All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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25 Songs, 25 Days: It’s All Your Fault

Day 12: The last song you heard

It’s All Your Fault | P!nk

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When I’m suffering from writer’s block I tend to turn to music that speaks to me. Runrig, Serena Ryder and the music of Hans Zimmer, all do this, but today I turned to one of my favourite contemporary musicians; P!nk. I first became aware of P!nk’s talent via the Moulin Rouge soundtrack song ‘Lady Marmalade’ in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2008 that my fascination with this artist peaked. I purchased the album Funhouse for my then girlfriend, Diane, who was a huge fan. Listening to the album I realised how P!nk’s music wasn’t your usual run-of-the-mill top 40 garbage. It was poignant. It was humble. It was brilliant.

Alecia Beth Moore (born September 8, 1979), better known by her stage name P!nk (pronounced Pink), is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Originally a member of the girl group Choice, she rose to fame as an R&B artist with her debut solo album, Can’t Take Me Home (2000). The album was certified double platinum in the United States and spawned two Billboard Hot 100 top-ten hits, “There You Go” and “Most Girls”. She gained further recognition with the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack “Lady Marmalade”, which gave Pink her first Grammy Award as well as her first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. Pink took more artistic control and pursued pop rock direction for her second album, Missundaztood (2001). It sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and yielded three U.S. top-ten singles, “Get the Party Started”, “Don’t Let Me Get Me”, and “Just Like a Pill”.

Pink’s third studio album, Try This (2003), generated considerably lower sales, but earned her the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Pink revived her popularity with her fourth and fifth studio albums, I’m Not Dead (2006) and Funhouse (2008), with the latter containing her second U.S. number-one hit, “So What”. Pink concluded the first decade of her career with the compilation album Greatest Hits… So Far!!! (2010), which featured the chart-topping single “Raise Your Glass”. Her sixth studio album, The Truth About Love (2012), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and spawned the top-ten singles “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”, “Try”, and “Just Give Me a Reason”, with the latter becoming her fourth U.S. number-one single. In 2014, Pink recorded a collaborative album, rose ave., with Canadian musician Dallas Green under a folk music duo named You+Me.

Noted for having “a strong signature voice and a literally acrobatic ability on stage”, Pink has received mostly positive reception from music critics. She has sold over 136 million records worldwide. She has sold over 16 million albums in the United States. Her career accolades include three Grammy Awards, a Brit Award, and six MTV Video Music Awards. In 2009, Billboard recognized Pink as the Pop Songs Artist of the Decade. Pink was also the second most-played female solo artist in the United Kingdom during the 2000s decade, behind Madonna. VH1 ranked her number 10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music, while Billboard awarded her the Woman of the Year in 2013. At the 63rd annual BMI Pop Awards, she received the BMI President’s Award for “her outstanding achievement in songwriting and global impact on pop culture and the entertainment industry.

~ from Wikipedia ~

Seven years on from fully discovering P!nk’s outrageous talent and I am a committed fan. I have all of her CDs. I have some of her live DVDs. If I could find one, I would have a poster of her on my wall. She is beautiful both outside and in. Her music – especially the song F**kin’ Perfect – speaks to me on levels that I never thought possible.

So, for today’s song in the 25 Songs, 25 Days Challenge, I present my favourite track from P!nk’s Funhouse album.

Enjoy! :)

 


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Addy Lake vs Writer’s Block (and the World!)

One of the many downsides of bipolar depression are the crippling bouts of writer’s block that permeate each episode. For the last several days, ever since writing my last substantial post, I have been experiencing said writer’s block. No matter how much I want to write, no matter how brightly my post ideas burn, I just can’t find the words to express my emotions. A post on forgiveness has been sitting in my drafts folder for a week now. A post concerning my anxiety over my impending trip to Melbourne is begging to be written. Yet the moment I sit down to write…nothing. Not a sentence. Not a word. Not even a syllable. Nothing. It’s infuriating. It’s frustrating. And there doesn’t seem anything I can do about it other than ride out the episode and hope it dissipates sooner rather than later. In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with song selections and random streams of consciousness. Like this one.

