The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Illusion of Permanence, the Reality of the Ephemeral

Apparently there really is very little that lasts forever.

I go back and forth on this, knowing the truth and being alternately okay with it and depressed by it. (It used to depress me a lot more when I was younger, I think.)

And yet, sometimes I still have this little hope that maybe someday I'll find something permanent. Something good and real that lasts. (And I'm talking very broadly here.) Usually I tend to slant towards the bad things being the constant, and the good things being ever so fleeting.

A lot of times, when I am in a good mood, I start thinking "Maybe I can always be this way." And, of course, when I think about it I am immediately met with another thought of "I'm just going to get unhappy again. This won't last." I rarely think the opposite when I am glum.

But I recognize the spiral of life. We go around and around, experiencing something for a time, moving on to something else, coming back sort-of full circle. That's life, and it can be an amazing thing.

But more and more I think that the way my moods cycle, it's a little bit more intense than the rest of the world. I'm not just happy and sad, I'm ecstatic and depressed, teetering wildly on this seesaw between madness and sanity. And no matter how many times I reach some form of happiness, it seems I just go right back down again.

And even though I know that it doesn't seem to matter much, I find that I am afraid of ecstacy.

If I reach these dizzying heights, it won't last. I burn out, I fly too close to the sun. And perhaps the disappointment of having to fall back to earth is why. But I still think it's a sad thing.

But that's just stuff going on in my life. There are a lot of changes going on with the people around me right now. It can be sometimes unsettling for myself, or even more so for the others who are going through it.

Why can't we ever just find the jello-mold of in between?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Everything you know is wrong...



I seem to have trouble focusing and staying on task.

Even on days like today, where I feel pretty good in the morning, and say to myself "Okay, today I'm gonna accomplish stuff. No dicking around." After a few hours, my motivation really turns to shit.

I kinda noticed it before. I'm really good at thinking up artistic projects for myself, only to lose interest in them in varying degrees of time. I'll get interested in lots of things, and then they fall by the wayside. I didn't think it was a problem, per se, I just thought I was incredibly slack.

The things I'm interested in, I feel driven in accomplishing. If I have a set time schedule, I can focus to no end, forgoing sleep and food and anything else. Or, at least, I used to be able to do so, when I was younger and able to push my body harder.

Now that I'm a little older, it's getting harder to stay the course. And because of this, I think I'm able to see that this may actually be a problem for me.

What got me thinking about this is the little bit of research I did yesterday on cyclothymia, a sort-of form of bipolar disorder (or manic depression, to those not in the know). My therapist had suggested I research it, to see if it made sense to my life. Not everything seemed to ring true, but it raised some questions for me.

A lot of the more fleshed out descriptions (such and such person feels this way, does this, etc.) sounded like descriptions of completely "normal" people to me. And that either means that I am not "normal," or there is a lot of making up of problems that aren't there.

And I do think that a lot of times people come up with problems that simply aren't problems.

But that's an attitude that I get from my mother, I think. Which is another frustration. She just doesn't seem to want to see when anything's wrong with me unless it's rubbed directly in her face. (You should see the look on her face whenever she encounters the fact that I cut myself. Yeah. I do that sometimes.)

And the really funny thing is, to me, that's "normal." I could never admit that my depressions were ever some sort of problem that could be treated by professionals, I just thought it was me giving in to being a crybaby. I just thought I was slack. And I used to think that I only cut myself because I learned it from other "normal" people around me, that I was a wannabe (as if one could only hope to be authentic in the practice).

Okay, say it with me everybody:

"Gee, Rose. That's pretty fucked up."

Well, maybe for some people out there. "Normal" perhaps? I don't know. One of the other reasons I have been so reluctant to seek help is the very real knowledge that what I deal with is only the tip of a large and complicated iceberg, that there are others with problems far worse.

