Salud

Nine o’clock at night.

Everything consumes time. I’ve never been good at managing my time each day, or keeping a rigid structure. I could read my book right now, but it takes time that might be better spent writing my mind. I found it bizarre how Baudelaire is spiritual in a dark and wicked way. Is that healthy? To put down anything in words is to make it more real… But it isn’t just bizarreness: familiarity with “the devil” can happen in substance use, as it once happened to me during the years I had a job in an office. On Friday nights I’d get ripped and watch old Polanski movies, King Crimson concerts. I seemed much younger then, and I guess fifteen years does make a big difference. But the mystery to me is why I waited so long to take charge of my life, jerking the strings away from “Satan Trismegistus.” Now I know it’s really possible to do this. Stay away from the booze and everything is doable. The best way to keep sober is never to start drinking in the first place… The very last time I drank beer, I was sick and couldn’t keep it down. I’d have two beers and then throw them up. Finally, with a Miller High Life in my hand, I said that everything was different now. And I realized that nothing else mattered but life itself. I knew that a way would open up to me, though it would take some sacrifices. What you gain by it is integrity: purity, wholeness, and health. 

Independence

Quarter after eight.

A few hours ago I read “The Delicate Prey” and didn’t like it very much. So much of Bowles deals with helplessness and victimization. Sometimes his characters are at the mercy of their own unwise impulses and bad decisions. If I were a member of AA, my Higher Power would be independence, which is really a contradiction with the meaning of the program. And if there’s an essence of independence, I wonder what it would be. I could never admit to absolute powerlessness, the first step of AA. It is just the opposite thing that is needed: empowerment… It must have rained all night long. Now it’s cloudy with a little sun at intervals. The anniversary of my mother’s death happens in two days, marking twenty years that I’ve been living on my own. It’s been far from perfect, but I managed to stay alive against very unfavorable odds. The forecast says more rain at noon. Maybe I’ll get home from church before the rain starts. On the other hand, it sounds like a shower right now… Yesterday, my brain was riddled with superstition, so I had to stop and assess what was wrong. But by now I seem to be feeling more or less okay again. Feelings of terror and helplessness are not constructive, so I consign all the past with AA and the other trash to the wastebasket. 

A Letter: Alcohol and Caffeine

Now I know more about what’s been bugging me lately. I don’t know why I started doing so much caffeine recently, but it’s having an impact on the way I think and feel and remember. I believe that everything we do boils down to brain chemistry, and ultimately everything is physical and material; it’s all constructed of atoms, basically. I could be wrong about that, but it’s my particular belief system. Nothing spiritual is necessary to explain natural events. Now the question is what made me buy the Coca-Cola in the first place. Today I got myself two Snapples, still too much caffeine, so tomorrow I’ll either skip it or just get one of them.

I guess I’m going to church this Sunday, though my feelings about it are mixed. I think I’d prefer not to sit through a sermon and take communion and all that stuff again. Maybe I’ll wait and see at the last minute whether I want to go.

Yesterday I flipped my blank book over and started writing going in the other direction on the left hand pages. Meanwhile I kind of wonder what interested me in Paul Bowles again; or even why I used to like his writing originally. I’ve changed since I first read him in February 98. And at the end of the same year I finished Moby Dick, the mood of which was very similar to the Bowles book: it was quite nihilistic and maybe sort of wicked like Macbeth. I don’t know how I feel about the unconscious from a Freudian point of view anymore, something dark with basic drives, but you can see it illustrated in the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, like in “The Cask of Amontillado” and many others. And that reminds me: have you decided on your next purchase from Amazon yet?

It’s been drizzling here since about noon today, but it’s supposed to stop pretty soon, only to redouble itself for another week or so. Rain, rain, rain! But I have no complaints about it, and I actually like it. It promotes a state of mind for thinking and reflecting about abstract things.

Aesop has been in a sympathetic mood yesterday and today, probably sensing that I was feeling rather crappy since Monday afternoon. He is a very smart dog, and I think I care more about him than the dog I had before him, a little pug named Henry. The pug was more gregarious than Aesop, and everybody loved him. Henry was very sweet and cute as could be, and sometimes I miss having him around. But like a lot of things and people I used to know, he belongs to a past that can’t be revived. I may regret it all I want but in the end I will accept that the past is buried and irrecoverable.
But once in a while something happens to remind me…

At some level I wish I could get drunk and enjoy my life like I used to years ago. I thought I had my whole life ahead of me when I’d get a mile high. The future consequences don’t occur to you when you get wasted on alcohol or other drugs. And then you get a wake up call and realize that life is very short and you are not immortal. And you know then that alcoholism really is fatal.

