Birthday!

Eight o’clock.

Here and there I have a bleed through of psychosis, saying that this is the end of the world, and by a freak of metaphysics, a god will emerge from the machine. Psychosis is radical emotionalism; if it feels true, then it must be true. It’s important to remain evidence based when I’m tempted to exaggerate the reality. My mind wonders why the crap all hits the fan in September. And more, what will future Septembers be like? It feels cold in here, and the smoke outside is still very dense. Linn County is getting ready to evacuate.

Nine o’clock. I just paid my garbage disposal bill online. For many years I paid over the phone, but now I’m all set up. It seems like an investment in the future. I don’t feel so pessimistic now about current events. Perhaps it’s just chance that everything has happened at once. I should remember all the distortions of cognitive therapy and apply them. Pastor wrote something in the Daily Devotions that I was inclined to take personally. But the truth may be that he wasn’t thinking of me at all. Consistently, time after time my assumptions have been proven wrong since Monday. When I catch myself in a thinking error, I feel a little silly afterwards. I wonder how many of us are making the same mistakes?… Aesop gets breakfast in a few minutes, and then I’ll get ready to go to the store. Or maybe I’ll delay it for a while. I can relax and have a burrito. It’s only 50 degrees outside. Wait until it warms up.

Ten forty. I saw Karen, Angela, and then Michelle. I made an appointment for a haircut next Tuesday at ten o’clock. Karen was happy about that. The countertop at the store is definitely red. Michelle was there by herself. It just feels different from the old glass counter in the middle of the floor. Less personal somehow, more official or conventional, like all other convenience stores. Almost more regimented. I like the way it frees up space on the floor, though. It’s just another sign that we’re saying goodbye to the past. A man walked into the store with 36 empty Rolling Rock cans as I was leaving. This reminds me that my “birthday” is tomorrow: three years sober. It’s been a roller coaster, and not only for me. The world was rather crazy this year, and last year my house caught fire. Regardless, I didn’t drink. I rolled along with the punches. Some days I feel absolutely terrible, and seldom do I feel really good. But always I am free to choose my mood. I can put on different music when I feel down. And it’s good to be a member of the human race. 

Cowbird Analogy

Ten twenty five. I found out that the party is not until noon today. So I went ahead to the store and got a root beer and some food. Cathy was cashiering and Supertramp was on the radio. After ten o’clock, business picks up really well for the market. I saw quite a few people there. The weather is cooler today, much more temperate and agreeable. My root beer tastes fab…

It’s nice to see that life goes on, much the same as before. Part of me craves beer, the taste and the feel of a cool Foster’s Lager. But I know that one beer multiplies to a 12 pack before I even know what happened. It’s a perfect day for a bacchanal, a drunken spree, but I have to forget about that. I can’t judge by what other people do. Some can afford to drink, but I remember how my account used to be overdrawn from spending on beer. And I didn’t care at the time; I could only think about having more to drink. It was a kind of mania with me, occluding my perception of everything else. Alcoholism takes over your whole life if you allow it to. Thus I won’t go back to drinking in any capacity. If I could make a political cartoon of alcoholism, it would look like this:

A bird’s nest full of eggs. A cowbird comes along and lays an egg in the middle of the nest, except this egg resembles a 750 ml can of Foster’s Lager. Before the other eggs can be hatched, the can of beer nudges them all out of the nest, becoming the sole occupant while the legitimate lives ultimately perish. The mother bird feeds the Foster’s bird until it grows to the size of a dodo…

Justice: a Letter

I’ve had yet another lousy day, but right now I feel okay. When is this summer ever going to end? I was worried that my sobriety was compromised by my addiction to gabapentin, so I emailed Pastor this afternoon about it. He called an AA leader he knows who says that gabapentin is fine as long as I don’t take more than is prescribed. Pastor called me and let me know. This made me feel a lot better. Isn’t this summer the pits? What more could go wrong? The worst part of it is the fact that we’re all impotent to do anything— except pray, as if that were any consolation. That’s about as useless as our vote. Not even the weather cooperates with the people’s interest. What’s the most responsible thing you and I can do? We want to stand on a mountaintop and scream for justice, but the best we can do is lie down in the middle of the street in protest for Black Lives Matter. It isn’t as though what is right and wrong were not obvious to everyone. We all feel it in our hearts. But for some reason, injustice tyrannizes over the whole world. Why??? Perhaps life would be too easy if justice were simply handed to us on a silver platter. Maybe the pits of life make the occasional triumphs of justice that much sweeter. The best thing I can do, however small it seems, is to stay sober and take the blows on the chin every worthless day.

