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Twisting all the bad things into good

Jan 31, 2012


 The madman experiences something, 
 but what it is or where it comes from he does not know.
 Philip K. Dick, Valis


            They are both smiling at me.          
            I don't smile back. I just close my eyes again.     
            Someone will come around to wake me soon enough. They're not going to let me pretend to sleep forever. I have to get my story straight before they start the inquisition. It's time to open my eyes. This time I have to keep them open. I need to accept where I am. That is the only way I will be able to explain to them why I do not belong here. I don't know about these other headcases, but I do know that someone like me is not supposed to be in a place like this with these kinds of people. There's some guy in another bed a few feet away. That guy probably belongs here. He is still sleeping with his back to me. Whoever he is, he has not changed his sleeping position even once since I got here early last night. It's been like fifteen hours. Somebody might want to check this dude's pulse. I'm starting to worry that he may not be sleeping. He looks dead to me.

             Beyond the doorway of our room without a door, a new day has already started. My dead friend would realize this if he would just wake up. Maybe it is better for both of us if he just keeps sleeping. There is no way that he can help me. It's pretty obvious that he couldn't even help himself. I'm on my own.               

            There's no point in pretending to sleep anymore. I need some water so I get out of bed and enter the hallway.
            "James. You're awake. You got some sleep" the administrator says.
            "Yeah, I did. It took a while, but I actually got a good night's sleep for the first time in months. Do you think I could get some water, please?"
            "Have a seat. I'll get you some water and we'll get your vitals. Then we'll get you officially admitted after the doctor evaluates you".
            "Okay. Just let me know what you need me to do". The last thing I need to do is be uncooperative. I'm already afraid of what they may tell me. There's no need to make my situation any worse. I just want to get through this as smoothly as possible. These people are not out to harm me. There is no conspiracy. It was all in my head. I still have no idea what is wrong with me, but I know I need help. I'm going to let them help me. I don't want to be crazy.

            "You were really trembling bad when you were brought in last night" she reminds me. "Let me see you hold your hand out for me, James".
            I put my hand out. It's no longer waving bon voyage, but a game of Operation is definitely out of the question.
            "You're not as bad, but you still have some tremors. How are you feeling besides that?"
            "Honestly? I'm embarrassed".
            She tells me that I shouldn't feel embarrassed. After I thank her, I look down at the floor so I don't have to face anyone.
            When she comes back, she hands me some water and a small paper cup with a pill in it. It's the same antipsychotic and mood stabilizer that I was given last night. She tells me it will help alleviate my tremors and calm my nerves. After I swallow the Risperdal, she takes my vitals. When she is done, she tells me I can go lie down and she'll come get me in a few minutes for the doctor's evaluation.
            "Is it alright if I call my dad first?"
            There's a phone on the wall of the hallway. It's the same phone that I used yesterday to hang up on my mother. I'm still too embarrassed to make eye contact with anyone. Besides dialing the phone, I don't look look at anything except the floor.

            "Hey, dad. It's me. I just got up a couple minutes ago". My humiliation causes me to speak softly. I also do not want anyone in the hallway to hear me. "I wanted to call to tell you and mom that after I got some sleep, I realized that I had been hallucinating. I'm sorry about this, I just...I don't really know what happened".
            He tells me that I sound a hundred percent better than I did last night. He asks me what kind of drugs I was doing.
            "Honestly, for the first time in years, I wasn't on anything. I've been detoxing from painkillers and xanax. I've been trying since March. I was shaking really bad last night from the xanax withdrawal so they gave me something for it. Last night was the first time I got more than two hours of sleep in probably six months. It's been miserable. Dealing with the withdrawal from the xanax and painkillers, all the stress, I just could not sleep no matter what I did. I took fourteen Tylenol PM's one night and didn't even sleep for one minute".

            He asks me when I started hallucinating.
            "I don't know. I had no idea that I was even hallucinating. It's been at least since Friday. That's when I thought I went to Vegas. Jesus. I can't believe I thought I was in Vegas".

            He asks me what I think happened if I wasn't on any drugs.
            "I think I must have had a nervous breakdown. Since I couldn't sleep, I was just depressed and stressed out all day and night. I think it just got to be too much and, I don't know. I guess my mind just couldn't take it anymore ".

            He wants to know about the knives. My roommate told him that I had them on the bedside drawer. My dad wants me to tell him why I had knives next to my bed. This question embarrasses me because the insinuation is clear. I tell him the truth.
            "Those were throwing knives that you got me when I got my blackbelt. I don't know why I had them there. Honestly, I did start to wish that I had never been born, or that I would fall asleep and never wake up like Mitch, but I never wanted to kill myself. I would have never done that, honestly. I have no reason to lie anymore".
            He accepts my explanation and asks if I know how long they're going to keep me here.
            "They haven't actually admitted me yet because the doctors were all gone by the time that cop brought me in yesterday. I guess by law they have to keep me here for at least seventy two hours so they can evaluate me or whatever. Last night I slept in one of the rooms for people waiting to get evaluated".
            He asks when they are going to admit me.
            "The doctor is going to evaluate me in a little bit, so I guess after that. I'm not really sure how it works. I just wanted to at least call and let you know what's going on and that I'm okay now".
            He tells me to call him after I talk to the doctor.
            "I will".
            Usually, I would be overwhelmed by my emotions at a time like this, but I'm still too confused to feel anything except shame and fear. Ashamed of what has happened and the fear that it could happen again. I still have not lifted my head or taken my eyes off the floor.
            There are two faces that I can't avoid even when I'm looking at the floor. They never stop smiling at me. It doesn't matter how many times I look away from them, every time that I come back, they are still there...waiting for me...smiling... unconditionally.
            "Man, I really thought you were dead, dad. I thought you died on Sunday. I was in the shower praying that it was just a bad dream. I thought we were supposed to bury you today. That's why I was so in shock when you called yesterday. I'm glad you're alive, dad. I love you guys. Tell mom that I'll call her later, and just please tell her that I'm really sorry I hung up on her yesterday and for everything".   

            I walk back to my room and sit down on the bed to wait to see the doctor. There are so many things that have happened in the last week that I still have to try to make some sense of. I still have to try to separate hallucinations from reality. This will not be easy because the memories of each are as real as the other. There is going to be plenty of time to think about everything that happened. For now, I just sit there with my head down. I don't want to think.
            I keep seeing their faces.
           These are the pair that I was given. It's not like it was up to me. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted them. If I had been given a choice, they are definitely not the ones I would have chosen for myself.
            All I keep thinking is how ridiculous they are.

            I hear the dead guy in the other bed turning over. I look up, and for the first time, I see more than his back. He rolls over on to his stomach and buries the left side of his face in the pillow. He doesn't open his eyes so I'm not even sure if he is awake. He doesn't look like the homeless psychopath that I worried might smother me with his pillow while I slept last night. Besides being tired as shit, he seems like a normal guy. He opens his eyes and sees me sitting there and is probably wondering how long this psycho has been watching him sleep. He looks like someone who had a blackout night of drinking and wakes up not knowing where he is and what happened. He keeps looking at me like he is wondering if I was riding shotgun during his bender. It looks like he wants me to fill in the blanks. I got nothing for him, but I figure I'll be the bigger crazy person and break the silence.
            I greet him by simply saying,"Morning" to avoid a "what's so good about it?" response. I also skip calling him "Sunshine" or "Sleeping Beauty" to avoid a violent ending to our sleepover. He doesn't seem like a morning person. Judging from last night, he doesn't seem like a night person either. He's looking like someone who can't fall back asleep after hitting the snooze button and is dreading the day ahead. I know that feeling, so I just look back down at my feet and wonder where they will be taking me today. 
            I can see those smiling faces again. They are so ridiculous. As laughable as I find them to be, I realize that I need them right now.

