Up to Me

Seven twenty.

I slept the night through, but with some bizarre dreams. One of them was about trying to eat a mountainous burger and getting nowhere with it. Oh well. The squirrels are playing on the roof, their feet making a rapid little patter in the relative quiet. It is clear and sunny this morning, yet my spirits are rather subdued by a situation that is less than perfect. Partly it is a situation I created myself. It’s unfortunate that decisions can’t be made with 20/20 foresight. I feel like I don’t have very much energy lately. I think getting involved in music is always sort of risky. Now I have to figure out how to disentangle myself in order to be more secure. It makes me wonder about fate as opposed to free will. Perhaps fatalism is just an excuse when you don’t feel up to life.

And then you say

Even in time we shall control the day

When what you see

Deep inside the day’s controlling you and me…

As mist and sun are all the same

We look on as pawns of their game

They move to testify the day

Inside out, outside in…

Hold onto the wave

Quarter of nine. I’ve been to the market, but nothing is really new today. What is the basis for an idea like fate? To me it seems like resignation from making choices, as when Macbeth pulls in resolution and suspects foul play by the devil… Aesop is letting me know he’s ready for breakfast. To hell with it: I put myself in a bad position, so now it’s up to me what happens next. 

From a Phish Song

Noon hour. I motivated myself to blow the dog crap off the patio with the garden hose because it was attracting the houseflies. Motivation is difficult for people with schizophrenia. No one knows why, and therapy doesn’t seem to help. No use in making a moral issue of it either; it simply is… I’ll be going to practice between three thirty and four o’clock. My slovenliness embarrasses me, yet I can’t help it. It would be even worse if I were drinking. I will try to muster up enthusiasm for the music today. But overall I feel like an empty shell, burnt out on everything I used to love.

One thirty five. I looked up the lifespan of the average schizophrenic: it shaves off up to 25 years. By this predictor I could die before I’m 60 years old. I guess I’m okay with that because I already feel like an octogenarian. Can’t imagine living to be 75 in real time. Time to start doing what I really want to do with my life and make every second count. Or perhaps I’ve done enough. It’s like the song “Character Zero” by Phish. What is the best use of our time? Should we rush or take it slow? 

Be Your Own Leader

Three thirty.

I rested in bed for as long as I could, never really falling into a deep sleep, although there was oblivion. I wish I could forecast the future with the new president. But whatever happens, the government is not an excuse for me to drink again. If I do drink, then the responsibility is still mine. It doesn’t matter what the will of democracy is, nor that of the elected leaders. It comes down to my own will. Nothing mystical about it. I can brainstorm a million ways to deliver the responsibility to someone or something else, but even this is my agency. “Shouldn’t be asking why I’m not sleeping / Could be my Election Day.” And it’s true: we are all the governors of our own lives. I won’t be fooled by the fallacy of sociology; it’s a bogus science. “Our destiny relies on conscience / Red or blue, what’s the difference? / Stand or fall.” For the leadership of my own life, I elect myself. 

Wednesday Morning

Nine o’clock.

I was sleeping too much, so I bought a Coke to keep me awake during the day. I guess there is no perfect mental state. Just accept and roll with it. I was the only customer in the market a bit ago. “Magic Man” by Heart was on the radio, followed by Tears for Fears. I wore my straw fedora for the fun of it. I met the same old man walking with a cane on the street. We always say good morning, but I don’t know his name. Before going out, I read a headline about the US not cooperating with the World Health Organization towards developing a vaccine. I believe this isolationism must come to an end. It is ridiculous for us to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and call ourselves “great.” The world outside of America thinks we’re all very conceited and arrogant… and stupid. Why do we have to keep proving them right?… It’s forecast to be a day in the 90s. Aesop’s breakfast is almost due. He’s a great dog, the smartest I’ve ever owned. I brushed him Monday night, and he seemed to like it. Eight years old this month. We’ve been through a lot together… I should get my Rush CD this afternoon. “Can’t we raise our eyes and make a start / Can’t we find the minds to lead us closer to the heart?” “Can’t we learn to feel what’s right and what’s wrong / What’s wrong???”

