I’m afraid I might have blown it with R— and the whole proposition of getting a personal care attendant. I texted her Monday morning but got no reply all day. If I don’t hear from her again, then I guess that’s the consequence of my big mouth, talking big about “freedom” and independence, etc etc. Also I guess I didn’t like R— very much, especially the way she employed dishonest tactics and handled schizophrenia in such a shameful manner. I would have hoped for better because she had two kids with autism. We just didn’t hit it off, and you either like certain people or you don’t.
So, I’ve had rather a bad day all day today, and additionally the wheels seem to be coming off my blog writing. Like in the Carole King song, I am down and troubled, and nothing is going right. Hopefully the darkest hour is before the dawn. This thing called responsibility for our choices has a double edge: it means the individual is in control, but also he is accountable for what goes wrong… It tends to offend people when I use logic with them and point out their fallacies and inconsistencies, such as telling R— about the absurdity of “hiring” a person to give me orders in my own home. But you know, I felt very strongly based on my observation. And when I had my say on the phone, well, I took a chance. I felt pretty big for my breeches. She talked with me for only 15 minutes that day.
I could apply other silly abstractions to what happened with the PCA opportunity, but the common sense answer is again that I blew it by offending the wrong person. I could evoke ideas like the zodiac or other expressions of fate. My brother would say I acted like my dad. He thought my dad had a tragic flaw, the unfortunate tendency to stick his foot in his mouth when the stakes were high.
But I think that either way I acted from a pure and authentic impulse; I spoke my mind and said what I meant to R— on that fateful day last month. And knowing this, I have no regrets for my behavior.
And I guess that’s all I have to say about that!
I slept for about four hours, dreaming of how I was obligated to one or two of my followers on WordPress. I kept trying to escape and just be autonomous and free, not responsible to others who may read my blog. It was like the long arm of the law: a boomerang between freedom and captivity. I needed a get out of jail free card. Also it was like an interesting play by Jean-Paul Sartre titled No Exit. Yesterday evening I’d been writing in my journal something about cultural relativism, and was it really possible to have an original thought when we live together in a society? The availability of the truth is limited to the resources our culture provides. I wrote rather deliriously about my affair with Jungian psychology that went on for twenty years, until finally I made a breakthrough to cognitive behavioral therapy, and then only because the time seemed to be propitious. My home city was at last getting wind of the latest trend in psychology, some forty years after its invention… What do I really want to say that comes from my identity alone? But that’s just the kicker: there seems to be no independent self, none that isn’t borrowed from the readymade uniforms mass produced by society. Pink Floyd sang lugubriously about this in “Welcome to the Machine.”
It appears that in order to find your sanity, first you have to go out of your mind and be a knight errant. Again I ask myself, What did you want to be? When I was nineteen years old, I had a pretty good idea of what that was. But college became a complicated game of brown nosing your professors to get a grade. And then we were turned loose into a competitive world, up shit creek without a paddle. A good expression of this is “45 Mercy Street” by Anne Sexton.
Perhaps Goethe is right that the ultimate truth comes from within your heart. But the difficulty consists in decluttering your system to be able to recognize your voice. It’s the same as tuning out the radio static to isolate the pure signal.
Quarter of four in the morning.
I dreamed I got together with Dr T—, my old psychiatrist of 26 years, for a Mexican lunch. Lately I’ve been dreaming about him a lot, perhaps betraying a wish to return to his service. But what would happen if I did go back to his practice? It was out of a fiercely defiant impulse to independence that I left him four summers ago, redirecting my energies to blogging and attending church each Sunday. Now it’s all the same to me which options I choose, because my sobriety will probably remain intact. I should do whatever is faithful to myself.
Quarter of five. There’s a first gray gloaming in the east, even though it seems awfully early for the appearance of daylight. I just ordered two sets of Ernie Ball bass strings on Amazon, arriving Sunday.
Quarter after six. I wonder why I would want to make my peace with Dr T—? No matter what I did, there’s no going back to a previous condition. It is futile to entertain regrets for what is lost like spilt milk. Staying sober has its costs and also its rewards… Today there’s no practice with the band. I guess it’s another day to read and think about stuff.
Quarter of eleven. I disagreed with part of the conversation I had with my sister this morning. I still feel a little nettled about it. She can be quite self righteous in her Christian walk with God, as if her reality were the only and absolute truth. I told her that I’m a churchgoer but I don’t identify myself as a Christian necessarily. It was after I said something about the Christian Left that she started spouting her religious and political views on transgender people and how children are being educated today. I don’t really want to go into it further, or anyway not now.
