I woke up in the middle of the night, my guts churning on ice cream and the slim Jim my son had me open for him and then didn’t eat. I eventually went downstairs, and was awake till 4. Then up again at 7:30 to supervise the kids a little while Concetta takes the boys for a walk before it rains.
I have this recurring, bad, joke I’ve been telling: “‘Apocalypse Now’? How about, ‘Apocalypse, Already’” Concetta keeps saying she’s ready for Jesus to come back. My wife and I have been secretly hoping for the apocalypse since we first heard of it. The book of Revelations was the first book of the Bible I read myself, and the Last Battle was my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia. The idea of the mythic breaking into the real world, the prophesied events becoming true, and the tantalizing hints of it In modern day post modern life.
Did the bar code presage the mark of the beast, with which we child not buy or sell? Was television hypnotizing us into accepting the rule of the antichrist? Was the first beast Karl Rove, the second Cheney? Before Ronald Wilson Reagan died, could he be six six six? It doesn’t feel so creepy fun today. Alex Jones made it weird, with Sandy Hook and the whole 9/11 truth movement became horrible.
I have my own kids. I want the archetypical life of the midwestern American childhood for them. I want to send them to liberal arts colleges, have them find partners, raise families, enjoy careers, and take charge in their realms, while I fade gracefully into the background. Armageddon is the end of all time. In essence, everybody’s dead.
It’s appealing to the part of me that wants an end of conflict. That’s tired of history, “one damned thing after another.”
You’ve prepared all your life to take place in a great battle, to take your stand, to be counted among the good … and the battle never comes. Everything seems low stakes and infinitely slow. Children come, get older, but seem the same day after day.
My vices? Another drink, another ice cream bar, another swear, another wank, an extra pill, a message to another girl?
I have this idea of captions for my life right now, if I were storyboarding it. “Hero fails to see the value of his current struggle to maintain narrative drive in the face of unmoving quarantine life and his impending job termination.”
“Hero replays criticism in his head, for the 10^999 time. Hero tries to decide if he’s miserable because he drank too much coffee, alcohol, or took too many stimulants.”
“Hero reads comic book about suicide as a deus ex machina (Vimanarama) in an effort to purge those repetitive ‘kill yourself’ thoughts from his mental regimen.”
“Hero avoids family to study for job which says he is incompetent. Hero spends hours on material, fighting his negative internal monologue, then tries to engage with his family now that his internal monologue has enough space to devour him whole.”
Donnie Darko made me want to go to medical school. I still don’t know how, it was almost subliminal. I was home from college, recently graduated. I watched the movie, then watched it a second time with the commentary on, trying to understand it better. It was two or three in the morning. I had a friend from high school who was going to be MD PhD, and he was working overnights at Steak and Shake. I drove out in the middle of the night to meet him on his break.
There’s elements I identified with. Donnie is this brilliant kid who doesn’t have an outlet; he hasn’t figured out how to engage his talent in a way that’s constructive and benefits him. He tries to connect with other kids. He has a vision of the impending apocalypse, and is tasked with saving the world; he ultimately creates a manifold to direct the plane engine from his reality back in time to the divergence point of the tangent universe and kill himself, preventing the tangent universe from being created. He is given knowledge of everything before he dies, and laughs, and then is smashed to death by the engine.
An Ensurance trap is a concept in a movie, of events and people conspiring to bring you to a place so that you can perform the task that you need to. At different times, I’ve reflected on my life and seen the clues, the forces pushing me onto my current path. I feel like I have something in me to give to the world, something great that others cannot provide. This is my reason for going on, more than money or family or career or impressing anyone.
I still don’t know what it is. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I’ve been reading/listening to Charles Bukowski’s books for the past few weeks. They’re really terrific, and especially motivational as someone interested in writing. He kept writing, even when he had to rewrite all his stories by hand and submit them again and again. He started writing professionally when he was fifty, and wrote in a style that was his own.
I don’t know if I’d be a novelist, but I like to write, and it’s a way of getting my crazy thoughts out of my head and making me feel like I’m not alone in the world. I put all my bad stuff into my writing and then I don’t have to choke on it.
In terms of medical progress, I thought research would rocket me toward some redemptive purpose. I’ve gotten published in medical journals, including my first “first author” manuscript last year; it took three years, and I was the only one pushing it, but it got done. My work hasn’t acknowledged it at all, preferring to beat me down over typos and any other mistakes, real or perceived. I had to quit my other research projects, and now I’m not certain I’ll get back into it.