Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

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Location: South London, United Kingdom

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Noise Made By People

So the world just doesn't want me to sleep this weekend. After being kept up until 1am by the pub across the road, I was woken up by a car alarm going off every 10 minutes from 6.30. I've documented my troubles with the pub before, on another blog. I don't mind there being a pub across the road 90% of the time. I don't mind when they have the occasional quiet lock-in on a weekend night. I don't even mind when they have bands playing at, you know, normal pubtime, say, 9 to about 11. What I MIND is when the two combine, and they have some god awful karaoke covers shite blasting until 1 in the morning. In a quiet residential neighbourhood.

This time I didn't muck around trying to reason with drunk people - I just called the police, told them that there was a lock-in at the pub across the road, that there was a lot of shouting (there was - huge amounts of bellowing over the PA) and that I was concerned, as the last time this happened, there was fight, with broken glass all over the neighbourhood. (OK, I didn't mention that last time, I was involved in the fight, but it's still a matter of police record that there was one.)

It's just so frustrating, though. They sent a police van round. I saw flashing lights and heard slamming doors. But when I poked my head out, 5 minutes later, the van was just sitting there outside the pub, and the noise had not stopped.

I can't exist without sleep. I wish I were one of those people that could get by on 4 hours a night and catch up at the weekend, but I'm just not. I learned long ago that there are some very basic things that will eliminate or at smooth over at least half of the symptoms of my bipolar disorder. Regular sleeping patterns, regular eating patterns and regular exercise patterns. Regular sleeping is the single most important one of those three. My mind looses structural integrity when I go without sleep - and that doesn't just mean I get a bit spacey and a bit sleepy, it means I cannot function on the most basic level.

What this means is, basically, I can't go out tonight. Which sucks. I've been looking forward to this gig for months. However, I bought a ticket for it before discovering that Lindstrom would not even be going on until 2am. I can understand dance clubs that operate on that timescale, but for fucks sake - why would have a *gig* start at that time of the morning? If I were in a better place, moodswing-wise, I might risk it. If I'd had enough sleep last night, I might risk it. With the combination of the two, I have to be an adult, and I have to make the judgement call not to go.

So yet again, I have to miss a rare live performance by one of my favourite artists. I fucking hate my brain sometimes.

I'm going to try *not* to spend the whole day writing today. I need to get out, need to interact with human beings and nature and things, instead of shiny silver machines. Of course, I say that now, but "not writing all day" means I'll end up spending the weekend working on the music I've been neglecting for the past month. I've got that odd Turkish Disco track I did with my sisX0r a month ago, to mix & finish. I've got songs, sounds, textures rippling around in my head that I need to get down on paper - or at least a sequencer.

It's hard to shake the tremendous sense of "Why bother? It's not like the majority of obsessive music fans even *listen* to female artists, let alone love them or rate them" that makes my heart sink every time I see another all-male best of list posted somewhere in the media or on the internet.

But this is the thing - I have always believed that massive crushes don't appear out of nowhere for NO APPARENT REASON. I think it was Tom Ewing (sorry if I'm misquoting you) who said, that when you have a massive crush on someone, it's usually more about wishing for yourself some aspect you feel they embody. I think the idea to take away from this crush is his oft-repeated mantra, the idea of making music for the sheer *fun* of it, because *you* want it to exist, you want to listen to it, rather than with the preconceived idea of audience or reception.

This is hard for me to get my head around, at this point in time - which is really odd considering how much of my life I spent, from about 1986 to 1999, as a bedroom producer. I spent my entire 20s playing in other people's bands, trying to please other people. It wasn't until I was nearly 30 that I got a band of mine own, playing mine own music - and as intoxicating as it was to play *my* music for other people, and to get adulation for it, in a way it ruined something.

I need to go back to making stuff in my bedroom, for me to enjoy. This is when I produce my best material, not when I'm writing to please or impress other people. Which is odd, as somehow, writing for the ears of others *feels* easier. Because you kind of know what they expect. But writing for yourself - the music that you make just because *you* want it to exist. That's what I like the best, and what I need to recapture.

