Tag Archive | Harvard University

1970-1972 EXCURSIONS TO CAMBRIDGE

 

Cambridge across the Charles River

Cambridge across the Charles River

 

Let’s go to Cambridge, named after the University Of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town’s founders who were the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed in reforming the Church of England because it was corrupt. Cambridge is home to two of the world’s most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reflecting the value placed on education. Originally the city was called ‘Newe Towne’ in 1632, it was safely up river from Boston Harbor, and had its own healing spring. It is one of the most populated cities in the state and is on the ‘other side’ of the Charles River.

 

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

To get to Cambridge I ride on the Red Line Subway; “America’s First Subway” known by locals as “The T” which “is as Boston as the Boston Tea Party”! I get off at the northern terminus of the red line called the Harvard Square stop which is also a major transfer station between subway, trackless trolley and buses. Parking is hard to come by and street traffic if often heavy so subway is faster and easier. There is a tunnel adjacent to the subway tunnel that was originally built for streetcars till 1958, now it’s used by trackless trolleys and buses serving the north and west areas. The tunnel prevents bus traffic from crossing The Square and interfering with automobiles and safer covered access between subways and buses.

 

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

 

I find myself in the hustle and bustle of the red brick walkways of Harvard Square, feeling the buzz of “The Square” with street entertainers, musicians and chess matches in action. Harvard Square is the historic center of Cambridge which is a large triangular area, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street andJohn F. Kennedy Street. As the historic heart of Harvard University it is the commercial center for Harvard students, as well as residents in the surrounding areas. In an extended sense the name “Harvard Square” also refers to the entire neighborhood surrounding the intersection for several blocks in each direction.

 

Harvard Square in Cambridge

Harvard Square in Cambridge

 

On Saturdays I love hanging out on Harvard Square to enjoy a meal, check out one of its many entertainment spots, but mostly in order to stick to my budget I peruse the quaint shops and the Harvard Bookstore.

Harvard Bookstore

Harvard Bookstore

 

I travel north to the nearby Cambridge Common on Massachusetts Avenue, a 16 acre park with a playground, baseball field and a number of monuments. This is where George Washington gathered his troops during the Revolutionary War which now is honored by a trio of bronze cannons. There is also a Civil War Memorial with a statue of Abraham Lincoln under it and a soldier on top. I walk under all the beautiful trees covering the common going west to Garden Street.

 

cannons

cannons

 

 

 

Civil War Memorial

Civil War Memorial

 

 

Walking south on Garden Street I come upon Radcliffe Yard and Radcliffe College awomen’s liberal arts college, and the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was founded by woman for women in 1879, since women were not allowed into Harvard. It is a part of the Seven Sister Colleges in New England that were started and supported by women. Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas began in 1963.As I stand here I am appalled that the best schools in the country are for men only and women are still 2nd class citizens.

 

Radcliffe Yard

Radcliffe Yard

I continue walking south on Garden Street towards the “Old Burial Place/Old Burial Ground“which is on the corner where Massachusetts Avenue crosses Garden Street. Taking a quote from the Cambridge Historical Commission:

“The first cemetery in “Newtowne” was “without the Common Pales” on the south side of Brattle Street, probably between present Ash Street and Longfellow Park. Being outside the perimeter fence, it was not safe from wild animals, and was discontinued before the West End fields were opened for settlement in 1634. No trace of this cemetery has been found.”

 

Christ Church

First I come across the Christ Church at Zero Garden Street which was constructed in 1760 establishing both the line of Garden Street and the western boundary of the colonial cemetery.

 

The Old Burying Ground which was established inside the pales before 1635 originally only covered about an acre but it doubled as more of the common was enclosed. It was the only cemetery in Cambridge for nearly two hundred years so it received a cross section of the people who had lived there, from the poor to the rich Harvard presidents. This is a great place to do stone rubbings on paper.

 

In the early years burial spaces did not have permanent headstones so it contains many more remains than the 1,218 marked graves. The slate headstones have scalloped shoulders, one is dated 1653 even though headstones were not used till the 1670s so it must have been added later. I find death’s-heads or winged skull of medieval origin which was a non-religious symbol used on the oldest headstones in the late 16th through the late 17th century. I come across winged cherubs on other headstones which show up mid 17th to early 18th century from the Renaissance period which are the most striking with interesting epitaphs and details. The third type is the willow and the urn from neoclassic period that showed up in the mid 18th and early 19th century.

 

The alter stones of the late 18th century wealthy Anglicans and those with social standing, I find among the traditional markers, for the upper-class families were buried in vaults. The most famous and elaborate is the John Vassal tomb which is an extensive subterranean vault containing twenty-five caskets.

