Friday, May 29, 2015

Ingrid (Snippet)

Ingrid was doing her best to make me sympathise with her post-hospitalisation decision to emulate normal people.
"I just want you to understand... I wasn't always like this, but now things have changed."
The eye contact was uncomfortable, so I dropped my gaze to my coffee cup. Her desperate desire to construct a life which would have societal approval left me cold, but I was too polite to demonstrate the extent of the disconnect. I felt like our friendship, tenuous as it was, would not survive if I was completely honest with her, so I held back. 
She was giving me a long spiel about "doing the right thing" and other such tosh. 
We were in practically the only habitable cafe in Kensington, and my instinct to maintain the regular human contact was only slightly stronger than my desire to get out of there. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interesting

So, as you may or may not know, I am not currently employed. I don't feel up to entering the work environment for a number of reasons, some of them backed up by psychiatrists. (Psychiatrists, of course, can only go so far.) About a month ago I wrote to express my interest in studying a language at university (or, as we in Australia like to say, 'uni'). A few days ago I learned an important piece of information: While a major in Women's Studies is not permitted at UNSW, the University of Sydney (or USyd) is another matter. They've had a Gender Studies major since 2006! I somehow assumed that if UNSW didn't have it, USyd wouldn't have it either, but now that I'm wrong, can I overcome my reluctance to travel to the city multiple times a week to attend university? There is a part of me that says I am better off reading Simone de Beauvoir or bell hooks - or any of the other fabulous theorists I haven't read - on my own, but that's being challenged by my need for community, and some vague hope of one day finding myself in a position to work. Because if I could work, I could sustain myself in Stockholm, Lund or wherever it is I want to go, and not have to take anybody else into account.

There was this guy, a disability rights advocate whose name I forget, who encouraged every person who identifies as disabled (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't) to get a job - for the independence. Many people with physical disabilities live below the poverty line, as do many people with mental illnesses. His heartfelt conviction was that a job was the key to living a good life.

I'm not so sure. I may be in poverty, but I don't feel poor. It's a state of mind. I feel like I have everything I need, materially. When viewed from an (atheist) Buddhist perspective, I have abundance in my life. I make the most of what I have, and that creativity enriches my perspective. Sure, I would love to live in another country, but I also love living with my family. If I moved, I would have to give that up. It's not the end of the world if I stay here longer.

Attending university would put me in touch with bright young things, including people from other countries on exchange programs. It's not that I can't keep up my intellectual journey on my own. It's that I no longer have anything to prove. I'm "too far gone" down the path of eccentricity - I feel comfortable with myself. What I do lack is a sense of community.

University communities can be stressful places, though. I can only hope that I can get through the darkest periods without quitting. What motivates me anyway, beyond community? A sense that I have something to contribute to society? A desire to not only write for myself and the relatively few readers I have now (whom I nevertheless love =) )? An interest in perusing the possibilities again?

I have a feeling what I choose to study will be a very important decision. I had been preparing to take on a language (French, to be specific), but this presence of a Gender Studies major makes me rethink my game plan. Perhaps I'll explore this issue further in an upcoming post...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

You spin me around/ Like a dime...

Femininity. I've been meaning to reconstruct myself now that I no longer feel pressured to be more feminine than I'm comfortable with by my former friend... but it's so hard to step out of the labyrinth I've constructed for myself.

I listen to songs like this (which I love) -


and they're inevitably entwined with gender norms and cis girlie expectations.

I guess I'm confused about how to find a form of expression that works for me. How to strike the balance between challenging and comfortable.



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Defensive

Not even close to giving it my all, she thought in disgust. For someone who was committed to full disclosure, she had been disappointing herself for years. She daren't comment on her deepest vulnerabilities, joining the maddening crowd that kept it all in, concealed vital components of the human experience behind a mask of social acceptability. She came close to thinking that she wasn't better than any of them. Her practice was a carousel of collusions, gaps and silences. She had claimed never to have sold out, but could she really say she wasn't tainted? You don't get to live this life without participating in the corruption on some level. Hence the existential crisis.

Laughter from the neighbouring sofa. All her mother saw was the finished product - a skillfully mounted production which danced around her insecurities in self-expression. She desperately wanted to shrink her own life within the confines of a blog post, but it proved too risky. Predators abounded, lurking unseen. At least she could up the meta and write with self-consciousness.

*

"Miss Wright?" The woman on the other side of the wall had an English accent.

"I'll be there in a moment," she pleaded. Folding her oversize sweater around her, she finally turned the doorknob and peered out with what she hoped was some semblance of dignity.

The woman unsmilingly handed her a small, dark blue parcel, asked for her signature, and left.

Well what did you think? It's not like there's a trial on your level of competence by a succession of strangers. Encased within were the eyeglasses she had ordered online. She eagerly exchanged the old pair for the new, running her fingers up and down the new, textured sides.

The mirror showed her a familiar sight, but somewhat lighter in the eye area. No more geek chic - at least not for a while. She turned to get started on her blog, aware that she could admire herself (and let her new appearance sink in) later.

Useful. I need to be useful. 

It was perhaps a strange goal for someone whose values were so eccentric. Compulsory productivity was something she cringed to consider to have burrowed its way into her subconscious drives. Perhaps she was being overly critical. She was, after all, intellectually voracious. Nobody forced her to consume so much information, day in and day out. It was due to her motivation. Yet she couldn't help but fear that mainstream values had started to insinuate themselves into her system, due to excessive familiarity. Was she only giving lip service to questioning everything? Was she failing to follow through?

Failure. Now that's a concept. Business mavericks are lining up to advise their audiences to fail big, and fail often. 

Was she at ease enough to fail successfully? And what would that mean to her at this point in the game?

I need some clarity.