My close friends often joke about my magnetic attachment to the city of New York , which borderson obsession. I have lived there twice and, with friends, kept an apartment for several years. I read volumes of text pertaining to city life and can discuss the history ofGothamon a graduate level. I have planted many seeds throughoutmy tenure , some have born fruit, some have not , some still may. At any rate, no matter where I am in the world, my life goes on in Manhattan. The alluring element of the metropolis of my youth was not simply her tolerancefor, but her embrace of individuals who chose a life less ordinary. Vanessa was one such person.
My personal history includes a twelve-year bout with substance abuse which is a novel in itself but by the grace of God I have maintained continuous sobriety for twenty years. This brings me back to Vanessa. I met Vanessa in my early years of recovery. Vanessa was a marijuana addict (yes, they do exist). In her youth she discovered the New York counterculture and established a notable identity within it.
She was able to design jewelry but more importantly, she could sing. Unfortunately, her parents were indoctrinated during the reefer-madness era and were convinced she had a serious mental disturbance. They convinced her to seek professional help and so began her demise.
The field of psychology has changed radically since Sigmund Freud presented it as a legitimate science. Today psychology is the marketing arm of the pharmaceutical industry. Most psychologists operate under the umbrella of a licensedM.D. If an individual enters a psychologist's office the current protocol dictates that a diagnosis is warranted to validate the complaint. If the afflicted individual employs terminology such as "nervous", "anxious", "depressed", "low energy", "afraid", or God forbid "paranoid", he or she will leave with a prescription. The mental health professional will carefully list all of the possible side effects of any prescribed drug and the patient will invariably experience all of them. The intelligent and astute sufferer will conclude that the treatment is infinitely worse than the condition it was meant to alleviate and will voice those concerns to the psychologist. The professional is then instructed to say, "I only made the diagnosis based upon your complaint. I used your words not mine", returning the liability to the patient. The more vulnerable patient, however, will simply describe the new symptoms at which time more and different substances will be included in the treatment. From this point onward the original diagnosis is discarded and the victim will spend a lifetime of stabilizing medications. This, of course, is the intent of the drug industry. I worked in the human frailty business for more than ten years when it was still an honorable pursuit. I have been exposed to every type of behavioral aberration on record. I have even interviewed murderers. Vanessa never exhibited any irrational behavior until her "team" began experimenting with new chemicals to suppress the adverse reactions caused by the initial prescriptions. During these episodes she had to be institutionalized. None of this was necessary.
During her periods of lucidity Vanessa was pure joy. She knew every street vendor in the Village by name and could recite his/ her lineage. She knew every owner of every greasy spoon and memorized every menu. She had a kind word for anyone she encountered. She was creative and witty and absolutely hilarious. Jewels of wisdom trickled out of the corners of her mouth during the most mundane conversations. She was aware, engaged, and most of all genuinely compassionate. Tourists who ventured into the East Village for a touch of local color could often hear her belt out a tune in several open mike venues. The completion of her song would provoke comments like, "only in New York," or, "that was worth the trip". Vanessa and I would walk the streets of Lower Manhattan late into the night fearlessly engrossed in conversation without even a threat of an incident. We often rode the subway until dawn to escort our friends back to Brooklyn. Vanessa was one of those people who would come up with an idea at two-o-clock in the morning and wake me out of a sound sleep with a phone call, that would last for hours. We spoke once a week for twenty years. Vanessa had horrible luck with men. She could find the good in anyone but she didn’t stop there. She could perceive the potential for good in people even when their last spark of divinity had been smothered in despair and desperation. She may have been an angel.
Vanessa Rose was found dead in her bed on the morning of August 4, 2012. Because she had, so long, been dismissed as a member in the disposable society there was no investigation. There was no evidence of foul play or suicide. She still had dreams and desperately wanted to live. Vanessa did not die from any disease. She died from a treatment or more specifically, mistreatment. Her body could no longer metabolize the chemicals that Modern Medicine sold her. I will miss her so much.