 

First Parish Church

First Parish Church

 

I continue to head south and come across the First Parish Church, built in 1833 and known for its liberal religious thoughts. I learn that in Cambridge the churches were built after the cemetery where as in many New England towns the burying ground was placed next to the meeting house.

 

Harvard Yard

Harvard Yard

 

I decide to head east towards Harvard Yard which is a grassy area of about 25 acres, adjacent to The Square that is Harvard University’s center and its oldest part. On its west is Massachusetts Avenue and Peabody Street, north is Cambridge Street, northeast is Broadway, Quincy Street is east, while Harvard Street and Massachusetts Avenue is south. There are thirteen of the seventeen dormitories there in addition to four libraries, five building of classrooms and academic departments, and the central administrative offices. There are students all over the place congregating in small groups or walking to their next destination.

 

As I walk south I come to The Old Yard at Johnston Gate which opens onto Massachusetts Avenue where most of the freshman dormitories are; the oldest being Massachusetts Hall constructed in 1720 which makes it one of the two oldest academic buildings in the United States. To be in such an old area with so much history put my family history in perspective giving me a glimpse of the development on my country.

 

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

In the heart of Harvard Square I walk west to Brattle Street, which exudes an 18th century flavor with its seven historic Colonial mansions, where many Loyalists lived at the time of the American Revolution, so it was called the “King’s Highway” or “Tory Row“. This was an area of great conflict during the Revolution for many mansions were confiscated by George Washington’s army, later some were restored to their former owners if they proved themselves no longer supportive of the king of England. Originally it was a forest path to the Charles River. Now there are many structures from the 19th century and the more recent times, all squished together made of wood, brick, many business awnings and glass reflecting the eclectic life style of present day man.

 

Samuel Atkins Eliot wrote in 1912 calling the area “not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the most historic streets in America.” “As a fashionable address it is doubtful if any other residential street in this country has enjoyed such long and uninterrupted prestige.” We are talking almost 300 years!

 

Longfellow's Mansion

Longfellow’s Mansion

 

I amble down the street and enter Longfellow’s Mansion/House at 105 Brattle Street, the home of the 19th century poet and Abolitionist Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Inside you can see how he lived, surrounded by literature, a massive art collection, amazing photographs, letters and documents preserved as a National Historic Site. In 1775 General George Washington took command of the Continental Army and moved into the empty mansion, living in it for almost a year during the Siege of Boston. Outside there is just less than two acres, located in a built up environment, with a carriage barn and a pergola surrounded by gardens. There is so much history exuding these walls reflecting conflict and war while America was forming its beliefs about freedom.

 

Washington's Headquarters

Washington’s Headquarters

 

I saunter down the street to 42 Brattle Street and admire the Brattle House which is of Georgian Architecture and built in 1725 by one of the wealthiest men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, General-Major William Brattle. In 1774 he and his family fled to Boston when an angry mob surrounded his home. He was able to recover it in 1778 when he showed his support for America’s independence.

 

Brattle House

Brattle House

 

As I walk briskly to the subway to get home before dark my head is spinning with all that I have learned today about the making of a great country and the fight for freedom, the freedom that I take for granted. I am thinking there still needs to be more freedom granted to the people of color, those with different sexual preferences than the ‘norm’, and religious freedom, the list goes on. I even apply this concept to myself; to give myself permission to define my own beliefs and morals, rather than just accepting the ones my family instilled in me, to explore those handed and decide which to keep and which to let go of. What does true freedom look and feel like?

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1972 BOSTON LIFE/PSYCHIATRIC NURSING

 LIVING SITUATION

 

I meet P at the bar down the street; he is of average height, somewhat on the thin side with curly light brown hair. We get along well and make an agreement that we do not want a committed relationship, we date for awhile, and then he moves in while we are planning our trip to move to California together.

 

We got a Great Dane puppy call Jake, whose short hair color is Fawn, that is a yellow gold, with a black mask, black on the eye rims, eyebrows, and on the naturally floppy, triangular ears. Jake is a strong galloping figure, a pretty husky dude: taller than me when he stands with his paws on my shoulders and weighing more than me at 100 to 125 pounds, he grew very fast. Jake’s large and imposing appearance does not reflect his friendly nature; he is a gentle giant, even a scared-y cat at times.

 

Eventually I get a couch for the living room that gets destroyed by Jake in just one day. He also loves to grab the end of the toilet paper and run through all the rooms with it so I have learned to close the bathroom door when we leave him alone. Jake loves to ride with me in my MG Midget with the top down, he squeezes in behind the seats, and his drooling dripping jaws are so close to my head that when he shakes his head I get a load of saliva right in the face, yucky.

