Stephen Fry and bipolar disorder

September 27, 2006

I am so tired today and part of the reason is because instead of going to bed last night at 9 O’Clock when I was really tired, I stayed up another hour and watched part two of a television show about Stephen Fry and manic depression (which is also known as bipolar).

The two-part series/program was really good and insightful into what it would be like to have bipolar. Stephen Fry talked to a lot of people (both famous and not famous) who live with bipolar which was really interesting and the latter episode (last night’s) concentrated a lot on his experiences. It was sad and moving and happy.

I have often thought that I wish I had bipolar because as a sufferer of ‘just’ depression (a unipolar disorder), I have a lot of ‘down’ moments but not the extreme ups. Although sometimes I have wondered! Because I have heard that some people can be really creative and productive when they’re manic and they can live on a lot less sleep than when they’re depressed, I’ve often wished I could have that as a payoff for all the depressing moments when I’ve needed heaps of sleep and can barely do anything and feel so low and hopeless that I just wish I wasn’t alive. When I think about it rationally, I know there is the worry of being a danger to yourself and others, as the excitement can interrupt your grip on reality and there is the danger of hearing and seeing things and being psychotic, which I think would actually be a whole lot scary and not so fun. Also, on the program they said that 20% of manic depressives commit suicide and being pregnant and having a child really really increases the risks of having a manic episode. That would suck.

Hmmmmm…..

I have often wondered about how I would feel if I went off my antidepressents – would the big downs return? Would I get new highs? I’ve always thought that when I wasn’t depressed I’m actually a really happy person – I find life exciting and fun and I love to laugh. Hmmmmm. So much thanks to Stephen Fry and the program. And to the parents who spoke about their 26-or-27-yr-old daughter who committed suicide (because she was so afraid of going to hospital or taking medication) because they wanted to try to help other people not go through what they had.

Hmmmmmm…… Life… goes…. on….

In the Sandman books, Dream’s sister Despair was one of my favourites of the Endless (yes, back on Neil Gaiman again) probably because I could relate to her so much. I could never understand why she needed to be a fat, naked woman and all the others were thin and clothed. In the book Endless Nights (which JT gave to me one birthday) each chapter is on a different Endless character and Despair’s is called 15 (or 14 or 16 or something) Portraits of Despair and it’s one of the most beautiful things I have seen/read.

I guess if you were bipolar you could relate to both Despair and Delirium.

Carmen


Lovely Neil Gaiman

September 27, 2006

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I left work ten minutes early yesterday to rush off to a book signing at Forbidden Planet comics in Shaftesbury Ave for 5.30. Only, having never been to a book signing before, and not really getting my head around numbers of people in London, I should have left work maybe an hour early! Nevermind, I got on the end of the very long line and waited for 2 hours and 20 minutes to get a moment and some autographs from Neil Gaiman! If I’d known how long I had to wait I may not have gone… Nah I probably would have anyway!

I made sure I brought his book, Anansi Boys when I left home Tuesday morning. At lunch time I went to a second-hand bookstore up the road from work, the Fantasy Centre. I bought Neverwhere (as I’ve wanted to read it for a while and as it’s set in a fantasy, underworld in London, think I should definitely read it while I’m living here). BUT, the Fantasy Centre people had recently been to some fantasy convention and their Neil Gaiman books were all signed by him already! Could I take along a book that was already signed?

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(Our copy of Anansi Boys has the blue cover)

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I got to the shop at 5.30, bought his new book of short stories, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, and then asked about lining up (the shop was large but didn’t seem very busy). I was directed around the block to the back of the store, to a very, long line! Oh dear! So I waited and waited and made friends with other people in the line and listened to a really annoying guy who loved the sound of his own voice, and who was racist and he wasn’t even there to see Neil but was waiting with his friend.

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So, I got Fragile Things signed for Paul and Anansi Boys and Neverwhere signed for me (and apologised about Neverwhere already being signed and said that I only bought it that day and it was already signed and I asked him to put something about London because I was excited about reading it while I was living in London- He wrote ‘Mind the Gap’). He was really nice and friendly and chatty and thanked us for waiting so long.

I left on a bit of a high actually! I was really tired and I wandered up to the tube station with a big grin. I didn’t want to be an embarassing fan and I didn’t want to say ‘I really like your books’ even though that was all I could think to say (I didn’t say it – I figured he’d know that as I’d waited to see him).

