Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Icon Status: Elizabeth Wurtzel

Elizabeth Wurtzel became a prolific writer in the 90's after Prozac Nation was published in 1994, In it's own right something like it had never been written before. Mental illness has been covered through history from William Shakespeare to Johnny Cash but by the time the early 90's came around there was no way of ignoring it and it had seemed to be more common as ever. But Prozac Nation didn't become popular for these reasons but because it gave a bare portrait of what mental illness looked like, it showed how ugly it really was. It wasn't beautiful as Emily Dickinson's poetry or tragic like Sylvia Plath's suicide, it was destructive like a hurricane and hurt everyone in it's way. As Wurtzel put it, "Everything I touch, I ruin. I'm Midas in reverse."

I read Prozac Nation when I was 18 yrs old, I had few friends and spent most of my lunchetimes sitting by myself listening to The Smiths or reading a book. I was a walking carbon copy of Wurtzel herself, just everything was under the surface at that stage. I spent my last year of high school just trying to hold everything in, once I hit the ages of 19 - 21 that's when things got serious. Like Wurtzel I was a walking car crash waiting to happen, I bumped into things again and again till it was a matter of time till I completely shattered. When I wasn't getting blind drunk or doing drugs, I was mostly listening to the same sad songs on repeat lying in bed only to get up when I needed to go to the toilet or eat. Some days I wouldn't eat, others I would eat too much, I chain-smoked, didn't brush my hair and only showered when I was made to. Most things felt like an effort for me, as if asking me to do a simple chore or errand was equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest.

"I just want out. I’ve had it. I am so tired. I am twenty and I am already exhausted.”   

With each page I read Wurtzel seemed to paint a picture of someone who would die before the age of 30, all the overdoses and suicide attempts would slowly catch up with her one day. For me I thought that time would come much sooner but I forgot one thing, in Wurtzel's case it seemed like her case was either just as bad and most likely worse. But she was still alive and still is to this day, this book was not a story of tragedy, it was a story of hope which meant I could get out of this alive. Fortunately for both Wurtzel and I we came from middle class backgrounds and had both the support and resources to recover, not to mention had access to medication and treatment that isn't available in some countries/areas not to mention the fact medication wasn't as readily available pre-1990's. For all Wurtzel's praise and acknowledgements she also had many critics, she was labeled as "selfish", "self absorbed" or "whiny" which are fair criticisms but many ignore the fact that depression and many other mental illnesses are just that: selfish.

"Some friends don't understand this. They don't understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you're wonderful just the way you are. They don't understand that I can't remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would."

It is hard to think about anyone else but yourself when your thoughts consist of nothing but self loathing, depression and despair. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project said "The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted." Anytime in my life that I've felt anxious or depressed my thoughts have never been focused anyone but myself, the happier and healthier I am as a person the more energy I have to focus on what I can do for others or how I be there for them without having to worry about negative thoughts or feelings that will distract me or cause me to withdraw from the world.

Prozac Nation held the template for other writers in the future to write their own accounts of mental illness in the future as the 90's progressed into the 00's and it has become a time where these issues weren't shoved under the rug like it was in the past. It also became a voice for generation X (and very early generation Y) who grew up with divorced parents and broken homes as being the norm.

In the present day, Elizabeth Wurtzel has become a perfect example of a successfully individual who has fought and beat depression. She currently lives in New York, has published 3 books, successfully graduated Law School and still continues to write.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Icon status: Stevie Nicks

I discovered Fleetwood Mac at the age of 18 and after living through the melancholy music of The Smiths in my teenage years their music seemed to resonate with me more at this time of my life. Their infamous album "Rumours" was my first and the song "Dreams" became a fast favourite as stands to be my favourite till this day.

It captured to me the purest form of lost love which was written so articulately yet simply by Stevie Nicks, That song was the first time I began to direct my attention to her.