And yet, there's a vast and open sky of people who don't get it. Who expect productivity and results. Who expect me to fit into their world, when maybe the expectation should be that there's a world that fits into me.

And I haven't even begun to comment on how I worry about my bouts of supposed "euphoria" and how exactly they tie in to my spirituality.

Sometimes life most definitely sucks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I am a big boy and I will swallow it all...

So I'm probably the last Nine Inch Nails fan on earth to pick up the latest album, With Teeth. I didn't even opt for the dual disc Dolby surround sound version, just the plain ol' regular version. (Honestly, I don't have the surround sound setup to appreciate it. That's what boyfriends are for! ;-) ) And I've only had the album since last night, so bear with my half-baked review.

But again I remember my deep and long lasting love for Trent Reznor.

Well, actually at this point it's more like a profound admiration with some adoration and affection thrown in the mix. Not only is Trent an astounding businessperson, the man is an incredible musician! (A great combination if you want to get anywhere in the music industry, and one that always commands my respect.) The sounds he creates are like none anyone else could ever hope to make. If you do hear something similar, it is only because Trent did it first. And actually, the only time I can think of that I have heard a signature NIN sound is in "Seven Years In Tibet," a David Bowie song from Earthling, the album that Trent worked on with him. The man must have some kind of crazy mad intellectual property copyrights going on behind the scenes or something. Nobody copies NIN's sound (or at least, not well). Few people cover them. They only remix, and probably only at Trent's behest. (Not like I know any of this for certain.)

With Teeth is a good, solid album. It does feel a tad short to me, as if it's filler between more important projects, and it definitely doesn't have the all encompassing musical themes that showed up on The Downward Spiral and were cemented on The Fragile, which made it the masterpiece that it is. (That album is fucking artistic genius, and anyone who doesn't hear that must be deaf.) However, it's not out of line in the grand scheme of things.

At first listen, I almost want to say that Trent's suffering what a lot of brilliant artists who've been around quite a while suffer from. The songs sound a little tired, a little less original. It's as if everything he did built up to The Fragile, and once he hit that pinnacle he fell into a denoument. But it seems more like what happened to Radiohead with Hail To The Theif, which followed up such previous groundbreakings as OK Computer, Kid A, and Amnesiac. But it's still a really good, solid album. I suppose these plateaus have to happen every once in a while. (Let's hope he doesn't go the way of Depeche Mode. Did you listen to Exiter? Yeesh...)

The music itself reminds me a lot of The Fragile for the most part. A mix of electonic/industrial/rock with softer instruments like the piano. And I absolutely love how he uses the piano. Guitars and drums are great for the angry, crunchy sound that NIN can be known for, but when he places those soft piano bits into his compositions it adds this extra depth, this quiet introspection that comes with maturity.

And I think that he's definitely maturing. His lyrics touch on the same old NIN themes that he's always touched on. Lonliness, isolation, etc. etc. (Geez, does he have to break up with a girlfriend before he does every album?) And the man is quite the angst factory. I'm not sure how much of his lyrics are based off of personal experience anymore and how much is just what he think he needs to write. Stuff like "The Collector" sounds a little forced. (Does he really still feel like that?) But there's an older sensibility to other songs, like "Right Where It Belongs," "The Hand That Feeds," and "Every Day Is Exactly The Same." This isn't the fucked-up youth angry and confused by the world. He's played the game, seen the world, and it's still the same goddam mess that it was ten years ago.

I'm not sure whether he's actually writing about himself, or commenting on the desperate lives of people as a whole, but I hear a lot of complexity in what he's saying. "What if everything around you / Isn't quite as it seems / What if all the world you think you know / Is an elaborate dream / And if you look at your reflection / Is it all you wanted to be? / What if you could look right through the cracks / Would you find yourself / Find yourself afriad to see?" I hear the thoughts of someone who has lived their life in one specific way for so long, and senses a need to change, but doesn't know how to do it. Or perhaps is afraid. Or both. And I can definitely relate to that.

