I was 14. I spent that summer learning to smoke drugs, to give hand jobs, to drink wine: I even stole a copy of Blonde on Blonde from a record fair. I cultivated eating disorders.

Every day I would remember his name, remember his fingers in my cunt, remember his rank, pale cock pulsing in my fist. Time passed, I reassured myself that eventually I would not think of him every day. I tried to calculate how long it might be before I completely forgot. Four or five years maybe.

Angry and ashamed, I decided to slash open my wrists and let my blood spit hatred all over the bathroom. I took a disposable razor and I smashed at the plastic with anything that came to hand. The blade came free, so bent and blunt it wouldn’t cut, only tear. I was exhausted, I went to bed. I didn’t try to cut myself again for six years.

I rooted through the knife drawer. Where was the small, serrated Kitchen Devil? Dirty, in the dishwasher. I pressed a carving knife against my forearm. The metal, cool against my skin, was not sharp enough to draw blood, but hard and cold enough to clear my head. I knew what to do. I locked myself in the bathroom and smashed the razor’s plastic casing against the floor with a rolling pin. The blade slipped out, small and perfect. A tremor of anticipation ran down my arm as I reached out to pick it up, shaving a little skin from my fingertips in the process.

I sat up against the bath, my legs stretched out in front of me. I held my right wrist up for inspection. I felt momentarily sorry for my unblemished, blameless arm. I felt almost nothing as I laid my arm across my thighs and made the first, tentative, scratches. I experimented with direction, duration, pressure.

I watched the narrow white filaments gain definition as red lines spread. This bright-coloured magic of physical absolutes made me think of litmus paper and pregnancy tests... my thoughts drifted freely until I become aware of a stinging sensation in my arm. I rinse the blood away with cold water. Twenty three fine lines radiated out from a mid-point two inches below the heel of my hand. A gold sunburst behind a Bernini angel. The marks on a clockface. By now calm and relaxed, I put the blade away in my wallet.

I found out yesterday that my sister's ex-boyfriend shot himself on Friday night. Apparently he had manic depression... and his parents felt it was only a matter of time. This is the second time I've known somebody who shot themself. Guns make it way to easy to do something stupid in the heat of the moment. This guy had touched so many people's lives, it's a shame he did what he did... that he didn't see any other way. For some reason he didn't want to ask for help....

If you have a problem, _please_ get help. Call a crisis line... find services in your area (many universities offer free therapy services)... anything but suicide. don't be another victim.

Suicide prevention...

Friends

I have always had good friends, and this past week, those good friends have showed me the meaning of true friendship. Earlier this week I suffered a mental shock and immediately turned to them to seek advice, or simply to vent some emotions. They have responded to my time of need in so many ways, that I have started to recover faster than I ever thought possible. They have offered all kinds of advice and help ranging from phone calls, to letters, to visits. One friend in particular has helped me far and above all the others. Not that I am downplaying the rest of my friend's help, but hers has attributed to much of my recovery.

As soon as she detected a problem, she was on the phone with me helping me sort out the thoughts that were rapidly going through my mind. She offered me advice from situations she had experienced that were very similar to mine. She has given me words of reassurance and confidence that have helped me more than she will ever know. There have been letters sent by her, and promised visits to check up on me. She has called randomly on numerous occasions just to say hi, and also to reassure me and give me words of advice. Her help has allowed me to get my life back on track with incredible swiftness.

The help that has been offered to me over the past week, not just by her, but by all of my close friends has meant the world to me. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to call these people my close friends, and I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. They have been right by my side during this week of depression and sadness, and I am eternally grateful.

Sometimes, when I'm bored, I pretend I am a ping -f process. I'll hit the period and backspace keys repeatedly for hours.


There's a story in the papers today about a man called Kerrie Gray, who was in the 1999 Paddington train disaster. He was traumatised by the chaos and, in August 2001, he finally went mad and stabbed another man, Fred Boultwood, to death. He was sentenced for manslaughter and will be detained under the Mental Health Act until such time as the Home Secretary deems him ready for release.

