Sunday Grunge

Six o’clock.

I just paid my disposal bill. Really looking forward to my morning Snapples. Aesop wants to go back to bed. Now he’s nudging his dry food. More than once since yesterday I’ve thought of Christina from physical therapy. The last time we spoke, she was very nice. Actually, the whole staff of that place was kind and encouraging. It was only two months ago, but it seems like two years. I wonder if my little prophecy regarding WordPress is coming true? Right now, people are keeping very quiet on the website. Outside, there’s a light pattering of raindrops on the roof over the patio, but my eyesight can descry nothing in the total darkness.

Eight twenty. Daylight, and the rain has stopped. When the hour is decent, I can hardly wait to play with my Rumble amp again. I’ll try to refrain from checking out the news; it only serves to depress me and make me feel jaded. America has a spiritual sickness, sort of like the sickness of Europe during the world wars. Evidently Trump is saying things that some people want to hear, just as Hitler spoke to a Germany that welcomed his words with enthusiasm. Fortunately he can’t say it on Twitter anymore.

Quarter of ten. The raspberry tea Snapple hit the spot. Things were pretty relaxed at the market this morning, low key and easygoing. The music in my head is “Black Hole Sun,” a grunge classic that feels appropriate for the times. When I think of it, I like to drop D on my bass and pound out “Spoonman” occasionally. The neighbors probably hate it, but I’m within my rights to express myself. I ought to try it with a little fuzz from the overdrive circuit. Maybe today. 

Farewell?

Six o’clock.

I can sleep no longer this morning, yet it’s still pitch dark outside. Recording the church service went well. It also went quite briefly; I got home before eight o’clock. Kenneth, the Jamaican guy, gave me a lift, so I didn’t have to walk. Only two people showed up to be singers, Sandi and myself. Everyone is getting very tired of the Covid lockdown. Hopefully in about a month we’ll be live-streaming worship on Sunday mornings… This afternoon we’re having band practice again, Mike and Ron and me. I get to use my new amp at Mike’s place. It’s kind of a nice change to have some male friends to do things with. This element had been missing from my life.

Seven twenty five. First light of dawn is showing. Within a half hour I will head to the store for my Snapples and something to eat.

Quarter of nine. At the store I saw three guys in camouflage uniform. I have no idea what they were up to or where they were going. I felt a bit intimidated, but I was on my way out the door… Aesop has been fed his breakfast. Goodness, but everything is topsy turvy, and 2021 is off to a rocky start. Well no, the only oddball thing is Trump. We’re just counting the days until the inauguration.

Ten o’clock. I don’t know what my nearest neighbors are thinking, but they’ve certainly been quiet for the past two months. The gaudy banality of blogging is getting me down; I think I’ll have to give it up. I’ve contemplated it since November. I get enough support for my sobriety from Our Redeemer, which is local and mostly real and live. This community needs me and I need it. Of course I will keep writing, just not on WordPress anymore. This may be farewell. 

My Personal Wall

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. 

A Mental Battle

Three forty in the morning.

I have insomnia tonight from the Snapple teas I drank. But they also gave me the motivation to do some housework. The new reading glasses arrived in yesterday’s mail. I suppose they’re functional enough. Meanwhile the old ones broke. Blogging is not very rewarding right now in terms of getting likes from followers, but it doesn’t mean they’re not reading every post. Obtaining likes can become an addiction for some people. So, I will just keep posting stuff for my own benefit… 

It sucks to be up in the middle of the night, when no one else is awake and it’s dark outside. I know a few people who operate on the assumption that “money makes the world go round.” Their worldview is strictly materialistic, and they see nothing wrong with this. The only power they know of is the dollar sign. Something called to my mind the spiritualism of 19th Century novelists like Dostoevsky, and their mental battle against materialism rising in their culture. How important is it for people to acknowledge some kind of spiritual life? How blind are the ones who don’t? “Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.” Sometimes the wonder goes completely out of my life, and then I know there’s trouble. Karamazov is a brilliant book, so I think I’ll go back and revisit the opening sections. Or, I can keep struggling with Victor Hugo… Another thought is that the university I went to was really geared towards materialism, with some exceptions. This was the indoctrination I received. But you can always get another indoctrination. 

For Tiffany

Three forty in the morning.

I went to bed and thought about an old song by John McLaughlin on Birds of Fire, “Miles Beyond.” A good friend lent me his cassette tape of the album in the fall of 1987, when we were forming a rock band with one other person. I had been very depressed over a failed relationship, but beginning in November, things turned around for me. I was pondering why I drank with my parents in my youth, and I still don’t know why. It enhanced my sense of self esteem, even out of proportion to reality. This is the narcissism component of alcoholism. It feels great to be in love with yourself, but ultimately it’s a delusion of grandeur. For all those years of alcohol abuse, I could have been someone quite different. At the time, it helped me compensate for feeling like a loser in high school. There was nothing else to empower me, so I fell for an illusion of power. I didn’t realize what a force writing could be until four years ago. An acquaintance wrote to me in January 2007, “Words hold definite power,” and now I believe her. 

Out with the Old…

Five o’clock.

Now I wonder if Vicki will be working this morning. My imagination can summon all kinds of fates that could have happened to her. But the only fact I know is her absence yesterday. I also know the circumstances of her headache that never went away, the tumor on her brain, and the doctors who didn’t give her any straight answers… I don’t know how I feel about it, but I was used to seeing her every week morning for many years. Her quality of life probably wasn’t so great. She lived by herself and worked like a drone every weekday. She didn’t seem to enjoy it anymore; even stopped bantering with the guys who came in from the distributors. Her sense of humor had gone out of her life… What makes life worth living? Endless drudgery doesn’t seem to be the best thing. Rolling that boulder up the hill over and over again gets tiresome and boring to tears. The futility of it brings you down after a while. I lived that way for a short time until I learned that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had options available to me, and I chose wisely. My brother can call me names all he wants, but he isn’t happy with his life. He tends to blame others for his own unhappiness, but he needs to bring responsibility home to himself. He is free to choose for himself, regardless of what other people do with their lives. The truth is that everyone is responsible only for their own feelings, their own behavior. The ultimate arbiter is you.

