Apr 6, 2010

50,000 words + written

I've got 52k words written for the book. Here's Mary Gaitskill explaining masochism:
"It's a kind of inward aggression. It seems like self-contempt, but it's really an inverted contempt for everything. That's what I was trying to describe in her. I would say it had to do with her childhood, not because she was sexually abused, but because the world that she was presented with was so inadequate in terms of giving her a full-spirited sense of herself. That inadequacy can make you implode with a lot of disgust. It can become the gestalt of who you are. So the masochism is like "I'm going to make myself into a debased object because that is what I think of you. This is what I think of your love. I don't want your love. Your love is shit. Your love is nothing." - Mary Gaitskill

Nov 29, 2009


"The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow
to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much
too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows. And maybe it’s treacherous old age coming on, threatening the worst. Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn’t enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I’ve never been able to kill myself."
— Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Nov 1, 2009

General updates

I finished the Brothers Karamazov last week. The first hundred or so pages were daunting but as I grew comfortable with his long speeches and the characters I started to really love it. Initially I was concerned that the religion would be a sticking point for me but it really wasn't much of a problem at all.

Ultimately I view the book as Dostoevsky's attempt at rendering the inner workings and struggle of a man's soul. Dmitri Karamazov embodies the most noble and deplorable aspects of humanity and through his trial we see the dangers of the lies we tell ourselves and see a very real and convincing portrait of a person.

The style itself is really impressive. Dialogue is the main vehicle for the story-telling, not so much conversations but these fervent speeches. I will be reading Anna Karenina soon but am taking a break from the Russian epic for a little while.

Right now I'm reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Frost by Thomas Bernhard, and 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The way that Marquez uses adjectives in combination is really beautiful and is something I would like to incorporate into my own writing more.

I've been doing some research about my potential destinations and Argentina or Chile is looking more and more favorable. This of course means I need to learn Spanish, but I think having something to do during my dreadful commute will be useful. I am still reluctant to sell the car but perhaps I can keep selling art in order to raise enough money - I am set on going either way. I still need to look into a visa, but hopefully I can swing 4-5 months in Buenos Ares or Santiago. I'm really hoping both cities have a climbing gym so I can keep climbing.

With Patagonia right there I am going to visit and do some bouldering there but the main purpose is finishing a first novel, no matter how terrible it may be! I have nearly finished a climbing problem that I've worked on for the last month or two and am pretty excited about finally nailing it. One of my fingers is a little tweaked but it's on my right hand so I should be able to compensate.

The writing itself is going fairly well but I feel sort of stuck on this one spot, but I think with some sleep and thought I will be able to resolve the scene. I haven't been able to write the past couple of days thanks to extra work (actually thankful, need the $) but this week I'll be keeping track of writing time and shooting for writing before and after work.

I watched Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive recently. I preferred Mulholland of the two but enjoyed both. Apparently, when I was really young my parents dressed me up as the Elephant Man and I wandered around Hollywood saying I am not an animal! I will probably watch more, Lost Highway has been recommended to me, but I loved the dangers of false dreams in Mulholland. The film was described as a poisoned valentine to Hollywood and I thought that was a really beautiful, apt description. Watching these neo-noirs and a really bad movie, Brick, has me wanting to read some more Raymond chandler soon, and to rewatch The Third Man. I also haven't seen Chinatown so maybe I should finally get that out of the way.

In general I am very happy and directed. I have something like 20 books to read which I'm excited for every one and I nearly have enough material for a writing sample to send to residency programs. Obviously, this will change as I edit things down and make improvements but I feel good.

And finally I will post some quotes from the Paris Review's Art of Fiction Interviews:

Henry Miller
Didn't you say somewhere, "I am for obscenity and against pornography"?

Well, it's very simple. The obscene would be the forthright, and pornography would be the roundabout. I believe in saying the truth, coming out with it cold, shocking if necessary, not disguising it. In other words, obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk.

Julio Cortazar
You have said at various times that, for you, literature is like a game. In what ways?

For me, literature is a form of play. But I’ve always added that there are two forms of play: football, for example, which is basically a game, and then games that are very profound and serious. When children play, though they’re amusing themselves, they take it very seriously. It’s important. It’s just as serious for them now as love will be ten years from now. I remember when I was little and my parents used to say, “Okay, you’ve played enough, come take a bath now.” I found that completely idiotic, because, for me, the bath was a silly matter. It had no importance whatsoever, while playing with my friends was something serious. Literature is like that—it’s a game, but it’s a game one can put one’s life into. One can do everything for that game.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In One Hundred Years of Solitude I used the insomnia plague as something of a literary trick since it’s the opposite of the sleeping plague. Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry.

