January 23, 2008

age: 47
location: Boston, MA

Finding out about my condition didn’t change anything. It put a title to a story but never affected how the story would continue. Or how it would end. My story is on the streets. I’ve learned that there are many ways to make money and there are many ways to die and there mostly are ways to die making money. And it is here that I group people into one of two categories: having control and being captive. You know what? It is all just grey. – you and me and the concrete. I can’t say I like it particularly. I do like the unafraid. Unafraid of what stands still, unafraid of those at will, unafraid at nil. Nothing. It cracks me up. The weather, the seasons, the rain, sun, sleet, wind, breeze, crying snow. Buying layers to cover up its hold on the lesser beings. I’m not on anything, I promise – but no one believes. Oh I promise. With the sky above, I sure do wish it holds a promise. And really, all I’ve ever wanted to know, the only question I want to ask, ever want answered is how do you escape when there is no way out?

I dole out his medicine that’s all. It’s not a matter of how high a dose, Frank will always come back to me. He will not get better, and in the meantime, I will keep doling out his medications.

Working in a psychiatric ward, Frank has come in and out since my time here. As a patient, I have lost him. At the same time, I cannot stare in his eyes for too long. I need to break the gaze. When I do, though, his delusions pull him out the door.

“Why do you prefer the streets, Frank?”

“I don’t prefer the streets to here because that would mean I had the gift of preference. If I had that, I would not want to be on the streets. I have been robbed. My house was taken from me. If you had no house, where would you go?”

“Frank, you have not been robbed.” He gets up from his chair and switches to a seat across the room.

“Yes I have. I see houses that were mine. I see people wearing my rings. My jeans.”

“What do you do to these people?”

“I take my stuff back.”

“Frank, why don’t you stay away from these people?”

“They will rob me again. I can’t hide. Things don’t go away.”

“What things?”

“People. The ones that are always watching.”

“You mean God?”

“No, I am God – not God as in Jesus Christ. I am a prophet in the way everyone could be a prophet if they wanted. We can speak, that’s all. Listen to what I am saying and tell me I’m not God.”

“Frank, you’re not God.”

I cannot clock out. Coming home from work, my mind still reflects on Frank. I look into my daughter’s eyes and compare them to the madness I see in the hazel set belonging to him. It’s strange to think of Frank as a child – untainted by disease, with sickness stirring inside. His eyes, I bet, were not so much pure as ignorant. I wonder if he knew.

My daughter responds, “Can you help me with math, Dad?”

I tell her to try her mother instead.

The weather outside blurs between rain and snow. I hope for spring to hold off. Not because I like the winter. It is like when my daughter plays her wonderfully joyous music and dances, and I have to turn away. It is not out of distaste but rather; I cannot listen to what I cannot identify with. In that way, the spring is a stranger, with its blooming flowers and subtle rain.

Washing my hands at the kitchen sink, I wipe the moisture off on my pants, too tired to reach for a towel. I cannot recall when my energy started fading, when the internal fire inside me began to slink into the corners of my mind unseen.

I think of how, when it comes to human nature, we praise the just and the righteous but cannot reason why one must do so. Why abstain from sleeping with your neighbor’s wife? Because the Bible says so. Because it is the right thing to do. Because of that voice inside your head.

I need a better rationale.

I used to not need any reason why but now it’s the only question I ask. It brings me back to Frank. Everything. How the things we do without reason make us who we are.


January 14, 2008

“I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.” – J.D. Salinger

January 12, 2008

age: 30

location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Most of my early twenties were spent underneath the birch tree that sat next to all of the other birch trees in the forest, blocks down from my apartment. I never had much money those days and that was expected. I bought a studio apartment and squeezed my bed and drum set and dresser in and then spent my time outside everyday in search of air. One day, I saw a girl leaning against my tree and I waited a couple yards away until she moved. I grew impatient and I grew uncomfortable. The tree I sat under didn’t have the right lighting, and the grass was moist. A couple years later, when I found a decent job and earned some cash, I decided to move out of the apartment. On moving day, I took out my bed and drum set and dresser and then I headed over to my tree. I looked at you and said goodbye. You thanked me for the company. I’m coming back soon. I just need to tell you that the tree by my new apartment doesn’t have the right lighting and the grass is moist.

age: 14

location: bedroom

It’s too late to know what time it is. The blinds are closed but I know its dark outside – just dark enough for the sun to come up shortly and become early morning. Hours ago, I put on my glasses and changed into my pajamas and went into my room to go to bed but not to fall asleep. That’s what I do. I stay up late and wake up early and spend an hour eating a bowl of cereal. It’s getting a little cold sitting here. Actually, it’s just chilly, and I don’t want you to confuse the two. There are no more blankets and I am left alone (but not lonely – I don’t want you to confuse the two). I started a conversation with myself earlier tonight but I have just started to continue it out loud.

-Why are you writing?
-Because I have something to say.
-What are you saying?
– I don’t know.
– Well then, why are you writing?

And the shoes lying on the floor need to put away into my closet. This isn’t the time to do so. My mind is using up the energy in my bones, and I can feel that it’s still dark yet, and I don’t need to move my shoes until tomorrow. My eyes are beginning to ache, and I’m beginning to think that I have no idea where I am going with this and finding it all a bit dysfunctional, but maybe even beautiful. Or am I confusing the two?