Monday, June 24, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 27


Silver Spring, Md
I take a seat across from Pen. There’s a lightness to my being, as if the weight of the world has shifted to somebody else. Pen looks at me and smiles. I relax a bit. Ah, therapy. A cocoon to climb into for the next forty-five minutes. 
       One thing about Pen’s demeanor which works in her favor, is the calm professional face she wears. I respond to that because it gives me a pretty good clue she’s learned to control her emotions and not react visibly to anything. That is sehr gut. I like people who are in control and don’t react to things. It tells me they’re not out to impress. It tells me they know how to react appropriately regardless of the situation. This is particularly important for a therapist.
       Of course, that doesn’t mean I trust her at all. I may be clueless as to what’s wrong with me, but I for damn sure know I don’t trust people in general. I’ve known that for years and years. Since I was a babe.
Anyway, I’m surprisingly loquacious answering her first question about how my week went. In fact, my mouth bubbleth over. “It was probably the best week I’ve had since I left the hospital, Pen. There were only a very few bad moments where I felt like I was going to panic and lose control. Even when my doctor called and said I needed a third pap smear because the first two didn’t take. Well, I laughed at her and said, what, are you kidding? Hell no, I won’t go. Then my husband’s ophthalmologist diagnosed him with macular degeneration in one eye and told him he needed laser surgery. Ok, no problem, I told myself. Shit happens, we’ll get through it. So, I’m pretty sure I’m handling all this well so far, and that’s a really good sign, Pen. My life is finally beginning to settle into a relaxed routine of normalcy. I think you were absolutely right. I just needed to work on this PTSD thing, which, btw, I did a lot of research on this past week, and I’ll be as good as new.” 
I finally stop, look and listen. Pen blinks several times. I stare innocently back at her for a split second before bubble mouth breaks a dam. “Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m just glossing over the bad part of my week and you’re probably wondering how I’m feeling about having to do a third pap smear in the span of three weeks. A little annoyed, frankly. You’d think they’d get the first one right. Barring that, the second. For me to do a third is insane. And as far as my husband’s eye is concerned, yes, that was very bad news because he depends on his eyes to earn a living, but so do most people. I felt badly for him, but hey I told him, you still got one good eye left when a lot of people have lost both. We’ll get through this. You see? Despite all this, Pen, I was able to do some journal drawing and not go crazy. I think that’s a positive sign. Don’t you?”
A scant few seconds later, Pen's strongly insisting I go through a third pap smear. I tell her no. I'm not in a good place right now. She doesn’t seem to get that. I further explain that it triggers panic to even contemplate doing another one. So, guess what lady? I’m not going to risk it. Put that in your damn pipe and smoke it. Then vomit. Then choke to death for all I care. Well, no worries on that score, because she's right in front of me still arguing about the importance of screening for cancer.
Finally I put my foot down. “Oh, didn’t I tell you, Pen? I’d much rather have cancer than live the way I do right now. In fact, dying of cancer would be a walk in the park compared to the living hell I’ve experienced over the last few months. Do you realize that if half the population of America went through what I just did, we wouldn’t have so many damn cars on the road?”
Wow, Pen sure likes to do that blinking thing. Well, she’s good at it. She couldah been a contendah for a Broadway sign. I’m so impressed, I back off a bit and tell her I’ll think about it. Psycho Voice, however, has another opinion. 
“Drop it lady! Jeezus H. Christ! Are you  dense? Do I have to draw you a road map here? Do I have to tell you how to do your f**king job?”
       How could Pen not have heard that? Yet there she sits, contemplating her next attack. I'm contemplating too, like, what are the odds that Psycho Voice remains forever buried inside my noggin?
       Not good.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mamie Barlowe, Episode 2

