Decision

Quarter of four.

I’ve heard from Mike regarding my email. I’m still more inclined to leave the band after sleeping on it. He said something about taking the bad with the good, but it’s always been a dangerous situation for me and my sobriety. By the way, I opened the Kerouac book and read the first page: it’s definitely not for me, and it’s a thing that Ron would probably like. And as for ambivalence, sometimes the dichotomies are real and you have to make a decision one way or the other. I’ve been at a crossroads for the past seven months and now I know what to do. It involves dismissing the past, with my old friends and their attitudes… If I’m not doing music for a vocation, then I suppose I still have writing. Yesterday I also read a little bit of Les Miserables, a book I’d like to finish sometime in the future. 

There and Back

Eight fifty. I guess I’ll go. Leaving in ten minutes. I negotiated with my dog about it, haha, and I think he’ll be okay with me being gone for two and a half hours. Also I called the store: Heather didn’t hear her alarm this morning, so she was late.

Now I’m waiting outside of the church for Pastor to arrive. Maybe I should have stayed home. I hear the sound of chickadees in the trees.

Noon hour. I made it home again in one piece. Service was good: Eduardo and Tori gave us a piano and flute duet of music by Lili Boulanger; very modern and French sounding. Great chords, and the flute dynamics were spot on. The sermon was rather Jungian, I thought; like a collective soul of Jesus Christ in which the individual participates. It seemed to me harmonious with the Shakespeare I’ve been reading. It’s interesting how a person can lose touch with Romantic thinking on the force of history… I probably baked my brains in the sunlight on the return trip. Took advantage of the shade of a few trees. Nancy gave away loaves of white bread, so I took two of them and carried them home, one in each hand. I was glad to see everybody today. I might return next weekend, and meanwhile see about what to do with the rock band. This quandary has been bugging me ever since I started playing in the band last December. I think finally I can choose once and for all which way to go… 

The Day after Christmas

Quarter after six.

I’ve probably done a bad thing today, but I said what I had to say to my friend in Texas. Maybe we won’t be as close after this. Life for everyone has changed a great deal since this year began. Dunno; I had a long and lonely weekend with a lot of frustrations and pains in the butt. I keep saying to myself how unhappy I am with my life currently because I don’t feel like I’m free. Life is strange, though I wonder if I’m trying to blame other people for my own situation? I knew a friend who said that the only limitations you have are those you place on yourself. And what could be freer than verbal self expression?… I think I might pop the plastic on my book of Jack Kerouac and do some reading. I suppose some relationships wear out with time, or when things get to be a strain on each person. I only know that I haven’t been happy for a long time and I feel ready for a change. Christianity doesn’t make me feel good anymore. I chafe against it, striving for more freedom just to be myself. The cookie cutters that form every individual are each so different. Life for me is less like Jesus and more like Walt Whitman.

Seven twenty. I guess I’ll go take a nap for a few hours. Tomorrow there’s still nothing on my plate, so I’ll have to make a trip to Bi Mart or something to break the monotony.

Quarter after eleven.

I dreamt about a little Jewish guitarist friend that I used to know in the past two decades and who was kind to me, though he was illicit and rather dangerous to be around. He used to work as chef at Hole in the Wall Barbecue in Springfield, but I’ve lost touch with him since July 2012. I just wonder why I keep dreaming about him… Before I fell asleep, I started thinking of the series of events I set in motion as of last December, when the band came together again to practice the day after Christmas. Gradually over six months, I have separated from the church in spirit as I committed myself to rock and roll with the guys… which might be a mistake. It’s been a process of secularization, stepping away from the sacred and toward the profane, though such terms are too general and dramatic for the real things that happened. It is hyperbolic to say something like I’ve been dancing with the devil or whatever, and it borders on psychosis or some other extravagance of the imagination: it’s just a fantasy. And yet, without my medication for schizophrenia, this daydream would be very real to me, and terrifying. So now I ponder why society has a counterculture like rock and roll: and why do we call the devil the Beast? Probably there’s no devil except for ourselves, and our dark animalistic instincts simply need a place for expression: et voila the rock and roll revolution.

