I had a bad dream last night that went on for several hours. In it, I agreed to take an SAT test to demonstrate my knowledge and intelligence. But it turned out that the test was so full of codes and boobytraps that I couldn’t get past the first question. So I suffered through this dream, feeling shame for incompetence and stupidity, until after I awoke and gave it some thought. Maybe it wasn’t about incompetence as much as about the inscrutability of life, and I made a connection with the book of Job, where he is forced to acknowledge his utter ignorance. When he does this, his life is restored to him many times over. It’s like the theme of vanity in Ecclesiastes, another book of wisdom in the Bible.

All this from a silly nightmare of taking an aptitude test and failing big. I may even be wrong about the interpretation, yet this fact only makes a stronger case for vanity. Was it ever possible for a human being to know everything? Never before and never in after-time.

Meanwhile it’s a beautiful morning of mild sunshine, which is knowledge enough for a mortal man. 


Rockstar from a Street Sweeper


I’m up again in the dead of night. I don’t remember my dreams just a moment ago.

I’ve got a short little span of attention

And, whoa, my nights are so long

This reminds me of a neat little record shack on the corner of 13th and Kincaid, next to Taylor’s pub on the university campus, called Face the Music. But that was the late 80s and early 90s, and when I was a student I didn’t really know anything. Maybe the same is true today. My parents controlled my life with an iron hand as long as they were alive, so now I ponder the purpose of their tyranny. My guess is they wanted their alcoholism kept secret from the world; also my mother was a bit like Rochester’s first wife, shut up in the attic for her madness. How strange to remember that now with more perspective. Mom needed an evaluation by a psychiatrist, but of course she refused the responsibility for her stuff, and the whole family suffered as a consequence. I don’t know what to think now of her quixotic dreams for me as I was growing up. How does anyone get to be a rockstar in this life?

If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.

So maybe my old psychiatrist had the right idea when he had me read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance so many years ago.

No rockstar chooses his career; the career chooses him, if you believe what Emerson used to say. And maybe people are giving up their old romantic notions.

Could John Watson turn a garbage man into a lawyer? Was Twain right about the Man Factory?

Sometimes it’s just hard to be a human being. And by the way, it was an astrology report that told me I could write.

K9 Fantasy

Quarter after eight.

The ground is wet from recent showers but now it’s only cloudy. Aesop is all set for a little while. So far, the day is going better than my experience last weekend; I permit myself to relax and enjoy what comes my way. I don’t know if my brother has gone home from hospital yet, and it’s not my concern, regardless that he’s my brother. My sister reported that he asked his son for some Perrier water, which is often what alcoholics drink to ease withdrawals. I don’t want to share fates with him again. I’ve done my sentence and my penance, and I nearly died for something worthless.

I begin to notice the sparrows out of the glass door. Or maybe they’ve just woken up for the day. It’s hard to tell where reality and the human mind meet. A great big construction truck just drove past my house— unless I dreamed it and Aesop did too. And for soundtrack my mind plays Clair de Lune in broad daylight. Everything is in a state of reverie for me, yet a pipe dream can be pleasant while the world outdoors bites with bitter cold.

The massive truck has turned around and come back as my dog barks and whines at it. I was mistaken: I participate in Aesop’s dream. 


Seven thirty five.

Though it’s foggy this morning, the daylight is bright like the springtime: a strange anachronism. Equally strange was noticing that the little green espresso shack was closed today; the lights unlit and the windows closed, and of course no cars lined up. Every day that I pass it on the corner of N Park and Maxwell Road it’s been open for business, without fail… So I walked the misty streets while the streetlights were still on, whether needfully or not in the vernal brightness. At the store, D— came in as I scanned the sandwiches in the deli cooler. His job is a kind of QC overseer. A year ago, someone said this was a joke, and not to even get her started on it. I noted his fancy red sports car when I left through the front door… Thinking of a year ago reminds me of Richard Wright and his brainchild Bigger, particularly his dream of being an aviator before his life went awry. Probably he only wanted to be free and to liberate others like himself. I’ll never forget the scene with the skywriter making a sign in the blue:


The Stuff of Dreams

Eight thirty five.

Aesop scarfed down his breakfast of Purina Beyond, whereas yesterday he didn’t like Blue Buffalo, so I won’t buy that again. It’s just an ordinary day for me, though Gloria is coming at ten; maybe not so ordinary. One thing that The Tempest makes clear for me is the connection between drunkenness and madness. Prospero, toward the end, is saying that he will restore reason and understanding to everyone, break his staff, drown his book, and habit himself like the Duke of Milan again. Or maybe the drunkenness element is not so obvious, except that Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban all get drunk on the wine they find. The sea imagery and the enchanted isle suggest to my mind alcohol, but perhaps Shakespeare didn’t intend this meaning… In general, sobriety and sanity amount to about the same thing: the dryness of the real and literal world, with no magic or metaphysics or any flavor at all. It’s very dull and boring, and I often long for a holiday from it— like reading Shakespeare. It seems to me that drinking and dreaming share the same essence. How many times do you run into the word “dream” in Edgar Poe? And he was notorious for his alcoholism.

