Six twenty five.
After nine o’clock last night I got home from a trip to Springfield to see the Festival Carolers with a few friends. It was what it was. I guess I’m not very Christmassy, but then I usually don’t get into it much. Right now I’m looking forward to my morning Snapples. I remember something that happened a few years ago. My driver’s license was up for renewal, so I had to go to the dmv on W 11th before my birthday. I took a RideSource van very early in the morning to their office, stopping once at a house on N Park to pick up another rider. It was still dark out. But the thing that was rather odd was the way I was dressed in a black woolen coat with an old black hat, and I carried a wooden cane for support because my leg hurt. Together with my shaggy beard I looked like Old Nick himself. Later on, when my turn came at the dmv, the person behind the counter’s eyes were saucers upon seeing me, as if she beheld a ghost. And by coincidence, she said her own birthday was the same as mine. So they took my picture and so on, and my image actually photographed. Then I had to wait a long time for my return ride. The trip home took us through Seneca Street and Hwy 99, as I recall, and I thought about the industrial ugliness of that part of town. Maybe it wasn’t Seneca after all…
We went to breakfast at Carl’s Jr. again, but my heart isn’t really into this morning. It is cloudy and very cool and my thoughts are trying to adapt to the change. As I write, the vacuum cleaner is very noisy and bothersome and I want this to be over with. The streets were moist when we drove on Armstrong Street to the east. Some people believe in paranormal phenomena but it’s hard for me to swallow, except for a few times when flukey events took place. It’s more of a feeling than an actual occurrence, in my opinion.
Five ten in the morning.
Finally I took down The Golden Bough and picked up where I left off many years ago. It’s the best written refutation of superstition available, with countless examples of primitive magic practices from around the world. So I read a little of the discussion of rainmaking by primitive societies. For me, The Golden Bough is like Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a product of Enlightenment thought, but it addresses mythology rather than history.
I hate limbo times like now. It’s pitch black outside and no one is awake except me— and it’ll be like this for another hour or more. In my journal I said that making friends is difficult in our age, perhaps any age. But friendship is something I value more than money and pragmatic things, while some people are the opposite. I had a girlfriend like that. We had a lot of fun, but we each looked for something different. Hopefully she got what her heart desired when we broke up. On my side, I’m still looking.
Quarter of noon.
The inside of my house is a disorganized mess, sort of like my mind. But I’ve taken the first dose of Cymbalta for my depression and we’ll see how it goes from here. The sun is out and the sky is partly cloudy right now. I didn’t care for my cabbie on my trip to the agency, but it was good to see Teri and the people at the pharmacy. I’ve been thinking: no matter what I try, nothing could have evaded the onset of schizophrenia when I was 24 years old. It’s a biological disorder, a hereditary thing that can be treated but not cured.
I hear Roger’s truck chugging back up the street. Maybe there’s a reason why I don’t value the tidiness of my house. It doesn’t seem like my own house anyway. But I don’t think second guessing myself does any good. Objectively viewed, my place is just a dirty house, the home of a schizophrenic person. Subjectively might be a different situation but I think I’ve exhausted the possibilities for psychotherapy, and religion and morality make me sick at this stage. I’m still a bit interested in Kierkegaard; but is there really a deity to fear and go on my knees to? How can anyone know for sure?
A former pastor once told me that I was possessed by demons and needed a deliverance; but I think probably he was the one who needed help with his mental health. The world is a mixed up place full of contradiction from person to person. Never let them tell you that you’re possessed by the devil or anything so utterly off the wall. Superstition is an American thing. The United States really needs to grow up and give up its teddy bears.
Five thirty five.
I had an unexpected dream just now: I was a “jumper,” just like the ones in Hollywood cop movies. I got myself into an elevator shaft and climbed it to the top, where I was just about to throw myself down when a rescue team cut through from the outside with a saw or blaster. After I got out, my parents took me and my nephew to dinner in a convertible. The nephew let my dad know how much he hated him, and he just smiled and drove on. He was probably stinking drunk.
By now the snow on the ground has melted nearly away, with little shreds of it left on people’s yards and roofs. I donned slip on shoes rather than the lace up running shoes with better treads and made my daily trip to the market. There’s not very much to report about my experience this time. In general I’ve been speculating on whether I can discard my superstition about astrology, and what will be the outcome of doing this. It’s like the choice between fate and free will— even like the old song by Rush. I think the zodiac is just a human fiction, something for us to wrap our lives around to give them sense and meaning. But when it is ruled out, the meaning is up to you to provide. The character of Edmund in King Lear is right about the “excellent foppery of the world,” even though you’re not supposed to like him. Shakespeare and Milton both subscribed to astrology, but this doesn’t mean that we should. They lived four hundred years ago, so what did they know? This year I will think differently about my birthday, and try not to refer to my horoscope and wax mystical on my destiny. I’m not a teleological thinker; life has no predetermined goal for every person to fulfill. Is this heresy or is it good rational sense? The power to make decisions resides with us. This is where it belongs, and not in the lap of the gods or the influence of the planets, moon, and sun. This sets the tone for my 55th birthday and the whole subsequent year.
