Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alienation Baroque Rock and Roll

This should really be a draft of a blog. I fear I am losing my professionalism. This kind of story would never make commercial "treeware" print. But blogging is addictive. It is also an outlet.You have to get it done. And it's all too easy, because there really is no editor. But people will write in. Or just greet a rococo story like this with silence. Anyway, here goes nothing:

Ever have one of these days?

Here is Kate Carroway of Toronto's EYE WEEKLY magazine

I didn’t fully appreciate how happily banal most of my Tuesday afternoons are until I spent a recent one topless, ice-cold and sniffling on an examining table, with a too-attractive doctor pressing electrodes onto my chest, arms and legs for an EKG, just after I had redefined “sobbing uncontrollably” while listing my symptoms, and then again when she asked me if there was anything I might be upset about.

Yeah. And me too ending up one day in a psycho ward with different coloured sox, no pants and just a bomber jacket --and all the while trying to argue with my keeper.
"He's crazy," said the orderly.
"Well what in f*ck did you expect?" I wanted to know. "Oprah Winfrey?"
I don't know if we make an unconscious rational decision to break down. We just do....And at the most inopportune times. Like having your girlfriend walk out on you just at the time you had arranged to pick up the kids and your ex is still wanting to argue, while her boyfriend is patting the family dog in the front bay window... And you couldn't bring your girlfriend, your "equalizer" with you. There is no more level playing field. You are a schmuck.
"'K" doesn't like you any more," hisses the boyfriend though the window. Punch out his f*cking lights... And there is a growl from the Benedict Arnold family dog, because the last time you had kicked the shit out of the boyfriend and booted the family dog as well. Both man and dog are wary.
So you finally, shakily pack up the kids, take them to your parents for the weekend.. Everybody has a good time, but once you bring the kids back, you are alone again. Self-conscious and alone. There is a pile-up of something inside you, probably your body protesting these months and months of alienation-baroque rock and roll.You are suddenly sobbing, and you can't get over this free floating anxiety. Jesus, don't you want to be somewhere else? Don't you want to be somebody else? You certainly want to see somebody. You are inexplicably out of kilter and feel almost out of nature. No all that human.. Alien. You are surprised that you had somehow driven to to the hospital without piling up. Where am I? Who am I?
I'd had this feeling before in foreign countries. Having an anxiety attack in a bar in Copenhagen, I told the guy the next stool over that I suddenly had no idea of who I was.. "Who are you? Don't have a cow, man. I can tell by the trenchcoat the camera and you identification button. "You're a war correspondent."
"Oh" And perhaps through humour, the anxiety attack went away.
But there was no trenchcoat in this final scenario. I had arrived at the hospital with mismatched sox, boxer shorts and an Air Force bomber jacket.
"Have you been drinking?" the doctor asked? "Yes."
"I wouldn't drink any more tonight. Alcohol is a good tranquillizer. But it wears off. We're going to have to give you somethilng that won't wear off.
He tries to find me a bed, but it's Easter weekend and there seem to be no beds.
A fragment of Dylan is running though my head.

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
And it's Easter time too.
And your gravity fails and negativity don't pull you through.
Don't put on any more airs when you're down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they'll really make a mess out of you

Well, hadn't hungry women made a mess out of me?
Or did I make a mess out of them.
But it's me that's having the meltdown.

I get a shot of something.
The ward doctor can't find a bed. The session had cleared my head somewhat. I certainly can't drive all the way back to Toronto in this shape. Better stay near the hospital. I go to a friend where I know I can spend the night. I just need to find my pants, put them back on. I drive over to the friend's house. Friends in need.And me gone to seed. The beatiful neighbour. Husband is protesting, but I somehow get to spend thethe night. And another. And get crazier each day. And I'm starting to get to the husband.
They finally find a bed at the hospital. The intake nurse said, "You've finally had enough, have you?" "Yep," I said. The right man in the right place."

