broke up for the final time, I went again to the Viking Ship Museum, and I got up close and personal with thousand year old Viking artefacts. I couch surfed and went to gigs and met people from over 30 countries. I was tattooed in Stockholm and chatted up by a hot Dane when I thought I looked revolting. I wandered the streets of Copenhagen at 2 in the morning and wandered the forests of Western Norway with only nature for company. I climbed mountains and dropped ice cream; I cycled to waterfalls and ate homemade blueberry jam. I met my doppelganger and I stayed with a Finnish mediaevalist historian, a Lithuanian couple, a lovely German lady, a Hawaiian dude and sat, once again, in Elm Street Rock Bar. I spent ten pounds on a five minute taxi ride and eleven pounds on a cocktail. All in all, I had the six weeks of my life.
On my return from the Northlands, I moved in with two incredible people into their cosy flat on Carlisle High street. And so formed friendships that I wouldn’t swap for anything. I also started an MA in publishing which really wasn’t for me, so I quit a month into the course. I don’t perceive myself as a failure. I wanted to focus on my writing and I didn’t feel as though that moment in time was right for me to go back into education. I believe I made the right choice, even if it is going to cost me almost two grand. I’m currently, embarrassingly, on the dole, hunting for jobs as a kitchen porter or waitress or shelf stacker in Tesco. I’m infuriated that I studied for three years, damn fucking hard, and that the best I can find is a job which involves the same repetitive shit day in, day out. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be moaning should I. But I’m giving you the truth here. This is how I feel about the fact I have these skills, I have them, and I can’t put them into practise and craft a solid career out of them.
Anyway, on a brighter note. Beautiful Scruffiness issue 3 has made an appearance and is damn fine. The launch was…I’m not going to say a failure. I’ll just say it was intimate and the people that didn’t turn up really missed out. I am very, very proud of my little baby and am convinced she’ll grow big and strong over the years to come. Already this year she has seen the careers of two artists flower and bloom.
These past couple of months have been strange and stressful, and I am going into the new year needing to pay £1,550 to the University of Central Lancashire, find a house to move into, find a job…but these past months had their beautiful moments, like beginning a relationship with Tom and seeing one of my favourite bands, Wolves in the Throne Room at an intimate gig in Newcastle and making new friends.
Oh, and having two new tattoos done, which brings the total up to a mighty seven. I graduated too. Okay, so I didn’t smile during the graduation, but I was in a cathedral and I ought to be rewarded for not setting it on fire.
It has been stressful chasing after jobs and getting rejected from practically every single store on the high street, oh, and not to mention having my poetry rejected from however many publishers and magazines. But hey ho, life goes on. And anyway, we had snow early which really made me brighten up.
I adore snow, especially when it brings life to a standstill for a while, and we can take in the power and beauty of nature.
One of Many Knots, the collection that has been growing for three years was published by Mudfog and is a right little gem. All in all, this year has been busy, weird and eventful. I’m going to be a right cliché and say that I have learnt a lot this year. I’ve learnt not to sweat the small stuff. I have learnt not to run out of medication. I have learnt never leave it more than three months between gigs. I have learnt not to lean my life plans all on one person. I have learnt that I can conquer my depression and kick hypercondria up the arse. I have learnt that for the time being, I have been in education for long enough. I have learnt who my real friends are and I have learnt that I am capable and strong enough to achieve anything my heart desires.
This coming year is going to be immense. I am going to grow and learn and experience. I am going to work at my life and my career and not linger over bad experiences. I will ask for help when I need it and dive into opportunities that come my way. Scandinavia has been swimming into my minds vision for quite some time now, and this year, 2011, will see me working towards carving that career and life I want to have outside of our little England.