Eight twenty five.
Last night I suffered a minor case of probable diverticulitis after eating a lot of tortilla chips for a snack. I was uncomfortable for hours. Happy Birthday, I guess. And then, all night I dreamed dreams of guilt and self accusation, as if I really believed I’d done something wrong. The music in my brain is “David” by The Guitar Trio, from Passion, Grace, and Fire. It’s a flashback to when I was a college senior. But what isn’t? I never wanted to finish school. Just be a perpetual student… Today is gray with showers here and there, and fairly warm out. I used to own the Beatles “red” compilation but gave it away to my psychiatrist as a kind of bribe to soften his attitude toward me. We weren’t getting along well for those last five years. I couldn’t stop drinking until, ironically, we terminated his service. I remember the phone conversation with his receptionist when I stated baldly that I didn’t want to talk to him at all. It’s a truism that people change over time, which changes our relationship with them. One of my differences with the man was that I believed in being honest and aboveboard, whatever the stigma of schizophrenia. I didn’t agree with his crafty approach to living, and I still think an ethical lifestyle is worthwhile. As for The Beatles, he’s welcome to it.
Yesterday afternoon I overheard Roger swearing as he worked at his truck building hobby. Probably a few things aren’t going his way, but I guess that’s tough for everybody. I felt a bit sympathetic for him. I never see him receive visitors to his house. He could likely use a friend.
Quarter of six evening.
Something brought me down late this morning. It rained cats and dogs and I felt tired already so I got some rest. I still needed a mood lifter when I got up, hence I treated myself to Tim’s potato chips and a big Coca-Cola from the market. But as I traversed my neighborhood I wondered what I was doing and what for. I felt kind of weird, like an actor in a play, while the sky and everything were a glaring silver. It seemed almost like I shouldn’t be there: I was an intruder or trespasser on my own street. For some odd reason, people are quietly hostile, though keeping to themselves, probably grinding axes in the backyard. I got the same feeling when Aesop was a puppy ten years ago, this strange cold war with the neighbors. Also I get the premonition that somebody’s going to sell their house and move away.
I haven’t been thinking much about Christmas today. I’ve read the first two acts of The Tempest. Pretty good. The slaves of Prospero both want their freedom. These are Ariel and Caliban. The latter is a deformed anthropoid brute, smelling of fish, who was taught language by Miranda and whose mother was Sycorax, a witch. There’s something interesting about a monster learning to speak and express feelings that are barely human. It’s much like the monster in Frankenstein, who is not human, and represents the sublime. Or how about teaching sign language to gorillas and chimpanzees? Or the voice of the raven croaking Nevermore from the bust of Athena over the door? Another thing: Caliban says that learning English was only convenient for him to curse with. He really doesn’t like his master, kind of like Frankenstein’s monster systematically popping off his family… Anyway, I’m about halfway through the play.
I still haven’t heard the news from Gloria, and she didn’t come to work today, as I wouldn’t have expected. Aesop and I spent a quiet day alone together while the wind howled and once some sleet came down mixed with rain. The only excursion was to the store this morning, which was nothing unusual for me, though Lisa reported having a bad day so far. When I thought about that later, it seemed like the fragmentation in Mrs Dalloway, with everyone locked in their private worlds. It’s impossible for people to truly share their perceptions, even through the seeming agreement of language.
This is just the mood I’m in today. Tomorrow I have to go to church like I agreed to do. Hope for the best.
I got the H.G. Wells book yesterday. Found it on my doorstep when I went out for the mail. It’s very nice, with a format very similar to the Verne volume.
I probably hang out too much with my dog here at home, but it’s quite fascinating to observe how his mind functions. His intelligence is nearly human, unless I project much of myself onto him. Strange to consider such a relationship between animal and man, as if we could really communicate together. Some dogs are a little too smart, I suppose. What we have here tends to blur the boundaries of one nature and the other. I guess that’s why I feel a little confused on what defines a human being versus the definition of animals. Now I’ve finally put my finger on it.