I remember the Paddington crash - it was shortly before I started commuting through Paddington myself, at the same time of day - but it did not cross my mind yesterday or the day before or all of last week or this year so far. Only this story brings it back, brings back the fact that many people do not have the luxury of being able to forget it. In films, people dust themselves down and carry on, but in real life this does not happen. Now the family of Mr Boultwood is traumatised too, and there are survivors and victims who haven't murdered people but who are suffering nonetheless.

News stories of sufficient magnitude have echoes, which decrease in size as time goes on; the initial reports of the disaster were front page news (with further coverage on pages 2-6 and 8-9, interrupted by the editorial page), whilst the disaster of Kerrie Gray and Fred Boultwood merited two hundred words on the inside of page 8. After the inquest and the government's attempts to smear the survivors who campaigned for another inquest, the affair still has legs.

Also this week is the anniversary of the Bethnal Green tube disaster, on March 3, 1943, in which 173 people - mostly women and children - were crushed to death whilst descending into the station in the mistaken belief that there was an air raid (rockets were being tested in a nearby park). It was the worst civilian disaster of the war. In order to maintain morale the disaster was attributed to German bombing until 1945, although I suspect the inevitable rumours would have disturbed more people than the truth. For fifty years the disaster remained obscure, and after this week it will recede once more, but the few survivors that are alive today are also scarred, and have been all along.

As a child it always puzzled me, reading about the World Wars, that the soldiers who had seen unbelievable horror could have returned to civilian life unscathed. And of course this assumption was based on a false premise; the soldiers who had seen such horror did not return to civilian life unscathed, it's just that the history books rarely record the people who ended up in asylums and sheltered accomodation, or on the street, or living their daily life under a cloud, or drinking heavily or shouting in their sleep. The history books will not record Mr Kerrie Gray, despite his crime; after today, he will be forgotten, except to his family and friends, and the people at the Home Office who deal with his file, and the family and friends of Mr Boultwood, and the peoople at Social Services who deal with their file. But files don't have memories, any more than the Vietnam memorial wall remembers the people whose names it bears; people have memories.

The other extreme would be numbness, to not feel anything. The only people who can't suffer are people who have nothing to lose; the brutalised, people who haven't known anything better, people who feel no pain or joy or sorrow. The majority of us lie between the two poles - those who either feel too much or too little, although it isn't really possible to feel too little. Lots of people would like to be emotionless and impervious and nobody wants to be a nervous wreck, and its easier to get ahead in society if you're entirely amoral than if you have scruples. This depresses me, but it's the way of the world.

I don't feel like the passing time has left me with the experiences I should have earned. I've only spent a short time exploring what I know to be mine in this world and have found nothing because of it. There is so much more to being alive than just eating, breathing, interacting, sleeping. Time passes with a harsh carelessness and no one is going to stop everything and wait for you to catch up. The days I spend silently prodding the recesses of my mind looking for that one last corner of memory that has eluded my incessant story telling, are the days I cherish the most.

A warm spring day in a park next to fountains built to commemorate a time of little significance.

I look across a crowded room of people who know nothing of what I've done or where I've been. Some of them can piece together parts of my life and form a picture, but who can tell the whole story but me? I wonder how well anyone really knows me. My parents have missed so much since I left their house at 18. I've had the occasional girlfriend, but I don't even pretend that their ranks have discovered my secrets. I like to think that someday I'll write about my story. Maybe someone will find it interesting. The one true reward would be that someone would find inspiration in it. I'm not an astronaut, a saint, or even a great thinker. What I am, is someone who has lived life in a way many people have never imagined. I've found that life may be fragile and precious and all of the other cliches, but the one cliche I've found to be most true is that life is not easy. If life were devoid of challenge I don't know that I would see a reason to even bother trying.

Today's Headlines

US News

Ad Executive Resigns State Department Post
Charlotte Beers, the former advertising executive hired to improve the image of the United States abroad, has resigned for health-related reasons. Secretary of State Colin Powell told his surprised assistants about Beers's departure at his morning staff meeting. Powell later credited Beers with taking "our values and our ideas to mass audiences in countries which hadn't heard from us in a concerted way for years." No word yet on a replacement for Beers.

Justices Seem To Side With Telemarketer
A combined and concentrated effort by most of the nation's leading charities to explain to the Supreme Court the dangers of limiting protections for charitable solicitation appeared close to bearing fruit today. The case dealt with consumer fraud charges against a telemarketer that keeps nearly all the money it raises on behalf of a veteran's charity.