Can you explain that analogy a little more?

Both are very hard work. Writing something is almost as hard as making a table. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. Both are full of tricks and techniques. Basically very little magic and a lot of hard work are involved. And as Proust, I think, said, it takes ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. I never have done any carpentry, but it’s the job I admire most, especially because you can never find anyone to do it for you.

Tom Wolfe

What denotes a “good” novel?

To me, it’s a novel that pulls you inside the central nervous system of the characters . . . and makes you feel in your bones their motivations as affected by the society of which they are a part. It is folly to believe that you can bring the psychology of an individual successfully to life without putting him very firmly in a social setting. After The Bonfire of the Vanities came out I was accused of the negative stereotyping of just about every ethnic and racial type known to New York City. I would always challenge anyone who wrote that to give me one example. I have been waiting ever since. I think what I actually did was to violate a rule of etiquette—that it’s all right to bring up the subject of racial and ethnic differences, but you must treat it in a certain way. Somewhere in the tale you must find an enlightened figure, preferably from the streets, who shows everyone the error of his or her ways; a higher synthesis is created and everyone leaves the stage perhaps sadder but a good deal wiser and a good deal kinder and more compassionate. Well, this just simply isn’t the way New York works. The best you can say is that New York is held together by competing antagonisms which tend to cancel one another out. I tried to face up to that as unflinchingly as I could.

Haruki Murakami

What was the first book you read in English?

The Name Is Archer, by Ross MacDonald. I learned a lot of things from those books. Once I started, I couldn't stop. At the same time I also loved to read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Those books are also page-turners; they're very long, but I couldn't stop reading. So for me it's the same thing, Dostoyevsky and Raymond Chandler. Even now, my ideal for writing fiction is to put Dostoyevsky and Chandler together in one book. That's my goal.