It's kind of scary to admit, but NIN has been an integral part of my life as I have grown up. For a significant amount of the black moods I have been in since the age of fifteen, Trent Reznor has come up with a musical idea that expressed perfectly how I was feeling. He's usually pretty good at summing everything up into one perfect, catchy little phrase. "Tried to save myself but myself keeps slipping away" is so perfect! Unfortunately, "Why do you get all the love in the world?" sounds a tad more whiny. But it's okay, I can forgive. The complexity of the music he's making more than makes up for the less-than-profound lyrics. And there's something deeper going on under the surface, I am sure of it.

And I can't wait to hear what he comes out with next.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Time Travel, Blogger Style

So in a valiant attempt at procrastinating on leaving my apartment today, I let myself get sucked into reading old blog posts.

Have I changed?

I think I have. A whole lot has happened in what I suppose is a short amount of time and yet feels like forever ago.

The two things that seem to have noticeably changed are the jaunty semi-comedic writing voice that I had been using for a while, and the lenth of my posts in general. These may or may not be bad things.

It's funny, reading what I was thinking when my ex and I had first broken up. I used to miss him, I really did. And I was trying to be friends with him, I really was. And now?

Now the only thing I really miss is the convenience of having another person sharing my apartment. And I've found that I just can't be friends with him. I don't think I really mentioned it, did I? After a few random IM conversations and phone calls that all resulted in my further misery (and yes, I did bring some of that onto myself), I realized that I just needed to not hear from him. Ever. I've got enough going on in life as is, I uncovered a lot of anger towards him that I refused to admit was there initially, and I'm never going to hear him acknowledge that he ever did anything wrong.

And he's not changing.

Or, rather, he started changing for the worse, and he isn't getting better. And frankly, it's none of my business anymore. He doesn't listen to me anyway. Why should I bother? And I most definitely don't ever want him back.

I'm really writing a lot of this now because I haven't made much mention of it here. (I've done a lot of spleen venting in LiveJournal, and only if you are one of my "friends" will you ever know the full extent of it.) I figured it might be good for continuity's sake.

I don't think my ex is reading this anymore either.

But enough about him. I haven't really talked to him in two weeks, and I feel like maybe now I can finally let go and heal.

A lot of other things have changed. Living on my own is interesting. I feel a lot closer now to the girl I was in college, only I have a little bit more life experience and a "real job" to help me pay the bills. For the most part it's really great! There are, however, unfortunate things, like being sick on my own and having to do the dishes and laundry and cook for myself.

But my cats can sleep in bed with me every night, and I don't have to feel guilty that my place is still a mess.

It's my own space. It's something I've been wanting for a long time. It's peaceful, and comfy, and quiet, and sometimes lonely, but it's mine. All mine! If I can throw off the shackles of employment obligation in my mind, I even feel totally free! Lots of nights I just come home and tune out, or I go out to Stardust and hang out. I feel tired, or purposeless sometimes. But it's okay. Life is happening. It's going on. And everything is real.

There was this terrible effect my ex had on me, to put a pretty face on everything, say everything's just fine. When anyone does that, it invalidates them. There's honest, genuine stuff happening in people's lives, and even if it's messy it feels so much better to actually be honest about it.

And I've said this to my new boy (who has been with me through the thick and the thin of my unexpected depression), even though I've been depressed I'm still happy because I'm feeling something. I feel alive again.

Therapy's going pretty well too. I think my psychologist finally hit "pay dirt" in my inner workings yesterday. What started as a discussion about something current in life led to a lot of other things that have happened in the past, and a running theme with the way I see myself. She may just figure out who I am after all.

The best part is, she doesn't make me feel like anything I do is bad or wrong, she just observes. At first I thought this was strange, but I've found it very helpful. I don't feel guilty for anything I'm doing or not doing. I don't feel like I'm a "fucked up" person. I just am. It's amazing.

