20/20 (My Own Two Shoes)

Eleven o’clock. The rain has spent itself for the next three days. There’s a splash of sunshine on the ground. An old Mark Egan song, “Third World Wave,” dances in my head. I first heard it on local radio, so then I went out and bought the disc, probably at CD World here in town. It was located on 11th and Seneca, and finally closed forever in the spring of last year. I remember that the day after my mother passed away, I sat in my rocking chair and listened to Egan’s Mosaic. It was a compulsion for me to rock my chair while listening to music, a behavior that went away eventually, just as alcoholism did. I don’t know how it got started, but I was about two years old, jouncing to music on a rocking horse on springs. I suppose it kept me out of my parents’ hair. My dad obviously didn’t care for children, and Mom had too many problems of her own. Before I was born, their life together had overindulged in alcohol and lust. After I came along, they were stuck with responsibility they hadn’t planned on. Hindsight is 20/20. My birth and everything that followed it could’ve been avoided. But as it turned out, my existence forced them into some semblance of honor and respect, if not genuine love. Over time, we simply grew comfortable with each other. Meanwhile, my rocking compulsion persisted all the time my parents were alive. Finally it seems to be okay to have my own outlook on life; to be an individual in my own right. To walk in my own two shoes. 

Tocar y Escribir

One o’clock. I just had a really good practice by myself, focusing inward and making it just me and my instrument. Evidently the heat caused damage to the finish on my bass. There are two marks in the white paint on the body. But I just consider them battle scars, which lend the bass character. The bass thereby becomes more a part of me… I tried posting another ad on Craigslist. Never say die.

Two o’clock. Now I should just forget about my ad. I’m dreading what happens next. Well, the future depends on itself alone. Or does it rely on you and me? Working hard and working together. My brain is shutting down and I feel scared. I only told the truth in my ad. Most musicians want to make money. I confessed that I just want to jam.

Quarter after three. Anyway it’s good that I recovered my confidence to post on Craigslist. I felt so embarrassed after the last time I tried… It occurs to me to take life less personally, less meaningfully, because we live in a deterministic world. The billiard balls clack against each other all around the table, so what if the cueball is indeed you? You stand a chance of getting smacked as well, and if you are sunk you lose the game. Still, you are just another billiard ball. I sometimes wish I could assess the thoughts I had as a sophomore in high school. I went through a lot of melancholy then. I esteemed myself a drummer and not so much a student, although my poor grades after spring term made me reevaluate the band program. I got deathly sick over the summer and eventually dropped out of school music. The spring trimester of my junior year was much quieter, and I found a new way to relate to people… My ninth grade had been the happiest time of my life, especially the summer afterwards. I met other musicians my age with prodigious talent and had opportunities to play with them… until disappointment came. Over the years I learned to appreciate not talent in people but rather their ability to express themselves verbally. The voice of reason was kindled in my soul and turned out to be my best bet.

Frenemies

Six o’clock. I’m going with the flow of the day. It’s a lot easier without enemies. I used to be surrounded by people who thought using your brain was a sin. Certainly nobody with schizophrenia should ever prove to be intelligent. I remember some terrible times with both of my siblings, but I think my brother was worse. One December he came to Eugene and booked a room at the Motel 6 off of Gateway Street. We stocked the refrigerator with seasonal ales and mostly just watched the tube. We had dinner at Carl’s Jr. and I really didn’t feel comfortable. He said something mean about my dad, which was normal for him.

The years 2008 to 10, before I met Kate, were the most desolate of my life. The only friends I had were really enemies in spirit, so I would call them “frenemies.” I’m not in touch with any of those people now, thank goodness. They had such tunnel vision and closed minds. It was a kind of prejudice with them to make money an end in itself. They called this the real world and could not imagine anything better. Essentially they were Republicans, but imo they were spiritually blind. My brother’s idea of enlightenment was to get drunk. On my end, I wasn’t aware that people existed who were not like these frenemies. For convenience, they are called idealists, and the latter are materialists and capitalists.

