Silicone

Nine o’clock.

I dreamed that my dog could talk. He had a vocabulary of 600,000 words and knew the entire Bible. Then I woke up and fed him breakfast. As he scarfed it down, I said, “Bi Mart to the rescue. Gloria to the rescue. Laurel Hill to the rescue.” An otherwise sunny day is clotted by high clouds. They forecast a high of 92 degrees. The trip to market was pretty dull, and sometimes I consider mixing it up with other places to buy goods. I told a friend I was contemplating getting myself a gift for five years of sobriety. So I went on the Guitar Center website and priced a bass I was interested in. But the thing about it is how the music community here is totally saturated with alcohol and weed, almost to the exclusion of the music itself. Thus it wouldn’t be practical to invest in a musical instrument with such a situation. Another thing is, I saw photos of Robert Plant’s daughter, I guess, “then and now.” In the second picture, she had breast implants so huge that I had to say, “That’s disgusting!” At one time I would’ve liked that look— back when I drank a lot. Now it’s a different ballpark. So I wonder what rock and roll is really about, and should I invest in a new bass guitar? Where will my attitudes be in five more years?

Advertisement

Only You

Quarter after one.

When I was a poor drunkard in 2009, there was a clerk at the store who told me he chose not to drink, and the matter was as simple as choosing to drink or not drink. At the time, I think I disagreed with him, saying that alcoholism is a genetic disease and not a matter of choice at all. Now I don’t know. Opinions on it vary. There was a huge controversy over alcoholism when I had my problems. A few quacks wrote books on the subject just for the money. A counselor told me that if I could solve the riddle of why some people recover and others don’t, I’d be a rich man, but I’m skeptical of that today. There will always be quacks to ride the gravy train, cash in on something big, but I’m not one of them. If there’s a secret to staying sober, then it is obscure even to me: even I don’t know how I’m doing it. I am definitely cynical of treatment facilities and other things where the research is phony and they only want to make a lot of money, and control patients into the bargain. If you are an intelligent person, I expect that you’ll discover a way to stop drinking without the gimmicks and false information that you see everywhere. Looking back, I see nothing but a huge racket made of addiction and recovery. If you’re smart, you will care enough for yourself to make the best decisions, not for anyone else, but for you alone. 

Waterloos

Six forty.

It’s supposed to be cooler today than the last two days: mid eighties. But I’m really enjoying some of these summer moments, appreciating what I have and what’s happened to me. It may be wrong to credit the invisible powers that be for this good fortune. Most people don’t see what I see, that is, a kind of providence intervening to take care of people, particularly the poor and underprivileged like me. Maybe there’s an element of cleverness in my situation today, of erring on the side of caution. I don’t know what it is but I’ve survived a lot of stuff and lived to write about it. My biggest Waterloo was alcohol addiction. Occasionally I still need a dose of social support to help maintain sobriety, and luckily the church has been there for me. Without it I might be sunk. And in turn, without sobriety, everything is lost… I learned from something I read how guilt can be a person’s Achilles’ Heel. Actually, it was an astrology report for myself, done online twelve years ago. It was very true. I wonder how many people can relate to guilt being a problem in their lives? How many would like to remedy this condition?

Ethic for the Fourth

Eleven o’clock.

Some fireworks are going off in the neighborhood. Conceivably I could make a run to the market for something sweet to eat or drink, but at night it’s inadvisable. The vampires and the loonies come out at night; basically just people on drugs including alcohol. Vampires don’t exist without alcohol. And the moon is only romantic in madness. I think I’ve experienced enough of lunacy for one person, and it’s unrewarding in the end. I don’t know if there’s anything magical about staying sober, but when you walk a straight line, good things tend to result. It’s a poor friend who calls you a wuss for your sobriety… I believe that if you want to stay sober then you will do so. This desire for sanity will guide everything you do. You will leave bad situations for good ones with better and better judgment. I can remember when I was accused of selfishness, but egoism and altruism are a false dichotomy. There’s only the good choice of action, and this is the meaning of prudence.

Dream about Job

Quarter of seven AM.

I’ll probably go back to my reading of Henry James, whose name was big where I went to college long ago. The father of Modern fiction, we were taught. It’s also been a long time since I read Yeats, though his taste for spooks was never for me. The Golden Dawn group and all that. I don’t see much evidence for the paranormal, but once in a while I’ll have a deja vu, the feeling that I was there before. There’s a song by K.D. Lang dealing with this, and thinking of it calls my mother to mind, and the idea of making music in that final year we had. 

I owned a very nice Stingray Bass with a teal finish, and the color seemed to follow me everywhere and bring me good luck. I bought it with my earnings from the disco band at Musician’s Depot on Centennial Loop. But after my mother died, I did a lot of crazy things, so I no longer have the Stingray. Easy come, easy go. In fact, before she died I did crazy stuff. And yet it seems that life has a way of forgiving you and restoring to you what you have lost, if you play by the rules. It’s like what happened to Job, sort of. He got everything back. Lately I’ve been dreaming of the Book of Job, and it’s probably significant. God and the devil strike a bargain to test Job’s faith, like it’s all a big game. But what’s interesting is how evil is just an instructional tool, and all part of the same plan. I finally let the dream play out to its conclusion the other night, and that’s what I found. 