I'm driving down Emerald Boardwalk Blvd, see. My 1940 pearl opal Chrysler Newport Replica roadster is a real showstopper; the kind of car that could lead a ticker-tape parade down Pennsylvania Avenue; the kind of car you don't take to lover's lane, see. Unless you're double-jointed. I'm not double-jointed. I thought I was once. I'm not. I have scars to prove it. Right now, I'm heading to the office. My beret is bouncing off my head like a baby clapping its hands. Emerald Boulevard is like its name. Lotta green. Golf course green, you know the kind, before a thousand beginners trample the fairway and kill the leaderboard. To my right is a beach with an ocean full of water begging for a date. To my left, strip malls and gin joints. Above my head, a blue sky worthy of poetic expression. If I liked poetry. I hate it. I shift gears in the Roadster, then hear a suspicious noise. I pull over. While I'm checking under the hood, my phone rings.

"Yeah, Vera." It's my secretary. Must be an emergency. She never calls. "What? . . . She did? . . . She didn't! . . . Ok, here's what you do . . . " I hang up. Yeah, I could've seen that one coming without glasses. I frown, then pull my Glock .22 out and shoot the 'E' and 'u' out of the word Evacuation, on the Hurricane sign a yard away. The call is bad news. Or not.

I'm fired. Roxy's second mistake. She made a third. She wanted a full refund. I have one solid rule about refunds; I deduct what my time is worth at the first meeting. Roxy didn't agree with my assessment. Vera put up a good fight, though. That's why she's my secretary, see. A swat team came busting through my door once. They stopped and asked Vera for her phone number. She gave it to them. My secretary has a real sexy, buxom way about her, see. Roxy Clumper didn't think so. She stomped on Vera's hair weave. It was still attached to her head. I told Vera to charge Roxy, then call Chill to pick the kookie dame up for assault and battery. Maybe next time, Roxy will think before a) hiring a private detective and b) wasting Mamie Barlowe's valuable time.

Chill Tornado is the bull I do business with on a regular basis, see. Tornado isn't his real last name. Chill changes last names like he changes eye color. Take the eyes. One year they're blue, the next black. Take the last name. One year it's Tornado, the next it's Cyclone, the next it's Typhoon. Next year, it'll be Derecho he says. All weather-related. Nobody know's Chill's real last name, see. He says if we did, he'd lose his balls and never get them back. Sometimes, he pisses me off. Then I want to investigate what his last name is. I don't, see. I chock it up to a bad day. We all have those.

Today is another. My car is leaking oil worse than a wine bottle broken over the head of an ugly mug. I call Triple X. Yeah, I have a towing service. Have to when you drive a classic. I sit in my car and wait. There's two kinds of waiting, see. The smoke-a-cigarette-after-sex kind of wait, or, the watch-for-a-particular-roadster kind of wait. Mine's the second. I'm constantly on the lookout for a cherry red 1953 Chevrolet Corvette roadster, with white wall tires, and tan leather interior; the kind of car that can outgun a cop kissing your taillight; the kind of car that can beat a roadblock without moving. The driver will be a raven-haired beauty. Sable Mink is her name. And as deadly as a viper crawling through the slats of a baby's crib. Her body is all hard curves, the kind of curves you take at O mph, or say hello to the morgue.

Sable and I go way back. To high school. She was the most popular. I was the most feared. She ran an extortion racket. I ran her in for felonious assault. A kid wouldn't pay, see. Sable took out both knee caps with a Remington double-barrel derringer. I stole the derringer and called the bulls. They rounded up Sable and her henchmen faster than a kid leaving the principal's office. Sable made it easy for the bulls. She always wore a solid-gold, derringer necklace. She was never the smartest kid in the class. But Sable has a gift.