Faceless: a Letter

I can’t read people’s minds, and nobody seems to be communicating what they’re thinking; but after revisiting my email to you regarding the last time I was in church, I begin to suspect that my reaction to the sermon was significant. And Polly also believes in a biblical apocalypse. I just think it’s bizarre how no one is talking about it. WordPress is a ghost town lately. I feel a little like Prufrock right now, except my soul is probably marked for the same fate as Baudelaire’s. Prufrock was exasperated because people don’t say what they mean, or show their nerves in patterns on a screen. But does anyone out there feel the way I do? Should I be worried? If indeed I’m the only one who expresses the same feelings, then I find it very irksome.

What do you really think in your heart of hearts about eschatology? I’m interested to know, and with a growing sense of urgency. And why aren’t people talking about it? If anything, this should be a time for everyone to come together and solve our human problems— and move on to enjoy our lives as if the world has no end. Why aren’t we doing this? We scarcely make eye contact with each other in public, if there’s such a thing anymore… But no. Christianity is such a strange thing. There’s a song by Steppenwolf called “Rock Me” with this chorus:

I don’t know where we come from
I don’t know where we’re going to
But if all this should have a reason
We would be the last to know
So let’s just hope there is a promised land
Hang on till then the best that we can

I don’t know, Suzanne. I feel like stripping naked and going streaking in the streets. Maybe then somebody would react. We’re becoming inhuman, and someone has to do something.

Meanwhile I guess I’ll listen to my Steppenwolf music.


Quarter after eight.

I just got up. Didn’t sleep very well. I hear a squirrel dancing on the roof. It’s cloudy like yesterday and it will probably clear up this afternoon. The perfect kind of summer day. Apple News was full of the coronavirus again. I mostly don’t think about it. The discovery of a vaccine will be a wonderful thing, but otherwise, what can I do? Helping at the food pantry is about all. Trying to remain optimistic. On the sidewalk around the corner from me, someone has been chalking messages. One of them was about music being key. Things feel pretty discordant, so harmony would be the antidote. Loving your neighbor as yourself is not just a commandment, it is a fact of biology. We all share the same genetic code. Life is diverse but also united. Even Christians and atheists should be able to get along. “We share the same biology / Regardless of ideology.” …I owe Aesop his snacks. Every day it’s easier to communicate with him. I forget that he’s a quadruped. He is a perfectly rational animal. Plato believed that the world is imbued with an essence of reason, and Emerson carried the same torch. Then from Emerson on down to Faulkner there’s increasing incertitude about the order of the cosmos… “But all the other teachings that have tried were about the same / One grain of truth mixed with confusion caused by man / Sits around here anyway, may as well get you back on your feet again.” I’m just spewing cabbage stumps this morning. I’d try doing a Coke, but caffeine is a drug, and it doesn’t agree with me very well. Wiser to avoid it and just muddle my way through.

Loveless Lives

Six o’clock.

I never did hear from Mike or Ron this weekend, so I guess practice didn’t happen. Today I have a phone appointment with my insurance agent. I’m going to ask him about the cost of earthquake insurance. Also I can think about buying a used car for getting around town. It would be convenient for gigs… I just read the Apple News headlines in disgust and trashed the email. I know that Mike sees such scaremongering and gets three times as paranoid as before. People have a huge problem when fear so greatly outweighs love. Hence the importance of Ulysses this month, a book about love that transcends barriers. If only people treated each other like the big family that Joyce envisioned… No word from my pen pal yet this morning. I wonder if she’s in a funk lately?

Seven o’clock. I sense a descent into depression because nobody else is happy either. The whole world is pretty down in the dumps.

