Nothing major happened today but a school day is a school day and a school day is a bad day. But I do have a problem, something I haven’t mentioned yet. There’s a kid in school and I can’t take my mind off him, I’ve had him in my head constantly for weeks now and it just makes me so depressed. I’m not going to give any details at all about him yet, not even a hint that might reveal his identity, because I don’t want to be humiliated. It’s always the same though. No one is ever in the slightest bit interested in me and I’ve made the mistake in the past of telling people when there’s someone I like and it always ends up the same: it gets back to the person in question and as they never like me the situation becomes really embarrassing. It’s happened to me twice so far and the weeks surrounding my revelations were hell, I have no intention of ever letting it happen again, even if he might like me, I won’t take the chance of rejection and embarrassment, so any feelings I have for this kid will be kept sealed in a bottle forever unless, by the remotest of possibilities, I hear for certain that he is interested in me. And why do I get so depressed when I think about him or see him? Because every time I do I can think of nothing but my own ugliness and inadequacy, about how no lad on planet earth will ever give me a second glance unless it’s to convince themselves that their first perception was right and that I really do look like a fat ugly monster. Yet I can’t chase his image away, there’s just something so compelling about him, and I’ve dreamed about him too, really strange things such as walking down a spiral staircase with him while searching for my friend Kelly. Wonder what that signifies? I’m lonely. I live in a house full of people but I am lonely. Why is life so unfair? Why do I never get the guy? I feel as if I might die if I can’t have him. I did a really stupid thing, something so out of character: as a last resort I prayed, I begged for him but nothing changed. I know I should just forget about it completely but it’s hard, I can’t stop thinking about him. Tragedy as always but I have no lyrics to fit this one.
As I have been going over my 2001 diary and blogging it I have realised it was a very significant year in my life. It shaped who I am today in many ways. It was the year I became determined to become a writer. The year I was faced with leaving school, filled with fears about how repressive the world of adult work would be. It was the year I discovered alternative culture and started writing songs and dreaming of playing in a band. It was also the year my mental illness began. On the back of these themes that crop up constantly in this diary I feel I have few things I’d like to say to my sixteen year old self.
You dreamed so much a being a writer in those days. The pages of your diary are filled with the book you were working on at the time, World Against Me, and what high hopes you had for it. Let me tell you that while things may not have reached the dizzying heights you imagined you do still write and you did get a publishing deal with a small publishing house three years ago, when you were 29. You released your “Punk Rock Memoir” trilogy with them and although you haven’t made enough money to quit the day job and sales are sometimes non existent, I think you’d be tickled pink to know you have a book that is stocked by Waterstones! Besides, there’s still plenty of time for that best seller!
The adult world of work is not as bad as you feared. It has not turned you into, how did you put it in your diary, ‘a lonely, friendless, problem crippled, monotonous individual’. You’ve had some seriously shit jobs which have done there best to try and do exactly that to you but you have persevered and never let them take that alternative, creative spirit that was nurtured in 2001 by your love of your so called ‘moshers’. You are now in place where you are free to have crazy hair, piercings, tattoos and you get paid decent money too, and all of that sort of makes up for the fact that you haven’t really built yourself an actual career yet. You’ve been there seven years. The fact that your job allows you to be completely yourself is the main thing that has kept you there. I know how important being allowed to be yourself was, you wrote about it often enough in that diary!
Since first dabbling in that world of alternative culture with the ‘moshers’ at school you have been a goth with dyed black hair and new rock boots, a cyber goth fusing victorian mourning wear with neon rave gear, a punk with a full blown mohawk and doc marten boots. I don’t really know what you are now. There’s bits of all three in there I guess. You’ve been tattooed multiple times. You have really cool dreadlocks. You still wear the doc marten boots and the black eyeliner. You still listen to Green Day and the Offspring sometimes and you’ve picked up many more favourites along the way. I think you’d be pretty happy with how quirky you still are.
You used to dream of being in a band but told yourself you lacked musical ability. You thought the most you could hope for was giving away your songs to other bands. How would you feel if I told you you’ve been in two bands? You played bass for an industrial group, and played gigs at some of Glasgows best venues. You even had a record deal briefly and released a single, but again, it was never quite enough to quit the day job. After that you fronted a punk band and played support slots with bands who were pretty big in the 70s. And you even play solo acoustic gigs after discovering you can actually sing and play guitar. You have two albums out there now.
You wrote often about how ugly you felt in those days. You truly believed yourself to be hideous and were convinced no one could ever love you. Well guess what? Now while I’m not claiming you have turned into some kind of great beauty you are happy with how you look now (most of the time, we all have bad days). You fell in love when you were nineteen with someone who loves you for who you are and you have been married for 11 years.
