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Alarm. 6:59 AM.

Long shower.
Rehearse speeches to the 1%.
Toast thin wheat round bread slices which are frozen and stuck together. Toaster spreads em.
Add peanut butter and agave sweetener. Dont ponder the agave/tequila association this time
it seems impossible, but its too early.
Grind coffee beans.
Watch six minutes of dvrd college football news.
Make coffee to go.
Walk to car and smile at passing dog but not the owner.
Flip through I-pod while car warms up.
Make the connection that the tone in my head is the same note as All you need is love by the
Im sure that song was released as an independent single, because I remember the release it
was groundbreaking. It was an internationally broadcast event. They were told to write an easy
song for the groundbreaking event. Would've made sense to do so. But instead they wrote a
song in an odd time signature.
So why don't I have it on my i-pod? it couldnt have been on an album, and should be on one of
the collections of singles that were removed from the American releases. I have those, as I
have all the albums. But it isnt on my i-pod. Then I remember its on the Magical Mystery Tour.
I have 12,000 songs on my i-pod. I don't have all the albums. Why the hell dont I have the
Magical Mystery Tour?
I decide to listen to Blackened by Metallica instead. Not sure why. Two weeks ago I came to
the conclusion that Blackened was the best song in their catalogue.
"Blackened is the end."
I decide today that 15% of that assessment has to do with how well the end of the song blends
into the intro of the next song.
I think itll be fun to listen to Guns and Roses. It isnt. Sounds cheesy, dated.
I put on At the Drive-In.
And when she knocked me over
I looked inside the hearse
I realize I have no idea what he means by the lyrics, and wonder how I listened to it ad infinitum
about 8 years ago without figuring that out. I think about how odd the individual instruments
sound in their recording. But the whole cacophony of his screaming serenades Skid Row (Los

Angeles there are many others. Many others) appropriately, especially since I skip the slow
songs. Theres so much bustle on skid row, even at 8:25 in the morning.
Im slightly irritated because its kind of late, considering I left at 7:40. Traffic was shit. Now I
wont be able to schmooze with my crush before the workday starts. Shes always there early. I
like to think shes there early because she hopes Ill get there early. I leave that fantasy at that.
The parking lot attendant has arthritis in his feet, has someone new park the car. He asks if Ill
be leaving at 4. I might have to go to court. I dont know.
I walk the block and a half to the agency. I count two piles of human shit. I used to wonder if it
might be dog. Its not. Ive done this tour a dozen times this past month, seen two people
taking shits. Theres no mystery.
I see a faded brown-red part of the sidewalk and recall that someone fell asleep on a curb last
week two blocks from here. He was run over by a truck and dismembered. It was all over the
news. I wonder if his shit stains are nearby. I decide its actually pretty likely.
When in mid thought, I pass by and smile at four medical marijuana wholesale supply stores
next to each other.
I pass by seven people and wonder if theyre clients before I enter the office, when a woman
double takes me. She laughs and says Man, this shit is a trip. Im not like brad pitt hot, and
Im not that tall, dont have much hair, but Im told I have pretty hazel green eyes and baby skin.
Dressed up in court garb, I suppose I present differently than most of the males she sees in her
sober living home. Or maybe shes hallucinating and there are demons jumping out of my nose.
When I get in the office I walk directly to the court guys desk. My client has a hearing at 9:30.
Should we leave now? No, the courts only a few blocks away. Cool. Let me know.
Morning meeting.
10 clients were drug tested yesterday, two came up positive. My client one of them. One small
piece to the court appearance puzzle.
One woman will be graduating next month, wed better make plans.
The Halloween party is on Monday, get ready.
And theres a new client. Hes been angry at his last four groups. Hes angry because his mom
died and he cant get permission to go to her funeral in New York. He cant get permission
because hes been incarcerated 20 times, and generally, when left to his own devices, he gets
high. He keeps getting in trouble for getting high near police officers, again and again. Hes
with our agency because he was going to have to serve a multiple year sentence for said
trouble. I remind myself of that, and I tell myself that these wonderful people I work with would
not keep a man from visiting family following his mothers death unless that was the right thing
to do.
It comes out that he hated his mother, that much has been clear the last year he has been with
us. Thus, to everyone it feels like an opportunity to get out of town, out of the program, and go
party and get high. It makes sense to them to restrict him, because theyve been doing this for
so long. I have not. I understand his angry outbursts, why he disrupts groups, why hes so

