Transcript of a Conversation between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Lenore Marconi, Tuesday, September 22, 1998 at 5:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Lenore.
Ms. Marconi: Hi, Doctor Balis. I can't stay too long, okay?
Dr. Balis: Why not?
Ms. Marconi: I have to go to work in an hour.
Dr. Balis: Didn't you just get off work?
Ms. Marconi: Yes, but I have another job. It starts at six.
Dr. Balis: Well, that's all right. We still have some time to talk.
Ms. Marconi: Okay. My second job is only a few blocks away.
Dr. Balis: When did you begin working nights?
Ms. Marconi: I started last week. I saw an ad in the paper--this data processing company needed extra people to work swing shift. Working at the bookstore, I got to be pretty fast on the cash register, so they hired me to do ten-key. I think it's only temporary, but it might turn into something full time. I get paid a lot more. I get seven dollars an hour, that's the most I've ever made.
Dr. Balis: How does Herb feel about your new job?
Ms. Marconi: He doesn't know. You won't tell him, will you?
Dr. Balis: No.
Ms. Marconi: He'd be mad. I didn't want to tell him because he'd take all the money. I took this job so I could make enough money to...well, I was thinking...well, you said I should...
Dr. Balis: Leave Herb?
Ms. Marconi: That sounds terrible, doesn't it? I mean we just got married, and I'm already sneaking around and lying to him. But I don't know what else to do. When I try to be honest with him, he uses it against me.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean by that?
Ms. Marconi: When I got a small raise at the bookstore, I was really excited and told Herb about it. He told me that the raise wasn't very much after taxes--only ten dollars a week more. So he still gave me the same amount of money after I handed over my paycheck. I have to buy food and things for the house for both of us, and I always run out. And Herb says it's my fault.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Marconi: Last month, because of my kidney infection and the doctor bills, I didn't have enough money to get a Muni pass. I ran out of money for bus fare, and I had to walk to and from work. Herb said he wouldn't give me any money for bus fare; he said I needed to learn how to manage money on my own.
Dr. Balis: Have you thought about getting your own bank account?
Ms. Marconi: I've already tried that. They won't let you open an account without a credit card.
Dr. Balis: Really?
Ms. Marconi: You need two forms of identification: a driver's license and a credit card. I don't have either. I only have a California ID card. And I can't get a credit card without a bank account. It's a Catch-22.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Marconi: I'm hoping that with this new job, I'll be able to save enough to start a bank account someday.
Dr. Balis: There are banks that would issue you a credit card if you had a small balance with them. You can also get a passport--that is also a very valid form of ID.
Ms. Marconi: Hmm.
Dr. Balis: Have you been to see a doctor about your pregnancy?
Ms. Marconi: No, I don't have time to go.
Dr. Balis: Lenore, whatever your decision is about this pregnancy, you have to see a doctor right away. If you want to keep the baby, you need to learn how to take care of yourself properly and what help is available for you. If you decide to end the pregnancy, you can't wait too long. Perhaps if you told your boss, you would be able to take a few hours off from work.
Ms. Marconi: I can't do that. I get paid by an hour, and I really need that money. And I can't afford to get my boss mad at me. It seems like no matter what I do, there's always something wrong--somebody's always telling me I should be doing something else...
Dr. Balis: Here are the tissues.
Ms. Marconi: I'm sorry.
Dr. Balis: That's all right, Lenore. I believe that both Planned Parenthood and the Lyon-Martin Women's clinic are open on the weekends, if you can't make time to see a doctor during the week.
Ms. Marconi: Herb's home almost every weekend. He wants me to be home, too. He gets mad if I leave, unless it's to go to a store or something. I don't want to make him mad.
Dr. Balis: Are you planning to take this pregnancy to term?
Ms. Marconi: I don't know. I don't know.
Dr. Balis: Here, have another tissue.
Ms. Marconi: I wanted to leave Herb, I know I'm in a bad situation. Things got a lot worse when we left his mother's house. He started taking a lot of methamphetamine, and it changed him. He always had a temper, but now it's like he's angry all the time, even when he's high. Then I got sick--I got a bladder infection, and then a few kidney infections--I felt worthless to Herb. He acts like he hates having me there with him, but he won't let me leave.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Marconi: I thought I was doing the smart thing--taking this job so I could make extra money. But now you're telling me it's bad for my baby.
Dr. Balis: That's not what I said...
Ms. Marconi: No, no, you're right. I shouldn't be working so much when I'm pregnant. I don't get to bed until one in the morning, and I only get to sleep a few hours a night. I'm always tired. And I haven't been eating right--I feel sick to my stomach all the time.
