Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chapter 2: Flying Solo

December 1968

Stoney left 45 minutes ago for San Francisco, to score some acid. We decided it would be best if I stayed behind--save money to buy a van.

It’s so cold in here, no heat, no one to keep me warm. I wish I could have gone with Stoney. He says he’ll be back, at the latest, by tomorrow evening.

I can’t wait. I’m so alone; no one’s around anymore. Pam went back to Arizona for the holidays, and Jeff split weeks ago. Why did Big Brother Jeff just up and leave? Not even a goodbye kiss. I don’t understand why his going back to Pennsylvania was so important. He talked about it, but I never thought he’d actually do it.

Now that Stoney’s away, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jeff. He’s a puzzle. If he were here, I’d find him and invite him over; we’d sit up all night and rap about music, movies, and books. He’s really bright, but sometimes he talks over my head, with all that philosophy stuff. He should go to college, do something important with his life, not bum around like Stoney and me, go to college at USC or UCLA and still be a part-time hippie.

I wrote him a letter, begging him to come back.

What does Pennsylvania have that California doesn’t?

I’ve no wish to go back to Sioux City--I’d rather stay here by myself, in this smelly, dirty dump, a strange pad, bright blue paint, hardly any furniture. Our first day here, I turned on the tap and whoosh! Water, water, everywhere, a missing pipe. What a mess; we’re only going to stay here another month. I didn’t want to move out of the dorm until after Christmas, but Miss Miller said Pam and I had to get out by the first of the year, but we decided to split on December 1; Horton and Miller kept hassling us; they hated Stoney and Jeff and their smoking in the sitting room (la, de, da). And Stoney was forced to move out of The Crystal Ship--Duane paranoid about Stoney’s stash.

We three pooled our money together for this place, though Pam stayed back at the Dorm. Why did she kick in if she’s not going to live here?

Now I’m flat broke, no job; I quit two weeks ago–well, I just stopped going. The bank has probably figured out I’m not coming back.

I bounced a check last week. I had no choice–Percy, a friend, needed help, though he turned out not be such a good friend, but a ripoff artist and bullshitter. He claims he has sex with rich and famous queers for money and needed a loan to get a dose for the clap. Said he got it from Liberace. Gross.

Percy spent the money, my money, on new boots and a cowboy hat. He did buy me breakfast, though.

Far fucking out.

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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?