I feel as though this is the longest break I've taken from this blog. Has it been a month? I think it has. In my defense, I have two jobs, both of which are incredibly stressful in their own right. And there's been a lot of drama and fear about the first one, due to mismanagement of the city. I haven't felt a lick of inspiration in a while and this is entirely due to my personality, where I want to work as hard as possible, even if it means stifling myself in the process. Interacting with people is still quite difficult for me as well.
I haven't written except for small bits here and there. I've tried to focus on sewing more, simply because I keep buying fabric with big dreams and have a stash that is starting to pile up. But I've been discussing it and I'm trying to get back into the groove of writing an hour a day without judging myself too harshly. That's part of the stifling issue as well. Judging my work before its even finished.
I've been really hard on myself lately. I tell myself that I can't even come up with a good idea anymore, why couldn't I be like the me of a few years back? Why can't I think creatively about books? I must have grown stupider over time. But the reality is that I'm always going to be that person - it's just difficult to think with a clear head when you're exhausted and constantly belittling yourself.
I've finished so many books that I haven't had any time to talk about. A couple of memorable favorites were Vanessa Veselka's Zazen and Daniel Clowes' Patience. Maybe I just need some rest. A break. This weekend, in particular, has been very good for me. I've had the past couple of days off and I'll have Sunday off as well, which is time enough for me to recharge.
Severe depression. No hope. Fear. Fear for my rights, fear for others rights. Disgust. Anger. Intense spouts of barraging words, including an intensely pronounced "fuck."
I woke up this morning and I was sick to my stomach.
I don't normally like to talk about my political thoughts, but if there is a time and a place to do so, it is now and here. I am disgusted to see that Jabba the Hut will be my next president (my mom and I have started calling him Jabba the Hut as we are both so tired of seeing his face and hearing his voice, even hearing his name, that we christened him something else entirely). It was too much for me to watch the election results live, as Clinton supporters started to tear up and hold onto each other. It was too much because I knew exactly what they were feeling.
What I am proud to see are people protesting the election results. And I'm proud to see posts from people insisting that we can't give up, that we have to keep fighting. We can't be nice liberals anymore, asking politely for civil rights and gender equality. We have to go out there and be as belligerent as the conservatives. We have to be as loud as them. We have to block everything that they plan to do. We have to do it for ourselves and everyone else out there. Everyone else who feels marginalized by a patriarchal, supremacist portion of the nation.
I think about when I read At the Existentialist Cafe and how Sarah Bakewell wrote about German Occupied France. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the lone extroverted existentialist, had to teach himself to be nasty to the Germans in his country. And I think about that now. I have to teach myself to shout and demand rather than plead and beg.
For those of you who are afraid and scared, I am with you. For those of you who are disgusted and angry, I am with you. We are together and we're stronger in unity.
We had a Super Nintendo for about a month in my household. It belonged to my sister and while we clocked in many hours on Mario Kart (it's still incredibly nostalgic for me), she moved out fairly soon after purchasing it. And what game system did my older sister and I want, while former oldest sister was off in an apartment with her SNES, but a Sega Genesis. We didn't always have money for game systems, so we were only allowed one in the span of 5 years. The Genesis lasted us a very long time, until we finally traded it in for a Playstation. There were no other game systems in between. And still to this day, I find myself always a system behind. It wasn't until I purchased the Wii U that I finally felt caught up. This feeling will only last for a year, I know. And in no way would I ever knock the Genesis - the system provided me with great entertainment and gave me Phantasy Star 2, a game which has indelibly influenced me. There were plenty of classics I missed on that system as well. Just recently, I finally got to play Dynamite Heady, which is so playful and inventive with its visuals.
While I was in college however, I found an opportunity to go back and play some of those classic SNES games. Some of these are my favorites to this day. Earthbound, Yoshi's Island, Super Castlevania IV, E.V.O.: The Search for Eden, Zelda: A Link to the Past; they're all fantastic in their own right. But with the Wii U, I now have access to games that I never would have played before. I never would have considered playing the Metroid series, even though I love the design for the exoskeleton suit, even more so knowing that there is a woman inside of it. I love the morph ball too and imagine that Samus must be all curled up into a ball as well, constantly tumbling. Must be fun. Or nauseating. One of the two. I don't know why, but I assumed that the Metroid games were all about shooting and decided it probably wasn't for me, as I am notoriously bad at games where I have to be constantly aiming (though slap a rhythm game onto it and I become very good at it, ala Gitaroo Man).
