Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Problem with Push, Tweak, and my writing

Tweak and Push are two very personal books on completely different subjects. They are not only personal to the authors that write them, but become personal to the audience following along. I have been thinking about these books constantly over the past two weeks, and I believe that is why I have had a problem writing. I relate to these books very much, and that has scared me. Maybe not always to the problems the authors are having, but to how the characters feel and the lives they live.

For Tweak, everyone has an addiction. This could anything from meth, to cutting, to even just going on roller coasters. For me, its driving. I love the thrill of being in control of a machine going at high speeds. It is an adrenaline rush like no other. The worst the weather the conditions, the higher the level of thrill. Going 90 on a sunny day does not even give me a buzz anymore. It is a scary thought to be able to lose that rush. It is still an addiction and I keep wanting to push the envelope to see how far I can go. I don't want to die or anything and I think that is why I feel it is different. I still have that level of self preservation in my mind as I go speeding down the highway. Also, should I ever get a ticket, I know my feelings will change.

Push effected me in a completely different way. It was a horrific tale that I could not put down. I just wanted to keep reading. It invoked feelings of sadness, rage, and anger. I have known people who have had horrific stories like that. My mother is an inner city high school teacher in New Jersey. She deals with kids who admit to eating only one meal a day and brings them food so they could have a second or third meal. She has gotten books on tape, for kids who want to read but cannot keep up with their normal lessons. She is a math teacher. My mother has also went and brought shirts for kids who come in with ripped and dirty clothes. My heart always breaks and I go to pick out things with her. She has given out essentials for kids who have nothing. There are teachers who do want to help and are willing to go out of their way and do things to give these kids opportunities to have a better life. I have talked with my mother on the phone about this book. We swapped stories and just spoke about the terrible things going on in the world. She tells about having a teen in her class that just moved to the country. He came from a Spanish speaking country and had never been to a school in his life. She had him in her class and had so many problems with him not being able to read, write or even speak in English.

I have had most of this in my head for a few days. I knew I needed to think it through and get all my thoughts out. It was a lot to sort out as shown by the length of my post. I may post again, I still have so much more to say. Till next time......

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I had originally written this as a diary entry, but as this is a blog, scanning my notebook wouldn't exactly work.

I read this book Tweak by Nic Sheff. He writes in more detail then I expected and I wonder how much the drugs effected his writing or maybe not at all. Nic is a drug addict who varies between giving you way to much information on situations you didn't want to know about and leaving you hanging about what is going on in his thoughts. He says he is addicted to drugs and while I don't doubt that, I wonder instead if he is addicted to the feel of the drugs. It seems that in his life he had very little control of what was going on. The drugs allow him to regulate something, feel something.

He always seems to fall into routine between being on drugs, being in rehab, knowing he will relapse, relasping and then back on drugs. He seems to have every oppertunity in the world and the world at his finger tips. He is from a well off slightly... very dysfunctional family who loves him and continue trying to help. He is brillian with the means to succeed in any profession and has had constant support at in his life. Even when he was completely unreasonable and was unable to work out things in his life, he always had someone to turn to which I feel helped him eventually succeed in life.

I will post more after class... so much to say on this book =)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nightmares Ahoy

So I decided against any and all of my better judgment to rent Hostel 2 to watch with some friends. Of course if I had to sit through this movie, I was not going to suffer through it alone. So three of us gathered at a friends apartment with the movie and some blankets and decided to watch it. We went and rented Hostel 2, Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Thank You for Smoking. We needed the last to counteract the formers. We never did get to Texas Chain Saw, instead we skipped right to Thank Y0u for Smoking.

This movie made me rethinking ever going backpacking through Europe as I had planned in a few years. Instead, I wanted to curl up under my covers and never come out. The main plot was that these kids that go and stay at a hostel get bid on and sold to be tortured and killed. Three girls wind up being bid on even though you are made to think there are four and eventually you find out one of the girl's love interests is the fourth.

The first girl is kidnapped by a man who she thinks likes her. She was Lily in the princess diaries movies and we called her that instead of her name in the movie. So Lily was killed first by hanging upside down and being slashed up by a scythe, then her throat was slit. The women that brought her was bathing in her blood while she was killing her "prize."

The next was the stereotypical blond. She always wore the short skirt and low cut top. She was taken by a guy who decided to saw her face in half. The guy did not finish because the saw had gotten stuck in her face. The man couldn't finish and was so upset with that happened, as the girl was still alive, that he left the room and didn't want to finish. However, no one can leave without killing someone, so when he got in the elevator to escape that set the dogs on him. So he died.

Another man got the last girl. He had her dressed up as his wife. Talk about solving your relationship problems. She however was just tortured a bit mentally before castrating the man and having him bleed to death while bargaining her way out. A long story short, a lot of people died, we saw someone getting eaten (like cutting off flesh and then eating it) and I almost threw up a dozen times. If I don't have to see another slasher movie, I think I would be perfectly happy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

It has taken me almost a week to wrap my head around this movie. Immediately after the movie I had no idea what to think or what to say. Everyone noticed a change in me that night as I walked into my room not saying a word. Instead of speaking, I just put my things down silently and crawled into bed for about a half hour. I did have to get up to have dinner and meet with people but I wasn't very talkative.

