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. 

Bold or Foolish?

Five thirty.

I’ve learned that caffeine makes my paranoia worse, so the obvious solution is not to drink Coca-Cola. This is something I can control. Last night I had a lot of dreams, some of them very complex and emotionally distressing. Is my real life that complicated? And it’s the world beyond me that weighs on my mind as well. It’s a perplex my subconscious is trying to work out. I wonder, still, to what extent people are free in the midst of a pandemic. I had my little music jam last Thursday evening, just two guys, though now it seems I did something bold. I heard from another musician yesterday who wouldn’t have dreamed of getting together for a jam. People’s responses to the lockdown are individual and various. Perhaps I pushed the envelope a little, but I was determined to do something. My head was full of philosophy Thursday morning as I set about cleaning house. I didn’t think about how nobody else was doing music. But maybe it takes one or two people’s civil disobedience to change the general attitude. Time will tell if I did something foolish. Yet I think I will keep pushing for freedom until others get the idea. As long as it’s left up to you and me, we ought to do what is right according to our hearts. A lockdown cannot suppress the healing sound of music.

Friday Night

Quarter after five. I noodled around on the green bass again, toward the end using my thumb to get more of an upright bass tone. I once had an old Disney record with fairytales narrated to the accompaniment of acoustic bass and congas. My dad bought me this at Bi Mart when I was probably five years old. The walking bass lines were jazzy and a little strange, which befitted the weirdness of folklore… I just found it on Amazon. It was released in 1969, but I didn’t see any credits for the narrator or the musicians. I may still have my old copy among my vinyl records.

Quarter after six. It’s 88 degrees outside, and will be 102 tomorrow. I learned that I gained about ten pounds while at the doctor. It’s a good sign. Roxanne will be here soon. No sweat.

Eight thirty. Home again. I realized something while at church: most people haven’t learned how to think critically about metaphysics. There’s not an original thinker in the church except for me and maybe Pastor. It’s like a sin to be able to think for yourself. Your mind is expected to be on autopilot in church, or at least at the one I go to. I feel like the last living human being when I’m among the other members, whose intellects are all dead. It is a strange experience, and it feels a little dangerous. The world deserves to be as awake as I am. Freethinking is our natural birthright, so why are so many people in intellectual chains? Nobody dares to do the kind of thing Descartes did anymore— or not at my church. I sense that I’m heading for more trouble with the Lutherans.

Baby Steps

Quarter after three. I don’t know why I need parent figures here and there in my life. Someone to depend on. And my alcoholism was a kind of dependency as well: chemical. Well, Vicki has been rather parental for me, but not in a healthy way. I attach myself to people and places that feel safe to me. If I stop going to Community Market and shop elsewhere, then I will feel a little insecure for a bit. But I wish I didn’t need parents anymore. The thing with Vicki has been indeed an emotional attachment, as strange as it was. I really don’t know her at all. She was the person who used to sell me beer in the morning, when the addiction was out of hand. My dependence on alcohol was itself an emotional investment. The beer was soothing to me like a mother. And indirectly, Vicki came to signify motherhood to me also. I wonder why the maternity thing is important to me? I’d like to get over it and be independent. At least I can weed out the unhealthy parents and cultivate better relationships with people. Alcoholism is a very odd behavior, because you depend on something that isn’t even human. Alcohol is only a drug, nothing to have a relationship with. When I drank, I felt like I was in the mother’s womb, safe and protected from all harm… And what if I do go to a different store every day now? How will it feel?

Coloring Book / Commodity

Six twenty.

Even before I begin to write, my brain wants to shut down. It’s odd how we refuse responsibility for our perceptions, as if thoughts were inserted. But consciousness is very much an active thing, creating and constructing at will. The sky is overcast: to say this is a fact, but what it means is up to me. I choose to name it good because it suggests cooler weather today. This positive thought accordingly lifts my mood. Morally, we create our own reality. Why is this so easy to forget? Objective reality itself is a coloring book, but we provide the colors from our imagination. The colors are moods and meaning… The atmosphere appears bluish, giving a hint of rain. At times I ponder psychosis: just what is this separation from reality? Does it serve a purpose? It could be an indicator that something is not right… I listened to Aaron Copland in the wee hours and still enjoyed El Salon Mexico the most.

Eight twenty. Sometimes I wonder why I shop at a convenience store every day. Perhaps because it’s convenient? Or maybe part of me longs to be able to drink beer as in happier times. I know I won’t do it, and the self restraint feels kind of good because it is a form of control. It’s almost like a rebellion against myself, and of course I’d be into that. Being rebellious is often what motivates me. At the store a bit ago, I played mind games with myself, thinking of instances where I could feel paranoid, but don’t anymore. And it seems to me that a lot of people have paranoid schizophrenia. They go around blithering about “karma” and “angels” and other bs that they can’t prove yet “believe” anyway. I suppose it helps them cope with life. Then there are some who never stop to think about what they believe.

I was like that once, when I was on a working and drinking treadmill. Nothing else mattered but those two things. It must have been October 2007 when I had a car accident in a drive thru at 11pm. Sandy secretly gave me a black tarantula doll for Halloween. I had to drive a rental car until my truck was repaired. But my poor mind was all over the map in those days. Instead of working to live, I lived to work. Memories from that time are difficult to retrieve; I was such a different person. Money meant more to me then because I got bad advice. Finally my inner voice gained the upper hand and now I’m closer to being authentic. Moiling in survival mode is not for me. It seems like the things we need have a way of falling into our lap if we simply believe in ourselves. That’s the only faith we require.

