Six ten evening.
My circadian clock is off kilter today for some reason. Before the sun went down, I made a last minute run to the market for iced tea and a doggie treat. Now the twilight sets in. I checked my mailbox coming back and was surprised to find that my package arrived in one day from Genoa pharmacy. Those people are the best. Whatever else is going wrong with my life, this is not one of them. If I’m too old to rock and roll, then there’s something else I can do. This morning, the gals at Carl’s Jr were genuinely excited to see Gloria when we walked in the door. But I think it was otherwise a low energy day for her, or maybe for me… Later on, at home I managed six pages of Strange Interlude by Eugene O’Neill. But the classics are getting old to me, and they tend to bleed into one thing. The title, A Moon for the Misbegotten, still has a charming ring to it however. Is there such a thing as human nature? And if so, does it change with time? Whatever the truth is, it is good to roll with the times and accept reality for the thing it is.
Quarter of nine at night.
I had a series of bad dreams of being persecuted, but why is harder to nail down. It was because of my inquiring intellect that a man was trying to poison me. He believed that I was not a team player but some sort of traitor. The setting for the dream resembled the shipping and lab areas at my old workplace long ago. Was I really guilty of a crime, or was it just my presence or existence that raised the alarm?
After my nightmare, I got up and checked the thermostat, whose clock said “21:11.” Then I made a little discovery. The cover to the last Rush CD shows a clock that indicates “9:12,” or in military time, 21:12. Either by chance or by design, the birthdate of my sobriety was September 12, or 9/12 of 2017. I guess I should listen to Clockwork Angels. As it stands, I’ve got the CD still in the plastic for a kind of time capsule. And maybe I should save it for later.
Nine thirty five.
Now I’m thinking that I’ve been through the mill with this illness and for a long time, with alcohol. No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia: it runs in families, but also they guess it has something to do with immune system problems. Its onset is triggered by stress. All I know is it’s a pain in the derrière. Sometimes in my sleep I remember the hospital stays in 2016 for alcohol withdrawals and other health complications, like arrhythmia as a side effect of antipsychotic medication. I lost track of how many times I’d been in the hospital for these issues and suicidal ideation; it blurred together in one big nightmare. But luckily I never went to jail and by a fluke I’m still alive and able to write this. Only a couple of times did I lose my coherence: my facility for language mostly stayed intact, even through the looniest experiences. Thus the light of language is by far my greatest blessing, because without communication a schizophrenic is really screwed.
My P Bass is now a modified monster that sounds unlike a Fender anymore. Still, I can’t wait to play it again tomorrow. Music by Chick Corea comes back to me with his first Elektric Band, but then I remember that he passed away fairly recently.
Nothing and no one lasts forever, and even eternity would be a mistake in logic, because nothing has extension and motion without spacetime: existence is impossible otherwise. Thought itself would not be possible if time didn’t exist. Everything occurs within this framework, which I’m getting from Walter Pater’s conclusion to his Renaissance studies. The experience of life is entirely sensory, a series of fleeting impressions. I don’t know how Boethius would respond to this argument. He separated human experience into transitory and permanent, saying that rational love is the latter. I think Saint Paul said that philosophy is carnal and only Christ is true and spiritual. In his view, what Pater wrote would be carnality and thus execrable.
It seems that everyone who has an idea wants to make it a dogma. But dogma itself is a fallacy because everything’s in constant motion. Nothing sits still for its portrait. There is no immobility in human life. Goethe was probably right that experience is the best teacher, so go outdoors and leave the books behind. I’m convinced.
Four twenty five AM.
