Seven thirty five.
The sun is just coming up, and there’s frost on Roger’s rooftop. I got a better sleep last night but my dreams were not lucid. At midnight I finished up another blank book, commenting on the faces I saw at Bi Mart yesterday afternoon. They were all unfamiliar to me, so how can I love them all universally? It is Christian doctrine to love your neighbor as yourself, but when everyone is a stranger it can be quite difficult. I think this is why Joyce is important to remember, pointing out the relatedness of all humanity, like a big family. But for me, family is a problem, and has been ever since I fell ill thirty years ago. A lot of bad feeling between our homes, a Hatfield and McCoy feud. Or more like a Cold War. So that my family appears to me as those strange faces in the Bi Mart parking lot yesterday… Aesop doesn’t feel well right now, so I’m going to watch him for a little while.
Quarter after eight. I know that my mother never would’ve wanted for her family to be so divided. Perhaps it ought to be a family unified in Christ, and the same church for all of us. It’s only resentment in me that gives me the defiant independent spirit. Or maybe these ideas are just learning from books, not from experience? I get a bellyful of ideology and would like to level everything down to what you can see and hear, taste and smell and touch. Now the sun blasts into the front window. A few leaves have turned on my maple and oak. I’m ready for a little adventure, but I fear that my dog is unwell this morning.
Nine twenty five. The people at the store looked rather shabby, including me, and spirits were pretty low. I ran into Melissa and her boy at checkout and said hi. Cathy arrived at nine o’clock and finished my transaction at the register. When I was going home I thought of Melissa’s kid, asking myself if I’d ever be mature enough to be a father. I’m probably too egoistic to consider such a thing. And I thought what is it all for when you bring a child into the world.
I did too much caffeine yesterday afternoon, so now it’s hard to sleep. Still, I’m thankful for the autumn and the rejuvenation I get from it. I used to have a friend who played guitar, and also was a fan of Washington Irving. Months ago I bought the volume that contains the Sketchbook and never popped the plastic on it, as if saving it for a special occasion. Halloween might be a good time to bring it out. My sister’s family had a miniature dachshund named Ichabod, probably inspired by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” though they likely didn’t read the tale. The definition of a classic. I read it at least once, and then my book perished in the house fire… I remember all the resentment and bad feeling between our families, and at some level it still exists. When I learned the basics of cognitive therapy I severed myself mentally from my family, widening the gulf between us and increasing our incomprehension. This is something that language can do. But if I wanted to return to their mother tongue, I suppose I could, though it would mean paranoia for me… and maybe for them too. Also it would restore a sort of telepathy among us, which is a little spooky to consider. It’s like a heavy morning fog clinging to Sleepy Hollow, oozy and archaic with obsolete words.
I read the first two chapters of the Jung book. Not the best thing for a person with schizophrenia, but I found it interesting. I still object that belief in the unconscious is fatalistic. It would be desirable to make decisions from a free and conscious mind, not to drag along an archaic history process with us. I wonder how Sartre would argue with Jung on that score. I’d love to see such a confrontation, an intellectual boxing match. Who is your money on? I don’t believe that freedom is an illusion. We really do have freedom of choice, even to do extreme things, like breaking with your family or with a church in order to find your independent way. Jung calls this being a Judas Iscariot, again tying our actions to history and mythology: tradition, which is embedded in the layers of the psyche— if you accept his theory. The burden of proof is actually on him. And maybe my debate is really with the pastor of the church, and I assume the role of Sartre. It’s a symbolic boxing bout of theology and philosophy. I still need to understand why I’m fighting with the church, though it’s been going on for a very long time. I think I just want to be happy. If Christianity doesn’t make me feel good then I should definitely quit going to church. This will be the end of it, matter settled. Sartre and Jung shake hands and leave the ring.
