Daily Archives: March 11, 2016

A Room to Write exercise on Death

You know you will die one day. Well, we don’t always know do we? It is something we think of as far away.
Do babies know about death. When did I first think about death? When I was very young I drank some water with poison. It didn’t hurt me, but I remember thinking it could kill me. And I didn’t care. I feel like I have wanted death as much as feared it. Of course it is one thing to say you want to die, when the chances are you won’t. And another when the chance is high you will.

Do you ever think about killing yourself? It is the mental health question everyone asks. I’ve always thought about killing myself. And I still do. I’d thought like Sylvia Plath I would do it one day. Not for any reason but being bored. And tired of thinking about killing myself.

I’ll be crossing a bridge. Walking along a cliff. And in a moment, I’ll be gone. Why? Why not? I’ve told people a simple story a couple times. A wise man wants something written on a ring. It should make him happy when sad and sad when happy. The answer is: this too shall pass. Nothing lasts and nothing changes. We come from dust and if you’re ready to go back to dust. Why not?

Okay, put your phone down. I’m not going to answer any crazy calls. And given this had been in my mind for almost 35 years, chances are I won’t die. Soon.

And I wonder, about death. This whole piece isn’t at all what I planned to write. It was an exercise from Room to Write. I was going to imagine my own death. But then I starting typing and I knew I already had.

High school was rough, and I didn’t kill myself. Being homeless was rough and I didn’t kill myself. I’ve been through a lot and I haven’t done myself in. I even read The Bell Jar twice, and Girl Interrupted twice. And I didn’t kill myself. Though I still love Plath’s logic. My favorite painter is Van Gogh.

When you read this is must sound dark. But tonight I don’t feel dark. There have been nights when I wanted to sleep and never awaken. Once I took sleeping pills to make it happen. But they didn’t work. Another time I bought alcohol and sleeping pills to try it again. But I changed my mind. One more day, one more day, one more day. But one day I’ll give up on tomorrow.

They say when people really want to die, they don’t pontificate about death. I guess the fact I’ve written so much points away from my desire to die. There have been times I’ve felt my life was in danger. And I took steps to be safe. But some of those events were the result of poor choices. Like drinking water with a cleaning toxin. Choices I made not wanting to die. But not caring. I wonder at the last moment, if I had to choose. What would it be.

But we don’t get a choice. Our brains are not wired to give us the choice to live or die in the moment. When you are faced with a risk – your brain takes over and keeps you safe. I’ve felt this was the case for me before.

And I guess it is a matter of how I would die. Shooting oneself can be so messy and unsure. What if you don’t blow off enough of your head? What, oh yeah, a gross thought to be sure. But there you are thinking about how good your life was when you could move. How good things were when you weren’t bathed by someone else.

And if you jump. How high is high enough? Maybe it would be really scary as the ground races towards you. Do you really want to die in a state of terror. Sure, when you are at the top. And you see the view. The wind is in your hair. Things feel good and the choice feels right. But on the way down fear takes over doesn’t it?

Pills. Which pills? And you know if you don’t take enough they lock you up. They say, tut tut poor guy. They take away your knives and your belts. You’d probably lose your job. No one around you would ever see you the same way again. You’d be the one who tried to kill themselves. And no one wants to be that person. Because I think people would express concern. And people would be friendly. But they would also push you away. Because they would feel guilty and they wouldn’t want to be close if you tried it again.

Right, so I couldn’t cut my wrists. I’m weak when it comes to pain. And I know it isn’t quick. This not being quick holds the same trouble as pills. Someone could find you and stop you. And to be honest if I ever were to kill myself I wouldn’t want someone to find me. I wouldn’t want to scar someone else.

And yes I would feel bad about people left behind. But really when I am depressed I don’t think anyone would care. A voice in my head just tells me no one would even notice. What about my job? Of course they would notice. But is work the only thing worth living for in this world? Not for me.

There have been times I cut myself off to see if people would notice. I think to myself, if I died who would notice and when? But I use Facebook all the time now. Of course there was a period when most of my posts were preprogrammed quotes. I programmed them out months in advance. I guess being alone is what makes me most feel like going down into the basement forever.

But I know the voice is wrong. There is a better part of myself which knows people care. Yes, even people at work. They would care about not just my not working, but about me. And there is family – not close and far away. There are a few good friends in my life. I fail at being a friend to them, Simone, but they still love me. There are probably more people than I know who are touched by me. Not in the It’s A Wonderful Life sort of way. But in an ongoing way.

