Eleven o’clock. I know that I’m a complete slob. The inside of my house is a pigsty, but without assistance I can’t do much about it. I can’t seem to organize my environment to make it habitable. Every therapist I’ve had has despaired and given up on me. It makes me feel so worthless and hopeless. But at least I don’t mistreat anybody. I hate cleaning and cooking chores, so I simply don’t do them. Probably I learned my behavior from observation of my mother, who always put pleasure before business when I was growing up. The older she got, the more her negligence and social withdrawal. If I had a limitless supply of money I could hire a housekeeper. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about what people will think of me. As it stands, my behavior is exactly like my mother’s. The only difference is that I don’t drink anymore, and I never have smoked cigarettes. And instead of doing crossword puzzles, I write my thoughts and post them to my blog. But the underlying principle of pleasure is the same for both of us. Would anyone want to judge me?
One twenty. The truth is that I’m disordered by the schizophrenia; I didn’t learn it anywhere. I tried to play the bass just now and it didn’t sound good to me, just a flurry of nonsense notes, noisy squirreling in the low frequencies. To play well, I really depend on the band being there for structure and organization. And forget about music composition. I couldn’t concentrate to do something like that. The illness pretty much blew away my ability to create music recordings. Yet still, in spite of this, I refuse to give up out of love for my late mother. I just need a context to plug my bass into. Nobody can live in a vacuum. We’re all symbiotic and dependent upon each other. Or maybe it’s only me who has this problem with organization and focus?
I guess I’m satisfied with the authenticity of my choices over the past few years. It isn’t like I made decisions for no reason. The bottom line is always sobriety and whatever promotes this condition. I was just poring over some editions of Mallarme on Amazon, considering a purchase, but then I remembered that he was probably not sober, and this would affect his poetry. Until now, with the rock band, I never worried about another person’s drinking behavior influencing me. It puts me in a difficult position.
Nine thirty. I feel so much better now. The day has a good vibe to it. Last night, Sandi said that the Wetlands Brew Pub on Garfield was packed with people who wanted to get out and socialize. Melissa just told me that Rick is going to try to open the deli today. What a relief this will be. I treated myself to a raspberry tea this morning because it felt right. Pastor’s sermon was rather gloomy, but I think people are getting tired of that stuff. I encouraged my pen pal to check out the books of John Muir and John James Audubon online. Also I offered to get Ron a new keyboard if he wanted. And Aesop seems pretty happy with his life today. All is better with the world. On second thought, I might have another look at the book of Mallarme’s poetry.
Quarter of eight.
The song in my head: “Message of Love” by The Pretenders. The turn of the eighties makes me think of cherry Bubble Yum and Pop Rocks and Lemon Pepsi. Trashy Edgar Rice Burroughs books. The occasional rendezvouses with my nephews where they lived on Morningside Drive, with the church right next door. We played Space Invaders and Pac-Man and frisbee golf. I always bought a book when I had any money. It was such a pleasure to find The Warlord of Mars at the Waldenbooks in the Valley River Center. At the same time, these memories bring me pain.
Quarter after nine. At the end of my street I met with a crow in a treetop of Colin’s house. “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore!’” Then on N. Park a young man was walking his pointer dog, heading south. I followed behind him past Randy’s lot of ruined cars. I didn’t notice much of anything else, feeling a nebulous ache in my body and mind. Maybe I don’t want to go to church tonight. The thought flits across my awareness here and there. Out of a black sky beams a ray of sunshine, outwardly and inwardly. Except for my music, my life is going nowhere. Where would somewhere be? A life of satisfaction and pleasure, along the lines of my parents. I suppose I’m feeling like a dry drunk, a person irritable without his alcohol. And again I remember the consolation of freedom and responsibility, of philosophy in general. It is good just knowing that I am empowered in word and deed. Certain social ties I wish I could cut, and I believe I’m free to do that, but also responsible for the outcome. I could brush up my French and reread Les Jeux Sont Faits. There’s a lot of things I could do with my time, with the end purpose of a little pleasure. Any task is like eating a Tootsie Pop: you lick the sucker to get to the chocolate center. Everything is candy.
Eight thirty five.
Life is hard. It might be easier if we could survive without a thinking brain. If necessities grew on trees. We could dream our lives away like the Lotus Eaters. Never have to worry about sailing home to face hard realities and responsibilities. Instead, for us there’s no escape… I got a lousy sleep last night, so then I was up early. Finished business at the store and spoke with Michelle. She vented to me about the cost of healthcare and things she can’t afford… I just fed Aesop and I received a text message from Ron: “Psyched for Saturday.” I agree, it should be a good time. I just hope my body holds out; I’m not a spring chicken anymore. For just one day I’d love to have peace of mind. The weather is dry at least, with skies of lavender gray. January is usually a strange kind of month. Hopefully some of the oddity will go away in time.
Nine thirty. What’s really weird is the way life’s events seem to converge around me. Everything I do is a response to pressures from without. I said goodbye to Kate four years ago as I conformed to the spirit of the age. Who knows what might happen after today? The phrase “spirit of the age” was first used by Percy Shelley and his friends during the early 19th Century. They didn’t know that their historical period would come to be called Romanticism… I hear a mourning dove hooting in my backyard. What is he saying in bird language? But my neighbors are eerily silent. This could be a long day…
Seven thirty five.
I got quite a restful sleep last night, so today is already off to a better start than yesterday. It’s the first light of dawn out. The sky looks gray with clouds, though currently there’s no rain. Amazon tells me that my new hoodie has been delivered. I ordered it in gold, and I think it should be rather pretty… I retrieved the package and put on the sweater: the color is bright and reflective. I really like it. My band will practice again today at four o’clock. We’re going to try out my new bass amp in our studio. I will run my blue Fender through it. Last night I went to church with Roxanne and did my duties of singing and reading. Pastor was downhearted and nobody was really bursting with joy. I felt tired and apathetic. Still, we got it done. Now it’s time to go to the store.
