Noon hour. People don’t communicate with each other like they should… The poems I wrote after my dad’s death grew more pornographic and doubtful about my orientation. Was I just a pervert, maybe a victim of rock and roll music? Sometimes I wish I could drink again and forget what a degenerate I am. It takes the pain away for a while. I remember a day in January 2002 when most of the band Blueface came to my house. That was fun and heartwarming. I used to drink a lot and do the whole rock and roll lifestyle except I wasn’t promiscuous. I looked at porn, that was all. But I was on the same page with the band, whether it was evil or whatever. They connected it with the devil, uncomfortably for me, and it worsened my delusions. The lifestyle dichotomized experience into a Christian good and evil. The band actually wanted to go to hell. I didn’t want to believe in either heaven or hell, but to just be my agnostic self. I recall the day at Borders when I picked up The Riverside Milton, kind of an editorial blunder. I doubt that it’s in print anymore. But I bought it and began to read Paradise Lost, thinking of Satan as a hero.
One o’clock. The magnetic pull of summertime activates old memories of the gigging life and how rock and roll affected my mentality. Is it really desirable to play rock music again? It’ll be good to go to church Sunday and purge my dark thoughts for a while. Out with the bad, in with the good. I feel tempted to drink beer in the summer sunshine, get loaded and do something with music. But I won’t do that. This mood will pass, like everything. I’m really a thrall to my memories, triggered by the seasons and the weather… I can remember the feeling of being shit faced drunk. It was wonderful at first, but then it became unpleasant because of withdrawals. The year 2011 was so much fun, especially in the fall when Kate and I exchanged gifts and so many emails. But what a chore for my body to push all that fermented fluid! Poor liver and pancreas, stomach, kidneys— everything. Alcohol gave me a foretaste of heaven, but it was false, merely a release of endorphins in the brain. Over time the heaven turned into a nightmare of hell. I finally stopped drinking because my stomach couldn’t hold the liquor down anymore. I was wasting my money.
Quarter of five.
Up before the birds again. I feel a sense of what a stuffed shirt I appear to myself. I dreamed that I had written a novel, but the first few pages were copied from Henry James, so now I had to go back and rewrite it. Awake, I mused on being a failure, since blogging is not the same as real writing. To write like Henry James required much more work than simply jotting down short posts with an iPad. And to aspire to write in his tradition is probably rather shallow and unworthy. My family would be the first to attest to this discovery. In my head I hear “The Unforgettable Fire” by U2, maybe significantly. I guess what I’m trying to say is I need be a bit more humble and respectful. It could be a mistake to bypass my natural feelings of remorse when I’ve done a bad here and there. Cognitive therapy has its pitfalls. My sister once asked me if I respected her and her family, and I sidestepped the question by saying, “Do you want me to make you a list?” She called me childish and said she had a great number of friends who loved her. It was all occasioned by the previous night, when I had used the word “didactic” to my nephew. The next day, he was beside himself with fury, and complained to his mother about it. But on the issue of respecting them, I have to say I really don’t. This is the sad fact, and my honesty compels me to admit it.
One o’clock. The caffeine from the Coke was toxic to me again. It was very difficult to breathe, and I felt like I would have a stroke or heart attack. I should be smarter than to do anything self destructive…
It occurs to me even more clearly that my brother was never on my side. If anything, he would have liked to murder me to puff himself up. He is not a terrible person; only terrible to me. I hope he doesn’t try to call me again. To hell with him. It must be because Mom was better to me than she ever was to him. His motivation then is sheer jealousy and resentment, as I picked up on starting at age 16 or so. I put my observations into my creative writing in high school and college. At 31 years old I was fully conscious of his hatred of me, but Mom never did realize how he despised her. Today, my brother’s hate consumes his body and his soul. He told me that he would never forgive Mom for neglecting him. It’s not hard to infer that he will never forgive me either for benefiting where he missed out… It’s a little sad to countenance it, since I grew up adoring him. Maybe one of these days Polly will call me with the news that Jeff is dead. Then, gone with him will be Tarzan, John Carter, Conan, and all my heroes from childhood.
