Manic Mission in Miami...
The Manic Missions in Miami
In December of 1999, just prior to hearing the great news about the job offer, my wife and I had recently moved to Miami to search for job positions in international business development in Latin America. I thought I might want to plant my flag there for a while and travel extensively to Latin America using my Spanish and Portuguese. I was creating a lot of job excitement at networking events and organizing socials gatherings with friends, but nothing material was really panning out. It looked like Cylant Technology was going to be the first choice.
A week later, five of my close Thunderbird friends flew into Miami from Arizona and rented a camper van to go to the turn of the millennium concert of a psychedelic band called Phish. Phish found its fame on the coattails of the Grateful Dead jamband scene. It was going to be one of the biggest concerts on the planet with over 100,000 “Phish-heads” partying their asses off for three days straight. Nobody seemed to be affected by the apocalyptic scare that the computers were going to fail (Y2K) or the second coming of Christ was at hand. I, on the other hand, thought something crazy was going to happen.
My wife and I drove to the venue in the Everglades to meet our friends on the 29th of December. There was a traffic jam about fifteen miles long from our position to the venue on a highway called Alligator Alley in the Everglades a few hours outside of Miami. We waited FOURTEEN HOURS in line to get into the parking lot. Apparently there had been a fatality that couldn’t be cleared. You can imagine what that does to a manic person’s mood swings. To quell the anxiety, we started out partying big time with every drug under the sun. High as kites, we were throwing Frisbees in the median of the highway and hurling glow sticks around.
When we got inside the parking lot, the setting was just overwhelming; just a sea of cars surrounded by some of the most gorgeous everglade environs imaginable. There were so many activities to do like bongo circles, henna drawings, psychic readers, hula hooping, etc. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself I was so happy. Talk about a ripe breeding grounds for manic episodes.
Phish played a four hour set on the 30th. Everybody camped that night and got good rest for the huge day. New Year’s Eve 1999. The band played a first set then took an hour rest. They came back on just before midnight to do the countdown and played for eight hours straight without leaving the stage.
In Peter Jenning’s ABC coverage around the world, Phish played a song and we were all seen by one of the hugest audiences in the world. I thought, “Cool.” In my manic mind, I thought that someday I could produce an around the world broadcast, but didn’t know of what. I went into the weekend manic. I came out of the weekend floating in the clouds. I couldn’t put my feet back on the ground everything was so euphoric.
For several days after that, I had millions of thoughts running through my head. I thought to myself, ”Okay. Just recover from the shows and get your head back on straight before taking this new job.”
I couldn’t help but think of what I was going to do with all of the money I was about to earn. Easy money, mind you. I was going to be doing all the things that I loved to do. Somehow in my mind I decided that I’d be so rich and famous, I might as well seriously run for the President of the United States. I thought I’d be an excellent world leader. If I could just get past people judging my meltdown in Switzerland, Lithium use, and the recreational drugs, I stood a chance. I thought the world was ready to be more accepting of these things. Several Presidents of past had gotten away with having mental disorders such as Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
I am pretty sure I was driving my wife and sister crazy the entire week. I had every bipolar emotion running through my head every several minutes. The mood swings were drastic from angry to overjoyed with meaningless excitement. I was on top of the world one minute, then unbearably irritable and impatient; nothing in the middle. I became frustrated because I knew that I couldn’t get anything done if my mind was racing this fast.
I tried to pull it together one day and surprise my wife with something really special to celebrate my new job. I decided to rent the ‘Madonna’ penthouse at Delano Hotel in Miami’s South Beach for a night. It was one of the fanciest and priciest hotels in the country. It was four thousand dollars for the night. At the time, it was a heck of a lot of money. I had about forty thousand dollars to my name, which was my life’s savings.
As one could imagine, as we pulled up to the hotel, Mariam became so irritated at my poor decision to essentially ‘piss away’ the four grand when we already had a place to stay at my sister’s. She couldn’t
understand anything that was running through my head. She had no idea about the Billions I was about to make. Due to the non-disclosure documents, I had signed, I couldn’t tell her either.
