Too Much

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. 

Sunrise

Six thirty.

The sky lights up green and orange to the east as the sun begins its ascent. I skipped the statin drug last night, so I expect to feel better today. The taxi will come get me after twelve o’clock today, for I’m going to DDA and then seeing Misty this afternoon.

Quarter of eight. The sun, low on the horizon, was right in my face on the return walk: big orange fireball. Reminiscent of some passages I read from a Harlem Renaissance novel, usually set at dusk under a full moon. The morning felt a little chill but I neglected to wear a hat this time. My mind is filled with the memory of blackberries and mint fields in the late summer north in Harrisburg. This area was smaller back then and everybody seemed to get along with each other better, whether you were from the city or out in the sticks. I hear colors in my head, a synesthesia of beauty and intoxication when I was young and didn’t know I was happy… I could be crossing a mental bridge to an illimitable space I used to know. But Aesop is letting me know that he is hungry, bringing me down to earth long enough to feed him.

Eight forty. I once had a friend who thought schizophrenia was a sabbatical, a subsidized opportunity to compose a lot of music. He just couldn’t understand how I had changed after the illness. I still feel bad about that. At the same time, he was changing too; becoming more conservative and like his parents, reading the newspaper every day from cover to cover, wearing glasses, and playing golf. His birthday would’ve been this month, a Libra. I don’t keep in touch with his family; they are all quite unlike my unique friend. 

The Love Scholar

Quarter of midnight.

Gazing over the book titles on Amazon and reading reviews of The Bell by Iris Murdoch takes me back to a little trip I made to the university bookstore with a friend in June 1987. In the section of general books I found The Bell and also The Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle, which I bought because I wanted to understand more about the subject of love. It didn’t benefit me very much, however, for my friend dumped me a few weeks later, on the weekend of the Fourth of July. I was devastated by this rejection. Now I ponder if love is a thing anyone really understands in an intellectual way. Perhaps my approach was all wrong the whole time? And yet I can’t change the way I am, so I might as well accept myself as I am. Would this be a kind of love?

Why is there such a disparity between loving and knowing? The first one does, the other one thinks. It’s a sort of dualism, a reflexive situation: mental energy turned back upon itself, like narcissism; like gazing at one’s reflection in a pool or stream. You pursue the stream back to its wellspring, but in doing this you lose knowledge, because perception depends on opposition of subject and object. Two years after I was jilted by my girlfriend, I wrote a paper on “Alastor,” a poem by Percy Shelley, but my essay really said more about myself in its analysis of the water imagery, which was like Narcissus and his reflection… So what have I learned about love since then? It is in the chest and not in the head; something done and not cogitated. Love simply is. 

Being Myself

Noon.

I’ve been to church this morning and back. I walked there and got a ride home with Barb. With me I took a book of Hellenistic philosophy for Tim to look at, thinking he might be curious about Epicurus and his similarities to the Stoics such as Zeno. It’s okay if he doesn’t like it; I just thought he deserved to be informed. Also, a book contains a lot of information that you won’t find on the internet… The transition in my medications is going pretty well since a few bad days last week. Last Tuesday I felt almost ecstatic for some reason, followed by a couple of days of despair. My body was a bucket of gravel mixed with sand, or a tin machine badly in need of oiling. Perhaps the missing ingredient was just the company of other people, particularly having a close friend. Good friends are hard to come by in my locality: people who will be likeminded and exceptionally smart… The assembly sang Happy Birthday to Helen, just having turned 98 years old. It’s an amazing thing to be a nonagenarian and to have seen the events of a whole century… I can’t shake off this music in my head, so it’s probably time to listen to something different.

One o’clock. I look forward to the next time it rains, for it’s been a very long summer and not much fun. I’m just thinking: I’ve grown up a lot in the past four years, such that I can stand up to anybody in my family and not feel guilty or ashamed for anything at all. People either like you or they don’t, and being disliked is okay with me because it says more about the other person than myself… It sounds like the children in the street are playing with some kind of pedal car. At least somebody’s having some fun. And you know, right now life isn’t so bad for myself either. 

Transitions

Quarter of eight.

Today is Sunday, and church is at ten o’clock. I’ve begun the new medication and I feel better so far, though it’s early to tell. The back pain is improved since stopping the old drug, thus I think I was probably right that it was a side effect. Outside it’s a chorus of a crow and a mourning dove. The air outdoors is smoky, browning the sun to a garish orange. Heather said she was very sick yesterday morning. Suk had to come down from Salem to work her shift, but it was nobody’s fault… The raspberry Snapple tea tasted great after the hiatus of one day. Aesop enjoyed his peanut butter snack, too. Before sunrise I listened to some tracks from Going Places by Herb Alpert. The sound is so mid 60’s, taking me back to my birth time 54 years ago. Probably unwittingly of my parents, Alpert was the ideal musician for a child to hear. My first experience of Blood, Sweat & Tears was quite abrasive due to the lead vocal. It was cool that my mother picked out stuff with strong horn sections. A lot of the music was instrumental. The version of Burt Bacharach she gave me was really ace: Make It Easy on Yourself.

Quarter of noon.

At a little after nine o’clock I headed out on foot for church, carrying with me a paperback edition of John Milton for Pastor to examine. I was pleased to see him take it under an arm out the door when church was through. The service this time was pretty good, and Eduardo had returned to play the piano. There was a lot of consciousness of the Louisiana hurricane today among us. Right now, the weather here is very pretty, the sunshine pale and mellow on the concrete. The next two days are expected to be in the 70’s, with a few clouds tomorrow. Children are playing in the street while Aesop my dog sprawls on his flank in the other room. I’m quite thankful to be where I am. 