Anyway, while I was at work yesterday I did a bit of searching on him and I found that he is aparently really good friends with Tori Amos – she wrote a foreword in one of the Sandman books. Aparently she mentions ‘Neil’ in lots of her songs!

Also, I found on the internet yesterday (yay for Amazon) that there is an album (coming?) out with songs by various artists, all inspired by Neil Gaiman’s work and Neil wrote extensive liner notes for it and the art is by Dave McKean! How cool does that sound? There’s a song by Tori Amos of course. I think I’m going to go looking for it; it’s called ‘Where’s Neil when you need him?

I think that should be all for now…. Or maybe I could do a bit of a list of Neil Gaiman work for the uninitiated?

You should totally check out the collection of ten Sandman graphic novels which are a collection of all the sandman comics written by Neil Gaiman with art by a really large number of people (meaning that there’s a really interesting range of different sytles, which right now kinda reminds me of American Splendor which is written by and about Harvey Pekar but is illustrated by a number of different people so Harvey looks different depending on who is drawing him). The Sandman is about Dream, who visits people in their sleep. His siblings, the other Endless, also make appearances. Their names are Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Destruction and Delirium (when Delirium was younger, she was Delight). These books are really beautiful and they reference so much literature, religion and myth and modern and ancient culture.

Neil Gaiman’s work I’ve read: ten volumes of collected Sandman comics, Endless Nights, American Gods, Mr Punch, Stardust, Smoke and Mirrors, Death: The High Cost of Living, Violent Cases, Death: The Time of Your Life and (books for children), Coraline, The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls and his novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens. I guess you could say I’m a fan.

This was meant to be a quick update. Yikes!

Love to all

Carmen

p.s. I think it is appropriate to have the photo of me in the underground accompany this post (you will have to read Neverwhere to find out why).

xxx

I forgot to say, when I asked one of my managers if I could leave work early yesterday, it turned out he is a big fan of the Sandman comics! Yay! He asked this morning how it went.


Female objectivication in art and catching up with old friends.

September 25, 2006

I have just called Central St Martins College to confirm they received my course booking on Friday and they confirmed that I am booked onto the Foundation in Drawing course that starts in a couple of weeks! I'm so excited about it. I have wanted to work on my drawing for ages but I just don't put the time in, so I'm hoping that two and a half hours each week at a class will get me started doing it regularly! St Martin's College is quite well-known so I really hope the course is worth what I'm paying – it's costing me a FORTUNE. I looked up a number of courses and this one sounded the best.

On Friday I got out of the office for a 'car-free day' celebration. Handing out fliers to passers-by about the artworks that had been installed in several carparks near Faringdon station. We did get abused by one local who didn't like that the council (who we worked for) had employed so many foreigners (there was my Australian accent and two other women with New Zealand accents). I also got a free rosemary plant. After work I went and saw my brother for his birthday and then I met up with Paul and Scotty and we went out to dinner at an Indian place in Brick Lane. As we walked down the street we were hassled by men offering us discounts and a free round of drinks if we went to their restaurant. Scotty loved it but I hated it. It made me think that their prices must be inflated if they can offer discounts to all the passers-by. We had planned to go to the Whitechapel Gallery to see a whole bunch of women performers but we got there at 11 when it was finishing. Too bad.

On Saturday we went back to the Whitechapel gallery to see an exhibition by Hans Bellmer. I had learnt a little about him when studying Modernism last year so I was excited but the exhibition left me feeling very uneasy. Hans Bellmer's thing was dolls, making them, photographing them, drawing them, etc. There was even reference to his work in the style of the androids in (the anime film) Ghost in the Shell 2. Unfortunately, I just felt surrounded by dozens and dozens of mutilated, dismembered and exploited female bodies. It ended up feeling rather unpleasant. The accompanying exhibition, by Pierre Klossowski featured numerous drawings on a magnificent scale of various sexual scenes from fables and myths and these too felt full of female objectification. I actually felt disappointed with the gallery for featuring this so blatantly and overwhelmingly. I'm thinking of emailing them and telling them what I think.

