Quarter after ten. It feels very cold outside. I put on my jacket and chattered my way to the market for food and, for a change, a Coke. I told Vicki about the burrito pricing mixup, so she entered the new prices in the register. In addition I asked her when there would be more dog food on the shelf. She answered something vague, but at least I put a bug in her ear. Aesop doesn’t like the Costco brand of canned food anymore, and I said so.
As I plodded there and back, I began to consider the introduction to the Montaigne book. The striking thing for me is how he lets the contradictions within himself remain. He doesn’t impose unifying principles on his own experience, makes no attempt to systematize. And this is called diversity. It impresses me as the very opposite of Joseph Campbell, and even of modern natural science. It seems rather lawless, like chaos to me. And yet it is a valid way of perceiving the phenomena of life. According to biology, without organization a life form breaks down and dies. Without it, perhaps the sciences could not exist as they do today. But still Montaigne reminds me that some people leave the particulars as they are, and they don’t operate on what they perceive. This kind of variety means a minimizing of conflict which in the extreme would otherwise result in bloodshed…
The Coke is a little gross, bubbly and acidic and ultimately unhealthy, though it’s a treat just the same. Tomorrow I have physical therapy again, this time taking a taxi both ways. I plan on not doing the homework. Erin can then decide if I should continue the sessions.
Sometimes I see myself as an aesthetic person, and this applies even to the experience of sitting down to read a book. The volume in my hands is like a succulent meal, like the best prime rib or shrimp scampi. There’s something obsessive about it for me, perhaps even manic. Moreover, taste makes waste. On the other hand, life needs the seasoning of beauty to render it palatable. The weather, speaking of beauty, is cloudless and perfect, the sky a blue pearl. Now the maple leaves begin to change from green to gold. On the fringe of my mind lurks the figure of Neil Peart, whose inconsistencies make me wonder if he ever read Montaigne.
Four o’clock in the morning.
I slept as long as I could, then finally got up a bit before three o’clock. It’s good to be home, with the big task of the weekend out of the way. I mean to say, we got the church service recorded last night, thanks to everyone who gave their time and effort. Towards the end of the summer, my poor brain was toast and I needed a break. And after all, my standing with the church is that of a foundling left on their doorstep— who happens to have some talent. A baby in a basket with a tag attached that reads, “Joe Christmas.” But a foundling or a changeling? And then I recall the poem by Yeats about a stolen child… Hopefully next summer I’ll get my cooling situation squared away. It’s going to be a necessity from now on… It’s looking like no one wants to conceive of me as a “schizophrenic” anymore, as if the illness were just a meaningless label. Well, I’m beginning to agree with them. The only catch is that I must take the medication. But otherwise I seem to be recovered. My wish is that I can use my faculties to return the favor to everyone who assisted me to my feet again. Life and love are a game of give and take. We do what we can, when we can. As if in reply, my mental ear hears the Alborada del Gracioso of Maurice Ravel.
Five o’clock 🕔. Last night I went to the front door and found the new book of Montaigne that I had ordered from Amazon. I opened the box, revealing a beautiful fat hardcover, denim blue with a cloth binding and creamy new paper, complete with a nice dust jacket. I opened it to a random page to see the typeface, and likewise it was gorgeous, though perhaps a bit small. I think I can manage it, however, with my dollar store readers.
I hope that Tori, Eduardo’s wife, doesn’t have Covid. Last night she had a fever and we had to postpone recording the service. She’s being tested for the virus in the meantime, and then we’ll know what to do.
The music in my mind is from a recording I made around Halloween in 1985. It was entirely synthetic, using both analog and digital keyboards along with a drum machine. I had a lot of creative energy when I was young. It seemed to be endless because life was still a mystery with a long prospect ahead of me. In fact, I hadn’t even begun to analyze the truth of human existence, but rather took life for granted as a springboard for creativity. Only later did I learn to dig deep into the substance of life’s very being. This analysis has been inexhaustible for all these years, but also it removed the mystery from creative activity. I began to figure it out after my first love affair over a year later. The motivation behind my music composition was Freudian libido. When I told my girlfriend about this, she understood what I meant…
Nine o’clock. Except, the word I used was “love.” Freud uses it too, but in the sense of desire. It’s not the same thing as Christian love… Again I don’t know why 1989 keeps recurring to my mind. It must be relevant somehow, but as yet I don’t see the connection to today. I suppose it’s something I just have to work through. Right now the sky is gray and overcast, the street a little wet.
