Posts Tagged ‘American Psycho’

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caged bird.

September 17, 2009

“Right now I feel like a bird
Caged without a key
Everyone comes to stare at me
With so much joy and reverie

They don’t know how I feel inside
Through my smile, I cry
They don’t know what they’re doing to me
Keeping me from flying
That’s why I say that

I know why the caged bird sings
Only joy comes from song
He’s so rare and beautiful to others
Why not just set him free

So he can fly, fly, fly
Spreading his wings and his songs
Let him fly, fly, fly
For the whole world to see”

–  “Caged Bird”, Alicia Keys (Songs In A Minor)

I was listening to this song on the way to work this morning, and I remember I used to empathise with the lyrics so, so much.  I really used to feel like I was in a golden cage.  I was always very good at school, getting top marks, and I consistently made my parents proud.  Whether it was my perfect results, glowing reports from teachers, the fact I never did drugs or drink or really anything stupid, I was not an angel but I was a pretty good kid.  And yet I wasn’t happy.  My parents had a very tempestuous relationship, every time I ‘acted up’ (be it legitimately or just deviating from the strict guidelines of my family) I was reprimanded, and I felt effectively like the moment I put a foot wrong, despite all of my success and demonstrated maturity, I would have pleased those who wanted me to fail and let down those who told me I had a bright future ahead of me but secretly hoped, almost expected me to fall down at some point.  It wasn’t easy, and sometimes (though I’m glad to say, more occasionally these days) I still feel that way.  The friends that I had at school called me names because I was good at academic stuff, because I was gay, but in the end I grew a thick skin and somehow ended up popular – but it’s all nothing, because however people perceived me (particularly back then), it was rarely anything close to who I actually am.  Sometimes people just see a certain part of your façade and choose to put in you in a box that’s easier for them to understand, despite the fact that they may pigeon hole you incorrectly.  So I also felt “caged” in that respect, that my peers would look at me as having ‘everything’ (not being as wealthy as most of them, but having more brains in spite of that – as if the two were connected! Winning awards and positions of responsibility, having a fair amount of friends – even though in the long run they didn’t last – and being able to look nice in my later years only added to this perception that I was lucky.  And I was lucky, but not in the ways that they thought.) but in reality I was a different person and my life was not as easy and carefree as they perceived it to be (especially when they would try to make it more difficult!).

But listening to the song, I didn’t feel that it was ‘my song’ the way I used to, and I guess that is a very good thing.  I don’t feel ‘caged’ anymore.  I have power over my own destiny and have done since I left Oxford.  I may still live at home, but it was my decision this time to go back to university; it was me who got my new job at the BRI (something which was finally a breakthrough from retail); it is me who will decide to learn to drive.  I mean, my results and my decisions were always my responsibility, but now I am 23 I am old enough to say and decide what I want to do without family or friends influencing me or saying I should do this or that.  Well, they may still make plenty of recommendations, but I choose whether to listen and I don’t feel obligated to follow their advice anymore.  I guess it’s a sign of getting older, but people are finally accepting that I have common sense and I have my own reasons for deciding to do what I want to do and how I want to do it.  And those reasons are respected.  It’s a good feeling – although everyone enjoys feeling like they are the underdog in a perverse way, it’s refreshing to finally feel like I am in charge of my destiny (regardless what anyone says!).  Sometimes it is hard living up to people’s expectations, and sometimes I might breakdown, but I know that those expectations are primarily my own expectations.  I am hard on myself and I guess that I always with me.  But if I’m alright with me, then that’s the most important thing.

I love this song because it also reminds me of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, which I am still only midway through – once I finish American Psycho (which will be soon), I may try and finish it, though the book is so damn big it’s not practical to carry it around with me.  We’ll see.  But at the same time that our problems are always biggest to us whereas in the context of the whole world they may be quite small, compared to things such as racial injustice, rape, and other things that Maya Angelou went through that I have no personal experience of, there’s nothing wrong with me or my life.  It’s just a work in progress.  And I like to think that that is quite healthy.