Nine ten. I encountered no one on the street; only a cat that I startled. When I approached the doors of the market, two cars pulled into the lot, but otherwise the place was pretty deserted. Or maybe the emptiness is inside of me? I thought of how we’re all forced to wear a mask in public just because someone said so. I read that the death toll from the virus has reached two million worldwide, yet it still seems kind of unreal to me; more like an exercise in obedience. It surely hasn’t been much fun. I picture myself in the parking lot of that silly little store, observing the drastic changes over the years. This is the pain of having a long memory, seeing things change irrevocably, leaving behind people and good times that I loved. You may wish to freeze and dogmatize the progress of the world, all to no avail. Time moves in one direction only. Turning back clock and calendar is denial. So we move on with the current of life…
Quarter after nine.
I dreamed that water was leaking into the sanctuary at church. While I was there alone, I changed the settings on a certain air pump that kept out the water. I was not supposed to do this… In my dreams, water often symbolizes alcohol. So there’s a concern on my mind about relapse. Maybe it has something to do with religious faith, but I don’t know for sure.
It’s predicted to rain later this morning, and I carried my umbrella to the store just in case. Michelle wore a cardigan sweater with a rose on each shoulder, which looked good with her gray eyes. Life has been changing so rapidly over the past year. Despite the fact that she was rather abrasive, I miss seeing Vicki every morning. I wonder how she’s doing since losing her job? Having her gone sort of slams the door on my alcoholic past. It is all irreversible history now. I guess I feel a little sad today, a bit lost and disoriented. The chaos of this last year makes me worry about the future. Here and now, in this room, I am utterly alone with the dog, and the winter sky looms overhead, cold and ominous.
Quarter after eleven. Well, my sister called me on the phone, so I wasn’t so lonely for an hour. We might get together for my birthday, and get some food to take out or be delivered. Yesterday afternoon I ordered myself a new bass amp for practice and small gigs. It should arrive sometime next week. Meanwhile, a pair of mourning doves have found their way to my backyard: large white and gray birds with a call similar to an owl. Living in the present moment can be very strange. Outside, the weather is alternating rain and shine with occasional gusts of wind. Times are not very happy, but we stick them out just to see what happens next…
Four o’clock in the morning.
I had a lousy day yesterday. Just one of those things. Maybe Monday will be better. I still hesitate to buy myself a birthday present for financial reasons. The holidays are always very rough on me, particularly the pressure to believe in something absurd. I keep trying to end my relationship with the church, but feel duty bound to stay and help out…
Quarter of ten. I just reread “The Sisters” by James Joyce. Very subtle and symbolic. Speaking of sisters, I should probably call mine this morning, but I’m still kind of mad at her for not calling me on Christmas Day. I generally feel frustrated and uneasy with my situation in the church and some of my friends. I realize what a hypocrite I am to continue going to church when I have no faith in Jesus Christ. This fact bothered me all during the summertime. It sometimes seems that words only get me into trouble, so maybe I should just play my bass and keep my mouth shut. Two decades ago I was in a band with a guitarist who used to say, “Play your bass, Rob.” In other words, shut up… In addition to these problems, I haven’t been very mentally well lately. But overall, I’m just not a happy camper, especially on WordPress. I can’t expect myself to change the world singlehandedly, and besides, I don’t have the right. I think I’m simply in the wrong place, and ought to look elsewhere for friends. As it is, I’m butting my head against an implacable wall.
Ten twenty five.
Before going to the store, my mind was assailed with dark self doubts. What if my life is similar to that of Ezra Pound? His madness caused him to commit treason, and he spent a lot of time incarcerated. Is my brother right that I should keep my mouth shut? I don’t know… Tonight I’ll probably stay home from recording the service at church. Only seven people are allowed to meet, under the new squeeze rules. But I got good news in the mail today. My SSI payments are going up eight dollars, and my healthcare package has been renewed… Many years ago I saw a film with Jessica Lange about some kind of mental illness. Her character might have been bipolar. She had emotional outbursts that she couldn’t control, and at the end, her parents had her lobotomized, making her a vegetable. I felt horrified and outraged by what I saw. I still think my response was appropriate. No one deserves to be a victim, a casualty of brutality. I feel that I’m whistling in a windstorm, but the rights of the individual must be heard out eventually. I’ve never been a one size fits all person. And that’s going to have to be okay.
I’ll be glad to get done reading The Farthest Shore. What I can’t understand is what magic has to do with the natural order of life and death. Very strange outlook. I should think that magic springs from an immortal place. But Le Guin denounces those who fear death and crave eternal life. In this case, what is the point in having magic at all? Maybe the book will explain this… I paid my utility bill just a moment ago: it was under two hundred dollars. I might be able to help my church out with another donation this month, but we still have a few weeks to go. Erin made me think about how useless my musical instruments are, assuming that things will never be the same again after the pandemic. But her opinions tend to look on the bleak side of everything. I’m getting quite tired of this perspective. It all reminds me of a rock band I played in over twenty years ago. The singer songwriter premised his whole philosophy on the fact that everyone is going to die. He concluded from this that we ought to let go the ego. I always thought that his ideas lacked common sense. I guess I’m just a Christian thinker at the heart of the matter… I’m going to try to call my sister at eight o’clock this morning. I notice how dark and depressed my mood is already today. Is it only me, or is it everywhere around me?
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.