She's psychic too, see.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 26


Captain’s log, Star Date, May 31. Seated on keester daydreaming, instead of doing therapy homework. Rendezvous with Pen scheduled the next day. 
“Mr. Sulu.”
“Yes, Captain.”
“Is everything ready to go?”
“Yes, Captain, except in the left rear quadrant.”
“The left rear quadrant? . . .  Scotty?”
“Aye, Captain Kirk.”
“Where the hell is the left rear quadrant? And more importantly, why isn’t it ready?”
“We’re having’ some prrrrroblems with the alpha base wiring, Captain. But we’re worrrking on it night and day, sir. I expect it t’be rrrready on the morra.” 
“Good. We have an important rendezvous with the Beta Centurions on Frrriday as you all know. Spock?”
“Yes, Captain.”
“That discussion we had in secret last week?”
“Yes, Captain.”
“Keep it on the down low. If word leaks out, our negotiations with the Beta Centurions will be severely compromised.”
“Fascinating, Captain, and quite illogical, I assure you. As you are aware, I do not have any loose screws rattling around in my mouth. I quite fail to understand the need for a warning.”
“Ah, don’t get your panties in a wad, Spock. Just playin’ with your head.”
I giggle. Back to rrreal life, Liz. I start to draw. Ten minutes later, I’m exhausted, but pleased. Two pictures for this new book I just decided to write, “All I Ever Learned in Kindergarten was How to Draw and Take a Nap.”  
I look at one picture and decide to color it with Crayola crayons.

Desert landscaping is so pretty put together with mountains, turquoise sky, cacti and caves. A few minutes later: time out! What did I just draw? And why did I even bother? Looks like a second grader drew it. Two words come to mind. I won't repeat them here. 
       So, maybe it's time to watch, "The Amateur Psychologist Hour," starring . . . me. I can just hear Pen now, "What do you think these pictures mean, Liz?" And I'll say something like, "The cacti are phallic symbols, OR, they're actually cacti and I'm a really bad artist. Of course, I vote the second option. Cacti are indigenous to the southwest area of the US. The mountains are the Franklins, part of the Rockies. The lowest part. The blue car is what my first foster father owned. That's me behind the tree. What I'm doing there, I have no clue. And finally, graveyards in deserts are also indigenous to the Southwest area of the US due to the lawless nature of the Wild West!" 
     Nothing to see here, let's move on to the second picture.

By now, though, I’m way too tired to color. And why would I anyway? Cityscape is boring. The blue pen I used to draw the picture brings it out enough. I stare at the butt ugly drawing with its monster highway, bordered by small, medium and large buildings. The highway is covered with busy, busy cars going about their busy busy business. Wait. What do we have here, ma cherie, Liz? I squint at my drawing of a girly stick figure in the bell tower of a mission-style church standing on one side of the highway. Then, in another mission-style church drawn on the opposite side of the highway, a girly head floats in its bell tower. What means this? 
Before I can even contemplate an answer, and without any kind of warning, I slide out of the chair, and hit the floor. I curl into a fetal position and start rocking. After a few minutes, an excruciatingly familiar voice whispers, “Don’t you tell nobody what you saw, girl. You hear me?”
Psycho Voice totally loses it. “F**k this drawing shit, Lizzie! It ain’t working for you. It’s called very bad therapy.”
I don’t react, because I’m too busy fighting the nausea and the inevitable descent into madness . . . until . . . a childhood memory clicks on this film projector inside my head. I'm a passenger in a car. We're approaching a Spanish-style mission building which looms around a sharp curve of a busy highway. As soon as I see its gilded ivory round tower, I hit the floor of the car. And begin to tremble.
        You know what? I need to stop these crazyass drawings. 
And you also need to keep your mouth shut. ‘Cos if you don’t, it's gonna take a verrrry long vacation. Got it, Captain?”

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mamie Barlowe, Psychic Detective, "The Case of the Misplaced Husband." Episode 1

Her name is Roxy Clumper. She has short satiny blonde hair; the kind of hair you see on a mannequin before it slides right off; the kind of hair I could shoot a bullet at, and it would boomerang. Her cheekbones are angled so sharply, a mountain climber would stake her. Take the eyes. They are spaced far apart. It's a wonder she can look at me straight. Her nose and mouth practically kiss each other. With harlot red lipstick that's a no no. Makes me to want to reach for my Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol. Click the safety off.

