Four fifty. I’m going to Katie’s memorial service tonight. Tim is picking me up at six forty. I’ve had a rough afternoon because I listened to the CD this morning, opening up an emotional can of worms. Then I wallowed in pathos for a few hours, thinking of my mother, to whom I was very close. I guess I can snap out of it when it’s time to go to the church. Until then I’m just killing time, waiting for the sun to go down. I really can’t put my parents down for being hedonists. The church has me in a tight spot, and I tend to sympathize still with my parents and not with my sister. I’m not going to manage to be very rational today. Sometimes that’s okay. But it’s not my usual mental state to be soppy and maudlin. If I could just make the music stop.
Six o’clock. It won’t be long now.
The thought of the Christmas season came over me while I was eating lunch. Maybe I really have been a Judas for the past twenty years, and the best thing for me is to open my heart to my family and their concept of human life. Christmas is a big piece of that. Even my mother once celebrated the season, decorated the house with a tree, tinsel, lights, ornaments, and so on. At some point she grew jaded and sour and lost all faith, or perhaps she had never understood the reason for the tradition. My own Christmas spirit died when my mother passed away… or went underground and dormant. Maybe this year Christmas will come to my home again. And I’ll probably go to church tomorrow morning, though it’s not a church that my family would choose. In the end, it’s not an intellectual thing.
Six twenty five.
My taxi ride is about two hours away. The traffic of diesel trucks on the Beltline sounds quite loud. Now I have to go out in the predawn darkness to the store for Aesop and me. Thomas Dolby: “My Brain Is Like a Sieve.” A song of forgiveness.
Quarter after seven. The excursion was fun. Michelle told me she has arthritis in her foot; unfortunate when she has to stand all day. She helped me max out my food credits. When I left the house it was dark outside, but on the way home already it was growing light. The clouds are packed in layers, cloud on cloud. My thoughts are hung up on the same problem, cognitive therapy versus analytical psychology. Rational or emotional thinking… I scroll back about nine years. My online girlfriend started dating another guy, so I had to decide whether to keep her for a friend. Was I capable of doing that? But now it’s just a dialogue with the ghosts of history. Once in a while I get the opportunity to show some courage. With the lockdowns it’s been harder to do. Or maybe the lockdowns are themselves the opportunity? Playing safe gets boring, and it doesn’t get results.
Eight ten. The crows bicker noisily over something. Aesop was very hungry for his breakfast, scarfed it right down. Sunlight burns through a little.
Ten forty. I’m back from the agency. Kind of nice to see Misty. Feeling better from the change in temperature and the promise of the new season. I stopped the statin for cholesterol a week ago or longer: a good move. I remember things I did 19 years in the past because now I can feel something again. It’s a bit like a homecoming, except I miss my family as the perversity crumbles. I could harden my heart for only so long, and now I see all that I might have missed before.
The sun is just beginning to light up the east. It’s the first day of fall. Aesop has been sick with a stomach bug lately; not sure what to do about it. Life has been very unkind to us since the spring and summer, unless I just expect too much from it. But if I decided to be disobedient then I’d only drink beer again. I never resented a Democratic government until now. It seems to rule us with an iron hand. And I don’t enjoy going to church at all anymore because of the politics… For a change I’m going to Grocery Outlet this morning. Feelings are interesting things, and who knows where they come from? I think you have to trust them in the end, and the dreams that embody them. It’s okay to surrender to your feelings and do as they say. They give us strength and courage to carry out our projects…
Quarter of eight. It takes me twenty minutes to walk a mile, and that’s the distance to Grocery Outlet. I suppose I’ll get ready to go now.
Nine twenty five. I was there and back again. Bought Aesop some decent food for breakfast for the next week. And I got some deli stuff for me. I didn’t buy anything to drink this time, so I’m missing my caffeine. On my walk, I thought vaguely about my confusion with reason and feeling, and should I trust emotions to guide me? But I know that this approach has never worked for me before, and my best bet is to go with science. I think it’s just curiosity that lures me towards the Jungian ideas like a Siren song. My ship would be dashed on the rocks if I dared it again… It was kind of a nice walk to River Road past the high school, where I saw a lot of teenagers getting ready for class. School is a much different experience from church. The more I think on it the more I really resent the church for laying down the law rather than liberating our minds for whatever comes. The latter is an exciting prospect indeed.
