Tag Archives: me

total sense of humour failure

Triggers: sh/si & anger.

I’m beginning to get nervous every time I start feeling anything vaguely positive. It wasn’t always this way. I used to be proud of myself, for getting through the stuff I did and still being able to love and trust. I used to be proud of my battlescars. I used to think that actually that whole journey was alright, because I lived. No, I Lived. I’d have defined myself as someone who could roar across her own terror to grab life by the throat and make it my own. I thought it all balanced out – the black despair and the intense joy. It was the maximum possible goodness that I could wrestle from the fragments. I kept headbutting through it all somehow and carried on feeling good about some things – as good as I ever felt bad.

There are things that generally get said first during adolescence, that I never did.

You can’t trust anybody.
Love is a lie.

Emo stuff like that. I’ve always maintained that love is the most important thing in the world, and that trust is a choice. Those are perhaps the things I cling to most fiercely. I still believe them. I do. Feeling them has become difficult. It never was before. Never … and I am really struggling with the change. Who the fuck am I? I know the things about me that deserve my own respect and love. I just can’t reach them anymore. I feel broken beyond repair and I’m tired of pretending I don’t.

I believed in checks and balances, now it’s chaos theory. It’s a crisis of faith, isn’t it? One day you wake up surrounded by the goddamn bomb blast debris of your own existence and bam, life and time and the world suddenly have absolutely no meaning at all. I try to focus on other people’s happiness, try to be community focused in a mostly virtual and sprawling way. It works, it really does, but it doesn’t stave off the loneliness and alienation for long. It doesn’t stop those old, old feelings my abuser taught me – that I am definitely worthless and unwanted. A goddamn sodding fucking poxy leper.

If sheer force of will could have overcome things … well it did for a while. And now I’m sitting bleeding in the rubble and oh fuck fuck FUCK but I am miserable and exhausted and pissed right off. Life … world … fuck the both of you, fuck all of it fuck raging because the tears hurt too fucking much fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Endings are rarely happy, everything is not always ok. It isn’t always a choice. We just apply clichés like bandaids to try not to tumble into the gaping, howling maw of the abyss.

The moment I start feeling quietly slightly positive, something sneaks up and makes me feel raped, filthy, deathly. And that motherfucker is a pretty new thing. I don’t like it. I want hope back.

There is no fucking hope.

None. Not for me.

a social suicide note

There’s this cool post over at After Midnight and this caught my eye as a really interesting thought experiment.

Write as if you have decided not to blog after this; your last blog.

I wrote this post a couple of days ago.

There are abandoned blogs and bits of my digital detritus all over the internet; I like to imagine them as tumbleweed. However, even if I’ve rage quit, I’ve just stopped, without announcement or explanation. I’m craven that way. So what would I say, if I avoided trying to be the who-was-that-man lone ranger, striding off into the sunset?

Dearly beloved and bebloggered, I am gathered here today …

Dearly bewildered, I keep getting stuck on the ‘why’ part of this hypothesis. Like … what’s my motivation, dudes?


Dearly beleaguered, here I am today with no clue what to say.

So tempting just to say …


It’d grow increasingly poignant the longer I was away and of course, the unicorn would soon be obese. My intention to brb would be thwarted by angry mythical animal rights activists and I would end up in a scary third world gaol, having to bribe guards to bring me a plateful of maggots as sustenance.

Or maybe the passive aggressive approach …


Don’t worry about me *theatrical sigh*. Or perhaps the enigmatic one …


At least it has a reassuring smiley. Or absolutely no nonsense and practical …


D is for DOS. Kthxbye.

And tbh, it’d only be a permanent absence because I’d inevitably forget the password, and then forget which email acc I’d used …

I’d miss you guys. You’re the people who haven’t grown bored with me talking about bipolar, because most of you have it too. I’d struggle more without these easy friendships and the valuable input and info I get from you. I’d be lonelier without you. I only know one bipolar person irl and even that isn’t a particularly close connection (but it is valuable). I’ve been thinking, reading and writing less about The Disorder (haha) lately and yet I still need this context; I need this space that we make with our blogs and comments. I AM NOT BLOODYWELL LEAVING AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! *cough*

It’s hypothetical, blah, chill the fark out ffs.