My sister sneered the word “idealistic” to me like an accusation of sin at the time of my birthday in 2007. She doesn’t remember that now, but I know she hasn’t changed. She thought I was just an idle and naive dreamer, and such people as I had no place in the world. To her mind, visionaries had no common sense. The least people on earth were poets and musicians. I should have reminded her that her Bible was full of the visions of prophets. Furthermore, that prophets still exist in the world today; we call them poets and artists of every genre. But it would have been like arguing with a statue or a mannequin. I’ve concluded that my sister has faith in a very lifeless version of Christianity, one as statuesque as herself. It’s known as a dogma…

Mardi

Ten thirty. The sun is out in a sky full of little white clouds. The edges are grayish and indefinite, and the clouds look as if painted on a canvas. I peeked in the windows of the salon going both ways. They seemed busy. Events were casual at the convenience store. A stranger smiled and said hi to me as I was perusing the sodas. Not one person wore a mask. The Zeppelin song “Tea for One” was with me, sort of the ether in which I swam from place to place. Vicki tried to scan the chip in my food card when none existed. She’d been talking to two people at once… Thoughts of my family are at last becoming more fleeting. It’s been nearly two months since talking with my sister. If she were to contact me today, we’d have little to discuss. She weighs the worth of everything in dollar signs, which I think is rather odd for a religious person. I’m beginning to accept that my relationship with the family is over… It might be a good day for walking Aesop. Our connection has been a bit strained in the past few weeks. It is relatively warm outside today and no hint of rain. Something to consider.

Lundi

Quarter of eleven.

My idea that has now crystallized is that I’ve analyzed my sexuality down to a point where it wouldn’t make much sense to have a relationship. I know what all the component parts, the nuts and bolts, of attraction signify for me. So that my reason is much bigger than my libido, for better or worse. It only remains to write about my experience of life inside and out.

I began to reread James’s The Golden Bowl, and found my comprehension to be fifty percent better this time. The Prince is presented as humble and sincere, honest, though by his admission morally antiquated. The plot will grow murky when he implicitly cheats on Maggie with Charlotte. I don’t remember how the book ends, or why the Prince and Charlotte have an affinity for each other. Will this affair ruin his engagement?…

It’s a cloudy day in late spring. The tone is lethargic from the holiday. In his driveway, Roger is out putzing with some project. There’s hardly a sound outside. Aesop’s basket muzzle came today. I have yet to open the package. On the skirts of my mind I consider my psychiatrist from of old. How would it be to start seeing him again? Would he try to push me too hard? He always thought I should have a gainful job. I resented this, and yet I care about the guy. Is freedom more important than fidelity? As long as I’m still sober, I’ll reckon I’m doing the right things.

Maybe in time I will fall in love with somebody, and it will be genuine and sincere. Love transcends the rudiments of the libido. I haven’t seen L— from church in a long while. The memory of her radiant face has pulled me through some difficult times. Perhaps I will send her an email asking about future choir practices.

Traveled Road

Midnight hour. Anyway I’m glad I bought a new copy of Baldwin. And I really am pretty sick of the church. I should trust my literary instincts and live my life accordingly. The world of Christendom around me is vapid and insipid. It offers me nothing but dust and gravel and cigarette butts all along Maxwell Road. Up N Park Avenue still stands my old junior high school, where my education really began. Honors English spent a few weeks on Lord of the Flies, sort of the pivotal reading for the whole year. But I think my favorite book in ninth grade was A Separate Peace, a story of jealousy and envy working at an irrational level…

Interesting how I can remember feelings and images from the past when it’s the dead of night. In daylight I can remember nothing. Church service went on this morning without me. I’m about ready to pitch it in. I’ve never believed in Jesus in my heart. Even when I was 15 years old, I attended a Catholic wedding and felt very uncomfortable, especially during the Catechism. People knelt down and prayed fervently, but I saw nothing else, and felt nothing but anxiety. It was weird to see grownups acting like this. Although, that same summer I had a little emotional awakening. I realized that I loved my friends, probably in a bisexual way, never mind that they let me down. They lied to me and gave me the double shuffle. One of them remained true. I was profoundly depressed that fall, going into high school. But while my education kept going, that of my friends ceased. They made a go of being rockstars…

I guess now I have no regrets. I’m glad for the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, though it’s a little lonely having it. Most people are disinterested in being wise. They only have time for making money and for raising children who in turn will make more money, and so on. I’ve sort of become a lone philosopher, full of information no one needs. I see all this frenzied activity around me, but my impulse is to sit and wonder, to ponder how and why…

Slacker

Five o’clock.