I fed Aesop early today. I’m beginning to stress about leaving him here while I go to my band practice, if we decide to do that today. The dog was in such a bad mood yesterday from my absences on Wednesday and Thursday. Very pouty, and he even snarled at me last night… Well now it’s a date set in stone: rehearsal at one o’clock. Maybe Aesop will forgive me. The high temperature might be 95 degrees. I’m getting rather sick of blue sky every day and no sign of any precipitation. You start to wonder if it’ll ever rain again, and will autumn ever come. I hear sparrows and falling acorns out back. Tried calling my sister again with no answer. My guess is her son is probably home. He and I don’t get along together very well; but the whole family thing is stupid and really out of my hands. I wrote them off when I quit drinking almost four years ago. I have no control over family nor the power to change the situation. But at least they also have no power over me. It’s not like they made a little voodoo doll of me for sticking pins in; we don’t cast spells on each other back and forth like two teams of wizards. Right now, as I write, there’s no one in the room with me but for Aesop. The rest is my imagination.
Nine thirty five. I’ve been through a lot of things since 2017 and seen so many faces, heard many stories. I guess none of it was wasted time as it’s part of the same learning experience. Still there are some things I wouldn’t want to repeat. Even now, there are circumstances I’d rather get out of and risk going it on my own…
I just observed a pair of sparrows on the grass, copulating like crazy. It appears that all of nature is in a state of confusion, unless mating season is supposed to be yearlong for these birds. I dunno, but I suspect foul play.
I only heard about the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon this morning. Apparently it’s been going on for some time. That’s my reward for not watching television or going to church: I’m out of the information loop… It seems like I feel terrible every day now. My right foot pops when I put all my weight on it, as if it had a stress fracture. I need to make the pleasures of life outweigh the pains to feel happier, or else existence is a burden. Tough luck, I guess. There are things money can’t buy, including your health and wellness in some degree. The joy that keeps me going is my rock band, without which I’d have nothing. The summer drags on way too long with no sign of rain on the horizon. “When April with its sweet showers / The drought of March has pierced to the root…” But we didn’t get much rain in April. I’m just feeling depressed with the state of the world. It appears to be on the brink of collapse. Consequently, people need more parties, more fun while it’s still possible to have a good time.
Quarter after nine. Big white clouds roll in, darkening the sun and keeping it cooler. My raspberry tea was good, and Aesop liked his turkey and pea breakfast. Tomorrow I get to visit with Heidi in her office at the agency; for this reason my mood is lifting a little… I was just looking at the anatomy of the human foot: much more complex than I knew. My foot doesn’t hurt, but just pops under pressure. Well, I could complain about a score of little things that bother me, while there’s one thing that pleases me most, and that is making music. Is it an exaggeration to say that music may be our salvation?
Some days my shots miss the target wide by a mile, and yet my misses are part of the overall journey of discovery. I believe the dartboard is movable depending on public opinion, so really it’s of no consequence to me… Owing to loneliness, I had a rather crap day. Is it a case of self pity when you admit how lousy you feel? But I was never a stoic kind of person. Band practice was canceled as I anticipated, so that means I’ll spend the weekend by myself unless I go to church Sunday. I guess I’ll write a check to God and make an appearance with the assembly. It just seems like pounding money down a rathole, because I think I’m basically an atheist— but for the human spirit, the human community. Only in my earliest memories do I feel any connection with the Jungian God, an evocation difficult to reproduce today with all my factual clutter. The connection Wordsworth had with Nature was simplistic; he had to clear his mind totally to feel the presence of the divine from the countryside. So, is it really possible to commune with a God in a cityscape of harsh angles, ugly power and telephone lines crisscrossing the sky, whizzing motorcars sending up pollution to the moon, and amid the loud hum of everything electrical? I think it was Thoreau in Walden who wrote a grotesque description of the railroad with the black beastly locomotive intruding on the natural scene. And some people argue that nature and artifice are a false dichotomy! I wonder how they can maintain that point of view after reading a book like Walden?… And so I’ll go to church on Sunday, walking the backstreets to unromantic Maxwell Road, where I might find the graffiti of the prophets written on the sidewalk.
The weather today will be much like yesterday, sunny and around 90 degrees… After seeing my friend’s total misinterpretation of a Joyce story, I feel compelled to comment on how sexless our society is nowadays. I believe it started with George Bush and his policy of abstinence being the best contraceptive. That was 15 years ago, but it seems we never recovered from his attitude. And then there was the general American obsession with dogs, as if they could be more important than human relationships. Not to mention the fact that we neuter and spay them without giving it a thought… I just gave Aesop his breakfast. It’s an odd thing to consider the sterilization of humanity over the last two decades. And it’s a wearisome uphill battle to try to remedy the situation. It makes me want to print a story like “Altar of the Dead” by Henry James a billion times over for everyone to see. People can probably look it up on Project Gutenberg anyway.
Hopefully you can read this story without missing the irony. If you decide to go ahead with it, know that you’re in good hands.
Eleven twenty. I wonder why I view things so differently from my sister’s family? I still remember when, as grade school kids, our families were quite close. But maybe it was only alcoholism that united us and gave us something in common. Our parents used to get blasted and play pinochle until the hour was late. The boys and I played children’s games with GI Joe dolls, hide and seek, Chinese checkers, and even Atari home video games. We had transistor radios that picked up AM stations, so we could hear Steve Miller Band, Paul McCartney, and everything Top 40 from the mid seventies. We could toss the frisbee and bounce Super Balls. We could ride dirt bikes in Central Oregon. We hadn’t learned how or what to think yet, and probably we lacked consciousness altogether. I only knew that I loved dinosaurs and whales, and comic books of sword and sorcery heroes. I grew up in a quiet home environment that over the years promoted time for reflection. I was raised like an only child; no need to compete for attention. There were many factors that ultimately divided our families. So I guess it would be silly for me to blame myself for the outcome of the split. In fact, the fission of my family is similar to the Big Bang, with the particles being driven farther and farther apart… or so it seems sometimes. The copy of The Doobie Brothers I got by mail order I still haven’t listened to. The memories linked to it would be too painful to experience again.
Quarter after seven.
I believe my appointment with Rebecca is at eleven o’clock, and then I have one with Heidi at two o’clock. Maybe I should be more trusting of people; and also I could try to keep relativity of perception in mind when I have disagreements with them. How can anyone’s vision be absolute? And yet I consider myself very realistic and accurate. I guess I just don’t get along with people very well. Sometimes it sounds good to think of drowning my perceptions with a 12 pack of my favorite beer. To drink from the River of Forgetfulness would be a great pleasure; but when you think about it, existence in the world is a sort of challenge, and to renounce it is to say you’re not up to it.
Living is a fight. Dying is when you lose the will to fight.
I feel like such a minority, yet there can be great satisfaction from a little victory here and there. My sister’s opinions are very narrow and exclusive; she even said that the walk with Christ is narrow. It reminds me of a Hawthorne tale: “The Celestial Railroad.” No one gets to heaven by the quick and easy way. But that’s just her opinion, and maybe heaven is overrated after all. Maybe there is no heaven anyway. It’s too difficult a problem for a person like me to puzzle out…
It’s supposed to be 88 degrees today. Damien is coming after three o’clock to help me get a window air conditioner. And during the wee hours I listened to the first disc of Romeo and Juliet: almost as sublime as that half case of beer. Now a different tune begins to play, an oldie by Queen called “Bicycle Race.”
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
Midnight hour. I definitely dreamed about a religious end of the world tonight. I had to make a wager on the existence of hell so I bet there was no such place. The upshot was basically that it is so if you think so. What you don’t believe can’t hurt you.
I’d like to really call it quits with my family after everything that has happened since Mom passed away. Write it off as a big mistake. My parents had a different surname and a different worldview from the rest of the family. And a generation separates me from my sister. This December, my mother will have been dead for twenty years; it seems like a good cutoff point with the past. My mind has been working on this problem all this month in piecemeal fashion, and now the objective is made clear. But do I really have the heart to disown my blood relatives to be free and happy? Ugh. The answer is likely yes, because of the conversation with my sister just two weeks ago about human rights versus religious freedom. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of mental illness goes with the territory of the former. As an example, last Thursday I saw a T-shirt at the agency that read, “We’re all human,” the last word filled with rainbow colors. It seems that my family and I are at an irreconcilable impasse as long as they follow the lead of my fundamentalist Christian sister. Either someone has to compromise or else our relationship is doomed— at least until Pride Month is over. And even then there will be further hurdles. We can expect this for the next four years…