Three Boys Survive Plane Crash and Long Night in Massachusetts Forest
After an 18 hour search, rescuers near Monterey, Massachusetts discovered a downed family plane. They also discovered that three of the seven family members had survived the crash and the subsequent shock from exposure to a cold Massachusetts night. Ryan, Jordan, and Tyler Ferris survived the accident, which killed Ronald Ferris, his wife Tayne, and their sons Shawn and Kyle.

International News

Phillipine Bomb Kills 19
At least 19 people were killed and 100 wounded early this morning when a bomb exploded in an airport in Davao, the second largest city in the Phillipines. Initial reports on the bomb were unclear, with Reuters reporting the bomb was inside a black box inside or near the waiting area, while the Associated Press reported the bomb was in a backpack. The bomb destroyed a shelter where people were waiting for ground transportation.

North Korea Intercepts US Reconnaissance Plane
The United States government plans to launch a formal protest of an incident over international waters on Sunday, in which a US reconnaissance airplane was followed by a pack of four North Korean fighter jets. Washington referred to the tailing of the plane, in which one MiG fighter came within 50 feet of the reconnaissance flight, as "provocative." The Pentagon initially said that one of the jets had locked its radar weapons system onto the US plane, but later recanted this claim.

British and Irish Leaders Seek Progress on Belfast Pact
Prime ministers Tony Blair of Britain and Bertie Ahern of Ireland held a series of emergency meetings yesterday with the major political parties of Northern Ireland. The goal of the meetings was to resolve a deadlock in carrying out the 1998 Belfast peace accord. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, surprised some by insinuating that they were willing to destroy most, if not all, of their arsenal in order to help the Belfast accord along.

Business

Waksal Pleads Guilty to Fraud
Sam Waksal, founder and former CEO of ImClone, pleaded guilty to tax evasion for not paying taxes on $15 million in contemporary art he bought from a New York City gallery. Waksal admitted participating in a scheme where he purchased the art and had the dealer prepare phony invoices showing the art had been shipped to New Jersey while the art was actually delivered to Waksal himself. "Only two things are important to me at this point -- my family and getting our cancer drug approved," he said in a statement following the hearing. "Beyond that I simply look forward to the day when I can put all of this behind me and move on with my life."

Buffett Warns on Derivatives
Legendary investor William Buffett, in his annual letter to shareholders, said that the rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a "mega catastrophic risk" for the economy and expressed the view that most stocks are still "too expensive." Derivatives are financial instruments which allow investors to speculate on the future price of commodities and shares without buying the underlying investment.

Asian Stocks Sharply Lower
Asian stock markets moved broadly lower early this morning following in the footstep of Wall Street overnight amid ongoing concerns about the situation in Iraq. Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index 1.3 percent. Most stock markets experienced a 1% drop in early trading, only buoyed by strong news from Mitsubishi, which reported strong earnings.

Science & Technology

Sendmail Exploit Discovered
A security vulnerability in sendmail, one of the most common email server software packages, was announced yesterday. The vulnerability is similar to the recent SQL Slammer worm that terrorized computer systems earlier this year. Patches to fix the problem have already been released. Sendmail is the program that processes incoming email messages to mail servers, from which you download your email messages.

Government Considers Porn Filters
The federal government is considering forcing ISPs to filter online pornography in the light of an independent report stating that the current system of voluntary filtering is basically useless. The report stated that 84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls aged 16 and 17 had seen sex web sites. The study was done by the Australia Institute.

Jon Johansen Gets Another Court Date
Jon Johansen, the Norwegian teenager who allegedly broke the law by writing and publishing a DVD descrambling program so that he could watch DVDs on his Linux machine, faces another day in court soon. After his acquittal earlier this year, prosecutors have now decided to appeal the verdict, meaning that the case will be retried in a higher court.

Health

Mosquito Experts Discuss West Nile Virus
At the 69th meeting of the American Mosquito Control Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota this week, scientists, government officials, and others plan to discuss policy for controlling mosquitos in light of the recent spread of the West Nile virus. The primary issue of discussion is methods for slowing or preventing the spread of such diseases as West Nile, which is becoming more difficult in the era of globalization.

