Insane In The Membrane

Do you have to be crazy to be a great writer? I don’t mean a successful writer. I mean a great writer. There are many successful writers who are certainly not great writers *coughtwilightcough*.

It just seems to me that alot of our most brilliant writers have had mental issues to battle. I was thinking about this the other day, after watching The Hours, a movie based on a book of the same name by Michael Cunningham, in which Nicole Kidman portrays Virginia Woolf.

We all know that Virginia Woolf suffered from mental illness. She had severe headaches, depression and eventually took her own life. Another brilliant writer, Ernest Hemingway, suffered from alcoholism and depression and he took his own life as well. Sylvia Plath was also plagued by mental illness and ultimately died by her own hand. And lets not forget those who were overcome by drug and alcohol addiction, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack London and so many more.

The connection between writers, depression and suicide is so prevalent that the American Suicide Foundation organized a conference called “Wanting to Die: Suicide and American Literature.” And Kay Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, says writers are 10 to 20 times as likely as other people to suffer manic depression or depression, which leads to suicide more often than any other mental disorders.

There’s the old saying, that there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. But maybe they are one in the same. Maybe you need to have at least a little bit of insanity to remove that mental filter that often dams the creative flow. A writer can have no fear. No fear of offending people, of being censored, of going too far. Writers have been persecuted, exiled, committed, imprisoned, tortured and even executed for the words they have written. But the drive to put pen to paper overcomes even the threat of punishment and death. That seems almost a mental illness in itself.

I don’t consider myself a great writer (at least not yet hahaha), but I have dealt with mental health issues most of my life. Depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, low self-esteem, cutting, suicide attempts, substance abuse. I have also found that the harder I struggled with these issues, the more creative I became. The deeper I sank into depression and despair and the more I obsessed over my own death, the easier the words flowed from my pen. Back in the mid 90’s, during that period of time when I could write for days, hardly pausing to eat or sleep, I was in an almost manic suicidal state all the time. If it wasnt for writing I don’t think I would have survived it.

Is it possible to be creative and well-adjusted?

Advertisements

A Date With Monet

Today I’m going to stray away from my usual topic of books and writing to talk about art. This weekend my boyfriend and I went to the D’Amour Museum of Fine Art in downtown Springfield for their Old Masters to Monet exhibit, a special display of fifty French paintings on loan from the Wadsworth Atheneum. This is the last week before it closes and I’ve been dying to see it so we finally made plans to go.

First I just want to say, the paintings were incredible.

Second, there is no place to good for annoying people to be found.

We’ll start with the first point. The paintings. They dated from the mid 17th to the early 20th century. There were fifty of them but photographing was forbidden, so unfortunately I can’t recall every single one of them, as much as I would love to. Now, I know that to those of you who live in large cities, seeing art of this caliber is probly commonplace, but in my neck of the woods, it is somewhat of a rarity, and this is the first time in my life I have had the pleasure of seeing such a display. Let me also clarify that I am no art expert. I like art, there are certain artists I like more than others, but I don’t claim to know anything about style or technique or biographical information about the artists themselves. I do know that the two forms of art I tend to prefer are called Impressionist and Surrealist.

I was very excited about seeing the Impressionist art that I knew was part of the exhibit. I absolutely love Monet, and one of my favorites, The Beach at Trouville, was part of the exhibit. It was just such an experience, to be able to get right up close, and see each individual brush stroke, and to know that Monet applied the paint to that canvas with his own hand. The way he painted it captures the atmosphere so perfectly, you can practically feel the sea breeze blowing off the canvas. I was completely mesmerized. My boyfriend had to physically drag me away from it when it was time to leave.

The Beach at Trouville by Claude Monet. This is only a photo of the print I bought at the gift shop. My cell phone camera sucks and has no flash so I aplogize for the poor quality.

They had many more beautiful works of art as well. Renoir’s painting of Monet at work in their garden, one of Degas’ ballerinas, one of Monet’s waterlilies, as well as works by Manet, Sisley, Pissarro and Cezanne. And of course no collection of masterpieces would be complete without Van Gogh’s Self Portrait.

There was alot of paintings by earlier artists whose names were vaguely familiar, who I don’t know that much about, but who truly were masters of their art. The workmanship was so exquisite that some of them almost looked like photographs. And the details were insane, every inch of canvas had something to draw the eye, whether it was the texture of a set of drapes in the back ground, or the tassels on the edge of a tablecloth, nothing was too small or unimportant to have anything less than the most minute attention to detail.

