Archive for the ‘collective madness’ Category

Volcano

April 15, 2017

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Pale Morning

April 7, 2017

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She stands
On the parapet
Of the bridge
Staring down
At the sparkling blue
Of the water below

Her body slices
Through the stillness
Of the pale morning
At one with the air
Shimmering
And translucent

She descends,
Greeting the dawn
She is ethereal
She is a ghost
Who slips through the cracks
In your consciousness

She bids you farewell
She no longer needs you
She exists now
Only in dreams
And in fragments
Of memory

And in the stories
You whisper to your children
On long, dark winter nights

Sucked In?

April 6, 2017

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My New Toy

I have recently acquired a new toy. I first saw it in the Certified Refurbished section of the online Apple Store and immediately fell in love with it. I knew I simply had to have it. My latest prized possession is a refurbished MacBook 10-inch Dual-core Intel Core M entry level model in gold; the 2015 model. I would have preferred rose-gold but that wasn’t introduced until 2016. Other colours available are silver and space grey. The price had been reduced to seventy five percent of the original.

History

My Mac history is convoluted. I purchased my first mac, a G4, back in 2006. https://rielouise.wordpress.com/2006/03/14/finally-opened/

After that I worked my way through a white MacBook and two MacBook Pros. I still use my 2012 model, the last one to sport an optical drive, as a desktop. My gateway product was the first generation iPod. That was when I became obsessed with Apple. That was when I became one of those infuriating Fan Girls who would defend the Cupertino-based company at all costs. I have matured slightly since then and I now look upon Apple (and everything else) with a more jaundiced eye.

Initial Impressions

Fast forward to last Friday: I snatched the MacBook from the hands of the delivery man and unboxed it; an almost surgical process. It is the Kate Moss of MacBooks: sleek, svelte and compact. It worked straight out of the box. Setting it up was a seamless process. It slotted neatly into my apartment’s Apple eco system. It hasn’t been out of my hands since delivery. It is cleaved to me, like an extra limb. I have hardly touched my iPad Air and barely glanced at my 2012 MacBook Pro. The latter looks ugly and chunky next to my slender new machine.

Impressive Features

It is widely acknowledged, even by the MacBook’s harshest critics, that its most impressive feature is its ultra portability. It weighs just two pounds. It feels like nothing in my backpack. So much so that I’ll pause and panic; momentarily afraid that I have lost it. It is a pleasure to carry around and I must confess I rather enjoy the admiring glances it attracts when I am typing away in the corner of some coffee shop.

There are many other features that make the MacBook a joy to use. Of course there is OSX itself (the main reason I would find it hard to go back to using a windows machine: it would feel like stepping back into another era.) I am heavily invested in the ‘Apple eco system’. I use iTunes Match, the iCloud, along with an iPhone and an iPad Air 2. Then there is its crisp, clear Retina display. Watching videos on this machine is an impressive experience, enhanced by the speakers – the best I have ever encountered on a laptop. It is also good for photo editing; my main activity on this machine. And I would imagine it would be beneficial for video editors too. And, last but not least, there is the new touch force trackpad.

Some Regrets

This is not a trivial purchase for me and I recognise that I have made some compromises. So some buyer’s remorse is inevitable. The single port caused the greatest fuss in the technology community. I am not in the habit of using peripherals so this isn’t such a big deal for me. For others though purchasing this model would be a one way ticket to Dongle Ville. I feel that Apple could have ameliorated this by including an adapter in the box, as they did with the iPhone 7. Another big issue for many is the keyboard. I am slowly getting used to it. No one denies though that the build quality is superb but is it a matter of form over function? Have I been sucked in to the Apple Reality Distortion Field? Who knows.

So would I recommend it? Not to everyone. If portability isn’t your thing, go for the MacBook Pro.

http://www.apple.com/uk/macbook/design/

Twisted Sisters

April 5, 2017

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Sunset

April 4, 2017

daughter_in_profile_by_bellarie-d70dfjcSunset

Evening and the sunset’s compress
Soothes our inflamed flesh
And I am stunned
By its sudden incandescent flare
The mud, the silt stretches for miles
Encompassing everything.
We watch the ocean rebound
Its sounds, its historic hiss
Slaughter all other sounds around
Injuring the air and to verify your existence
I grasp your hand. And above the elements
Bicker with one another and the sky
Is turning into a shade of sluttish red
Our cheeks are pinked by the wind.
And the watery colours
Bleed into one another. Diffusion –
A catalyst for confusion, for fear.
And the wind, once a gentle exhalation,
Huffs and puffs with all its might,
Grabbing hold of our hair, hauling us in.
And visions emerge from beneath the waves
Where a ship ran aground,
Where demented sailors drowned
It rises up. It bellows. A black cat shrieking,
Competing with our own blood pumping.
The gulls flee from it and fly, fly, fly into nothingness.