I really probably would just say brb though. And I’d keep reading your blogs and actually, if I also commented on your blogs, I wouldn’t really be gone and … have you noticed that I only ever have circular arguments?

Fuckit. I have done no justice to a really great topic, but it was fun to write, nonetheless.

And an addendum type thingy … I was talking to a friend earlier, who told me that even 10mins on fb per day increases depression. I told them about twitter triggering psychosis. These days I only use fb and pinterest (autocorrect says pin erect), pinterest is barely social and fb … I spent 3 months off it towards the end of last year. I don’t have the cojones to deactivate, because I’d have no contact at all with some people then. So I use it and when I’m lively it’s fun and when I’m bleak it is dark. Too much fun revs me too hard, too much darkness intensifies my own private raincloud. It was tough to give up twitter, but I’m glad I did. Of course, blogging is social networking too – but I reckon this is very healthy and helpful.

blisterhood of the hurled plodder

You know me. You know I’m a whore for memes that contain questions. And by now, you know how I do it; namely, mess with the title, use it as an excuse for yet another playlist, ignore the rules and fail to nominate anyone. I do generally add my own questions to this one, but they so rarely get answered that I’m lazily leaving that out. Thanks HH, cool questions.

Also, my wifi is spending so much time awol at the moment, that it’s good to have some writing prompts and patience. (Is it just me, or do you ever get seriously fed up with peering into the bowels of clouds for silver linings? And the relentless pressure to pretend that tin foil is silver. But I do it.)

1. Since you are all writers, what is the best compliment someone could give you about your writing?
When people tell me that I write well, I say I know, which has, on occasion, prompted remarks about my ego. But! But but but … it’s the one thing I know I can do. The times when I feel unable to are rare. I’m secure in it even in low moods – I need it. I’ve become cheerfully assholish enough to regard you write well as an observation, rather than a compliment. So what the diggressing, waffling, rambling fuck do I want as a compliment? The words that humble me most, are those telling me that my words have finally ventured beyond the fluid and facile, and made some kind of a difference to someone’s moment. But I am not writing a novel, neither do I want to; what I write is only relevant to me at the moment of writing and to you (sometimes) at the moment of reading. It’s what I do; it isn’t a shoo-wahhh spiritual experience.

You’re So Vain (you probably think this blog is about you) (lol)


2. What’s the wisest thing you have ever heard anyone say?
I have wise friends, who have said many wise things to me and I can’t seem to choose one. Instead I shall show off by quoting the Dalai Lama, because I (and a fuckload of other people) heard him speak in lovely Kirstenbosch one evening and … look, I am ashamed at this point, to tell you that I do not recall one word of his lecture … but some people asked questions afterwards and two answers have remained with me ever since. I guess it was around 15 years ago? I dunno. One upper middle class white woman asked a what is it all for type of a question and he got completely distracted by waving to a teeny kid who was running along in front of the stage, and then he said that’s why we must do it – for them, for children. And a different upper middle class white woman asked what we could do for Tibet. He said, if you meet a Chinese person, you could tell them how you feel about Tibet, but if they don’t want to listen, just let it go and walk away. It’s never really what people say though, is it? Nothing new under the sun and all that. It’s how they say it, when they say it and how you process and apply it that counts. For all I know (or care), the wisest words in the world could be doo wah diddy diddy dum diddy doo. That day on the toes of Table Mountain, there was light rain, a rainbow, a fast and furious bayete to a joyously giggling Dalai Lama, one astonishing sunset drumbeat on a Japanese drum the size of my house … frankly, the DL could have burped into a bottle and I’d have found meaning there. Isn’t that fabulous?

