Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Follow

An old favorite. Distance. Patterns. Anticipation.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Value of A Penny

Penny

There was a water fountain outside the dimsum joint. Out of amusement, I gave Dylan, my 3 year old, a penny. "Here. Go and make a wish." I said.

He took the penny and looked at me like Christmas day. His eyes were dancing with glee. His smile: pure happiness. He took his time staring

at all the pennies at the bottom of the pool while grasping the possibilities of his own. He even closed his eyes momentarily before throwing the penny with resolve and abandon.

Later in the car, I asked what he wished for. He screamed "A dinosaur!!" and laughed maniacally.

These days, he scouts for pennies around the house. When he does, he would holler "I found a wish! I found a wish!!"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rachel's Progress Report at 1.75 y.o.

1. Knows how to use the can opener but lacks the actual strength to open cans. (Thank goodness)

2. Eats by herself, albeit will play with food and start speading it in all surfaces (including herself) if unattended. Applied yoghurt all over her face like face cream.

3. Taught herself how to apply face powder (and demands for it).

4. Resisted all forms and means to educate her: does not have attention span for books or children's tv. Curiously hates the alphabets and likes numbers (marches off and says 1-2-3). Dances at any given chance, will thus sometimes watch Backyardigans. Likes Sesame English series. Ate crayons.

5. Taken upon herself to torment Dylan to the utmost by destroying his block creations, eating his snacks and swiping his books and toys (only when he's using them).

6. Knows how to operate most of Dylan's mechanical toys better than he does. Almost destroyed the DVD player and R's computer. Will not hesitate to stick things inside sockets. Will push any visible button, turn any knob, pull any string/cord/wire and peel anything that looks "peel-able".

7. Does not sing at all. Will not play or share with others.

8. Loves brushing, bathing, washing, and wasting soap. Too much.

9. All of her animals have chomping monster sounds. Even rabbits.

10. Loves cough syrup and has attempted to drink the bottle.

11. Scared of the vacuum and the lawn mower. Scared of being alone. Scared of water at the beach. Scared of strangers. Not scared of any creature that I know of. Will pull tails and feathers and chase all creatures without hesitation.

12. Can identify and name: eyes, ears, mouth, toes, hair, tongue, teeth, tummy.. will verbally ask for apples, bananas, chips, cookies, milk, cheese etc and say "please".

Dylan's Progress Report 3.25y.o.

1. Can correctly identify the following parts of the human anatomy: skull, clavicle, ribs, phalanges, metacarpals, pelvis, lungs, heart, intestines, brain, patella etc. Very interested on how the body works. (Funny: he calls the lungs, "lumps")

2. Knows useless details like:

  • Trees give off oxygen which we breathe
  • Heart has 4 valves and transports blood + oxygen.
  • Gravity makes things fall. Friction makes things stop.
  • Plants make food through photosynthesis.
  • Hemoglobin makes blood red.
  • Jupiter's Red Spot is a giant storm. Neptune similarly has a spot.

3. Gets creative with blocks. He's "built" cities, dinosaurs, giraffes, hippos, "color truck", tall towers..

4. Early stages of telling time (he can only say what hour it is). Frequently will ask what time it is and its scheduled activity (ex. It's 9pm, it's time to sleep).

5. Begun writing. Still colors pictures with mad scribbles and random hues.

6. Started school, hates school, cries himself to sleep during naptime and doesn't eat his lunch nor participate with gusto in activities except for those which involve the alphabet and/or numbers. Teacher says he is the only person in the class of ages 2-4 who knows his alphabets phonetically. Moreso, Dylan can read simple words to boot. He is so-called "way-advanced" in that area. HUH.

7. Startles me by dropping non-household words such as mucus and backbone. We only use words like snot.

8. Obsessed with complex words (i.e. words with sh,th,ch, silent "e" such as cute etc.)

9. Shown interest in math esp. addition

10. Obsessed with the UpsideDown Show and mimics Shane and David. Loves Meg and Mog stories.

11. On his second pair of orthopaedic shoes beginning August 2006.

12. Lies!! He doesn't own up but instead, accuses others of his bad actions!!

Others:
1. For his 3rd birthday, he wanted birthday party with a puppet show on the moon.
2. Me: "Are you my teddy bear?" his reply: "No, I'm too big."

