It’s a dull day. I guess that’s better than a stressful day. My PCA is here, cleaning the bathroom. The dog is shut in down the hall like every time we do this. I don’t know. Life is pretty weird for everyone these days. I remember the times of high inflation under Reagan when grocery stores offered generics to save us money. My brother drank beer from white cans with a label that said “Beer.” We ate food with generic “Ketchup.” But he usually tried to find ways to save money, for no particular reason that I could see.
I was dreaming of a way of thinking, but there was a piece that didn’t fit the rest of the pattern. It drove me kind of cuckoo so I had to get up. Now awake, the thought of my sister comes up, and the last conversation we had. I’ve always known that she is a stoic while I am the exact opposite, an epicurean because of my parents. It’s an odd thing for two people to each be so convinced that they are right, yet contradict each other. To me, the principle of the greatest happiness makes perfect sense, whereas her stoicism seems like masochism to my mind… She would never consider writing a valid form of work. It’s too easy, and it actually gives the writer pleasure to do, as well as the reader. If an activity isn’t painful, then how can you call it work? Thus, I’m at an impasse with my sister and her family. Maybe she believes that I will go to hell for my ideas and approach to life. It may be best for me to let her go, at least for today, and just mind my business for a while.
Quarter after two. I played my green Dean bass for a while and fell into a very cool groove, doing Zeppelin’s “In the Light” transposed to E minor. I even tried it tuned down to D. I figured that the La Bella flatwound strings make a huge difference in tone, so I ordered another set of them from back East. Expensive, but I enjoy the sound so much. Flatwounds last a long time too. There’s also the Leo Quan bass bridge I still haven’t installed. Put it on the turquoise Precision with flatwounds and I’ll have the bass from hell. Maybe I’ll save the bridge for another time. I don’t want to sound too much like Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. His tone is unique and distinctively himself. I enjoy experimenting with different tonalities, however.
Three ten. The heat is a bit excessive, but I’m still functional in spite of it. I’ll give Aesop a bone at four o’clock. Last one in the package of six. I just thought of the old Ems Civic Stadium that burned to the ground some years back. I was so out of it that I didn’t hear the news until three years ago. I was at a dinner at Katie’s house that October. A lot of the congregation showed up. I was seated next to Sandi and across from Doug and Shirley. He felt kind of crummy because he was having a couple of beers in front of me.
Quarter after four. I closed the blinds in here to keep it a little cooler… It’s curious how people have different values and priorities. If I couldn’t have fun and think for myself then I’d go nuts. Some people are instilled with a strong work ethic and don’t mind it so much. Other people don’t like to think at all. To each their own. For me, thinking is as essential as breathing… Many images from the distant past come back to me, times when I still had Henry and Mom had just passed away. The dog was registered with Santa Clara Animal Hospital up until the year I left my job. I don’t remember exactly why I switched us over to the other place. Henry used to be terrified for visits to the vet, and would quake all over like a jellyfish. I guess I reckoned the shorter the drive, the better. My own nerves were in pretty bad shape all the time. It took me a long while to finally shake the shit off and figure out what was important and what wasn’t. The paramount thing is sobriety, any way this is possible.
Quarter of four. I played my turquoise bass for a while and it felt good. I picked out three parts from the old Yes album Time and a Word, enjoying “Sweet Dreams” the best. Things fell into place harmonically for me when I played some actual tunes… I almost rationalized my way into drinking beer last night and again this morning. I was ready to throw it in with religion and go back to my old ways, which would have been suicide but I nearly didn’t care. I wonder what stopped me from going back? It might have been the thought that in September I will complete three years of sobriety, a tremendous milestone for me. Also that my brother has never been able to stay sober for that long. It is better to keep my distance from him and the family. Perhaps they leave me alone because they know I’m sober? I’ve had the same thing from certain musicians who do alcohol and weed. I guess that’s the different drummer element of recovery. The point is that what I’ve been doing has worked for me in keeping me sober. And sobriety is the priority. Everything else can go to hell, but not sobriety.
Four twenty five. I continue to be more aware of Aesop’s discomfort. I suppose I’m more empathetic than I used to be. We need to fix the problem of his boredom and inactivity… The food pantry is a go tomorrow morning. Speaking of feeding the community, this morning I remembered a cruel thing my brother bragged about doing to a panhandler some years ago. The panhandler had a dog, so Jeff went inside the store and bought dog food for the dog and nothing for the man to eat. At McDonalds another time, Jeff threw a cheeseburger to a beggar’s dog. My brother is an unkind bastard. I hope someday he pays for his cruelty to me and everyone else he has mistreated. Actually, that might be happening as it is. His rheumatoid arthritis is extremely painful. He has boozed himself into neuropathy and amnesia. Looking over the span of his life, his fate has been rather an instructive one. As a young student he was a nice guy; but he became corrupted by the career he chose. It was all for the almighty dollar. I suppose most families have someone like my brother. Ambitious and driven to make a pile of money. Well, his devotion to Mammon has consumed his soul. There’s nothing left of the nice young student. I would pity him if I could, but in his case, I’m fresh out of pity.
One thirty five. My brother is one to wallow in guilt and despair, but that’s not for me anymore. I did my penance for some imagined crime— whatever it was. Families are adept at imposing feelings of obligation to the other members. Somehow I got the idea to liberate myself from futile self punishment. It was a form of masochism that served no purpose whatsoever. What was the point in hurting myself when nobody cares anyway? The only lease on life I have is myself. Self harm is absurd because the only subject is oneself. The existence of a world relies solely on the knower. It is bad philosophy to compromise quality of life, and suicide is the ultimate fallacy. Nothingness is inevitable, so why hurry it up? One would have to feel hopelessly trapped to consider an end to existence. The potential for a happy life seems so far away. What it comes down to is facing your own freedom. Sometimes anything seems preferable to a big change. We are faced with making sacrifices in order to find the greater good. I sacrificed my family’s approval. I realized that I would never obtain it anyway. Whose values did I value, theirs or mine? Which counted for more? But the only arbiter of value is ultimately oneself, and that’s perfectly okay.