Defense of Music

Three o’clock.

My self flagellation seems to have come to an end for now. Freud used to say that bad dreams were occasioned by masochism. So, we voluntarily punish ourselves when we think we deserve it. Conscience is a strange and disposable thing. I wonder what I did wrong that I should flog myself with painful thoughts? But guilt is only a perception. It could be that I felt bad for not wanting to work a regular job. I emailed Dominic about this yesterday morning, but he was actually quite cheerful to hear from me. Apparently no regrets on his side, thus I should let myself off the hook. And he must be aware of how I love my music. The guilty conscience comes from experience with my family, especially my brother, who said openly that music is no way to make a living. On the other hand, there was my mother, who always encouraged me to use my gifts. Also there’s the church, which understands that different people have different abilities and different vocations. My brother doesn’t acknowledge any other aptitude than math and science, unfortunately. He has a big blind spot for the arts. I feel bitterly towards him for being so obtuse. The one whose opinion counts after all is me. And I have a lot of other support now that I don’t speak with my brother anymore. I realize that I will never get the approval I need from my brother, so from now on I have to just forget about it. Joseph Campbell said follow your bliss, and since I have but one life to live, I choose to do what I was born to do.

Monday Night

Quarter of ten.

I have a couple of purely social engagements this week, and one of them is with Heidi. She is a lot of fun because she’s so young, or perhaps young at heart. We can banter together, talk about nonsense while the invisible antennae purr between us. We had this sort of rapport from the time of our first meeting: a certain ease and familiarity, even informality, when we cruised over to Cal’s Donuts. It was as if we’d always known each other… My Wi-Fi has been connected for nearly a week now. At some point in the future I’ll have the motivation to unpack my computer, but it could be a long time coming. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but so far it hasn’t arisen. I’m anticipating my jam this weekend with gusto. It should be fun, but serious fun at the same time. I want to take my red Precision Bass copy, which I’ve been practicing on most recently. I remember how Roger helped me hotrod it with a DiMarzio pickup in August of 2018. He did the soldering for me, and together we figured out the instructions. We were lucky that the pickguard fit over the part after it had been installed. Finally, that December, I put in a high mass bass bridge, brass finished with chrome. The overall effect is quite a monster P Bass tone. The jam will take place on Sunday afternoon. As for right now, not much is going on. I can’t decide which book to read out of such a huge collection. William James might be interesting to learn more about. His revival ten years ago was quite a thing, though at the time I disagreed with it. At best, I was ambivalent. My brother was a diehard factualist, but James argued for the practical usefulness of religious ideas. If a belief worked for you, then it was in some sense true. This was the essence of Pragmatism. Today, I don’t know what to think of that. I only know that optimism can see you through difficult times. If it’s inaccurate, at least it works… Aesop is ready for bed again, and anon I’ll be right with him. In about twelve hours, Polly and I will be having lunch at Red Robin. It’s my long awaited birthday celebration. Fifty three years old, and thankful to have come this far…

Sunday

Eight twenty five.

I’ve slipped out of my delusions and back to reality for the moment. I will remember to take my choir binder with me to church, as we are having practice after service. It’s good to be a little organized. The sun is out again. All things considered, I’m still pretty fortunate to have the life and the friends I have. Schizophrenia is a pain in the butt, yet I don’t have the delusions all the time. In solitude is when they are the worst. I hear some avian life chirping outside. The sun has brought out the perching birds. I’m trying not to magnify reading to the assembly today. It’s not as stressful as the appointment with Dominic I had Wednesday. Church is a sanctuary, a safe place. I hear a mourning dove. The birds are being very musical this morning. In about ten minutes I have to leave. I would call to mind memories of Kate and of Aesop as a puppy, but I wonder what for? That was a time when I drank heavily, and besides, I never met Kate in person. It was all a fantasy.

Noon hour. Church went fine, and Doug was grateful that I read in his place. I feel really beat now, worn out from insomnia and walking everywhere. But at least the social life I have today is real. In about twenty minutes I’ll go to the store for food. I hadn’t realized how much Doug hates to be the lector until this week. I got a lot of praise for reading today. His mother passed away eight weeks ago and the funeral was yesterday. I’ve always liked Doug, so I didn’t mind doing him a favor. Now I can relax for the rest of the day… I don’t feel delusional anymore since church. Eduardo and Tori did a great duet for a postlude, a piece by Gabriel Faure that was vaguely familiar. Beautiful modern chords, a little strange. Lisa looked lovely today, but then she just is lovely. I missed seeing Sandi this morning. But it was nice to see everyone else. The sun is still out, though it’s supposed to rain again later this afternoon. I’m pretty equal with everything now. Worry free for the remainder of the day.

