Sunday, July 23, 2006

No Suicide Solution

I've been listening to a fair amount of Elliot Smith lately.
i would say i listen to him more now that he's dead.
Death has a funny way of changing the way you listen to an artist's music.
Knowing that he'll never record anything more (well, Tupac, notwithstanding...), a finite canon of material.
I'm not exactly sure why i'm listening to Elliot Smith more.
just like i don't know why i always want to spell Eliot with two t's, like 'elliott'.
i seem to consistently type it with one L and two T's.
Kinda like when you spell Graffiti, there's hesitation..."is graffiti two f's and one t or vice versa?"

how the fuck do you kill yourself by stabbing yourself in the chest, as Mr. Smith did?
i've thought about the possibility of suicide, not because i would ever actually want to kill myself (are you kidding? there's always happiness after the shittiest of periods, i have learned that in my years on this planet), but just thought about it purely from the 'what if' point of view.

since i'm not much for pain (this, despite having a rather lengthy list of injuries my body has incurred in my life), i absolutely could not stick a knife in my chest.
that has to fucking hurt before death.
i'd prefer something quick, instant, where the pain is but a fleeting moment.
sure, decapitation is a sure and fast way, but that's not something that one could really plan.
unless i rented out a limo and hung out in the moon roof while wearing stilts.
um, no.

shotgun to the head, like mr. cobain, among others (a former high school classmate, for example).
but then you pretty much destroy your formerly pretty face.
and your mom might not like that so much.
everybody likes an open casket.
i mean, come on. we all want to see what this person looks like, this person you knew as alive, to be dead and laying there in a stiff, freakishly odd position, hands carefully folded over one's belly.
lips sewn together.
eyelids sewn shut.
makeup on the face.
maybe shooting one's face off is the answer, if that's what you're going for.
one last dig at your so-called loved ones.
'i'll show those fuckers. not only am i depriving them of my continued presence, they won't even be able to show me off in front of proud relatives.'
kinda mean.

there's the always tried-and-true hanging.
but that isn't exactly a quick death either.
see, i'm all about pain avoidance.

plus, with things like hangings or a gun to one's head, there's this feeling that you should leave a suicide note, some last thing to relay to whoever finds your sorry-ass corpse, letting them know why. Because of course, people always ask 'why? why would he/she do this? he/she had so much to live for.'
yes, right, so much to live for.
we've all had those days when we question why the fuck we continue to go on? why we even bother with it all, that this whole life thing is bullshit and we're just burning up the time, on our eventual journey to glorious Heaven for all eternity.
yeah, so much to live we can continue in some form of existence FOREVER.

a wise man named Prince Rogers Nelson once said
Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here 2 tell u
There's something else
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night

i don't know about you, but eternity scares the shit out of me.
how is that possible?
and why am i so special, that being a human being and simply surviving life, reaps the reward of eternal life?

maybe my cat has done more for humanity than i have. why can't she get in on that eternal life shit?

hence...why i've never really bought all that hoo-ha.
to me, that kind of talk is yet another way we humans attempt to make some sense of having a finite existence.

i don't completely discount the possibility that there actually IS some sort of post-life life (from an idealistic standpoint, i try to keep all options open, since, i'll never know the answer), but if it does, i'm fully confident that my lowly human brain can't even begin to comprehend how this actually happens.


Dousing yourself with lighter fluid or some other flammable substance and lighting up is another way to end it all.
but again, pain...
burns just fucking suck.
burning alive...not really something i'd be into.
plus you can't really donate any of those organs.
in fact...i can never understand people that say things like 'i'm not giving up any of my organs. i want every part of me to be buried with me.'
like you're going to fucking know.
you're dead.
your time is over.
what the fuck do you care? letting them rot away into maggot malt-o-meal underground is the more proper way?
it's highly doubtful there's going to be a way to bring back the dead in the near-future, so if you're holding on for that possible chance, that the Future Holds the Key to extended life, give up that pipe dream.


we were talking about more important things...potential ways to kill yourself.

here in the Bay Area, there's been a rash of people walking in front of the Caltrain. That's definitely instant death. But it seems so violent...and frankly, pretty fucking selfish.