Quarter of nine.
My day is getting off to a lousy start. I look around at my house and see schizophrenia everywhere: dirt and disorganization. Pure chaos. And I can’t find anyone to help me out with housework. It’s never happened before and I doubt it will ever happen. But I’ll try to see something positive in my life today. The autumn change in weather feels nice to me. Damien said he’d be here this afternoon to do some work. There has to be hope somewhere in this picture. If I had a couple of grand, I’d hire a janitorial service to come clean my house. Maybe I could just put it on my credit card and owe the bank forever. I can ask Damien about getting some help. I’m not a hoarder, just a person with schizophrenia, and I feel pretty terrible.
Nine forty. It might cheer me up to read Henry James… Maybe I need to get out of this place. I don’t care for this neighborhood at all. How nice if I could just pack up and go live in Victoria indefinitely! Anywhere but here. Utopia is a state of mind, I guess. I wish someone would send a little happiness my way today. Too many people want to piss on your campfire… Song: “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” A version by Roger Williams, a long long time ago. I think my dad gave me that LP; he came home for lunch and handed it to me when I was three. I don’t remember exactly the last time I cried, but the next time could be today. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Quarter of seven.
I just saw Bonnie Rose leave in her black truck to go someplace. I was thinking of how American life is an Inquisition about people’s faith in God. I don’t think I’ll ever believe in God, and the whole question is really silly.
So I trotted off to the market with an open mind. The air was very smoky again. When I got there, the store was quite busy and more coed than usual. The same blond girl was ahead of me in line, probably in cowboy boots because she looked taller this time. She sprinkled black pepper on her biscuits and gravy and carried out two orders of them, balanced precariously in one hand. Michelle had her hands full today, toggling between both registers to speed up the process of checkout… As I was walking home, my mind juggled the past and the present, and the past seemed attractive, though I knew it was only a phantom. Suddenly I can hear “Schooldays” by Gentle Giant, a really cool little prog song with a lot of vibraphone. From where do people get the call to be musicians? I guess it’s genetics, and this is the basis for everything we call fate or destiny: it’s all biological. I can see my first grade classroom in my mind, what in reality would be impossible because the old school was razed to the ground. In our memory, things subsist in a sort of half world, neither real nor entirely bogus. Substance use can make imagination bigger than reality, and so can psychosis. And maybe it’s all relative anyway. In Tibetan tradition, Milarepa slew a giant scorpion the size of a car, yet we don’t say he was crazy. He saw demons with big saucer eyes all around him, and people only shrug.
Nine o’clock. I think all knowledge is very difficult to sort out. Should a person weed out emotional reasoning for understanding the world? And without logic, people are totally sunk. It’s a cliche to say there needs to be a balance of reason and feeling, but the cliche is true.
Something on the periphery of my mind is bugging me, and I think it’s a feeling of guilt, whether or not it’s appropriate. Also I’m a little worried about her because she hasn’t posted anything in a long time… It is another cloudy and temperate morning. The walk to the convenience store was uneventful except for something Heather said. She expected that I would razz her for the “open” sign not being turned on, but this time I hadn’t even looked at it. But it makes me think about what I’ve been doing with people lately, perhaps being too critical of them. No doubt I will make more of my own mistakes, and nobody’s perfect. It feels good when we can shine. It feels bad when we fall short. I tend to challenge the idea from cognitive therapy that no one causes others to feel a certain way. It strikes me as baloney. We have to take some responsibility for the feelings of other people, and try to encourage them rather than cut them down. This is simple common sense. It may be emotional caretaking but it is what it is.
Some people call it the Golden Rule.
I listened to Prokofiev during the wee hours, from a very old cassette tape that I’m surprised didn’t break. Just now I read an article about the red tide in Tampa Bay: six hundred tons of dead fish have washed ashore. Nobody knows the exact cause of the disaster. In Oregon, I don’t remember the last time it rained. The drought is severe and doesn’t seem normal to me.
