Friday, February 06, 2009

Notes from Cambridge City Hospital

As most of you know, this past Summer found me in Cahill 4, which is the fourth floor of Cahill House, part of the campus of Cambridge City Hospital. That particular floor, along with the one beneath it, Cahill 3, is locked. If you try to leave, particularly if you do so with vigor, they will calmly wrestle you to the ground and give you a syringe full of magic. Eventually (hopefully) you'll come back to the world, where you'll find yourself in restraints.

In case it was unclear, I was in a nuthouse.

Seven times in a decade I've either admitted myself to, or been literally into, either The Arbour or Cahill House. I prefer the latter, The Arbour has a "Men's dorm" that is no fun. No fun at all. Unless living in a room full of 30 mentally ill, flatulent and aromatic vagrants strikes your fancy. Most of them were quite nice, actually.

Anyway, when I was in Cahill House, I wrote quite a bit. Here you will find some of what I wrote, because that is what I do on this blog. I write. Sorry.

Summer, 2008, Cahill House, 4th Floor

I'm sitting in the "library" at Cahill 4, which is actually just a room with beige walls, three tables, one couch, five chairs, numerous puzzles, an awful painting, and about 30 books crammed into a small bookcase. On the table in front of me is a massive gold & white reference Bible with Jesus and some wise men on the cover. Some sort of Cracker Jack technology has been utilized to make a 3D image out of the fictional scene. Some of the sheep appear blurry. I'm getting a headache. Oy.

It's the only thing in the room not tied down, padded or too heavy to be used as a murder weapon. It's huge...just chock full of beebobabble.

Most of the rest of the books are pulp novels that any rube might read; easy, breezy and of absolutely no consequence. Not that most people here seem to mind. The nuts, cranks, drug addicts and chronically depressed don't seem to be doing a lot of reading. My mates here don't do much of anything, except eat, complain and/or try to talk to people like myself who want to be left alone. My roommate looks about as likely to read a book as fly out the window, which is no easy task given the bars. But I don't do anything, either, except read and write and try to go to all the classes and sessions so that I may get the fuck out of here. Every so often I partake of a free graham cracker and some free ginger ale. Well, free to me.

It's hard to imagine why graham crackers and ginger ale are consistently offered to the botched and the bungled like myself, when in psychiatric hospital. Is there something about a Ritz cracker that would be dangerous to my delicate frame of mind? An oyster cracker may have me trying to commit suicide by sticking my head in the freezer. Except they lock the kitchen at night. Of course they do. Someone may have gotten a Ritz.

Several people here seem well-educated, thoughtful and of a kind disposition. Were I a more social animal, imagine the things I could find out about the young man whom I've heard frantically masturbating in the bed next to mine. I've gleaned that he is in a pre-med program at whatever college he attends. His partner visits him almost nightly. When people talk in group, you realize how tortured are so many people by the mind.

During visiting hours, I just see a happy couple. He will remain a mystery, though, as I'm strongly disinclined to talk to a single soul in here unless they are prescribing medication, or can sign me out.

A counselor and addictions therapist took an interest in me this morning, after he stopped complaining about the heat outside, he took notice of a novel I was reading while waiting for my morning ration of pills. Michael is his name, and he is too tall, handsome and affable for me to have any chance of getting away from for more than one minute, if he has something to say. As it happens, this morning he had something to say about my book.

I was taking comfort in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle at that moment.

Naturally, if you're head isn't up your ass, you have some appreciation of Vonnegut, and he related his opinions of high regard to me. In the murderously long, anxiety-filled twenty minute conversation that followed, he recommended Magnus Mills, Thom Jones and Will Self. It was hard to have a conversation this morning, but I have some new authors to check out.

Michael is Scottish, apparently. Another useless bastard. And I mean that with love. Really.

1 comment:

Apocalypse Cow said...

Interesting stuff to see an insiders view.