Slow Road to Dementia?

April 3, 2017

ice_mountain_by_bellarie

Cognitive Impairment in Middle Age

Slow Road to Dementia?

There is only one thing scarier than dementia and that is early onset dementia. But both of these disorders have a neglected second cousin: a neurological condition known as mild cognitive impairment. It has been established that cognitive decline can begin in your forties. The condition consists of ‘subtle deficits in cognitive function that nonetheless allow most people to live independently and participate in normal activities.’ It can be, in rare cases, a precursor to full on dementia.

I am on a variety of psychotropic medications. so I am susceptible to this condition.  I am taking more than the British National Formulary permits. At the moment I am experiencing memory loss, inability to think logically, inability to read fiction. Non fiction is okay. Strangely enough this is not listed as a side effect. Ironically, among the books I can read are those of my old nemesis Theodore Dalrymple. My brain empties of thought. I am forgetting words and names. I run out of material in the middle of a conversation. The conversations and concerns of others are perplexing. I am feeling  increasingly detached from the world around me. It feels as though the world was designed for the young. Then people started pulling away, which leads, in turn to a fear of intimacy. Suddenly I am middle aged and increasingly useless. I feel helpless in the face of this. All I can do is write about it.

Plagued by insecurities and doubts I did the worst thing imaginable.: I googled my symptoms. I can feel my brain slowly atrophying. Am I facing premature dementia? I am in my early forties. I am terrified. I see class action law suits against the company that manufactures my medicine. I read about weight gain and feel my flesh expanding. I read about pancreatitis and feel a sharp pain in my left side. How much is real? How much is psychosomatic? I have been perusing articles on the web dealing with cognitive decline. Just because you are paranoid, they say, it doesn’t mean that nobody is out to get you. I feel as though I have lost myself.

I have been researching solutions. Can this be overcome/ameliorated? What can medicine offer? I often panic when I am confronted with brain fog. This exacerbates the situation so calming tactics such as meditation and mindfulness are useful techniques. I also considered vitamin B12 deficiency. I am in the risk category for this condition. I am vegetarian and often neglectful of my diet. Blueberries are apparently a miracle fruit that may even be able to reverse cognitive decline. Physical exercise, even walking, can alleviate the condition.

Other problems that mimic cognitive decline are depression, medication side effects, or an underactive thyroid. I am praying it is the meds. I am also praying that it is reversible.

edit: in case anyone is interested the illustration accompanying this piece is entitled ‘Iceberg’.

Two Cats In The Yard

March 29, 2017

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Borderland

March 29, 2017

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No feud is enough to keep me from you
I brave the barricades and the border guards
And you appear so near now. I journey
Through memories in dark and restless sleep
A bleak borderland, a stark, dry terrain
Where suicidal strangers meet.

We dwell within the ancient walls
Of a forgotten country, scorched and frozen,
By turns; haunted by a history of hatred
A decimated island on which matchstick
Children stand, tormented by the sun
And praying for death.

This is a vulnerable state, on the edge of hell
Sandwiched between two superpowers
Clinging to an impossible peace
And all around there are pillars of salt,
Crumbling statues of fleeing citizens
Who dared to look back.

The father says, ‘Son, take this gun’
And sends his progeny off to war
And he carves curses upon stone
Primitive and inglorious
Hit by one calamity after another
We are all crazy here.

A City Segmented

March 28, 2017

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We can never put this together again
Fragments and shreds. A city
Spartan, skeletal, segmented.
Utterly disjointed. Machine gun fire, missiles
Emerge from the mouth of the enemy
It worsens daily

Perhaps they regard themselves as God’s mouthpiece,
Oracle of the deceased or of some great
And glorious historical figure
For many decades now we have toiled
To purge this filth from our spoiled land
We have not progressed

It a fruitless task
And the citizens know it
We crawl like ants across the yawning
Void that used to be tomorrow, that used to be the morning
Over fields laced with landmines
To restore the colossal castles and towers and tawdry powers

The once cloudless sky
Now desecrated by the dye
Of foreign occupation, of a desolate nation
Now as pitiful and forgotten as some dead peasant brat
Daughter of an ancient and useless serf
The flesh, bones and blood: a country crushed

Order displaced by chaos, grace displaced by anarchy
It took some effort
To create such a catastrophe
On endless, sleepless nights I stand right here
A lone partisan sheltering
From a brutal storm

Watching the soldiers
As they stalk the streets
I am betrothed to this decaying
Carcass of a city, knowing
That there will never be
Any other life but this for me

Loneliness In Middle Age: Myself In The Third Person

March 26, 2017

Loneliness In Middle Age
By Louise Mills

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Loneliness is often portrayed as a condition of old age. Little attention has been paid to the kind of loneliness that afflicts the middle aged. However, recent research has shown that an increasing number of the middle aged are reporting feelings of isolation, despair and loneliness. Some say it is reaching epidemic levels. In spite of this, they are a group still relatively low down in the hierarchy of concern.

