One Big Boat

Seven thirty.

Today I’m skipping the caffeine completely. It was turning into a problem with my sleep. There’s just a light rain this morning, but we get more rain than sun this June for whatever ecological reason. At one time, all I worried about was staying alive, but now I worry about more complex things. Frankly I’m tired of the stress. It’s tempting to just opt out of life one way or another. But then I’m probably not alone with the bigger picture. I’ve gone from poor to virtually penniless due to inflation. It doesn’t help when people say that the ultra rich will alone survive in the long run. Something must be done for the little guys, the paupers with nothing but the clothes on their back. My bank makes it more difficult for me. Maybe I should switch to a credit union or something. But not until I’ve paid off my credit cards, a long way away. I really need to talk to somebody at my bank, but they don’t answer the phone. I feel I’m up a creek without a paddle, but again, perhaps not alone.

Society

Quarter of seven.

To be at peace on one side is being at war on the other. You can’t please everybody, so it’s best to just please yourself. On my own behalf, I have no complaints. The system works for me well enough. We need to take care of our disabled people and not throw them to the lions or out on the streets. Many people feel resentful if someone isn’t pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, being a bum and a slacker. Even my family feels this way, especially the guys. Maybe my position is indefensible, but I’m not alone in it. My medication out of pocket would cost me about $1450 a month, and there’s no way I can afford that without my benefits. The alternative is to refuse medication or take a less expensive one that doesn’t work as well. Unmedicated people with schizophrenia often use alcohol or other illicit drugs and end up homeless. I just do the best I can with my circumstances, so people can take it or leave it… I had a dream last night that symbolized society with a veterinary hospital. The vet gave me hell for being a poor dog owner, so I told her what she could do. I still question whether sociology is a legitimate science. Is society a measurable, palpable thing, or just a meaningless abstraction? But if I can dream about it then it must have subsistence that I can feel, if not define. 

An Easter Thought

Quarter of nine.

The little market opened an hour later today for the holiday. The radio played the Beastie Boys, rather incongruous for Easter morning. For the past few days I’ve felt lousy from a certain prescription drug, so now I’m stopping it. I gave Aesop some Gravy Train after his breakfast, which he didn’t like, but it was all they had at the store. After a while I guess I’ll read my Henry James again, although his attitude kind of annoys me. Everyone would probably love to live in the lap of luxury, but it’s an elusive thing even when you have it, and it so easily melts from your grasp. I feel more like Pip in Great Expectations than like a character in James. It was just a happy accident that I ever went to college, and the benefactor was my mother… My mother despised money and raised me to be oblivious to the fact of it. She sheltered me from the grimy reality of hard knocks, and as a consequence I’ve ended up on the sidewalk, but luckily with a place to live. I still dislike the sight of cash; it makes me think of alcohol… Yesterday morning I was in the car with Gloria coming back from the thrift store. As we passed under the highway we saw the camp of some homeless people: a few shopping carts and a string of junk that they considered worthy belongings. An hour later I’d be sitting reading a book of drawing room manners, never putting two and two together until now. 

Pathfinder

Seven forty.

The real world is a far cry from the university campus, but the latter is more expensive. It’s an arrangement that doesn’t seem fair if you’re an intelligent pauper. Poverty can be a prison cell, and yet everyone likes to have free time to do what they love to do. A gain here is a sacrifice there. We barter time for money and money for time but can’t have both. A title from Lord Byron speaks: “I Would I Were a Careless Child.” I long for a Golden Age where necessities grow on trees and nobody has to earn their living. Like children, you can play and enjoy life with no responsibilities. The Golden Age and the Garden of Eden are the same thing, a childhood paradise that would last forever if we only obeyed our father.

At nine o’clock, Gloria is coming to work for me again. The sky is clouded over and there’s no breeze. I bought her a bottled water because she told me she’s diabetic. She worked hard the last time she was here and we got a lot done. I’m not certain what I’m aiming for with my life. I’d still like to play in a rock band if that’s even realistic. Circumstances keep blocking my way, so I think I have to plow an avenue myself where no road existed before. 

