Four o’clock in the morning.
I had a lousy day yesterday. Just one of those things. Maybe Monday will be better. I still hesitate to buy myself a birthday present for financial reasons. The holidays are always very rough on me, particularly the pressure to believe in something absurd. I keep trying to end my relationship with the church, but feel duty bound to stay and help out…
Quarter of ten. I just reread “The Sisters” by James Joyce. Very subtle and symbolic. Speaking of sisters, I should probably call mine this morning, but I’m still kind of mad at her for not calling me on Christmas Day. I generally feel frustrated and uneasy with my situation in the church and some of my friends. I realize what a hypocrite I am to continue going to church when I have no faith in Jesus Christ. This fact bothered me all during the summertime. It sometimes seems that words only get me into trouble, so maybe I should just play my bass and keep my mouth shut. Two decades ago I was in a band with a guitarist who used to say, “Play your bass, Rob.” In other words, shut up… In addition to these problems, I haven’t been very mentally well lately. But overall, I’m just not a happy camper, especially on WordPress. I can’t expect myself to change the world singlehandedly, and besides, I don’t have the right. I think I’m simply in the wrong place, and ought to look elsewhere for friends. As it is, I’m butting my head against an implacable wall.
Quarter of eight.
It’s the same old story: Aesop is out of canned food. I should call Polly after nine o’clock.
The sounds of bird life around Fremont Avenue are insane today. I halted on my walk to examine the treetops, where you could see them perched, twittering in a frenzy. I took my excursion very slow this morning. Also I was slow at the checkout counter, and it annoyed the customer behind me. But it didn’t concern me that she was irritated. Michelle acted as her emotional caretaker and checked her out immediately at the other register. My business wasn’t even finished yet.
Eleven o’clock. It’s been raining and shining by turns while Polly and I talked on the phone. Our chats keep getting better. It seems that she’s done some serious independent thinking over the past few years, or maybe she’s always had a separate opinion from her son. I feel privileged to get to know her. We agree that money and material success are really negligible, and the important things are integrity and caring about other people… I missed the garbage pickup this week, but the service is cheap. I guess I’m feeling kind of relaxed today. Not exactly devil may care, but nothing inconsequential can ruffle my feathers. People can chase their tails all they want and it doesn’t bug me. They can foam at the mouth and throw a fit, but it’s all fruitless for them. I’m having a pretty good day.
The first thing I’m going to do is buy a Coke and some food. Today should be approached from the precept of freedom and responsibility, and it is so if you think so. I’m slightly tempted to just give up like everybody else; and maybe I will. But if I do resign, then I’ll be angry afterwards. Therefore, obey your own feelings and be true to yourself.
Eight o’clock. Vicki appreciated me this morning… I won’t let the despair of others drag me down today. The reality we live in is the one that we make. I just unsubscribed from a blog the hopelessness of which was affecting me. I was sorry to have to do it, but now I think I’ll be glad I did. The day is beautiful and pregnant with promise if you look for it. Positive change starts with just one person, who then communicates optimism to a few people, and by exponents it spreads. Certainly if I can deal with schizophrenia, then other people can handle their depression. Everyone is responsible for their feelings, and to some extent, the feelings of others. Some people might argue with me on this point, and that’s fine with me. Meanwhile I’m going to spread as much happiness as I can and forget the despair I’ve seen. I believe that happiness is our natural state, so I’m beginning with myself.
One thirty. I went and hung out with Kim and Angela at the salon. The talk was mostly beauty school stuff, about which I hadn’t a clue. Their friend, who used to be Kim’s boss, dominated the conversation. Karen and Jean carried on a separate discussion. I just sat in a chair and listened. The lemon meringue pie was great.
