OK, so I’m ready to start working again. I got everything fixed that was broken. I’m rested and able to concentrate again. It’s been a while since that was the case, but I remember what it feels like to have use of all my faculties. People who think there’s something interesting about insanity have never been insane. Those of us who have been there and back know there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get somewhere by fighting delusion.
We take the ability to think for granted until that ability disappears and is replaced by the ability to make stuff up in order to fill the void left when reason ran for cover. It’s a war, and both sides lose. Nobody comes out on top. As both commanding officer and foot soldier, I know what it’s like to wait for reinforcements that never arrive. Surrendering to the winning side seems like a good idea until you realize there are no victors, only casualties. The General has shit himself and the infantry refuses to leave the foxhole.
There can be no victors in such a situation. Suicide seems like an option. Having fought the good fight, bowing out gracefully could be see as courage. When you find yourself looking down at a hundred foot drop, a voice in your head whispers “jump.” So far I have resisted these voices and they’re strident demands. I sometimes worry that I will become too weak to do so.
My doctors devised a
special magnetic cap for me to wear that brings me some comfort. It
is basically an a rubber shower cap with disc magnets glued to the
outside. The thirty dime-sized discs are powerful enough to reach
through my skull and into my brain. If I wear a hat, it’s barely
noticeable. I can also use a wig to hide the magnetic cap. I find
that when I wear it I am able to think clearly and remain calm. I am
able to focus.
Without it, I can be fine for a while but then I spiral down into anxiety and paranoia. The voices in my head become louder, more demanding, and critical of everyone I meet. They invite me to think that I am being denied the honors and comforts due me, that I can’t trust anyone to wish me well, and that my main role in this life is to point out what’s wrong with others. This is no recipe for peace of mind. It does not lead to a contented life.
In some places and at some times they called my condition an “artistic temperament.” Some wind up being praised for their sensitivity, and are called “geniuses.” Others of us wind up institutionalized, given a diagnosis and labeled that way for the rest of our lives. It all depends on the luck of the draw. If your artistic temperament threatens someone in a position of power, that person will find a way to have you diagnosed and diminished. Maybe that’s why I am where I am today.
I am a prophet, a poet, a priest. I see what others cannot. Even with my eyes closed, the images come, sometimes with astounding clarity.
both enjoy riding the rails and don’t mind getting dirty in order
to do it. Grime is part of train travel, especially at the boxcar
level. Plenty of fresh air. Heading West, when the train gets to
western Nebraska, nights can be chilly. Then all through Colorado,
the altitude rises and even the days become cool. By the time we
start snaking through the Rockies, it’s time to slide the door shut
and wrap yourself in whatever blankets are at hand. Leave a slit open
during the day so you can catch some of the scenery, because believe
me, it’s worth catching.
many people hang their clothes outside to dry, now that machine
dryers are ubiquitous. Few pies are left to cool on windowsills.
Fortunately, thanks to cheap Chinese clothing, the world is
overflowing with free used and sometimes even new garments, and
church groups offer free lunches in church basements all over the
place. You’ve just got to ask.
to me, Greta is shy, so I’m the one who does the talking. I’m not
the least bit embarrassed about our position. Many people look at us
with envy. It was Helen Keller, born blind and deaf who said “The
reason nobody has ever experienced Security is because it doesn’t
exist. Life is either an exciting adventure or it is nothing.”
been able to see and hear since birth, but I stand with Helen. No use
hedging your bet, this is all there is, so you might as well go for
whatever interests you and forget about asking for permission. People
fool themselves into thinking that if they ask the right person in a
position of authority for help, it will get easier. It won’t. There
is no one “above” you in any sense of the term.
We hobos enjoy a freedom that others deny themselves. We love our freedom, and that liberty sets us free to love, really love, ourselves and others. This is the essence and totality of hobo love.
Everyone likes the idea of freedom, but few are prepared to pay its price. With freedom comes responsibility and letting go of blame altogether. No excuses. Envy disappears when one takes charge of ones’ own life, and jealousy is replaced by admiration for those who have gone after what they wanted and gotten it.
I was living and working in Paraguay when I heard that George W Bush was eager to purchase a large tract of land in a country that had no extradition treaty with the US. I showed him an attractive acreage near Capitan Miranda, a town that just happened to have been the home of Doctor Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi Angel of Death. Bush wasn’t as sold on the Nazi connection as I thought he might have been, but he assured me that Rumsfeld and Cheney would be, and were eager to come visit. He assured me that Paraguay was “their kind of place,” and we even went so far as to make reservations a the Tivoli Hotel, a Bavarian-styled structure with a good swimming pool and plenty of secretive stone rooms to do…whatever in.
