Two thirty. The rain may not materialize today, or even tomorrow. I tried three times to call the middle school and finally decided to wait until Monday.
It’s okay to soul search through writing. By four o’clock I may get a second wind for my thinking. Perhaps it’s uncharitable not to fib sometimes, but I think my sister supports my honesty. It does damage to later find out you’ve been lied to. My brother hurt me the same way he hurt Polly, and one night dropped the bomb, saying he despised our mother. Was it a bomb or a gauntlet he threw down? And at the time, in 1993, I was not well mentally, hence it was a low blow. I spent a sleepless night down in his basement, alone with this new secret. I remember reading Women in Love that summer, and listening to Aaron Copland. Appalachian Spring ran through my brain that night. Subconsciously I had to make a plan. And whether my parents were worthy of my devotion could be irrelevant. Mostly they were pretty dull and selfish, yet what they had, they shared with me. We lived a comfortable life at home, so I can’t complain.
Quarter of five. I suddenly noticed that it’s been raining. I hope we get a lot more… I sort of miss being a hedonist back in the day, but life probably wasn’t as honest then, nor as ethical as today. My last girlfriend and I were quite voluptuous, and my alcoholism fueled the fire of desire for a few years. Of course I miss those days! We had a great deal of fun, though we were indulging ourselves with sensation. Like everything, it was fated to come to an end. Or at least, everything physical is transitory, raising the question of what can be eternal and imperishable. But she and I also shared a rational love for one another, and I learned from this that the marriage of true minds is indispensable. Then, the alcohol nearly finished me, forcing a new mentality and lifestyle…
Having church to go to was helpful for a couple of years. I hope the congregation doesn’t feel used or cheated now that I’ve left. Was I merely deceiving them through all those services? Sort of going through the motions? I don’t think it was a deliberate swindle. It was early in my recovery, and I wasn’t quite myself yet. And the falling away from faith was gradual. I was never dishonest about it, but rather, aboveboard the whole way. Pastor didn’t want to believe it. The first barrier I noticed was the problem of prayer, and this came up a year ago last summer. And then it was the whole concept of Jesus, especially since the virus made it appear like the end of the world. The apocalypse would spell out the Last Judgment, and essentially this entailed the dividing of human beings into saved and lost. My whole being found this proposal offensive. Unfortunately, it is built into the entire New Testament. Parable after parable taught by Jesus refers to the righteousness of Christians. When I cornered Pastor about this, he had no defense, no recourse. I think that by now he has finally dropped me and the whole issue. The one who’s still bothered by it all happens to be me. I regret that it couldn’t have worked out for me and the church. If I could rewrite the Bible to make it more reasonable, I suppose I would in order to get along with more people. The scriptures would be an okay thing if the pages were blank. Some churches try to treat the Bible in just that way. Interpretations can be very plastic, almost as though there were no text at all. I think that this was the impasse I came to with Pastor. At some juncture, his latitude with interpretation would hit a wall and break down. Perhaps I really was a jerk to be so insistent on a point. I believe that, at bottom, maybe Pastor acceded my argument. But in saying so, I’m merely mindreading. For myself, anyway, I wouldn’t want life and mind to be circumscribed by the Bible… Pastor wrote something that suggested to me that I’d been “hardhearted” in deciding to leave. But is it hardheartedness or rather toughmindedness? My heart is a reflector of what my mind earnestly thinks. Perhaps it would’ve been softhearted to put on blinders and forget what I had seen. But that wouldn’t have been my way…
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.
Two thirty. I wonder if I should fire up my P Bass and rock out for a little while?
Three fifty five. I kicked out the jams on my white bass. Sounded pretty cool. This is something I couldn’t have done four years ago, when I was drunk all the time and had no time and no money for my hobby. I’d like to buy some Rotosound stainless steel strings for my other P Bass and just rock the house. Someday I’d like to run into my old friend Dave and tell him what he can do. He was so ungrateful to me after I helped him on his way. Or perhaps I just felt ashamed of my own alcoholism as it took over my life. I couldn’t stop drinking yet I didn’t know why. I believed that I was defying someone, but really I was only destroying myself. Alcohol gave me a false sense of power, a feeling that I could do anything. It made me feel evil, but also I felt safe and comfortable. Actually, I think I was in a lot of emotional pain from losing my mother. I had no other way to cope. It took me at least ten years to get over her death. But Mom was not a well adjusted person. She had huge problems and never sought help with them. As I look back, maybe my college years weren’t so happy after all. I received a thoroughly secular education that makes little sense to me now. Was there any truth to what I learned at the university? And by now, the old canon has collapsed anyway.