So, last night, wanting to reward myself for a job well done on my Halloween costume, I stared at Super Metroid in the Nintendo E-Store. And I decided, why not?
I think my mom's afraid that I'm on the verge of self-destructive behavior. It's slightly amusing to me, in that strange gallows way. She should have been afraid before I was going in for therapy, before I was on medication, before I said anything about the pain that my garbled brain was putting me through. That was when I was on the verge of actions that may have led to some sort of self-annihilation. Instead now, I have moments where I feel miserable, but it's just another reminder: "Well. This is depression." But now that I express everything to her, she's troubled by the words that come out of my mouth. And I get it. It's hard to hear those sorts of things from your child. But I'm better now. Simply through awareness. I know my ups and my downs. I know when I need to hide in a corner from the world just to take a breather.
If there's one thing that's been on my mind lately, it's been the subject of writing and the concept of friends who actually read what you put out there in the world. It's been the most painful thing for me, going through social anxiety. And don't get me started on how masochistic I can be, reading online posts about young writers sharing their work with their friends. It hurts, admittedly. In two ways: 1. that I have no friends with which to share my writing with and 2. I have this strange idea that no one should want to read my writing. This has to do with the fact that I love what I'm writing. Warts and all. And then I think about the impression that other people will have of me when they read it. I will not be the same V to them that I once was. This is territory I've visited here before. It's something that has plagued me for a long time. There has to be something wrong with you if you enjoy writing about blood and organs, right?
No. There's nothing wrong about it.
And this is the part that I don't usually want to admit to people, because I don't want them getting the idea that living with a mental illness has some kind of fantasy happy-ending. I don't believe in perpetual, static happiness. Happiness is not a state. It's a feeling that ebbs and dissipates like all feelings. But there's something in me that feels as though depression and social anxiety have some advantageous qualities to them. I think it has colored my perspective in an intriguing way. I think that it's made me evolve, as a person, as a writer. I say "I think" a lot, and it's mostly because I don't want to take ownership of saying, "I've evolved." There's something in that where it makes me seem as if I have agency over what I've done in my life, as if I've scrambled for the shore rather than float along with the weeds. And yes. I wanted to say "maybe" there, but I'm going to say yes. Yes, no one put those images in my head. M+I and the other stories I write are all authentically me in a way that is difficult for me to admit to others. I've written them. They are me, I am them, we're a happy family, etc.
I've been thinking about this lately because I came across some old writing from high school, when I pushed myself to be as weird as possible in stories and characters. I gave characters names like Xapheta and Saturnine. The stories were all trying too hard. But that's always the way I've been, feeling the need to do something with my writing. I think all writers/creators feel this way, whether they want to create a commercial work or high art. There's a spark and you feel the need to do something. For me, I've always had visions in my head and this is mostly sparked by music and film. I only recognize now, looking at my old writing, that they were as authentic to me as my writing is now. Stories where past, present, and the future merge. Inanimate objects that are rendered animate. A fascination with flesh and blood (blame that on all the blood tests I've had to have in my life).
I wouldn't be at this point if I didn't have depression or social anxiety. And while I have a fear of sharing work with people who are close to me, sharing work with strangers is no problem for me. I don't even really think about it. But the thought of my mom reading my work or my sister seeing one of my short stories makes my blood curdle. Perhaps it's the opposite for writers who share with close ones. Perhaps not. I don't know, I'm not in that position.
The important thing in the creative business is to have a thick skin. And trust me when I say that having depression means that the worst possible things you have ever heard are coming from yourself. There's not much that people can say to me today that riles me up. Especially if it's about my creative work. Both blog-work and writing-work.
I'm a better person for having had depression and social anxiety. I know it.
I want to apologize here and tell you that I'll get back to writing about books and film, but I think you already know that. I need to stop apologizing, too.
I finished a costume I told myself was impossible. Anne Takamaki of Persona 5. Four garments, two of which I had never sewn anything like before. And . . . I did it. I'm a perfectionist though, so I know every single flaw in this costume intimately. But the feeling of completing something I insisted was impossible is really incredible. It makes me feel like, why not finish M+I?
In total, I spent 2 1/2 months on this costume. Let's not get into the cost of it all. Sewing is a very expensive hobby no matter where you shop. And I've learned to value quality over price. Could I have found a fabric at JoAnn's that was appropriate? Sure. But it would have cost the same as the fabric at Mood, and the quality of Mood's fabric is . . . perhaps better than any other fabric I've purchased in my life. Misato costume was 100% Mood. Anne Takamaki costume was 70% Mood, 30% Fabric.com which I regret. We'll get into that later.