If I could just stop writing smut for a weekend... That shit is addictive!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things That Are Nice

Yes, it's a slow day at work today. And without a forum to blab all my random thoughts on as they pass across my BRANE, well, they've got to go somewhere, haven't they?

NICE THINGS. LET US DISCUSS NICE THINGS.



Um, I won NaNoWriMo - does that count? I didn't even realise that they'd turned on the proper workcounter while I'd been offline, and logged on this afternoon to find my homepage covered in fireworks and a giant purple bar added above my name. 50,000 words in 30 days? Well, actually, considering I last updated on the 21st, and only really started writing on the 4th, that's more like 67,000 words in 17 days.

And I'm not even finished yet. But I thought I'd take a break after hitting the climax of the novel to get some perspective, and edit some continuity (and argh, grammar correction for all those run-on sentences) into the bulk of the novel before writing the ending. It's all good, though. I'm pretty sure I know where I'm going.

But I have rediscovered the joy of the discipline of writing every day. It's like priming a well, the more you write, the more story spins out of you.

So I'm currently writing the threatened quick little RDJ sexfic as threatened on twitter over the past few weeks. (If you are disturbed or offended by the idea of fanfic - LOOK AWAY, LOOK AWAY NOW.) Of course anything involving our favourite reclusive circuit-bending ginger knob-twiddler is never, ever going to be simple or quick, is it? Ha ha, I'm talking about Sandy P, of course. I'm writing a memory/narrative expansion of the affair she alludes to in in Chapter Nine of Pulse.

And it's also kind of creepy and weird - because so much of her career and her back catalogue and working method in the novel was based on Aphex Twin while I was writing her (I deliberately pitched her as a kind of cross between RDJ and Kate Bush for "Great British Eccentric" status.) manouvering the two of them into bed has really odd incestuous overtones. Fuck, they even share the same birthdate, though that was accidental. (I wanted her to be 3 years older than Erol, and gave her my best friend's birthday as I wanted her to be a Leo.) But hey, I mean, that whole "spooky twin" thing is often quite intoxicating, both in relationships and friendships.

(though ha, maybe I should ask mine own twin about that, eh?)

Anyway. Yeah, time to go home now. Hurrah.

"It's Just The Internet"

I think I've clawed myself out of the black hole for now. Being bipolar, in some ways, always feels like walking down the dividing line of a major highway at night, in the fog. WHOOSH. The truck passed this time, you dodged it this time, but you never know when another is going to appear, from which direction, or how close. Sometimes you see the headlights as they come, sometimes you can't, and you don't know until they're on top of you.

Some people give a shit. It's enough.

Of course, there are just as many people that don't. And worse, there are the kind of vultures that seem to take some perverse pleasure in another's pain, whether gloating (assholes) or worse - taking that whole "cluck cluck" concern troll attitude - while clearly twisting and manipulating or deliberately misunderstanding everything that you say.

I mean, why on EARTH would anyone be upset about being thrown out of a community they've been a part of for a decade? How WEIRD. How UTTERLY BIZARRE.

These are the kind of people who say things like "it's just a messageboard, it's just the internet" if you get upset by the deliberately rude or horrible things that they say or do. As if messageboards and the internet are solipsisitic playgrounds populated solely by robots and scripts, instead of being comprised of individual people.

I mean, isn't this what Web 2.0 was supposed to be about? Social networking, connectivity, all that gubbins? The internet isn't this weird little world populated by freaks and people who are "not quite right" (I mean, if they had a real life, what on earth would they be doing on this weird interweb thing?) and hasn't been for a long, long time. The communities and relationships and dynamics that form on the web are JUST AS REAL as the ones that form "in the real world." Especially, as in Web 2.0, the "web" and "IRL" interact and overlap with increasing frequency.

I sit in front of a computer for 9 to 10 hours a day, for my job. That's not unusual, at all. I have more interactions with the people through my browser than I do with anyone - friends, family, etc. - except perhaps the colleague that sits opposite my desk. My family are scattered around the globe. Ditto my friends - and even the ones that still live in London often live at the end of an hour-long journey on public transport. Is it somehow more wrong or creepy or weird to reach out or connect to people using a messageboard or twitter or facebook/MySpace than it is to use, say, a telephone?