3. Me: "2 + 2 equals?" (showing him two fingers on both hands and joining them together) Him: "W!"

4. One time I was cooking lunch and he was coloring with crayons. He kept bugging me by presenting and giving to me all of his new and unused crayons. He would have had to collect them carefully because his crayons were all jumbled in his crayon pail. I would get the crayons and dump them right back in. I told him I was busy and to please not bother me. He did it over and over until I was very frustrated and started yelling. It was only after a while when I realized he was giving me his best crayons so I'd want to color with him. Humbled, I joined him with great shame and guilt.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

LJH Rips His Guitar and Rocks Pachelbel's Canon in D

This has to be, hands down, the best version I've heard so far. I give this a ten minute standing ovation and a roaring round of applause. Woo-Hoo. LJH: you're a genius. WOW, man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcZGzjKbWvg

Friday, September 01, 2006

Freaky Sex-Ed Book for Juveniles

I stumbled into this at Boingboing.net first thing in the morning in between sips of coffee. It was so surreal I just had to blog it to have documentary proof come tomorrow that it was for real.

Per Holm Kudsen wrote a book entitled The True Story of How Babies Are Made and it is an illustrated children's book that has odd, graphic drawings. Frankly speaking, it was hilarious. And I rather thought it honest and effective in explaining the whole "the birds and the bees" thing. Kids won't find it nearly as funny though. Hee-hee.

If you want to see the entire content of the book, click this Link which has it in German. Make sure you click on the book images to turn its pages.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Amateurs built the ark.. Professionals built the Titanic.

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked,Who would like this $20 bill? Hands started going up. He said, I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple the $20 dollar bill up. He then asked, Who still wants it? Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, What if I do this. And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled, and dirty. Now who still wants it? Still the hands went into the air. My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or whom we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special - Don't EVER forget it. If you do not pass this on, you may never know the lives it touches the hurting hearts it speaks to, or the hope that it can bring. Count your blessings, not your problems. Never be afraid to try something new. And remember.. Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

No One Falls In Love By Choice


No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance.
No one stays in love by chance, it is by work.
No one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.



we see the truth and forget it.
more love poems here

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Universe Within

Having immense fun reading John D. Barrow's The Infinite Book. A sampler in which Barrow borrows from Frank Morgan (yes, you've heard versions of this before, tis a classic, but none so cunningly put):

Three guys go into a hotel, each with $10 in his pocket. They book one room at $30 a night. A short while later a fax from the headquarters directs the hotel to charge $25 a night. So the receptionist gives the bellhop $5 to take to the three guys sharing the room. Since the bellhop never got a tip from them and because he can't split $5 three ways, he decides to pocket $2 and give them each one dollar back. So each of the three guys has now spent $9 and the bellhop has $2 for a total of $29. Where's the extra dollar?"

Woo-hoo! (Yes, I can be a nerd.)

Ok, I'm throwing this in for Joseph who mentioned it. It's the case of the terminator 0, 1/2 and 1:

We begin with the infinite series S = 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...
which we can rewrite as: S = (1-1) + (1-1) + (1-1) + (1-1) +.. meaning S = 0

but grouped differently: S = 1 + (-1 + 1) + (-1 + 1) +.. or S = 1 + 0 + 0 + .. thus S = 1
so we have proved that S = 0 and S = 1 thus if S = S then 0 = 1 !

not only that, S = 1 - (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + 1 - 1...) or S = 1-S or 2S = 1 meaning S = 1/2!

We have thus proven that when dealing with infinity, S can be any number.

What we have here is a beautiful mathematical explanation to the philosophical and metaphysical presumption that ultimately, we are all one and the same, and that, just as we are part of the universe, the universe is within us.

