The sponge

I am soft and full of holes,
Preserved by smiles
That host soirees in my belly,
Every once in a while.

Forest fires snuffed out
By the swampy stretch of shallow summers;
By the mountainous intimacy,
And the cold blood pumper.

I am the overzealous draught
Puffing up the wrong trail,
Where Circe’s shrubs grow dull
And Rosemary’s spell tickles your snout.

Their nymph dance clouds the air
And you stare, as the same shade of ash
Stains the ocean and sky.

I smile at your glassy eyed eagle eye –
You are at sea with my oddly set genes.

My two-minute love, I am
The train of thought you couldn’t follow,
The prospect turned to vapour,
Floating up to be a cloud
And raining down to wet your dreams.

Don’t expect me to bloom
Just because it is spring.

You amaze at the flowery insights
Budding off my frivolous tongue,
At the bleeding emotion
Ejaculating from my ripe fat fruits.

There is a pureness and ease
To this elephant happiness.

But the sickness, you see,
Has been breeding for months
And the worms inside are waiting
To rush down your throat and smother you.

As you press your feverish mouth to mine,
It is your weakness that will rot you.

I lie before you, truthful and bare.
Trust me darling, all I really am
Is a few padded memories of childhood,
Waiting like dew to dry up in the sun.

I have soaked up more than any barnacle could bear
So just give me a squeeze, and I’m done.


Photograph of view from Punta di Circe, San Felice al Circeo, Italy

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Apocalypse

Always in the car of doom. And it’s doom for all this time, out of any of our control. We’re driving down the road and it’s calm, still vaguely sunny, there’s breeze, the sea is somewhere on the left and it’s almost dusk. A building up front towers over all, the Tikal perhaps, or maybe the Taj Mahal. It wasn’t there before and its feels ominous. I know something is happening a second before the rest. Yet we’re all in this together. Objects start tumbling from the sky before us: tables, cars, machines, electronics, trees, body parts, shoes, flowers and chickens. We see it but it’s too late to stop and we’re under the pouring rain of humanity. And now we all know this is the end, it is the end of it all. Tossed into the terminal, an itch of disappointment tugs at me. I thought this would feel different. There’s no sudden realisation, no purpose, no regret. My life doesn’t flash before my eyes. I just quietly find myself dismantling… everything splinters, matter is no more, and I vaguely think this is what it might be like if a planet struck earth, if we were imploding on ourselves. I’m disassembled painlessly and bloodlessly into blackness. And as our history is scratched out by the universe’s absentmindedness, I become extra dimensional, pulsating sparkles in the nothingness. Inexplicable and immaterial, maybe this is what pure consciousness feels like.

Featured Image by Danish artist Anja Hemmingsen. Find her on: http://anjahemmingsen.com

Nap Time

Finally, it is nap time and I wake up with my nose smashed into metal. At least the bodies aren’t here this time. Oh, it is happening again. Something weird is growing in here somewhere and I can feel it trying to scratch its way out. I’m not quite sure what will happen when it does, or if there’s anything I can or should be doing to stop it. I’m on autopilot again. This black tar-like feeling is spreading in me and I am constantly on edge, fear chewing away at me. I am so fucked. Everything is perfect right now and I’m paralysed by fear: I am slowly being forced to walk blindfolded off the plank and who knows what lurks beneath. Will she be there to steer the wheel this time? She know the rocky planes off the paths better than I do. Or will I be left powerless and lonely to keep myself awake while this dull sleep washes over me? My lips and fingers are so dry, shrivelled to perfection by sleepless nights. I feel slightly sick all the time and the pain behind my eyes pushes the lids shut. But I cannot sleep now, oh no. I cannot sleep ever, not with this fucking HD screen stuck on channel suffering 24/7. I have grown morbid again: guts and violence seem to temporarily lift me out off the torpor. Disgust is the most awake I’ve felt recently. Irreverence is my comfort blanket.

SHOCK

Sudden, sudden loss of control.
Your invisible blood sticks to my fingers,
The air that left you,
To my chest like alien tentacles.
Grey metal to join the blue and black,
Already nuzzled in the fields.
Who was here before me?

My pill-induced nightmare is shattered by your silent scream.

