Seven o’clock.

The third day of not taking the Vraylar is beginning to tell on me. In my journal during the wee hours I wrote some very strange gobbledygook ideas on religion that assumed the Bible is historical and true, God is real, and a lot of stuff that doesn’t sound like me at all. So I’m going to take the drug again starting in a few minutes. Later I have to call my sister but I hate to do it because she’s a devout Christian and this aggravates my illness so badly.

Now I’ve fed the dog and taken the Vraylar. I remember a person many years ago at my workplace whose name was Uriah and whose parents were religious fanatics from what we could determine. A coworker swore within his earshot, “Holy mother of God,” and that was the breaking point where he decided not to work for us. On the wall of our cubicle hung a little figure of a devil which, Sandy told me, had frightened another day laborer for our area. There are lots of examples like this, but you see such things in the workplace everywhere, and most people just shrug and are insensitive to them. Of course, the times two decades ago were very different from today, when the spiritual life was booming, to the detriment of the mentally ill people just trying to live. And that’s how I feel whenever I have to call my sister for a conversation each week. As for having joined a church, it was a mistake based on a misunderstanding about recovery from alcoholism. It seemed like the only game in town other than AA.

It always seems I’m between the frying pan and the fire, a sea monster and a whirlpool. Sometimes it’s good to let it go and look at tangible things alone: simple matter.


Strange Traditions

Seven forty.

It would be nice to feel comfortable and free from pain for a while. The word indolence comes to me, in its original sense of painlessness.

On Thursday afternoon I put on the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears and listened to all of it. It didn’t get much critical acclaim but it was a commercial success, according to Wikipedia. In the mid seventies, however, Jaco Pastorius and Mike Stern both played with the band, so BS&T was good enough for them. Every once in a while I dig out the CD and give it a spin, like a point of reference or a yardstick for my life. That insane Lew Soloff trumpet solo on “Spinning Wheel” always gets me hyper. And the joke at the end: “That wasn’t too good.” The band cracks up because they knew they were good. After the third album they lost their producer and were never as popular. And yet they kept the band going with the drummer as producer and still persisted underground, jamming and inspiring younger players. It became a band by musicians for musicians.

Nine o five.

It’s a cloudy day. There isn’t much to say right now. Yesterday I had a dream about an old friend and band mate, a guitarist named Marc. But the scene with music was rather unsafe so that I felt scared. I wanted no part of the devil or going to hell— and I didn’t see the relevance of demonology to music anyway. It’s not a good thing for a schizophrenic person to get into. Better to keep things simple.

I actually resent that old Blues tradition, but I can’t kick against such a majority. I’d like to know what the devil really has to do with it.

A Book by Bleuler

Quarter after eight.

The sun is in my eye where I’m sitting with my iPad. By eleven, they say it should rain again. The streets were wet for my promenade around the corner to buy groceries. Today, I was the only customer in the little market. Thomas was the clerk. He’s a young guy with a black beard and glasses, wearing a black beanie advertising an NFL team. He is always pleased when he sees me enter the door. Also he told me he’s a computer science student at the community college… I’m not planning to go to church this morning. Before I left for the store, I said to myself, “No spooks!” And I really meant this, whatever kind of infidel it makes me. You’re not an American if you don’t believe in theology or metaphysics, so I guess I’m un American. It’s the fear of supernatural beings that makes life a pain, and the menace of hellfire. I belong to a long tradition of epicureans, whether they know who Epicurus was or not.

I brought up a book to my prescriber the other day, a classic work on schizophrenia by Eugen Bleuler called Dementia Praecox. The book is fascinating because it describes cases of psychosis in a time before medications were developed. The delusions the patients reported were like the experience of hell. I had a copy, purchased online for about $80, then sold it to my psychiatrist for $20. I wonder if he uses it for his lectures on the history of psychiatry? He was never very grateful to me for anything I gave him. A lot of people are like that. 

Old Nick

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… 


Ten o’clock.

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. 

Rejection of the Stars

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.

Nine twenty.

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. 

Reason’s Return

Eight fifty.

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. 


Ten twenty.

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. 

Bargaining with Loss

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.