Iíve decided to manage a busy fast-food-service fried chicken restaurant for two or three months. I need the bread, the security, and the occupation of mind and body.
Back with the French again.
I wad up a sheet of paper and tie it to a length of twine. Then, dragging it across the rug, I put simpleminded Lizzie in a flurry of chasing after and snatching at it. We play thus for some time, sharing our simplemindedness and companionship. Lizzieís now wildly attacking imaginary phantoms of the feline underworld!
Called about a new apartment. No word yet on when I can move in. Present tenants out of town and the manager doesnít know exactly when theyíre due back.
Took Hobbit for distemper shot and for ointment for a continuing infection in one of his eyes. Arranged for him to stay at Dick and Susanís for a few weeks, at least till I can get a place with a fenced yard.
Got a few more hours' rest finally this evening.
30 DEC 71 - Went over to Ricky and Monaís last night, late, and left a note (they were already asleep) asking if I could crash there while they are out of town next weekend, since Henry and Fiona will be back by then.
Off to mail postcard #37 to Harry for another full day of no booze.
4:00 A.M. Drinking grape juice, nursing sinus headache, eating toast with gobs of butter, reading Vonnegutís Slaughter-House Five - The Childrenís Crusade, half listening to an all night radio station for those under thirty that makes me feel forty but is better than "toothpaste" or country-western, the only alternatives, and far, far better than silence, which is not golden but terrifying.
10:00 P.M. Mid-morning for me in my new sleep schedule! Been watching a TV special on a Japanese team that climbed Everest in 1970.
The apartment Iíve rented is still not vacant!
31 DEC 71 - Time weighs heavily, bearing its burden of obligatory activities and inactivities, its many "Noís" and few "Yesís." At times it seems quite meaningless.
Iím staying at Ricky and Monaís now, while theyíre visiting relatives in Oklahoma. I surely would enjoy a drink! Thereís plenty of booze here and Iíve shared many a bottle over here before, in "brighter" times. It certainly would help the night pass more pleasantly and quickly! (But I do not indulge.)
Nearing 5:00 A.M., later afternoon in my "day," I drove over to the all night donut shop downtown and enjoyed the distant companionship of other night folks there. Heavy rain. Back now. Listening to "Memories" album, Richard and Mimi Farina, then some Bach.
Distracted by irrepressible sexual fantasies. Try ignoring the old goat billy-belly urge in the midst of already difficult French! Make some tea. Translate another page. This is all going slow as your first permanent front tooth coming in!!
Bach and Mozart play for me good music while I study. - And it is good to have the hair damp and swept back so that I may ignore it - which usually flies lightly about or hangs in my eyes and gives a decidedly frivolous air.
As soon as Iíve a free 20 hours a week I want to take up the violin.
The debacle of my affair with Michelle, extending off and on over a full year, has left me gloomy, as if thereís a little cloud hanging perpetually in my sky, right overhead, insisting on staying around even in the fairest weather. I must conjure up the sighs and bright smiles of a fine woman, full of life and eager to live it, to banish this shadow forever.
(Read Cold Comfort Farm!)
Think Iíll leave town in the spring. - Itís already 1972 in Japan and China. Enter the Year of the Rat!
1 JAN 72 - Fixed myself a fine hamburger and resisted strong temptations and excellent rationalizations for having a beer or a small glass of scotch. Must keep reminding myself that up till 39 days ago I greeted every new day with a hangover, that I spent most of my time while awake just drinking, getting over drinking, or anticipating drinking some more, and that my social life and hopes for the future were reduced to glass lips, tongues of cheap wine, and the vision of life seen through the bottom of a bottle. - That three times I wrote Harry I was quitting but only last November felt sure I could really do it and began sending him a postcard a day for each twenty-four hours of sobriety.
The French waits. All waits for the French to be finished. And then...?
I put in a long day at the chicken place. Things fairly quiet though. Most of the students are still away.
2 JAN 72 - Another long day. In the evening I visited Henry and Fiona and got my stuff moved from their place to a vacant apartment three doors down from the one Iíll eventually be moving into if itís present tenants ever get back to vacate it.