Games People Play

Eleven thirty at night.

I’ve been dreaming about the devil in his role as deceiver, the one who trips you up and does you in. It’s a mystery why such a Christian dream should keep occurring to me. Does it mean I ought to go to church again? In my opinion, you can be a good Christian without church involvement, which is what Kierkegaard partly had to say. The church I used to attend expected that you tithe when you could, but I can’t afford to give away money anymore. I’m on a fixed budget that allows no extras, not even a car to get around town. Financially, I’ll never get ahead, and that’s fine with me as long as I have free time to think like a natural human being. I spent five years as a data entry slave, typing in alpha-numerals that were meaningless to me, oiling the machine with weekend binges, and hating life. Towards the end of my job, I figured out their game and started winning at it. At the agency meetings and when a prize was raffled off, I would come out the winner, and then give it away to somebody. The game turned out to be a shallow and silly one, something for children. A coworker told me I had outgrown the workplace, and before long I left that job. I guess all jobs are transitory things. Even a church can be a thing you use up and move on from. Sometimes a smart person ends up with nowhere to go until the next big change. And sometimes he learns that he constitutes the big changes himself… 

High Hopes

Eleven o’clock.

I found an old CD of Alan Parsons Project in my stuff so I’ll listen to it today or tonight. I haven’t heard the album in over fifteen years and I’ve forgotten what it sounds like except for “Games People Play.” I bought the disc at Fred Meyer when I had a clerical job with the agency, and during that time I really believed my job would lead me to something better eventually. But it turned out to be a dead end and actually an alcoholic trap that could have killed me. I started out with high hopes for my future at what ended up as drudgery.

Eleven thirty five. But if I hadn’t started drinking again, my future in that job might have panned out very differently. Right now I kind of miss having a businesslike occupation to do, something involved with money. The way it was, alcohol and money became synonymous with each other; and now I don’t even carry cash because it reminds me of my addiction and other illicit stuff that goes with the workplace. I used to know a few people who were dishonest and unethical, but I just grew accustomed to it until it was normal to me. One of them would chide me for being a “Boy Scout.” I guess I was really in the wrong place for a long time and it took its toll on me. Today I think I’m okay with being a sober person with a disability, who doesn’t worship money and the things that people kill for. So it’s quite interesting to examine what happened in my life and the phases I went through, the corrupt people I knew, and everything else. Maybe the guy was right to sneer at my Boy Scout policies, but I don’t think so. And this person happened to be my brother…

Two o’clock. All this time, the sunshine has been strong and very pretty, with the temperature nearly 60 degrees outside. I quaffed most of my Coke and then played the bass guitar with a view of the blue sky through the window. It’s like springtime except the deciduous trees are still bare. Later I’ll listen to the Alan Parsons and appreciate today and the opportunity I have to think about everything. 

Country Mouse

Noon hour.

My therapist is concerned that I’ve been too withdrawn lately, so I think I’ll plan another trip to the bookstore, although I wouldn’t know what I was doing there. I could go to Smith Family for the sake of nostalgia, to remember my dad when we liked to knock about town in the mid nineties. I could go to Tsunami on Willamette to visit with Scott, if he even remembers me now. I used to sell him my books when I didn’t have any money. In those days I was more mobile than today, having my own vehicle and a different situation in life. It makes me feel nervous to consider going there because I’m a Highlander and Tsunami is in the rich south part of town where my psychiatrist still has his practice. I’m completely out of the habit of visiting the south hills of Eugene; it’s an intimidating prospect to me, plus it might trigger me to drink beer. The difference is like the Country Mouse and the City Mouse; like a person from Drain Oregon going to New York City and being totally outclassed and mortified by the culture shock. I’d be tempted to stay in North Eugene and embrace the place, even though it’s homely and plain, with values of meat and potatoes: basically, survivalism. But it’s where I live, judge it how you may. If Tsunami is a little too swanky then the happy medium is probably Smith Family on Fifth and Willamette, where Downtown Eugene starts. 

