Early Thursday

Ten twenty.

I just gave the second copy of Bishop to Kim, who reported that she loves books. First I had put it in the book share, so I had to walk all the way back and retrieve it. But I think the volume has found a good home. Kim said she would cherish it. I also went to the market for a soda… Yesterday afternoon I had some thoughts about genetic fatalism, especially expressed from my dad’s side. Maybe my half siblings are right about how I resemble him. But even so, I can’t do anything to change it. I believe that I possess my dad’s willpower over things like addiction. He was able to stop smoking by sheer effort of will. I know it does no good to condemn the traits I inherited from him. People can throw a Bible at them, but feeling guilty doesn’t eradicate them. Why repent what you cannot change? Instead, just get on with life. We’ve evolved beyond throwing stones at people who are different… The weather today is partly sunny and more temperate than the last two days. Possibly the best ideology is no ideology at all.

Saturday Morning

Nine o’clock.

I know I’m lazy. If there’s no incentive to work and if I’m comfortable, then I won’t bother with it. The house is paid for and I make do on $803 per month. As long as I don’t feel guilty, I’m in good shape. D— said that some people would judge me, but he was speaking for himself. Our last meetup was quite strange. Neither one of us was feeling well. He had a flu bug and I was psychotic. But I stood my ground with him and he sort of wilted. The most important thing, no matter what happens, is not to drink. In my experience, feeling guilty is a recipe for any kind of behavioral havoc. I consider toxic any person or situation that plays on guilt feelings. I just avoid putting myself in those positions. My brother wallows in guilt and alcoholism, each feeding the other in a loop. Oh well… Aesop slept in this morning. I heard him breathing rhythmically, sound asleep. I went to the store for a few things and chatted with Michelle. Putting on a face mask is like a brassiere for the nose, or so it seems to me.

Quarter after ten. Aesop just had his breakfast. We have a daily routine that he depends on. I’m thankful that I can afford snacks for him nowadays. Maybe again today I’ll listen to Permanent Waves. I could email Mark just for fun. The fireworks last night weren’t too bothersome with the new storm windows. I explained to Aesop how some people like to make noise, and this was normal. By ten thirty or so, they stopped. I walked past the blast marks on the street this morning, black and brown skids of gunpowder. Right now the sun is trying to come out. It could be a good Independence Day.

Queens of Etiquette / Optimism

Guilt is an expendable emotion; it serves no purpose whatsoever. There is no particular way a person is supposed to be. Who says we have to look a certain way or act a certain way, etc etc? I don’t care to be conscientious like some people. Take it or leave it. There’s no such thing as perfect. There is no king of public opinion, or if so, then who is it? Martha Stewart was put in jail, wasn’t she? Kathie Lee Gifford and her sweatshops. Regis Philbin. I don’t watch tv, so I don’t even know who is popular anymore, and care less about it. Kill your tv! Live your life your own way. Oprah Winfrey sucks. My sister thought Oprah should run for President. I can’t imagine much worse… They’re making good progress on the fence. Damien is using a nail gun and they move right along.

Three o’clock. I took the Snapples out to them. I’ve been forgetting the idea of faith that all shall be well. In other words, optimism. In uncertain times, this is indispensable. The fence has needed replacing for a couple of years, and now I can do it. In fact, it’s almost done. All I did was not to drink alcohol anymore, and good things came to me… Aesop’s treats are coming from Amazon tomorrow. Filet mignon flavor soft chews. I hope he likes them… I noticed that the paranoia is a lot better than before. Most people don’t have bad intentions toward others. Only if they use drugs or have a mental health issue. Or if they are driven by the big bucks… Now the guys are building the gate. The day has turned out kind of good. I’ll be glad to have the job finished. And then I can listen to the other disc of Permanent Waves.

Tuesday Night

Six ten. I wrote the above with somebody in mind, and she read it and liked it. I just got tired of reading her hopeless posts about feeling guilty, mostly. Guilt and shame. They were a real drag for me, so finally I replied back. But it’s the truth: sooner or later we have to chuck it all and just get on with life. Just say fuck it and roll on. You can spend your whole life in therapy and arrive nowhere. And then you die. Isn’t it better to live your life and enjoy it?… Anyway, I’m tired of being conscientious. Moral improvement is not for me anymore. I don’t believe in heaven and hell, so there’s no point in being super virtuous. It is wasted piety, as Pascal suggests.

Midnight hour. I just heard the full album of American Garage. Very lovely. It’s hard for me to call up memories from before the onset of the illness. Maybe it’ll get easier. I wish I held the key to unlock the truth of myself and my motivation. Perhaps I want to be universally loved, but not even famous people have this. If this is my desire, then I’ll always be beating my head against the wall. The love of one person who is much like me might be enough. I remember how once I loved my brother with a jealous passion. It was never requited, and I gave up when I realized that he despised Mom. What is the greatest love of all? Again I arrive at rational love, the marriage of true minds, as Shakespeare expresses it. The love of likeminded people is the best thing in life.

Defenseless

Six o’clock.

Daylight is on the way, through an overcast. My mental state is always changing, but even more radically since yesterday. I feel like a different self from the one with schizophrenia.

Eight thirty five. Not much in the mood for writing, and that’s a switch. My dose of Vraylar is at 4.5 mg daily. Can’t predict where the benefits will take me. I don’t feel like I used to after the illness. I slept decent last night because of no caffeine yesterday. As far as reading material, I will read what I want to read. Was Jeff right that I’m just a hedonist? And yet he makes a hypocrite of himself. For the record then, I guess I do like pleasure and despise pain. Like my parents. I wish I could spin the clock back to the mid nineties, when the autumns were so comfortable and Duck football was on the television. With music, I seemed to have found my calling. Entertainment is all about feeling good… The church brainwashing is wearing off and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m having a tough time. Probably all the remedy in the world couldn’t make me useful and productive. My parents must have spoiled me. The critical period for learning the work ethic is long past. I feel like I can’t defend myself from myself. Not even with my diagnosis. It feels like me against the whole world. But the pandemic can’t last forever…

How to Act

Quarter of nine.