Before the band formed again after originally being a blues rock band l, Stevie Nicks and Guitarist/vocalist Lindsay Buckingham were in a relationship and joined the band when the band reformed to make their self titled album. During the making of Rumours they broke up and Stevie Nicks wrote "Dreams" about Buckingham and their relationship, whilst Buckingham in turn wrote "Go your own way".

Buckingham and Nicks weren't the only relationship in the band that suffered in the making of "Rumours", Christine Mcvie (Keyboardist/vocalist) and John Mcvie (bass player) also divorced at the same time. But during Rumours and onward their breakup remained much more civil in contrast to Buckingham and Nicks which was obvious when they continued writing about each other in not only Rumours but Tusk, Mirage and Tango in the night with songs like "Silver Springs", "Tusk" and "big love" and not all of them were particularly nice with Buckingham refusing to let Nicks have the song "Silver springs" on the album Rumours and Nicks having disagreements on the lyrics of "Go your own way". To add flame to the fuel the band in the height of their fame frequently used drugs and at times this lead to verbal (and on one occasion physical) arguments.

Despite the bands success and talent, Nicks remained to be the star of the show. With her lyrical prowess, stage presence and influence as a strong woman that stands to this day. In concert she took to the stage with every inch of her being, you could see her emotion in the expression on her face and the way she moved her body and beat her tambourine.

Not only that but her style made her a fast fashion icon, adorning long flowing dresses, high fringed boots, bangles on her wrist and necklaces around her neck. She didn't follow the crowd, she just beat to the sound of her own drum. 

In interviews she remains to have a mysterious air to her whilst being both earnest, retrospective and honest about herself, her music and her past.

In Tavi Gevinsons (blogger, the style rookie) TED talk she gave her last piece of advice to her audience "To be like Stevie nicks...who is unapologetic about her flaws" and I think we can all agree on this.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I'm no doormat |

I've seemed to hold onto a belief for the last few years that people change and learn in time, from their mistakes, prejudices, arrogance and consequential behaviors/habits/etc.But I think I've come to realize that some people never change, no matter how much time passes or how much they age. They can go through all the motions, heartbreak and shit they put others and themselves through but it may never sink in deep enough to have any real cause and effect.

I've also realized that I need to keep reminding myself that, and not give people the benefit of the doubt just because they tell me through words and never put them into actions. Maybe some people deserve a second chance, but maybe others don't and I have to know where to draw the line.

More importantly, I have to trust my gut instincts and intuition because I've found 90% of the time what my heart tells me is usually right and when I go against it, I don't like the consequences, however large or small they may be.

Songs on repeat:
> Femme Fatale - Sky Ferriera
> Run This Town - Jay Z ft. Rihanna
> Boyfriend - Ashlee Simpson
> A line allows progress, a circle does not - Bright Eyes

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Film: Candy

"Once upon a time, there was Candy and Dan. Things were very hot that year. All the wax was melting in the trees. He would climb balconies, climb everywhere, do anything for her, oh Danny boy. Thousands of birds, the tiniest birds, adorned her hair. Everything was gold. One night the bed caught fire. He was handsome and a very good criminal. We lived on sunlight and chocolate bars. It was the afternoon of extravagant delight. Danny the daredevil. Candy went missing. The days last rays of sunshine cruise like sharks. I want to try it your way this time. You came into my life really fast and I liked it. We squelched in the mud of our joy. I was wet-thighed with surrender. Then there was a gap in things and the whole earth tilted. This is the business. This, is what we're after. With you inside me comes the hatch of death. And perhaps I'll simply never sleep again. The monster in the pool. We are a proper family now with cats and chickens and runner beans. Everywhere I looked. And sometimes I hate you. Friday -- I didn't mean that, mother of the blueness. Angel of the storm. Remember me in my opaqueness. You pointed at the sky, that one called Sirius or dog star, but on here on earth. Fly away sun. Ha ha fucking ha you are so funny Dan. A vase of flowers by the bed. My bare blue knees at dawn. These ruffled sheets and you are gone and I am going to. I broke your head on the back of the bed but the baby he died in the morning. I gave him a name. His name was Thomas. Poor little god. His heart pounds like a voodoo drum."