I just realized something. The reason why Roger and Ian were comrades while I was left out twenty years ago was because they worked together at the music store. I lived with my mother and had no job. The two of them probably thought I was a bum. They survived by the skin of their teeth on work earnings, but my situation was secure by comparison. I led a soft sheltered life until I was almost 35 years old. Dominic said there will be people who judge me for choosing not to work— and he was one of them. But it’s still worth it to me not to have the stress and pressure of some odious job. I worked for five years and became addicted to alcohol for another ten. If human judgment is all I have to face, then judge away. As long as I can live comfortably on my income, I’m going to do it. My brother knows what he can do with his jealous feelings. My choices and my actions are authentic and consistent: living on my benefits is for me. I know that my family isn’t eligible for the same package, but I don’t think it’s unfair to them. It is my own situation and none of their business. Kate and I used to discuss our livelihood often. She told me that I deserve every cent I get from Social Security, and that my family envied my illness foolishly. They wouldn’t want to have schizophrenia, so they were being ignorant. Indeed, we batted a lot of emails on this subject. I struggled with the same guilt feelings every day of every week and month until I couldn’t drink anymore. Now I’m at least a little more at peace with myself and my conscience. I decided it’s worth it to sacrifice my family to be able to live in reasonable happiness. I judged that my brother was a big jerk, so let him eat his heart out. It wasn’t worth killing myself over anymore. Right now, the pattern of my life is quite clear to me. There are many epithets for the kind of person I am, among them bum and slacker, but even if they are accurate, I finally accept such labels and can move on.

It really hurt me when my psychiatrist accused me of looking like a homeless person. I gather that he calls a lot of his patients homeless, but this practice is not professional, imo. For years I dreaded my visits with him because I knew he wanted me to work a day job. He was just like everyone else. At last, a phone rep with my health insurance told me I could file a complaint against my psychiatrist. I hadn’t been aware that I had rights. I believed that I had to sit there and take the punishment on the chin. I didn’t file a grievance, but I did fire him and strike out on my own. And then I started my sobriety, which this time has been much easier. I’ve lost my family and some friends, but also picked up new ones. My meetings with Dominic were a real test, and this time I asserted myself. The last visit was extremely stressful— for both of us— but I got it over with and said what I meant. What he said about people being judgmental was true, yet now I think I can handle the hard truth.

I guess the moral of the story is to thine own self be true, even if it means a sacrifice or two.

Inexorable

I wonder if the mail can come twice in one day? My vitamins didn’t arrive as promised, yet the tracking page still says today by nine o’clock. I’ll just keep an eye on it…

My parents’ marriage was a failure, mostly. I don’t know what Dad was looking for in a wife, except for maybe a mother figure. Mom married him for his handsome looks. They only had alcohol in common, but after I was born, they couldn’t be wanton bacchants as they would’ve liked. My existence kept them honest. It was quite strange, thinking about it now, that they ever made a long term relationship out of something so superficial. I don’t know what their plan would’ve been had I not been born. They might have just gone on dissipating their lives away together. Nothing meaningful ever would’ve happened in their relationship; nothing of any depth and truth. Certainly not love.

Out of us three, the only love that existed was between me and Mom. She pinned her hopes on me as I grew up. But even that sort of backfired for Mom when I fell ill at 24 years old. She had tried to raise me to be something formidable, a famous star in something creative… But who’s to say that can’t still come to fruition? My mother didn’t live to see it happen, yet I continue to try to fulfill her dreams for me. And I may still fall short of her expectations, which could’ve been unrealistic, a bar too high to jump. If I were like my sister, I would just say screw it and settle for mediocrity. And there’s nothing wrong with doing that. I don’t know how my life will end up since beginning to recover from my demons. How much improvement can I hope for? Until then, I will blog and keep writing diligently, assiduously every day, and keep pursuing music as far as it goes. I guess I do the best I can, which won’t be settling for mediocre…

I’d forgotten that Mom got to see me be a local disco star before she passed away. This ought to have been enough to satisfy her. She’s gone now, and her spirit should be at peace, though my own still struggles with the drive for perfection she instilled in me during my childhood. Maybe it would be okay to relax, to put away the horse whip, the spurs that I alone apply anymore. This is a problem I’ll be wrestling with for at least another year, as my recovery progresses.