At the store, Heather paid me a compliment on my honesty, which made me feel good. There were a few spats of light rain while I was out. I dropped in on Karen and Jessica for a moment and asked about Kim, whose shoulder is recovering only very slowly with the help of physical therapy. And finally I stood in Roger’s driveway shooting the breeze about his ‘73 Dodge truck, just recently finished. The color was supposed to be candy apple red, but afterwards it looks closer to scarlet, a bright red with a tinge of orange. I said it looks different on a cloudy day.
I must be going through a depression this year, especially since last month, around the time I bought my G&L bass and felt so divided and at war with myself. To be totally honest, I would have preferred to spend my stimulus payment on the American made G&L bass because I felt I really deserved it. If I get another chance at it then I’ll spring for it, and to hell with the other guys in the band. The take-home message is always the same: you ought to do what is right for yourself rather than trying to please other people. And this is the same old jam I used to find myself in when my life was more functional. The truth is that it’s impossible to make everyone else happy by your actions, and the only person you can really please is yourself. For this very reason, we should never do anything self harming to gain approval from others. Nobody’s worth it, no matter how they try to shame you.
One ten. I’m beginning to think I’m in a bad situation with this rock band. All we have in common is the music. None of our other values are the same. A friend once told me that I’d do better in a jazz fusion band, if such a thing can be found in this area. At least those musicians would be totally serious about making music.
Quarter of eight. Now the sun is coming out. Heather at the store seems very nice. I used my food stamps plus my debit card at checkout and she had no trouble with it. Her last job was at Dari Mart on River Road. I haven’t been there in many years; when I did go there, it was an alternative place for buying beer, usually late at night… I made a connection of my past alcoholism with something that happened with my psychiatrist a long time ago. Once I attempted suicide when he put a lot of pressure on me to finish my degree. How was that different from the drinking I did up until the time I fired him? All of this reminds me of the importance of being authentic in what you say and do. If you mean to say no, then don’t say yes. Do what is right for you, not for others.
Three thirty. Church went just fine, and Sheryl gave me a lift home. Pastor worked hard on today’s service, doing the lion’s share of everything. I asked our musician, Eduardo, if he would someday do “Jumbo’s Lullaby” by Debussy for a prelude or postlude to worship, and he said he would look into it. Once he told me about a website with a lot of free classical sheet music that you can download, including stuff by Erik Satie; anything public domain where the copyright is expired. The thought of this makes me drool a little, even though I don’t do much sight reading…
Quarter of five. The band did a lot of improv yesterday, and some of it sounded good to us, though I don’t know how an audience would appreciate it. Self indulgent music doesn’t usually go over very well with a crowd. Generally people want to hear songs they know from the radio or other media, stuff they’ve heard before and can recognize. Once I was doing a gig in a Cottage Grove tavern and we warmed up with some self indulgent noise. A man who was shooting pool shouted, “Quit f—-ing around and play some music!” So we started our set with “Can’t Get Enough.” But sometimes if the crowd is wasted you can get away with jamming onstage. It all depends on variables.
Eleven twenty five. I’ve been on the phone with Damien regarding my yard work; he’s coming out sometime this week. The band will jam this afternoon at four o’clock. I seem to hear the sounds of someone playing a bass guitar on my street, but sometimes my senses are unreliable, even deceptive. Instead of a solid gray sheet, the clouds are now individually distinct, permitting occasional sunshine through the cracks. I was somewhat paranoid a few hours ago, a little skittish and scared. I feared being hit by a car, and then I thought I’d lost my wallet when I got home. When bad things happen to you, it’s easy to color everything else black. I guess the trick is not to personalize what happens… It’ll be interesting to hear what kind of music comes of our jam today. Go with the flow, don’t force anything. And don’t think too much.
Quarter of one. It’s different when I feel like I have to depend solely on myself, and there’s no providence or intervention of any kind from a supernatural place. God is quite dead all over again, which should mean that more things are allowed for us to do, as Dostoevsky wrote in Karamazov. I guess this is the problem bothering me since this morning. I even dreamed that Belinda, the convenience store ex owner, was one of my English professors. How in the world does that happen, except in the lunatic experience of dreams? She was coaching me on how to write essays that were more organic and less mechanical.
