Gray Again

Nine thirty.

I’m going without caffeine today, no tea or Coke, no beverage at all. I saw what it did to me yesterday, especially in the early afternoon. It was unpleasant. I left a voicemail for my sister. It isn’t supposed to rain today, so my walk to physical therapy should be uneventful. I feel lonely, and I wish life could be different. I’d like to make another friend like Kate across the Atlantic. The best thing is to keep an eye out for opportunities to meet likeminded people. The sun is making an appearance.

Ten thirty. I just voted and put my ballot in the mailbox… Some of the measures dealt with substance abuse, so those were easy to decide on. I hope it’s a clear day for my stroll later. A thought on the edge of my mind keeps offending me. I think it’s about Santa Clara. I have to go there today, and it makes me feel like a child somehow, or a helpless victim. I’ll be in my sister’s jurisdiction while I’m there. People really believe in spooks in that part of town. It just gives me a feeling of sadness and a little anxiety that I could be caught out as an alien unbeliever. Worse, I fear psychosis and delusions of frightful things. It’s no joke when you have schizophrenia. I once had a frenemy who thought it was cute to make me watch horror movies with him. He was neither very smart nor sympathetic.

Noon hour. I don’t feel very good, but I guess that’s okay. My thoughts are all confused, enough to make me cry. I wish the truth were objective and not plural and divisive. We can be taught that round objects are really flat, or that two plus two equals three— and we believe it for a lifetime. And some will tell you to forget the truth and get on with your life; but what is life without pleasure, without fun? It is pinning the tail on the donkey blindfolded. Pushing a boulder up a hill repeatedly and uselessly. It is work with no play. It’s gray. 

Thomas Mann

Two o’clock 🕑. I read ten pages of The Magic Mountain. It unfolds to be a love story, but not very interesting; I found it boring. Still, I may give it a chance. If my heart were more open, then the story could warm it. The length of the book is backbreaking, so is it worth the time investment? Certainly Mann is humane and sympathetic to his characters, and perhaps it’s this very warmth that kind of throws me. It isn’t just a novel of ideas, some intellectual tour de force, but rather it comes from a deep and affectionate place. Mann actually cares about his characters and his story, especially the protagonist, Hans Castorp. The feeling I got from the Sartre plays was quite cold and apathetic, almost like burnout, as if life and love offered nothing more to him. Thomas Mann is just the contrary to this chilly rationality. His characters are not wooden, they are not straw men to demonstrate a philosophy of life… This is my assessment after the first 232 pages. It might be worth putting some time into. It is good to read something with a view to humanization…

Meanwhile, going to church tonight would take too much of an effort. I can’t fake Christian faith again. I feel that dishonesty is wrong. Therefore I’m gonna stay home and do something else. This afternoon turned out sunny and partly cloudy. It’s very nice. Damien showed up yesterday evening and mowed my lawns. It was nice to see him, even though he wasn’t feeling good due to losing his dad. His thinking reflected his depression, which I could understand. Consciousness is like that: a feedback system between thoughts and feelings. The bias, good or bad, determines upward or downward spiral, so it is important to keep a balance of positive and negative. I hate depression; I don’t believe it is our natural state. I disagree with those who say suffering is a necessary thing to promote growth. Avoidance of pain is wiser than getting burned and learning the hard way— although I need a think about that some more… 

Gray

Midnight hour. In an email to my pen pal, I put my finger on what is wrong with my life: it’s the absence of alcohol, which is like an old friend or relative. I still would never drink again, but finding meaning in the holidays is a challenge for the rest of my life. My family is so fractured over the issue of alcoholism. Quite honestly, I miss my brother, even though he’s been unkind to me in the past. But I know it’s for the best to stay away from him. It’s all very complex and difficult for me. My emotions are in confusion. It’s so weird to go someplace like Grocery Outlet and see everything so gray and lifeless, so colorless and cheerless, insipid and dull. There’s no pleasure to be had. The world is anhedonic and no fun anymore. What can fill the void left by alcohol and good times? And that’s where spirituality comes in, supposedly, if you are serious about sobriety. It’s a very hard step to take. Or perhaps I could leave everything gray and colorless and boring as hell. The important thing is always to tell the truth and live for the truth, no matter how unattractive it is. Describe the truth warts and all. Sometimes life sucks, but the alternative is worse. Alcohol to me was like a lover and friend— who eventually let me down. Today, not wormwood, but ashes fall from the sky and powder everything gray and dead. This is the experience of a sober alcoholic, as truly as I can render it. 

Forebodings

Quarter after eight.

