Although I now live in PQ, I grew up in the college area and east county. When I was a kid, Rancho Bernardo was a once-a-year trek, a road trip in the avocado-colored Dodge Dart to visit some obscure restaurant my parents used to love. In my eyes, North County was a distant, barely-inhabited outpost.

Now I live there, and it still feels distant. But every time I go back to my old stomping grounds, I realize that everything has changed.

Take La Mesa. What the hell is happening to La Mesa? Is it just me, or have the nuts, loonies and otherwise wack-jobs converged on my cozy little former hometown?

The trolley area in downtown La Mesa seems to be a magnet for the worst of the weirdos. Last week I had a dentist appointment there and was waiting at a red light at the corner of Spring Street and Lemon.

The trolley gate to the right of my car was down and the ding-ding-ding alarm was sounding. I waited absentmindedly as the trolley approached, its subtle roar increasing in the background.

Suddenly a figure in dirty clothes caught my eye. A tall, disheveled, scraggly-haired man jumped onto the trolley tracks. Obviously in a world of his own, he seemed completely oblivious to the ding-ding-ding of the alarm. He veered back and forth over the tracks. He started dancing a jig, shaking his hips wildly. As I heard the trolley speed closer, I prayed for the light to turn green so I wouldn’t have to witness the apparent tragedy that was about to unfold. I knew it would be an image I would never be able to forget.

My stomach tightened and I stared in disbelief as he continued to dance, the trolley now only seconds away. Suddenly, he made eye contact with me. In an instant, there was a strange and sad connection. I could feel his despair.

He then smiled a toothless, drug-induced grin at me and jumped backward. His game of chicken was done. I’m glad he survived. My stomach, on the other hand, may take a while to recover.

Comments

CuddleFish Oct. 3, 2009 @ 9:54 a.m.

Wow. Excellent telling of the story. Good job.

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nan shartel Oct. 3, 2009 @ 1:10 p.m.

my sister is one of the walking wounded..a nearly homeless schizophrenic who we often drop off at the La Mesa trolley station to wind her way to Chula Vista to a group home there...

u might recognise her...she twitters her finger with Tardive Dyskinesia because when she was younger they had her on Haldol so long...she and i lived in La Mesa when we were children and later as young welfare moms right next door to each other...when Logan Bakery still existed and Lemon Grove was a Lemon Grove

she's a redhead..and can be talking to her own demons in public..but she's not dangerous

if u see her be kind enough to make eye contact with her too..and blessings...most often people with these kinds of difficulties are transparent in our society

unless they play chicken with the Trolley

wonderful writing here...real depth and understanding at the end..thank you...Nan

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PistolPete Oct. 3, 2009 @ 3:44 p.m.

If you don't mind me asking,nan,what is Tardive Dyskinesia?

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nan shartel Oct. 3, 2009 @ 6:43 p.m.

it is a condition cause by psychotropic drugs Pete...the random non stoppable movements of the hands and sometimes feet that are caused as the drug destroys nerves in those nexus areas

don't confused it with Tourettes which is a nerve synapse problem of repititious movement that starts with impulse incohesion of nerve pathways in the brain

it's not tics as they come and go and are associated with fatigue

so by now you know my past was in Medicine...hahahahahahaha

no i won't stitch up that cut u got from that beer bottle incident homey!!!

someone told u that i could glue the edges together...that BIG mouth!!!

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SDaniels Oct. 3, 2009 @ 6:51 p.m.

Friendly Disclaimer: If you hear me make fun of everyone's "Tourette's," it serves as metaphor for my cousins and I celebrating our wierd and wild wit-fests, and their tendency to blurt funny but inappropriate things at inopportune (or opportune, depending on how you look at it) moments. A friend's daughter has Tourette's--she and her twin were preemies, and we are careful to not make reference around them. I also had a friend as a teen who had mild Tourette's--and didn't mind making fun of it--where I originally began doing so.

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SDaniels Oct. 3, 2009 @ 6:53 p.m.

lovetowrite wrote:

"Take La Mesa. What the hell is happening to La Mesa? Is it just me, or have the nuts, loonies and otherwise wack-jobs converged on my cozy little former hometown?"

That area around Spring and Lemon always seems to have been that way, as long as the trolley's been around, too...

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nan shartel Oct. 3, 2009 @ 7:41 p.m.

SD...one of my husbands sons has Tourettes and that spontaneous blurting (thank goodness)isn't part of it

scrabble...he kids his own condition and tells the ladies they'll be missing somethin' sectacular if they don't try him between the sheets...scrabble

scrabble..read this quick before the censor deletes it...scrabble

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PistolPete Oct. 3, 2009 @ 7:50 p.m.

LMAO! Thanks for the ejimakashun,nan. ;-D I wonder if some homeless guy I saw in Grape Day Park had that. It looked as if he was trying to remove cobwebs from his arms. I watched him do this till I fell asleep.

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SDaniels Oct. 3, 2009 @ 8:36 p.m.

ScrabbleScrabbleScrabbleScrabbleScrabble Scrabble

Nan stole my secret method, that BEEEEAAHHTCH!

ScrabbleScrabbleScrabbleScrabbleScrabble Scrabble

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PistolPete Oct. 3, 2009 @ 8:56 p.m.

Ah s! I hate not being able to delete my f ups :-(

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antigeekess Oct. 3, 2009 @ 9 p.m.

Pete! You surprise me. Ain't I taught you better than to have to ask questions like that?

Somewhere I've got a book called "Toxic Psychiatry," by a guy named Peter Breggin. He claims that longterm use of RITALIN will cause tardive dyskinesia.

I guess we'll all find out soon, since half the kids in the country have been on it for at least a decade. I've used it myself.

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PistolPete Oct. 3, 2009 @ 9:09 p.m.

LOL! Sorry AG. I was in a hurry when I asked that question.

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SDaniels Oct. 3, 2009 @ 10:07 p.m.

"Ah s! I hate not being able to delete my f ups :-("

I'll drink and drive to that!

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nan shartel Oct. 4, 2009 @ 5:22 a.m.

"Ah s! I hate not being able to delete my f ups :-("

I'll drink and drive to that!

SD and Pete..ditto!!

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lovetowrite Oct. 4, 2009 @ 7:39 a.m.

Thank you to all of you for listening. This incident has haunted me ever since it happened. Thank you, especially, to Nan for sharing the story of her sister – it’s all to easy to forget that people like that man have families and loved ones, too.

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PistolPete Oct. 4, 2009 @ 12:52 p.m.

I too,have suffered from mental problems so I always view the"crazies"as unmet friends. We're ALL a little crazy in this f***ed up world.

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LaMesaMia Oct. 4, 2009 @ 1:32 p.m.

I have lived in La Mesa for 23 years, although I grew up in San Diego. What happened to La Mesa is the trolley. I read a recent report from Channel 8, I think, in which it was disclosed that the closer you are to the Spring Street trolley, the more likely you are to be the victim of a crime. Everybody who doesn't live here: DON'T let the trolley come to your community.

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nan shartel Oct. 4, 2009 @ 9:07 p.m.

well..blame the street as a rambling area for the spirit dispossessed on Reagan...he started it

thx to u loves to write

i bought a bus pass for September to try to be more GREEN...but it's hard to ride...it should be at least a safe experience..and i guess it isn't

to bad

when i lived in San Francisco i use to ride the"nickel snatchers"...private cars that ppl could share and share the fare for an on route and off route destination...i don't know if that would work here in SD or not

i took no offense to the blog and it gave me pause to reveal my sis's plight...Nan

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