Archive for February, 2008

Stop the world, I want to get off

My life is going too fast at the moment. It seems to be always nearly Wednesday or nearly the weekend – I hardly have time to gather my thoughts on the days in between. On top of that, my lexicon is suddenly full of unpleasantly grown-up words like ‘responsibility’ and ‘commitment’.

I’d like to take a sabbatical in late 1999, when I kept ungodly hours, spent my days flat on my back (reading books, you perverts) and my nights making bongs from empty coke bottles. Instead I get up at half past six every morning, aware of the tension headache even before I’ve opened my eyes.

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A quick note

I have lots of longer notes in my head, but I’m not sure when I’ll have time to write them all down. So for now, here’s something I was musing on this morning:

When I am happy, I am dualist. I like the idea of a separate body and mind, and find it a pleasingly romantic motif. In fact, maybe it’s the greatest motif we’ve come up with yet.

When I am sad, I am a nihilistic monist. However, my nihilism has changed. These days it is less about tiny worthless ants and stepping out into fast moving traffic without looking, and more about a benign acceptance of my lot.

It doesn’t even seem to be sad anymore, although it is still monist. This morning I was congratulating myself on being clever enough to have worked out that dying doesn’t really matter, when it occurred to me that in actual fact I’ve just accidentally become Buddhist.

Bugger.

Never mind. When I told Jonty I’d become a benign and accepting nihilist, he told me this was childish, and that I should strive for existentialism instead. Maybe I will.

Etched bright with sunlight

Grr, more bad dreams. They make me wake up feeling brittle, like a come down without the high.

In last night’s I was in some sort of university dorm in the early hours of the morning, listening to my new boyfriend’s friends talking about how horrible I am, and how they don’t like me because I try too hard.

I get the impression they don’t know I am listening, but when I say something they don’t care and carry on teasing me anyway. The sun is rising and it is a beautiful, bright day.

The outside of the building looks like my school IRL, but although there are shared dormitories the feeling is of being at university.

***

Hmm, don’t think a need Jung to tell me that’s an anxiety dream. Maybe not as negative as it sounds though, with all the sunshine an’ stuff.

I’m fascinated by the dreams I’ve been having lately, not least because until recently I haven’t really remembered my dreams once I’m properly awake.

Since I’ve been writing down the interesting ones, I’ve noticed themes I might not have spotted otherwise:

* I’m university-aged in all of them
* I live in a communal space or dormitory (unlike university halls, but with that feeling)
* They all have patches of brilliant blue sky and bright sunlight

Intriguing, non?

On swords and spanking, sorta

When I was a kid I went through a phase of self-harming – an ugly phrase that I don’t like using.

For a start, it isn’t true – I don’t think I did myself any harm. Physically I was pretty cautious, probably no worse than living with an angry cat, and mentally, well, we all have to confront our demons somehow.

Or to be less glib, I can’t say whether it helped or hindered my journey through life, but at this point there isn’t anything about myself I’d change (except I’d like to live nearer to my mum), so the net effect hasn’t been detrimental.

My other issue is that the term is so melodramatic. It conjures images of angst-ridden teens and Ritchie Manic (ahem), or else desperate psychiatric wards and Sylvia Plath. There’s definitely a social stigma attached to both these perceptions, so for that reason I avoid talking about my cutting spell too much.

There is also the fact that my growed-up self is slightly embarrassed by my teenaged self’s approach to dealing with problems, which is a stupid response – life is a learning curve right?

The final reason for my reticence is a bit different – the experience was always very sensual and ritualistic, and felt quite private because of that (and I like, never talk about private things, evah).

So, flash forwards 14 years. I’m older, a little wiser, and I also happen to know a hell of a lot more about BDSM. I realise now that should I give another person consent to do the cutting for me, it is no longer self-harm. It is knife play, or blood sports.