I feel that the church is putting undue pressure on me to make a decision to come back. Personally I’m at war with myself, and it’s driving me cuckoo. I still think the Jesus thing is bogus, along with all metaphysics. None of it can be verified. I guess I’ll grab a Coke this morning, and Milk Bones for Aesop. I had a girlfriend once who thought I was inadequate for lacking spirituality. I could just as easily say she was psychotic. I had two local girlfriends and one who was very remote. Only the last one shared my opinions on the supernatural. I don’t know anymore. I’ve grown very tired of the whole mess. Occasionally I think of ending it all, but I’m too ornery to just give up. I couldn’t be the only atheist in America… Many people believe in things simply out of hearsay. They believe what they’ve been told. If they could do their own thinking about metaphysics, they might arrive at different conclusions. People seem to be unaware of what the human brain does. The brain really suffices to explain all behavior, from the most physical to the most abstruse.

Ten ten. I just got back from the store. The sun through the fog and smoke was white rather than red. I guess that’s a good sign. Vicki was nicer today than yesterday. My spirits are kind of low, but my mind is open to anything good to come along. Aesop is being very good lately. As always, he is very smart and loyal to me. I feel lucky to own such a clever dog. I’ve left a voicemail for my sister. Hopefully that goes well. I have two appointments this week, and the rest of the week free. The chords to “Clockwork Angels” are reverberating inside my head. It’s so weird to recall my old psychiatrist. We parted ways in August three years ago. After he had verbally abused me enough times, I didn’t want to see him anymore. The whole world seemed to change in the wake of that. I feel as if I were just a radio receiver for red and blue. It gets quite tiresome every four years, to the point where I want to cry. Send up a flare and wave the white flag: I surrender. 

Stay Positive

Seven ten.

The first thing I’m going to do is buy a Coke and some food. Today should be approached from the precept of freedom and responsibility, and it is so if you think so. I’m slightly tempted to just give up like everybody else; and maybe I will. But if I do resign, then I’ll be angry afterwards. Therefore, obey your own feelings and be true to yourself.

Eight o’clock. Vicki appreciated me this morning… I won’t let the despair of others drag me down today. The reality we live in is the one that we make. I just unsubscribed from a blog the hopelessness of which was affecting me. I was sorry to have to do it, but now I think I’ll be glad I did. The day is beautiful and pregnant with promise if you look for it. Positive change starts with just one person, who then communicates optimism to a few people, and by exponents it spreads. Certainly if I can deal with schizophrenia, then other people can handle their depression. Everyone is responsible for their feelings, and to some extent, the feelings of others. Some people might argue with me on this point, and that’s fine with me. Meanwhile I’m going to spread as much happiness as I can and forget the despair I’ve seen. I believe that happiness is our natural state, so I’m beginning with myself.

Whimpering: a Letter

I played the bass guitar yesterday noon like a madman, incorporating way too many notes to be very tasteful music. As a technical workout it felt good, and my instrument sounded great, but musically it wanted something. It could have used more dynamic feeling and better attention to my choice of notes and chords. I just feel sort of devil may care about it, for no one is playing with me and no one else is listening. “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” It seemed pointless.
Similarly, WordPress was a real ghost town yesterday. Some days are like that. I felt very frustrated and unhappy. But on the other hand, I don’t spend much time reading other people’s posts, either. We are mostly amateurs anyway. What’s the use?
I am very sick of the Covid lockdown and of people saying that this is the end of the world. It is merely an emotion and not a fact. My response to the situation is to say, Why pay lip service to the general attitude of despair? …Funny, but the words of T.S. Eliot keep surfacing to my mind. “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.” People go around feeling dejected and dispirited, having lost all hope and a sense of utility. Again, what’s the use? People have given in to futility and despair. The end result is a feeling of apathy. But— I still try to resist the epidemic of depression.

Hard Times

Quarter of noon. The good news is that I don’t have any psychosis or superstition at all. Time should take care of my woes. I want to enjoy my life.

One twenty. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My chemistry is all fucked up. It could be the Vraylar. Not enough is known about this drug, so I’m just a guinea pig, or maybe a body bag. I want to find a homeostasis, a state of stability, but instead I just feel worse and worse. I’m tempted to drink beer, but out of masochism I won’t do it. If I were to give myself what I really want, I would probably get drunk and shoot the whole thing to hell. Still I won’t drink. The epic novel of current events is too fascinating to obscure from myself. I might as well read it as far as I can follow it. Some people are talking the end of the world. I’m not going to hurry it up. Hang on and hope for the best.

Blue Tuesday

Eight twenty.

I’m going to try to make today a better day. Think happy thoughts. Yesterday was ridiculous. A downward spiral straight to hell. I used to think reading Sartre was fun, but now it’s too real and gruesome to enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with Romanticism, the beautiful and true. We need something to lift us up from the pits. It may not exist already, but we can create happiness by means of music and poetry.