New Cancer Treatment Seeks To Activate Immune System
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute have discovered a technique for encouraging immune systems to attack cancer cells. According to researchers, injection of bone marrow cells into brain tumors can trigger an immune system attack on the cancer. This potential treatment, called immunotherapy, shows strong likelihood of being able to treat other cancers as well.

Sports

Sports Federations Nearing Global Drug Ban
With many sports federations already on board (including FIFA), governments from the United States, Russia, and most European nations voiced support this morning for a proposed worldwide anti-doping measure. The agreement, if enacted, would disallow a set of drugs from all sports that are members of the agreement.

Sergei Fedorov Admits To Formerly Being Wed To Anna Kournikova
The Hockey News reports that in a recent interview with Sergei Fedorov of the Detroit Red Wings, the star player admits to having wed Anna Kournikova briefly in the past. Fedorov offered no more details, however, but the admission brings to an end a lengthy period of speculation on the issue.

Entertainment

Martin Sheen's War Stance Concerns NBC
Actor Martin Sheen said that NBC executives fear his opposition to a US-led war with Iraq will hurt popularity of the television show The West Wing, on which Sheen is a central character. Sheen told the Los Angeles Times that the show's staff has been strongly supportive of Sheen's stance, but that NBC brass has strongly encouraged Sheen to drop the public antiwar stance.

Hank Ballard, Writer of The Twist, Dies
Hank Ballard, the singer-songwriter who penned the classic The Twist, died yesterday at age 66, succumbing to a long struggle with throat cancer. A cover of The Twist, performed by Chubby Checker, experienced massive popularity in the mid-1960s, which led to a rash of imitation songs. The performer also had some hits with his later band The Midnighters.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

I've been recently considering the possibility that the United States' recent announcement of the capture of supposed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed was perhaps preplanned as a publicity stunt to stir up positive support for the George W. Bush administration's current foreign policy (which most regular readers of this newslog know aren't popular with me).

Let's break this down a bit. The reason for doing this would be that by holding back on the announcement of Mohammed's capture, the United States government could hold the potential public response back until a time when a positive boost is needed. With support for George W. Bush's foreign policy slipping by the day, the capture of the "evil mastermind behind 9/11" comes at a suspicious time.

I would go so far as to claim that the United States already has Osama Bin Laden in custody and is waiting on the announcement of his capture until the time comes that the George W. Bush administration needs a big popularity boost, either on the eve of the war with Iraq if the declining public opinion continues, or at a key moment in Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. An indication of this position is the government's recent assertion that bin Laden is in a small town in northern Pakistan... if they know bin Laden's location, then why not capture him? Upsetting global balance is not an answer; we are actively doing that already in Iraq.

Bush wants and needs widespread support for a conflict with Iraq among the populace, and it is slipping through his fingers. A simple public relations stunt like the "capture" of the "9/11 mastermind" isn't enough. We want proof that Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to American lives or, at the very least, a threat to the sovereignty of other nations. So far, nothing even close to that has been demonstrated.

It’s hard to forget your first girlfriend. When you’ve been searching for someone for 21 years, and you finally find a girl who doesn’t run away, it’s hard to think logically. This is the story of how I dumped my first girlfriend.

My high school experience was unlike many other nerds'. I had no friends. Girls ran away from be like I had the plague. I looked at the popular kids and thought, why am I the only guy without a girlfriend?. I would hear about the parties the day after. Sex. Beer. merriment. And I wanted so bad to be like them.

I finally graduated and went off to college, pledging never to look back. I promised myself that people would be different there. I was, of course, totally correct. Not only were there parties, but then even the nerds had girlfriends. Everyone was having a good time, and I was totally, completely alone.

Three years went by. In that time, I pledged a fraternity, joined the newspaper, and through that, I learned how to interact with others. No longer do I make people pissed at me every time I open my mouth. I’m no longer scared of talking to new people, of giving speeches, or of calling people. I’m no longer a loser.

One day last October, I met a nice Jewish freshman girl who I didn’t scare away. It was a miracle, I thought. She must be one in a million. She’s smart. She’s cute. She likes me. We have a lot in common. All of my hard work bettering myself had paid off.

It’s easy for me to look back at the months that followed, and see that this wasn’t going to work. More and more I was finding myself annoyed by what she was doing. It seemed that everything she did was wrong. She could never participate in a conversation. She had no friends besides me.