George Ezra – Listen to the Man (this one’s a must for fans of Sir Ian McKellen)


3. How would you describe yourself?
Human. It’s a handy catchall, it encompasses almost everything else about me. I’m a whole lot more interested in other people’s observations of me than mine. None of it ought to be limiting.

R.E.M. – Electron Blue (I’m gasoline)


4. What would you regret not doing in your life?
I can’t think of anything. I know what I’m grateful for and I think I’m decent at being conscious enough to relish the good things (the only times I don’t are when depression goes beyond melancholic – using the clinical definition of the word). All I want is to outlive my dog; I have no wishes past that point. And regretting anything in the past is utterly futile (but they’re the only ones we’ve got).

Bright Blue – Weeping (it doesn’t matter now, it’s over anyhow)


5. Where do you find peace?
The absolutely finest way to remove the wrinkles and mould from my soul, is to spend even just one day driving around a South African game reserve. Even finer if there’s the amazing quietness of an elephant’s footfall, or a sighting of something shy and elusive, or something fierce, or something … anything. In the absence of game, plants and birds are awesome enough on their own. The other magical places are the sea, mountains, desert and long, long roads. Also, very strong sleeping pills.

Richard Ashcroft – On a Beach (thinkin’ of you and the love I got)


6. What are you grateful for?
My friends, nextofkin, my dog, my house, the fact that I live in South Africa, books, music, words, animals, art, laughter, my solar powered electricity, my view, the sea, mountains, bushveld, my psychiatrist, the fact that you are reading this, rain, birds, trees, food, water, technology,  cigarettes and chocolate milk.

Rufus Wainwright – Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk (and if I should buy jelly beans, have to eat them all in just one sitting)


7. If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
I’ve answered that question more than once on my blog already, which is a good opportunity to review and refine something, as well as to ponder its purpose. So. Hello, younger self … I no longer have the faintest idea of what to tell you – so that’s your one thing I’m afraid. I just don’t know.

Whatever Happened to the Heroes No More Heroes Anymore


8. What stresses you out?
Conflict, angry silence, crowds, beaurocracy, debt, phone calls, the future and loss, loss, loss, loss, loss …

Beck – Loser (babyyy)


9. In one word, what is standing between you and your biggest goal?


10. What inspires you?
Erm. Inspires me how? To write, paint, compose, knit, cook a masterpiece? To fling my arms wide and run slo-mo through a flowery meadow? To crawl out of bed and slouch towards consciousness? I’d have given so many answers once upon a time, I’m at a loss now though. I’m lucky if I can work up the energy to feel compelled, let alone inspired. So I guess I can cite habit and tenacity. Or is that motivation rather than inspiration? Maybe I should rethink this.



I really do work at it.

Last night I wasn’t planning to stay awake for the exact hour … but I did. It was alright on the whole. Three different people in three different countries told me they’d lit a candle for my mother – I was really touched; it caught me totally by surpise too. I listened to Richard Ashcroft and then some French trance, I chatted to a few friends. It only got lonely half an hour before the hour and perhaps that was good.

I must’ve pinned half the internet on Pinterest. I couldn’t focus on reading or writing, so the displacement activity was good looking images and interesting words. To add to the surreal factor, for the last couple of days, the internet has been going down every few minutes briefly. That’s not an exaggeration, I really wish it was. Given the fact that the mast is over theeeeere on a hill in some dune forest and there are no satellites overhead aaand they only installed a local adsl exchange last year, plenty of this village still use that mast and today, everyone was having issues. We don’t phone a call centre, we phone the father or son. Sometimes both.

Issues … blah blah … internet … blah.
Hmm, okay I’ve checked my side and everything’s fine.
I’ve rebooted, unplugged, checked the thingy on my roof …
Hmm. Eveything looks fine here, let me check the line. That’s fine too.
Alright I’ll reboot the server this side, let me know if there’s any improvement.
There is no improvement.
Ok I’ll check the line.

Blather, wince, defeat.