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It’s been a rough old week. Last Friday I was incapacitated by an annoying little stomach bug that saw me seek refuge (and comfort) on my couch. I didn’t move from it for days. I just lay there, cocooned under a blanket, watching the good Doctor battle minions and mercenaries. I didn’t eat (wasn’t hungry), I didn’t blog (wasn’t inspired), I didn’t even social media – which I’m becoming frighteningly proficient at. I just lay there, cocooned under a blanket, feeling sorry for myself and wishing that I had the energy to do something, anything, more productive and worthwhile.

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day,”
~ A.A. Milne ~

This incapacitation lasted a few days. All through Saturday and Sunday the couch was my only destination. I did force myself to blog on Sunday, I did force myself to social media on Monday, but my heart was in neither. I just didn’t want the illness to overcome me. To be honest, I’m kinda over being sick this year. What with my pancreatitis and cyst taking up most of the first five months of the year, I could do with a substantial period of time that my immune system isn’t being assaulted by nefarious parasitic bacteria. I need a period of time where my energy is overflowing in order to combat this stubborn, unrelenting depression that has been gripping my mind for the last fifteen months.

And principle in my war against this depression is my trip to Melbourne. Over the last few weeks my plans have been coming together and it looks increasingly more likely that it will be going ahead. At this stage I plan to go the week of 21st August, so I can attend the social gathering I’ve been invited to. Not only is this social gathering something that I would love the opportunity to do, but it is something that will challenge my social anxiety head on, and anything that does that is worthwhile in my book. In addition to this social gathering, I’m eager to walk the streets of Melbourne again. I’m desperate to roam the laneways, eat street cuisine and overwhelm my psyche with the hubbub of city life. I want to explore the art galleries, watch the fishes at the aquarium and laze amidst the gardens of the King’s Domain.

It’s been nearly two years since I last left Wodonga. Two years of being suffocated by this sterile, uninspiring town. I crave stimulation. I yearn to have my heart’s desires met. I need my boring monotonous routine to be eradicated, and I can only do that by leaving this boring, monotonous town. I’m not getting my hopes up just yet. I know from past experience that if I do that, they will only be dashed at the last-minute by some hitherto unseen obstacle, but I should know whether my planned trip is possible next week. And if it is. Then prepare to be dazzled by Addy’s dance of excitement!

Aside from stomach bugs and dreaming of Melbourne adventures, life has carried on in much of a muchness. My quit smoking attempt is trundling on. I have smoked cigarettes over the last week, but for the last five days I have been totally smoke free, which is quite exciting. My anxiety, however, has been taking a major hit without nicotine to counteract it. For the last couple of weeks my anxieties have been off the charts, impacting and effecting every aspect of my life. There have been days when I haven’t left the house in fear of what may happen to me in the big bad world. There have been moments of panic at the supermarket; attacks that prevented me from performing fairly mundane and tedious of tasks. I’ve been doing a lot of work with mindfulness to try to combat this increase in anxiety, but to little or no effect. It seems that without cigarettes, my anxiety increases, and I don’t quite know what to do about it.

Meadhbh tells me that, in time, my anxiety will decrease. That it is merely a reaction to being nicotine free. She’s probably right, but only time will tell on that. As per expected she has been a Godsend over the last couple of weeks, egging me on, encouraging me to remain smoke free, playfully chastising me when I slip up but quick to offer an inspirational word or two when I need it most. We’ve been doing a lot of colouring in (using our Van Gogh colouring book) to curb any cravings I may have, which she’s been enjoying, as well as playing lots of Yoshi’s Island and Lego Batman, which entertains and keeps her happy. And as I’ve said before, a happy voice means a happy Addy!