Alas! I am out of my sewing cave with a finished project! And before the 31st, at that! (Don't get me started on how many years I've been at a costume in the last final minutes.) So for those of you who have been ignoring my costume-centric posts, this is what happened: I planned to make a 4 garment costume two and a half months ago, including a lined blazer (which I have never made before) and a tunic hoodie. My sister made a mask for me. Things were going great until they weren't. And then, magically, things swung back into the mood of great.
By now, I should probably tell you. My costume is Anne Takamaki's normal outfit, from Persona 5. Pictures will be coming soon, as I still can't believe I did this. I think I was more in shock than my co-workers when they heard that I had made every single piece. To recap, I made 1. a pleated skirt 2. a pair of bright red leggings 3. a lined blazer and 4. a long zip-up hoodie. The only thing I'm not too proud of is the S on the hoodie, but I'm thinking about taking it off and embroidering it on later. For Halloween, it's okay. If I wear it to a con next year, then embroidery is best. I also made my sister a Baymax beanie for her costume (how I snuck in time for that, I don't even remember). Is it sad if I'm already thinking about a costume for next year? I've been thinking either Rachel from Blade Runner or one of Diana Monti's numerous costumes from George Franju's Judex which I saw recently, and was one of the few films that felt so me to me in its insanity.
But this year's Halloween was special for me. For having planned a crazy costume and also because I attended a concert. With an orchestra, because I love to see music performed, it takes me back to my band days. It was a concert where the orchestra played music from The Nightmare Before Christmas while simultaneously playing the film. And a few people were there to sing. A few people like . . . Ken Page . . . Paul Reubens . . . Catherine O'Hara . . . and, oh, I don't know. One of my favorite musicians of all time?
After seven hours of work, I decided that I needed to finish the jacket that I had been working on. And for whatever reason, I just couldn't ease my sleeve into the armscye. I'd gather it a little more, there would be too much fabric on the body of the jacket. I'd let out some of the gathering, there was suddenly too little space for the sleeve. I couldn't figure it out. At one point, I brought it over to someone else and told them, "I can't do this." They took a look at it and told me they couldn't either. Well, this didn't alleviate any of my feelings.
And that was when the wolves came out of the woods. Surrounding me again, those old thoughts of worthlessness, of failure. Of how this was indication that I was too much of a failure to deserve to live. Of how I was never going to accomplish anything in my life. That I had no future. Things escalated from there, as I couldn't control tears while trying to pin the sleeve onto the jacket. My hands were shaking every time I picked up my garment.
However, I did get it sewn on. It looks horrible, none of the seams match. But it's on. I've been told many a time that no one will notice my mistakes. That doesn't help at all, because I see them. Many of my garments receive a lot of praise from people and when I tell them, "Yeah, but I messed up a bunch here, here, and here," they look at me like I'm crazy. (Well, they'd be right there.) This is the same way I am with my writing. If I write one sentence I don't approve of, I fall apart. It's something I need counseling on, I know. And I'm trying, but I'm not there yet.
I was in an emotional maelstrom last night. My head was throbbing. And the one thing that consoled me was when I saw my cat's head peek into my room. Bentley ended up curling next to me, purring loudly. As I pet him, the aching in my head began to disappear. It's at these moments that I think I'm so glad he picked me at the cat adoption center, that he hissed at any other cat that came my way.
I've been reading Matt Haig's Reasons to Stay Alive and I'm finding that I like it significantly less than I did Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon. It may be because Haig's book is more about his experience than the topic of depression and that he focuses more on getting better, hope. Whereas Solomon's book is more about the bleak reality that you will have to live with your depression and to seek vitality. Strangely, it's the bleaker message that is more uplifting to me. Perhaps because it feels more honest than being told that I will get better, that there are people out there who love me. These seem like hollow words. This may be due to the writing style as well - Solomon wrote with poignant honesty while Haig writes with a sense of humor. And humor is necessary in the sport of depression, but I feel as though his attempts to steer the book into a more positive light take away from that gallows humor.
This is me medicated with a meltdown as well (they happened way more frequently in the past). I think if I hadn't read Solomon's book, I'd think there was something wrong with me, that I was supposed to be better than that by now. But there's no cure for depression. I just have to learn to forgive myself. Pet my cat. Go along my day.
