As You Like It

Five o’clock in the morning.

Every day is a challenge for me mentally and emotionally, especially when the holidays come around. To think that the illness all started with a mononucleosis bug when I was in high school is an idea that blows me away. To think that it could have been avoided if I hadn’t gotten the virus is so regrettable. But I guess everyone is damaged goods to some extent. We all have scars of battles won or lost. Often our misfortunes are unjust, the adversity unmerited, so the notion of karma doesn’t make much sense. I don’t like to believe in retribution or other spiritual laws. The events of life just happen like cause and effect. What else will science discover, given a chance? For some odd reason, people try to halt scientific progress and turn it around to Dark Age superstition. We make martyrs of those who would improve our knowledge. Something tells me it’s a biblical tendency that holds us back.

And yet, my life has turned out favorably to me, for I live in comfort and some degree of freedom, as if justice held sway. Or rather, life was flexible enough for me to fashion my own fate as I desired. And then I recall the ones who are less fortunate. Every situation can always be worse. 

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Headaches

Two thirty.

Since this morning the Rush song “Witch Hunt” has played in my head, probably for the last few lines of the lyric:

Quick to judge, quick to anger

Slow to understand

Ignorance and prejudice

And fear walk hand in hand

I’ve heard this song be misinterpreted so ridiculously by those with ultra conservative values and attitudes, themselves the very thing the song criticizes. They are the “madmen fed on fear and lies / To beat and burn and kill.” And then I guess they just disregard the conclusion.

But it’s been on my mind for a reason today, as well as my schooldays when life was really pretty happy for me, from ninth grade to graduation from college. Others in my family tend to disparage education, saying that higher ed is impractical and a waste of time. But simultaneously they hotly resent people more knowledgeable than themselves, or just plain more intelligent. I don’t know whether the situation is fair or unfair, or who’s to blame for the inequality of it. What is the origin of inequality among people? And what am I supposed to do about the yawning chasm between me and some of my relatives? The whole thing gives me a headache. For today, I don’t regret that I’m spending Thanksgiving Day by myself with my dog. Fortunately a dog can’t argue with you or spit nails if you utter one fifty cent word. 

Gray Skies

Quarter of eight.

As the daylight came on and I stood on my front porch, there was a homeless person in black clothing raiding our recycle bins. Then he loaded up his car and moved it down a few houses to repeat the process. The day is gray but rainless and people are doing bizarre stuff. Times today have got me all confused on god and government. All nobility is gone from human beings and their behavior, and people are as insignificant as ants… I was a bit trepidatious about walking down my street toward the market when the bum was right there still doing his thing. We ignored each other’s presence even while passing each other on Fremont Avenue. It’s an eerie feeling like paranoia and you imagine anything can happen. I even half expected the store to be robbed when I got there. I detected shadiness everywhere I looked, and the dark morning provided the cloak for any dagger in your chest. 

I think Roger was ready to make a citizen’s arrest if it came to that. He used to be on the SWAT team years ago, totally fearless against the “scum bags.” He didn’t care what their problems were, they were breaking the law. That was his job: bust the bad guys. My dad worked as a cop for a few years, back when it was almost socially acceptable to drink and drive. Today we think that’s strange. Maybe there is no normal in human life? 

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.