I still feel pretty good today. I have no desire to practice the bass guitar this afternoon. My jamming days are over. The rock and roll image is not for me. I could sort of make it work when I used to drink, but now I have nothing to rebel against. My mentality is all different now. That’s a good thing. I’ve even made friends with my sister, which until now would have been impossible. On the other hand, my brother’s alcoholism will make reconciliation very difficult, if it’s even advisable. He’s in a different world from me as long as he drinks… Aesop is telling me that he needs water, so I tell him five minutes, and he settles down. Give him a time frame and he is happy…
I look forward to the fall, but until then, days like today are good enough. Probably tomorrow I will export more boxes to the garage. Chip away at it until I’m done. The whole house is mine, yet I’m only using a fraction of it. Some idea that was on my mind had backed me into a corner. I think I’m free now. I feel very confident.
Six twenty. I took a nap, feeling very uncomfortable, though I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was probably craving alcohol on some level. Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself? Nobody’s perfect, no matter what the church expects of people. I got the impression there that having pornographic thoughts meant a person was evil. But if a person is honest, doesn’t everyone have sex thoughts? How can humans avoid this? And again I think that our Neo Victorian attitude will have consequences at all strata of society… Maybe I’m just tired of trying to be a Christian. I don’t think it’s for me anymore. It’s like stuffing your brain into a jar in so many ways.
Quarter after six (morning).
No one ever said I had to be a Christian… I just read ten pages of Bishop’s poetry from North & South. I really like “The Man-Moth” and “The Monument.” Also “The Weed.” These poems are quite personal, dealing with life as an individual. Really, our own experience is all we can know, and the best we can write about. I feel clumsy even trying to think like a religious person, so I’m ready to discard the whole thing. My romance with Christianity is done. Like Emerson, I shall have an “original relation to the universe.” Like Whitman, I will put aside the opinions of others and write what I know… Online worship is officially today, but I won’t be there. For me, Friday night was a disaster. I came away from it feeling unwell mentally. I still have a lot more to learn from the book of myself and not from the musty brown Bible we used as a prop at the lectern. The props and stilts of “culture” suffice for people who don’t want to think; and it seems to me that thinking is the entire issue. Today begins a new day and, for me, a new way of living.
One o’clock. I’m tired of worrying about what people think. But I’m kind of tired in general. Just a fish out of water in a lot of ways. Before I was born, my parents were profligate with alcohol and sex. I don’t know what to think about that now. And my mother liked rock and roll. It’s hard to think about because they were my parents and I spent three decades of my life with them. Does everyone have a soft spot for rock and roll, maybe? My dog hates it, but it’s nothing to get superstitious about. I was raised on the music, though my piano teacher was upset when I quit lessons and dedicated myself to drums and percussion. Morally speaking, my upbringing was kind of a mess. The company I keep today makes me feel self conscious about my past and uncertain about my future. It would be scary to cast aside everything I grew up with and adopt a new lifestyle completely. It entails breaking with my mother, mostly, the hardest thing to do for me. It will take a rock solid constitution like I never knew I had, because I’ll be doing this without family. I still utterly reject my sister’s evangelicalism as being ethnocentric. And oddly, Pastor likes rock music, especially The Beatles. Even blues music is okay according to him. Thus my life is in a state of confusion. It appears that I have more sacrifices to make as I move forward. This will have to be okay.
Quarter of nine.
It’s all about kindness to yourself and others. Sheryl the therapist abused me by labeling me gay and submissive. All this spring I have done myself the injustice of perpetuating her abuse, like a sort of masochist. As long as this is my house, my mind, and my life, I make my own judgments on everything. If I feel angry toward Sheryl, then it’s a righteous anger, to which I’m entitled. I trust what my feelings tell me. I felt outraged by her affirmations of sadomasochism and domination and submission, and my objections were totally valid. Sheryl played a power game with my sessions that I called to an end but didn’t really win. She did a great deal of damage. So from now on I vow to stop the cycle of self abuse. As for the Baldwin books, those I will consign to the book share on Fremont Ave if not to the trash.
Quarter after one. The back fence is in bad shape. Jennifer is trying to patch up a board with a hammer. We may have to rebuild the fence sooner rather than later. Last night I had a lot of bad dreams about the church, one member in particular. I feel at odds with Christendom— but I know there’s a place where I belong. The university is my soul mother; I am her brainchild. What I learned there cannot be eradicated.