I didn’t really want to be around her alone if she was going to act like a pain in the rump, so I called a Brazilian T-bird friend, Alex, to party with us and crash over with his girlfriend in the extra bedroom. After a bottle of champagne, the Brazilians went to their bedroom and my wife went to ours to take a nap.
I am all alone to my devices and I’m up to no good. I was sitting on the most comfortable sofa in the world and started having fantastical ideas like coming up with this silly idea of bringing the Mr. Neutron superhero character back to life in a new incarnation played by me. I envisioned a publicity stunt where I’d come crashing on to the set of Saturday Night Live. I came up with all sorts of nonsensical, yet hilarious ideas in my head. I felt I was the funniest comedy sketch artist in the world after having watched just about every episode up till that point. At that very moment, all I wanted to do was to fly to New York and be on the show. I was flying so high I thought I could do it. The cast was awesome that year. It would have been a dream of mine to share the stage with Will Ferrell and Darrell Hammond who both played Presidents Bush and Clinton respectively.
Presidential Publicity Stunt
I had the dates meticulously worked out for the year 2012 to do a series of publicity stunts to promote Mr. Neutron for President. At the time, I had no idea how to run a presidential campaign, but I knew that I could bone up on the relevant issues quickly enough as I got an audience. All I needed were Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame to gain the spotlight and, if done correctly, the rest was history. My fame would go viral and I’d get picked up by TV shows everywhere.
First, I planned to appear in the background of Good Day America with my Neutron costume on holding up a sign reading the ‘Vote the ‘Might as Well Party’”. I got the idea from my first T-shirt ever bought at a Grateful Dead concert in 1988. I knew I wasn’t going to get a mass viewing, but it was a way to get on TV without having an agent. Plus, the footage could be used later in a talk show interview as a talking point.
I knew it was important that to get a leg up in life, you had to use your contacts. My cousin Mark had studied at Chicago’s Second City where famous SNL comedians came from and he had contacts at Saturday Night Live. In reality, one hopes that a contact can get you something. When you’re bipolar, it’s automatic in your mind that it’s going to happen, and you will get what you want.
What I was aiming for were three brief cameo appearances on the opening and last skit of SNL. It would be a spoof on the Oval Office scene of Superman II where General Zod and his two warlord villain friends come crashing through the ceiling of the Oval Office and start shooting up the place. I play the fake President that is sitting behind his desk. Zod says to him, “I see you like worshiping things that fly. Now, rise before Zod.” He rises. Zod then says, “Now Kneel before Zod.” Zod knows immediately that the real President would not kneel so quickly. Then the real President of the United States himself would come out from behind the crowd to identify himself. He says, “I am the President. I will kneel before you if it will save lives.” Zod replies, “It will, starting from your own.” The President continues, “What I do now, I do for the sake of the people of the world. But there is one man here on earth who will never kneel before you.” Zod asks, “Who is he? Where is this imbecil?” The real President kneels before him and says, “Mr. Neutron.” Zod just about drops an “F bomb” and says, “Oh Fffff...” As he’s about to finish his word, I shout from behind the desk, “Live from New York. It’s Saturday Night.” Queue the music. Close curtains. People are going to wonder, “Who is this guy playing the fake President and why is he the one that gets to shout ‘Live from New York’?” I become a ‘person of interest’.
The next skit takes place at the Fortress of Solitude. Zod flies in with Lex Luther, Lois Lane, Superman, and General Zod and the two other warlords. Lex Luther betrays Superman by relinquishing the secret location of the chamber that would strip Superman of his powers. They force him to go into the Crystal Chamber and Lex Luther inserts the special crystal to activate the machine. The lights within the chamber flash and smoke comes out of the machine everywhere, then all of a sudden, Mr. Neutron walks out instead of Superman. I humbly walk up to General Zod to shake his hand, then I start to crush it. You can hear bones breaking just like in the movie. Then I pick all three villains up and throw them into the abyss.
The last skit of the night follows the storyline of the movie, but instead of Superman flying back to put the restored dome with American flag on the Oval Office, it’s Mr. Neutron in his yellow body suit and purple cape. He looks down from the roof of the White House into the Oval Office and says, “Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I’ve been away so long. I won’t let you down again.”