Peak Day

Eleven thirty.

Yesterday was a crap day for me, probably because of something said in my therapy session Thursday. I don’t handle criticism very well; often my reaction is to rebel and go the opposite way. I have a lot of my dad in my personality, and my mother’s intelligence… plus her lunacy. The word “lunacy” brings up a poem by Baudelaire: “The Sorrows of the Moon,” which I barely understood for the French vocabulary, but I’d like to translate it myself. Last night I noticed something while lying in bed. I could hear voices from the noise made by the furnace. I can usually weed out auditory hallucinations, but this time they bothered me because I was already feeling irritable. So far, today is going better. It’s Saturday, a peak day for me, according to pseudoscience. Amazing how old astrology is, and I get a dig in at psychology when I compare it to phrenology. This was the divination of character by reading the bumps on a person’s head, often mocked by Twain.

The construction guys putting in the crosswalk on Maxwell Road had the day off, so my route to the market was hassle free. Heather remarked that I was late today. Deb was busy in back counting bottle returns. She started working there in the fall of 2004, when I also had a job. I was so profligate with spare change. I gave a lot of it away to Deb for her Hawaiian vacation. Nowadays I don’t carry cash at all. Currency evokes alcohol to my mind. Numbers in general suggest limits, as I understand them, as well as greed for more and more. I never really learned the value of money, which some people view as a fault. To them, money = the wages of hard labor. Money is time. But I grew tired of survival mode a long time ago, and rats can keep the race. 

Filthy Lucre

Quarter after ten.

I didn’t get a Snapple today. The work crew on Maxwell Road blocked my way to the little market, so I turned around and walked a mile to the grocery store on River Road. I totally forgot about going to the bank until just now. I was so worried about viruses and all that nonsense. The bank is only a stone’s throw from Grocery Outlet and it was after nine o’clock. I guess I don’t believe in psychodynamic theory, which would say that I sabotaged myself deliberately. What I did was an accident, not intentional. I just wanted to get back home in one piece… I think sometimes that everything would be right as rain if I could indulge myself in a drinking spree. But then I couldn’t use my brain to write or read or do anything constructive. You can never have your cake and eat it too. As I was out walking on Silver Lane, I thought the big machine of society is all fake, including the fiction of money and economics. During the stock market crash of the 1930s, I wouldn’t have been one of those brokers throwing themselves out of skyscraper windows. However, much of culture and history is economic. You can’t study history without touching on the role of the economy. Still it seems like such a Western thing, a thing that Native Americans have criticized us for. 

Glimmer of Sun

Quarter after seven.

Even though the forecast says it’s cloudy, I can hear it raining outside. Never take another person’s version of the truth. I really didn’t like yesterday’s A— News. Maybe I’m not a Democrat anymore, seeing the effects of the current politics.

Eight thirty five.

My mood is better just now. I’ve been to the store and had my Snapple tea. I saw four teenagers grabbing a snack at the market before they went to school. Cathy manned the registers by herself. Again Michelle was not there, but I had no time to ask about her, for the store was rather busy. I notice the clouds breaking up to the east and there’s a reprieve from the rain. I look forward to the spring, when my utility bill is lower and I’ll have a little pocket money to do some things I want to do. I know I can’t afford to buy a car; just being realistic. Every form of transportation is very expensive nowadays, pricing me out of my lifestyle. And maybe my rock and roll days are over anyway. It’s interesting just to watch the wheels turn around, as long as I don’t have to get too involved. Otherwise it’s very hard to be a person in society today. The worst part of it is being told what to think regarding the nature of reality, when the door ought to be left wide open for speculation. I just saw a glimmer of sun on the magnolia leaves. To dream the impossible dream of freedom for all: Don Quixote wasn’t at all crazy.

Quarter of ten. My dog Aesop is cute when he enjoys a cookie. He seems pretty relaxed this morning. As for me, some things are out of my hands, so I might as well take it easy, maybe read a good book today.