Posts Tagged ‘prepare the lightning bolts’

the state of my mental health.

21 January 2011

i grew up in a room with red curtains, the window overlooking a shed where we planned to jump in the event of a fire. my wallpaper featured futuristic space stations. i pretended the sliding doors of my closet led into an elevator where every visitor was asked to enter for a few minutes. my bed was covered in a thick olive blanket. as i grew i started sleeping diagonally or curled in a ball so that my feet didn’t hang over the edge or my toes didn’t become uncovered.

from that bed, beginning at an early age, i wondered what happened when we died, crying when i thought about going from looking at something to everything becoming black, no longer sensing anything. i didn’t know how that made sense, how you could go from being awake and alive, to being nothing at all. for a minute, i imagined the grave (this was before i learned about cremation), the dirt, the darkness; no conversations, no friends, no self. slowly i came to terms with death, i suppose, because i stopped tearing up every night, thinking about where i was going to go. i accepted the idea that i would one day disappear, though hopefully not while i was sleeping so i could challenge death to a game of chess. it was as simple as that: i would be gone and everything i was doing and everything i could do would cease.

i stopped taking my medication in early december because my frustrations about its lack of efficacy were exacerbating my depression. also, i didn’t want to listen to my psychiatrist talk about sleep patterns anymore, but she can’t be blamed for thinking every single person is the same, so, for the record, my only true battle is with pristiq. i realized that all the things wrong with me are not merely symptoms of depression. i can handle being sad. it’s not as if i’m thinking about suicide all the time. i mean, some days i don’t even mind being alive.

i avoid using anti-bacterial soap so convincing me to take a daily pill that is altering my brain is not going to be appealing for long. i guess i kind of see medicine and god in the same way: i understand their value for some people, but i’m okay on my own. obviously, though, i’m not going to turn down a life-saving medical procedure, whereas, conversely, it’ll take a pretty large miracle for me to start believing in the existence of a higher being.

so, anyway, i wanted to let you know that i’m fine and moderately happy. and all the things wrong with me are less of a concern than they were right before i started taking the medication and during, though there are extenuating factors involved in my current and previous happinesses that i don’t wish to discuss at this time.

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great apes.

15 September 2010

i’ve long been a reader of earthweek which bills itself as a diary of the planet and features short pieces on science, health, weather, environment, and nature from around the globe.

a recent report on apes caught my attention so i’m reprinting it below:

some of humankind’s closest relatives are literally being eaten to extinction, according to wildlife experts.

a new study of human settlements in the most remote parts of the democratic republic of the congo shows that chimpanzees have become the victims of a wave of killing by bushmeat hunters.

meat from the primates is sold openly in the markets of kisangani and smaller towns, where officials are failing to enforce the ban on killing chimps.

I was actually astonished to see the sheer quantities of bushmeat being taken out of the forest, researcher cleve hicks of the university of amsterdam told the u.k.’s the guardian newspaper.

hicks says that the killing of adult chimps has left a large number of young orphans, many of which are captured and kept as pets.

the spread of christianity across the congo basin has swept away many traditional tribal beliefs, including taboos about eating bushmeat.

the barisi tribe used to never harm the primates because they believed they were the descendants of a union between a man and a female chimp.

one of the things i like about earthweek is that they do not operate under any sort of agenda, which is evident in the above excerpt (well, unless you treat evolution as an elitist concept that undermines your intelligence). their tone does, however, often take an apocalyptic slant: the world is probably not going to end as the result of a few landslides or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so temper some of the talk about tons of mud and rock burying scores of people.

the most compelling part of this post is the conclusion that intrusion into this area by missionaries, whose efforts at proselytizing the savages rather than trying to understand their culture, has had some dramatic side effects. it’s a shame that we learn nothing after years of blindly insisting that our civilization is the only one that matters and subjecting individuals to our ways at all costs to their environment. earthweek’s greatest success is presenting these ideas and emphasizing areas of the world that are regularly avoided and elicit shoulder shrugs.

every city has its own jersey shore.

12 May 2009

i don’t understand why guys dress the way they do to go out to a bar or club. i’m not talking about the ones who don’t care, wearing khaki cargo shorts and tennis shoes, because no amount of tutoring and guidance is going to bring forth their salvation. my confusion is directed towards the guys who spend time in front of the mirror, applying gel to their short hair and putting on a tight t-shirt with writing about death or some sort of apocalyptic event, about retribution and revenge; in other words, things that keep you up at night, worrying. the shirts are often embellished with sequins or strips of leather, as if they were produced by a first-year art student still learning the mechanics of collaging, and intentionally stained in patches (most notably under the arms — a wise decision with how much these guys sweat).

