More cold rain today and the sky is dark gray. After taking out the trash I walked to the market. Crossing the puddle at the intersection of Fremont wasn’t easy and I got my feet wet and frigid. People on Maxwell Road were driving their cars insane, heedless of the weather conditions, so I felt a little scared and also outraged. The cars on the other side of N Park were lined up to make a left turn, coming back from the middle school. I mostly thought of how I didn’t really want to be there this morning, with my feet all wet and my umbrella so burdensome in my right hand while I carried the same old shopping bag in my left. I would’ve preferred to stay home where it was warm and dry. I thought, What kind of madman am I for not stocking up on groceries but instead making a run every single day? It turned out okay I guess, but I’m sitting here now with my foot still chilled from the dunk in the mud puddle; or was it like a baptism all over again?
I have to piece together my day today now. When I got home from my appointment with Misty I went right to bed and napped for a few hours, feeling as I did tired. I was thinking of how my hometown feels so alien to me these days, especially from the back of a taxi, cruising the streets with so many strangers. The cabbie for the return ride was listening to some weird music: old psychedelic jam band stuff that I didn’t care for very much. The agency closed at five o’clock and left me waiting at their doorstep for my taxi. It came before too long, and he took me onto I-105 briefly and then hopped on Sixth Street, which was pretty jungly with people and traffic. For some reason it seemed quite sordid and unfamiliar to me, the sole survivor of the family with my parents twenty years after their demise, riding ingloriously in the back of a cab; perhaps like Jesus riding in on a donkey, but hearing this bizarre psychedelic music. We hung a right on Chambers Street and drove north to the exit for the Expressway. It rained lightly for the whole trip. My thoughts all the way were diffuse and scattered, so I just held on and focused on getting back home. Even then I felt like a stranger in a strange land. I heated up a Hot Pocket and shared the last bite with Aesop, after which I noticed my fatigue and headed right for bed.
The rest of the day is sort of lost and forgotten. I know I wrote just a little in my journal in the morning, but the content has left me. Suddenly I remember an event that happened in September maybe five years ago, when I had just been trying to stay sober, but unsuccessfully. The mail came to my front porch, a huge Chambers Dictionary, a gift from my friend Kate, which had traveled here all the way from Sweden. It’s supposed to be the dictionary for word lovers, and is peculiarly British. At the time, I even believed I would’ve liked to work as a lexicographer, a writer of dictionary entries complete with etymological information for each word. It’s a beautiful book, and it survived the house fire two years ago. But it was sort of the last word I would ever hear from Europe, sadly. I wish there could be more commerce with the Old World.
It’s pitch dark outside yet, no daylight for another 45 minutes. Even then it’ll remain pretty dark from the overcast. My Snapple can wait a half hour. Bonnie Rose just fired up her black pickup truck across the street. If she can go out in the dark then so can I… By this time, the dawning light is visible through my front window, the black trees turning green and red.
Eight twenty. When I came out of the market, a gigantic rainbow arced right above it, and here and there it was raining lightly. A woman told her children, “It’s a rainbow. It’s beautiful!” The store was very busy, mostly with teens on their way to school, stopping to buy munchies. Whereas time dragged on before the sunrise, now it’s getting away from me as the world wakes up… Pastor is offering rides to church for Katie’s memorial service on Friday night. I was planning on going anyway, but getting a ride is a good idea, especially in the rain. It’s always interesting how a poet’s mood creates the meaning of a real scene— or maybe it’s just an absolute that a rainbow is a beautiful thing, aside from all human perception. I know people who believe so.
Last night I raised the dose of my medication to 3 mg, as I was supposed to do, but as a consequence I got up feeling terrible, with the blackest of thoughts. The only logical thing to do is reduce the dose down to 2 mg again at bedtime tonight. If I still feel this lousy by this weekend then I’ll stay home from volunteering and from worship on Sunday. At best, I’ll do only one and not the other. Schizophrenia is a frustrating mess. I hope tomorrow is a better day than this. I’ve got my eye on the sky out of my window: it’s still white instead of azure, the celestial blue that it ought to be. I guess sometimes you have to look upon the world with blue colored glasses when the reality falls short of perfect.
