Green Glasses

Eight forty.

There’s been a fine mist of rain this morning, so I took an umbrella to the store. They were out of Snapple tea; I bought a Dr Pepper instead. I seemed to see green everywhere on my way, like a symbol that follows me around. I think it means nature and pure life as opposed to the dead language of old traditions, also ubiquitous but unpromising, unless the god you believe in is not sandwiched in a book. If there must be a bible, perhaps a person can use Leaves of Grass, something roomier than the other options. My umbrella is black, but during school I had a green and yellow Duck umbrella, lost in the fire three years ago.

The essence is happiness, I always remind myself. Though I have no complaints, neither am I jumping for joy. What happened to the fun I used to have? There’s always something to screw up any utopia, so the best we can do is make the most of every minute.

Two thirty.

Were the good times with alcohol really fun for me or was it all just an illusion of joy? My experience with drinking was a relationship, a romance or an old friendship, and everyone else was second to the booze. Before the pandemic came, I enjoyed church, and now those are the good old days. Maybe I overindulged in using my brain for a long period, because today I’m burned out on intellectual pursuits and only want to feel what is true for me. But it’s hard to tell between emotional truth and rational defense. First thing this morning I felt pretty good. Right now the sun is shining and won’t set for another four hours. It could be a very pretty afternoon and evening.

Self image: A Letter

Well tomorrow’s the big day. I was just playing my bass. The song I wound up with was “Yours Is No Disgrace,” an oldie by Yes from their third album. Now I’d like to listen to that one again soon… I thought last night that I’ve been under a great deal of pressure and stress since this year began. I agreed to do a lot of things that I probably should have refused to do, so it wouldn’t turn into a runaway train. From the start with Misty I got talked into stuff I didn’t really want to be involved in. For some reason I couldn’t say no to her. I spent the last weekend feeling pretty miserable, remembering the way I drank 18 packs in 2017. That was the year I finally quit drinking. I’m not sure what triggered these memories, unless it was just being stressed out.

You know, with the schizophrenia and everything, sometimes my life just seems hopeless and not worthwhile.

I think I’ll go take a nap right now and write more to you a bit later.

I’m quite certain that I feel so lousy due to having been manipulated and forced into this situation. Maybe I shouldn’t blame myself but rather Laurel Hill and all these government organizations that steamroll right over your human rights, shoving their version of what’s appropriate down your throat. And of course I feel mad and resentful about all that. So maybe the thoughts I had about drinking 18 packs were a desperate attempt to rebel and feel free. The same is true for reading Native Son. Underneath it all, I have very strong libertarian feelings traceable to my teens and twenties.

Perhaps I’m just a divided person? There’s the Robert before schizophrenia and after schizophrenia, but I want to believe in the continuity of my identity throughout my life.

One Thing

Eight o’clock.

Saturday morning. It’s very quiet in the house right now, which is kind of nice. I can’t think of a way to describe this month so far, except as a time of temptation for me to drink beer again. Last night I caught myself trying to rationalize doing this. I seemed to think that sobriety has a finish line, and after that you’re free to drink all you want. Now I have to figure out how to correct my thinking errors about this problem. It’s hard to accept that staying sober is a lifelong proposition; maybe it really is one day at a time, as AA says. Meanwhile, my life without alcohol can be pretty dull and anhedonic, and it seems like the One Thing I want to do is get drunk and forget the world. This feels like the authentic and genuine action for me to take. But even this is rationalization to do something essentially bad with my life. And as time goes by, I come to believe a little more in the existence of good and evil in human affairs. It started when I sampled some Baudelaire in French two months ago. Wickedness is just that, no matter what mental gymnastics I try to pull off. And goodness is the free and clear path, however boring it may be. 

Jack London

Quarter of ten.

Business goes on at the market. Michelle is training another new employee, a gray haired woman named Lisa. She seems very nice as well as competent. As I arrived in the parking lot, I observed a woman wearing her jammies and a clownish red and white robe getting out of her car. She cursed when she dropped a bottle on the ground, and had an armload of plastic cups and other debris. Apparently she’s a regular at the store, because Michelle knew her and maybe Lisa too… It was rather calming to stroll off on my errand today. The gray clouds stood around the flat valley floor like sentinels. But there were no people outdoors at eight on a Sunday morning. I’m tempted to look at Russell’s history of philosophy today but his style is so dry and flavorless; quite a chore to read. Still I respect his reputation as a mature and responsible philosopher. Another impulse would have me read more Paul Bowles for his understated writing, a little like Jack London in places: impassive and naturalistic… The expected rain didn’t pan out, and in fact the whole forecast has changed to say cloudy weather all day… Speaking of Jack London, it’s been ages since I read “To Build a Fire.” I tend to underrate his stuff, but really some of it is brilliant.

Quarter after eleven. I found a good copy of his writings on the shelf. As I remember, London was a heavy alcoholic and he died young of its complications. After writing his ten thousand words daily, he permitted himself to drink. Once he tried suicide the fast way by drowning himself. It’s kind of strange to consider being so close to that threshold, yet I did something very similar with my life. The most pertinent question is, Why? 

Pirandello

Six thirty.

I’m in a cloud of worries about a lot of things, but foremost I have to confront my therapist about the future of my sessions with him. I’ve been so confused and messed up lately. I don’t want to drink again, and I don’t think I will, though it’s very difficult for me to resist the call of the beers sometimes.