So when someone turns around and says something like - and I quote - "if participating on a msg board can impact your life to the extent that you feel suicidal, then i really think you need to stop participating."

Take that quote and replace "messageboard" with "place of employment" or "school" or "church" or "social club" or "family life" or any of the places that you find your community. Yes, many of these communities are voluntary, but it does not change the level of engagement or involvement that one feels towards them. The pure physical *means* of engagement does not determine how "real" these communities are to those that are involved.

Now replace "participating on" with the phrase I actually used - being EXCLUDED FROM. Excommunicated. Shunned. Especially when no reason is given, and no recourse is available. Have you ever been sacked from a job? Have you ever been expelled from a school, or excommunicated by your chosen religion, or even simply "friend-dumped" by a social circle? Being ejected from a community - it HURTS - no matter what the medium.

This idea that the internet is somehow "not a real place" and that one's actions on it - or other people's actions towards you - somehow do not have very real emotional impact - is TOTAL BULLSHIT. And is totally in line with this horrible, selfish, solipsistic view that somehow other people on the internet are not real, that they are just playthings for your amusement.

If that, seriously, is your attitude towards the internet, and the social media utilities on it, and how individuals use them, then I'm not sorry. It's YOU that has the serious problem, and it's probably YOU that should stop participating.

Insomnia

The insomnia is one of those nagging awful things about depression. Basically, I love sleeping more than I love anything else, except maybe eating and writing. Sleep is a world where I go where I'm divorced from this body, divorced from the petty concerns of reality. I think I would even prefer nightmares to sleeplessness. But no. You don't get that choice.

I'm riddled with thoughtworms to the point where I don't know what thoughts are mine and what aren't. Over and over, the same images and symbols play in my head and there's no stopping them, no diverting them. You can change the subject momentarily, but stop concentrating, stop paying attention for even a moment, and they slip back in.

The sense of powerlessness is the worst. The sense of NOT. KNOWING. WHAT. YOU. DID. WRONG. It is, actually, psychological torture. First, the excommunication, the shunning, the being forcibly ejected from your community. But worse than that is the not knowing, you have been charged with a crime, and they will not tell you what it was. You are being punished and forced to pay for a crime when you don't even know what it was.

In the absence of information, paranoia runs wild - wait, is it really paranoia if 51 different people are, indeed, very much out to get you? No, I don't think it is.

It's not one post, or even one argument you're being punished for. It's your entire personality.

I'm already aware of the reasons that most people dislike me. It's not just that I'm a woman, I'm a woman who doesn't conform to gender expectations. I'm mentally ill and I insist on actually talking about it, instead of shutting up and going away and locking myself in some box where people don't ever have to be confronted with either 1) the darker and less pleasant aspects of the human brain or 2) their own fears and prejudices about people whose bodies or brains don't work the same way theirs do.

We don't have to go through the character assassination again. Whatever bad thing you think about me, I'm certainly more than capable of coming up with something much, much worse. Do you know what its like to be locked in a room with someone who will not stop saying the most vile, negative, awful things about you? YOU'RE SHIT. YOU'RE USELESS. YOU'RE HOPELESS DIFFERENT. EVERYBODY HATES YOU. EVERYBODY *FEARS* YOU. GIVE UP NOW. THERE IS NO HOPE, THERE IS NO LIGHT, YOU HAVE NO FRIENDS, YOU HAVE NO ALLIES. You'd either try to leave the room, desperately, or you'd become cranky, miserable, short-tempered.

Now imagine that the room you're locked in with this seething pit of negativity isn't a room, but your own head. This is depression.

There are only two ways out of the room. One is suicide. The other is pure escapism. Writing, drawing, making music, dreaming. If I stop writing, I will die. Simple as that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Actually, I'm Not OK

Actually, I'm not OK, thanks for asking. Not that anyone did. This has been the most shocking thing about the events of the past 48 hours. It wasn't even an anonymous jury of 51 people lining up to say "not only do we dislike you, but we hate you so much we actually want to remove your right to even have a voice." It was the fact of how few of the people I thought I was close to actually even *noticed*, let alone cared, when I disappeared without a trace.