A very small price to pay, however, for being able to haul my tired ass and my dog to the beach first thing this morning. Being bashed about by lively and rather chilly waves sorts a whole lot of stuff out. I had coffee with my neighbour, I ate healthy stuff, I washed dishes, I did laundry. Every time I paused, agitation climbed into my mind and played castanets, so I kept going. Towards evening, I did a couple of minor jobs in the garden and then wandered around with my phone, photographing what I suspect was the finest sunset this summer.

It grew dark and Thor began to fling Mjölnir around and there was an unusually wild storm for this area. Four hours later and it’s still raining – we are always grateful for it. I watched Good Will Hunting and then Catch 22. I’d forgotten that part of Catch 22’s denouement is a truly startling bit of heartbreaking gore. It jolted me, but it was also interesting (the jolting).

I managed to upload a stack of photos to fb, by leaving the phone alone. Disconnect, reconnect, disconnect, reconnect … but eventually there’s enough of a gap to allow stuff through.

I can’t seem to stop the jaw clenching and I think my blood has been sneakily replaced with battery acid, but I think I got through it okay. Thank goodness for my friends, my dog and my environment. Also – chocolate. I am tired and wired, and both immensely sad and extremely grateful. The tremor’s annoying as hell at the moment. Eh, no … I am not going to whine.

How are you? You’re looking great for someone who … oh wait, I probably shouldn’t mention that in public.


I got some work! Only 48 pages, but I’ll get paid a very decent amount indeed. It was perfectly timed too, February (along with all its other joys), left me in debt. I’m never in debt. I’m allergic to debt. So I did my copy editing and did it three times, to compensate for my current bipolar brain issues. I worked in a place with cable connectivity only, due to a storm and some damage, so no connection for moi. I think it’s good to be disconnected occasionally though. In previous years I’d have pissed myself with irritation, but things have changed.


Tomorrow is D day – lowercase on the second d there, because it D for death, but nowt to do with the war. Every generation has a war that they call the war, don’t they. Perhaps oddly, mine is World War ii, purely because nearly all the men in my family (who were alive at the time) volunteered. My mother would have either growled at me for being disrespectful, or rather enjoyed me dubbing the day of her death D day.

Tomorrow is D day.


To quote Paul McCartney when he had a band called Wings, do do do do do do it’s just another daaay. That song only really got played the year I was seven or eight; when it comes to lyrics, suddenly my memory is sharp once more. I wonder people would feel if I asked them to sing important things to me.

Tomorrow is D day.

It isn’t just another day. Perhaps it’ll change in future, perhaps not. Perhaps bipolar will shrink my hippocampus to the extent that I will forget completely.



It’ll be fine, of course it will. Days are finite things after all.

People ask whether I’m doing anything special and it makes me think. I might light a candle, burn some incense, maybe chuck some coffee grounds and cigarette ash over were her ashes are buried. A wooden box of ashes and a dead jack russell are buried next to the steps where I watch sunsets, in case I haven’t mentioned it before. I do all of those things from time to time anyway.

I knew February would be hard, but there were things I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect Hyaenadog’s death to come so quickly, I didn’t expect to have so many expenses, I didn’t expect my friend to be emigrating so soon and I certainly didn’t expect a last straw and ludicrous form of conflict with someone else.

Whatever. Nothing could possibly be worse than 2013. Sidenote to the universe – this is not a dare.

My mind has melted a bit anyway, I’ve only done freebie editing jobs since about last October. I’m just tired and that’s okay. I’m also grateful for the distraction, because I’m extremely down around it and tearful too.

Okay that’s enough writing for today. No whining.

goodbye boy i love you

This is going to be mawkish and sentimental.