One thing I will say is watch out for that sadness that you began to feel in 2001. You write about it creeping in but you don’t understand what it is or where it comes from. You couldn’t see it at the time but the sadness was depression. You were unwell that year, it’s the reason your school work went downhill, why a usually intelligent girl suddenly felt incapable and stupid. It wasn’t because you’d become a dunce as you often described yourself, you were just sick. Sadly you will be sick a lot. It will always come and go and will always make your life that little bit more of a struggle. You’ll suffer it for ten years before finally seeing it for what it is and seeking help. I’m not going to lie, it gives you hell sometimes, but you always pull through because you have some amazing people in your life and over the years you will get better an managing it.
You’ve done some pretty cool thing over the last sixteen years. Aside from all of the above you have travelled: New York, Marrakesh, Toronto, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Venice. You once had a motorbike. You own a house and travel to your caravan in the countryside at weekends and keep hares as pets. You may not be a famous author like you planned (yet) but you’ve achieved lots. If I could tell you one thing I’d tell you not to worry. All the fears you wrote about are unfounded. You are not ugly. You do not loose yourself to the corporate world of work. Everything works out and you are not much different not to what you were then.
And one more thing. You seemed to worry so much about losing touch with your nest friend friend from primary school when you moved away from Newcastle aged 13. Well there’s good news there too. You are still best friends, you talk all the time and continue to help each other through lifes problems, just like you always did, so nothing has changed there.
Don’t worry, you pretty much get everything you want, just maybe on a bit of a smaller scale.
I don’t see why I should take this crap, after a day like this you just feel like chopping yourself into little bits and it’s all because of school. This morning we left the house to catch the school bus at our usual time of 8.20am. The bus normally comes at about half past but today, as we stepped out of the door, we saw it whizz by on the main road. We had missed it and had to get a service bus to the town centred walk to school from there but my school shoes hurt my feet if I walk too far in them so by time I got there my feet where throbbing. It was the perfect taster for how hellish the rest of the day would be. My first class was English with Mr. Williams and as if to justify everything I said on Sunday I was made to look like a brainless twit. My head was killing me and we were doing poetry, the teacher asked me to pick out the consonants in one of the lines. I looked down at the page but my mind was blank, for some reason I just couldn’t think and so was unable to answer. Consonants! Everyone knows what they are and now the teacher will think I don’t, therefore I am the stupidest person ever in his eyes. I feel like an imbosele. That wasn’t the end of it either. As I was going to music some people told me that I looked like this other girl and when I replied “I don’t” they all started laughing and mimicking my accent. “You’re English!” whooped one. “Piggy!” snorted another and they all followed behind me taking up the chant of “English pig!” I thought I was over all of that. What have I done to deserve things like this? Why can’t people just let me be who I am? I’ve never done anybody any harm. It’s like they’re all against me, banded together against the ‘English pig’. Comments like that seem to follow me everywhere. A total stranger came up to me one day and told me “You’re really ugly” and all I can think is, you don’t even know me, what gives you the right to judge me? Why? Why me? Why does this always happen to me? Or in the words of the rock band Travis, ‘why does it always rain on me?’ These bands have such appropriate lyrics, they’re written by people like me, repressed freaks. I understand maybe that’s why a lot of people don’t like them, they haven’t liked it so they can’t understand.
Back to the repressive manacles of school. Oh dark depression! I am not exaggerating, Monday is only a half day for me so I’ve only had to endure four periods instead of six and already I am totally miserable. The deep dread turned to utter depression the second I entered my first class. I think that song by Pink Floyd got it bang on when it said “we don’t need no thought control”, because that’s what schools do, they tell people how to think. They tell you who to be. They take you like putty and try to mold you into something that they think you should be. The minute you step into school your identity is torn away, you loose your true self and become nothing but a zombie, a being who isn’t expected to have any opinions or feelings, to school you are not an individual just another statistic in their league tables, or, if you prefer, “Just another brick in the wall”. School is destroying me. I am failing badly, falling behind, the pressure is too much. I am a free spirit, an artist, I don’t take too kindly to being placed on a conveyor belt that produces processed, ready made professionals. There’s no room in the education system for creatives, no scope for artists and freedom, they only look towards producing doctors, lawyers, accountants, things that require exams, no one ever provides support or encouragement for poets, novelists, artists or musicians. They are going to kill all such people if they continue to push people forcefully into the trained professions. I feel trapped. I feel frowned upon. I feel shunned. Like an academic underachiever, or even a failure. Oh hell. I sat on the floor this afternoon when everyone was out and cried, I mean literally. Why will nobody believe in me? Why am I such a disaster? Why am I so thick? Why am I so ugly? Why won’t they let me be me? I want to live in a world where I belong. I don’t belong in this world where you have to have the highest grades, where the headmaster’s attitude is if you don’t do to university you’ll be a failure. Well, as I say, I might look back on this one day when I’m a best selling author and say “who’s the failure now?”
