Prologue: Caged

(February 19, 1969)


I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.

Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak:

Cloudy and cold, condensation and frost riming the windows, piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.

Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?

* * * * *

From I, Driven: a memoir of involuntary commitment ("Prologue")

© 2008-2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.


Additional excerpts, out takes, and new essays


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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Table of Contents for Memoir Madness: driven to involuntary commitment (Excerpts, Out takes, Essays, New Text, and Articles)


I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment

Open Letter to Literary Agents




Notes on Narrative Threads

Research Note

Prologue: Caged

Chapter One: The Crystal Ship

Chapter One: Blue Moons

Chapter Two: Dark Side

Chapter Two: Flying Solo

Chapter Two: Weed and Seeds

Chapter Two: Funny Little Naked Clowns

Chapter Two: Decision Time

Chapter Two: Thirteen Tabs

Chapter Three: Wallich's Music City and Eleanor's Radio

Chapters Four and Six: New Year's Eve, 1968--Fire

Chapter Eight: Rudy

Chapter Ten: Cops

Chapter Eleven: The Luckiest Hand

Chapter Twelve: Downers

Chapter Twenty Three: Sioux City Blues

Chapter Twenty Four: ...While I Kiss the Sky

Chapter Twenty six: The Miracle of Google

Chapter Thirty: There Must be Some Way Outta Here
Chapter Thirty Eight: What to Do With My Life?
Chapter Forty One: My Country 'Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Tyranny
Chapter Fifty One: Nabbed at the Bus Station
Chapter Fifty Three: "Let's See What the Police Have to Say"
Chapter Fifty Four: A Possible Scenario at the Police Station
Chapter Fifty Six: Driven
Chapter Fifty Eight: Driven 2
The Institution
The Institution: The First Five Days
The Other Patients in the Institution: Perky Penny

The Other Patients in the Institution: Carrie the Cutter

The Other Patients in the Institution: Joyce

The Other Patients in the Institution: D.J., The Mighty Sage

The Other Patients in the Institution: Anna on the Lam

The Institution: Proving My Sanity

After Release From the Institution: Denise's Tips

Leaving Sioux City: Dee Dee

Epilogue: A Short History of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute

Flashback Excerpts (Fall 1968)

October 1968: Rev. Arthur Blessitt and His Place

October 12, 1968: A Mother's Warning
October 12, 1968: The Birthday Party
October 1968: Wild Man Fischer's Merry-go-round

Out Takes

One: United Airlines Flight #266 (an important fact)

Two: Cherokee, Iowa--Three Challenges in Search of a Triumph (Essay)

Three: Preparations (Essay)

Four: The Politics of Memoir (Appendix A)
What is "Memoir"? (Wikipedia)

Five: The Politics of Paperwork (Appendix B)

Six: Mental Health Records, Patient #29109 (Appendix C)

Seven: The Movement of Time (Appendix D)

Eight: The Manson Family (Appendix E)

Nine: And Be One Reluctant Traveler

Ten: Snippets Here and There

Eleven: More Snippets

Twelve: Six-word Memoir: Cherokee

Thirteen: Six-word Memoir: Escape

Fourteen: Letter from Hollywood to Cynthia

Fifteen: Jane and the York YWCA

New Text

One: Autobiography vs. Memoir

Two: LSD: Effects, Flashbacks, and "Fractal Patterning"

News Clips


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