Thursday, November 13, 2008

Also, Aunty Christ is pleased to announce that Simon was adopted

I know I promised that it was either publishing my old journal materials or wading through my feelings about applying to law school. Further, I know that by publishing my old journal I’ve entered an implicit agreement to not talk about applying to law school. And yet, I can’t help but wonder why I’ve dredged up this particular part of my past right now. The last time I went to school, I ended up in the nuthouse. I’m contemplating going back to school. It’s likely that my brain is trying to tell me something by forcing me to obsess over what went wrong the last time I attempted higher education, but it’s also likely that I do not have the ability to explain what I think that is without sounding a bit hysterical. And while I don’t mind sharing that I was more than a bit hysterical years and years ago, I feel my propensity toward working myself in knots over such a—let’s face it—non-problem as whether or not law school is a good choice is better left in my head for now.

More story next. First, a video of a hedgehog eating a bit of cat food.

Wednesday, May 27, 1992, 9:10 p.m.

Much has happened since my last entry. I’ll try to catch up.

Chris’ fear has abated since last week, though she still constantly has a wary eye on George. Right now she’s more concerned about her future than anything. They’ve given her a battery of tests during the last few days—each is promised to be the last. What the doctors think she has (Parkinson’s disease?) can’t be tested for, so they have to rule out every other possibility. She’ll find out tomorrow in a meeting with her mother and sister, both of whom she hates, evidently. We had a great conversation a few days ago. About drugs, mostly. She dropped acid all through high school and college. She told me about her high school’s graduation party where someone dosed the punch with several hits of acid. And about this camping trip she took with a group of friends in college where they all dropped and hallucinated wolves’ eyes in the trees. I told her about J. and my hallucinations—the paper on the ceiling and the bat and the blonde (me) sitting on the guy’s (P.’s) lap. It was a trip down chemical lane for both of us. By the end, all I wanted were two or three hits of X and a pack of Camel straights. Chris asked me if there were a capsule on the table, would I take it? This was after I said I had definitely quit for good. I couldn’t decide. She said she would, but for her it would only be an experiment and she wouldn’t do any more.

Right now I’m sitting in the room by the patio and listening to WXRT. Nirvana’s on, and I’m trying not to sing along.

Eric was put into solitary yesterday. He was let out this afternoon, sheepish in his hospital gown. His original release date was this Friday, but apparently his boss called and told him that if he wasn’t back at his job today, he would be fired. He packed, put on his jacket and hat, and, wielding his walker, threatened to break the glass door if they didn’t let him out. I think they pushed his release date back because of it, too.

Mr. Matthews’ parents come in every day and bring him food. He’s been feeding himself lately. His father is a really cute old man—probably in his 80s—grey beard, glasses, withered face, knit cap. Ivory likes to kiss him. Smokey has developed an unaccountable fascination with Mr. Matthews. He likes to pat him on the head. For a while he kept saying that he had a crush on him. “He’s nice!” he insists. “He’s cute!” Any conversation he has (usually centered on hospitals) now also touches on Mr. Matthews. “Do you know St. Joseph’s?” I shake my head. “ I was born there.” Oh. “Was he born there?” Shrug. “Has he ever been there? I never saw him there.” Sandra (the night nurse, whose hair imitates mine) suggested to him that the attraction lay in the fact that they both had IVs. But Smokey’s came out yesterday, and he seems relentless in his pursuit of Mr. Matthews. Although a few nights ago, he did ask his mother to marry him, over and over.

Helen was released yesterday. She seemed happy to go, promising to smoke cigarettes for all her friends.

Jori leaves Friday, as does Audry. I think Chris does too, but last time I asked she wasn’t positive. Audry had to put off her plans to go to Paris next week because the university has caught wind of her plans (it was supposed to be a secret between her and her professors) and because she’s missed so much school. Jori is going into a drug clinic when she leaves here. She got to see her son today when the boy’s father brought him. Children under 13 aren’t allowed as visitors, so Jori had to get a staff person to take her off ward to see him. The other day in art psychotherapy, she drew a picture of herself, sad, alone, and her, smiling, with her two sons beside her.