Sudden, sudden loss of control.
My biggest fear just rolled all over me:
From a distance I observed,
The war of paranoia and sedation –
The human-made virus
Spreading through the world.
Whose side am I on?

Grey streaked kind woman, I can’t tell you how sorry I am.

Sudden, sudden loss of control.
I cling desperately to the only scrapes you left me:
It works, but only just.
And only just always fills you
With horrors and questions and blame.
Only just pulls me out of Switzerland,
and right back into the rubble.

I’m at war.

 


 

Featured Image: ‘The Art of Paranoia’ by Peter Schwartz. Check him out here:

http://www.artmajeur.com/en/artist/peterschwartz/portfolio

Letter for the new year

Dear all,

Let me start this post, and this new year, by apologising for not writing anything in December. I have been rather busy, thoughtful and confused. Today, I shall honour my original quest to share reflections starting from my own experience and to record my progress in this year in which I have ‘taken time off’ to look after myself.

I started this adventure by testing out a life of routine: work, family, yoga, therapy, reading, writing, no travelling, no household and financial responsibilities, not much going out. In fact, not much of anything that could hinder the quiet balance of my (I now realise) overly-structured daily pattern. In doing so, I succeeded in not losing myself in the depths of deep depression or mania.

However, three months into this new lifestyle, I started getting irritable. Familiar faces started to annoy me terribly and my disgust in humanity increased: the old woman who shooed the dog, the people who wouldn’t let me pass on the zebra crossing, the people walking about aimlessly in shopping centres, getting in my way and stamping on my feet, the people who complained about bombings in Paris, and did nothing in their lives to make the world a better place, those who moaned about a corrupt government and were masters of fiscal evasion. Badly dressed people, people speaking loudly, people saying stupid things, people frowning… everything was painful to my eyes and ears.

And then I started getting anxious: why was I so irritable? I needed to control myself, not seem strange at work or at home. They’d start to think I was manic! My hands started shaking and my insides bubbling, when I was alone with myself I didn’t feel very well. Towards the end of November a woman sped through a red light and very nearly crashed into me and my friend. A series of ‘what if’s’ instilled themselves into my mind. What if my friend hadn’t been so quick on the brakes? What if we’d been a couple of inches further down the road? What if my friend had died and I’d been left with the guilt of having asked her to drive my car cause I was tired?

And finally the fear crept in: I spent ages in my car, how many times had I evaded death? I started seeing ambulances on the road, every day for a week. Cars speeding in the rain, water on my wind shield. I started flashing images of myself dead and bloody, a road kill. My hand clutched the steering wheel and my ears pounded. Nightmares started haunting my sleep: I killed my loved ones cause I didn’t drive carefully, I lost complete control, became insane.

What was happening?

The structured balance which had worked so well in keeping the craziness out was somehow giving in. I wasn’t, of course, spiralling out of control or losing touch with reality: my anxiety seemed to be limited to car journeys and I could control my irritation. Most importantly I was aware that something was going wrong. I talked to my therapist about it, who suggested it may have to do with the fact that I had been ‘living the life of a cloistered nun’, as she put it.

That woke me up. I realised all at once, that the routine I had mistaken for balance, was far from it. I had gone from being all over the place, full of ups, downs, interests, enthusiasms and responsibilities, to a life deprived of anything that could trigger an emotional response of sorts. I wasn’t learning how to deal, and live, with bipolar disorder: I was avoiding it. Of course I felt balanced: my mum made me coffee in the morning, I had no responsibilities other than work and I avoided nights out, alcohol, drugs, people, situations were I could spend money, PEOPLE. I wasn’t crazy and spiralling out of control, but I also wasn’t ME.

Maria Popova, author at brainpickings.org writes: ‘the structure of routine comforts us, and the specialness of ritual vitalises us. A full life calls for both — too much control, and we become mummified; too little excitement and pleasurable discombobulation, and we become numb. After all, to be overly discombobulated is to be dead inside — to doom oneself to a life devoid of the glorious and ennobling messiness of the human experience.’

So I decided to test myself: I brought a plane ticket to visit old friends and started going out more often. I spent time with people, old friends and new ones, had a few drinks, listened to some great music and had a good time. But most of all I felt like myself again. And sure, I may still be a bit overenthusiastic when doing things (stuff like being overly affectionate towards everyone or spending 38 quid on scientific magazines while waiting for my train, oops) but I’m not bat-shit crazy and I feel real again.

