“Experts think schizophrenia is caused by several factors: Genes and environment. Scientists have long known that schizophrenia runs in families. The illness occurs in 1 percent of the general population, but it occurs in 10 percent of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent, brother, or sister.”
-National Institute of Mental Health
Yes brother, my blood is well-caffeinated, my coffee is stockpiled, I have plenty of chocolate, and that $20 you sent will go toward a phone card. I will call you tomorrow between 1 and 2 p.m. and if you miss it I’ll try again between 6 and 8 p.m. Expect me to call around those hours from now on.
My handwriting has been angling up toward the right because this paper doesn’t have lines and it annoys the hell out of me. We must push on in the face of adversity though.
Over the past few days I’ve been reading Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” and I’ll finish it tonight. Although I’ve seen the movie with Robert DeNiro as the monster, the book has been especially enjoyable. I hope you like the drawing on the back of this page.
When Victor refuses the monster’s request to create a female counterpart, the monster starts killing Victor’s friends and family, and eventually his fiancé. The feelings that the author describes Victor as having after these tragic events very much relate to my own feeling over the past few months.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. I promise you that I will continue to make the best of what is available to me. You’re right: I won’t dwell on how I let anyone down, and I’ll work on not allowing unworthiness to dominate my thoughts.
Those puzzles you sent are awesome! There’s 250 Kakuros so I’m stoked there. Lately I’ve been working the other logic and math ones. The variety is nice. I’m pretty good at them but they can be challenging, and that’s just what I need to get and keep me out of the funk sometimes.
Albert wrote me and sent some pictures. You’re in two of the photos he sent. One is at your old house when I lived in Iowa City, and you’re standing beneath my painting in the kitchen. He also sent me a great picture of Dad wearing that blue shirt with white flowers on it, jeans with suspenders, and a nice belt buckle. Al took that one when we were camping at Lake Macbride for your wedding.
I miss Dad. But he’s resting in a peaceful place. You know me, I still believe he’ll be resurrected.
Helping edit Dad’s book sounds interesting. Maybe at some point you can send me a section at a time. Maybe when I get some place more permanent.
And there’s no shortage of strange experiences I’ve had in my life. I should write a little story about my soccer ball experience. I made a model of one, and it was a complete coincidence that made it possible. I started the project when I was staying at Bob’s and finished it at the little apartment I had in Ames.
In fact, I’ve been trying to draw soccer balls freehand like this … (editor’s note: drawing of soccer ball was on handwritten letter).
Have Atticus check and see how many hexagons and pentagons are on a soccer ball. I’m guessing 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons, or 12 hexagons and 9 pentagons. See if he and you can figure it out and let me know the answer so I can draw one out. I’m definitely on a tangent.
Thanks again, your letter really lifted my spirits. Love you bro,
P.S. Sorry – a rat took a bite out of this! Ha! (editor’s note: page’s corner was slightly shredded.)
Turkey Nite, 2012
What the funk is up?
I’m tipsy on Turkey-Day bird.
Radiohead made me miss you.
I’m enclosing some $ and a zombie drawing from Atticus.
Some of his math practice problems are on the back of the sheet.
Keep calling me – I’ll answer when I see or hear your call.
“For a minute there … I lost myself …
I lost myself … ”
I know this is sporadic, but that’s all I got right now.
Just know that as your brother, I will always love you.
Our memories with Dad will always be priceless …
those golden moments in the Black Hills, for example.
P.S. Atty liked your Frankenstein drawing – that inspired his zombie drawing. Take care of yourself bro, and stay warm!
First, I assure you that the soccer ball in the drawing is not an evil one. Otherwise I would not have sent it to you. No, I would have kept it to myself, as a secret, to use against anyone who wants to stand between me and my goal! My goal of course is top secret.
Why do I draw soccer balls, you wonder? What could possibly be the practical purpose of such an endeavor? If you guessed world domination then you are close. And no, I do not draw any nor do I try to draw any dark powers from the pentagram in the center. That is merely for architectural design purposes only. All of them pagans who think that it possesses mystical energy probably think the same of their own arseholes. In fact, they should take a look because perhaps their arseholes do have mystical energy.
I, on the other hand, draw soccer balls and pentagrams purely for recreational purposes. This one I’m sending you would be cooler if it had disco balls in the center of the hexagons and a skating rink surrounding the pentagon in the middle. You could call it a hexa-pentagonal skating rink. Yes, this is a nice soccer ball, far from being an evil one.
It’s not a real soccer ball anyway. I wasn’t even looking at a real one when I sketched it out. It’s a pretty fair bet that I’m not within a mile of a real one. So you can see that I was faced with a challenge when I set out on drawing one-half of a soccer ball. And for one like myself who tends to complicate things, yes, it was a monumental challenge.