I re-signed my five-day yesterday, which means that (1) I can’t go to Boston to see my sister graduate, and (2) I can go off the ward accompanied by a staff member. I went into the courtyard today with Alice, a med student, and talked for a long time, very freely. Later, after I met with Angie [a psychologist, maybe?] and my mom in a family meeting, Angie came by my room and offered to take me out again. We walked around (but not in) the quads, and by the Reynold’s Club I saw D. [my RA]. I waved, feeling kind of awkward, and ignored his “Hey, s’up?” It was a gorgeous day out, maybe a little chilly for the end of May, but gorgeous enough for someone who’s been locked up for nine days without any fresh air.

After lunch today, Vernel was the center of attention when, after a conversation with her baby’s father’s lawyer, she found out that he had been sentenced to two years in prison (concealed weapon, I think). She has been worried about her financial situation for days—she’s apparently more in debt than she can handle. Now she’s worrying about how she can afford to send this man pocket money for the next two years. Everyone told her to forget about him, that he’s no good, he’s using her, but she denies it. She seems much better, calmer than when she first came in. Soft-spoken at times.

Family therapy was suggested by the team.

Both E. [my college roommate] and A. stopped by tonight. In shifts, instead of like last time. A. came first, around 7. He left at 8. E. stayed until almost 9, since they didn’t check my room again. I almost kissed A. tonight.

I started telling E. about everything—how Marla stole Helen’s water and Helen hit her and got solitary, and how Ivory kisses Mr. Matthews’ father, and how Jeannette’s mother didn’t like her because she was the darkest child, and how Heiko used to be a grad student, and Mr. Matthews a professor, and how George had fondled Chris and the cleaning lady, and how Chris said she’d kill herself if she has Parkinson’s, and how Eric got solitary and threatened to break the glass door with his walker, and how Judy cried out “Help me, help me,” in the morning, waking Audry up, and how Chris calls people “fellahs” and used to run a nursing home in California until her sister called her back to take care of their father who was dying of Parkinson’s, and, well, everything that’s happened since I got here, and I think she was impressed.

I miss Smokey’s IV rolling beside him like a pet.

Dad wrote a letter, which he gave to Mom to give to me: just a little reminder that he’s on my side.

Saturday, May 30, 1992 12:15 a.m.

Since I wrote out my list of patients there have been a few additions.

Alex: A tall, slim, handsome young man who was checked in today. His wife/girlfriend, a hovering, Doc Martens-wearing woman, escorted him. Chris likes him, but Marla refused to sit next to him while watching the Bulls game on TV.

James: Chris says that he went to jail for 15 years when he was 21, and he only recently got out. That would put him at 36 or so, although he looks a lot older. His face is really wrinkled, and he’s basically just a bag of bones. Ivory was talking to him tonight, which I found both heartwarming and disturbing.

Marissa: Quiet, mousy, staring, uncomfortable-looking. She’s only been here a few days, though, so maybe she’ll loosen up. But I doubt it. They took her blood at breakfast this morning—right there at the table and everything.

Today’s my pass. I asked to get out so I could pack, but I think the first thing I’ll do is shave my legs. Then I’d like to go shopping, copy A.’s computer games, and get my hair cut. I can get a pass Sunday, too, so maybe I’ll pack then.

A. and I have not been lucky with phone calls lately. I hope I can see him Sunday—maybe he’ll help me pack, etc. Or maybe I can visit him over finals. Or maybe I’ll see him over the summer, in Boston.

Which, by the way, is where Mom and Dad are going tomorrow. They stopped by tonight and we had a nice(?) long(!) talk about how they’ve screwed up my life. They said it’s a parent’s job to screw up their child’s life. Typical.

These are some of the results of my psych test:

I’m angry, but I don’t show it, and may not even be aware of it at times.

I don’t see things the same way other people do.

I’m wrapped up in my own problems right now—too wrapped up to see other people’s points of view.

I dislike other people having a say over my life, but at the same time I rely on others, making me hate those I depend on and myself.

I am indirect with my feelings.

I feel anger and other emotions physically; I’m more likely to feel tired than depressed, tense than angry.

I have a desire to be rescued.

I have low self-esteem.


Shannon said...

I'd buy your memoir.

I'm enjoying these recounts because you talk about the people and yourself with such honesty.

I can feel their humanity.

You know, it takes fiction writers months to create characters with this kind of authenticity - they are incredibly flawed, and that's what makes them so perfect.

Shannon said...

Oh Christ! I mean Aunty - I missed the whole headline.