And this is what I need to learn how to be, one step at a time. I realise now that what I have to do, what I need to do, is a lot harder than I had anticipated. Avoidance is boring but fairly easy, self-control and patience are a whole different matter.

So here’s to a year in which my top priority is learning to live with myself: a year of patience but not avoidance, of adventure and spontaneity, but not recklessness and carelessness. Here’s to savouring the things and people that make me happy, and not skimming past them in a frenzy for more.

Keep an eye out in the coming week for a more technical account of self-control and willpower and what it really means to implement them in real life.

Happy New Year to all,

Alisha:-)

Why the “Mercury” Thing.

I’ve now been writing on this blog for more than a month, so I suppose it’s about time I explain the meaning behind it’s name. It’s really quite random: it comes from a dream I had a few months ago, that I came to interpret as a metaphor for the duality of my existence (yay to over analysing everything).

So, I was slightly manic, I guess, or at least excessively high spirited, and I had this kind of weird dream (as happens often) that I was this beautiful, goddess-like, amber curled creature dressed in silver, floating above pools of mercury right next to the blazing hot sun, bubbling with purpose and a secret. Pretty cool huh?

Except that all of a sudden, I was sinking into that same surface, watching the godlike me floating away and contemplating me with a mixture of pity and disgust. I was immobilised and uncomfortably warm: I wasn’t burning (as you would kind of expect, seen as I was pretty much chilling in a pool of corrosive substance right next to the goddamn sun). No, I was just uncomfortably warm. And I knew I was stuck there: never to drown and never to be free.

While the other me floated away towards bliss and immensity, towards a world of hope and possibility, I was signed up for eternal apathy and discomfort, and completely incapable of helping myself.

In the morning confusion that followed I also wrote this poem about my ‘mercurial’ (and grandiose) persona, so I might as well put it in as well!


I dropped the thermometer:

What a thrill to chase
Little bubbles everywhere.
Acrid shiny silvers –
They are drops of mirrors.

Look there: it is me!
It is my reflection I see,
Blazing sunlight and glee:

My volatile moods,
Etched with smiles and deadly fumes,
On my ever-changing moons.

An eternal river,
I gurgle with promise
In the soil, the air, the water –
Breathtaking and flawless.

My shiny surface
Draws you in closer.
I’m your road to gold,
the gods’ messenger.

But my scalding skin
You cannot touch
You greedy treasure scavenger.

You’re too avid and bitter
With your truths and reason –
Your reality addiction!

In the gaping darkness
I will eat you whole
Like a death trap –
A black hole.

I’m liquid metal,
Quicksilver.
I will melt your brain,
Destroy your swollen liver.

Only the mad can dip their toes
In these pools of chaos and clatter.
I’ll be the gloss on your top hat

If you’ll be my mad hatter.

A Storm

The air smells like South America
I am cold and damp and the sky is lilac,
Lit up like the fields in Valensole.

(And I suddenly miss something that’s not there.)

The wind shakes the trees,
A neighbour’s drain gurgles distinctly
and I always loved the smell of the rain.

Oh, to be unlimited, to be free!
To flutter in the reality of possibilities
I’ve discovered for myself out here.

(I close my eyes and smell the air.)

And I’m running now,
With my feet on the damp grass
Alongside my discomforts and fears.

On the tepid sand of a beach somewhere,
With Northern Lights flashing above me
And christmas lights burning within me.

I do not care now.
Those distant judgements and colds,
cannot touch me, cannot hurt me!

I slip into memories
Of humid walls, sex and adventures.
Of bright white mornings without sleep, yet at peace.

(And I float back, into the stormy green.)

Five trees: I never knew there where five trees.
I wonder why I never count the things around me!
And the lonely nails on the wall

where the wisteria climbs in the spring,
All the way to the roof top where I lay.
And time shifts into darkness, but I feel no fear.

I am immense, and for a moment
the world is imperfect like me.
My finger tips tingle and my ankles sting.

I feel myself, wet and eternal
And for a moment, just a moment,
I am free.

