When I got to the store, the Coca-Cola guys were wheeling in sodas on hand trucks. Michelle told me that cottage cheese had been selling out lately. She was sorry that no new sandwiches were in yet. It was very early, and again all I saw were male customers. The morning is cloudy and cool, so I put on my green Michigan State hoodie that I’ve had for 36 years; my brother’s wife gave it to me for Christmas when I was a college freshman. It still fits if I don’t zip up the front. Things will last a long time if you take care of them. Your memories too… It felt quite cozy inside the market, with warm and fuzzy tones of brown, gray, red, and green here and there, at the checkout counter and over the beer cooler. I had a good day yesterday because of the dip in the climate. It will be even cooler today, which is nice for my afternoon trip to Springfield. Last night I went on Amazon and almost bought the new remaster of The White Album. My head was playing “Yer Blues,” with Paul’s loud bass, slightly out of tune, obnoxious and great. I still might go back and buy it… I was thinking on the way home about something from the book of Genesis that is an obvious tool to control and manipulate the masses. Church just isn’t for me after this.
Quarter after eight.
Everyone at the store was very courteous this morning except for one man who walked in and conducted business without wearing a mask. Michelle resented this disrespect but didn’t say anything to him. As I was walking down my street I could hear the scraping of squirrels’ toenails on the trunks of large trees. It’s only partly sunny so far today. I’m expecting a phone call from Heidi this afternoon. The song in my head is “Norwegian Wood.” A friend once told me that John Lennon deliberately imitated the style of Bob Dylan when he wrote this song, and yet it inevitably came out sounding like himself. Another time, when I was 21, I sort of rediscovered “Across the Universe” while listening to the blue compilation late at night. I was totally unprepared for what I heard, and the effect of the music just made me bawl hot tears. Also the words, of course. Someday I’d like to commit the whole lyric to memory. In stark contrast to my experience with the music, my clueless and insensitive dad was sleeping in his room down the hall, oblivious and obtuse. Why would anyone ever want to be like my dad?
Quarter after nine. And yet I named my dog Aesop because I was thinking of my father. Also he was very proud of my grades in philosophy. Dad could be logical, and sometimes made jokes that were absurd, though he was never shrewd or sharp, nor very perceptive. The best I can say about him is that he was constant, as if rooted to the ground like a great tree. He resembled a Faulkner character or two in this respect. And his core values were comfort and security: not very imaginative, but you could always depend on him in a crisis. Who would I be if I were a Faulkner character?
Quarter of seven.
At midnight last night I spun the disc of Rubber Soul and really enjoyed it. The vocal harmony on “Nowhere Man” sounds awesome remastered. I love the following lines:
Nowhere Man, don’t worry
Take your time, don’t hurry
Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand
The pastor of the Lutheran church is a huge Beatles fan. I wonder if I should go see him this Sunday morning? But you know, my life keeps changing, and I don’t feel very religious anymore. Today I have DDA group again, and this program is hardly religious at all. They must’ve figured out that homeopathy doesn’t work for schizophrenia. If you have religious delusions, why fight them with more religion? I remember when psychiatric rehabilitation was a very uncomfortable thing… The sun is coming out, and pretty soon I’ll take off to the store. One of my core beliefs, from the time I was in junior high school, is free will, due to the song by Rush. Thomas Hardy held just the opposite opinion, which is fatalism, but this depends on the universe being designed by an intelligence. I think it’s desirable to believe in your own responsibility and be an active agent. Passivity doesn’t conduce to personal happiness. We have to legislate the world ourselves by what we do… and this is what democracy is all about.
Quarter of noon. I walked to and from my appointment for the vaccine. A very sweet girl administered the shot, and then I was kept there for 15 minutes to make sure I was okay. I ran into Carol and Helen from church while I was there at Bi Mart and said hello. It’s really a beautiful day today, good for going out and seeing people. A lot of senior citizens shop at Bi Mart, which endears the place to me because of my parents. It’s like backwards time travel to step inside this store… So many of the faces are familiar to me at Bi Mart; the same employees have worked there for ages. As I was going home on Silver Lane I started hearing “Lovely Rita” in my head, just the chorus looping, and I thought of how John Lennon found beauty in ordinary life, the things no one would consider poetic, for instance a meter maid doing her job. Meanwhile I looked at the bulldozers working on the site for the new North Eugene High School; the layout seems quite massive. Maybe voting for this action was a good thing to do, so no regrets. And when I got home, I opened the package of Aesop’s marrow snacks and gave him four of them.
