Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 07/17/98

Saturday, July 11, 1998

Sunday, July 12, 1998

Monday, July 13, 1998

9 am. Telephone Call with Nina Alvidrez. I called Nina at work to find out why she skipped her appointment last Thursday. First, Nina was a bit evasive, but then she was effusive with her apologies. She savaged herself with remorse for missing the appointment. I reassured her and we made an appointment for later this week.

Tuesday, July 14, 1998

10 am. Initial Session with Herbert Michel. I met Mr. Michel today. He's a janitor at SII and a low-level drug dealer on the side. He is also an apparent misogynist. He's in a relationship with an eighteen year old woman, Lenore, who works as a cashier at a bookstore. The relationship clearly began when Lenore was under the age of consent. Mr. Michel describes Lenore as both unintelligent and passive. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Mr. Michel was physically abusive towards her. Lenore turns over her paycheck to Herbert and Herbert doles out an allowance. Herbert is a drug user himself, describing himself as abusing mostly marijuana and methamphetamine. He kept wheedling for barbiturates as a sleep aid, and was extremely disappointed when I suggested melatonin, even though he'd never tried it. I got the sense that, if it wasn't a prescription (and preferably a schedule 2 narcotic), Mr. Michel just wasn't interested. He has a fairly diffuse set of physical and emotional complaints: stomach pain, headaches, insomnia, general anxiety, stress, and relationship difficulties. These complaints may or may not turn out to be genuine--perhaps, he was just hoping that I would give him drugs in response. I've had patients whose primary interest in seeing me was to acquire pharmaceuticals they could use recreationally, but usually such patients are cagier than Mr. Michel. They don't often begin by telling me that they're a drug dealer and poly drug abuser. During this first session, I didn't get any kind of family history or patient background, although he did tell me that he was diagnosed as hyperactive as a child and apparently was prescribed Ritalin which his mother took for herself. She dosed him with codeine as a substitute. I'm sure that his family history is going to be unpleasant. Mr. Michel is of average height, perhaps five feet nine inches. He's thin. He has shoulder-length curly red hair, blue eyes, and hadn't recently shaved. His hairline is receding slightly. He has a certain forced affability, with a slight menace underneath his apparently jovial exterior. He wore faded bell bottoms and an old sweatshirt, but he wasn't aspiring to some retro fashion statement. It was clear that he's unconcerned about how he looks. Mr. Michel smelled of stale cigarettes. I couldn't detect the odor of marijuana, but it was early in the day. I was surprised to find out that he was only thirty-one years old. He struck me as a man in his late thirties or early forties. His skin is pale and freckled, although he has a lot of deeply-etched wrinkles around his eyes. Mr. Michel may have just been hoping that I would pull out my prescription pad, but he also may have come to me from some realization that he has more deep-seated difficulties. He struck me as a man whose life is spiraling out of control. Perhaps he senses that and is genuinely seeking some help.

12 pm. Conversation with Robin Young respecting Sharon Lough. Rob came in unexpectedly to talk with me. Rob was quite different from what I had expected from Sharon's descriptions. I was expecting a hippo of a man--instead, while he had a paunch, he was nowhere near as obese and unappealing as Sharon made him out to be. He appears to be an aging child of the 60s like one of the many 50 year olds who hang out on Haight Street as a reminder of the flower generation. Rob told me that Sharon had been growing some sort of hallucinogenic fungus on pieces of rye bread stored in jars at his house. While he was working late, she ingested some of this homegrown substance, had a bad experience, and ended up calling 911 for emergency services. The police took her to the emergency room and then searched her residence and found 20 jars of this stuff. Now, Sharon's facing felony drug charges which include a presumption, given the large amount she was growing, that she was cultivating these drugs for sale. Rob is standing by her; he has retained a criminal defense attorney and is prepared to post bail. There's a possibility that the material that Sharon was growing is not listed in the narcotic schedules used to create the laws. If so, she may be able to avoid prosecution simply because cultivating that particular species of fungus wasn't illegal. But those schedules are quite broadly written. I presume they cover all known variants of psychedelic fungus. The police have sent the material to a lab to try to determine exactly what it is.