A Phone Call

Eight forty.

After my sister called me yesterday, I wasn’t doing well mentally. Paranoia gripped me and hung on all night long. Family is good for that. Crazy things seem to happen in the summer heat. Two years ago something similar occurred in my life, involving a next door neighbor, a therapist, and an online forum.

Ten o’clock. Family is claustrophobic and makes my paranoia much worse. I experienced this the most before I met Kate in 2011. How can I get my mind off of it? I feel vulnerable and fear being attacked. I am just one person, and they are many likeminded people. Or maybe it’s just the out group that makes them seem that way… I really wish she hadn’t called. I wonder what makes me so individualistic? The freedom to be myself is all I want. If that is “selfish” in somebody’s book, then be it so. But I think everyone deserves the right to be an individual without compromise. There’s so much to be said for authenticity and integrity. The puppet strings of family are not for me, and I take philosophy over religion. With philosophy, one remains free and separate, autonomous and true.

33 Months

Nine thirty.

Today I’m going to swap bridges on my new bass. It needs a little boost in the low frequencies. Might be a fun experiment. I was just at the store. The rain missed me, gave me a window of opportunity. For a change I bought peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of white bread. Also dry food for Aesop and a two liter of cranberry ginger ale. It all was quite a load to carry home, but I live just around the corner. Now I feel a bit lonely, but things are quiet and serene at least. I’d be lost without Aesop’s company.

I guess today is the birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not very impressed. AA members never did me any favors. Often they are terribly self righteous, crashing the meetings of alternative groups. After all, we are merely people. We all have red blood, and it is immaterial who has God on their side. Tomorrow I will have 33 months sober, totally without the involvement of AA. Maybe someday I’ll write my own recovery self help book, but I kind of doubt it. Every individual has to find a recovery that works for them. Some people, like me, are too smart and too defiant for a “simple program.” There are a few dozen reasons not to join AA. Nothing in life is ever that simple. You can stuff your brain into a little jar and force things to be simple, but eventually the jar bursts. Perhaps we’re all in the recovery game alone, but I can live with that.

Questions

Quarter of four. I feel really good today since my adventure to Bi Mart. I scanned more of the sociology book and found I could relate to the phenomenon called xenocentrism. This is when you try to compensate for ethnocentrism by favoring a foreign culture to your own. It’s also becoming clear that Christianity is a thing of American culture, a culture with which I’ve lost touch. People believe in religion just because it is done as a matter of expectation. It is one of those unwritten rules that people conform with. I wonder what schizophrenia looks like from a sociological perspective? Is it a failure to conform to your culture, to be out of sync with your society’s values, beliefs, and practices? My old psychiatrist used to view me from a sociological standpoint sometimes. Once he even compared me to the Unabomber; it must have been in 1995 or 96. When I later reminded him, he denied remembering ever saying such a thing. So now I ask myself just what is schizophrenia to a sociologist. A loss of contact with reality, in more ways than one? Maybe schizophrenia ought to be an interdisciplinary study? Looking at it in the light of culture adds a dimension to the illness. It also informs me of the way my family sees my behavior, they being relatively normal. And what does sociology reply to the idea that there’s no such thing as normal? It talks about shared beliefs and practices and mores: basically, norms. But if normal doesn’t exist, where does that leave sociology— and society and, more personally, my family? Because after all, my family is probably what I’m concerned with.

Movie to Motive

Quarter of ten. No email from Suzanne yet. Every day is a little different from the last. No signs of life on my street. I took my gabapentin at nine. The sun is out. I no longer believe in God just because other people do. Herd morality doesn’t make superstition okay. I rely on my own experience to tell me what is what. And I guess that’s all there is to it… The sun is even brighter now, though there’s a convoy of thick clouds to the east. I wonder what makes me so fiercely independent? I never had any freedom growing up. My parents were authoritarian. I never had a voice. Maybe my rejection of God is a parallel to rejecting my parents. I don’t like to remember them, yet I often dream about them. In October 2016 I made a resolution to throw away the past and be more free. It happened as I was watching a movie called I Am the Cheese. Nobody remembers it now, but I first saw it in high school. Seeing it again, I identified strongly with Adam Farmer, who had lost his parents and was in the hands of a malignant psychiatrist… Thinking again, perhaps I jumped to a conclusion that October night four years ago. But my visceral reaction was so strong— through a haze of drunkenness. It was the moment when I decided I would quit drinking, although it took me another year to actually stop. It’s been a thing of defiance and a little perversity, but I still manage to avoid alcohol. And the motive started when I recollected this silly movie and watched it again. Maybe it wasn’t so silly? Now the rain comes down.

Declaration

Midnight. With everyone having an equal shot at being right, I’ve decided to trust my own vision of reality. Why not go with second nature? I’m very tired of the same banal Christendom that nobody dares to question. I want to do something heroic like Descartes, whose bold and fearless intellect plowed a whole new way of thinking about life and truth. He took it upon himself to correct what he perceived to be the errors of his fellows. He changed the course of mainstream philosophy from his time to that of Sartre… In our times, which have sadly discarded philosophy altogether, I resolve to stick to what I know. I suppose it is a path of pride over humility, but still these are Christian concerns, and I can’t honestly subscribe to Christianity. It was always a struggle for me, and it’s still an uphill battle against the ignorant people who would brainwash me. This has been going on ever since my mother died. Forcible indoctrination has always been indefensible, a grievous wrong to those who know better. Consider this my little Declaration of Independence, if you will.