Friday, August 11, 2006

May My Heart Be Always Open

For R:

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over her with one smile


by E.E. Cummings

Saturday, August 05, 2006

There are Sadder Things But This is SAD


I got this factoid from Life Statistics's blog entry entitled: "How Many People Read"?:

58% of the US adult population never read another book after high school.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

religion

what if God was really just a God of love, good, hope, happiness and peace and the devil created religion to fuck things up?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Crowley's Case for Earth

b
Matt was talking about Armaggedon and it reminded me of this excerpt from Gaiman/Pratchett's Good Omens:

Crowley (the demon) was ruminating:

That's how it goes, you think you're on the top of the world, and suddenly, they spring Armaggedon on you.. The Great War, the Last Battle.. That's what the end of the world meant. No more world. Just endless Heaven, or, depending who won, endless Hell.

Crowley didn't know which was worse.

Well, Hell was worse, ofcourse, by definition. But Crowley remembered what Heaven was like, and it had quite a few things in common with Hell. You couldn't get a decent drink in either of them, for a start.

And the boredom you got in Heaven was almost as bad as the excitement you get in Hell.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday, May 05, 2006

Diet Regimen ni Jeni

My in-laws dropped by at dahil wala nang other interest/hobby ang pamilya kundi kumain, weDiet literally ate out almost everynight at inubos na namin lahat ng buffets at lauriats. Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian, American - you name it we've done it. Not only that, nag-sale ang mga supermarkets so we have weeks worth of sausages, hamburgers and tv dinners. Our fridge is so stocked up we can survive a nuclear holocaust.

Now that Jeff's wedding is about a month away, ano pa nga ba, it's crunch time: kailangan magpapayat para kumasya sa lintek na gown. And now that I am at it, I might as well share to whomever may care my diet regimen:

1. Drink Coffee and Listen to a lot of intense Punk Rock
Why: The heartbeat adapts to the pace of whatever music one's listening to. So, the faster the drums, the better. Drink more coffee to aggravate the palpitation. Can you imagine the amount of calories burned if one does Tae-bo with an Offspring soundtrack?!? (Pero I'm too tamad for Tae-bo so I'm doing the other half of the equation)
Cons: Medyo energizer-bunny kakalabasan from being too keyed up and medyo mahirap mag-concentrate.

2. Sleep a lot - medyo mahirap kasi nag-coffee from #1, and the trick is balance.
Why: Sleep increases leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite. Sleep lowers cortisol, the stress hormone - the culprit in increasing blood sugar and insulin levels and results in fat deposits in the abdomen.
Cons: Tatawagin kang tamad ng asawa mo.

3. Mag-isip ng kung ano-ano - basta wag stressful stuff kundi you will ruin #2.
Example (para sa mga ayaw mag-isip): Deciphering what Eddie Vedder is singing in the new Pearl Jam album without the aid of the lyrics sheet. Tapos, analyze and try to guess what meaningful message he is trying to impart. Finally, memorize. O diba?
Why: The brain consumes energy at 10 times the rate of the rest of the body per gram of tissue. The average power consumption of a typical adult is 100 Watts and the brain consumes 20% of this making the power of the brain 20 W.
Cons: Now you know why when back when you were a student, payat ka, and now that you're underpaid and working like a horse, tumataba ka. So, force yourself to think dammit!

4. Watch Fear Factor - this is a no brainer. If you don't know why, you just failed tip #3. Masarap bang kumain ng fried chicken while watching the desperate constestant barf after eating the cow's uterus dipped in rat's blood topped with worms and crunchy cockroach? Hm??
Alternative: pwede ring CSI as long as there's lots of dead body shots
Cons: Networks only air the show once a week.

5. Fidget - why excercise when you can be a weirdo and have fun irritating your: a. relatives b. co-workers c. boss.
Why: Fidgeting is the reason behind "thin" couch potatoes and "fat" couch potatoes. People who have "high metabolism" are just, actually, fidgeters.