 

 

PSYCHIARIC/MENTAL HEALTH NURSING

 

I am learning to be a good listener, reflecting back what’s been said, giving positive feedback, support and encouragement. I have always been a caring person but sometimes I over identify with the patient which doesn’t help them and causes me distress and I become less objective. I am working on balancing caring with compassion without getting lost in another.

 

We now are detoxing the barbiturate addicts with Valium which proves safer and without the high, thus word has gotten out on the streets and less people want to be treated. Valium also known as Diazepam is a central nervous system depressant called a benzodiazepine, with its low potency, long duration of action and the availability of low-dose tablets make it ideal for gradual dose reduction and the circumvention of withdrawal symptoms. Present thinking is that it isn’t as addictive as barbiturates, only time will tell.

 

Barbiturates are a very popular abused substance, available through prescription or on the streets. Theyare drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. It seems that people are trying not to be aware or to feel their feelings by taking these pills.

 

 

We see many young men being admitted, in a psychotic state from a bad acid trip, struggling to get their life back together, but their contact with reality has been severely affected. It is interesting how many young people are into this substance that do not have bad experiences and even develop spiritually.Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD semi-synthetic psychedelic drug, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, an altered sense of time and spiritual experiences, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture. It is used mainly as a recreational drug, and as an agent in experimental psychedelic therapy research being done at Berkeley University, UCLA and Harvard University.

 

 

I have learned a lot from the patients who have crossed my path. I am introduced to the concepts of Western Mysticism and Astral Travel by a very knowledgeable young man; I am fascinated by the topic, being on the path of the seeker. I am open to what others believe and think, without judgment, hungry for other ways of seeing things. Psychiatry does not see this the way I do it is a little more closed minded with a focus on altered states being abnormal brain functioning and psychopathology.

 

When a patient gets agitated and possible violent, at least 4 staff grab a limb and take the patient down to the floor, speaking calming word: “breathe deeply”, “Take it easy”, and “Calm down”, telling them “we will let you go as soon as you calm down.” We do not have restraints on the unit, and it takes just a few minutes of physical contact to calm the person down, when they say they are OK, we let them up. No staff or patients have ever been injured in this approach. There is not much written about dealing with agitated and hostile behavior.

 

I had my first experience with a patient faking Grand Mal Seizures, it took the staff a little time to figure it out because it looked like a textbook case, and the patient was very skilled at pretending which he eventually admitted to. When we first choose to ignore the behavior it was very hard to do, because of the urge to protect, but it is in the best interest of the patient. It turned out it helped him to: let go of this way of seeking attention, learning to ask for what he needs, and expressing what is going on with himself. It is always so heartwarming to be with others who are growing and developing new ways of behaving, it is why I enjoy this work. I so believe in others ability to develop healthier behaviors, since I have been able to do so. Besides my father was a wonderful role model who was able to remain loving, positive and motivated through difficult times.

 

 

Our Day Care Patients are The Chronically Mentally Ill, recently released from the hospital or the state hospital, as the city works to integrate this population into the community. The state of Massachusetts and many other states in the USA are discharging the Mentally Ill out of the State Hospitals and into the communities, there appear not to be enough programs to help them reintegrate. I see many on the streets unable to cope with “normal life” such as maintaining a place to live.

 

They come to the unit Monday through Friday and participate fully in the program. It takes a lot of work and motivation on the patient’s part to create a life outside of an institution. They require active assistance in learning basic skills, we take for granted; like financial management, apartment living, interacting with others as equals, shopping, cooking and cleaning. Patients are more successful when they are provided support and encouragement, while pointing out their accomplishments, giving feedback when they have completed tasks and maintain a caring approach.

 

My last day working at Boston City Hospital Psychiatric Facility in Mattapan is in August. I am Charge Nurse for June and July, which is temporary since I am moving to California, and the charge nurse is resigning. This charge nurse position is harder than at Miriam where I was the only nurse. At Boston City Psychiatric Hospital there are many nurses on the unit that have been my friends and coworkers and we have all been equals. Now I am the boss and need to be fair and equitable and not show favoritism when: making out the work schedule, giving out patient assignments and vacation requests. The staff tries to manipulate me in their favor and since I struggle with being liked it creates a war within and in the end what is right always wins.

 

It is a hard job to leave because I love the people, the work, and I have learned so much from it all.

 

 

MY MENTAL HEALTH

I am still in the Psychodrama Group working on my issues with men and my projection of my stuff onto them that I need to work out in order to be able to develop a health relationship. I project my father issues onto the guy I am in a relationship with. In my present relationship we have been clear we are in an open relationship, meaning we can date other people, I am really gun shy since my last two relationships were with cheaters bringing up issues of abandonment, mistrust and anger.

