Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 8/09/96

Saturday, August 3, 1996
My mother fixed me up on a date. Little Cindy Forrester is living in San Francisco and Mother is just so insistent that I call her up and ask her out. She's the scion of the Forrester & Whittle fortune. I called her last week and arranged to take her out today. A dream date, let me tell you! Cindy Forrester couldn't care less about anything except Tamil dancing, about which she is passionate. Tamil dancing is an Indian art form which she demonstrated. It mostly involves stamping loudly on the floor. All I could think about was what the downstairs neighbor must think--it's a rule that all Tamil dancers have to rent upstairs apartments with wood floors. Anyway, I knew the date was going to be a disaster from the first moment I met Little Cindy (I can't stop thinking of her that way since that is the way Mother kept talking about her). We went to Harry Denton's Restaurant, which I was told was a good place. This is in downtown San Francisco. When we got there, the whole street is cordoned off with police tape. They've covered the sidewalk in front of about four storefronts and extended well into the street. I figured it was a crime scene. There were a couple of cops who were there guarding it, and seeming very calm. Of course I asked what had happened. Bees. There was a giant swarm of bees which had taken up residence in one of the city trees lining the sidewalk. The City had called a beekeeper who had out in a mesh suit and had smoked the bees and then swept them into these large cardboard boxes. Apparently, he had filled four large boxes before we got there. But there was still quite a swarm of bees flying around the taped area. The cops said they were just honey bees, so they were really quite docile, but it still felt like something directed by Hitchcock. Anyway, it added some spice to the evening. We said good night at the end of the night each secure in the knowledge that we would never see the other one again.

Sunday, August 4, 1996
I went to the Pericles exhibit at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Wonderful Greek statutes and storytelling facades. As I was leaving, there was an exhibit entitled Swedish Ballet in the 1920s. I thought that there was probably almost no subject that I was less interested in than that. But I went to check it out anyway and I was surprised. There were marvelous miniatures of stage designs, all lit from inside with fiber optic lights that cleverly simulated real stage lighting. One set particularly struck my eye. It was from a ballet where the story line was about a woman who falls in love with a man in a madhouse and descends further and further into madness herself. The huge backdrop is a close-up of a one man screaming, twisted in insanity. Quite effective really, if a bit old fashioned view of mental illness.

For the one admission, I was also allowed to go to the DeYoung Museum, so I headed over there. I didn't really have a lot of time, but there was one exhibit that I thought was good. It was a painter that I'd never heard of and have forgotten his name--Norman Ives? Ives Norman? Norman something, anyway. He paints large canvases with a tremendous amount of detail. He uses a sort of fantastic realist style with maybe a touch of social realism. His politics are all about how terrible capitalism is and how dehumanizing technology and culture are. But his canvases were really striking--huge office buildings with every window revealing a tortured, naked figure performing some meaningless drudgery in the service of the giant machine. There was an exhibit of Faberge at the museum that I didn't get to see because the lines were too long and I got there late.

Monday, August 5, 1996

Got a message from Hal Mainor on the service. He wasn't sure if we had an appointment this morning, but he wanted to cancel it. No explanation. I should call him and follow up.

I got a letter from Gerald Barkel, a lawyer at CalaCare dated August 2. He is incredibly patronizing in tone. He argues that there is a form contract which the personnel at SII all sign which waives the privilege. He says that "confidentiality is maintained by the company as a whole," whatever that means. He also says that in my agreement with CalaCare there is a provision where I agree to give "all relevant records and data that the company...should reasonably require." I'm going to have to come up with some response, but I'm going to be out of my depth if I have to argue law with this guy.

4 pm. Session with Joseph Mazurka. Joe Mazurka reported that he has been taking his medication the last few weeks (I actually first prescribed one week ago). He says that it has been working, that his body feels better and he hasn't been so "pissed off at everyone." But Joe has decided that he doesn't want to continue therapy. He feels the drugs are working, but I feel that even with a pharmacological approach, Joseph is struggling to keep his aggression under control. However, Joseph said that the reason that he has been coming is to appease his boss, who is now appeased. Joseph reports that he is still utilizing the services of prostitutes. He talked a bit about the sexual harassment complaint lodged against him. My prediction is that I'm not going to see Joe again until some form of crisis develops.