Body Language

Four thirty.

I finally figured out what causes my insomnia: it can be no other than the Vraylar. It’s a side effect of the medication. Probably there have been other ones as well, and I just didn’t recognize them. I bet constipation is one. Here it is the wee hours of the morning, the sky and everything cloaked in blackness. The sounds of the railroad faintly reach me. It feels cold because the furnace is turned down. Aesop lies on top of my feet. Fifteen minutes have already elapsed since starting to write. One thing I’d like to remember is the importance of body language in social interaction. A live presence, a meeting in person, is much different from something solely verbal. Our gestures and every movement of face and body express ourselves. This didn’t dawn on me until I met with Ron on Friday afternoon. As any impressionist writer knows, so much is said in the silences. What words or musical notes don’t say, the silence implies. And the same for body language. It reminds me that I am responsible for my facial expressions and body movements. Dependence on electronic communication had obscured from me the truth. For meeting in the flesh there is no substitute. In this sense, DH Lawrence has been absolutely right. No machine, therefore, will ever be able to feel anything. Do machines have body language? The question sounds absurd. Lawrence is amazingly farsighted for his century. He spoke a prophecy for all of us, one that we haven’t heeded. I daresay we never will.

Long Post: A Thousand Starless Words

Warning: Intense religious content
Eight thirty five.

I caught myself having an episode of psychosis this morning. I emailed Suz about what was happening and she replied very nicely. I have the food pantry this morning; must take off in twenty minutes, or maybe a bit later. I usually get there too early. Cathy should be there with her cookies, which are always welcome. The milk of human kindness is a far cry from delusions about the devil. I don’t know where my religious delusions come from, but they are terrible. As for Sheryl, I still think she was a lousy therapist. Or maybe not qualified to work with schizophrenic people. Funny how I fired her, and then, PeaceHealth was just as bad. I didn’t care for Bonnie very much. Finally I came full circle to Laurel Hill, and that was a lot better. I will tell Dominic that I don’t want to work a job. I can tell him about my episode today. And really, I’ve been under unusual stress lately. Psychosis is very uncomfortable and frightening. No one seems to understand it. However, I do want to stick out playing music with other people. It’s something I’m really good at, and hang the delusions. They are not real. I’ve had all kinds of delusions and hallucinations in my life, but none of them was real. The sexuality stuff could be yet another delusion. I might as well take the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind not the therapists I’ve had, but rather the psychiatrist I used to see. It’s ok to pick and choose among my experiences with providers. I know my own illness very well. Only a few minutes to go. Think about how glad they’ll be to see me…

Noon hour. The food pantry went as usual, nothing extraordinary happened. When I got home, I rested for a few minutes, then I went and bought some food for Aesop. Now he’s been fed and I can relax with my ginger ale. The sun is out in a partly cloudy sky. People are out walking their dogs, children are playing, and the temperature is unusually warm for winter. I went out in just a sweatshirt, no jacket. It’s good to see the sunshine after a week of solid overcast skies. You tend to forget that the sun even exists in winter. The deprivation of light makes you depressed and a little hopeless. Right now the silence is almost unbroken. Two nights ago it rained super hard, but I hardly heard anything because of my new storm windows. My brain is playing a song called “Starless” by King Crimson. The lyric to it is awfully depressing. My conscious mind can’t retrieve the words, but my subconscious probably knows the whole thing. I bought the album Red at Earth River Records when I was still 17 years old. At the time, I already had a vague notion of what the band was about. It wasn’t very healthy for me to be listening to. I knew that my Spanish teacher was a Christian, so in part I rebelled against her beliefs. I don’t know why. High school was a bizarre time for me, with not very many choices of ideology. Pretty much, it was only Christianity and rock and roll, and reactions to both. College was a much better atmosphere, and I learned about this thing called philosophy, which enabled me to think critically about anything under the sun. My whole education after high school was an exposure to philosophy. We were taught how to think, not what to think. Across all disciplines, the underlying theme was philosophy; it was logic and reason.

One forty. I’m in a rut I need to get out of. The episode I had this morning was alarming. It reminded me that I indeed have the illness, and sometimes even the medication can’t block the symptoms. I might take an afternoon nap, because I know I didn’t sleep well last night. Until then, the ginger ale tastes really good.