you may see them in the corner of the room, gently nodding their heads in lax synchronization with the music, a beer cradled in hand. watch them for a few seconds and you’ll see them looking around, as if they’re waiting for someone while simultaneously flexing their muscles (they’re actually interested in who is noticing them). if you’ve ever seen a robed prizefighter on his way to the ring, stretching his neck to the left and right to loosen it and shaking his arms to encourage the flow of blood, then you’ve got an idea. i wouldn’t be surprised if part of their routine in preparing themselves for a night out, after crushing a six-pack of red bull, was to massage baby oil into their biceps to make them glisten even in poorly-lit rooms.

if they can find a button-front shirt to fit across their massive backs, they’ve invariably chosen a white one with a design in black embroidery (or maybe a white tonal stripe to differentiate the shirt from their other one with buttons). these guys are proud of their pectorals, unfastening the shirt until they bulge forth and gleam like a gladiator’s armor. bump into them accidentally and you face almost certain death, especially if you cause them to spill a drink. these are the guys that are interested in getting wasted and knocking out some dude’s teeth first and then, as a distant second, an afterthought, escorting an equally-inebriated lady home with them.

together they stand at the bar in groups, counting those around them, ordering jager bombs for their buddies and the hapless girls who have followed them. they down them quickly and high five or thrust their fists in the air like they have just pulled someone’s still-beating heart from their chest or they roughly grab a girl and press their lips against hers in the least romantic way possible. while performing one or more of these actions they bellow — one of those world-domination roars, like a lion enforcing his position as king of the jungle.

facebook is proof that they pose for a lot of pictures: mugging at the camera, often red-faced, their thick necks tilted to the side due to the weight of their friends’ arms around them. they wear sunglasses indoors and have the tips of their hair frosted. they talk about how they have a vip table with bottle service, as if overspending on liquor is a badge of honor, demanding respect. towards the end of the night they meet on the dance floor for more fist pumping, sometimes becoming aggressive, shoving each other and laughing at any collateral damage.

honestly, i don’t know what to say to these guys, though, i agree it’s naive of me to think they’re reading this writing. i doubt they realize how close they come to becoming caricatures, how tiresome their antics become, how unenviable their positions are. sometimes i like to pretend that one wakes up suddenly on a predetermined day, looks in the mirror and stands aghast at a visage of manicured facial hair, slowly weeping while shaving before crumpling to the bathroom floor, promising never to repeat these transgressions.

my girlfriend is a watermelon.

27 March 2009

a girl once told me that she likes the way i tell stories, not eliminating or glossing over the parts that make me look bad. let me point out then, before i begin, that the following incident has nothing to do with me. i repeat: i only transcribed the text you are about to read. it happened to a friend (also, those italics mean nothing — my finger slipped and inserted some html code that i was unable to erase).

perhaps you’ve been looking for love but the conversations you’ve started with potential suitors in the produce section of grocery stores or between games of billiards at a bar or outside the church where your alcohol anonymous meetings are held have yet to bear fruit. some people, i’m told, turn to nonhuman companions, items that remind them of their desired suitor. they may only be able to fall asleep when they cuddle up next to a pillow or a stuffed animal. the more perverse-minded may seek out items with which to pleasure themselves. the friend to whom i alluded in the first paragraph falls into this last group, and the events i’m about to chronicle follow a similar vein, so if you’re a family member or you’re under some delusion that i am anything but a base creature then you may want to skip to another entry.

throughout history men and women have contemplated using food, primarily fruits and vegetables, in a sexual context. women probably have an easier time of it with all the phallic cucumbers and bananas at their disposal. men, on the other hand, have to do a little more work: research is involved, not to mention some tools. my friend relayed this information to me before saying that he settled on a watermelon and then cut it into eight equal wedges — he used one of them.

he detailed making a circular incision through the rind and into the pink flesh, adjusting it to make the hole larger, carving the bits like a master craftsman. he reported being in a sort of trance as he continued, as if a higher being was guiding him to put the fruit in the microwave for thirty-second intervals until it was warm, then placing it on the kitchen counter, his hands steadying it.

the whole thing was kind of surreal to me, envisioning the process and the dedication required to achieve the goal. when he finished, after i had returned to equilibrium, my mind was filled with jokes, so i tried one out on him. i guess you’ll think twice now before spitting out a watermelon seed since it didn’t seem to have a problem with yours.

god hates fags.

10 February 2009

thankfully we have religious fanatics to dispense guidelines concerning the manner in which we should live. it’s comforting to know that i do not need to form my own opinions, relying instead on their interpretations of biblical texts.

currently i’m a disciple of self-proclaimed christian youth expert, donnie davies. he has developed the c.h.o.p.s (for some reason, he omits the final dot) program. to give you an idea of its mission, the acronym stands for changing homosexuals into ordinary people. i assume s is there to represent the fact that people is plural.

on his website, to which i’m refraining from providing a link because i’d currently rather you read my writing than send him hate mail, he lists gay bands, which are those whose music sentences listeners to eternal damnation. he strongly recommends parents burning albums in front of their children, allowing them to feel the heat. it’s crucial, he says, that the image remains emblazoned on their young minds. it’s time to take action once three of the listed bands are in your collection.