Contrary to popular opinion loneliness is not a trivial condition and its impact on our lives should not be underestimated. According to the British Medical Journal, ‘Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke’. It also puts us at greater risk of cognitive impairment or decline. It can be a threat to both physical and mental health. Many are reluctant to admit to loneliness so it tends to be a hidden problem which can make it all the more debilitating. Although loneliness is not, in itself, a mental illness, it can lead to disorders such as agoraphobia, anxiety and depression. Pre existing mental illnesses are also exacerbated by loneliness.

So what makes the middle aged peculiarly vulnerable to loneliness? Several contributory factors have been identified. Middle age is often the part of life in which people are forced to confront their own mortality for the first time. It is often an an age when people lose their parents.

Melanie Dunbar, a 43 year old sales advisor, says: ‘This was the year in which both of my parents decided to die. I was orphaned in my 40s. Another blow came when a friend of mine who was only seven years older than me passed away after a short battle with cancer and that’s when it hit me: I am no longer young. I am also unmarried and childless which intensifies my feelings of isolation.’

The loss of our contemporaries in middle age leads to a precarious sense of self and causes us to question our connection with the world. The sense that we are part of the cycle of life is disrupted. We realise there are no certainties, there are no guarantees. Youth takes much for granted, including life itself. The middle aged can no longer afford to do this. Experiencing loss at this time of life can also lead to fears about one’s own health. For the first time we see our contemporaries succumb to life changing illnesses. We realise our time is running out, that middle age is a prelude to old age. Youth is over.

We are all failures in some way, even the most ostensibly successful. There are always things we should have done but didn’t. The childless regret their state and those of us with children are facing a dramatic change in status as our offspring fly the nest. Empty nest syndrome afflicts women in particular.

We are running out of possibilities. We become more self critical. It can seem that there is no escape, that our lives are over, that there is nothing to look forward to. That this is all there is and all there will ever be. There is no possibility for change.

We become more self conscious, more acutely aware of the way in which those around us perceive us, especially the young. ‘When I was in my twenties  I barely noticed the existence of anyone over forty. Apart from my parents and they were frequently the objects of mockery,’ says Sarah Grossman, a 47 year old financial advisor.

Loneliness in middle age can hit some harder than others. It drove Pattie Gilbert, 49 and unemployed, to the brink of suicide. ’At the moment I am trapped in a vicious cycle. I am imprisoned in my flat, alone. I have lost all of my friends and lack the capacity to make new ones. I lead a relentlessly solitary life. I cannot go on like this but I don’t know how to break the cycle. I need help but I have no idea how to get it. I feel an overwhelming sense of fear. I feel like I have lost too much of myself, like I have forgotten how to live.’

‘It is as though I am mentally and emotionally paralysed. It is the future that terrifies me the most. Sometimes I feel that the only thing I have to look forward to is death. I wake up in the morning and want to go straight back to sleep again, my dreams being more colourful and interesting than my everyday life. They say life begins at forty. I am yet to be convinced.’

‘I think about suicide frequently. My death would be a relief, not just for me but for the people I am so parasitically dependent on – my family and my mother in particular. My death would set them free. Some say suicide is a selfish act. Right now, it seems like the opposite.’

It is at this point that many are tempted to turn to social media to fill the void in their lives. According to some it can only be a temporary fix. According to Dorothy Baker, a community psychiatric nurse, ‘When we switch off the commuter and unplug ourselves from the internet we are catapulted back into an unsatisfactory reality. There is no substitute for face to face contact.’

There is a temptation to withdraw from the world.  Dorothy urges us not to succumb to it. ‘It is all too easy to allow yourself to be sucked into a cycle of self pity. We need to recover the capacity to operate once again as fully functional human beings.’ There are many ways of achieving this goal. Often a little imagination and energy are all it takes to turn your life around. It is never too late to embark upon an exercise regime and maintain a healthy diet. Improvements in physical health can lead to improvements in mental health. Keeping a diary and reading are also immensely helpful. Hobbies and interests should be nurtured. Dorothy has some encouraging words: ‘Remember the best thing about growing old is that you do so in such wonderful company.’


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