Transcript of 4th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, April 3, 1997 at 12 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hi Chris. How are you? No kitten today I see.
Ms. Herald: I gave him a time out. He was being a bad kitty. How are you, Doctor? Feeling better?
Dr. Balis: Yes, thank you. It wasn't a fun week though.
Ms. Herald: I can well imagine. Hey, do you want to hear something weird?
Dr. Balis: What?
Ms. Herald: Well, it's about Professor Carmichael.
Dr. Balis: Ah, yes. The gargoyle.
Ms. Herald: Yup. Apparently the old goat had a heart attack while ripping one of his freshman comp. students to pieces over a grammatical error.
Dr. Balis: Oh my. Did he pull through?
Ms. Herald: Yeah, he's too stubborn to die. But here's the screwy part: I got a call later that day when I was at home from his son, who said he'd been asking to see me. So I go over to the hospital, albeit rather reluctantly, and go up to see the prof. He's sitting there in this bed looking all gray and nasty, but he starts arguing with me immediately. He starts bitching me out over some minor point of reference that I failed to pick up on when I had him for Shakespeare One. I'm trying to stay calm. I mean the old guy just had a whopper of a cardiac, and is lucky to be here. He shouldn't get excited. But before long, I'm so pissed that I start yelling back at him and we're going at it for the better part of an hour. The nurses are terrified. Then, all of a sudden, he just laughs and pats my hand like I'm his favorite grandniece or something. Then he hands me a stack of folders and papers with a lesson plan on top, and says, if I want the job, that he's just hired himself a teacher's assistant, and that I should go to the Human Resources office the next day to fill out the paperwork. Then he tells me to get the hell out of there, he has to get some sleep. And that was it.
Dr. Balis: I see. This was unexpected, then?
Ms. Herald: Unexpected? It was ridiculous! I never heard anything so silly in all my life, and I told him so.
Dr. Balis: Then you went over to Human Resources.
Ms. Herald: First thing this morning.
Dr. Balis: Christina, you do know that this means you are taking on another job, don't you?
Ms. Herald: Doctor, I know what you're going to say...
Dr. Balis: Yes, but are you going to listen this time?
Ms. Herald: Listen, Doc. That professor that everyone calls a gargoyle is just a sick old man with a passion for literature. He's a good guy and I realize just how much I learned from him, and how good his constant challenge has been for me academically. I owe him, and I just now realized that. If he wants me to teach his class for him while he is laid up in the hospital, then I will.
Dr. Balis: Chris, you take too much on yourself. Something's got to give sooner or later, and if you keep adding to the load then that something will be you.
Ms. Herald: So what do I do? Let everything go to hell, just ignore it? All my life I've been told what a selfish person I was. I have ambitions that nothing is going to get in the way of. I'm blunt, sarcastic, loud, messy, selfish, self-centered, vain, smug, superior. But who cares as long as I get the job done, right? I am all of those things and more. But, on top of everything else, I'm stubborn. And I'm too stubborn to give anything up. Without someone holding the reins, things tend to run wild.
Dr. Balis: Calm down, there's no need to yell. I'd be the last person to call you selfish, Chris. But your altruism is going to get you into trouble.
Ms. Herald: I wouldn't call it altruism. I'd call it being far too controlling. I'd call it turning into my father.
Dr. Balis: You think you're turning into your father?
Ms. Herald: Yes...I just realized it this moment. I'm turning into my father. Acting exactly like him. Holy shit, this is terrifying.
Dr. Balis: it's okay, really. You're not Herald the Horrible yet. What we need to do is teach you to relax. You don't have to control everyone around you, all the time.
Ms. Herald: I just hate the feeling of being powerless. I don't like to think of another person being able to tell me what to do and how to do it, how to get to where I'm going and how to dress when I get there. It makes me feel like I'm drowning, you know? Hell, maybe that's why I have those damned panic attacks. I get something thrown at me that I don't have control of, and until I master it, I freak out. It makes a lot of sense, come to think of it. Do you think I'm obsessive-compulsive?
Dr. Balis: Do you wash your hands a hundred times in a row?
Ms. Herald: Noooo....
Dr. Balis: Christina, I don't think you're obsessive-compulsive. I do, however, think you worry too much about things you can't control, and are too fixated with being on top of everything. Any normal person would have collapsed by now under the strain of everything you do. You're taking a full class schedule, I assume?
Ms. Herald: Yup. Teaching classes and English classes. They've been my life for the past two years or so.
Dr. Balis: And you work at the bookstore.
Ms. Herald: Acting manager.
Dr. Balis: Now you're a teaching assistant at Berkeley...
Ms. Herald: Just until Carmichael gets better!
Dr. Balis: Your ex-boyfriend wrecked your car and is in jail at the moment...
Ms. Herald: Not my problem anymore. Insurance paid for the repairs. They weren't happy, but they paid it.
Dr. Balis: Your brother needs your guidance right now...
Ms. Herald: No arguing my way out of that one.
Dr. Balis: See how much you're doing?
Ms. Herald: And all without caffeine!
Dr. Balis: Chris, this is no laughing matter. You have got to prioritize your life.
Ms. Herald: What I need is a couple extra hours in every day...don't look at me that way, Doctor. Please. I know you're right, it's just easier said than done. I have to go to school. I have to help my brother. I have to have a job. I want to help Carmichael. I feel like I owe the old goat.
