Transcript of 30th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Katherine Lippard, Wednesday, December 17, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Ms. Lippard: Hello, Doctor Balis. Merry Christmas!
Dr. Balis: Hello, Katherine. You seem chipper today.
Ms. Lippard: I am; it's kind of strange. Usually I hate Christmas, but this year it's not so bad. Here's your present.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, you didn't have to do this.
Ms. Lippard: I know, that's what makes it so great. It's neither expected nor reciprocal. I just felt like it. I got you something just because I wanted to get you something, not out of any sense of obligation. That's the spirit of giving.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad you feel that way. Thank you. So this Christmas is better than usual?
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. Well, it's not Christmas itself, but rather the whole mandatory gift-giving thing. Phil's been trying to bring me around for years, but this is the first time I think I really understood it. Jake says he doesn't bother trying to figure out what people really want for Christmas; he just gives them what he wants them to have and doesn't worry about it. He says people should be grateful getting anything for free. I coupled that with what Phil's been saying about gift giving being about the giver and not the receiver, and I finally got it! Giving should be fun for me--like a game or something just for my own amusement. So I saw something I think fits you, and I gave it to you. And if you don't like it, I don't care! I like it, that's what matters. And I understand something else, too. It's a gift--it's yours now, and I can't say anything about what you decide to do with it. If you want to give it away, or burn it, or make it a cat toy, that's your business. You're under no obligation to me to like it, or use it, or anything. I gave it, that was fun for me. But now I have to let it go.
Dr. Balis: That's a good attitude. How did you feel before you discovered all of this?
Ms. Lippard: Hmm. I used to be much more concerned with equity. I had to give everyone something at least as valuable as what they gave me. And it had to be carefully thought out to match their tastes and needs. And it had to be balanced with what I gave other people who that person knew, so no one would feel slighted--no one would think I was playing favorites. I still feel those pressures; it's hard not to think that way. But I'm working on it, and I think I'm doing a good job.
Dr. Balis: Yes, our society teaches us some odd things about gift giving, equity being the most prevalent. It sounds like you took it to something of an extreme, though.
Ms. Lippard: Well, I do have a tendency to be extreme...or I should say I did. Ever since I got off the east coast, I've been moderating. Phil has a lot to do with that. We've gotten a lot closer since we moved here, and he's turned out to be amazingly wise. That boy should be a guru; society could learn a lot from him.
Dr. Balis: He certainly seems to be good for you.
Ms. Lippard: He is. But you've helped, too. I can feel a difference in myself just since I've been seeing you...what? Six months now?
Dr. Balis: Yes, you've made wonderful progress. I've seen you loosen up quite a bit, give others the benefit of the doubt, put much less pressure on yourself. How about your original complaints? Do you still hoard food and supplies for a feeling of security? And how do you handle disruptions in your routine?
Ms. Lippard: Well, the hoarding has slowed down. I still hate to run out of stuff. But if it happens, I don't go nuts over it. I still have routines, but they're much more flexible. I used to have a shopping day, a cleaning day--a designated time for everything on each particular day. Now, I do it when it needs to be done. But everything still gets done--I don't run out of stuff, my house stays very clean, the laundry doesn't stack up. I think some degree of routine is healthy.
Dr. Balis: I agree. But what if the laundry should stack up for some reason?
Ms. Lippard: Then I do it when I can. I remember why I came in here in the first place. That seems so ridiculous to me now! Of course it did then too, that's why I came in. Can you explain to me how all that rigidity was connected to how I felt about my father? That seems a little far fetched.
Dr. Balis: I think there are two things happening. A little girl who loses her father feels that she has lost control over what is most important to her. Keeping things tightly under your control was a way of trying to keep the lid on a world which wasn't always ordered the way you wanted it to be. And I think there was a spill-over effect. You spent a lot of energy keeping control of your feelings. So much so that you began to believe that you had to keep control of everything, and that actually helped you for a while. A less disciplined person could not have advanced in her career the way you did. But it snowballed, becoming less useful and more pathological until finally something had to break. It's good that you had the presence of mind to seek therapy when that happened, rather than redouble your efforts and just lock down tighter.
Ms. Lippard: Well, Phil had a lot to do with that.