I’ve been to the store, but still am having a hard time waking up. Also I feel anxious and worried about a few things. I think I’ll cancel the physical therapy appointment for tomorrow. I know I’m not up for it.
Quarter after ten. My mind is more on the present moment today. A car whizzed by with the stereo playing “Highway to Hell.” I’ve heard that a lot recently. Seems like a popular choice on the radio right now. All of us together on the road to perdition, like the motley and representative crew of the Pequod in the Herman Melville book. It’s also like the Company of the Ring, nine assorted people to go up against the evil Sauron in Mordor… Here come the garbage trucks, recycling first. Michelle told me of her troubles earlier this morning, and afterwards I wondered why some people have such bad luck. Theodicy: why do bad things happen to good people? How do we account for evil in the world? Maybe it’s easier to say things just happen without discriminating good and bad. Still, it’s tempting to ask why is this happening to me. I used to entertain the belief in karma, but this drove me nearly crazy with paranoia. Ultimately it’s not a rational perspective on life’s events. So much of theology is like that, complicating things unnecessarily. And AC/DC should know what to do with their stupid song.
Eleven o five. It looks like the sun might break through the morning overcast: the voice of reason roaring like a lion. I get sick of the primordial slime of superstition and Dark Age thinking. But I know I’ll always be a minority.
I stayed in bed a bit longer this morning, then fed Aesop at nine thirty. Roger said hi while I was looking in my mailbox, but more than that would have been awkward. Michelle was wearing a gray T-shirt with the logo, “Not today Satan.” Supposedly this would ward off evil in her day. Kind of bizarre, I thought. But then I run into superstition everywhere in this community, and it shows no sign of retreating. Some organizations get rich by pandering to people’s weakness for spooks. I guess I have to just turtle my way through it. My case manager at Laurel Hill is going to call me tomorrow at two o’clock. This agency hasn’t changed much since the time I was employed there. I think those with schizophrenia and bipolar ought to have more alternatives than the crap we’re stuck with. Of course it matters what belief systems we are fed, and fighting delusions with religion doesn’t work. But when you’re at the poverty level, this is the kind of nonsense you have to deal with. I’ll be glad when the appointment is over with.
Eleven twenty. No band rehearsal this weekend because Mike has to work. I’ll go to church tomorrow night just to have company. I’m beginning to think what’s the use in blogging anymore; what am I trying to achieve by making posts? I realize I won’t be persuading anyone to my personal point of view. I reckon it’s about putting stuff out there for me and not so much for others. Maybe I’m merely burned out on blogging.
Three thirty five. The afternoon is already deepening to dusk. There’s an irrational thought process at work. If I get drunk, then Kate will return as my friend. It’s a form of sympathetic magic such as primitives use. This reminds me that I should read The Golden Bough, a great expose on superstition. Anyway, nothing, not even magic, can bring back my lost friend. It doesn’t work! The transfer of power to the Democrats is meaningless to this end as well. Accept that Kate won’t be coming back and forget about it.
Four thirty five. I searched through some boxes of books and found my copy of Frazer. It’s kind of a dangerous book to someone like Pastor, who had no answer when I compared prayer to magic spells. This was the beginning of my loss of faith two summers ago. Well, I can’t help that. You know what you know, and it can’t be reversed. Probably every summer is going to be a period of skepticism and doubt for me due to that first time in 2019… As for my imitative magic regarding Kate, I caught it and I can dispose of it. Changing my mental state doesn’t alter the objective reality. I can try all kinds of conjuror’s tricks, to no avail except as a delusion. The past remains in the past, and the present is today. It happens to be November and we happened to elect a Democratic president, yet history will not repeat. The fact is that I wish very strongly for Kate to come back, and wishes drive every kind of dream and attempt at magic, every sacrifice, and every prayer. Every delusion! But we learn to negotiate the world as it really is, ultimately getting over the pain of loss.
Eight thirty five. It’s below freezing outside. I’ll go to the store after feeding the dog at nine o’clock. I’m a little confused on where I stand regarding the existence of magic. Generally I don’t believe in the supernatural, but I know a lot of people do. Why so, when there’s no evidence for their claims, I don’t know. I had a difficult time over the summer, debating with myself whether the apocalypse was a reality. I left the church up in the air for a while until La Niña kicked in. The seasons keep changing like normal, but we had a summer that suggested the end of days. Climate change is the truth. In fine, I didn’t want to believe in the Second Coming and the Last Judgment. Now the election is over and I still have to make a choice for or against metaphysics.