At midnight I listened to Sgt Pepper, which was a gift from Kate about seven years ago. I’d forgotten all about the song “Fixing a Hole.” It was one that Paul wrote, and hearing it again was rather breathtaking. The whole album reminded me of when I had too much fun drinking. I don’t feel necessarily triggered, but it makes me wonder how I made the decision to start doing a 12 pack of beer every day. The logic that led me to this action is alien to me now. Today I can take the survey of my entire life, not just since my mother’s death, and make more sense of it. The lotus land of alcoholism was merely a stop on my personal odyssey. And as I ponder it, I imagine that I did drink to deal with the illness. It really was misery to live with delusions of the devil and other superstitious things. The only option I had was to self medicate.
Six thirty. On one hand you have morals. On the other hand there’s necessity, reality. Schizophrenia is a biological disease, not a sin or defect of character. Everything that happens, happens by cause and effect. Things happen because they must; and because they do. They are inalterable even by the will. So David Hume was probably right about determinism. It only makes sense.
Two o’clock. I put Aesop outside and picked up more of my empty Snapple bottles. They’re in the garage now. The weather is beautiful this afternoon. Why can’t we just fast forward to New Year’s Eve and forget about the religious holiday? Am I the one who has a blind spot or is it everyone else? All the while, my book of Victor Hugo beckons me to read more.
Five o’clock. Twilight outside. I rested in bed for a while, and the sun was in my face as it declined in the sky. Clearly I miss alcohol, but there’s no recourse to the way it used to be, so I must adapt to the present circumstances. The biggest hurdle is the church. Or maybe it’s my attitude toward the church. I can’t decide what to do. Yesterday afternoon I had some odd thoughts about good and evil while I was poisoned by caffeine, sort of like religious delusions. Very uncomfortable. Caffeine is a wild card drug, always unpredictable… Philosophy is getting that much closer to religion in my experience. I’m coming near to a definitive answer Yes or No. And I wish S— would agree to meet with me in person someday. Today she told me she was not sure it would ever happen. The lyric to “Hello, Goodbye” occurs to me. I even played the bass line to it the other day. Now I think I know why.
To kill time I just listened to Abbey Road for the first time in many years. It is the one Beatles album that everyone seems to know, like an international anthem of peace and love. The quality of the vocals and of Paul’s bass are beyond comparison; every subsequent band has been an imitation of the original and archetypal. A perfect masterpiece of rock and roll, paving the way for the art rock bands that followed, in particular Yes and Genesis; also Queen. The Beatles had an earthier sound than Yes, however, with lyrics often more mundane and common… It’s interesting how life unravels day by day, like the expression of nature’s DNA, the very blueprint of fate. My neighbor Roger is working on a project outside his garage. The sunlight tastes like tangerine. I catch myself feeling a little greedy, a bit of a spendthrift. But investing in music gear at this point would be useless. There’s no one else to play with…
Nine twenty five. I remind myself that crazy things tend to happen in the summer. The heat has an adverse impact on people’s brains. My pen pal has not yet written to me this morning, so something must have come up… I’ve found my copy of The Planets by Gustav Holst, very poignant for me because of two friends who are now gone from my life. One of them was canine, a pug named Henry. The other was a Scotswoman pen pal. Maybe I won’t listen to it again. The music will conjure to my mind King Voltaire dog biscuits and worse, the taste and effect of cheap beer and sometimes wine.
Ten fifty. I crossed paths with Mike again at the market. He told me straight up that we won’t be practicing anytime soon— if ever. Well you know, the pandemic is going to cause serious problems with our mental health if we continue to socially distance ourselves. And imo, writers like D.H. Lawrence will eventually be brought to light again, being as they are symptomatic of their times, and ours as well. Not only is our society excessively industrial but also we have this virus situation that forces us apart. It is against our instincts to live like bears alone in the woods. Plus I hate to see the demise of music performance, played on real instruments by real musicians. At some point people will do something desperate. We will develop neurotic symptoms, making necessary another phenomenon like Freud. The future will be interesting to observe, if not tragic and sad.
I finally gave up on the white Precision copy and ordered a real Fender bass. It was on sale, marked down from $699 to $579. I was tired of playing firewood basses, and the white one was embarrassing to mess with. Imo it’s unplayable, and sounds like crap. The fret work on it is execrable. I’m a little mad at Dave from ten years ago, who thought it was ok to jam economic. Since following his example, I’ve never been confident in my gear. The two Rondo basses I bought are worthy only of donation to St Vinnie’s. I deluded myself all the time I was drinking that the white bass sounds great. Now at last I perceive things as they are. A bass guitar should be playable and sound decent. I hope the new one is heavy and solid, not a flyweight toy. It should weigh at least ten pounds to have any quality. The truss rod should be sturdy and functional.