Once on SNL, I was hoping to get picked up by Letterman, Conan, and Leno. It was a crazy idea, but I thought I really could pull it off.
White House Espionage
Back in the penthouse at the Delano, I started thinking about the secretive nature of Cylant Technology’s strategy again and started to get paranoid knowing I was one of ten people privy to this information. My thoughts were running wild thinking that my life might be in jeopardy if somebody finds out about the company. Also, somebody might know that I want to be President and assassinate me before I get anywhere.
I started freaking out big time. I thought, “Who should I talk to? I know. Call my former high school buddy, Jon, that works in the White House.” Jon was a Deadhead friend of mine that landed a great job in the White House during the Clinton Administration. That’s right. First, I am working for someone that knows Bill Gates personally and now I’m one phone call away from President Bill Clinton. I was like Steve Martin in The Jerk when his name got published in the phone book. I said to myself, “Things are going to start happening to me now.”
I didn’t have Jon’s number with me so I called 411 from the hotel phone to get the number of the White House. The secretary patched me through to his phone, but it was night time already, so I didn’t leave a message. I called 411 back and got his home number in Washington D.C. I dialed the number, but it had been disconnected. I thought that was odd. He must have tried to become more private now that he has a job in the White house.
I knew his brother also lived in the D.C. area, so I called 411 again and got his number. I dialed and the answering machine immediately picked up and in a mechanical voice, it said, “Leave your message at the tone.” Beep. So I left a message with greetings as I hadn’t been seen him since high school. A few minutes later, the hotel phone rings. In a gruff voice, he says, ”Is this J.P.?” I said. “Dan” is this you?
We haven’t spoken in ages.” He answers, ”Who’s this?” I thought, “That’s weird.” He should know who I am. Then I thought. Uh oh. Being paranoid, I thought this could probably be a spy trying to impersonate Dan and he doesn’t know how to properly respond to me. I immediately hung up the phone and thought, ”Darn. Maybe the spy tapped my cell phone and the call came from a person spying on me. That means I’m in danger, the ‘Cylant secrets’ are in danger and so is everybody here in the penthouse.”
Again, I freaked out. I woke everyone up and told them to get dressed and that we were going to dinner. It was like a fire drill. We stopped at the lobby level and we all got out. I told Mariam, Alex and his girlfriend to wait there for me. I had to run a quick errand. I asked at the front desk where security was and how to get there. I took the elevator down to the basement and went in the security control room and asked for who was in charge. The Director of Security asked, ”What can I do for you?” I explained,” We are staying in the Madonna penthouse and I had a peculiar event happen that lead me to believe something was suspicious. I kept it vague. I didn’t want him to know what was going on either. I asked of him, “Please do me a favor of monitoring the door to our room. If anybody comes to knock on the door, they are only just not invited, but I think you ought to turn them into the police. They have no good intentions here.” The guy looked at me with a puzzled face and hesitantly said, “OoooKaaaaY”
I hurriedly ran out the door to get back to the lobby. I put on my calm face and said to my wife and friends, “Let’s go get dinner.” As soon as we walked out of the hotel, I sighed in relief. We were safe again.
We went to a small Brazilian party of Alex’s close friends near the hotel and had some food. I got my sense of humor back and was on fire, telling all sorts of jokes in Portuguese and making everybody laugh. I don’t think they had any clue how manic I was. They hadn’t met me before, so they wouldn’t have known the difference.
Afterwards, we went back to the room at a decent hour. Mariam and I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I left the bedroom and hung out in the main room for several hours trying to put my thoughts back together. I wasn’t convinced there wasn’t a spy on the other end of that telephone, but I started to snap out of it and realized it was just another Dan out there.
I didn’t get any sleep that night. I kept fantasizing the wildest things. I created a plan to build the ultimate man cave I’d call my underground lair that would be something like Robert DeNiro’s covert CIA lab in “Meet the Fockers.” It would be like a mini-NORAD. I was living at my sister’s place outside of Miami, so the lair was going to be at her place. It was to be called The Neutronical Gallerium. Why?
Who the heck knows? Maybe because I was Mr. Neutron and it was going to contain a gallery of art as well.
The Public Dick in the Private Eye
I was roaming on South Beach for four hours in just before the crack of dawn. When the sun came up I decided to do a little yoga hour on the roof of the Delano. I was the only male there. The rest were gorgeous hard bodies that all could have been models. When I returned to the penthouse, it was mysteriously locked. My magnetic key did unlock the door. I went to the front desk and asked to replace it with a new one. They said that I had checked out the night before and that I couldn’t get back into the room. I said, ”I did nothing of the such. I simply went to security and told them I may have had an issue, but nothing ever happened.” The manager steps aside and says. ”Sir. We’re going to have to ask you to leave the hotel or we’ll call the police.” I said, ”Call the frickin’ police. My wife and two friends are still in the room. All of my stuff is still in there.” He replied, ”Sir, just wait right over there on the sidewalk.” I said, “No. I’m standing right here and will not be treated this way.”
Less than five minutes later, a plain clothes detective comes in. The manager gave his bullshit side of the story that I had created some kind of commotion. Then I told him what actually happened. I said, “It’s as simple as this. I thought there might have been a security breach last night, but in the end, there wasn’t.” Without keeping my normal composure, I said, “This total jerk won’t let me back to my room to my wife and friends. I proposed that if the three of us go up there together and all my stuff is in there, then we can stay till check out time.” The manager reluctantly agreed in the presence the police officer.
We went up to the room and, sure enough, we opened the door and everybody was sound asleep. I shut the doors to the bedrooms and turned around. The manager appeared not to be leaving. I told the detective, “I know this is his hotel, but we had a gentleman’s agreement. Please tell him to leave.” The detective told the manager to beat it. Once the manager left the room and closed the door, the detective turned to me and said, “O.K. kid, what’s really going on here?”
My wife had peeked through the door and saw him. She became extremely pissed off. She knew that I was losing control fast. She decided not to come out of the bedroom to see who the strange man was.
I sat down on the balcony with the detective looking over the white sandy beaches and emerald Atlantic waters as the sun came up. I decided to come totally clean with him. I was regaining my footing on reality. I explained to him honestly that I was working on a top-secret project for the government and I freaked out. The paranoia had gotten to me. Then I explained a little about the project without compromising its integrity. I told him that if I hit the jackpot, I’d be a gazillionaire. He handed me his business card and said, “Thanks for the entertainment. Call me if you ever make it big. Maybe you can put me to work.”
Shopping Spree #1
On the way out of the hotel, I peered into the gift shop and thought I’d go in and take a peek out of curiosity. I don’t know why, but suddenly, the merchandise just jumped off the shelves at me. I thought I had regained a grip on reality, but apparently not. I was still flying. I felt I needed everything in there for my man-cave. There were all sorts of gimmicky stuff like erasers shaped like penises, porno playing cards, small jewelry, foreign newspapers, exotic candies, and all sorts of other novelties. There were also very pricey clothes in there like designer jeans and shirts. I was going to use the stuff as props for my comedy show broadcasted from my command and control center at my sister’s place; the ultimate man cave.
I started saying, “I’ll take that. And that. And that. And that. And that….” I made a huge pile on the floor of tons of stuff. None of it was really useful to me outside of my comedy acts.
Before I could pay, my wife walked into the store and got so pissed off she didn’t know what to say. She had a look of terror and disbelief. I had to leave all of the goodies on the floor and swiftly leave the hotel in a taxi. I left my American Express card with the owner, but asked him not to charge it. He tried to run the card for over $7,000. How the heck does one spend $7,000 in a gift shop? Apparently, he marked up the designer clothes to whatever number he wanted. I never paid attention. Nonetheless, I ended up canceling the order once my wife laid into me. The owner tried to keep the money, but thanks to the wonderful people at the credit card company, I got my money refunded. I had never signed any receipt.
