Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chapter 1: Blue Moons

Christmas Eve, 1968

(2001 Ivar Street, Hollywood, California)

Blue Moons.

Black dots from the linoleum rise up and float, planets bursting into blue, red, yellow, green, purple, orange.

Birthing galaxies...

Does God feel the same awe?

A blazing light: I am the creator of these galaxies, responsible for billions–

My fault should they go bad...My fault.

Oh-my-god. I am God.

I must destroy life, before it spreads viruses.

A butterfly net appears. My mission: capture these galaxies, trap them in a cosmic jar, smother them before they destroy their Creator.

They will destroy, just as we have our God.

Is God dead?

Define "dead."

Is God Death itself?

To believe is to die.

Is Death God?

Why not?

Who is God?


When is God?


Does He possess a butterfly net?

Kaleidoscope light???

What color is God?

The essence of light.

What is essence?

The color of God.

What is God?

Why night?

Black, slick water, first smell, like old rubber boots, first smell, primal scent, tangy licorice love drizzling my body.

Luscious rum balls.

Velvet sugar, past boil, butter lust, savored again and again and again.

Is God dead?

To believe is to die.

Is God Death itself?


Is Death God?

The color of God.

Who is God?

Why not night?

When is God?

If not now, never.

Does He need a butterfly net?

The color of essence.

What color is God?


What is essence?

Kaleidoscope sky???

What is God?

The Man.

The Man.

The Man.

What is that?

A siren.


The room wavers–nothing has substance.

How can nothing have substance? Can something have nothing? What is nothing, anyway? If it has a name, then it has to be something; nothing would not have a name, if it were truly nothing. Are there empty spaces in something, nothing places to hide? My head spins–a million nothing places, black licorice dots swirling around and around.

Two sirens.

Stoney? Stoney? Oh, Stoney...

No one exists but me.

I know that now.

I am truly alone.

All you people are clowns, and clowns are not real; therefore, you were not, are not, and never will be.


Why are you smiling?

Yellow haze flows when you whisper, Winesap apples when you sing "White Rabbit," orange flames when you shout.

"Fuck you!" Orange and blue flames blast from your lips, tickling my thighs.

Blink. Blue butterflies flutter from your eyes, flicker, land on my triangle–pure geometry.

Yes, fuck me.

You ram a needle into your pulse–amber liquid whooshes through arteries to your heart to veins, from heart, back through your circulatory system, every branch, down to the smallest capillary, racing through your body, up stream to your brain, down river to your fingertips, flowing down to your toes, looping around and around...

You light up, a star burst covering the sky with flashes: red, gold, white, green, purple, blue, silver...then fading, whirling diamond chips, crackling and descending, descending, descending, disappearing behind ocean waves.

Your eyes, paisley.

Your heart, a rainbow.

Your body: granite, a quake.

An Odyssey.

You come. A single red rose blooms.

I catch petals as they drop, wine red and smooth, cold as polished stone.


Oh, Stoney.

Warm as barberry oil.

Your solidity: a trick…

You cannot be.

Three sirens. The police!

No, just me in you.


Stoney fizzles, soft as a mother’s breast.


The room zigzags, we congealing to the floor.

I move, even as my legs melt into the dead dots.

The room has turned to sea.

I have grown gills.

I am back in a mother’s womb, only she is not the mother I knew–this Mother is all wise–

Blue Moon Mother.

Blue Moon hurtles me through the galaxy...

We zip through one million galaxies, head filling with sights, sounds, aromas, music, tastes, textures known only to a God.

She is the galaxy.

She is my God–

I am Her Daughter.

I am the Child of God.

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Memoir Madness Excerpts: Table of Contents


Before the Institution

Prologue: Caged

Chapter One: The Crystal Ship

Chapter One: Blue Moons

Chapter Two: Dark Side

Chapter Two: Flying Solo

Chapter Two: Weed and Seeds

Chapter Two: Funny Little Naked Clowns

Chapter Two: Decision Time

Chapter Two: Thirteen Tabs

Chapter Three: Wallich's Music City and Eleanor's Radio

Chapters Four and Six: New Year's Eve, 1968--Fire

Chapter Eight: Rudy

Chapter Ten: Cops

Chapter Eleven: The Luckiest Hand

Chapter Twelve: Downers

Chapter Twenty Three: Sioux City Blues

Chapter Twenty Four: ..."While I Kiss the Sky"

Chapter Twenty six: The Miracle of Google

Chapter Thirty: There Must be Some Way Outta Here

Chapter Thirty Eight: What to Do With My Life?

Chapter Forty One: My Country 'Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Tyranny

Chapter Fifty One: Nabbed at the Bus Station

Chapter Fifty Three: "Let's See What the Police Have to Say"

Chapter Fifty Four: A Possible Scenario at the Police Station

Chapter Fifty Six: Driven

Chapter Fifty Eight: Driven 2

Memoir Madness Excerpts: The Institution

The First Five Days

The Other Patients: Perky Penny

The Other Patients: Carrie the Cutter

The Other Patients: Joyce

The Other Patients: D.J., The Mighty Sage

The Other Patients: Anna on the Lam

Proving My Sanity

Memoir Madness Excerpts: After the Institution

Denise's Tips

Leaving Sioux City: Dee Dee

Epilogue: A Short History of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute

Memoir Madness Excerpts: Flashbacks (Fall 1968)

October 1968: Rev. Arthur Blessitt and His Place

October 12, 1968: A Mother's Warning

October 12, 1968: The Birthday Party

October 1968: Wild Man Fischer's Merry-go-round

A media-rich version of these excerpts (with photos, artwork, videos, out takes, essays, etc.,) can be accessed here.


About Memoir Madness...

Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment (Amazon)

About Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment...

Christmas Eve, 1968: history is made as Apollo 8 astronauts deliver their Christmas message from orbit around the moon.

On earth, at The Crystal Ship, a rock and head shop near Hollywood, California, Jennifer Semple listens to the iconic broadcast and, through the fog of drugs, ponders the future.

In the ensuing days, the 18-year-old girl experiments with LSD and other drugs; juggles a crumbling relationship with a notorious drug dealer; and tries to make sense of life at 2001 Ivar Street, a Hollywood, California, apartment complex where hippies, drug dealers, freaks, strippers, groupies, college students, Jesus Freaks, counterculture gurus, drag queens, rock stars and wannabe rocksters, svengalis, and con artists converge during one of the most volatile periods in history.

Then her grandfather finds the girl and coaxes her into returning to her Iowa hometown, where, unknown to her, she is still considered a minor.

After a series of events and blowups with her grandparents, she is dragged into the Iowa court system and involuntarily committed to the Cherokee Mental Institute in Cherokee, Iowa.

While incarcerated, she corresponds with Jeff, a new boyfriend, and also interacts with other patients: Wolfie, a psychopath who preys on other patients; Penny, a 17-year-old unwed mother; Carrie, a teen cutter with strange obsessions about rats; Joyce, a young married mother enthralled with “10 ways of suicide”; Drew, a young man facing a stiff prison sentence for possession of marijuana; and D.J., a 42-year-old mentally challenged man and 25-year resident of Cherokee, among others.

Finally released from the institution, Jennifer flees Iowa and settles in Pennsylvania, where she still lives today.

As young Jennifer narrates her late 1960’s memoir, how will the older and wiser Jennifer, now voluntarily returning to Cherokee as a visitor, reconcile that painful time in her history with her current ordinary life as a wife, mother, grandmother, and teacher?