A Victory Toast

Four twenty five.

I had some inspirational dreams tonight that had to do with my victory over schizophrenia. I returned triumphantly to my high school, which bore a resemblance to the psychiatric rehabilitation center. I sat in my old place in the cafeteria with my peers who never had liked me, but then something happened to turn it around to my favor. Amid the jeers and general disapprobation of my sitting there, Ken from Laurel Hill came over to my table and expressed his appreciation for my endeavors; then I looked over and saw a whole table of the mentally challenged who were cheering for me. Finally, my old peer Tim gave a laudatory speech to honor me, although he was so drunk that he could barely stay conscious. I think my dream is a fairly accurate indicator of how successful I’ve been in the last few years, acknowledging that schizophrenia and alcoholism are not easy to live with; indeed, I’ve done the best I could do to recover, with quite commendable results. 

Learning

Five o’clock.

Another pitch dark predawn morning. I had a dream about going to hell, probably inspired by The Space Merchants. It didn’t shake me up much. I woke up and calmly contemplated it. This short novel by Pohl and Kornbluth is the closest thing I’ve experienced to a movie in a long time. It feeds my dreams, so I guess that’s a good thing. Often when I sleep, my mind only thinks in black and white logic. There isn’t much imagery or anything between the lines. Not even a story. I could be overdosing on pure thought, on words; logos. Again the food needs seasoning and the robot wants an imagination… I have physical therapy today at five in the evening. This time I will start out a little later. Obviously I was wrong regarding Santa Clara. People and places change, of course, and it’s difficult to make generalizations about them. I was taught in school to abstract generals from particulars in order to be able to think about life. Now I know that some people don’t do that. Interpretation may be a dying art. And philosophy is definitely on the chopping block. It makes me wonder how people nowadays really do use their heads.

Six o’clock. No daylight for another hour and a half. Perhaps I’ll read a book for a while until the sun comes up. I think it’ll be a good day. Take note of life’s surprises along the way, let them teach us new perspectives. Usually it is fruitless to assume or even try to predict about people and things. We feel safer when we can forecast the future with accuracy. We guard against surprise, but this emotion and joy are often linked. And this is the fabric of learning. 

First Day, Second Thoughts

Seven forty.

Thick fog hangs low in the street outside. Aesop needs canned food before nine thirty, so I have to make a trip to the store soon. I won’t forget the birthday lunch for Angela. I just started hearing “Onward” by Chris Squire of Yes in my head. Perhaps it is appropriate to the way I feel, which is a little hopeless, like flying into the light of a dark black night. I had a lot of dreams of being caught in public without a mask. Today I feel almost like withdrawing from society completely because I have no defenses, no disguise to hide behind. But the squirrels are having a good time. Aesop is being quiet, lying in front of the sliding glass door. Another day in the life of a very funky year.

Nine o’clock. Flashback to the taxi ride to Springfield the other day. The driver was so calm and quiet, except I caught her harmonizing to a song on the new country station. It was sweet, but I felt a bit alienated. As if I didn’t belong in the world. Then she switched stations, and presently Yes came on, followed by Aerosmith doing “Walk this Way.” Last night I dreamed about the Tom Hamilton bass line, and how cool it would be to play in another rock band. Impress the girls. I also dreamed about an old friend who was a musician. He was very homophobic, like most musicians in this area. Our friendship was sort of love hate. I was socially clueless and he was driven by greed and the need to be popular. He wanted to be cool. At first I liked him because I thought he looked nice. But his nature took a darker turn over the years I knew him. Mine did too, an impulse to self destruction. On second thought, maybe rock and roll isn’t so great. I believe I was misdirected when I was growing up. What is the counterculture to me now? A whole lot of alcohol and marijuana. The music is secondary to the lifestyle.

Ten thirty. Pastor has been busy on the problem of the “darkness” of the past six months. He sent out a letter urging us to email him stories about God’s grace working in our lives. Also he emphasized that salvation is a matter of here and now, a heaven on earth by the way we treat each other. So, I guess I’ll give it some thought…

Tiny Tim

Three o’clock in the morning.

