I spent some time in Psychiatric Observation Unit after that. A Psychiatric Observation Unit is a politically correct padded cell.
The first night they strapped me into a gurney like a Soviet space monkey welded into his capsule. They trundled the gurney into a room crowded with medical equipment: monitors, tubes, and drips; accordion lungs, oscilloscopes, and little, round sensors to be applied to the scalp. In the heart of it all was a gurney shaped hole and I was slid into it – a missing piece, a perfect fit – all the machinery hummed to life. Continue reading
I patrolled the school yard for a while before class. All was quiet on that front – too quiet. Happy students were everywhere: playing sports, huddled in cliques, sailing Frisbees across the yard. By the fence, I lingered a moment, watching a girl across the lawn. She had drapes of dark hair, wild-green eyes and absolutely no idea I loved her. A soldier’s life is hard and in war sacrifices must be made. Continue reading
You can’t see them, but they’re everywhere: they’re invisible.
One might be breathing on your shoulder this very moment. The man sitting next to you or the pretty girl behind the cash register could be one of them, the mailman, the policeman, the gas station attendant, any one of them, but you would never know. You can’t see them. They’re invisible. Continue reading
First, let’s try some gratefulness: two day ago this quixotic collection of meandering ruminations surpassed 100 hits and has already climbed to 130. Thanks to all of you who have kept up, who have followed and who have popped in. I am surprised, bashful and delighted in equal parts. I never expected to win even this much acclaim by tilting at windmills. I shall have to step my game up. (I’ll be tilting at aircraft turbines next. I’ve never met a damn-fool-thing-to-do that didn’t attract me.)
Gratefulness is appropriate because I’ve been living under a certain pallor for the last week and I had, for at least a few hours, that weight lifted this eventide. Anyone who’s been here recently, or with the foolhardiness to click on the archives, can tell my posts have suffered under a heaviness of heart and spirit; I’ve just been incapable of summoning any mirth out of my depth this last week. Until tonight — and I grant you that a few poor Don Quixote jokes should not be taken for the blush of spring — I got out to a decent AA meeting along with some decent people. It meant the world to me, I’ve been struggling.
And you, oh reader, have meant a lot to me, too. I am honored to place my pen in your service.
Earlier I was doing some research on 12 step programs. I had hoped to learn that their success rates were magnificent, that they far surpassed the programs propounded by psychiatric practice. Well, I was half right. Their success rate isn’t well known but those other programs — the ones put together by the high priesthood of psychiatry — their success rates probably hover somewhere between 1 in 30 and 1 in 40. That’s technically lower than the rate of spontaneous remission of the disease of addiction (i.e. the rate at which people left to their own devices will just suddenly quit one day) which, I suppose, means those programs are actually bad for you. (I can’t for the life of me find where I read this right now, but I’ll edit and cite something in the near future.) Continue reading
I am a foreigner of sorts — a Brazilian national by birth — and, since I’ve been thoroughly Americanized by upbringing, I enjoy a somewhat unique vantage on the question of children in adult-oriented places. From where I stand I see the perspective of Brazilians, a traditionally family-oriented people; the perspective of Americans, who prefer to compartmentalize their lives; and the perspective of immigrants, who often cling to each other for survival in the storm. I have no children as of yet — and, god-willing, won’t have that blessing for some years to come — but I believe I’ll one day practice a certain moderation in this respect. Continue reading
I am, of late, wrung between a fugue of creative energy and a drizzly November of the soul (—Melville), and this is a dangerous place for me, I know. Continue reading
There is a place where the cinder block walls have been scoured a uniform white and the floors with a long, endless gray. In this place are rooms filled with gray bed frames and gray mattresses. The hard, plastic chairs are all white. The tiles in the bathroom are institutional gray. The old pool table — its felt tattered — is white. The doors are gray, the windows white; the lockers gray, the sheets white. Continue reading
Hello and welcome from beautiful, sunny Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital! I might have said just a few days go. Building 40 is a locked ward 14 stories high — the criminally insane are on the 4th floor — but most of the crazies are well enough to walk the grounds. Well, walk is a relative term, we’d be better off calling it the thorazine shuffle. You know the one: eyes fixed on the ground 2 feet ahead, a thin line of drool hanging off the lower lip, arms too heavy to swing, feet too heavy to pick up. Charlie Murphy can keep his yayo, most of the denizens of this compound would rather tell you, “Thorazine’s a hell of a drug!” Continue reading
The time has come — said the Walrus — to inject a bit of rationality into the relationships between the world’s religious communities. I hate to add vitriol to a situation already besotted with senseless rage so instead I will take a stern tone and say that rationality is not endemic to the practice of religion and the result is a tribalist myopia that causes mistrust, fear, hatred and violence. I believe that, as a species, we can no longer afford tribalism — let alone mistrust and violence — so it’s time to settle an age-old problem: are we going to practice religion in a responsible way or are we going to give it up as too dangerous? Continue reading