Chapter 2: The Mad Bowl

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April 16, 2002 – University of Virginia

    My school mates told me that I had two personalities:  scholar and caveman.  Later I would think of my manic self as Jesus Christ and Superman wrapped up in a tortilla.  Maybe a few hot peppers thrown in for good measure.  The first time it wasn’t like that.  I was angry at the world, at America, at my girlfriend, at myself.  I was drunk.  I fractured my skull.  I don’t remember much.  Her name was Shelby.  She was a wooden bear that had a fish in her mouth, but the head had fallen off, so only the body remained.  The Bear would never let go.  The body of the fish was trapped in the Bear’s mouth.  I was intoxicated.  For three hours-they tell me-I smashed my skull against the wooden statue.  I thought I broke my brain.  I thought I had split my mind in two and there was nothing left.  I became incompetent.  I couldn’t focus.  I couldn’t make a decision.  

    I’m told I threw the American flag in the middle of the street and swore about what my country had become.  I organized group head-butts with chugging contests where everyone was a loser.  I didn’t want to think so much, but that was all I could do.  Should I go to China or stay in America?  Should I marry my girlfriend or break up with her?  I regressed.  I was a child and I went back to stay with my mother for the summer at her friend’s house with a psychiatrist and her daughter.  

    For ten to fourteen hours a day for weeks, I paced and did nothing.  I couldn’t even write a sentence.  She came back to escape in sex as usual:  a few moments to make us forget.  Neither one of us was ready to grow up.  I talked of suicide not really meaning it.  I sang sad ballads as a release from my state in the world.  My mom and her psychiatrist friend took me seriously and next thing I knew I was in the hospital thinking I would play it safe and become an orthodontist.  I was afraid of living.  I needed to have it all figured out.  I was alone, and I felt incapable.  My dad and a friend of mine-who happened to be his divorce attorney-encouraged me to separate from my mother’s pull.  She wanted me to stay in Pennsylvania with her.  I wanted to get away but I wasn’t strong enough on my own.  So they weaned me away from my mother.  Again, I lived in the basement of a friend’s house.  Every morning and every night, I enjoyed looking myself in the mirror with my Swiss army knife at my throat.  I knew I wouldn’t cut it, but I longed to walk on the edge of life and death to at least feel something, because I was already dead.

    During my rare moments of living during this time, I reflected on Nietzche and the coming of the Übermensch, the superior man whose ideas would usher in a new age and destroy the idols of the old. Decadence would be replaced by vitality; weak sentimentality by vigorous will, repressed instincts by irrepressible orgiastic joy.  I would let my mind wander in front of the computer:

I have been in a hole for the last many months and am just now beginning to realize that     there is light outside of this dark, damn basement.  I spend my days curled up in a blanket     in my room downstairs afraid.  Afraid of what?  Hell, I don't know.  I think I am afraid of moving on with my life.  I am afraid of the real world and afraid that I am not being who God made me to be.  

I recently had a mental breakdown.  My mom calls it brain frizz.

My dad just gave me a talk that I think I needed, and it may have changed my life.  I am a type A personality and need to keep achieving, so yes, I am going to go to China and fight like damn hell against this depression, because that is what I have always done is fight.  Persistence, will, determination.  I can beat this.