There. Now you know. If you have a tip, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dylan's Progress Report at 2.75 yo

He can:Picture_1_3

  1. Identify vowels, produce appropriate phonetic sounds of all the alphabets
  2. Read and spell words with three letters
  3. Solar System: can identify object and give brief description. Ex: "Uranus, it spins on its side" or "Milky Way, our galaxy"
  4. Eat like a civilised human being with either spoon or fork (but not both)
  5. Identify weird body parts like the clavicle, pelvis, the phalanges etc.
  6. Soccer (can chase and kick ball while running at full speed)
  7. Semi-complete a 25-pc puzzle (75% complete)
  8. Navigate around toddler websites and play games unaided (I am now regretting this as he's hogged the computer every chance he gets, thank goodness we never gave him a chance to figure out the tv remote)
  9. Jump from heights around 3 ft. (much to my horror)
  10. Semi-logical reasoning, ex: dylan remarked "papa is sick", when asked why, turns out he's observed papa has many "ouchies" (work-related minor cuts), when asked what to do, dylan said "put bandage"
  11. Prediction ex. he's observed that buds are coming out of trees, when asked why, he said, "it's spring, trees have leaves"

Things that Dylan wanted me to do:

  1. "Mama, I want to grow please."
  2. "It's hot, I want snow."

Others:

  1. He's excruciatingly shy and won't greet people unless prodded
  2. Increasingly showing streaks of rebellion from food choice to clothes to activity
  3. Bad conversationalist - always out of tangent. ex. "Dylan, are you a good boy or a bad boy?" and his reply was "No, I'm a happy boy".

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Quint Buchholz

StareI stumbled into Quint Buchholz's artworks in Talvez Te Escreva's blog, which is, by the way, flooded by Ben Harper's "When She Believes" - lends it a whole lot of magic, imho, half in Portugese and all.Woman_reading_1

Mr. Buchholz, a German pointillist, just put my life on ink and paper - me with my flights of fancy, with my worlds of books, I, who am often lost to common space and time. I am the woman levitating, the girl flying, the one sleeping with a book for a blanket, the one who sees the world with a tower of books, the one lost in pages when my husband comes looking for me.Book_blanketBook_towerFlying_child

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Charity

Somewhere along Roxas Boulevard, 1992, the red light stopped us. An unkempt girl tapped the passenger window: my side. Pretty Sampaguita garlands, would I buy ten pesos ($0.25)Picture_1_2 worth please. Ten pesos equals three garlands, each containing a dozen or so of the small flowers carefully strewn by those small hands with dirty nails. Neil and I scrambled for some change, "three, four, ah.. nuts..", we came up short.

We were giving apologetic shrugs but she was looking at something else - Neil's snack - the half eaten Jollibee cheeseburger on the dashboard. Has she eaten that day at all, we haven't got a clue. "Here you go, little one." and she smiled from ear to ear. She beamed like Christmas day.

She was so happy she wanted to give me three strings of her garlands anyway. I was floored. I know her story: her family is so poor she has sell flowers to eat. Hunger would wake up a girl of six at the crack of dawn so she could hurry off to Luneta to pick those flowers among other kids like her. What she was giving me would have bought her two cups of rice or a cheap plastic toy or half of what it would cost to get her new slippers.

Her generosity shook me to the core. My poor soul. Then the light turned green and she was gone.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Einstein and The Eddington



The sun was setting on the links,
The moon looked down serene,
The caddies all had gone to bed,
But still there could be seen
Two players lingering by the trap
That guards the thirteenth green.
The Einstein and the Eddington
Were counting up their score;
The Einstein's card showed ninety-eight
And Eddington's was more.
And both lay bunkered in the trap
And both stood there and swore.
I hate to see, the Einstein said;
Such quantities of sand;
Just why they placed a bunker here
I cannot understand.
If one could smooth this landscape out,
I think it would be grand.
If seven maids with seven mops
Would sweep the fairway clean
I'm sure that I could make this hole
In less than seventeen.
I doubt it, said the Eddington,
Your slice is pretty mean.
Then all the little golf balls came
To see what they were at,
And some of them were tall and thin
And some were short and fat,
A few of them were round and smooth,
But most of them were flat.
The time has come, said Eddington,
To talk of many things:
Of cubes and clocks and meter-sticks
And why a pendulum swings.
And how far space is out of plumb,
And whether time has wings.
I learned at school the apple's fall
To gravity was due,
But now you tell me that the cause
Is merely G_mu-nu,
I cannot bring myself to think
That this is really true.
You say that gravitation's force
Is clearly not a pull.
That space is mostly emptiness,
While time is nearly full;
And though I hate to doubt your word,
It sounds like a bit of bull.
And space, it has dimensions four,
Instead of only three.
The square of the hypotenuse
Ain't what it used to be.
It grieves me sore, the things you've done
To plane geometry.
You hold that time is badly warped,
That even light is bent:
I think I get the idea there,
If this is what you meant:
The mail the postman brings today,
Tomorrow will be sent.
If I should go Timbuctoo
With twice the speed of light,
And leave this afternoon at four,
I'd get back home last night.
You've got it now, the Einstein said,
That is precisely right.
But if the planet Mercury
In going round the sun,
Never returns to where it was
Until its course is run,
The things we started out to do
Were better not begun.
And if before the past is through,
The future intervenes;
Then what's the use of anything;
Of cabbages or queens?
Pray tell me what's the bally use
Of Presidents and Deans.
The shortest line, Einstein replied,
Is not the one that's straight;
It curves around upon itself,
Much like a figure eight,
And if you go too rapidly
You will arrive too late.
But Easter day is Christmas time
And far away is near,
And two and two is more than four
And over there is here.
You may be right, said Eddington,
It seems a trifle queer.
But thank you very, very much,
For troubling to explain;
I hope you will forgive my tears,
My head begins to pain;
I feel the symptoms coming on
Of softening of the brain.