You end up fucking up people's commute by your selfish decision to let society take care of your sorry ass.
look, i'm not being callous here (well, maybe i am), but if you're contemplating suicide, do everyone else a favor and do it in your own space and time.
We're sorry you wanted to kill yourself, but why put us through misery just because you can't deal.

There's been much talk of putting up suicide barriers along both the Caltrain tracks and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Jumping off the Golden Gate, now there's a spectacular way to go out.
I feel bad for the people that lost loved ones to the lure of the GG, i do, but putting up suicide barriers is just plain stupid.
you're not going to stop the people that want to kill themselves. they will just find another way. humans tend to do that.
Blaming an inanimate object for your suffering does no one any good.
There would be some pain involved with jumping off the GG.
The San Francisco Chronicle did a big series on this very subject last year and it made for an interesting read.

I think the easiest way to off yourself is probably by carbon monoxide poisoning, you know, the ol' shut the garage door, turn on the car, and fall asleep.
But apparently, with improvements in auto exhaust systems, that one isn't so tried and true anymore.
there was a woman on my newspaper route who was a teacher at my elementary school, mrs. brown, who did that.
apparently she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months, frankly, i don't really blame her.
actually, oddly enough, i've had several teachers from my elementary and high school years that have died.

The most noteworthy has to be Mr. Loby, Philip Loby.
He was my teacher in 5th Grade. He was a great teacher, as i recall. Tough but fair.
He challenged us.
I was in a class that was a combination of 5th and 6th graders.
The 5th graders in the class were outnumbered 3 to 1 by the meaner 6th graders.
Especially since this was one of those classes for 'gifted students,' meaning all of us already-suffering brainacs had to also deal with being placed in a our own subgroup, thereby ostracizing us from the rest of our 5th grade classmates who were in the 'normal' classrooms.
But Mr. Loby was good.
he was smart, too smart to be teaching in a smallish suburban elementary school.
i was in his class in 1979-80. yeah, i'm dating myself.
but it was an interesting time, when the american hostages were kidnapped by Iranian 'students' in November 1979.
i remember discussing this at length in mr. loby's class.
We even had a tote board that was updated by various students from day to day, counting the number of days Americans had been held captive.

he was worldly. he was jewish -- with an unruly near-afro, wire-frame glasses, and a geekish demeanor -- which came up from time to time in class.
like, say, the time he told us he was not going to be there the following Monday because he was observing Yom Kippur, a day of atonement and one of the most important Jewish holidays.
I, being the curious kid that i am, raised my hand and asked innocently 'what's yom kippur?'
that turned into a fairly lengthy discussion about what it was about, why he found it important, and why we should at least be aware of it.
pretty heady stuff for a 5th/6th grade class, but seeing as how i grew up in a predominantly white suburb dominated by catholics and various protestant affiliations, it was all new to me.
i had never known any jewish people before.
mr. Loby was just different.
He actually gave a shit.

So, in turn, most of us in his class responded eagerly to his passion. we wanted to know more. he made learning fun, not a chore, not a requirement.
i remember getting in trouble with him once. i called this kid next to me a 'Virgin' and pretty loudly.
this, was, of course, during class.
he pulled me out into the hall, which was like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me at that moment, and had a talk with me.
"now Tim, what did you call Tom?"
"a virgin."
"why did you call tom a virgin?"
"i don't know. we were just messing around."
"i saw. tim, do you even know what a virgin is?"
(in a hushed, embarrassed voice, i answer) "um, it's someone that hasn't had sex?"
"that's right. but why would you call Tom that?"
"I don't know. I'm sorry."
"Ok, well, let's try to reign it in a bit while we're in class, OK? Calling someone a virgin in class is not appropriate behavior. I don't want this to happen again, understood?"
"Yes," i said sheepishly.