Oct 26, 2009

Off my feet but still distant

The water started to wash away the salt from sweat and tears, along with the dust that had begun to mix with it. I breathed in deeply and did my best to release the lingering tension I felt. I told myself it was going to be okay, I’m doing the right thing. I thought about creating some excuse for us to go out to dinner tonight, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy to convince them at the last minute. I rinsed off the soap and shampoo, imagining I could somehow leave my doubts behind circling the drain before finally falling down into the terrifying Los Angeles sewage system. I stepped out of the shower and kneaded the bathroom rug with my feet as I dried myself off with a fresh white towel. I hung the towel and walked into the bedroom. I dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and lay down on the bed. I looked up at the linen white ceiling and stared at the small bumps, ridges, and ravines that made up the texture of it. Since this house was the product of years of my mother in law’s considerations, obsessions, and moods I was certain there was a reason for this specific texture. For the most part it looked like any other ceiling, but at various family occasions during the years that Lauren’s mother, Elaine was alive, I would ask her about a particular nook or corner’s purpose or why the garden had been placed immediately upon the backdoor of the house. She would say, “Jonathan, I can’t just explain why there is a triangular corner behind the guest’s bathroom door. That decision is tied to everything else in this house. If you really are interested I can explain, but it has to do with the stairway and the particular steps I chose. I had also intended to have a fireplace, and the chimney would have needed a way to reach the roof, so it was designed to pass through that portion of the wall and lend the hallway character. I don’t like blank hallways and it seemed too much of an invasion of my privacy to put a large window at the end of the hall. You look bored! See? I told you that it was tied to everything else, and I haven’t even gotten started.” Usually around then someone would change the subject or Lauren would pull me away to help with the preparation of our meal. Despite the many holidays we shared in this home, before it was inherited and after, while Elaine was still alive but not healthy enough to live on her own and feeling like she was wasting the potential of her masterpiece, I still do not feel like I have any clear idea of why our home was made the way it was. It is a yellow-orange color, with a wavy chocolate fairytale of a roof, the floors are maple which has been well-maintained, and it has two stories. As a boy I had a fleeting interest in architecture, but remembered hardly enough to be able to identify who inspired her to make this home, or if there even was anything quite like it. It was a comfortable and Anna’s school friends loved it, calling it a gingerbread house. When guests visited they inevitably made some sort of comment, but at times their eyelids tightened and a cringe might flash momentarily betraying their judgment that the house was too playful or modern. I heard the sound of tires in the driveway and the familiar sound of Anne slamming the car door and running to our front door along the stone walkway, but then being called back to bring her violin inside too. I rubbed my eyes and stood up, just as Lauren opened the door and said, “We’re home!”
“Mommy since I played so well today can I have extra dessert? Please?”
“We will see. If you do the rest of your homework while Daddy and I make dinner, maybe you’ll have an extra scoop of ice cream.”
I walked downstairs and Anne ran to me, setting her violin case down carefully before wrapping her arms around me. “Dad! I played Adagio all of the way through. Even the hard parts!”
“Good for you. Go do your homework and we’ll talk about it at dinner,” I said.
Anne went upstairs to her room; I stood in the entryway looking at Lauren already at work in the kitchen. The kitchen had chessboard marble tiles, and very white cabinets accompanied by soft blue walls. The rapturous feeling of young love had been replaced by a calm, comfortable knowledge and trust in her, with spikes of intermittent desire. I was still in love with her, and she looked just as attractive as when we first met years ago when I was playing pool in a bar here in LA. She was wearing somewhat tight jeans that showed off her long legs and a black sweater of soft fabric of an origin unbeknownst to me. She was a tall woman with dark hair, and blue eyes that sparkled with intelligence and occasionally hurt.
She turned her head over her shoulder and said, “You going to help or stand in the hall?”
I walked over and kissed her cursorily and started to cut some vegetables for the salad. “How was your day?”
“It was good. She really is getting much better. What about yours, Jon?”
“Went for a run up at the canyon after work and then you guys came home, remember that house up there? The Spanish villa we wanted to own?”
“Of course. How could I forget, you said that if we ever lived there I would have to dress up as some sort of heroine. It’s far too big for us though, out of necessity with that kind of space we would have to have ten other kids.”
I stopped and turned to her doing my best to smile, “I was thinking about those walks we used to take up there.”
“Feeling nostalgic about me already, huh? I’m still here we can go for a walk this weekend.” She said as she walked over to me and nuzzled against my shoulder.
I didn’t reply at first and savored the slightly nutty but sweet smell of her skin. She smelled like her coconut moisturizer and the aroma that was distinctly hers. I have revisited this memory many times and I can’t wholly trust that I haven’t embellished or idealized portions of it, but truly throughout my life with Lauren I was happy with her.
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah,” I said.
We finished preparing dinner, fusilli with meatballs and salad. I had worked as a line chef through college and she was something of a gourmet, we worked well together in the kitchen, she generally chose the menu and I helped prepare the food.