This nonsense poem was written by Dr. W. H. Williams for a faculty club dinner on the eve of the physicist Eddington's departure from Berkeley in 1924.

- W.H. Williams

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

War

War doesn't determine who is right. War determines who is left. -- Bertrand Russel

Picture_4

This photo showing a starving Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture won South African photographer, Kevin Carter, the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. Kevin committed suicide three months after.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Supine Insanity

I'm still sick (see "spin cycle" entry) and while I am terminally inclined toAdvil_1 let loose a verbal diarrhea of expletives, i haven't the energy to clean up afterwards. So. It's been a month since strep and the amoxicillin and string of tylenols and garlands of advils. My legs are still a battered mess of "internal reaction to the streptococcus bacteria" (erythema nodosum) - my feet bloated and a virtual memory foam because anyone who touches it would leave a dent - literal imprint of pressing thumb/finger. Amusing, sure, ha.

I don't get it. I'm in a first world country and all I get are sympathetic nods and painkillers. Anyone who's seen the state my legs are in would know there-is-something-WRONG. Sometimes I can barely move from the pain - let alone sit or stand. I've been to the doctors 7 times, given the labs 10 vials of blood and had a chest x-ray. Nuthin. Absolutely frittin' nuthin.

Today I made a follow-up on my doc, guess what, his answering machine informs me he's on holiday for three weeks. Now isn't that nice? In the meantime, Advil's eating away my intestines and kidneys. This is first world for you my friends. Remember this.

(Originally written March 13, 2006)

Spin Cycle

PillspbjHaving a bout of strep throat and have just finished my rounds of amoxicillin (10 days worth, 30 capsules). Internet pages claim I'm still contagious for another 10 days. Initially, i ignored it as common sore throat, what with the weather being so viciously cold lately. By the time intervention was attempted, I was already rolling over from fever and chills. I could barely open my mouth, let alone talk or swallow. Laughing was excruciating so one can only imagine what jolly good company I was.

Then, five days back, I had a rare side-effect: painful red bumps splotched all over my legs (eewww). My joints are killing me - the left ankle, knee, elbow and middle joint of the middle finger; the right shoulder and wrist. The sensation is as if I jumped inside the washing machine and had an extra long spin cycle. ow. ow. OW.

So, yes, things are a little tough for me these days since Dylan's always zipping about like a crazed cat with its tail on fire.

Aside from that, it's really the same old boring stuff: attempts at cooking and failing spectacularly, frequent electrocution now that there's just static everywhere (curses!), endless picking-up of toys that are just resolutely scatterred everywhere.

(Originally written February 21, 2006)

Adults lie, but not always.

My grandfather picked me up. "Shall I throw you in, eh? Shall I throw you in the water?"Amrpunc04_1

I shook my head. Adults are threatening creatures.


"Shall I throw you in the water?".."I'll put you in the rubbish bin.".. "I'll eat you all up.".. "I'll take you back and get another little boy."

