Questions humans ask about their lives. Existential stuff.
* Why am I here? Should I quit my job? Do I want a family? What does it mean to be a hero? How can a just God love Hitler? If there is no afterlife, what values are worth dying for? Is free will an illusion? Does it make a difference if it isn't? Does anything really matter? What? If I'm not the center of the universe, what is? Did I make the right choice? How will I know? What do women want? What do men what? What's wrong with us anyway? Am I crazy? Is that my problem?
* What makes me happy? How do I get it? Is happiness sustainable? Am I asking the right questions? Why don't normal things make sense to me? Why do I want to write? Do I have to exercise? Why do I like playing games so much? Do people like me? Am I good at my job? At my hobbies? Am I doing the right thing?
Attach a fundamental question to a character:
* Pilar: How can I escape?
How does this question affect the character?
* Pilar daydreams about leaving her husband. Sometimes she imagines taking her sone with her, and sometimes she abandons him too. She does web research on shelters and on plane ticket prices. She plots escape routes with Google Maps. She is furtive, careful to clear the cache lest anyone find out. She whispers her plans to a tree in her backyard while she's out gardening, because she doesn't trust anyone else. She hoards the change left over from shopping trips to fund her escape. She applies for a credit card from one of the pre-approved offers, and checks the mail every day as soon as the postman comes so her husband won't find out. She lives in fear: of what will happen if anyone finds out what she wants, and of what her husband might do while she's there. And that she will never actually leave.
Controlling idea: get high
* Sniff glue, drink cough syrup, huff markers and airspray. Study chemistry to find out how to make his own drugs. Grow pot in the basement. Bring sick strays to the vet to get painkillers for them and take them himself. Drink Red Bull by the case, and don't sleep for a week to get sleep-deprivation hallucinations.
Primary orientation: junkie
* Dropped out of normal life; doesn't even try. Begs with a sign saying "I'll just spend it on drugs and booze". Gets hassled by the cops: "Hey, man, ain't you ever heard of sarcasm?" Only spends money on drugs: nothing else is worth paying for. Sits through sermons to get soup kitchen handouts. Crashes on the couches at friends' places until they kick him out. Uses the net at the library to look for places to buy.
Fundamental question: Will I score?
"I used to work for a living, y'know. I did. Had a place in the suburbs, had an 8 to 5 job, did my time on the daily commute. A steady paycheck. A wife and 2.6 kids. I threw it all away for a high, man.
"And you know what? I'd do it again.
"You stand there in your fancy suit and expensive tie and feel sorry for me. I don't need your pity. You keep it for yourself, dude, all wrapped up in your cellophane fantasy of the real world, all tied down with your job that might lay you off, and your house that's mortgaged for 150% of its value, and your 401(k) that ain't worth the pixels it's displayed with. You're trapped by your stuff, man. You don't own it. It owns you. It tells you when to work, when to eat, when to sleep, when to shit. It kills your dreams and eats you alive, one precious minute at a time. Those minutes are all that were ever really yours, and you gave them up to smother in that airless void that you think is the real world.
"It's not. The real world is a million miles away, and just one step off the track of that thousand-ton freight train of responsibilities. It's just on the other side of a veil you don't dare to step through. It's full of things you can't imagine and feelings you'll never experience. You think a chemical rush is a cheap imitation of true contentment, but it isn't. True contentment is bullshit. It's a cheap imitation of a chemical rush. It's a quack that sedates you so that you don't notice how hollow it really is.
"I got the real thing here, buddy. Truth in a bottle, in a bong, in a needle, in a fucking glue tube, however you get to it it's better than that sham I used to think I was content with. I get a better trip off of a week with no sleep than you do from your weekend in Bermuda, and it doesn't cost me a dime. It's ecstasy. It takes me to the real world, the world inside me where everything makes sense, where words and ideas have the meaning and the power they ought to.
"You call me irresponsible? Say I ain't doin' my part for Society? Well, what's Society ever done for me? What's it do for you? Society doesn't exist for our benefit, bro. It exists because it can. It's one big parasite, sucking all the individuals in with its One Big Lie: 'It's for your own good.' I'm irresponsible? Buddy, I'm not the guy who got a mortgage on a half-million dollar house I couldn't afford because I was 'sure' I could sell it for a million in a year. It wasn't me who handed out 'stated income' loans to guys I knew were lying. It wasn't me who bought mortgage-backed securities on terms I didn't understand, because I knew Uncle Sam would pick up the bill if it didn't work. I'm not the one who voted for those Congressional schmoes who made it all possible. I'm not the one who ran up my credit cards for that big screen TV with the TIVO box because it was 0% interest for six months. I'm not the one who figured that when the Internet bust because it was nothing but a tulip-bulb craze that the cure should be another tulip-bulb craze, only this time with houses. I'm not the one who decided that the solution for a housing market that bust because loans were made on overpriced houses to people who couldn't afford them at rates that banks couldn't make money at was to make even more loans at even lower rates to even more people. Because the real problem with a Ponzi scheme isn't that it's a Ponzi scheme, right? It's that you ran out of suckers. I'm not the one screwing up your screwed-up system, man. You're doing it to yourselves. I'm a junkie, buddy, I'm not an idiot.
"You wanna help me? Gimme enough for a nickel bag. 'Cause there ain't nothin' in your world that I want 'cept a ticket out. And I know, one way or another, that's what I'm gonna get."