With that being said, I havc not really gotten the movie out of my head as of yet. When a professor questioned how I liked the movie, I did not know how to respond. It was an interesting tale, was the first thing to come to mind, even though it barely touches the true impact it made upon me. I could not believe what I had seen or what I had heard. It was an insult to every Iraq person, actually it was an insult to any human being with emotions and some form of empathy. For the accused to try and justify their actions... it is beyond my comprehension to even begin to try to understand their motives. I just didn't understand, and that bothered me.

Sabrina Harmann: [holding a large photo of herself smiling with a "thumbs up" gesture in front of the face of a recently deceased prisoner in a body bag] We came to the prison and we were told that a prisoner just died. And he died of a heart attack in the shower and that was they weren't going to come pick him up right away because they didn't have any means and that he was in a body bag. So, of course, Sergeant Frederick and me, we like, OK, it's just a dead body right. He died of a heart attack. So we went in. I believe Corporal Grainer took the photo of me. It was just a dead guy. It was suppose to be just a dead guy. We didn't realize until after these photos that he was bleeding in places that you wouldn't bleed from getting a heart attack. Well - the thumbs up I got that from the little kids. The smile I always smile for the camera. It's the natural thing you do in front of a camera. It really wasn't anything negative towards this guy. Like I didn't know he was just murdered. I thought its just war - another dead guy. No big deal.

This was obnoxious. I cannot even vocalize how angry this made me feel. Maybe it is watching someone you love die that angers me so, but it was horrible. I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. I wished that the family of the man would feel justice by their punishments. I do not feel justice from their punishments. I do not think that anything was solved. The problem still exists. I wanted for the longest time to be a JAG in the Air Force. While I may not because of physical limitations, I was saddened that things like this happen but it made my resolve stronger. I just do not understand.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Graphic Novel

The 9/11 report in graphic novel form was the most disturbing comic book I had ever read. I had never had a problem reading most books, but I put this down several times. Maybe it is because I knew people that died in 9/11 or just that the graphics made it that much more real.

Everyone always asks where were you when the first plane hit? It is not that I do not remember, it just is not as cool as any other story. I was in class in my grammar school, 7th grade and no TVs were allowed to go on and no recess for the day. We didn't know what happened and no one would tell us anything. We all thought it was because of so many kid's parents working in the World Trade Center buildings.

I liked this better then the actual 9/11 report in paper format. It was easier to get sucked into and it was almost like watching the events happen again, which was not so good. I felt this gave me more of a connection to 9/11 by reading and understand what exactly was going on verses just knowing what my parents and media has told me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pain in a Spotless Mind

When remembering all that was written about in the book Pain: The Science of Suffering, people losing limbs was mentioned frequently. If a person should want to erase the instance that the limb was lost, how do they explain why it is gone? In theory they should have memories in which they had it and one day they awake with no memory of how it left or when it happened. To even make the matter simpler, how about we look at a scar. A scar is evidence of an event that happened. Some do fade, but usually it is a blemish forever imprinted upon your skin. When a memory is removed, how do you explain the scar? Usually all scars have a story to go along with it. Whether it is humorous, traumatic, ironic or natural, the stories of scars bring people together. In a popular song titled Swing Life Away by Rise Against the artist speak about this very fact.

"I'll show you mine
If you show me your first
Let's compare scars
I'll tell you whose is worse
Let's unwrite these pages
And replace them with our own words"

The lyrics, while somewhat gramatically incorrect (or just incorrect in general *cough*unwrite*cough*), get the point across. In the movie Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind it is entirely possible for people to erase events in which they have recieved scars. How do you explain something you have no memory of? Can you live with that empty memory of how you recieved a mark on your skin that you cannot explain? I couldn't.

Keeping with the theme of pain and music, I realized on my playlist I had two songs that were actually titled Pain. One I am saving for a future post if I do remember to use it. The one I am going to talk about is Three Days Grace's Pain. I have been extremely obsessed with this song since the beginning of my Pain class in school. My favorite lines are such.
"You're sick of feeling numb
You're not the only one
I'll take you by the hand
And I'll show you a world that you can

This life is filled with hurt
When happiness doesn't work
Trust me and take my hand
When the lights go out you will understand

Pain, without love
Pain, I can't get enough
Pain, I like it rough
'Cause I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all"

The lines have seriously been haunting my sleep. Over the summer after I kept pushing away my then boyfriend and eventually ended the relationship, my mother told me I push people away before they can hurt me. I have been studying my actions, as much as I can from a biased viewpoint, and I have come to concolusions that she is right. Would I erase any of my experiences in life? No, because they made me stronger and able to handle everything. Should I have done things differently? Absolutely. I needed to allow people to help me and listen to what I was going through. Instead I pushed away anyone that wanted to help and shouldered everything on my own. Today, however, I refuse to depend on anyone.

Now as I am beginning to become involved in relationships I throw out everything that would turn people away from me. I never allow myself to get too attached. Never, thought, have I thought that erasing a situation would make everything better. Joel realized this too late but he did come to this point eventually.Even though he had his memories erased and felt the pain of meeting Clementine again he did see that he needed to have the experience of heartbreak to move on.

The Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind was a movie I have actually never seen much less heard of. It may have come up once when discussing movies but most of my friends tend to ignore me since my knowledge of pop culture is lacking (I have never seen ET or Star Wars). So mostly when I do see a movie, I need to think about it for a few days before stating an opinion if I like it or not. I have come to the conclusion that besides having to watch it again, I do like Eternal Sunshine. This movie has given me much to think about over the past few days. I find myself going through my own memories and wondering what I would erase if given the chance. That is if I would erase anything at all.

Most of the traumatic experiences in my life have shaped the person I am today. I know more about life and death then I ever have wanted to, but never was given the choice of having to deal with this emotional pain. I just did. My grandfather died when I was three years old, my mother explained the concept of death to me. I was young but yet old enough to understand that my “pop” was not coming back. Later that year an aide at my preschool had a heart attack and passed away. I was one of the few kids to understand the concept of death already. Most parents wanted it hidden, mine wanted to explain. Throughout the years after I had been to a few funerals and wakes. It was fairly scattered until my high school year. In an act of what can only be described as irony, my grandmothers siblings (starting from youngest to oldest) started dying. There were three consecutive deaths in three consecutive years before the pattern was broken. It happened that the next sister in line became extremely ill but ultimately survived. One of the siblings that passed away, however, was my godmother. There was a year of no deaths and then my grandmother (the oldest of her siblings) died. Another year passed and then the death of my father occurred.

How can you delete a prominent figure in your life? There was talk about deleting an abusive family member but they may still be needed. Deleting the existence of a mother or father, most forms are impossible to fill out. I have continuously needed my mother’s maiden name or my father’s middle to complete sections of documents. For FAFSA, I needed all of my parents information and just because my father died or has been deceased does not mean questions are not asked about him. Erasing a figure also means erasing everything that person ever taught you. From how to ride a bike or how to play a sport, if every memory of that activity included them in some way, do you forget to how to perform that action? The sense of smell is also strongly connected to memory, this is scientifically proven. Do you lose the familiarity of that scent or keep the awareness but not know why it is present? These are not all of the physical questions that just cannot be explained.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Power of Pain

Pain is never described in the same way by two different people. In the book Pain: The Science of Suffering by Patrick Wall, we find pain explained not only in the scientific sense but in a way understood by all. Everyone has experienced pain, some in the form of illness, some in emotional, some the pain of others around them suffering. Pain is a powerful motivator. When someone is suffering, it’s hard to understand what they are feeling. Pain scales can only tell so much about what a person is feeling.

The experience of trying to convey pain to someone who cannot feel what you do is a hard thing to do successfully. MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays have already predicted some doctor’s movements. The scales set up in “The Sense of Pain” give a realistic sense of how hard it is to articulate the level of pain one undergoes. The book takes us through experiences of people and many different forms of pain. For my brother, a doctor of pharmacy in the Mayo Clinic, pain came in the form of his job. He is an infectious disease specialist and also works on transplant teams in the hospital. As an infectious doctor he deals with the harsh realities of AIDS, CDIFF (a deadly staph infection), and other diseases that are commonly spread and hard to treat or untreatable.

Not only did he have to deal with the harsh reality of dealing with patients dying in the hospital, in February he had to deal with the prospect of his father dying as well. My father was diagnosed with cancer in November of 2006. He did not die from the cancer; my father died from an infection, CDIFF, which attacked his immune system at its weakest. The chapter “Your Pain” really hit home. I know how hard it was for me to cope with my father’s illness, but my brother now had to cope with possibly losing someone to a disease he is spending his life treating. It was hard coping with my own pain and watching my family struggle. It is hard to sit next to someone knowing they are going through pain and sorrow that you could never imagine.

The book explains to us how people cope with pain, what outlets are available, and what people are going through. I even learned about my own condition, something that I had originally just trusted the doctor with and never thought to look up on my own. Everyone feels pain. I just hope that with this book, pain will be a little less of a mystery and a bump in the road of life.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

About Me

I am a college student with very little time on hand for fun, but somehow it manages to happen. I am the VP of the mock trial society on campus and believe politics is best discussed in mixed company over the dinner table. I am a politics and government major (more commonly referred to as PoGo) and a rhetoric and professional writing major. My dream job would be to work on the staff of a politician as a writer or be a DA.

Onto the reason of getting involved in the Pain Seminar. When I was 15 years old, I was in a skiing accident which resulted in two herniated disks in my back. These disks soon began to press upon my sciatic nerve. Before the doctors had found out the problem, the damage had already been done and I was left with sciatica. This was a major step in my life because back surgery was not on my agenda at the age of 16. I still have some problems with my legs, less then a few years ago, but as long as I stay within limitations I am fine.

Other then the physical pain, I have felt emotional pain associated with death. In 2005 my grandmother passed away and two short years later my father died. I feel like the hurdles I have faced in my life have made me into the person I am today. Sic transit Gloria, glory fades. Yet the world still goes on.