Monday, 25 January 2010

How Do You Sleep?

I write this as a warning. I write this at three o’clock in the morning, my brain humming with activity, up from jet lag. Previously I would have swallowed a handful of little white pills and waited for that comforting glaze to seep over my body, from the feet upwards, and envelope me in a cloud of nothingness. The worries; money worries, relationship worries, career worries, were all totalled by the tsunami of static that washed through my brain every night; every night for years. Sleeping pills and anti-depressants destroyed relationships, sent my life in uncomfortable directions and added an apathetic flippancy to my consciousness. While staring at the ceiling tonight I have already thought of an ending to my novel, made important relationship decisions and decided to take a screen-printing class (this one probably won’t happen but I have been up for ages). Worries are only precursors to miserable events if you ignore them by gobbling downers every night.

An addiction is infuriating in that it won’t listen to reason. No matter how many times I woke up in pools of blood on the bathroom floor having not made it to bed. The embarrassment of having to explain to the doctor as he stitched up the tears in my skin that I didn’t remember anything. Still my hand reached for those pills every night. I would make promises to girlfriends at the end of their tethers and would be horrified by my own creeping and lying. Anything to get the drugs. The sleeping pill I would take was called Zolpidem (Ambien in the U.S.) and I would take up to 70mg a night. A little research shows me that people overdose on less.

I initiated myself into the world of the chemically assisted through what I imagine is a well-trodden route. I had been taking Prozac since I was a teenager which certainly affected my views on prescription drugs and I would persuade my G.P. to send some Diazepam’s my way as a Sunday morning normaliser. Then towards the end of my teenage years record deals, tours, trips to L.A. and Japan and a misguided sense of Rock’n’Roll nihilism persuaded a guilty habit to become a regular life choice.

The stories that exist from those days at first seem predictably funny; Inappropriate nudity of aeroplanes, smashed hotel rooms etc. etc. but it’s terrifying to not have any memory of any of it and it’s humiliating to be seen as an uncontrollable (clich├ęd) lunatic when all I really wanted was some stability and a cup of nettle and peppermint tea in the evenings. I am sure the numbness to consequence is to blame for some of the more bizarre decisions that I have made in my life and for that I am not sure whether to be grateful or regretful. I certainly wouldn’t have left university to pursue music or agreed to do Big Brother… I hate to say it but I wonder if I would have gotten married to a near stranger however smitten we thought we were.

Anyway. So here I am free of the sleeping pills and on the verge of giggling with delight at the fact. I can, for the first time in so many years, see the expanse of my life ready to be unrolled in front of me. All I can think is terribly sensible and grown-up thoughts of exciting (in that grown-up, sensible, slightly boring but in a good way) career paths that I could take. I am perfecting my studio techniques, Fuck! I am on my way to becoming a skilled labourer. I even went back to school. And my writing, music and art mirror’s this newfound clarity. I have myriad projects in their infancy and each one is a different route away from the WWF-wrester choke-hold pin-down that sleeping pills had me in. Look out prudence, here I come!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Do you want to know the secret to a good relationship from someone who knows? Trust? Nope. Physical attraction? N’uh uh. Strong communication. Hell no! The secret to a loving companionship is common pop-culture references. There is nothing I find more attractive than holding a conversation about teen-prostitute ‘Tiny’ from the 1984 Seattle documentary Streetwise or discussing favourite characters from Jayce and the Wheeled warriors the French/ Japanese sci-fi cartoon (my vote goes to Saw Boss in his humanoid form). These things define us and if someone can’t relate to the life lessons I learnt from the Dark Crystal then the chances are they can’t relate to me.

Beginning at the beginning; the things we share from childhood (Captain Planet, Alex Mack, Zelda, Point Horror) often help shape our moral compasses or at least world view and provide us with the sense of a shared upbringing. Becoming nostalgic about them (Were-Bears, Teddy Ruxpin, David the Gnome, Boglins) becomes another tool in the regression back into a child-like state that goes beyond the usual spoon feeding and pawing that couples enjoy so much. This nostalgia is so powerful because of the huge investment that we, as children, make in cartoons (The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds) and imaginary worlds that we create assisted by plastic figures (He-Man, M.A.S.K., The Real Ghostbusters).

Nothing makes my heart flutter more than knowing that the mistakes I made in my early teens (Sublime, Nose Piercing, Reel Big Fish) were made, completely independently, by someone who I could now duet the whole of No Fronts by Dog Eat Dog with. Shared pop-culture references suggest that, not only do you get on now but you would have gotten on in 1996. I find great comfort in that even if I no longer wear my hair in braids. Shared embarrassment is a great bonder! The music, books, films, video games et al. we consume say so much about us and even if I don’t choose to put my Smashmouth record on, the fact that I once did has shaped me.

In the internet-age it is now fantastically easy to immerse yourself in the nichest of niches. Sub-sub-sub-sub-genres of music and cinema have scattered the Townie vs. Grunger divide of my school years into barely distinguishable pockets. I only just found out that a few of the bands I have been listening to recently (Washed Out, Best Coast, Neon Indian) belong to a genre that someone somewhere has classified ‘Glo-Fi’. Whatever… I just like it. It is worlds apart from the mail order punk catalogues in the back of fanzines that a seventeen year old me would obsess over. Studied and researched pop-culture is, of course, very important to me and truthfully what a lot of my relationships with friends and ‘other’ revolve around. I am a borderline obsessive blog trawler but nothing get’s my mojo working more than that knowing nod of recognition when I reference something that I thought I was the only one who remembered.