Eight thirty. I went and bought some blackberry revel ice cream for immediate gratification. It was very fresh and fluffy. But I still don’t feel very good. What I want is love, but it’s always too much to ask. Love or let me be lonely— the old sweet song. And yet everyone feels the same way, and just keeps marching along like wooden soldiers. Silence like a cancer grows. And the sign flashed out its warning in the words that it was forming…

Longest Day’s Night

Eleven thirty five. It’s been a rather productive day, while still being relaxed and low key. My dog, as smart as he is, learns to roll with my routines. He understands more than I know, and I’ve never had a dog with such a quantitative mind. He can measure the time in minutes and seconds, and is reassured when I give him a time table. It was cloudy all day, with a few spats of rain showers. It would be so nice if I could recover my heart again and stop overcompensating with excessive intellect. I left my heart behind me in 1987, wounded and bleeding and destitute of hope. On that July 4th weekend the girl dropped the bomb on me, a letter in purple ink breaking off the relationship that never had a future. My first reaction was denial, then anger mixed with shame for having failed in love. But that’s just the rub: for love is not a project that you undertake, not a quarry you hunt down, not a kingdom you conquer. It either comes to you or it doesn’t. Tennessee Williams ends Streetcar with a game of Seven Card Stud: does he mean that love is a game of luck? My interpretation is as good as any other… So I guess there’s no success or failure in the matter of love. It’s not a game of skill, but rather of blind fortune, and no blame or shame to be had if it doesn’t happen. “Please believe I implore you / Spirit flight will restore you / Only love can ignore you / Another fighting heart…”


Eight twenty.

I feel like giving my mind a rest for a day. Aesop’s muzzle is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Then we can go for a walk outside. I hear “Jacob’s Ladder” in my head. At the heart of my thinking last night was the dichotomy of the University and the Church. It may be a false dichotomy. Perhaps all dichotomies are false. My tendency to create contraries could be a symptom of schizophrenia… I mustn’t forget to take my mask to volunteering today.

Three thirty. I feel really good today. Just one of those things. Who am I to question it? “If you’re the joke of the neighborhood / Why should you care if you’re feeling good? / You take the long way home.” The sun is out and it’s fifty fifty clouds and sun. The church assembly is a truly amazing bunch of folks. We fed close to thirty families this morning. Pastor went out to Cal’s and bought us a box of donuts. I ate two of the applesauce ones. This afternoon I brought out my kit J Bass and played it for a while. It weighs eleven pounds and feels like a ton, but that’s why it sounds so good. For cosmetic reasons, it only needs a little finishing work on the headstock. After Monday I will look into returning the new Fender for a refund. If I’m stuck with it then I’ll sell it. In the future I will trust my own knowledge and experience in choosing an instrument… Damien has just arrived in order to do some yard work. I hope he’s feeling all right…

Under the Weather

Ten o’clock.

I went to the church and explained to Pastor that I didn’t feel well due to my medication. He said it was okay for me to go home, so I did. It rained on me, but my umbrella kept most of it off. Pastor still doesn’t understand about schizophrenia. He takes a human and moral approach to knowing people. This doesn’t always work for a person with a chemical imbalance, a brain disease. So I feel kind of sad. I probably should have stayed with my psychiatrist. I don’t think it was Jesus who intervened in my alcoholism. Nobody did, except for me. “All through the years, in the end it appears there was never really anyone but me.” “Take care of those you call your own and keep good company.” Brian May with Queen, “Good Company,” from A Night at the Opera, 1975… I’ve witnessed quite a lot from the phenomenological side of mental health, and now I feel it’s time to move on. I want to know what’s up in the psychiatry world. It might be good to talk to other people with schizophrenia and bipolar. The tinnitus side effect is still with me today. Maybe Todd will switch my medication from Vraylar to Abilify or something I wouldn’t have thought of. But I have to wait until Monday morning to get ahold of him… I’m going to take it easy and stroll over to the market.