Mentally, I seem to be having a bad day. The squirrels skitter across my rooftop and gather acorns in the backyard. Aesop is resting on the floor at my feet. And I am doing just one thing: staying sober. Sometimes that’s all I can manage to do, get through the day without drinking. My mind can do whatever it wants, but the point is not to drink, no matter what. I guess Polly won’t be calling me today. Maybe tomorrow. The smoke outside is still bad, and firefighters are still working night and day to control the wildfires. In a similar way, I work to put out the wildfires of my mind. But it’s really just a matter of waiting and watching as the thoughts pass by like clouds of smoke. And they do pass.
Here and there I have a bleed through of psychosis, saying that this is the end of the world, and by a freak of metaphysics, a god will emerge from the machine. Psychosis is radical emotionalism; if it feels true, then it must be true. It’s important to remain evidence based when I’m tempted to exaggerate the reality. My mind wonders why the crap all hits the fan in September. And more, what will future Septembers be like? It feels cold in here, and the smoke outside is still very dense. Linn County is getting ready to evacuate.
Nine o’clock. I just paid my garbage disposal bill online. For many years I paid over the phone, but now I’m all set up. It seems like an investment in the future. I don’t feel so pessimistic now about current events. Perhaps it’s just chance that everything has happened at once. I should remember all the distortions of cognitive therapy and apply them. Pastor wrote something in the Daily Devotions that I was inclined to take personally. But the truth may be that he wasn’t thinking of me at all. Consistently, time after time my assumptions have been proven wrong since Monday. When I catch myself in a thinking error, I feel a little silly afterwards. I wonder how many of us are making the same mistakes?… Aesop gets breakfast in a few minutes, and then I’ll get ready to go to the store. Or maybe I’ll delay it for a while. I can relax and have a burrito. It’s only 50 degrees outside. Wait until it warms up.
Ten forty. I saw Karen, Angela, and then Michelle. I made an appointment for a haircut next Tuesday at ten o’clock. Karen was happy about that. The countertop at the store is definitely red. Michelle was there by herself. It just feels different from the old glass counter in the middle of the floor. Less personal somehow, more official or conventional, like all other convenience stores. Almost more regimented. I like the way it frees up space on the floor, though. It’s just another sign that we’re saying goodbye to the past. A man walked into the store with 36 empty Rolling Rock cans as I was leaving. This reminds me that my “birthday” is tomorrow: three years sober. It’s been a roller coaster, and not only for me. The world was rather crazy this year, and last year my house caught fire. Regardless, I didn’t drink. I rolled along with the punches. Some days I feel absolutely terrible, and seldom do I feel really good. But always I am free to choose my mood. I can put on different music when I feel down. And it’s good to be a member of the human race.
It’s another sunny morning, and the high temperature is supposed to be 93 degrees. When I work up the courage, I may try uploading more music tracks of my own to SoundCloud using my laptop. But I don’t know if it’s worth the time and grief. Earlier this morning I dreamed about home recording, and it was very exciting to hear new music from myself. Much easier dreamed than done, unfortunately. The new digital technologies are very difficult for me to master. I loved the old days of four track cassette recorders and intuitively obvious drum machines. Those were the days when the technology was still dumber than human beings. Today, all these gadgets are a cryptogram for old school musicians. So, once in a while I have a dream about recording, but it might not be realistic… Tomorrow morning I have an appointment in Springfield for a blood draw. My clinic has its own lab unaffiliated with Q— Diagnostics. This makes things a little easier. Last winter, my healthcare service dropped my insurance company and left many people scrambling to find new providers. I had a couple of options, but I stayed with the same insurance and eliminated P—Health. I made this decision based on the experiences I’d had with both organizations.
Eleven forty. Now I’m curious about hooking up my external hard drive to my laptop and delving into some old files. The project could be rather painful emotionally, but there may be some little gems worth preserving.
One thirty. Most of the old poems I looked at were quite smutty, like Henry Miller attempting to write poetry. Not so good. Some of them weren’t even very clever. The mood was definitely rebellious and frustrated with a culture I perceived as repressed. But probably my overindulgence in alcohol increased the desire for love, and moreover, I’d had such lousy role models in my parents. I don’t know. It also seems that I blew my chance to fulfill my secular dreams with Kate. Maybe the secularism wasn’t working for me, or at least I couldn’t stop drinking and ruining my health until I tried something different. While I was surfing my old files, I listened to “Clockwork Angels” by Rush. This pitched me into remorse about losing my opportunity with Kate. However, thinking about it, if I had continued with the same “secular” friends and lifestyle, very likely I would be dead by now. Vicki told me about an acquaintance who had recently died of alcoholism at 52 years of age. The thing about Kate that really makes me kick myself is how smart she was, how worldly wise and a little bit defiant and daring. But no, I couldn’t keep it up. It wasn’t so much that I “blew it.” Rather, I wanted to live beyond my fifties.
