Modern Valjean

Quarter after seven.

I just saw a rough looking guy stop his car on my street and get out to steal trash from our bins. He’s probably phishing for personal information he can get from discarded mail. For a moment I felt unsafe as he walked back to his vehicle, furtively glancing around for witnesses. It’s a rather weird start to the day. Now I think about criminal minds and other kinds of dishonesty so foreign to my nature. I used to be treated like a criminal for alcoholism, but was that fair to us? But today I don’t know any people who abuse alcohol. It’s going out of fashion, perhaps. My family, so I believed, used to accuse me of leeching off the system, which wasn’t fair at all. It may be true that no human being is without sin, yet justice must be measured out in a rational way or else it’s chaos. Roger, the retired cop, has just opened his garage door. I could run over to tell him what happened, but stealing garbage is a petty thing. Maybe I’m only paranoid again. We live in bizarre, desperate times. Kind of like Jean Valjean but not as honest.

Eight forty.

Les Miserables is the kind of book that is an accomplishment just to have read. I got halfway through it and stopped dead, but with a little inspiration I could pick it up again. I could do that even today. It raises questions of what is justice and how do we know what is right— and according to whom? Sometimes a suspension of the ethical is called for to serve the divine truth… 

Smell the Slack

Quarter after nine at night.

Apparently some people do get something for nothing in a political system that takes care of the old, sick, and weak. Who am I to disagree or complain, since I benefit from this state of affairs? And who else is going to condemn me or the system for this reality? I should think that my good fortune is the justice of a Higher Power, so I’m going to kiss away the unjust attitudes of the people who don’t see it that way. I say this on behalf of myself and all the seniors and people with disabilities in this country. There’s no blame or shame for getting what we deserve. It’s a failed system where justice is miscarried. For once, it seems to be working okay.

Rational Lies

Quarter of eight.

Today is still nice outside with some cirrus clouds west and south. It’s a Gloria day. Yesterday, the yard guy never showed up, so I wasted my time waiting for him. Last night I felt rather vindictive about it, saying I would give his cash to the church instead. And I do have that option, though if I did it, the blackberries would keep growing and I’d lose him for my yard man. There are a few ways to rationalize doing the wrong thing, such as saying the church needs the money, and it’s been very long since I tithed. But still, when I withdrew the cash I said it was earmarked for the yard work, plus I promised the guy that I’d have it for him. One should always do the right thing and never act out of vengeance or retribution. Therefore I’m keeping the cash safe for him for when he finishes the job.

Can Spring Be Far Behind?

In the middle of the afternoon I thought about getting myself a Coke so I could have a caffeine buzz, sort of like being drunk on alcohol but less harmful; but instead I went to bed to try to forget my life temporarily. I guess I’m really not very happy with the PCA situation on my horizon. I just feel as though the authorities are taking over my life, suggesting that I’ve done something wrong. But I haven’t broken any laws that I know of; only the unwritten rules of protocol that you can find partly in the Bible. They are things people do just because everyone else does them, so if you ask them why, they can’t tell you exactly. I think it’s called culture. Some people are very strongly in favor of the rights of society while others assert the rights of the individual. Pastor Dan loves sociology but I just hate it, and that’s why I started reading Les Miserables two years ago. Jean Valjean breaks a law to feed his family and it brings the wrath of society down on his head in the figure of Javert, the detective. So, the ethics of this situation is very complicated: it’s almost a suspension of the ethical in order to serve a higher purpose than that of society. It’s a very great story, admired by some other great writers. It raises the question of what is justice after all, and according to whom? It goes way beyond sociology to something much more personal and meaningful. And this is what Pastor seems to be missing…

The weather forecast calls for rain all week but it was just cloudy today. I’ll be glad when the winter dies down and gives way to the springtime again. I feel like something has to give. The winter has been awfully long, and I feel like things haven’t been going my way ever since I left the rock band last summer. And to a great extent I blame Pastor for my departure and my disappointment in music. The lesson I should learn is to keep my own counsel for my personal life and to assert myself according to my heart. But unfortunately there’s a lot of people who think like Pastor Dan, putting the rights of society first, like a big mechanical octopus that controls everyone impersonally, with uniform precision and a lot of mathematics.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

But for a little color
I could repaint the spectrum’s laser light 
Repair the hues to make them right
But for a shade of purple
I could weight the earth and heaven
Equalize the golden and the brazen

As swallows from the flue
Fly the roads behind the sky
In lavender amber West
A love letter from Avalon appears
On the fleeting gliding wing
Or does it come instead from old Lucretius?

The gilded and the pauper
The penniless and proper
Will balance with the reconciling sun
When the letter to Apollo
Is delivered by the swallow
And riches measured are to everyone 

Sanctuary

Eleven o’clock.

I’m having a lousy morning. I hear more and more people mouth off about sexual morality, the attitudes they learn from a literal interpretation of the Bible. Where would these people be without the Bible to do their thinking for them? I wish this ancient and dated book didn’t exist. I doubt if my sister even knows what language the New Testament is written in… Oh well, I just have to keep living and fighting for my right to a place in this world. I walk around the house and say to myself, This is not my house and this is not my life. I’m not in charge of my life. Instead, it is controlled by intruders… Stupid people get up in arms for stupid reasons. LGBTQ is the new political bone of contention, after the old one of abortion. A voice in my head says very simply, I want to go home. Home would be a place of safety and sanctuary, of comfort and security. But the house I inhabit feels nothing like that. If I could fast forward my life to the very end, maybe I would do this and get it over with.

Noon. I remember the article in Equality magazine about Rev. Fred Phelps, the demonstrator against human rights, with a photo of him holding a sign saying, “God Hates Fags.”