A friend from Brisbane, Carol, who is living in a hostel in Edinburgh was in town for the weekend so I caught up with her on Saturday night. There were also two guys there who I also know from Brisbane. One of them I hadn't seen for maybe four or five years. Matt has just moved to London to work and study and Kamil, who has been studying in New York, is about to move to Mexico. It was really nice to catch up with them. We met in a bar in Camden and then went to a Japanese restaurant. Then Carol, Paul and I went to a cafe in Soho.

I had a good weekend – apart from Paul and I traipsing around Sunday afternoon, trying to find a supermarket that was still open after 5pm!

Carmen


4326

September 20, 2006

Yesterday I picked up a book from Foyles that I had ordered: McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Issue 13, a beautiful hardcover book on comics. It is such a beautiful book. I worry about dirtying it when I read it. The dustcover unfolds to a beautiful large poster and there were also a couple of little comic books that came with it. It wasn’t cheap, £25, which is about 62 Australian dollars (yikes). I’m looking forward to my lunch-break today because I want to read it.

On Saturday we went to the Tate Modern to listen to a Chemical Brothers track that had been inspired by Jacob Epstein's Torso in Metal from 'The Rock Drill'. The track was pretty cool but the listening post just wasn’t close enough to the sculpture, I think, to really appreciate the link between the two and it was behind the sculpture so even when you stretched out the headphone cord as far as it went, you were still about a metre or two from the back or side of the sculpture! What is with that? I keep meaning to email them and tell them they need to turn the sculpture around or move the listening post.

On Saturday night I caught up with a friend from Brisbane, Thomas, and his brother Daniel which was nice. Thomas teaches at the University of Exeter. Paul and I went to a pub to meet them – we rarely go to pubs. Thomas had recently got back from Australia and had seen our friend Jen and her new baby boy, Otto.

On Sunday I went to a Stitch n bitch group in Ealing at a local pub. The people there seemed nice but I felt like a total beginner compared to the stuff they were doing. I did however pick up a book with a houndstooth pattern which is cool as houndstooth is all the rage at the moment and there are heaps of clothes in the shops covered in it (and I have liked the pattern for years). I have decided to learn to crochet. Last Friday I bought a crochet hook, some wool and a book: Stitch and Bitch Crochet: the Happy Hooker. It’s turning out to be a bit harder than I thought.

In the drawing course news, I have found (a rather expensive) one at Central St Martin’s art college which I really like the sound of and I really hope it has not filled up by the time I can afford to pay for it (which will be Friday).

Last night I watched the first of two shows on TV about manic depression, hosted by Stephen Fry. It was really interesting. It featured Robbie Williams, who has manic depression and Rick Stein (the chef) who talked about his father, who threw himself off a cliff because of his manic depression. He also talked to Carrie Fisher (who played Princess Leia) and other people who live with the ‘disease’ or ‘disorder’. I cried a few times when people talked about suicide attempts. It was a really good show. I hope I don’t forget to watch part 2 next Tuesday.

On the weekend I had a moment of homesickness for Brisbane. Lately I have wanted to buy particular things (like wool and crochet needle) and it took me a while to find somewhere to go to do that. I started wishing I still lived in Brisbane where I knew where everything was and things seemed so much easier and I wasn’t so broke all the time. Luckily I started remembering how hard I had found Brisbane when I first moved there (and how broke I was). I realised that I’ve only moved towns twice before, from Roma (in western Queensland) to Brisbane (when I was 17) and then to London nearly 4 months ago (aged 28). No wonder it’s hard! Anyway, I remembered that that first move was incredibly difficult and I got through it so I can cope with this one. It might take a while to find friends, get financially stable, learn where everything is, but I can do it. And I’m in London, if I can make it here, surely I can make it anywhere (well, maybe!). I still miss people in Australia though.


my big sister Nicky

September 14, 2006

I decided to call my sister Nicky on my lunch break just before and I’m really glad I did. It’s always nice to have a chat and a giggle with her.

She recently lost a brother-in-law which is very sad and I wanted her to know I was thinking of her and her husband. Unfortunately though, I now have no credit left on my phone! But I get paid tomorrow so that’s ok.

I gave her my blog address so she could check out what I’ve been up to so I’m hoping she’ll see this entry about her!

*I miss you Nicky and I wish there was a much quicker way to travel between London and Canberra. I hope I get to see you sometime soon.*

I’d better get back to work. Now I feel a bit happier and a bit more able to deal with the afternoon’s work.