I had dreams of intrigue: of kidnapping people and stealing cars. My nephew Ed came to the house and we did some paperwork together. It might’ve been application for Supplemental Security. In real life, my mother helped Ed with the forms, and he never seemed to appreciate it. His five year old son had leukemia and he couldn’t have afforded the medical bills without government assistance. In the dream, as he left he took a car I had stolen. In reality, Mom made me give him my old Roland synthesizer, which his family sold and used the money to buy a home organ. I always resented this injustice by my mother, and Ed didn’t deserve to take away my keyboard and convert it to an instrument for praising the Lord. Today, it’s hard to say what was right. If Ed’s family was Charles Dickens, mine was probably Scott Fitzgerald. Over time, life has a way of equalizing things. Or at least it makes you think about things with a new perspective. 

Monologue on a Snapple

Quarter after eleven. The sky is getting dark with rain clouds. I hear thunder. Again the squirrels are very active on my property. Now it’s raining… I used to fear criticism from other people so badly, and I got the worst of it from my brother. But since I stopped drinking, the shoe is on the other foot. I think about him less than before, but I can remember how mean he could be. One thing keeps me straight, and that is the quest for the truth, whatever it proves to be. Another peal of thunder ripples across the sky. I feel more optimistic today, since the rain cleared the air outside. Earlier this week I thought I’d been psychotic, but the next day I felt fine. I actually like myself today, and life is worth seeing through to the bitter end. Perhaps we can colonize other planets, as has been the dream of sci-fi writers since HG Wells and before him to Poe. It’s a matter of how wise and how durable is the human spirit. A scrub jay screeches even in the rain. The creatures are all confused after the fires and the smoke for nearly two weeks… I owe a debt of gratitude to my pen pal for maintaining her composure while I was going a little crazy during the wildfires. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and believed the end was imminent… An idea from Percy Shelley occurs to me occasionally: we all are really just one person, participants in the One Mind. Individuality is an illusion created by language, he said. It’s a trippy concept, yet there’s something attractive about it. I imagine that whatever happens, we all share the same fate… How curious to think about interplanetary existence. Or any solution humankind comes up with to the problem of the uncertain future. The sun peeks through the charcoal gray for a moment. I hear the sounds of the train yard off to the south. More screeching of jay birds. My cattle dog Aesop just got a drink of water in the kitchen. Life is better today, even if for just a day. 

A Dream and Some Books

Quarter of one. Feeling terrible. And it looks like the world is coming to an end. I bought the CD of Mark Egan because I needed something to relax me. His music is soothing and pleasing to the ear— and the mind… I hope Damien doesn’t stand me up again today. I want to take a nap this afternoon. My head continues to hurt and I recall things from twenty years ago. It must be the Vitamin E supplement.

Seven ten. Damien brought me the animal trap at around two o’clock, and then I paid him for four mowings. He was not allowed to mow today due to the restrictions on ignition in this dry weather. After that, I went to bed and snoozed until six thirty. I wish I knew what Pastor is thinking lately. Last Friday he told me to stay home for the weekend. Right now I appreciate the comfort of my home. There’s enough overhead light to see by, and just enough money in my bank accounts for comfort. I recall one of my recurring dreams from my early thirties. In a darkened room, I flip the light switch to turn it on— and nothing happens. A blackout, and it symbolizes death for me. That same year, I had read The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles, such a well written but deeply nihilistic book. With the coming of 1999, I read Melville’s Pierre, still trying to solve a big mystery. And finally in September my dad passed away, mystery yet unsolved. 

Sunday Afternoon

Quarter of four.

I finally restrung my white bass with the new flats. The old ones were given to me by Kate nine years ago. I think it’s time to throw them away, along with my memories of our relationship. All during our friendship I drank too much, and that altered my mind and judgment. I’ll have to form new associations with my Dell computer, though that takes time. The last couple of weeks have been very confusing to me, just because it’s an election year and the seat of government is up for grabs again. I have a Hegelian streak in my thinking, which may or may not be delusional. Also, I listened to Big Generator by Yes a while back, one of their more political albums. “Moving to the left / Moving to the right / Big generator / Lives out of sight.” This really takes me back to 1987, when my friends still believed in my big dreams. Today, my dreams are smaller and more modest. I’m not even sure what my dreams are. The vision has sort of left me, so now I’m just getting satisfaction where I can. It hasn’t been a very good week for me.