I leave for the church very soon. Aesop has been fed. It’s another sunny day today. This time I remembered my tithe, so I wrote a check for two hundred dollars. Not a day goes by without thinking about my family.

Quarter of noon. Just got home from volunteering. Tired. I observe what an anachronism I am, out of our time, and also out of place. I don’t conform to what other people do. I’m just a maverick, I guess. But my peculiarity hopefully serves a purpose. I no longer see it as righteous. People are supposed to jump on the bandwagon and do what is expected. I am a loner doing just what I want to do. Others look at me kind of funny. Maybe something went wrong with me after my parents died and my siblings bullied me so unfairly. But you know, my parents were pretty weird people, though I loved and honored them all I could. I had friends who either liked my parents or not. My mother was very sympathetic toward people with disabilities, people of color— everybody in the rainbow category… After they passed away, I was left alone not knowing how to act. Even now, I’m still figuring it out. I doubt if I’ll ever be like other folks… Aesop came up to me and asked with his eyes if I was going to play my bass today. It really upsets him when I do. So I’ll give him a reprieve for the day.

A Sad Fact

Quarter after nine. Polly never valued education, and that’s her fault. Her resentment of the educated is not my problem, so I can forget about feeling guilty. She put herself in the position she’s in today, and is stuck with being a great-grandmother. Jeff always protected Polly, hid from her the truth of how stupid we know she is. They grew up together and like each other better than either of them likes me. Or they did until Polly figured out that Jeff is a liar. Polly is less intelligent than average, and that’s a sad fact. Should I beat myself up for that any longer or absolve myself? No one else is going to pardon me. It has to be myself. The past of when I used to drink is a little clearer right now. I wonder if I couldn’t quit because of the guilt and remorse I felt over the situation with my sister?… I never had to deal with Polly until Mom was gone. The exasperating thing about her is that she doesn’t stop talking, and she’s so stupid! Who cares about the opinions of an idiot? I resolve to love myself after this. Polly and Jeff will have to work it out with each other, and forget I was ever born. The problem is insoluble as long as I’m in the picture. I tend to blurt and blab the observations I make… I’ll be all right if the family leaves me alone. It was all a bad dream…

The Heart’s Justice

Toward midnight. My head has been stuck too much in the 19th Century. Cognitive behavioral therapy has dispensed with Christian morality. Of course, the knowledge of CBT doesn’t come free. I didn’t have to pay for it out of pocket, but somebody had to, and it was taxpayers. The old knowledge that is available free is the Church, and this may always be the case. It was so 150 years ago, and it is true today. Who am I to deem myself better than the mass of miserable people? Instead of AA, I opted for therapy for a year and a half. I wasn’t responsible for a penny of it, but somebody footed the bill. My conscience is a bit like Pip in Great Expectations. It turns out that a convict paid my way, and it was the American working class. Was I clever to take a free ride on the system, or was I unscrupulous and shameless? If I stole an education from taxpayers, then how can I pay it back? The key to the whole scenario is this thing called conscience, which is a defining characteristic of human beings. CBT denies that absolute justice exists, saying that there’s only fairness of a situation to oneself. It says that justice is relative and dependent on your point of view. But what does my heart declare on the matter? How do I defend myself from my heart— or is it better to obey it?

Tribunal

Six o’clock. Each day of the lockdown gets a little harder, the more so because I examine my morals. Does it matter if I’m not a Christian or other philanthropist? I don’t even know what I am. It might be that I’m a sort of libertarian, or worse, a libertine. My brother labeled me some kind of hedonist, and he may be right. But it’s better to be self conscious than to live in ignorance. Lord Byron believed that self consciousness is the worst thing that happens to people. My brother also called me a worthless brother. I don’t know why I value his opinion, however. His own alcoholism has demented him, wiped out his memory. Maybe he should examine himself before judging others. Do hedonists volunteer for the food pantry? I don’t see him doing that, but I do it. Do libertines have a conscience? This one does. Even Oscar Wilde had a conscience, else he couldn’t have written The Picture of Dorian Gray… Pasting labels on people is no light matter. If I’m looking for approval from my brother, that’s never going to happen. I might as well forget it. Aside from him, the harshest critic I have is myself! How’s that for libertinism?

Tuesday Morning

Seven o’clock.

Nothing on my plate for today. Yesterday was a long day of waiting for Damien to finish the yard work. Aesop and I were under siege until then. I probably slept ten hours last night. My body needed to rejuvenate itself after the busy weekend. My mental eye conjures up the face of an old musician friend, long since gone by his own hand. I used to go to his Thursday night jams, which were open to everyone. I played his drum kit more often than bass. People drifted in and out of JP’s life. Kyle was the most consistent, learning guitar with him. Young Jonathan took a drum lesson or two with me. He learned how to play rock triplets, and then I never saw him again. One day after I’d been to see JP, I compared my materialistic life to his spiritual one and felt ashamed. I was always thinking about beer money and my job that supported my habit. In contrast, JP had a life with a flow to it, rather easygoing and accepting of what was. He suffered from chronic depression, and that was the curse that drove him over the edge. Thus it seems that no one’s life is enviable, and the shame I’d felt was ignorant. Now I think of today, when my family and I just don’t get along. But the truth is that I don’t have to burden myself with guilt, because they are no more righteous than I. Looking back, it was always that way. People were freehanded with dishing out blame, but the share of it was equal. Everybody does the best they can.