Carmen


Art and markets (and other stuff from the last week).

September 14, 2006

I have been researching drawing classes in London. They are not cheap but I really want to do them. I know I could just spend time at home on drawing but I don’t and going to a class would mean I had to do it every week. When I was at art school last year, I spent so much time being creative and making art – it was fantastic. I don’t want to get lost on the treadmill of full-time work where I’m too tired and busy to make time for art. When I first got to the UK I was doing quite a bit of embroidery and cross stitch but it has pretty-much stopped now. I am still going to at least one art exhibition a week. And I’m going to check out a stitch n bitch group in my local area on Sunday. I’m a bit worried about being too much of a beginner, but hopefully it will be fun. I also have no idea what the people there will be like. I hope they are my kind of people (i.e. not sexist, racist or homophobic; don’t make fun of people who read books, like art and don’t like sport, etc).

After work on Friday I went and checked out a comic book store in Camden called Mega City Comics. It was pretty cool. I could have spent a LOT of money there but I didn’t spend any. On Friday night Paul and I went to see some bands at the Dublin Castle with a friend from Brisbane, Renee. It was a bit too guitar-rock focussed for my liking but it was ok. And I forgot to bring earplugs, which sucked! My ears just can’t handle really loud music; it hurts plus I worry about the long-term effects on my hearing. Oh, and we ate dinner at a pub before hand and the meals – which weren’t that great – took over an hour to come out!

On Saturday we went to see an art exhibition on miniatures at the Jerwood Gallery. It was very cool. I especially liked the mobile with lots of hanging insects that also seemed to have little fairy skeletons/bodies hanging from it too. The fairy bodies were made from bits of insects and plant roots. It looked very cool as there were lots of scenes of a fairy vs different insects. (see http://www.jerwoodspace.co.uk/gal_whatson.html)

After that we went to the Borough markets. They were really packed. We had yummy falafel kebabs.

On Saturday night Paul and I went to Renee’s house – she and her partner do not have much space. We went to a Queer Borders fundraiser (the money raised was split between the London No Borders group and some people going to a Queer conference or something in Europe somewhere). We saw Tonia (another Brisbane person) which was cool. The music was good and the people quite interesting, not that I talked to anyone I didn’t already know. We couldn’t stay too long as we rushed off to get the last tube home (and only just got it). There was another woman there who I knew in Brisbane years ago but now lives in Melbourne. I didn’t want to talk to her though because I wouldn’t have had anything nice to say! From what I knew of her she was a bully and for someone who claimed to be a ‘feminist’ she certainly knew how to make women feel bad about themselves.

On Sunday we met up with Steve (my brother) and (his girlfriend) Sophie. We checked out some street markets not far from Liverpool Street Station (lots of cheap clothes which we got into (Paul bought some t-shirts, I bought a dress and some pashminas). Then we went to the Spitalfields markets which had a lot nicer clothes (but a lot more expensive) and some nice food.

During the week I joined the Ealing library and borrowed some books. I love libraries. I borrowed a book on the Bayeux tapestry which is very cool (see http://www.bayeuxtapestry.org.uk). It goes through each bit of the tapestry and tells you the story it tells. The pictures are really great and are inspiring ideas of what I could embroider (gotta keep practising that drawing).

Yesterday I found out that an artist I really love (William Kentridge) has work at a gallery in Suffolk. I looked at maybe getting a train down there next weekend but trains are soooo expensive. You've really gotta book weeks in advance. As Paul and I are planning to go to Paris around my birthday (end of October) I think we should save our money for then).

Carmen


A new craft

September 5, 2006

I have decided that I want to learn to crochet. All I need now is some wool, a crochet needle or two, and a book that tells me how (or a person). I was thinking of buying “Stitch ‘n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker” by Debbie Stoller. It looks kinda cool. But then I thought, I could probably get some old How To book for really cheap at a second hand store.

I could have a look on the way home from work today. Then I could start tonight!

I have seen some cool crochet patterns for clothes I would like to wear so I want to get learning on how to do it! I found this link to a cool site and followed another link to a how to make a spiral crochet hat.  Still not sure if I’d wear it but I think it would be cool to have a hat like that that I made!

Only an hour left of work today. I better get back to it.