Hyaenadog deteriorated astonishingly fast – three days of cortisone didn’t help. I stuffed him full of food and painkillers and showed him his lead, which I knew would give him a sudden, short burst of endorphins/adrenaline, and then I took him for a really nice little walk in gentle rain. And then I took him to see his vet. She was amazing, we talked and both stroked Hyaenadog and then, sitting on the floor, with his head in my lap and my arms around him, he got a careful and painless shot of Nembutal and died quietly. I sat with him and the vet (who liked him very much) for a while.

It was absolutely the right and compassionate thing do do, he had a good life with me and was eased into oblivion gently. I’ve never met a more serene and loving animal; my friends adored him – especially Synapse, who is as sore as I am right now. He was wild before I got him, and had been rescued from a wire snare meant for bushbuck or duiker or warthog. At first, he wouldn’t come inside. It took him a few days to venture beyond the lounge. And then he got used to regular food and a couch to laze on, and took to his lead and cuddles beautifully well. I didn’t want this, but it was kind and right and all achieved in the best possible way. It’s alright.

It isn’t just me shedding tears for him – three or four of his friends cried too. He really was unusual and handsome and affectionate without ever being unruly. He was never too much and he was always dignified. A friend called him the dog of night and brush. And he was.

I have never had a shitty Friday the 13th before this one and I’m still not superstitious about it.

The dog in the front, in the image I used as the featured image for this post, looks very much like him. It’s a painting by Andrew Wyeth and I cropped lots of sky out to make it fit better.


Apart from the word golden, bad manners, mange and the geography, this describes him as if it had been written about him.

A Dog Has Died


My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.


15. Requiem

Robert Louis Stevenson. 1850–1894

UNDER the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you ‘grave for me:         
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.


And the next excerpt … February is the cruelest month for me, not April.

The Waste Land

                                  FOR EZRA POUND
                                IL MIGLIOR FABBRO

              I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
                      Frisch weht der Wind
                      Der Heimat zu
                      Mein Irisch Kind,
                      Wo weilest du?
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying: “Stetson!
“You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
“That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
“Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
“Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
“Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!
“You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

ffs february

2015 is not a Leap Year.

To be honest I don’t think it’s even a spring to your feet year. Not for me anyway. I really hope yours is going better – and I am very aware that mine is light years away from being the worst. I digress. Clearly a 28 day February is preferable to a 29 day one. The tradition of women being able to propose to men on the 29th passes me by without a ripple.

Clang association back up there … not surprising (mixed state). I don’t loathe February because I’m single and valentine’s day approacheth – it’s primarily because it’s the month my mother died. Then there is this mixed state and valentine’s day will possibly hurt a little, because I’m a romantic – but it’s also alright. I want all my friends and family who have partners to have some quiet and intense romance and fiercely, joyously passionate sex, followed by sublimely slow lovemaking. And then, there is the fact that after months of effort, my beautiful, lovely, loving Hyaenadog’s neurological problems are accelerating, the silver bullet of cortisone is just beginning to affect his organs and we are now out of treatment options. Palliative care as long as possible and then he will need to go gently into that sodding voracious dark night. As another far too short lived shining soul didn’t quite say, my heart is broke but I have no glue.


There’s a verse in that song that applies untouched though.

Skin the sun
Fall asleep
Wish away
The soul is cheap
Lesson learned
Wish me luck
Soothe the burn
Wake me up
Dumb (Kurt Cobain, 1990)

Grunge-nerd sidenote: the version I linked is live, in 1994, which is the year Kurt took a shotgun and … you know the rest. The MTV Unplugged version is lovely too, particularly for the lines that he and Krist Novoselic harmonise. Nirvana is my go to music for a certain kind of sore. It’s one feather lighter that Johnny Cash’s final album (American IV – The Man Comes Around) and one heavier than Leonard Cohen. I can pinpoint my level of distress by the music I crave. I start at that point and eventually (not necessarily that day) I want the Shonen Knife vs The Carpenters album, at which point I am safe for human consumption for a while. I am playing Nirvana now.

