Saturday, 24 November 2012


who must leave everything that you cannot control
it begins with your family, but soon it comes round to your soul

Finis ultimus.

Not for the first time here, you'll hear I exclaim "would that it were".

Would that it were, that I could truly abandon, relinquish control, not to death, to acceptance, to life.

Would that I could but I can't.

I told Thursday of a need to get the better of physical/mental, er, 'problems'.

One of these great problems is the problem of food.

Since I was a chubby child taking pennies from the bottle to buy a 15p Milky Way crispy roll each time I ventured out with friends, this warped conditioning of food as comfort, consolation and reward has shadowed me. I recall a best friend of the time, Craig (for Tomboyish was I, uncomfortable with all things feminine), saying to me "Nelly, you've always got something in your mouth". As it were yesterday, walking down the lane towards what had been the old bakery, now Dai's bungalow, towards Maescynnog car park and the fields beyond it, that sentence, innocently and astutely observed, cutting into me, forcing me to accept it's truth, to playfully shrug off its accuracy.

I did, ever a 'treat', not just because it was withheld at home (confectionary that is), there was omnipresent a feeling that I was enduring something and in need of/deserving reward thus. At 9, 10, 11, social interaction wasn't the pain it would come to be, not at all, I loved my friends, our adventures, Stephen, Craig, Carly, Nia, dirt, mud, going home late. True I was somewhat achingly aware that I was taller than both boys and girls, the former who were a few years my senior, not just tallest, I don't know, burly. They four were pictures of youthful sinewy mischief, translucent easily bruised flesh and freckles. Where I was lumpy, ungainly, pale as a discarded olive. Downy upper lip. Greased. I had become chubby also. Ahh beauty I hear you exclaim.

None of this is unique I know, I too know that the skinnier oft worried of being too childlike, underdeveloped, shrunken, pale, fragile. Not as oft in the case of my four, as I would regularly if cautiously illicit.

It is only now with the luxury of hindsight and the curse of over thinking that I'm able to pinpoint this dependance on food of course. What was instinctive habit at the time is now the germ, the formative years of a persistent struggle.

Perhaps at the time it was a cushion of comfort in the increasingly uncomfortable world I was beginning to wake to. Presently however, all true, unconscious comfort has departed. I still use food thus, as I did in my youth, an ugly unfeminine female, an uncoordinated non-masculine boy, a soft though sexless and disgusting moustachioed eunuch. I still over/under eat, in a balance such that ensures no outside worry or suspicion. Good, I don't want people to worry or fear or speculate. (I've often awfully thought that if self-harm has no physically visible (glaring scar-type) marks, people are more denying/comfortable with it, I can't quite express it well, but often feel this, awkwardness, not stigma, not aggression, just, maybe mild frustration from others that I should never let inner turmoil pour out into the domain of the visible, public... So no, I don't want anymore sympathy, I don't want my bones to protrude ghostly and brittle, anymore than I want to loose sight of my funny feet...) But, I do, desperately seek help, support, understanding.

Food addiction and its adjacent mental anguish can't be a real problem for anyone who isn't either obese nor severely underweight surely?! I admit, I fall into neither of these categories, in fact on the old BMI scale I fall on "the heavier side of healthy", nearly ideal, basically normal in this world of ever expanding waistlines. Add Veganism, gluten intolerance and IBS to that, and the resultant tailored diet paints me in a picture of health! Small portions. No meat? Cheese?! Eggs! White bread, white sugar, iodized salt, pasta etc, etc,. ("What do you eat?!")

It is the attitude that's unhealthy, deciding to fast one day and binge the next, to drink water on empty until you're a shivering headachey fetus, to stuff your face until you're regurgitating, to withhold foods such that normal, enjoyable social interactions are endured in a tumult of foolish resentment, crazy fixations and cruel self-scrutiny.

When life is routine, normal, not thrilling nor depressing, average, friend-filled and oft warming - the above vicious circling is endurable. Indeed it even abates, and, without your realising, for the first time in your adult life you have a healthy relationship with food by default of your not noticing the relationship!

I lived with Sophie during my second and third years of university, I don't think either of us was overjoyed with our lives and the idea of our respective futures at the time, but I think it's fair to say that neither of us were suicidal! While it wasn't all rose-tinted ease, there was a certain element of contentment and safety. I can assuredly say that, looking back (at the time as mentioned I was blissfully, truly, unaware of the fact that) I wasn't thinking about food. I wasn't withholding dessert, afraid of biscuits, paranoid about being nutrient deficient, nothing. We eat together mostly, the same foods and near enough the same portions. No IBS, no intolerances, no food related neuroses. I cannot accurately express how liberating that is, for a person with abundant neuroses of other origins. I actually unknowingly lost weight, by not thinking about food constantly, eating when hungry, indulging in a sweet cuppa and chocolatey straw daily.