That's what they say. And no matter how much you tell yourself that they're lying, or teasing, there's always a chance. Maybe they are telling the truth.

I had an aunt who claimed she had a tail, beneath her dress. I sneered at her, made sure she knew I knew she was lying; but secretly, I could not stop myself from wondering.


Adults lie, but not always.

When I was four, I believed everything, accepted everything, and was scared of nothing. Now I was eight, and I believed in what I could see and was scared of anything I couldn't. Scared of things in the darkness, of things invisible to see.


- from
Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Evolving differently

212There are some friends whom, despite minimal contact and oceans of separation, would fit right back in to our lives, as if they just temporarily left the couch for a coffee refill. And when you get to be in my station in life where good friends come rare and far too few in between, to lose one, temporarily or permanently, is tragic beyond words.

I have recently lost a friend due to a reckless outburst, and it was a farewell full of knives. We used to have a little space in the internet, and now it's just a dark empty place full of bad blood. I think about it all the time, all those years of being sure and wrong, of how we knew so little of each other, or maybe too much -- to have known which self-destruct buttons to push and push it with all of our dead weight we did.

Who knew it was a risk - those silent years? We slept soundly in our little cocoons, trusting we'd both wake up with wings. Well, someone woke up as a butterfly to live by day, and the other, a moth, to dance by night.

(Originally written Feb. 17. 2006)

(**painting: Death's Head Moth by Vincent Van Gogh)

Dylan's Progress Report

1fish1He's currently 2 years and 7 months old.

He has mastered:

  1. 6-pc Jigsaw
  2. Toilet routines
  3. Computer Mouse: point and click
  4. Drawing faces
  5. Naming animals starting with the letter A to Z. (I = Iguana; U = umbrella bird, unicorn; X = X-ray fish)

1solar_index_mainCurrent pre-occupation:

  1. Pirating (I got him pirate paraphernalia: hook, treasure coins, telescope, eyepatch, sword)
  2. Treasure and/or Hunting (I got him a pair of binoculars)
  3. Imaginary Painting of Walls using the Pastry Brush (aftermath of the repairman's visit)
  4. 25-pc Jigsaw
  5. Fishing (fishpole with magnet, fishes with paperclips)
  6. The Planets of the Solar System, Galaxies et al. (he can name the planets, mind you)

I am teaching him how to:

  1. Button Up
  2. Properly identify: Paper, Metal and Plastic (aftermath of Blues Clues Recycle episode)

He still refuses to use cutlery and constantly has to sleep with that stiff battery operated rabbit that twitch its nose and goes "ribbit-ribbit" (which he feeds with a toy carrot).

that is all.

(Originally written February 13, 2006)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Painless Suicide

This is taken from Salon.Com. Cary Tennis replies to an anonymous letter asking "What's the best method for a painless suicide.. I am done with life, but I don't want to suffer when I go."

Tennis writes:

Dear Ready for the End,

I can't give you helpful hints on how to kill yourself.

However, neither can I argue that your life is good and should be preserved, as I cannot know how life is for you. An average day for you may be more awful than even my worst day. Who am I to say that you should choose to live your life? As one of those left behind when others depart, I can only say that I have never heard any reports from successful suicides on whether they are pleased with the results.

So let us say simply that in your case suicide is one of the options you are considering. Let us presume that I have been called upon to help you choose. I think there are probably some better options to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

What you want to accomplish is an end to your suffering. Your only concern is that the act of suicide itself might entail some pain. But it is not altogether clear that suicide, however it is accomplished, will bring an end to suffering.

None of us knows what death will bring. You may find yourself reincarnated and continuing to suffer, or in hell, suffering, or without any consciousness at all and thus in a state immune to claims that it is either better or worse, or in some incomprehensible state of consciousness beyond anything that your current primitive apparatus of brain, nervous system and senses enables you to visualize. You do not know that you will not come back as a rock, or a dog, or a lizard with hazy consciousness of having once been, believe it or not, a human, magisterial and supreme among earthly beings. You may find yourself, as I do when I dream of suicide, in a state of unremitting remorse for having, in a moment's impetuousness, given up your life. In my dream I am falling and I am asking myself, Why did I do that? Someone was telling me the other day of a man who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and survived; on his way down, he found himself thinking, I thought I had problems before, but now I really have a problem: I jumped!