We made it back to my sister’s house and I laid down to finally get some rest after no sleep and no medication for about 48 hours. My sister, Bitsy, had to go class at the University of Miami and Mariam had some fancy appointment to do some regression therapy with a famous hypnotherapist, Dr. Weiss, mainly due to the fact that I was literally driving her insane. I had the whole apartment to myself, but I wasn’t familiar with sleeping pills at the time. I got up out of bed as soon as Mariam shut the door and started pacing around the house with racing thoughts. I started coming up with all sorts of things I would do if I had all the money in the world. The pejorative word here is “IF”. At that point, all I had was hot air. Cylant simply HAD to work out for me.
The Neutron Timewave
I had tons of creative juices flowing. I envisioned creating my own media empire called the Neutron Timewave. In a few short hours, I came up with tons of ideas. The Neutron Timewave was to be a privately-owned entertainment company driven by a social networking web-engine and portal.
The company would offer all of its users the ability to collaboratively interact with each other to create art, writings, music, books and film through interacting with others. Users could buy and sell applicable merchandise through the online store. The company would have an event promotion division that allowed users to help define the times, venues and performing talent. A consulting division would assist users in how to form their own business and get their own personal company up and running like an incubator.
Right then, I outlined a series of books I wanted to write. I wanted to be a late-night talk show host on my own network, similar to Oprah. I wanted to have an internet and radio show. I wanted to create a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ reality show called, ‘Where’s Neutron?” I was going to be like Bill Murray and tour around the country, in my case world, and throw parties at people’s houses. The goal of the show was to guess where I might mysteriously pop up next and you’d win the fat stack of cash.
There was going to be a charitable arm to my operation following the Pay-It-Forward model where people would do kind things for people and then those people would do three more things to three other people and so on. It would grow geometrically, and all be tracked on a computer system.
I also wanted to create a record label called Global Sounds and try to get as many of my favorite artists involved. I got the idea from the Global Sounds production at Thunderbird, which was an annual collaborative musical production by musicians that studied there from around the world.
Moments later, I came up with idea to be the Executive Producer with a major starring role an autobiographical major motion picture called The Global Servant. The movie story-line went like this; a young, personable man has the potential to reach his highest dreams with his plethora of skills and loving personality. His bout with manic depression leads him into believing he is the chosen prophet. He is obsessed with making a plan to save the world by bringing World Peace to all, but he starts to go into a manic episode and starts to fall apart. His friends and family prevent him from going insane, but nobody can stop his grandiose master plan to teach the world to laugh, love, and have fun and he ends up running his own media empire.
I also wanted to throw a series of global parties planned on the solstices, equinoxes and other special dates culminating in the “End of the World Party” on December 21, 2012, which I’ll explain in a later chapter.
After several hours of furiously jotting down my ideas, the most bizarre thing happened to me. I started hearing a voice inside my head talking to me and validating my ideas. It was none other than the voice of God himself. I had heard it while nearly drowning in Switzerland, but this time, there was an actual dialogue. I asked him what He wanted for me to accomplish in this temporal world and he responded, “You are going to be elected President of the United States in 2012 on your 41st birthday.” It was loud and clear. There was no equivocation. I had already started to put all of the picture together and started to make perfect sense. “Neutron for President.” It had a ring to it. I had the education, the values, the Washington insider contacts, the personal drive; however, I didn’t have the money yet. That I felt confident would soon come with the business plan God had just blessed. The last thing God communicated to me was to keep that covenant between Him and me until it was the right time to come out. This also was very clear.
When the voice disappeared, I was left with a feeling of awe and gratitude as if somebody just gave me a huge, unexpected present. I had to go for a long walk to digest what had just happened to me. My future was so bright I had to wear sunglasses. Not many people have the chance to believe with 100% certainty that they’re going to be the leader of the free world. I knew it in my mind, heart and soul that it was going to happen, but I knew there was a fine line to walk and I had to listen and obey God as the plan unfolded. I equated it with the wife of Lot in the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah when she doubted God’s direction given to her and looked back at the burning city, all but to be turned into a pillar of salt. I felt that God would bestow his wrath upon me if I failed him in his plan.
