Getting Better

Seven twenty.

The dawn is coming up very rosy outside. I need to get Aesop some canned food this morning. We finished off the ice cream in one day. Recently, I went searching for the word origin of “church” and could find nothing… Okay, it derives from the Greek that means “Lord’s house.” I’d expected something different, like a collective of people, a community maybe. Interesting how embedded in the human psyche is the idea of God, but also the way it skips over some people… Another thought is the nature of schizophrenia, whether it can be considered a willful nonconformity or instead just a biological disease. Opinions will always be divided on mental illness. I suppose that religious indoctrination is not harmful for a person with schizophrenia, although I’ve resisted Christianity for almost twenty years… I guess I’ll go to the store now.

Nine o five. I finally learned that Vicki was let go from her job. It took two years for them to make this decision, and Deb sat in on the meeting. Now Michelle will be working five days a week at the market. I’m sort of glad, because I never knew what Vicki might say from one day to the next. Hurtful things, sometimes. Overall it looks like the little store is becoming more professional and conscientious about customer service. And that’s kind of a relief to me… I may or may not go sing carols with the church tomorrow afternoon. I’ll probably pass on the Christmas spirit this year. The hoopla of the season is not for me. As long as it’s optional, I will opt out. I don’t get the feeling that the church has ever understood schizophrenia, so maybe it’s time to reevaluate my situation. I don’t feel particularly guilty or ashamed for anything anymore, and I believe that consciousness is being raised in general regarding the mentally ill. I imagine time will tell. 

Blame the Winds

Quarter of three. On a whim, I looked up the consensus on the most popular Star Wars movie ever, and I would have guessed right: it was The Empire Strikes Back… I’m in a retro mood today, and maybe that’s okay for me. I found my copy of the Star Wars Trilogy and put it in a safe place. How many times did I get wasted and watch Empire? I had a job at the time, but I was very unhappy with my dead end life. I was coasting or treading water throughout that period. I didn’t realize what potential I had, but then again, I was on a different medication that didn’t work as well. Everywhere I looked I saw religion, no thanks to some of the healthcare professionals who shoved it down our throats. The system is just set up that way. It used to be a lot worse than today. By the time 2009 arrived, I was overdue to escape from it. I was a delusional wreck. I’d been surrounded by terribly racist right wing people who didn’t know the difference.

Quarter of five. I guess I would drink beer if I could get away with it. And yet I know I won’t do it. There are too many things in my life that drinking would screw up. Today has been kind of strange and solitary. I feel bad for the salon girls and I wonder why Karen is so grumpy lately. Perhaps business is not so good right now. Also her candidate for president lost the election. Maybe things aren’t going her way in general, but she’s taking it out on her friends, and she might regret that later. Overall it was a topsy turvy week. Some people aren’t very happy with current events. Derek had a sheepish look on his face when I walked by his house. His little girls seemed aloof to my presence. And in spite of everything, somebody keeps setting up my political lawn sign when it blows over. I don’t have to lift a finger. Attribute it to the winds of change… 

Sunday Morning

Ten o’clock. Colin was out walking Lolo with his baby daughter Tessa strapped to his front when I returned from the store. He told me how pretty he’d thought my maple tree was before it dropped all its leaves. And it really was beautiful. Tessa made “stink faces” at me, but they didn’t mean anything. She also waved. Colin speculated on the future of the coronavirus, but neither of us knows anything. We agreed that a vaccine will be a great thing. Lolo sniffed my shopping bag, which was full of stuff.

The store was fairly busy. One customer bought biscuits and gravy. I saw another person head for the beer cooler. I got a couple of Snapple teas and easy food. I found out that I don’t tolerate soda very well anymore, perhaps because of the phosphoric acid, or the carbonation. I tried to do a two liter of Pepsi Friday and felt a little sick. Gradually I’m moving away from things that are unhealthy for me. To some extent, alcoholism is deliberate suicide by a slow means. I’m more hopeful now than I used to be, and a bit more defiant towards people who don’t understand me. My sister and brother used to bully me until I finally broke away and took my chances on my own. I found that most strangers were nicer to me than family, though that sounds counterintuitive. And it’s still a battle with them, especially my brother, who refuses to understand what my life is like.

The Stewart Copeland songs are still in my brain, so maybe I should listen to something else. People always ask me if I hear good music or bad, but it’s really a matter of what I’ve been listening to. Is it a hallucination or instead just having a phonographic memory? I’ve had it all my life and come to live with it… The rain has stopped this morning, but should resume tonight. It rained all night long. At least it’s a little brighter outside than the last few days. 