A solo on the Stick called “Soliloquy” by Larry Tuttle has haunted me for the past week, even though I don’t play that instrument. Thus it means something symbolic and deeper than the literal dimension. I intended to read “Alastor” by Shelley again but so far it hasn’t gotten done. As I was just waking up I thought of the snake eating its tail, a symbol of eternity, no beginning or end. The small hours of the night are a time of limbo without a sun to give it temporal reference. The black night outside offers no consolation but a dubious companionship— and here comes my dog, who heard me sneeze. And this detail does add a sense of grounding and being supported in spacetime. Perhaps it takes two perspectives shared to create reality, regardless that Aesop is not human. The clock meanwhile advances at a creeping pace. “I’ve been waiting for the hands to move / Time moves so slow / How come 24 hours / Somehow seems to slip into day? / A minute seems like a lifetime / Baby when I feel this way.” I think of the Jungian world clock, something from a dream; and the number 12 is the most perfect because it’s the product of 3 x 4. On the other hand, maybe Jung only jerked our leg, and it’s the commonplace that really has any meaning? Still, Ouroboros the serpent swallows its tail during this timeless time, looking a bit like the world in embryo…
I’m in my living room, a place of blue carpet no longer cluttered with boxes of books and stuff, thanks to my PCA and the agencies that made everything possible. I don’t know if there’s an Agency beyond the human ones; does it matter? Like every morning, I walked around the corner to the convenience store to get the daily groceries for me and my dog. The early hour explains why I met with hardly anyone. My life makes a pretty dull story, but I’m actually thankful for the humdrum of my existence. Things can always be worse than they are. I tell Aesop it’s 15 minutes to his breakfast and he understands and accepts. We’re having a very mild summer, mercifully. Sometimes good fortune seems to be dumped in my lap, and when this happens, I try to appreciate what I have. Kicking down the sidewalk of Maxwell Road, I heard a song by Yes called “Looking Around.” And for a timeless interval I knew the essence of the music, a suspension like satori, a nirvana that didn’t have to end.
Seven thirty five AM.
There’s a reprieve from the wind and rain of yesterday and last night. Outdoors I saw tree debris scattered all over the streets. Also I noticed for the first time that a lawn on Fremont Avenue had gone completely to seed. The grass was so tall that it was lying sideways with the blades tipped like little spears. I wonder what the situation is with that, though it’s not my business. The same house is where I observed the white truck with Confederate flag license plates in January a year ago. And on the street in front of the house someone had sprayed “gay” one time. Very strange. So I ambled up the sidewalk to market and went in. I encountered a young lady who had a pleasant face and like a klutz I blurted, “Hi!— how are you?” She smiled politely and returned the greeting. The delivery came through yesterday, so I grabbed two deli items; but the distributor didn’t say what happened to the missing driver… The little store has changed so much in three years. Sometimes I think of Michelle, now someplace in Wyoming. She’s only been gone since March: two months ago, but it seems like longer than that. Who knows a month from a year anymore? I entertained the idea of going to church this morning, but those people are too paranoid of Covid and I’m still throwing off a cold. Besides, I don’t feel like singing hymns today or any day. The church was there when I needed it, when it counted, and I’m grateful for that.
Quarter of nine. When he’s in the mood for it, Aesop likes me to pet him. I couldn’t have picked a better dog than him for intelligence and devotion. He is day and night different from the pug I owned ten years ago. He guards the fort and keeps me safe. I don’t even have to lock the front door when I leave the house. Blue heelers are an amazing breed. Aesop is one more reason why I can’t complain about my life.
Quarter of ten.
I begged Gloria for a light duty day since my dental ordeal Thursday morning and the long day yesterday. So now she’s mopping the floors while I take a siesta on the loveseat, languidly writing a desultory note to myself. The weather is rather lemon.
Eleven fifty five. The clouds have blown away to make a bright sunny Saturday. I was thinking that if humanity has free will, then anything is possible with our lives, including breaking bad habits like alcohol abuse. Independence is essential to everything we do, and often no one’s opinion matters but your own. Contrary to what people tell you, you are capable of thinking for yourself… I might go bash my four string war club down the hall a while, make a brash brutal rock and roll racket on it for my daily catharsis. Or I could read Richard Wright or Mark Twain. It’s possible to do both today. But I think I’ll be considerate of my dog’s anxiety and spend the day quietly. Even this, however, is a personal choice from a few available options. I merely looked before leaping… Everyone anticipated this beautiful weekend, but now that it’s here, I feel very tired, sore, and somewhat dodgy and daft. I think I’ll delay making a decision.