Being in the presence of such beauty was an experience I can only describe as spiritual.

So lets move on to my second point. Annoying people.

YOU DONT LET YOUR KIDS RUN WILD IN A ROOM FULL OF PRICELESS ARTWORK!!!!!! Who brings little kids to an art exhibit anyways?? I mean, unless your child is some sort of genius art prodigy, they aren’t going to give a flying rats ass about seeing a bunch of old paintings. Get a babysitter or stay home. That’s the way it works when you’re a parent. One of the kids was sliding along the wall around the room, and his head was actually bumping against the bottoms of the frames. I was waiting for one of the paintings to go crashing to the floor. Not to mention that if you were standing close to the wall, examining a painting up close, he would squeeze in between you and the wall, forcing you to step back to avoid being knocked off balance and possibly fall against the painting. And I wont even go into the loud echoing voices. Their parents were ignoring them so skillfully that I wasnt even sure who, of all the people in the room, they were.

But all in all it was an excellent day.

Midnight In Paris

Was there a golden age for artists and writers? Much like Owen Wilson’s character in Midnight in Paris, I have a highly romanticized idea of 1920’s Paris as a glamorous paradise full of writers and painters and musicians and dancers, gathering in cafes and parlors and clubs, drinking and dancing  and creating from dusk til dawn. I feel like if I could somehow slip back in time and space to that era, I could tap into that same bottomless creative well they all seemed to have access to, and create literary masterpieces.

But I know that in reality it was a time of poor hygiene, little indoor plumbing and electricity, writing by hand with messy ink bottles, where diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis ran rampant thru a population that was promiscuous, addicted to opium and morphine, drank too much, smoked too much, ate poorly, slept little and lived in damp, drafty rooms with little or no heat. Many of them died from illness, substance abuse or suicide far too young.

There was no magic font of creativity that bestowed creative super powers on the people who lived there. There were just alot of already talented people who happened to congregate in a place where they could escape prohibition and censorship.

Even with that logical knowledge, I cant help but sigh nostalgically.

But I would definitely recommend Midnight in Paris if you like Woody Allen movies, or Owen Wilson, or the 1920’s Paris art scene. We watched it last night and it was great. Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway really stole the show. He was like an Old Spice commercial. And Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali was hilarious.

Another movie I like, set in that era in Paris, is Henry and June, about writers Anais Nin and Henry Miller and Henry’s wife June. Taking place during the time that Miller was writing Tropic of Cancer, it centers around his affair with Nin and how it effected their writing, their lives and their marriages. It is rated NC-17 due to its sexuality so be warned if your sensitive to that sort of thing.

And Hemingway’s book, A Moveable Feast! I thought it was endlessly fascinating to read about the way he and his fellow writers and artists lived during that time. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

So was it a golden age? To us, looking back from our own time, it may seem so. But an age never seems golden when its the present, only when it becomes the past.

Busy Weekend

I just wanted to wish everybody a Happy Easter or Passover.

No blog this weekend, too much to do between getting the house ready and cooking for Easter dinner and preparing for the birth of my third grandchild. My daughter is scheduled for a c-section at 9:30 tomorrow morning. I can’t wait!

may the force be with you

(I got my dad to type this for me)

I am 10 years old and I have autism. Every April is Autism Awareness Month and I think this is really an honour for me. This time of year helps people to remember that there are lots of people around us who have autism. I also have some friends at my school who have autism. I really like that all over the world people are taking part in Light It Up Blue for Autism. Here are some of my favourite pictures I found online:

Please remember everyone with autism and be patient with us. Thank you and goodbye for now…

View original post

Book Store & Library Etiquette

Yes, bookstores and libraries are comfy cozy places to hang out and lounge around and enjoy your leisure time. That does not mean you are at home. You are not in your living room or your bedroom. Thus certain things are not acceptable.

~My biggest peeve is shoes. PLEASE KEEP YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS ON!!!! If your shoes are so uncomfortable that you can’t stand having them on, then perhaps you should invest in different shoes. Nobody wants your nasty sweaty socks or bare feet all over everything. This weekend I was at B&N and one lady had her sock feet up on a coffee table. Another lady had her bare feet up on the upholstered arm-chair, while she was picking the skin from between her toes and flicking the pieces who knows where. I don’t want to sit in a chair that you just finished rubbing your athlete’s foot all over. And don’t put your feet on a table that other people put their food and drinks on. These are the types of things that make me want to be a recluse.

