1971 BOSTON LIFE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSING


 

leather skirt and coat I had made for me.

 

LIVING SITUATION

In September, M and I decide to move out and get our own apartments, leaving this one to the guys. I find a place in the Brighton/ Alston area which is a neighborhood of single and multifamily homes and not as densely populated as the apartment area.

Walking in the front door, you see the fair size bedroom straight ahead with one window and a door for privacy. From the entrance to the right around a tight corner small hallway you enter the large square living room with two windows flooding the area with light.

When you continue to head toward the back of the apartment you go through a small narrow square hall with a small bathroom on the right that has just enough space for the tub on the right, the toilet in the center and the sink against the left wall with mirror and cupboard.

The kitchen is the last room straight back. In the kitchen I have a table and chairs I brought from the apartment. This place is more open, less walls and lets in more light; the buildings are not as tall or as close together compared to where I moved from creating a feeling of privacy.

My mother and Bill help me paint my new place white, which is what is allowed by the landlord. I really appreciate all the help they give me, getting my place done quicker than if I had of done it on my own. I have lots of years of experience in painting and wall paperhanging with my mother; she is superb with wallpaper, the old fashion way, with that clumpy glue for she doesn’t like the paper with the glue on it.

 

I go antiquing on the weekends from Massachusetts to RI looking for good inexpensive deals. I find an antique brass bed for $35, because the brass footboard is cut off, I polish it to a bright shine. I purchase a red satin bedspread to place on the bed. I love getting up on cold mornings and standing on the red mohair rug with its long plush fake fur fibers that I have placed on the floor.

I bought three antique wooden furnishings that took lots of hard work to remove the paint, stripping them down to the wood then applying the stain, doing it all right in the empty living room. I discover that my purchases are well worth the money I invested: there is a red mahogany dresser with a matching mirror; a walnut armoire with a door that opens exposing four lingerie draws that pull out while the lower third has 2 large drawers on the bottom; and then a walnut smokers table that is carved and has inlaid work on it.

 

MY ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIFE

My apartment is right down the street from a bar. My daily routine for this year involves: getting up 5am to get ready for work; taking the crowded subway trains for an hour like sardines in a can; working the day shift from 7am to 3:30 pm; getting back on the rocking shaking trains back home; eating a cheap dinner; napping till 9 pm; walking down the block to the local bar; dancing and drinking till 3 am; stumbling home; then going to bed while the room whirls around me.

Sometimes I wake up puking whatever fruit I ate in the mixed drinks, I love Maraschino cherries. Once I vomit up liquor, I become nauseated just smelling it thus I’m no longer able to drink it. The next night I start with something new, I have not tried before, making it my drink till I get sick on it, and that’s my pattern throughout the year. I average 4 drinks a night and usually only buy the first one. I spend the night on the dance floor moving my body to whatever music the live band is playing.

On the weekends M and I go bar hopping around Boston where there is amazing live music like The Platters, Mannheim Steamroller, and BB King. I spend many hours drinking and dancing, using alcohol to deal with my social anxiety, to takes away my many inhibitions, and to self medicate to deal with my long standing anxiety and depression. I find myself in some tight spots; gun held to my head for example, but my guardian angel seems to be protecting me and I always arrive safely home.

 

PSYCHIATRIC/MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

With a year’s experience under my belt as a psychiatric/mental health nurse and before the next new residents arrive; we decide on the programs we want to do for the year. We are interested, in sharing our assessments with the patients, while researching their ability to deal with the information. Thus every morning we have the patients read their previous day chart notes and encourage them to write an honest note underneath it, it is OK if they disagreed with the staff notes. We then discuss what is written, what healthy behaviors are, the feelings behind the behaviors and the steps to better mental health. In the end some of the individuals do well with the process, some get paranoid while others get agitated, and some are withdrawn and into pleasing so they are hesitant to share their responses.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

The therapist in the Psychodrama Group is finished with her year of training us in this approach and some of the members decided to continue this group therapy without a leader. We become a close knit group of women, there are new issues brought up for the first time, for half are gay lesbians who are struggling to come out of the closet and are feeling safe and supported in sharing their secret.

 

I start working on my issues with my mother; I get in touch with my anger towards my mother for not protecting me and my protecting her. My mother has emotional and mental health issues which results in her exhibiting fugue states and flashbacks; she acted as if she is in a past situation, except she is experiencing it as if it’s happening now, when she is questioned they are memories from the past.

 

Sometimes on the weekends I drive to RI to visit my family. On one visit I gathered all my sisters and mother around the kitchen table and talked about my shadow experience. I thought I was exposing my sisters to something they were unaware of, and realized I was just bringing it out into the open, for we were all keeping the secret, not wanting to “hang out our dirty laundry for all to see.” I feel very alone.