Audrey, too, has been in good spirits lately. She hasn’t been as supportive as Meadhbh with my quit smoking endeavor, but has offered the occasional sage like word of advice. She’s been thrilled by my recent resurgence in reading. Each night, before I go to bed, I will read a few chapters of a book. Over the last several weeks I’ve read ten books, and Audrey has loved every minute of them, even the crappy ones!

Top five books I’ve read over the last several weeks:

1. Scott Pilgrim (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
2. A Fringe of Leaves (Patrick White)
3. Smokeheads (Doug Johnstone)
4. Gone Again (Doug Johnstone)
5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Thinking (Susan Cain)

Vanessa, meanwhile, is as abusive and obstinate as always. Keen to tell me I’m a failure. Keen to remind me how useless I am. If only she’d cheer the fuck up and stop being such a grumpy, narcissistic bitch, things would be so much better – for both of us.

The last couple of days have been busy when it comes to external forces. Yesterday, I had a productive session with my psychologist. We discussed and dissected various PTSD treatments and therapies she believes could assist me. We didn’t go into detail on the source of my trauma – that will come in time – but she believes there is hope for me in this area. Which is good. Because I don’t think there is! I also had a good session with my support worker today. We decided to forgo the usual ‘sit in a room and talk’ session and went for a drive to Albury Library Museum instead. She had seen a photography exhibit was on and thought, rightly so, that it would be something I’d be interested in. The photographs – all landscape – were stellar. Some of the best I’ve seen in years. In fact the photographer, Peter Elfes, has skyrocketed onto my list of favourite photographers. So if you’re in the area, you should check it out. And if you are in the area, why not stop by and say hello to little old me? We could have a coffee or something! :)

Wow. 1318 words. Not bad for someone suffering from writer’s block. And whilst we’re back on the subject. Any hints, tips or advice you may have on vanquishing this silent, deadly foe would be greatly appreciated. I never know how to tackle writer’s block and could do with some suggestions!

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wait! Before you toddle off to do whatever it is you wonderful people do, could you spare a moment to vote in my poll?

I’ve been trying to convince my Andrew that it would be a good idea to write to some of the beautiful people he met in Canada. He hasn’t spoken to them for many, many years and I know he misses them terribly so I thought it would be nice for him to write to them. Andrew thinks it wouldn’t be a good idea. He thinks he would be imposing on them and they wouldn’t want to hear from him but I think they miss him in the way he misses them. So I thought that if I created a poll, a simple yes/no/maybe poll it might convince him my idea is the best and he would write to them. What do you think? Should he get back in touch with them or should he just put the past behind him and leave things be? We’d love to know your thoughts! :)

Meadhbh xoxxox

 


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Who is Tyler Durden?

Day 11: A song on the soundtrack of your favourite movie

Who is Tyler Durden? | The Dust Brothers

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From the moment I first saw Fight Club, late one evening in the autumn of 1999, I was smitten. Here was a film of such style, such power, such magnificence, that you cannot help but fall in love with it. It is one of those rare films that can only be described as perfect. The casting. The writing. The cinematography. The direction. Everything comes together with such grace and panache that you are left breathless in appreciation.

Fight Club, directed by David Fincher, is a film about an average man, so average that he doesn’t even have a name; in the credits, he is referred to as “The Narrator”. He lives a monotonous life where everything is “a copy of a copy of a copy”. It isn’t until the day where he meets Tyler Durden while traveling on a plane for a business trip that his life gets stirred up. Tyler is everything the Narrator isn’t, and everything the Narrator wishes to be. The Narrator focuses on material things, like how much he can buy from an IKEA catalog, while Tyler lives his life with the belief that “the things you own end up owning you”. Played by Brad Pitt, Tyler embodies the sex appeal that the Narrator (played by Edward Norton) wishes for, and as he works various odd jobs to get by, he isn’t tied down to a big corporation like the Narrator is. The big “twist” at the end of the film is that we find out that the Narrator and Tyler Durden are the same person. From a Freudian stand-point, Tyler represent the Narrator’s id, which is all of his unconscious wants and desires (Cherry). Throughout the entirety of the film, we see how the id, ego, and superego play out in the Narrator’s mind, and how Tyler represents every desire that he has suppressed, whether that be from childhood or adulthood.