Quarter of eleven. Karen insisted on giving me a chocolate donut to take home. At the store I ran into Patty, for the first time in months. She was bundled up in a dark blue parka with a hood, anxious that it might rain. I wasn’t bundled up, but I had my umbrella with me. I got the benefit of the doubt on a pricing discrepancy and saved about a dollar and a half on my burrito. Michelle is always very fair in such matters. I feel good right now, even though haunted by ghosts of the past… Tori just tested negative for the coronavirus. I had a feeling that we were overreacting to her fever…
Four twenty five.
I had some inspirational dreams tonight that had to do with my victory over schizophrenia. I returned triumphantly to my high school, which bore a resemblance to the psychiatric rehabilitation center. I sat in my old place in the cafeteria with my peers who never had liked me, but then something happened to turn it around to my favor. Amid the jeers and general disapprobation of my sitting there, Ken from Laurel Hill came over to my table and expressed his appreciation for my endeavors; then I looked over and saw a whole table of the mentally challenged who were cheering for me. Finally, my old peer Tim gave a laudatory speech to honor me, although he was so drunk that he could barely stay conscious. I think my dream is a fairly accurate indicator of how successful I’ve been in the last few years, acknowledging that schizophrenia and alcoholism are not easy to live with; indeed, I’ve done the best I could do to recover, with quite commendable results.
One thirty. The guitar stands came, so I unpacked them and set them up. My mood is still pretty rotten, though better than a little while ago… I don’t enjoy much of anything lately, and it’s very rough to experience. Kate liked pleasure, and so did I; we both were sensual and commonsensical about it. Except, it wasn’t rational to drink a half case every day. The Greeks prescribed moderation, and it’s still the truth. I’m a little afraid that I’m close to a relapse of alcoholism, and this could depend on the outcome of the election. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but party politics are what they are, I guess. It looks like my vote went for sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The movies will go berserk with a Democratic win, like Pulp Fiction all over again. Life in general will be decadent and liberal, and even irreligious. This is how I see the Democratic Party, whether or not it’s absolutely true. Thus the presidential race still bugs me, and will keep doing so until after November 3rd. It’s possible I voted for the wrong guy. I guess I really want sex, drugs, and rock and roll, or however you formulate sensual pleasure. I used to have too much fun with my old friend Kate. But it’s very difficult to know what is right between the choices of stoicism and Epicureanism. The latter nearly killed me, and yet I want to have fun so badly. Some people are satisfied with just having more money; that’s all they wish for. And then there are those who want to burn the candle at both ends and party like there’s no tomorrow. That was me four years ago and before. I don’t know. Which way is more commonsensical? I realize that alcohol is my curse and not good for me, yet I voted for the liberal party in hopes that everybody could have a good time once again. It’s too late to change my vote now, but I see myself white knuckling it until all the votes are counted.
Roxanne asked me to remind her about church tonight at six o’clock, so I will send her a text. Hopefully church will make a good diversion from the other things bugging me.
Eight twenty five. The cold sun hits me right in the face. I expect two packages today, one from FedEx. The other one is my book of Montaigne. As of now, I feel again that I need a verbal coat of armor. I’m up a creek when I’m stripped of my words, and of course these create my experience of reality. My trial of physical therapy has been similar to acting and singing when I was a child. Strange forgotten feelings arise from doing those things. Maybe it only takes some adaptation to it. My head and my body don’t know each other, and the head usually rules. I ought to talk to Erin about this, but she’s not a psychologist… Aesop needs canned food, so I have to go to the store very soon.
Nine thirty. The market was rather busy this morning. Two guys stood ahead of me in line. One of them bought hard lemonade, the other just a bottle of water. I figured out that the computer terminal comprises an advertisement for cannabis. What else? As usual, I saw no people of color, which disturbs me a little. Michelle looked a bit stressed out, but that’s nothing extraordinary. My life is in something of a rut. I should probably change some things, yet the little store on Maxwell sits so close to my house… Darkness will have fallen when Roxanne comes to pick me up. I will take my Aria bass, my Fender amp, and a guitar stand. I won’t forget a patch cord. I hope my back holds up.