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

I bought a white, convertible MG Midget right before moving to my own place. The salesman spends an hour teaching me how to drive a clutch up and down hills; it takes me a good week to get the feel of it. Usually my car is parked on the street, moving it twice a week for street cleaning. I continue to take the subway to work except in the winter when it isn’t running due to the weather. I have difficulty getting through a snow storm, because the snow get compacted under the low clearance of the vehicle, so I get out and remove it in order to keep going.

 

 

One day it feels like I have a flat tire and I am lucky I have AAA, when the guy shows up he states “You are lucky you were not on the freeway or you would have been injured. It is more than a flat tire, your front axle broke.” It cost an arm and a leg to get it fixed. I always take the roads to work because there is less honking, not as much traffic and not as much time idling and now they have proven to be safer.

 

 

Once I decide to drive as fast as I can, trying to get it up to ‘95mph on 95 freeway’. As I hit 95 and going downhill, looking in my rear view mirror, I see a cop car’s flashing lights, instead of breaking; I eased up on the gas. I pulled over and he asks “Ms. Powers, do you know how fast you were going?” “No Officer, my Speedometer is broken” (which it was). “Well, Ms. Powers you were going 80 miles per hour. I am going to give you a warning this time, and I do not want to catch you speeding again, you understand?” “Yes, Officer, Thank You!” Boy was that close.

 

 

M and I frequently drive around Boston checking out the sights, our first jaunt out we were in the smack dab middle of Harvard Square when the car died, a nice man stopped to help push us out of the traffic and after lifting the hood and trying to start it he said “Lady, you are out of gas.” How embarrassing is that! Gas is 25 cents/gallon, filling my tank for less than three bucks.

 

 

M and I go to the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island in my MG Midget in the summer. We park in the parking lot across the street, planning to camp there throughout the concert. The concert is outdoors, a chain link fence has been placed around the hill, to keep people out that have not paid. On Saturday night a crowd develops on the other side of the flimsy barrier, listening for free, but they are not happy with that, they are piling up, with more and more squeezing into the area, pushing on the fencing till it is down, then all hell breaks loose. The song “What the World Needs now is Love” is being sung by Dianne Warwick while we are being evacuated from the fairgrounds, with the police raining tear gas down upon us, tears are pouring down my face while I try to decrease my exposure by breathing through my clothing. The concert ends early and we go back to the car and camp out for the night.

The next morning we wake to the police standing at attention, on the sidewalk across the street, in riot gear, plastic shields and Billy clubs. We are told to leave because the music festival is cancelled chaos brakes out, people are yelling and screaming, one guy tells us “It is best if you leave quickly.” We put our tent away, get into the MG, and while I am trying to drive out of the parking lot the police are upon us, one officer starts banging my car with his Billy Club. We exit swiftly safe and sound.  We paid a lot of money for those weekend tickets and are never refunded for the rest of the week.

Later we find out what has happened. “Early on Saturday evening, crowds of young people occupying the adjacent hill, high on everything from alcohol to acid surrounding the concert site. The police command force was called to clear the area, but they never came. The young people breached the chain link fence during Dionne Warwick’s set.

The stage was soon overflowing with a crowd who tore the lid off the piano, smashed everything in sight, and the police began lobbing tear gas canisters. It was announced that the city had ordered the Festival shut down. Traffic was halted on the bridges allowing only residents and people with legitimate business in.

At 7AM Sunday the police moved into Miantomoni Hill with bull horns telling everyone to put out their fires, fold their tents and leave within 15 minutes. Within an hour the park was cleared, and police moved on to the parking lots and cleared them.

It wasn’t Dionne that sets off the riots. There was a new band called the Allman Brothers a white blues group which was really a pioneering southern rock group, that wasn’t popular and no popular rock groups were hired because “After Woodstock, no one would allow rock festivals”. So in January they were hired and by July they became rock monsters. So the kids descended on Newport and they broke the fences down and the festival was cancelled.”

 

 

I have had lots of interesting experiences during 1971 living on my own in Boston, being in therapy working through issues, developing caring skills as a holistic psychiatric nurse and having fun in the first car I ever bought. What more could a girl ask for?

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2 thoughts on “1971 BOSTON LIFE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSING

  1. Gosh, you continue to share in such a well-written and colorful way the experiences you have had as a nurse… and in life! Have you ever thought of compiling this all into a book? Great work, Maureen. I love reading about your journey. I get to know you more through each post.

    • The reason I started this blog was to write my story and eventually make it a book. Now that I am sharing it again it will help me get out of my stuck position.
      I am thankful you take the time to read my lengthy posts and appreciate your comments, feedback and support.

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