Obviously I feel very strongly on this topic. I also sympathize with Jewish people for what they have to go through. I will go ahead and publish this post, and damn the torpedoes. 

A Little Bone to Pick

Three thirty in the morning.

Lead me not into temptation. Deliver me… Such strange words, hinged on the premise of good and evil, when it’s arguable whether there is a heaven and a hell. Evil is proved by its harmful effects on the individual and whoever he touches. Goodness promotes health and productivity. I only hope that the human race knows what is best for itself. As a young person, I learned nonconformity just on principle: be yourself and question everything. Later on, people like me were slighted as selfish or something that made no sense. So now it’s very difficult to know which is right, the collective mentality or the individual, and by the time you reach your deathbed, will it make a difference anyway? Whether we live together or apart, we all die alone, and you can’t take anything with you. As with everything, going with one or the other comprises a wager; either way, you bet your life… I also learned as a youngster that religious norms are fictions created by human beings in the interest of the group. Recently, someone I know opined that all people have belongingness needs, but I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I can honestly say that people are social animals because we enjoy each other’s company. But the thought of mindless obedience to a status quo still makes my hackles rise. There’s always something to be said for individual freedom— of the kind dramatized in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. John Proctor dies for the truth in the teeth of his society that has gone wrong. What is public opinion to you or me? It’s all a waste of breath. 

Out of the Fog

Ten o’clock.

Michelle was sweet this morning, as usual. Yesterday she wore her Snoopy sweatshirt and I said I liked it. She said it was the last clean shirt on the rack. I left for the store a bit earlier because Aesop needed canned food for his breakfast at nine o’clock. The fog was dense and I met no one on my way there. Coming back, I ran into the old man with his walking stick who lives on the next street down from mine. He was dressed in blue denim with a baseball cap. I was hearing “Sanctuary” by John McLaughlin in my head, a slow dirge in 3/4, definitely dissonant. Right now the sun is burning through the remains of the fog…

I feel a nebulous sense of past things and people from when Obama was president. Eight years was a long stretch. I used to walk Aesop around the neighborhood when he was a puppy. I made myself tea in the morning, then in the afternoon I’d go get a 12 pack of cheap beer. On a soaring drunk I would put The Beatles on the pc speakers and lose touch with reality.

Quarter after eleven. Today I wonder why I drank so heavily. Was there something about my life that I couldn’t accept? I had a psychiatrist who always nagged me for not “doing something.” He had an extreme work ethic and tried to instill this in his clients. He used electro convulsive therapy as a means to “motivate” his severely depressed patients. Interestingly, it was the month after I fired him that I began my sobriety, and this time I succeeded. I’d never made this connection before.

Noon hour. I remember when I received the letter that terminated his services. It was dated August 1, 2017. At last, after twenty five years of torture, I was free. Toward the end of my sessions with him, I dreaded going to every appointment— and I told him so in a phone conversation. He couldn’t say much to that.

Quarter of two. I believe that subconsciously I still rebel against the old psychiatrist. Whatever thing he wished of me, I gave him the opposite. This went on for years. I perceived him as a kind of slave driver. Nothing I did was good enough for him. He became like an authoritarian parent to me. After a length of time I’d had enough of being unfairly bossed around. He used verbal abuse on me as well, and that was the end of the rope. I learned by an accident that I had rights as a client, so I got brave and did what I had to do. 

Persistence

Three thirty in the morning.

My old dollar store readers are about to break, so I ordered five new pairs on Amazon, arriving Thursday. I heard it raining out a few minutes ago. Thank goodness for freedom. I remember how S— L— used Tru Thought leaflets to brainwash people that altruism is the only acceptable way to live. This literature was also used on convicted criminals, I discovered by researching it online fifteen years ago. But I never identified myself as a criminal simply for having addiction issues. The real crime was the indoctrination at the treatment facility. I also did myself a disservice to ever enroll in treatment. Many people will try to tell you what is what, but what do they know? S— L— counselors drove vintage sports cars. One of them had a ‘67 Chevelle in maroon with black stripes. No one ever said anything about this extravagance, but to me it was a ridiculous contradiction. Suffice it to say that there are much better ways to invest your money than in treatment programs. You can start by building your own home library, or downloading free ebooks from Project Gutenberg. I even heard of a rebellious teenage girl who thwarted her oppressive father by sneaking 150 classic books onto her Nintendo. He never suspected a thing. He imagined himself a working class hero who despised books or anything intellectual. Video games were okay, books not okay for his kids. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Awareness

Noon thirty. I just finished reading Oedipus the King. It makes me wonder about compliance with gods and higher powers, and how human pride can interfere with justice. And again I consider the example of Mr T—, this unaccountable “narcissist.” Maybe life is supposed to have a certain flow to it, in conformity with the will of the gods, proportionate and rational. This would be the Greek way. Any excess, anything immoderate, is a pollution that throws off the balance. Pastor is planning a big Christmas whingding to usher out this “crazy” year, but I don’t think this is the answer. I’m quite a dissident to this idea. Rather than participate in church, I’d like to stay home and keep quiet until January.

Four thirty in the morning. I was just considering the implications of my post, “Where Have All the Schizos Gone?” A cabbie declared to me that the incumbent is “mentally ill,” and I replied that he may have a personality disorder. If this is true, then the time is propitious to take psychiatry seriously again, but do it with compassion and expertise. I also maintain that religion is ineffectual in treating people with mental illness, so that science in general needs a revival for the common good. Personally, I’m sick of the Church. People scratch their heads and call the incumbent “crazy,” but the clinical truth will be more specific and more fair. I’m no diagnostician myself, but I think Mr T— can be helped.