Five twenty. Wow, Chris K posted a note on my blog that was very heartfelt and nice. He believes that I’m very brave for putting it out there about my illness. I suppose that he’s right. He’s probably sleeping right now, but I replied to his comment… I practiced my bass guitar for a while, and it sounded good to me. It makes a difference when I wash my hands with soap prior to playing. It just feels better. My chops work better that way. I like the sound of my red Precision copy. I think Ron would like it too. I never did get a phone call from Bruce from church. He said he wanted to jam with me. Actions speak louder than words. But the jam with Ron and Mike is already set up. I’ve just closed the blinds and turned on the porch light. It’s raining outside, and I can hear it. It’s nice to have things quiet… Whoa, I just had a psychotic thought. Is the band King Crimson expecting Armageddon? I was watching a YouTube video of them doing “Starless.” Not a smile on anybody’s face. It looked like a recent performance. Robert Fripp had white hair. I need to get myself out of this funk. I’ve experienced enough of being a prophet. Now put away the bass guitar and steer clear of rock and roll. Just go to church and sing in the choir. This is sheer lunacy. If the Bible is the truth, I don’t want to know about it. Very strange week I’ve had. Perhaps it started a week ago, or whenever it was I dug out my red Precision copy and played John Wetton lines. What compelled me to do that? Was it like God inspiring me to pick up the instrument and begin prophesying? I remember: it was last Sunday afternoon. But surely I am delusional? And maybe King Crimson is too…

An Urban Yawp

Five thirty. We’re going to jam on the 2nd, a Sunday. Mike is giving me a ride to the rehearsal rental. I’m supposed to pitch in ten bucks, so I’ll have to use an atm. It was an enlightening afternoon. I really liked Ron, and he says that Mike is a good guy as well. My walk to and from Black Rock was a time of feeling expanded. Eugene all of a sudden got gigantic in one day. I feel a little uprooted even though this is my hometown. I barely recognize the place, though most of the buildings and other structures are the same. The difference is in the quality of the people I see today. Eugene has become urban, after an eternity of being run by redneck people. I must say I love the way it is changed. I don’t want to turn back the clock like the conservatives I know. The influx of people from all over the country is mind boggling, and it’s also occurring in Bend. I just never noticed it before… The people are indeed more intelligent than the native hicks I grew up with here. And while I’m loving the change, my sister must be hating it. I couldn’t stand my next door neighbors John and Rhonda. They finally moved away in June 2015. The day I decided to quit drinking, I realized that everything was different now, with those neighbors displaced. Is it possible that I will finally be free from the redneck attitudes I was forced to grow up with? It seems like an act of divine providence. The State of Oregon nearly killed me with its rustic people. Sheryl the therapist told me that Oregon sucks, and I agreed with her. And perhaps she was right about my sexuality. As Eugene grows bigger and better, it may be ok to be a homosexual.

Wednesday evening was interesting as the night was falling. There I was standing on the corner of the cul de sac at Laurel Hill, waiting for my taxi. I felt abandoned and helpless, yet I knew I would be all right. I was thinking about how I might be gay, and it scared me. Across the street from me stood the Even Hotel, where the windows were lighted and where strange people were staying. I felt alone in a hostile world, but part of that strangeness was internal. The alien, the foreigner to me was my very self. I felt like Walt Whitman preparing to sound his barbaric yawp into the night. And then I was driven home by a former meth addict. She said she was just as night blind as I was. Nothing else of great pitch and moment happened, but Aesop barked at me when I got home.

Metropolis

Almost four o’clock.

I was totally surprised! It turns out that we have a lot in common. We like a lot of the same music, but also we share a love for poetry and good literature. Ron is from New Jersey, and speaks with a bit of an accent. I’m quite impressed with his range of knowledge about music especially… My walk to Black Rock was uneventful at first. When I gained River Road from Kourt Drive, I saw that I’d misjudged where the crosswalk was, and had to go a little out of my way. It was rather amazing to see all the people on foot or waiting at bus stops, people who were essentially just like me. They came from who knows where to Eugene, with any variety of circumstances, but all having a story to tell. Some of them might have been educated and others not so lucky, but to me they all appeared intelligent in some way. I took my umbrella with me just in case. The sky is still overcast with some breaks here and there. The traffic on River Road at three o’clock in the afternoon was incredibly dense and noisy, and waiting for the walk signal took a few minutes. Still, it was an enjoyable experience. And then there was the chat with my new friend. He was a lot more sophisticated than anything I was used to from Eugene. It’s almost as if the whole city had become like the University campus in being savvy. I was amazed at what I witnessed. Like Rip Van Winkle, I awoke twenty years later and found everything transformed– into a minor metropolis. All this was going on just a mile from my house. So that I needn’t have gone out to seek the world; the world came to my backyard.