Friday, August 24, 2012

home sweet home

This is probably the longest post I have ever posted. And I say posted because I did not actually write it. It consists, simply, of a local Baltimore weekly's reportage of local crime from the last two weeks, and my occasional attempts to mitigate fear and hopelessness with humor. 

Enjoy. And don't walk around late at night in Southeast Baltimore.

These images and headlines are from the online version of the paper. They are just a couple of the many reasons I love this column. Other reasons continue below.

Aug. 7, 3:35 p.m. Someone stole a package of medical instruments from the front steps.

Aug. 7, 9 a.m. A woman told police that an unknown suspect entered through her front door and exited through the rear.

Aug. 1, 10 a.m. Police report that road rage at the McDonald’s escalated into a fight, and the two drivers were arrested.


Aug. 9, 1:00 a.m. Police were told that armed suspects entered the dwelling and told everyone to get on the floor and give them their money and jewelry. They then put everyone in the rear room and fled. A purse, 60 oxycodone pills and 94 percocet pills were stolen. [94!]

Aug. 3, 5:00 p.m.  A man told police he got very intoxicated with ten of his friends and felt someone reach in and steal his wallet. He doesn’t know who it was. [1 in 10 chance of figuring it out!]

Aug. 4, 5 p.m.  A clerk reports that a customer was rummaging through a bin. When the clerk offered assistance, the customer fled with nine “Boh Knows Football” t-shirts and other merchandise.


Aug. 9, 2:30 p.m. Police report that a suspect broke in through a rear door and stole a collection of 15 Marilyn Monroe dolls and jewelry.

Aug. 5, 9:30 a.m. A man told police that someone broke into his car and stole his handicapped placard.

Aug. 2, 3:40 p.m. A woman reported that someone broke her right front window and stole her cane and her parking placard. [AND the cane?!!?]

[Incidentally, there are multiple other reports of stolen handicapped placards (which I always thought were called "dangly things"). Moral of the story, save your good parking spot privileges for when you're in The County?]

Aug. 6, 8:00 a.m. A man reported that someone stole his catalytic convertor [sic]. [I don't know what a catalytic converter is, but I do know how to spell it!]

Aug 6, 5:30 p.m. Police report that a man stole a Nestle strawberry drink and was arrested. [Gross]

Aug. 7, 1:20 a.m. A resident reported that someone entered a rear yard and stole four swivel-back chairs and a wine refrigerator. [Alright, now we're talkin'.]

Aug. 5, 8 p.m. A man reported that someone had kicked in the door to his shed and stolen a snowball machine. [What?]

July 30, 6 p.m.  It was reported that a man stole four bars of Dove soap.


Aug. 5, 12:50 a.m. Two men reported that a suspect has assaulted them with a machete. The two men were taken to the hospital with head wounds. [Machete!]

Aug. 9, 2:45 p.m. A woman reported that during a dispute, her boyfriend held a sword to her neck. They struggled until separated by family members. The police arrived and arrested the boyfriend. [Sword!]

July 10, 7:50 p.m. A woman reported that during an argument. another woman had produced a tire iron and hit her in the head. The first woman was taken to the hospital, and the second was arrested. [Produced a tire iron!]

Aug. 9, 11:16 p.m. A man reported that he was walking when one of three men approached him and said, “Amigo, give us your money.” The victim replied that he didn’t have any. The suspects then hit him with a two-by-four. The victim fled and received medical attention. [Were they just walking down the street with a two-by-four?]

Aug. 11, 1:15 a.m. A man reported that he arrived at a gas station to complain to a drug dealer, “Tony,” that the drugs he had been sold were bad. His business practices insulted, Tony went to his car and came back with a knife, cutting the victim in the face. He then fled in his car. The victim refused to respond to the police station or to seek medical attention.

Aug. 5, 11:14 a.m. A woman reported hearing a suspect in her house upstairs. She called him and he fled to the basement in an attempt to escape. Officers responded and found him behind a locked door, crouched in a defensive stance. He was taken into custody without incident. The suspect had gained entry by removing a second-floor AC unit.

Aug. 10, 2:58 a.m. A man reported that while walking, one of three men approached him and said, “I just want your money.” He then began to reach into his pocket, but the victim smacked his hand and yelled at him. Another suspect implied that he was armed, and the victim challenged him as well. The suspects fled. [This one occurred about a block from my house. So if someone asks for my money, I should just give him a slap on the wrist?]

Aug. 17, 1:42 p.m. A man told police he was inside the bar and got in an argument with another male. The other male left and later returned with a knife and said: “I sharpened this knife just for you.” The owner of the bar took the knife from the suspect, who then fled.

Aug. 13, 10:35 a.m. A man told police that a woman called his house and said he owed several thousand dollars in back taxes. He said he only had $1,000 in cash. The woman said someone would come to collect the money. A male came to his door, shoved him in the face, and took $1,000.


Aug. 18, 2:20 p.m. A man told police another male asked if he wanted to buy drugs. When he said no, the suspect stabbed him in the right thigh.

Aug. 15, 1:14 p.m.  A woman told police she was assaulted by a man because she refused to buy crack cocaine.


