The Illusion of Safety

Noon hour.

I catch myself being a jerk today and then I have to stop and reevaluate my attitude and behavior. The cabbie for the return ride was interesting. He lived through the great snow of 1969 in Eugene. I mentioned drought after observing that Kelly Pond had shrunk down to hardly any water at all. He said that in ‘69 it was dry for 120 days in a row. I was two years old that year and don’t remember much of it.

My meeting at the agency went pretty well, except as I said, I was kind of a jerk. I look back on my working days now and wonder how I endured the boredom of it. I was not challenged by the type of work I did. There was a coworker who understood that about me. She was very intelligent and incisive, and advised me to get a job in the larger community. But I stayed where I was because I thought it was safer. After a few years it turned into a big mess. The alcohol addiction usurped my life and in general I felt trapped. Today I still feel a little bit that way. Therefore, no situation is really safe. I’d like to do more fun things in the community and try to connect with smart people. Bookstores are a good place for me to start looking for intelligent life, and maybe a trip up on campus. The burden of being smart is that it takes more to keep yourself stimulated. 

Together

Eight thirty five.

The market was very busy this morning; people on their way to work or school stopped to grab something to eat and drink. For a while I forgot my preoccupation with philosophy and religion and became a face in the crowd. If church were not about doctrine it might be kind of fun, but I always find a point to argue with. I guess that subconsciously doctrines are everywhere. With the store bunch I felt like I participated in a Joyce novel like Ulysses, every identity blended into one, a universal mass… I see that my mailbox outside needs a repair; another good tug will pull it right off the post. I hope I can get Roger to help me with it. Worrying about it does no good… It’s rather odd to me to think that we’re all in this together. Being part of a community can be quite difficult if you do too much thinking. I imagine I’ve been guilty all this time of criticism. It should be easier to go with the flow than fight the current.

Ten o’clock. The weather now is a gray overcast. I hear sounds of construction going on. At the intersection of Maxwell and Bushnell Lane was a closed off section marked by orange pylons, but I didn’t see what they were doing. Being honest, sometimes I could really use a six pack of beer to feel more like my natural self. I suppose I’m fulfilling a duty to the community by abstaining. And sometimes this is the best I can do. 

Depth Psychology

Nine o five.

Just when I think I’ve succeeded in being independent and free, I rediscover the truths of psychoanalysis. I read somewhere in Joseph Campbell that higher education is like a nurturing mother on which some students try to depend forever. Taking a step further, my obsession with books suggests a very similar thing: dependence on the mother. Now I wonder why this is. Could it be that my real mother was an inadequate parent, leaving me still needy and unprepared for life in the world? This situation can conceivably produce both schizophrenia and alcoholism in a grownup child. But psychoanalysis doesn’t indicate a prognosis and course of treatment other than mass doses of psychotherapy. It seems to me that a person who has the illness, if she is insightful, must undertake her own healing process and not rely on healthcare professionals. I guess that’s what journaling is for… I once had a copy of Symbols of Transformation by Jung, his first really independent study, marking his break with Freud. Sometimes I feel that my life experience lacks depth and quality of feeling. I’m actually torn between two directions, to climb higher or to dive deeper. This is the condition of the Capricorn sea goat, if I put any faith in the zodiac. The danger of depth psychology is getting the bends and not knowing up from down.

Ten twenty. I’m just enough of a weirdo to buy a new copy of the Jung book. As if in reply, the same smoke detector just started pipping at me again in the hallway… I’m looking into Jung because I want to, not because I was forced. Probably I shunned him for so long due to forcible indoctrination, but that’s over with and now I’m coming back around. 

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. 

Dorian Gray

Eight o’clock.

Trying to start the day with a clean slate after yesterday’s fiasco. I’m putting off my trip to the store a little bit. I see myself hibernating from the community as my ideas clash with theirs. But it’s up to me to pull up and face the music. Would I be alone in feeling oppressed since the whole pandemic thing began? Now I start to think that I’m foolish for writing down these feelings of loss of faith in my government. Blogging has become a farce. Probably it always was. It has modified my behavior and made changes in my outlook. I suspect that it’s not a constructive thing anymore.

Quarter after nine. Heather at the market told me she had a crap day yesterday because of her 13 year old daughter. First she asked me if I had kids. I said I’d never been married or done that whole ritual. Even now I’m not sure why, but I guess I didn’t want the responsibility. Also my parents were very controlling and I didn’t really get the opportunity for a relationship. I still have a lot of growing up to do. Or perhaps I’m okay with remaining single and free. I may be just an alcoholic at heart, a drunk who doesn’t drink. For this disease there is no cure… It’s sunny here again today. We should get some rain on Monday and Tuesday. As I walked home, my mind searched for a title to this post. I decided on “Dorian Gray” only because it sounded good to me. 

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. 

Mental Health

Quarter after eleven.

