August 14th. Last night I wrote at considerable length about pain. The funny thing is that today I had a chance to test the "Art of Appreciating Pain." I smashed my toe a bit. I caught on after a minute of concentration. The system works, some...
I need to explain my opinion on Sarcasm. I think it is an attempt at socially acceptable ridicule, which usually fails or comes near doing so. I disapprove of it but yet have to clear myself of the habit. Sometimes ridicule is called for, but usually it can be delivered in more reasonable phraseology.
Not all the thoughts in the journal were profound, but even the most mundane display a challenging and active mind.
This afternoon I am in a bad mood. We went for a walk and everybody I saw just about made me sick, in a manner of speaking. It was a very frustrating feeling, to see those people and feel a type of hate for their various forms of ugliness. I can understand why some people have no trouble killing, and making wars, because sometimes people can be completely repulsive. There were a few people who appeared more intelligent who didn't seem so ugly, but these weren't that many. During this mood I don't feel like talking to anyone. I'm critical of everything and touchy.
It is some kind of a depression that I find myself in once in a while. Nothing out of control but just a time when I wish to be occupied in a book or by myself. Maybe sexual excitement would be useful in moods like this, although my capacity for kindness would be definitely limited. Maybe my enjoyment would be more intense. This mood may coincide with the definition I gave to `boring' at one time -- the need for sexual excitement. It's times like this that I like to loose myself in some activity or physical labor.
I remember once as a child, I felt like this, maybe often, but once I went out and hoed in the garden. Now, mental labor, reading, takes me from the distasteful present and puts me into the mind of someone else. The noises of neighbors become distracting, circumstances become uncomfortable in general. I suspect this is a normal feeling to some extent. The frequency of this distemper is probably a determining factor in the characterization of an individual. I think I am usually cheerful, but as I get older I notice that I am becoming more of a loner and less talkative. I fear sometimes that I wouldn't be a very good marital companion because of my lack of talkativeness. I'll have to have a companion that is relatively independent, who won't have to depend on my attention to satisfy her desires. I'll need one that doesn't talk much because I don't much like to listen. Nor do I like to talk much. I wanted to record this bad mood, so I could be reasonably complete in my self-characterization for future analysis.
Lucky reached under the front of the hood and pulled the lever hard and the hood popped open. He pushed the safety release and lifted the hood to full height held by its heavy springs. At least there was plenty of room to work around this big V-8 engine.
It was Saturday morning and he had the weekend off for a change. Work was already slowing down. Usually he worked on Saturdays, straight time of course because being family was like being a slave. He had made his two runs on Friday and fell asleep in front of the TV again in the evening--in spite of his best intentions to go party. Now he had to fix the car so he could get to town because it was already threatening rain and he didn't enjoy driving his bike in the rain.
He moved all the wires. Sure enough two spark plug wires were loose. He checked the distributor cap and that was off position just enough to make it misfire. The voltage and water level of the battery checked okay so he got in to try to start it. It cranked on the first try but didn't start. The second crank made it coughed and sputter and it started. It still needed timing, but he could drive it to his father-in-law's and work in his garage out of the weather. The Plymouth had been a dependable car and it still had most of its original power when properly tuned. You couldn't really fault the car. The '62 Fury was a large model with plenty of room to seat six.
Lucky let the car idle and went to alert Mary Jane and help her load whatever she needed. He carried Ellen and they all went together into town.
The repairs were complete by late afternoon and the car was running like a dream. Good for another 10,000 miles, maybe. Lucky had also attended to the operation of his father-in-law's trolling boat-motor. It had been mounted on the side of a 50 gallon drum of water waiting for the artist of grease and oil to give it just the right touch. The butterfly valve on the carbonator was sticky so he fixed that and adjusted the mixture back to normal and with a few other adjustments it was purring like a kitten.
"You might as well stay for dinner. You earned it." Ethel, Lucky's mother-in-law, was possessive of her new son. She knew she had to be nice to him because Mary Jane too often wasn't.
"Suits me. I'll just get cleaned up." Lucky could have gained weight around this bunch if he didn't work so hard.