3 JAN 72 - At last Iíve gotten moved into this apartment. Iíll have it through May. The woman who managed these apartments had a fatal heart attack today. I regret that my discomfiture over the apartment situation, and calling her about it several times, may have sped her on her way.
Called Grandma Rose to say "Happy Birthday!" in advance. Sheís 84 tomorrow.
4 JAN 72 - A day of sickening anxiety and depression. From morning to night was moved by a sense of hollowness and fear. At times I felt like bawling. I want to get something to drink or go for a long walk off into a snowstorm forever.
5 JAN 72 - Gave myself a bath-shampoo, with plenty of hot water - very relaxing.
At last into the French once more. Just two more weeks till the exam and this foreign language ordeal will have ended, along with my undergraduate career stretching over a decade!
"Qui míeût vu alors se fût fait une idée assez juste díun mouton enragé."
10:45 P.M. For the second night in a row Iím using my own taped voice in an attempt to suggest greater calm and optimism. I seem, however, a poor subject for self-hypnosis.
Quite disconcerting is evidence that someone has been going through my things in the apartment while I was away - nothing missing, but a couple of things changed around!
6 JAN 72 - Translated eight pages of French today. Also through another day of work at ye olí fried chicken factory. Got really turned on by a girl who came in. Sure hope I get a chance to take her out! Wow! Behold, he who was dead has come back to us! Simple sex. It was lust at first sight! I feel alive, REALLY ALIVE, after months and months of mere existence. What is your name, my Dolcinea, my Beatrice, my Helen, my Eve?
7 JAN 72 - Got off restaurant shift at 6:00 P.M. Completed La Buche. Starting Jeanne Alexandre. Did a little laundry. Trying a quantity of niacin, hoping for reduction of my anxiety level. Expect Iíll soon be stepping up the dosage for a real test.
8 JAN 72 - Well, another week and a half of French!
9 JAN 72 - Worked till 6:30. Spent the next two hours unwinding. Then attacked the French. Tomorrow morning Iíll mail in card #49 to Harry.
My anxiety, stubbornness, and anger noticeably rising as the French finalís date approaches.
11 JAN 72 - Have begun my niacin treatment with a full gram. After a half hour I am experiencing a slight pain about the left testicle, a tingling, mildly burning sensation at the skin of the arms and upper portion of the body, leaving splotches of light skin here and there. By fifty minutes the flush has spread over the whole body and then has visibly begun to reduce, burning much less.
Finally napped and awoke in two hours without either flush or burning.
Certainly the niacin has not had any immediate effect on my anxiety, which still seems quite intense shortly after my nap.
12 JAN 72 - Note from Harry today. In it he seems to be turning me loose, after six years of dependence on him, to fend for myself beyond his guidance, to make my own way, neurotic and fucked-up as I am, alone in this crazy, ironic, funny-serious, hard-easy, mixed-up puzzle of impressions, experiences, struggle, tears, sweat, semen, laughter, birth, and death, called "life."
7:40 P.M. Have taken four grams of niacin since yesterday. But the reaction is now limited to increased sinus flow.
Got a letter from Tonya. What a bring-down! Iíll not write again to that bitch!
Got another one, from a former roommate, today. He is almost deaf and has a hard time holding down ordinary jobs, which, however, did not discourage him from completing training as a male nurse. He says he had nearly died of pneumonia since his last writing. Now he is a psychiatric nurse at a modern treatment center at Baylor University, a facility he describes as "a Howard Johnsonís for the insane." More power to him!
13 JAN 72 - Called Dick and told him to go ahead and give Hobbit away if he finds a good home for him. Iíll not be able to give him a proper place anytime soon. Had thought to get a house, with a big yard, in the spring, perhaps beyond the city limits, where a large-hearted and large-bodied creature could roam. But now I want for myself as much freedom as possible, and hope before long to quit this city!
14 JAN 72 - Worked ten hours at Jim Dandyís today, especially tiring since I am cracking down on about half of my crew. Also, the students are now pouring back into the city for the imminent start of the spring semester. Our sales have doubled in the past week.