            "Nice slippers," are Sleepyhead's first groggy words.
            I look up at him and then back down at my slippers.
            "You like these?" I say with a laugh. "I was in bare feet when they brought me here, so this is what they gave me. Fucking ridiculous, huh?"
            He doesn't answer. He just lays there and zones out on my tan ballet type slippers that have a big happy face on each one. Their big smiles fail to hide the fact that each one has their tongue in cheek as they tell us to "Have a nice day and take your meds".

            "Dude, I was getting worried" I tell him. "I thought you were dead".
            He never blinks or looks away from my happy feet.
            "Nah, I ain't dead" he grumbles. "I was just sleeping".
            "Yeah, you were". I look back down and laugh as I model my slippers. "Are these things fucking ridiculous or what?"
            By the time I look up, he has already passed away again.
            There's no reason to worry though.
            He ain't dead.
            He's just sleeping.


Jan 28, 2012


"I'm not sure all these people understand"
  R.E.M., Nightswimming

            I want you to understand me. I really do.
            No matter how hard I try, you still won't.
            I have made my best attempts to explain.
            No matter how many hours and words, I still can't.
            Tom Petty was right.
            It is good to be king.
            I'm sure it is, but I wouldn't know.
            That's not the song I'm referring to.
            "You don't know how it feels to be me".
            It works both ways.
            You can watch my movie, but it's still my movie.
            In your movie, I'm not a leading man.
            A disposable supporting character at best.
            I'm that friend in the slasher flick. The one who shows up once in awhile and tries to steal the show with a few funny lines. Whether or not I succeed is irrelevant. Nothing I say or do is going to save me. Everyone knows I'm doomed. I make a few jokes in an attempt to distract from the inevitability of what I have coming to me. If I do make you laugh, as soon as the laughter stops, you whisper to the person next to you,"I kind of like that guy. Too bad you know that he won't be around very long". When I finally meet my demise, it's fadeout, closing credits, movie's over, time to go home.
            In your movie, my ending may only be briefly mentioned in your dialogue.
            You're the star of your movie.
            I'm just making a brief cameo.
            Then I'll be gone.
            Forgotten by the next scene.
            Your movie goes on.
            Life goes on.
            It's not easy narrating my own story without coming off as either completely self obsessed or just not a very good writer, if not both. It's been too much  "I" and "me".
            That's why "I" want to take "me" out of the equation for a moment.
            Let's give "me" a rest. We'll get back to "me".
            Let's watch a scene in someone else's movie.
            You should already understand how it must have felt.
            It's not your fault if you don't. It's mine.
            It's my failure as a writer.
            It's time to replace our "hero" with a "heroine".
            Different movie. Same theme.
            Let's not call it a "remake".
            Let's call it a "reboot".
            Let's call it "your movie".
            "You" could be anybody. Anybody but me.

            Fade in to you standing in the dark. You are watching your children sleep. You give them each one last goodnight kiss before leaving the room. For the first time all day, you have some time to yourself. Naturally, the first thing you want to do, after pouring yourself a well deserved glass of wine, is jump on your computer to check FaceBook for an eagerly awaited update of some amazingly entertaining and absurd blog written by some fucked up dude you went to high school with. Depending on how many glasses of wine you have, you may find it a deeply inspired work of a mad genius, or if your judgement is impaired, you may say, "What the hell was that all about?" Maybe you've just already invested so much wasted time reading it that you're just curious about how it will end, even if you sometimes wonder if it ever will. After you finish reading a chapter that went off on a tangent and never made it's way back, you decide there has to be something better on tv. You check all the channels, but The Real Cunty Housewives of Wherever is not on, so you decide to endure the next often vulgar and always long winded blog entry. These completely unfounded details do not matter, since this is your movie.
            What does matter is that your phone rings. You pick up to hear your husband's voice on the other end. He's been out of town on a business trip for the last 6 days, so before you can start giving him the third degree, he immediately asks what you are doing. You decide that the accusatory interrogation questions can wait.

            You say, "I was on Facebook for a minute, but I decided I wasn't in the mood to scrutinize everyone's feeble  attempts at pretending they are actually enjoying their unfulfilling lives".
             He wants to know what's wrong with you.
             "Nothing's wrong. I just haven't been getting much sleep, that's all. I'm fine. I'm sitting here reading this awesome blog that I am totally hooked on. It's written by this fucked up dude I went to high school with that I haven't seen since. I think he's gonna be a famous writer someday, if he can manage to stay away from the prescription pills. What are you doing?"
             You really want to ask him if that slut Jessica is also attending the convention. There's no point since he would tell you she wasn't just to avoid an argument. You trust him, but you're still irked at the thought of that bitch being four Cosmos deep and flaunting her fake tits in front of your man. You think she's so gross. You also think she's so fake, even though you've never actually spoken to her.

            Your husband wants to know if you took pills. You laugh.
            " No, I didn't take any pills, I was talking about the blogger guy taking pills".
            He asks you about something  about the blogger?
            "I told you. It's just this guy I went to high school with that I had a major crush on. He was so cool. Well, at least he and I thought so. Don't be jealous, honey. He's a total mess. He can't compare with you".
            He says he doesn't give a shit about some douche bag you thought was cool almost twenty years ago. He was asking you what the hell a "blogger" is?