Dr. Balis: You really need to see a doctor, Lenore.
Ms. Marconi: I feel so stupid. I'm listening to myself saying this, and I sound like a big baby. I'm always whining.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to keep the baby, Lenore?
Ms. Marconi: I don't know. I'm not ready to be a mother. But I don't want an abortion, I grew up learning that it was wrong--only bad women had them. I've seen pictures of aborted babies, and I can't get those pictures out of my head. They looked so terrible, all bloody and twisted. I could never do that to a baby.
Dr. Balis: Lenore...
Ms. Marconi: I thought maybe adoption would be a good idea. If I could move out of Herb's apartment and have the baby, I could give it away to a nice couple who can't have children. That would be turning a wrong into a right, something good would come out of my mistake.
Dr. Balis: Adoption is a possible solution, but are you sure it's...
Ms. Marconi: I'm not a baby-killer!
Dr. Balis: No, of course not. I wasn't suggesting that you were.
Ms. Marconi: I just want to do the right thing, Doctor. I've done so many wrong things. I knew that leaving Fresno and leaving mom home alone with my father were the wrong things to do. I knew it was a mistake, even when I did it. But I thought it was my only chance to get away. In fairy tales and romance novels, the girl is always rescued by a dashing prince or handsome, brave soldier. I had to settle for the cook from Denny's.
Dr. Balis: Did you feel you had no other options?
Ms. Marconi: No one else wanted me. A girl like me doesn't have a lot of choices.
Dr. Balis: Why do you say that?
Ms. Marconi: You know.
Dr. Balis: Why, Lenore?
Ms. Marconi: Would you go out with me, Doctor Balis?
Dr. Balis: I can't do that...
Ms. Marconi: You're good-looking and a nice man. You have a good job, and you dress well. You're educated, you went to college. What would you want with a high-school drop out who works as a cashier? You wouldn't introduce me to your friends--they're probably all like you. I don't know anything about psychology, or politics, or stuff like that.
Dr. Balis: As a psychiatrist, I can't become romantically involved with any of my patients or their wives.
Ms. Marconi: Even if you weren't Herb's psychiatrist, you wouldn't give me a second thought, unless you're one of those sleazy guys who hits on cashiers. I see those men looking at me when I'm at the bookstore. They try to be nice and friendly, but the entire time they're staring at...uh, at my chest. One man, he was so disgusting, he said I carried my weight in all the right places.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Marconi: I know you're saying this stuff to help help me build my self-esteem or something. Those are all nice things to say, but they don't work in the real world.
Dr. Balis: What do you think works in the real world?
Ms. Marconi: You know.
Dr. Balis: I want to hear your point of view.
Ms. Marconi: In the real world, girls like me are forgotten. My mother never let me go to high school dances, which was just as well. Some of my girlfriends did, and they ended up standing and waiting all night. Have you ever noticed how all the pretty, friendly people stay together, and the not-so-pretty, boring ones have their own groups? The pretty girls get the cutest boys, and the girls like me have to sort through the leftovers. I knew Herb was...well, I shouldn't say that.
Dr. Balis: Please continue.
Ms. Marconi: I knew Herb wasn't a great catch. That sounds terrible, I know, but he must have felt the same when he settled for me. When the kids at school made fun of me for going out with Herb--they laughed at his clothes and hair--I defended him and said he had other things going for him. I lied to protect myself. I didn't want everyone to know that I knew that Herb was...well, Herb has his share of problems.
Dr. Balis: How do you feel now about the choice you've made?
Ms. Marconi: I tell myself I did the right thing. I don't know if I believe myself half the time. That's silly, isn't it? It's easy to fool yourself--just keep repeating the same lies over and over again in your head. I didn't want to stay in Fresno. My mom...well, she's not really there, you know? She kind of had a breakdown when my brother died, and she's like a ghost or something now. I can't stand my father. He's angry and nasty all the time. I think mom withdrew so she wouldn't be bothered by his moods and his drinking.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Marconi: I should get going.
Dr. Balis: We still have a few minutes.
Ms. Marconi: I don't want to be late.
Dr. Balis: Would you like to come and see me again in a few weeks?
Ms. Marconi: Hmm...yes, I would like to, but I don't think I can. I'm going to be working a lot this month and the next.
Dr. Balis: I see. Please feel free to call me, Lenore, if there's something you need to talk about.
Ms. Marconi: Okay. I have to go.
Dr. Balis: All right. Goodbye, Lenore.
Ms. Marconi: Bye bye.
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