Lose one, gain one. I looked for an old copy of Stephen Crane but could find it nowhere in the house, so I concluded that I gave it away to a friend and later forgot it. In the process of searching, I found an Ian Fleming book I thought was lost. From Russia with Love was a novel I read forty years ago in the summer, and then my mother decided to reread it as well. After that, she revisited the whole series of James Bond, leaving me in the dust. The last Fleming I finished was Diamonds Are Forever, just as I was starting high school.
How interesting if I could tap the psychology of myself when I was 15 years old. At the time I lacked the words to identify my feelings and thoughts, though I know I was growing more sensitive and perhaps a bit depressed moving into high school. I think I was ambivalent regarding music, because it was a huge relief to drop the school band program as a junior. Now I don’t remember how that came about or whose decision it was. I believe maybe it was mine, but my mother disapproved strongly. My health dictated something else. She cried when the doctor said I had mononucleosis. He kept me out of school for five weeks and put me on horse pills of erythromycin. Mom felt so badly that she made me oatmeal several times daily. I played a lot of Phoenix on my Atari setup, which messed with my vision. A girl from school called me on the phone a few times. I felt awkward and didn’t know what to say.
My phase of Edgar Rice Burroughs ended after tenth grade; I never finished Tarzan and the Madman, the 23rd in the series. I didn’t feel like a hero anymore. Life became more complicated than good guys and bad guys. The heroes themselves could show weakness and melancholy, or perhaps I was the one who changed. My reading changed to match my self concept. Eventually the hero thing dissolved totally.
Still it would be cool to have another peek at From Russia with Love. I had a wonderful time during the summer when I first read it. My friends and I played Rush tunes in Pleasant Hill, and we were really pretty good. For a time I felt I was on top of the world. I guess disappointment is inevitable but you have to get up again sooner or later. Sometimes it’s later.
Eight thirty five.
Unfortunately I feel like I’m getting sick with something. It started with my ears being stopped up, and then I had a dry cough, especially at night. Now, my sinuses are a bit congested. I got to the store in a light rain. I found out that Michelle’s daughter is in the hospital with Covid. In my mailbox I found a birthday card from my sister, so I came inside and opened it: she had enclosed a check for fifty dollars. I thought, she shouldn’t have. Even the card was very nice: serious and not silly… I dreamed last night about an old man I passed on the street who uttered a stream of vituperation at me for some reason. When I saw him again later, I thought to tell him I’d been sober for four and a half years, and this information seemed to soften his attitude somewhat… I definitely feel under the weather, but I have no plans for today. I can just stay home and watch the rain come down, or hopefully concentrate on a book. Something quiet and easy.
Wee hours before Tuesday.
I had a strange dream about presidential election, and it was related to my church. It isn’t clear who was the candidate for President, but it might have been myself. Whoever, I felt a very strong desire for something or someone, perhaps a woman I cared about. Yesterday evening I had another dream, about a crush I have on somebody I’ve known for a few years. It was a sweet little dream, so all hope is not dead. It contained a lot of water imagery, and it seemed she was teaching me to swim at some point. Toward the end, I ate black caviar on a tortilla chip with her… I often think, what would my life be like if I only had more balls, more masculine assertiveness than I do? It seems like sometimes you have to push the envelope of what’s acceptable in order to make any progress in your life, and move outside of your comfort zone, take some risks, and live dangerously until you win the prize. Even then, having a comfort zone can be a trap. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Not even fear of the devil should stand in the way of conquering happiness… Now I wonder what my parents were so afraid of, and why did they have to tyrannize over me the whole time they were alive? They had very little intelligence and hardly any generosity, hiding away with their television and cigarettes, doing no good to anybody. If they had looked at it from the worst case scenario they might have taken some heart, some courage to take the bull by the horns. They lived to be in their early seventies, but it’s more accurate to say they existed.
The root of all infirmity is fear.
I just read that my friend from church was admitted to the hospital yesterday with possible pneumonia and is being tested for the virus. Not a good start to my day. This is the day when restrictions are being relaxed a bit. Karen will reopen for business officially today. I am really sick of Pastor’s emails every morning. Maybe I’ll unsubscribe. Since last summer I’ve been thinking about leaving the church. I just don’t know what I can replace it with… It’s mostly cloudy with a ray of sunshine. I awoke a little grumpy and this news about my friend made me even grumpier. I realize something however about me. It is that skepticism can be harmful. I never took it on faith that alcoholism would kill me. I had to be inches from death to be convinced to quit drinking. Therefore, skepticism in other areas can be toxic as well. Better safe than sorry, and an ounce of prevention… But I doubt if this flaw in my character will change.
Sun’s just coming up. This is Friday. I hear police sirens. Sometimes I play mind games with myself.
Eleven o’clock. I feel sluggish this morning, but the sunshine is beautiful. I’m contemplating taking my amp head to Mike’s today, before six. Going after one is better, because Oregon Taxi is very busy at noon. The cab fare will be expensive, the repair cheap. I had a dream last night of being on a hell ride with somebody. I had hitched a lift home with him. He moved to the edge of the road and popped a wheelie at one point. He had almost a head on collision with a truck in the left lane. I felt helpless and horrified, and he just laughed and said this was normal for him. It was the price I paid for risking a hitch. We wound up at his place, which might have been on the coast. I wondered how and when I was ever going to get home. The dream ended there, or transitioned to something else. I had censored it out of my awareness quite well, until writing about taxis jarred it loose. I think I know who the maniac driver was in reality, because of the detail about the coast.
Two thirty five. I feel just terrible today, so I should stay home and try to be comfortable. I wish I knew what was wrong with me. Maybe some diagnostic writing will help. When in doubt, I usually resort to blaming the Vraylar for the malaise. It’s a nice day, partly sunny and temperate. There may be a fear of relapse into active alcoholism, and the weather is a trigger. My magnolia tree really is beautiful and inviting to the backyard. On a warmer day, I could go out there and read or write. It could be a sort of pleasure garden, if I knew anything about flowers. Trees and plants give us oxygen to breathe, thus a garden is a place to relax. Seven years ago, I would go outside to drink beer for part of the time. Aesop was still a puppy, and we played with his toys together… I beat on my Fender bass for about an hour, and getting this out of my system got my mind off the alcoholic past. Making music was something I couldn’t do when I drank heavily. Today, everything is back. The clouds are on the wax, darkening the ground. One of my favorite naturalist writers when I was young was Stephen Crane, whose “The Open Boat” I returned to once or twice. I preferred him to Twain because his style was more serious and more studied… And again, I recall my junior year in high school, the last one before I started drinking. What about life was it that drove me over the edge? What couldn’t I cope with? I wasn’t ready for independence, was not prepared. I was just a skinny boy with long hair like a poet. Too sensitive for my own good, and never aggressive or even assertive. Even today, I can handle controlled chaos, but less so total mayhem. I crave sanctuary from what I perceive to be a hostile universe. Some people have faith in a personal God who loves them. I don’t. Instead, my lot is to be frail and sickly, but hoping for a horizon of health that may never come.