17 JAN 72 - Plagued by emotional exhaustion. Problems with my staff continue; and I am still struggling with my French, despite great anxiety over the upcoming exam.
Someone has said: "Why not let the ripe fruit fall?" An excellent suggestion!
Dick came by the chicken place today and told me he had found a home for Hobbit. Iím sad to lose him, such a lovable little being!
Longing to be far from here, far from anywhere. Longing for a drink! Feeling out of place in my own skin. At this point, the only way to reduce anxiety seems to be to give in some to defeat, to resign myself a bit to failure and all that this implies.
19 JAN 72 - Can it be that I wrote such things as the above and yet now find myself dancing a lively jig about the apartment during a break in diligent studying? Indeed, all true, all true!
20 JAN 72 - 1:00 A.M. Still hitting the books, but getting very sleepy. It is, perhaps, getting to be a matter of diminished returns. So, Iíll turn in after another hour or two.
5:30 A.M. Up again and more study!
4:00 P.M. Well, I passed it, maybe not by much, but it is finally over! So much for being an undergraduate!
More problems at work. Will have to fire at least one employee and put in a lot more hours myself for awhile.
Once back from the job tonight I called Ricky at the draft counseling center, then joined him and we went off to celebrate my successful completion of the French with a few games of pool - then chess over at my place. After heíd left, I spent the rest of the evening tidying up the apartment, sorting things out - asking myself "whatís next?"
21 JAN 72 - Put in twelve hours at the chicken restaurant. One employee is out with an alleged back ailment. Another came in late with a sprained ankle. He went ahead and worked his shift despite it. If I had just half a crew but with his dedication, I would be well ahead of the situation now!
Home. Fed the truck some oil. Prepared my paycheck for deposit. Called Henry and Fiona and had a nice chat. A little reading.
Thinking of getting into the Teacher Corps this summer.
Today Iíve been sober for 63 days!
26 JAN 72 - Have lost two employees from the evening shift. Wonderful!
(Read Naked Children!)
Got a note from Harry today, suggesting I attend the next sesshin at the Los Angeles Zazen Center. Sounds good, but with my present finances I must put it off a few months.
Feeling undecided now about Teacher Corps. I have had plenty of living at poverty wages in the last several years.
My brother Ralph sends a cassette tape "letter," from language school at Monterey, which he says heís enjoying.
31 JAN 72 - With the chicken restaurant job continuing as badly as ever, Iím now thinking of moving back to California. Maybe I can attend Zazen sesshins regularly.
2 FEB 72 - 73 days without alcohol.
My French grade is in. I got a 'B.í Hot damn! Wow! Whoopee!
(Read Fear by Overstreet!)
I have resumed Zazen sitting and kinhin, which I had done daily while in school last summer, on Harryís recommendation. Rereading Kapleauís The Three Pillars of Zen.
3 FEB 72 - 40 more days at the chicken factory before I plan to switch to my own yard care business.
6 FEB 72 - I have seen a report in which there is medical confirmation that a form of meditation is effective in allaying anxiety, nervous habits, and many psychosomatic ills and in increasing enjoyment, relaxation, and happiness.
7 FEB 72 - Struggling with insomnia. Frustrating hassles with my truck today. Spent several hours working on it but did no good. I am bored and anxious and cynical and frustrated, living like a ghost, not out of someone else's past but out of my own present.
Drove over to Ricky and Monaís tonight and had supper and talked awhile.
Rereading In Search of the Miraculous by Ouspensky.
10 FEB 72 - 81 days of no booze. Trying for a new record!
Eve called last night to say she is pregnant, that my parents had been informed and had taken it well, and that she and my brother Ron expect to be married next week. I'm to be an uncle!
Sent off an audiocassette "letter" to Ralph tonight.
13 FEB 72 - Last night I calculated my finances and was disheartened to realize Iíll barely be able to keep up my truck and, as things stand now, will have nothing left over for starting my lawn care business, not to mention trips to California for sesshin.