Wherefore art thou Brother …
What if all you know came crashing down around you? You’re standing on the edge of a cliff, only to turn around and realize that it is a peak and the only to go is down? You hear a voice bellowing from afar. You peer off into the distance and see that your good friend, a brother is standing on a similar peak, but his is much higher. He calls for help, but there isn’t anything you can do. You’re absorbed in your dilemma, because you are just as helpless as he. You get angry with him because his bellowing highlights not only your inability to help him but yourself as well. So what do you do, you turn your back on him and clench your ears in your hand to drown out the noise. After sometime, you decide to check for footing to ease your way down the peak and gain a better position in your situation. You find it and follow the plan. Once you’ve reached better ground, you rest, nap, and rest again. You finally look over to call back out to your brother to hand advice only to realize he isn’t there. “He must’ve made,” you think, yet later you find out that he wasn’t so lucky.
I think of my old roommate often nowadays. For the sake of this blog I’ll call him Carburg. We grew very close over freshman and sophomore year. I was a little uncertain about him when I first met him, mainly because it was the first time that I had to share my room with anyone…let alone a guy. He was very different and that made me feel comfortable, because I consider myself odd. It was something comforting about his presence and I felt lucky to have been randomly placed with him. He was from New York and it was his first time down south. His mom was a saint, she just exuded nurturing. His mother sent him to alternative school in my state because she was afraid that he would get mixed up in the drugs and crime in the New York area; She’d been there her whole life. He then decided to stay and attend college in the near by city. He and I talked for hours about our interest and I began to see how similar we were. We were both nerds in our own right. He was heavily into theology, mainly because his alternative school was christian based. He would go on and on about his beliefs, the blessings we are awarded, and the state of the current world. His talks could make a person weary, but I listened and responded accordingly because he was so passionate; he was a good person with great intentions. He was so spiritual that he would read the bible constantly (and I mean constantly), so much so that he would put it over doing his school work or anything else for that matter. When he arrived upon a revelation within his reading he sounded with such a resounding Hmm! that it sent sparks of energy flowing through the room; it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and my skin tingle. I respected his dedication, his persistence, his focus, and his godly heart. He was an undecided major, and now that I think of it, he should have majored in theology. He failed most of his classes due to his addiction, it consumed him.
The deeper Carburg went into his biblical studies, the more immersed he got. He became obsessed with the “end times” and constantly watched a program on TBN that professed that the end was near. He loved that program and kept coming back to it constantly like a weather forecast tracking a hurricane. Carburg then developed and Armageddon mindset that lead him to want to preach the gospel. He settled with attempting evangelistic work around campus to try to “save” our peers. He began to view people outside of our contained little room as avid sinners, who could blame him..they ridiculed him for his awkwardness and lashed out at him for his pure intentions. They laughed at him, made jokes at his expense. He began to go into reclusion, which was fitting because I did as well for my own reasons…my own problems. I couldn’t help but think, “should I go out and help him?”, but my views weren’t as strong as his. I spoke out against his Doomsday mentality (Matthew 24:36 no man knows the day or the hour), which he acknowledged but quickly rejected with his own findings with research. I gave up. I suspect he began to judge me and feel as though I was like everyone else. That hurt me…I had him over my house numerous times, when I saw the student body rise up against him I sought to get him off campus from time to time, and I even took him home with me when Katrina hit. As days marched on he retreated from me. He refused my outing invitations, so much so that he would cheerily say he was going then leave and NOT come back; so I would leave. One day I wanted to do a test, I waited 9 hours passed and he didn’t come back so I left. God knows where he went, it got so bad that on certain days he would leave in the middle of the night and not come back. He began to indulge in books about spirits/demons, recognizing them, and the influence they have over our lives. He grew into a religious radical (at-least in views and opinion). It worried me, but what could I say…it was his religious point of view.
The Down Turn
Our sophomore year, me and Carburg hit a pitfall. We both fell into depression for our respective reasons. I was preparing to withdraw from my University and so was he. It was like our room became negagenerator and our troubles reflected in the view of each other. That following spring break, I left him on campus despite my feelings that he should get away from campus. Part of the reason is that I was annoyed with people and wanted to be by myself, and the other reason is that I figured that he would not take my offer. Towards the end of spring break I felt better, I decided that I would try to encourage Carburg when I got back to campus. The first few days of class, he wasn’t on campus. Teachers asked me about his status in a dreary tone. One day that week I was sitting in my room when he finally walked in the door. I found out that he was checked into a mental hospital. He told me about his experience when he left, he was completely himself at the time. He told me that all of a sudden, he forgot who he was (name and all) and where he was. He said that he then went around campus imitating whomever he saw and behaved irregularly. Staff called his mother and she drove 19 hours from New York to check on him. He was just stopping back by the room to collect some of his things before going to his follow-up appointment. I wish I’d known that that would be the last time I would get to see him as I remembered him…
Brother is that you….?
