Tuesday, October 13, 2009

cough medicine crazy or "kichaa"

i spent this weekend in my cave in inwood, hocked up on as many over the counter drugs as i could afford. labels may say only every 4 hours, but if you alternate, you can keep on chuggin practically continuously. my cocktail not only kept my fever down, but also made golf and sesame street inexplicably entertaining for hours!

i should have suspected i was on the verge of physical meltdown when i burst into tears after a woman working at pret (ny deli) unexpectedly made me a free cup of tea and lemon when i tried to speak to her. but i tossed it off to my typical craziness.

i refer to my craziness a lot- sometimes in self deprecating jest, sometimes in honest despair of my over-dramatic nature. the word "kichaa" is Swahili for "crazy/disturbed person" it is  a very bad word, both as a description and as a noun. it is taboo. well, of course upon learning the word my mother and i immediately incorporated it into our daily speech. we are southern women worthy of many Tennessee Williams plots and Faulkner-ian tragedies who should probably be medicated at least some of the time. and as such, we embrace our "craziness" much to the shock and horror of the Tanzanians.

living in a large city like new york, you are faced with the truly crazy- the sad, mentally disturbed individuals somehow living their lives. and they are scary. why are they scary? what is it about someone, unkempt and restless, anxiously mumbling to themselves that makes you edge away?

as i sat, under the influence of as much ibuprofen i could find, pathetically woe-be-gone in my state of life, on the painfully loud subway, i found myself next to a truly disturbed individual. not wanting to offend mr. crazy, i did not leap to a new seat. but my, somewhat induced, state definitely felt the dark aura oozing off him, like a b-horror flick. i suddenly realized i had squished myself completely against the man sitting on my other side. mr. crazy hopped up to stand and hold the rail, still waging his argument with an unseen individual. i tried to relax away from the stranger on my other side, but found it very hard to do so. there was some sort of comfort from the contact with the silent man on my right versus the combustion of ticks and angry mutterings leaning over me.

where is that border line between "respehctahble southahn" crazy that's fodder for so much literature and family gossip and the truly taboo crazy? it's not funny really. these people some how survive in this overwhelming huge city, despite the other voices in their heads.  it's just another on a long list of things that's sending me to hell, probably.


  1. oh, my darling: it's all just levels. you and i function on a different level of insanity, but we function. i suppose on another level they are functioning, but it's just not the same. then again, i'm one of those people who thinks the mentally ill are really sometimes the sanest among us, with deep wisdom and insight into just how fucked up our world is - you know, checking out because there's just no point in pretending the world isn't fucked up? ok, enough late night ranting...we should catch up over the phone; soon.


  2. I do agree that I have many of the same thoughts as btb and as well as you. I find that I am not afraid of the really mentally ill anymore because I know that one small thing could allow me to trade places and no one would be surprized or notice. But, the edge-and the pure luck that we southern women stay in our small insanities versus the big ones is a miracle. You must be feeling a little better.



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