From the Archives
(May 2006) I finally rolled into my driveway after a long day of traveling and, as my pal Cin (who picked me up from the airport) said, I can tell you’re completely exhausted, Medea, because your voice sounds different.
Mostly, though, it’s different because my reconstructed shoulder is hurting like hell from hauling a suitcase and laptop all over creation.
Lars and I left the Village around 10 this morning and I’ve been traveling ever since. Took the subway to Grand Central Station (while reading a scene in Carole Maso’s Ghost Dance that occurs in Grand Central Station), then hopped the express bus to LaGuardia.
Sat around for an hour and a half reading (after my underwires alerted security to the fact that I have big tits), then sat in the Atlanta airport for another two hours before finally touching ground here.
Cin took me out to dinner afterwards and we talked nonstop till she pulled up in front of her house . . .
. . . where we discovered that someone crashed into the driver’s door of my cute little car!
Fortunately, a young woman came running up as we were studying the damage and fessed up that her new-driving mom was making a U-Turn and hit me.
So. Back in the nineties, the village of Chapel Hill produced a poster showcasing the coolest doors in town.
After staying at Shulamith’s apartment yesterday, I decided that someone should cop this idea and produce a Bathtubs of the City poster.
As any struggling artist (who isn’t subsidized by Daddy Warbucks) knows, the bathtub is seldom in the bathroom in low-income NYC apartments. Instead, it's usually somewhere in the general vicinity of available plumbing (and smack dab in the middle of the kitchen or living room, in most cases).
Shuli’s tub is by the kitchen sink and in clear view of any location except the toilet in her apartment (and, if I lived there, I would make a collapsible tabletop that fits over the thing).
Anyway, Lars and I stayed there last night because Shuli is currently in the hospital and we needed to take care of her cat this morning anyway.
(Actually, Shuli is not just in the hospital, but also currently believes that she OWNS her building and the two buildings beside it, and she demanded that Lars hand over the keys. She also said that Lars is dead to her and shoved her out the door. And she insisted that her own cat is dead, even after Lars showed her photographs of us petting the cat.)
Poor Lars. She’s a good friend and went back for more abuse today because she knows Shuli will remember the visit when she’s back on her meds.
So, understandably, I’ve been thinking about Kate Millet’s Looney-Bin Trip a lot today—especially because Shuli discussed the premise with Kate in detail as she worked on the manuscript.
They both assert that people with mental illnesses have the right to choose whether or not they take medication and both insist that medications blunt their brilliance.
This is a complicated subject for me, since my mother has an adult-onset suicidal paranoid schizophrenic disorder which caused her, at various points in my childhood, to OD in an attempt to silence the voices, and wrap the piano in tinfoil in an attempt to silence the voices, and douse her children with witch hazel or Lysol or whatever she believes at the moment would keep us safe from the voices at that moment, and to ultimately shoot herself in an attempt to escape the voices.
These occurred while she was off her medication as we were trying to get her help (but when she did not yet qualify for help because she was not deemed an immediate threat to herself or someone else).
We did manage to involuntarily commit her twice—a legal procedure that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy—and this forced her to take the meds that keep her relatively functioning and, frankly, the meds have kept her on a fairly even keel over the years, so I have to say that I disagree with Kate and Shuli (but understand their resistance to meds).
They see the meds as blunting their brilliance, but it seems to me that mental illness is the real culprit here and not the meds.
Sure, mania can convince you that you are filled with brilliant perceptions as you crank out reams of writing (been on mania-inducing drugs; done that), but it can also convince you that your neighbor's mailbox requires you to kill them.
We're all familiar with those sad statistics too.
And the fact of the matter is that Shuli is not brilliant when she quits taking her meds.
Instead, she overflows her bathtub until the ceiling below hers collapses and sets her living-room floor on fire and stands in the middle of her apartment screaming until the police haul her away.
What a shitty-ass situation all around.