I got a call a week later from Carburg’s counselor. She told me that his mother was found dead within her condo and asked if I would show my support to Carburg that weekend. I was floored, I didn’t even want to asked what happened. I asked if Carburg knew and she said that they’d just told him the day they told me. She died while he was boarded in the Hospital again. They said that he was either in shock or so heavily bogged down with medication, that he was not “feeling” anything and was quite mellow. I was told about the funeral and asked to show my support and ofcourse I said yes. At the funeral, I sat 4 pews away as Carburg sat a shadow of himself beside his sister and father. I could not come close to fathoming what he was mentally going through. When the funeral was over, I finally got a chance to see Carburg (accompanied by his Counselor) walk up to him to talk. I was hurt…his eyes were so vacant. He barely recognized me… after 2 years of rooming he need a Counselor to remind him of who I was (One reason that I am not in favor of psychological medications). He began to liven up as much as anyone reduced to the most basic form of emotions could by regaling me of our time together. It was odd that he spoke of it as if it was our 10th year reunion. I wept…what else could I do? I hugged him and called him my brother, his response was cold ( ofcourse I don’t fault him…but still). Years later I still talk to him…yet the story got worse. His family and friends keep him at a distance ( because of his mental condition). At one point I thought he might have been a paranoid schizophrenic. I want to believe, however; that he is fine. I talked to him last week, he is still confused on certain topics; but I was hopeful because after 6 years we finally had a normal conversation. He was not frantic or panicky, he was coherent and consistent. I hope to always remain his friend. He is a good person.
This is something I’ve contemplated a year ago and recently ran across my conscience yet again. It was a thought that I had not pondered until my most recent years. A thought of sheer hopelessness and utter defeat. The downward spiraling thought that sent me into a cynical abyss. The thought, “What if life doesn’t get better?” and “What if the only thing that truly gets better is the intensity of a dream; but that dream leads to unfulfilled expectation and though new dreams are formed they never hold the weight of their conception?” These thoughts seared through me one day at the foot of a metro escalator as I watched a group of kids, between the ages 7-11, laughing and playing with such a delightful merriment that stirred my soul to smile. Their enjoyment seemed so untouchable, majestic, and flawless ;yet, it made me grow sad and bitter. I remembered a time when I roamed the earth blindly fascinated by everything and was able to find a shred of enjoyment no matter where I wondered. My childhood was not the worst, but it wasn’t the best either. I “walked on eggshells” daily in my home thanks to an old-fashioned cold step-father. My mother worked a lot, so I was forced to be monitored by him like I was inmate 2958 until I was released from my physical and mental solitary confinement by my loving mother. I knew one day my peering around corners would end and I would be able to leave, which filled my with ebullience. In my solitude I depended heavily on my pure imagination, untainted by the pitfalls of life. Within these kids I realized I’d lost that. My blissful inner peace had wilted away, choked by the controlling pessimistic agents of life. In that moment I felt as though I’d been robbed of an essential element that contributes to happiness. I instantly wanted the best for those kids, to preserve them somehow in that moment in time…to see them remain happy. As they strolled from my sight, I oddly felt sorry for them. Soon the world would strip half of them of their security in their imaginations and dreams. The other half would be left with it so mangled and maimed that it would be seemingly unrepairable…like mine. How bitter have I grown? How faithless…how hopeless? My optimism use to be unshakable. Has life really pressed me this far down to consider hope to be a cruel thing that eventually bends on the user like barbed wire, betraying his loyalty? I would like to think that I still have a glimmer of that essential element for happiness within…I’m just searching for the right thing to help stoke the fire.
Have you ever awoken within a dream and believed that it was reality? Then after waking from said dream woken to reality thinking that you were in a dream?…I have. I experienced this phenomenon Dec. 12, 2011 and saw fit to document and share this experience. I tried to get to a my computer with the speed of mercury before I forgot most of my dream. Sadly I could not and have subsequently forgotten a great amount of detail that would have made this post quite exceptional (tricky little dreams). Never fear, I will tell you what I do remember.