I've taken away my break-away and my being is unravelling!
Of course it's not as simple as this. I know presently if I allow myself tea and cake my life's problems aren't ended.

When all scaffolds are removed, unwelcome change abounds and understanding and nourishing people far off, the circle is not only damaging but pervading, unending, inescapable.

I do feel though, that we struck a balance, S and I.

I hope she won't mind my sharing, but her particular mental-physical relationship with food involves her complete inability (despite knowing it's damaging to health) to consume adequate amounts of food during times of personal anguish. Sensible meals are forgotten for entire days, and when reminded and attempted downright physically unpleasant.

In the coin-face of our relationship maybe my over eating as a response to mental unease was the perfect side to her under eating. I would over remind, understand and attempt to ease (meal substitutes etc.,). Conversely her apparent freedom from the binds of regular/routine eating (indeed I don't really eat meals anymore, a snack every fucking sad and weak hour of the day) was just the shot of strength my weakness needed. It's hard to be an over-eater in a family of over-eaters. We all have problems with this in my family, immediate at least, substance reliance of some kind prevails. S was a wonderful island apart from that.

Hey, of course our relationship is a hell of a lot more than this.

This is just one layer of icing on a superbly iced mountain of delectable cake. One complicated and glorious veil of mutual-acceptance and compatibility, on a heap of intricately woven tapestries.

I miss that understanding, that another, with a completely opposing take on food as defense mechanism, is nevertheless able to appreciate a real problem. It is this, these huge things, understanding and empathy despite differences, that make a sad and painful problem endurable, solvable eventually.

In Thursday's post I mentioned my weaknesses, an abundance of (common, universal) problems that I know need attending by me, myself and I, but that I find this excruciating without the aid of friends, love.

Yesterday I decided to have a juice day, just vegetable juice, no more than a liter, in an attempt to right my terribly agitated system, after a binge the previous day (which resulted from my attempting and failing to water fast to right the ills caused by the previous day's bingeing, and on and on and fucking on). No less than three times M forgot this (after my pathetic pleading and explaining how much support I need, and how much good it would do to my confidence and mood if I succeeded), at least three times he offered me food.

We went to Katowice to buy some materials for some paintings we're each planning, like a person with only impending death for company I pitifully think 'this will occupy me for a while' so I don't have to face my dark passenger. We went for coffee and I was actually worried they would give me a free biscuit even though it was an overpriced cuppa.

It was a miniature pie/tart, a darling little thing, mercifully filled with cow's cream. Not for my belly thanks.

Why am I sharing with you this crap? To illustrate how tedious and pathetic this unhealthy food attitude is and just how it might effect normal human functioning (also, long shot, but I'm hoping if I organise my thoughts and get all of this shit down then I might better get a handle on it, who knows?).

Going for a coffee, going bowling with M's parents, both swiftly ruined thanks to my stupid food addicted self.

Why should it though? Why should I be seeking comfort from food, or aggressively avoiding it, what is it? What am I longing for, or really avoiding?

Answering is more difficulty than I can muster for the moment. Over-sharing a great deal as it is, so, maybe the possible crux of my existence to follow tomorrow perhaps!

I am sharing a lot, and asking a lot too, this is me searching for support, for a soothing pat on the back when I'm feeling strong, to let me know I am, an encouraging nudge in my weaker times. If I can heal this, then maybe some other ends will tighten too.

I've tried support groups and chatrooms, but all I can find are tailored to Anorexia/Bulimia encouragement (thinspiration?! *shudder*) and obesity groups. I don't want to barge into the former and cause problems with my concern, or possibly be considered a piss taker in the latter. (- Because I know I'm not fat fat, but, it all starts somewhere, right?)

I've decided to try and photograph or keep a diary (the first is easiest, as someone who needs to really psych myself up for a daily shower at the moment, any commitment more than "click" a few times a day would be too extreme) of the things I eat. I've been doing it, but, since there's nobody seeing/expecting them, I just feel I have a pile of random food photos and all is muddled, no order, no point, I might as well not bother. Ideally I want a bloody personal physician/babysitter asking for updates daily and offering advice, support, kudos, and the rest.

Oh god I don't know, I don't think this is the right place for that, maybe the vomiting and self-loathing support should remain elsewhere or nowhere on the internet and I should save this space for the nitty gritty soul searching, self analysis, literary inspiration and photo-arts appreciation.

Maybe here I should just focus on the aforementioned questions "What am I longing for, or really avoiding?"