I don’t know what to do with my book of Jack Kerouac. Perhaps I’ll just place it in the book share on Fremont Avenue; it’ll be a great score for somebody, a beautiful new volume still wrapped in plastic. But no; if I see Ron again, I’ll give it to him… The summer sunshine repeats itself outside.
Quarter after nine. I talked with my sister for an hour. She said her son is on the mend from the virus. It wasn’t one of our better conversations, however. Now I’ve got the rest of the day unspoken for. Very quiet in the house, and the day is still young. It might be a good time to go out someplace, except the weather will be very hot and uncomfortable. The thought of drinking beer crosses my mind, but I’m not serious about that. I can play my bass guitar this afternoon, but by myself is not the same as with other people. So it makes me wonder if sobriety is really worth it when you end up all alone. Life is always difficult for one reason or another. A song by The Motels occurs to me: “Only the Lonely.” It reminds me of my mother’s solitude when I went to high school, and how I made a pact with myself to be her friend in that time. I never knew my own identity because of my sacrifice, yet I still think it was the right thing to do. Today I can relate to her loneliness; she was just a little too smart for her own good.
Quarter after ten. Something bugs me now. I still feel like getting loose with a beer buzz or whatever. I remember the trips I used to take to the coast with my brother, sitting on the balcony of our room, looking at the ocean and drinking beer after beer in the sun. This was my brother’s reality, and I participated in it with him like a kind of religion… until my addiction nearly killed me and I had to stop… Roger fired up his collectible truck and drove away to Highway 99. Life goes on even without alcohol. How would it be to reread A Separate Peace by John Knowles? A classic novel about envy; about the irrational, and the unaccountability of human behavior. Sometimes it’s not all lollipops and lemon drops.
Quarter after one in the morning.
I see that I’ve had a few things on my mind over the past couple of weeks, and they involve attitudes toward elitism in an intellectual way. I’m also bedeviled by the idea of evil as I perceive it in the rock band with my friends. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, or if these concerns are all related to each other in my mind. Ultimately it boils down to real people I have contact with, like my sister and my band mates and their ideas. And it leads me to ponder my own identity and destiny: that’s just it. This is my problem. And do I want to share the same fate as the others with whom I associate? I feel myself drowning in an element of society that I’m very unsure of. For a while, I thought things were pretty clear, but now they’re quite muddy. I don’t think I should dichotomize the church and the rock band like I started out doing; or maybe this is why I feel so confused today? Everything was black and white before, but now it’s a lump of gray clay, colorless and shapeless, as I get deeper into the scenario. Nothing is neatly classifiable anymore. Accordingly my identity sort of dissolves in this new element of amorphous uncertainty. My future is anybody’s guess. I feel like a deep-sea diver who gets the bends and can’t tell up from down, the surface from the abyss. Someday soon I want to break the waterline and bask in clear sunshine, but for a while I’m committed to this project of rock and roll.
Eleven thirty. I wonder why I have such emotional problems? Life has gotten more difficult since April, with increased stress and pressure from all the people I deal with each week. I feel as if I had to compromise my identity to get along with others, and I was never very good at turtling and wearing a mask with different people. It’s exhausting to do this. I feel so tired. It would be better to simply be myself, and if people don’t like me, then they can go away and leave me alone. It seems like such a sin to assert myself in this life. We assert ourselves just by existing, by being someone, and immediately this draws fire from somebody else. The ideal is to live and let live, but hardly anyone practices this policy. It gets harder and harder just to exist in our society. I don’t know why this is. Am I the only one who notices it? I’d like to read a few pages of Being and Nothingness, except Sartre might make this feeling worse… It was Sartre who thought that hell is other people. Well, I shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to agree with someone with a different point of view. Everyone ought to be tactfully assertive and still be okay with each other. I just get this feeling that we’re really not okay. And the situation is escalating day by day. Someday soon it’s going to explode…
Quarter after four. Quite honestly I don’t see the point in going on with my life if I never find love. This makes me feel like a failure in life, probably because of all the love songs I heard growing up. Part of me would like to drink again. And yet alcohol is no solution to my depression. I feel really tired and rather hopeless. The conversation with my sister was good. Mike canceled our practice for tomorrow, but I can still go to church Sunday. And this will have to be enough for me.