Do unto Others…

Eight ten.

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. 

A Last (Open) Letter

Nine ten.

Very early this morning I read 12 pages of The Big Money and was rather unimpressed by the style of writing. It is like Faulkner, but not as good as that. The last good book I read was a Shakespeare romance called The Winter’s Tale. My thoughts are in a tangle right now, as I realize what I’ve lost in the friend I dismissed from my life. Was I being selfish with her somehow? Why did I feel so frustrated with our correspondence? She seemed not to understand a word I wrote in letter after letter to her. I could try writing her one more message but I don’t know what I would say. The worst part of it was how impersonal she was with me: no love interest whatsoever, so I was really looking in the wrong place. And now I’m sure that that’s why I wrote her off. The only feelings she had for me were dutiful, and duty is a rational thing, all in the head and never in the heart. I think this is a problem of religious living, because it’s impossible to love everybody universally except as an intellectual stunt. And obviously, rational love is cold and impersonal… I guess this is goodbye to my pen pal, but not to WordPress. Blogging goes on for me in some capacity. Everything suffers a sea-change at full fathom five; those are pearls that were your eyes; of your bones are coral made… 

The Gollum Effect

Quarter of two.

It is significantly cooler today than yesterday, the sky a lot bluer and the sun yellower. I can hear kids playing in the street. I feel the temptation to walk back to the store for something sweet to eat or drink, and a treat for Aesop. I had a long phone conversation with my sister a little while ago. All good. During the heatwave I might’ve done some things I’ll regret later. It’s hard to make decisions when your brain is baking in the sun. It’ll be even more plain to me when the summer is over with: roughly one more month!

Three o’clock. I went back to the market and saw Deb, Brandi, and Cathy, and got a tub of ice cream and two dog snacks. Deb had a deep dark suntan and wore an orange scarf on her face. Sometimes going there in the afternoon gives me flashbacks to my drinking days many years ago. Things haven’t changed much since then: the same bunch of addicts come in all afternoon long and into the night. The scene isn’t very pretty when morning changes to noon. And now I think of my brother. He’s not the same person he was when he had a career as a college professor. I keep thinking of how Gollum was deformed by the power of the Ring. Alcohol and drugs are the same sort of thing, seductive and destructive… Four children were playing baseball in their front yard when I walked by on my street. The other morning, Kat waved hello from her living room couch next to the window. But through it all I get the feeling of something missing from my life. Today is not like the 1990’s with my parents and all my friends in the music trade. Being sober is to be stranded on a solitary island. It takes a long time to build new connections with other people— and with yourself. 

Survivors

Wee hours of Sunday.

I just ignore the voices produced by appliances, like the air conditioner or a fan. I got some sleep tonight, dreaming about musical activities. Music will always be a major part of my life because music is feeling, and the process of living itself, a sort of flux as when you read an Emerson essay… It’s a mile from home to the church, a distance that grows more difficult at the age of 54 years. I suppose it’s mind over matter, and the nerve impulses come from who knows where. When you begin anything, you put one foot in front of the other and just start walking. My back continues feeling stronger while my mind wants to dissociate perhaps a little. A gain here means a loss there, so again life is imperfect: you can’t have everything. It all comes at a cost somewhere. The problem with being up in the middle of the night is there’s nothing to look at: outside is just a black curtain.

Quarter after five. There’s a song in my head called “Black Market” by Weather Report. I haven’t listened to 8:30 in many years. It seems hardly worth it when my best friend from that time has been so long dead. Automobile accident. He died before my parents did, and neither he nor my dad saw the new century. So, the old music with Jaco is a sad souvenir of departed friends.

I see the first predawn glow out my east window. Midnight blue. It feels like a long wait until the store opens at seven o’clock. With relish I anticipate the next time it rains, if it ever does again. The summer is redundant, day after day of drought and sun and fires and smoke. I’m actually kind of glad that my old friends don’t have to be around to witness the world today. Kind of like the empty feeling I get from going to the agency and seeing only two old coworkers, two survivors named Jeannie and Joy, still plugging away in shipping and the stockroom after so many others have gone. 

Cheap Friday

Nine ten.

My mind always tends to dichotomize, I don’t know why. It could be schizophrenia or my college training. But I’m okay as long as I don’t think. I’ve just gone to the store, a bit later than normal. Michelle was worried about a customer who was wasted on some drug and loitering by the storefront. For a change I bought an Arizona tea, raspberry flavor. Only a dollar. Funny but I didn’t see any women customers in the market today. Aesop’s mood is better this morning than a few days ago. I partly regret that I left the band with Mike and Ron, yet I know my reasons were good. In fact I was dreaming about that this morning. Mike had said, very reasonably, that he did music to have fun. But it’s not very fun when the drugs get in the way of making music… The air outside is still very smoky and gross. The sun that comes through is amber colored. After a while I think I’ll dig out my hybrid SX bass and mess around with it. I bought it ten years ago from Rondo Music for dirt cheap. It reminds me of better times for the world… and for rock and roll.

Ten forty. And yet a lot of that was an illusion, facilitated by alcoholism. I remember a ride I took to see my psychiatrist in February 2014. There was snow on the ground, snow in the parking lot. Seems like a billion years ago. Visits with him were getting tense, and I dreaded going. Orchestrated versions of The Beatles in the waiting room. I stared out the windows, thinking of my parents who were gone and wondering what my doctor really expected of me. Was it realistic? Would he have accepted that I was doing the best I could?

On second thought, I might retire the old SX bass.