Nearly every conversation here, after about 5 minutes, if it’s a group of men, turns to sports talk. If it’s women, they end up talking about their children or gossiping about their friends and families. If it’s a mixed group, they talk about the ways in which men and women are different. Now that could be an interesting conversation, but -- sorry, I know how condescending this is to say -- they are adding nothing new.
M asked me the other night if there were any other artists here. There must be, but I haven’t met them. It surprises me that that isn’t one of the types you find here, seeing as how artists can be just as broke as anyone. I wonder if it has to do with class and shame. I think a great number of the people doing these studies are what you’d call working poor, people who are more familiar with and inured to the stigma of things like free clinics and food stamps, and I wonder if maybe a drug study falls into that category. These things are under the radar of the middle class. (The exception to that seems to be college students. This company advertises heavily in student newspapers and a lot of students do these studies during breaks and summer.) Even though a lot of artists are impoverished, they travel in pretty middle class circles. Just a theory. There’s more to it than class, though. I suspect that if there was anything like this in New York, there would be long waiting lists of young artists clamoring for the easy cash.
Speaking of shame and lack thereof, Church Lady is tweezing her mustache in bed right next to me.
A group of my wardmates have been playing Scrabble to pass the time. I’ve been tempted to join them, since I’m pretty good at Scrabble, but I’ve resisted because, well, basically I don’t want to socialize with them any more than I have to. It’s like mealtimes, almost every meal there’s a conversation that makes me very uncomfortable because everyone agrees on something that I find abhorrent. Like the virtue of beating your children. Or supporting the “troops.” Or whatever.
I did voice an opinion a couple nights ago at dinner when Bible Guy was going on and on about how much better things were 50 years ago (his favorite topic, after the Bible). I interjected with the standard liberal critique of that view, something along the lines of, “Things were better for some people, but maintaining their better life depended on things being pretty shitty for a whole lot of other people, like blacks and other minorities, homosexuals, a lot of women, the disabled, etc, etc. He conceded the point, and as I drew him out I saw that we agreed on some things. Like the fact that our economic system brings out the worst tendencies in us. And that one thing that may have been better about America 50 years ago was that people were more community- and family-minded, which I think is a virtue, if we could only expand what we mean by community and family.
I think my brain is only half functioning. I’m so lethargic. It’s difficult to work up much enthusiasm for writing down what happens here. Sorry for that. It’s all become a sleepy blur. I’ve never spent so much time in bed, ever. There are other places to be, other things to do, but none of them appeal. There are a couple rooms with big-screen TVs where people watch movies, but with all the procedures it’s hard to time it so you see the whole thing and I’m kind of neurotic about missing the beginning of movies. They watched Avatar the other night. There’s also a pool room where guys play pool and watch basketball. Um, no. Until a couple days ago, I was fairly content here in my hospital bed, reading and writing, blogging and emailing. But I turned a corner and now I’m just sick of it and want out. I need to have a talk with myself -- I still have 2 more days!