Yes, when the rats
flee a sinking ship they all do it together. Kissinger himself has
the best contacts all over the world, and is constantly turning down
offers of asylum in countries that promise to forget and forgive, and
actively honor his legacy while keeping him comfortable and safe.
As I scientist I was
fascinated to hear that Nazi UFO research and mind-control
experiments involving psychoactive plants had continued on after the
war in both Paraguay and Argentina. Ground-breaking research that
dares to delve into the unorthodox and possibly illegal always grabs
my attention. I could imagine spending a delightful evening sharing
my results with Rumsfeld and Cheney, while a Bush happily played with
blocks on the floor. After all, it was Rumsfeld who back during the
Ford Administration got Aspartame approved even after it had been
banned as a sugar substitute. First developed by the Nazis as a nerve
agent, and now rechristened as “Amino Sweet Natural Sweetener” it
was merely the first triumph in his legacy leading up to the events
of September 11, 2001.
Yes, these boys
would be happy in Paraguay where land and human life is cheap.
Alfredo Stroessner, the dictator of the country for more than 35
years, had a personal torturer, who would let him listen in via
telephone to torture sessions that he couldn’t attend because of
his busy schedule. Stroessner had a permanent suite at the Tivoli
Hotel, and often entertained teen-age beauties by the pool.
He was always
selling something and always closing the sale. You simply could not
say “no” to him. He would refuse to listen to anything other than
what he wanted to hear. He would change the subject, turn things
around backwards, sideways, upside down, attack, pretend to concede,
gaslight…whatever it took to ultimately get his way.
People who knew him
crossed the street when they saw him coming. There were always new
victims, marks, or as he called them “prospective customers.” The
only solace people found was in realizing that they had a part in
this, and the adage “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame
on me” offered some comfort.
He was, on the other hand, extremely kind in public to his family members. He was just as ruthless in dealing with competitors and others outside his immediate circle. When he would play the piano, he displayed admirable musicianship and sensitivity. His performances of Chopin Nocturnes could bring a tear to your eye. If he saw you were moved, he would try to sell you the piano he was playing, inventing stories about it that would convince you this was a rare opportunity he was offering, the deal of a lifetime. The pedigree of this piano was enough to inspire a documentary film, and in fact one was in the offing already, made by some Polish company you’ve never heard of, but soon would. This piano should be in a museum! Hurry, act now. The window of opportunity is closing.
When he traveled, he
did so with a fake service dog. He had a note from a psychiatrist
prescribing the service dog that in his professional opinion should
accompany his patient anywhere and everywhere. Oddly enough, he
didn’t enjoy the company of animals. It simply delighted him to
enjoy freedoms denied to others. He would lock the dog in his hotel
room and let it shit on the bed. The maids could clean it up. If he
raised a big enough fuss, he might be able to get management to
refund him the price of the room.
We are surrounded by Evil. Intelligent, powerful, active forces of evil dog our every step. We are helpless to fight them. Our only hope comes from above, and we must ask for it.
This is great news,
but almost nobody believes it anymore. The help of a force more
intelligent and more powerful than evil is ours for the asking. If
you know this to be true, then count yourself lucky. Again, most
people have abandoned the whole notion of Evil with a capital “E.”
Still, even if
you’re a true believer you may not have an easy time of it. Your
role may be to serve as a warning to others. Somebody had to be Cain
and Judas. Armageddon is a battle, not a picnic.
Clara was a sleepy girl, often timid,
and mainly waiting for someone to want her. She could not imagine why
a boy or man would desire her, but knew that in the natural order of
things these things happened all the time, so she had a chance. Once
he wanted her, it would be nothing at all for her to want him back.
Find him would take some time, but once he was found, that would be
the end of the search.
She practiced being pleasant at all
times, and feigning interest in even the most pompous of bores. She
could look you right in the eye and tune you out, thinking about
something else entirely. Even nodding in the right places came
naturally, as a sort of musical rhythm thing. Talk talk talk nod. All
the while she would maintain eye contact, but through the gift of
inattention, not see or hear a thing being said.
She had also mastered the art of
repeating the last word you said, as if contemplating the deeper
meaning of it.