"God Mom, you're always doing this. You don't have to do this again." Mary Jane was really pleased since it relieved her not only of the responsibility of cooking, but also the necessity to be alone with Lucky for another few hours.
"You can help by making the gravy once I get the chicken cooked."
After dinner the dysfunctional couple finally got on their way back to their lair.
"I should let you drive to see how nice this baby runs now."
"Thanks, but no thanks. I can tell you did a good job. Can we stop at the grocery store to get some milk and a few grocery items on the way?"
"Geese you know how I hate to waist time hanging around the damn store. Can't you just come back?"
"It's not gonna kill you. What are you afraid of; the car won't start or somethin'?" Obviously his ego was inextricably connected to the performance of the car and she knew it.
"Fuck you. The car will start. It started this morning. All I had to do was wiggle a few wires."
"I'll let you buy some beer if you take me to the store. Besides it'll do you good."
"Shit, I don't need your permission to buy beer. You gotta promise you won't drive the cart up and down every damn isle. Let's just slam-bam-thank-you-mam. Okay? I wanna go out. I haven't been out all week. Do you mind? I wanna go over by the Post to hang out with some of my ole Army buddies."
"I don't mind. Go ahead."
"Do you wanna come along?"
"Now, how could I do that? Besides, I'm sick of those smelly bars. I'll just stay home and sing to my baby. How `bout you go to church with us tomorrow?" Now that she had become a mother her whole personality changed. So had his but in a different direction.
"Dan and Margaret invited us. You haven't seen Danny for a month or more."
"It'll be another year if the only place I see him is in church. Maybe on Easter."
The grocery store came into view. Lucky guided the boat of a car into the nearest parking spot.
The family did their shopping in record time. That was about as close as they came to quality time.
Before starting the car Lucky took a Budweiser from the pack and opened it to get a head start on the night. He finished it by the time they arrived home traveling in silence.
After carrying in the groceries, changing into his clean clothes and taking a leak, he was back in the car headed for any one of several bars that lined the street in front of the Post Main Gate.
Sure enough, he met two old cronies and played pool, pinball, and drank beer after beer after beer. He smoked cigarette after cigarette and generally caroused around until after 2:00 AM.
He could barely walk and keep his eyes open when he finally got ushered out with his two friends.
"You guys wanna come home and fuck my wife?"
"You're full of shit Lucky." The first flipped him the bird.
"Go dig yourself a hole and crawl inside." The second was equally indignant.
"I don't blame you; neither do I. She's like sleeping with an overstuffed pillow that moves and squirms...away most of the time."
"You shouldn't talk bad about your ole lady. She was a beauty queen until you fucked her over."
"Screw you, you son of a bitch." Lucky got furious and tried to attack. He bent out of shape and made a half assed motion to take a swing but fell off balance against the side of his car hood.
"Cool it. You're shit faced, man. Don't do something you'll regret."
"You can't talk about my wife like that and get away with it."
"You're the one who started this whole bit."
"I'm gonna go home - check on her right now. She's probably been makin' it with that damn red haired landlord prick. God he's a weasel."
"Maybe you'd better come over to the barracks and sleep this off. You got too far to drive in your condition."
"Shit. I'm fine. I've driven farther than you ever thought of driving in worse condition." Lucky moved around to the door handle holding on tight for stability. If the door had been locked he probably couldn't have gotten in.
"You're shit faced man." The two waved him off as they walked toward the Main Gait.
He managed to enter the car and fumbled in his pocket for the keys. "Fuck! I forgot to take the keys out of my pocket first. I'll do it over." He got out, took out the keys, dropped them and got into the car. "There that's better." He leaned down and retrieved the keys and almost fell out.
"God it's dark in here. Which one is it?" He was talking out loud to himself of course. Unfortunately he found the well marked, distinctive key.
Again the engine ignited with precision; this time with a roar from too much throttle too long. He pulled forward. "Opps, forgot to shut the damn door." He slammed the door shut just before passing too close to a parked car.
He eased toward the far street light and onto the highway. He knew the well traveled route by automatic pilot. As he adapted to the road he gained speed and over-confidence.
