(Some of this may be a tiny bit repetitive)
The first ever work I had published was an editorial written one night during the second half of my freshman year of college. It was a turbulent year full of drinking, laziness, incredibly bad relations with my roommate, and a lot of troubling maturity. This was a period in which I was very depressed and in many ways self loathing. At a recent party a girl had been nice to me. As a result I developed a crush and as I often did, let the manifestations of my life unfold onto a computer screen and into written word. The piece was chalk full of metaphors and nuances that I swore only my subconscious mind could understand. I read it over and felt it was a short piece on maturity and coming to clarity in one’s own mind.
After letting a friend read it, I decided to send it to the school newspaper, The Outlook, under the headline, Hell Driven Pigments and Candy Apples. The title was one of the metaphors I had written without full comprehension of what it meant. I was proud to have it in the paper though I was fairly upset with the subhead that the editor added which labeled it as a “story of unrequited love.”
The funny thing about the situation is that because I never really understood what that phrase “Hell Driven Pigments and Candy Apples” meant, it stuck with me and I’d often refer to it as the article was the beginning of my career.
At the time it was written I was 18 and it had taken me that many years to take seriously what would become my career in writing. It took an additional six years for me to finally understand what the true meaning behind my words.
An apple is the pinnacle of all of g-d’s creations. It is something that is devoid of racism and sexism, coming in all different colors and its own seeds create new life. It has no bias for appearance, the roots are ingrained deep inside them, they come in all different shapes and sizes, there is no apparent danger (unless you are snow white and you see a witch coming towards you), I have never in my life seen someone say “NO!! Don’t eat that apple!” and it doesn’t matter if you have a sweet tooth or like things bitter as they come in all different tastes. In fact growing up children are often told that apples are the key to health and survival, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” says mommy dearest to her infant son. It’s the perfect combination of complex metaphor and simple ideology as it can be applied to all aspects of human life and interaction. This is especially true when candy is added to the equation.
Candy represents the best and the worst of life. Much like apples candy comes in different shapes, colors, weights, flavors and appearances. It’s fine alone but best when paired with a host. How it gets paired with its host is purely random; a random act that effects how that apple is perceived until it is ultimately consumed. Most times people enjoy the newly reformatted apples, internalizing the extra effort that it took to turn the apple what appears before them. But then on occasion for whatever reason the addition isn’t well received and the apple is laid to waste without hesitation or care for the time and the idea behind it. Candy can also be different things a person is born with or develops. Things like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), one leg, a large penis, a small penis, a great voice, color-blindness, a genius IQ, gorgeous hair, a bald spot and others. Each has the potential to be great but also difficult.
Each human being can be represented by a candy apple. We start off small with a tiny core. As time passes we grow and develop our own distinctive features. Some of us are sweet, others sour. Our skin shows our differences with each individual nick, prick, indent, color variation, flaw, and gap. Some are best as part of a group while others stand alone more comfortable in smooth harmony, and others have things added to it that changes it forever. There are apples that are better in the fridge closed off from the outside world; others gain their flavor by being out in the open air breathing. The addition of the candy neither positively nor negatively affects the life of the apple only determining how the apple looks when it succumbs to its eventual ending. In the end there is no telling why some wilt and go bad quicker than others.
The only difference between humans and apples is that apples don’t have a mind of their own, or at least not one I can figure out. They are born, live and die according to nature.
Hell Driven Pigments
It seems a bit weird for a person that is colorblind to use a metaphor in which the entire meaning is based on colors. Especially when that said metaphor is the title of his memoir. However if we look at the term ‘hell driven pigments’ in context with ‘candy apples’ it becomes a bit easier to understand.
If the apples represent us as humans then the hell driven pigments are the issues and problems each of us deal with on an everyday basis. Each individual color relates to the type of problem that we face. Imagine for a second a scene from your favorite ghost movie. Picture the point in that movie that the spirits energy passes through the main character perhaps without the character even knowing. Now instead of it being a spirit that passes through the person make it an outpouring of different colors and with each color that passes through the main character feels a different emotion, lets out a different sound or reaction without any reaction being quite the same. Now imagine this going on the person’s entire life, from birth to death.
Many times we can’t directly identify the exact color or problem that is facing us but we always have a reaction based on how we feel. So in that respect it doesn’t necessarily matter what exact color is passing through, rather the importance lies in the inner fabric behind it. The fact is each person has a unique and individual reaction to each problem. Even if we go through strikingly similar issues there is always a point where the reaction sways.
