Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Night's All Right for Loafin'

“Wanderlust” is a great word. Just great.


You know, has anyone put out a great baseball song since Fogerty’s “Centerfield” in the mid-80s? I can’t think of one. Aren’t we due?


I got a used $3.99 MVP Baseball game for the PS2 I got Wolfboy. I’m not very good at it. Tonight I think my performance got about as good as it’s gonna get; I lost to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 10-9.


I still think someone should write an epic poem about the marriage of salsa and cheese.


Work is good, but not easy. Is there a more challenging population to counsel? Prison inmates maybe? Iraqi veterans?

After dealing with the size and scope of the presenting issues I see on East Lancaster, man, I’d be happy to talk to some student who needs help with test anxiety, let me tell you.


Tomorrow is my friend Sammie’s farewell wingding at the church. Follow your bliss, sister, but please don’t disappear from my life.


I want to train again. I’m looking into it.


Life goes pretty well in general I’d say. I’m not here at my apartment much, yet they still expect me to pay the rent. Odd.


We’re social creatures. I mean… look at us. Separated by physical distance, yet clamoring to socialize online. It’s like being in a giant room with LOTS of people you know. You can tell them what’s up, ask them what’s up, play songs for them, play games with them, be available to chat… interesting.


You should see the movie Big Bad Love,, but not if you’re kinda down.


I’m tired. Man, I may be in bed by 11pm on a Saturday night.

Y’all take care.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A grad school paper I found

Two days after a man at a health fair ranted at me about Italian coffee and the Book of Revelations, I had the good fortune to attend a lecture by Michael Nye, photographer for Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness.

I'd seen the exhibit some weeks before. It's a collection of several dozen photographs of people with varying types of mental illnesses: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, etc. And addiction. Addiction is almost always mentioned (a point Nye underscored in his lecture).

Each photograph is accompanied by a four or five minute audio narrative. For me, the audio was the element that lent real power to this exhibit. We're often dismissive of the mentally ill when we encounter them. On the streets we feel endangered, or in our homes or businesses they are an embarrassment or a distraction.

In each narrative emerged a voice that often gets dismissed. Young, old, either gender, any ethnicity. And so many of them sound quite normal, for lack of a better word. We could really use a better word.

Jerry self-medicates with alcohol to calm the voices he hears. His parents put him in "a mental hospital" when he was six. He fights and goes to jail a lot. If he has a fight, he's pleased even if he loses. "At least someone took the effort and the time to whoop me," he says.

Richard has a dramatic lilt in his voice yet speaks of chromosomes and neurotransmitters as the origin of his problem. I find myself wishing I could converse with him.

Joe wishes he'd been a truck driver. Would I want him on the road? He's now homeless and hears voices.

Anna has some sort of phobia regarding the end of the world. How did 9/11 and Katrina affect her?

Carolyn says, "I render myself unconscious as a way of treading water." She looks like a relative of mine.

Molly wears a leopard-print coat just like my grandmother's.

Many of them don't remember pivotal episodes that got them sent away in police cars or registered as inpatients.

Nye was funny and candid as he addressed the audience in the small auditorium at the science center. He spoke about the difficulty he had getting the project underway, getting past confidentiality. When he first began to present his material, he "could barely say 'mental health or schizophrenia'," he said. "I've come a long way."

At the end of the discussion the hands shot up. Some from this roomful of advocates and mental health professionals merely wanted to thank him. Others wanted to know how to help him get information, this information, out there to malls, Washington DC, state government, wherever. These people understood the intrinsic value of making this exhibit more widely available. Nye graciously invited some of them to come see him after the lecture.

I didn't dismiss the man who ranted at me at the health fair. I paid attention to him, and I remember a nurse in another booth telling me he lives in a shack on some neighborhood property. He's a Vietnam veteran, proudly claims that he doesn't drink, yet is belligerent, and given a wide berth wherever he goes. And as he spoke, I just found myself thinking, you're important. You count too.

[Advanced Abnormal Psychology, Fall, 2006]