Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 07/24/98

Saturday, July 18, 1998

Sunday, July 19, 1998

Monday, July 20, 1998

2 pm. Twenty-Eighth Session with Thomas Darden. Tom has made some substantial changes to his physical appearance in an effort to look younger. He has replaced his glasses with contact lens, dyed his hair, and shaved his goatee. It seems that Tom is trying to galvanize himself into social action--perhaps an effort to scale his "pyramid of goals" that he showed me during our last session. Tom is about three weeks into his fluoxetine trial, and he described some initial side effects, including a sense of tiredness, mild nausea, and some loss of appetite. However, he feels that all the side effects are diminishing and I'm hoping that trend will continue; I did not adjust his dosage. Another effect that he ascribes to the fluoxetine is a tendency to dream more vividly. He clearly was affected by a particular dream he had a few nights before, so we spent most of the session talking about it. Tom dreamt that he was engaged in painting a room. He heard a voice which, on exploration, turned out to belong to a sexy female creature whose bottom half was human but whose top half was the torso and head of Tom's pet cat. The cat woman gave Tom permission to fly. Tom swooped through the city, flying about with happiness and confidence. Then he decided to use his newfound flying ability to impress Rachel. When he went to her apartment, he found a number of men there in various stages of undress. He also saw Rachel, in her underwear, with semen on her face and stomach. In the dream, the semen was physical evidence of Rachel's simultaneous sexual engagement with all the men Tom found in her apartment. Rachel was completely nonchalant about Tom's discovery of her prodigious sexual activity. When Tom told Rachel of his ability to fly, she wanted immediate proof. She took him up to the roof of the building and, while he hesitated due to second thoughts about his ability, she pushed him off the roof. He crashed to the ground only to be revived by an act of anonymous fellatio which, although he fantasized that it was Rachel, turned out to be performed by the polymorph cat woman. He then awoke. Tom was looking for an interpretation of his dream, but I demurred. I told Tom that what's important about the dream is the feelings that it invokes in him. Of course, I thought it very interesting that he turned a flying dream--generally the most positive of dreams--into an anxiety dream about sexual rejection, inadequacy, the gross infidelity of his love object, and his ultimate demise by her hand.

Tuesday, July 21, 1998

9 am. I received an E-mail from Olivia Stillwell. It sounds like she's doing quite well adjusting to her new life in Virginia. She is having relationship problems with her grandparents, but she ascribes it to the newness of their interaction: while the family bonds might help, they haven't truly been her grandparents until now. I noticed that Olivia is trying to keep a lifestyle which gives her the most freedom and flexibility. It's as if she's afraid of putting down any roots. However, she did say that she's entered into a relationship with a man named Mike. That's a big step for Olivia.

Wednesday, July 22, 1998

5 pm. Fifty-Fifth Session with Alex Rozzi. A year ago, Alex would have hit her. But he was able to limit himself to delivering a tongue lashing to Mirdle, a bossy relative who embraces the Born Again Christian movement. Mirdle tried to convert Alex to heterosexuality and to save him from a life of sin. I was pleased that Alex didn't react with violence to the encounter. Alex told me that he went to a lesbian bar--the G-spot--for a party promoting the release of a record by Stevie Nicks. I know she's one of Alex's favorites--in the past, he's even given me a couple of his drawings of her. (Drawing 1, Drawing 2) He went to the G-spot with Cami and made a series of observations as an outsider about lesbian culture. Primarily, he was amazed by the number of women who dress and act like men. It was interesting that Alex didn't make the connection to the number of men who dress and act as women in the male homosexual subculture of which he's a part. The difference between the perspective of an insider and that of an outsider is always surprising. At home, Alex made an accidental but fortuitous discovery when he heard Edward on the phone scheming to acquire Ralph's money upon his death. Suddenly, Edward was forced to play the supplicant, pleading to Alex not to tell Ralph. I wasn't sure from Alex's account whether he actually did tell Ralph, but Edward decided that the game was up--it was time to go. Edward took off within hours and Ralph said that he wouldn't be back. Alex has been thrust into a more active role as a caregiver, which he's rather gracefully accepting, except for anything involving the colostomy bag. Just the timing of pills can be extremely exacting, especially in modern AIDs protocols, so I'm pleased to see that Alex is assisting Ralph. At the end of the session, Alex reminded me of just how haunted he still is by Benny. Alex told me that he was startled when he thought he saw a man walking down Castro Street who so closely resembled Benny as to be his twin. It's easy to forget what a looming presence Benny still is in Alex's emotional landscape.

