Four o five in the morning.
I’ve taken my Vraylar and a Vitamin D3, and eaten a small Hot Pocket. R— isn’t doing a good job of keeping the store stocked with supplies. There’s not enough stuff for me to eat at that little market. I said something about it to M— last Saturday, and she looked distressed. Maybe today I’ll opt for Grocery Outlet. I can’t go wrong with that Seattle International sourdough bread. I don’t ask for much, just enough food to eat. As long as I’m mobile on my two feet, there’s no reason why I can’t go to the other store… I had a nightmare a bit ago about my dad. He was trying to sabotage me by forcing me to drink a substance with pins and needles in it. The dream didn’t make much literal sense, but the drink was probably alcohol… I anticipate seeing the sunrise this morning.
Five o’clock. I guess I’ll go back to bed and rest for a while longer.
Eight thirty. A fine, misty rain is coming down… The PA at the institute concluded that I should continue the surveillance of my ferritin levels. Very strange. Why did she send me that letter? One person even thought it was a forgery. But W— admitted to doing it… Tonight we film the church service again… The letter from W— disturbs me only because it seems she was condemning me for my past alcoholism. There are always people like that. I’m going to keep the letter she sent, in case of problems down the road. Suddenly reality assumes the shape of a Henry James plot, where I am confronted by the irrational in human affairs. And just as suddenly the sun peeks through.
Eleven o’clock. I walked to Grocery Outlet, but had anxiety and energy issues related to gabapentin withdrawal. I just took a pill. Still, I managed to buy food for me and some really nice natural dog food. Aesop should be very happy with tomorrow’s breakfast. His exact birthday is unknown, but the month is September. I want to do something nice for him… I spotted a blue Amazon delivery truck on my way to the store. Apparently they’re making a go of their own delivery service. Dunno how I feel about that. When I arrived in the store parking lot, I saw quite a few cars and people, as if nothing were wrong. People wore masks, but otherwise it was normal. The dog food had been moved since the last time I bought it there. I was exhausted by the time I got home. Luckily it didn’t rain again while I was out. I passed by a few people on the street who courteously said hi. As always, the sourdough bread is outstanding.
Quarter after three. I don’t know why I need parent figures here and there in my life. Someone to depend on. And my alcoholism was a kind of dependency as well: chemical. Well, Vicki has been rather parental for me, but not in a healthy way. I attach myself to people and places that feel safe to me. If I stop going to Community Market and shop elsewhere, then I will feel a little insecure for a bit. But I wish I didn’t need parents anymore. The thing with Vicki has been indeed an emotional attachment, as strange as it was. I really don’t know her at all. She was the person who used to sell me beer in the morning, when the addiction was out of hand. My dependence on alcohol was itself an emotional investment. The beer was soothing to me like a mother. And indirectly, Vicki came to signify motherhood to me also. I wonder why the maternity thing is important to me? I’d like to get over it and be independent. At least I can weed out the unhealthy parents and cultivate better relationships with people. Alcoholism is a very odd behavior, because you depend on something that isn’t even human. Alcohol is only a drug, nothing to have a relationship with. When I drank, I felt like I was in the mother’s womb, safe and protected from all harm… And what if I do go to a different store every day now? How will it feel?
Six o’clock. I’m going with the flow of the day. It’s a lot easier without enemies. I used to be surrounded by people who thought using your brain was a sin. Certainly nobody with schizophrenia should ever prove to be intelligent. I remember some terrible times with both of my siblings, but I think my brother was worse. One December he came to Eugene and booked a room at the Motel 6 off of Gateway Street. We stocked the refrigerator with seasonal ales and mostly just watched the tube. We had dinner at Carl’s Jr. and I really didn’t feel comfortable. He said something mean about my dad, which was normal for him.
The years 2008 to 10, before I met Kate, were the most desolate of my life. The only friends I had were really enemies in spirit, so I would call them “frenemies.” I’m not in touch with any of those people now, thank goodness. They had such tunnel vision and closed minds. It was a kind of prejudice with them to make money an end in itself. They called this the real world and could not imagine anything better. Essentially they were Republicans, but imo they were spiritually blind. My brother’s idea of enlightenment was to get drunk. On my end, I wasn’t aware that people existed who were not like these frenemies. For convenience, they are called idealists, and the latter are materialists and capitalists.