“Anne, come down and set the table for dinner. Before it gets cold!” I called from downstairs.
She rushed downstairs and began to set the table, I was told that she was still young enough to look forward to eating with us, but I also liked to think that it was a product of the functional family we had created. I sat at the head of the table, with Lauren to my right and Anne to the left. We passed the bread and salad around the table, asking politely for butter or dressing, and enjoyed a peaceful meal. I imagined what this scene would look like without me here. Would they sit alone together at the table, or would I be stealing even this simple ritual from them as well? Picturing the world without me in it was very difficult to do. Some nights I wasn’t home in time for dinner, work ran late, or I had some event to attend that I spared my family from, so I’m sure Anne and Lauren had a routine for when I was gone, I just had no way of knowing it what it was. Plus, that was different from dining alone together indefinitely. I sat and made routine conversation about Anne’s day in school, her violin lesson, Lauren’s day at work teaching, and my run.
At the mention of running Anne chimed in, “Daddy, you aren’t too tired to take Marlowe on a walk are you? I’ll even come with you too.” Marlowe was our golden Labrador that I had bought Anne two years ago for her birthday. He was energetic and as he had gotten older better behaved. I had replaced several pairs of shoes of Lauren’s in an attempt to conceal his puppy mischief since she wasn’t much for dogs, but I had failed to find a suitable replacement for the last pair and had had to confess. She wasn’t vain or terribly attached to shoes, but she didn’t like being inconvenienced and I had bought the dog without consulting her—so accordingly I did most of the dog-walking, but after she grew used to the idea I began catching her playing with him and quickly stopping when she noticed I was watching. So in the beginning, Anne and I did most of the walking, and I think this was time that she enjoyed spending with me. Dogs are an excellent way of being alone with someone without feeling alone. Instead of reminiscing about my family I should have been paying attention to them and carefully remembering that last dinner, but instead I went off deep in thoughts of what could have been, and what was, precious days that had been spent in familial bliss, and felt pride in my success doing what my family never could do; being a family. They deserved a fate better than being my accomplishment.
Lauren and I cleared the table, saving what was leftover for next day’s lunches. Anne helped by loading some of the dishes into the dishwasher and getting Marlowe excited.
“Daddy! Marlowe is ready to walk, let’s go.”
“Annie, we don’t run things on Marlowe’s schedule. If you do that you’ll have an impossible to handle dog, remember?”
“Daddy let’s just go walk and not talk about schedules, they’re borrring.”
I grabbed the leash from on top of the refrigerator and put it on the already jumping Marlowe. Anne started for the door, and we began our walk down the street on that hot autumn evening. Our particular stretch of Highland Ave. isn’t as busy as the rest of the street, but it isn’t an ideal dog-walking street, after a block or so, not that this unplanned city really has many blocks, the street merges with La Brea, a much busier, wider street populated by stores, gas-stations, and food chains that are uninviting and seem unlikely to attract any buyers, the quality of the neighborhood sharply drops off further down La Brea, so Anne and I took a left and walked down a quieter side street.
Marlowe could probably walk the route himself by memory. I handed Anne the leash and watched to make sure she wasn’t pulled around by our dog. She had dark shoulder length hair like her mother, that would likely be chopped off soon as she started to rebel against us. Despite my certainty that I was her father, she looked like a younger version of Lauren, with large green eyes that could focus for impossibly long or frustratingly short periods of time depending on Anne’s moods. She was wearing a summer dress, pink with flower imprints, and quite small black shoes. As was our habit we didn’t speak much during the walk, just enjoyed each other’s company and watched Marlowe strain against the leash for one last whiff of whatever imperceptible scent had caught his attention.
I didn’t have anything I could say. As a child my father burdened me with his confessions and that was the last thing I would do to my daughter. She had a mischievous side but was still completely innocent, her jokes were non sequiturs or predictable punch-line jokes she had heard, she could be stubborn but I saw no sign in her of my selfishness, or tendency to lie. Of course until that next morning, she really had no reason to be anything but our perfect little daughter, and here I was, quietly walking her dog with her before hurting her in a way it would take her years to even understand. These unseen wounds would linger on within her, unnoticed, or aggravated, like an undetected cancer which she would someday have to acknowledge or be destroyed by, that was the gift I was giving her. I hoped that I would be able somehow to write her after I left, and to explain things when they became clear to me. I wanted to spare her the confusion and hurt that may be inevitable parts of becoming a grown-up, but even as I reached out to touch her soft, relaxed hand and hold it, I knew there was nothing I could do to shelter her from the reality outside of our gingerbread home, that would be further encroaching upon her life as she grew older, inevitably suffering a thousand minor disappointments and heartbreaks, all without me to comfort her.
“Dad… Thanks for taking me and Marlowe on a walk.” She smiled eagerly at me, already trying to cheer me up without acknowledging that I was somewhere far away.
“Thank you for coming.” I squeezed her small hand that I was still grasping.
“Why can’t you see stars here? When we were at Joshua Tree we could see way more stars. I miss them.”
“The city lights are too bright, so we can’t see all of the way to the stars.”
“Can we go back sometime?”