See, things are looking up. Right now my mood is good. Of course the scary part of all this is mood. The sun comes out and dries the rain. Life is full of green grass and flowers. But then the storm rolls over the hills. The little spider falls down the water spout. Life is cold, wet and dirty again. And tomorrow isn’t worth waking up for.

Okay, I’ll go to sleep now and you go to sleep later. And really, don’t call me tomorrow. Well, you can Simone.

Yosemite People

I had friends in Yosemite. Which is a statement. Because in many places I have not had any. My roommate was one of the closest.

Not my first roommate. He was a quiet Asian guy. Not a bad person. But not someone I got along with as a friend. He owned a car and never drove it. Sure, you didn’t need a car in the park. I imagine if I had a car, I would drive rarely. But he didn’t even want to talk about the car. It sat for so long the battery was dead. I honestly do not recall his name. And I wouldn’t tell you if I did.

It was my second roommate. A guy from Michigan. I think when he first moved it things weren’t easy. And of course like roommates we didn’t always get along. Once I was listening to the TV and using the computer. He changed the channel and I made a comment. It wasn’t fair he suggested for me to be using both at the same time. Of course I paid for both, the internet, the computer, the TV and the satellite service. But he had a point. The TV show wasn’t even in English.

Some of the good times I recall were watching our shows. Every night we would watch four shows together. It was Ed, Edd and Eddie, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Powerpuff Girls and Dextor’s Laboratory. They were on together on the cartoon network.

Jordan is a person I am still friends with online. A creative person like myself. But in a different way. While living in the park I remember he made a coat of jean squares. Then he moved to another part of the park.

There wasn’t a roommate for a while afterwards. Which of course is the best roommate. I tried not to move into the space. Because I knew someone would be coming to fill it. One guy came and went so fast I recall nothing about him. Then there was a guy from South Africa. He sounded like a Brit. But was as racist as they come.

We got along, but we weren’t friends. One day I do remember we took a hike to Yosemite Falls together. I was always up for a hike.

In someways writing about people is getting harder. Because it isn’t so much people of the past. But some of them are people of the present. There were a number of women who earned my attention in the park.

But two were just friends. It was Judith and her friend and I who spent time together the most at first. Yeah, I don’t have a memory of her name either. One time I talked to her on the phone about a movie I wanted to see. It was Run Lola Run. “It is a foreign movie I told her.” And then she wasn’t interested. But when I talked to Judith, our friend had heard me say, “it is a porn movie.” Makes since she wouldn’t want to watch.

Judith was a good friend. Another person I went on a hike or two with in the park. She was good for me because she would drag new people in my life. Her job at the park was human resources. One of the first people many people meet. The perfect job for her. She was naturally friendly. I am not naturally friendly.

A lot of people came and went in the park. A core were there for most of the two years I lived and worked in the park. Most of them if I saw them today I would remember. If not by name then by face. But it has been years since I have gone back. Besides many of them left themselves over the years.

One of the first women I was attracted to was Michelle. A cute blonde who didn’t live far from me. It was probably through Judith we met. Also a friendly and out going person. But when I first met her I don’t think she was single. Later as I got to know her our relationship became good friends. It seemed clear to me she wouldn’t want to be more. I never really pushed the issue. And maybe I was wrong. But we were good friends.

One time she was having a bad day. I suggested she watch Dancer in the Dark. One of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. When I watched in the in theater my girlfriend cried a lot. For me it helped when I was down because it was such a depressing story. There is some hope in the movie. Maybe it was easy for me to feel the sadness coming from a movie and release the emotion. Or maybe it just made me feel good in comparison. Whatever the case, it didn’t work for Michelle and she was upset.

Later I took an interest in a friend of hers. It was a brief episode in my life, but not one I feel good about today. We got to know each other over a short period. And once we made out in my room. But then she said those dreaded words. “Let’s just be friends.” I told her, no. The rejection was painful to me. And I didn’t feel like I knew her very well as a friend. And I didn’t get to know her any better.

Later some guys said they saw her with someone else. I must have shared liking her. I don’t recall much about how the joke was first told. I think I mentioned someone being named Lincoln – because everyone takes a shot at her. Well, then the guys would refer to her as Lincoln. It wasn’t a fair image of who she was, and I should have said something. But I didn’t. Sometimes it is easier to let things happen. And even people who aren’t bad allow bad things to continue.

There were a few other women. But nothing real during my time in the park. There was a deep part of myself still in love with M. Most of the writing during the time was focused on her. In fact it got to the point I felt like I had to quit writing. Every word felt like it echoed with the same lonely achy heart. And every word was tearing the wound open fresh. This began a period of years where I wrote very little.

