grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Well, I've sent out query letters to about four different literary agents or agencies.

I finally decided to just look up agents based on author page. I found four I was really interested in, and have sent out query letters to them. The letters were direct and to the point. I told them who I was, that I'd liked previous works they'd represented, I gave them a book summary, and I asked them to respond if they were interested.

Honestly, it was pretty cool just getting to write "Dear Sir or Madam." I felt like I was living a Beatles song.

If none of them respond within a period of several weeks, I'll look at other options for publishing my little novella. Right now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. Pray for me.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I've been listening to The Beatles for really all my life.

My Mom and Dad had a Beatles CD around the house growing up. I always liked listening to my parents' music because I wasn't supposed to, and I guess they figured I could do worse than listening to The Beatles. I remember listening to Hey Jude and looking at the "Best Of" cover art. It was all psychedelic and it showed the band members as orange outlines, so for a long time I didn't know what they looked like. Just what they sounded like.

Then I saw a documentary about them on TV. I felt an immediate connection to them, especially to John Lennon, and I started looking them up, researching them and their lives. From there, I really got into their music, both together and as solo artists. I've been hooked ever since -- they're one of my favorite bands.

I'm not really sure what it is about The Beatles for me. I think part of it is that they're very real people -- they, and especially John, have never been shy in talking about their lives or their flaws. I think it helps when we get to see celebrities as real people. That can be very attractive to the ordinary viewer.

John is my favorite, in case you haven't been able to tell.

John was a complicated man. He had moments where he was a horrible person (for example, that time he slapped his first wife Cynthia, or the fights he got into, or his problems with addiction), and moments where you thought he was one of the best people in the entire world. My favorite clip is of him coming out to talk to an old homeless man who's been stalking him. John was very blunt with the man -- he told him he felt no special connection to him, wasn't singing to him in particular, and didn't know him.

Then he invited the man into the house to have dinner with him, just because he looked like he needed a meal.

John had his flaws, but in the end I'd like to think he proved himself as a good person. He was intelligent, opinionated, good with words, and he knew how to sway people over to his side. This made him an incredible asset to whatever cause he happened to take on, notably the pacifist movement.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not some mindless worshipper, I have mixed feelings about the pacifist movement. I'm instinctively attracted to the idea of a peaceful world, and try to be peaceful myself, but I think any country has the right to military defend itself against attackers. I also think that because he was so attracted to the underdog and the person with the bad story, John (and Yoko) sometimes supported people they shouldn't have supported. I have issues with the world in Imagine, which feels the need to erase all belief systems and personal boundaries in order to create a peaceful world.

But there's one thing you can't deny, and it's that at heart John's world was one of love and of peace. He wrote some of the best love songs I've ever heard ("Love", "Real Love", "Woman", "Oh My Love") and he wrote some of the best songs about peace I've ever heard. My favorites are "Happy Xmas War is Over" ("for black and for white, for yellow and red ones, let's stop all the fight", "war is over, if you want it") and Revolution ("but if you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out"). One of my favorite things about John is that he refused to become an extremist despite his political leanings, and he was incredibly inclusive in a time when that wasn't common.

He also wasn't afraid to say what he was really thinking. Even when that got him in trouble. And coming as I do from a 21st century world where anyone will say anything to get you to like them, I find that to be an incredibly invaluable trait. However you felt about John's opinions, you at least always knew where he stood. His honesty was sometimes cruel, but he was unafraid of braving other people's opinions. If he had been afraid of what other people think, he wouldn't have married Yoko, the woman he really loved. In this, John was an incredibly brave person.

He was his own person in his art, too. John did some things that were unusual and controversial for his time period -- for example, "Revolution #9" and "Cold Turkey." He was at heart an innovator, and I think he appreciated the same in other people. He loved excitement and novelty, and I think this is part of what attracted him to New York.

He was his own person, and he genuinely tried to be a good person. Most importantly, he regretted it openly when he did bad things -- he regretted hitting Cynthia, he regretted being so unfeminist in his early life, he admitted he liked himself better when he wasn't violent, and he once said that though he wouldn't tell anyone what they should do with their lives, he didn't think drugs had benefited him. He even talked at different points about his struggles with depression. He was open, honest, vulnerable, courageous, reformist, innovative, and he wrote some great things for love and for peace. His memory inspires me as well as other people to be the same.

He lives on in the public mind and imagination. His tragic death just heightened that. And I'd like to believe his soul is still out there somewhere, living a new life, still showing the peace and love and intelligence that was always a part of him.

So, since today has been dubbed John Lennon Day, I thought I'd type out my little tribute to him.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I read this article and it was very thought provoking for me:

It made me think of John Lennon.