davies explains that some of the music is by gateway bands, you know, those that lure people in with pop grooves and salacious melodies, leading them to more dangerous stuff. it’s as easy as that: next thing you know you’ve got a homosexual for a child.

according to the series of names, everyone i have ever met is gay. lil’ wayne is listed twice, an admission that means he makes people super gay. elton john is also listed twice, the second time with a reason in parentheses (really gay). others containing reasons for their inclusion are britney spears (kissed madonna), marilyn manson (dark gay), sigur ros (nudists), toby keith (cowboy), ted nugent (loincloth), and pictures of members of metallica touching their tongues to each other’s. perhaps the best, though, follows morrissey (?questionable?).

the site also helpfully enumerates safe bands. this much shorter list is populated by avowed christian bands, like dc talk and jars of clay, and somewhat surprisingly blondie and cyndi lauper, all of which apparently foster heterosexual desires. i’m still hopeful that sufjan stevens can save me from hell.

as an added treat davies’ website provides links to his own music, which, i should warn parents, definitely has the power to turn people queer. watching his videos causes me to wonder whether everything else i’ve read is a parody. the song, take my hand, contains the lyrics, mouthed with his honey-voiced delivery, when i’m reaching out to touch you/will you come?/will you come?/inside the gates of heaven, as he sits at the piano, on top of which are displayed pictures of anderson cooper, a shirtless and medal-strewn michael phelps, and, i think, laurence fishburne. the end features davies walking along a closed street wearing a v-neck undershirt and open woven decorated with stylized crosses on the left half, flanked by teen boys not quite pretty enough to work for abercrombie and fitch, and as the music swells, he asks us and them if we are coming. a final message reads, homosexuality has met its maker, which i take to mean that gay people have donnie davies to thank for creating homosexuality.

the other song i was able to find, the bible says, contains words that only a repressed homosexual could utter, but you have to admit that the chorus, god hates fags, is pretty damn catchy, with davies speaking and if you’re a fag he hates you too before joyously breaking into the next verse.

i know i cannot keep this to myself any longer, as the message needs spreading, so here are the links:
the website proper.
the video for take my hand.
the video for the bible says.

in opposition to hagiography.

2 February 2009

i’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that we lack agency in posthoumously appointing a biographer, a theme prevalent in the work of carol shields, insomuch as the women’s lives detailed in her novels could appear mundane from one vantage point, but remarkable and heroic from another. obviously she thought about how one doesn’t have to pass a test in order to write (or speak) about the deceased, how we are all limited by certain biases and experiences, and how these cannot help but color our retelling.

back in october, when death became omnipresent, i told my mom that i planned to document the remainder of her life and its impact on us. i felt obligated, as i’ve touched on in a previous post, to present the facts unedited, to express the pain and joy in honest — and believable — amounts.

a week or so before her death, we met with a minister, the only time, during her stay at beacon place when at least one of the three of us wasn’t at her side. as part of my mother’s service, the minister was giving a speech about her hobbies (drinking tea, gardening, reading, traveling with my dad). she asked us questions and took her own impressions from them, eventually weaving bible verses in with her prose.

it felt odd, and i didn’t offer much even when prompted. after all, i was planning my own eulogy and didn’t want someone who had never even heard my mother’s voice stealing my good lines. more than this small concern, however, my reticence was caused by the fact that her presence was superfluous. none of us are typical religious believers: my sister follows, in mind if not always in practice, various eastern flavor-of-the-month teachings; my dad oscillates for fear of being wrong when it counts (when asked, during our meeting, if he had a prayer he preferred, he stumbled, you know, um, the lord is my shepherd, that’s always a good one, yeah). my mom lived, not because of rewards guaranteed in a potential afterlife, but because she liked to make people smile, she wanted to help others realize their best.

the pious tend to become sanctimonious when people are dying. we began to hear often that it was part of god’s plan that we were not made to understand, as if that should provide solace to any rational person. on the day my mother died an elderly man told my father that god wanted her more. if my dad hadn’t been so weak from mourning his loss, he would have guaranteed that god also wanted that elderly man more.

in her speech, the minister detailed my mother’s work with the mentally retarded: managing group homes in canada; finding advocates, raising awareness, and educating the community here in the united states. she summed this section up by referring to her actions as dare i say, christ-like.

i don’t understand the rampant desire to misrepresent someone once they have passed away, when they are cherished abundantly for their actual biography. while my mother and jesus have the same initials, they are not the same person. in fact, legend says that one died for the other’s sins a few millennia ago.

a more valid appreciation for the way my mother touched lives could be found later when those in the audience were invited to say a few words on her behalf. a neighbor spoke of how she would watch her in the backyard, tending to her flowerbed, and was now struck with a gaping void. she beseeched us to get to know those around us before it was too late, before we made the same mistake she had. her words were delivered with such vitriol that one would believe if they didn’t introduce themselves to their neighbors that very afternoon they would have to deal with this wild-haired woman’s admonishment in their dreams.


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