After midnight. I still have doubts about what I’m doing with music, however. I feel as if I’d gone astray like Little Bo Peep’s lost sheep. “Let them alone and they’ll come home / Bringing their tails behind them.” The myths we live by can be larger than life sometimes. I just don’t understand why I have to take a drug to reduce cultural fantasies to a manageable size. What’s up with that? 

Double Edge

Quarter after nine.

My neighbor Lenore went away and left her dog overnight. The dog isn’t happy about it, barking her displeasure with being deserted. I feel quite dysphoric this morning, just the general bad sensation of aging. I asked for ibuprofen at the store, but they only had acetaminophen, or naproxen for ten bucks. Much of life is balancing pleasures and pains, hopefully minimizing the latter. There’s no question of maximizing pleasure anymore except on rare days. Last night I thought of someone who used to be a clerk at the market maybe ten years ago or more, a redhead named Pam. I only remember that she liked ZZ Top and chili dogs with ketchup, but she was very nice to me. I was such a lush back then, but she never judged or criticized. I think the summertime is playing weird tricks on my mind, bringing old feelings to light. I was never really a saint, notwithstanding the years in the church. I just want to enjoy my life again, so perhaps the rock and roll has superseded my religious identity. Time will tell. There is plenty to be said for liberty, for simply being a natural human. Or is this just crazy?

Quarter after ten. Right now there’s no breeze outside; the air is as still as death. The neighbors are noisy, shouting and banging car doors. I think of my brother from many decades ago, driving a red Volkswagen van he named Barney. Nothing impeded him from taking a road tour across the United States and Canada, living life to the hilt. But he also often said, “Live by the sword, die by the sword,” which might serve as a warning to me today. 

Vagueness

Quarter after one in the morning.

I see that I’ve had a few things on my mind over the past couple of weeks, and they involve attitudes toward elitism in an intellectual way. I’m also bedeviled by the idea of evil as I perceive it in the rock band with my friends. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or if these concerns are all related to each other in my mind. Ultimately it boils down to real people I have contact with, like my sister and my band mates and their ideas. And it leads me to ponder my own identity and destiny: that’s just it. This is my problem. And do I want to share the same fate as the others with whom I associate? I feel myself drowning in an element of society that I’m very unsure of. For a while, I thought things were pretty clear, but now they’re quite muddy. I don’t think I should dichotomize the church and the rock band like I started out doing; or maybe this is why I feel so confused today? Everything was black and white before, but now it’s a lump of gray clay, colorless and shapeless, as I get deeper into the scenario. Nothing is neatly classifiable anymore. Accordingly my identity sort of dissolves in this new element of amorphous uncertainty. My future is anybody’s guess. I feel like a deep-sea diver who gets the bends and can’t tell up from down, the surface from the abyss. Someday soon I want to break the waterline and bask in clear sunshine, but for a while I’m committed to this project of rock and roll. 

Life of the Mind

One twenty.

Polly called me up and we chatted for an hour and a quarter. I was able to remember a lot of things that happened back in the ‘70’s when we were young boys. How interesting it would be if our family could somehow come together again in the near future. But it takes a strong desire on all sides to make this a reality. Also, a lot of things I’ve learned on my own will have to be suppressed if we are going to get along. Maybe it’s not worth doing. Yesterday afternoon I read the first 30 pages of a Henry James novel, which is about the furthest thing from my family background. I don’t know: when a person has the intelligence to aspire to something a little better than his kin, should he go for it or should he let it stagnate? It is a real ethical dilemma, yet I’m more inclined to concur with my first psychologist who advised the use of my brain rather than letting it rot. My brother, in my opinion, has made some bad decisions regarding his health and mental well-being. So again I assert that it’s better to be true to yourself, however selfish that appears… Today is a nice 80 degree day with no clouds. I don’t feel like allowing anything to prune my life of the mind. Let it flower like the blooms on my magnolia tree, large and white soft petals to the sun… 

Taking the Dice

Quarter after five.