I've let go of the idea that my parents have control over my life (although things feel a little off between us now). And I've just let go of a lot of pressure on myself in general. I'm just getting by, day to day. And suddenly I'm having more "good" days than "bad" ones. And if I have a bad day, it's just a bad day. There will be other days to follow.

And the more people I talk to about the symptoms that my problems produce, the more I find that it really doesn't change their opinion of me one way or the other. (And if it does, "eff 'em.")

I suppose I should wrap up, this is probably a very long post by now. But I want to publicly acknowledge my boy (sweet, wonderful boy that he is). I thank him all the time, but I think I'm going to keep thanking him. He's given me a lot of support that I never thought I'd get from anyone. Everyone should buy him chocolate, because he's so wonderful. (Good, dark chocolate too. Not that paltry milk chocolate crap. ;-) )

Saturday, July 16, 2005

OMG, can I really be this excited about comics?

You all have to check this out:

You Ain't No Dancer

Sure, I looked at it because one of my friends' stories is in it, and I know some of the other people involved. But that's not the point.

The point is that I haven't been this excited about an anthology, to the point that I want to actually buy the damn thing in a really long time. (Since Flight, actually. And whaddya know, some of the Flight contributors have contributed to this one too.)

Lots of neat little stories, although the theme is "The Worst of Times"...

But check it out. Now. All of you! Come on, this is good stuff! *bounce bounce*

Friday, July 15, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit for your approval...

Photographic proof of my geekiness... (View the picture posts below.)

Old and busted. Posted by Picasa

The new hotness. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A slight rant on gender equality...

So yes, the subject has come up a couple of times recently, and I must say that I am getting a little frustrated.

If you are a white male, you are obviously going to see the world a little differently than if you are a white woman. (Same goes for black men, black women, hispanics, asians, etc. etc.) But come on people!

I had a well-educated black man from New York tell me that he thinks that women have more power than they realize.

I had two transient white gentlemen from Philly remark upon how it sucks being a white male because they're the butt of all jokes momentarily, and basically get no respect.

I read a cute little column in Oprah magazine (supposedly written by a male psychologist) which repeated the fact over and over again that apparently all men really want is sex.

True, women are not powerless, but the ones who succeed more often in not are the ones who fit into the roles created for them through the "male" paradigm. (I put "male" in quotes because it's really a societal structure at this point favoring one viewpoint traditionally associated with one gender rather than the other.) How many average looking women are rock stars? How many successful businesswomen are "bitchy?" Men honestly do think differently than women. When I stated this to the gentleman from New York, he was baffled. "Men are really simple! We like things simple! There's nothing to figure out!" Which completely circumvented the initial statement.

"Simple" vs. "Complicated" is most definitely different. Just because men think one way doesn't mean women think the same.

And it's not even down to a matter of "men" vs. "women" so much as "those who think like engineers" and "those who think like artists." Not even that really. There are so many different variations on thought, it can boggle the mind.

But I digress.

My point (which seemed to be ignored at the time) is that society is still based on the way most men (and some women) tend to think. I am trying to go into details about this, but I only have a vague perception of it based on memories from reading The Feminine Mystique (which I highly reccommend to anyone, just for the sense of history alone). So you'll just have to look for it yourself. But believe me, it's there. Work for a workaholic and you'll understand.

And as for men wanting to have sex all the time, this can't possibly be true, can it? Don't get me wrong, I love sex, and I love being considered beautiful and sexy, but I personally feel rather empty if this is the entirety of others' perceptions of me. I am so much more than my naughty bits, and I would venture to extend the same courtesy to my counterparts.

I see it as an insult to men everywhere that they are simplified to such an extent that all they really want is to have sex. How do the men in the house feel about this? Honestly, I want to know. I am confused.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Magick is everywhere...

