Eleven thirty at night.
The rain is as hectic as my day was today; it’s dumping down my duties outside. Wednesday has been a time to orchestrate the rest of the week, with five or six phone calls, a text message, and a visit from Damien to do yard work. Only now do I have some time to sit back and think a little about life. At least two people were very heroic in helping me out today. Darcy saved me from going without my medication for the next two weeks; I just need to go pick up the free samples. The dispatcher at Oregon Taxi was open to having Aesop ride with them to his appointment Friday morning. And finally, Damien came over and braved the rain and the nightfall to clear away the oak and maple leaves. That’s three people. The fourth person was a newbie at the call center for RideSource just learning her job. Also the UPS driver delivered my books to me in the pouring down rain after darkness fell. Sixth and seventh are Michelle at the little convenience store and my cattle dog Aesop, who provide a great service to me every day. Service like this makes the world go around, while the best I can do is to thankfully write about it.
Quarter of nine.
Thanksgiving Day has started out quite nicely. I bought Aesop a special treat of T bone snacks. The peppermint candy ice cream tempted me but I passed today. In the home stretch of my walk, I met with Bonnie Rose in her big black pickup truck. She rolled down the window and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I wanted to ask her if she was the one who kept setting up my lawn sign, but there wasn’t time. It was a little like Beauty and the Beast as I trudged up the street in my sapphire hoodie with a full shopping bag. Or maybe Lady and the Tramp. I can remember when she was a young girl and my mother had just passed away, nineteen years ago. Her older sister played the piano and her younger sister shot hoops with their dad in the driveway. The parents divorced a few years back, and now the family of women keep more or less to themselves.
Quarter of ten. The other morning I spun the disc of Rush’s Power Windows and was impressed with their mid eighties sound. Hearing Geddy Lee play his Wal bass made me wish I had another bass with active electronics. Perhaps someday. I wish even more for opportunities to play with other musicians… What I’m thankful for today is my sobriety and the positive effects this has had on my relationships with people. My pen pal thanked me this morning for my kindness, and it’s nice to be perceived that way. I still believe that alcohol is the root of all evil, though I know madness can stem from other factors. It does seem that avoiding alcohol has a magical impact on my fortunes, the year 2020 with its strangeness notwithstanding. It’s miraculous alone that I stayed sober through the trials of this year. I think fleetingly of my parents: they could never have maintained sobriety for three years. Whatever helps me today, my parents had nothing to do with it.
Quarter of nine.
Feeling thankful for my sobriety this morning. I thought about how I never went to grad school, and how I couldn’t measure up to my brother’s accomplishments… and joined a church instead. But you know, I am sober while he is not. And it seems to me that my life couldn’t have been any different. I actually feel quite happy today. I have sufficient money in the bank, a lot of friends, and a great dog who gets more affectionate all the time. Perhaps sobriety came at a small cost of puffed up pride. Right now I’m okay with that… The mail carrier just brought a package, and it’s probably for Aesop: a canister of marrow snacks from Amazon. The weather is hazy now, or is it simply foggy? I have to go get canned food for the dog in a few minutes. There’s no one else I envy in the world today. Just now, it’s very good to be me.
Four o’clock in the morning.
I slept as long as I could, then finally got up a bit before three o’clock. It’s good to be home, with the big task of the weekend out of the way. I mean to say, we got the church service recorded last night, thanks to everyone who gave their time and effort. Towards the end of the summer, my poor brain was toast and I needed a break. And after all, my standing with the church is that of a foundling left on their doorstep— who happens to have some talent. A baby in a basket with a tag attached that reads, “Joe Christmas.” But a foundling or a changeling? And then I recall the poem by Yeats about a stolen child… Hopefully next summer I’ll get my cooling situation squared away. It’s going to be a necessity from now on… It’s looking like no one wants to conceive of me as a “schizophrenic” anymore, as if the illness were just a meaningless label. Well, I’m beginning to agree with them. The only catch is that I must take the medication. But otherwise I seem to be recovered. My wish is that I can use my faculties to return the favor to everyone who assisted me to my feet again. Life and love are a game of give and take. We do what we can, when we can. As if in reply, my mental ear hears the Alborada del Gracioso of Maurice Ravel.
I can do a little thinking about Unamuno now, although I haven’t finished the book. Basically there’s this concept of “the man of flesh and bone” that suggests to me that religion is more realistic than philosophy. Christianity and the real sociopolitical world are virtually inseparable in the West. The words on the sign outside the Eugene Mission: “Food, Bed, Gospel.” This differs from the Oracle at Delphi: “Know Thyself.” Or the motto of Phi Beta Kappa: “Love of Wisdom, the Guide of Life.” The real world has no use for knowledge and wisdom beyond what is necessary for survival, which Unamuno calls “preservation.” Hence I look around and see my sister’s family moiling and money grubbing, having for a creed the freely available New King James Version. I say this standing in the shoes of Miguel de Unamuno. But when I step out of them, I can think of at least two friends whose attitudes belie survival mode wretchedness, or is the word “misery?” Of course people have curiosity that goes beyond their next cheeseburger. You don’t meet them everywhere or every day, but they do exist. Without them, this blog I started would have expired long ago. It is to them I dedicate this post. Thank you all for three hundred follows!