Post # 7 Nighttime Frenzy

The outside air is sharp and crazed:
The breeze, the fever, my head in a haze;
How did you resist the deep dare of the dark?
From your window, the sky suggests safety and light,
My guts din and dance in a chaos of sparks
And I run as a child, with no aim, in delight!

Joy, frost, ducklings and breeze
In our hair, with seduction and laughter
I tease you away from this bleak pallid world,
Towards cosmic, magic, rhapsodic symmetry;
Souls and bodies embraced in deranged symphony
All those secrets and certainties fiercely unfurled!

Forever unsleeping we’ll live, you and I,
We’ve no need for the slumber and the idleness, you and I;
Don’t they see, don’t they feel, the bustling euphoria?
Oh, my fingers could dance this dance forever, my mind
So many worlds and ways and wills could wander.
Thick brows, dark eyes, framed in curls of amber

Unruly as my soul, ostensibly beam at me
And this beauty I now grasp, won’t relinquish or enrich me.
I shiver in the cold, at the promise of spring…
Up the tree all the stars, share our frantic delight
Of the books and the feels that still keep me up at night;
And I’m sheltered from the morals and manners they sing:

‘Now stop it Mercury, you’re insanity is gushing
From the core of your reckless wickedness, and burning;
We’ve no heart for this blame, we’ve no time for your pain.
You’re talking too fast, you’re delirious, you’re rabid
you consider yourself clever but you’re merely big mouthed!’

And the squeamishness and guilt and the fear creep back in:
I am meat, dust, and disgust, yet again.


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Post #4 Manic Confusion

Faces, sweat, tiny little squares.
It all fades and flashes
And you’re so warm,
so genuine…

A toothache and desperate desire.
My knees tremble
With hunger, fear and life;
With lust…of what?

And to think that just this morning,
my alarm clock was destruction!


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Rather confusing drunken/manic slurs from the past:

I feel things, hard. Not just about myself about everyone, about the world. I feel their pain, their sorrow and it hurts. The insignificance we dwell in is overwhelming and at times I feel like I can’t bare it. I feel the pleasure as well, the joyful silliness, the heart aching bliss of affection and tenderness. And it’s ecstatic but just as overwhelming, it doesn’t make any sense, is it weakening me or waking me? I can never find the right words.

My feelings are too unrefined and chaotic, and all I do is obsess, obsess, obsess… These human words and etiquettes make me feel so stuck. Stuck in inexplainable concepts and superficial dilemmas. Why does language make us special? All it does is make people feel like they should be able to communicate accurately, when they can’t. It makes me feel inept, and confused.

If only I could put my thoughts into words, so even I could understand them. I wish I didn’t seem so banal, normal and common, whenever I try. I want to be special and everyone wants to be special, and it makes me so un-special. I feel myself nagging at myself, wanting to be something, to do something, to make my life “worth living”. I’m so confused. I hate myself because it’s so normal to be confused.

I want to saviour sadness, not be miserable. I want to travel and learn and taste those moments, when you’re so full of life you could eat up the beauty of it all with a single hungry look. When everything is possible and even time and space feel like paper chains. When you sit in a bar with friends or strangers drinking belgian beer and you feel that glow, that light, when your face aches from laughter and companionship and silliness.

When you want to shout at everyone, how can you not feel this, why are we not all dancing and prancing about like lunatics? When nothing else is important, and the world loves you and your exams the next day fade away and your dreams fade away and your nightmares fade away. When you’re robbed of all you have, stripped of every care, and you still feel that tingle, and you’re alive, you’re everywhere, you’re infinite.

Yet all I find comfort in lately is mindless sex, violence, exhibitionism, stupidness, music, abstract thought and nonsense. I can’t feel, I’m trying to feel… Do I not want to feel? I can’t even remember what I just thought, or even if I did, and even if I did, it would take more than a lifetime to decipher.

Yes doctor, my “feelings” are slowly numbing out, my “passions” are slowly fading away. Yes, teacher, you’re clever and have purpose and the word surely must need your theories on middle eastern development and you where beautifully there when the room was spotty and your hair curled perfectly behind your ear, and I could feel your barely resentful thigh in between my clumsy legs…

I feel stale, human, rotting…

And I listen to Chopin’s Nocturne number 8 in D flat, and I feel that oh so common emptiness.

