It rained this morning, not heavily. Enough to be heard indoors a few times. I walked to the store before daylight, taking care not to slip or trip on the wet street. Visibility was pretty bad and I relied upon the streetlights to see where I was stepping. But it wasn’t raining during the trip. At almost nine o’clock I called Polly to get that out of the way and we talked for about ninety minutes. She’s getting braver about her religious talk, so I’m more inclined to avoid her after this. I don’t know if I encouraged her or not. I just said I’d gone to church last Sunday and that opened the door for her. Frankly I’m quite confused on the whole thing, and it confuses others when I vacillate from one position to the other. I don’t think I’m well. I can’t choose a side and adhere to it— and there’s even the delusion that Armageddon is coming upon us, the ultimate battle of good and evil before the last judgment by Jesus Christ. But just regarding my family, I believe that Polly may end up alone with her religion unless she finds herself a church to participate in. I feel that unfair demands are being made on me by Polly. This is very hard on me. What she understands as her reality is what I experience as a delusion. It’s hard to tell how much is her and how much is myself. I can’t separate out Polly from what I am when we discuss Christianity. If I told her the content of my psychosis she would believe it was real. It’s entirely possible that she is just as loony as I am.
We’re supposed to get some rain today. The streets were wet when I was outdoors for my grocery trip and it was black as ink, but I didn’t get rained on. I saw the edges of clouds white against the black heavens before I started pussyfooting my way on the blind streets. The occasional streetlights helped a little, or the light from approaching cars from N Park to the south. Today I go back to being alone as usual but my mind is getting clearer with the exit of summer and the cooler climate. My sense of duty tells me I should call my sister by the end of the week because she’ll be lonely: maybe it’ll be better if we keep it short. I observed to myself earlier this morning that religion often turns racism into a principle. I just can’t accept that anymore no matter where it comes from. The woes of the world do not stem from Black Lives Matter or whatever some people imagine. While I feel badly for my sister, I don’t share her ideas on social issues. It may seem like I’m picking a fight, but in reality the fights pick me, and this is the story of my life. Moreover, my illness seems to be the price I pay for the attitudes of my family; it never started with me. It all came down upon my head like a doom. Now the day is risen behind a gray shroud. It should be a quiet kind of day for reflection.
Ten forty at night.
I just figured out one of my dreams, and it dealt with the father figure of darkness, specifically the relationship of Luke with Darth Vader. Star Wars is such a pop culture phenomenon that it’s virtually public domain and a part of the collective consciousness. It can be the source of feelings of paranoia. Luke knows what he can or can’t do that will piss his father off to bring persecution on his head. Is it a form of castration anxiety? Vader, as his father, is authoritarian, and good when he is pleased or terrible when angry. Luke is free to do anything but cut himself loose from his evil destiny. When he rebels, he’d better be prepared to face the worst of his father’s wrath concentrated on him, sort of like Job when he challenges God and the latter terrifies him with extreme displays of weather… So I half awoke, knowing that a misstep in this or that direction could ignite the father’s fury. Then I got up to write this post. And I remind myself of my father’s date of demise this Friday.
Eight twenty five.
I’m a little nervous about volunteering today. I’ll just take what comes. There’s some sunshine right now. I don’t have any bright ideas. My dreams last night were about mortality, so I know it’s on my mind. Someday I won’t be here anymore. It’s hard to accept that the wonderful thing that is the human brain is mortal. I can hear music I first heard when I was a three year old. The experience of life in childhood was indeed appareled in celestial light and the fresh dreams of a child were stronger than the common day. Today it’s still kind of cold out. Poor Roger is out tinkering with a project, probably his Willie’s truck he’s trying to restore. I feel tired without having done anything yet.