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killing time.

September 16, 2009

So it’s 9:38 according to the clock in the corner of my laptop, and I’m writing this post from work (WordPress is blocked by the NHS so I’m writing it now and will post it up this evening when I get home… by which time the future tense will be present) because I am conscious that as I’m staying with my grandmother so that on her return from Italy, she’s not immediately in an empty house, I wouldn’t be able to blog.  I started work at 8:30, and less than an hour later, I’m already bored and without very much (read: nothing) to do.  I have tweeted from my phone (Twitter is also blocked at work! Damn those pesky IT people) and texted Hannah; I am listening to Brandy (Never Say Never) on my iPod with Mariah Carey (Rainbow) queued up; I am going to gaze at my Gucci bracelet and possibly email a picture of it to my parents in Barcelona, because they taunted me over the phone by telling me how many designer boutiques they had been past.  No need to rub it in!

So writing this blog post in advance is tantamount to me killing time, which seems to be a lot of what I do at work these days!  (As I type, one of my colleagues is demonstrating his juggling skills, so it’s obviously not just me. 😉 ) It’s certainly a step up from my previous job, where there was always a sense of urgency for rarely a legitimate reason, but it dawns on me that often, what we do in life is kill time.  Reading American Psycho on the bus, Patrick Bateman describes how he spent the majority of his summer “in a stupor, sitting either in my office or in new restaurants, in my apartment watching videotapes or in the backs of cabs, in nightclubs that just opened or in movie theatres or in new restaurants.”  Basically, we distract ourselves by doing things which seem “special” to fill up the time, except we spend so much time socialising or going places to socialise or entertaining ourselves, it’s depressing when I start to think how little we actually accomplish that matters.  What am I trying to do with my life?  Well, I work to save up money so that I can buy jewellery – as much as looking good is important to me, and as much as making yourself feel special is something that cannot be underrated, it hardly matters in the scheme of making an impact on the world.  I save up money so that I can have driving lessons to get a car so I can travel.  Okay, that’s important in terms of job skills and life skills.  I am starting university on Monday to gain a qualification in Careers Guidance, so that I can help younger people realise what their options are, both educational and vocational, in order to get to where they want to be.  That does count as making an impact.  In the meanwhile, the only other important thing I do that could potentially touch and enrich people’s lives is my music, writing and producing and singing songs, practising piano and guitar so that I can accompany myself, and lately completing my album booklet and taking pictures of myself and photoshopping moody dark/neon scapes to complement the whole mood of the album.  I guess that I am trying to enrich my life at the same time as trying to touch other people’s lives and make a difference, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But it’s how much time we kill in between doing those things.  I mean, nobody, not even Beyoncé, can work 24/7, and we all need some down time and some “us time” and we all have the right to enjoy our lives and have some fun.  Not everything is so serious, and as I’m growing older I’m learning to realise that more and take things a little easier when it’s okay to do so.  In between laundry and checking on my nan’s house and turning on the fridge and watering the plants yesterday, I watched a few dvds and ate Dominos pizza. But the amount of time we waste is just insane, because we don’t even realise that we’re doing it.  And yet, talking to Ebony on Monday, I was talking about the unspoken pressure put on us by older generations that although I am 23 and she is 24, we should have managed university and got a steady job and be on the way to buy a house and drive and be looking to get married in the near future.  The world is a different place now, and the economy means that jobs and money and affordable decent places to live aren’t as easy to come by as they once were.  I consider myself lucky to have finally escaped retail and got a position in an office where I feel comfortable, am better paid and often do a lot less 😉 I also get to use my brain a lot more, and I feel more valued because of that.  But there is a tension between it being okay to kill time, and then a sense of urgency that before we know it, we will be 30 and single and still living at home and a failure at life.  Please!  I have no intention of letting that happen, and although sometimes life happens beyond your control and deals you a bad hand, I’m determined to make a bid for independence and career success very soon.  I am making moves towards that with my new university course and increase in money, which will hopefully get me a driving licence and a qualification with real job prospects come the end of the next academic year.  But it’s hard to keep a sense of urgency in perspective when it’s also so easy just to kill time and do things which seem unavoidable but are semi-unnecessary.  I don’t know where to find that balance or how to achieve it, but at least I know it needs to be done.