Two o’clock. I’ve decided not to take my new bass with me today. It’s probably going to be a casual practice… I was just thinking that I don’t know what I am or why, or what my purpose is in all of this. I think many people feel that way. A collection of cosmic dust that happens to have some self awareness: this is nihilism, and sometimes I feel like that. I’m losing my religious indoctrination as the weeks go by. They can stain it in your fleece, but it washes out rather effortlessly. All you have to do is stay home on Sundays.
And then what happens?
As Atwood put it, you wait until the fur grows.
Just another thought.
In these circumstances, when I feel so helpless and powerless, it is very desirable to take what little responsibility for my life that I have. I do have the option to cancel my vaccination, and if that’s what I want to do, then I ought to do it, just to exercise my freedom. The consequence of this act may be to lose my band, and maybe the church won’t want me around either. However, the important thing is like Polonius to his son Laertes in Hamlet: to thine own self be true.
I repeat that I don’t like the science of sociology, while Pastor Dan has the opposite attitude about it— which is easy for him as the leader of a group of people. I imagine that he relishes the idea of having power over his flock. I guess if I’m a lone wolf, I might as well embrace my life, as solitary as it may prove to be. It’s far more essential to be my authentic self.
Quarter after four.
I was just thinking about winners and losers, and how some people take off like a skyrocket and never look back. And then there are the ones like me who get derailed by illness, bad luck, and overthinking things. But I still wouldn’t trade identities with a successful person whose personality was a fake and who climbed the ladder by pushing others down. If that’s the meaning of success, then I guess I wasn’t cut out for that sort of thing. I think maybe the definition of success is relative. The music business is different things to different people. I was never good at hiding behind a persona, or putting on masks for different occasions. I’ve known a couple of successful people who advanced by being dishonest and cagey, and unscrupulous about that. Now I ponder this item called morality, and what makes a person deep and substantial, authentic and real. I know I’d rather have the real thing than an evasive illusion, so I’m content to be myself and not one of the winners of the world. Perhaps those people will be haunted by their conscience later in life. My own life will have been far richer and deeper, more meaningful and maybe a little more beautiful.
Ten twenty five. I’ve been back to bed to sleep in, then I got up to feed the dog. I tried to call my sister but the line was busy. So I walked off to the store for the daily foodstuffs. There was a string of customers ahead of me and one person behind me when I checked out. Evidently the market did a lot of business on Saturday during the beautiful weather. From what Michelle said, people are receiving their stimulus payments in a somewhat random order, or at least I don’t know when I’ll get mine, if ever… Still no answer when I try to call Polly. Robert Burns was right about the best laid schemes of mice and men. But to be realistic, not everything is going wrong this morning. It could be a lot worse… I should have some free time today to read a book, but I’m getting a little annoyed with Emerson, so I think maybe Baudelaire is good… My sleep last night was very troubled. My poor brain feels like a junkyard full of wreckage, a forsaken place where I can’t make any sense. Does everyone condemn me the way I condemn myself?
One ten. Polly called back. We chatted for quite a while about Mom… It’s partly sunny out and I hear a couple of aircraft overhead. Euphoric recall can be difficult to fight, and it seems stronger in the springtime… I wish in hindsight that I had encouraged my mother to write or do anything creative. She likely had the ability. What prevented her from it was the anti intellectual feeling of the family, which is really criminal and ignorant of its members. Mom had eight cylinders to her engine and only ran on two. I wonder how many other people are in the same boat. She could’ve been the next Elizabeth Bishop with the right feedback from people. Instead, she met with incomprehension and scorn whenever she took a risk. Now it’s up to me to challenge the bogus values that ruined my mother’s chances at fulfillment. It can mean isolation and alienation, yet ultimately the result is enduring happiness.
Seven thirty five.
I spent a nervous night for some reason. But you know, the approval of other people matters not a jot, especially if you’re familiar with a little Nietzsche. The church is putting pressure on the members to get vaccinated: just another example of this junior high school mentality…
The streets were black with damp, but the sun was out among small cirrus clouds. I was glad to see Melissa again and hear her deep melodic voice. On my way to the store, my mind revolved old lectures I attended in college on the topic of Nietzsche, particularly how individuals change from their original nature for the sake of approval. He suggested that the desirable thing was to reconnect with one’s natural state. So I thought about these stupid masks we wear and how we all jump through flaming hoops just because other people are doing it. How important are belongingness needs, when it comes right down to it?
Eight thirty five. I bought a chef salad because I wanted it, and cottage cheese and two Snapples. My dog, Aesop, is the best. I can actually communicate with him like a rational animal. Here comes a blast of sun, alternating with shadows, typical of March in these parts. I’m enjoying this moment, listening to raucous crows off to the east.