Midnight hour. I had unpleasant dreams about my mother. She wanted to punish me for something, I don’t know what. The maddest she ever got at me was when I’d do something to magnify her feelings of guilt. She didn’t realize that the feelings belonged to her and not me. The way I feel right now, I didn’t care much for my mother. For too much of the time she was completely irrational. She made me feel unwelcome in her life. I think my dad was a little afraid of her as well. If Mom was unhappy and frustrated with her life, she shouldn’t have given me birth. She felt trapped in a loveless marriage, but she had only herself to blame for blocking her exits.
In hindsight, it seems like a lot of Mom’s lifetime was spent fleeing from herself or from reality. So much of her existence proceeded from her own bad decisions. She figured that loveless company was better than none at all.
What really alienated her from people was not her quantity of intelligence but its quality. Mom’s place was among artistic people. One day she confided to me, “I don’t fit.” The other homemakers on our street tried to involve her in games of bridge and going out to lunch, but Mom disliked gossipy gatherings. That kind of activity wasn’t real to her. She craved intimacy and sincerity with others, but unfortunately she couldn’t drop into a groove anywhere. If she had only taken an interest in confessional poetry such as Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath, or anything creative along these lines, and risked a little rejection from critics… But Mom was afraid of rejection. Thus the end result is a conflicted life whose theme music is the chorus to “Eleanor Rigby.”
There is no evidence that schizophrenia is caused by repression of gay instincts. It was merely a nonsense theory dreamed up by Sigmund Freud a century ago. Without proof, a theory is sunk, or at least it isn’t a fact. Scientific studies show that the predisposition for schizophrenia is hereditary and not phenomenological. This is what I go by. As for the prognosis, the illness is incurable except in 15 percent of cases. I doubt if Sheryl was aware of either of these facts. She believed she was onto a miracle cure that she read about on the web. I have no faith in talk therapy with regard to schizophrenia. I’m an oddball for my opinion in our time, but posterity will probably prove me right. Talk therapy is in vogue because it is less expensive than psychiatry, and of course the world wants to save a buck or two. The rule goes, any accurate knowledge costs money, while misinformation is available for free. I just hope for a day when this sad state of affairs is redressed. Some rich and generous soul with a science brain must come forward and set things to right. But then, the rich usually get richer while the poor get poorer. This problem needs to be fixed first.
Quarter after two. I slept for about four hours and had at least one significant dream. It featured Vince from across the street many years ago. We were having a conversation in a sparely appointed room about James Baldwin. Vince said very articulately that Baldwin’s life had been a social experiment. He added that it was a difficult one, but Baldwin didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be a homosexual. He was born that way… What Vince was saying so intelligently could not have been voiced by the wife he divorced long ago. Although, his daughter Victoria is studying to be a therapist, or will be someday. I recall the bond of father and daughter they had. They shot hoops together out in their driveway… So when I awoke, I returned to think about giving talk therapy another chance. My plan is to call Laurel Hill this morning and ask about the possibilities for me of doing that.
One fifty five. I think I’ve determined what was bugging me yesterday. It was the memory of my first girlfriend, who loved me and left me broken-hearted 33 years ago. My mind employed all kinds of defense mechanisms to hide it from myself. At the same time, my subconscious was gently trying to remind me of what happened in 1987. Yesterday afternoon the cravings for alcohol were so bad that I went to bed and tried to blot myself out of existence until the sun was nearly down. The trauma from that relationship is something I still have to deal with. I haven’t been in love with anyone else since her. I don’t know what to say about her right now, but it will gradually become clear. It gives me some pain to play my new bass, which sounds so similar to the old pewter Fender I owned in ‘87. I loved that little bass… Every springtime this trauma comes back to me, but not as badly as this year. I wonder what’s going to happen next?