For being mostly Floridian, and definitely southern for most of my life, I thought I'd been doing pretty well. I've been around a little, seen cities and countryside, seen a clear and starry sky in the middle of the country night, and even snow on multiple occasions (complete with ill-fated skiing attempts).

And yet, I've never been to Virginia in the summer.

What makes this so special? One word. Fireflies.

I've seen them before, gazing out the window on a road trip in Missouri. There were a few of them closer to the ground on the side of the road. I thought they were pretty cool. But here, here they light up the trees! I didn't know the night could sparkle like it does. No man made anything can compare to this wonderfully beautiful, simple act of nature that's been going on throughout all of the history of time.

I look up at these tiny little lights, and I can't help but be amazed. And I think about how they've been around since before electric light, and I wonder what the people alive back then thought of them.

How can anyone look at the natural world around us and not believe for at least a split second that there is truly magick in the world?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Fireworks!

Had an interesting weekend dragging my two college chums around Orlando. We feasted on sushi (Fuji Sushi is the way to go!) and Mexican food (PR's - you haven't had good Mexican food until you've been to a good hole-in-the-wall restaurant). We made a trek to the Virgin Megastore (they don't got those fancy stores in Savannah). We hung out. I tried to introduce them to my O-Town pals with mixed success (although the 4th of July barbecue seemed to be a rousing success). I made Drew show me his unfinished artwork. Antar sang for us (and very well too!). We played with my cats. Good times. :-)

And I mused about what it meant to me to be American.

I've been trying to write this little essay about it all weekend, but it never seemed to gel. And it's funny, thinking about it while in the midst of revelers lighting off as many pyrotechnics as they can afford (technically legal or no).

How many of us just think about Independence Day as the night we all get to light fireworks?

Now, I've never been one to be terribly patriotic. When my ex was working on the Kerry campaign, I would put on a pretty face and smile. "Go America! I'm a patriotic liberal! It's our country too!" But inside I felt a little hollow. I've been ashamed of my country for quite a long time, and rarely see hope of progress to the idealistic society I was taught about in school.

I never really had much school spirit either.

Why should I pledge my allegiance to an entity merely because that's where I wound up? Certainly I chose my college, and I did ultimately choose my high school. I even believe that on a spiritual level I chose to be born in America. But why cheer on a "team" that I don't feel like I'm a part of? I have never felt like an "American." It was never explained to me why I should pledge my allegiance to the flag. It was never explained to me what it even meant until I was a freshman in high school. And when someone finally prompted me to think about it, I was all at once ashamed that I had never thought about the words I was saying every morning and offended that no one else had ever before explained to me the promise I was making to my country.

I don't like professing blind allegiance unless it is a conscious decision on my part. (Yes, I get lazy, so I'll sometimes make the choice to go along with someone else's thinking. But I fully accept it as my choice.) So I stopped.

Thinking about it now, however, I realize that there are two faces to this country. There's the pretty, idealistic face we try to put on for everyone (including ourselves), the face of makeup, concealing creme, mascara, lipstick. A lot of us wear this face of national identity religiously. We cannot be seen without it. We try to make it our identity. We forget who we really are underneath.

And then there's the other face. The one that the rest of us wear. The one we're all born with. The one that doesn't need makeup.

This is my American face. My American identity. No matter how much I look to other cultures and countries for something to relate to, for some other part of my identity, I was born American. I grew up American. I didn't buy into the capitalist bullshit. I never went out for the cheerleading squad. But I was involved in the theater. I learned the history, good and bad. My American heritage is that of Hunter S. Thompson, the Hippy movement, the Feminist movement, the Beat Generation, the Lost Generation, Mark Twain, the conductors of the Underground Railroad. The people who knew the pretty face, but also saw what was behind it, and ultimately choose their own direction, for the good of all or not.

I am uniquely American in my outlook, only my uniqueness comes from the other side of that pretty face. And no matter where I go, this will always be a part of me.

Happy Independence Day (belated).
 
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