Six thirty. I should analyze what went wrong today. Why was I thinking I was gay? I have a Platonic impulse and an Aristotelian. Plato is deeper, I believe. He is round, Aristotle flat. But Aristotle is proud and upright. There must be something in my past influencing my present. It’s been a weird day ever since I got up this morning. I only know that I had physical therapy yesterday, and probably something about it set off queer thoughts today. Time will tell why. Maybe some of the exercises Erin put me through suggested sexual stuff to my mind, even humiliating things. And no, I don’t think I like it, even if it’s just me. One more session, I reckon, then I’ll discontinue the program. Physical therapy is not my kind of thing.
Eight o’clock. I wonder what gives me such a strong attitude of pride, and why is it often wounded? I hate being put in a compromised position by anyone else. A position may be literal or figurative, physical or mental. I hate to be degraded or demeaned by people or situations, likely as a result of abuse somewhere in my past. And it’s awfully easy for new people to come along and abuse me even more. I’m just not the type for therapy for that reason. I’m more inclined to go off by myself and lick my own hurts…
The same old questions concerning sexuality occurred to me again when I rolled out of bed. Perhaps that therapist only tried to help me? It’s true that I laid my soul bare to her and made myself quite defenseless… I think there’s a truth that goes deeper than Christianity, and Freud might have hit close to the mark. Isn’t it better to leave no stone unturned? Why live your whole life without knowing the whole truth? Often, culture is an obstacle to self knowledge. It is better to know. Culture also throws extraneous trappings onto the truth. This may be a passing mood, but for now it obtains… Outside comes the predawn twilight, the glimmer before the dawn. Bars of sunlight will shine down and create our prison of self consciousness and restraint. The social world will wake up and hold you responsible to your contract. But how much more can we smuggle into the light of day? And doesn’t everybody feel the same way?
Five o’clock 🕔. And then the phone rang: the PT receptionist asked if I could come early today, since they’d had a few cancellations. I said yes, though maybe should’ve said no. Suddenly I had to put my shoes on and hit the road. Hoofing it through my neighborhood, the phone rang again: Sally from my health insurance wanted to do my annual review. So I kept her on the phone for as long as I could hear her voice above the traffic noise. Meanwhile the clouds to the north were black and forbidding, portending rain or maybe hail, and my destination led me right towards it. Luckily I felt only a few raindrops. It was the first time I’d ever had a phone conversation on the run. When I got to the medical building, I was already a bit tired, and then Erin chewed me out somewhat for not doing my homework exercises. Otherwise my appointment was tolerable. I found out that Erin is a rock drummer: I spotted the eighth note tattoo on her hand and said something. She is a fan of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and also the drummer for Tool… For the return home, I realistically took Oregon Taxi. The dispatcher was very friendly and the cab arrived in only five minutes. The cabbie was a white haired old gerontion and new to the job. I gave him directions as we moved along. He did pretty well, except he almost hit a pedestrian crossing River Road because he simply didn’t see him. I had to yell to him to “watch out for this guy.” Finally I got home and I gave Aesop three bacon strips for his inconvenience and patience with the developments of a couple of hours.
Ten ten. Karen gave me a ride home on her way to Silver Lane on some business. I also got a donut. My trip to the store was just okay. I heard New Country music coming from Darlene’s old house as I walked by. A few places are really decked out for Halloween. Before I left from home, I found an email from Pastor asking permission to use a Romantic poem I wrote a while back in his newsletter. So I replied that that was fine… Overall, this month for me has been a time of uncertainty and of figuring things out. I’m only a faithful reporter of my experience, not a panderer to people’s tastes. Thus it isn’t all pleasant or unpleasant, but rather a realistic mix of both. I’m having a peach tea Snapple and kicking back. Aesop is probably bored with sprawling on the carpet, and maybe someday we can go for walks around the neighborhood. I just hesitate because he is so aggressive toward other people… The book of Montaigne shipped earlier this morning, scheduled to arrive Friday. Also on Friday I’m doing music with the church. They’re right: it’s not good to be cooped up at home, pandemic or no.
Eleven forty. The good news is that fall is happening in spite of the wildfires we saw in September. The smoky air on that particular Monday was traumatizing, such that it was hard to imagine nature coming back. We still need more rain, but November is usually quite wet, even stormy. The autumn is only a third of the way done. My red oak turns its leaves before the maple tree does. Taken together, this fall season is proceeding somewhat normally. The sun is shining amid great muscular clouds, and the face of nature looks friendly enough.