Oct 21, 2009

New start

Every evening I take a run after work. We live nearby the Hollywood hills and like many people in Hollywood I often run up and down Runyon Canyon. As I ran up Fuller my calves started to burn a bit, the incline is steep and the concrete is uneven. Usually I’m sweating a bit before I even enter the park, but it was hot today so I felt droplets of sweat begin to bead on my temples and by the time I reached the small gate into the park by an unsupervised table filled with granola bars and bananas I was really sweating. It was getting darker earlier, so it was nearing dusk as I started up the canyon, trying to not breathe in too deeply the smog, or occasional smell of dog shit. I took the left path which is initially steeper, but would help ensure that I would reach the top before it was completely dark. I felt the pleasant sensation of my shoes sliding along the dusty dirt and rock path and began to forget about why it was important that I take this run.
The trails were not empty but much less full than on a Sunday morning, when a mish-mash of aspiring, would-be, and successful actors who looked like they could have successful fitness model careers took shirtless runs up and down the trails, accompanied by actresses, producers, and people hoping to sight celebrities, oh and not to forget the dogs. This small idyllic, in comparison to the swath of unplanned city, patch of nature was home to more than fifty dogs on weekends who for a brief hour or two had their chances to feel like unfettered animals. When my wife and I were younger, we would go dog watching on the weekends. Sundays we would wake up lazily, make love, and after a quick breakfast we would walk up this dusty, relatively natural canyon and look at all of the different dogs and their owners. At the time we wanted a dog and we would have little arguments over which dog we saw would have been perfect for us. I was partial to Australian Shepherds at the time; she wanted something small, a Pomeranian.
Fortunately, the hill is steep and there are pebbles and rocks scattered in some areas, so I still have to pay attention to my footing, otherwise after having been up and down this path over a hundred times I would simply be on autopilot and not enjoy this brief respite from everyday life. My calves had stopped hurting and I was keeping good time as I rounded one of the bends that overlooks the ravine below. The path is very wide and I can pass the people walking their dogs easily. There are two obvious draws to the Canyon, its own benefits, the dull green foliage that leads me to feel I’m not in the middle of a sprawling city, the views from the summit, the multiple paths and ridges to explore, and the convenient as well as interesting location of it, and then the people it attracts.
Of course amongst the crowds drawn to this collection of hills that overlooks some of the richest and nicest homes in Hollywood are families, dog walkers, the aforementioned aspiring actors, agents talking deals, and tourists, but what has been fascinating to me is almost everyone is beautiful. I haven’t reached some sort of blissful runner’s high that has deluded me into thinking this; that usually happens on the way down. Some of the most attractive men and women in Hollywood can be found putting themselves on display every weekend here, while tourists gaze upon their wet finely honed bodies and think to themselves “Ah, that’s what a Californian looks like,” these statuesque bodies that are the product of countless hours of dedication and strange California dieting techniques. I had always wanted to take a series of photographs of this attractive milieu, but I never will. I am not a photographer, and I have a busy life here.
As I get closer to the top I start to slow down a bit, I don’t want to come to a complete stop suddenly when I take my last look at this city that has been my home for the last twelve years. At the top of this popular path is a bench that overlooks Hollywood, and on a particularly clear day past Santa Monica to the Pacific Ocean. Those sorts of days only come right after there is rain which clears the air of the haze, the lingering, unvanquished remains of smog. Countless couples sit on this bench and find where they live, or shop while quietly admiring the vast expanse of single to two story buildings that make up the majority of Los Angeles. To the left of that bench there are multimillion dollar homes with bright blue, well-lit swimming pools and winding roads that connect steep driveways to the rest of what we accept as civilization. I stared down at those massive opulent homes and looked at the house Lauren and I had finally agreed on years ago, during those naïve, heady puppy shopping days, as being our dream house. It was far too large for our needs, a three story Spanish inspired home that my minimal architectural vocabulary cannot do justice to. It was the sort of home you imagined Zorro would retire to, not that either I or my wife were particularly Zorro-like, but it was regal, gorgeous, and a dream home that we reached compromise on. I struggled to fight back tears. This was another dream of ours that would never come to fruition. It wasn’t the money, I suppose over time I could someday afford that house, but it was my failure as a husband, a secret failure that would only become clear to her tomorrow.
I loved Lauren, her bright blue eyes, long legs, her knack for a bon mot, and her way of saying goodbye that was a breathless sigh. She was the mother to our nine year old daughter, and tirelessly dedicated to our family. I felt sick to my stomach and pushed these thoughts of her out of my head. I squinted and tried to see the ocean, glanced at the lonely skyscrapers and began my descent. At first the path is too steep and the dirt slips out easily from my feet so I walked carefully down to the massive slabs of stone that make up a small staircase. After I walked down those steps I began to run again until I reached my car, for a couple minutes I think of nothing and feel like a running boy. I reach my car and drive home, crying in the driveway before showering for Anne and Lauren’s return from Anne’s violin lesson.

Oct 12, 2009

Who's Robert?

Her eyes watered as she thought about what was lost forever. She pushed her hair out of her face and resolved to never think again about what had changed. This was her new life sans Robert. She would not think twice about how it was her fault or how she had lied. She made her decision and unlike so many others would not allow herself to feel a pang of regret.