You know nothing for certain of death and what comes after. So choosing suicide is not at all the sure cure for your ills that you might believe it to be. It is, rather, an enormous gamble.

Being that you are clearly willing to gamble to relieve your suffering, let us consider other gambles you might take.

For starters, you might gamble that if you wake up tomorrow alive, it may be one of your few good days. The odds are not great, but at least they are knowable. Since you have had some good days, you know that good days are possible. Moreover, a survey of your life will probably show that your good days have occurred in a cyclical pattern alternating with bouts of illness. So it is likely that they will recur in that cycle -- perhaps not often enough to relieve your feeling that life is unrelenting suffering, but enough to show that in reality your suffering does occasionally relent.

Knowing both that good days will happen and that they will be rare, you might choose to make the most of those few that occur. Being possessed of independent wealth gives you certain options. On your next good day, you might board a plane to Paris. On a good day, you might do anything in the world that your heart desires.

On a rare good day, you might also use your wealth to preserve and possibly extend that one good day into two good days or three. See if you can put a string of good days together. How? You might offer a prize of $10,000 to any psychologist, philosopher or medical doctor who can successfully prolong this one good day into two good days, or a week even! Perhaps there is someone out there with a method or a cure that will work for you -- a hypnotist, a magician, a genius of meditation or a doctor of herbs and flowers, perhaps a guru who sits on a mountain. It would be a gamble, and there would be people who would try to con you, but since you are willing to gamble in other ways, and to part with your money, you might be willing to try anything.

What, if I may ask, have you got to lose?

Granted, the odds against tomorrow being a good day are not favorable. Most likely, tomorrow will be another day filled with depression and thoughts of suicide. But good days do happen. Eventually one will come. A good gamble, it seems to me, is to wait for that nearly assured good day and then take it for all it's worth.

There are other sound reasons to continue to live. Medical and psychological researchers continue to find ways to treat mental illness. At 36 you may have 40 years of life or more in which a cure may be found. So it makes sense to put suicide off as long as possible, as long as you can bear living. It also makes sense, if you have wealth, to contribute some of your money to any research that looks promising.

If you also want to give money to the person you live with, you are free to do that. You do not have to die in order to give money. If it would make you happy to contribute to that person's happiness, why not make some kind of financial gift to this person while you are living? However, if you want to enjoy knowing that you have made someone happy, you have to be alive to enjoy knowing it.

I do not mean to be glib about my views on suicide. I recognize your suffering and the seriousness of your proposal. Nor do I mean to minimize your suffering by treating the choice of suicide as a gamble, as if to reduce to a mere calculation what is a deeply emotional gesture. The point I would like to make is that while suicide may attract you as a supremely expressive act, it differs fundamentally from other expressive acts. We might punch a hole in a wall or scream at a policeman; we might get drunk or break things. From those gestures we can recover our lives. In fact, the very purpose of such gestures is that we can rid ourselves of the frustration and anger inside us and continue to live.

Suicide is not such a gesture; rather than allowing us to continue, it ends all chance.

So my advice is to see suicide as a bad bet, to gamble instead on what meager pleasure can be wrung from life, and to persist as long as possible in hope of a cure for your suffering.

Finally, if you feel like you are about to commit suicide, call your local suicide hotline, or the national referral number, 1-800-273-8255, or, if you like, call my local suicide hotline number in San Francisco, which is 415-781-0500. It is answered by a live person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

1986 Memory

My father's mother, the only person to whom I have ever said goodbye, properly, before they died: I remember her holding a paring knife, and peeling apples before she sliced and ate them. Her hands: red, and wet, and athritic: the apple peel curling onto newspaper in her lap. Also I remember the tart taste of the apples.

Each image carries with it a sense of loss, even if the loss is tinged, no matter how faintly, with relief. Age carries strange burdens with it, and one of them, perhaps inevitably, is death.

But I must not brood. The path of memory is neither straight nor safe, and we travel down it at our own risk. It is easier to take short journeys into the past, remembering in miniature, constructing tiny puppet plays in our heads. That's the way to do it.

-- from The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean