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. 

Tuesday Crucible

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… 

My Big Mouth

I’m afraid I might have blown it with R— and the whole proposition of getting a personal care attendant. I texted her Monday morning but got no reply all day. If I don’t hear from her again, then I guess that’s the consequence of my big mouth, talking big about “freedom” and independence, etc etc. Also I guess I didn’t like R— very much, especially the way she employed dishonest tactics and handled schizophrenia in such a shameful manner. I would have hoped for better because she had two kids with autism. We just didn’t hit it off, and you either like certain people or you don’t.

So, I’ve had rather a bad day all day today, and additionally the wheels seem to be coming off my blog writing. Like in the Carole King song, I am down and troubled, and nothing is going right. Hopefully the darkest hour is before the dawn. This thing called responsibility for our choices has a double edge: it means the individual is in control, but also he is accountable for what goes wrong… It tends to offend people when I use logic with them and point out their fallacies and inconsistencies, such as telling R— about the absurdity of “hiring” a person to give me orders in my own home. But you know, I felt very strongly based on my observation. And when I had my say on the phone, well, I took a chance. I felt pretty big for my breeches. She talked with me for only 15 minutes that day.

I could apply other silly abstractions to what happened with the PCA opportunity, but the common sense answer is again that I blew it by offending the wrong person. I could evoke ideas like the zodiac or other expressions of fate. My brother would say I acted like my dad. He thought my dad had a tragic flaw, the unfortunate tendency to stick his foot in his mouth when the stakes were high.

But I think that either way I acted from a pure and authentic impulse; I spoke my mind and said what I meant to R— on that fateful day last month. And knowing this, I have no regrets for my behavior.

And I guess that’s all I have to say about that!

True Blue

Quarter of four in the morning.

I dreamed I got together with Dr T—, my old psychiatrist of 26 years, for a Mexican lunch. Lately I’ve been dreaming about him a lot, perhaps betraying a wish to return to his service. But what would happen if I did go back to his practice? It was out of a fiercely defiant impulse to independence that I left him four summers ago, redirecting my energies to blogging and attending church each Sunday. Now it’s all the same to me which options I choose, because my sobriety will probably remain intact. I should do whatever is faithful to myself.

Quarter of five. There’s a first gray gloaming in the east, even though it seems awfully early for the appearance of daylight. I just ordered two sets of Ernie Ball bass strings on Amazon, arriving Sunday.

Quarter after six. I wonder why I would want to make my peace with Dr T—? No matter what I did, there’s no going back to a previous condition. It is futile to entertain regrets for what is lost like spilt milk. Staying sober has its costs and also its rewards… Today there’s no practice with the band. I guess it’s another day to read and think about stuff.

Quarter of eleven. I disagreed with part of the conversation I had with my sister this morning. I still feel a little nettled about it. She can be quite self righteous in her Christian walk with God, as if her reality were the only and absolute truth. I told her that I’m a churchgoer but I don’t identify myself as a Christian necessarily. It was after I said something about the Christian Left that she started spouting her religious and political views on transgender people and how children are being educated today. I don’t really want to go into it further, or anyway not now.

At the store, Heather paid me a compliment on my honesty, which made me feel good. There were a few spats of light rain while I was out. I dropped in on Karen and Jessica for a moment and asked about Kim, whose shoulder is recovering only very slowly with the help of physical therapy. And finally I stood in Roger’s driveway shooting the breeze about his ‘73 Dodge truck, just recently finished. The color was supposed to be candy apple red, but afterwards it looks closer to scarlet, a bright red with a tinge of orange. I said it looks different on a cloudy day. 

Nominalism: a Letter

Thanks for the pretty photograph. The colors remind me of the cover to an edition of Robert Frost I used to have, long ago, as a college senior. I remember reading it in the Knight Library on the third floor, particularly “Tree at My Window” and some of the other early poems.

I had a rather difficult day. I don’t understand what’s going wrong with my life or the way my mind works, but I’m having trouble keeping boundaries with other people, and I’m letting little disagreements really upset me. Why can’t I simply assert myself without worrying about how other people feel? Something has gone wrong. Since last month I’ve become more sensitive to the things people say or seem to believe. I feel like I have to agree with them in order to get along, while asserting myself is the worst thing I can do. All I can see around me is conflict with others. This makes me think of the ideas of Thomas Hobbes, who among many things said that people don’t help each other, but rather they interfere with each other’s interests. In his view, human nature is egoistic, and individuals do what is good for themselves. I guess what I’m beginning to perceive all over again is that people are separate individuals and not just a shapeless mass of humanity. Doubtless my perception is changing since my repeated absences from church over the past two months. The pastor’s collectivism, his tendency to view people as groups, for me is gradually going away, replaced by the individualism I grew up with. Maybe Pastor’s perspective is a convenient way of handling the church group. My meetup with Tim a month ago faced me with some new problems regarding the congregation… I don’t know, but it’s harder for me now to compartmentalize real people in easy categories and classes. It all started with not going to church anymore. I imagine I’ll figure out a way to impose order on what I see, but it’ll take time.

Perhaps I’m not making much coherent sense, but then I have to muddle my way through to get to the next phase. Maybe things won’t be easy for a long time. At least I’m still sober, though life is quite a pain right now.

Time for Lunch

Five before eight.

I heard Roger’s truck leave when I was still in bed. There’s a fairly dense fog on the trees across the street. By nine o’clock I have to get both kinds of food for Aesop. Later this morning I should call DHS and renew my health plan. Part of me wants to accuse me of being a terrible person, but really it’s life today that is just awful. I will buy a couple of Snapples and drown my sorrows. I’m very tired of the people who say there’s going to be a civil war. They are the ones who actually wish for it to happen.

Ten thirty. Polly called me back and we chatted for an hour. That was kind of nice. Right now the sun is shining from a mostly clear sky. My spirits brighten a bit. After noon today I’ll probably play my Jazz Bass copy again. It doesn’t look like much, but it sounds great. A work in progress, a diamond in the rough. It’s good for knocking about. A piece of wood with strings on it and basic electronics to produce a signal: that’s all a bass guitar is, and the rest is what the musician brings to the instrument. I already look forward to our next practice this Saturday. I used to wax mystical on the subject of whence a musician gets his inspiration during a gig. Does it arise from some inner reservoir of the psyche, or is the explanation easier than that? I don’t know if I believe Carl Jung anymore, but I’m tempted to read Goethe. Music is more than the sum of the technology that creates it. The experience of it is ineffable in words, and this sublimity is its essence.

Quarter of noon. But it’s difficult to maintain a point of view of mysticism. This is what the conflict is partly about. Is the supernatural real or just a chimera? I only know that it’s time for lunch… 

The Defense of Books

Noon thirty. Trying to collect my thoughts. I still feel quite up in the air as far as the political transition. And then, Polly has an attitude about books and higher education that sometimes raises its ugly head. My response is to feel guilty, but I don’t believe it’s really my fault. I love books, and I have ever since I was about eight years old. Books form a kind of dividing line: you either love them or you hate them. They are just as symbolic as wearing glasses or having an egg head. In the end, you are what you are, and no bones about it… Dunno; should I feel bad for being a bibliophile? I think there’s no percentage in feeling guilty for anything, so I should heed my own lesson to others.

Quarter of three in the morning.

Now it finally occurs to me that Polly’s phobia of books is wrongheaded, or at least my love of books isn’t a bad thing. It is simply a difference in taste, but my sister’s opinion is absolute in her own mind. I wish she were more tolerant of the things she doesn’t understand. She tends to crucify people with an education, and maybe those who have more brainpower than herself. Somehow she can turn another person’s virtue into a vice. My whole family condemns intellectuals, but that still doesn’t make it wrong. At some point I have to stand up to them and say it’s not a crime to use your brain for something more than meat and potatoes. Indeed, I’ve done this already, and the family excommunicated me. But it’s been worthwhile to start my own blog and write out my ideas just for me. It’s a world of live and let live, of liberty and justice for all, and anyone who tries to deny another person his happiness has a serious problem. 

Crossed the Bridge

Eleven thirty five.

I don’t want to believe in karma, so I guess I just won’t. No heaven or hell, either. I think I’ve lost Pastor’s trust. It seems that he hadn’t thought through the matter of the saved and the unsaved. I feel very lousy today. When do I ever feel good? I think I should forget about the church, seeing how Pastor is avoiding me. Don’t email him anymore. He doesn’t have a good line of defense against my arguments, so that it only hurts his feelings. I think it’s over with… Gee, he’s just a little church pastor. My brother used to reproach me for flashing my brilliance. Now I kind of see why. But then, where is an intelligent person supposed to go? I feel like an enemy of the people, doomed to be unpopular for the observations I make. Yet there must be a place where I belong, and something constructive I can do… It’s not as though my brain were severed from the rest of me. My deepest emotions are those of a very smart person. Well anyway, I think my problem with the church is resolved already. Now I have to figure out my next move. But first I think I’ll take a break for a while. 

Trouble in Paradise

The deeper the conversation with my sister, the more she would discover that she hates me. Intellectual people are anathema to her. Is that my fault? It’s a better idea not to talk to her too much. And let her despise me if she must… I still feel pretty weird today, and not very cheerful. I’d like to see an end to this whole nightmare. It’s like being forced to watch something gruesome… I wish life was different than it is. My sister is really a nice sort of person. But our lives are like parallel lines destined to never meet. If she could understand me, then maybe we could like each other. Her emotionalism, however, cannot see how my rationalism works. She thinks that I am some kind of monster. And that’s just the way it’s going to be forever.

Five thirty five. I’m looking forward to the end of this lousy day. I will take a gabapentin tonight and then try to get some sleep. I’ve been shaken to my foundation by the phone call yesterday morning. I might try skipping it next week. She’ll probably know I’m avoiding her, but it may be for the best.