Post # 3 On Patience – The Arrogant Pilot

‘I used to think I was clever, those days and weeks when the world rolled under me.’


Patience. I used to think of it as something an honest and creative person can hardly commit to. There are so, so, so many things to do and see and eat and learn, that there literally is not enough time to even think them all, let alone plan them. If you’ve never experienced the watery mouth of a pre-meal Christmas morning, the anxious quivers before an impossible exam, or the eager anticipation before a holiday, date, album release, season, election day, new movie sequel, or silly soap opera new season, you’re either boring, bored or alien. In the first of these cases, I suggest you stop right here – I hardly would expect you to make any sense of this gibberish distortion and you’re probably too down to earth to even try. As for the other two: I don’t flatter myself enough to believe I can wake you from your torpor, or give you an accurate perspective of how complex and weird it is to be so very human. I suggest you humour me in my thoughts.

If, on the other hand, you are human and curious, I believe I can safely say that you must be, to some extent, impatient. If you really fancy something, you’d quite rather have it (or have it happen) now, rather the in a couple of decades. Sure, you might qualm your desires with anecdotes such as ‘it’s worth the wait’ or ‘good things take time’, but let’s be fair to ourselves: if they could put their hands on their object of desire then and there, I sincerely doubt any semi-sane individual would respond with ‘maybe later’.


‘You could be an excellent pilot, but if you don’t take any flight lessons to keep up with your potential, all you’re gonna see is the big ass tree at the end of the runway, before you smash your nose right into it.’


I used to think I was clever, those days and weeks when the world rolled under me. When I was so full of ideas and thoughts and plans that I could do anything and be anything. When my heart raced constantly at the prospect of encountering a new interest, a new person, a new place. When my thoughts were speed of light fast and no-one could keep up. I could learn French, watch three movies, listen to the entirety of Beethoven’s Symphonies, serve drinks in my college bar, go for a walk, climb a tree, eat three meals, go to lectures, talk to people, have a late night chat with someone till the wee hours of the morning and feel the despair of how twenty four hours are such a tiny amount of time to call a day and that sleep is the stupidest human weakness in the world. I could do so, so many things, work and live at a pace that could keep up with a taking off Jumbo, and I was obviously impatient to do them all.

The problem was, I never took off. It was as if I’d stolen someones worn out Champ and tried to keep up with that Boeing 747. You could be an excellent pilot, but if you don’t take any flight lessons to keep up with your potential, all you’re gonna see is the big ass tree at the end of the runway, before you smash your nose right into it. If you don’t train your actions to keep up with your thoughts, you crash. And I’ve crashed. Many a times I crashed, and hard, before I realised that maybe I ought to try something else before getting on the plane again, before I broke my neck and it became to late. Before I was stuck on crutches, or lithium, for the rest of my life.


‘Those thoughts that others couldn’t keep up with? Well, it turns out I couldn’t keep up with them myself.’


I remember what it feels like, that moment of elation when the wheels just barely leave the floor. When beauty fills your hearth with its joyful melody and you feel infinite, like a supernova that’s about to burst into a million shards of light and happiness, and you’re so afraid to lose it all. Sometimes it even last for a few blissful moments or weeks. And then it’s gone. Gone without explosions or spectacular combustion. And you are numb, empty and plain, and you don’t know what happened or how it happened. You’re just there, victim of a crash, incapable of looking after yourself. And it takes time to heal, just like it takes the arrogant pilot time to fix his broken leg and smashed up plane.

Those thoughts that others couldn’t keep up with? Well, it turns out I couldn’t keep up with them myself. They were so fast and confusing that they’d meddled with my brain, with my ability to reason and learn. They were so constant, annoying and invasive that they consumed me and my time, and never left me alone to feel. In all these years, I never once stopped to listen to myself and feel. How can anyone expect to survive a breathtaking sunset from a beach in Ilha Grande, without having learned how to understand and listen to ones emotions? I’m not saying I was a completely emotionless and dead. You can appreciate the aesthetics of a piece of art and even be fascinated by it, without it actually speaking to you. That is precisely how I see my life before I became aware. I lived aesthetically and over enthusiastically, jumping from one idea and affection to the next, and never allowing myself to stop and absorb the intensity of it all.