May 25, 2006

Letters From Lem #7

Filed under: Letters From Lem — Twin A @ 4:38 pm

Shakeer is dancing to the radio in Room 20E47. He’s a big black guy shaking it all up in powder blue pajamas. As I walk by I meet his eyes and smile. The staff lets the patients listen to the radio or watch movies in this room when things are settling down in the evening. Vivian pulls Austin out of the room; it’s his turn to help prepare the evening snack (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as usual).

Standing in the snack line, Randy and David walk up to me. “How are you feeling, sir?” asks David courteously. I wonder who he thinks I am tonight. Levine is acting up - “My beard is not funny!” He then takes it upon himself to run down the hallway yelling “SNACK TIME!” at the top of his lungs.

We file in. Hushed with awe, we enter the dining room to find that tuna fish sandwiches have been added to the usual pyramid of pb&j. Greedy fingers snatch at wax paper. The nurses’ voices become shrill. In a burst of violence, my roomate Felix and Shakeer (two huge, coiled men) fight over a half a sandwich across the room. The altercation peters out & confusion hangs over my head as I swallow cheap bread.

I’m finishing this with an orange sharpie because someone stole my pen. The orange link is bleeding through on to the dictionary I used to play Scrabble with Red tonight. Red is a commodities trader who tried to kill herself with half a bottle of vodka and seventy sleeping pills. Tomorrow will be her 29th birthday. As our meds kick in, our scrabble game gets less and less competitive, and we start counting made-up words to get rid of our chips. Red ends with “jube,” which we later find out is a real word, meaning “to bid or command.” A double dose of Seroquel jubes me to escape another night at 20 East in dreamless sleep.

More to come,

1 Comment »

  1. I just heard from Lem’s mom that he’ll be discharged from Bellevue on Tuesday morning — clearly not a moment too soon.

    Lem, I expect you may take a look at these comments eventually, so I just want to say that if there’s one thing you might be able to get out of your experience in the largely useless and prisonlike environs of Bellevue Psych, it’s a firm faith in the value of never going back to such places. A second benefit might be an increased compassion for those who are consigned to such places, and a third might be the recognition that on a scale from zero to batshit insane, you’re further over toward the left than maybe you thought you were. In any case,

    I’m glad you’re getting out of there. It sounds like an untheraputic waste of time, with crappy food to boot. Whenever you’re up for it, let’s go eat something delicious.

    Comment by Josh Ross — May 26, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

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