I could be all wet, of course.

Garlic and Crosses

Quarter of five.

At last I figured out what was bugging me yesterday, and this morning I took action to fix the problem. I unfollowed the blogger whose writing was upsetting me. No more need be said about that.

Eight twenty five.

A big gust of wind blew over my recycle bin less than an hour ago. This morning is cloudy and gray. I doubt that I’ll get to the store before Gloria arrives at ten o clock. I don’t feel like hurrying anywhere, and it’s comfortable here at home. Sometimes I think it’s okay to just let big dreams remain dreams, particularly the more unlikely they are. It’s even harder to actualize dreams when you’re dealing with other people’s wills. My family said that my mother was crazy for her idealism regarding rock music. Maybe I should take a day to remember her and see what I have lost since her death. One thing is sure: I’ve been through the mill ever since she died, almost as if I’d done something wrong. Is it the sins of the fathers and mothers coming to roost on my head? And sometimes it seems reasonable to drink my life away.

Vampires can only harm you if you invite them in. So don’t invite them.



I was just thinking about how I celebrated Christmas Eve this last year. Instead of going to church, I stayed home with my dog and daydreamed about my late parents: I made it a secular Christmas that my parents would have understood. And I had a good time in my little reverie, with a lighted ceramic tree and a red stocking by the fireplace, the lights dimmed, and so on. I played Santa Claus with my dog, giving him treats out of the stocking as if we’d had a visit from St Nicholas. That evening, the mail carrier brought a belated package, arriving on time for the holiday. When I stepped outside to get it, I found a little ladybug clinging to it like a sign of good fortune. Perhaps it was all in my imagination, and yet I felt happy, for the spirit of Christmas in some form had stopped by my home, unlike a lot of previous holidays when I felt merely hollow and sad.

Language and Lost Time

Quarter of nine at night.

I had a series of bad dreams of being persecuted, but why is harder to nail down. It was because of my inquiring intellect that a man was trying to poison me. He believed that I was not a team player but some sort of traitor. The setting for the dream resembled the shipping and lab areas at my old workplace long ago. Was I really guilty of a crime, or was it just my presence or existence that raised the alarm?

After my nightmare, I got up and checked the thermostat, whose clock said “21:11.” Then I made a little discovery. The cover to the last Rush CD shows a clock that indicates “9:12,” or in military time, 21:12. Either by chance or by design, the birthdate of my sobriety was September 12, or 9/12 of 2017. I guess I should listen to Clockwork Angels. As it stands, I’ve got the CD still in the plastic for a kind of time capsule. And maybe I should save it for later.

Nine thirty five.

Now I’m thinking that I’ve been through the mill with this illness and for a long time, with alcohol. No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia: it runs in families, but also they guess it has something to do with immune system problems. Its onset is triggered by stress. All I know is it’s a pain in the derrière. Sometimes in my sleep I remember the hospital stays in 2016 for alcohol withdrawals and other health complications, like arrhythmia as a side effect of antipsychotic medication. I lost track of how many times I’d been in the hospital for these issues and suicidal ideation; it blurred together in one big nightmare. But luckily I never went to jail and by a fluke I’m still alive and able to write this. Only a couple of times did I lose my coherence: my facility for language mostly stayed intact, even through the looniest experiences. Thus the light of language is by far my greatest blessing, because without communication a schizophrenic is really screwed.

“Hippo Stomp”

Eight fifty.

I evaded getting rained on with good timing. I wanted to buy Gloria a Snapple for her break this morning and a jerky snack for Aesop. Otherwise I might’ve blown it off and stayed home where it’s dry and warm. Just now it’s raining in full force. I feel pretty good at this moment. A garbage truck for a service not mine just rode by. Whimsically, the sun comes out while the east is charcoal. It will doubtless rain soon again… I saw nothing unusual on my trip to the store; just a guy doing some work around Randy’s old car lot. I wondered if he was the mechanic whose business was supposed to start up by now. I also wonder how he’s going to transform a wrecked old shack into a thriving garage for auto repair. It takes money and work to realize dreams. And it takes the cooperation of other people who believe in you. But first you need belief in yourself, or no one else will believe either.

If you should go astray

And say I lost my way

Nobody will know you

But if you don’t believe you can

And still say, Hear my plan

Somebody will follow just because it’s free