Eight thirty five.
The sun comes blasting through in the east, above the tree line. I wished for this yesterday. It could be an auspicious sign. But no, only in my mind– which is everything. There’s no sympathy, no correspondence between nature and the mind, but the mind projects meaning onto the world. Whatever comes, accept it and act accordingly. The sunshine is as good as a Coke for a smile. It’s an oasis in the winter desert. Looking back, I was definitely schizophrenic in high school before I started drinking. My mood was always depressed, down and gloomy. Now, the sky is metallic blue… In a half hour I will go to the store for foodstuffs and a Coke. Probably Bill the psychologist was wrong about my genius IQ. Intelligence is not the issue with me, nor with anyone. Why exalt one person over another on the basis of their intelligence? Elitism is wrongheaded. We do what we can with what we are given. If we fall short, we’re still doing the best we can. There’s a mourning dove out back, cooing like the hooting of an owl. The sun grows stronger. Just a few minutes. It’s cold outside: 38 degrees.
Ten o’clock. Aesop just had his breakfast. Vicki told me her whole body is in pain. She’s going to try acupuncture for it. She can’t afford an MRI to determine the cause of the pain. She refused medication. What is Vicki going to do? It’s one of those times when I feel lucky for what I have. Not clever, either. Just fortunate. Aesop heard a car arrive next door. Nothing to do with us. I saw the mail carrier on my street on a Sunday; interesting. The refrigerator purrs along, a souvenir of the disaster that occurred almost a year ago. I’ve been given a second chance: what will I do with it?
Seven forty. I rested in bed for three hours and had some strange dreams about Freudian things. I was again transported to fall 1989, a time before I had any church experience. Back then, Freud and Darwin were all I knew and accepted, with only a smattering of Christian existentialism. For some reason, the thought of the devil kept intruding on my secular ideas. But our society is organized that way, with secular life being supposedly fallen and evil. Church is there on Sunday to redeem our souls, to renew us and send us back out into the fray each week. Church attendance has given me a different framework to think within since June 2017. I honestly don’t know what’s next. I’m just following where my Vraylar leads. It seems to me that job search with Dominic will bear fruit. The church taught me that in this hard world there are still havens of kindness and mercy. It was like a spiritual hospital for me. Everyone was great. It has been a new kind of experience for me, and doubtless at some point I’ll go back. Our Redeemer was there when I needed it. I was damaged and in poor health when I arrived, but now I’m sufficiently recovered that I want to try my wings again. And of course, WordPress still helps me to fly…
All I can say upon reaching 200 followers is thank you, thank you, thank you!
Well, just one additional thing. I’d like to give particular credit to Liz Gauffreau and Mitchel David Ring, whose consistent likes on my posts keep me motivated. Thanks you guys!
Quarter of nine. In about twelve hours I’ll be heading out to church. No word from Polly today, so I guess I’m not invited to a family Thanksgiving dinner. It’s been this way since 2007. For the times that count, my family is never available. I could feel bitter about it. I could say it’s all or nothing. If I’m not good enough for your Thanksgiving, then screw you altogether. We’ll have nothing to do with each other. Christmas will be the same. I will be shunned for the whole holiday. It only shows how fragile the cords are that bind us together. But maybe I’m the only one who gets shunned. I am neither of Polly’s family nor of my brother’s, but an oddball specimen called Graden. It’s because I had a different father, one that nobody else liked but our mother. I reckon that’s tough shit for everyone. If they want to play territorial games, then I’d just as soon disown them. They probably know that they’ll never get their hands on my house. The bright side is that I’m free to be myself. I don’t have to depend on anybody but me. The family that I had died out with the passing of my mother, and that’s all. I have no more family— period.
Three thirty. It is weird being nearly 53 years old, looking at my body and soul as kind of a stranger to me after half a lifetime of alcoholism. I have 26 months of sobriety now, and I don’t have cravings consciously. To some extent it required separation from my brother and his beliefs and strategy for living his life. As a youth I idolized my brother’s godlike strength and control over his circumstances, so much like the Tarzan books I enjoyed. But I came to learn that being a control freak is a component of alcoholism, and that my brother is a textbook case… So now I examine myself having broken out of my cocoon. I can say for sure that it’s wonderful to sleep on a soft queen mattress again. Also I appreciate my cattle dog Aesop, whose intelligence is unmatched by any of my previous dogs. He makes a great companion every day of my life. At seven years old, he has a long lifespan ahead of him. I hope I can say the same for myself. The meaning of success is bound to change for me. For the present it’s good enough to reap the crop that I have sown from the first day of sobriety. It really does feel as if a Power divine rewards those who recover from addiction. This Thanksgiving holiday will be a good one.