Baby Steps

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?

Control Again

Seven o’clock. I took a risk on Coca-Cola because I really wanted to drink beer or something else with alcohol. But I wonder why I picked now for a time to do this. I don’t feel very clever at this time. I feel disappointed in myself for being stupid. What was the stress that pushed me to do this? I shouldn’t be feeling any pressure at all, yet something has been bugging me since the heatwave hit us. Life seems out of control, or rather out of my own control, and maybe by drinking I believe that I could seize some power over events. At least, this is what makes sense to me. It used to be that drinking was one of the freedoms available to me, and by doing so I could assert my control over my life. In the face of everyone who said I mustn’t drink, I stubbornly persisted in doing it in order to be independent and free. Rebellion is absurd sometimes. We go to self destructive extremes in the name of freedom and power over our own lives. What is the contrary of rebellion— obedience? But what is it that we must obey? And this line of inquiry will lead me to Milton’s Paradise Lost. I never bothered to read the whole poem, but perhaps I should.

Thursday

Eleven ten. S— is late getting back to me. I hope nothing went wrong. Someone apparently tried to burgle the market again last night. They only succeeded in splintering the glass of the front door. The other possibility is that it was the vandalizing kind of protesters who use Black Lives Matter for a rationale. But I’m seeing more and more of that sort of thing in the neighborhood… The show will go on tomorrow, though. Pastor is seeing about getting me a ride… I feel kind of hopeless for the future. Now I’m curious about the poetry of Apollinaire. Was it about sexual liberation?

Currently, the flesh is at war with the spirit— and the spirit may not win. But if the flesh wins, then I will probably drink again. This makes sense. It is said that if your mind is on the flesh, you are not with Christ.

Three o’clock. Suddenly I feel a little better. I gave Aesop some dry food and tightened the screws in the pantry door knob. There’s definitely truth to the arguments about carnality in the letters of Paul the Apostle. I’m not sure how it works, but it does. This morning I dreamed that I poured beer into a glass and then went away, leaving it on the kitchen counter. While I was away, my mother picked up the beer and drank it. She inadvertently saved my sobriety. Next I found myself in the main part of Fred Meyer, and I wondered how I was going to get home. I decided I would walk home along River Road. In a gazebo in the middle of the street I ran across my dad selling some product (jewelry?). His coworker was a younger girl, and we had a conversation about the vanity of both women and men… The fan keeps it reasonably cool in here. My green Dean bass sounded great again today, so I really anticipate getting those new flatwounds next week. But it’s all a journey, not a destination, and noodling on my Dean was a good moment. Being content in the present is an important skill to learn.

Afternoon

Quarter after two. I played my green Dean bass for a while and fell into a very cool groove, doing Zeppelin’s “In the Light” transposed to E minor. I even tried it tuned down to D. I figured that the La Bella flatwound strings make a huge difference in tone, so I ordered another set of them from back East. Expensive, but I enjoy the sound so much. Flatwounds last a long time too. There’s also the Leo Quan bass bridge I still haven’t installed. Put it on the turquoise Precision with flatwounds and I’ll have the bass from hell. Maybe I’ll save the bridge for another time. I don’t want to sound too much like Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. His tone is unique and distinctively himself. I enjoy experimenting with different tonalities, however.

Three ten. The heat is a bit excessive, but I’m still functional in spite of it. I’ll give Aesop a bone at four o’clock. Last one in the package of six. I just thought of the old Ems Civic Stadium that burned to the ground some years back. I was so out of it that I didn’t hear the news until three years ago. I was at a dinner at Katie’s house that October. A lot of the congregation showed up. I was seated next to Sandi and across from Doug and Shirley. He felt kind of crummy because he was having a couple of beers in front of me.

