Better version of the above photo of my art piece is below this post (I managed to capture the entire picture finally and didn’t cut off most of the sky…)
I have just given a speech that I want either to record for putting up here, once I upgrade to Pro, or if it gets published as an Op-ed somewhere I will point you to it. But for now, let it only be a hint of things to come…
Otherwise, exhausted, I don’t have a great deal to say today except to point people to an article that I found in Science Daily, an article that I found both obvious in the extreme, and yet which I believe most people desperately need to read. If it isn’t time now to stop incarcerating people of color, for NO reason other than the color of their skin, then I dunno what time will be right for it.
ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2012) — Mental health experts from Meharry Medical College School of Medicine have released the first comprehensive report on the correlation between the incarceration of African American males and substance abuse and other health problems in the United States. Published in Frontiers in Psychology on the 12th of November, the report looks at decades of data concerning the African American population rates of incarceration and subsequent health issues. The authors conclude that the moral and economic costs of current racial disparities in the judicial system are fundamentally avoidable, especially if more resources are spent on education and treatment.
Money would be better spent on treatment than on incarceration
The study highlights the fact that with regard to African American males in the prison system, individual States are paying more to lock up non-violent offenders than they are for education, since 60% of incarcerations are due to non-violent, illicit drug-related crimes. The authors also point to a previous study from 2,000 showing that the total cost of substance abuse–be it incarceration, crime or treatment–is over $500 billion per year for the US.
These and other statistics have led the authors–scientific experts often called upon to testify in court–to conclude in the paper that: “Spending money on prevention and intervention of substance abuse treatment programs will yield better results than spending on correctional facilities.”
Need more teachers of color
Even though crime rates have dropped across the country over the past two decades, incarceration rates have continued to skyrocket–with black people accounting for a largely disproportionate 38% of inmates. More alarmingly, incarceration rates for African American males jumped 500% between 1986 and 2004. And while substance abuse increases the chances of individuals’ ending up in prison, those without any previous history of substance abuse have a higher risk of substance abuse once they leave the prison system, and could more easily fall back into the judicial system instead of getting a solid job or education.
According to Richie, much of this disparity is due to a fundamental problem of perception on both sides. For example, negative reinforcement of disruptive behavior is prevalent already in preschool–young children of color are often treated more harshly for behavior similar to their white peers.
“One step in the right direction, would be to have more black teachers during the early stages of development” says Dr. Richie. “From a behavioral scientific perspective, having teachers that look like the students and the parents of students from an early age could go a long way in changing perceptions of authority for black youth.”
Getting more African American teachers means increasing the number of African Americans in the higher education system and getting them out of the incarceration system. In the end, the authors conclude, effective treatment of substance use disorders and alternatives to prison would cost the United States much less and improve the lives of African American males, their families, and the entire country.
The Original Science Daily article can be accessed here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112090734.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Mind+%26+Brain+News%29
And PDF of the original paper (fairly short) can be found at this site:
I do not have a lot to say tonight after yesterday’s marathon writing session, but I wanted simply to share my latest artwork. The first one, the collage, is going to be part of a talk I give to a group in December…I won’t say to whom or where just yet. All I will say is that this is how most psychiatric nurses deal with patients: “You do what I say, or else…”
The seascape on the other hand was simply a doodle I did one day while looking through an art book. I saw this Monet of boats at Argenteuil and thought I would sort of copy it, though not really. I just didn’t have any boats or water nearby to paint, so I figured I would use his painting as a model, a close one, though I clearly did my own thing with it…(And I am no Monet!).
Flying Goose, Eye in Eggshell, Blue-spotted Frog, and Face/Eye Abstract
All of these “trading cards”, 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Many were done at Natchaug Hospital and are original one of a kind art. They are for sale. Tell me which one(s) you would like. We can work it out. (Payment is always in art supplies equivalences, by the way. No “cash” or other monetary payments accepted.)