Thursday, July 23, 1998

4 pm. Eighty-Eighth Session with Anna Green. Anna was a lot more focused than she was during our last session. I think that she used the week to get some sleep and gain some perspective on her current situation. However, she's clearly not out of the woods yet. She's lost weight and she seems to be using work as a means to exhaust herself into sleep. She has returned to work after a long conversation with her boss, Julian. He seemed understanding and apparently met Anna's revelations with humor. Kathy has been released from the hospital and has given several statements to the police. Anna doesn't know what Kathy said, but she suspects that Kathy did nothing to try to clear her--the police searched her house again--this time taking the fetishistic shoes Martin gave her--and they've subjected Anna to withering interrogation. I suggested that Anna seek the advice of an attorney, but Anna rejected the suggestion. She said that if she got an attorney, the police would think she was guilty of something. I suspect that attitude helps the police obtain many of the confessions they secure. Anna is frightened. She's scared of the police and scared of the S&M community. She dreads the assignment that's been thrust on her of trying to pump information out of the S&M community during the Dore Alley event this Sunday. I told her that she could refuse to go, but Anna feels that, by cooperating with the police at this event, she can resolve the sense of guilt she feels towards what happened to Kathy. She's also hoping to put to rest some of the police suspicion that she's under. Anna said that she may have told the police quite a lot about the seamier side of SII's corporate culture, including the now forbidden practice of programmers renting porno movies and playing them in the office late at night. She also told the police about the S&M outing she arranged for the men in her department and the nocturnal sexual activity that sometimes occurs in the programmers' lounge. I have to say that the picture is somewhat grim from an outsider's point of view, although I can't imagine why the police would be particularly interested in any of this, or in investigating the S&M community as a whole rather than in connection with a particular crime.

Friday, July 24, 1998

10 am. Twenty-Sixth Session with Sharon Lough. Sharon came into this session in a wheelchair--surprising because previously she'd been on crutches. Her hair was matted and dirty and her clothes had clearly been worn several days in succession. She looked much sloppier than she has previously. Sharon spent much of the session evading my questions about her use and production of hallucinogenics. She also elaborately avoided talking about any of the real consequences of drug crimes--i.e. criminal prosecution and incarceration. Instead, she went on and on in an emotional tirade against Pauline Kael, the film reviewer. Apparently she read some book of reviews with which she rather violently disagreed. She's afraid that Kael's way of dissecting films has infected her somehow, rendering her unable to appreciate them in their totality. I think that Sharon, in a coded way, was trying to tell me that she doesn't want to dissect her own actions regarding drugs--that it would somehow rob her of the experience as a whole. I think, ultimately, the truth is that Sharon isn't able to explain why she did the things she did. Sharon's caustic views on the "war on drugs" was more predictable, given her present circumstances. But Sharon caught me off guard when she started to talk with some approval about scatology, a fetish whose adherents use feces to enhance sexual activity. Sharon vividly described fecal fetishists and a pornographic film that she heard about which documents the practice. Apparently, Sharon downloaded a chat program and, in her first experimentation with the new software, visited a chat room devoted to scatology. Subsequently, she visited some web sites devoted to scatology's practitioners. But her interest seems to be an academic one, as if she's some sexual anthropologist examining a remote backwater of sexual deviance. I understand taking an anthropological view of much of what is seen on the web. I remember once wandering into a web site which was designed to teach people how to engage in sex with their cars--a practice with which I was previously unfamiliar. Different models apparently have different requirements, and there was a lot of discussion about types of lubricants which wouldn't harm the car's paint job. I think part of the charm of the Web are the strange web sites put up by people who want to form a community around their particular passions. But I don't think Sharon's discussion of scatology served any particular emotional purpose other than allowing her to skate past my questions about drugs which she clearly didn't want to answer. Oh, and Sharon said that she grew the fungus on rye berries, not rye bread as Rob told me. Rob's version was more picturesque: I imagined a hallucinogenic penicillin mold with a distinctly New York flavor. "Do you want your hallucinogens with caraway seeds or without?"

3 pm. Fifteenth Session with Rachel Tanner. Rachel has entered into a sexual relationship with Carla, her human sexuality teacher. Rachel obviously enjoyed the experience--she came in grinning with excitement over the prospect of sharing this juicy tidbit with me. I was surprised at the ease with which Rachel was able to accept the touch of another. But she seemed to have had no difficulties in that regard, and no overriding contamination issue, either. She said the fact that it was poolside helped--something about all that water being right there. Rachel basically described an episode of mutual masturbation rather than cunnilingus--but I did urge her to take active measures to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. There are obvious ethical issues involved in a relationship between teacher and student, but I didn't bring them up. I also decided to be supportive at the moment of the relationship as a whole. Although Rachel has always displayed a healthy interest in sex, any positive sexual experience is likely to assist her in conquering her OCD. I also tried to reassure Rachel that homosexual experimentation does not necessarily equate to a lifelong commitment to homosexuality. We talked a bit about the upcoming third anniversary of her mother's death. Rachel believes that her mother leaned on her grandmother for emotional support or at least "the opportunity to vegetate," as Rachel put it. Rachel thanked me for directing her to an OCD site on the Internet. But she read a description posted by someone with doubting disorder and now she wonders if those thought patterns might happen to her. But it's just a passing thought rather than a serious concern. We talked a bit about rationally assessing risks rather than allowing OCD to enforce risk averse behavior. The example that Rachel used was her fear of contamination as related to kissing. We talked about what she was afraid of--germ contamination from saliva--and talked about how to look at the reality of the situation and ignore the unreasonable fear.

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