My visit with Todd went fine; I’m going back on the Vraylar starting tonight because I’ve felt so terrible on the other medication. My rides back and forth to my appointment were with senior citizens. Then I walked to the market at a later time than usual. Michelle told me what a crazy morning she’d had. Their Internet connection had been down for an hour and a half, so customers couldn’t pay with a credit card or even use the ATM. She thought they were pissed off when they had to go someplace else. I also saw Suk and said hi to Brandi, who has worked there for eleven years or longer. I remember when she was a new employee and was mentored by John. He left the business long ago due to illness. He said once that you choose to either drink or not drink— as simple as that. At the time, I disagreed with him, thinking that alcoholism was genetic and not a matter of free will. Now I can’t really say one way or the other: is alcohol use an issue of fate or do we have control over the behavior? Perhaps saying it’s fate is just rationalization, and what it comes down to is the desire to drink or not drink. So that what you end up doing is what you wanted to do. And this would make good sense…

Noon hour. Today is cloudy and overcast, and I felt a few drops of rain out walking a while ago; just isolated, random drops that don’t mean anything. Cherie was out walking her big puppy up the street and Roger worked on the fence shared with Lori’s property, telling everyone it was a project he didn’t want to do. Lori’s house reminds me of something that happened in December of 2010. It used to be owned by some older guy. One day his mail got delivered to my box by mistake, so I went to his door to return the letter to him. That same month, I kept getting free copies of the Junction City Tribune, which I put in the trash without delay. The articles in it were conservative Christian and not interesting to me at all. They demonstrated a lack of intelligence. I can remember how I struggled with personalization and paranoia about the neighbors, especially when someone moved away. I automatically believed it was my fault. This paranoia was just like my mother’s. Thank goodness for cognitive therapy, which is the antidote to the other therapies and programs that don’t work. 

Old as You Feel

Nine ten.

I was probably wise to never get married in my life. No one ever blessed me with a Midas touch, nor cursed me with the same thing. Solitude, like everything else, has pros and cons. My life has ended up being like the conclusion to Aristotle’s Ethics: that of the lone philosopher. Insight tends to be keener this way, though most people couldn’t stand it. Some lessons I’ve learned by observation, others firsthand. Addiction is a thing you have to go through yourself; no amount of warning is effective, because we never think it can happen to us. An alcoholic death only happens to other people until the Grim Reaper pops up right in our face… While I was outdoors I didn’t study the color of the sky. Looking at it now, the atmosphere is still very smoky, the sky a dirty white, and the reflection of the sun burnt orange. The transition to my new medication has had rough days mixed with better ones. My dog Aesop is really good about rolling with the changes. When I don’t feel good, he doesn’t complain. I doubt if anything will make me feel like a thirty year old again, so I just accept what is. The older I get, the more I try to avoid pain, but forget the pursuit of pleasure. Fun is for younger people. I also feel amazed and thankful to have made it this far… I’m always polite and courteous when I go anywhere. It was later this morning when I went to see Michelle and buy a few things. A pretty young lady smiled at me with her blue eyes when I held the door for her and her boyfriend. Otherwise it was just another trip to the store.

Quarter after ten. I have nothing planned for today. It’d be nice to see the blue sky a little later. Maybe I can brush up on my French; take a look at Baudelaire, cross the rainbow bridge to a different language. They say that the languages we learn are stored in different “buckets” of the brain. French may be my ticket to the Fountain of Youth. It’s worth a try. 

Nature First and Last

Six o five.

I had a dream a bit ago about playing the bass guitar to please my parents. I bargained with my dad, saying that after my gig I wanted to drink an amount of beer and then go to bed. He permitted a 750 ml can of Foster’s, so I went into the grocery store… but I changed my mind and came out empty handed. I also looked in the southwestern night sky and saw the full moon, symbolic to me of idealism, of dreams and ambition, and thought I couldn’t betray it by drinking again… The dawn is coming up gray through my front window. I hear the screech of some perching bird and the caw of a crow. Last night I indulged a few mystical thoughts on my transformation from a “Greek” to a Christian. And it actually rained briefly at around midnight. Today there are no big pressures on me. I think my sister may be having a difficult time dealing with her oldest son’s politics. Evidently he’s been blithering stuff lately about a “civil war” of red against blue. Others in the family are also politically polarized. I think we have enough problems with the pandemic and with climate change to be preoccupied with politics. I feel tired and even kind of nauseous upon hearing this news. I don’t understand how some people can make politics logically prior to the ecology. This is just backwards, I think. It’s like saying, “We don’t use language, language uses us.” It inverts the commonsense order of things.

Quarter after seven. Nature came first, and everything else is the artifice of human beings. The future depends not on our fictions, but ultimately on the fact of the natural world. Things like money, religion, and politics are constructs of human imagination. So I guess I’ll never really be a Christian, or anyway, not a very good one. We’re in trouble when our fictions are more real to us than nature. 

On Labor Day

Near seven o’clock.

I had a nightmare last night about being discovered a homosexual by a few mean doctors or scientists; but maybe I was thinking of a time when I went to the emergency room on Labor Day four years ago, where I was given a “rectal exam” by the sadistic woman doctor. She stuck her whole fist up my butthole and felt around. I screamed with the pain, although you know, soon afterwards I quit drinking and I haven’t done it again since. Was it aversion therapy?

Cathy manned the store this morning when I got there and bought the usual stuff for Aesop and me. I saw only two other customers, both of them guys. The first one was tall and wore cowboy boots. He carried a knife at his side, which I wondered at. I guess it’s like packing a handgun anywhere you want to go. The second guy’s face was brown with dirt and he brought in a bunch of empty cans and bottles for redemption. I thought about hanging around until he was gone for Cathy’s benefit, but then the guy would have been suspicious of me. So I simply left and came home. It is Labor Day weekend, so not much is going on. I guzzled down my Snapple tea to pick myself up. Aesop gets his breakfast at eight thirty. Overall, it doesn’t feel like God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world, even though there is church at ten o’clock today. Outside there’s not a breath of air, and it hasn’t rained since June. I can hear the sound of crows in the neighborhood. But mentally I feel pretty good: no delusions or hallucinations that I can notice. Why is it that the world is on the downswing while I’m doing better? It just feels like a sort of irony.