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psychoanalysis.

September 5, 2009

It’s come to the point where I look forward to my dreams to see what twisted scenario my brain is going to spit out at me while I’m sleeping.  When I wake up and I either haven’t had a dream (to my knowledge), or I already know that I have forgotten it, I feel somewhat frustrated and cheated, although there’s nothing I can do.  But the past couple of weeks, as you’ll know if you’ve been checking in here from time to time, I’ve been having an extraordinary string of weird, convoluted dreams.  Last night’s was more a reversion to type, where I had been with my mother and my nan in town, except for some reason I had to catch the bus up to my nan’s house by myself.  I remember I was smoking at the bus stop, anxiously scanning the streets to make sure that I wasn’t caught by my family.  The bus was taking an extremely long time to turn up, and just before it did, this girl from school that I used to know, called Kate Noble, appeared and began to stalk me, circling the bus stop and grinning in my face (in a creepy way).

I thought I had shaken her off when I got on the bus, which looked more like a coach. The driver indicated that the only free seat was the one directly behind him (right at the front) so I sat there, only to discover that Kate was sat behind me, wearing a knitted black shawl around her head and shoulders so as to make her look like a creepy gypsy, with her heavy black eye makeup and violet lipstick with blinding white teeth.  She kept trying to steal things from me (at one point, the driver of the bus turned round and indicated to me that she had stolen my gold and silver ring, a plastic piece of jewellery my father had bought me as a misguided Christmas present a few years ago), and after a while I turned around and started threatening her to leave me alone, I swore at her and called her a cunt, and she just laughed at me.  That was about it, although I remember a knife being involved, though I’m not sure if I tried to kill her or if she intended to murder me.

I often have dreams where I’m being stalked, where there is a murderer or killer or evil person chasing me for some reason.  I have always loved horror movies, and when I was a child I used to watch the murder mysteries and movies that my mother would tape from the nights before.  Looking back, I guess I was quite young to be watching those kinds of things, but I only occasionally got scared and I found the stories quite exciting and absorbing, as well as psychologically stimulating.  Trying to work out who the killer was, what motivated them to do what they did and their methods was like a detective game for me, and I look back fondly on those times I shared with my mum watching programmes in the mornings when I was off from school.  I never felt like I couldn’t handle watching even the scariest films, and it’s come to the point where none of my friends want to watch a large part of my DVD collection because I have a lot of twisted, scary films.

During my waking hours, watching these kinds of thing doesn’t affect me in the slightest, so perhaps my dreams are a manifestation of that? Not to get all Freudian, but it would make sense if the violent and twisted things that I watch are replicated (in a more abstract way) in the dreams that I have, because luckily in reality I have yet to be stalked by a serial killer or be fleeing from my family who had been turned into vampires or even be followed by a compulsive thief.  Right now, I am watching American Psycho, because I am about a third of the way through Bret Easton Ellis’ book and loving it, so I wanted to revisit the film.  The main character, Patrick Bateman, is quite twisted and yet extremely hollow, actively conforming to a yuppie stereotype and exhibiting no further ambition beyond collecting money, designer clothes and achieving a perfect physique; his addiction to hardcore pornography and penchant for violently murdering beautiful girls is perhaps the most edgy thing about his life which is a qualified success beyond all measure, and yet an utterly heartless and one-dimensional façade.  Perhaps this is why he has developed this irresistible urge to violate, to cause pain and end people’s lives… it’s the most impactful thing that he can do, although the impact is obviously negative.