I have studied John's life extensively, and I am of the very strong belief that he was bipolar. Something about certain things concerning him just fundamentally connects with me. There's his history of violence, his drug and alcohol abuse, his rampant sex addiction, his extremely well documented moodiness, his frequent suicidal periods, and what he said in an interview once, that there are "just some days when he wants to throw himself off a building." (He claimed the mood swings got better as he got older -- in the last years of his life, he'd stopped taking drugs. Also, surprise surprise! He's a jumper, like me.)

And now, after reading that article above, I want you to consider a couple of things:

1. If it's that hard being an ordinary musician, what would it have been like being a Beatle? With the screaming fans, the utter impossibility of ever going outside, and the constant demands for yet another album or tour?

2. And if it's that hard being a Beatle, what would it have been like being a Beatle with mental illness?

Because being bipolar is hard. You can't stand crowds. You can't take loud noise. You need a certain amount of exercise per day. You can't take drugs or alcohol unless you want to cycle into an episode. You need plenty of sleep. And even then, you're moody and prone to periods of extreme panic.

Can you imagine being a Beatle and being bipolar?

There's one moment I remember keenly. I was watching video footage of John Lennon's apology after the Bigger Than Jesus scandal. A little background:

John, a great reader, gives an interview in which he mentions Nietzsche's theory of the decentralization of Christianity in the twentieth century. John predicts that at the rate we're going, Christianity will soon disappear. Some asshole disc jockey from Alabama takes one part of one sentence from a whole paragraph, reads it so that it will sound like John thinks he's better than Jesus, and then bans Beatles music from his station. No one bothers to verify with the original source, of course -- it makes for a better media story if John's just an asshole.

So John's sitting there, crowded on a couch that's too small for all the Beatles to sit on together, with a clamor of hundreds of voices shouting accusations at him and wall to wall cameras flashing really bright lights. And I remember watching that footage, and feeling so intensely what John felt. The isolation, the pain, the fear (people were setting things on fire and threatening to shoot him), and the anger.

Later, a photographer tells the story of barging into the bathroom to find John hiding inside. John is crying. "Why couldn't I have just kept me big mouth shut?" he says.

And I think that was the first time John thought he really couldn't do this anymore.

Because being a Beatle basically ruined his life. It totaled his relationship with his first wife and oldest son. He was never home, and even when he was he was either busy or exhausted He got addicted to drugs and alcohol to try to deal with the pain. He went through periods of extreme depression and extraordinary self hatred. (His pictures from the mid sixties are hard for me to even look at, the self hatred and despair is so clear to me.)

They asked for two albums a year. Two albums a year. On top of all the touring. And the noise. And the screaming. And the never seeing his family.

And then John fell in love with Yoko Ono. He tried to include her in his world at first, and when that didn't work he did the right thing for the first time in a decade. He dropped the band and kept the family. It was an incredibly courageous thing to do, frankly.

I think by the end of the Beatles, John just couldn't do it anymore.

And when I think of it like that, all his anger makes sense to me. I can totally understand John thinking, by the end, "Fuck them! I gave ten years of my life to that fucking band! Isn't that enough?"

Isn't that enough?
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I am bipolar.

I've been experiencing bipolar disorder symptoms since high school. I would go through periods in high school when I was depressed, lethargic, suicidal, and barely left my room. I would go through other periods when I was so energetic that I seemed socially inept -- my enthusiasm would seem out of touch with the situation I was in. I ate rarely, slept infrequently, and kept to myself a lot.

I looked up my symptoms and diagnosed myself with bipolar disorder. I told my mother about my suspicions. She insisted that if I just ate and slept better and took vitamins and exercised more, all my problems would be solved. My mother's not a bad person. She just didn't necessarily want to have a daughter with bipolar disorder, and she failed to see that the illness caused the symptoms, rather than the other way around. The bad eating and sleeping and lack of energy were probably caused by the bipolar disorder -- they weren't causing it.

I went to college. I ended up all the way across the country from my parents, at a private Catholic school, in the downtown area of a major city. I wanted an adventure! My adventure... didn't necessarily turn out the way I'd planned.

I lived in the dorms. I had four roommates in two years, and only one of them was a reasonable human being. Another had to have been OCD -- she threatened to cut me if I touched her stuff, but I would come back to the room to find she had made my bed and rearranged my shoes and cereal boxes without asking me. She would also make the beds of people whose rooms she entered with friends, even if she'd never met the people whose beds she was making. Once by accident I left a pad out on the sink -- she left me a note full of swear words and yelled at me the next day. She would have days when she was completely personable and days when she would barely do more than grunt at you when you talked to her. She was completely shitty to her well meaning parents and transformed into Spoiled Brat Girl whenever her family was around.

