I introduced Lauren Jackson, who has a great sense of humor and also toughness about her, to Derek, a big Caucasian dude with a hearty laugh, in the middle of a busy study period. As soon as Derek was finished the interview, he wanted to do it again. “I can tell stories for hours,” he said.
“I’m not scared of dying; I’m more scared of what would kill me.”
An Interview with Derek, Age 21
As told to Lauren Jackson
When you have a seizure in a public library, when that librarian you think is sooo cute is working and she sees that happen, that is definitely embarrassing. I wake up and she’s standing over me like “Oh my god, are you okay?” and then you feel like the biggest asshole in the world. Yeah, I’m fine, I’m okay, I’m just flopping around like a fish in front of you and I think you’re really cute, and you know, now you’re going to look at me like some medical freak.
I’m not scared of dying; I’m more scared of what would kill me. Yeah, I can be hit by a bus and that happens all the time. But I don’t want to die because of my medical issues. I really don’t want that to be the reason why I kick the bucket. I’ve never really imagined anything in my life to go swimmingly. I’ve known since I was 8 years old this is not going to be easy, nobody’s going to do it for you, you’ve got to do it for yourself. I think the most difficult challenge in my life is dealing with my epilepsy because I have to shove down five pills every morning. If I don’t take them I have a seizure and waking up from those is bad enough but if I do take them I’m drowsy, I’m paranoid, I’m pissed off easily and there is just no way around it. It makes it very difficult to listen to my music at full speed, I mean full volume.
My father died shortly after I was born. He slept with another woman and contracted the HIV virus and died shortly after. I was raised by my mother and one of her friends. I have a sister named Desire and she passed away about four years ago. My childhood was pretty good. It was basic. You know, we didn’t get anything special, we weren’t rich, we weren’t poor but we had a pretty good childhood. Christmas time rolled around and we got special gifts just for us and I always seemed to get video games, because that’s pretty much what my childhood was: video games and television. I love video games. My favorite video games are Super Smash Brothers or Metal Gear or anything action like Resident Evil. My favorite TV shows are cartoons or That 70’s Show, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Sponge Bob Square Pants. People can call me gay if they want but Sponge Bob is the man.
I really do appreciate shows that can make me laugh or anything that has to do with music.I think the thing that mostly influences me the most is definitely my music. It gives me the motivation that I need to get my days started. I mean, I can’t start the day on just “Hey, wake up, get a frickin cup of coffee and get off your ass.” I need my music. I don’t play but I listen to music, though I am trying to learn how to play the guitar. If I described myself in one word it would be metalhead. I listen to a lot of heavy stuff.
I don’t think I’ve had a very good day yet. I plan on going to see Metallica in November. If I could get the money or the tickets to do that then that would definitely be the best day ever. Especially if I got backstage pass. You know, meet the band. They’re frickin’ awesome, you know. I’ve been listening to their music for five years. I want to play their music. I love their music. I’d say I look up to most past and present members of Metallica and a lot of bands like them because they didn’t come out mainstream when they came out. They did their first four albums by themselves. One achievement I’d like is I’m actually working on a book about Metallica, and I want to get that published and be approached by one of the band members one day and have them say “Hey, you’re the guy wrote a book about us, awesome, it was a good book.” I would be stunned, lost for words; I wouldn’t know what to say. I’d be sitting there going “Did he say that to me?” Yeah, that would be a good day; I’d be thinking he was talking to the guy behind me.
My biggest achievement, though I didn’t do too well, is that I am the first person on my immediate side of the family to finish high school. I mean my grades weren’t great, but I was the first person to finish. I just take it day in and day out, one day at a time. Nothing I have is nailed down to the point where I can’t get rid of it. I hold no sentimental value to anything I own because everything I own can easily be lost.
In five years I’d like to see myself settling down with a female and having kids; at least one, a son. PLEASE. To carry on my crappy family name. I hope my future holds a happy ending.