Despite this, the film is hilarious at the same time as its ideas are interesting and vaguely shocking.  I recognise a world where you are supposed to achieve a checklist of things in order to be “successful” or “happy”: car, well-paid job, trendy social circle, relationship, house… These are all things that I genuinely want, but at the same time I don’t have complete faith that once I’ve achieved these things, I will be any happier than I am now.  I think that most of us seek a way to achieve our wildest dreams while also working towards a more realistic success – one doesn’t necessarily negate the other, but there comes a point where we choose one over the other.  Because not everyone can be famous, most of us go for a realistic, modest version of happiness which is possibly more stable; but either way, nobody knows how much happiness lies at the end of the journey.  I guess that nobody wants to be predictable or mundane, so we search for ways to make us edgy.  Rather than murdering or raping people (as does Patrick Bateman), I choose to have killer fashion sense and make my own music (that’s also in pursuit of achieving my dreams of being a singer, so I try to keep my dreams alive while living an everyday life).  That’s the way that I set myself apart from others, even in my own head.  We all have our own ‘thing’, I guess…

But at the end of the day (I don’t know if this is true in American Psycho the book, as I haven’t even gotten halfway through it yet), it remains to be seen whether it truly satisfies us.  All I want, which is part of the reason why I want to entertain, why I love to sing and create music, why I want to be a Careers Adviser for my more ‘realistic’ vocation, is to make a difference to people’s lives, to have an impact on society, to be important and remembered; to matter. I guess that Patrick Bateman is driven to choosing to murder people (I know it is a paradox to be “driven to choose to do something” but it’s the best, most immediate way I can think of to express how we are at once responsible and moulded by society and environment for the choices that we make) in the same pursuit : to break away from mundane ordinary life, and to make an unforgettable impact.  I hope to do the same, but in a more positive and less damaging, psychopathic way!!!   I hope that my dreams just stay as dreams, because they are exciting, interesting and yet utterly harmless.  I guess that I enjoy Street Fighter IV in the same way – it’s edgy, violent and satisfying, but it’s just a game and I have no desire (96% of the time) to kick anyone’s face in.  I suppose all I am trying to say is that while murder is inexcusable, I can also see how current society, employment and the hierarchies which exist within each can drive somebody apparently successful and balanced to do shocking and unbalanced things.  I just hope to do things which shock people in a good way, rather than in a bad (or illegal) one.

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untouchable.

August 30, 2009

I was sitting in the back of the car on the way back from Tetbury today, where my parents and I went for lunch.  I was in a pretty foul mood, for several reasons: since upgrading my Macbook to Snow Leopard yesterday, I’d had numerous application faults, and the latest was that I was unable to use my printer, which meant that I was unable to make a start on the preparatory task I’d been given for uni.  (I’ve since fixed the printer, and after numerous re-installs and restarts, Snow Leopard seems to be working fine now, and has also made my iPod go back to working at normal speed! 🙂 ) I was then feeling apprehensive at the prospect of having lunch with my parents, because it’s always the same: we go to a pub out in the country, have some standard food and drink, either make stiff conversation or blend into the background while my parents talk to each other, and then turn around and come home again.  I just can’t be bothered to make the effort for something so boring, and playing ‘happy families’ feels so fake.  I then had to get changed to go on this lunch, and I realised that half of my wardrobe is effectively shit, which meant that I ended up throwing a pile of clothes across the room in search of something to wear.  When I found a garment that was suitable, I had to pick these clothes up and put them back on my chair.  I dumped too much hair gel on my head in the midst of this rage, and then had to make it work. (I did.) Then I got downstairs after my mother kept hollering at me to “hurry up”, and proceeded to wait for my parents!!!  If they were telling me to hurry up, why did I end up waiting for them?

