Like Dickens

Three thirty in the morning.

The weather yesterday was cloudy. I didn’t pay much attention to it; stayed indoors all day, scribbling notes in my journal. It’s odd to think of how utterly responsible we are for the biosphere and the cycles of the weather. We believe we’re doing good just by working to earn a living, yet the economy is not everything. It’s a small, artificial part of a much bigger whole. “All the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies / Living in their pools they soon forget about the sea.” …I don’t remember what dreams I had before I got out of bed, but they were set in my own street.

Eight o’clock. It is foggy at the tree line. Heather had on a T-shirt with the logo “Ghost of Gatsby,” a local rock band that plays originals. She said they were pretty good. I stood deliberating in front of the freezer, looking at the peppermint candy ice cream, and finally decided a negative. Instead I got a mango tea Snapple, plus a reuben sandwich and some cottage cheese. Through Kat’s front window I could see the backs of three heads that were fixed on the giant tv screen as I ambled by on Fremont Avenue. Karen’s salon front sported a homemade sign: “Nail technician needed.” Jessica has been gone for a week or two now, left to be with her family. Kim still works there, I think, but she doesn’t do nails. Something about the salon gives me an impression of any book you like by Charles Dickens. Probably I should stick my head in the door and say hi someday soon, and forgive Karen’s rightwing politics. I might be just in time for “A Christmas Carol.” 

Darwin or Dickens?

After midnight.

I suppose I’ll be in limbo for a long time, in the cracks between nothingness and being. I’m not sure of the motive for my intellectual quest, especially when the old canon of classics has been dismantled, dropped entirely, leaving nothing to replace it. In my head I hear archaic music from the forties, the era of big swing bands. One time thirty years ago, as I was passing by Gerlinger Hall on the sidewalk up on Campus in the evening, I heard the sounds of swing music through the windows of the second floor, and I knew that people were dancing to visions of the past. I felt half inclined to go inside and check it out, but I was very shy in my early twenties and continued on my way home. The University was such a cool place to be, yet ever since the illness I’ve felt exiled from what was so dear to me. I was seeing a psychologist who assumed I was “normal” but at the end of that year I passed into the hands of psychiatry, after which nothing was the same. My deepest resentments went to the English department for the terrible snobbery of faculty and staff, an attitude that alienated me from school forever. And now my reality is the psychiatric rehabilitation place and the church, these refuges for freaks and geeks. I found my way there by instinct since I fired my shrink, whose insults I wouldn’t tolerate anymore. The world can be a mean place. And really there’s no excuse for people to act that way, except to say that it is done, it is precedent from time out of mind. Thus it’s no wonder that I shrank from Mean Street and sought a softer way of treating each other. When life sucks, it really sucks, so it’s such a gift sometimes to go where Dickens is still observed.