6 pm. Doodles of Joseph Mazurka. I had an opportunity to look at the doodles that Joseph Mazurka brought in today. They are quite twisted, and I'll make notes on each of them. But the thing that strikes me the most is that he must have known that I would react to them as twisted. And yet he brought them to me anyway, on the day where his stated goal was to get a clean bill of health from me. Is it self destructive behavior or a plea for help? The first drawing shows a grinning naked woman lying on her back "split eagle", a knife aimed at her genitalia, a laughing devil's head teeth as her pillow. Around her are three bar bells, a plane dropping bombs and two guns--a handgun firing, and a machine gun. The second drawing shows a maniacal figure in the center of the page. He has an erect penis, three knives sticking out of his head, strange scythes as hands and bombs for feet. Under his feet, more bombs are dropping away, while over his head is an arc of seven stars. In total there are also seven bombs. The third drawing doesn't have a central focus like the other two drawings. Here the paper depicts four images of almost equal weight. On the top left is a curved scimitar with a pierced Cupid's heart as part of the handle. Next to it is a rock (?) with a giant foot coming out of it. The foot is crushing a car, Monty Python style. The car has an alligator's mouth for a hood. There is a figure with crosses for eyes, falling down out of the bottom of the car. He has clearly let go of a bow, falling with him. The figure, presumably, is the Cupid. It looks like three demon faces are still to be seen through the windows of the car. Out the back of the alligator car is a great cloud of exhaust, almost like a flower, filling up a quadrant of the composition.

Tuesday, August 6, 1996
1 pm. Session with Cassandra Evans. Cassandra was more upset during our session than she had been during the previous sessions. I believe it was a release occassioned by bringing me into her confidence respecting her medical condition. It is clear that Cassie has a lot of medical problems and it is extremely important to try to straighten them out. Unfortunately, the kind of undifferentiated symptoms that she is presenting can tend to lead to inconclusive diagnosis. And she has lost faith in doctors in general. She tested negative on Lyme and Epstein Barr, but has never been tested for mononucleosis. HIV can be pretty well ruled out. I looked up the internists in the CalaCare HMO plan and found Doug Halsey at UCSF. He's a young guy without a lot of experience, but I got the sense that he is a caring practictioner. I will make a referral to him, but Cassandra might be reticient about going through yet another round of tests. Cassie's illness is making her break dates with Brian, who is becoming increasingly jealous. He can't understand what is going on, and Cassie won't tell him. She doesn't think she can explain it to him until she understands it herself. Her family and a high school friend know about her condition and help her cover it as best they can from outsiders. Cassie is feeling sicker now than she has in a long time. She is spending all her energy trying to keep up at work.

4 pm. Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia decided not to move in with Rene because she and Tom are getting very good at avoiding each other. Tom has moved into the guest room and Sylvia loves her house too much to give it up. While she doesn't want a divorce yet, Sylvia does not seem to be interested in getting back together with Tom. In fact, she seems so coldly analytical with respect to Tom and her relationship that I doubt she can have any love left for him. Anger has been replaced with a coldness and lack of regard so extreme that I doubt any reconciliation is possible. She is reticent about talking with me about her reasoning, but I wouldn't be surprised if she had drawn a line through a legal pad and written down the pros and cons of divorcing Tom. This is not a decision which she is making on passion. Sylvia didn't have an affair last week, although she is going on a date this evening with Richard, the man she met at Starbuck's a few weeks ago. He is a futurist at SII who made quite an impression on Sylvia. Sylvia claims that she carefully monitors her actions and is convinced that her motivations for her recent sexually activity are not originating in the drugs. She says that she is sleeping better, and is calmer and more self assured. Because she does not consider Tom her husband anymore, regardless of their legal status, she doesn't feel that she is doing anything wrong in her recent affairs.

Wednesday, August 7, 1996
Another anonymous fax arrived today. This one shows a woman in a Victorian era costume with skulls over her dress. She is dangling a skeleton man from some sort of string attached to his mouth. He is carrying a club at a side and is dangling completely at the mercy of the woman (or perhaps he is dead). She is looking away with a slightly bemused expression. It strikes me that the three faxes are exactly a week apart and always on a Wednesday. "Wednesday's child is full of woe." These look like they are created by someone who is trying to be odd. I'm not sure that these well executed graphic creations, weird as they may appear, are really dangerous. They appear too careful, too contrived. I guess I'll have to wait for the faxer to show him or herself.