Hooray for Simon and his new family. I hope the poor bun didn't end up with a bunch of kids under the age of 5 with finger-paint-fingers and fruit roll-up-sticky hands though! Did you do a proper background check?

Aunty Christ said...

Thanks for the kind words, Shannon. I guess it's easier to create realistic characters when they are in fact real. And these were very, very interesting people, too. I'm not sure how much of that is expressed in what I've written.

About Simon ... well, I wasn't around for his adoption, although I'm kind of wondering if one of the people I was trying to get to take him on Sunday didn't come back for him later in the week. The people who work at the shelter are pretty good about making sure that the animals go home with families that will be good for them, so I feel pretty confident that he found someone without a bunch of sticky little fingers to love him.

That's great that you worked at a shelter too. I've been volunteering a little more with people-oriented groups lately, but I get a lot more out of helping the little critters.

Shannon said...

Dear Aunty, Yes, I quite agree with your thoughts that real does make all the difference.

But, like any good cook will tell you, while natural, fresh herbs are best, not just any slob can pull together a delicious & memorable meal for twelve! It's the recipe,the blending and joining of the ingredients that make it truly scrumptious.

What does that oddity named Emeril say: It's the BAM!

Sorry, that hurt me a little, too.

Anyway, I have such a penchant for the misfits, and perhaps it's what's kept me involved in animal shelters. For example, my little turtle has 1/3 of his shell mauled off by, I'm guessing, another turtle. No one wanted the poor little, unsightly thing with all his stuff hanging out there where it shouldn't be. Isn't that called character? I mean like the cellulite colony that has sprouted up overnight on the back of my 36-year-old thigh?

I ask the universe: Hasn't everyone read 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by now??

And, yes..once a decade, when I happen to stumble upon it, 'Rudolph & the Island of the Misfit Toys', simultaneously creeps me out and gets me misty-eyed. I can't really be held responsible for that though. I'm in HR, you know.

But wait, Aunty - "people-oriented" groups??

David Rochester said...

Hurray for Simon!

I read an interesting blog post today here:

about a psychiatrist who started to interact with psych ward patients as though they weren't "crazy". I found it very touching, and very insightful. It made me think of your posts here, because your diaries have a similar subtext, I think. Who defines what "crazy" actually is?

Aunty Christ said...

Shannon: Your turtle is missing part of his shell? Aw. That's gotta be the most adorable thing ever. I'm with you on the misfit love. I have a dream of starting a ranch for old dogs that can't be adopted, but ... that's a whole other story.

About the people-oriented groups: I've been trying to put in some time this Xmas season volunteering with Salvation Army and various churches, putting food boxes together and such. It's all right, and you know that there's people out there who need food, but there's also something unsatisfying about putting two cans of tuna and a bag of dried beans in a box. At least with the dogs, you think that even the mangiest mutt will find a home where he is loved and has a soft pillow to sleep on. Ideally, anyway, we aren't adopting out animals to abusive fucks. But envisioning the person or family that's got to live for a week on a box of mac and cheese, a tin of smoked oysters, a can of cling peaches, and some ravioli--along with the uplifting religious reading material we're made to put in each box--in downright depressing. I know that people sometimes need help and they then go on to not need help. I know that. But I still find it really depressing.

David: Thanks for the link. I'll have to check that out. The ward I was in was for the people who weren't raging lunatics. I think there was a ward for even worse cases, which makes me curious as to what that would look like, since in my opinion, some of the people I was with were pretty nutty. But yeah, it makes sense that interacting with people like they're normal people would be the way to go. It's already really demeaning to be committed. It makes you question your sanity. If you had a bunch of doctors around you who are also questioning your sanity, that's when you'd really lose it, I would think. While I was there, I did have a few doctors who basically treated me like a normal person, and I liked them the best. I also had a few doctors of the "Oooookay. What makes you think that?" variety.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if people treat you normally, you're more likely to behave normally. If people treat you like they think you're crazy (or ... whatever, really), then you'll behave that way. I'm glad someone gets it.

David Rochester said...

I think it's a simple truth that people live up or down to the expectations of people around them. This is why it is so terribly important to be careful of the company we keep.

On a completely unrelated note ... if you haven't yet discovered the TV series "Dirty Sexy Money", you might enjoy it. It's not "Six Feet Under", but it does have Peter Krause, and it's pretty good. Donald Sutherland is excellent as the patriarch of a Kennedyesque clan of entitled nutcases.

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