All I can answer tonight is, not this.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A wedge-shaped core of darkness.

Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, El Lissitzky.

"To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. [...] this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest of adventures. When life shrank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless. [...] the things you know us by, are simply childish. Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by." To the Lighthouse, (Vintage classics edition) p. 58.

Best £3 I ever spent in HMV.

I recently finished, no, hmm... the book ended, I started reading it, and, after a point, there were no more written words to read in the book. Neither of us has finished with the other that is for certain. In the past I had struggled with Virginia Woolf, no great surprise, sometimes you're not ready for certain things, sometimes you've picked up "the wrong book", time and place and all of the other subtleties are slightly askew. This September I was certainly ready for A room of one's own, in part probably due to the fact that, at the time, and for many a month prior, I didn't have a room of my own, I was desperately unsettled and felt like a non-human, if, and I suspect not, non-humans are capable of feeling anything but. Though conversely I'm sure our family dog is well aware that he's not human, perhaps not, either way I must stop useless speculation, especially with myself in such a public place. So, we were well matched mentally at that particular point in time, so compatible in fact that I asked my parents to bring along my unread copy of To the Lighthouse to Poland with them at the beginning of October, so keen was I to re-kindle my relationship with Virginia (as absorbing as 'A.R.O.O.O.' was, (shit, it's probably easier to write the damned title!)a long and lonely month was surplus time to think on it). 

Bon voyage gift from the amazing Kath.

To the Lighthouse was a fantastic novel, and I really wish I hadn't attempted The Waves before it, and failed with Woolf first time around. As with the illuminating essay before it, I'm still in its thrall. The above is one of many quote-ables I've been holding close to me, inspecting regularly, dissecting occasionally. 

Anyway, to the real reason I'm writing today, reasonS. It may or may not be obvious to you few subscribers and facebook friends who may occasionally happen by this neck of the internetted woods, but, I'm lonely. There it is, out there, common taboo, awkward, embarrassing, searching, yearning, now actively willing interaction. Terribly terribly lonely. I want to bare myself to you who may in turn wish to bare something of yourselves with me. This is what its all about, all of this typing and framing and discussing. Well, I'm sick of the finite circles of my solo sorting and questioning, cut in to me, with your very own wedge shaped cores, I want us to bathe in our darkness, ein tywyllwch. 

I, as I'm sure do many of you dark lights out there, have many things, emotional and physical, that really need to be gotten hold of, to better understand and learn to live with (I'm not sure if I'm capable of changing them, so, I can at least try to change my attitude towards them.. hopefully.... no?), but weakness is one of them, and I need friendship, a beautiful scaffold to my weakness. I'm tearing slightly as I write, because it's all managing to sound so heartless and demanding, a friend is not a means I know that I do, a friend is a wonderful end. To stretch this further still, my ends are loosening. Really. I get these, episodes. 

First there's an acute awareness of my body, something I'm keenly aware of at the worst/best of times, though this is different, somehow sharpened. Now, I'm no stranger to this sharpness, but there's a new mood accompanying. I used to walk along a street for example, my mind's self chattering away then all of a sudden I'd get a flash of myself tumbling over something and smashing into an approaching vehicle in the road - accompanying feeling, a sort of mixture of awed shock and thrill. This as I said is usual, not typical as in daily, I don't walk that much, but regular. The newness lies in the aftermath of the flash, and it happens not just adjacent to predictable roads, bridges and cliff tops either. 

Yesterday, sat in M's parents living room, I had the searing vision that my hand was going to jerk from my side and smash into the cups on the tabletop, so powerful was it that I had to sit on my hands. Far from being horrified or disturbed I found the whole thing hysterically funny, I pretended laughter at some television ad, humorous voice over, bad animation. On the walk to work with M I decided to share with him my strange episode, throughout the telling I was so breathlessly hysterical that tears rolled down my face and I had to beat my chest like the ape that I am in order to quell the massive/messy bursting of my being. 

I'll be in class explaining something to the students, they making notes or pictures, then along comes this push of a scene in my mind, my arms(hands pressed on the tabletop, forearms straight) buckle under some phantom weight and my face smashes into the table with a satisfying crack. And, in joy almost, I bark a short surprising laugh and have to stop the saliva getting any farther south than my chin. 

I need to avoid this because I do not at any cost want to again become a source of concern or fear or unease for any of my family members, students, etc.,.

Though I must confess reader, I do relish these bouts of feeling, unadulterated and un-nameable emotions coursing through me. Better this than not feeling at all, correct?

M says I might benefit from visiting a doctor, of what lord knows, and how on earth would that help is also a mystery. In my limited experience matters of this kind aren't much bettered by GPs who only manage to scare you into a corner of self-diagnosis and drug dependance. Not useful. 