I already feel soothed by the songs that are just right for the level I’m at. I’ve done my first round of strange and strangled trying-not-to sobbing; I am back to pragmatism. I’m going to give my boy a happy time full of love and later (as later as possible without causing him any more suffering) a gentle and dignified ending. It’s what we owe our dogs.

Amidst it all, I’m up to 300mg of lamotrigine so far. I told my shrink that I think the other meds changed need to wait a month, so I can separate grief and depression. She agreed, with the firm caveat of get in touch immediately if things get too hard. And she said casually oh yes the next one is free isn’t it, and with no loss of face, I got lucky again. Man I am fortunate. She also said if I need ECT, she will forego her fees. I am always, always knocked over by the most amazingly happy wave when someone is spontaneously kind.

I’m shattered right now – there was a lot happening today, plus stress pulsing through me and then sad sadder saddest sadness. There is a storm shifting across my big sky, muttering and grumbling and unable to decide where to break. Here please, we need the rain and I need nature to shake its fist till I feel safe again.

Jesus doesn’t want me for a sunbeam


That’s it … I’m done whining for now … my heart is broke, my heart is broke, my heart is broke.

Broken can be pretty, I can do without glue.

And so can you.

blahpolar diaries 2015-02-06 07:30:16

A couple of years’ thoughts behind every thought here.

I want to discuss Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s Epistle to Neruda with my mother. We’d cheerfully dissect it together and she would tell me lots about the background of those two poets and how that poem came to be. But the bloody woman seems to be taking this whole death thing seriously, so that discussion will never happen.

Isn’t it utterly shitty when people die in the middle of about a thousand conversations you were having with them at the time? Isn’t that the heaviest loss too? All those times (so many times) when you open your mouth or reach for the phone, because something happened and your first, fast, subconscious instinct was to say hey guess what? Grief stabs you right in the heart again and again and again. Then a song gets released or a book is published, that you know they’d have wanted, bought, loved … you can’t enjoy those things yet yourself, not until enough time has passed to make those reminders touching instead of suckerpunching. It’s all too obscene at first.

We don’t call him the grim reaper for nothing.

If anyone is ever foolish enough to ask for my advice about loss and grief, there will be no duck billed platitudes. I’d say weep. Weep as much as you like and don’t ever let anyone tell you to stop. If anyone says get over it, smack them about the head a bit with a fish. I’d tell them that there isn’t a formulaic time frame and that they should just let it run its course, while doing their best to function. I’d say weep more, howl, rail against the universe, let your pain out into the world or it will fester in your heart. Even the uptight Victorians had better rites for grief than we do.

It’s a personal choice only, but I don’t say passed or deceased or late, I say dead. I need the brutality of the truth in my face, otherwise I get lost in trying to make it all lyrical somehow. I’m doing it right now. Dead, gone, lost and a gaping wound to prove it. I’ve lost enough people to know that time does not heal. What it does do, is gradually allow the memories to soften, so that you can put your pain somewhere safe, so that it stops dominating your entire world.


Whatever you or I think about it, perhaps death is the only absolute we have.

debriefing the grief

I’ve been writing about my mother, death and grief, because her deathiversary is coming up. It’s part eulogy and part therapy, I guess.

Metaphorically speaking, I could feel my brain bulge a bit after my mother died, as I began to wish that I had some form of faith. Faith in an afterlife, in reincarnation, mediums – anything to put some kind of bandaid on the hurting. An ex hospice nurse told me that the dead show themselves clearly to their loved ones before they go wherever they go. She’s such a no nonsense, practical type that I wanted to believe her, but I couldn’t. You can’t take a conscious leap of faith for any of those things; either you’ve got it, or you get it, or you’re stuck with science and chaos theory.

I landed up with a two year long sporadic earworm too:

Death is pretty final, I’m collecting vinyl,
I’m gonna dj at the end of the world

Frequently it seemed as though I was outside looking into my mind with slight astonishment at the shiny new cogs and hamster wheels. Everything felt different, of course, because my whole world had changed and I was worldsick as a result. I’m back inside my mind again now, but knowing me, probably too much.