Nine thirty five. The day started out okay. I got a renewal of my food stamps, so that means I’ll save cash. Vicki acted a bit weird about it, as if disguising envy and resentment. Otherwise her mood was good. The leaves have really dumped at the end of my street, carpeting the pavement and lawns with gold. I saw Karen’s vehicle outside the salon, but the blinds were still pulled down. I didn’t feel like knocking on the door. All in all, people are not very sociable right now, but keep to themselves with their private thoughts. One thing I observed is that I’m a world class procrastinator. But I don’t think I’m marked for hellfire because of it. I’ve been through very rough experiences with treatment programs in the past twenty years. I’m still not a fan of those tactics, and I stay away from fundamentalist churches. I was educated in humanism; people are supposed to respect each other. Some of the immaturity I witnessed in group took my breath away. I also saw racism, but the counselor didn’t care. Nowadays, that particular facility is filthy rich and no longer takes Medicare. And people still pay out of pocket to be mentally abused. I guess we’re not very discerning as a whole bunch.
I’m still sick of lemon drops and lollipops, so I will just keep writing the truth. It is overcast this morning. The church filming is tonight, but I think I’ll stay home. I feel un American and unchristian. What does God have to do with anything? I take my medication and have no spiritual delusions. What excuse do others have for superstition? The mail carrier just drove by at a very odd hour. Will we have multiple deliveries today?
Quarter after ten. Karen was in a temper this morning. She called me in for a donut, so I accepted, but didn’t stay very long. I felt kind of bad for the girls. Kim was very cool. Aside, I told her to hang in there today. It may be a long one for them. Also I ran into Colin and Harry on the way home. Lolo came up to me to be petted. Such a nice dog. I saw that my ballot came in the mail last night, so without much delay I will vote and send it off Monday. Music: Vivaldi, his piece for guitar in D major. I wonder how he pulled off such a Modern sound for his century? I first heard it on Sesame Street when I was three years old, accompanied by a film of flowers in the rain. I’m not the only one who remembers that. I read someone’s comment on YouTube.
Eleven thirty. I noticed yesterday how much traffic my street gets. People think it’s a shortcut to Maxwell, I guess. I don’t know very much today. It’ll be a long and lazy day. I should open a book and forget everything for a while… Just one more word: obnoxious people suck.
Debris from the wind yesterday is everywhere on the street. Aside from that, fall is in the ambience outside, replete with memories of previous seasons. Mostly cloudy skies right now. I’ll probably stay home from the church event this morning. The squirrels are still busy in the backyard, making no attempt to be furtive. Aesop is bored with them. I’m trying to ignore the discomfort of my body today and get on with what makes me happy. I could do some music this afternoon, go for a bit of jazz on my bass. The healing properties of music might override the pain. I can’t believe that the tradition of social music is gone away forever. Not for a silly thing like the coronavirus.
The present I ordered for my birthday is coming tomorrow by UPS: two volumes of sci-fi writing from the Library of America. I don’t know much about the genre as such except for its classical roots in Edgar Poe and a little Jules Verne. Doubtless it came a long way from there.
Like yesterday, I bought two Snapples rather than a Coke and saved 75 cents. For some reason, soda doesn’t appeal to me lately. I’ve had quite a few bad experiences with Coke. I think the carbonation disagrees with me. And maybe I just got tired of pop. It’s a rather big step for me quitting the soda. In the parking lot outside the store I passed by two people smoking cigarettes. I asked myself why people do things like that, but then my addiction to alcohol was likewise inexplicable. I still think about it every day, but I believe I’m safe in the absence of toxic and slippery people. The person I worked for was like the devil on the subject of alcohol.
The sun is splashing down on my backyard, orange and mellow. The notion of freedom and control comes to mind. Possibly my willpower keeps me sober, but what’s wrong with that? I wouldn’t entrust my sobriety to the wheel of blind Fortune or the four winds. If I’m not in charge of staying sober, then nothing is. It’s nothing to be fatalistic about, but instead, free and responsible… I can remember deferring credit for my bass playing to the inspiration of the “muse.” It was my little romantic superstition, influenced by Homer and Plato, and by Emerson and Jung. I believed in it for a decade, from 1999 to around 2009. The problem with this belief was that my muse quickly assumed the form of a demon, if not the devil himself. This happened because of the Satanism of the local rock music scene— however ridiculous that sounds. Eugene is a rather backward community for rock and roll, and in the outlying boonies it’s even more unintelligent. Perhaps it wouldn’t break my heart to have to give up my music. Life is changing radically with each new year, and no one is immune from mutability.