She sobbed into her pillowcase and pushed thoughts of sharing a home and dog with him out of her mind. She thought maybe now he could do something with his life instead of just wasting it on me. He has so much potential. She thought about him and how she had always felt like charity around him. He could be stubborn and standoffish but he was the most dedicated lover she had ever had. No one had made her feel quite like he did but for some untold reason she betrayed him. The sex had died off, and she felt dull next to him. Never feeling like she was the beautiful one in the relationship had its consequences. He had large lips, a dimpled chin, and guarded eyes. So much of her day to day life was spent in pursuit of beauty. Her life and hope was sacrificed to the fickle god of appearances. Hours spent in front of the mirror complaining about her nose or stomach were forever lost.

She couldn't quite put her finger on it but there was something about this man that was different. He accepted so much of her and would give anything he could, yet she felt uneasy about him. She didn't want to be made into anything or pushed into growing into a person someone else saw within her. Drinking and comedy was enough. She would tell herself how ugly she was, but this was likely an accumulation of guilt. Never feeling right about herself had taken its toll. Relationships overlapped easily and names were mixed-up. Running is a full-time job but her life had been a series of trials that had her well-prepared.

Alcohol was her ace in the hole. If new shoes, new men, and new TV shows couldn't drown out her pain she turned to margaritas, cranberry vodkas, and Irish whiskey. She would wake up in the morning with missed calls and a snoring half-naked stranger next to her. Quickly she would take aspirin and then wrap herself longingly in her newest detour. Its hard to say whether she ever was capable of loving someone else. Beneath whatever infatuation grew there was always a lingering suspicion of other people and their intentions. She would think how it would be impossible for someone like him to love her.

Life went on as it always did. There was an emptiness in the space around her but nothing oppressive. It was more of a fog than a wall, and given the right combination of male attention and alcohol she could wade through this troublesome condensation without paying it any heed. It came in fits, some mornings she wondered what her life would have been like with the other man but most days there was no time to think. Waking up late and hungover she would jump into the shower, criticize her body and admire her breasts, and get dressed as gorgeous as she possibly could. Day after day was a ritual of body worship without much attention paid to actually maintaining health or spirit. If her butt sagged a bit she would do squats for a couple days, and if her stomach seemed larger she skipped food and only drank.

Oct 10, 2009

Counseling dad, age 5

As a young boy when things wouldn’t go my way I would threaten suicide. “Fine! I’ll just kill myself.”
This seemed to be effective in infuriating my mother, which is strange since I was five years old. We were in the kitchen in the upstairs duplex we rented on Tinker Bell St. I was upset because we had gone shopping for piñata party favors and was jealous of the prospective winners. There was a king Arthur book that I wanted, but I think at the time I had my eye on one of those neon-colored Koosh rubber balls with strings flying out at every possible angle.
“Don’t say that! That’s terrible. Why would you say that? It’s just a toy, stop being so ridiculous.” What confuses me is why she would even bother getting angry. I would just laugh at my kid if he threatened suicide. This of course is a judgment call based on age and I wouldn’t recommend it as a blanket strategy.
“No one cares! I’ll just kill myself.” Oh the ennui of a five year old, but how did I know about suicide? That was a lesson from my sterling example of a father. Dad alternated between a thin veneer of happy go lucky attitude and the pits of despair.
Generally a phrase such as “the pits of despair” is hyperbole, here it is not. David was capable of curling up into a ball and asking existential questions to anyone who would listen. The apartment was a one bedroom since mom was the only one who worked. My younger sister and I shared the bedroom, and my parents used half of the living-room as their bedroom, with a futon on the floor in the corner nearby the television and bookshelf. On hard days Dad would lie on the futon in the fetal position and ask me why life was worth living. This was a frequent enough occurrence that it didn’t trouble me to answer these questions thoughtfully and also that I was comfortable pretending that I would kill myself over a rubber toy. “Why should I even go on buddy?”
“Because things change. Tomorrow is going to be different.”
“Nothing changes for the better. Things just get worse.”
“You had one kid before and now you have two. That’s a good change.” Reminding him of his responsibilities was a misguided attempt in inciting some sort of lingering maturity but most likely reminded him of his feelings of hopelessness.
“You ever just want to curl up into a ball and die?”
“No. I don’t think about that. Sometimes I get really tired of waiting for a friend who is late.”
“But what if you knew that friend was never coming and that you were going to wait there forever?”
“I’m gonna go to school dad. Feel better.”
“You should stay home, we can play Rad Racer.”
“Thanks but I can’t miss more school.”