Quarter of seven. I imagine that with the change to a Democratic administration, blogging will change accordingly, but I was prepared for this. I plan to keep writing on into the next year and see who shows up… I heard a shower of rain a few minutes ago. There should be daylight by seven twenty or so. When it comes, I will go to the store as I do every day. My heart is open to what the new year and the new government bring. It seems like anything can happen, but personally I’m very happy for the defeat of a tyrant who made us an embarrassment to the rest of the world. Aesop has finally gotten out of bed and wants a snack. I catch myself still avoiding the salon because I think Karen is very disgruntled over politics. Roger probably is too. I don’t see people openly jumping for joy, and yet my heart leaps quietly. Eventually it will be okay to talk about it. The rain has begun again, fortunately, though it’s still very dark outside. It’s going to be one of those days. 

Monkey Do Again

Six thirty.

Feeling angry and frustrated with blogging, so maybe I’ll leave it for a while. If I don’t, then I won’t expect to get many likes. I’ve always been a nonconformist, so why try to change now? Somewhere in the world there must be satisfaction. All around me I see compliance to social norms, and never a risk taken. People do things just because everybody else is doing it, or because they saw it in the movies.

Nine twenty five. A change is overcoming me. It has something to do with belongingness and togetherness, yet still I don’t know if it’s a good thing. I just heard a conversation at the store about police practices in Michigan. It sounded quite Orwellian and oppressive. For a long time now I’ve been concerned with public versus private life, and which deserves more weight. I think social media is overrated at this point. Having a good friend to correspond with is great, but I dislike the feeling of being compromised by a majority. Perhaps blogging has outworn its usefulness. Maybe it’s the end of the road for me… The sun peeks through for a moment, but we’re supposed to get a lot more rain this week. I’ll probably help with church Friday night. Meanwhile, I’ve found my copy of The Myth of Sisyphus and will spend time with that. 

Evacuees

Four o’clock.

It’s been a very strange kind of day, with thick wildfire smoke choking the Valley, tinting the sky apricot and orange, the sun raspberry. I’ve gone out in this mess twice today, but they advise staying indoors. The residents of Marcola, which is the east side of Springfield, are preparing to evacuate. Before I had a nap this afternoon, I was imagining the worst for our future. It seemed like the tip of the iceberg, or perhaps even more advanced than that. But not everyone is thinking that way. I called my sister and she was quite levelheaded about the fires. And then, when I walked to the salon and the store, plenty of people were out and about. On my first excursion this morning, the traffic on the Interstate seemed rather normal. I observed that some streetlights were still on against the smoky obscurity. It feels like some idiot’s demented nightmare, but I wonder if the idiot is only me. I added together the fires, climate change, the pandemic, the protests and counter protests, and the election, and came up with apocalypse. Another factor in my deduction was the way some bloggers are leaving WordPress. Dear reader, will you become one of them? 

A Labor Day Letter

This holiday is a particular milestone for me every year, starting with 2003, when the musician named JP called me on the phone out of the blue. Months earlier, he had seen my newspaper ad for sober musicians and kept it. His friend Dave was already there at his house, so I packed up my 83 Fender bass and headed over to W Second Avenue off of Chambers Street. I remember that it was a beautiful day, and I was still an outpatient at Serenity Lane. I’d had nearly five months without alcohol… The next Labor Day weekend, 2004, I relapsed into active alcoholism while employed at Laurel Hill as a document scanner. Thirteen years later, I went to the emergency room on Labor Day and was given a brutal “rectal exam” by a Black woman doctor. And 2017 was also the year I finally decided that drinking wasn’t feasible. In five more days it’ll be three years. Now, it doesn’t sound like a significant amount of time, but I can remember when I couldn’t stay sober more than 11 days. I would always rationalize myself back to drinking again. The only person better at rationalization than myself is my brother. I truly wish that he could find life without alcohol worth living. Polly might forgive him if he quits drinking and lying. But maybe his destiny is different from mine. Mainly, I just hate to think of him living alone in misery.


To a great extent, my recovery has been a self evolution by means of language. I broke away from my family and the mother tongue and developed a language of my own with the help of blogging and journaling. I sort of wrote myself into existence. The language center of my brain has always been very articulate. Not even a severe episode of psychosis could wipe it out, which is atypical of people with schizophrenia. Many lower functioning schizophrenic people have difficulty with communication. I reckon that my verbal gifts are a blessing to me, because whatever happens, my logos doesn’t fail me. This reminds me of a character from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series for children, a big, furry, simian creature named Gurgi. Gurgi was forever hungry and begging people for “crunchings and munchings” all the time. At the end of the second book, a kind and powerful king rewards Gurgi with a magic food pouch that is inexhaustible. You can eat and eat and eat and the pouch never runs out. The food pouch came to be used by all the characters associated with Gurgi on their adventures. Anyhow, I remembered this because my word generator seems similarly endless.


That was a great series, btw, but I think geared more toward boys than girls. My favorite installment is the fourth book, Taran Wanderer, where the young hero goes out on his own to learn the truth about his parentage. Besides many other people, he meets a blacksmith who helps him forge his own sword. The end product is not particularly pretty to look at; it’s a bit misshapen and imperfect in a word. However, the steel is extremely strong, and it symbolizes the identity of Taran himself.

Stay Positive

Seven ten.

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.