20/20 (My Own Two Shoes)

Eleven o’clock. The rain has spent itself for the next three days. There’s a splash of sunshine on the ground. An old Mark Egan song, “Third World Wave,” dances in my head. I first heard it on local radio, so then I went out and bought the disc, probably at CD World here in town. It was located on 11th and Seneca, and finally closed forever in the spring of last year. I remember that the day after my mother passed away, I sat in my rocking chair and listened to Egan’s Mosaic. It was a compulsion for me to rock my chair while listening to music, a behavior that went away eventually, just as alcoholism did. I don’t know how it got started, but I was about two years old, jouncing to music on a rocking horse on springs. I suppose it kept me out of my parents’ hair. My dad obviously didn’t care for children, and Mom had too many problems of her own. Before I was born, their life together had overindulged in alcohol and lust. After I came along, they were stuck with responsibility they hadn’t planned on. Hindsight is 20/20. My birth and everything that followed it could’ve been avoided. But as it turned out, my existence forced them into some semblance of honor and respect, if not genuine love. Over time, we simply grew comfortable with each other. Meanwhile, my rocking compulsion persisted all the time my parents were alive. Finally it seems to be okay to have my own outlook on life; to be an individual in my own right. To walk in my own two shoes. 

Monologue on a Snapple

Quarter after eleven. The sky is getting dark with rain clouds. I hear thunder. Again the squirrels are very active on my property. Now it’s raining… I used to fear criticism from other people so badly, and I got the worst of it from my brother. But since I stopped drinking, the shoe is on the other foot. I think about him less than before, but I can remember how mean he could be. One thing keeps me straight, and that is the quest for the truth, whatever it proves to be. Another peal of thunder ripples across the sky. I feel more optimistic today, since the rain cleared the air outside. Earlier this week I thought I’d been psychotic, but the next day I felt fine. I actually like myself today, and life is worth seeing through to the bitter end. Perhaps we can colonize other planets, as has been the dream of sci-fi writers since HG Wells and before him to Poe. It’s a matter of how wise and how durable is the human spirit. A scrub jay screeches even in the rain. The creatures are all confused after the fires and the smoke for nearly two weeks… I owe a debt of gratitude to my pen pal for maintaining her composure while I was going a little crazy during the wildfires. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and believed the end was imminent… An idea from Percy Shelley occurs to me occasionally: we all are really just one person, participants in the One Mind. Individuality is an illusion created by language, he said. It’s a trippy concept, yet there’s something attractive about it. I imagine that whatever happens, we all share the same fate… How curious to think about interplanetary existence. Or any solution humankind comes up with to the problem of the uncertain future. The sun peeks through the charcoal gray for a moment. I hear the sounds of the train yard off to the south. More screeching of jay birds. My cattle dog Aesop just got a drink of water in the kitchen. Life is better today, even if for just a day. 

Birthday!

Eight o’clock.

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. 

Friday Morning

Quarter after nine.

Another nice day is underway. I won’t go to the store until FedEx has delivered my laptop. Aesop shows that he might have a health problem, so I will monitor him today and see how it goes. My music day went very well yesterday. I slept okay, but my dreams were unpleasant. Something about the end of our sex lives, along the lines of D.H. Lawrence. I read a lot of his stuff when I was younger, and he was prophetic in many ways. He abhorred technology and industry because they rob us of our humanity. People should have taken a warning from his writing, but of course we were too stupid to pay attention. As a consequence, we’re looking at the sterilization of the human race and general ill health. If the body is the soul, as Lawrence stated, then our soul is withering away while the machine head takes control. Probably there’s no going back now because we still refuse to listen to good sense. Just be hopeful that the machines have a heart… It’s Friday, the day of filming the church service. If my package comes early enough, then I’ll likely go participate. I’ve let them know the situation in advance. I wish I’d stocked some food yesterday for today but all’s well that ends well… I think I’ll restring my bass today and play it this afternoon. Where there is music there is hope.

Stay Positive

Seven ten.

The first thing I’m going to do is buy a Coke and some food. Today should be approached from the precept of freedom and responsibility, and it is so if you think so. I’m slightly tempted to just give up like everybody else; and maybe I will. But if I do resign, then I’ll be angry afterwards. Therefore, obey your own feelings and be true to yourself.

Eight o’clock. Vicki appreciated me this morning… I won’t let the despair of others drag me down today. The reality we live in is the one that we make. I just unsubscribed from a blog the hopelessness of which was affecting me. I was sorry to have to do it, but now I think I’ll be glad I did. The day is beautiful and pregnant with promise if you look for it. Positive change starts with just one person, who then communicates optimism to a few people, and by exponents it spreads. Certainly if I can deal with schizophrenia, then other people can handle their depression. Everyone is responsible for their feelings, and to some extent, the feelings of others. Some people might argue with me on this point, and that’s fine with me. Meanwhile I’m going to spread as much happiness as I can and forget the despair I’ve seen. I believe that happiness is our natural state, so I’m beginning with myself.

Whimpering: a Letter

I played the bass guitar yesterday noon like a madman, incorporating way too many notes to be very tasteful music. As a technical workout it felt good, and my instrument sounded great, but musically it wanted something. It could have used more dynamic feeling and better attention to my choice of notes and chords. I just feel sort of devil may care about it, for no one is playing with me and no one else is listening. “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” It seemed pointless.
Similarly, WordPress was a real ghost town yesterday. Some days are like that. I felt very frustrated and unhappy. But on the other hand, I don’t spend much time reading other people’s posts, either. We are mostly amateurs anyway. What’s the use?
I am very sick of the Covid lockdown and of people saying that this is the end of the world. It is merely an emotion and not a fact. My response to the situation is to say, Why pay lip service to the general attitude of despair? …Funny, but the words of T.S. Eliot keep surfacing to my mind. “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.” People go around feeling dejected and dispirited, having lost all hope and a sense of utility. Again, what’s the use? People have given in to futility and despair. The end result is a feeling of apathy. But— I still try to resist the epidemic of depression.