The years of my heaviest drinking I can barely recall today. It was most of the last decade, and 2013, 2014, 2015 are only numbers. The friend known as Kate I never met in the flesh. Our correspondence was just a fantasy. It is strange to be such a double person, like Jekyll and Hyde. The latter is lost to memory. He was a real personality, another incarnation of me. He was incorrigible and insufferable, yet Kate put up with him, always forgiving. I can’t believe how stupid he was. The car accidents he had in the store parking lot were outrageous— but people forgave. Mr Hyde was exonerated and given a new identity as Dr Jekyll. Jekyll makes dumb mistakes too, but not quite as bad as his twin… I have to take out the trash today… Paid my internet provider bill. Tomorrow I must remember to pay my insurance bill… I think I’ll recycle the two Rondo basses. Call the disposal service and ask how to go about it. I will scarf the bridges for future use. It will be a symbolic gesture, shedding the old skin and moving on in new shoes.
Three o’clock. I can hear swallows in my chimney. They build a home there every spring. Their wings fluttering up inside make a rhythmic whoosh. One time my dad smoked them out and fished them out of the fireplace. It was gruesome to see the birds asphyxiate and die on the front lawn. Since then, I’ve always left them alone. Sometimes when I’m outside, I can see the stream of the swallows issue from the flue like a wisp of smoke. One after the other, they follow the leader into the open air.
Eleven ten. Amazon has shipped my Goethe book, coming Wednesday. The Sorrows of Young Werther is such a beautiful read. I soaked it up in March of 2001, when my mother was still alive and I was jamming with Roger and Ian. I remember how ambivalent I used to be. Indecisive; even reversing decisions. It drove everyone crazy, me too. It had something to do with my delusions of heaven and hell. Very painful. No wonder that I drank. I was very frightened of the devil and did what I could to escape. To this day I can’t imagine what terrible thing I did to anyone to deserve schizophrenia. So that theological reasoning about it makes no sense whatsoever. The things that happen to us just happen, and not for a purpose. It is human nature to multiply entities, to believe in a ghost with intelligence that makes life go, either by pushing or pulling. But I think it’s more like David Hume: just a domino effect, a chain reaction of causes, A to B to C to D. This is what I choose to believe. It influenced the thinking of Charles Darwin, and produced a great revolution in biology. Americans are often offended by the thought of modern biology, even suggesting that Darwin was the devil— which is ridiculously superstitious… I just call it like I see it. In the meantime, I think I’ll be leaving the church. Be true to my convictions. If I can, maybe I’ll go back to seeing a psychiatrist. I still have options.
Quarter after one. Like yesterday, I’m not very inclined to play my bass guitar. Ready to hand I’ve got so many wonderful books and music CDs. I feel like feeding my mind with cerebral ambrosia. The Woolf was a lot of fun. To bask in beauty is a great thing. The reading over the weekend diverted my thoughts from my family— which is beyond hope. In the back of my mind is the memory of where I was last year: a trailer parked in the driveway. Amazing that Aesop and I survived it. What the situation demanded was the faith that all should be well; that there was a plan and purpose to events. I told myself that the remodeled house was a reward from God for my recovery. And so I clung to this idea all through the spring and summer… until my sister intruded last October, making cynical remarks about the construction job. My religious sister! She must’ve thought I was naive or simpleminded. If I was, then it still got us through those six months. Now I can step back and reinterpret exactly what happened. I read in a book that “cynicism is the only sin,” and it is a characteristic of Mephistopheles. Polly came along with her attitude and messed up what had been working for me. Ever since October my rosy glasses have been colored black. She set a bad example of a Christian… unless we call it disillusionment. Now I don’t know… The quote I remembered is from the introduction to the Penguin edition of Faust Part One. I just now pulled it out… I feel my optimism coming back, pandemic or no. The springtime is unstoppable, the life irrepressible, and the joy unsurpassable.