But it's even difficult to do that. I thought that the social anxiety would be my biggest problem in life. That has been pretty difficult, I won't lie. But depression has integrated itself into my way of thinking. Into my life views. And I have to somehow live with that.
I really don't know why I came here. I really don't know why I'm staying here. I am walking the cow.
I'm not sure why, but the lyrics to Daniel Johnston's Walking the Cow always touches me. This is true of many of Johnston's lyrics, and perhaps he writes about something that is a little too familiar for me.
Am I on the verge of a really big breakthrough or just another meltdown? I've been looking for my friend, she became an ocean Just to watch me drown.
I can't begin to tell you how in love I am with Of Montreal's Innocence Reaches. Having time with it has made me grow fonder. Kevin Barnes writes lyrics that sneak under my radar, until I'm singing them and I realize, wait. I too constantly feel like I'm on the verge of a really big breakthrough or another meltdown. Also, Barnes is the only person who would ever mention Antonin Artaud in his lyrics.
The desire to possess her as a wound.
I finally own Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' From Her to Eternity. I know, I could have purchased it at any time, but I kept telling myself I wanted the whole album physically. Physical ownership is important when it's an item I really enjoy. But I bought it online. Now I can pretend I'm in a Berlin nightclub in the 80's, looking for an acrobat I've been dreaming about whenever I listen to it.
He was sixteen and he had mistaken her for a teenager.
I had a dream last night. It's not so often that I have vivid dreams these days. Or at least, I don't remember them as well as I used to. But this dream came to me and I'm starting to think that it may be a story in disguise.
There is a woman (Beth). She is 25 and working at a supermarket. She can't fathom a future for herself. There is a boy (Ari, though that seems to be my stand-in name for all new male characters). He is sixteen, assertive, dominant. He knows exactly what he's going to do in life. They meet and start a relationship.
It's not long before everyone in Beth's family knows. Nor is it very long before everyone in Ari's family knows. And then, Beth is given the offer to travel through time. Not much can change in 9 years, right?
It's strange for me to have a story like this pop up in my head. There are no animate walls, growing arms. Beth's very skin isn't revolting against her. No one is seeing images of a double, hallucinated life. And there isn't an outside narrator who views these characters as specimen to deride rather than human beings. And I hate time travel. In fiction, anyway.
It's an odd story for me. But I'm going along with it.
It feels as though I can only do creative endeavors obsessively.
All I can think about right now is sewing. I prep myself by looking at fabric on websites, researching patterns, trying to discover what it is that I can do with this costume. I'm bored by most of the patterns offered by the Big 5 (why do you have 5 million patterns for the same shirt dress?) - Vogue being the occasional surprise, if there's a pattern by Issey Miyake, Koos van der Akker, or Marcy Tilton. With Simplicity, the only line I seem to care for anymore is the Cynthia Rowley one. And that was when I stumbled across the Pattern Magic books and had the crazy thought of, "I could do that."
The important thing that I'm learning through sewing is, if I put my mind to it, I can do just about anything. Sewing-wise. Maybe even writing-wise. I was working on the skirt's facing and I realized, trying to sew the seams to the facing, that there was too much bulk to go through my sewing machine. I panicked. A little. Maybe not a little. Then, I took a break from sewing. And when I came back, I thought what if I use the plastic foot rather than the metal foot? And what if I fiddle with the stitch length? It worked. I had to hand-crank my machine over some parts, but it worked. Perhaps the best cure for writer's block is to just get down to it and sew.
So. I've finished the pleated skirt with the Italian wool I purchased from Mood and am pleased to report that it hasn't felt scratchy at all while wearing it. In fact, it's quite smooth. I'm almost finished with the red leggings/pants/legging-pants. The fabric is a bit obnoxious, but the fit is great. Bentley even helped me sew by plopping on my fabric and held it still while I pinned. His intention most likely wasn't to help - more likely to get my attention. As I've learned through Instagram, apparently cats love to "help" while you sew. Who could resist sleeping on fabric? However, Bentley's favorite game is to pull the pins out of my fabric. Ah, my little gremlin. (Not to worry, I supervise him like a brooding gargoyle whenever he's near my sewing space.)
I just need to finish the pants, the alterations on the pattern for the blazer, and . . . I haven't even started on the hoodie or the pattern for said garment. I keep thinking, it'll be easy, right? Right? Also, my wig came in and my plain mask should be coming in soon. My sister is very good at altering papier mache, so she's going to cut it, fill it in, and paint it.
I think everything's going as planned and on time. Even if it isn't, I'll say it is. Everything's going well.