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Fifty-Two Alternatives to Suicide

Desiree Cooper

Marc Sanchez

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Hot Air Balloon Ride
(Courtesy of "An Alternative to Slitting Your Wrists")
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...an Alternative to Slitting Your Wrist
(Owen Lowery)

Desiree Cooper: How did you go from feeling like suicide was one of the best options to making a movie about living?

Owen Lowery: Distraction. Distraction is the best opposition to depression. I was in the hospital, I was doing a lot of journal writing in the time I was there, and I remember writing that maybe I should just try and do some things. If I started feeling depressed, to just force myself to go outside and do something I'd never done.

What's the point of dying, if you haven't done everything you've wanted to do? So, I wrote down a couple things I wanted to do, like start and finish a movie. That's where the movie came from. And after writing that list of 52 things I wanted to do, I decided I had to use that same list to get into the things I had to do: conquer some of those inner demons, face some of the people from my past. I used it to quit drinking completely.

Was it hard to go through the next year without drinking?

No. Actually, when you have a camera on you at all times, it's pretty easy, because someone can always see if you break the rules. It became hard after I finished the movie, after I had finished shooting it. I was facing all these problems over and over again in the editing process. That's when I wanted to drink.

What were some of the things you had the most fun doing?

One of the best was that I wanted to sing and dance to my iPod in public. What I decided to do was, I got all black clothes. I got black body paint and I painted my whole body entirely to be like a silhouette, just like the iPod commercials. And then I had my white iPod and my white earbuds, and I went dancing around the city listening to this song, "Save Me," by the band Inspector Owl. I even danced in front of the Apple Store.

But the number one most fun thing: recording a song with my father. My dad, when I was 10 years old, he wrote a song called, "Oops Ops," which was about his cat named Oprah.

His cat's named Oprah?

Yeah cat's name is Oprah. My dad's a weird guy. I got together all my friends who had played in bands, and we went into the studio and spent a whole day there recording it. My dad loved being in the recording studio. It was kind of like one of those dreams come true. He had always played guitar, but he had never been in a real studio, and never with a real band.

I would go over to his house on weekends, every now and then -- unless my mom said he was sick, which meant he was drinking. He was an alcoholic, so that's where I, supposedly, got that from. And, on the weekends I would go visit him, he had his guitar. He played me the song, and it was hilarious, it was fantastic, it was cute. He wrote this song about his cat, as if his cat was a country cat, but this cat was really a city cat. It was an apartment cat.

It was so weird, but it was one of those few memories I had of my dad. It had an innocent feel, kind of a children's song. Really, the song's a lot deeper, now that I'm an adult listening to it. It's kind of about how the farm is falling apart but at least the farmer has his cat to keep him company. And, I guess at that time, my dad's life was falling apart but he had his cat to keep him company.

And probably the worst thing, the hardest thing, was to actually go back to Cleveland in March and face the guy who, for five years of my life, basically did a lot of horrible, horrible things to me.

What happened when you faced him?

Honestly, almost nothing at all. I've read books about facing your childhood abuser and went to counselors about it, and nothing that they say prepares you for what it's like. It's so different and unique for each person.

It wasn't me personally. I was one of, maybe, five or six kids in this neighborhood. And, I learned that this is something that had happened to my abuser, who was, maybe, eight or nine years older than me. And, it probably happened to the person before them. It's just this weird, never ending chain that just continuously went on.

What happened to you as a person -- not as an artist, not as someone who's going down and checking things off a list -- what happened to you as a person as you would move through these things? Did you find yourself changing in any way, or is it only now that you look back and say, "Wow?"

I had hoped to have some huge epiphany, and the weight would be off my shoulders, and I'd be a genius, and I'd figure out my life and where I'm going. But that didn't happen at all actually. Changing, it's just a weird concept that I think people focus on too much. I'll say that I understand myself a little better.

Well Owen, I wish you the best of luck.

Thank you very much.


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By August Olofsson


    Pardon, but you have something to leave behind. Alone, no talent, no friends can do that to a person. Joining the god squad is the most pathethic thing i can think of btw

    By henry hell

    From montanna, KY, 05/06/2008

    Fifty two alternatives to suicide, reading this article isn't a good one though.

    By Denise Acsay

    From Friday Harbor, WA, 03/01/2008

    I stopped bringig the groceries in from the car and just listened.

    By Jennifer Edwards-Ring

    From Macomb, IL, 03/01/2008

    Thank you. Now I can't get that silly cat song out of my head!!!!!!!!

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