Critique of Vraylar

Quarter of eleven at night.

It finally occurs to me that the Vraylar I take is very powerful and acts on me like a sedative, rendering me a lot less sensitive to some of the essential experiences of human life, such as spirituality, sexuality, and other things. Vraylar raises the threshold for the stuff that makes you feel alive in perhaps a primitive way, which I find to be regrettable to an extent. It was having a large Coca-Cola today that gave me this self awareness regarding the antipsychotic. Directly or indirectly the drug is costing me my membership in the church; but on the other hand it helps me avoid alcohol for the purpose of minimizing my delusions and hallucinations. It makes me wonder just what is the nature of schizophrenia: could it be just a matter of extreme sensitivity of the nervous system? In that case, maybe the psychosis is truer to reality than anyone had believed. Or perhaps the excitability of the nerves is like a tale by Edgar Allan Poe, an experience of darkness and terror and phantasmagoria not without its own peculiar kind of beauty… The best part about the Vraylar is how it saves me from alcohol abuse by abolishing psychosis; but the pitfall is mostly the way it deprives me of some of the quintessential feelings of human experience, the sheer primitive energy that makes us alive and gives us happiness as well as pain. It banishes the emotional roller coaster of life— which is why it is prescribed for bipolar disorder in addition to schizophrenia. In sum, it pushes down everything for better and for worse. 

Used to Be a Bacchant

Quarter of seven.

I’m just getting ready to go to the store for a Snapple tea and some food. The light outside is gradually coming on, showing the gray sky in my window. It may be warm enough to go without a jacket, and no rain is forecast for today. Later I should read a good book to try to goad my brain out of its lethargy. What I really miss is playing music with friends. However, I’m not a Dionysian person anymore since I quit drinking. It’s still hard to figure my life out.

Quarter of eight. Aesop looks more alive than he did last night… To say that I used to be a bacchant is a romantic way of saying I was an alcoholic. There are different ways to intellectualize alcoholism and make a culture of it, but a skunk is still a skunk. And yet for me, sobriety is the undiscovered country, the last frontier of experience. After four years, I still don’t know what to expect with my life without beer. If I’m not exactly happy, then I’m at least alive and fairly healthy. Different kinds and qualities of pleasure are available to people. I guess the life of the mind is good enough for me. It is said, Live by the sword, die by the sword, but I’ve put the sword away, and the dragon I once fought has shrunk down to a baby alligator. Don’t feed it and don’t piss it off and it will stay little and cute… I’m looking at a lonely day ahead, but it beats a day of frenzy and uncertainty— sometimes. Both offer a chance to learn new things. 

Dependency

Quarter of eleven.

Feeling a little tired now, or just frustrated with something. It’s not too late to take a trip to the bookstore, but I already have a thousand books. I suddenly remember my mom, just her presence and her role in my life, and how for a long time I needed a replacement for her. And then I quit the booze and everything sort of melted away as far as my emotional core, as if I’d never had parents. I think I’m tired of judging my mother. I want something to fill the abyss inside of me, though it gives me some pain to go there.

A song by Thomas Dolby deals with a feeling of emptiness in one’s love life. It’s called “Weightless.”

Same old insecurity

Strap him into his car seat

And the sump started leaking

All over New Jersey

Gas stations everywhere

Not one drop to fill me

Interesting how alcohol is a crutch for some people. I saw a cartoon on someone’s wall once. A man is shown clinging to a giant beer bottle with a woman’s face and mothering breasts. It sounds bizarre, but the picture is worth a thousand words. 

Morning Moon

Quarter of eight.

I had been divided against myself on the subject of sobriety, but now I’m back to feeling whole and healthy. I decided that I love language and the pursuit of truth more than getting drunk and being euphoric temporarily. It’s not possible to read and write or to think clearly when I am drunk.