Quarter of five. I feel very tired. Time for something to eat and then a nap. I hope my sleep isn’t plagued by nightmares. I don’t take any drugs anymore that provide the reassurance that everything is all right. Things are what they are, without modification of perception. It takes more courage to live this way.

Peace and Quiet

Ten twenty.

I slept in till after nine o’clock, then I marched off to the animal hospital and to Bi Mart for a couple of meds. Everything worked out fine. I’d had some bad dreams this morning about family, especially. But dreams are only dreams by definition; they are not reality. The truth they reveal is only the truth of yourself… Since my laptop arrived yesterday and I’ve played with it, I notice now the limitations of writing with a tablet. Expression is much freer with a word processing program and a conventional keyboard. Eventually I will switch over to composing posts with my laptop for the most authentic words and phrases… I still have to go buy food, etc, at the market. Thursday and Friday were very busy days for me, so now a quiet weekend ought to be nice. Church last night went quite well. I read at the lectern, sang with the group, and listened to the sermon. But I came home awfully tired. Roxanne was good enough to drive me home. She is the other reader at our services… I anticipate a cranberry soda; think I’ll head for the store right now, and take my time.

Dream Weaver

Wee hours. The antipsychotic I take has quelled my paranoia. I can chat with my sister without feeling threatened or devoured. My perspective on my family is more realistic now than before I started the Vraylar. I don’t make second guesses about what they are thinking. This used to be a terrible habit. And the change is all inside of me. Everyone else is the same as they always were. This is the sanest and soberest I’ve ever been. Also I’ve stopped the gabapentin. Now I won’t have to worry about withdrawals from it… Psychosis is really just imagination run amok. I think I’d rather be realistic than deluded. Schizophrenia is bad enough on its own, but alcohol makes it a lot worse. My brother used to weave daydreams about people’s behavior. He could talk about it for hours and hours. A lot of it was inaccurate. It was as if he needed to tell stories about people to make sense of life for himself. But these stories were lies, and he lived a lie… Is it better to be realistic or to tell stories about life? I guess it depends on the storyteller. And how psychotic is it to weave a web of fantasies? Depends on the dreamer.

Dawn to Midday Sunday

Five o five.

For what seemed hours I dreamed about an artificial paradise, probably one induced by alcohol or drugs. The most tangible part of the dream was holding a brown medicine bottle in my hands and removing the adhesive label. It contained some kind of elixir, but I didn’t want my parents to find out. I hid it in the medicine cabinet of the half bath. Throughout the dream I was thinking of “The Domain of Arnheim” by Poe and the “Artificial Paradises” of Mallarme. The setting was nocturnal and urban. Right now I hear “The Perfumes of the Night” by Debussy.

Nine o’clock. This is my oldest nephew’s birthday, but I won’t call him up. I’ve heard a lot of negative things reported of him by my brother. I also had a firsthand conflict with him three years ago over politics and this thing called net neutrality. That was the time I blew up at my sister on the phone… It isn’t very warm this morning. The furnace has been turning on to keep it 70 degrees. This fall I think it would be nice to be able to use my living room. So I’ll make it a project to get those boxes out of there and create some space. Do it little by little. The books I don’t use can go in the garage. I keep forgetting that this is my house, every square foot of it. I could even start my project today. I never did buy the beanbag chairs I wanted…

Quarter of noon. I participated in the Zoom meeting and during this I got another bite on my Craigslist ad. So I called the guy and left a message. This could be fun. Today feels to me like autumn, or rather a foretaste of fall. It’s beautiful out, hinting of the potential for something good. I’m reminded of Labor Day 2003, when I met JP and Dave the first time and we jammed in the Whitaker neighborhood. All of us were sober. I haven’t abandoned hope for music. It’s just a matter of the right time and place, and the kindness of the gods.