Quarter of seven.
At midnight I dug out my CD of Three Friends by Gentle Giant and spun it. The music brings back the time of being housed at Residence Inn on Club Road… I just saw the news headlines, all of which was bad news. Oh well. There must be some good news somewhere. Yesterday evening I finished reading the treatise on The One by Plotinus. I think it’s basically an ontological argument for the existence of God, sort of like saying that nothing can be made from nothing. All of the world of being depends on The One for its existence. I feel like reading the rest of Les Miserables, but the actual achievement of this is much harder. Victor Hugo is great, except he digresses a lot and throws in a lot of confusion… I can’t seem to write a good letter to my friend in the Southwest anymore. It’s very frustrating to communicate with ghosts.
Eight o five. Sometimes I just don’t give a shit about anything, and I defy anyone to pick a fight with me. Today is one of those days. Satisfaction is very far away. But then, the mood you’re in creates your reality. You think the way you feel and the converse. When you catch yourself being negative, you can stop the spiral by looking for positives. There’s one stressful thought behind all my negativity, and it’s about taking out the trash. I should probably just call the office of the disposal service and tell them my situation. There’s nothing else like clear communication between people. Just be honest and good will result. The only people who will punish honesty are those who are themselves very dishonest. By far the majority of people tell the truth, however, so you can trust them.
Nine twenty. I’ve left a voicemail for my sister and then I called the garbage people. The weather is cloudy and smoky. There’s an old punk song that goes, “This ain’t no f—g picnic,” and that just about says it all.
I’ve had a crap day today, but it’s not easy to determine why or how. I feel that I’m damned if I drink and damned if I don’t drink these days. My birthday of sobriety is only a few weeks away, so maybe that’s why I’m having such trouble until then. I don’t know what to think. Does anyone? So I try not to think at all. My life has been one big Pandora’s box of concealed evils loosed one by one into the world. Knowledge doesn’t make you happier, but it can make you more powerful… The sky is a dirty blue and the sun is amber yellow. There’s the suggestion of a breeze in the leaves. I feel so uncomfortable and so old and tired. Maybe I should give up writing, or take a hiatus for a while? Also I feel very profoundly alone and unloved. Well hell, perhaps I’m just a bisexual guy who doesn’t belong on WordPress? What would it cost me to confess it?
Seven o’clock. About ten days ago I dreamed I had sex with a former clerk at the convenience store. But I think it was what she symbolizes that I wanted: alcohol. She used to sell me beer every day for a long time, so she and the booze became fused together. She was to me like Arabella in Jude the Obscure… Some people say that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, and one day at a time. If you can’t beat em, join em, I guess.
Quarter of eight. At noon today I bought a container of chocolate ice cream just because. But it’s probably wiser to limit going there to early morning due to my temptations. Overall it was a very unsettled kind of day for me. Sort of volatile, as if anything could happen, yet it was all within myself. And I can really feel for Pandora and her guilt.
Quarter of six.
I had a lot more bad dreams during the night, mostly about church, but also I was worried about having enough money to pay my bills… I’m not having much fun with social media anymore, and finding true friends is getting harder to do. I feel very depressed, and I know I’m a wet blanket for people to be around. Everybody needs love, but I don’t think social media is the way to do this. Everything is getting more and more impersonal with the passing of time. Nowadays, D.H. Lawrence is regarded as a controversial figure, but when I went to school he was canonical. His writing was prophetic of what has happened since his own time. People can’t really connect with each other anymore. You could do much worse than to read his Sons and Lovers… I had another dream: I was singing along with Freddie Mercury on “My Melancholy Blues.” And a poem by John Milton occurs to me, where he says he bears the “gentle yoke” of God; and somewhere in the Bible it is said that “his yoke is light.” Now I don’t know whether I agree with that or not, but when people are going wrong, where else can you turn for friendship but inward?
Seven forty. I’m going to church today just to be around real people for a change. I told Heather I was tired of social media, and she said social media is a “bastard.” Interesting word choice, because recently I reread The Winter’s Tale with the scene of carnations and gillyflowers: nature’s bastards. If anything is artificial and illegitimate, it is cyberspace and the way we abuse it… Heather had forgotten my name and asked me to remind her. I thought that was rather odd. But you know, a lot of things are going haywire, though it could be my depression causing everything else. Probably not everything is going wrong, but my perception makes it so… The morning is cloudy and gray and not very warm. There’s still time to redeem the day.