Girl # 2 was a gossip. She was the sort of self absorbed, judgmental person who would tell complete strangers that she found suicidal people selfish -- so in addition to not realizing clinical depression is an unpreventable degenerative brain condition, she failed to realize that complete strangers may actually at one point have been suicidal. She changed faces faster than anyone else I've ever met, and she talked about practically everyone behind their backs -- including friends. I know this because she would gossip over the phone right next to my desk, failing to take into account the fact that other, nearby people can hear you when words come out of your mouth. She also complained about me behind my back. She and another ex roommate once got together and agreed on what a horrible person I was, point for point.

That leads me to Girl # 3. Girl # 3 was bothered by me doing things like looking at her and being in the room at the same time as her. She became convinced I was a creepy lesbian who was obsessed with her. In reality, I date boys, had not the faintest interest in her, and thought she was ugly and stressed out over nothing all the time. I almost hesitate to satirize this girl because I think she may genuinely have been traumatized by some past experience.

In addition to these experiences, I also had great trouble making friends at this school. The students were cold, cliquish, and unfriendly. Without friends, it was hard for me to venture out into the city on my own, coming as I did from a small town. I once told one of my roommates, Girl # 3, that I was looking to get into the local concert scene -- she responded by asking me judgmentally how I was not a member of the concert scene already. So I got no help from that arena.

I'm not saying I was an ideal roommate, but I am saying my roommates were far from ideal themselves. In the end, I got my own room, citing depression, stress, and mental health problems.

It was around this time of paralyzing loneliness and shame that my mental health started deteriorating, fast. I stopped sleeping completely. I lost so much weight I was less than ninety pounds and could barely walk down the street on my own. I was severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts of jumping off a building or in front of a passing car. I was irritable and little things could leave me ranting into thin air for hours. I cried a lot. I began experiencing delusions -- that I was the reincarnation of John Lennon, that people were bugging my room and trying to communicate secret messages to me via my social media -- and hallucinations -- that my head was being squeezed, that there was blood running down the side of my face. The people in my head weren't all bad. I sometimes daydreamed that they would one day show up and take me away from this awful place.

My parents came up to school to get me for the summer, and they found me a mess. Alarmed, they took me back home and started taking me to doctors and therapists -- but still not psychiatrists. I sat down with a therapist, and it took me a while to talk about my experiences. (I wasn't completely gone; I knew I sounded crazy.)

In the meantime, my parents told me they refused to let me go back to school. I collapsed completely, psychologically speaking. My grades had still been perfect all the way through my episode -- I was highly ambitious, my parents were poor, and school was my only chance for escape.

I ran away. I called my parents several times threatening to never come back. I wandered onto someone's property and got kicked off. I called 911 and then hung up on them. I was desolate and highly suicidal. Finally, my aunt, who has the same disorder I have, called me and said she wouldn't tell anyone where I was, as long as she got to pick me up. Finally, I told her -- I was by the pumpkin patch on the edge of town. My aunt found me and talked me down into going back to my parents.

I broke down and told my therapist about my delusions. My frankly alarmed therapist told me to go see a psychiatrist, immediately.

From that point, the healing process began. It was a long road down a lot of different kinds of medications and side effects, but finally, I found a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic regimen that worked for me. I started listening to my therapist and doing healthy things. I got plenty of sleep, ate a lot, took long walks, and meditated. I took the vacuum that not having any school gave me, and put it toward music lessons. Slowly, I began stabilizing.

In the end, a bunch of old friends invited me on a road trip to San Francisco, and my parents agreed I could go. The road trip was the most fun I'd had in ages. We were driving along by the water one morning, and it occurred to me... I was happy.

"Thank God I didn't kill myself," I thought, "or I'd have missed this."

I nearly started crying. I was happy.

In the end, my parents did eventually let me go back to college. I tried a different school -- one in a smaller town out in the country. The students were friendly and welcoming. I made friends and got into my first relationship. I had my first kiss. I enjoyed my classes and began working toward the latter half of my degree. I didn't give up my ambitions -- though they did change a little bit.

For example, I now dream of having an advertising, business writing, or blogging job that I can do virtually. Bipolar people are unusually sensitive to crowds, loud noises, and being around other people all the time -- we get sensorily overstimulated. So my dream is to have a job I can do from my computer at home. Something low stress and low key, that will still allow me to make a fair bit of money. And that way, I can travel on the go!

My life has changed and I accept that, but in reality having bipolar disorder and being treated for it is a great relief. I don't have to go through all those scary symptoms anymore -- I have concrete things I can do about my health to make it better. Besides, it could be worse. I could have cancer. Instead, I get to choose whether or not my illness will kill me, or even define me.

I'd call those pretty good odds.


grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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