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Made it out of the trench another night. Made a sign with one line, “Anything Helps Me. I need a Mirecale. In every way. Thank you. God Bless you.” Step out from the train bridge after packing up my sleeping bag and hit the road. I was in some random South Atlanta neighborhood, they had towed my car from Lenox Mall that night after parking in the wrong place. I put my car in front of an AT&T store. Did not see the sign saying they tow. You can see a man is broke if you look into his eyes. Anyhow, I wear sunglasses most of the time.
The night before I had been trying to make some paintings to start an art practice. Abstract Mark Rothko and Kandinsky tributes with a trace of Zen Buddhism was the thought. Was staying with my mother for that
time, because I could not come up with something to do to earn money. My mind was still blown out from a couple years ago at MIT, a botched psychiatric intervention. Mom did not approve of me spreading cadmium red and yellow around her apartment. She wanted me full of lithium instead and calm.
That night I had two knives in my pocket when she called the pigs. I had had it. I had driven all the way out to Berkeley that summer to find some kind of hope about acquiring support from my former department of chemistry. I had a Ph.D. from Berkeley, piled higher and deeper, but Andrew Siegel and Susan Lindquist at MIT had deleted it in 2010 with one stroke of the DSM IV. Now a liability, when applying to McDonald’s to flip hamburgers it prevented the proles from accepting me. Suicide seemed the choice that night, or a walk around Lenox Mall, so I parked in front of the AT&T without much thought.
Staying with Mom entailed dealing with 12 (Atlanta slang for pig). She had sold our family home in the wealthy neighborhood of Lakeside High School and Northlake Mall for a smaller apartment in Avondale Estates, right between the Avondale prison in I-285 and Decatur. We were on the DMZ between black and white Atlanta now. Waiting for the MARTA or an Uber entails watching prisoner transport travel along East College Avenue every morning, from the backyard we had with squirrels that steal bird food from the cardinal and blue jay feeding station I had built as a kid this was a different world. The two knives scared Mom to death, so she called 12 on me. Anyhow, back to the towing of my car. My try at setting up an art studio in Mom’s home failed. As a result, before I drove to Lenox Mall to cool off I had packed up my paintings and most of my belongings to run away from Atlanta for another year.
The pigs towed my car to Zone 6. “You are on Federal property, remove yourself from the premises at once or face prison time!” I had taken an Uber straight into a prison to find the place where my car was towed to from the AT&T parking lot. I’m going to reserve telling the rest of the story about that night for periodic segments in this narrative dear reader from sparing you from all the details. I’d rather reveal the full extent of my insanity to public in pieces, to avoid total social rejection. Stopping trains with a handkerchief seemed like a good idea. At the time, I was obsessed with stopping the evils of climate change and was convinced that the way to do so was to prevent coal or other fossil fuels from arriving to Georgia Power plants in rural areas. Throwing a magical handkerchief onto train tracks a la a Harry Potter spell seemed reasonable.
Even now, my thoughts are jumbled in recalling this night. They say that psychosis is a mind fog. I say as in chapter 1 when you hear the trees over the cars whizzing by, your mind goes inward and sees the world according to its own terms. A mantra for this book dear reader will be, “My brain sees the trees differently, and they want to change me for it.” That means psychotropic medicine for me. Cadmium or lithium, to be or not to be that is the question. I will stop now, but keeping these two metals in mind as they will play heavily in what is to follow.
My Brain sees the trees differently, and they want to change me for it. I walk down the road every day to the local gas station to get lunch, a bag of chips, a day old cheese sandwich, and a Coca-Cola. It’s cold out today, and the trees are screaming to me in the wind. Cars are whizzing by, but I can’t hear them now. Social Security gives me a bit of money, but I have this camera that I used to live by. Facebook Live videos kept me alive for a couple of years. I got back from running away from Atlanta for three years, from the electroshock, restraints, and pills at Grady. I used to run up Stone Mountain every day, but I gained fifty pounds when they tried to change me.
Los Angeles filmmakers put Atlanta on the map a couple of years ago when they came to town to film the Walking Dead. Someone at the CDC decided to turn its zombie apocalypse guide into a cable series. Down that way is a set. A van of tourists buzz by on their way to a set tour, and I turn my face to the right to avoid the violence of another two tons of glass and steel. John Nash said that you don’t turn inward unless the world forces you to. Born four hundred years ago I would be escaping to my Interior Castle, but it’s 2018 it’s bipolar I disorder or schizophrenia. I don’t need someone to scare me about the zombies in the Georgia oaks, each police car that goes by could be my last. A ticket back to Georgia Regional Hospital or Grady.
I want to throw rocks into the wheels of cars and stop them, I want to hear the trees better. There was one January day last year that I slept under a train bridge. I threw a handkerchief under the wheels of a train to stop it. It didn’t work, but the effort kept me alive and warm that night. You don’t want to start sparking the FBI said when they called me that night. We did not do this for the fun, but for the love. The trees are there and I want to hear them. I settle for a bite of my cheese sandwich and a swig of Coca Cola. I get home and crash in my bed exhausted from the walk. It took me three hours to get enough calories to not starve.