There Is No Nirvana

Eight thirty. I know that nine years ago was a long time, but I have a hard time letting it go. I loved Kate, simply enough. Yet the simplicity was complicated by other circumstances, including my alcoholism when I knew her. I guess what I need is to be patient with the process of recovery. In some ways I feel quite lost, while in others I’m very confident. For a while, I have to content myself with smaller pleasures before I’m ready for a relationship. But I have no regrets for what happened in the fall nine years ago, and hold those memories sacred.

Nine thirty five. I wore my new Duck mask on my trip to the store. Michelle was very nice, as always. Sometimes my thinking is clearer when I’m walking around. I realized that what I really miss is not my Scottish friend but rather the alcohol! Booze is a great facilitator of daydreams, and truly I lived in a fantasy years ago. I had a wonderful time when I drank, yet nothing short of heaven is permanent bliss. And then I speculated on the necessity for fantasy in all our lives. Dreams keep us going. If the frigate can’t be alcohol, then give me a good book. Today I’ll probably read more in Victor Hugo. The sky is overcast, though not as dark as yesterday morning. I think I love November. Music by Stewart Copeland runs in my mind, a souvenir of old times when I believed I was happy. Is all happiness just an illusion? Whatever your bliss, nothing in life is forever. Sobriety is to experience the roller coaster of real life. And these ups and downs are what I have to accept. 

Awoken

Quarter after eight.

It’s another beautiful day, and I feel rather restless. My thoughts are a jumble, concerned mostly with individual freedom. I was educated in the ‘80s, and now my schemas are challenged by a time that refutes them. I’m not sure how to characterize these times, but to me it seems that we’re all lip locked to a great extent. Our eyes are open, but our mouths are sewn shut. I wonder why that is? Perhaps social media is just a fickle thing, and ultimately silly and useless. It’s especially dumb if you can’t say what you mean. On this note of frustration, I guess I’ll call my sister… No good. She has other things to do. One of her dogs needs to see the vet… Funny how I still believe in Freud while the world has gone exclusively Christian.

Nine forty. By now my maple tree has turned completely golden. It’s very pretty outside. My thoughts dwell on conformity and this thing called society. It bugs me a little. Attitudes toward individuality have changed over the years, unless it’s only my own attitude that has changed. Benjamin Franklin made a drawing of a cut up snake with the caption, “Join, or die.” The way of the world is going religious, so I suppose surrender to this is all right. Then again, a famous drummer said that when no schools for jazz exist, you form one. The same is true of all disciplines… I feel like Rip Van Winkle, asleep for thirty years, then suddenly awoken and returned to his village. Didn’t he drink a potent brew as well? All the more appropriate. Alcohol can do that to you: cut you off from your culture, sever you from society. In the past, I kept the front drapes always closed. At this point, the social rays of sunshine are just beginning to reach me. 

A Christmas Gift

Four twenty five. The day has been going very quietly. I took some bed rest because I was so tired from PT yesterday. It feels solitary today, and I’m all right with that. The sun never did come out. I look forward to writing a letter to my friend this evening. The day started off right when I saw how much I had in my checking account: the cancellation on that item from Musician’s Friend went through. We’re so close to Election Day; this is the calm before the storm. Hopefully there won’t be a storm of protests by outraged voters… My afternoon yesterday went south after the therapy appointment. I began thinking about three years ago and the bad shape I was in. I’m more hopeful today. At least I’ve learned that I distrust psychotherapy and won’t make that mistake again.

Five twenty. There’s a lot of evidence that I’m doing better now than three years ago. Look at my relationship with my sister, and all the friendships I’ve gained. For six years I had only one friend. I simply had a bad afternoon yesterday. Maybe I can get rid of some of the material reminders of 2017 and 2018… A piece of music begins to play in my head. It is the beginning of Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor by Borodin. My mother gave me the CD for Christmas in 1989. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have surgery. The disc actually compiled the Firebird Suite and the other by Borodin. It was the first classical music to really blow me away, especially the Stravinsky. The joint effect of having read Joyce that term and the incredibly beautiful Stravinsky was devastating for me. This was one Christmas gift that Mom nailed on the head, and I’ve never forgotten it. 

