I expect my memoir Left of the Dial to go on sale at the latest on December 1st of this year.
As the date nears I will excerpt scenes from the memoir here. Today’s is a glimpse of life on the ward, a place I hope no one has the misfortune to land in.
By my third week, my lipstick was worn down to a blunt slope, and I had the goal of leaving before the tube was empty. Zoe came into my life in a drop-dead segue between despair and hope. She arrived on Monday and made herself known. A wild earth kind of woman with manic depression, she was a fireball, igniting the other patients, and then flaming out on herself.
Caught up in her frantic good humor, I coasted along with her whims. Lucia, the recreation therapist, decided to take the patients bowling at Knotty Pines. I was reminded of the Camper Van Beethoven song “Take the Skinheads Bowling” that I played on my radio show. I liked the music, not the sport.
“Come on, we’ll have fun at the Nutty Pines.” Zoe didn’t skip a beat.
“Okay.” We lined up together to be escorted out. She gave me a pair of sunglasses (she had two) so we could cover up in case our friends saw us on the outside.
“I got a couple pairs from Jimmy. He has a case of them in his room,” she said. How did she know this?
The van rattled down Forest Avenue towards the desolate section of town. Truly, I hated bowling and wanted an excuse to escape. Once inside, I eased into a size five shoe and selected a ball that weighed the least. The tobacco-color interior was glum; the stench of cigarette smoke lingered. Lucia kept score.
“Darn, a gutterball.” I watched it slide down the side.
“Gutterfuck.” Zoe laughed.
Lucia told her to watch her language.
We ended ten frames and started again. Fidgety, I wanted to end it all so threw the bowling ball down the alley with careless conviction.
Lucia said, “Be patient. Don’t rush.” Zoe got a lucky strike and won the game.
After, we went to Pal Joey’s for pizza. We wore our sunglasses indoors.
“What are you, the Blues Sisters?” Lucia laughed.
I imagined our protest would go down in our charts.
“We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time,” Zoe chuckled.
If only we could’ve stayed outside a little longer. I missed the freedom of blue skies. Too soon we returned to Veronica Lane.