Monday, 30 December 2013

Camping trip.

Just got back from my camping trip with my friends today and it was such good fun. I anticipated I'd be moody and get too tired by at least day 2 but enjoyed myself despite the boiling hot weather and crazy amount of flies that were outside, I also stubbed my toe, got burnt all over my back and got a few scrapes on my skin but it was worth it.
We drove down on Saturday, It was about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne and stopped halfway to get a shitload of food and alcohol. We got there an hour later than the others and by the time we set up the tents we all started eating and playing drinking games by the fire. I just ate cold baked beans from the can and got so drunk that all I remember was slurring words, discussing music and having grass thrown down my shirt. 


The second day we drove down 30 mins from the camping ground to go to the river for a swim, The river was ridiculously rocky so we had to float and avoid getting hit by the jagged rocks. The water was ridiculously cold but felt good in the 36 celcius degree heat, I missed most of my back with the sunscreen so got burnt badly and also stubbed my toe on a rock but it was the best part of the trip.
Once we got back we changed, I took a nap and woke up and cooked pasta alfredo with Tom, Dan and Rory. Once we served up everyone and had eaten we played more drinking games and sang songs by the fire. After we all finished our drinks we lay on a big mattress and looked at the stars, I went to bed after ten minutes whilst the others stayed.
Today we packed early and all got home around 1pm. 


We all decided to do it soon again for longer this time.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Let's talk about sex(uality)

Sexuality is fluid, whether you're gay or you're straight or you're bisexual, you just go with the flow.
- Shane McCutcheon, The L word

Human sexuality is possibly the most confusing and complicated issue I've faced in the 23 years of my life and I know I'm not alone with my thoughts and questions about it. We all chose to put labels on our own and other people's sexuality because it's easier to understand but for most of us it's much more complicated than that.

Sexuality is best represented as something that may change or stay the same in a person's life span, You can have homosexual experiences and still identify as heterosexual and vice versa. Identifying yourself with a label such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual...etc is a very personal, individual thing and in no way a something you should feel forced to boxing yourself into a certain definition that society dictates.

If someone was considering exploring their sexuality I would suggest reading as many psychology books on it as possible, experimenting in ways you are comfortable with and looking into the Kinsey scale (also known as the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale) which attempts to identify a person's sexual identity based on their responses and experience.

Back to myself, ever since I was young (around 14 to 15) I've had a fascination with women, their hair, body, breasts...etc and the posters on my wall weren't of the teenage heartthrobs of the time they were my female idols. They were Stevie Nicks, Christina Ricci, Bettie Page and Shirley Manson, they weren't just the people I aspired to be or look up to. They were beautiful creatures too, in their own definable way whether it was their style, intellect, attitude and for most of them, all of those things put together.

My first sexual experience with girls came when I was 12 years old when my friends and I, when we used to play spin the bottle and taking turns kissing each other to practice for when the time came when it was a boy. By that time I was curious but still stuck to boys with my crushes being wide and varied from the typical "jock" to the long haired metal enthusiast. I didn't take my curiosity very seriously till I hit 20 years old and found out I enjoyed drunkenly kissing girlfriends at nightclubs a little too much, though I still had a preference towards men I still wanted to venture out more towards women.

As of now, I've had two crushes on women on more than just a sexual level, one was a girl I was sitting near on the train who I was eavesdropping on her conversation with her friend, whatever she happened to say made me want to talk to her and get to know her. The other girl I met in a club, talked to for a bit and her confidence and style drew me in, though I wanted to approach her again I didn't have the guts to go for it.

I still consider myself bisexual (though others would say bi-curious since I haven't had much experience with women) and feel like I'm more attracted to the person rather than their gender, only time and experience will tell what (or if) I end up identifying with in the end. Maybe the only term I'm comfortable with is just sexual.