Purple Cone flowers, Best in Show, No Exit from the Bin, and Mighty Manfred Makes an Entrance
Biohard Balloons; Blue Flipflops; cartoon nude; vivid abstract
Blue cup and Saucer; Man in Flower; Woman in ruffles with earrings
I am reposting the next one, a very painful if a not very skilled drawing, because I made some changes. I put a very mean smirk on the face of the woman in the front, who is meant to be facing us and pointing over her shoulder, though it was hard to get this in, given how little space I’d left myself… Also, I wanted to change the face of the man kneeling on me, and strength the look of the grip of the hands on me. If you compare the old version to this one, you will also note that I am purely naked here where as in the other, I have underpants on. This is the accurate one, but I didn’t understand that at the time I started the drawing. Alas, or perhaps this is good, I am rapidly recalling things I had not for two years about my experience at Middlesex. At least I remember stuff that happened BEFORE April 28th. For the other two restraints incidents, I still have no recall whatsoever or what I suspect is mostly confabulation drawn from what I read in my chart, though of course I cannot be certain. In any event, what I am remembering is not good at all, and I cry a lot…it is very difficult, and I feel so very very alone, because NO ONE understands and can talk to me, or more to the point can even stand to listen to me talk or cry about it. But it is difficult even to keep it under wraps all the time. If you have survived trauma, I think you know how it is. And that is why I avoid people when I think I cannot be “good enough company.” I don’t want to bring my friends down, but I cannot control the tears and shakes when they start…But the picture forthwith. Although it is disturbing as is, be aware that in the real incident, there was a great deal more violence, and more guards and staff members involved…these are just a paltry few. I simply didn’t know how to draw a crowd or a crowded room yet!
This next picture I did as an attempt to express the guilt and shame I feel over having been traumatized at all. But I do not think I succeeded at all. Why? Because it became too intellectualized, with symbols like the Scarlet A and the guilt-crucifix, and even the hands wringing in shame, rather than pure expression…I want to do it over again if I get inspired to do so.
The next three drawings were just “fun” or for practice ones. The first two are presents for Tim, simply because he likes cars and is so wonderful to me. The third was an exercise in drawing two people together, and was copied from an “old master”, the name of whom I simply cannot recall at the moment. It might have been — nope I don’t dare guess! I would have to get up and search for the book, and I ain’t gonna do that at the moment — too danged lazy. Anyhow, here are 1) two 1973 Volvo Sportswagon ES 1800 2) jaguar XJS and 3) the sketch taken from the old master’s painting.
NOTE: As I wrote this, “dream” talk, that is to say, nonsensical writings seemed to keep appearing in the middle of what I wrote. I seemed to find myself in another world every few minutes. I would write about that world, then “come to” and start writing about the subject below again as if nothing had happened. But when I reread the paragraph it made no earthly sense whatsoever, being an amalgam of two entirely different trains of thought. So a caveat: if some of what follows devolves into gibberish at any time, forgive me, and be patient. You can email me to alert me, if you wish, that would help. But otherwise, know that I will eventually come back more able to proofread and catch such idiocies…and fix them. For now though, you are on your own. (The reason for these brain blips, I think, may be, but may not, the fact that I took a very small amount of Zyprexa today in order to be able to read and concentrate. 2.5 mg 2X a week should not make me gain weight, according to Dr C, But we thought it might do some good, without doing the usual harm. So I agreed to try it out once more, just at the minimal level as a PRN. Well, I find that I am very sleepy, have been ever since I took the pill, except for when I took a walk and for about 1/2 hour afterwards…and I do think that I slip into dreamworld while awake, and literally dream while writing this. Hence the gibberish.
I have put the statement I read to the CEO and various administrators etc of Middlesex hospital on Youtube if anyone is interested in hearing it read outloud. Do a search for “Psychiatric restraints and seclusion abuse” and you should be able to find it if this link doesn’t work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZybDwMbzA (I realize that I read it without much feeling, but it is hard to do so accurately and also look up at camera, and read without losing my place. Anyhow, it might be worthwhile to check it out.
