Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I read this entire book on my flight to California on Thursday. I couldn't put it down. It was too much on the edge and it was all to real. I can't imagine what it would be like to want to know how to read and write but not be able to do so. I can't imagine being pregnant at 12 and not knowing about it until I was bearing a child on the kitchen floor, not to mention by my father. Precious had to deal with things unbarable to most people, and although she felt like she wanted to die she did not ever think of taking her life. I think that the amount of suffering she went through shows great character. Even with a Down Syndrome baby she goes on to say that abortion is evil, it takes a great amount of strength to do what she did. It takes even more strength for someone with two kids by the age of 17 to want to go to school, learn and get out. Her journey from her home where she was sexually abused, and subjected to violence by her mother, to the half way house is a tremendous one.
It amazed me that her mother blamed Precious for everything. She said that Precious stole "her man" - her man was the father of a child whom he was raping since a very young age. Such atrocities as this one outraged me and even made me cry at certain parts of the book. I wondered is this what poverty is like? Do people actually get through these times in thier lives?
I remember her mentioning the hate for the white man alot - "the problem is not crack it's crackers" and I remember her wanting to be light skinned because she considered that beautiful which posed a great paradox in my mind. The one thing I cannot forget and will probably stick in my mind for a long time is when Precious' mother comes in to the counselor's office and talks about how Carl, Precious' father, would breast feed off of her mother's nipples and one day he was on her and reached over to Precious and put his finger in between her legs. He then proceeded to take of her Pampers and try to put his penis inside this small infant. Her mom states "You know what trip me out was it almost can go in Precious." WHAT?!??! A MAN, ANY MAN WHO TAKES OFF THE PAMPERS OF A BABY AND TRIES TO PUT HIS PENIS INSIDE IT IS A SICK, TWISTED, LUNATIC! I am so mad at Precious' mother for condoning this and letting it go on, allowing it for her benefit because she knew that as long as she allowed this man to have sex with her child he would stick around. Is this poverty? Is this ignorance? Or is this just plain lunacy?

Another thing I foud interesting and also not surprising was that Precious refused to give up Abdule because without him she claimed she would have nothing. This very much correlates with another piece of literature I read by the same author a novel called American Dreams. In the beginning it made it more clear to me why girls in poverty are much more likely to keep their children even though they may not have the means to care for them. In that world, where those girls have nothing, and often are shown no love, their child is their only possession and their only means of recieving the love they seek. By having a child they have a purpose - something to care about and something that needs them which they also grow to need in return.

Beyond the outrage I felt in my airplane seat and the tears I was fighting back I knew this was a truly insparational story. I feel that Precious is one of the few children who have taken that much abuse who can make it. She wanted to learn. Miss Rain's class and her opporunity to write in a journal served as an outlet for her which was beneficial in dealing with many of her struggles. She made friends, real girl friends, like she had wanted who helped her pull through. Through the darkness of abuse and hopelessness was the light which came with her choice to go to school. It turned out to be her savior in the end.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pain in Songs

I think that music a very successful mode of expression for pain. People open themselves up on a track and pour everything out, which blended with some creativity or a new tune, makes a great song. The reality of songs and the feelings of the artists makes it easy to envision them as a little bit closer to us, a little more human; their experiances resonate with ours...they are just like us. Most often songs are sung about love and the pain which comes of a break up, which is something almost all of us can relate to. I remember when the song by Eamon titled "Fuck it" came out. I thought, "man there goes a vulgar controversial song", but it is so raw and real. This artist said all of the things we truly feel and definetly spoke to the younger generations who can relate to the vulgar language. When someone ripped your trust and love to pieces there is nothing left to say but "fuck you, you hoe, I don't want you back". I can only imagine the pain which comes with uttering those words.
Then there are pop songs which made it big on Top 40 charts like Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away". I can totally relate to the words in that song too. In all songs dealing with pain, it feels as though the release of that pain inside of the song produces support amongst fans and has an empowering effect on the artists, almost like a catharsis. At the same time they are bare and exposed for the world to see which is a certain kind of vulnerability, which at the same time makes them stronger.
It is hard to miss that three of the songs on the list are by Nirvana. No surprise there. It reminds me of the line "I bleed just to know I'm alive". Torn, twisted. Dead.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beautiful Boy

This truly was a wonderful book. I have to say I cried at least three times while reading it. It's definetly a breath of fresh air comapred to the other more technical books we've been reading on pain.
After finishing the book, I found myself asking, why did Nic do it in the first place? Something that David Scheff was trying to figure out the length of the book and probably for the rest of his life. Was it the need for a better high after pot, LSD, and ecstasy?
This book certainly explained a new level of addiction and pain to me. I learned that meth is worse than any other drug since it kills 90% of the brain's dopamine, which then makes it impossible to recreate the intial high of the drug: the addicts ultimate quest. Depression and anxiety are worse than ever and these things combined make recovery very difficult since the neurotoxicity of the drug makes it that the brain may never fully recover and addicts are unable and unwilling to participate in common treatments during stages of withdrawl, making addiction and relapse a destructive and on-going cycle.
How many times does an addict have to relapse to get it? After the numerous relapses Nic experiances I found myself distrusting of his promises just like his dad was. It's hard for me to imagine that he is actually clean right now, as we speak. Relapse is just another brick in the road, it seems. I certainly hope that the little something inside Nic, clicked and made him change so radically that it dulled out his desire to get high.
I found the quote from John Lennon "God is a concept by which we measure our pain" very interesting. How could Nic and David Scheff measure pain, when their belief was not God, but ethical principles? Pain has no measure.
I cried at the passages which described Nic as an innocent child, the best gift in David's life, with his arms wrapped around his father's neck, doing the many things they would do together. How did that child, turn into this lifeless addict. "Addiction is an equal opportunity affliction - affecting people without regard to thier economic circumstances, their education, their race, their geography, their IQ, or any other factor", David mentions. Nic was incredible and smart, with huge potential. This part of the book made me feel so helpless, uncertain, and unsafe. What if this were my child? There is no control over this situation. And yet it is impossible not to seek the blame in yourself. This must be the most excruciating thing a parent has to face. "It may be true that suffering builds character, but it also damages people". This experiance certainly left David and the entire family damaged. He, with a hole in his head, and the family seeking counceling including the children, simply innocent by-standers.
I am amazed at the fact that David, beyond the fact that he suffered and went through so much, has the courage and strength to say "I will take the worry in order to take waht has come through as the most important emotion after my hemhorrage". He accpets evil in order to participate in the miraculous. Even after everything Nic has caused he takes back the comment of wanting to erase Nic our of his memory, like in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. "There is much good, but to enjoy beauty, the love, one must bear the painful". I feel that we could all learn from David Scheff. That is a true love of life, at its purest.