Danger, Will Robinson! This is going to be one of those posts. Long, angsty, self-obsessed, and more than a little incoherent. You may want to skip it if you don't have a lot of patience for me talking about how I've got, as the kids these days say, Issues. That is all.
* * *
* * *
I don't feel wellSo I've just finished re-reading Michael Chabon's (excellent) novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I bring this up because spread throughout it are the arc words 'these are strange times to be a Jew'. I'm not even slightly Jewish, but the fictional Sitkaniks don't have a monopoly on strangeness. Actually, a friend of mine at Croydon used to ask sometimes whether I felt like I was in the middle of an absurdist play, and that's pretty much what life is like at the moment. Although perhaps a better comparison would be Ibsen, or Chekov - gloomy, purposeless, and really quite dull.
I've got this rattling in my chest
And the doctor says I should give it up
Because I'm clinically obsessed
Strange times indeed. I'm waiting on my mum's house move coming through so I can move out of the city I've lived my whole life in, to one that I don't know at all. I feel directionless, uncertain. And combined with the prospect of leaving everyone I know down here, and Fathers' Day just having gone past, it's got me in one of those awful philosophical moods that makes me write long, rambling, pretentious blog posts to no-one in particular.
I'm back on the self-loathing thing again, too. It's been a while since I indulged in a really serious bout of it, but I'm making up for it now. I blame The Bell Jar, actually. I'm dragging myself through it at the moment; it's the first time I've read it, and over the course of the first few chapters I've already flung it across the room a few times in sheer exasperation. Mostly at sentences like 'The first time I saw a finger-bowl was at the home of my benefactress' (giving Sylvia Plath some credit, it must've taken an incredible literary talent to have written that in earnest), but also because thus far it's striking me as impossibly bourgeois, pretentious, shallow masquerading as deep, and utterly self-obsessed. And then after a second, I start to think 'Oh Christ, is that what listening to me is like?'.
This is a problem with misanthropy. Start believing that people are fundamentally some variation on a theme of venal, corrupt, bigoted, violent, conceited, hopeless sickening bastards*, and you have to include yourself in one or all of those categories too. Otherwise, you're just being hypocritical. You could probably add 'hypocritical' to the list as well, come to think of it, but that's just a little bit too meta for me at the moment.
It also strikes me that I don't really know how to deal with people. That's not dislike or even contempt, more outright fear. I can go through the motions OK, when I put my mind to it, but a lot of the time I find it hard to like people, care about them, understand them, make any kind of commitment to them. And all of that goes double for myself. I don't really like that part of me. In point of fact, I hate it. Misanthropy isn't a fashion accessory for me. It's part of a grab-bag of neuroses that comprise something that looks like a personality from a distance.
Mind you, I don't think I'm wrong about people. But maybe the trick is to be able to see all of the fucked-up repugnant shit people unleash upon the world, themselves and each other, and still be able to believe the in the best of human nature. I suspect that particular feat of mental gymnastics is always going to be beyond me, though.
I'm a little bit fucked physically at the moment, too, and not in the good way. Occasional bouts of mental weirdness that are hard to describe. I start to feel wildly dissociated from everything. Slightly nauseous, too, with a strange sort of empty feeling; the best I can describe that last part as would be a headache, but stranger. That's rather underselling it, though. Things start to seem a little unreal, and that's a scary prospect.
The paranoia doesn't help. All the miscellaneous aches and pains and shakes that come with a pack-a-day nicotine habit and a caffeine, sugar and alcohol rollercoaster are immediately indicative of having caught some horrific disease or condition (neuroses of mine; it goes a long way back - probably something to do with scary experiences in hospitals with childhood epilepsy). What's really getting to me at the moment, though, is a more existential version of the same. I start to worry that I'm losing my grip on reality. Start thinking about schizophrenia. I can't really seem to shake off the feeling that something is going badly wrong. I'm familiar with the wonderful 'feelings of impending doom' that come with panic attacks, but this is different somehow. A sort of low-level fear and trembling sort of thing.
I haven't been sleeping, not really, and when I do it's at odd hours, days apart. I wake up in the middle of the afternoon, covered in sweat, shaking, with horrible images of rotting flesh in my head. That can't be normal, although it's not exactly news, either.
I don't really know what to make of all this. I hope it's just stress. That things will be better with a fresh start. I'm almost starting to fetishise stuff to put in a new flat. The strangest things, too. Aluminium giraffes, for fuck's sake. Bookends. Tat. It's the IKEA generation, taken to its logical conclusion; hold onto your self-identity with objets d'art. Maybe it's about control**. Having a space that's definably mine, to do what I want with. That would certainly explain the bewildering desire for a big mahogany Edwardian desk with a lot of drawers that lock. I don't even have anything that needs protecting or hiding like that, except maybe myself. I feel vaguely ashamed of having elevated materialistic, aspirational 'lifestyle-building' to an art form like this, but at the moment it feels like something to hang onto. 'I am a human being. I know this because I own an interestingly art deco set of coffee spoons'.
But right now, what I need is an anchor. Metaphorically, not literally. Even I'm not that kitsch. And if that means measuring out my life in coffee spoons, so be it.
* If you grew up Catholic, you might reasonably call that original sin. Me, I call it human nature.
** Someday I will write a big long blog post about BDSM, and what it says about my incredible level of fucked-upness that I need it in my sex life, and how as with cutting, pain becomes something of a tethering element.