            "Are you drunk? A blogger. As in someone who has a "blog". Like a "weblog". Like an online diary that anyone can read. It's on FaceBook".
            Your spouse asks what the hell a "facebook" is?
            "You are drunk". You continue the sarcasm. " It's an exclusive online club with only 800 million members. You have heard of "social media", where you have hundreds of friends that you have never met but they still share the most mundane details of their lives".
            He wants to know what you did today.
            "Well, I took the kids to Disney this afternoon. And now, the kids are asleep and I'm here all by myself". You're wearing an Origins pore clearing charcoal mask along with your least flattering pajamas,  but he doesn't know that. You know what get's Tomcat's attention. "I'm just sitting here, having a glass of wine, wearing nothing but my overalls, wishing you weren't so far away".
           Tom is at a loss for words. If he could only see you right now, sitting there looking like you're ready to put on a minstrel show for nobody except that dirt bag writer guy on your computer screen.
           "Tom? I'm wet".
           Tomcat says he's on his way. You laugh.         
           "I'll be here", you say.
           He tells you not to leave.
           "I'm not going anywhere. Call me back. Love you".
            You realize that you have not eaten all day. Actually, you can't remember the last time you did eat. You pull out a butcher knife for cutting up some steak or chicken. You open the freezer. There's no steak. There's no chicken. There's nothing in the fridge that isn't expired. You decide to go to the grocery store. You go to your bedroom and put on some jeans. Luckily, you catch a glimpse of Al Jolsen in the mirror that reminds you to wash off your blackface. You go to your garage and get in your car. The garage door opens as you drive under it, you see a police car pull up and block your driveway, so you reverse back into your garage. You think you closed the garage door before going back in the house but you must have hit the wrong button.
              When you get back in your kitchen, you start to make a grocery list. Someone calls your name and you turn to see a police officer in your kitchen. You are startled, but not scared since it's a cop.
              "Yes, that's me. What's wrong?" you want to know.
              The cop says that people are worried about you.
              "Who is worried about me? I'm fine".
              You notice that the officer has a look of concern at something behind you and asks "What's that for?". You turn to see the butcher knife still on the counter.
              "Oh, that's nothing. Just a knife".
               The cop says that you need to go with him.
              "What about my children? I can't leave them here" you insist.
              He tells you not to worry and that everyone is going to be okay. He is just taking you to talk to somebody. You have no choice but to go.
               "I can't leave my children". You make this clear. He makes it clear that your children will be fine. Everything will be fine. He tells you that you are not under arrest but he still handcuffs you. You are humiliated to know your neighbors will see you put in the back of a cop car in handcuffs. When you get outside, you see Tom standing there. Your mind is overwhelmed by every possible reason of why your spouse would bring the cops to your house. He must be having an affair and wants you out of the picture. He has either wrongfully accused you of being a criminal or maybe being mentally ill. All you know is that this whole charade is so he can have custody of your children. You will only be able to spend time with them under the supervision of him and his new wife. All of this, you figure out in less than two seconds. You are lead passed him towards the cop car, and he asks if you are okay.
                "I can't believe you did this. How could you bring the cops here? What did you tell them? Who is she, Tom? It's that slut, isn't it? You are not going to take my children from me. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE MY CHILDREN FROM ME!" you shout. You don't care what your neighbors think anymore. The cop opens the back door and tells you to watch your head. Your spouse lies and tells you he loves you and that everything will be okay.
                "FUCK YOU!" you shout before being put in the backseat. You sit there, your hands cuffed behind your back, and watch the cop listening to all of your husband's lies.
                You are taken somewhere you do not belong. A place for people with mental health issues. You are given medication that suggests you are suffering some kind of psychosis and another to help you sleep.
                When you wake up the next morning, it takes a few minutes to start making sense of what has happened. You ask yourself the same questions your husband asked. What is a "facebook"? What is "social media"? You begin to realize there is no such thing as a website where you have hundreds of friends that you have never met but you still share your life with them. You wonder how your mind could even create such nonsense and believe it to be real. You saw it though. You can still see it in your mind as if it were real.
            "What is a "blog"? What a ridiculous sounding word. It's an even more ridiculous concept. What kind of idiot would put the kind of things that should be kept in a diary on the world wide web for anyone to read and judge? That defeats the whole purpose of a diary. A "blogger". My God. How did I come up with this shit? And what made me think that it was by that guy I barely knew in high school? Why of all people did he become part of my hallucination? That is so random. I haven't even thought about that guy since graduation, so why would I have any interest in reading about his life? I can still see his website. He was standing against a brick wall trying to look cool. It wasn't a dream. I remember every detail. I don't understand any of this".
           "Disney? How could I have went to Disney and been back by dark? I live in Pennsylvania for God's sake. I don't know how we got there, but I remember being there. We went on It's A Small World and I told the kids how it used to be little animatronic dolls from all over the world singing. I don't know when they replaced them with real people from every nation singing We Are the World. I tried to sing the kids the old song, but all I could remember was "It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small, small world". I knew every word when I was a kid".
           "The kids. Where are my kids? Who has my children? Oh my God, my husband disappeared with my children. I have to get out of here and find my children. I can see their faces. I don't know my own children's whereabouts. I don't know my own children's names".
           "There are no children. I can still see their faces. I know that I loved them. How can that not be real? How can I still see their faces? I still love them. I still don't understand".    
           "I've never been pregnant. I don't have children. I've never been married. I don't have a husband.
           Tom is not my husband. Tom is not even my boyfriend. Tom is like one of  the girls.
          My children are imaginary and my imaginary husband is gay. What a fucked family I have.
           I am so embarrassed.
           Like most women, all of my girlfriend's are bipolar to some degree, whether they admit it or not. I'm a woman so I can say that. But even Danielle during her most manic episode never did anything this crazy. She would shop a lot more than usual, have a lot more one night stands than usual, and try to make very ambitious travel plans with me. Then a week later was too depressed to even answer her phone. She never had any hallucinations. She never suffered from any delusions that she did not already have".
          "I'm not bipolar.
           I don't take drugs besides the occasional adderall when I clean.
           This was a psychotic episode.
           This must be what schizophrenia is like.
           I think I am a schizophrenic.
           As horrifying as that thought is, I think it's almost kind of funny that I can remember the rest of  the song all of a sudden".

              It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
              it's a world of hopes, it's a world of fear
              there's so much that we share
              that it's time we're aware
              it's a small world after all.

THE PATRON SAINT OF . . . WHATEVER: A Scrude Awakening


To recognize one's own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence. 
 Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

THURSDAY 9/9/10                       
             There is no way to ignore or process the onslaught of random, bizarre memories from the last 6 days. I need to get out of my head if I'm ever going to get out of this place. I need to work backwards from the last thing I remember. I need to know my back story before someone gets me out of bed and I have to act like a normal person in front of some doctor.      

             I can remember  Days of Heaven. It was playing on the ceiling above my bed. There couldn't have been a movie on the ceiling. If I had seen Days of Heaven, it was only in my dreams. If it wasn't a dream, then the only way I could have seen a movie like that was because of the drugs.
             Maybe the antipsychotic they gave me had the opposite effect on a brain as unique as my own. What happened before they gave me the meds? I cursed at my mom. Ouch, that was an unfortunate first. That was after the cop dropped me off here...before that, he handcuffed me. Handcuffs were not a first. That was right after I found out my dad faked his death. That would be another first. It's unreasonable, but not impossible, I guess. Okay, before that I was hanging out with DJB. Wait. Why the fuck would I have been hanging out with DJB? He's the only person that I can honestly say that I hate, but I was still hanging out with him yesterday. How the hell did that happen?
            It never happened.
            This is my extreme close up.
            This is me admitting to myself that I lost my mind.
            My God.
            What else never happened?
            There was no Vegas trip. I haven't seen the twins in five years. My father did not fake his death. My mother was not having an affair. I was not in Philly with pimps and prostitutes, no fights to the death on a boat, there was no shipwreck treasure, there was no conglomerate. I was delusional. I was hallucinating. I was seeing things that were not real and I was talking to people who were not there. It's like a bunch of crystal clear memories. I have crystal clear memories of things that never happened. My mind turned on the rest of me. The ghost took over the machine. It's gone now, but it's still an uneasy feeling to know that your eyes and ears and mind can not always be trusted. What else does a person have? It's more than an uneasy feeling. It's nauseating. I am sickened.

            I might throw up.            
            It wasn't everyone else who was crazy.
            It was just me. This was all me.
            No. Way.
            Fuck. Me.
            They did.
            My cerebellum has been skull fucked by fear.
            Regrets of  grief and shame double teamed my emotions.
            They all just ran a train on my think tank.
            They took turns until I couldn't tell one from the other.
            It was a gratuitous gangbang of my grey matter.
            When they were done, they were gone.
            I'm left here alone, laying in a strange bed, staring at the ceiling.
            Turned out by my vices, then discarded.
            I've always been easy, but never dirty.
            Disgusted, but never defiled.
            An all time low.
            A line was crossed this time.
            If I have some kind of mental illness, how come it took almost 35 years to show itself? Maybe the unending depression, the unrelenting stress, and the unbearable insomnia all contributed to my undoing. Honestly, I really hope that is what happened. A nervous breakdown, I can handle. Maybe I didn't "handle" it so well. Let's just say that a nervous breakdown is something I could live with, just in case the guy in the white coat offers my diagnosis in the form of multiple choice. I'm still not very confident that nervous breakdowns can cause hallucinations that last a week. Then again, my medical background is more rooted in the pharmacological  field than psychiatry.
            These hallucinations were not like dreams. Even if they were not reality, they were just as real. The memories I have of them are no different than my clearest memories of things that did happen. If anything, they are clearer. The memories of these things that never happened were burned deeper into my mind.
             The only other times I had hallucinations was when I was tripping on LSD. It's been over 15 years since the last time I ate acid, so this was not some like totally far out six day acid flashback, man. You dig? I'll take six hours of feeling like I'm having a nightmare over six days of living a nightmare, no cosmic questions asked. This went far beyond my most psychedelic trip. Grateful Dead, Miami, 4/7/94. The time when the skeletons were playing on stage instead of the band members. That was no comparison. At least when you're losing your mind while tripping the light fantastic, you actually know that the light that is fantastic is being tripped upon. This may not bring much comfort during the darker parts of  your soul strip, but at least you are aware that your shit is all fucked up. If you can keep your cotton mouth shut, nobody else has to know about the mess that is your mind. Over those six days, I was the only one who could not recognize the fucked up state of my shit. Everything, no matter how bizarre, made perfect sense at the time. Somehow, a part of my mind was unlocked that acid could never reach. As scary as a drug psychosis can be, the common denominator is always drugs. A drug free psychotic episode raises more questions and offers no easy answer. If an answer is given, it only leads to more questions, which will only lead to answers that will be followed by questions like,"Is it expensive?" and "Does it have any side effects?"
            Whatever answer I am given to my question of,"How fucked up am I, Doc?" and no matter the cost,  nobody can ever find out about this. This goes to the grave with only the people who already know. That raises an obvious question, so let's just cut to the not so obvious answer.
            Jeff, 1.
            Mom and Dad, 2 and 3.
            My roommate, 4.
            My neighbor with the pills and the shih tzu, 5.
            How many other neighbors? 4 or 5 maybe? 10 or 20?