Quarter of eight.
I had a nap for three hours. My last big day on the town was lousy, though it’s hard to describe what my feelings were in the doctor’s office. I guess I was depressed since it was so difficult to find a redeeming thing about the experience. On the way home I tried to remember the feel of my parents and happier days when I looked upon the great stadium where the Ducks play football. But inside I felt hollow and sad for this abyss where good times used to be. And the same for the backstreets of the Whitaker district: I used to have friends who lived there, when Eugene was a smaller place with a true heart and spirit, and we all drove our own cars to each other’s house to make music and have fun. Today, the homeless have more or less taken over Downtown, so Fifth Street is not the same wonderful place anymore. Everything in the city is getting bigger and more impersonal, with less of a human soul than two decades ago.
Be that as it may…
Nine o’clock. Sobriety is just another life lesson you either learn or you don’t. When you do learn it, there’s no real need for a spiritual “program” or whatever. Recovery is a certain language that people can bat around, but it’s meaningless if you can’t stay clean and sober. Brass tacks: if you don’t like yourself then you’ll probably keep drinking and using. What’s the secret for liking yourself? And how do you overcome fear and guilt? The answer is different for every individual. But for me, being hit over the head with indoctrination about selflessness and altruism didn’t work at all. If anything, life is only worth living if you care for yourself first. The world won’t come to an end if you love yourself, whatever the majority may say. Your first duty is to you.
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?
Eleven thirty. I wonder why I have such emotional problems? Life has gotten more difficult since April, with increased stress and pressure from all the people I deal with each week. I feel as if I had to compromise my identity to get along with others, and I was never very good at turtling and wearing a mask with different people. It’s exhausting to do this. I feel so tired. It would be better to simply be myself, and if people don’t like me, then they can go away and leave me alone. It seems like such a sin to assert myself in this life. We assert ourselves just by existing, by being someone, and immediately this draws fire from somebody else. The ideal is to live and let live, but hardly anyone practices this policy. It gets harder and harder just to exist in our society. I don’t know why this is. Am I the only one who notices it? I’d like to read a few pages of Being and Nothingness, except Sartre might make this feeling worse… It was Sartre who thought that hell is other people. Well, I shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to agree with someone with a different point of view. Everyone ought to be tactfully assertive and still be okay with each other. I just get this feeling that we’re really not okay. And the situation is escalating day by day. Someday soon it’s going to explode…
I finally got up after having a dream that refused to make sense. Now, Aesop is up as well. I’m quite convinced that he understands most of what I say to him. It would be odd and frustrating to comprehend language but be mute like a dog except for barking and whining. It looks like a cloudy day ahead. The sprinklers have turned on, startling Aesop, so I tell him this is normal and it happens every day now. The music in my head is poignant: “Long Ago Child” by Pat Metheny. I used to listen to New Chautauqua when I was a senior in college. In the summertime I felt very lonely, so I would go to the bookstores to hang out and try to meet people to talk with. There was just nothing to do during the summer, and no one seemed really interested in talking about abstract things. Everyone’s mind was on the matter, thus I would be very disappointed when I came home and read a book by myself or listened to music… The little market is open now. I could go buy some foodstuffs anytime, if I wanted… One remedy I’ve found for loneliness is the activity of writing. This is like Henry James, keeping himself company with thousands of pages of his own prose, but which he shared with the reading public, to his great acclaim. How would it feel to be awarded the Order of Merit and then be buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? Did he still feel lonely or was he at last fulfilled? And do I really want to live a life like Henry James? Well, on certain days I don’t have much of a choice… Later today I’m going to DDA for a meeting. I’ll get to see a few people, and the most interesting ones are often the cabbies who drive me there and back. I think I’ll go buy a Snapple very soon, and take a look at the neighborhood around me.
Quarter of eight. Now there is sunshine through the heavy clouds. Michelle was distracted by her cell phone when I was checking out. As I was standing in line, I saw my image on the monitor and marked how stupid I looked: a bald guy of average height with poor posture and a clueless expression on his face. Just an intellectual geek caught on Candid Camera in a convenience store at seven in the morning. Otherwise I noticed nothing out of place. Crossing N. Park on my way home I thought again of Henry James, of his loneliness and the way he often went to dinner invitations to hear stories from which he could fashion new fictions. Music: “A Day in the Life.” Aesop looks at me and I tell him 49 minutes till his breakfast. It is good to be understood.