He had the image of that bastard landlord in his mind again. "That faggot. He's probably got syphilis and I'll probably get syphilis. If I get syphilis I'll kill that son of a bitch." His aggression was useful as long as it lasted. It gave him enough adrenalin to stay awake. As it wore off, so did his resistance to the forces of nature.
"Geese I gotta take a pee..e." Besides that he was about half asleep.
He pulled half off the road onto the narrow shoulder and stopped the car. He parked in a dark stretch on the back side of a shallow "S" curve where he felt he had privacy.
"This car will start good. I'll prove it." For no good reason he turned off the motor and then the lights. "I don't want nobody to see me pis..s..sing."
It took nearly a minute for him to open the door and get his legs out. He had to un-button his green fatigue pants, which under the best of conditions can create panic when you're in a hurry to relieve a too bloated bladder. "Shit, no wonder I got out of the Army." He fumbled with the buttons. "Damn buttons! Hey Sarge, my gun's jammed." He giggled at the thought of comparing his "gun" to his former weapon.
After he had begun to relieve himself, a set of bright lights suddenly came up behind. Tires squealed and the car swerved to avoid the sudden reflection of the tail lights. The driver missed the tail lights okay, and moved just out of control toward the center line. The vehicle took a path that came within a few inches of the extended door. If Lucky had been standing inside the door he would have been safe. As it was, he was on the outside of the door and the front left light of the car hit him squarely below his left buttock as he was fumbling to stop his urine and move into the shelter of the car. The force of the oncoming car jammed him against the open door so hard it broke his right hip and pelvic area, destroying the door in the process. He took on some of the motion of the fast car and spun around in a cartwheel motion with his legs flying in the air. His head hit the pavement at least once and his body tumbled down with his right arm being crushed under the rear tire. That didn't cause any pain because he was already gone for all practical purposes.
September 21st. I now take pen to write about a subject familiar to many of us: that is Loneliness. This odious beast has been my companion for some time. It seems to be both dynamic and static in its aspects. Static because it never changes but is present for periods invariably. But then again it appears dynamic, because it can disappear and approach at intervals, frequent, all too frequent.
The reason why I choose to lament about this unwanted bedfellow is because I am presently in its grasp. It seems that recently a girl friend who I love decided to leave me. But being tough, I repressed the significance and now feel the pressure of that repressed thought. I lack a confidant, which as I have noticed only recently, is a necessary part of a man's life.
While I was thinking of writing to my brother, John, I felt an intense sensation of the frustration under which I am placed by myself. I feel my ambition thwarted--to disguise my loneliness from myself. I have been reading constantly, realizing only partly the reason for my intense concentration. It is a release from myself--living the lives of others.
However, I was reading about this other lonely guy today. I couldn't concentrate on this; it was too much a story of myself. The realization of my intensive frustration, before mentioned, caused tears of self-sympathy to swell in my eyes and fall. Self-pity is something else. It comes over the categories including loneliness, melancholy, home-sickness, self-deprecation, rationalizing our errors, justification, etc. Thus I have come to my pen and my journal to record this illusion. I will be home in 5 months to some dubious end and am getting anxious...
...Some say that everyone thinks of suicide at least once. I haven't yet. I have hope and a firm conviction in the positive events to follow in the future...
...I think the individual life of a person is of first importance. We must follow our feelings and intuitions (albeit these are created by many factors) but we should be honest to recognize what has become one's self and maintain this honesty with integrity. I sympathize with those that blindly follow their individual clique or caste. I pity those who have not the capacity to think for themselves, and I appreciate those who can and do make for themselves their sphere of influence according to the intuition of their consciences. These last, I applaud, and wish them all the anonymity for which they should justly aspire...
Jack was withdrawing into himself more; he suggested that anonymity was the "award" of individuality, not a curse. Not everyone who lives can be an independent artist to create beauty in their own lives. Not everyone can succeed as a "freethinker." But, that's who Jack is, and he is trying to make the best of it.