            There's no telling how many have witnessed my madness or me being taken away in handcuffs cursing. It shouldn't be too hard to get an accurate head count once I see how my neighbors look at me, or how they won't look at me, or how even the morbidly obese lady prefers to carry her groceries up the stairs to the 5th floor instead of having to share an elevator with me. Fuck it, more room for me. I'll just put on a brave face when I occasionally look up from the floor and see a neighbor. 

            I am moving the fuck out.
            Where am I gonna go?
            No job. No first. No last. No middle. No security. No nothing.
            As for my apartment? It doesn't look like I'm going anywhere.
            As for my life? It looks like I'm going nowhere.
            I am pretty much screwed.
            I am pretty much Scrooge, interrupted.

            Once again, I got what I wanted.
            I got Scrooged.
            It was something I always wanted to happen, to have some kind of "otherworldly" experience that would give me a new appreciation for life overnight, to wake up and find myself to be a changed man with a new outlook on life. Unfortunately, I don't have a schilling to my name. Now that I think about it,  maybe I'm not Scrooge. Maybe I'm that "delightful", but dirty, street urchin Scrooge sent to the market with money to buy the prize turkey...or maybe it was a goose. Whatever. It was a big, dead bird. It really doesn't matter because I wouldn't be coming back with it. First of all, it's Christmas Day, so unless that butcher's best is a Kung Pao chicken, the joint's not even open. That doesn't even matter. The place could be open, closed, Chinese, Japanese, it wouldn't change the fact that this is the same miserable prick who never offered my street hustling ass anything but a caning and a dirty look. I'll admit that it is kind of sad that the old man needs to be reminded that today is Jesus' birthday, the one day of the year when we should all be at our very best. For the right price, I may even sing Silent Night for him, but you can all go get fucked if you think I'm coming back with anything resembling a goddamn turducken. "Yeah, sure, Ebenezer. Let me run to the butcher shop for you. Toss me another coin and I'll pick up your dry cleaning while I'm at it. Maybe when I get back you can offer me some more of your pocket change to come upstairs so I can take a shower while you take some pictures".
            Besides the probability that pills will be purchased in lieu of poultry, the rest of the main themes are applicable to my story, kind of. A few, at least.
            A selfish, sad man.
            A bah humbug/ fuck the world attitude.
            Ghosts of past regrets and present shame.
            The ghost of a hopeless future for a crippled boy.
            Waking up as a different person from the one who fell asleep.

            What matters most is that the ghosts are gone and I'm still here.
            I feel like some sort of psychotic Scrooge.
            A psychotic Scrooge with a second chance.
            Dickens for delusional degenerates.
            A Christmas Carol for crazy cokehead types.
            It may not exactly be a version that Dickens would have been thrilled to see written. The author's sentiment would most likely be shared by every other self respecting author, or by anyone who has ever read the classic novel, or even anyone who has even seen one of the many film versions. Suffice to say that this story would not be approved of and possibly protested by anyone who is not a delusional degenerate or crazy cokehead type. That's okay. Following the rules of society did not get me to where I am today...a mental health facility where I was involuntarily committed to in handcuffs and must be held for seventy two hours at the very minimum by a Florida statute known as the Baker Act. 
            It's not the script I would have written.
            Everyone needs a hero, even crazy cokehead types.
            Even delusional degenerates deserve their own patron saint.
            I know just the guy.

            Unfortunately, he's going to be busy for the next seventy two hours.

Jan 15, 2012

Patron Saint of...Whatever.: The People vs. Jimmy Mac (1)


The following chapters took place between
September 9th and September 13th, 2010
"Some day I will wake up
and realize I made up
Can't Be Saved


            "Oh. My. God."
            I look around and I realize that I am in a place for crazy people.
            "What. The. Fuck. Did. I. Do. Now?"
            This is not good. I lay back down before anyone knows that I am awake. I need to get my story straight so I can defend myself from, from...whatever is going to happen to me.
            All I know is that these people think I am crazy.  

            "All rise".
            Court is in session in my head. I am a defendant who has made the always genius decision to defend himself. Since this is pro bono, I am sure to get what I paid for. It seems that I owe myself a favor from a long time ago. It also seems that my atypical attorney is nothing more than some public pretender who knows nothing about law that he has not seen in some legal drama adapted from a John Grisham novel.
            This is the part in my movie where I try to find order in the court.
            This is the part where I try to convince the jury of my innocence.

            "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I'd like to first start by apologizing to you. As both defendant and my own defense, I am sorry. I am sorry that my case has taken you away from your friends and family. I know that you would prefer to be with them rather than being stuck here".
            They think my sincerity is genuine.

            "Let me start with the facts, facts that I have been eyewitness to. On the afternoon of Friday, September 3rd, 2010, I was getting ready to go AWOL from my personal war with The Axis of Evil: Addiction, Depression, and Insomnia. On the afternoon in question, I was busy fighting and losing The Battle of the Bedroom against an army of ants and their attempt at insect imperialism. It was not long before I found myself attacked on another front... my front door. The carnage only escalated as the Battle of Nobody Knocking became more and more hopeless".
            They hang on my every word.

            "Somewhere between the shock and the awe, I received a text on a phone that had not worked in almost 2 years. It was from a friend who I had not seen in 5 years that had taken it upon herself to come visit me with her twin sister. After driving from Atlanta to South Florida in record time, they decided to head back about 4 minutes after they arrived. I was desperate for a little R and R. Since I knew the twins also enjoyed rock and roll, I left with them. I also needed to rest and relax, so I fell asleep on the ride. I slept like Rumplestiltskin all the way to...."
            Juror Number One covers her mouth, struggling  not to laugh. I don't see what is so funny. Then I realize that I have confused my fairy tale characters. If I remember correctly, Rumplestiltskin was a pedophile.
            "I must have slept like Rip Van Winkle," I wink at Juror Number One,"because I woke up at the Kansas City Airport, where we departed to Las Vegas on a flight I don't remember. The fun and table games would not last long. After a run in with the deranged illusionist, Criss Angel, you know, the Mind Freak? After a bit of a situation with him and his homicidal security guards, I cut our trip short. When I got home, I found that I had not spent one dollar in Sin City".
            I think I lost them at "Criss Angel".
            "On Sunday, my father died. I did not handle this well. Not at all. Luckily, my friends came over in my hour of need. They all stood atop a palm tree as a sign of their support. A little while later they all left to go watch football. I spent the rest of the day stuck in an elevator, thinking about my father".
            They feel my pain.

            "Sometime on Monday, I was in Philly. I don't remember how I got there, but I found myself in the company of corrupt cops, drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes. After barely getting away with my life, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, I found myself fighting for my life on a boat. It was on that boat where I suffered this injury to my knee. I submit Defense Exhibit A: The nasty scab on my knee".
            I'm either a great attorney or a great actor.