And then it began to make sense. I had no problem relating to her because we had the same sort of experience growing up. Not surprisingly, she was exactly where I was when I first came to college. The problem was that I was no longer that person. I thought we had a lot in common, but I found that I’m not the same person I used to be. Every time I look at her, I see the person that I was freshman year. I see the scared, anti-social person who does everything he can do to make sure no one likes him. I see the geek who’s so concerned about school that he never wants to go out. I see someone who hates who they are, and refuses to believe that anything about them is likable. I see the same self-destructive behavior that I once exhibited, and it makes me want to break stuff.

But was that any of that a reason to break up with her? She can change. I changed, so she can too. For a while, I tried to get her out of her shell. I brought her places. I told her about the clubs I was in at school, and about the ones that she might be interested in. I gave her a push, and it clearly wasn’t enough. She stood firm.

Should I spend my senior year of college on someone who I don’t like? After thinking it over, I concluded that I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of the relationship. Sure, being intimate with someone is great. But the time had come where I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of the relationship. When I realized that, I no longer had a choice.

So I dumped her. I dumped my first girlfriend. My reasoning that I told her was that I was holding her back. At this time in her life, she should be concentrating on making friends, and that I was distracting her from that. I tried to explain that it was probably in her best interest that I break up with her, and that I liked her too much to stay with her. I doubt she bought any of it.

I’m taking the breakup very well, because I have a strong network of close friends who are supporting me. They’ve been calling non-stop since I broke up with her, and I appreciate their support. My ex-girlfriend, on the other hand, it’s taking it well at all. She’s depressed, and I feel responsible. Today, I’m filled with self-doubt. I’ll probably never know if I made the right decision. She’ll eventually move on. Most likely she’ll grow up and learn the same lessons I did and then meet someone like I did. She’ll be ok, and I think I will be too. But there’s no way to tell.


1/12/05- The conclusion of this essay is horrible. Of course we were both going to be ok. It takes time to figure things out, and college is the best time to do that. To this day, i don't regret any aspect of this relationship or the breakup.

Update 2009- I still think about her, and it bothers me that we don't talk. I've moved on in that I know we weren't a good match. It still would be nice if we kept in touch.

I bought a laptop computer last saturday. I am unable to access the Internet from home though. If I do my grandma will kick me out and I have nowhere to go. But at least I can type now. I can play games and begin writing again. If I use my class time wisely I can get schoolwork done and keep up with email and be able to become an active member of this E2 is a community again. I can search the site and see what information is already written on topics I may want to write about and find additional information on the web and then when I am at home with nothing to do I can write the nodes I want to write. When I get back to class I can check any links and copy and paste from Word to E2 and add the softlinks.

As for my daily life in general, well, it could be worse. I spend my nights sitting in bed with my laptop. I you vs. the sun each morning from about 7:30am until my grandma makes me get up which varies from as early as 8am to as late as close to 4pm. I’m at home when I’m not here at school. I rarely go anywhere. School is Monday through Thursday from 6pm to 9pm. Monday nights I have an introduction to the internet class. I’m only taking this class as an excuse to get out of the house and get online. Everything that we have done so far has been stuff that I could do in my sleep. I follow along while doing several other things as well. The class I am taking on Tuesday and Thursday nights is a self-paced Office Technology class. I can work as fast or as slow as I want. I got through more than half of the textbook in the first couple weeks and now plan to do just enough work a night to hide that I am on e2 and yahoo. Wednesday nights I’m taking a computer maintenance and repair class. We don’t have working computers in that classroom.

My great aunt arrives today. She’ll be staying with us for a couple of weeks. I haven’t seen her for more than a decade. She lives in Arkansas. I’m dreading her stay. She’s a nice woman but she is probably going to use my bedroom, unless she decides to share a room with her sister. I could spend the next two weeks or so in the living room. I’m so not looking forward to that. It’s a lot to deal with for me. My grandma has lectured me about being good while her sister is here. She means to not let my aunt see the medication I’m on, and not to let her see any of the scars on me, and to not let on when I’m depressed or upset. I always feel like I’m living a lie. I have to be “okay” and “fine” when I’m really not.

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