One ten. I tried to sleep for a few hours. My dreams were piecemeal and formless, nonsense. Like visual gibberish. The last lucid dream I had featured Eduardo and Pastor… and a lot of alcohol. It was a bohemian, bacchanalian vision, bright and warm as the beating of my heart. First I got drunk at home on Fosters Lager, then wandered over to the church. I came upon Eduardo playing piano in the sanctuary, which appeared like a high school band room or college lecture hall. I glowed and harmonized with the music as it waxed major here and minor there. Pastor came and we walked out and across the street by the side of a car while Eduardo stayed in the sanctuary. We played a game of Name that Tune with Eduardo on piano, which we could hear from there. I told Pastor I had lost my sobriety, but apparently life was still good. Throughout the dream, I felt elated, even exhilarated with intoxication. I was in bliss, never happier than that morning.
It is probably my natural state to be drunk and jocular. Or anyhow, that is the way I am happy. Dreams are the expression of desires and sometimes fears. As it is, drunkenness has been my foretaste of heaven, unless there is no such place. In that case, heaven was here on earth, and now only accessible by my dreams of getting drunk. This is my honest confession. An alcoholic never really loses the drive to drink. It goes underground when he abstains, lurking dormant like a sleeping dragon. Any day it can wake up and take over the person’s will. This is why philosophy is so important to me: it stands as a fortress of reason against the wily beast caged below. But to slay the dragon would kill the whole person because it is a natural and vital part of him. The best he can do is to tame the beast.
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…
I just listened to part of The Wall by Pink Floyd. It was on my mind when I woke up, but the stimulus behind it was the memory of my old friend Ken from when I was in high school. I was very sick with mononucleosis for my junior year, and to cheer me up, Ken made me a cassette copy of the album by Pink Floyd. He was a big fan of Roger Waters, the mastermind of the band during the 70s. Looking back on my emotions when I was 17, there was a lot that I didn’t understand. I still don’t, but I know that my bond with Ken was the strongest of my youth. We listened to music together down in my room, and my parents were always glad to see him come over. There was nothing not to like about Ken; he was loved by everybody. I happened to get to know him very deeply. He had a depressive side to him that he didn’t show to most people. Hence his admiration for Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. I had no idea myself that I would later be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Nobody knew. When the illness came, my friend grew more distant emotionally. He was disappointed in me, because in his opinion I had a great deal of musical talent. He couldn’t accept the loss of the person I had been. So now, I often think about my junior year in high school when I was so sick. It was a kind of harbinger of the bigger illness to come in college. Ken hung around, but never with the same love and trust as before. Instead of music, he took up golfing and microbrews and became still more aloof. His politics got conservative and narrow minded. And then one summer day in 1999, his black Dodge Ram hit a tree and he was killed. It was a senseless death. Quite a multitude came to his memorial service. But the person they remembered was not the same one that I knew, the one who shared The Wall with me when I was sick.
It’s very odd being 53 years old, and having such a wall up with my family. I regret it only a little. Overall I think the division is irreparable. Jeff still hasn’t called back, nor will he. Polly told me some wild stories about him, and she usually tells the truth. But the moral shortcomings all around are really hard to ignore. How do you forgive racism? Or gratuitous lying and cheating— even stealing? I know I’m a lazy person, and proud. Still, I don’t screw anyone over. I do remember a time when I was a chameleon with people I didn’t particularly like. I told them what they wanted to hear and they were completely fooled. Eventually I was exposed, and then the poop hit the fan. I don’t know where I learned to be a deceiver, though I saw my brother dupe the family enough times. His practice caused a great deal of pain. In the last decade I began to see duplicity for what it is. So many times he tried to swear me to secrecy about his feelings toward the rest of the family. Every time it backfired because Polly demanded to know the truth from me. My siblings used me like a shuttlecock in a game of badminton. I think now they finally realize how they feel about each other, so now they have no use for me! Funny how it turned out. Anyway, now I’m free of the mess…