6:05 pm. Telephone Call from Sylvia Bows. Sylvia called to invite me to a party Saturday night celebrating the possible discovery of previous life on Mars. I told her that it might be awkward for me to go to a social event she was hosting, but she chided me on being stuffy and promised that she wouldn't consider it a violation of doctor/patient protocol. She's probably right and I think I'd have a good time, so I'm considering accepting.

Thursday, August 8, 1996
2 pm. 2nd Session with Helen Gregory. Helen was less agitated today and we were able to have a dialogue for the most part. She said that she has "slipped beneath the surface of the story," so that she doesn't have to fear the people who were following her last week. Helen is concerned about revealing her secrets, seemingly for my sake. At times she is quite lucid and then she will slip into moments of almost super lucidity--a stream of almost poetic imagery to amplify on a delusion. Helen says that she is a spy, formerly with the C.I.A. and now freelancing. She is spying on SII by working as a night janitor because of something she learned from "the visitors." The visitors are an entity which use telepathy to speak into her head directly. Helen can't say who the visitors are, but reports that she has communicated with them since early childhood. She says that she touched one once and that it was an amazing experience. The visitors also show her things occasionally. Helen says that the visitors have never told her to do anything violent (she was offended by the suggestion) and that she is not hiding from the visitors. Helen told me that she failed to get tenure at Berkeley (U.C.?) and was then recruited into the C.I.A. where they gave her substantial experience in cryptography and sent her into the field. She says that she freelanced at the C.I.A. for twenty years before going solo. Matthew is her only son, twenty-one years old. He is currently in Europe, protected from the C.I.A., who apparently are the operatives from which Helen has been hiding. If Helen has been experiencing these symptoms since childhood, she must have been diagnosed as schizophrenic somewhere along the way. I would assume that she has some experience with somatic pharmacological treatments. I should find out what her reaction was to drug therapies and whether she would be willing to take medications.

3:30 pm. Telephone Call from Carol Mazurka. I got a call from Joseph Mazurka's wife. She said that Joseph has been acting strangely lately--"shouting, screaming, talking crazy." It sounds like Joseph might be having a psychotic episode. Ms. Mazurka thought they could be the side effects of the drugs that I prescribed, but I told her that such symptoms really couldn't be caused by Prozac. She then told me that she suspects he might have been taking anabolic steroids at the gym, which could account for the psychotic behavior. When I asked to speak to Joseph, Ms. Mazurka spooked and begged me not to tell Joseph that she had called.

4 pm. Session with Anna Green. Anna said that she has been having some success utilizing melatonin for her sleep disorders. She is getting nine hours of sleep a night now, although she still frequently feels tired. We started to talk about her capitulating to unwanted sexual advances, but we ended up talking about early sexual experiences. She told me about seeing her grandfather naked in the shower and not thinking much of it until her parents acted embarrassed about the incident. She discussed marrying with her father. She remembers explaining to her father her anatomical theory that her tongue continued through her body and stuck out of her vagina. She thought her clitoris was a little tongue. She said that she never talked to her parents about sex and that her mother thought that sex was dirty. At the commencement of her menses, Anna didn't tell her mother but used her mother's pads until her mother noticed. She describes herself as a late bloomer, saying that she didn't start dating until she was seventeen. She didn't have sex with her first boyfriend, thinking she was going to marry as a virgin. But she met Reed, a senior when she was a sophomore in college. At graduation, as he was getting ready to leave, she says "it sort of happened." Apparently, he ruptured her hymen, causing a great deal of pain and bleeding, but failed to consummate the act. She says that she was freaked out and ran away. She never saw him again, refusing to take his repeated phone calls and, because of her embarrassment, was glad that he was moving away. He was the only man with whom she'd had intercourse prior to Bill. She pretended to be a virgin to Bill because she says that it slowed down slightly the need for a sexual consummation of their relationship. She says with Bill it just sort of happened. In all of Anna's limited sexual experience, the act is never her idea, but "just sort of happens" to her. But Anna has been effective in fending off many advances from some boyfriends.

Friday, August 9, 1996
I wrote a letter to Gerald Barkel of CalaCare. I wrote a stirring defense of doctor/patient privlege, but I'm afraid he is just going to spout more legal gibberish. These guys aren't going to be stopped merely by a doctor explaining about ethics. I'm trying to imagine them all sitting around with my letter saying, "You know, this guy's right. We really shouldn't be asking for this stuff." I don't think so. I'm afraid I'm in for more trouble from CalaCare.

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