I understand that the physical endpoint is the same as it was when I was 14, and I know that BDSM can sometimes be a powerful emotional release (when I was a kid it was about release and control). What I don’t understand is whether the two things are still different despite this.

If I were to open a packet of new scalpel blades now (there are some in the desk drawer), would it be self-harm or auto-erotica?

How kinky am I?

I was asked this ridiculous question at the weekend. Not that it is a ridiculous question to ask, of course. Just that it is ridiculous to answer, when framed in those terms.

Some, not much, very, 72, green? None of these answers makes any sense, because the question presupposes a universal scale of kinkiness that doesn’t exist. (Unless Kinsey got round to it, in which case probably 4.)

Instead we have to give private or potentially embarrassing specifics (“last Saturday while I was X a guy asked me to Y his Z, and I did!” Have fun filling in the blanks) or we have to attempt to benchmark our kinkiness against the questioner’s.

Do you consider it edge play to fuck with the light on? Then you’ll find me quite kinky. Ever drawn an acid smiley on someone’s breasts with ethanol and set it alight with a violet wand? Then I guess I’m pretty tame. (Ever spank your girlfriend with a 4-foot broadsword? Here’s my number.)

The nice thing about the special theory of kinky relativity is that it encourages tolerance. While no one’s sexual history, preferences, acts or fantasies will plot directly onto anyone else’s, it’s easy to see that the points follow a normal distribution.

For me, being reminded that we all fall somewhere on the same curve makes it easier to say, “Hey, well it’s not my thing, but if you like it fine.” Or to put it another way, it makes me happy to think that one man’s ‘eurgh’ is another man’s ‘ahhh’, and that I can draw a chart to prove it!

Best-selling books

I am utterly fascinated by this list. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been poring over it for hours.

I’m quite surprised that Don Quixote is the best selling work of fiction in the world, although it is considered to be one of the first novels so it has had a lot of time to get to the top. (I’m graciously allowing religious tracts a category outside of fiction, the Bible and the Koran are both quasi-historical, quasi-fictional in my mind.)

The Pilgrim’s Progress is the second fictional work, and again a very early one so perhaps it has simply had more time to be printed and sold. Not so The Count of Monte Cristo, which takes third place despite being a relative upstart from the 19th century.

The Harry Potter entries are quite interesting as they don’t correlate with the order in which they were published. I would expect, especially given the Cervantes argument, that the Philosopher’s Stone would come highest, followed by the Chamber of Secrets – so far, so good.

But then it falls apart. Instead of coming third, the Prisoner of Azkaban is only fifth best-selling of the series, while the Half-blood Prince jumps from sixth published to fourth best-selling.

Does this mean, assuming numbers sold correlate with numbers read, that some people read the first two then thought ‘oh screw it, I don’t really care what happens’ until having a change of heart four books later? Strange, indeed.

Dreamlet; like a froglet only smaller

Last night I woke up every two hours, almost exactly on the half hour each time. These are some of the snippets of dream I remember:

1. Moving into a new university halls of residence. Everything is panelled with pine and the boys have long shaggy hair. Perhaps it is meant to be the 70s?

2. Feeling anxious about not having nice clothes. Shopping in Primark and buying a purple crocheted cardigan with a single gold button (waking and sleeping definition of nice is clearly variable).

3. Cooking razor clams in white wine, over a camping stove. Panicking because I have torn a recipe out of the Observer magazine and lost it.

4. A close-up of my teeth, with bumpy bits and biofilms clearly visible. Flossing said close-up teeth with old, frayed floss.

Am not very knowledgeable about the interpretation of dreams, but these seem a bit angsty to me. Am spending a fair amount of time thinking about the wedding (although not feeling outwardly stressed) so it could be something to do with that?

Alternatively, I’ve had a touch of the winter blues lately, so I’ve been spending a bit more energy keeping myself on an even keel (telling myself it’s normal, valid, possibly even healthy, and trying not to get subsumed by my own nihilism, that kind of thing), so maybe it’s to do with that?