Dr. Balis: He helped get you started, that's true. But you took it seriously and worked diligently at home as well as in here. You're a strong woman, Katherine. Many people can't face their feelings the way you do and make the conscientious changes that you have.
Ms. Lippard: Hmm. This makes me realize that we're halfway through our time and we haven't done any real therapy yet.
Dr. Balis: I don't know about that. I think reviewing the progress you've made is important, too. You should be proud of your new attitudes about gift giving, and you should be proud of the progress you've made in therapy. Give yourself a pat on the back, Katherine. You deserve it.
Ms. Lippard: A little positive reinforcement, eh, Doc? Okay, I'm feeling good anyway; I'll feel a little better. Congratulations to me. Good work, Katherine. I'm healthier than I used to be, and it's mostly my own doing.
Dr. Balis: Hear, hear!
Ms. Lippard: Okay, enough self-promotion. Oh, no, no--not enough. Fifteen more days!
Dr. Balis: Fifteen? New year?
Ms. Lippard: And what happens that day?
Dr. Balis: Of course, your promotion.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. It finally came home to me at Frank's retirement party. That's when I started counting the days. You know, Frank must not be the same person at home that he is at work--his family just adores him, and there seems to be no tension there at all. I finally met all the children and got it straight about who is who, as if it matters now. One son--the product of his first marriage--is gay and is dating an absolutely gorgeous man. Alex would love him. Another--the product of an affair with his now fiancé--is a hippie, utterly charming, dating this total flake. And I didn't realize that his fiancé--with whom he had an affair and a child--is his ex-wife's sister. God, this sounds like "The Rich and The Dutiful." And I thought Frank was as boring as they come. But his daughter is clearly his daughter--composed, organized, polished, and educated. And the resemblance is uncanny. I never realized how attractive Frank is until I saw his beautiful young daughter. I considered trying to find a way to introduce her to Phil, but she's too mainstream. I don't think she could deal with the loosely turbulent, care-free attitude of the art world.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Is she that much more mainstream than you are?
Ms. Lippard: Touché. But I watched her for a while, I think I got a pretty good idea of who she is. She put this whole soirée together and did a wonderful job. It must have taken hours just to decorate the house. And she even had a little jazz trio! This reminds me, I tried that place you suggested. Very nice: neon, smoke haze, the whole deal. You could almost believe hi-fi was still a new thing. It puts me in the mood to drink gin.
Dr. Balis: Have you been drinking much lately?
Ms. Lippard: Well, not since Thanksgiving--that was a mess. But you can't listen to jazz and not smoke cigarettes, so my Benson & Hedges intake is up. And Jake has taken to cigars, but that has to stop, at least in the house.
Dr. Balis: How are things going with Jake?
Ms. Lippard: Fine, fine. But the big news is Larraine Rozzi. It seems Friday she felt the need to alert our PR department of a possible public relations problem.
Dr. Balis: Oh, no.
Ms. Lippard: Oh, yes. Tom came to see me Monday.
Dr. Balis: Tom? Is he from the PR department?
Ms. Lippard: No, Tom is a VP for marketing. I guess Landor wasn't effective enough for Rozzi, so she went to Grover Hamilton in Public Relations. Grover brought it to Tom. Anyway, it was fun, we had a good laugh. He came in all smiling and jolly and said, "Hey, you sly dog, what's this about you dating a high school kid? I wish I could get a sixteen year old." I said, "Oh, you don't know the half of it." So I told him about Alex being gay--which got us joking about doing conversions--and about how we supposedly met at his psychiatrist's office--which got us joking about how Rozzi needs a psychiatrist. She already has a reputation as something of a vindictive shrew. Tom asked me how I had gotten on her shit list. So now it's out that Rozzi's kid is gay and that he's seeing a shrink. And it's out that I'm a patron of the arts and like to help out starving artists. I'm a sweetheart, Rozzi's a bitch.
Dr. Balis: Have you confronted Larraine about this at all?
Ms. Lippard: Well, that's where this is going. Tom and I decided that this had gone far enough. So we brought it to Rozzi's boss--VP for internal operations--Malcolm Spunt. He's also de facto my boss--finance being an internal operation. Anyway, we told him the whole story. He brought Rozzi in, and then the shit hit the fan.