Aesop is not a person!
Nine thirty AM.
I’m beginning to see some social friction growing for two places up and down Maxwell Road. For some reason, the customers that come to the little market in the morning have become rather rough. A different bunch is attracted to the business, and I’m liking it less and less when I have to go there for my daily groceries. Meanwhile, attitudes at my church are divided among the parish while the pastor keeps going his own way and screw the feedback. A lot can happen during a hiatus of three months. Irrelevantly, the song in my head is “Tango” by Igor Stravinsky. Or maybe not so off the wall, in that social life is like a dance; but it’s an apple cart that can be upset. I just called my sister but she was eating breakfast, so I suggested calling back in twenty minutes. For my walk this morning it rained, though it wasn’t heavy. I carried my umbrella without using it. I feel like I can negotiate almost anything, especially by the use of language to communicate with others. And yet, words can do as much harm as good, depending on time and place. It might be a weird kind of day today.
I’m now off the phone with my sister. It was a two hour rambling marathon, with her doing all the talking, going off on tangents infinitely, and I just saying uh huh a lot. In the meantime it’s begun to rain in heavy earnest. Thankfully I don’t have to go anywhere else today. At least for the rest of the day I have some free time; maybe from today until Sunday. Let it rain…
I just hiked a mile and back to the veterinary hospital to fetch Aesop’s flea medication. The ghosts of the past didn’t stir until I got back home, hot, sweaty, and out of breath, my legs like rubber. Now I remember back to the end of the 00 decade and Sy’s New York Pizza in the Silver Lea Center. I used to have a vehicle for getting around: a lot more convenient except for the cost of gasoline and upkeep. I also drank a great deal, and my relationship with family was rocky, though I don’t blame myself much anymore. It wasn’t my fault more than my brother’s addiction is his fault. Pointing the finger is easy but pointing out the solution is not… For a time, a dog groomer named Terri had a business in the same strip mall as the veterinarian, so I took Henry to her for nail trims. She didn’t like me very much, and eventually her business folded and I never heard of her again. I’ve had some weird ups and downs with the veterinary people over the years, plus it’s been very hard to find friends in my local community. I had a little breakthrough finally when I ventured online and registered with a rockstar’s guestbook in the fall of 2010. From there, things have only gotten better for me, and meanwhile the locals are still pretty set in their ways and narrow minded. It all started with that guestbook on the worldwide web twelve years ago. Now the shadows lengthen with the setting of the amber sun: another October day draws to a close, making way for October night.
Four twenty five.
I’m eating my heart out to the tune of “Knowing When to Leave” by Burt Bacharach. The music destroys me, particularly the interlude following the main theme, where the strings are deep and rich and the women’s voices have replaced the trumpet… My self analyses have been hit and miss lately, but as autumn deepens, so does my perception of the truth… She didn’t want to be around longer when my dog died ten years ago and she cried for two days. But she hung on as a friend in spite of herself several more years… Why did it have to be so complicated? And yet, in 2013 when I was abandoned by my family, she was the only friend I had other than the booze. She must’ve seen this quite clearly. I was probably never lower than in January 2016, when I began to realize what was really going on. She was doing all of this against her inclination. I had been utterly deserted. And then the booze turned against me.