In short, Roxy resembles a dime-store hooker holding up a lamppost after a rainstorm. But her clothes scream designer with a capital D. How do I know? You don't have to be Holmes, see. Take the rain coat: silk-lined pockets, with lapel flaps that stand at attention like two stiffs hanging from a meat hook. A single price tag dangles from her arm pit; the kind of tag I see on Modeo drive.  I shouldn't be looking at it.  There's a belt, loosely tied around her waist, but wider than a leather strap used to beat the snot out of people. A white-lace bodice peeps out at me between buttons lined up like soldiers in a drill. I think she's wearing a dress. I don't know. I'm starting to get bored.

My name is Mamie Barlowe. I'm a psychic. A real, honest to God psychic. In my line of work, that's a plus. I'm a private investigator, see. I work solo. I charge by the job: $10,000 minimum, cash upfront. I can afford to name my price. I work in the ritzy part of town where rents are high, and tastes run from caviar to champagne to gold bars to roadsters. The type of clothes I wear depend on the occasion. Today, I'm wearing basic widow black: jeans, button-down silk shirt, and shoes with heels considered to be weapons of mass destruction by law-enforcement. The bulls pick up a lot of ball sacks before I'm done with a case, see. Then they come tell me about it. Then they laugh. My thick, unruly hair, more blackish-blonde than red, is the length of a twelve-inch ruler, you know, the kind of ruler a nun carries for protection. I saucily sport a grey beret as a reminder to keep my wild hair in check. Otherwise, it's one pull and I'm flat on my tookus—advantage criminal. Oh yeah, I'm mostly always in a soldier-standing-at-attention kind of mood, too, with the patience of a doberman humping a sea turtle.

My wannabe client misplaced her husband. Those are her words. These are my thoughts. I lose things: a car on occasion, a cellphone, a wallet, a coffee machine, just to name a few.  I don't misplace them. Particularly a man.

"So, will you be able to find my Bertie, or not?" Roxy's sneer ends in a whine. Her thin eyebrows fold together like twin points of a star scratching its back. That's when I notice a one inch scar right above the corner of the left eye. Like she took a header out a plate glass window. I wish I had a plate glass window.

"Wrong question. Try again." I flap my lips on occasion. When I'm annoyed. And I'm beyond annoyed.

Roxy can pout with the best of French poodles. "I mean, will you take my case?" She can yap, too. "A simple yes or no would be appreciated. There are other Private Investigators, you know."

"They're dicks. I'm a psychic." Good thing I'm sitting on the softest leather chair imaginable. Keeps me calm. Picture a pillow floating by on a cloud of toilet tissue. My clients sit on rickety wooden, straight-back chairs I bought at a rummage sale for a buck each.  I don't want them comfortable.  My office walls are bare; no movie posters, clock, bass, fake moose heads, or photograph's. No fish tanks, nude sculptures, or knick knacks in the office, either. I don't want them distracted. It's just me, my chair, laptop, and desk, see. The desk is carved out of the finest mahogany, you know, the kind of desk that says all work and no play makes Mamie a menace to society. I don't like purses. Where I carry a gun is where I carry my valuables: wallet, cellphone, tissue, taser, and mint gum. The gum comes in handy. Like a torpedo in close quarters—sometimes dangerous, sometimes sexy. Don't ask."Ok, I'll find your Bertie. Be $10,000 cash. Upfront." This case is a cinch. With a name like Bertie Clumper, the man's sniffing his wife's mules, or he's dead. Either way, I get paid.

"B-but that's ridiculous," she sputters. "I don't carry that kind of cash." Her black eyes spawn twin tornadoes. Lethal. I'm sensing she's trouble. Trouble with a capital T!

