Saturday, May 22, 2010
It was on that porch, cigarette in hand, talking about decapitation that I realized that I know nothing. My friend, who I’ll refer to as Kaye, was on the verge of tears. We had been out to the bars and were in our usual mode of bullshitting about comic books and pop culture when it got darker.
Kaye showed me a book that I was aware of but hadn’t read, “The Walking Dead.” The book is about the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. But of the vast cast that had graced the almost 70 issues, only two were still alive at this point.
And as we read, he began to tear up. We went outside and talked about his cousin who had gone to the Middle East. She died there. She was decapitated. Kaye looked down at his arms, covered in self-inflicted scars and began to tell me about how he almost enlisted after Sept. 11, 2001.
I have an interesting blessing in my life. In my 23 years, I’ve never really been in that much pain. I’ve been in physical pain. I’ve broken bones I even spent two weeks in the hospital and almost two months with drainage tubes in my back. But I’ve never looked at my arms, with a razorblade in hand and felt that dragging the blade across my arms a few times was a great idea of release.
I’ve never brought pain to release pain. But here I was with Kaye on his porch, trying to be there for him.
I have been with a few girls who have dealt with much darker things in their lives than I think I ever will. I’ve looked at my own clean arms and realized I’ll never know that pain. I’ve looked into their eyes and known that there is nothing I can say to them.
It makes a person feel utterly useless to not be able to understand the people around them.
We believe that a relationship can become deeper if there is understanding between the two people, but where does that leave those of us who connect with people who have seen far darker things?
Empathy is an emotion that seems to be more rare with every generation. We claim that we are more connected than ever in this new digital age, but it feels like we are drifting farther and father apart.
Put on some music, drift away to the song as the rest of the world is in pain and we have no way of connecting to each other.
My sheltered life feels more commonplace as we retreat and people like Kaye and others lose connections to others and no one is able to understand their pain.
Again, I look at my arms and wrists and wonder what has driven people I care about to that darkness, where hell is not a destination but a state of mind.
Do I fall in love with them and become a companion in the shadows or do I stand in my place of light and try and bring them back?
What do you say to the girl who has been anorexic while you’ve never felt bad about the shape of your body?
What do you say to the classmate abused by their parents when you would call your own parents “friends?” We all have these people in our lives, those who will always have it worse than us. And we all have to look at them and know that we don’t understand that part of them.
Since that night, I’ve wanted to write about this experience. For hours, I’ve mulled over what I could say, what point could be made about the people in my life who have dealt with hard lives. And I don’t have one. There will be things in life that will have no meaning, events that make no sense. Good people will experience bad things and bad people will get away with awful things.
But in that depressing conclusion, there is still something of value to be taken from it. That I and we can keep being there for those people. I may not be able to understand what Kaye has gone through.
I may never be able to scar my arms as deeply as he has his own. But I can stand with him and be a piece of support for him. Just because we don’t understand what the world has done does not give us the excuse to give up to apathy to those we love.
I’ll always stand on the porch with Kaye, even if it’s not a cigarette in his hand.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The March of the Triumphant Snail by Nahum Smith
Once upon a time, there was a snail.
This snail was very nice and had many friends, including Mr. Ladybug, who was always busy enjoying his Samsung Impression, which not only offered text messaging and e-mail, but also had almost 200 MB of memory for pictures and other applications.
But there was one thing that Mr. Snail was missing and that was a best friend.
Every day, he looked up and he wished and hoped for a best friend.
And one day, his wish was granted.
He spotted the most beautiful flower in the world, which had seeds that looked like pretty little freckles.
And they became best friends.
But… the Evil Slug, who hated friendship because he had no friends, plotted an evil scheme to ruin their friendship.
While the flower and the snail were walking through the woods, the Evil Slug snatched up the flower.
Now, the snail, he was scared and chased after the slug.
It was scary and fast-paced.
And they reached a deep crevasse and they had what we call a Mexican stand-off.
But all of a sudden, a big read bird called out and rushed in and grabbed the Evil Slug and the snail’s flower friend, taking them off into the sky.
The snail was sad. He wandered the woods, sure that he would never have a friend again.
But, one of the flower’s freckle seeds flew down from the sky and landed in the ground and re-birthed the flower.
One day, when the snail was trudging through woods, sad and alone, he found his reborn friend and they became BFF once again.
They all lived happily ever after, except for the Evil Slug because he was eaten.
Monday, May 10, 2010
The Giant Lemon Adventure
This is the story of Duncey and the Dumb Snowman.
They are best friends and go on adventures all the time.
One time, they want to a candy forest.
One time, they stopped a deranged giant hamster.
One time, they traveled back in time and met George Washington.
But other times, they just like to relax, listen to music, eat ice cream and play board games.
This was not one of those days.
On a lovely Tuesday afternoon, Duncey decided to open a lemonade stand to make a little extra money. After spending some time creating the perfect recipe, he and the Dumb Snowman set up a box in front of their house and sold lemonade. The lemonade stand was a huge success.
But after just one day, they had run out of lemons.
"What will we do?" rhe Dumb Snowman asked, worried that they would go out of business.
"We'll just have to pick some more lemons," Duncey replied, calming the Dumb Snowman.
So, they go into their van and drove to the forest to pick some lemons. After picking a few lemons, Duncey and the Dumb Snowman were greeted by a large insect, who had flown down from the tallest trees.
"BEHOLD! I am the Insect King!" he buzzed. "I have seen that you are picking lemons. I am here to tell you that there is a secret here in the lemon forest. A giant lemon the size of your snowman friend is over on the other side of the forest, sitting on top of a small hill. It is truly what you seek, the grandest lemon in all the land."
Duncey and the Dumb Snowman were happy at this news and immediately ran up the hill. Sure enough, there was a giant lemon at the top, just as big as the Dumb Snowman like the Insect King has said. Quickly, the two friends loaded the giant lemon into their van.
But as they were about to leave, a loud "ROAR!" filled the air and Peter, the dinosaur who lived in the lemon forest, began to run towards them. Clearly, Peter was not happy.
Duncey and the Dumb Snowman screamed in terror and drove off as fast as they could. But Peter was quite the runner and caught up to them in no time at all. In an attempt to stop the van, Peter bit off a large chunk of the back, taking a piece of the Dumb Snowman's head with him. (But please don't worry. The Dumb Snowman doesn't feel any pain and he'll just need a little bit of snow to fix himself)
In a panic, Duncey drove faster. But in his haste, he hit a large stump and the lemon cracked.
"Wait a second," Duncey said. "Lemons don't crack."
He was right because it was no lemon at all. It was a dinosaur egg. To be more exact, it was Peter's egg. And out of the crack, a baby dinosaur that looked just like Peter popped its head right out of the egg.
Duncey and the Dumb Snowman had been tricked by the Insect King. Immediately, they stopped the van and gave Peter his baby, who was named Bobby. Peter thanked Duncey and the Dumb Snowman and then forced the Insect King to apologize for tricking them.
"I'm sorry," the Insect King said. "I was bored and wanted some adventure."
"But you don't need to lie to have an adventure," Duncey said.
"Yeah," said the Dumb Snowman. "All you need is good friends and a sense of fun."
"And think that a dinosaur egg is a lemon," Duncey replied.
They all had a good laugh and accepted the Insect King's apology. They all went back to the house and had a nice glass of lemonade. It was delicious.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010