In the ensuing hour or so, I quickly jotted down some notes that would comprise my campaign platform for 2012. Holy balls, were they off the wall! All sovereign nation-states would be eradicated and there would be no more immigration or customs checkpoints at borders. No more fighting. Goods and services would flow freely across borders. There would be a single, universal currency. Armies will lay down their weapons as well as civilians. All trade barriers would be a thing of the past. A new paradigm of sharing resources would emerge. Immigration laws would be a thing of the past. Every person would have the right to good health care. There would be a major trend away from religion towards a common, universal spirituality that we all embrace. And I would rule it all!
I devised a plan whereby I would press a big red button on a predetermined date launching a sequence of operations that would change the course of events for the country and, essentially, the world. The button wasn’t for launching global thermonuclear warfare; quite the contrary. It was to execute a peaceful revolution that embraced the lyrical ideas of John Lennon’s Imagine where the whole world will live as one; No countries, no politics, no possessions, no religion, no greed, no hunger, etc.
My campaign strategy was to be like asymmetrical warfare on the other candidates. Six months prior to Election Day, I was to penetrate the global media with a well-designed publicity stunt to create overnight fame. Every country in the world was going to know who I was. Commanding the undivided attention of everybody, I was to convince people of my competency and that I should obviously be the leader of America.
The Kendall Mall Spree #2
I left the house in my grandma’s gold Bonneville that my sister was borrowing in search of anything; a park, a mall, somewhere to walk around and digest what had just happened to me. What was going through my mind is that I had just turned twenty-eight years old. I had thirteen years before show time and I needed to create a roadmap to the White House.
Just like a Ouija board, my car took me straight to the Kendall Mall. I started walking through the mall and strolled into Barnes & Noble bookstore. Just like earlier that morning in the gift shop of the Delano, EVERYTHING jumped out at me. I was hungry for knowledge on just about every topic. I went from section to section rather rapidly from New Age to History to Business to Computers to Self-Help. I wanted to buy the whole store. I got overly anxious and overwhelmed I had to leave without a single book.
The next stop was Guitar Center where they sold drum sets. I sat behind about five different sets cranking away for about an hour before the store manager came up to me and asked me to buy something or leave.
I said, “I’ll take this set with all of the cymbals.” I had no idea what it cost, but I knew I had enough on the credit card. I said, “Box it up and I’ll just be next store for a few minutes.” I walked out of the store and next door was a Circuit City electronics store. I was in Heaven. They had everything I needed to build my man-cave/command-and-control-center and start out with my newly contrived business plan to start a media company.
I got a shopping cart and moved quickly from aisle to aisle. I told the salesmen to have stuff waiting for me at the back dock if it didn’t fit. I bought $2,000 in CD’s, a new DVD recorder, a huge flat screen TV, two computers, adapters, cables, office furniture, an ergonomic chair, an entire home theater, a digital camera, and some other accessories.
Because the sale was so large, the Iranian store manager personally came over to ring me up. The total was something over $35,000, which is all I had in the bank. I did have some credit, but I had left my Amex card at the gift shop. So I applied for Circuit City card to make the transaction go through along with my debit card. I was ‘all in’. That voice I heard that day sure was powerful. I wasn’t concerned myself about the money at the time, but I did know I was risking pissing Mariam off. After what seemed like an eternity, he gave me all of the slips needed to pick up the merchandise at the back dock.
On my way out to the car to pull around to the back I stopped back at Guitar Center to pay for the drums and have them waiting for me at their back dock. The store was locked. They had closed. I banged and banged hard on the door until the manager came out. He was irritated at me and shouted, “We’re closed. Come back tomorrow.” He was a total jerk, although I’m sure I said or did something to deserve it - like be a bipolar idiot.
When I arrived at the back docks of Circuit City, there were several stacks boxes of all sizes that no way in hell were going to fit in the Bonneville. I decided to call a fleet of three taxis to come help. We shoved the boxes in the taxis and I was sure to write down which box went with which driver in addition to writing down their names and license numbers. Off we went back to Bitsy’s. They dumped everything off outside the front door of the apartment and took off. Apart from the 300lb television, I got all of the boxes into the apartment. Whew. Time to rest.
