Chapter One: The Smoker's Room at the Psych Ward

It was a bleak, wintery day in the smoker's room at the psych ward in Hobart, Tasmania. But luckily, it was back in the days when you could smoke inside. So my parents were relatively cosy and comfortable as they chainsmoked more than is humanly possible together for the first time in the ward famously known as '6a'. The place was so reknowned that even the gallery where I had my first peer-reviewed exhibition was named after the place where my parents first met.

I got to visit it myself around the age of 13. My father was there for some reason I don't recall. I don't know why he was there in the first place, probably to avoid punishment for something, as he didn't have any manic or schizoid issues, and wasn't suicidal. I remember that day because it was the first time I ever came close to beating my father at chess, but for some reason, he had to call the game off early and have a cigarette, and show me one of his 'dad nonfiction' books by Jared Diamond, which is his favourite fiction genre. My father taught me to play chess when I was still a toddler, but he taught me to lose. He taught me to read and write a bit earlier, but luckily he didn't teach me to lose at that. Great irony being though that kids who learn to read before they go to school have a tendency to drop out at some point. I was an over-achiever who ended up dropping out. So I lost that chess game. Or like Eric Songdahl, I simply just forfeited the first time it looked like it was getting hard. But that isn't really fair either. It's way more complex than that.

Because the smokers room was used constantly, and was in the middle of the hospital, ventilation wasn't great. It was difficult to recognise the base color of paint as being a few shades darker than the rest of the ward, on account of the drastic colour aberations in the limb-sized swathes of bright, browny purple slime that dripped down everywhere like chemical placentae, poised to strangle you, growing up your spine from below. Right now I'm looking back on these moments spontaneously arising from memories with my parents, my prevailing view is that I was not allowed to leave the nest, of the corpsenest also existing in an Underworld or Otherwordly zone of chaos just looping in eternal recursion. That time for threatening the King with my Castle. But at the same time, no one had an End Game, and so I'm thankfully for now still here. And so is he.

My mother was obviously there for a schizophrenic episode, or so it seemed at the time. I don't doubt that my mother suffers from schizophrenia, but I also think that its highly nuanced, however severe. And they say it was so severe she was considered the worst case in forever and was being a study by the high ups. I remembered one of the doctor's names my father mentioned to me from decades ago, and I found him online and emailed him, asking if he remembered us, and what his opinion is now on my mother's condition. He said he wasn't that knowledgable at the time because he wasn't a very high up doctor, but that he remembered me and my mother being very attractive. So I asked him if since that's the main thing he remembers, is it possible with psychology having made progress, that my mother had borderline personality disorder. But he didn't respond to that. I lived my whole life up until recently having other people's hot takes on the facts of my life wash over and cover me. Always now when I recall something I was brought up believing, such as that the doctor's treating my mother were extremely high up, my father contradicts me with an extremely disappointed tone, and suggests I'm developing schizophrenia as I'm 'very mixed up'. That's the level of resistance to me having a separate perspective. So you'll be presented with a lot of fanciful material in this disappointingly small chapter featuring my father.

My parents are almost identical in that regard. Both of them were nicer to me when I was still very young and undifferentiated. Both find it impossible to have a clear distinction between them and me as our own beings. And they seemed competitive with eachother to be the one to fully own me and take me into their private hellrealm where they stopped growing. They are both the victims of severe physical and sexual childhood abuse in the home. But luckily for me I wasn't subjected to that excepting in aberrant circumstances which aren't clearly relevant to the minimum I'm sharing to try and get things across clearly for now. But on the other hand, my father was relatively young, in over his head, genuinely in love, not expecting that the child he conceived in a madhouse would have to come home with him alone, because when the baby was born the mother was on the verge of being declared mentally dilapidated. Dilapidation is declared when a person's delusions become so powerful that they permanently no longer remember their friends and family, including their own children. But according to my father, he stuck in there, trying to keep her at home, and trying to compromise with doctors to balance my needs and her's, and she did bounce back from it to some extent.

One thing that seemed more objectively true is that the medication my mother Susan was on when she was pregnant is now illegal because it caused a predominant amount of babies to be born deformed and still-born. This human shape is but a lucky draw. I had to be withdrawn from the medication, which also contained a barbituate more addictive than heroin. Alongside being separated from my mother, I kept my father up all night for months. He claims that he begged my mother's treating doctors to stop allowing Sue to breastfeed. He says they wanted to allow her to breastfeed as long as possible, because it was helping her to relate to other people. And it possibly worked to some small extent. So that's nice.

In my opinion, another consequence of the medication on me was that I woke up early. I know it isn't possible materially that babies can form memories of being in the womb, being born, their first few years, but I do. And I did wake up and crawl back up when my mother went into labour, strangling myself and dying briefly. I also have always just carried a memory of being on the ceiling, looking down at everyone who was in the room. Only I was in the room aswell, and everyone was really exuberant about that. I had a pretty rich download of NDE during that, but again, its a story for another day, and unlike my old man, who read novels to me every night and most free days, I don't have the devotional attention-span for telling stories.

For all that, and so much more, most adults around me have marvelled at how well I've turned out. None of them are invested the least in finding out how skindeep my okness is, but statistically, and demonstrably by many indicators, I'm a good freak. And maybe it is because even though my father's borderline personality disorder often kept me stuck in his undertow, he also did genuinely love me up until the point my ego separated, and so I was able to to some extent. It's also taken a lot of work on my part to be able to tell this story as objectively as possible, and the goal is to have a healthy compassionate understanding that can move and evolve all the wyrd ancestral obstacles blocking the track at Lake Denial. Because we all are Pythagorean snowflakes, and this pawn is ready to be queened. Our mitochondrial DNA is our resiliency especially and our natural birthrite to own and know. But first, The Pawning of the Queen..


GO BACK to the contents page