Very Fitzgerald

Seven thirty.

The cloud formation I can see from here is very pretty, more natural than during the wildfires. When I go out the front door, the writing in the sky might say, “Surrender, Robert!” Vapor trails left by a Wicked Witch. This idea made me laugh. No clue what it pertains to or what it means. I only got up an hour ago. Guess it’s time to go to the store. So far I feel good today.

Quarter of nine. I met with a couple of surprises on my outing this morning. The first was seeing Lisa, who used to work at Karen’s salon, in the parking lot of the market. She greeted me by name and with a deft movement stripped off her mask while I fumbled to remember who she was. Then she told me she had a new job at a salon that fit her better. I’m happy for her on one hand, but the happiness is superficial when you begin to think about it. I also think to myself that cream rises to the top, but it’s always at the expense of somebody else. Maybe I’m being too Charlie Brown about an otherwise good thing… The other surprise was the sight of schoolchildren on their way to the middle school. I was a bit worried for them crossing Maxwell Road, but apparently they knew how to do that… The more I think about Lisa, the more I dislike her supercilious attitude. There’s something very Scott Fitzgerald in this scenario: an oligarchy of the beautiful people, whereas those without beauty are the losers. It makes me self conscious. I tramp around the neighborhood in soiled clothes, the epitome of penury; and yet I have something that Lisa seems to lack. Give me a few minutes and I might recall what it is… Does she know who Fitzgerald is? And what is an oligarchy? 

The Yellow Signal

Nine fifty five.

I had a nap for about four hours with some strange dreams, quite nonsensical and random… In real life, it tires me to watch people conform to trends like herd animals. After a while it makes us look impersonal and mechanical, as if no one had a heart or a thinking brain, nothing they could call human. Or maybe superhuman. Green means go, red means stop, but what about yellow intersections where there’s some ambiguity and the call is up to you? And there’s a lot more yellow than we admit to ourselves. Everybody wants an almanac to give them cut and dried answers because they prefer to place authority outside of themselves, which is really a recipe for unhappiness. I still don’t have much respect for sociology as a field of study when instead we can opt for ethics. The almanac you seek is your own heart. Don’t read the book. Be the book. 

Sanity’s Return

Eight o’clock.

Going to the store was quite nice this morning. Heather gave me some jerky strips for Aesop and was smiling at me when she thought I didn’t know it. Compared to yesterday, I have a bit more common sense today. My sister may try to call me, but I will just let it ring. There is band practice this afternoon at one o’clock. I have to take a few things with me: a small hex wrench, a guitar pick, and gifts for the guys.

Nine o’clock. The air outside is immobile as death; supposed to get up to 90 degrees, and with no breeze it’ll feel warmer. The house is super quiet right now. The last time I read a book was over a week ago: John Berryman. But I find contemporary literature dysfunctional and disturbing and not very didactic. From Emerson to Philip Roth shows quite a moral decline, like reading the “General Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales. It takes one genius to spearhead a literary movement and a host of successors to screw it up. Perhaps due to the cooler weather, my wits have come back and I can think again about virtue of the Emersonian kind. I didn’t care for June and its events in my life. Hopefully July will bring better things.

Ten o’clock. I have a gorgeous big volume of Montaigne that I haven’t even begun to sample, so that’s something I can do on a quiet day. 

Sunday Faith

Quarter of ten.

I walked to the store in the rain this morning. It was warm, so I wore no jacket and just carried an umbrella. When I got there, Heather was very good to me as she always is. The other customer inside the place was talking about the price of the Sunday paper, which had gone up to five dollars… Before I left the house, I was brushing my teeth and I thought of the history of psychiatry, particularly Freud’s theory of what causes schizophrenia. He said it was repressed homosexual desires, but of course he didn’t know anything about genetics. So I said to myself that it makes no sense to psychologize the phenomenon of mental illness. I thought it was surprising that Freud was revived three years ago. But the run of my life since 2017 has been like a Hegelian process, dictated by history and politics. The motivation from within really comes from something bigger than the personal self. I’ve taken a ride on the carousel, deluded all the time that I was free and independent.

Even in time we shall control the day

When what you see

Deep inside the day’s controlling you and me

It’s an old Romantic idea, but I think it’s probably true what this lyric by Yes says. And yet if psychology is bogus, then how can philosophy and poetry be more accurate? I guess it’s better not to generalize human experience into abstracts…

Ten fifty. The weather forecast predicts rain this afternoon, and I have to go to Mike’s house at around two thirty. If all attempts at knowledge are futile, then life as a skeptic is rather difficult. We need to have faith in something, so it might as well be something that gives us pleasure. 

