Tuesday Morning

Quarter after nine.

I feel lonely this morning, but then we all have to suffer for our truth. The church deposited my check to them yesterday, of course. I don’t have any energy to bathe the dog, but I may water my trees in the backyard. Invest in the future a bit. I’m definitely an avoidance kind of person as opposed to approach. In grade school dodgeball, once I was the last person to be hit, but I wasn’t catching any balls to bring other players back in. The coach asked me if I wanted to forfeit. On the sideline, Paul was screaming at me, “Yeah! Say we four foot!” So I agreed and we started a new game. My strategy was the same in chess: avoid being taken and hope for a stalemate. I guess that’s the way I live my larger life. Passive, and keeping out of danger. Was it because of what Jiminy Cricket sang in the safety film we saw?

I’m no fool, no siree

I’m gonna live to be 103

I play safe for you and me

Because I’m no fool

On the other hand, they say that temperament is genetic… Aesop is whining for his breakfast again. Not a breath of wind outside, and forecast to be 91 degrees… Someone described Percy Shelley as “a beautiful, ineffectual angel.” I can identify with that. Maybe the pen is not mightier than the sword, or the word processor than the gun. In any chess match, a bully can crash the game by knocking over the pieces. The bell curve is dominated by those in the middle.

Still, we do what we can.

Reading

Quarter after one. I just finished reading North & South. I picked up on the element of the Second World War especially in “Sleeping Standing Up,” where Bishop suggests that the tanks are lost in the woods like Hansel and Gretel, with no way to find the “cottage.” The poem “Roosters” is packed with connotations of men and war and deserves another read. I really like “Seascape” for its dissension with orthodox religion, the character of heaven and hell. In “Monument,” she suggests that the wooden building of her self is “ecclesiastical,” perhaps more so than the conned words of the church. That’s what I glean from the first collection of poems. I think my favorite poem so far is “The Man-moth” because of the moth’s attraction to moonlight on one hand, and then the poem takes you to the subway. I’ll have to read it again…

For a moment it is silent as death in this room, as the air grows close and stifling, smothering. There’s nothing going on outside either. The silence is oppressive. Now, the refrigerator kicks on at last. There passes a car up my street. The market was nearly out of things for me to eat, but I bought chocolate chip mint ice cream for a treat. Soon it’ll be time to turn on the fan. Survival in the summer.

Decisions

So my mom’s birthday marks the climax of my decision to leave the church. Friday afternoon I was getting nervous about the worship service for that night. I couldn’t understand why. I thought maybe it was because I was riding with R—, but how was that an anxious thing? But when we got to the church I felt like quite a hypocrite or an imposter. Add to that the sermon on the wheat and the weeds and I grew very fearful. I definitely felt like a weed planted among the others by the Evil One. From there I became psychotic for the rest of the night, finally arriving at my email to Pastor saying I was done with the church. Funny but R— told me I looked good and healthy when she saw me. A paradox, I guess.

Two thirty 🕝. So what’s next? I lasted five years in my job, three years in the church; now I need a new gig. Maybe someone on WordPress has an idea of where I can go for an activity? Proofreading for Gutenberg used to be fun, but I took it as far as I could go. This moment is kind of exciting for me, because I have so many options open. I could probably get myself a laptop and then work from home doing something with my writing skills. Why didn’t D— think of that? So many times I’ve been let down by professional helpers who gave me bad advice. He thought I should work with senior citizens, but that would have been totally wrong for me. Even my sister thought so. I think it comes down to my own judgment and self knowledge. And I think my verbal facility is my vehicle to the next project.

Defense of Poetry

Wee hours. I threaded my way through some boxes in the family room in order to get to my big Wordsworth. But now I wonder if reading The Prelude is really beneficial. Maybe the stuff about epistemology is merely self delusion? Is naive realism truly naive? These questions are as difficult as the human mind itself. And again they bring up the conflict between psychology and science. Neither side yields an inch in their struggle against each other. I would argue that science is superior because it has calculus for a method, even though my mathematical ability is poor. Can verbal language ever be as precise as math? The one is qualitative, the other quantitative. Perhaps these two approaches will battle with each other until doomsday. Sure, I can open my Wordsworth to The Prelude for inspiration and enjoy the poetic language, but it may not be constructive in the ordinary sense. It tempts me to write a defense of poetry all over again, as Sidney and Shelley felt compelled to do hundreds of years ago. How does poetry benefit humankind? What is the role of the poet in human life? And, how many poets could I petition to contribute to such a Defense of Poetry? Maybe everyone on WordPress could write a paragraph.

Sunday

One ten. These times we live in are very difficult and unnerving. It seems like death is all around us, like a tall skeleton in a dark cloak with a big scythe. Some people are talking about whether violence is justified. Others are inconsolably depressed. Still others try to give inexpert advice. I don’t know anymore. This blogging thing is getting on my nerves. It isn’t a very healthy community right now except for a few strong voices of love and hope. To them we ought to turn in such drastic times… On my end, I only want to put some quality writing out there. Politics and current events are over my head. All I can do is report on my own experience. I helped with the food pantry yesterday morning, but that’s something I do anyway. The volunteers are all super nice and we have fun helping people. I rather overtaxed my energy yesterday and then had insomnia. This morning I had a nap and now I feel better.

Just one comment. In any debate with other people, who is right and who is wrong can always be reversed by the way we use language. Pejorative terms can be turned into positives in a heartbeat and vice versa. How can anyone ever be absolutely right?

Refocusing

Quarter after five.