Dr. Balis: Oh, my.
Ms. Lippard: Oh, yes. When she saw the three of us waiting there for her, I actually watched the color drain from her face. I thought that was it--she had met her match and was going to fold. But she didn't. That woman doesn't know when to quit. Malcolm is a hell of a manager, I could learn from him. He laid it all out, pointed out how silly her allegations were, told her she was making a fool of herself and it would be in her best interest to stop. But he managed to do it all with respect and in a positive light, talking about the good of the company rather than what an ass she was being. If only she could have let it go at that, it would have been all right.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Lippard: Like I said, she doesn't know when to quit. She started in with the same stuff all over again, trying to make me the bad guy. She wouldn't give it up. Finally, she was on her feet shaking her finger at me and yelling about how I was the bad seed in the company, not her. He told her twice to calm down. Then finally, he stood up and shouted, "Larraine, sit down and shut up!" Boy! Have you ever met Malcolm Spunt?
Dr. Balis: No, I can't say that I have.
Ms. Lippard: He's a tall, burly black man with a big, authoritative voice. I've never seen him angry before, and I hope I never do again--it's scary. He chewed her up one side and down the other. It was humiliating; I actually got embarrassed for her. I wanted to tell him to ease up, but I couldn't think how. Then he sent her home.
Dr. Balis: He fired her?
Ms. Lippard: No, just administrative leave. Then he kicked me and Tom out, too. He came by about an hour later to apologize, and assured me I won't be having any more trouble from Rozzi.
Dr. Balis: So do you think it's settled?
Ms. Lippard: It seems to be. I get the feeling she faces some pretty stern action, if Malcolm hears of her pulling this kind of stunt again.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. What about Alex?
Ms. Lippard: Well, I'm sure he's heard about it by now. I guess it can't be good for their relationship. But I don't think he'll blame me; he knows who his mother is.
Dr. Balis: Katherine, has it occurred to you that Larraine might want to get fired?
Ms. Lippard: Um, no, it hasn't. I thought she was just stupid. Why would she...of course. Unemployment. Then a lawsuit that the company would much rather settle than see in the courts. Clever. I should mention that to Malcolm. And we'd better start covering our ass.
Dr. Balis: That's a good idea.
Ms. Lippard: Thanks for bringing that up. With that in mind, I think we can be sure Rozzi won't be leaving us for quite a while.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. I guess not. Well, time's up. See you in three weeks?
Ms. Lippard: Sure. Oh, I want to get Alex something, but I'm drawing a blank. Do you have any ideas?
Dr. Balis: What do you want him to have?
Ms. Lippard: Oh, yes--the perfect response. Throw me back my own philosophy. I'd like to help him with his art, but he seems to have all the supplies he needs. He's working on a piece for me, did I tell you that?
Dr. Balis: No, you didn't.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah. It's cute, kind of whimsical. I'll show it to you when I get it.
Dr. Balis: Please do.
Ms. Lippard: Okay. Well, I guess that's it. Have a good holiday, and I'll see you in two weeks.
Dr. Balis: Good night, Katherine. And thanks for the present.
Ms. Lippard: You're welcome. Won't you open it?
Dr. Balis: You don't want me to wait until Christmas?
Ms. Lippard: No, I want to see you open it. Do you mind?
Dr. Balis: Not at all. I suppose it's a tie, from the shape and heft of the box.
Ms. Lippard: Well, I couldn't fit a case of brandy in there, that's for sure.
Dr. Balis: It's a Dali. I know that image.
Ms. Lippard: Yeah, "The Great Paranoiac." I thought it was the perfect tie.
Dr. Balis: Thank you. It will match my Edvard Munch tie.
Ms. Lippard: You don't really! "The Scream?"
Dr. Balis: A gift from my parents for passing the psychiatric boards. I don't generally wear it around my patients, though.
Ms. Lippard: I can imagine. Merry Christmas, Doctor Balis!
Dr. Balis: Merry Christmas, Katherine. And thanks for the necktie.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Katherine Lippard's Transcripts Transcripts of Katherine Lippard's Communications
Button to Katherine Lippard's Patient File Katherine Lippard's Patient File

TCT Bottom Bar Links to Top of Page Pipsqueak Productions © 1997. All Rights Reserved.