A Magic Trick

Quarter after eleven. I had a superstitious dream of writing about my fourth sober Halloween. An evil spirit caused the content to disappear, as if being sober were not the reality. Now, consciously I recall those old Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Freddy Krueger the slasher could only kill you in dreams, so you dared not fall asleep. The films were played on cable television all the time, so right now I wonder if they might’ve been toxic to the viewer. I hadn’t thought of Freddy in years, maybe since the last one I saw, in fall of 1989. Wes Craven movies were such a juvenile thing, but I watched them like everybody else. You were not cool unless you did so. In turn, I think of my old friends from around that time, who all had secular beliefs and values. A lot of them drank like fishes. I’ve lost contact with all of them since my decision to stop drinking; they vanished as if by a magic trick. As if they’d been erased by Freddy from the screenplay of the life we once shared… When I told M— the guitarist I had stopped drinking and joined a church, he replied that I was a “good American,” and after that I never heard from him again. His friend on drums was a mutual friend of some other friends I’d known, hence word must’ve spread through the grapevine. Closed social systems are very strange things. Alcohol and cannabis had run rampant in my old scene. Towards the end of my drinking career, marijuana was everywhere I looked. I was getting deeper and deeper into a bad bunch. Each new rock band was a step lower into hell. But today, the “good American” sticks out to the old scene like a sore thumb and the effect is like magic: everybody from that loop disappears.

A Victory Toast

Four twenty five.

I had some inspirational dreams tonight that had to do with my victory over schizophrenia. I returned triumphantly to my high school, which bore a resemblance to the psychiatric rehabilitation center. I sat in my old place in the cafeteria with my peers who never had liked me, but then something happened to turn it around to my favor. Amid the jeers and general disapprobation of my sitting there, Ken from Laurel Hill came over to my table and expressed his appreciation for my endeavors; then I looked over and saw a whole table of the mentally challenged who were cheering for me. Finally, my old peer Tim gave a laudatory speech to honor me, although he was so drunk that he could barely stay conscious. I think my dream is a fairly accurate indicator of how successful I’ve been in the last few years, acknowledging that schizophrenia and alcoholism are not easy to live with; indeed, I’ve done the best I could do to recover, with quite commendable results. 

Ancient Ethical Dilemma

One thirty. The guitar stands came, so I unpacked them and set them up. My mood is still pretty rotten, though better than a little while ago… I don’t enjoy much of anything lately, and it’s very rough to experience. Kate liked pleasure, and so did I; we both were sensual and commonsensical about it. Except, it wasn’t rational to drink a half case every day. The Greeks prescribed moderation, and it’s still the truth. I’m a little afraid that I’m close to a relapse of alcoholism, and this could depend on the outcome of the election. I know it shouldn’t be that way, but party politics are what they are, I guess. It looks like my vote went for sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The movies will go berserk with a Democratic win, like Pulp Fiction all over again. Life in general will be decadent and liberal, and even irreligious. This is how I see the Democratic Party, whether or not it’s absolutely true. Thus the presidential race still bugs me, and will keep doing so until after November 3rd. It’s possible I voted for the wrong guy. I guess I really want sex, drugs, and rock and roll, or however you formulate sensual pleasure. I used to have too much fun with my old friend Kate. But it’s very difficult to know what is right between the choices of stoicism and Epicureanism. The latter nearly killed me, and yet I want to have fun so badly. Some people are satisfied with just having more money; that’s all they wish for. And then there are those who want to burn the candle at both ends and party like there’s no tomorrow. That was me four years ago and before. I don’t know. Which way is more commonsensical? I realize that alcohol is my curse and not good for me, yet I voted for the liberal party in hopes that everybody could have a good time once again. It’s too late to change my vote now, but I see myself white knuckling it until all the votes are counted. 

Search for a Cause

One forty. The quote I ascribed to Montaigne was really Erasmus, found in Google Books, a biography of Martin Luther. It must have been a source I used for my term paper in fall 1989. Kind of amazing how I remembered the passage all this time. It isn’t clear that Erasmus actually said that; there were no quotation marks around the sentence. I would guess that Rousseau was the first to seriously proclaim the wisdom of children, and later Wordsworth took up the torch and elaborated on it. So I guess Google does know everything…

Two forty. The year 1989 is significant for me somehow. That was the last period when I fully possessed my faculties before the onset of the illness. My Vraylar has restored me to my old sanity at age 22. So my life now begins again from that point, it seems to me. I hear more songs by Pat Metheny. My parents sold their manufactured home in Florence in the summer of the same year because Mom couldn’t afford two houses. I feel sick about that. My brother helped them sell the property to a Californian who had the lot next door. It was such a defeat for poor Mom, who had wanted to retire in luxury. I recall the day when they brought home their purchase of a motor home. Unfortunately it turned out to be a lemon. Something was wrong with the battery. So, their retirement plans came to nothing, and they got rid of the lemon as well. What happened to my mental health after that I don’t know. I fell into a depression at first, and then I partially lost my ability to concentrate on schoolwork. Eventually I didn’t register for fall term 1991, and continued seeing a psychologist. Finally in November I began to have bizarre delusions, culminating in a full blown episode and the diagnosis in December. But the question is why, and was there a situational reason for the breakdown?