Bygones

One fifty. I put in an inspired practice on my Fender bass, helped along by the caffeine buzz. I ran it through the 25W Fender amp and got a lot of distortion, undesired, but it still sounded great. It was as if an earthquake hit the family room. Now I anticipate getting my big rig repaired and playing with it, perhaps a little louder. Try for a bit of overdrive, but ask Mike how to go about it. Solid state amps are not known for their overdrive capacities… The sunshine continues, it’s a beautiful day, and I feel blameless for a change. My accuser usually assumes the form of my sister. I wish I could surgically remove that part of my conscience. Yet for every accusation she aims at me, I have ammunition against her too.

Five o’clock. My days go better when I don’t think of my family. I wasted a lot of time trying to please them, or feeling guilty because of them. Finally I’m letting them go to do their thing without me. It was never any of my business how they operate. Mom didn’t know them at all, and I found out the hard way. I had so many bitter experiences with the whole remains of the family after Mom was gone. In the summer of 2010, all the guys wanted to do was go fishing at Crane Prairie. I had no interest in fishing or in golf, but had my writing and thinking to do. I was in the middle of a maze, a terrible puzzle I couldn’t seem to solve. But the only solution was to walk away from the game. Leave behind the alcohol and madness of the whole family and mind my own business. Even while I was incommunicado with them, they bickered and fought among themselves, which of course had nothing to do with me. It’s a family that can’t get its act together, and which doesn’t deserve my pains in trying to brainstorm an answer to its troubles. They wouldn’t listen to me anyway.

Chronicle of a Day

Eight thirty.

No rain this morning, which favors walking to the practice at Mike’s. I believe it’s going to be a good day. Looking in the mirror, I see I need a haircut. It appears rather frazzled. It’s too early in the morning to know the character of my day so far. I didn’t sleep much. I’m even more glad that I aborted sessions with Sheryl when I did. Bad advice has no value for me. The teachings of the church likewise leave me cold usually. I don’t believe I’m a sinner and all that crap. And Jesus has nothing to do with my life. I’m not easily brainwashed. No human being could ever be God. The God I believe in is a nebulous abstraction, but that’s too hard for most people. I accept that my concept of God is more intelligent than that of churchgoers. But a lot of people are dishonest about what they believe. Even Polly had to admit that I’ve always been honest through everything I’ve experienced. I respect Pastor Dan as a human being and an intelligent man, but I don’t agree with his beliefs. I’ve never been a one size fits all person. I don’t think most people really are. Anyone who thinks originally for himself will be just an individual… Mike just canceled today. Perhaps Ron will still want to come over? So much for romantic notions of events. I feel disappointed. I still have the salon to go to this morning… Yes, Ron is still coming over at noon.

Quarter after ten. I feel better so far on the lower dose of Vraylar. Not so irritable and restless. My body and brain don’t feel so tight and constrained. I’m heading for the salon in a few minutes. Thank goodness I feel better.

Eleven ten. Just got home from the salon. No, I really don’t believe in anything beyond the physics. There’s no reason to. I’m nervous about having Ron over. I’m not prepared for company. It’s all I can do to remain calm… Forecasting contingencies is impossible mostly.

Two o’clock. Ron was here and everything went well. His songs are a little cheesy, but fun to play and not dark and forbidding. He brought over a Yamaha keyboard he bought for ten bucks at a thrift store. He even left it here with me so he won’t have to carry it next time. I’ve played with musicians who made scary music. Technically they were very good players, but the dark vibe was too much for me. Ron does his stuff tongue in cheek, satirically and humorously. This gives it a much lighter feel, and I think more mature. The attitude is like what British music does; no one takes the religious content seriously.

Quarter of four. Been to the store and back. My gig bags came at two thirty: pretty cheapie stuff. I think my strings just arrived.

Five forty. I got the mail, and Aesop went gunnysacks. I’m still a bit mad at him for being irrational over something as trivial as getting the mail out of the box. It’s been a hard day for him. Me too, but not as bad as the day I met with Dominic. And it’s better now that my Vraylar is at a lower dose. I’m not quite as irritable as before… Somebody told me that I’m doing pretty good with my life, and I believe it was Todd. It surprises me to recall it now. It was quite a nice compliment. I know I heard it this week. It catches me off guard and makes me think a little. I guess I really am doing well. Remember to get my labs done! On Tuesday I get to see the hematologist again. He’s such a nice guy, so I don’t mind going to him.