It is the last day of the holidays. We walked along the Forth and Clyde Canal. All I can think about is having to go back to school. I’m dreading it, I’m actually sick at the thought of it. The dread gets progressively worse each time I have to go back after the holidays. I’ve never felt so bad in my whole life. The hate I feel towards that place is tremendous and what makes it worse is the fact that I have English with Mrs. O’Donnovan, my least favourite teacher. She doesn’t actually shout and shriek the way some teachers do, there’s just something about her that rubs everyone up the wrong way, I don’t know one single person who likes her, she just has this really nasty manner about her. She seems to enjoy watching people being embraced because when she asks a question and you don’t know the answer she just peers at you over her glasses while you stutter and stammer and go red and you can tell by the gleam in her eye that she is gloating, she purposely asks the people she knows won’t know the answer. She does it to me all the time. There are only three people in my SYS English class and the other two are really clever, they know everything and I’m just thick. I get all the answers wrong and I never understand the stuff we do and I always muck up homework. The other two, who shall remain nameless, get everything right and understand everything and although they are by no means smug about it I still end up feeling like the class dunce and every time it happens I feel it like a punch in the stomach and sometimes I feel so inadequate and stupid I wish I could just put all my books in my bag, tell them I quit and walk away. Sometimes I just want to cry, but nobody knows how much it hurts me, me, who is usually up there with the best, to sit there and feel like a dunce. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, this school year I’ve fallen, I feel like I’ve turned into the village idiot. School can’t be good if it makes you feel this bad.
Went to Edinburgh. We looked around the shops and went into the museum of childhood, then we went to the Rose Street Fry for cheeseburger and chips. I usually have a fried mars bar but they couldn’t make me one today. As it was raining we had to sit in one of the shelters to eat and it smelled disgusting. The radio is crap at the weekend. For some reason from Friday to Sunday all the stations play nothing but hideous dance music. Do they really think the whole nation enjoys being brain washed by endless, repetitive, computer generated sounds? (I won’t even give it the honour of calling it music). True some people like that kind of thing but they should play some other stuff for the rest of us too. And as I’m on the subject of music again I might as well continue what I started saying yesterday before I ran out of space. I was talking about processed groups, Steps, A1, Westlife, S Club 7 and the likes. They’re almost as bad as dance music. They’re all so perfect with their well groomed hair, creamy blemish free skin, even white teeth, ideal figures. How many people do you see walking down the street who look like that? Exactly, they’re false. And as for their music it’s soppy and false too, it belongs in a perfect world just as the groups themselves do. They don’t even write their own material or play their own instruments, they only sell any records because people look at them and think they are gorgeous and buy the songs simply because they fancy the people who sing them. The lyrics have no meaning and are only ever concerned with one thing: love. It’s so sad when you see thousands of girls shrieking and fainting over these boy bands. Ok, so maybe some of them do write their own stuff and fair play to them if they do, even though I don’t like them, but these bands who sell records and win merit simply because they are pretty boys or girls, especially the ones who do covers of other peoples songs, should do us all a favour and just pack it in. Well that’s only my opinion, who says I’m right?
We didn’t do much today, just stayed in. I was writing some more of my book, it’s proving a really easy book to write. Unlike ‘a sea of the past’ which took a lot of planning, preparation and thinking about, this one is just flowing really naturally and freely with hardly any pre-planning. I think maybe it’s because it’s coming right from my heart and I know a lot about the main themes (stereotyping, music, misery). But I have a dilemma. The books was originally going to be part of a trilogy but it far outshines the first and I think if I keep it as a trilogy and the first one is released first it will not do the second one justice. It’s possible that The World Against Me would stand out much stronger as an individual statement, because in a way it is as much a statement as it is a story. Then on the other hand is the matter of the first book. Although it may not be as good as The World Against Me I’m still reluctant to scrap it. The thing is, world against me, doesn’t fit in with the others in terms of atmosphere and the way it’s told. It’d rebellious, it’s the outsider of the trilogy, just in the same way Travis is the outsider in his society. So that’s something I need to think about, there’s no need to rush into a decision.
I was recording some songs off the radio today, so called mosher bands such as Linkin Park, Blink 182, The Offspring, because they are part of the mosher culture and this is a central part of my book. It helps me to create the right atmosphere if I listen to them while writing. I was talking about screen plays yesterday and the music of these kind of bands would provide a perfect soundtrack to a screen play of world against me. They have the exact kind of atmosphere I’m looking for, they’re so powerful and true, full of honesty and strength, they seem to tell things as they are. They are a sobering antidote to the happy go lucky perfect world of processed boy bands but more on this another time.