            "I threw myself overboard when I knew I was going to die on that boat. I was floating in the ocean until my friends discovered me as they searched for buried treasure. Later on, in desperate need of hydration, I entered a local watering hole to see my mother making out with a man who was not my dead father. I can see the disgusted looks on your faces, ladies and gentlemen. I know, I felt the same way".
            They like me. They really like me.

            "The next day, Wednesday, yesterday, I was hanging out with some random friends and a guy who I would consider it good news to hear that he died a horrible and preferably slow death. I see that look on your faces again, but trust me, ladies and gentlemen, you would feel the same way if you ever had the displeasure of meeting this degenerate scumbag. I pray that you never do".
            I chew the scenery. I ham it up. I Daniel Day Lewis.
            "Late in the afternoon, my dead father called me". They're confused. "Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was confused too. In a panic, I tried to get away from the madness I was being surrounded by. Before I could go anywhere, a police officer pulled up. He then handcuffed me and brought me here. Yeah, can you believe that?"
            Their eyes admit that they too know how it feels to be lost.

            "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, once again I apologize. I know that what I have said is both long winded and absurd, but trust me, I left out a lot. It is as close to a summary as I can offer you. I will not make you suffer through hearing me recount every bizarre detail. Instead, for your reading pleasure, I enter into evidence, Exhibit B, a very detailed, 33 part account of the six days in question".
            On a table in front of the judge, jury, and executioner, I place a thick document.
            It resembles a really entertaining memoir.

            "Lovely ladies and gallant gentlemen, please know that I do not use those terms loosely. Also, please know that I have chosen to act as my own defense simply because I do not need to be defended. I have done nothing wrong. The prosecution will undoubtedly call up one unreliable witness after another. You will hear from my nosy neighbors. You will hear from my so called "friends"( I do that quote/unquote thing with my hands).  You will also hear the emotional testimony from a couple of fine actors, my mother and father. You will see that they have their own agendas".
            They are falling for my fancy legal maneuvering.

            "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have no agenda. My only agenda is allowing you to put this in your past and move on with your lives. I have wasted enough precious time already, so I do not want to waste anymore. I don't have to tell you how I want you to consider the facts with an open mind during your deliberation. I trust that you will do so without being instructed by the court. All that I want is to expedite what is sure to be a long, drawn out trial. I want this so that you can call your family, so you can tell them that this madness is all over and that you are finally coming home. When you get home and this is all behind you, these are my instructions to you: Hug your family. Remind them how much you love them. Tell them how much you have missed them. Tell them that this time apart has only made you appreciate them more than when you left so long ago. I hope you find yourselves following my instructions very soon. Thank you".
            They somehow restrain their applause.
            That must come later.

            This concludes my opening statement.

Jan 9, 2012

The Nitty Gritty, 33: Giving Up the Ghosts

I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, 
some stranger, 
and my whole life was a haunted life,
the life of a ghost. 
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 7th, 2010 (Between 11:30 & 11:59PM)

            It is almost midnight.
            The nurse said the medication was going to help me sleep. That was hours ago. It's going to be another sleepless night. Instead of dreaming, I will be obsessing over every mistake I have ever made.

            I can't even remember the last time I had a dream. Even before the insomnia, I had not had a dream in years. The more pills I would take, the less dreams I would have. After awhile, I stopped dreaming. If I did have any dreams, I couldn't remember them. They were always forgotten by the time I opened my eyes.
            I miss having dreams. An eternity of dreaming would be Heaven to me. There is nothing in life that I enjoy more than a good dream. It doesn't have to be about flying. It doesn't need to be that one with Courtney Cox. It's been at least 5 years since the Friends star made her "fancy guest" appearance at my apartment wanting to do more than obsessively clean my apartment and rearrange my cd's. As amazing and convincing as her "acting" was, I would recast my co-star with a current favorite actress, most likely the one who played the ghost of Leo's dead wife in Inception. Oh my God, how I would love for her to haunt the hell out of me forever..and ever. Amen.

            I pray that I would not be spending eternity pondering the meaning of my many recurring dreams that have haunted me in both my sleep and my waking life. I think the one about my tooth falling out has something to do with vanity. I would also prefer not to spend eternity throwing the most powerless sucker punches ever thrown by the kind of man who dreams about sex with actresses. Maybe those weak punches have something to do with lacking strength enough to make changes in my life.
            It may have something to do with Adam and Eve dropping the ball in the garden, but I have never been a fan of snakes, so I could do without being surrounded by them in the afterlife. I once read that my snake dreams are common with highly creative people and those who have a stronger than usual sense of consciousness. I like that interpretation, but I can't argue with the theory of snakes symbolizing hidden fears or as warnings of bad things about to happen. Someone who reads it this way will not be able to find any kind of hope. To them, this is nothing more than a nightmare.

            This does not have to be a nightmare. This does not have to be all about fear and impending doom. A snake does have one enviable quality. A snake can shed it's old skin. This may actually be all about transformation and healing. Maybe there is some kind of hope to be found in what once seemed a nightmare.

            There is also the dream that always begins as a nightmare.

            I'm about to die.
            There is the feeling of fear that comes along with knowing it is all about to come to an end. Just when I think that it is all over, I realize that I am not really dying. This is only a movie. I am just an actor. A damn good actor. I even have myself convinced that my life will be over very soon. Cut to the next scene. I am watching myself die in this movie. I am sitting in the audience with a girl I have never met in real life. She has her arms wrapped as tightly as possible around one of mine. As many times as I have found myself with this same dream girl watching this same movie in this same theater, I still don't know who she is. I don't know her name. I have never seen her face. I never took the time to look. I am too consumed with my own performance. I am too selfish to realize that any moment that I miss of my own movie could never be better than this moment I am sharing with her. Her only fear in our brief time together is not being able to see what happens next. That is the only reason why she is able to keep to a whisper what she really wants to shout out. Even at a whisper, I can hear how overwhelmed she is with happiness and how proud she is. She doesn't say much. She doesn't have to.
            In my ear, she repeats the same thing over and over.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            It's the only thing I have ever heard her say.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            It's the greatest thing I've ever heard anyone say.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            No matter how many times, it always makes me smile.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            I never get tired of hearing those words, and she knows it.
            Baby. You. Are. Going. To. Be. A. Movie. Star.
            As many times as she repeats those eight words, I never say one. I never take my eyes off the screen. Just once, I wish I would turn to see her face. I would really like to know who this girl is before the dream is over.
            Even though it starts with me dying, it is far from a nightmare in the end. It may be a sad dream, but it is still a good dream. I never knew what it meant before. I think I do now. I think I just figured it out.

If dreams are like movies
then memories are films about ghosts.
Counting Crows, Mrs. Potter's Lullaby

            That sad dream always reminded me of a kid I knew a long time ago. This kid had himself convinced that his life was a movie.

            This was not just another movie.
            This was nothing less than an epic.
            He was not just the leading man.
            He was the hero.
            Not just some actor.
            A movie star.
            His movie was not supposed to be like this.
            His life was not supposed to be like this.
            It was not supposed  to take this long for the meds to work.
            It was lights out at 10 o'clock. That was almost 2 hours ago.
            He was lights out at 10 years old. That was almost 25 years ago.
            A Black Belt, a marathon, a track star, and an A student.
            Not just a good kid. A great kid.
            He was not supposed to be like this. He was supposed to be great.
            "Someday, people will say "I went to school with that guy!"
            I wonder what they say about that guy now.
            I don't want to know.
            "You were the kid who was gonna pull the sword from the stone.
            What happened to you?"
            I don't have to wonder why he asked him that.
            I know why. I knew that kid better than anybody.
            That kid could have done anything. He could have been anything.
            Instead, that kid did nothing. He became nothing.
            This kid did not become just some actor.
            This kid is not the leading man in some epic movie.
            This kid is nobody's hero.
            This kid is nobody.
            He never became a movie star.
            He never became anything.
            He became nothing.
            He is nothing.
            He is me.

