A Well-Worn Story

In April, in April,
My one love came along,
And I ran the slope of my high hill
To follow a thread of song.

His eyes were hard as porphyry
With looking on cruel lands;
His voice went slipping over me
Like terrible silver hands.

Together we trod the secret lane
And walked the muttering town.
I wore my heart like a wet, red stain
On the breast of a velvet gown.

In April, in April,
My love went whistling by,
And I stumbled here to my high hill
Along the way of a lie.

Now what should I do in this place
But sit and count the chimes,
And splash cold water on my face
And spoil a page with rhymes?

-Dorothy Parker

Probation ruined my nap

In the federal system they don’t call it parole.  It’s probation, but it amounts to the same thing.  They require you to do UAs, therapy, stay current on restitution, file a monthly report, submit to periodic inspections of your home.   You sign forms so they can examine your finances and are privy to your medical records.  And if you do something like have any contact with the police, fail a UA, or even miss an appointment, they hear about it.  And call you on it.

They don’t have a lot of power to censure violations.  Their main recourse is to submit a report to a judge, who can decide to send me back to prison.   That’s a fairly abstract worry for me.  I’d have to do some things pretty differently in order for a report to a judge to embarrass me more than it embarrasses her to send it.  I’m not committing new crimes, or doing drugs, or consorting with criminals, never missed a UA.

But one thing my PO can do to me is withhold permission to travel, and for me that’s really serious.  I want to be able to visit my son.

The drawbacks to being under supervision are several.  For me the therapy is once a week and I have to see a nurse practitioner through the same agency once a month for my meds.  It would be much better to see a psychiatrist of my own choosing.  I have no right to confidentiality with these people.  If I ever were to fall off the wagon, I would be forced to lie to them about it.  To me, confidentiality seems like an integral part of the theraputic relationship.  But even more annoying is that probation has policies about which medicines I can take, and they don’t believe in sleep disorders.  The single most important symptom of my bipolar is sleep problems.  I sleep sometimes 3 hours a night for a week at a time, then sometimes 12 hours a night for a week.  The only thing I’ve found that helps is ambien.  My old psychiatrist used to prescribe it, and it was great.  Knocks me out right away, I sleep for 7 hours and wake up refreshed.  But now I’m not allowed to take it.  So these nurse practitioners keep prescribing things which have drowsiness as a side-effect rather than a primary effect, which so far have all been totally ineffective for me.  In short, probation is supposed to monitor me to make sure I’m in treatment, but instead is interfering with my treatment in a big way — preventing me from taking the medicine that my doctors want me to take.  It’s just plain dumb.

The other obvious drawback is that all this mental health stuff is being watched by my PO, who is a bit of a blunt instrument.  Two weeks ago I missed a therapy appointment.  So today she called me, while I was taking a nap.  She wanted to have a serious chat about that.  Oh yes.  It’s very serious, missing these appointments.  Not something that’s expected to happen.  Not allowed.  She asked me what sorts of things I might put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  I have a calendar on my phone?  Which I use for appointments, which reminds me?  Yes, that’s what I have.  Maybe I should use a paper calendar as a backup.  That’s what she does.  Yes, maybe I should.

“What kinds of things can I put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”  Like my motherfucking second grade teacher.  I missed a goddam therapy appointment.  These things happen.

So fucking childish.  Having this woman in my life, having to humor her when she calls me about this inane bullshit, is infuriating.  It ruined my nap.


In a few days it will make three months that I’ve been out of prison.  I stayed in my parents’ basement for 6 weeks and now in my grandmother’s basement for 6 weeks.

I’m lucky to have these people.  My family.  Lucky to have somewhere to land when my life is in flames.  But.  I’m thirty-two years old and living in a basement.

I had a date a few days ago.  I joined this online dating thing, OkCupid, and someone sent me a message, and we met the same day.  It was exciting.  She was smart.  She was pretty.  We had great conversation.  We kissed.  I thought it went wonderfully well, but she wrote me the next day to say she didn’t want to see me again.

I can deal with the rejection.  But it brings loneliness into focus.

I’ve begun sleeping more.  Something flipped and I went from sleeping 5 hours a night to 10.  There’s no happy medium with me.

I’ve been having these tension headaches, too.  Right at the base of my skull.  I’ve never had headaches in my life, except on the occasional hangover.  Until these hideous things.  They come so suddenly, right at the base of my skull, and it’s the worst pain I’ve ever experienced without being injured.  It’s happened 5 out of the last 6 days.

I dread another Saturday, my only day off, with nothing to do and no one to see.  I’ll go back to the art museum, see another movie, alone.  It almost seems more obligatory than recreational.

My appointed therapist urged me today to think about how cynicism helps or hinders me.  But I resist therapy.  I don’t really believe that my problems have anything to do with how I think or what I feel.  Only what I do.  And I don’t have any handle on what I do.  I smoke too much.  I don’t exercise.  I don’t meditate.  I’m not writing.  I don’t know how to push myself to do better.

This is my litany of complaints, today.  For the record.

Grandma’s house, six weeks

She fell yesterday and I didn’t hear her.  She had the tv on, and I was in the basement.  I couldn’t hear her calling me.  She says she called for ten minutes before she thought to crawl to the couch and lift herself.

She managed to get herself up and into her wheelchair, and she called me from the landing and told me what happened.  She was fine.

But what the hell use am I?