Her only exercise regimen was swimming,
but as regimens go, that was the best. Hard to injure yourself
swimming. Despite her lack of rigor or ambition, she found that she
became better at it over time, and it was an excellent way to develop
her body physically. Inside she was a poet, but on the outside, an
Fifteen was an exciting age to be
alive. Everything was changing so quickly! Like many her age, she was
in love with love itself. Romantic love, love of Beauty, God,
Animals, Nature, and on occasion, all mankind. One night she stayed
up all night just to see what it would be like. When winter turned to
spring and then summer, she took it personally. A June morning could
be so full of portent and meaning it was like being punched in the
stomach. She gasped for breath at all the beauty, drowning in sensory
When one of her classmates was
discovered to have super glued her upper lip back to make it look
fuller, Clara understood. It took a visit to the doctor to have it
unglued. Some snickered, but Clara considered it a courageous act, a
nervy experiment. You do what you have to do to feel fully alive.
Nothing to be ashamed of there.
Sometimes at night when she found it
difficult to fall asleep, she entertained a waking dream, a long
fantasy about her and a group of friends washed up on a tropical
island. There were two cute boys and some awful girls who the boys
avoided because they were both in love with Clara. It didn’t matter
how long it took to finally fall asleep, because the long, delicious
fantasy in which Clara wondered which boy’s love to accept made the
interval between hitting the sack and falling asleep a pleasurable
Clara’s Mother’s Diary
I’m worried about Clara. Half the time
it’s like she’s on another planet. There’s no getting through to her.
I asked the school nurse if she thought Clara might be on drugs but
she said “no, she’s just fifteen.” I don’t think all
fifteen-year-old girls are walking around in a daze, but maybe many
of them are and I’m not close enough to them to see it.
I’ve asked her father to talk to her,
but he says he can’t see the problem. He’s not around as much as I
am, and when he comes home from work he just wants to watch
television and relax. He and Clara watch TV together, but they don’t
talk. I feel like I’m the only one who sees a problem here. Am I
Clara smiled at me today, but then
walked right past and started talking to some girls in our class. I
thought I was going to faint when she looked right at me and smiled.
She’s already beautiful, but when she smiles she’s even more so.
She’s like a goddess! A superstar! And to think she smiled at me!
She wasn’t always this way. Last year,
when we were fourteen, she wasn’t anything special. Like many of us,
skinny and awkward. Of course, she had braces until halfway through
the school year, and those make anybody look dorky.
Now she has grown into a mature woman,
a powerful person who could be a movie star if she wanted. Clara has
more going for than all the other girls in this school combined.
Natalie’s Letter to the School Nurse
Dear Miss Brooks. By now you are
probably aware of Clara, the snob who pretends she is God’s gift to
our school and the world in general. We other girls in her class see
right through her little act, but the boys have been completely taken
in by her and think she’s some kind of movie star. For the sake of
our school and the children involved, please do something. I’m sure
you can get Principal Stevens to listen to you, and if he wants to
have a meeting with us, we’d be glad to.
Natalie, Schuman, 10th grade
PRINCIPAL STEVENSONS’ REPLY
Dear Miss Schuman:
I spoke with your teacher Miss Brooks
and in our conversation together we were unable to ascertain the
exact nature of what offense you think Miss Englert is guilty. You
say she is a “phony” and “all the boys have been taken in by
her…little act,” but I am unaware of any violation of our school
code of conduct this may entail.
While it is normal for girls in your
age group to form “cliques” or groups of friends who are often
tight-knit and critical of other cliques, this situation you describe
demands neither disciplinary action nor medical intervention. So I
think we will simply watch and wait for further developments.
I haven’t been able to sleep much. The
last two nights I tossed and turned thinking about Clara. When I did
dream, I dreamed about her, only she was not doing what I wanted her
to do. She was ignoring me. She even laughed at my attempts to tell
her why I care so much about her, and worship the ground she walks
on. Is this normal? Do I need to be medicated?
I thought about talking to the school
nurse because maybe she wouldn’t tell my parents. She also knows
Clara and that might help her understand what I’m going through.
Chad’s Parents Respond to a Note From the School Nurse
Thank you for telling us about your
visit with our son Chad. We want to make sure we’re not
over-reacting, and we certainly don’t want to ignore this distress
Chad is enduring. We will respect your wishes not to tell Chad that
we’ve talked to you, or know that he sought your help.
This Clara girl seems to be a real
character. She’s like a tornado roaring through the lives of her
classmates. I suppose there’s nothing any of us can do to change her
behavior, but we must say that it’s quite difficult for us to stand
by helplessly watching our son suffer, and we’ve spoken to the
parents of Natalie Schuman about what the other girls think of Clara.
Again, we don’t want to make a bad situation worse or put fuel on the
Clara Talks With the School Nurse
What’s everybody freaking out about? I
don’t get it. I’m just being me, minding my own business, and people
are going crazy to my right and to my left. Don’t they have any real
problems they can deal with? I mean, get a life, people!