No, I just need to let it out from time to time, fears, worries, stupid half segments from my mental celluloid. Like old projection equipment I'm sure that if I can't share the pictures of my mind at a healthy pace and progression with someone similarly tuned and sympathetic, and in turn share some of their selves, we'll each come to a dead stop and eventually our pictures will burn into unrecognizable oblivion. Having a marked negative effect on our respective lives. 

Sophie, I miss you dearly. Sometimes I catch myself thinking about you and I panic, real physical panic, I think thoughts like "what the hell has she done this week? How is her diet? Where has she been? What's she living for? Where will she go? Is her mind a home for her or unwelcome company that just won't leave?!" And on and on and I shake. At times my mind is an uncontrollable blaze without you. 

Let's don't worry unduly, write ourselves oftener. Some times it's fucking hard. But sometimes fucking necessary. 

I failed to draw a picture for my brother's birthday (tomorrow) this last few weeks, then, Tuesday, I drew one of myself in awkward failure. I woke with burnt lips from a weekend in chilly mountains, swollen eyes from dust and smoke. But I like it. Some small light from an almost dark.

Golau arall yw tywyllwch i arddangos gwir brydferthwch, one of my favourite lines in song, a song which ends with rhown ein golau gwan i'n gilydd ar hyd y nos.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Lights; in the rooms of our nights.

Some may be familiar with this, that I staged an escape from familiarity some time this summer. July, a world and numerous journeys away. In honesty it was the age old, flight from oneself, neither possible nor even desirable. Better to reflect and accept than deflect, deflect - defect.

Craving culture and newness, finding less than expected, but not looking correctly. 

I now think of the eyes of others and the things that stopped my own. On the way to Poland, and around it a little, so many stops, reasons to go. Images, pictures, paintings, icons, all of that, I have to unashamedly say, looking over the images in this post, fills me with some kind of great feeling, comfort and joy. Maybe that the eyes of others have lingered on such that mine would also, brings some of that belonging that I'm so desperate for. I think something like this.

These quadrangles of beauty are all paintings and drawings for the most part, I'll give a little run-through of probably important details now, where I can remember they fit. These were accumulated over 4 months, in as many and more cities and museums. Though these are mostly from the Galerie d'Ixelles in Brussels and the WM Warszawa, the former seeming quite small but full of sights, the latter flooded with imagery of Poland's painted past (sadly the 20th Century painting wing was closed at the time of my visit).

The first is only included as a visual preamble into the path of my looking eyes. I look at me, she looks away, I'm always looking at/for something of myself in the works of others, and maybe when I think I see it, I get to like it, I don't know too much, I know this to be true to a degree, but there are very many levels and mechanisms at work behind the eyes which decide what and how much we sympathize with in the works and behaviors of other humans. It's quiet and quite lovely. Additionally, as the beginning it goes fine with the ending (painted by Antonio Santin) of a female twisted slightly under the force of my gaze, empowered by the fact that I can't tell if she's holding mine, or looking further afield, how that look always overshadows the looked at, eh.

For the most part I'm more comfortable in the company of depopulated images, half-lights and obliques. Why should that be? I have many infant theories, another time perhaps.

The second is Ukrainian night during a winter, painted in Oils in the late 1877 I think, by Josef

The third, Swans in the Saski garden in Warsaw by night by Josef Pankiewicz, again in oil, probably around 1896. Four and five are also Pankiewicz.

Chelmonski again at six, painted in 1906, eight years before his death. Titled I think, Moonlight night.

Seventh is Rewizia nocna (which translates directly as revision of the night), painted in 1872 at the hand of Maksymilian Gierymski.

Adrian Joseph Heymans made the eighth image in the latter part of the 19th Century, it's called Bos bij maanlicht (something like woods, trees or forest in the moonlight I'd guess).

Ninth is Leon Spilliaert with Nuit made in 1908.

Tenth and eleventh are two paintings by Konrad Krzyzanowski, the first called Przy blasku świecy (roughly, by the light of the candle), the second simply Pokoj, or room, from 1902.

Twelfth on the list is a recent painting by Arkadiusz Karapuda.

Thirteen, fourteen fifteen and sixteen are all contemporary paintings by the artist Bert de Beul. All zonder titel.

[Seventeen eludes me at this point]

Eighteen has to be Rene Magritte.

Nineteen through twenty-two are the work of german artist EVOL, all made this century, very recently, all on found cardboard marked with spray paint.

Jenny Brillhart's brilliant Vagabond is twenty third, also a recent work. Twenty four is also her doing.

Now I must sleep, soon to an empty room!