My sister sneered the word “idealistic” to me like an accusation of sin at the time of my birthday in 2007. She doesn’t remember that now, but I know she hasn’t changed. She thought I was just an idle and naive dreamer, and such people as I had no place in the world. To her mind, visionaries had no common sense. The least people on earth were poets and musicians. I should have reminded her that her Bible was full of the visions of prophets. Furthermore, that prophets still exist in the world today; we call them poets and artists of every genre. But it would have been like arguing with a statue or a mannequin. I’ve concluded that my sister has faith in a very lifeless version of Christianity, one as statuesque as herself. It’s known as a dogma…
Midnight hour. I had unpleasant dreams about my mother. She wanted to punish me for something, I don’t know what. The maddest she ever got at me was when I’d do something to magnify her feelings of guilt. She didn’t realize that the feelings belonged to her and not me. The way I feel right now, I didn’t care much for my mother. For too much of the time she was completely irrational. She made me feel unwelcome in her life. I think my dad was a little afraid of her as well. If Mom was unhappy and frustrated with her life, she shouldn’t have given me birth. She felt trapped in a loveless marriage, but she had only herself to blame for blocking her exits.
In hindsight, it seems like a lot of Mom’s lifetime was spent fleeing from herself or from reality. So much of her existence proceeded from her own bad decisions. She figured that loveless company was better than none at all.
What really alienated her from people was not her quantity of intelligence but its quality. Mom’s place was among artistic people. One day she confided to me, “I don’t fit.” The other homemakers on our street tried to involve her in games of bridge and going out to lunch, but Mom disliked gossipy gatherings. That kind of activity wasn’t real to her. She craved intimacy and sincerity with others, but unfortunately she couldn’t drop into a groove anywhere. If she had only taken an interest in confessional poetry such as Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath, or anything creative along these lines, and risked a little rejection from critics… But Mom was afraid of rejection. Thus the end result is a conflicted life whose theme music is the chorus to “Eleanor Rigby.”
Six ten. I wrote the above with somebody in mind, and she read it and liked it. I just got tired of reading her hopeless posts about feeling guilty, mostly. Guilt and shame. They were a real drag for me, so finally I replied back. But it’s the truth: sooner or later we have to chuck it all and just get on with life. Just say fuck it and roll on. You can spend your whole life in therapy and arrive nowhere. And then you die. Isn’t it better to live your life and enjoy it?… Anyway, I’m tired of being conscientious. Moral improvement is not for me anymore. I don’t believe in heaven and hell, so there’s no point in being super virtuous. It is wasted piety, as Pascal suggests.
Midnight hour. I just heard the full album of American Garage. Very lovely. It’s hard for me to call up memories from before the onset of the illness. Maybe it’ll get easier. I wish I held the key to unlock the truth of myself and my motivation. Perhaps I want to be universally loved, but not even famous people have this. If this is my desire, then I’ll always be beating my head against the wall. The love of one person who is much like me might be enough. I remember how once I loved my brother with a jealous passion. It was never requited, and I gave up when I realized that he despised Mom. What is the greatest love of all? Again I arrive at rational love, the marriage of true minds, as Shakespeare expresses it. The love of likeminded people is the best thing in life.
I was on the bank of a great green river with someone else. I sat down, hoping to remain dry, but the water came up to my waist. There were a couple of times that someone spoke to me and I walked through ivy bushes on the ground. At one point I was eating something and realized that I had swallowed my gold Phi Beta Kappa key. Presently it worked itself out of my throat and I spat it out in my hand. More than once I encountered a gray haired woman in the rain forest. As I was waking up, I thought the river was similar to the Amazon, and I was living on my catches from there.