Ten twenty. Since going down on the Vraylar, some Freudian thoughts are coming to the surface. They somehow involve family romances, even according with the theory. The thoughts seem awfully irrational because incestuous, but how can I disagree? No matter how rebellious my spirit, and rational my will, sexuality comes down to experience with one’s parents. How necessary is it to carry on the legacy? I can object with all my force, but still I’m a part of history… I’m beginning to remember how my parents interacted when I was in junior high school. Mom developed a painful foot condition, but Dad had no sympathy for her whatsoever. When she had surgery, he verbally abused her in her weakness like some species of bird. Chickens and crows behave that way towards the weak ones. I lost respect for my dad during that time, but then I never did like him very much. He was so competitive with other people, when to be loved only requires being yourself. Maybe he was afraid of losing another job, as had happened when we lived in Salem. I certainly didn’t want to grow up to be like him. Meanwhile in eighth grade, Mom introduced me to Beatles music, believing it to be educational for a young musician. She was proud of me for being a rock drummer, while Dad sneered that rock music would become obsolete. But he had no taste at all. He wasn’t very intelligent, unlike Mom. And he had always treated both of us like dirt. I wonder how he would have fared on his own, had he packed his things and left us flat? Even as I write, I’m aware that this is a process of me working things out for myself. My parents are long gone, leaving only memories of pleasures and pains. At the time, I wasn’t really allowed to show my feelings as they arose. They took an underground course with my comic books and my drawing every day. A few people I’ve met in my adulthood sensed that I carried a burden of a lot of pain. Maybe they were right…
My guitar is due this afternoon. I’m nervous about it. And yet it’s my guitar. It was my money that bought it. Nothing dishonest about it. I bought the instrument because I wanted to. So why does my conscience harass me about my purchase? It doesn’t matter what Polly would say. I won’t tell her. She can be opinionated on her own time. She is just a walking opinion, a vessel for conservative views. To some extent, I am a stereotype too. My sister and I will always be at odds on politics and everything else. Was Mom crazy? No one else in the family liked The Beatles. Mom introduced me to their music when I was in eighth grade. I really loved the red compilation. What was not to love? Mom thought it was educational for me when I was learning drum kit. I remember that Polly hated my music vocation, and that will never change. Neither will I. Mom was not at all crazy. She just had different values from Grandma, and the latter raised my siblings. None of any of that is my fault. I’m just going to pursue my destiny the way Mom would’ve wanted.
Six thirty 🕡. Hearing the old Lover Boy song about the weekend. Everybody’s working for it. I remember that lifestyle. The only freedom happened two days out of the week. Such a nightmare. It might’ve been different had I cared about making glasses 👓 for people on Medicaid. But I had no personal interest in the business. I believed in the cause that Optical supported, ie psychiatric rehabilitation, and I donated out of my paychecks each period. Still it was too hard to keep my focus on the greater good the while I had to drudge every weekday with the same street people I had nothing else in common with. Ron’s brain was the most disorganized thing I ever saw. His politics was an inconsistent stew of conservatism and gay culture, always discordant with itself. It hurt to have to work with him, and the only item we shared was alcohol addiction. In March or April of 06, when I walked in the door each day he was tuned in to Doctor Laura on the radio 📻. I asked him many times why he listened to that trash with his sexual orientation. He said it was something to get his blood boiling. But I could tell he was confused about which way to jump. Poor Ron lacked the ability to think logically, to discriminate what was important in an argument and draw a conclusion. He hadn’t the insight to pierce the details and pick up just what was being said. And this guy was my supervisor! I must’ve had too much caffeine, for these memories are painful. But I kept trying to help him choose what would benefit himself when it came time to vote 🗳. He was adamantly opposed to gay marriage, which I could never understand, because he was gay and being married to his partner would entitle him to the same protections as straight couples who were married. Ron was just beyond help. Over the years I came to care about this guy in spite of myself. But I also wanted to get away from him. I haven’t thought about him much since getting sober. Not in-depth. I remember hearing the old Beatles song in my head when I first learned that Ron was gay. I felt compassion for him that fall of 05. I was jobless then and looking for work with Alice’s help. Nothing was panning out. So when on Valentine’s Day of 06 Ron offered me day labor for him I took it. In only another month or two I was rehired in my old job as document scanner.