Wednesday, July 15, 1998

5 pm. Fifty-Fourth Session with Alex Rozzi. As Ralph's condition continues to deteriorate, the reality of his illness is dawning on Alex. When faced with emotional difficulties in the past, Alex has often used long aimless rambles around the city as a way to sort through his feelings and numb emotional pain through physical exhaustion. Last week was no exception. After the nocturnal walk, he sat down with Ralph to speak openly about Ralph's illness and Alex's role in Ralph's life right now. Ralph gave Alex much the same advice that I had--to just continue doing what he was doing and to be a friend. Ralph said that he has Edward to look after his medical needs. Ralph was eager to talk to Alex about something important, but he was interrupted by Edward who was busy being officious. Edward decided to take it on himself to rid Ralph's house of Alex. Edward took Alex into another room and told Alex that this wasn't the first time that Ralph had taken in a "street urchin" and that Alex should pack his bags and get out. Before Alex had a chance to respond--possibly with violence--Ralph himself appeared and intervened, standing up for Alex in no uncertain terms. Ralph told Edward that his home was Alex's home, both now and after his death, and then chastising Edward harshly for his controlling manner. Edward appeared suitably chastened, although he has clearly shown himself as Alex's enemy. Alex told me that he was painting in his studio when Tony burst in, exploding with the news that Sharon had been arrested. Tony was clearly about to tell Alex much more when he suddenly decided against it and clammed up, much to Alex's annoyance. Tony started to smoke a marijuana cigarette and Alex joined in. When Tony was about to go, he grabbed Alex and suddenly began to kiss and fondle him in a very direct sexual manner. Alex resisted and finally succeeded in pushing Tony away. Alex was less upset than I would have expected--he seemed to feel that it was turnabout for his previous plan to seduce Tony as a way of getting Sharon out of the picture. Finally, Alex told me that Regina had been arrested at a museum where Camille works. Apparently, Camille wasn't even working there that day when Regina came and demanded to speak with her. She was arrested when she started to brandish a loaded gun. Regina is not coping well following her breakup with Camille and I'm afraid that she may pose a serious physical danger to others, including Alex, and to herself.

Thursday, July 16, 1998

10 am. Second Session with Nina Alvidrez. Nina is very shy and withdrawn. She apparently suffers from an acute sense of personal inferiority. She told me that her brother Rico was the favorite in her family--someone seemingly with the golden touch. She felt that she couldn't compete. I began the session by asking her about the Fourth of July picnic that SII held. She didn't go. She told me that she was sure that she was hated at the office by those that knew her and that those that didn't hate her now would hate her after they met her. She is terrified of asking questions or seeking clarification respecting her job functions and so she probably makes a great number of mistakes, which leads her to fear interaction with her peers even more. It's a vicious cycle. She feels stupid and inept. She seeks help from her mother, but even there, she feels that her mother doesn't have the time to help her. And since her mother works directly for Lloyd Major, she feels that others in the company view her as little more than a spy. She is frozen by social situations which involve initial contact with people unknown to her. Actually, in many ways, her avoidant personality disorder is similar to Thomas Darden's, although Nina additionally suffers from a terrible self-image and poor self-esteem. While Thomas masks his self-loathing in caustic wit, Nina has no such shielding. Her poor opinion of herself is quickly voiced to any who will hear her. But Nina seems to respond well to therapy. Any interest that I show in Nina is immediately met by surprise--it's as if she can't believe that anyone would go out of their way on her behalf. Perhaps, in a non threatening way, therapy gives her a little of the attention that she needs. Nina told me that, while today's session was difficult, she thought that she was growing to trust me. I tried some to initiate some self-esteem exercises to get Nina to realize that everyone has special talents and abilities. While initially receptive, primarily she was skeptical.

4 pm. Eighty-Seventh Session with Anna Green. Anna was very tired and confused today. She feels that everyone is angry with her. While Kathy's Aunt Helen appears to understand what really happened between Kathy and Anna, Kathy's grandmother apparently is on a vendetta against Anna. She feels that Anna, to get her debt repaid, forced Kathy into working as an out call dominatrix. She had a vicious fight with Anna in the hospital, and now Anna feels that the doctors and nurses there believe that she is Kathy's pimp. Anna is not free to visit Kathy at the hospital any more. And the police are apparently investigating along similar lines: they keep asking Anna questions about whether or not she had a percentage of Kathy's business. The police know that Anna went along with Kathy to two sessions. They keep pressing Anna on whether or not she became sexually aroused while watching. I can't imagine what any of that has to do with an investigation purportedly trying to determine the identity of Kathy's assailant. It seems that the police are using this incident as a way to pry open a window into the S&M community in San Francisco. They probably view Anna and Kathy as key players--it doesn't help that Anna is living in a house with a built-in dungeon. I'm sure the professor is not going to be pleased when he gets back from Europe and finds the police so interested in his house's special features. The police have asked Anna to go with an undercover officer to some S&M event that is happening in an alley in San Francisco on July 26th. Apparently, the police feel that Anna will be more readily able than they to get information about the assailant from the S&M community. Anna is unsure and I urged her not to make a decision one way or the other until our session next week. Kathy herself is not doing anything to allay suspicions against Anna. She's acting rather ambivalently, not as Anna's champion in any way. She wrote Anna that she should be happy because at last she has what she wants--Kathy has moved out. While this might not have been the best circumstance to result in Kathy's exit, I'm very happy that she's gone from the house. Anna is unable to sleep and I think she hasn't eaten. I urged her to go home and do both.

Friday, July 17, 1998

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