On this faithful day, I accompanied my girlfriend to the hospital for her scheduled surgery. We sat in the waiting room until around 10:00am, sleep was literally still in my eyes when they called her name (hey don’t judge me I’m in winter break). Upon her leaving, I dozed off and apparently fell into a deep REM sleep. In my dream, I was in class listening to a lecture. It seemed so real, and my girlfriend was there sitting in the same general space she’d occupied in reality; which made my confusion so much worse. The subject matter covered was something familiar to me and I could have sworn that all of my senses were active. Next thing I know I’m dozing off because the lecture was boring. As I “fell asleep” in reality I was waking up. I was in a deep haze and saw everything as a wobbly blur. Patients, receptionists, and Doctors smeared past my slit eyes like rain drops on a car windshield or a doppelgänger trail. Even the real life sounds slurred on like a long adult speaking scene in the Peanuts (yes I’m referring to the Charlie Brown cartoon). As I fell back asleep and awoken in my dream, I found that I was back in the class room, same chair same lecture. The look, feel, and clarity of my dream was so uncanny that in comparison to the latter how could I not believe this classroom was authentic. I slipped back and forth between the dream world and reality once more. When I “fell asleep” in my dream again, the same groggy incoherent sensations occurred as I sat in the real life waiting room and when I actually fell asleep again, I thought I’d woken up for good. In this dream I was in the waiting room and everything was clear , I could understand people and they looked normal. I even witnessed a full exchange between a Doctor and patient about future scheduling. The layout of the waiting room in my dream was flawless and this is when I realized that the classroom was a dream. Just thinking about the fact that I was in a dream realizing that I was in a dream but still unaware of the dream that I was currently in blows my mind. What snapped my out of this madness was the receptionist calling my name. In my waiting room dream I had to react to my name being called, but when I went to speak to the receptionist (I’m still dreaming mind you) he tells me that he didn’t call my name. Following this, I actually woke up to my name being called. Here is the kicker, when I get up to the receptionist I find out that he wasn’t calling me he was actually calling someone with the same first name. Needless to say…I was very confused. Who’s knows, I could still be in that waiting room as I type this. That would be awkward…
Shame directed by Steve McQueen is definitely a film for the independent film goer. If you like pensive and provocative movies with substance, you will enjoy this one. For those who are confused with the trailer or unfamiliar with the title at all, Shame in a nutshell is primarily about a man’s struggle with addiction. There are elements of addiction strung about through the story within other characters but the main character Brandon Sullivan (played by Michael Fassbender) is the main focus. We follow Brandon and observe how his addiction affects his daily living, how he views the world around him, and how his addiction affects others. Director Steve McQueen took a minimalist approach to the way the film was shot and edited. I thought this was brilliant given the fact that the film was very detail driven. McQueen seems to be following the motto “show don’t tell” and strategically uses music, sound/silence, textures, objects, and obstacles to add to the depth of the overall film and the psychology of the main character. I really appreciated the natural feel of the film. It is like the director set up the shots and got out off the way. What I mean by this is that there are no fancy cuts, no over dramatic music that exceeds the mood of the scene in which it is placed, and no overly contrived background activity. The clean shooting method juxtaposes the dirty subject matter and intensely focused acting to create a story that seems like a slice of life rather than an act put on for the viewer. One example of this is an elevator scene where we ride the elevator from the bottom floor all the way to the main characters’ floor. Furthermore, there are many intimate shots and moments that drive the film and makes the audience feel like a fly on the wall. Everything was shot purposefully and just simply works. Michael Fassbender is brilliant in this role. He seems to be constantly brimming with desire, so much so that you can see it through his intense eyes. In the films he says a lot without saying many words at all. His inner monologue is strong and I get the sense that he is constantly hiding his secret addiction. Carey Mulligan plays his sister in the film, and did exceptionally well. She is almost equally as pensive and troubled and their relationship to each other is very clear. If you are going to see this film, and I highly recommend you do, I suggest you go with independent movie enthusiast or true movie lovers. The pacing can be a bit too slow for those use to mainstream films that are driven by a rudimentary formula (ie. boy meets girl, they break up and boy does something sweet to get her back) rather than intense stories that deal with peoples darkest struggles and how they work through them…or lack there of. I say this because I took 3 friends, one doesn’t watch independent films; her favorites are goofy films. She felt as though the film did not have a plot but the plot is evident to those familiar with independent films focus. I also advice that you pay close attention to detail because there are little easter eggs that the director places in view (such as a character gesturing and their ring is in the shot or many erect figures and so on…). So go out and enjoy the film and if you are not going alone keep in mind that it is rated NC-17; which I feel was done very purposefully and tastefully for the story. Enjoy 🙂
My journey begins as a blogger. This is something I have wanted to do for years and finally worked up the nerve to try. I know most beginning bloggers’ first hurdle is finding topics to write about and building confidence in their writing. Well since I could not fully decide, I am going to write about everything. I’m going to write about every thought I have, book I read, political subjects, poetry (my own and ones I have read), or interesting situation I come across. All things will be consider and therefore will be a medley of my personality and mentality. I not going to make any promises about me sticking to free form, I’m just going to write and if I do move toward one particular subject I will just let it happen. For those who chose to stick with me on my journey I greatly appreciate it. Comments are welcome and preferred. This blog is meant to be anonymous but I will give a little information about me in my profile. If there are any other first time bloggers who haven’t started yet reading this, just do it. You will not know what you are capable of until you put things in motion. Follow through with your ideas, you will feel much better that you did.