So I was in a mega-sulk.  I was listening to Courtney Love / Hole on my iPod and saying nothing, reading American Psycho.  After walking around Tetbury (since it is so tiny, it did not take long), we ended up going for lunch in a place called The Crown.  For the first half an hour, I was quite unimpressed by The Crown.  The decor was a bit run down, but that wasn’t really an issue.  However, my mother ordered a tonic water, and received half a glass, which I brought to her and then brought back to the bar to check that it was meant to be that small an amount of water. (It was.) Then two dogs (why were dogs in the pub?!?! They weren’t guide dogs) proceeded to have a loud fight in the corner, and my father brought over the food menu, which consisted of 6 items, including “lazange” and “cod & chips in sause”.  After clearing up the residue from the bottoms of our glasses, because we were not provided coasters (nor did they seem to exist anywhere in this establishment), I settled on the “lazange” because my parents were getting irritated at my mood and the fact that I could not decide what to eat (they said that we might have to go elsewhere, and I did not want to deal with the combination of their annoyance at my indecisiveness, and prolonging our stay in Tetbury any more than was necessary). It turned out that the lasagne was lovely, and so was the garlic bread that came with it.  The food was that place’s saving grace; still, I don’t think I will be going back there again.

Eventually, my parents engaged me in conversation and things started to improve as my mood slowly lifted.  We talked about my mother’s friend who looks like she is going to die of cancer quite soon, then about certain friends and relatives of mine who have pissed me off either by criticising my every decision (I am not a moron: I know the risks and possible consequences of smoking / using a sunbed / drinking a coffee at Starbucks / spending a lot of money / not getting as much sleep as would be ideal.  I’m an adult and I can make decisions for myself and weigh up the pros and cons.  If I decide to do something, I don’t need you on my back asking me if I’m sure I want to be doing that, because this is my life and I don’t tell you how to live yours. Yes, you are criticising me and my ability to choose what I want to do, and I have had enough of it thanks, so please don’t ‘impart your wisdom’ in the future, because I don’t want it and I don’t need it.) or by suddenly getting indignant that I don’t want to see whatever crappy film they choose, because I am tired of wasting my money on films I have no interest in, and going to the cinema is not a particularly sociable activity anyway, so why is it suddenly such a problem if I don’t want to see your film and am happy just to go to a café and converse?  And when somebody else is busy, I politely accept it, but now that I have other commitments, it inconveniences them and I’m supposed to feel guilty?  No way.

So I let off a bit of steam, my parents assured me that I was utterly in the right and had nothing to feel guilty about, and that to just let the people who were on my back have some space and it would all be fine.  A sensible plan I shall try to adhere to!  We left Tetbury, and I started thinking about other people who have gotten on my nerves.  My thoughts turned to my ex, and my mind went over how I had sent a text message revealing my intent to break up with him to him instead of to my friend Hannah.  He chose to believe I had done it on purpose, that I had orchestrated the whole thing on purpose for an easy escape and to humiliate him in the process.  That was totally not the case, and I tried to explain it and was sorry to have sent him that message; it was an honest accident, and Hannah was meant to receive the message (it even said her name at the beginning!).  But his friends, who had never met me, told him I must have done it on purpose, so he chose to believe them rather than me.  That’s fine, that’s his loss.  I don’t apologise twice, I didn’t want to be with him anyway, so I let him believe what he wanted – I was emancipated at the end of the day. I regret causing somebody hurt like that, but I don’t feel guilty because it was an honest mistake that I had apologised for; to have that apology thrown back in my face by not only him, but other people who don’t know me at all made the whole thing easier for me to just move on.