The weather is beautifully sunny, the skies a deep blue. The volunteering went just fine: quite informal and easy. My dad’s birthday was yesterday but the weather today is more like the weather in 1999, when he passed away. A day or two after his death, I drove over to Borders and bought the little red book of Lucretius out of curiosity. But it’s the kind of question that never will have an answer— and that’s why church pastors will always have a job. It’s because of my dad that my dreams are preoccupied with Old Mortality for the past couple of weeks. On a beautiful day like this, all you can do is just ponder the problem of immortality. Are human beings that much different from other animals; and people like Loren Eiseley would say yes.
I just want to feel that the blogging I do is worthy and worthwhile. My sister thinks I ought to have a job that earns money for my sense of self esteem. She doesn’t understand the value of writing, its utility, its beauty: its indispensability. I don’t want a pedestrian job that goes nowhere. Sometimes it seems that nothing I do leads to fruition and this thing called success. But the definition of success is relative to each individual. If I were to attain a degree of fame or notoriety by my writing then I’d count myself a successful man. The naysaying from my sister may serve to motivate me a bit more: it drives me to defy her and her small minded opinions. I remember now how I felt toward the family at the start of my recovery, my reasons for blogging versus Facebook and for deactivating my Facebook account… Never allow other people to shame you into or out of anything. Don’t feel guilty when your values clash with theirs. Be proud of who you are and what you do. What others may see as foolish idealism is your winning lottery ticket. Their pragmatism is only proof of their blindness. Let them grub for transitory things. We have more important things to accomplish.
Quarter of six.
My dog Aesop went back down the hallway to jump in bed again. He didn’t use to be so independent, so this is a new habit for him. His birthday was earlier this month: ten years old now. I was done sleeping at three o’clock, after dreaming about my dad, and then I wrote a description and analysis of it in my journal. Dad’s birthday would be this Thursday if he had lived. I think it’s good that I have his genetics to put strength into my recovery. The Japanese have been known to worship their ancestors, so I think maybe my dad is something like a Higher Power to me. My first recovery, twenty years ago, involved him to some extent as well. Yet I don’t know exactly what pushed me to relapse, unless it was simply trying to work a job with the stress that attends it. I found myself in a situation where my choices were inauthentic and it seemed I had no way out, so the only escape was to drink great quantities of beer. Several people bullied and shamed me to do things I really didn’t want to do. And again, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks because it’s down to just you and your life alone. My family can judge away if they disapprove of me: it won’t make any difference because after all I am sober and taking care of myself the best I can. I used to be a people pleaser but I don’t play that game anymore; it’s not worth the grief.
Rain is expected at eight o’clock this morning. Even now it looks pretty dark outdoors. I wore my rain jacket with a hood when I made my trip to market. I got Aesop some chicken strips, reasoning that he deserves a little pleasure from life, like everybody. In fact, I’ve denied myself fun and pleasure for a very long time. Meanwhile, the church is losing its grip on people, possibly for the same reason I just mentioned. In my journal I suggested that maybe the Bible is a work of epic poetry and written for the aesthetic pleasure of it. This would be the most skeptical thing I ever said of scripture. As a religion, it has lost its force for many people. Now the forecast says cloudy, so the rain either came and went or it never happened. Pastor’s daily email was very short today. I wonder what’s up with that.
I practiced my bass guitar alone for a while. At first I played a bunch of meandering notes without much meaning, until I felt inspired to do some lines by Pino Palladino, a Welsh session player whose work was popular during the Eighties. So I tuned down a step and picked out “Come Back and Stay” and “Wherever I Lay My Hat.” The last song I played was one by Go West called “Innocence.”
The switch to this cool early fall weather has me confused about how to feel. I almost wanted to cry once today. It’s just weird, and I’ve also got the lonelies this afternoon. I recall that twenty years ago in August I was going to volunteer at the UO Knight Library. But the job was so computer intensive and the tasks so numerous that I was overwhelmed and had to abort my plan. I took the bus home and on the way, I remember watching the driver shift gears like a machine servant to a machine: a Lawrentian horror.