upset. High or no high, program or no program, a mom is a mom. I dont speak up, they
probably understand them better. This is what they do.
Then they inform me hell be my new therapy client.
At the end of the meeting we go to court. Courts a scene. There are crying women holding
babies, there are desperate people, there are men in suits, there are women in dress for
success suits, women in heels, women stoned, and bailiffs.
We enter the Co-Occurring Disorders Court. A room full of people who have been incarcerated
multiple times and who have been diagnosed with mental illness. And the judge who oversaw
the NightStalker trial.
My client is there before us. Her public defender isnt around. She doesnt look at me or my
colleague. Shes going to have a bad day today.
We watch 17 people appear before the judge. Most of them are there for mandatory monthly
appearances. Two women are joint at the wrist by handcuffs. One has visible scarring on her
forehead, and her attorney informs the judge that she has cognitive impairment. She cant
remember the last time she spoke to the judge, but he remembers it clearly. He asks them to
come back in a week. He congratulates most everyone else.
Until its my clients turn.
Her public defender arrives finally.
They go into the hall to chat for ten minutes.
They come back. My colleague and the public defender approach the bench.
The public defender explains that my client feels singled out.
The judge laughs.
He asks, When exactly did she feel singled out? Was it when she forged a three thousand
dollar check? Was it when her roommate told her housing manager that shed bought a bulk
amount of cocaine? Was it when she was spotted hanging out with known drug dealers? Was
it when she went awol for two nights? Or was it this morning when she tested positive for
The public defender laughed in defeat.
My colleague laughed in awkwardness.
My client didnt laugh.
The judge doesnt want her side of the story. He explains to her that he doesnt want her side of
the story, and if she wants to tell it, to write it in a thousand words.
My client went was then remanded.
I could have inferred the meaning of remand from the context, but as I get older, I get more and
more confident about what I dont know, and more and more annoyed at having to infer. I ask
my colleague, what does remand mean?
He says, Shes going to jail.
I knew she was. Its sad. Shed been there so many times before, but still. Shes adorable.
Short, stocky, masculine haircut, glasses, walks slow due to arthritis and diabetes. Missing her
front four teeth. Cursive handwriting tattoos on her neck. You know that if you were her friend

that shed kill for you. You just know it. Shed cried when we told her we had to talk about the
forged check. She knew it wsa bad. She makes pretty bad decisions every now and then.
More often now lately.
And off she goes, to jail, directly.
I return to the agency.
I slip into a group therapy session on mens self-esteem.
Six men.
Nobody can talk about self-esteem.
They can say their self-esteem is high, or low, but skirt direct questions like, What do we do
when someone who has power over us tries to make us feel bad? Everyone in the room has
traditionally gotten high in those situations. For decades. So everyone skirts the answer. I
dont know that I have a very good coping mechanism for these instances either. I think I get
just as much out of the co-facilitators spiel as anyone.
I sign everybodys card.
I go back to the room to sit amongst the other interns.
We vent.
I tell everyone my client is in jail.
People empathize.
They tell me that one of the other interns had to drop out. Too much for her.
We get it. But we dont, because its fucking fascinating. But we do.
I joke that now I dont have to have case management sessions with my client for a couple
weeks, so I have plenty of free time to work on reports. One person doesnt catch my sarcasm
and thinks I should have more empathy for my clients. I have empathy for her.
The other interns remind me that in my free time I can deal with angry guy, my new client. I
review his file.
I sit next to the beautiful intern and stare into her beautiful eyes and say the funniest things I
possibly can for five minutes. She laughs.
I go to the refrigerator and take out my two day old burrito half.
I bring it back to the room and listen to songs from my mp3 of the month club. I delete several
of them and send angry emails to friends about what bad songs other people sent.
I wonder if my client will hear music in jail.
Im glad the beautiful intern has a group to go to so I can concentrate and type my report about
another client.
I spend an hour summarizing the last hour I spent with him, every word of his I can remember,
every gut feeling I felt, every feeling I sensed from him. This is how we are supposed to learn
how to be a therapist. This process of recording.
Then I speak to my supervisor about the recording. She tells me all the things I did wrong. Last
week I pushed too hard, this week, I didnt push at all. I went where I wanted to go, but not
where he was. I was uncomfortable talking about sex. How could that be? I love talking about
sex. Well, I was uncomfortable in this situation. Was it because he was diagnosed with
schizoaffective disorder and had spent a significant portion of the last two decades in prison?

Was it because he heard voices when he smoked crack? Was it because he spoke taking a
date to places Id been? Was it because I caught him in an odd lie the last time we met?
Whatever it was, I needed to be aware of it. And now I am.
She provides good insight. I wonder if itll stick. I hope it does.
I go back to the room and look into beautiful eyes again for ten minutes.
Then I go to have a session with aforesaid client who made me subconsciously uncomfortable
when he spoke about sex. He tells me he has to cancel.
Dammit. Cant learn to be a goddam therapist if he cancels. Dammit.
I go next door to the burrito place and buy a donut. I come back and only eat the frosting. I
dont offer any to the object of my affection. Maybe not the best move. Been a long day