It is our body that struggles thus. We do the booze, the drugs, the sexual marathons,The Rothman's King size and the parties. We think the bank account of youth will never be overdrawn. But it now is.
the time to pay for your shenanigans and superiorities. You have dug your last hole, Mole.
There are episodes in the ward. Your girlfiend want to come back, your wife might take you back. Your young son, who has come to visit, is beginnint to have doubts. He's not saying it, but you can imagine in. "When I crack up, am I going to be just like you?
Former head of the household has gone mad.
What will we tell the children?

Well. A spell at the hospital. The jigsaw puzzle assembly plant. You somehow put the puzzle together--they help you-- and you're out on the street again.
You are going to be all right. You can just tell these things.
And yet, two days later there's this choked sob in the middle of the night.
It seems there are limits.


the walking man said...

Yet if we didn't keep redefining the boundaries of the limits we would be just like every other suburban sliced piece of bread wrapped in the plastic sold ten for ten dollars at the discount store. Here is to the limits for others but not for me.

Midnight said...

Might be time for some horse-hoof-stompin' again, Ivan.

Try not to fall off. :)

ivan said...

Well observed, Mark.

Maybe that was the trouble. I was becoming a "suburban piece of bread wrapped in plastic sold for ten dollars at the discount store."
Breakdon or breakthrogh?

ivan said...


"Oh the horse stood around
With his foot on the ground..."

Can't just stand around, I suppose.

TomCat said...

Mark pegged it perfectly.

ivan said...



He did, didn't he.

Charles Gramlich said...

I breakdown in little bits and pieces. More falls off everyday.

ivan said...

It might just seem that way, Charles. A few years after my jigsaw puzzle episode I found myself rich, even rich enough to publish my novel and have groupies.
He works in mysterious ways. "The Bastard", says my friend.

Mona said...

There is a very thin line between sanity and madness....

You sound so much like my old friend used to be like!!

ivan said...

Thanks, Mona.

I just gave a public speech on this as an invited "iconic author" (their words, not mine) by the PACC, anti-poverty group here in York Region, Ontario, Canada. The Poverty Action for Change Coalition (PACC) is a group of community members/individuals, faith groups and community agencies that came about as a result of low social assistance rates. (Welfare, unemployment insurance).
As a journeyman psychiatric survivor, I knew something about low social assistance. I couldn't live on it. I took a job and pretty well was overwhelmed by the pressure, leading to a breakdown all over again.
I drove a taxi, twelve hours a day until I was driven mad. I got sick and I recovered. Up by my own bootstraps, I suppose. Well, I'm back on boogie Street as a survivor and a kind of writer.
But there are those whose disabilities or family responsibilies do not allow them to work, and it was for them that I spoke. Canada makes noises about caring for the poor and people with disabilities, but in fact, it tends to hide them and starve them--just like senior citizens or aboriginals. Who can live on about a thousand a month when most monthly rents are way over that...So how do you eat, how do you support your kids, some of them disabled?
Yes, there is I think line between sanity and madness. But the madness is somehow dissuaged by a survivor putting his own nutty shoulder to the wheel.

There. PACC invited me to speak.
Now I can speak for them.
Funny how sanity is somehow restored by helping others even worse off.
I hope they invite me to speak again. It was nice to get back on the podium, in harness again, even for free, as a wigged-out prof.

Mona said...

I guess what you say makes a lot of sense. If there is any madness at all, society is responsible, society at large , I feel, is more collectively insane than the mad.Poor people who have been victims of circumstances created by society have been punished by us. They have suffered in a double sense. First they suffer from disability from an unknown biological source, & then they suffer at the hands of judges, henchmen jailers law experts etc. for having deffered from 'normality' in any sense.

In India you see mad people being beaten to cure madness, since they are considered to be possessed ( thanks to our society steeped neck deep into superstitions) , by ghosts, almost to death. This is supposed to be treatment. Thanks to the so called 'normal' people, that millions of schizophrenics have died because of their great treatment.

I feel that more or less, every being in society suffers from some kind of madness.

On the other hand, there are some really raving mad people, who have more reason in what they state, than the so called normal beings.

Such ppl are called mad by the society, since what they do or say is away from the norms, since they are much ahead of their times...

ivan said...

Well said, Mona.