Jan Gossaert, known as Mabuse (1478-1532): A Young Princess (Dorothea of Denmark?) c1530, National Gallery London – https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-gossaert-jean-gossart-a-young-princess-dorothea-of-denmark
September is an important month for me. It was always September and January. September because of the return to school or University, and my birthday. And January because that is the month I always had my breakdowns – when things went a bit wrong. This September has been wobbly. A bit different from the other months this year. I spent the end of August in Vienna. As I did 20 years ago. But this time I was with a Friend and not my Family. I talked to my Dad on the phone, but I missed my Mother intensely. I wanted to show her what I’d seen and talk to her about it. It was a completely new experience for me, even though the City was familiar. I was going to write about all the new thoughts etc. that this provoked in me, but actually I can’t because after less than a week, I couldn’t f*cking remember. In fact last night I realised I couldn’t remember last Wednesday and Thursday. Not a thing. I looked through my Diary, which I try to write every night, and there are gaps where I’ve gone to write about a Thursday on a Saturday and I can’t remember. About this, I am a little worried. I used to have an amazing memory – read a page and remember the whole thing memory. I didn’t have to revise for exams – it nearly all went in the first time. When I was at University and had my breakdown and car accident, I was put on an anti-depressant that destroyed this facility. I had to learn to learn again. And read. In the last 4 years my memory has become terrible, and since I began to go deaf on the left, it’s gotten worse: my aural memory was amazing. Now, nothing. But that is not actually the point of this post. This is really just a ramble with some info in it.
I began my Calligraphy Course on Monday. It was difficult. It’s going to be very difficult. I’ve got to learn to write a totally new way. It made my right hand ache like a bastard. Today that hand hates me. University was full of this. I used to be able to write 16 sides of A4 in an hour, in pen. I could write down a whole lecture. It fucked my right hand up, I ended up having to have ‘Hand Therapy’ (Fnarr fnarr) – physio for paws – and doing my Finals in a wrist brace. My thumb, wrist and whole arm are aching. In fact, more and more of me is getting sore. I am getting concerned. My mobility and physical ability have always fluctuated. 14 years ago at University I went though a year of ‘stone’ where my back, arms, neck and legs, in turn, began to just stop moving properly and cause me whimpering pain. This happened again in 2007-8 – the last time I worked. I changed a lot in my lifestyle etc. and managed to keep it at bay. But it’s back. Every couple of days my ankles and knees start to burn and ache, my elbows have begun to just flame and my right shoulder has started to join in. After 2 days it seems to go away – or I do so little (stay in bed) that I don’t notice. But now, now it seems to be around all the time. As I sit writing, my knees and shoulders are burning. I went out today and my knees and legs were so ‘loose’ but weak feeling that I couldn’t move forward at any speed – snails were passing me. My hands are clawing up, I never seem rested and I’m having trouble breathing.
I’ve never catastrophised about my health: I’ve been dying, and have shrugged it off (thank you Pancreas and Gallbladder) – I don’t think ‘it’ is going to be the worst thing. But my current state really has me a little freaked. It may be the build up of stress and worry: months of DWP, Doctors visits, hospital appointments etc. and the rapid approach of my WCA. It could be. But never before, even in the extreme of stress (and I have seizures because of stress) have I had such difficulty breathing. Anemia makes my breath difficult, but in a different way. I’m also coughing. A lot. Deep, big coughs that make my spine and ribs hurt (Thank you Costochonditis) and that is making it difficult for me to sleep. I may actually have to go and see my GP for something completely new. I really hope it doesn’t turn out that living in a dusty shit pit with constant building debris is causing me to have lung problems, because that would be embarrassing.
An Interlude: Mabuse
I’ve included the picture of a Princess above because it makes me think of September and University. I fell in love with this very small image while studying. The National Gallery (London) was nearby and this attracted me. I love portraits with allegorical symbols in them (here an armillary sphere – a model of the celestial globe with the equator marked), I love portraits where people move beyond the frame, and I love the un-idealised images made in ‘Northern’* Europe during the Renaissance. So this is a trinity for me. But I also just like her face, a very young girl dressed up and presented as a learned adult. Unimpressed like so many children, and enigmatic, as all unformed characters should be. Gossaert/Mabuse isn’t as well known as he should be. When not painting delicate, mysterious portraits (‘mysterious’ is too frequently used these days, but I apply it here because I do think his people have a distinct ‘otherness’ about them) he created very striking representations of Mythological subjects, and quite charming Religious scenes. Give him a google sometime, or look out for him in any galleries you visit.
And we’re back.
So, I’m achy, sore, tired and breathless. I seem to have a headache I can’t shake, I want to eat a lot, and I can’t poo (what a surprise). I’ve had to put a tube bandage on my right wrist. But it’s not all bad. My Mental Health Nurse called today to tell me I’m getting new meds. I don’t know what they are, or how to take them – I’m going to phone tomorrow to find out. I managed to get the dustbin bag that’s been haunting my bedroom down the stairs (I may have rolled it… or kicked it), I sourced the nibs and bits I need for my course and a new Audiobook arrived for me (Portrait of a Lady). Now, if I could just have a shit…
*The Northern Renaissance: it’s not really ‘North’, it’s just not Italy. I think the Renaissance should just be The Renaissance and The Italian Renaissance/ Renaissance in Italy, rather than The Renaissance meaning Italy and The Northern Renaissance meaning Spain, Germany, Austria, Poland, Holland, Belgium, France….But that’s just me.