Pappa Joe to the Rescue
A few moments later there was a knock on the front door. I opened the door and there stood my father in a business suit holding his suitcase. He had just caught a flight down to Miami from Milwaukee at sudden notice from my wife. It was the middle of the night. He asked angrily, “What the hell is going on here?” I said, “Why?” Not thinking that it may have been a tad abnormal with boxes and boxes of electronic equipment, office furniture and other stuff lying behind me. He said, “You’re sick.” I said,” “What do you mean?” He replied, “You’re out of control!” I said, “I needed to buy a few things for my new project.” He asked, “What project?” And I replied, ”I’m creating a command and control center here so that I can broadcast my new entertainment company. It’s going to be a media empire, dad. You watch!”
He asked, “Where did you get the money to pay for all of this?” I said, ”I earned it from my previous jobs and I also got a credit card from Circuit City.” He says, ”You’re moving way too fast. You don’t even have the job yet.” I didn’t have anything to say to that. He was right. There wasn’t even discussion of a contract yet with Munson.
He said, “You’re going to the hospital with me and we’re going to get your levels checked.” I said, “Dad, I’m fine. Can’t you see that I’m rationally reasoning with you?” I was able to put on a façade that I wasn’t totally nuts. He became angered and insisted that I go with him. My pupils were completely dilated, and I had a certain crease in my forehead that was a telltale sign to my family that I was psychotic.
We played a cat and mouse game for a moment chasing around the apartment, then I quickly ran out the front door before he could try to do something physical to try to subdue me. My wife and sister were freaking out and decided to stay away. Dad and I continued the shouting match outside. I was tempted to run into the thick forest to escape from him until he went away. He obviously would have called the police urging them to help find his manic son. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I should cooperate a little. I finally got into the car and went to the hospital with him, my wife and my little sister.
My admission to the hospital was classic. It’s funny looking backward at least. At the time, I was dressed like a complete hippie wearing a tie-dye shirt with Ecuadorian pants, a straw hat and a fake marijuana necklace around my neck. We approached the counter protected by a plate of bulletproof glass. The receptionist asked, “What seems to be the issue?” For no reason at all, I jumped right up onto counter and peered at everybody over the glass. I said in a really soft voice, “I’m feeling, Ah, ahem… a little energetic.” My family looked at me and rolled their eyes. They were tired of my antics at this point. My wife, dad, and my little sister knew very keenly when I was out of my gourd. I was acting as if I had just taken several hits of ecstasy, but I had been clean for a few days just riding out the manic high. Although I was high, I was also irritable, rude, and passive aggressive. I was interrupting everybody and always bring back the story to me.
All of a sudden, I felt that it wasn’t appropriate to be wearing the marijuana necklace, so I darted outside to hide it under a garbage can to come back later to get it. My dad got so pissed and turned boiling red.
He yelled at the nurses standing by, “Why did you let him escape? He’s obviously out of his mind!” That was an absurd comment. What were they supposed to do? Try to tackle me? I wasn’t in a prison or a psyche ward. There was no security guard present at the time. It was a normal hospital emergency room.
My dad shouted harshly at me, “Calm down or else!” I finally mellowed out and sat down in the waiting area. The TV was tuned into CNN covering the story of Elian Gonzales the boy from Cuba that was found floating on an inner tube in the middle of the Atlantic. Several minutes later they took me back to an office and drew my blood. I said to myself, “Like checking my levels is going to help. I knew that a little more lithium was not going to calm me down.” It was evident to me I was over the Cuckoo’s nest and needed something strong like an elephant tranquilizer to conk me out.
I waited there impatiently for about an hour or two and then started to think I could help the other patients in the emergency room with my magical healing powers. I guess it would have been akin to some hands on healing craft. My wife practiced Reiki and claimed she had healing powers. I thought, “Why not me? I don’t even have to take a class. I can just close my eyes and used the Force.” I felt immortal and could heal anyone I wanted with the touch of my hands. I walked out of the area where they had me wait. As my father dozed off, I sneaked into the intensive care unit. I started talking to patients, some with grave ailments. One man just had a massive heart attack that night. I laid my hands on his chest extremely gently and kept them there for about a minute. The man and his wife looked at me as if I may, indeed, know what the heck I was doing. Of course, I was off my rocker. In the meantime, my dad woke up and was getting angrier by the minute looking for me. I returned down the hall and told him I went for a drink of water.