 

I am suspended from work for 2 weeks, while the patient I had dated previously was re-admitted for detoxification of barbiturates. I realize that I am attracted to men that I perceive need my help, I take on a care-giver role: which is a power position of thinking I am in control and healthier than them; the deeper issue is that I am projecting my father issues on men so I can work them out; it is like reenacting a part of the relationship I had with father, helping him when asked; it is the rescuer myth I am acting out since the age of 4.

 

There was also a triangular relationship happening between my father, mother and me: I was in charge when Ma went to work; I was sharing my father with my mother; which is reflected and being played out through my relationships with cheating boyfriends for they also have another women in their life. I have so much to process and work through that go back to when I was 4 yrs old and father got polio.

 

 

MY COPING MECHANISMS

 

I continue to drink but it has decreased, still using it to medicate myself which I find more acceptable than medications.

 

Since living in Boston M has turned me onto a variety of music. We go to large dancing bars, where there is a large raised stage for the bands, lots of dancing space for the many patrons, and an abundance of tables for drinks and chairs for coats. At one place the bar is part of the stage and we are enthralled and captivated by the Platters performance, a Rhythm and Blues vocal group, with many top hits that I know the words to. During the holidays it’s a pleasure to hear and see Mannheim Steamroller play wonderful Christmas music like no one else can, sounding like a mini orchestra. There are frequent appearances of the skinny BB King, making his guitar Lucille screech out his soulful bluesy tunes. There are many places to go to listen to free live music; I am going to miss this the most.

 

We go to concerts at The Boston Fillmore where less know musicians get their start on a small raised stage with lots of floor space, usually packed with people standing all around, most of the time we sit on the floor in front of the stage. We are enthralled by the outlandish performances and phenomenal music played by these off the wall rock and roll artists: Black Sabbath, Joe Crocker, J. Geils Band, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. They all have a look of their own, not afraid to be who they see themselves as, putting themselves out there, without being concerned with what others may think, just trusting in their dream. I love the high pitches sounds that can come from guitars and nothing can beat a good piano player.

 

At the Boston Garden, where the top names in the music industry appear to large crowds, we are far from the stage, in a large auditorium, watching mind blowing rock and rollers like: sexy Jimmy Page and Robert Plant singing and playing guitar in the group called Led Zeppelin; the amazing Ian Anderson swinging his long bushy hair all around while playing the flute standing on one leg, in the band called Jethro Thull; and Jefferson Airplane with Gracie Slick swirling all around the stage, is a sight to behold; Edgar Winter is an albino who writes, sings and plays keyboard, sax and drums in the White Trash Group, we get up close and personal because he walks by us.  I know all the words to these musicians compositions, it radiates through my being, experiencing a myriad of feelings, issues and solutions to problems.

 

At the local small bar venues, there is an intimate feeling because Jazz is less popular than other forms of music; there is a lot to be said about the Jazz experience. We sit along the stage, at a small table; I amerce my five senses in the musician on stage, taking it all in, while M does fantastic charcoal drawing of the musician. The cover is a one drink minimum for 5 dollars, and we enjoy amazing musicians such as: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, and BB King. Listening to this type of music requires training my ears to appreciate sounds that are put together in unusual arrangements and letting go of what I think music is suppose to sound like.

 

At Carroll O’Connor’s bar we go to a luscious Sunday Brunch while listening and dancing to the Big Band Sounds which are still going strong, even though they are not on the radio any longer. It is such a body/mind rush to hear a variety of well played musical instruments creating amazing arrangements that bring me through a plethora of feelings. We see such greats as: Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and Count Basie, playing outdoors in good weather, otherwise we are inside in tight quarters where there is no room to dance but the sounds fills you up.

 

 

My mother, Bill and my 3 youngest sisters have moved to North Carolina this year. P and I drive down there in my MG Midget and I am shocked when my mother insists we sleep in her bed. I have never discussed sex with my mother or anything intimate for that matter. I say goodbye to my family because I won’t be seeing them again before leaving for California.

 

 

I sell my MG midget and buy a large Buick station wagon with fake wood on the outside and the back opens out like a door, to the left. We purchase camping equipment. I give my furniture away to my sister, give my long black fake fur coat with hood and favorite picture to M, and stuff all my clothes into a new black footlocker and off we go.

 

I really enjoyed the 2 years I was in Boston; the daytime walks and the musical nightlife were exhilarating and mind expanding. Psychiatric nursing was educational while introducing me to myself through therapy. I am ready to move on to a warmer, sunnier climate.