...Then in conclusion, I advocate the individual existence of intelligent people. I intended to say earlier that, the social life to me is of second importance, the national life is of third importance, hemispheric fourth, world fifth. But, it is like a series of concentric circles in some ways. The first or center, the individual life, is to me nearly as important as the sphere of influence of the World, the furthest circle out. Then I am saying that my individuality is only close in importance to my identity with the world, as the largest sphere returns to the center. This World concern being the largest sphere that my experiences have led me to frequent, I still respect it. I would change my social status readily, since it isn't considered very high anyway--I have not much to lose. I would dissolve my citizenship, and disassociate myself from all Western influences for a chance at being identified with the World of Individuals.
Jack's melancholy lead to a creative tension that may be his most eloquent expression.
October 4, 1968. As the reader may surmise by noticing the above date, it has been considerable time since I last wrote in this diary. Hence it has no longer the distinction of being a diary, but instead has become another journal. There has been some interesting activity since I wrote nearly two months ago.
I'm still in Brindisi, the missionary drop-out district. I mentioned last about my bike; I have used it some, not much. My comp doesn't have one so when we go he has to borrow one from the other guys. I have played tennis every Monday during this period up until the last Monday. I got tired of it. I lost my competitive spirit and started doing poorly.
To go play tennis I rode my bike. That has been its major contribution, except for a couple excursions to the beach. My other diversion day activities have consisted in doing my laundry and reading. Once in a while we go to the movie. We went to Lecce, a nearby city famous for an old university. Once we went to see the investigators there, and again to buy some books. There are a couple of girls in Lecce who are interested in learning about The Church. They come to church on Sunday. We're all quite friendly. We had one dinner for them and they fixed one for us. They keep sending us food. The other guys go to see them often.
In August we had a conference in Taranto for the Zone. It proved dull, but we had a good meal. That is the extent of my traveling recently.
I went to get my application card for an absentee voter registration signed by Captain Kohl who is leaving for an assignment in the US. We helped them clean their house in preparation to move. I went over there a few times on the way to play basketball. I met the basketball coach while playing tennis and went and played BB for a while--up until several weeks ago. I need to go back. The coach's name is Elios; he is a sharp guy and expressed a mild interest in learning about The Church.
We haven't been doing much tracting. Now and then we do a block but we're keeping up some work for appearance's sake. Our tracting time has fallen to zero.
We have been cooking our food at home which has involved many harrowing experiences. The other guys have stolen our food and we have reciprocated. The District as a whole is in very poor shape. There has been much lying and misrepresentation by the District Leader to the President. I got tired of it so I wrote a letter to the President in confidence and told him about what was going on. It seems to have backfired against me. The DL, Elder Smith, hates me for dumping on him.
The President has proven himself completely untrustworthy and inept in handling confidential secrets. I'll never trust him again. I don't think I really trusted him in the first place. Now there is a spirit of contention and even hate in the District. I hope to be able to leave soon. But the President hasn't answered my letter directly. So right now I'm just waiting to leave.
This week we've tracted some, but no teaching of any consequence. I'm presently reading a couple of books, `History of Italian Literature' and `The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich'. So I will occupy myself with this. I have ordered quite a few books from Penguin Books Ltd. and hope to receive them soon.
I've also changed my future plans. I'm going to enroll at the University of Oregon instead of the BYU as planned. This is all in an effort to stay away from The Church as much as possible when I return. I'm waiting for forms and transcripts so I can complete successfully this transfer. I'm also waiting for an absentee ballot. I'm not sure who to vote for, Humphrey-Muskie or Nixon-Agnew. I'm a registered Democrat and probably I'll vote that way. I will definitely vote for Senator Wayne Morse. On everything else I'll have to wait until I see the ballot. I'm getting my driver's license renewed. It will be my birthday soon. I don't expect any recognition, maybe some extra money, who knows?
October 29. My birthday is past and I have lived on the Earth for more than 22 years. This year was special for me. Not in the normal sense: parties, gifts, recognition, etc. In fact it was special because I didn't tell anyone I was `having it' until it was over. So I spent the whole day in pent up anxiety and remorse for not having parties, gifts, recognition, etc. But I was trying to see what it feels like, and I found out. It isn't pleasant. I've always wanted to do it sometime. But now that I've done it, I never want to do it again. People, at least me, have a need to hallow occasions even though they are arbitrary, such as birthdays. People have always had parties and celebrations, and commemorations, etc. And I realize that these have a place in one's life. I'll observe those of mine and others with greater solemnity in the future.