First of all I needed a few facts. Like the surface area of a sphere with radius of 1, the area of a regular hexagon with sides of length X, the area of a pentagon with sides of length X, the golden ratio, some trigonometry and some Pythagoras theory.
Combining these tidbits of info I arrived at an approximation in the form of an equation for the side of a length X for the pentagons and hexagons on an imaginary soccer ball with a perfectly smooth, spherical surface area of 4 Pi. In other words, if X is the sides of the nine pentagons and 14 hexagons on a soccer ball with surface area 4 Pi the … [Algebraic error] … RED ALERT! … nuclear meltdown imminent … please disregard.
This is all nonsense and you must be thinking, “What the hell is going on here? Why am I reading this letter? What is wrong with my brother Aaron?”
Don’t worry. Believe me, I understand your frustration. I mean, who on earth would subject themselves to all the tedious calculations and rigorous dedication to exactitude just for a hand-drawn picture of an effing soccer ball? It’s bullshit man!
But it’s not. You see, from here I’m hoping to take things to the next level and actually make 3-dimensional models of soccer balls. Then I can send them as gifts to family and friends.
So yeah, I used the math for the drawing and I think it’s driving me mad, man. Then when I read your letter yesterday and saw Atty’s addition exercises, I thought they showed some pretty decent numbers. Tell him his addition is very good! And if that’s his pencil writing then he sure is good for his age.
His drawing was cool too, like a space Frankenstein. Tell him thanks.
Who will be the first to kick a soccer ball into space? I think we both know. The Russians.
My brain is fried. I will continue this memoir later. Sleep tight old boy!
Hello again! And good afternoon. They would disguise the Pentagon as a soccer stadium if they knew what was good for them.
It’s been a good day so far, and I’m going to ship this letter off with the drawing. It’s been fun. I got a little carried away with this project but it’s only the beginning.
Thanks for the check, and I miss playing music with you, too. Brings a tear to my eye. Say hello to Atty and Brittany for me. Til we meet again …
Love, your bro,
Early December, 2012
It was a pleasure receiving your non-evil soccer ball. I can assure you that your secret goal of something close to world domination is safe with me. As some old pop song said: My lips are sealed.
I also appreciated your “sweet cheeks” fella – you should think about drawing a comic strip.
I think your hexa-pentagonal skating rink is an excellent idea – I may need to start looking for investors for what could become the latest, hottest and hippest trend! Don’t worry, you stand to earn at least 20 percent of any profits.
I must apologize for not sending you the secret soccer-ball related info you requested earlier, but I’m amazed to see the math you delved into during the process … I must admit, all of it is WAY over my head, but I trust that much of it is relevant, and hopefully assume that you had a good time running that stuff through your head and coming up with equations to write up. I’ve always loved your zany and advanced math mind.
3-dimensional soccer balls would be awesome – if only you had access to a 3-D laser printer!
And yeah, the way Atty does math (for his homework) is crazy – but it’s good because they’re teaching them how to approach it from several different ways.
OK, here’s the belated soccer-ball info:
1. You get an A+ for getting once side right. And that’s freaking amazing! One minor note: When you look at the soccer ball, you see a little past the outer hexagons’ edges, so the drawing could include a few more lines.
2. I’ve enclosed a rough, sloppy, oblong drawing of the other side of a soccer ball, or at least the one we play with. I’ve marked the hexagons with an “HB”, because they’re larger. The smaller pentagons are marked with a “PS”. This drawing should clue you in to the note in (1.).
So I’m listening to Firewater right now … some of their lyrics are poetic and you might enjoy them … so I’ll share a song:
“When the little things are tearing you apart
They should have warned you
This is how it starts
An answering machine that only speaks the truth
The endless shrink parade
The nights that never cease
And all you want is peace
But all you get is pills
And still they tell you
Psychopharmacology is gonna be your friend
When you can’t get out of bed and you’re so tired of pretending
Psychopharmacology is gonna save your soul
‘Cause God is great and God is good but he’s also made of wood
Believe in psychopharmacology
Tonight terrorize your friends
They should have warned you
This is how it ends
But the thing you can’t accept
Is this is all you get
You just want a second chance
But all you get is pills
And still they tell you
Psychopharmacology is gonna set you straight.”
I took Atticus on a nice hike in Hickory Hill park yesterday … we wandered off on deer trails into the woods for a while … it’s always refreshing to get a little lost out in Mother Nature land.
It’s been unseasonably warm most of this early winter so far, but colder temps and possible snow are headed our way soon. Maybe we’ll be bringing sleds to Hickory Hill next time.
I don’t mind the winter warmth though – the one silver lining of global warming, I suppose.
All right man, I’m going to print this out and get it sent tomorrow. I’ll write again before long and send a couple pages of Dad’s book next time … I’ve started dabbling at editing and re-writing it a bit, but it’s going to take quite a bit of time.
Hope you’re staying as warm and well as possible. Keep working your body and brain as best as you can, sir!