Quarter after four. I closed the blinds in here to keep it a little cooler… It’s curious how people have different values and priorities. If I couldn’t have fun and think for myself then I’d go nuts. Some people are instilled with a strong work ethic and don’t mind it so much. Other people don’t like to think at all. To each their own. For me, thinking is as essential as breathing… Many images from the distant past come back to me, times when I still had Henry and Mom had just passed away. The dog was registered with Santa Clara Animal Hospital up until the year I left my job. I don’t remember exactly why I switched us over to the other place. Henry used to be terrified for visits to the vet, and would quake all over like a jellyfish. I guess I reckoned the shorter the drive, the better. My own nerves were in pretty bad shape all the time. It took me a long while to finally shake the shit off and figure out what was important and what wasn’t. The paramount thing is sobriety, any way this is possible.

The Priority

Quarter of four. I played my turquoise bass for a while and it felt good. I picked out three parts from the old Yes album Time and a Word, enjoying “Sweet Dreams” the best. Things fell into place harmonically for me when I played some actual tunes… I almost rationalized my way into drinking beer last night and again this morning. I was ready to throw it in with religion and go back to my old ways, which would have been suicide but I nearly didn’t care. I wonder what stopped me from going back? It might have been the thought that in September I will complete three years of sobriety, a tremendous milestone for me. Also that my brother has never been able to stay sober for that long. It is better to keep my distance from him and the family. Perhaps they leave me alone because they know I’m sober? I’ve had the same thing from certain musicians who do alcohol and weed. I guess that’s the different drummer element of recovery. The point is that what I’ve been doing has worked for me in keeping me sober. And sobriety is the priority. Everything else can go to hell, but not sobriety.

33 Years

Toward one o’clock. I tried putting Aesop out while I played my bass. It worked okay, though he got a little panicked. Still, he didn’t bark or make any noise. My practice was uninspired and not very good. TBH, I can’t decide what I want. Because of the Covid stalemate, I’m stuck. Mark the drummer asked me to be patient… Sheryl the therapist was either ignorant or evil, maybe both. But I think she was just being trendy with the sexual stuff, along with a lot of people. No one knows who starts the trends or where they will go. People are sheep looking for a shepherd, and they find it in the media. A few people are self directed, which is a good thing, however clumsy they may come across. I doubt if I will ever celebrate Christmas again, just because it isn’t logical. Possibly there’s something wrong with me, a deficiency of some kind. Or maybe it’s a surplus of something? Even my brother admitted that I have “balls” for staying sober where he can’t. Somehow I resist collectivism, and it may go back to having read Ayn Rand 33 years ago. At some level I recall the whole story of The Fountainhead, and how the original intellect wins the struggle against the secondhand spongers. My elders in the workplace said I was ridiculous for liking Rand’s philosophy; said she was a crank, and that her ideas were inhuman. They told me there’s nothing new under the sun. Indeed, they sounded just like the bad guys in The Fountainhead. But I must say that what keeps me sober and strong is not so much religion as it is my recollection of Ayn Rand from many years ago. I remembered the story and kept it safe for future reference. Thirty three years later, it proves to be my guiding light.

Bicycle?

Ten o’clock.

Just another cloudy day in May. It only took me fifteen minutes to go to the store. Aesop got his breakfast right on time. It usually motivates me to recall that I am free in the abstract. Walking up to the storefront, I thought hypothetically about buying beer. But I realize that I have no reasons to drink anymore, plus it would make me awfully sick. In four more months I’ll have three years of sobriety. I’ve been doing it my way. I’ll likely always object to the idea of being brainwashed. Mental freedom is very dear to me, something I learned from the philosophical tradition. Judge for yourself. Think critically. If an institution’s logic is unsound, then go ahead and challenge it. I just never cared for the complacency of AA.

I slept very well, but as usual, in spurts of three hours. The ambiance of today calls 2009 to my mind. Very odd time of my life. I believed I wanted to stop drinking, yet I kept doing it. I hadn’t experienced the consequences yet. I didn’t think it would kill me. That June I bought a bicycle at Fred Meyer for about $135. A red Schwinn cruiser bike. Though I tried to ride it a number of times, my balance was bad and I’d lose my footing. My psychiatrist and my brother were so enthusiastic about cycling, but I just couldn’t get into it. It might be different if I tried it today because I’m sober. I don’t know if my bike was saved after the fire. Chances are it was stolen.