Spice of Life

No one in my family does much thinking. I get a strange sense that Polly is hiding something from me. She doesn’t care now about alcohol abuse. The whole family shuns me— so what made L— drive by my house one day in October?… It seems like an accident that we started talking again. Polly may regret it too. I just scheduled the ride to my Monday appointment. And I thought of how my family is too proud to accept help from government services; but not me. I don’t share their redneck pride. I don’t understand it. When people need assistance, they need it. Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, but my family will never acknowledge it. The best thing I ever did was to disown them. The sun has come out for a moment; good to know it’s still there. Tim told me that K— isn’t close to his family either. Tim himself is divided from his family over politics. I told him that my family has no curiosity for bigger things. He said that was a shame… One thing I can say is that I enjoy interaction with people, especially when they are intelligent. The exchange of ideas stimulates my brain and motivates me. The rest of the family is apathetic about what makes life interesting. It’s like they’re not even alive, let alone joyful. How could I possibly cut myself down to their level? Life has loveliness to sell! The world is a big place, and often wonderful. How can anyone be so bovine, so boring; so disinterested in new ideas? So totally unintelligent? Life is not about chains; life is about freedom and happiness… Ranging through the boxes of my stuff, I found my copy of The World as Will and Representation, a book I needed while I was in the trailer. I think I will start reading it now, bearing Moby Dick in mind. There are many books I’d like to read all at once; digest them all and have instant enlightenment. But there’s still time to go over them one by one…

From a Love Poem

Four thirty. If Joyce is the best writer of the last century, then what about him was great? He was no garden variety Christian; that would have been dull. He was a wonderful humanist, trying to make life better for the world of people. I find it odd that I learned about literature before I ever went to a church. Most people do it in the reverse order and become lapsed churchgoers. I feel like coming around full circle to secularism. This would be like my parents… like Mom. Like my brother too. The two of them were the intelligent ones in the family. I loved them the most, yet they didn’t love each other. Mom didn’t really know Jeff at all, and he misunderstood her. What they had in common they didn’t even recognize: it was pure intellect. But Jeff still resents and begrudges Mom, long after her death. I offer no apologies for my way of seeing it… Kate was smart like my mother. She loved the Joyce that she read, particularly Portrait of the Artist… but also “Eveline” from Dubliners. I blew it with Kate. I could’ve had a complete relationship with her, and I just blew it. Nothing stopped her from doing what she wanted to do. But I sold out for the sake of safety and a longer lifespan. I did the conservative thing to stay alive, when maybe the brave thing to do was to go for Kate. The courageous and radical thing! But I would have died young, the way Lord Byron did. And Kate would’ve been a widow. Some alcoholics can drink enormous quantities and still function. I could not. It would’ve killed me. It just worked out the way it did, and I’m still alive, though loveless and rueful. Was I intelligent to save my life, or would it have been wiser to do a Sara Teasdale? “And for a breath of ecstasy / Give all you have ever been, or could be.” So this was the “bartering” I failed to do. I guess I am no Teasdale, let alone a Byron or a Joyce. Instead I am something more boring, but I suppose there’s an advantage to being alive. Dear reader, what would you have done?