I pull out the machine. "Or credit. A 3% surcharge will be tacked on." She stares at me like I got leeches coming out of my eyes. I steam toward Niagara Falls carrying a barrel. And it doesn't have my name on it. "Look lady, this isn't Value Mart. Are you telling me your husband's life isn't worth a plugged corpse with gold teeth and diamond-studded eyelids?"

"Of course, not. I love my Bertie. I'll do anything . . . pay anything . . . I just want to see him again." She pulls out a black Diva card.

Whoa! Exclusive club; the kind where people jet to the moon and back for dinner. If they could. I swipe it and hand it back over, but not without feeling the card up, the tops of my gold-painted fingernails flicking across the gold-embossed letters like it's a fine cowboy action .357 Magnum Ruger Vaquero, with an extra-long Bisley hammer. "Ok, so when's the last time you saw Bertie?"

"Yesterday. We went parachuting. Bertie likes to live on the edge, you know? Anyway, I landed, but he didn't. I mean, I never saw him land."

Either her eyes are misting, or mine are. I can't see through the fog of boredom. "And yesterday, birds were chirping. Today, it's raining. I would've gone bird-watching yesterday, capiche?"

"Well . . . Bertie does really odd things at times. I wasn't too worried. Until this morning, when he didn't return my frantic calls. That's not like Bertie."

"So, quick question, who let go of who first?"

"I-I'm not quite sure what you're asking . . . I mean, at some point we might've been together, but—"

"Together, you mean as in jumping out the plane together, or rolling out the plane together, or accidentally falling out the plane together?"

The color red is not a good one on this tomato. She takes blushing to an art form. If you like art. I don't.

"Is that question really relevant, Ms. Barlowe?"

"Yeah. I wasn't conceived in a parachute accident, Mrs. Clumper. My mom and pop did it right. You two, on the other hand, did it wrong."

"How dare you suggest what it is I think you're suggesting! I don't have to sit here and—"

"No you don't, but here's what you're gonna do. You're gonna leave now. But on your way out, you're gonna talk to my secretary, and sell her the whole salami sandwich. Don't lie. Don't leave anything out.  She'll give you a receipt for the ten grand, plus the 3% surcharge. Oh, and leave her something that Bertie touched recently." Roxy glances down at her chest quicker than I can slap her. I throw up my hands instead. "Those don't count." I stand up. "I'll be in touch."

If she were a chair, she'd have fallen over barreling out of the office like that. Instead, she knocks over my rummage sale special without so much as a goodbye!

People. Gotta love 'em. Or shoot 'em.