She was hardcore tough, my mum. Friable too, guess that comes with the territory when you’re made of flint. I was intimidated by her when I was a kid; as an adult, I predictably locked horns with her on numerous occasions. And we are/were both as stubborn as mules with their hooves superglued to the ground.

She was tall, tanned easily – a good looking woman actually. Nextofkin got her looks and I got her mind. We are probably sharing her personality. Her unshakeable punctuality too. She loved classical music and unclassical music (idk how to define genres she liked without writing a paragraph on its own). Brahms, Sibelius, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Gorecki, Leonard Cohen, Mark Knopfler, Dave Gilmour, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Eddie Vedder. See what I mean? She wrote poetry. She was incredibly intelligent. My psychiatrist thinks she was possibly bipolar ii. She loved poetry, books, islands, sea shells, african wild dogs, cheese, travel … etc. She was a passionate woman. She was a good teacher, she had an amazing sense of humour. She loved her children fiercely, the way mothers should. She called Facebook twatbook and refused to go anywhere near it. She could play the piano, speak German, she was so tough and so wounded and just … really cool.


There wasn’t a funeral or an obituary. There was me, holding her (fuckit!) body while we waited for the hearse, playing her very special songs loud to mask the conversation on my stoep. The rest of it is private and it’s hard for me to write and face anyway. But it’s good to keep at it. It helps.

It is complete and utter bullshit that she died. I am not reconciled to it; I’m as sad as fuck and pissed off too. I accept the fact that it happened, but I’m foolishly hooked on justice, even though I know justice is irrelevant to death. I don’t accept that it’s okay that it happened. It’s not okay. Apart from the selfish stuff, she was far too young. Things left undone …

I’m so tired. Last night I got two hour’s sleep and the night before, zero. I hate this hypervigilance crap. Sleep beckons and I haul up and start boxing like a kangaroo. Or hares. Anyway. I’ll take a pill tonight if necessary. I’ve been walking the dogs at 5.30 am, which is now sunrise. And it keeps on surprising me that my dogs and my mother never met. When I talk to my mother, I complain bitterly about her being dead. It’s bullshit, I tell her, what the actual fuck happened? There are a couple of unsolved things, one that I’m sure is answered in her diaries, but I am still thinking that she wouldn’t want anyone else reading them. She burned a big pile of them many years ago.


What the actual fuck happened is that life and stuff happened and cancers happened and who knows which cancer killed her in the end. Fuck the collective cancer. There is much to be grateful for. I can’t list that stuff now, I’m tired of these leaky eyes, they need a little rest. I don’t hate easily. But cancer. Argh. Fuck cancer with someone else’s syphillitic dick.

My neighbour (the nice one) said, I’m so glad your mom didn’t know about the bipolar. I was taken aback. I think she’d have been consoled by the fact that it wasn’t all down to the child abuse. Maybe she’d have been able to forgive herself a bit. Futile thoughts, those. My neighbour says she’s glad I’m so much like my mum, that she finds it comforting. I wish nextofkin wasn’t so far.

Poxy damned hellfucked leaking eyeballs. I know weeping is good, but not right now. Not with Noah unavailable. Let me go find some music that sje liked – not those last songs, they’re rather sacred to me now. Like me, she usually preferred male vocals, guitars and ballads. Unlike me, she didn’t feel compelled to be hipsterish about obscure music etc. Me, her and nextofkin were constantly trading and recommending music. We are/were rather obsessive about it.

