Fortune Hunt To climb the mountain of my mind Is pleasure not declined, A Gold Bug map to “X” the spot That only I may find. Who drew the map is no concern: It found me on the street; A raving Poet lost it there Whose like I’ll never meet. Uncanny dream remembers me, But words like finger-holds Will toil and sweat and gasp for breath As summit’s truth unfolds.
The sun is getting ready to go down on another Tuesday. I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary today, except to treat myself a bit more kindly. I’m still the same old pleasure seeker as always. Played some Queen songs on my green Dean bass, including what I could remember of “A Kind of Magic.”
Something made me think of my mother again; it began with my dreams last night, flashing back to January twenty years ago. Life wasn’t too bad back then, although I didn’t feel as free as I do now. Poor Mom never had any friends, and the family from her generation had all passed away. I guess it’s fair to say that she was very difficult to get along with. I wouldn’t want to do it again. Her subjective opinions were so absolute to her as to be irrational. There was no discussing anything with her. She was as hardheaded as adamant. So it was rather odd to have a dream that was indirectly about her. I wonder if it’s because of her memory that I still do rock and roll music? I had another friend whose perfectionism was instilled in him by his bipolar father. He carried his dad around with him in his mind, and it made him depressed and suicidal. Possibly I’m a little bit like him, with the difference of some insight into myself. My mother expected nothing short of rock stardom from me, but maybe this isn’t the lifestyle I want. I think I’m happy enough as a writer of blog posts for right now. But nobody ever said I can’t be both a writer and a musician— again, like Paul Bowles. I reckon some things are just spelled out in the stars…
Three forty in the morning.
I went to bed and thought about an old song by John McLaughlin on Birds of Fire, “Miles Beyond.” A good friend lent me his cassette tape of the album in the fall of 1987, when we were forming a rock band with one other person. I had been very depressed over a failed relationship, but beginning in November, things turned around for me. I was pondering why I drank with my parents in my youth, and I still don’t know why. It enhanced my sense of self esteem, even out of proportion to reality. This is the narcissism component of alcoholism. It feels great to be in love with yourself, but ultimately it’s a delusion of grandeur. For all those years of alcohol abuse, I could have been someone quite different. At the time, it helped me compensate for feeling like a loser in high school. There was nothing else to empower me, so I fell for an illusion of power. I didn’t realize what a force writing could be until four years ago. An acquaintance wrote to me in January 2007, “Words hold definite power,” and now I believe her.
My mother met me in the clearing of
A verdant hill, and wearing weeds of love
She schooled me how to scribe these very lines.
She told me her mistrust of metric feet,
That every word must fall upon the beat
In order so the incantation shines.
Like Hecate to the sisters of the weird
Mum wasn’t, yet the purpose I had feared
Obscurely looms as vapor from red wines.
Innocuous she seemed in sunlight fair,
The beams reflected on her auburn hair,
But her design was one that undermines.
Therefore I concentrate with all my might
To rub this apparition from my sight.
This holiday is a particular milestone for me every year, starting with 2003, when the musician named JP called me on the phone out of the blue. Months earlier, he had seen my newspaper ad for sober musicians and kept it. His friend Dave was already there at his house, so I packed up my 83 Fender bass and headed over to W Second Avenue off of Chambers Street. I remember that it was a beautiful day, and I was still an outpatient at Serenity Lane. I’d had nearly five months without alcohol… The next Labor Day weekend, 2004, I relapsed into active alcoholism while employed at Laurel Hill as a document scanner. Thirteen years later, I went to the emergency room on Labor Day and was given a brutal “rectal exam” by a Black woman doctor. And 2017 was also the year I finally decided that drinking wasn’t feasible. In five more days it’ll be three years. Now, it doesn’t sound like a significant amount of time, but I can remember when I couldn’t stay sober more than 11 days. I would always rationalize myself back to drinking again. The only person better at rationalization than myself is my brother. I truly wish that he could find life without alcohol worth living. Polly might forgive him if he quits drinking and lying. But maybe his destiny is different from mine. Mainly, I just hate to think of him living alone in misery.
To a great extent, my recovery has been a self evolution by means of language. I broke away from my family and the mother tongue and developed a language of my own with the help of blogging and journaling. I sort of wrote myself into existence. The language center of my brain has always been very articulate. Not even a severe episode of psychosis could wipe it out, which is atypical of people with schizophrenia. Many lower functioning schizophrenic people have difficulty with communication. I reckon that my verbal gifts are a blessing to me, because whatever happens, my logos doesn’t fail me. This reminds me of a character from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series for children, a big, furry, simian creature named Gurgi. Gurgi was forever hungry and begging people for “crunchings and munchings” all the time. At the end of the second book, a kind and powerful king rewards Gurgi with a magic food pouch that is inexhaustible. You can eat and eat and eat and the pouch never runs out. The food pouch came to be used by all the characters associated with Gurgi on their adventures. Anyhow, I remembered this because my word generator seems similarly endless.
That was a great series, btw, but I think geared more toward boys than girls. My favorite installment is the fourth book, Taran Wanderer, where the young hero goes out on his own to learn the truth about his parentage. Besides many other people, he meets a blacksmith who helps him forge his own sword. The end product is not particularly pretty to look at; it’s a bit misshapen and imperfect in a word. However, the steel is extremely strong, and it symbolizes the identity of Taran himself.
