Saturday, April 9, 2011

Novel x Life: Skippy Dies

Skippy Dies is one of the more quote worthy novels I’ve read.  Not lately, but ever.  It’s fantastic.  It’s refreshing to find a book with so much to say—and I’m only half way through it! 

“With each passing second, though, the school’s morbid gravity reasserts its control: the old familiar inertia sets in, and soon encounters with the world outside have become little more than dim dreams, wild jumbles of shapes and colours quickly fading like Patrick Noonan’s tan, until by the end of the first day’s classes, it’s as if the boys have never been away at all.”

Welcome back from break, Gusties.  You all look so tan, toned, fit, and ready! Meanwhile, yours truly is struggling to back into the swing of things—since when is school something I have trouble with?  Oh, right, since I’ve been a second semester senior that doesn’t care about anything other than enjoying his daily existence.  And that’s not even going that well these days…

Alas!  Happiness, though mitigated by environment and nature, is often a choice. So perhaps it’s time to work on choosing to be happy?  Anxiety is carving out the veins in my arms these days and I am feeling jittery even when I’m asleep.  Have you ever slept on a bed of crawling skin?  For the last four nights: I have.

“Gradually the awful truth dawns on you: that Santa Claus was just the tip of the iceberg—that your future will not be the rollercoaster ride you’d imagined, that the world occupied by your parents, the world of washing dishes, going to the dentist, weekend trips to the DIY superstore to buy floor-tiles, is actually largely what people mean when they speak of ‘life’.”

Not literally, of course.  Sleeping on a bed of skin, let alone the crawling variety, is sort of a gross image.  Not one that I am particularly fond of either. 

But that’s what it feels like; I am sure some of you can identify.  It’s that overwhelming feeling of: “wow, I should have done so much more today than I did and I don’t even care that I didn’t and suddenly nothing matters because falling asleep just sounds perfectly fine when my mind just won’t shut up and every hair on my head and every pore of my skin is shuddering with anticipatory failure for tomorrow”

I think maybe I am scared of success. 

And success is inevitable.  I mean, I’m Josh Plattner.  The name is practically synonymous with achievement!  And, if I tell myself this a million times over, repeat it day in and day out, maybe it will stick in the folds of my brain and I will believe it.

“Outside, the storm has finally blossomed: it roars, howls, thrashes against the window like something out of the Paleozoic, or an epic movie; and as the demonic machinery of hands, mouths, hips takes over, Howard, perhaps not quite at the level of consciousness, but some substratum just below it, finds himself back again, as he has been on so many days and nights, at the edge of a windswept rockface, in a half-ring of shadowed faces, a hand holding out to him a slip of paper on which is written his own name, like a scales weighing up his soul—”

I slept with my window open for the first time this week.  The breeze at night: are you for real?  It’s fantastic.  Spring has definitely made visible improvements to everyone around this place.  Smiling is more frequent, and that’s probably the best part.

“He is still trying to understand when Shaved-Head’s face suddenly changes from a question to a snarling, like he’s taken off a mask and beneath it there’s fire.”

I like to think that it’s not even forced!  I really believe that the atmosphere is genuinely happier, is actually better and better with every degree the temperature rises, with every little ray of sun that pins us down through uncovered windows.  I don’t think it’s a mask: I think that everyone is just happier the closer we get to summer, the further we journey into spring.  And it’s great.  It’s so nice to feel like everything is getting better and better and better.

But that’s the point, right? It gets better.    

Spring is sentimental to me, I think.

I think?  Oh, no, I am very much aware that spring makes me sentimental.  Well: more sentimental.

“For another twenty seconds, thirty, her thin body crushes up tighter and tighter against him, as if she’s screwing herself into place with her tongue.”

Did I say sentimental?  I meant sexual.  Clearly.

But really, what a line!  All I can think about when I read it is how delightfully charming that experience would be.  The thunder that pounds away outdoors definitely reminds me of a desire to be kissed in the rain. 

Perhaps it could be the lightning that screws me into place?

“And before you can say anything, she is walking away, every step she takes a sledgehammer whomping his heart into little tiny pieces.”

But I want it to matter, you know?  I don’t want the rain to be falling and the flowers to blooming and the earth to be moving beneath me without someone there who makes me feel like, even amongst the magnanimity mother nature’s kingdom, I’m the only other being in the world.

Is that too much to ask, universe?  You tease me every time it rains into thinking that something might actually come to fruition and then leave me out to dry: figuratively, metaphorically, literally. 

Apparently spring not only makes me sentimental, but ridiculous as well?  I sometimes write things like (see above) and then realize: sweet baby Jesus, you need to settle down boy.  You need to take a chill pill and just let this world run its course.  Appreciate it though.  Love every moment and take it one day, one minute, one moment at a time.

I was reminded recently that we’re only guaranteed one moment.  This moment.  We’re given nothing but now, nothing but this instance.  So I guess it’s important to make the best of it?

Still: there’s something terribly heartbreaking about that thought, too.  You might not ever get that chance to tell someone how you reel or show the world what you’re capable of or listen to that one song for the last time.

So just do it.  I guess the lesson here is the same one Nike has been imprinting on our lives from day one…haha, odd right? 
“He is thinking about asymmetry.  This is a world, he is thinking, where you can lie in bed, listening to a song as you dream about someone you love, and your feelings and the music will resonate so powerfully and completely that it seems impossible that the beloved, whoever and wherever he or she might be, should not know, should not pick up this signal as it pulsates from your heart as if you and the music and the love and the whole universe have merged into one force that can be channeled out into the darkness to bring them this message.”

I once wrote: “above all things, I believe in love.”

I wrote that because it was true. 

Today: I feel the same way.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to fall asleep on a bed of crawling skin.

1 comment:

  1. "Spring is sentimental to me, I think."

    J-baby, I love that.