In October of the same year I placed an ad in the paper seeking other musicians to jam with, and got a call from a guitarist who was friends with some local celebrities. So we got together at the lot on W 11th and I auditioned with Marc and Tim. It worked out pretty well, so we kept doing that, and did a gig somewhere downtown and made some recordings. My family meanwhile was skeptical of my activities and my mom had been gone for a year. On the sidewalk beyond the lot of woodsheds was a hotdog cart dubbed Dawgs on the Run. When the days were abominably dark and rainy with the autumn I would go buy a Coney Island before rehearsal. But I often got the nagging feeling that I was in the wrong place, hanging with the wrong people. And my mother wasn’t around to justify what I was doing. For a while I was screwed.
Today is trash pickup day, so I wonder if Roger will fight with the same homeless man as two weeks ago. This is the only drama going on with me lately. Everything else is pretty medium and stable. I have no complaints and little to worry about. Some people might say that the tedium itself is stressful. I don’t know if I agree with that. I like comfort. If my existence was full of stress and criticism from others, and no escape from it, then I’d be tempted to get drunk like I used to. Human beings love a scandal or whatever they can gossip about, just for entertainment. Many years ago I had arguments with a friend on the topic of my desire for security and peace. His preference was for action and extremes in his life, and avoiding boredom. He was a big fan of Nietzsche, but I found his amorality disturbing. At the time, I probably followed Hume or Kant instead.
Quarter after eight. My dad was a guy who loved his comfort and safety, and I still can’t argue with that very much. Like father, like son? Maybe his security was illusory, but he didn’t think so. September is the month that I remember him because of his birthday and the time he passed away.
It looks like Roger is getting ready to stake out his recycle bin.
In the years after Star Wars came out, the cable company here didn’t offer much to choose from. However, we got channels from Portland and also one from San Francisco: KTVU, Channel 2. This last one was a lot of fun for kids in the afternoon. At three thirty or so they had the TV Pow game in between Tom and Jerry cartoons, hosted by Pat McCormick, who also did Dialing for Dollars with a movie every weekday. And then at five o’clock it was Captain Cosmic, who would show old Flash Gordon serials and also talk about Star Wars miscellany for avid fans of George Lucas.
I don’t know when I quit watching Channel 2; maybe after I got to seventh grade and started reading regular books for fun. Also I couldn’t watch tv during the afternoon anymore because I had homework to do every day. And my mother usually helped me with that. In all fairness, I think it was my mother who taught me how to write decent prose, and that was when I was in junior high school. It’s kind of amazing to recognize that now. I learned a great deal in seventh grade from Mom and from my reading teacher, Cathy Cheleen. The latter taught us not to use run-on sentences, and Mom said to make them short and punchy. She told me to use synonyms for the same things for variety; and I still heed her advice even today.
It’s probably the Coke that made me write to you again. Sometimes it makes me feel really good. When that happens, I try to seize the day and take advantage of the good mood.
I dug out a copy of Machiavelli and perused the introduction; afterwards I suffered for my sanity a little bit, but I’ll be all right. It’s enough to say that Christian theology demonizes the idea of power and control over your life. AA says something about “self-will run riot” in alcoholic people, and this is very bad. I don’t know anymore, so I’m leaving this topic for a while… I’ve been to the store already and didn’t get very much stuff because Gloria and I are going to breakfast at Carl’s Jr. this morning. The blue sky was peppered with little white pasta shells of clouds over my head. At the intersection of N Park, Roger came up in his Dodge van and let me cross the street in front of him. He was probably going to WinCo foods in West Eugene to stock up. It’s a gigantic store that makes me feel agoraphobic if I have to step inside. I prefer much smaller places. The last time I was there was likely with my brother, when he bought me a lot of spaghetti sauce and some pasta around Christmas time. He got very impatient with the customer ahead of us in line for checkout: she was in a wheelchair and paying with food stamps and small change, dropping coins on the floor. My brother was fuming. Classic alcoholic behavior, if you believe in AA ideology, which tends to be oversimplified and circular in its logic… So, Roger passed me in his blue van and I went on. There isn’t much else to report about my excursion. I saw some workers for Huey and Sons, a roofing company, I think.