            There is a movie that plays above me. It is a film from the late 70's called Days of Heaven. It is being projected onto the ceiling above my temporary bed. I begin to watch it because the medication has not begun to make me sleepy. Over the years, I've never seen more than few minutes of this beautiful, yet tragic film that some call a masterpiece. I know enough about the story to recognize that this version I am seeing above me is completely different from what I have seen in the past. Despite different actors and a different plot, I still somehow recognize it is Days of Heaven. Both versions take place  in the Mid West during the late 1800's. In this version, 2 friends and business partners are making their way west. Along the way, they stop to help develop a small town. They recognize the untapped potential  and then transform it into something better than it is now. When they can do no more, they move on to a new place
             As CEO, I realize that  this is the same thing our "fucking company" does. I need to tell Jeff about this. This is us. He has to see this.
            This is "our" movie.
            We first need to discuss the future of the "fucking company". Despite today's confusion, Jeff assures me that nothing has changed. He tells me that he had nothing to do with me being where I am. It was all my parents doing.
            I begin telling him about Days of Heaven. 'Dude, you gotta see this. This is totally "our" movie. These 2 guys do exactly what we do. This is totally us".
             Jeff  reminds me that it's almost midnight. He tells me to get some some sleep because we have a board meeting in the morning. It is the signing of the deal, and if I don't give a good presentation, it won't happen. They got me drugged up over here, so I don't know how sharp I'm gonna be. I don't even know if I can get out of here tomorrow morning. The lady mentioned something about being here for 72 hours. Once I explain everything to the doctors, they will see that I am clearly not crazy. They will realize that I do not belong here and then they should just let me go. Just in case, I ask Jeff if he can do the presentation. Jeff makes it clear that is not an option. 'I can't do it. You're the CEO, bro. We need you". I tell him with confidence, "I'll be there. I won't let you down. I'll be ready". Jeff sounds convinced.
            "Listen", I tell him,"I just want to say that I'm sorry I yelled "Fuck you" at you earlier. I thought you were the one who called the cops". I try to hold back my emotions. "And I wanted to say thanks for not cutting me out of the partnership. It's the only thing I have left". Jeff says,"Of course. You're the CEO. We need our CEO".
            I say, "Thanks. You're a good friend. You're the best friend I've ever had. Thanks for helping me to start turning my life around". I wipe my eyes with the back of my wrist. Jeff tells me everything is going to be fine once I get out of here. He reminds me to be ready for the "big morning" I have ahead of me and that tomorrow is going to be the beginning of something great. "Hey", he says. "I wanna hear all about "our" movie tomorrow, so when it's over, get some sleep, bub".
            I look above and I know that there is not much left.
            "It's almost over".
            I can't help but smile to at least know I still have my best friend. "I'm gonna try to get some sleep. I love ya, bro", I tell him. "Yeah. Love you too, bro. Now get some sleep", he demands. I laugh and say, "Hey, that's no way to talk to your CEO. I'll talk to you in the morning".
            As our call ends, I look up and I see nothing.
            Our movie has just ended.

            I want things to go well tomorrow. Despite everything, I think it will. In a way, I have always got what I wanted. It never comes in a way I could have ever expected. On Sunday, I had been on my hands and knees, crying in the shower. I was willing to sell my worthless soul. I swore that I would give up everything I had, as little as that may be, if it meant having my father be alive. I got what I wanted. I could have never imagined it happening in this way.
            I hope my parents still love me.
            I hope my friends don't hate me.
            I hope things things will start to get better tomorrow.
            I hope they will have pancakes tomorrow morning.
            Some pancakes would be nice.
            Maybe they will have some answers tomorrow morning.
            Some answers would be nice.
            Pancakes and answers.
            The medication is finally kicking in.
            Some breakfast and then some answers from the doctors.
            "Tonight, just try to relax", she said. "Just try to get some sleep".
            I may actually get some sleep.
            Some sleep would be nice.
            A new life would be nicer.
            A chance to be a leading man.
            In a sequel.
            In another life.
            Another version with different actors.
            A different story.
            What's the story with this medication?
            I can feel myself getting ready to fade out.
            My epic is about to fade to black.               
            This is the part in my movie when my eyes won't stay open.
            I can look away.
            I can miss this moment.
            I can sleep through my own ending.
            Don't wake me when it's over.
            Please, let me sleep.
            It's been so song since I had a good night's sleep.
            Please, let me dream.
            It's been too long since I had a good dream.
            Some dreams would be nice.
            Let me dream that I am someone who is not me.
            A dream about someone better than me.
            A dream about someone I used to be.
            A dream...
            ...about a good kid.

             A good dream...

            ... about a movie star.

                      Jimmy Mac

Jan 7, 2012

Nitty Gritty, 32: Pancakes & Personality Disorders

Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence
Henrik Tikkane

 WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 7th, 2010  11:30ish

            I am alone in the dark.
            I am alone in the world, in the dark.
            It seems that neither my insomnia nor my histrionic personality have yet to acquiesce to what these doctors of medicine call an "atypical antipsychotic".
            The chosen treatment's futility lies in it's very definition, at which I simultaneously laugh and spit.

            Me? "atypical"? HA! (Not that there's anything wrong with that)
            A-typical stupid question for an unmarried man in his 30's.
            True, I have many shoes. Also true, I have loved many women.

            Psychotic? No, not I. I own no headscarf. I can not see the future.
            Not in such a mad world.
            It is not I that is the madman, man.
            It is the world that is a madman. (Wait. That doesn't make sense)
            It is... the man... that is a madworld. (?)
            So then a mad man worldman it shall forever be...forever.....
             ...and ever...Amen...especially on St. Crispin's Day, man. World.
            It's a madmanworld, man.
            Man, the madworld is mad at the madman, man.
            Man, my madman meds may make me mad.

            Man, I don't think these meds are helping.
            Things are still not making sense.
            I still have not slept.

            I took the meds almost 5 hours ago. Since then, I've just been ruminating in that miserable place between being awake and being asleep. If I can't fall asleep in my own bed, in my own room, in my own apartment, I don't see how I'm going to fall asleep here. There's some guy in the other bed a few feet away. He is on his right side, facing a yellow concrete wall that he could not be any closer to without being a Fathead. I haven't seen anything other than his back since I laid down...5 hours ago. This guy has got more sleep tonight than I've had since the 4th of July. A sleep disorder is definitely not his mental malfunction. I'm only assuming he's sleeping. I haven't seen him move though. Not even one involuntary tic. At least I know he's not jerking it. I think he might be dead. He may just be waiting for me to fall asleep before he attempts to smother me with his pillow, if he can even lift his head off of it. I guess I shouldn't complain. If you ever have to share a room with a mental case, an unconscious one should be your first choice. You don't want someone like me watching you sleep all night.
             In typical narcissistic fashion, I expect him to wake his ass up, look at me and realize that he is rooming with the most important person in the world, and then give me nothing less than his full attention and unearned respect. Plus, I'm kind of curious what kind of crazy he is. I don't even know what he looks like. Call me crazy (go ahead, call me crazy, mother fucker! See what happens), but it would be nice to know who I'm sleeping next to. I might as well get out of his bed and back in mine. Maybe I should check his wallet, try to get an idea of who he is. I forgot they have all of our personals. He hasn't made a noise. Maybe I should check his pulse, try to get an idea if I'm rooming with a corpse. This dude's fucking dead. This whole fucking place is dead. It's been that way since "lights out" at 10 o'clock. Shit, if I could go to sleep at 10 o'clock I probably wouldn't be here. This blows.