Argh. No. Start over. See, this is why I haven't wanted to write, tweet, even turn on my phone for the past two days. The anger and depression and bitterness just spills out of me like an ugly thick, black bile.

I was actually proud of myself, how well I'd been dealing with the seasonal change this year. As the days lengthen and November spins into the dark, horrible, miserable month of December, I usually sink into a deep, dark depression. I thought I'd escaped this year. I'd given up drinking, been keeping creative, feeling fairly engaged, trying to stay social - and then this crashed down on me like a ton of bricks.

I'll be honest, the past two days have been rough. It's been a round of crying jags (to the point where my boss noticed how red-eyed and sunken-cheeked I look and told me I looked "mashed") and bursts of paranoia and even the old friend, the suicidal urges. I try to keep busy, but how the hell am I supposed to get through the day with a tiny thoughtworm whispering in the back of my head "just give up, everyone hates you, you're a wretched, useless old woman and you might as well spare the resources of this earth by throwing yourself under a train now."

Why? For what?

I've talked before, about being banned from ILX, the online community I've been a part of for about 9 years now. The last time, it was a mistake, an abuse of power by a new mod. This time, no. It's for real.

ILX operates a bizarre popularity contest called the "suggest ban". It was meant to act like a form of self governance against trolling and deliberately offensive posters. When it was first installed, it acted in that capacity, and within a short time, 3 notoriously vicious posters had been removed from the site. The moderators declared it a success, despite the misgivings of several posters about this form of mob justice.

Since then, things have deteriorated. Other people started getting banned - not people who were particularly vicious or nasty, but simply posters who had "large" personalities, or unusual or nonstandard political - or even aesthetic - views. It became obvious that it was no longer being used to control behaviour, but to punish OPINION or attempt to conform expression of ideas, rather than actions. The definition of "trolling" was clearly being widened to include "any and all repeated posting of ideas that contradict the hivemind." Instead of readdressing the issue of the suggest ban, it was simply modified, from a permanent ban to a 30-day reviewable ban.

Things turned ugly around the end of July/beginning of August. A long-term ILX poster - Mark Craig, aka Bimble - committed suicide, while under a Suggest Ban. I was in contact with him via email through the whole period leading up to, and after his banning, up to a few days before his death. I was well aware of the other issues he was facing in his life, both emotional and physical, during the lead-up to this devastating decision, and despite the allegations of a former ILX0r with an obvious axe to grind, AT THE TIME, I honestly believed that the Suggest Ban had little or nothing to do with his death. If anything, he seemed happier, more engaged with life, without the constant drag of negativity that others' reactions to his particularly ebullient posting style and sexuality.

Now I've actually been dealt a suggest ban myself, and am dealing with the emotional fallout of it, I'm not so sure.

Yes, I come with mine own set of emotional and mental health issues myself, that predated ILX and have nothing to do with it. I have long-term issues with abandonment and rejection that several different courses of psychotherapy and CBT did nothing to shift (in fact, in one case, may have made worse.)

Excommunication has long been used as a threat and a form of control for communities, religious and otherwise. Shunning, the emotional equivalent, is commonly known a form of Relationship Aggression, a facet of abusive relationships and bullying.

A suggest ban comes without warning, after 51 people have clicked that button. There's NOTHING in the system to say "you're getting close." There's no explanation of WHY you have been banned. Just a blank screen, saying "you have been barred."

If it's supposed to act as a punishment or deterrent, shouldn't it refer the person being punished to some reason *why* they are being punished? If it was a particular post or exchange that triggered the ban, wouldn't it be helpful to tell the person which one it was, rather than leave them hanging in the dark? The refusal to share this information seems perverse at best.