~Cellphone use. Yes, we all have them, for the most part. And, yes, the point of them is so that people can reach us when we are away from home. But that does not mean that you should go to a place where people typically engage in quiet activities, such as reading, studying and browsing books, and spend long intervals of time TALKING ON YOUR PHONE AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS. Especially about highly personal and inapropriate topics or using vulgar language that may be unsuitable for everyone present to hear. You are not in a sound proof booth. We can all hear you. Also if your phone plays music thru its speaker, realize that not everybody shares your taste in music. Dont walk around with your phone clipped to your belt blasting music like its your own private night club.

~Which brings me to regular conversations with who ever it is that you are with. Please use a conversational tone. No need to scream when the person you’re talking to is two feet away. I understand that I am going to hear the conversations of people sitting or standing near me. If they are speaking quietly I can easily tune them out. I respect people’s privacy and will not intentionally eavesdrop on a conversation that I am not a part of. But if your shouting and squealing and making a spectacle of yourself, its hard to ignore.  And again with the language and subject matter.

~I didnt come to catch the live show…if you know what I mean. If you need to get it on that bad, stay home, get a room, go to the drive-in, whatever. I don’t need you dry humping next to me while I’m trying to read.

~Browsing in the same aisle or sitting in the same chair grouping does not make me your friend. If I wanted a companion I would have brought one. If there are two things that don’t mix, it’s talking and reading. If I have an open book in front of my face, I am doing the latter. Also, I tend to be a very solitary person and being approached by strangers generally makes me very uncomfortable. Unlike my boyfriend who feels the need to talk to every person within hearing range of his voice. Which is why I very rarely ever take him to the book store or library with me.

~People need to respect personal space when possible. Obviously in a crowded area we can’t all stay arm’s length away from each other. But that does not mean you need to be hovering over me like a vulture on a dead carcass. If I’m looking at a shelf of books and you want to see something on that shelf, don’t press up against my back, breathing down my neck like a pervert, trying to read over my shoulder. Either wait til I’m done or say “excuse me” and I’ll step aside. This also annoys me in the checkout line when the person behind me is standing so close that I can’t move without bumping into them. It also makes me paranoid that they are trying to steal my PIN number when I’m typing it into the keypad

~Personal hygiene is everybody’s friend. Please shower before going out. You may adore the smell of ass crack and armpits, but most of us do not. There is nothing worse than curling up in a comfortable chair with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate and settling in for a long, satisfying afternoon of reading, then having someone flop down in the chair next to you, with BO so strong it makes you gag. And if that person is also someone who likes to take their shoes off…well lets not even think about that.

~The other patrons are not there to be your babysitters. If you bring children with you it is your responsibility to watch them.You are not allowed to set them loose in the building and completely ignore them while they run, scream, climb, throw things, spill stuff, jump around and harass everybody else while you sit and read or talk on your phone. Also do not allow your children to bring along toys that are excessively noisy. Like remote control cars, toy fire trucks with sirens, drums, horns, whistles, bells or squeakers. If they bring a hand-held video game, give them ear buds or make them keep the volume down.

~If you bring your laptop with you, remember that what comes out of its speakers is not contained to your ears alone. Everyone around you is forced to hear to it as well. So be mindful that listening to you shoot lasers at androids for an hour in whatever ubergeek video game your trying to level up in is probly not gonna be an enjoyable experience for anybody else but you.

~Throw away your trash when you are done. This is more a problem at books stores than libraries because a lot of bookstores tend to have cafes in them these days. If you eat or drink anything, there are barrels provided to throw away your trash. And if you spill a drink or make a lot of crumbs, clean up your mess. Dont leave a filthy area for someone else to use. The cafe people will wipe down the tables and counters in the cafe area, but not the rest of the store. I always find empty coffee cups and crumpled up napkins and sandwich wrappers all over the place, including on the bookshelves. And I don’t like picking my book up off a table and having half the back cover ripped off cuz it glued to some sticky half-congealed splotch of frappucino that I didn’t notice. Libraries don’t have as much of a problem with food trash since there is usually no eating allowed there, but of course you always have those people who ignore the rules and bring in their McDonald’s or Taco Bell, and those are usually people who also don’t clean up after themselves.

So I guess that about covers it. A lot of people will probly think I’m quite unreasonable with my expectations of how people should act. And maybe I am. But I think a lot of people are quite unreasonable in what they expect people to put up with. But of course I know the people who will be the most offended by this list will be the people who are habitually guilty of committing many of these behaviors. Unfortunately with each passing generation our society becomes more ‘me, myself and I” centered, and people just do whatever they please and think they need never consider how their actions effect others.