Cycles

Quarter of four in the morning.

Since yesterday evening it’s been both warm and rainy, which makes an effect like a sauna or a watery hell. I got as much sleep as I could, with my mind on this ambivalence regarding a label such as schizophrenia: is it a useful thing or not? I could assume an attitude like Ayn Rand and be intrepid, saying no one gets a free ride in this society, no matter who you are. And maybe for a high functioning schizophrenic person this would be okay… but then I think of the others who aren’t so fortunate; the ones who don’t have insight into their symptoms, or are lower functioning— and I feel a profound sense of injustice rendered by the Ayn Rand policy. In this case, I want to fight the conservatives and advocate for the mentally ill people who don’t have a chance. But it’s hard to know what’s right in this situation. It may be all right to encourage people with mental illness to “better themselves,” but what if they can’t do that? The worst thing we could do is take away their safety net when they are incapable of working and supporting themselves… I think bitterly of my family that gives me the cold shoulder for being different from them. It’s a lucky thing that I don’t have to depend on them for anything. My parents were quite prescient of this scenario.

Quarter of five. Still the rain comes down like my thoughts from thought clouds. There’s a poem by Anne Sexton about a rain of dolls. And there’s a Grimm’s fairytale of money that falls from heaven. Also a newspaper article concerning a rain of fish in the book by Charles Fort. A plague of frogs in the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes said there is no new thing under the sun, and to a great degree this is the changeless truth. 

Open Book

Four thirty. Because I skipped my medication last night, I was unwell this morning. There were some classic symptoms of schizophrenia exhibited in my writing. In addition to this, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. The point where things got worse was Saturday morning when I talked with my sister. But the fact still remains that people are not getting along with each other over silly things. We need to learn to mind our own business and to live and let live. Other people’s sexual decisions have nothing to do with me, so I have nothing to say about it…

Wee hours.

“The fortunes of fables are able / To sing the song…” As I was waking up, this old tune by CSNY swam to my consciousness, so I asked myself why what worked for the hippies doesn’t work for us today. I once had a girlfriend my age, a Lutheran who was born during the time of the Flower Children. She was a very interesting person, but we eventually broke up over the issue of religion. It seemed to me that I could be anything but a Christian. I leaned towards Emerson and maybe even a little Plato. It would have been very hard to forgive Leviticus for its message of hate toward gays and witches— if we must take scripture literally. And the same goes for Plato’s attitude of eugenics and elitism. In the end, there is no perfect religion or philosophy to guide our lives by, except perhaps a philosophy of freedom, happiness, and love. The attempt to establish any Constitution that prescribes the well-being for us all will always fail, so the book must never be sealed and made into a dogma. John the Divine closes Revelation by adding a curse to anyone who amends his vision, thus locking up the Bible with a key. But I think Emerson is right that life is in a state of constant flow and change, and cannot be confined within the covers of any book. 

The Good Life

Eight ten.

Feeling hopeful about my sobriety right now, and I think my life has a lot of potential. I’ll probably skip the caffeine this morning. It’s not something I have to have; I’m not addicted to it. What I like about Snapple tea is really the social trip to the store every morning, but today I have an appointment at the bank. At nine thirty I’ll head out to River Road, anticipating good things. The sun is out again. The high temperature will be 88 degrees. My mind is not so much on music lately, but rather just the process of living— even the good life. Ethics, or moral philosophy, is a very powerful branch of Western philosophy, and the evolution of it can be quite fascinating… Suddenly my consciousness feels like a garage sale, a menagerie of odds and ends, or flotsam caught up in a tornado. But there’s no storm in here. It is sepulchral quiet in the house. I feel tired from the heat yesterday. My eyelids are heavy and droopy with fatigue.

Eleven ten. The appointment at the bank went just okay. The rep had me fill out an application for a new credit card that would give me two percent cash back on every purchase I made. He was very young and sharp witted, or maybe he’d had too much coffee this morning… And then I stopped at Grocery Outlet for a few items. I felt vaguely triggered to drink when I smelled the different scents in the air of the store; the smell of fresh food… Construction of the new high school goes on at the site on Silver Lane. I couldn’t make out what they were doing; it looked like they’d put in a lot of fresh gravel where the foundation is going to be. The traffic director as I passed her told me she was hot from standing in the sun. Closer to home, I said hi to the FedEx driver. But all in all it was kind of an anticlimactic trip to River Road, no big deal really. I was more excited yesterday when the mail brought me two new blank books for scribbling my ideas. The best journey is the one taken inside. 