The newest sorta development in the “case” this week was that a lawyer from the hospital, or someone who told my advocate he was a Middlesex Hospital lawyer, asked Wiley R (who is behind me 100%) “what does Pam want, what can we do to have her drop the complaint or withdraw her complaint to the DOJ and Joint Commission?”
Now everyone I told this to almost to a one, and immediately said this meant, “We are willing to pay handsomely in order to buy a gag order from her” I had trouble digesting such crassness, but to a one, those to whom I related the words of this inquiry told me the lawyer was insinuating something about paying me off. I mean: money. I felt slimed, completely slimed. For a few days this was the sole topic of my conversation, but to make a long story short, after I had decided to ask for several sessions with the hospital psych unit staff, educational sessions with me, to teach them how better to deal with patients, and have them experience forced restraints themselves…and so forth, my brother and I met with WR my advocate from the Protection and Advocacy (for persons with disabilities and mental illness) Office, and he informed us that the lawyer really was offering nothing, not even an official apology. Clearly, if so, then my real desire, to do hands on, face to face work with the staff that had so tortured me, was going to be out of the question, utterly forbidden. So we just decided in practically the same words, to let them “swing” in the wind.
In point of fact, when WR said that the DOJ might bring them up “on charges” if it was warranted, I asked him why I didn’t do that myself. He looked at me, and then narrowed his vision looking at a point beyond me. “Hmm, let me ask around and I’ll see what we can do.” I hastened to assure him that it wasn’t malpractice I was after. I knew that I had no real case, even if the statute of limitations hadn’t just run out a week or a few weeks ago. After all, what lawyer is going to take me on one a contingency basis, and what jury would find for me in any event, seeing as how I did not die in their “care” nor suffer “grievous BODILY injury” which of course is all that counts…as usual. I am not sure what sort of case I would have in any sense of the word now at all…But as I told him, that is in his hands, and certainly is his bailiwick (and if not his than that of my lawyer-friend, Sharon Pope’s. If there are other “cases” to be made of any sort, I am more than game, I am ready and on alert to go and do whatever is needed in the pursuit of justice and reform of the Middlesex Hospital psychiatric system. It was really shameful, and despite the Public Health Department’s so called investigation, it was such a shameful joke, that despite WR’s impassioned plea to investigate MY case, and the psych unit in particular, they did no such thing. All they did was go back to spring 2011 (ie looked at the records of the entire hospital, or one of two representative records from most of the units, except for Psych so far as I could determine…) and do a random case study to look for general evidence of irregularities. Sure, they found some, and one case even involved the ER use of unnecessary or at least excessive use of restraints in a dually diagnosed young man…
But NOTHING was even looked at that had anything to do with what they did to me, or even the psych unit in particular. NOTHING was specific to my complaint, so I don’t know how they expected this evaluation to give them any sort of reasonable results. They may or may not have censured or sanctioned the hospital. I did not read the entire huge file of support the bill got over the years. But I got the drift and the worst punishment meted out for repeated violations seemed to me to be a whipping on the wrist with a flimp ramen. Period.
Yet I was punished by the psych unit staff time and time again.
I know, I know! I was loud, I was angry, I was impossible to “handle” — I know this. Partly this was par for the course for a Lyme disease flare up for me. But I think Lyme wasn’t all of it. Why else was I so irascible (aside from them giving me Abilify without the requisite Geodon…) if not in response to perceived and real threats from them? I am not generally irritable and snappy at Natchaug, and never was at Hartford Hospital in the 80s and 90s. ONLY at hospitals where the standards of care are coercion and control and abuse is the name of the game do I react with anger and hostility…I wonder why.
More to tell, more to say, but as I wrote in the first paragraph above, sleep is overwhelming my desire to do just about anything. I will try to get back to this asap.
This piece and many others will be on exhibit at the Wethersfield, Connecticut public library from May 1- June 30, 2012. Another new small sculpture below will be in the display case, along with The African Queen of Paranoia, which may be seen if you do a search for it on this blog site or go to my photobucket artwork site, and small jewelry or pill boxes I made with reproductions of my artwork on the tops.