Quarter of midnight. Now I feel a lot better. The symptoms from the vaccine have mostly gone away… I was thinking about the first therapist who treated me, and she must have believed that I was a pushover, a person with no backbone or masculinity. Or perhaps she just wanted me to be unhappy? I’ve met a few people like that: misery loves company. And then there are the people who shine happiness like the sun, and who are loved by everybody. Such a person is Heidi… I did the right thing to confront the people in charge of the PCA program, and to suggest going back to Square One with my case manager. I let myself be talked into some things that I don’t really agree with. The last thing I want is to compromise my own freedom. And there is truth in this quote: “Every man is the arbiter of his own virtues, but let no man prescribe for another man’s wellbeing.”
I didn’t sleep very much. I had nightmares that didn’t make much sense. Two things are stressing me out: my appointment with Rebecca and then my shot tomorrow morning at Bi Mart. I was up last night from about one o’clock to three thirty, working on my blank book. Right now my writing looks like random gibberish but eventually a pattern will probably emerge from the whole. Lately I’ve been feeling lonely and not very happy. Is it too much to wish for a girlfriend in my life?
Quarter after nine. The appointment with Rebecca was very short. Then I went out for the daily foodstuffs. Michelle appeared to be in a weird mood, kind of distracted by something. I was already feeling rather guilty over this and that, so this colored my perception of events around me. Moods tend to do that. A shaft of sun illuminates my backyard as an airline jet warbles across the sky. The future is a big unknown that is hard to face, yet I have no choice but to go forward. I try to make good decisions. Sometimes I am guided only by my feelings, and these don’t lie. When I feel resentment about something, or a sense of injustice, usually there’s a reason for it. I stand up and call baloney on things that don’t make sense. And when I feel free and clear of guilt and other worries, life is really pleasant. I’m still learning the ABC of sobriety. It isn’t easy to navigate life without alcohol, and I’ve seen some very bizarre things since I quit drinking. It seems that the strangeness of life is relentless, and foresight is never perfect.
Quarter of noon. The sun wants to come out. Now I reflect on the cyber friendship I had with Kate in the past ten years. I did all that on a Dell desktop computer, but today I can’t stand Windows operating systems. I only succeeded in being intimate with a machine that used me as much as I used it. And mixed up with the whole scenario was big time alcohol abuse, so truly there was nothing substantial about my daily life. I floated a mile high all the time. The saying used to go, “Kill your tv.” Now it ought to be, “Trash your computer.” When I had an office job, one of our computer consultants was a strung out tweaker, and my boss had a lot of problems. I think I regret the years I spent working with office machines. Maybe I’m on the fence about that. Sometimes on Friday nights I would get plastered and listen to The Police with my computer’s visualization app, tripping out to “Tea in the Sahara” or “Walking on the Moon.” It was a complete waste of time, but I guess I was very lonely and unhappy.
Quarter of one. Rebecca will be calling me very soon. I’m in a rather cynical mood today. It’s no wonder, after hearing that my identity was stolen.
Two thirty. Now it’s trying to rain, which would be fine with me. A UPS truck was just here but I didn’t get my package. On a day like today, a half case of a good beer could really hit the spot. However, drinking beer is not something that worthy people do. I feel a vague longing for something or someone, while an old song by Pat Metheny, “Fallen Star,” caresses my mind. I have DDA group tomorrow at one o’clock, so I can anticipate that. It’s true that alcohol is a depressant, but it also triggers endorphins and makes you feel good… Or anyway, it used to be a wonderful feeling to get a buzz on a tasty beer. But behavior becomes unpredictable when you drink. That’s why the Greek god of wine, Dionysus, was capable of being so brutal as well as amorous. Yet why should a person suppose that a state of drunkenness is somehow truer than sobriety? And for this reason, perhaps the tradition of the old Greeks may be set aside…
Three forty. It’s been a different kind of day. The quality of the green daylight appears somehow unusual, and it kind of soothes my nerves. The air inside the house ought to be cleaner since I replaced the furnace filter yesterday. I could almost go for some strawberry cheesecake ice cream from the little market.