When I stepped outdoors, the first thing I noticed was the gibbous moon in the blue morning sky. It seemed a long distance off, unlike the moonrise during the summer, when you could probably peg it with a hurled rock. And then as I got to Fremont Avenue I observed a different Dodge truck next to Kat’s house. Rather than red, it was navy blue. Wafting from the front door I smelled their breakfast and moved on. I felt pretty cheerful when I entered the store and saw Michelle. The old aches and pains that had got me down I didn’t acknowledge at all. My energies were concentrated in a unit again. So I bought a peanut butter cookie for Aesop and my usual foodstuffs, plus my Snapple tea. One other customer purchased biscuits and gravy and a tall Mountain Dew, all of which she balanced carefully in both hands… On Fremont again, I took a last look at the moon before turning up my street. But in fact, the moon followed me all the way to my driveway. 

The World in a Day

Eleven forty at night.

It was quite a day of thrashing out a worldview as far as freedom or fatalism are concerned. It grew more important when I felt myself wanting to drink alcohol as if it were an inevitability. So I worked out a little system sort of like Kant’s in his Prolegomena where free will and determinism both are valid at once in two realities. Also I again thought of Cervantes with the different levels of Quixote’s insanity, twofold as with Kant: with a real dimension plus an ideal dimension where he is totally free and sane. Meanwhile I rejected traditional psychology for its fatalistic point of view. And I embraced philosophy as an open ended debate that everyone can join in, while psychology tends to be dogmatic and locked with a key, like the closing statement of Revelation. So it was quite a busy time for my mind today. Is alcoholism an inevitable matter of fate, as in a Hardy novel? I sought to prove that free will is real and not illusory. Whatever the truth is, I got through the day without drinking. I also gained the motivation to do a couple of things around the house, so now the second smoke alarm has stopped nagging me to change its battery. With this new peace and quiet, my mind ought to find some tranquility for a while. 

La Vida Es Dura

Six o’clock.

I’ve had a crap day today, but it’s not easy to determine why or how. I feel that I’m damned if I drink and damned if I don’t drink these days. My birthday of sobriety is only a few weeks away, so maybe that’s why I’m having such trouble until then. I don’t know what to think. Does anyone? So I try not to think at all. My life has been one big Pandora’s box of concealed evils loosed one by one into the world. Knowledge doesn’t make you happier, but it can make you more powerful… The sky is a dirty blue and the sun is amber yellow. There’s the suggestion of a breeze in the leaves. I feel so uncomfortable and so old and tired. Maybe I should give up writing, or take a hiatus for a while? Also I feel very profoundly alone and unloved. Well hell, perhaps I’m just a bisexual guy who doesn’t belong on WordPress? What would it cost me to confess it?

Seven o’clock. About ten days ago I dreamed I had sex with a former clerk at the convenience store. But I think it was what she symbolizes that I wanted: alcohol. She used to sell me beer every day for a long time, so she and the booze became fused together. She was to me like Arabella in Jude the Obscure… Some people say that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, and one day at a time. If you can’t beat em, join em, I guess.

Quarter of eight. At noon today I bought a container of chocolate ice cream just because. But it’s probably wiser to limit going there to early morning due to my temptations. Overall it was a very unsettled kind of day for me. Sort of volatile, as if anything could happen, yet it was all within myself. And I can really feel for Pandora and her guilt. 

Because It’s Worth It

Quarter of eight.

I had a nap for three hours. My last big day on the town was lousy, though it’s hard to describe what my feelings were in the doctor’s office. I guess I was depressed since it was so difficult to find a redeeming thing about the experience. On the way home I tried to remember the feel of my parents and happier days when I looked upon the great stadium where the Ducks play football. But inside I felt hollow and sad for this abyss where good times used to be. And the same for the backstreets of the Whitaker district: I used to have friends who lived there, when Eugene was a smaller place with a true heart and spirit, and we all drove our own cars to each other’s house to make music and have fun. Today, the homeless have more or less taken over Downtown, so Fifth Street is not the same wonderful place anymore. Everything in the city is getting bigger and more impersonal, with less of a human soul than two decades ago.

Be that as it may…

Nine o’clock. Sobriety is just another life lesson you either learn or you don’t. When you do learn it, there’s no real need for a spiritual “program” or whatever. Recovery is a certain language that people can bat around, but it’s meaningless if you can’t stay clean and sober. Brass tacks: if you don’t like yourself then you’ll probably keep drinking and using. What’s the secret for liking yourself? And how do you overcome fear and guilt? The answer is different for every individual. But for me, being hit over the head with indoctrination about selflessness and altruism didn’t work at all. If anything, life is only worth living if you care for yourself first. The world won’t come to an end if you love yourself, whatever the majority may say. Your first duty is to you.