I kept the journal I started in the park. And I still writing in it today. Since starting the writing process again I have tried to write more often. A number of the friends I had in the park were online friends. A chapter of its own, soon.

Two older guys became good friends. One of them had a few odd habits. I think his name was Walter. You would ask the simple, “how are you?” And Walt would say, “better now that I see you.” At first it was off-setting because people don’t normally talk in such a way. But he was an honest and good person. I worked with him at the tour desk. When mothers and daughters came he would wink and say, “let me guess, sisters?”

And he wasn’t hitting on them. Just being friendly. Maybe it was the shared male housing which caused the rumors. But one thing people would discuss sometimes was, “is he gay?” And these two guys I wondered about from time to time. It wasn’t important to me of course. People also thought I may be gay. No, just very unlucky in love.

This older friend of mine would often tell this joke about gay mice. The punch line was, “how do they know they are gay?” A joke I’d heard a couple times before I had a retort. They say things like, “better now that I see you,” I quipped. He laughed.

Roommate stories were also common. Walt told one about his roommate. Walt had used salt to thaw ice on the porch. “I’ll tell the ranger,” his roommate nagged. And yes, his roommate was right. We weren’t supposed to use salt. But it was a tiny space. I think it was a way of releasing tension. We all lived pretty close to people we didn’t know well. Of course his roommate was also an odd fellow. In his 30s and never learned how to drive. Sure, I hadn’t had a car since high school. But even I had a driver’s licence. But this guy had grown up in Boston.

One of the people I liked least in the park was Randy. Yeah, I recall his name for a couple reasons. One he was the player of the park. Always the first to be dating one of the temporary workers from another country. Made me think of how they use the word randy in England. But he was also a person who skirted the rules. Because he thought he was special. In the parking lot was a spot were a car fit, it didn’t block traffic. But it did make things tight. And it wasn’t a marked spot. But he parked in at all the time. Because he was too lazy to park and walk like everyone else.

I should state before long he was a part of the reason I left the park. It was something I had planned. But not the way it happened. I had just started working for the day. There was a new truck with an enclosed bed, and a better radio. When I got on I over the walkie-talkie to see if he needed help. The answer was no, he would be right done soon. So I waited. I asked the manager about if I should go, he said wait. But when Randy came in, he just left. Then he came back and wouldn’t turn over the keys so I could use the truck for my job. I got upset, and hit a door with a window. The window broke and I cut my hand. They fired me.

Today I am more bothered by upset I got over the issue. Though I still think Randy was being a prick. I needed the truck more to do the job I needed to get done. And he just wanted the truck with the better radio. Well, to be honest the job had broken me down. I tried every day to get it right. And I felt more and more like a failure every day. This is part of the reason I still hate unions. In this job it did nothing to help me and almost everything to hurt me.

A couple days a week I had to cover another guy’s days off. He didn’t seem to care about doing a good job. So when I came to cover his days off I always started far behind. I’d be running like mad to catch up. And the way the union worked, he got prime job choices because he had been there longer. And when I broke the window. They had to fire me, because they had to be consistent. I of course blame only myself for the poor choice to hit the door.

The manager I had there was a good guy. One of those good guys which can be bad managers. Because they never crack down on people. I remember a number of times telling him I didn’t think I could do it anymore. He was supportive, and I kept trying. Now it seems like I would have been better off if I had quit sooner. Quit in terms of trying to get transferred to another park job.

But like I said, it was time for me to go. And the moment was perfect for me when I did leave. I am just sad such a great job and fun time in my life ended on a sour note. And it also bugs me it had to be the one person in the park I didn’t like who pushed my buttons.

I loved all my managers at the park. One was a cute little brown haired woman working in the lodge. Her name was Lisa. Once some co-workers were chatting about a Lisa and how hot she was, and I agreed. They looked at me, “you don’t know Lisa.” Then they figured out who I was talking about, oopps. But I didn’t care too much. Another woman there was Darlene. She was someone I respected a lot. And someone who clearly respected me. Darlene was the one who told me, “you can teach someone who has a good work ethic anything, but you can’t teach someone to have a work ethic.” She was leaving the park at the same time I was, and tried to help me keep my job.

The big boss at the lodge was Bridgette. Not big in any way except position and personality. A little red haired woman who reminded me of Madeline. We got along great, until the end. But I don’t blame her, I don’t think it was easy for her to let me go.

And when I did go, it was good for me. On Friday I left the park broken and hurt and confused. On Monday I started a new life, with two jobs, a place to live and enrolled in college. This was where I wanted to be. And two years in Yosemite had been important to making it happen for me.