They say it’ll be a mild day. I did an all nighter with a two liter of Coke but I feel okay, my mood good. Some days it’s hard to reach people, and others I get too much of them. Today is the first kind of day. I have an appointment tomorrow morning with Todd at the agency. But today there’s this big void to fill, a whole long day ahead of me. I did something rather capricious after eight o’clock: I tried emailing an old friend who lives abroad and who quit responding to my messages five years ago. I should know better. Now it’s going to make me kind of mad and frustrated if she doesn’t reply. I told her I’d been sober nearly five years, but I don’t think that’s what she wants to hear. If anything, maybe she’d prefer me as a drunk person, though that doesn’t make much sense. It’s difficult to read people sometimes. I believe there’s a lack of trust on her side. I might as well just drop it. What made me email her in the first place? This is a more pertinent question than why she doesn’t reply. Usually I sort of forget that I’m a guy and not just a neutral person. I have a guy’s motives. I think it’s something to do with the time of year, the August summertime, that triggers my impulses which remember old times. I believe I’ve been a complete fool since I got up this morning. And there’s a lot to be said for self control and rational restraint. The pain of desire is as bad as the pain of fear— depending on your values. I think James Joyce says something quite different from the Greeks of antiquity: more like Nietzsche. Still, one ought to beware of Dionysian passion and madness. This might be a long day. Would it be kinder of my friend to reply or ignore me?
Seven fifty five.
I read the daily email from the church pastor; evidently their little world hasn’t changed in my absence. I wonder if I can be called a “lapsed Lutheran,” or was I ever a Lutheran at all? I sort of dropped myself on their doorstep almost five years ago, desperate from my addiction to alcohol. Today, the idea of drinking doesn’t even sound good except when I feel like disappearing down a snake hole. And that still happens sometimes. Facing the world sober can be burdensome. I sympathize with people who need to escape from reality or enhance it to sweeten it up. I guess my weakness growing up was my broken brain. Fortunately for me there’s Vraylar for the delusions and hallucinations. By now I’ve given up the classic theories of what causes schizophrenia. It is not caused by repressed urges or by demonic possession; not even by suppressed anger at unfairness, or whatever else they can dream up for an explanation. Schizophrenia is just a biological disease passed down by genetics… It’s an overcast morning with a bit of wind. Moving about the house a while ago, I recalled the fresh autumn days before the pandemic, when I would go to church and everything was peachy. Now I ponder why most situations with people turn sour. Nothing is ever permanent, nor was meant to be.
I’ve been thinking about church and Easter, etc and how lonely I feel lately, like a kind of outsider from the human race. Until yesterday I didn’t realize that I miss my friends in church. And yet I see that there are so many ways of dividing people against each other; by their politics, religion, and other personal beliefs. I feel pulled in different directions at once, and the fact of being sober seems to make it more difficult. I know however that drinking is even more problematic than staying sober. It’s very hard to be a highly sensitive and perceptive individual, seeing all these conflicts and contradictions, the sheer confusion of everything. How to make it all compatible with itself; how to unify it all in harmony and peace? And then I remember the writings of Montaigne, who let the contradictions dangle unresolved. They could be allowed to coexist. I knew a friend in reality whose approach was very similar: she hated conflict and any kind of extremism. Her father and her oldest sister got into the worst fights with each other, starting with a disagreement and ending in violence. Thus, maybe my logic is overrated, my tendency towards black and white judgments, trying to nail everything down like Aristotle or another philosopher. Maybe better to say that’s life and let the loose ends stay that way.
I haven’t read very much Montaigne. I ought to look into it. I think that something about my method is not working very well, and Pastor was right about leaving things gray in order to have more friends and get along with more people. The relentless quest for the truth can be quite limiting for your social life. The truth may well be that there is no truth.
During the afternoon, something awakened me to the validity of other psychoanalytic theories than simply Freud, which I’d lived by ever since junior high school, namely Alfred Adler. He reminds us that we need security and confidence to carry out our lives, a skill to be proud of and do competently, etc. We need self esteem and a little bit of pride in ourselves. I’ve known some people who take this to the extreme of invalidating other people from their own feelings of inferiority, jealousy, or resentment. Perhaps even some therapists have done this to their clients. I feel I was shipwrecked by one such person four years ago, and the trauma still messes with me in the springtime. I never should have left my psychiatrist in the first place. Human relationships can be very delicate things. There’s always someone with a pellet gun to shoot down your balloon in order for themselves to rise. We say the good die young and nice guys finish last. But sometimes you have to protect yourself from predators.