Nine forty. W— sent me a letter saying it’s unlikely that I have hemochromatosis, but she didn’t tell me what I should do. So, I called the institute and asked about it. I will get a call back later today. It seems to me that W— is trying to be a diagnostic hero or something. Looking for a feather in her cap. The decision is up to the hematologist, not her. Why did she send me the letter? It just seems confrontational on her part. Whatever, I’m getting to the bottom of it. She’s probably right, but still, the doctor is the one to say… People do crazy things in the summertime. The heat gets to everyone, messing up our judgment… Aesop is begging me for his breakfast, due in one minute…

Well, all I have to go by is the note W— wrote. Maybe my reaction was paranoid. I’ve been in a bad frame of mind since yesterday. Perhaps she didn’t think it through to the same conclusion that I did. And my conclusion was, Why be seen for a condition I don’t have? Why waste my insurance money on unnecessary visits and labs? Indeed, I probably did jump to a conclusion that W— hadn’t thought of. Anyway, getting that letter in the mail puzzled me and got my day off to a rather bad start. I’m having a very hard time staying positive. I’m looking for evil motives in people where none exist.

I should burn the Sartre book.

Quarter of ten. I wonder if I should take a gabapentin? Maybe it would help my mood. But this would be psychological dependence on the drug. My cranky mood probably has to do with stopping the med. It is definitely addictive. I think I’m in a mess, a vicious circle of addiction.

Tuesday Morning

Nine o’clock.

I’m in the process of scheduling an appointment with my hematologist. Barbara tried to call me yesterday and I missed it. It seems like forever since I’ve been to see him. Was it in February? Prior to the lockdown… Okay, it’s all set for this Friday morning. I have to be ready to go at six thirty. I’ll be seeing his PA, Wendy. Hopefully no phlebotomy will be necessary.

Quarter after ten. I feel tongue tied today. There’s simply nothing to say anymore. It could be from the medication. I have no imagination. I just left a voicemail for my sister. People believe all kinds of nonsense. Maybe it doesn’t matter anymore, or is that defeatist? I only know that I’m on a powerful antipsychotic that might interfere with self expression. I’ve stopped the gabapentin. My mind is as motionless as the air outside. I dreamed that my brother called me and we had a decent conversation. Only the fulfillment of a wish. I wonder if I could go down on the dosage of Vraylar? Then my imagination may return a little. My head feels like a brick or a block of concrete, solid and impermeable. No activity at all. No access. I think I’m just depressed. This Friday I have two excursions lined up, but until then nothing. I might be avoiding the salon because of an opinion I heard there that I couldn’t agree with. It concerned Black Lives Matter. So now it’s rather awkward to have to dance around the truth, and no, I don’t think she has a valid point.

Quarter after eleven. At last my brain is volunteering to play Billy the Kid. I’ll listen to it again today and reinforce it. What I hear is bombastic and slow. And great.

We Can’t Breathe: a Letter

What a lifeless kind of day it’s been today! I can’t get a reaction out of anybody. And the food pantry fell flat this morning. What is everyone thinking? T.S. Eliot was right: we’re going out not with a bang, but a whimper. And Queen: I’ve got something to say: it’s better to burn out than fade away. I just watched the video of this week’s service. It was pretty lame, to be honest. I did fine reading at the lectern, but still the whole worship was done without conviction. The image in my mind is of a freshly caught salmon flopping around on the dock before the fisherman finally bashes its brains in to make it stop. Or maybe this is only my own faith dying of asphyxiation. Like George Floyd, it can’t breathe.
Well I did go buy that ice cream this morning. Vanilla bean. It was so early that I barely remember going there. And the pantry was pretty much over before it was begun. I must’ve come home at around eleven twenty. I felt quite tired as I sat here eating my gift Girl Scout cookies, sharing some with Aesop. I guzzled ginger ale and basically felt like a vegetable all day. And I think my feelings are a mirror of the general condition of people today. We are the Hollow Men. That corpse you planted… did it sprout? This is the way the world ends… The soul has gone right out of American life. And right now it resembles an Eliot poem more than a sci-fi movie. The weather here was beautiful, mostly sunny and cool with a bit of a breeze. But there was nary a sign of human life going on outside. I don’t know. I think we have to take responsibility for our morale and pull ourselves out of the pits. By the way I liked the video you linked to your post, the one with the cellist playing in a ruined coliseum. It implies that music has the power to heal and restore sanity to a messed up world. For me, I think the greatest healer is poetry in the abstract. Especially Romantic poetry, which reminds me that I should pull out my big Goethe and read all of Faust. When I say “poetry,” I’m including certain poetic prose as well. I may even reread The Sorrows of Young Werther, the most beautiful thing I ever read. The descriptions of being alone with nature are Wordsworthian before the real Wordsworth ever picked up a pen.
So anyway, I was saying that we’re responsible for the general tone of our times. Our response to the situation so far has been submissive and masochistic— and that’s sick, IMO. If this is the end of the world, then we should go out fighting.