Alcohol

Eight thirty.

Inflation is very bad, so that I can hardly afford groceries every day. For a couple of reasons I’m cutting out the Snapple tea each day and just buying bare necessities. Right now it’s mostly sunny and nice, so how could anybody have a problem? I suppose I should read more than I write to be wiser. But the older you get, the more you become a fogy and resist new ideas. I often long for not just the past but for other countries; and of course I wish I could drink beer again and sample heaven as before. When you are sober, the world weighs on your shoulders as if you were Atlas. When you are drunk, the world rolls away and you don’t even care. I know I won’t do it anymore, but I still think we are too harsh on alcoholics in hospitals and other places. Carlos Williams made a little poem about a drunkard that was quite sympathetic with him. I don’t remember the ending to the one by Robinson, “Mr Flood’s Party,” or whether he had compassion or not. Does an alcoholic have to have a reason to drink? Whatever, I think it shows strength and courage to stay sober and deal with the challenges head on rather than try to make them go away.

One Thing

Eight o’clock.

Saturday morning. It’s very quiet in the house right now, which is kind of nice. I can’t think of a way to describe this month so far, except as a time of temptation for me to drink beer again. Last night I caught myself trying to rationalize doing this. I seemed to think that sobriety has a finish line, and after that you’re free to drink all you want. Now I have to figure out how to correct my thinking errors about this problem. It’s hard to accept that staying sober is a lifelong proposition; maybe it really is one day at a time, as AA says. Meanwhile, my life without alcohol can be pretty dull and anhedonic, and it seems like the One Thing I want to do is get drunk and forget the world. This feels like the authentic and genuine action for me to take. But even this is rationalization to do something essentially bad with my life. And as time goes by, I come to believe a little more in the existence of good and evil in human affairs. It started when I sampled some Baudelaire in French two months ago. Wickedness is just that, no matter what mental gymnastics I try to pull off. And goodness is the free and clear path, however boring it may be. 

Republic

Quarter of eleven.

A lot of staying sober depends on your beliefs on determinism. If you accept the influence of genetics and the sort of psychological “beast” that Plato talks about, then you might have some trouble with your recovery. But lately I’ve had my own problems trying to maintain sobriety. When you look for the dark places in your experience, it’s easy to find them. The trick is not to give in to them, or your mind can turn into a rationalizing function for a lot of bad stuff. I guess Plato is actually helpful here, where he discusses the tyranny of the soul. You are okay as long as the rational part rules over the appetites and impulses. But when these overturn your reason, it becomes just a yes man to craziness. It’s kind of like a tale by Poe about a mental hospital where the patients have revolted against the doctors and taken over their roles.

My dog is becoming a creature of habit. He begged me to go to the store this morning so he could have his cookies like every morning. It is just over 40 degrees outside and clear blue skies. I went out and saw Michelle and Karen— and I bought Aesop’s cookies, plus his dog food, and some things for me. Right now I feel the Snapple calling. 

Overcast

Eight o five.

At the market it was Raj taking care of things today. Since it was very early and a Sunday, I didn’t see many other people outside. I looked at the sky and saw a hint of blue through the overcast, and the forecast says sunshine later. I had a strange day yesterday, just with my mood and mental state. Caffeine can do that sort of thing to you. By the way, Raj told me that Michelle will be back next week, so I said I’d be glad to see her… I feel I ought to read something, maybe a Hemingway novel, but it’s hard to focus my attention for very long. My mind is often a flight of ideas when it’s not impoverished of thought. Although I told Pastor I’d be in church today, I have to ask myself if I really need that anymore. Next month I’ll have four and a half years of sobriety, with or without church support. The thing that has helped me the most is to avoid feelings of guilt and shame. Learning to do this is a philosophical thing, something existential. When you disable remorse, it’s possible not to drink or otherwise self destruct, and then life can go on.

Eight fifty five. I’d like to say the weather is beautiful now, but it’s still cloudy and windless. Yet even with the cloud cover there’s an abundance of light. 

Salud

Nine o’clock at night.

Everything consumes time. I’ve never been good at managing my time each day, or keeping a rigid structure. I could read my book right now, but it takes time that might be better spent writing my mind. I found it bizarre how Baudelaire is spiritual in a dark and wicked way. Is that healthy? To put down anything in words is to make it more real… But it isn’t just bizarreness: familiarity with “the devil” can happen in substance use, as it once happened to me during the years I had a job in an office. On Friday nights I’d get ripped and watch old Polanski movies, King Crimson concerts. I seemed much younger then, and I guess fifteen years does make a big difference. But the mystery to me is why I waited so long to take charge of my life, jerking the strings away from “Satan Trismegistus.” Now I know it’s really possible to do this. Stay away from the booze and everything is doable. The best way to keep sober is never to start drinking in the first place… The very last time I drank beer, I was sick and couldn’t keep it down. I’d have two beers and then throw them up. Finally, with a Miller High Life in my hand, I said that everything was different now. And I realized that nothing else mattered but life itself. I knew that a way would open up to me, though it would take some sacrifices. What you gain by it is integrity: purity, wholeness, and health.