When I first moved to California, I did a few clinical trials to make some money. One of them was in San Francisco. It was for people who were severely depressed.

A woman (who I’m sure was a graduate student) had me sit down at a table. She asked me questions. She recorded my answers with a video camera.

I could tell my answers made her nervous, though I didn’t know why. And so halfway through she stopped and said, “Excuse me. I need to call the doctor in charge of this study.” She excused herself and made a phone call out in the hallway. A few minutes later she returned and said this:

“We believe you may be too depressed for this study.”

I asked her if I could have a copy of the tape. I laughed. I said, “God, I’ll bet there’s some funny stuff on there. I want to use the footage for something later on—something real weird.”

She said she couldn’t release it! She said, “The contents of our interview are confidential.” It seemed strange—the contents of the interview had been supplied by me! Didn’t I own my own stupid words?

She gave me $50. I left. I used the money to buy underwear. I was in desperate need of some.

A week later I tried out for another one in downtown Oakland, next door to my favorite bar. They told me, after taking my blood (“You have such nice veins!”), that I wasn’t “crazy enough” for the study. “We’re looking for people who suffer from severe mental issues—” said the doctor. “People who are really messed up.” They gave me $30 and a Sprite and sent me home.

So there you go: I am trapped in the mucus of being that lies between “too depressed” and “not crazy enough.” Hooray for whatever that means!