Aug. 14, 2:53 p.m. A man told police he was walking when a man shouted out: “Stop, money!” He ran away.

Aug. 12, 3:00 p.m. A woman told police that when she was incarcerated for a few days someone broke into her house and stole $500 from a sock in her closet.

Aug. 17, 11:30 p.m., A victim reported that he was walking down the street when a man asked him for a cigarette and then a light. When the victim reached in his pocket for the light, he looked up to see the suspect holding a gun. The suspect demanded he take off and shake out his pants. About $250 was taken.

Aug. 4, 2 a.m.  A man reports that when he woke up in Federal Hill Park, his black iPhone was missing. [Not that I'm victim blaming, but I kinda think that if you pass out in a park until 2am, you don't get to call police when your shit gets stolen. Okay, maybe I am victim blaming.]

July 22, 1 p.m. A man reported that his handyman and the handyman’s girlfriend moved in to his property illegally. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

"all i need is jesus . . . and two extra strength tylenol"

Greetings from my new home! That’s right, I moved, making the two-year stint in my last apartment the longest I’ve lived continuously in any one place since starting college. (Strangely, that’s also about the same amount of time I’ve ever stayed at a job, or sustained a romantic relationship … this doesn’t say anything about me, does it??? That I've had a lot of learning experiences? Yes! Good answer.) Anyway, here are some tips I gained from the latest of my many relocations.

1. If at all possible, move into a place with a garbage disposal. Seriously, it will change your life. My daily stress has been reduced by at least 20% now that I can just wash my strawberry tops, French-pressed coffee grounds, and stuck-to-the-bottom-of-the-pot rice grains down the drain.

2. Do not succumb to laziness and Oprah by hiring 1-800-GOT-JUNK to remove things you no longer want and don’t have the energy to list on Craigslist. Although they will ensure your old dust collectors don't go to waste if possible (like by finding places to donate working electronics so people will actually use them), they cost more than hiring movers to move ALL of your stuff, and they don't tell you this until they get there. Better to donate it to my favorite thrift store, The Sidewalk.

3. Speaking of, if you live in Baltimore, do go to the 7-Eleven on South Broadway in your U-Haul and hire the first three men from Central and South America who jump into the passenger seat to move all of your stuff. Overpay them, because they will be friendly and reassuring and make fun of you when you get the truck with a 14-foot trailer stuck in the alley behind your new house and have to back it out about 100 feet ("Ella esta nerviosa! Hahaha!"). They will then get behind the wheel and do it for you.

4. Don’t drink and move, as much as you feel you deserve it, especially if you have to work a bunch of days in a row afterward, because then you may weaken your immune system and come down with a nasty respiratory infection that will cause you to miss two 12-hour shifts while you are home feverish and "managing your respiratory secretions with a tissue," and you don't get sick time yet so your shenanigans just cost you, like, three times what 1-800-GOT-JUNK did. Just saying.

And last but not least, here are a few recent highlights and fun facts from the world of psych nursing... 

The title of this post is a quote from one of my favorite patients in recent memory. She was the first actively psychotic patient I got to interview. Psychosis is fascinating--in addition to typical hyperreligiosity, this patient also had delusions of grandeur, specifically that she was an undercover cop. She had come to our unit after real cops found her sleeping in an abandoned building. When I asked about her living situation, she told me she lived in an "abandominium." On a test of cognitive functioning, she was asked to write a sentence and wrote "[Patient] was here," in mirror writing. She stated that what she wrote looked normal to her. Apparently mirror writing can be caused by damage to the brain's left hemisphere. Also, by being Leonardo DaVinci. It even happens in Chinese!

I have learned lots of new vocabulary over the last few weeks. Here are a few of my favorites:

Intermittent Explosive Disorder -- "A behavioral disorder characterized by extreme expressions of anger, often to the point of violence, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand." To put it mildly.

Neurovegetative -- The definition isn't actually terribly exciting (pertaining to the autonomic, aka, apparently, "vegetative" nervous system; and for our purposes it refers to illness indicators such as sleep, appetite, and concentration). I just like that I now get to describe people as "neurovegetatively intact."

Zone of Helpfulness -- The zone to which all mental health practitioners should aspire to be in (i.e., neither underinvolved or overinvolved).

Humor -- On a textbook page of therapeutic communication techniques (e.g., active listening, broad openings, restating, theme identification), humor is described as "the discharge of energy through the comic enjoyment of the imperfect." I've never quite thought about it that way!

At the beginning of every shift we get a report sheet that contains a brief synopsis, pertinent information, and updates on each patient. After one patient's name, in bold: “Patient needs to wear pants when out of his room.” Ahem. Updates are noted daily and generally include a major treatment change, a discharge plan, etc. A recent update for another patient: "7/30/12: Patient is really a rapper." (Apparently a staff member had confirmed a prior rap career of a patient who claimed as much.)

A nurse told me a story of a former patient who was seen wearing sunglasses out in the Day Area of the unit. She asked him why he was wearing sunglasses. He responded, "Because my future looks bright."

Aaaand I'm out.