Things turned around for the better in January 2019, when I met Heidi. We hit it off from the start. I haven’t seen her in over six months. I hope she’s doing well. Maybe tomorrow I’ll call LHC and see if she’s come back to work. She was on furlough from the lockdown. It used to be so much fun to go grab bubble teas at Cal’s. I was really kind of crazy about Heidi. Funny that I hadn’t thought of her in so long. We had a kind of tacit mutual understanding. She told me she was born in 1978, so she must be 42 years old. I always thought her face was pretty. Maybe I stopped thinking about her to protect my heart. What else does MS Word remind me of? I stopped using my PC on 11 March 2019, the morning of the fire. Gradually, I’m catching myself up to the present. Damien still hasn’t replied to my text this morning. It seems to be a bad day for trying to reach people. And then, probably I’ll hear from everyone at once. Tomorrow is church night all over again. I’m sort of dreading it, though at least I’ll be among friends. I feel rather lonely, and the heat is uncomfortable. There aren’t that many people I have deep conversations with. The one with Polly went better a few days ago. I didn’t feel paranoid or self-defensive as I would’ve with caffeine. I feel bored, too. Before the afternoon is through, I could play my P Bass. I may not be in the mood, though. Outside the front window, the clear sky even looks hot. Part of the whiteness might be from the forest fire in Salem. It’s supposed to be ten degrees cooler tomorrow and the next day. I can think of nothing more to say right now. One of those days. I’m running the fan just to move some air around. Currently it’s 88 degrees out.
I’ve been reading Nietzsche. I came across some ruthlessness that I didn’t care for. And I can see why Christians don’t like his writing. To him, kindness and virtue are done out of cowardice. He says people don’t want to be hurt, and for this reason they abstain from hurting others. And though this is quite true, what would the world be like where people reversed the Golden Rule? My high school friend was a Nietzsche nut, possibly for the wrong reasons. I remember exchanging letters with him when he was a Marine. We argued over moral philosophy versus amoral. It was such a long time ago, and I drank daily back then. I think I was disposed more toward Hume’s and Kant’s ethical philosophies, while Sean was vehemently opposed to them. I could never understand why, because his outward demeanor was rather shy and quiet. I still can’t really picture him with an UZI. One debate we carried on for a while was over my notion of “security and peace.” It wasn’t much of a philosophy. I learned it by observing my dad’s behavior. In informed retrospect, it resembled the psychology of Alfred Adler more than any philosopher per se. I don’t know where my dad learned his protocol for life, either. Where had he run into Adlerian theory? All he asked of life was to be comfortable. Consequently, he never learned much about himself. Or, if he did know himself, he didn’t share his feelings with others. He wasn’t brave enough to admit to his weaknesses—which would’ve been a commendable strength. Basically, my dad was a coward… I suppose I’ll read the rest of Zarathustra. But I disagree with the deemphasis on kindness. If anything, it requires courage to feel and show kindness to other people. “He held up his riches to challenge the hungry / Purposeful motion for one so insane / They tried to fight him, just couldn’t beat him / This manic-depressive who walks in the rain.” From “Cinderella Man” by Rush, 1977.
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.
Today is supposed to be a little warmer than yesterday. It’s partly cloudy. The colors and shadows are pretty, and rather heraldic of fall. This makes me think of autumn leaves, and in turn of lawn care: I should get ahold of Damien… I don’t have to go to the store this morning. I look forward to treating Aesop to his natural dog food. I could be tempted to go buy a Coca-Cola— but no. Caffeine gives me insomnia. By the way, I slept better last night. Today I’ll make some ice and have ice water rather than soda. At 11 o’clock or so I’ll move some more boxes out to the garage… The rest of the day can be spent reading Sense and Sensibility. Maybe take an hour to play my bass guitar. I feel disappointed that the situation with Ron and Mike fell through.
Quarter of nine. Tempted again by that Coke. But the reality is that the little market is losing quality. Or maybe my perception has changed. Probably both. I might go grab a Coke for old times’ sake, though this would be a delusion. The past can never be the present again except in imagination. Does history really repeat itself, or is that just human error? Right now I disagree with circular reasoning. The past stays in the past, and the rest is wish fulfillment. I wouldn’t even want to repeat events. Life would be boring that way… I could go to the store just to see some faces, and just to get out of the house… and get a Coke into the bargain.
Quarter after ten. I went to the salon and visited with Angela and Kim. Karen is away on family business until next Thursday, so it’s just the two of them. I asked Angela about her wedding, and she said they haven’t set a date. They want to have a big ceremony, but it’s expensive and there will be a lot of people. Also the Covid condition makes it difficult… Then I walked to the store and got my Coke. They’re replacing some counters and shelves, Michelle said. The weather today is still cooler, thank goodness. Aesop really enjoyed his new canned food. It was gone in a few seconds. And of course the Coca-Cola is divine.