             I hear 2 crazies whispering in another room. I guess they are loud whisperererers(sp). One of them is saying that "after hours" (like it's some hotspot for strippers and coke heads), there's a cook who makes these amazing pancakes for everyone. Pancakes sound pretty good right about now. I don't know if it's invite only so I stay in bed. I wait a few minutes until I think I hear the separation-anxiety-soft-talkers heading for the kitchen, shoulder to shoulder. It sounds like, one by one, everyone except the avoidants are joining this pancake pilgrimage. I decide it's time to get my histrionic ass out of bed. I figure I won't try to wake my roomie to see if he is hungry or even breathing. Fuck it, sleep your life away, R.I.P. Van Winkle. Seriously, I think this guy is dead. Dead or not, he ain't going anywhere. It's time to make my way to eat the ass out of these amazing pancakes that I've been hearing so much imaginary whispering about. It's really nice (and really delusional) to think that this patron saint of pancakes would  serve up silverdollars in the midnight hour for a bunch of unexamined mental cases who should be sedated in their holding rooms. I become hesitant knowing that that this batter benefactor is seriously irresponsible, probably an alcoholic, and that this whole pancake-patient mixer is a serious rule violation in The South County Mental Health Code of Conduct and Ethics and Shit We Shouldn't Even Have To Tell You Not To Do. It can be found under section 211.4 under the header titled: Do This and You're Fucking Fired!...From Every Job!..Ever!....but, whatever. Pancakes.
              I picture this Pancakepalooza attended by obsessive-compulsives cleaning an already spotless kitchen, as bipolar babes openly discuss mixed episodes vs manic episodes, and clinically depressed chicks sit on counter tops unamused by the borderline boys trying to impress them by topping each others best "You wanna here something fucked up?" stories. Although I am a big fan of both pancakes and personality disorders, I don't feel like socializing with sociopaths. I'm just going to get my flapjacks and come back to my room and not talk to my roommate, who's complexion probably resembles that of a smurf.
              I walk out of my room into the empty corridor. It's silent. I don't see anybody, so I start searching for the kitchen. I turn a corner and down another long hallway, but all these rooms are small offices until it dead ends. I walk back to the corridor and down another hall. I try to open a door to enter another wing, but it's locked. I turn and head towards the entrance, where there's one last hallway. There better be some pancakes left.
            When I get to the door with the EXIT sign above it, I make a left down the hall.. I stop in my tracks. One of the techs, a big, black dude, is reading. He hasn't looked up from his magazine yet. I'm about to just go back to my room before he sees me, but then I remember what that guy whispered. "Amazing pancakes". I don't smell any pancakes, but I can taste them...and they are AMAZING. The pathological whisperer was right. I'm torn between my desire to taste these pancakes and the desire to not get a taste of whatever happens to a mental patient who is mistaken for attempting to taste freedom. Tasty, huh?
            Instead of making a decision one way or the other, I just stand there, frozen in mid stride. My upper body is still leaning forward as if it's waiting for my back leg to catch up. For some reason, I think that standing completely still makes me invisible to the naked eye. I'm standing like some statue that belongs in a strait jacket when the tech finally raises his naked eyes from his magazine. We engage in a very brief, yet very tense, staring contest. His expression isn't changing. He wins when I decide to make the first move. I raise my eyebrows at him to show my curiosity about what happens next, pancakes or pain.
            "What are you doing?" he asks me."Go back to bed. Can't just be walking around here".
            "Pancakes", I say in a low voice, as if I'm using some top secret password that I'm not sure I should be privy to.
            "What?" he says. He is visibly confused. He doesn't seem to know about the pancakes.
             Besides opening my big dumb mouth and raising my eyebrows, I still haven't moved.
            "Are there pancakes?" I ask.
            "Are there what?" He's either never heard of pancakes, is hard of hearing, or just can't believe what he's hearing.
            I speak louder, but with less confidence. "Pancakes?"
            He heard me this time. "Pancakes? No, man. There ain't no pancakes. You need to get back in bed".
            "No pancakes?" I ask with disappointment, but also making it clear to him that I know about this little midnight pancake ritual. He reacts as if midnight pancakes are merely myth.
             "No. There are NO pancakes. Get back in your room" he orders me.
             "Someone said there were pancakes".
              He puts his magazine down on the desk and looks at me. He's about to get out of his chair.
              "Good night", I say while making a beeline back to my bed.
              "Good night", I hear him say, the same way he'd say,"Fuck you".

Jan 5, 2012

The Nitty Gritty, 31: Last Man Standing


 "But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 

 WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 7th, 2010. 5:45ish     

            I'm sitting in the hallway with my head in my hands, knowing that my life will never be the same. I'm trying to organize my thoughts. I'm trying to replay the events of the last few hours. I'm trying to make some sense of the last few days.
            As hard as I'm trying, I still can't block out all the nonsensical bits of conversation that I'm overhearing. I'm waiting to be called in like some failed actor whose overzealous agent sent him on one last casting call for a role he has no desire to play. I don't want to hear the people around me reciting their lines. I only want to hear my own name called so I can find out what this scene is all about. Unless a remake of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is in the works, I just don't see how I fit into this picture. After today's events, I don't see myself fitting in anywhere. I can no longer play the role of "the son", or "the brother", or "the best friend".
            Any part I've ever played is destined for the cutting room floor.
            I could always see myself playing the leading man.
            I could never see myself as anyone's hero now.
            My movie faded out before it faded in.
            I don't want to watch the ending.
            Don't wake me when it's over.
             I keep my head down. I can hear some dirt bag in one of the rooms going back and forth with a girl in the hallway. He has a fixation with talking about his dick. She has a Spanish accent with a voice that makes Rosie Perez sound like Adele.
            "You better stop it. You're deesgusting, you know that?" she tells him. "Do you know how deesgusting you are?"
            I'm not looking.
            I'm not listening.
            I'm not here.
            "Why are you so deesgusting?"
            Why are you still standing in his doorway, you crazy bitch?
            He asks if she wants to see it.
            "Oh my God. Why are so deesgusting?"
            Oh my God. Why won't you shut the fuck up?
            After about 5 "deesturbing" minutes of this banter, a nurse asks what's going on.
            "He is so deesgusting. He keeps talking to me about his penis".
            The kid with the dick swears he didn't do anything.
            The nurse doesn't know who the "beeger" nutcase is, so she just tells the girl to stay away from his room.
             About 20 seconds later, I hear her start reminding the kid how "deesgusting" he is. The back and forth bullshit starts over.
             I hear her yelling.
             I don't look up.
             I don't belong here.
            "Oh my God! You are so deesgusting!" she tells him. " He showed me his penis" she tells the nurse. Again, cock boy starts defending himself. "I didn't do anything. That bitch is crazy". The girl with the voice says,"I'm not crazy. You're the one who ees crazy".
            It doesn't take Dr. Drew to realize that they are both crazy.
            It's pretty clear, at least to me, why they're here.
            What's not as clear, at least to me, is why the fuck am I'm here?
            Thanks, Mom.
            Thanks, Dad.
            Thanks, Jeff.
            Fucking assholes.

            I keep my face buried in my hands to hide my agitation. I'm in no mood to be fucked with. I am a ticking time bomb. The last thing I need is some psycho setting me off and giving these people a reason to keep me here. I just want to be left alone, so I don't look up when I hear the "deesgusting" chick saying my name. She must have overheard someone say my name, so she keeps repeating it. "James. James". Tick tick tick tick. I'm not  up for conversation. I'm not down for making a new friend. "James. James?" Tick tick tick tick. "James. James". I try to ignore her, but with that goddamn fucking voice, it's impossible.
            I don't look up to vent my frustration. I don't even take my hands from my face when I say,"Oh. My. God. Stop."  After it is obvious she is not going to let up, I look up to see this sloppy Puerto Rican girl in her early 20s. I look at her face to see that she has a little bit of a mustache on her lip and a whole lot of crazy in her eyes.
            I want to scare her off, but instead of whipping out my junk, I snap at her."What? What do you want?"
            Oblivious to my irritation, she asks me if I'm hungry. "Am I hungry? Yea, I'm fucking hungry, why are you asking?" She walks away. I assume I scared her off just as I intended. She returns and offers me a crab cake looking sandwich that she holds in her hand. This meal is minus any plate. This sandwich is minus any bun. This Puerto Rican is minus any concern for personal hygiene. Whatever. I don't remember the last time I ate, so I accept. I thank her. I devour.
            "Are you okay?" she asks, trying to start up a conversation.
            "Yes, I'm fine".
            I am not fine. I am not in the mood for crazy talk either, so I bury my face back in my hands so that maybe she will leave me alone.    
            This is so humiliating. As long as I live, I will never tell anyone about this shit. Of all the drug addicts I've known over the last 18 years, this has never happened to any of them, not even the few who have done more than me. When it comes to pain pills, I can't think of anyone I know who has done so much, so consistently, for so long and lived to tell about it. Even my friends who died from pills never did as much as me. If this had been some kind of competition, we would have all lost. In this game, even the last man standing walks with nothing.