I'm good at both.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 25


The next day, fresh off the latest therapy session, I wake up rational, and just chockful of peter piper purpose! In fact, I feel so Miss Perkypie confident, I dive right into the car and drive myself to the bookstore. With absolutely no driving problems. Nosirree, bobber. Every move I make is decisively decisive.
Once I’m in the store, I canter through the aisles like a show pony wearing a gorgeous hi-feathered pink hat. Whoa, slow down there, Liz. Time to research. Subject? The Art of Psychotherapy. After all, knowledge is power, power means control, and control means, I’m the leader. Always. In every situation. 
I buy four books, make it back home safely, and spend the rest of the afternoon reading, reading and reading. One book is especially helpful: The Heart of Psychotherapy: A Journey into the Mind and Office of the Therapist at Work, by George Weinberg. Easy to comprehend. Best of all, the insight it spouts, makes me feel like I could be Superman to Pens inner Freud. I know! I'll use ex-ray vision to see into her mind, to read the tricky dicky questions she'll ask to trap me! Then, I'll literally freeze her with my answers! Aren’t I clever? 
On the other hand, should I really feel as if I’m Superman about to go to war? “Yes, you freakin’ moron. You’re ABOUT to get shot down in cold blood. Unless . . . you do the shooting first. He he he . . .  I don’t feel so good all of a sudden. The cliche, sweating bullets comes to mind. 
As the week passes on by, I begin to notice a few blips on the professional career radar. One occurs while I’m practicing the Mozart Piano Concerto in D minor. Usually I can play the piece practically blind-folded, but now I stutter through it like my hands are tied together. And sometimes, when I come to the end of the piece, I forget what I just played. Instead, I think, gee what a beautiful concerto, I wonder who wrote it? So I look at the cover.  Holy cow, there’s a message written on it! From the great master himself, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He wrote, and I quote, “You, madam, are an idiot!”
More blips occur during piano lessons, like blanking out at inconvenient moments, so that the simple basics of music theory slip beyond my comprehension. In other words, I can’t remember how many sharps or flats are in what key signature. I don't know the scale of a piece a student is playing, or what note he’s butchering over and over. When I speak to students about the life of composers like Mr. Mozart, I forget where the man was born, or what he wrote. As for the three mega composers whose last names are thusly, Brahms, Beethoven, and Bach? Now they’re Benny, Beavis, and Butthead.  And wasn’t Bach the one who had 100 children, 10,000 grandchildren, 100,000 grandchildren, and not one could read a note of music?
As I sit and ponder these worrisome problems, I’m blindsided by a flashback.
Place: Texas
Time: Early 1980’s
Location: Recital Hall. Seated elegantly or slatternly depending on your viewpoint, at a Bosendorfer grand playing Chopin’s Funeral March in front of an eight-student master class. All the other students are anxiously waiting their turn of the screw, and probably aren’t listening to me at all. However, Dr. P, as always, stands ready to pounce on the overall performance of the piece. That’s the way he is. Nice enough guy, but terribly neurotic and very finicky. Without warning, I switch to a major key, and the Funeral March becomes A March Into Zion.
“STOP! STOP! STOP! Miss ET, what in the name of all that is holy are you doing? This isn’t the First Baptist Church of Heaven.”
In a fog, I look out over the miniscule audience of little people all cloaked in dark shadows, and eek out, “Um, I don’t know. It . . . I . . . it’s a bit of a memory slip, I guess.”
“A LITTLE! You changed the whole damn piece. You just murdered Chopin. Which is hard to do seeing as he is already dead. Are you alright?”
“Sure . . . I mean, no.” I clear my throat, feeling my spirit detach from my body. “I-I don’t feel so good today, Dr. P. I’m sorry.”
“Well, for God’s sakes why didn’t you say something before you marched us all into the Twilight Zone! Go home.” He clears his throat and yells, “NEXT!”
Damn, I'd forgotten about all those master classes that ended in disaster for me. Sigh. I need to concentrate on the present. Can't teach like this. It's getting downright embarrassing. Should I practice more? Maybe reread my music theory and history books? Argh! Well, I’ll bring it up to Pen. She should have the answers.
“Riiight, Lizzie. Keep tellin’ yourself that, hon. And then guess what? There’ll be lots and lots of questions she’s gonna wish she never asked. Book it, Dano!”

