Transcript of 10th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Christina Herald, Thursday, May 22, 1997 at 12:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hi, Chris. Come on in and have a seat. I'll be with you in just a moment.
Ms. Herald: No problem. I know I'm early, but I was getting restless and edgy--I had to get out of the house. Without school to go to now, I'm not always sure what to do with myself.
Dr. Balis: That's right. Congratulations, Chris! How does it feel to be a college graduate?
Ms. Herald: Relieved. Very relieved. I'm all set up for fall. I got a job at the local high school, and I'm registered for graduate classes in the evenings.
Dr. Balis: You're going to be busy.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, tell me about it. But the summer is pretty much wide open. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. Besides moving and being Carmichael's indentured servant for his summer classes, I have no real plans.
Dr. Balis: For you, I doubt that's a comfortable feeling.
Ms. Herald: Funny, that's exactly what Eliza said.
Dr. Balis: Anyway, how are you feeling? I would think that with school being over for you, your panic attacks are less of a problem.
Ms. Herald: Yes and no. I find myself suspecting at times that I have a project that isn't quite done. And just as I'm thinking that I'm too busy to get to it and that I'll lose points for not getting it done on time, I remember that I can't have an undone project because I'm done with school. I guess it's like a person who's foot has been amputated still feeling tingles in the foot that's no longer attached to his leg, you follow me?
Dr. Balis: Sure. I had problems getting used to the idea that I was no longer at school as well.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, it's not exactly a pleasant feeling. It was, however, a pleasant feeling to finally get all of my family members the hell out of the area and back where they belong.
Dr. Balis: How did the family reunion go?
Ms. Herald: Oh!
Dr. Balis: Judging by your laughter, I'd say it was less than enchanting.
Ms. Herald: Well, Grandma Strauss looked daggers at my father, my father looked daggers at my mother's fiancé, Joanne looked daggers at my mother, who was oblivious to all the cutlery that was being thrown through gazes. Oh, and to make matters even more amusing, I found out a little family secret: my cousin Gavin is actually my half-brother.
Dr. Balis: Gavin?
Ms. Herald: Yeah, that's exactly what I said. Apparently, when Sarah moved in to help Dad take care of me after Mom skipped town, she and Dad had a more personal relationship than anyone besides the two of them was aware of.
Dr. Balis: Were you the only one told about this, or was there a general announcement?
Ms. Herald: Well, it was like this. Sarah told Gavin before they came into town. She figured he should know what he was getting into. Then, the night before graduation, she and Dad told me. I was shaken, not stirred. Gavin and I had a nice long chat about it all and decided that we really weren't too surprised. I mean, every time Sarah comes into town, she and Dad go out together. She always comes back grinning, and he's a little less gruff for a couple of days until she leaves. So they're obviously still in a relationship that goes beyond a mere friendship. The story goes that Dad wanted to marry her, but she refused him for whatever reason. But for the last twenty years, he has quietly helped support Gavin and helped put him through school. But when Mom overheard us talking, that's when the proverbial turd really hit the turbine.
Dr. Balis: Oh no. She overheard the conversation between you and Gavin?
Ms. Herald: Yup. And she immediately flew into a screaming, crying fit and stormed into the living room to confront Sarah and Dad in front of the entire room. This was my graduation party for Christ's sake! Thaddeus, her fiancé, was a little stricken and completely unable to calm or quiet her--stupid ineffectual little London theater geek. Grandma Strauss, bless her old strudel-making heart, fainted dead away. Sarah and Mom started yelling at each other in parts of sentences--the subject-predicate thing totally went out the window. Jonny started to cry. He'd had a hard week as it was. My Grandpa Herald was wonderful for once. He very tactfully recognized this as a Strauss family conflict and lead the Heralds out of the room to the food and beer location. Joanne flipped out because she realized that the insinuation was that Dad was screwing around on her. So she's screaming at my Dad. Dad's trying to divide his attention between Joanne's ranting and the argument going on between Mom and Sarah. Mom and Sarah are of course still screaming at each other. Jonny is bawling, leaving Gavin and I staring at each other in disbelief. Except Monica who, for once, came through when she was really needed. She turned her attention to fanning and otherwise trying to revive my grandmother. I almost liked her at that moment.
Dr. Balis: Eventful day. I'm sorry about your graduation party, Chris.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, well, shit happens.
Dr. Balis: So how are things now?
Ms. Herald: Okay. The final score on the family disaster is that Dad has been evicted from the family homestead, pending Joanne decision about just what she wants to do about him. It doesn't help that he's staying at Sarah's condo in Berkeley, for now. But Sarah is safely back in San Diego. Whether or not she and Dad are going to continue their...assignations, I don't know. Jonny has pretty much taken up semi-permanent residence in my apartment. He can't stand to be around our parents' place right now, seeing as both parents are no longer there, and Joanne is wandering around weeping and wailing like a restless ghost. What a wimp. So I traded one family roommate for another. Poor Grandma. I don't think she'll ever be the same. Dad took me to lunch again and we had a long talk. I told him that I wasn't angry with him or Sarah, and that he needed to decide what he wants to do. He obviously considers Joanne to be merely functional and he seems to have genuine feelings for Sarah. He said that Sarah was everything that he wished my mother could have been, but that he knew that she would never marry him even if he and Joanne were to divorce. She's too independent. He also doubts that he and Joanne will actually divorce, as she is fond of her big house and stable upper-class lifestyle. She'll no doubt get a huge vulgar piece of jewelry and be purring inside of a couple weeks. So that's it.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry, Chris. I guess your graduation didn't turn out exactly as expected. I see now why you responded to my questions about it with limited enthusiasm.