Hard Times

Quarter of noon. The good news is that I don’t have any psychosis or superstition at all. Time should take care of my woes. I want to enjoy my life.

One twenty. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My chemistry is all fucked up. It could be the Vraylar. Not enough is known about this drug, so I’m just a guinea pig, or maybe a body bag. I want to find a homeostasis, a state of stability, but instead I just feel worse and worse. I’m tempted to drink beer, but out of masochism I won’t do it. If I were to give myself what I really want, I would probably get drunk and shoot the whole thing to hell. Still I won’t drink. The epic novel of current events is too fascinating to obscure from myself. I might as well read it as far as I can follow it. Some people are talking the end of the world. I’m not going to hurry it up. Hang on and hope for the best.

Something Remains

Eight forty.

I don’t think I’ll post this particular writing. I have some issues to sort out. It bugs me that Polly is so cocksure of herself. What do I have to hold up to that? A lot of odds and ends of intellectual clutter with no stronghold to unify it all. If my ideology was Freud, and if Freud is passé, then what remains? Is it enough to be a simple realist? Most people need a spiritual outlet… I slept only a few hours last night. Right now it feels cold to me, so I’ve donned a hoodie. How would I feel if I put my Freud books in the book share? Maybe no one would take them. But it would feel like having my liver eaten by an eagle, as happened to Prometheus, if they did… I feel hungry. After feeding Aesop at nine thirty, I will head over to the salon and say hi to Angela and Kim. This will divert my attention from my worries. I’m glad that the weather is still cool.

Quarter after ten. My neighbor down the street offered me a lawn sign for Black Lives Matter, so I accepted. He’ll bring it over probably tomorrow morning. I figure it’s time to show some backbone for the things I care about. The family can cast me out. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. Might doesn’t necessarily make right. It’s been a terrific fight ever since my mother died. Why surrender now?… The key to any battle is persistence. It’s like the tortoise beating the hare, slowly and steadily. Eventually the better side will win, though I may not see it in my lifetime. The effort I put into it makes a difference in the long run.

Justice: a Letter

I’ve had yet another lousy day, but right now I feel okay. When is this summer ever going to end? I was worried that my sobriety was compromised by my addiction to gabapentin, so I emailed Pastor this afternoon about it. He called an AA leader he knows who says that gabapentin is fine as long as I don’t take more than is prescribed. Pastor called me and let me know. This made me feel a lot better. Isn’t this summer the pits? What more could go wrong? The worst part of it is the fact that we’re all impotent to do anything— except pray, as if that were any consolation. That’s about as useless as our vote. Not even the weather cooperates with the people’s interest. What’s the most responsible thing you and I can do? We want to stand on a mountaintop and scream for justice, but the best we can do is lie down in the middle of the street in protest for Black Lives Matter. It isn’t as though what is right and wrong were not obvious to everyone. We all feel it in our hearts. But for some reason, injustice tyrannizes over the whole world. Why??? Perhaps life would be too easy if justice were simply handed to us on a silver platter. Maybe the pits of life make the occasional triumphs of justice that much sweeter. The best thing I can do, however small it seems, is to stay sober and take the blows on the chin every worthless day.

We Can’t Breathe: a Letter

What a lifeless kind of day it’s been today! I can’t get a reaction out of anybody. And the food pantry fell flat this morning. What is everyone thinking? T.S. Eliot was right: we’re going out not with a bang, but a whimper. And Queen: I’ve got something to say: it’s better to burn out than fade away. I just watched the video of this week’s service. It was pretty lame, to be honest. I did fine reading at the lectern, but still the whole worship was done without conviction. The image in my mind is of a freshly caught salmon flopping around on the dock before the fisherman finally bashes its brains in to make it stop. Or maybe this is only my own faith dying of asphyxiation. Like George Floyd, it can’t breathe.
Well I did go buy that ice cream this morning. Vanilla bean. It was so early that I barely remember going there. And the pantry was pretty much over before it was begun. I must’ve come home at around eleven twenty. I felt quite tired as I sat here eating my gift Girl Scout cookies, sharing some with Aesop. I guzzled ginger ale and basically felt like a vegetable all day. And I think my feelings are a mirror of the general condition of people today. We are the Hollow Men. That corpse you planted… did it sprout? This is the way the world ends… The soul has gone right out of American life. And right now it resembles an Eliot poem more than a sci-fi movie. The weather here was beautiful, mostly sunny and cool with a bit of a breeze. But there was nary a sign of human life going on outside. I don’t know. I think we have to take responsibility for our morale and pull ourselves out of the pits. By the way I liked the video you linked to your post, the one with the cellist playing in a ruined coliseum. It implies that music has the power to heal and restore sanity to a messed up world. For me, I think the greatest healer is poetry in the abstract. Especially Romantic poetry, which reminds me that I should pull out my big Goethe and read all of Faust. When I say “poetry,” I’m including certain poetic prose as well. I may even reread The Sorrows of Young Werther, the most beautiful thing I ever read. The descriptions of being alone with nature are Wordsworthian before the real Wordsworth ever picked up a pen.
So anyway, I was saying that we’re responsible for the general tone of our times. Our response to the situation so far has been submissive and masochistic— and that’s sick, IMO. If this is the end of the world, then we should go out fighting.