I slept in till after nine o’clock, then I marched off to the animal hospital and to Bi Mart for a couple of meds. Everything worked out fine. I’d had some bad dreams this morning about family, especially. But dreams are only dreams by definition; they are not reality. The truth they reveal is only the truth of yourself… Since my laptop arrived yesterday and I’ve played with it, I notice now the limitations of writing with a tablet. Expression is much freer with a word processing program and a conventional keyboard. Eventually I will switch over to composing posts with my laptop for the most authentic words and phrases… I still have to go buy food, etc, at the market. Thursday and Friday were very busy days for me, so now a quiet weekend ought to be nice. Church last night went quite well. I read at the lectern, sang with the group, and listened to the sermon. But I came home awfully tired. Roxanne was good enough to drive me home. She is the other reader at our services… I anticipate a cranberry soda; think I’ll head for the store right now, and take my time.
Quarter of nine.
Well, I canceled my music jam for lack of sleep and because nobody else is doing anything like that. In addition, I believe I’m losing interest in being a musician, especially rock and roll. My number one priority is to stay sober, so it’s okay if there are changes. I think my temperament is wrong for music, and always has been. I’m glad I made the decision I did this morning. I only want to spend a quiet day home with the dog. The high temperature is predicted to be 82 degrees today, and even milder Thursday. I’ll try not to put pressure on myself to do things. I’m taking a load off. I don’t know when my laptop is supposed to ship, but I’ve waited a long time… Friday night should be kind of fun, like every week. I don’t think I’m interested any longer in appeasing the ghosts of my parents, particularly my mother. I think maybe I’m done with trying to be a rockstar. The only rock music I like tends to be cerebral and intellectual, and my favorite music for listening is Modern orchestral. I am a very neck up kind of person, not so much neck down. Take it or leave it, I guess. I did the right thing… It’s rather quiet outside this morning. The sky is cloudless, yet it’s still cooler. Finding my way takes time, but I think I should do something with writing. Funny: my second grade teacher wasn’t very nice to me, but she did teach me the rudiments of writing. This laid the foundation for all the learning that followed. Third grade spelling bees were a kick because I was an asset to my team. Recent days are not so very different. In church I read the lessons at the lectern. And I write and do a little reading every day. With a little luck I will write my way to Paradise.
One o’clock. I just had a really good practice by myself, focusing inward and making it just me and my instrument. Evidently the heat caused damage to the finish on my bass. There are two marks in the white paint on the body. But I just consider them battle scars, which lend the bass character. The bass thereby becomes more a part of me… I tried posting another ad on Craigslist. Never say die.
Two o’clock. Now I should just forget about my ad. I’m dreading what happens next. Well, the future depends on itself alone. Or does it rely on you and me? Working hard and working together. My brain is shutting down and I feel scared. I only told the truth in my ad. Most musicians want to make money. I confessed that I just want to jam.
Quarter after three. Anyway it’s good that I recovered my confidence to post on Craigslist. I felt so embarrassed after the last time I tried… It occurs to me to take life less personally, less meaningfully, because we live in a deterministic world. The billiard balls clack against each other all around the table, so what if the cueball is indeed you? You stand a chance of getting smacked as well, and if you are sunk you lose the game. Still, you are just another billiard ball. I sometimes wish I could assess the thoughts I had as a sophomore in high school. I went through a lot of melancholy then. I esteemed myself a drummer and not so much a student, although my poor grades after spring term made me reevaluate the band program. I got deathly sick over the summer and eventually dropped out of school music. The spring trimester of my junior year was much quieter, and I found a new way to relate to people… My ninth grade had been the happiest time of my life, especially the summer afterwards. I met other musicians my age with prodigious talent and had opportunities to play with them… until disappointment came. Over the years I learned to appreciate not talent in people but rather their ability to express themselves verbally. The voice of reason was kindled in my soul and turned out to be my best bet.
The book share on Fremont,
A chartreuse A frame on a pole,
Stands beside a wooden bench
At the entrance to the alley
Leading on a sidewalk to Maxwell.
Perfidious thorny stems to either side
Dangle over the graffiti fences,
And amidst other litter can be found
The occasional syringe.
The builder of the little structure
Lives hard by in a forest green house,
A kind and conscientious man
Once a vandal bashed off
The door of the green box
And flung it across the street
Where it lay at the curb.
The crime was symbolic.
I picked up the glass door
Framed with white painted wood
And laid it on the gray seat
Next to the damaged book share.
No note was necessary,
And the next time I ambled by,
The door had been replaced
Silently, as if the elves cared more
Than kids for erudition.
Eleven thirty. My color impression of the day is sea green fading to slate green. There’s a lot of green on gray. Now the sun is trying to come out, though it is not very orange; more pale yellow on the cement of my back patio. When was the last time I saw the moon? Just now the sky appears sonic blue as the clouds part a little. I don’t hear many sounds except for the refrigerator hum. Hardly any signs of life out there, and the extant ones are “distanced.” Finally the sunlight goes peach on the ground. My dog sprawls on the carpet, probably bored, but this is better than stressed out. The silence and vapidity of the scene are like a blank screen for a new beginning. Open at Page One. A new leaf is turned over, ready for adventures. Acorns bounce off the roof at intervals while the white clouds evaporate, leaving the sun to dominate mutely. So much seen and not heard. You who have ears… The patio walkway is lemon and cracked. The magnolia stands waxy avocado green. Inside, all these unopened boxes of unwanted junk collect dust. Someday… Somewhere northwest, a car groans like a dinosaur. If it were nighttime, the lizard would be real. No sunshine to prove it otherwise. A slammed door up the street. Still, every sound is spaced by at least six feet…