Celebrations are a necessary ingredient in creating a religion or a social group.
November 11th. The time has been passing. I've felt it go by, each minute. I've consistently tried to better my minutes, as H.D. Thoreau suggested, `Improve your time.' I read or do something to change the pace. I baked bread the other day, not bad. Before that I deep-fat fried cooked pasta trying to invent a snack food to replace potato chips. It wasn't particularly good. Maybe I had the wrong oil. I even made a picture out of sea shells, gluing them on a board. Had to throw it away because the dead animals inside began to smell so badly.
Several weeks ago Elder Woods got transferred. Before that Elder Smith, my arch enemy, got transferred after both of them got in trouble by attending a Communist rally. Good riddance. Now for the last while Elder Cox and I have been here together which has been okay except Cox is really weird. I have to watch him closely. He frequently makes noises in his bed at night like he's masturbating. Last night I told him to quit it. He just laid there and suffered in silence. Join the club.
Cox always has a few neighbor kids up here. I wonder if he is a homosexual sometimes. The way he acts he seems to suffer from the psychological disease, pedophilia. Today he had one boy with him in the bathroom. As soon as I heard and found out where they were I pounded on the door and told them to stop it and get out. I can't pander to his messed up sexual habits. I just have to keep him out of trouble.
There was a strange rustling that came from the hall, so Jack laid down his book, Promese Spose, and walked quickly to investigate.
"Hey Cox, are you in there with that boy? Come out now."
From behind the door: "Don't worry; nothing's going on."
"I don't care. Stop what you're doing and get out. I can't help you if you don't help yourself."
"Okay. Put on your safety Sheriff; we're coming out."
The door opened and the two came out in no apparent disarray.
"Geese, Cox. Where is your mind? You can't let yourself get so involved with these kids."
"I'm okay. We were just talking."
"Well do your talking out in the open, okay? You've been giving these kids money and anything they want. Is this some kind of pay-off?"
"No. I just like them and they like me. So what's wrong with that?"
"Nothin' I guess--on the surface. But don't let this get out of hand. If you want to give stuff away, shit, give it to me."
Jack's diary suggested:
I describe him as a `tipo speciale' to all those who ask me about him. But I believe in living and letting others live. And as long as I have no definite proof that he is doing anything wrong, there is nothing else to do. If I told the President he'd come down on me like a ton of bricks. Slay the messenger.
Otherwise we get along okay. We were eating together but then disagreed about food and such so now we are eating separately mostly. I sent the absentee ballot in, but Humphrey lost the election. Can't win them all. I hope Nixon will do a half-decent job. I doubt it, though I'm not in a position to make any prophecies.
I received most of the books ordered from Penguin. I've read almost all those I received. I'm reading a biography of John Maynard Keynes in Italian. I bought 15,000 lira worth of books in Taranto the 6th of November. I gave up on the idea of going to Napoli to shop there. This purchase included a couple of rare books and other books of classical Italian literature. I was there for a conference with President Downey and Apostle Monson, the new representative for Europe. I promised the President I would work for the rest of my mission. So when I get transferred from Brindisi I'll have to finish in good style. I've asked for an early release; if I get it I'll be going home the 7th of February. Less than three months away. Great, but we'll see.
I have written quite often to Elder Will. We were planning a trip home together through Europe, but our plans don't converge adequately. He always has such eccentric ideas. I'm trying to sell my bike too. I'm getting ready to go home. I'm also sending a whole bunch of Christmas cards so they will arrive before Christmas, hoping for monetary contributions in return.
Jack didn't ask directly for money, but he didn't leave much to the imagination either.
November 15th. We finally received transfers. I'm to go to Brescia, completely on the other end of the country. I've been there before and am actually looking forward to it because it brings me closer to the Good Ole USA, except for the weather. I'll just stay in when I don't like the weather outside. Problem solved!