Sunday, June 02, 2013

"Sucks, Doesn't It?" A Memoir, Entry 24


Back in Pen’s office a week later.
So Liz, how are you doing? Any anxiety or panic attacks?”
I lean back in the chair and take a deep breath. Tough question. Not really. “Went pretty well. A few rocking moments, but nothing bad. You were right. The panic attacks are decreasing. AND I can rock without falling to the floor. Yea!”
“The rocking is actually a coping mechanism to help relieve anxiety, Liz.”
“Ok. But how lame is that? Definitely infantile. There’s got to be other ways of relieving anxiety besides rocking or taking meds.”
“Are you on any medication, Liz?”
“Valium sometimes, if I get to the point that I think I’m gonna sail off a cliff.” I cross my leg, square to the floor. Tap, tap, tap, goes my footie. Drum, drum, drum go my fingers. Speed varies.
“What happened to your fingers, Liz? That looks painful. And you left so quickly last time, I didn’t have a chance to ask you about it.”
I glance down at the bandaids surrounding all the fingers of my right hand. The tapping and drumming stop. Time to go on high alert. I'm not sure why. “Oh, just broke a glass and got careless picking up the pieces. No big deal.” 
But despite my protestations, I notice she gives me a searching look. I return the scrutiny, and wonder if all therapists do that staring thing. Like as if the client’s gonna suddenly spring out of the chair and bite them in the neck or something. The tapping and drumming begin again.
“How are things at home? Have you been able to resume teaching?”
“Yeah. I started back up last week. But I had to reduce my workload by fifty percent. I don’t have the stamina anymore. Since I got sick, anyway.”
“Have you had anger problems?”
“Not really. I don’t think my anger is any worse than it was four years ago when you and I met the first time.”
I start to get a little impatient with all the questioning. “So, Pen, what’s the diagnosis? You got one yet. I’m in a hurry, here.”
She cracks a smile. “No, Liz. As I said before, it’s still too early in the assessment period. But, I’ve got a tough question for you now . . . Do you ever hear voices in your head?”
I uncross my legs and lean forward. “Do you?” Suddenly I giggle. “Sorry, Pen, the doc asked me that same question in the hospital. So, I’ll you what I basically told him. Any voice that speaks inside my head is my own. See, I have these huge editorial conferences with myself every single day, every single hour, right down to every millisecond. Because every single person on this earth has a continuous flow of dialogue going on in their minds. Probably in different languages, though." A cheshire grin appears.
Pen doesn't reciprocate. She gives me another searching look. “Do you suffer from any depressive episodes that tend to last longer than is normal?”
“No. I mean, sometimes I get a little down. But again, most people have those kind of moments.”
“Do you drink at all, Liz?”
“Oh hell no. Never have. I'm a control freak. And before you ask, I don’t do drugs for the same reason.”
“That's good to hear, because therapy will go quite a bit faster if your mind isn't clouded by drink or drugs.” She shifts in her chair and clears her throat. Change of direction, I betcha. “Now, I’ve spent some time going over the first journal entry you gave me, Liz. I have some questions about that.”
“Ok, shoot me.”
She smiles again, and brings out the copy of my first journal entry. “Can you tell me what you were thinking when you wrote this paragraph?”
“Well, I can tell you this much. I had no idea what I wrote when I wrote it. And I couldn’t comprehend what I wrote a few days after I wrote it.” 
“I’m not sure I understand what you just said, Liz.” 
“Well, what I meant to say was, I wrote the entry on auto pilot, and when I looked back at it later, it didn’t make any sense to me. Still doesn’t.”
“So, you don’t know what this means, “My thoughts are outside of me now . . . and they remain invisible and elusive so I can’t grasp them and put them back in. Which is really what I need to do to become whole again . . .
“No, have no clue what I was writing there.” My breathing gets a little more labored.
“What about the pictures you drew with the entry? Give me your thoughts on them.”
Long pause. Oh breath, wherefore art thou? “Well . . . I have drawn the conclusion that I can’t draw, if that’s what you mean.” She smiles at the little joke but waits me out. “Honestly, this is all Greek to me. But if you want me to take a stab as to what I think the pictures mean, then—” 
“Yes, I do. Give it your best shot.”
I stare at her. She seems to be shrinking. How weird. I blink a few times and try to focus. “Since I’m a musician, I’m going to guess this humpty dumpty-like fella is a conductor with a baton. The wrapped box is a present. The empty box means it was opened. And voila! we have ourselves a Freudian moment, right, Pen?" 
She looks at me oddly this time, before scribbling down some notes. While she’s doing that, a quick glance at my watch tells me my time is up. God Bless America. I stand up and salute the flag. 
We set another appointment, and Pen tells me to continue writing in the journal. I nod in agreement and practically fly out the door, though not without a deep sense of foreboding that something wicked this way comes!