I made this bird because I wanted simply to make a hummingbird. But after I did so, it reminded me of the poem “Of Mere Being” by Wallace Stevens.
by Wallace Stevens
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Speaking of Wallace Stevens, here is a poem I wrote that one of Stevens’ lines inspired. It will be in my next book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS (saison d’enfers means “season of hell”)
by Pamela Spiro Wagner“For the listener, who listens in the snow…”
In those days I was always cold
as I had been a long time, mindful of winter
even at the solstice of my high summer days
always, always the crumb and crust of loss
and near-loss of everything held dear
before the saison d’enfers and the ice to come
But there was the wind
There was still the wind making music,
and I, at one with the quirky stir of air
bowing the suppliant trees
bowing the branches of those trees for the sound
of songs held long in their wood
Changes change us: rings of birth, death, another season
and we hold on for nothing and no reason
but to sing.
Here is a colored pencil nighttime interior, wholly imagined and done without model objects to work from except that the red chair happens to be one that “lives” in my room. You may not be able to tell, but the large mirror on the table reflects one that is meant to be implicit behind the person drawing (the hand in the foreground) which in turn reflects the one on the table, and that reflects it, and so on…). Also, on the table is a photo that purports also to be, and is in fact, one of the artist — me — drawing as well. So you see there are a lot of tricks involved, though I do not think the picture is very expert. The perspective was not meant to be accurate, by the way. It is sorta folky…I simply am trying things I have never done before, like furniture and scenes. After all, you have to start somewhere.
I am also working on learning “realistic pencil portrait drawing” which is equally difficult but in a different way as it involves minute observation and challenges my eyesight too, at least at the moment. In fact, learning both skills are good for me.
I wrote a new poem two nights ago, but alas, I cannot share it here yet as then I could not submit it to a journal. I can only advise those interested in my poetry who have not read it and who have not seen my book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, to check out the page I have set up (see above) with a number of poems taken from it. I you like those you may also be interested enough to perhaps purchase a copy (and make me a wealthy — hah! — woman in the process). I am hoping eventually to find a publisher for LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, but I admit that I haven’t really tried. In fact, I have been so busy that I haven’t tried at all! I just keep writing and adding to it.
Anyhow, I do not know how many of you know of my best friend, Joe C, (the old blog readers did) but he is dying of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after 4 years, 3.5 of them approximately, on a ventilator ( that is to say breathing by means of a tracheostomy tube attached to a mechanical respirator). I do not know how long he has, though the situation is really dire in a way that is difficult to talk about. He refuses to agree to a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, though there is nothing they will be able to do for him except torture him if he does not…Oh god, he is in such awful straits, yet so wants to live! It is so tragic… The only good thing right now is that Dr O, that wonderful woman and my former psychiatrist, who was so kind and helpful to him, and of course was to me for so many years, was ordained a minister after she moved away from CT and she is going to visit him tomorrow, if she can…and see if she can help him.
You know, my absolutely biggest fear for Joe is not his dying, but of his being afraid, and that is where I think she can talk to him in a way that he will profit from, because he listens to her, and always has, in a way that he never has listened to me.
Joe basically responds best to female authority figures, which is strange given that he has a terrible relationship, really none at this point, with his mother. I no longer mind this, I am used to his not taking what I say as having any merit. But if Dr O is able to help, I just want him to get to that place where he can accept his approaching death and is not scared…
All this is by way of saying that if I am silent here for a while, please think of Joe and of me, and send him your prayers? Thank you, all of you.
I am putting up a photo Joe and me just after he was diagnosed, when we were at the Lahey Clinic for one of his appointments there, and then one of the few that I have with him at the hospital where he currently lives. One when he was still able to smile. You will be able to see the extreme changes in him, but to me, I have always only seen the “same ole Joe!”
Life with wings
Artwork, data analysis, and other projects by Jon
My Life is Art, My Art is Life