Life in recovery is an adventure. Nothing is ever predictable, so when I get dealt crappy cards on a given day, I just have to accept my feelings, however dark they may be. But the deck of cards is influenced by the ones I play, and sometimes it doesn’t get shuffled very well in order to randomize what I get. I still would like to read the Oration on the Dignity of Man, only about 35 pages. The nobility of humankind is a great theme for when you are depressed and need an inspirational boost to get through the day. I particularly don’t feel like genuflecting in abject humility to some higher power, so maybe DDA is not for me. Somewhere along the line I got off the track, probably last December with Laurel Hill. I’d rather just be myself. And would this be such a crime? Who really likes to be led through brainwashing programs that try to persuade you of your helplessness? I don’t believe this at all. Maybe I listened to too much Rush when I was growing up, but you could do a lot worse.

Quarter after six. I think I’m going to cancel my ride to DDA for Thursday afternoon. I’ve never been a fan of the Twelve Steps. By now I’ve had enough of that nonsense. It is just plain unhelpful to me towards recovery, and I’m not even sure I agree with the term “recovery.” I either drink or I don’t drink, and this is good enough. I’m sick of being told what to think and what to do, so now I’m taking the dice out of their hands. The best game in town is the one I create. 

High Fidelity

Midnight hour.

I must be going through a depression this year, especially since last month, around the time I bought my G&L bass and felt so divided and at war with myself. To be totally honest, I would have preferred to spend my stimulus payment on the American made G&L bass because I felt I really deserved it. If I get another chance at it then I’ll spring for it, and to hell with the other guys in the band. The take-home message is always the same: you ought to do what is right for yourself rather than trying to please other people. And this is the same old jam I used to find myself in when my life was more functional. The truth is that it’s impossible to make everyone else happy by your actions, and the only person you can really please is yourself. For this very reason, we should never do anything self harming to gain approval from others. Nobody’s worth it, no matter how they try to shame you.

One ten. I’m beginning to think I’m in a bad situation with this rock band. All we have in common is the music. None of our other values are the same. A friend once told me that I’d do better in a jazz fusion band, if such a thing can be found in this area. At least those musicians would be totally serious about making music. 

Self Management

Quarter after four. Quite honestly I don’t see the point in going on with my life if I never find love. This makes me feel like a failure in life, probably because of all the love songs I heard growing up. Part of me would like to drink again. And yet alcohol is no solution to my depression. I feel really tired and rather hopeless. The conversation with my sister was good. Mike canceled our practice for tomorrow, but I can still go to church Sunday. And this will have to be enough for me.

Quarter of midnight. Now I feel a lot better. The symptoms from the vaccine have mostly gone away… I was thinking about the first therapist who treated me, and she must have believed that I was a pushover, a person with no backbone or masculinity. Or perhaps she just wanted me to be unhappy? I’ve met a few people like that: misery loves company. And then there are the people who shine happiness like the sun, and who are loved by everybody. Such a person is Heidi… I did the right thing to confront the people in charge of the PCA program, and to suggest going back to Square One with my case manager. I let myself be talked into some things that I don’t really agree with. The last thing I want is to compromise my own freedom. And there is truth in this quote: “Every man is the arbiter of his own virtues, but let no man prescribe for another man’s wellbeing.” 

Foresight

Seven thirty.

I didn’t sleep very much. I had nightmares that didn’t make much sense. Two things are stressing me out: my appointment with Rebecca and then my shot tomorrow morning at Bi Mart. I was up last night from about one o’clock to three thirty, working on my blank book. Right now my writing looks like random gibberish but eventually a pattern will probably emerge from the whole. Lately I’ve been feeling lonely and not very happy. Is it too much to wish for a girlfriend in my life?

Quarter after nine. The appointment with Rebecca was very short. Then I went out for the daily foodstuffs. Michelle appeared to be in a weird mood, kind of distracted by something. I was already feeling rather guilty over this and that, so this colored my perception of events around me. Moods tend to do that. A shaft of sun illuminates my backyard as an airline jet warbles across the sky. The future is a big unknown that is hard to face, yet I have no choice but to go forward. I try to make good decisions. Sometimes I am guided only by my feelings, and these don’t lie. When I feel resentment about something, or a sense of injustice, usually there’s a reason for it. I stand up and call baloney on things that don’t make sense. And when I feel free and clear of guilt and other worries, life is really pleasant. I’m still learning the ABC of sobriety. It isn’t easy to navigate life without alcohol, and I’ve seen some very bizarre things since I quit drinking. It seems that the strangeness of life is relentless, and foresight is never perfect.