I’m done writing about it for tonight. I feel better for having done this one.

leonard cohen – take this waltz
queen – bohemian rhapsody
dire straits – brothers in arms
coldplay – viva la vida
tom petty – the golden rose
eddie vedder – rise
robbie robertson – golden feather
buffy sainte marie – starwalker
john trudell – bombs over baghdad
mark knopfler – je suis desolé
james blunt – beautiful
the killers – human
james morrison ft nelly furtado – broken strings
r.e.m. – the great beyond
crowded house – weather with you
midnight oil – blue sky mine
yothu yindi – treaty
robbie williams – sexed up
charles aznavour – la boheme
david gilmour – on an island
ismael lo – jammu africa
bright blue – weeping
bob dylan – the ballad of frankie lee and judas priest
alice cooper – welcome to my nightmare
metallica – enter sandman
smashing pumpkins – bullet with butterfly wings
lionel richie – dancing on the ceiling

grieve, weep, repeat

I’ve been avoiding getting back to this.

Alrighty. It’s getting closer to the two year deathiversary (thanks Dyane) and it is, of course, causing some pain very deep in my gut. Heart. Soul. Feels. Whatever. Nextofkin was here last year, this time it will be me and the dogs. And I think two of her friends will remember. 


The only escape left to me is sleep.

A kind of laziness brings me back to normal life. I am like a prisoner who is enjoying an imaginary freedom while asleep; as he begins to suspect that he is asleep, he dreads being woken up, and goes along with the pleasant illusion as long as he can. – René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

Is sleep a little death too? I can never remember if la petite mort is a sneeze or an orgasm. I googled. It’s orgasm. For the past two years, I’ve begged for sleeping pills in early December, so I could chase oblivion when things got too shitty. I’d do almost anything to avoid feeling it. Sleep, distraction, busyness – those seem to be the defaults. Even when I write about it, I spend as much time getting sidetracked as possible. Obfuscation is the word.

Okay. Fuck!


I don’t sodding well want it to be true. I hate it. I miss her. I regret stuff. I know that the word justice doesn’t apply, so I don’t scream it at the universe, but I want to. It gets in the way, this grief. I don’t howl and sob the way I used to, but the weeping comes from a very deep, dark place. It rips right through me, punching my ribcage, kicking my heart and then stretching out to twist my jugular. I cry much, much less.

The thing about death, said my friend, is that it’s so final. Then she drew breath to qualify it, probably thinking I was about to say well duh; it’s true though and what’s more, it says pretty much everything that needs saying about the shittiness of death. It’s final. That’s it, door closed, no do overs and no, you don’t have time to say that one last thing. It’s over, there’s a hole where she ought to be. It’ll always be there.

I projected all of it on to cancer for a while, railing and raging against it.


I am still shocked by the speed and violence of it.


I was manic while she was dying. It was the best and most welcome and productive shape I’ve ever been in. And I thought it was recovery from ptsd and that it was a deep and permanent change. No matter the fallout later, I am still damn glad and grateful for the rocketfuel that got me through those weeks. Two fucking weeks, that’s all it was. And I handled it like a jet fighter pilot. I was invincible.


The narrative grows increasingly irrelevant with time and the telling of it. The wound is the loss.

Swearing helps a little bit. It’s my version of dispelling emotion by having a drunken brawl. Early on, I felt so much rage and hate and I hadn’t a clue wtf to do with it. I cursed and cursed and sometimes, when I was driving and there wasn’t anyone else around, I’d scream. I thought I would let out a scream loud and powerful enough to shift the earth on its axis (lol), but of course what happened was fairly brief, not incredibly loud and it hurt my throat. it helped a lot though. I think I screamed at the sea a time or two, when the beach was deserted. I don’t need to scream anymore.


Brain zaps beat me up a bit sometimes when I’ve been pondering it all. Dzzzhhhhht … that sick feeling, as though my brain shifted slightly in my cranium. No psychosis for over a month now and it’s month 18 or 19 of depression with intermittent agitated depression. I don’t research suicide obsessively now, I spend less time reading Rilke on death, I can read again. Progress.

Fine. Progress. I’m on track. I am still miserable, angry and sometimes disbelieving. That’s fine too. Everything. Is. Fucking. Fine. I’m tired of whining again, I’ll get back to it … soonish. Right now I am passive aggressively throwing a sulky tantrum at the universe. It doesn’t give a shit.