I ended up both reading and playing the bass, and both were fun. Outside, the quality of the sunlight feels rather obscure and filtered; maybe dark and sensuous. Church happens tomorrow, but if I went, I’d know my reasons were insincere, for I’m not a true Christian. I feel tugged in several directions. But what’s done is a done deal. The future presents options; but “when you look behind you there’s no open doors.” And there is no would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve: only what actually happened; what you did. Everything else is a trick of grammar.
Quarter after eight.
I spotted the moon in the west as I ambled the sidewalk toward the little store. It was two thirds full and ghostly. Today is Heather’s last day working at the market, so we said our goodbyes. She was realistic when she said she’d probably never see me again… Last night I had a problem with my smoke detectors chirping. Unfortunately I think it’s an electrical issue with the house. In my depressed state I thought it was an act of god or something else superstitious. But I’m feeling better this morning and the sky is blue to the west. Tomorrow there will be no therapist to answer to: another positive thing. I feel kind of like surfing the web for new friends. Maybe find a philosophy club online.
Nine ten. I had a friend once who was a fan of Rudolf Carnap, and to a lesser extent, Bertrand Russell. She was a hard boiled realist most of the time, though when I first met her she admired Gerard Manley Hopkins. That was a decade ago, but I still remember our emails to each other. I recall struggling to read “The Wreck of the Deutschland” to impress her, and indeed it was very difficult to decipher. I read it through, but didn’t really understand it… I guess I’m in a reverie of friends gone and friends still here. I’m not a stoic or a believer in mindfulness. To think about the past is human.
I’ve been out of the house and seen several people this morning. It was late enough that Cathy was just starting her shift today and helped me at checkout. One of the card sliders had a problem, so I used the one that worked. For Aesop I bought a couple of dollars’ worth of chicken strips. I had to have my Snapple tea and something to eat for today. Coming back home, I stopped and said hi to Karen and Jessica at the salon. Karen announced that Jessica would be leaving in three weeks to go live with her family in a small Oregon town. Now it’ll just be Karen and Kim every week, and Kim works only part time. Home again, I read my mail: my primary care provider has left the practice “for personal reasons.” I had him for only one year and now I have to pick a new physician. People in autumn are often on the move, plus with Covid, they seem to leave their jobs at the drop of a hat. Also, Bi Mart is closing its pharmacy the first week in November, moving most customers to Walgreens up the road in Santa Clara. The only thing that stays the same is change itself. It is wet outside; the rain will probably start again at around eleven o’clock. I used to have a memory that operated in cycles, but with my Vraylar, the present time is what it is without the undertones of the past. Still, I can abstract a few general ideas of events that are happening right now, and it seems that people pass through turnstiles, connecting with each other only temporarily. But one thing that doesn’t go away is the persistence of mental illness. And hunger never goes out of style.
Everyone was pretty friendly when I went out a little while ago. I heard Roger’s voice say, “Hi Robbie,” but I couldn’t see him, and I said so. Then he stepped around his truck and waved, explaining with a laugh that he’d seen me through the window. At the store, another customer and I finished shopping at the same time, so I let her go ahead of me in line. After she was done buying her pint of half and half, she turned to me and thanked me. I recognized her as one of the regulars at the market. Behind me was a big guy with gray hair. We got finished simultaneously at the registers and I held the door for him going out again. The essence of the convenience store depends on how it is used. The morning bunch is different from the people who go there in the afternoon and evening. It’s almost as if there were two different stores, each having a different purpose… My mind is playing a hymn from church: “Healer of Our Every Ill.” My brain is disposed to play back the music it hears, often quite randomly and unexpectedly. I can be in the direst predicament while the music keeps going unperturbed, as though it were party to a separate reality, someplace beyond particulars and their accidents. And for all we know, perhaps music really is our vehicle to the divine… and the divine is a place within us.
Ten fifty five. I haven’t read Joseph Campbell in ages, but it’s from him that I gleaned the terms of time and eternity, the first being a lapsed condition of existence, and the second one existing outside of that condition, external to it and unaffected by it. You can see time and eternity operating in your daily life, like two opposing halves, and one owes its being to the other. I read in a psychology textbook long ago that the right hemisphere of the brain may be just stupid. But there must be an evolutionary reason for the fact of it, and it takes up so much space to be merely useless. Maybe the right brain is more like a radio receiver on a frequency to God?