I kind of dread my appointment with Rebecca, though it’s not her fault. The problem stems from the other guys in the band, who wouldn’t understand why I need a personal care attendant to keep organized at home. The guys are a working class sort and probably want me to be one of them. The more I think it over, the more I see how this band is causing me grief. It started when I bought a new bass for myself, knowing that this was something my friends wouldn’t do, or approve of me doing. I suffered a great deal over my decision to buy this instrument. So now I’m beginning to think these guys are not worth the pain I go through on their account, yet it’s hard to know what to do. I realize that I’m taking responsibility for their feelings, which isn’t the right thing to do, according to cognitive therapy, although some philosophers disagree on this tenet. The point is for me to avoid depression and anxiety as a result of interaction with other people, thus the cognitive perspective is likely my best option. Of course I have the freedom to choose to leave the band if things get out of control. And then there is the issue of their substance abuse, while I’m trying to stay sober in their midst. Maybe the music profession is not what I might wish it to be. I feel myself being pulled apart by the attitudes of other people, their politics, and their personal opinions and backgrounds. It makes it very difficult just to be a person in this world, but there has to be a solution.
Seven twenty five. Today ought to be lighter duty than yesterday. Only my phone appointment with Heidi this afternoon. I want my Snapples, so I’ll get to the market pretty soon. I rescheduled with Rebecca yesterday because I just wasn’t feeling up for talking about hiring a helper. Late last night I texted with Mike for an hour. Today I just want to be myself, and with Heidi I can do exactly that.
Eight twenty. It was quite early, so I met with very few people out of the house. It’s sunny now, contrary to the weather forecast. I’m already looking forward to music this Saturday. I really like to play, to jam, to lock with the drummer and make a groove pocket. It’s nice when the barrier of language is overcome and the music takes over. I hope I feel up to it after my vaccination on Thursday… Michelle wore her pink Tom and Jerry shirt today, and the distributors were just arriving. There was nothing out of the ordinary this morning. I felt the urge to pretend that the past was similar to today, to sort of dwell in nostalgia, but I resisted this and walked in the door. The past has certainty to recommend it, whereas the present is still in the making— and I’m part of the creative process of history. Everyone is. It’s a scary responsibility… The forecast missed the mark, for it’s still clear blue sky. Nobody knows what the future holds.
Nine twenty five. Most people want to repeat pleasant experiences. When we get burned, we avoid the hot stove. Alcoholism is a pleasure dome, a Xanadu away from reality. And when you leave Eldorado, there’s no way back to the same bliss. The Golden Age is far behind us. We were expelled from Eden. All of these names refer to the same utopia.
Quarter of eight.
The band agreed to have practice this Saturday at four o’clock. And there are other signs of human life going on around me. It’s yet another clear morning. A song from Keys to Ascension begins to play in my head, making me feel a little sad. I could never take spiritual things literally. But that’s just it: spirituality can’t be understood literally, so it is best expressed in metaphor. A mourning dove coos somewhere near. I think of my brother at some point every day, wishing he would change his mind. His values are simply different from mine, as well as his destiny… I’m going to give myself a break from my conscience, accept myself as I am for today. If other people don’t like it, then tough luck for them.
Quarter of nine. It’s interesting how we have to defend ourselves from our critics all the time, and happiness is when we feel above reproach. The worst critic is internal. It is yourself. Guilt and self loathing lead to despair. My motivation is rather low today, or else I would go trim my beard and smile at myself in the mirror. Maybe I should spend some money on myself to feel better?
Eleven o’clock. Melissa had on a funny T-shirt about wtf-ing her way through life. I got a late start to my day due to a phone appointment with Rebecca. Tomorrow I might give my sister a call for the fun of it. My mind is crowded with should statements and other depressing thoughts. I could use a review of the basics of cognitive therapy to pull myself out of the pits. Wouldn’t it be weird if reality were constructed of nothing but language, only the words we use in dialogue and monologue? But there’s still the element of feeling, tone, body language. Music is closer to the truth than words, yet my dog doesn’t understand it. To him it’s just noise… I’d thought maybe Rebecca would stand me up this morning, but my assumption was all wrong. She was just a little late in calling. Evidence is everything, and usually you can take people at face value and trust their word.