Friday, February 4, 2011

Deer in the middle of the night - John Hinckley redux

It's 4:20 am. I've been asleep since midnite but decide to consult my bedside laptop to see what's going on in the wide world. Rioting in Cairo has claimed more lives and an uncertain future for the country. The new Verizon iPhone has been proclaimed better than the old AT&T version. And a 5-minute video of the 1984 John Adams' opera Nixon in China - now playing at the Metropolitan Opera - is in the featured video spot in the Times.

Only yesterday I contacted a couple of friends to see if they'd be interested in traveling to NY to see the nearly 4-hour long opera. I first fell in love with it, on YouTube, in my discover-John-Adams period, abetted by Ethan's giving me some of his old Adams' CDs. John Adams is my age (b.1946) and is in NY conducting the opera. When interviewed, he seemed to be wearing a thermal undershirt. He lives in California.

After my forays in the world of the Times, I check my desktop to see what tomro will bring - I am revising my novel and am on Chapter 11 of 19 - and see I have downloaded an 18-page piece about John Hinckley from one of my favorite sites, Famous Trials, listed to the right on my blogroll. I'd begun reading it since the Tucson Shootings by Jared Loughner and thought it might be interesting to compare the two crazed shooters, knowing full well the difficulty of using the term 'crazy' when each has so successfully planned out his attack.

Reagan, Hinckley's target, hadn't known he was shot at all until he got back into the limo and began coughing blood, whereby the vehicle sped quickly to the hospital for life-saving surgery. What really inspired me to read the story were the words "Hinckley's troubled childhood."

A chilling description is given of the emotionless white-bread household in which he grew up where his mother, according to the description, lavished more attention on her furniture than on her son.

As I read, I begin to subliminally hear a crunching sound two stories below out on the winter snow. Fleetingly I think to myself, Oh, it's the deer...or it's icicles dripping. This is commonplace for me. To recognize something and then obligingly get on with the task at hand. "Oh, they're bombing Cowbell" and then finish up the paragraf.

After all, the article is so terribly absorbing. But now another part of my brain begins sending out alarms. Pay attention, Miss Ruth. Pay attention. What's that sound?

My room is pitch dark but for the terribly bright light of my laptop. Moving is difficult b/c of the incessant pain in left sciatic leg, but only when I lie abed. Nonetheless I go into the bathroom and insert my contact lenses, return to my bedroom, shut the light from the computer, stand on bed and gaze out the window.


And no noise.

But they are there, of course. They have just stopped moving. Sure enough, a heavy dark shape begins moving against the white snow. It is a well-grown young one, very dark, moving toward Scott's birdfeeder where a family of deer have just made the acquaintance of his wellstocked feeder. Nearly each day they empty it out. Not only that but they have dug their way through the snow, literally digging a path with their hoofs, whereas the birds need only fly in gracefully and fly out.

Scott is fascinated by the comings and goings of the deer and gives me a full report each day. I am tempted to leave a message on his answering machine but have unplugged my phone for the nite.

Now another dark shape is moving from the shadows and following what seems to be a newly dug path in Scott's driveway toward the bird feeder. He does not proceed however but lingers toward the back yard. Now another one moves forward. There are four of them. Wandering very slowly through the shared portions of our yards.

What is to be done about keeping these animals alive when there is no food to be found. One moseys over to a spot under a pine tree where I have deposited some of my compost since I can't make it to the backyard in this snow.

They remember quite where to go. Tomro I plan to cook a huge soup, with lots of scraps, and will toss it out for them.

Finishing up the Hinckley article, I have come upon this marvelous description of the suspect:

The lead psychiatric expert for the defense was Dr. William Carpenter. One commentator described Carpenter as looking like "Father Time" with his gray beard and shoulder length hair. From forty-five hours of conversation with John Hinckley, Carpenter concluded the defendant suffered from schizophrenia. He saw Hinckley has having four major symptoms of mental illness: "an incapacity to have an ordinary emotional arousal," "autistic retreat from reality," depression including "suicidal features," and an inability to work or establish social bonds.

We have a fellow in ND who puzzles me. At first I thought him retarded, but now I think he possibly has either schizophrenia or that old diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder. A nice enough man but so very limited in outlook and judgment and lifestyle, a man who does nothing all day but obsess about his newly deceased mother.

Only this week he left an 18-minute message on my office answering machine. He has left many other messages which I delete quickly but for some reason I listened to this whole message b/c it was organized and then I called him up to offer solace for his misery. Nothing ever works out for him in his life. His nerves are so shattered he pops tranquilizers during the day and so he can sleep at nite. His psychiatrist is the finest around. His sister does not speak to him. His mother is dead.

How has he found his way to New Directions? We are the only people he has met who are nice to him. And shall continue to be.

The noises have stopped outside. The icicles cannot possibly drip. They are frozen solid. I wonder idly if they will pull the gutters down.

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