            I finally hear my name. This time it's not from another inmate, or patient, or whatever it is I am.    
            "James?" The administrator looks out her office at me. "James. You can come in".
            As soon as I sit down, a nurse takes my vitals. She reads the results and the administrator writes them down. The nurse tells me everything is normal except my blood pressure is high. No shit.
            After the nurse leaves, I ask the administrator, "What is this? Why am I here?"
            "You're here because people who love you are worried about you".
            "Whatever" I say in disgust.
            "Do you know what The Baker Act is?" she wants to know.
            "I had a roommate who tried to kill himself by slitting his wrist and I think he got Baker Acted. That's all I know".
            She explains that it is a Florida statute that allows involuntary commitment and examination of a  mentally ill person or someone who is in danger of harming themselves or others. I can't believe they've done this to me. I'm going to be institutionalized, labeled insane, drugged up, and put in a fucking straitjacket. Nobody will ever believe my side of the story. I may never leave this place.
             She's trying to get an idea of how out of touch with reality I am.
             "Do you know where you are right now?" she asks.
             "Earth, Florida, Delray. What exactly are you asking me?"
             "Do you know what this place is?"
             "I don't know. The cop said I was coming to get some therapy, but judging from the people here, it's some kind of mental joint".
             "It's the South County Mental Health Center" she tells me.
             Oh. That tells me nothing.

            She tells me that all the doctors are already gone for the day, so I won't be officially committed until morning, once they have given me a full assessment. She doesn't really have any answers, but she does have a few more questions. She asks me all the standards; name, address, date of birth. She writes my answers down on her clipboard. I'm basically helping her fill in the blanks on her paperwork.
            "Do you know what year it is?" she wants to know.  
            What year is it? Wow, she's more out of it that I am.
            "It's 2010" I inform her."I can just fill that out if you want".
            "Do you know today's date, James?" 
            Does this lady not have a calendar? I try to help her out. "It's August twenty...something".
            "It's actually September 7th" she says.
            Ok. If you're so smart, why are you asking me? I guess I'm not so smart since I forget I got a DUI on August 25th.
            "Do you know who the President is?"
            Of course, he's the reason I'm collecting unemployment, besides the fact I got fired from 2 jobs in 2 months for nodding off at my desk from opiates and benzos.
            "Fuckin' Obama" I tell her with a disdain that I honestly couldn't give an explanation for. I just know it has to do with the economy and something I heard on FOX News. I'm not really into politics.
            She offers up no indication of whether or not she shares my unfounded disapproval of the current Commander In Chief. She just moves on to her next attempt at a trick question.
            "Do you know who the Vice President is?"
             Ok. At what point did we segue from my paperwork to a crossword puzzle? What the hell is she filling out on that clipboard? Just google that shit because I don't know this one.
             I admit that I've been stumped."I don't know, I'm not really into politics. I can picture him, I just can't remember his name".
             She reminds me that the VP is Joe Biden.
             "That's right" I nod in agreement. I don't tell her that I was actually picturing Tom Ridge. It's interesting that Tom Ridge's image came to mind since I have absolutely no idea who that is. Shit, maybe it's not even Tom Ridge that I'm picturing. Who cares? Fuck politics.

            After a few more minutes of Trivial Pursuit, she wants to ask me about drugs. Now we're talking my language. This should be a hell of a lot easier than current events.
            Ask away, grand inquisitor. I got your answers right here.
            "When was the last time you took any drugs?"
            Goddamnit. "I don't know". I lose again. "I don't remember. Maybe last week?" I surrender.
            She asks what I took. I tell her it would have been pain killers and/or xanax. I also inform her that, for the last 6 months, I have been trying and failing miserably at kicking a 6 year addiction to both. I tell her that severe depression and insomnia have been riding shotgun the whole time. She says the xanax withdrawal is the reason I'm shaking so bad. I don't even realize that I'm shaking until I put my hand out. I try to hold it still, but it looks like I'm waving bon voyage to someone departing on a Carnival Cruise Ship.
             She says she will  get me something to help with the tremors as soon as she asks a few more questions. These are the kind of questions that make you wonder what went wrong in your life to find yourself in such an interview. 
            "Have you ever heard voices before?" she asks.
            What a ridiculous question. "No, never" I tell her without laughing.
            "Have you ever seen things that were not there before?"
            "No. Well, only on acid. I would see some visuals sometimes when I was tripping. That was back in high school though".
            "Have you ever been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness?"
            "Mental illness? No". With the look of a lunatic, I let her in on a little secret. "Look. Here's the deal.  I'm NOT crazy. I've just done a lot of drugs".
            "Any history of depression?"
            I have to think about this one. "I guess I've been depressed ever since my ex-girlfriend moved out".
            "How long ago was that?" she asks.
            "Almost 2 years. I guess I never got over it, but the last few months have been unbearable".
            "Any depression before your girlfriend left?" she asks.
            "Yeah, sure. I guess I've always been kind of depressed. I mean, I've always been either way up or way down, no in between. My best friend, well, he's not my best friend anymore, but he used to call me "Extreme". I guess I've always been that way".
            "Have you ever talked to a professional about this?"
            "Once. I went to see a psychiatrist when one of my best friends died. I was already depressed about my girlfriend leaving, and then when that happened, I just couldn't even function. He told me I was clinically depressed".
            "Did he prescribe you anything?"
            "I took, what's it called? Remeron. I took that for a month but it didn't help".
            "Have you ever contemplated suicide?"
            "Is that a suggestion? I'm kidding. No. There were times I wished I had never been born, or that I wished I would go to sleep and not wake up in the morning, but I don't think I would ever kill myself though". Sounds pretty definite.
            "How about your parents? Any substance abuse or mental health issues?"
            "No. My dad doesn't even drink. His father was an alcoholic. My mother has an occasional glass of wine, but that's it. She hates drugs".
            "Any physical or sexual abuse in your past?"
            "No, never anything like that".
            Being able to answer "no" to those last 2 questions gives me the momentary realization that I have no excuse for what I have become.

            She asks when I ate last. I tell her that besides the sort of sandwich served up by the Puerto Rican with the not so golden voice, I can't remember the last time I ate anything. She says she will get me something proper to eat.
            A nurse brings me the medication and some water. The meds are supposed to stop me from shaking and will also calm my nerves and help me sleep. She gives me 2 pills in a small paper cup. As much as I know about pills, I have never heard of either Trazodone or Risperdal.
            Trazodone increases the amount of serotonin in the brain to help maintain mental balance. It is mostly used for treating depression, insomnia, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
            Risperdal is an antipsychotic. It is used for treating schizophrenia and psychotic agitation. It is also used to treat mania and mixed episodes caused by bipolar disorder.

            Besides the meds, she also gave me a sandwich...on a bun, and some potato salad...on a plate, which I devoured. Now, I'm lying down in the room across the hall, just like she told me to.