~ from Freudian Analysis of Fight Club ~

One of the often forgotten aspects of film is the music. All too often the work of the humble composer is overlooked. The audience too spellbound by the visuals on-screen to pay attention to the compositions that fuel emotional reaction. John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Bernard Herrmann, James Horner, all have composed music for some of the most well-known films in cinema history. Yet so few know their name.

To honor the film composer I have, for today’s installment of the 25 Songs, 25 Days challenge, chosen to showcase a piece of instrumental score, rather than a song, from my favourite movie. Like everything else in Fight Club, the music, by pioneering duo The Dust Brothers, is perfection. It compliments the visual and emotional style of the movie, it burrows into your subconscious and refuses to let go.

It is a haunting, stimulating musical score that demands attention.


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25 Songs, 25 Days: The Old Boys

Day 10: A song by your favourite band

The Old Boys | Runrig (with Paul Mounsey)

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My favourite band of all time is, and always will be, Runrig:

Runrig are a Scottish Celtic rock group formed in Skye, in 1973 under the name ‘The Run Rig Dance Band’. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has included songwriters Rory Macdonald and Calum Macdonald. The current line-up also includes longtime members Malcolm Jones, Iain Bayne, and more recently, Bruce Guthro, and Brian Hurren. To date, the band has released thirteen studio albums, with a number of their songs sung in Scottish Gaelic.

My favourite musician of all time is, and always will be, Paul Mounsey:

Paul Mounsey is a composer, arranger and producer from Scotland. He lived for over 20 years in Brazil. A graduate of Trinity College, London, where he studied with Richard Arnell, he has written for film, television, theatre, advertising and also for the Latin American pop market. He lectured for a short while at Goldsmiths College before moving on as creative director of Play It Again, one of the biggest commercial music houses in Brazil. He has also written articles on various aspects of music. He’s written pop hits for Mexican boy bands, has received commissions for chamber and multimedia works, has lived with and recorded the music of indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest, and to date has released five solo albums.

And in 2003, much to my happiness, an album was released combining the talents of both Runrig and Paul Mounsey.

So for today’s song in the 25 Songs, 25 Days Challenge I’ve chosen a song from this album.

A song that is both beautiful and haunting.

Enjoy.


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Journey of the Featherless

Day 08: A song that makes you hopeful

Journey of the Featherless | Cloud Cult

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My home; circa 2010.

One of the most desperate and hopeless periods of my life were the five years I spent homeless. I had no security, no comfort and no love. My days were an endless cycle of survival and time-killing. My nights, a bleak nightmare of little sleep and total discomfort.

In order to survive the nightmare, I would spend my days in the Melbourne City Library. I would read the newspapers, browse the book stacks and listen to CDs on the in-house music system. Sometimes I would listen to music I knew, music that soothed my soul and showered me with waves of contentment. Other times I would take a chance, pulling a CD from the shelf that I had never heard of, just to hear something new, something different.

One such CD was Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) by a group I had never encountered before, Cloud Cult. I was immediately taken by the intricate blend of instruments and canny, clever lyrics. Over time it became a CD I turned to when feeling lost, when feeling hopeless, because I knew it would enliven me to keep going, to keep fighting the good fight. Over time it became an anthem for my homelessness.

I still turn to the CD when feeling lost and overwhelmed. It reminds me of a bleak and disparate period of my life. A period of my life that I thought was going to consume me until, with much assistance, I found the strength to break free of its bonds.

This CD, more than any other, reminds me that hope is the one thing you can never lose, for without it, you are nothing.