It was taking an eternity to get the results back. After four hours, my mind started getting whirled into an inescapable vortex. I had the same feeling of being totally lost as I did in Madison and Switzerland. I went up to the policeman guarding the ER and asked, “Aren’t you Hightower from the movie “Police Academy?” He didn’t think it was as funny as I did. I asked him if he’d ever seen the “Wizard of Oz” played to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” soundtrack. He asked me some basic questions to see if I was OK. I replied with nonsensical answers. He was flustered and started making a move towards me. I leapt out of the way and ran down the hall into a room with a padded mat on the floor. I uttered, “Willy Wonka would never treat his kids like this!” Next thing you know I attempted an awkward front flip onto the mat and land right on my back. I was at the apex of being out of control. The policeman called the nurses to come quick with a tranquilizer. He wrestled me to the ground and they juiced me up with a strong drug called Haldol. Within a minute or two I was knocked down to the point I couldn’t talk. I was still somewhat conscious.
The sun was coming up and my dad wanted to take me home. However, by law in the state of Florida, it is required that if a person undergoes a psychotic episode in a hospital, he/she must be taken to a psychiatric institution for further evaluation for a minimum of seventy-two hours.
Two strong Cuban male EMTs came into the room, strapped me down to a gurney and loaded me into the ambulance. My dad was following us in his rental car. The two started talking to each other in Spanish with a Cuban accent that I detected right away. I asked how they were,” Oye chicos, como estan?” They looked at me in wonder and asked in Spanish, “How does a white guy like you know how to speak with a Cuban accent?” Then I told them about my travels to Cuba and how wonderful I thought the people were. I started a dialogue about Elian Gonzales and we all talked about what we thought ought to happen to him. I said to them,” Guys, you can obviously see that I’m doing Okay. Is there a way you can unfasten me from this gurney?” The EMT in the passenger seat came to the back and undid the straps. I got up and went to the back of the ambulance to look out the window. There was dad right behind us looking at me in the back window. He almost had a conniption. He thought for sure I was going to try to escape as soon as the ambulance stopped at the next traffic light.
We made it to the hospital and they put me into a small room with another man. I was calmer, but still very manic. I looked at the man and he looked like Fidel Castro without the beard and mustache. I freaked out. I really thought it was him and started talking to him in Cuban Spanish as if he were. It just made the poor man more confused than he already was.
Southern Winds General Hospital
This was now my third psychiatric hospital. First Switzerland, then Milwaukee and now six years later, I’m in Miami at the Southern Winds General Hospital. When Mariam came with my dad to visit the first day, I didn’t know how to react other than to apologize for being out of hand. She and my father told me there was no reason to apologize and pointed out that I have a sickness and there was no reason to be sorry. I responded saying that I had made bad decisions, and for that, I hurt others including Mariam and my immediate family. I should have seen this one coming, but the fact is I didn’t.
I knew the drill at that point on how to get out as fast as possible, that was to humble myself obey all orders, take my meds and behave. I followed all of the instructions and got out within eight days.
Sometimes these manias can put you into the psych ward for years. I was lucky… again.
I’d like to interject a few thoughts on drugs and alcohol. I got away so many times in my life getting high on marijuana, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, and alcohol and never had any problems with getting manic. Well, I tried them all in one night at the party of the millennium and paid for it dearly. The lesson learned is that if you are going to use drugs, which I don’t advocate, then do so in moderation. There are many people that aren’t even bipolar that are spending the rest of their lives in a psychiatric hospital for having just taken one hit of acid. Educate yourself and be forewarned that ANY use of these substances in any quantity can lead you down the wrong rabbit whole forever if you’re bipolar. Also recognize that you could be putting others in danger, which ain’t cool.