Nine o’clock. My brother probably called my number by mistake last night. He’s had accidents like that before on his phone. Anyway he didn’t call me today. I rested in bed for over three hours, but I still feel kind of lousy. Maybe tomorrow I’ll call and ask about Heidi, see how she’s doing. I’m hoping she can return to work soon. Mike texted us a YouTube link to a music video. I wasn’t impressed. He doesn’t like what I like either, but Ron does. I can’t tell yet which of them is the leader of the band, but Ron tends to comply with Mike’s judgments. I’m merely the new guy jockeying for position. Every band dynamic is different, and I just have to feel the situation out. I played with two other guys long ago and it ended up with two of us splitting off from the trio. The guitarist and I jammed together until I started drinking again.
Labor Day 2004 was a fateful weekend. I still don’t know what went wrong. What was my thinking process when I stopped by the convenience store on my way home from work? I bought a half case of Fosters and drank nine of them. But I remember how different my mind was on a medication that didn’t work very well. My head was usually filled with terrifying religious delusions. Getting drunk was the best way to disperse them, and in the morning I would be psychosis free— exactly what I wanted. I don’t blame myself now for overindulging in alcohol back then. Most Fridays when I drank a half case I would watch a horror movie about the devil. It seems to me that this was cathartic, a purging of the psychosis. Then in the morning I woke up feeling better. I’d go to Carl’s Jr. and get a pastrami burger at the drive through. There were no bothersome thoughts then. I felt comfortable for the rest of the weekend.
One fifty five. I think I’ve determined what was bugging me yesterday. It was the memory of my first girlfriend, who loved me and left me broken-hearted 33 years ago. My mind employed all kinds of defense mechanisms to hide it from myself. At the same time, my subconscious was gently trying to remind me of what happened in 1987. Yesterday afternoon the cravings for alcohol were so bad that I went to bed and tried to blot myself out of existence until the sun was nearly down. The trauma from that relationship is something I still have to deal with. I haven’t been in love with anyone else since her. I don’t know what to say about her right now, but it will gradually become clear. It gives me some pain to play my new bass, which sounds so similar to the old pewter Fender I owned in ‘87. I loved that little bass… Every springtime this trauma comes back to me, but not as badly as this year. I wonder what’s going to happen next?
I miss seeing Heidi from Laurel Hill every two weeks. She is very cute and fun to be around. Suddenly my brain plays an old song by Pat Metheny Group off of American Garage. I don’t recall the song title, but it’s the last track on Side A… It was called “The Search.” I used to listen to this album in the fall of 1989, when I took my course in James Joyce. It was a cassette tape purchased at Record Garden on the Downtown Mall. The streets then were still closed to facilitate the foot traffic. Later, they were reopened because of the trouble with mall rats panhandling and badgering people. I remember being a benevolent guy, passive and clueless to where he was going. My friends were all musicians. It would have been nice to have made some friends from the university, but music was a stronger glue at the time. Many of the English majors I met were very nice, but the faculty and staff could be terrible snobs. The very nicest students were Lori and Catherine; also the brightest. Lori made a little money grading exams and papers for a professor. Katie wrote prize winning essays. We had a few great conversations standing on sidewalks, street corners, and inside the Education building. Dunno: which really was the stronger bond, music or the rational love I shared with people like Catherine? Today, my good friends tend not to be musicians anymore. Maybe this answers my question.
It’s very odd being 53 years old, and having such a wall up with my family. I regret it only a little. Overall I think the division is irreparable. Jeff still hasn’t called back, nor will he. Polly told me some wild stories about him, and she usually tells the truth. But the moral shortcomings all around are really hard to ignore. How do you forgive racism? Or gratuitous lying and cheating— even stealing? I know I’m a lazy person, and proud. Still, I don’t screw anyone over. I do remember a time when I was a chameleon with people I didn’t particularly like. I told them what they wanted to hear and they were completely fooled. Eventually I was exposed, and then the poop hit the fan. I don’t know where I learned to be a deceiver, though I saw my brother dupe the family enough times. His practice caused a great deal of pain. In the last decade I began to see duplicity for what it is. So many times he tried to swear me to secrecy about his feelings toward the rest of the family. Every time it backfired because Polly demanded to know the truth from me. My siblings used me like a shuttlecock in a game of badminton. I think now they finally realize how they feel about each other, so now they have no use for me! Funny how it turned out. Anyway, now I’m free of the mess…