Eureka! I found my copy of the plays of Luigi Pirandello on the shelf. I’d been dreaming about it during the night and now it’s a reality. I want to reread Six Characters in Search of an Author to explore ideas of freedom versus determinism for human beings. I almost wrote a paper on the topic when I was a student a long time ago but did Eliot instead. Today, it’s like unfinished business for me to learn the truth of human freedom and how it is possible to think about it.

I believe it’ll be a good day today. Daylight has arrived, gray blue and cloudy. Michelle might be back to work this morning; I hope she feels all right on the job. I’ll know for sure when I go to the store in another hour. I’m waiting for the Monday rush hour to die down before I set out. 

High Hopes

Eleven o’clock.

I found an old CD of Alan Parsons Project in my stuff so I’ll listen to it today or tonight. I haven’t heard the album in over fifteen years and I’ve forgotten what it sounds like except for “Games People Play.” I bought the disc at Fred Meyer when I had a clerical job with the agency, and during that time I really believed my job would lead me to something better eventually. But it turned out to be a dead end and actually an alcoholic trap that could have killed me. I started out with high hopes for my future at what ended up as drudgery.

Eleven thirty five. But if I hadn’t started drinking again, my future in that job might have panned out very differently. Right now I kind of miss having a businesslike occupation to do, something involved with money. The way it was, alcohol and money became synonymous with each other; and now I don’t even carry cash because it reminds me of my addiction and other illicit stuff that goes with the workplace. I used to know a few people who were dishonest and unethical, but I just grew accustomed to it until it was normal to me. One of them would chide me for being a “Boy Scout.” I guess I was really in the wrong place for a long time and it took its toll on me. Today I think I’m okay with being a sober person with a disability, who doesn’t worship money and the things that people kill for. So it’s quite interesting to examine what happened in my life and the phases I went through, the corrupt people I knew, and everything else. Maybe the guy was right to sneer at my Boy Scout policies, but I don’t think so. And this person happened to be my brother…

Two o’clock. All this time, the sunshine has been strong and very pretty, with the temperature nearly 60 degrees outside. I quaffed most of my Coke and then played the bass guitar with a view of the blue sky through the window. It’s like springtime except the deciduous trees are still bare. Later I’ll listen to the Alan Parsons and appreciate today and the opportunity I have to think about everything. 

Sanctum from the Abyss

Being honest, sometimes I really miss my dad and my mother too. I almost miss him more than her, maybe because his identity was so mysterious; he never talked about his feelings and thoughts for fear of betraying a weakness or two. I feel as if I knew nothing about my dad, and the only clue I have is my own interior experience that might resemble his. And quite often, my behavior is a lot like my dad’s, though more informed than he was. Perhaps he just wasn’t good at self expression; maybe he was inarticulate. Looking back, Mom definitely had the aesthetic type of personality, almost exclusive of ethics, and religion even more so. But my dad was different from her, though it’s very difficult to nail down. Was he just clueless? Sort of a bovine person— like a particular character I can think of in a Faulkner book? One thing I know about him is that he liked his comfort and security. He didn’t take risks, and drank in moderation every evening to unwind. In this regard he was very much like a Faulkner character. The world was a threatening place to him, absurd and chaotic, so he set up his home like a haven against the crazy world outside. And every novel by Faulkner is similar to his worldview.

From Zorba to Zola

Quarter after nine.

I have two appointments piggybacked this morning and I have to be ready to go at nine thirty. I feel kind of resentful of a lot of things going on these days, mainly the feeling of oppression and the lack of freedom. The last time I felt happy was when I still drank beer and had a good friend in Scotland. Maybe all I want is the freedom to drink again? To drink and to live like Zorba the Greek, sort of. I guess I’m at war with myself. I used to love to get drunk. I don’t even know what I mean when I write about freedom.

It’s time to go out and wait for my taxi… It’s 30 degrees out here and I’m freezing my fingers off. I can’t think right now. I hope my taxi gets here very soon.

One ten. Home again at last. I feel quite exhausted from having two visits and then walking to the store to get food for Aesop and me. It’s so fine to see the sun in the blue sky on a frigid winter day. I can relax now that those hurdles are past and I’ve got the rest of the day to myself. The cabbie for my return ride was pretty cool, playing Dylan on his car stereo, a song called “Hurricane” from the early seventies. I observed that the song was very long, with a lot of words telling the story of a boxer wrongfully sentenced to prison for a murder. The story reminds me of Emile Zola’s defense of a Jewish man in a very similar situation. The real suspect couldn’t be found, so they randomly arrested a Jewish person because they thought no one would know the difference. Zola smelled a rat immediately and eventually freed the man they had framed. Imagine a writer having the balls to do something like that!… My case manager, Misty, looked tired and stressed out, and I know she’s been very busy recently. I hope she doesn’t get too run down with high needs cases. And Todd and I talked a bit about literature. He said he admires the poetry of T.S. Eliot, especially The Waste Land for its difficulty and ingenuity (my paraphrase). I agreed that it’s a beautiful poem about cultural fragmentation. Thinking of it now also calls to mind Virginia Woolf, and of course Joyce… It was nice to see Cathy at the market when I finally got around to going there. And now, as I said before, I can take it easy for a while. 

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. 

A Bowl of Suds

Midnight hour.

I feel less inclined to pursue rock and roll now that I’ve seen the dissolution of one of my icons. I don’t know what to do now, but the intellect should never be compromised for a beer brand. It sets a terrible example for the fans who believed in the music and the message of freedom, happiness, and idealism. Now to see it all go down the drain is devastating. I have no more heroes. Rock music, as I understand it, is really dead. Rest In Peace.