It was 1am when I logged on to find myself barred. I was having a rough night; I'd fallen asleep at 9pm, to be woken by indigestion, so I thought I'd futz about on the internet to make myself sleepy. BAM. You are banned. It was like being slapped in the face, or otherwise insulted or injured by 51 anonymous people in a row, in some kind of Kafkaesque nightmare. No explanation, no chance of reprieve. YOU ARE SHIT. YOU ARE A BAD PERSON. WE LOATHE YOU. WE JUDGE YOU UNWORTHY AND WE WANT YOU GONE. WE WISH TO TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHT TO SPEAK, OR EVEN EXIST.

I suffer from bad enough bursts of paranoia and self loathing as part of my illness. At 1am, with no one to speak to, no explanation, no one to even ask, this spiralled into such deep, black depression that - it seems odd to be able to type this calmly now - had there been a gun in my house, or even an adequate supply of medication, I have no doubt that I would now be dead.

"You'd kill yourself over a messageboard?" In the cold light of day, yes, it seems absurd. But can you imagine what it feels like, cold, alone, at 1 in the morning, mental illness rattling round your head, feeling that you have just been forcibly removed from the only permanent community you have ever known? No, I don't think you can. I don't think that until you have actually been in a situation like that, that you can ever really comprehend the kind of agony this produces. Human beings are by nature a social animal, even an introvert loner like me. It HURTS to be excluded. It HURTS to be ejected, forcibly, publicly, humiliatingly, from a group you considered yourself part of.

Now obviously, I didn't kill myself, though it has been a rough couple of days. I withdrew into my shell. Turned my phone off, stopped reading my email, stopped responding to Twitter. I wanted to ERASE MYSELF. I wanted to commit internet suicide, wanted to delete all my accounts and disappear. I mean, that's what that shadowy Jury of 51 wanted, right? To ERASE me, to make me DISAPPEAR.

It took two days to even get a response as to what had happened. This was the mystifying thing. I had said or posted nothing even remotely controversial in weeks. I had actually been friendly and joyful, and had started/contributed to a couple of successful threads. If it had happened in the midst of a heated exchange of opinion (such as the "clusterfuck" about gender and race bias in media "best of" lists - again, note - expression of nonstandard opinions rather than actual personal nastiness) then I would have had some explanation. But no, it happened arbitrarily, randomly, in the midst of a calm, even *good* period.

I had emailed a mod who had always been friendly to me (a mod who shares mental health issues, and unfortunately, also shares rape survivor status, so might understand why certain situations and misogynist behaviours trigger a highly defensive reaction in me.) during the last set of troubles detailed in the previous blog linked above. The vast majority of the suggest bans, they said, came from ILM, and dated back to the period 4 or 5 months ago (around the time of Bimble's banning and suicide.)

Sadly, I remember the incident well. An innocent poster started a thread asking why more women didn't post to the Music portion of the board, though the genders were well balanced across the site. I answered, as one of the handful of prominent female posters on ILM, explained some of my not-so-great experiences on the site, and tried to draw some conclusions about why other women might be put off by it. I was totally unprepared for the reaction this inspired.

Rather than listen to my criticism, this inspired a 200-post pile-up that turned into a highly personal character assassination of myself. "We don't hate you because you're female - or even a feminist" the argument went. "We hate you because you're an uppity bitch with a nonconformist attitude and an assertive sexuality that we find scary and threatening."

I took an ILX break after this incident. Not just because of the vile, nasty, personal nature of the pile-on, but the fact that the moderators stood back and did absolutely nothing. And yet these are the people who are the very same ones who are dishing out the Suggest Bans.

No, I did not kill myself, but my blood is still on your hands. I'm still dealing with the emotional effects of this, and it isn't pretty. My psychic defences have been overwhelmed, the depression has overwhelmed me. It's like a cloud of filth blotting out the sun. I take pleasure in nothing. The things I'd been looking forward to over the past few months - my trip to Istanbul, the delayed release of my band's album, even a gig on Saturday I've already bought tickets for, but now do not feel strong enough to attend - I want to cancel them all. They bring me no pleasure. My capacity for pleasure, for joy, for companionship, just seems to have snapped off, destroyed by that anonymous Jury of 51.