i don't know why i remember that exchange, but i do. i was mortified i had to be taken out to the hall for a talking-to.
i was always deathly afraid of getting in trouble in school.
the single time i skipped class, in 10th grade, when i was hanging out with my 'bad' friend Tim and who encouraged me to skip with him, i, of course, got caught and ended up receiving an in-house suspension for two days (it was supposed to be three days but for some reason, they said i only had to do two days).
basically, in-house suspension consisted of sitting in a room at an empty desk, with nothing to read, staring at the wall.
the mean old woman 'guarding' me in said room only gave me have some paper and pencil, whereupon i had to wrote furiously about my plight, which included remprimanding myself for doing something so stupid and to never let it happen again.
oh wait...i had to write an 1000-word essay to explain why skipping class was wrong, what i learned from my mistake and so on.
that was it.

yeah...i padded the shit out of that essay to get 1000 words.
shit, that's a lot of words to write (sidenote: on impulse, i just copied this entire entry and pasted it into MS Word to get a word count and as of the word 'write' before this sidenote, we are at 2097 words).
but i'm good at piling on the bullshit, especially when writing.


my report cards from Mr. Loby were always blanketed with comments like "Tim learns quickly and is a lively student, but he tends to talk too much in class."
"Tim consistently scores in the top percentile of his class, but i wish he'd focus more in class."
it's a good thing i've shed that behavior in my adulthood, to become the very focused, disciplined individual that i am today.

anyway....Mr. Loby.
He was a cool guy.
I felt lucky to have had as a teacher. He had an impact.
A definite sign that he gave a shit.


you have to understand my profound bewilderment and sadness when i learned that Mr. Loby had killed himself a few years ago, maybe five?

Apparently, Mr. Loby never left the Comstock Park school system for the remainder of his teaching career, which was a good 25-30 years as i recall.

It gets crazier.
Mr. Loby decided to retire from teaching rather suddenly.
My mom told me that he told people in May, about a month before school was over, that he was retiring and not coming back.
impromptu send-offs and retirement parties were hastily arranged to celebrate Mr. Loby's contributions to the students of Comstock Park.

then a couple of weeks later, i get a phone call from my mom, telling me that Mr. Loby had killed himself, shot himself in the head, within days of his retirement party.
Basically, as soon as school was finished for the year.

It didn't make any sense...and still doesn't.
How could someone i had respected and looked up to do this?
I mean....i knew absolutely nothing about his personal life and what may have happened to him that would result in him killing himself.
Who the hell knows why anybody chooses suicide.

And it wasn't like i was THAT affected when hearing the news.
it's tough to quantify my exact feelings.

i guess it just saddens me a little bit to know that he's not out there in the world, influencing more young, impressionable minds.

Mr. Loby was an asset to humanity.

He made a difference.

I guess i wish i would have told him all these things.

i know this all sounds kind of cheesy or trite, but i don't care.

i can't help how i feel.



the only other potential suicide option that isn't so harsh would be overdosing on sleeping pills or something like that.

another one of those in which you just fall asleep. and not wake up.


but whatever.
fuck all that.

there's simply no chance i would do it (unless i'm diagnosed with a horribly painful terminal illness with zero chance of survival and wasting away to nothingness...and then i'd have to only consider it as an option).

i like being here.
here and now.
this. existence.
all of it.
the good and the bad.

just being.
is it.


and on that note, i didn't want to end this obviously dark post on a negative.
As the Andrews Sisters say, it's important to Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive.

So i want to end this by saying that not all suicide is bad.
i mean, the suicide girls are pretty hot.
definitely not a bad thing.

1 comment:

tina b. torres said...

funny, er perhaps bad choice of wording. more like coincidence -- my most amazing of 5th grade teachers also committed suicide.
and on a seperate yet related note -- the single most influential teacher i ever had was my high school journalism advisor. she recently was diagnosed with cancer and i decided to let her know just what kinda impact she had on me and my life. she appreciated my appreciation and most humbly accepted the praise. sometimes you gotta share that with people while you can.