But thinking about it, I thought that I couldn’t believe that I let him touch me, put his hands on me, kiss me.  It makes my skin crawl, not only because he was so clingy, but sometimes the thought of physical contact makes me shudder.  I’m generally quite at ease with physical contact – I’m quite close to my parents and my friends, hugging them and such.  Obviously, I’m not a virgin so when I’m in the mood to be intimate with someone, it feels right and I’m not forced into it.  But when I put my mind to it, I don’t like people seeing my naked body (and never have); returning to the idea of façades, I try to give off the idea that I am confident in the way I look and at ease with my body, because it makes me appear more confident and flawless.  But in reality, I don’t like feeling exposed and I don’t like being touched or kissed or anything like that.  I have major trust issues, I know that.  Every single person I have dated has let me down in one way or another, and quite a few of them have just wanted sex from me and then got bored, either because they weren’t going to get it, or because they got it and then they didn’t have to pretend to be interested in me as a person anymore.  At times, it makes me sick that I’ve let these people touch me, put their hands on me and use me to further their own pleasure.  Sometimes I wish that I were untouchable; sometimes I wish that I could just disconnect my heart and mind from my body and float off somewhere while people are doing what they want to do with me, to me, for me.  Sometimes I wish that I could be with somebody who really liked me for who I am.  Because I am tired of protecting my heart, only to let somebody in and then it all goes wrong and I am hurt and used anyway.  I guess that whether it’s physical or emotional, it’s the thought that I have been used that makes me really sick, hurt and regretful.

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the proposal.

August 17, 2009

In retrospect, this seems quite ironic considering that the last two days, I’ve been blogging about the wedding I attended on Saturday, but today I went to see The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.  I really enjoyed the film, despite it being a relatively straightforward romantic comedy (I tend to prefer horror, action or thought-provoking foreign films) – I am thinking of going to the cinema on my own, because I tend to enjoy it much more as I see the films I want to see when I want to see them, and I don’t really get distracted by anyone accompanying me, feeling that they are gauging my reaction to the film (Karina notices when I don’t laugh in a comedy, and the others monitor when I go on Twitter / fall asleep in the midst of a boring film).

Being alone with my thoughts is something, as an only child, that I’ve always appreciated, but lately I seem to be actively taking days for myself.  Since I seem to be practically incapable of spending a whole day at home, if I have no prior engagements during the day, I take a book (finished Glamorama, am midway through Let The Right One In and bought American Psycho today for when I finish that.), put myself in a café and spend an hour reading and caffeinating.  Although it costs money I could save at home, it is distraction-free, I can wrap myself up in my music and my book and just let the world pass me by.

However, the danger of being in my own space is that sometimes my thoughts can spiral into melancholy.  And watching The Proposal, combined with the romantic proceedings of the wedding weekend and the immense perfection of Ryan Reynolds’ physique / character in the movie, I got a bit down.  I don’t know if it is envy, because I keep saying that I am appreciating the single life and enjoying not forcing myself into a relationship which doesn’t fit (been there, done that this year), or if it is just longing for someone to touch me and then still want to see me afterwards, but after the film I couldn’t restrain myself from texting Brett.  He is improving and learning to text me back and we have much more regular dialogue than in the early days, but we have still only seen each other in person once and that does not bode well for a future dating/relationship thing.  Who knows what is going on.  But today, I just needed to talk to somebody who is a possible feeling-reciprocator and to whom I feel close, at least in some way of communication.  I have learned to understand more the reasons why he doesn’t always text back or why he doesn’t often venture out to meet (it’s private really, but he’s had a few medication ups and downs lately), and in a way it’s nice that everything is progressing at a slow rate because it doesn’t consume me and I can get on with my own life and I feel like I am learning to be less neurotic. So Brett is teaching me these things.

Nevertheless dreams and fantasy are a little bit irresistible and I can’t help but imagine how good it would be just to have somebody I could rely on, someone who drives me a little bit crazy in a good way, because they are actually dating me or romantically involved with me or whatever.  As much as I enjoy my own space and being alone and doing whatever I need to do everyday without people bearing down on me, at other times I get lonely and want to just chill with somebody and talk or have fun or whatever.  I know that nobody can have it all, but to want for somebody to want to understand me doesn’t seem so far-fetched, does it?  I can’t imagine that all the love I have to give would just go to waste?  Youth is time to have fun and I want to have fun, but not just by myself, I want to share it with my friends and family and that someone special too.  I guess we’ll just never know until it happens, but I can’t be patient all the time and when I watch the speed-time-frames of films like The Proposal and the beautiful people contained within, I just wish I would find a supermodel and it would all just hurry up and work out happily ever after.  Now how’s that for far-fetched?