Dr. Balis: There is no reason you can't help your teacher if you feel that strongly about it. But you will have to give less attention to something else.
Ms. Herald: Oh boy. That is going to be a problem.
Dr. Balis: Nevertheless, it has to be done or you're going to break down like an old car.
Ms. Herald: Oh colorful metaphor, Doctor. Maybe you missed your calling.
Dr. Balis: Yes, well, as I was saying...
Ms. Herald: Do you have a girlfriend, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Chris...
Ms. Herald: Because you remind me of my professor for Victorian Literature, Dr. Graham. She's single, and she's cute.
Dr. Balis: Chris!
Ms. Herald: I'm sorry, Doctor. I just get impish sometimes, and you just happened to be here. I know this is supposed to be a serious psychological thing that I'm doing here, but I just had to lighten the mood some. I can't take things being too serious for too long. I think I'm getting back to my old self again; I've actually been sleeping and eating at regular intervals. Healthy food too, no more late night dates with the Doritos bag. That's mostly Malcolm's doing, though.
Dr. Balis: Malcolm?
Ms. Herald: Remember the guy who works at Roma's I was telling you about? Well, he moved into the apartment below mine, and we've started eating together. He's into a lot of Asian foods--Japanese and Thai and stuff like that. It's a lot healthier, and actually still tastes good. He does martial arts and things, too. It's not a dating thing yet, but we are hanging out. He's actually playing chauffeur for me until I get the Starship Cavalier out of the mechanic's grubby little paws.
Dr. Balis: I see. A proper diet can be a good step towards getting yourself regulated. We haven't really discussed your panic disorder yet this week. Any problems?
Ms. Herald: Ta dah! The all-knowing notebook. Okay, here we go. April the Oneth, Nineteen ninety seven. Jonny called. He and his boyfriend broke up and his boyfriend is threatening to call Dadums and let him in on his only son's--ahem--preference for snails.
Dr. Balis: Huh?
Ms. Herald: Did you ever see Spartacus? Skip it. Anyway, Jonny called me in tears, wigging out. I thought the poor kid was having a panic attack of his own. This wasn't what set me off. What set me off was the fact that Jonny wanted to leave the house that night and come hide at my place. Jonny doesn't have a car and he sure as hell doesn't have money for a taxi to Berkeley. He said he'd hitchhike. That's what set me off--the image of my baby brother walking down the road and getting hit by a drunk driver, mugged, or worse. I made him promise he wouldn't do anything so terribly stupid and he just kept sobbing, saying he couldn't stand it anymore. I should have gotten tough and told him to quit being a drama queen, but I didn't. I told him to stick it out for a few more days until I got my car fixed then he could spend another weekend with me if he wanted to.
Dr. Balis: This is what you wrote down on the first?
Ms. Herald: Yeppers.
Dr. Balis: What do you think now?
Ms. Herald: To be quite honest, I think Jonny should just tell Dad and Joanne and be done with it. If Dad does throw him out, he can stay at my place or aunt Sarah's; he'll still have his full scholarship to his school. But I don't think Dad will. He may be a totally conservative old bastard, but no one ever said that Dad did not, in his own taciturn way, love his children. Sometimes I wish Jonny and I had the same mother. Mom's flighty and more irresponsible than she should be at her age, but she's a good listener and very liberal and forgiving.
Dr. Balis: Then maybe you should have a talk with your brother this weekend and tell him that.
Ms. Herald: Maybe I will. I'm also wondering if I shouldn't quit the bookstore and try to get in more hours as a teaching assistant. It'll actually help me a lot in my chosen field--more than the bookstore will, as much as I love it. But I like being in front of a classroom too much, and the gods know that I don't want to work retail all my life!
Dr. Balis: This is a good idea...
Ms. Herald: Besides, that's more time on campus. My grades need to come back up a bit; right now school is the most important thing in my life. It has to be. it's almost over. I had a lot of fun while I was in school--I'm not a total workhorse--but it's time for it to be over.
Dr. Balis: You know, you're starting to sound a bit more rational about your commitments. I think there is definitely potential here for things to improve.
Ms. Herald: So I'm not a totally hopeless case?
Dr. Balis: Far from it, Chris. We're almost out of time. You keep on with your notebook--I meant to ask if I could take a look at it from time to time?
Ms. Herald: But Doctor, that's where I keep my secrets. It's my diary. Nah, I don't care. You can look at it if you like.
Dr. Balis: Thank you. How's the kitten?
Ms. Herald: The little shit ate my herb garden.
Dr. Balis: He did?
Ms. Herald: Yeah, I have one of those little window box gardens, for fresh herbs. Mostly basil and rosemary, with some lemongrass thrown in. Lancelot ate a bunch of the new leaves. He must have thought it was catnip or something. Anyways, I'll see you next week, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Okay, Chris. I'll look forward to it.
Ms. Herald: Okay. Hey, do you have a cat, Doctor?
Dr. Balis: No. No cat.
Ms. Herald: Did you ever wonder why a cat doesn't come when you call? Because the snooty little brats know they're descended from royalty. Cats were kings and queens in Egypt, and they still get treated that way by anyone who owns one. Why should they do anything when it's not convenient to them? That's the thought for the day. Have a good afternoon, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Bye bye, Chris.
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