Foresight

Seven thirty.

I didn’t sleep very much. I had nightmares that didn’t make much sense. Two things are stressing me out: my appointment with Rebecca and then my shot tomorrow morning at Bi Mart. I was up last night from about one o’clock to three thirty, working on my blank book. Right now my writing looks like random gibberish but eventually a pattern will probably emerge from the whole. Lately I’ve been feeling lonely and not very happy. Is it too much to wish for a girlfriend in my life?

Quarter after nine. The appointment with Rebecca was very short. Then I went out for the daily foodstuffs. Michelle appeared to be in a weird mood, kind of distracted by something. I was already feeling rather guilty over this and that, so this colored my perception of events around me. Moods tend to do that. A shaft of sun illuminates my backyard as an airline jet warbles across the sky. The future is a big unknown that is hard to face, yet I have no choice but to go forward. I try to make good decisions. Sometimes I am guided only by my feelings, and these don’t lie. When I feel resentment about something, or a sense of injustice, usually there’s a reason for it. I stand up and call baloney on things that don’t make sense. And when I feel free and clear of guilt and other worries, life is really pleasant. I’m still learning the ABC of sobriety. It isn’t easy to navigate life without alcohol, and I’ve seen some very bizarre things since I quit drinking. It seems that the strangeness of life is relentless, and foresight is never perfect. 

Pentecost

Five twenty five.

It’s already getting light outside, yet the store doesn’t open until seven o’clock. I’ve put on my red hoodie for Pentecost today, whatever that is. Church is at ten. Band practice yesterday was interesting. Sobriety is definitely becoming an issue for the three of us, but I have no intention of falling off the wagon. For me, to drink is a death wish, a veritable suicide, and I believe I’m smart enough to make my life work out the way I desire. My sister said some things yesterday that were illogical, even absurd. She often keeps a double standard for herself and others, or maybe her codependency is insurmountable for her. It’s too bad she can’t be more selfish and do what’s good for her… The sprinklers just turned on in the backyard… Sometimes it’s hard to see our options for our circumstances. We feel painted into a corner, and no way out. The more extreme options don’t occur to us right away, like firing a psychiatrist or blowing off your family or joining a church. Yet these options were always available. Other people can put a great deal of pressure on you, but really the only decision maker is yourself. Right now I feel pressured by my case manager, so I need to say something to her about it before I feel desperate.

Six thirty. Looks like a cloudy day today. I don’t know the forecast, and that’s just as well. I think I’ll be prepared for any weather. Music: “Tea in the Sahara.” 

Foolosophy

Quarter of seven.

I rose from bed to a cloudy morning and read the email from my pen pal. My band is going to practice this afternoon, so we’ll see how that goes. The one person who supports my music more than anyone is Pastor right now. I don’t know why my sister didn’t call me yesterday. Now I won’t hear from her until at least Monday because her son will be home, and he and I have never gotten along together. In fact, all of the guys in my family don’t like me very much, and Polly is the only relative who talks to me. The situation with my family used to embarrass me but I just expect it to be lousy now. Many people with serious mental illness are disowned by their families. But my family doesn’t have much to offer me anyway. I told my sister that I had deactivated my Facebook account a few years ago, so maybe she’s thinking about that; the whole family is on Facebook except for me. This is just my imagination trying to explain why she didn’t return my phone call yesterday. I can’t read her mind… I’ll be going to the store in a little bit. It’s Heather’s first day working by herself on weekends.

Quarter after eight. I was wrong; Michelle is still training her. I was thinking about trust as I came up to the front door of the market. My brother told me once that he doesn’t trust anybody. But it seems to me that you have to be able to trust somebody besides yourself. One truism from Shakespeare often occurs to me: honest people don’t expect others to be dishonest. “A credulous father and a brother noble, whose nature is so far from doing harms that he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty my practices ride easy.” But the converse of this is also true: dishonest people are the first ones to suspect foul play from other people… I’m probably not missing much in not having a family. If you can’t choose your family, then you can choose your friends. And these people are the ones you can likely trust.

Ten o’clock. Polly did call me this morning, a Saturday, to my surprise. So I was proven wrong again, and all my conjectures were for nothing. She got on the topic of the Bible for a while and I listened patiently. I know her religion is important to her.

Eleven twenty. I’m all out of wisdom, and even my sophistries turn out foolish. It’s sort of a sophomoric day today. I hope it gets better, but whatever may come, I’ll try to stay calm.