Bjørk: Legend/Inspiration/Feminist

I woke up at 4.30 am. Finding it difficult to sleep these days. I’m not sure if it’s the baby kicking or my bladder that’s waking me up. Some nights I wake up every hour to go to the bathroom. This night, I woke up having had a strange dream, and was kept awake by intrusive, negative thoughts about the past and worries about the future. When I couldn’t take it anymore I got out of bed and made myself a sandwich. I started reading the paper, and found my way to this piece about Bjørk’s new album Vulnicura in Pitchfork. It documents a breakup from a longtime partner. This part of the text is an echo of the thoughts I’ve been struggling with over the last months:

As much as this record is about him, it is also about Björk returning to herself. In motherhood, one quite literally becomes a vessel—a role that often continues postpartum. The young family takes precedence, and ambition takes a back seat; a mother can become the net around her loved ones, their needs veiling her own. It is the natural exile of domestic life. And it is a strange and powerful thing to imagine that one of the most singular vocalists in modern music could lose the tether, just like any of us. But here, Björk opens up about coming back to music from such a scene, filling her house and her days with loud songs.

She also touches upon the fact that the press rarely gives her credit for her own work, but rather give it to male colleagues who in reality only do the fraction of the work. A lot of female musicians must be in the same situation. It also warmed my heart to hear her talk about Joni, Chaka Khan and Kate Bush, three musical goddesses who have been important to me in my musical life. Wishing this incredible artist all the best in rebuilding her life from emotional ruin. It’s moving to read something so honest and personal for once. Her story is something many of us can relate to. Thank you for easing my 5 a.m anxieties, Bjørk! It made me write. I wonder if I’ll be able to surmount this overpowering need to erase myself and my creativity while this baby is growing inside me.

I hear you Joni, I got the message…

Joni Mitchell on fame:

The people that feel the music… The trick is, if you listen to that music and you see me, you’re not getting anything out of it. If you listen to that music, and you see yourself, it’ll probably make you cry and you’ll learn something about yourself, and now you’re getting something out of it. You know? And those are the people… those, those are the people, you know, that, my communication is complete. Most of them, they know I’m famous, they know I’m this, but there’s no real communication, there’s just a phenomenon there, you know? And people will flick their bick at anything.

Interview from CBS Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEJuiZN3jI8

Joni, forever my intellectual and emotional godmother.

The Greatest Gift

I haven’t spoken to myself in 7 months.

I quit my job. Then I went on vacation. After that I started training for a new freelance job. And finally I discovered that I was pregnant.

I’m tired. Tired of this never ending introspection. I think I finally realise that my interior isn’t as interesting as it used to be. I needed to switch off, and forget about myself. It doesn’t feel like actively ignoring oneself, it just means that some kind of mist appears over the deepest parts of by consciousness, and I just pretend that I don’t know what is under there.

I’ve done this before, and it usually works well for some time, often for years. But it always ends in disaster.

When I discovered I was pregnant, a switch was turned on/off in my head (depends on how you see it). Suddenly I felt lighter, more relaxed, less anxious. I felt like I had a purpose. God, how I’ve been longing for something like this. All those years thinking, and feeling, like my life didn’t mean anything and I could just as well disappear. Now I have a job, an important job. I am to be the mother of this being inside of me. It is huge! It is beautiful! It’s the way things are supposed to be.

All my doubts about motherhood are gone. I used to think I was too crazy, to depressed or just unable to take care of a child. But once I know there was a life growing inside me, I suppose my subconscious, kick started by pregnancy hormones or whatever, just glided into this new role. Had I known I would react like this, I wouldn’t have been so nervous in the past.

The first three months were tiring and full of days on the couch with nausea. I’m ever so grateful to be working at home now. Had I still been in my old job this wouldn’t have been a good experience. I also know that I would never have quit my job like that with a baby in my belly. I wouldn’t have dared.

So here I am now, 5 months pregnant. The little one is kicking around in there, and I feel her every day. I’m having a blast. My usual anxieties show up from time to time, but I’m better equipped to handle them now. If they get worse after the birth I know I’ll be able to seek help and work on it. I’m not scared. I spend my days thinking about what I should eat, when to exercise, sleeping badly because of leg cramps, buying cloth diapers, even thinking about learning how to knit (I never would have thought THAT possible!!!) I only care about myself as long as it is connected to my baby. It feels great to ignore oneself, absolutely fantastic, but I know it’s a trap.

My boyfriend, and the father of my child, has been warning me from day one. He says: “You cannot be only a mother. You cannot forget about yourself. You need to put in place a system where you are able to do your work as well”. By “my work” he’s obviously talking about writing, singing, playing the piano. He’s not talking about earning money, meaning translation etc.

I love office work, I love having obligations and I’m grateful to have the health to be able to earn my living. I know it’s a fantastic privilege to be able to work from home. But I cannot go on using the need to earn money as an excuse for not having any interior life. I don’t know what happened. The flame just went out. Last year was so complicated. The year before that as well. But I was able to write from time to time. Song lyrics, stories… I’d take singing lessons, went to choir practice. I’d play the piano every day before I went to work.

I guess I’m just tired of being mediocre. I can’t stand it any longer. I can’t.

A couple of weeks ago I met the professor who supervised my Master thesis. He presented me (albeit laughingly) as one of his “star students”. My first thought was that he was joking, but maybe he didn’t. That would mean that I at least spent a moment ten years ago when I wasn’t mediocre. I’d like to remember how that felt like, and I’d like to tap into that feeling. I don’t need to be a star, or a genius, or famous or glorified in any sense of the word. I just want to not feel like a little shit, and I would love it if my child could be able to see me as a whole person, as someone who is comfortable in her own skin, and someone who isn’t ashamed of herself. To accomplish this I need to learn to feel good about myself, and not keep away from the things I love to punish myself or to avoid feeling anything. I can’t hide, because it won’t work. I can’t hide behind work, and I can’t hide behind my child or my role as a mother. She doesn’t have to feel pride, but I would love it if I could teach my little girl to love herself and feel good about her life. That, to me, is the greatest gift a parent can give to her child.