I think it’s time to refocus and reevaluate: just what is the blogging thing all about? I came here in the first place in order to become a better writer, and perhaps make a few friends in the process. Unfortunately, lately it seems to me that blogging has turned into a whining contest, a place for people to vent their frustrations and get some attention, either positive or negative. This was never the intention of my own blog. Or maybe it was, to some extent. But I think my blog has wandered off course over the past few months, since the pandemic hit the country. I’d like to redefine the goals of my writing: basically, to return to my objective of being a better writer. I will reconsider the content that I write about, whether it is constructive or instead merely venting or wallowing. I encourage other bloggers to do the same, and to refine their writing skills. Blogging has the potential to be something great, but the future of it is our responsibility.

Before the Birds

Quarter of five.

Up before the birds again. I feel a sense of what a stuffed shirt I appear to myself. I dreamed that I had written a novel, but the first few pages were copied from Henry James, so now I had to go back and rewrite it. Awake, I mused on being a failure, since blogging is not the same as real writing. To write like Henry James required much more work than simply jotting down short posts with an iPad. And to aspire to write in his tradition is probably rather shallow and unworthy. My family would be the first to attest to this discovery. In my head I hear “The Unforgettable Fire” by U2, maybe significantly. I guess what I’m trying to say is I need be a bit more humble and respectful. It could be a mistake to bypass my natural feelings of remorse when I’ve done a bad here and there. Cognitive therapy has its pitfalls. My sister once asked me if I respected her and her family, and I sidestepped the question by saying, “Do you want me to make you a list?” She called me childish and said she had a great number of friends who loved her. It was all occasioned by the previous night, when I had used the word “didactic” to my nephew. The next day, he was beside himself with fury, and complained to his mother about it. But on the issue of respecting them, I have to say I really don’t. This is the sad fact, and my honesty compels me to admit it.

Indeterminism; or, Optimism

Interesting, but sometimes I can clearly see into the workings of my preconscious mind, thoughts and impulses just on the threshold of consciousness. But my conscious mind can choose its actions regardless. Maybe it’s just the wisdom of experience that makes it all so clear. This noon hour at the store, I walked right past the beer cooler and was fully aware of my thoughts about why I wasn’t going to drink. Mostly it’s a surefire one way ticket to death for me. Occasionally there is Coca-Cola if I want a sugary treat. It’s like the rare Bubble Yum or Doritos my mom used to buy me when I was an early teen. Root beer floats sometimes.

Four twenty. My Led Zeppelin CD arrived in the mail just now. I’ll probably listen to it after dark tonight. It occurs to me to wonder why I live like a wanton child rather than a responsible adult. Maybe because I could never get away with anything when I was young? When Mom died I found the opportunity to be the bad boy I’d never been in youth. Dunno. There are many ways of looking at it. I’d still like to be a wanton in some ways, but I doubt if it will happen. On the other hand, self sacrifice will never appeal to me. I believe the Id will always want more and more until I die. The Platonic beast can be tamed but not entirely snuffed. Or maybe this is only a theory? What if it merely looks good on paper 📝? If so, then it can be scratched out and written down a different way. The computer program can be scrapped and redone from nothing. This would be the view of John Locke. Often philosophy has an advantage over psychology. With philosophy, there’s always a drawing board to return to. Individual people can literally posit their identity— just like reprogramming a computer. What do we need dunces like Freud for?

Surviving Solitude

Is it loneliness that drives people to shack up together? Yet I’m used to solitary life, and even kind of like it. It was tremendously hard right after Mom passed away. Reflecting on it now, probably I do so much writing to keep myself company. Henry James did the same thing. He craved intimacy with people, so he reached out in his writing. Back when I was employed at Laurel Hill, I journaled at my computer every day. Then after I left that job, I journaled nonstop every day, and drank every other afternoon and night. I must have been extremely lonely, living all by myself and wishing for company. Other people noted, too, how alone I was, and how hard it would have been. In a way, I have survived by my writing. It hasn’t earned me any money, yet writing has kept me alive for 18 years. Now, I’d go nuts if I couldn’t write at least something each day. I might feel as if I didn’t exist. My own words validate me when other people don’t. It has indeed been a very lonely journey, but perhaps someday the solitude will come to an end.

Tuesday Night

Quarter after six.

I’d forgotten about the corona virus in my preoccupation with my new iPad. Typing on it calls up different ideas than my other devices. Maybe my attitude is a little more open and honest with this tablet… I was saying that I feel like a grown up sixth grader. I lack the ego and narcissism of the alcoholic I was derailed to be. I’m closer to the kid who read The Lord of the Rings. In that year, I sorely missed seeing Pam in school. She had left to go to a Catholic school. No other girl looked to me like she did… There’s a lot about sexuality that can’t be defined easily because no two people are alike, depending on your school of thought. Individuals are either entirely unique, or they have the same traits in different amounts. I think I prefer the former view. My teacher in third grade perceived me in a wholly different light from the one before. And when class had spelling bees, the team that had me would win. Life was fun when it was simple, and not so competitive and logical. It took a detour after around eighth grade, when the brighter students were singled out for enrollment in advanced English classes. An elite group was established in school. I found myself with either foot in two worlds, the academic and the musical. I rather wish that the latter had worked out. But both avenues got to be rocky roads on down the line. I guess it’s just a shame that we ever have to grow up and get jobs, marry and have kids, raise them and finally retire. A few of us choose the sideline, from where we write social criticism. At least from there we can feel relatively free, and free to express ourselves. What we do is often thankless, yet nonetheless writers provide a service… I think I’m going to like my iPad, and saying this occasions a deja vu from the time I was in the trailer. That’s all I know about it.