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Teaser Tuesday: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Be careful not to include spoilers!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

◊~~~◊~~~◊

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim - Teaser Tuesday

◊~~~◊~~~◊

So, what’s everyone else reading at the moment? Go on, give us a tease…


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Hallelujah

Day 08: A song that reminds you of your “first love”.

Hallelujah | Jeff Buckley

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My first visit to Berneray, an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, occurred in February 2000. After long-terming in a backpacker hostel, myself and two friends decided to do some traveling and opted for the Western Isles. After touring Lewis and Harris we boarded a ferry, crossed the Sound of Harris, and arrived on Berneray shortly after lunch. Almost immediately we were spellbound by the island’s scenery, location and atmosphere. The following morning we sat outside the hostel, on the shore of the island, watching the sun rise over the ocean. We were all speechless, completely hypnotized by the stunning spectacle before us.

Ten months later, after months of traveling Canada and beginning college, I decided I wanted to spend New Year somewhere special. And the only place that came to mind was Berneray. It had lived in my heart throughout the entire year, a memory of happiness, of solace and of contentment. After months of traveling around Canada, making and losing friends and navigating the intricacies of a college education, I needed the joy of Berneray, of that memory with my friends, to see me through into 2001.

So, early in the morning on the 29th December, I set off on the long journey. A train ride, a bus ride, a ferry ride and another bus ride later, I was standing on the shore of Berneray’s east coast, the same spot where I had sat ten months earlier watching a spectacular sunset. I was alone. But I was happy.

Later that night I was busying myself with journal writing when some fellow travelers arrived at the hostel. One was an elderly Englishman. The other, a twentysomething Australian. Almost instantly I was smitten with the Australian’s contagious smile, sparkling eyes and cheeky sense of humor. I didn’t say much, but I introduced myself, told her I was a student and listened intently to stories from her traveling adventure. I found out her name was Louise and that she was on the UK leg of a world-traveling adventure. She had been to Thailand, Europe, Ireland and had decided to come to Scotland to look for work. She had bumped into the Englishman in a hostel in Glasgow and, after being told of the oasis that was Berneray, had been invited to come along for the New Year.

We did little but talk and flirt that first night. Eventually succumbing to our tiredness and slinking off to our respective bedrooms, no doubt to dream about the other. The next morning we got talking again and, after being invited, I accompanied them on a tour around the local landscape, stopping off at a variety of food stores to stock up for the coming days. That night, after returning to the hostel, Louise and I got talking again. We ended up playing a drinking game that had been left at the hostel and, midway through, after excusing myself for a cigarette break, we stood out the front of the hostel. A blanket of stars above us. The gently rolling sound of the surf beside us. It was then when, out of the blue, Louise asked the question that would change my life: “Can I kiss you?”

If Louise hadn’t asked this question there is no way my anxiety riddled mind would have been able to make a move on her, no matter how much I wanted to. And if I hadn’t made a move, if that kiss hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would never have moved to Australia. I would never have managed a backpacker hostel. I would never have met Kathy or Grace or Mae. I would never have had a breakdown. That kiss, that singular moment, changed the course of my life. And, after all the chaos and pain, after everything that has happened to me, if I could go back and change it. To shake some sense into myself. To stop that kiss from ever occurring. There isn’t a part of me that would.

For that kiss led to my first relationship. Within days of meeting, Louise decided to accompany me back to Inverness. She moved into my bedsit and we began a relationship that would last five and a half years. A period of time that, for the most part, was full of happiness and joy. As we sat on the ferry at Lochmaddy, awaiting the crossing to Uig, Louise slipped a CD into her discman and popped an earbud into my ear. She wanted to play me a song, one of her favourites, to start our adventure off on the right note. I had never heard of the artist – Jeff Buckley – before. I had never heard of the song – Hallelujah – before. But I was enchanted from the moment his breath hit the headphones.

Hallelujah would go on to become the most important song in my life. It will forever be a reminder of my first relationship, of my first love, and of how quickly, and unexpectedly, life can change.

 

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