Ms. Herald: It wasn't exactly the exhilarating time that it could have been, no.
Dr. Balis: Well, it was probably more exhilarating than most similar affairs, but I understand.
Ms. Herald: And to add to the pile, another interesting tidbit...
Dr. Balis: I know that look. I feel a Malcolm story coming on.
Ms. Herald: Oh, so perceptive. You're right.
Dr. Balis: All right, give me the update.
Ms. Herald: Well, I thought a lot about what we discussed last time I was here. I decided that, at the very least, there was a big open-ended spot that was going to be extremely bothersome later on. So I decided to pinch it off before it could sprout.
Dr. Balis: Hmm?
Ms. Herald: I went down to talk to him.
Dr. Balis: Um, did you...?
Ms. Herald: No, Doctor. I didn't sleep with him this time.
Dr. Balis: Oh.
Ms. Herald: It was funny. Very funny. I go down and knock on the door and a stranger answers. Malcolm's hair, Malcolm's voice, Malcolm's body. But this stranger had removed every facial piercing and shaved off the goatee, and was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I met Michael, the man behind the image. And it was something of a revelation.
Dr. Balis: Then the message you overheard wasn't a mistake.
Ms. Herald: Nope. No mistake. His full name is Michael Malcolm Drake, Malcolm is his mother's maiden name. He prefers Malcolm usually, even though his family calls him Michael or Mike. He really did graduate with a computer science degree. His fiancée really was murdered in her parents' house. And her father really was tied to shady dealings. But he had nothing to do with it and was never even a suspect. He grieved hard for a long time, hating who he was without his girlfriend and being sure he would never feel any sort of love again. So he morphed himself into the brooding, dour man of mystery that we all know and want to hit. He became someone else and headed for the opposite side of the country, where no one would know him as anything else.
Dr. Balis: Where he met a certain Berkeley student with curly hair and a way with words...
Ms. Herald: See, you follow the story well. It came to pass that he developed feelings for this girl, but worried that she was attracted to the image of the dangerous bad boy, which she sadly was. He didn't drop the image even when it became very difficult, because he feared losing her. His assignation with a certain young tramp came back to haunt him. And he had to struggle to maintain his connection with his new paramour. Then it all flew apart with an accidentally overheard message from a loving mother. Game, set, match. It's a wrap, as they say in L.A.
Dr. Balis: And did this girl understandingly accept the real man behind the facade who claimed to care about her?
Ms. Herald: You can bet your funky neckties that she didn't. She called him several creative insulting names using words that her Lit professor never taught her and stomped back upstairs to cry into her cat's fur.
Dr. Balis: I see. So it's over.
Ms. Herald: Yeah. No more Malcolm stories. I'll give you some peace and let you be a shrink instead of Dear Abby. We can talk about more mature and less soap opera-ish things next time.
Dr. Balis: You know that you can talk about...
Ms. Herald: ...whatever I want. I know that, Doc. And I appreciate it. It's my nickel, as they say.
Dr. Balis: That's not what I meant and you know it.
Ms. Herald: Of course I know. Don't look so wounded. If I thought that you only listened because I was paying you by the hour to do so, I would have been out the door long, long ago. You're not just the Doc, Doc. You're a friend, too. Albeit one to which I have somewhat limited access.
Dr. Balis: It's good to know that you think of me that way. It means that I'm doing my job well.
Ms. Herald: Yeah, you're all right. Funky ties and all.
Dr. Balis: I thought you liked my ties.
Ms. Herald: Oh, I do. It's just a personality marker, like my curls or Bessa's fondness for black clothes and shoes that could have been designed by a medieval torturer. No big deal.
Dr. Balis: Ah, I understand. Well, Chris, it looks as though we're out of time for the day. I'll see you next week.
Ms. Herald: Will do. Take care, Doctor B. And get some sun. You look like a cadaver. What good is California unless you use it to advantage?
Dr. Balis: I live in the fog belt. I haven't seen sun for weeks now.
Ms. Herald: Don't you have a car? For hot and sunny, try the East Bay.
Dr. Balis: Thanks for the tip. Goodbye, Chris.
Ms. Herald: Goodbye, Doctor.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session
Button to Christina Herald's Diary & Log Journal, May 14 to May 21, 1997

Button to Christina Herald's Transcripts Transcripts of Christina Herald's Communications
Button to Christina Herald's Patient File Christina Herald's Patient File

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