Another Chapter in the Chronicle of Crazy


I will forever associate spring, not with the Final Four kind of March Madness, but with an up-close-and-personal encounter with crazy.   This since, in March of 1990, I legitimately lost my mind in an over-the-top kind of way, encountered an insanity that ended life as I knew it.

I was teaching English at Oral Roberts University and suffering through spring break when the clearest  crumbling commenced.  In Oklahoma—the branches still bare but budding–I began obsessing over trees and branches and the potential messages they brought—their effort to lead me elsewhere—to another realm, an alternate dimension, parallel to the world around me.

I wanted desperately to go there, and that longing ached me into action, muscled me to bring branches indoors and decorate my walls with them.  I was suddenly aware, acutely aware.  The sculptural nature of bare branches stunned and staggered me.

In my mind it was a sacramental action—an effort to access the bare bones of reality—reality stripped of ordinary distraction—the holy hollow at the center of sacred—the still small point of an otherwise dizzying  world.

It was that space I longed for, that place I wanted and was obsessed with seeing, feeling, tasting, touching.  I brought branches indoors in an effort to recreate that space.

However, in addition to this, I felt compelled to tear up the carpet in my rental apartment’s living room, to strip the floor clean and access the concrete beneath—a more solid scaffolding on which to stand.

So I stayed up all night and utility-knifed my carpet into carry-able strips, stood a ladder beside the dumpster, climbed rung upon rung and deposited my former floor within.

 A rug literally ripped out from under me, I was hospitalized the next day at a state psychiatric facility, where I walked the halls and fingered the walls for weeks, as all around me sentences bloomed into branches, branched into sound, into music, into color, a dazzling display of crazy.

40 thoughts on “Another Chapter in the Chronicle of Crazy

    • Thanks for noticing, Heather! Yes, I purposefully played with sound in this piece. Since so many of the voices I hear use language in weird ways, I tried to recreate some of that here–not that this is purposefully weird. I only meant for it be evocative. Can’t tell you how pleased I am that you noticed this! You have made my day, Heather!

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  1. Loved the alliteration and poignant adjectival use. Well done–incredibly done! I hope we were just given a glimpse into a piece of the memoir-in-progress. If not, then I suggest you dog-ear this entry. It’s definitely publishable material. Thanks for taking us there with you. I was actually rooting you on as you ripped up your carpet and deposited the offending shreds into the dumpster…and then I was just as surprised as you were when you were promptly deposited yourself into the psych ward. Fascinating! Only a truly creative person (naturally, no matter what) could compose what you have done. Love love love it! 🙂

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    • Hopefully, it is exactly that–a piece of the memoir in progress! But, gosh, I’m so glad you’re moved by the language, sound, alliteration! It’s good to know this captivated. I’m just trying to figure out what it is that works well in this piece, so I can continue accordingly. Is it the attention to sound? My dear, almost-Ph.D.-in-Englsih—–tell me what it is. I could fell that this piece was working, but I don’t know how.

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      • Personally, I think it’s the pace. There’s a frenetic, nearly frantic or desperate, pace to it–there’s this sense that you had to be surrounded by the branches, had to stand on bare concrete. I think that many people who have not suffered with mania of any nature would appreciate the glimpse into what it feels like to need these things so deeply.

        The alliteration helps the pace, absolutely. So in moments when you want to recreate that mania, I would recommend recreating these types of moments you’ve got here. I love that you were playing with sound–that’s so fun and comes together very well in the piece. Also, I think the length of the sentences (the lists of single words separated with commas lacking a coordinating conjunction, in particular) that also speed up the pace. I just can’t shake the feeling that I was there with you.

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      • I agree with everything Amanda said, but couldn’t resist adding on. This piece speaks to me like a monologue. I can hear your voice speaking, I can feel the longing and want to feel the branches. You bring us with you into the journey, and that is truly powerful. (In a way, reading this piece inspired what I wrote today, by the way–although yours is so much better).

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      • That’s totally it, isn’t it Lisa? The interiority of this monologue-like approach is inviting, honest, and so wide open. I’m getting really excited about the prospect of reading more! 🙂

        I’m so glad my thoughts could help you, Kathy. I think no matter how far away I get from teaching, it’s sort of in my blood now, lol. It’s nice to have an outlet for that. 🙂 Thanks for humoring me!

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  2. Have you ever read “Writing Down The Bones”? The whole point is to get writers to write the grit and authentic point. You, dear, write to the bone every.single.time. Beautiful, vivid, and so stinking real.

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  3. I found this piece terrifying…I think it’s because I always like to be in control of myself (that’s why I don’t get drunk)…

    Looking forward to the next installment…

    Hugs,
    Wendy

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  4. Again very powerful Kathy. For me it is that ‘thing’ about crazy – that we want, need, have to be somewhere else and if we can’t physically get there,the mind takes us. And you took me too. Blew me away actually.

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  5. Stunning. Captivating. Mesmerizing. Beautiful. I loved this post, Kathy– the words, the images, and the pace were bang on. 🙂 Can’t wait to read the whole memoir!

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    • Gosh, thanks Dana! I’m so glad this post spoke to you. My next is not ready for publishing–still a work-in-progress, an effort to pick up where this post leaves off. This piece clicked. The next is not coming along so easily–I hate the draft as it stands now, so it may be another day before it’s ready for prime time. This is such hard work! Who would have guessed!

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  6. Pingback: Forgetting the Seclusion Room (Another Chapter in the Chronicle of Crazy) | reinventing the event horizon

  7. I have also, on occasion, felt the call of trees and branches in a way I would not care to describe to most people, but it stopped there. What a harrowing experience yours was! I’m glad you found your way back.

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    • Aren’t trees wonderful–majestic–kind–dignified–intuitive! Yes, I too am sooooo very glad to have gotten beyond such a scary time! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. Pingback: Asylum Seekers (Another Chapter in the Chronicle of Crazy) | reinventing the event horizon

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