Seven forty. Back from the market already. I reminded Michelle to turn on the sign that says “open.” She cursed and said she knew she’d forgotten something. The sky is gray and overcast, but rain will be very far off. I found out on short notice that I have an appointment for a lab this week. So, tomorrow morning I’m taking a trip to Springfield by taxi. The last few times I’ve gone there I was unimpressed and just wanted to come home.
I think Walt Whitman was absolutely right that the body and the soul are one and the same. To be emotionally alive you must be in tune with your body, though the Digital Age tends to pervert our natural instincts. Some people use technology to cover up what they feel; they become a severed head with no sensation at all. This has happened to me as well, but I also find fault with church doctrine, which is centered in the head rather than the heart and the gut… The clouds have blown away and the sun is out, yet it’s very cool today. Looks like the band will play this Saturday afternoon. The weather is really quite nice, so maybe I can go get another Snapple or something. Aesop peed on the carpet a while ago: probably revenge for getting his breakfast late this morning. Dogs are smart enough to get even with you. Now my mood is taking a dive for some reason… Again, I’m tired of living an incorporeal life, a severed head staring at computer screens. The soul of us below the neck is nothing infernal or otherwise bad but simply human and natural. Most likely I’ll never go to church again… The Prokofiev was good last night; I hear echoes of it right now. It had been thirty years since I last listened to this music, thus to hear it again breaks open a trapdoor in my psyche that I’d nailed shut.
Nine twenty five.
It’s almost time for Aesop’s breakfast. I feel rather edgy this morning, perhaps because of my back pain. The oak tree in my backyard has begun losing acorns all over the place, as it does every year. Heather at the store told me today is her clean and sober birthday: three years. She said she feels really excited about that.
Summers are always a bit difficult for me; they make me feel impulsive and vulnerable to my emotions. Aristotle taught that emotions are not trustworthy, so people should put on the armor of reason against them. I think that’s rather extreme, if not impossible to pull off. Probably emotions are closer to the natural truth of life. Masking them with reason is to be contrived and artificial— and then again, feeling and reason may prove to be a false dichotomy. I have a weakness for dichotomous thinking, always trying to determine either/or situations, when the wise person marries opposites together so that black and white blend to gray.
Anyway, the sun dominates the blue sky and the high today should be 90 degrees again. Across the street from me, Roger is puttering with a project while the mail carrier just brought me a package… I did some research online regarding The Winter’s Tale, and now I’m resolved to read it again for the issue of art and nature. Also, I’ve only read The Tempest once, so it’s on my reading list too.
Quarter of eleven. Another thing I see is that my rose bush is blooming again, though it makes more sense to call it my mother’s rose bush, since she planted it and because even in my mind it symbolizes immortality for her sake. Whatever may come and go, this rose bush endures everything, just like the generations of people and their brainchildren over the expanse of time. Some say that life is a frail thing, others that it is unstoppable: I agree with those who say life is very strong.
Nine thirty five.
I’ve had a very busy week, so today gives me a bit of a respite. There’s one phone appointment this afternoon, but it should be briefer than the other visits this week. I called my sister at seven thirty for a chat that went for an hour. Then I fed Aesop and went to the store. Quite a few people were out and about, walking their dog, getting biscuits and gravy, talking together, and so on. Michelle was rather occupied at the checkout counter. The face clock on the wall said ten after nine, but to me it felt like a limbo place in eternity. Like passing into a dream, when the days melt together in a continuous blur. Something out of a Moody Blues album. The forecast calls for clear skies early this afternoon and on into the weekend. I’ve heard no word about band practice tomorrow. It wouldn’t break my heart if someone canceled it this time. I’d rather take a hike over to Bi Mart for a couple of things… My mind is a blank. I thought about reading Aristotle’s ethics, but neither he nor Plato was a nominalist, so now I consider David Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature. Or I could read Utilitarianism again… It was a little bit weird spending the afternoon at Laurel Hill yesterday. I used to have a job at the agency. Everywhere I went in the building, I sensed something missing from my life and my mind, but I couldn’t identify it. Now I think the difference of 15 years ago is that I used to carry around the memory of my mother, and today there’s just a big void where she had been…