The reason these colors are hell driven is because each person strives to live the ‘perfect life’ regardless of what one’s own definition of perfect is. If there are problems then obviously perfection cannot be attained. So if we aren’t meant to be ‘perfect’ then something must be drastically wrong right? Problems can only arise from something that is bad and since depending on what religion you are (in the Jewish religion there is no hell, in others hell is considered a haven) hell is the worst possible scenario problems must arise from there. After all, no right minded g-d would ever wish problems upon anyone for any reason.
Hell Driven Pigments + Candy Apples
Now that each part has been explained individually let us now look at the metaphor as a whole. “Hell Driven Pigments and Candy Apples’ are you me, your mother sister brother, aunt, girlfriend ex girlfriend, boyfriend, priest, rabbi or next door neighbor. It is who you are what you look like, what problems you face, how you deal with them, what advantages you have, don’t have, how you perceive what is going on around you, and everything in between. Hell Driven Pigments and Candy Apples is simply one way of looking at life. A basic step by step philosophy or idea covered in a bit of an offbeat metaphor I made up one night during freshman year.
It took six years to figure out that I was referring to life and the problems I was dealing with. The problems like ADHD, being colorblind, the pain in my heart, problems with my roommates, and everything else. It seems so simple but maybe that was the point. I am fully aware people have a million more and worse problems than me. I know about the people starving in Africa (my father reminded me every day growing up when he would force the last cherrios down my throat after telling me, “people are starving in African Dan. If you waste your meal you’ll be dishonoring them”), I know about the people living on the street scraping to get by, or the families watching their loved ones die from all sorts of illnesses. I know all this. But the fact is that I am not them all I can do as an individual person is to worry about my problems. Just because other people are suffering doesn’t mean you should or could ignore what is going on to you. This is not to say that you shouldn’t feel for them because that is natural. But how can you attempt to save the world if your own head isn’t screwed on straight?
Every person occasionally needs a breathe of fresh air, every man woman and child sometimes needs to step out onto their deck and scream out into the sky, hit a punching bag, or watch an episode of Two and a Half Men, why? Because we all need a release. No-one’s life is so perfect that they can get through every single day week after week, year after year without some sort of vent, some way of letting go of whatever is bottled up inside them, good or bad.
‘Hell Driven Pigments and Candy Apples’ are my release, my own special way of dealing with life and viewing the world. Growing up I always looked at things differently than most. I began my life as a popular child in Kindergarten and then kind of fell off a cliff and became a victim of the great unknown. At first I went to see therapists who gave me every kind of test imaginable to see what was wrong with me. Then at age 9 I learned I had Attention Deficit Disorder and anxiety coupled with depression. Throughout the last 14 years I have been on nearly every major ADHD medication as well as a number of anti-depressants. Every day I had to fight just to be normal.
Originally this ‘memoir’ was not going to be a memoir at all, but rather a look at my years with ADHD with a focus on the medications that I took, reactions to the medications, feelings associated with it. How it affected my relationships both with my immediate family as well as cousins and friends, and how ADHD is a truly serious problem.
However as I sat down to begin writing it occurred to me that the best way, rather the only way to fully explain to others the trials and tribulations both good and bad was to write down everything that has happened in my life. From first memories to early childhood and on all the way up through now.
So what makes me worth reading about? What is so different about me that a person will sit down and stare at hundreds of pages of written word? Honestly nothing and I’m not saying I have had a boring life or am unworthy. Not by any stretch of the imagination, but I cannot sit here and tell you that what you will read in this memoir is different than anything you have seen from your brother, sister, friend, or read in a newspaper article. The only promise I will make from the beginning of this book to the very end is that I am completely being honest. Things I have gone through I have seen happen in many other situations with kids that have ADHD. My goal is that kids with ADHD as well as their parents can both read this individually and then after reading it come together and connect on how that person is feeling. It’s a cliché phrase but if just one person reads things and is helped by the story and can relate to what I went through then my mission is accomplished. I don’t care about book deals, popularity, fame, or if anyone knows who I am. I just want to help others.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you are reading this book looking for solutions to you or your child’s problems then please close the cover now and forget it. While it may help I have never seen anyone fixed by reading a book. It may help give suggestions as to what worked for me, but seriously I’m still going through it and will go through it every day for the rest of my life. ADHD is not something that goes away overnight, and it’s not something you can push back to the darkest realm of your subconscious mind. It affects every aspect of a person’s daily life.
With all that said, I from the bottom of my heart hope you enjoy this book and it can in some way help whatever issues you or someone you know is facing. If you’re not facing anything then by all means enjoy this will be an interesting ride.