I rolled out of bed, sat down for a while, then walked to the store when there was enough daylight. Once there, I ran into Lisa and her daughter Olivia. Lisa bought a bunch of energy drinks and a Coke for her kid. At my turn to check out, I told Lisa the clerk that the sale priced beers on the table were a distraction for me. But she helped remind me that you lose everything as an alcoholic… At ten o’clock I have Gloria today. Thursday I’m going to the agency to see my med prescriber, a PNP named Todd I’ve known for four years, though I can’t believe how time flies. It’s also been that long since I had contact with my brother, whom the family has sort of ostracized. The only relative I talk to now is my sister, the family matriarch; but I’m always on the fringe of the gang, having a totally different set of values from them. I think it goes back to my dad, and my mother too. They cared about education and sophistication, whether or not they could be accused of snobbery. My dad was a peculiar kind of guy, with polished manners but many foibles. Both of my parents were hard to get to know, keeping to themselves in their safe little bubble. The rest of the family despised them.
But they gave me everything they had…
I’m wondering why the music has died. With the rise of the internet and electronic devices, people have become less human and social, which means they don’t make music together anymore. My iPad is so smart that it anticipates everything I’m going to say before I say it. D.H. Lawrence could’ve foreseen a world like ours, with the machines out of control and human beings subordinate to them. He’d be disgusted that we let this happen… Now we depend on the machines and keep using them for our convenience. I think live music is a casualty of the machine dependent age. It brings out the Luddite in me, though The Buggles saw the same thing in 1979 when they made The Age of Plastic.
Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far
Short of some cataclysm, it’s impossible to go back. But if I had a Time Machine, you know I’d go backwards like a shot.
I am the backwards traveler
Ancient wool unraveler
Singing songs, wailing on the moon…
We’ll be wailing on the moon
Sometimes I’d like to revive old memories and live in the past, but the present is a hard fact to try to deny. Things could be better than they are, but they can also be a lot worse. Make the best of the status quo, I guess. My main complaint is how lonely I feel without my parents and old friends; even my brother and the psychiatrist I fired. I didn’t go to church today. I can’t relate to those people very well anymore because I’ve lost my faith in the Christian tradition. My faith was always pretty flimsy anyway.
A lot of people still swear by Carl Jung. I looked on Amazon the other night and his Red Book and Black Books had five star ratings. People must see something in him that I miss. It sounds like a bunch of quackery to me, and smoke and mirrors. It’s like waiting all night on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to show up, and nothing ever happens. No sound of reindeer hoofs on the rooftop, no jingle of the sleigh. Nothing at all. The desire to believe can be very strong, but reality still doesn’t budge.
At least, they call us psychotic if reality does yield to our wishes. I have personal experience with this. So they put us on drugs to block the experience of religious things like the Resurrection, etc etc. And they call it a disease. But when the world is delusional with the same stuff, the diagnosis is much trickier. It gives me nausea and a headache.
The sun is shining, no clouds, and expected to stay the same all day. It’s also very cold. I haven’t seen the news in a long time; am I missing anything? No one else talks about it. I guess the news is that people are working for a living. If I had a magic wand, everyone’s life would be exactly as they liked it. It’d be a return to the Golden Age, or like Eden, where living is free and carefree. I wonder who invented money and when it replaced bartering for goods. I would make a poor economist or banker; I don’t even like numbers or quantities… I suppose it’s time to go get a Snapple and stuff to eat for today. It’ll be fine to look at the blue sky on my way to the store around the bend.
Quarter of ten.
I ran into a friend of Gloria’s, the boyfriend of her granddaughter, at the market. He was shopping for energy drinks. We didn’t say much except to greet each other. Outdoors, it’s still below freezing, though with few icy spots. Hardly anybody was out and about. Coming home, a blast of frigid wind hit me on N Park. I contemplated the sky a bit, wondering if it made sense to imagine something “behind” it as in the fiction by Paul Bowles. The blue atmosphere is caused by dust, a physicist will tell you. But people believe what they want to believe, a condition that may spell our ultimate undoing.
I’m expecting Gloria at ten this morning, and we’ll probably go to Bi Mart because Aesop needs canned food. The lemon sky and something about the atmosphere suggest to me an early spring, not to mention the sparrows behind my house. There are times when I admit to myself that I’d love to get drunk on a tasty beer and pretend it’s the Pleasure Dome. But at this point, the consequences of alcohol are very dire. I have everything to lose by getting plastered, so I just daydream what I can’t actually do. There is music in my mind by Ravel from Daphnis et Chloe. I have the disc of the ballet and could listen to it, but I remember how it sounds well enough. Also, I’m feeling rather tired of being versed in the Western tradition in the arts and philosophy. There must be a way to escape it all. For today, it’ll have to be sufficient to make a trip to Bi Mart.
Quarter of one.
As I get older, I also get slower to process information. For instance, I’m still arguing with someone for what he said six weeks ago, never mind the details. I want to call him names like stuffed shirt and hypocrite, but it wouldn’t do any good. January is coming to an end, and hopefully so will a few of my headaches. Everyone has an opinion and an agenda, which is fine as long as you don’t include me in your scheme. A few people I’ve known are live and let live, but there are many more who want power over you, to dominate and control you. So that I’m ready to leave it all behind, because I’m not about to surrender to another person’s will. No white flag or throwing in the towel. I don’t care who’s on your side, whatever phantoms you have up your sleeve or at your beck and call. I don’t believe it… It’s been a while since I read Emerson, whom I admire for his independence. America is cool in some ways but it’s also very difficult here for freethinkers and people who can imagine a better way of living and getting along together. Dream on, I guess. And yet I feel that conditions will come to a crisis. Someone will come along who tells us all to shut up. This will happen especially if we don’t exercise our right to free speech and writing. As it is, they’ve got us reading just one redundant book.
Again I feel tired and kind of lonely since talking with my sister on the phone. Sometimes we just don’t agree on much at all, and it wears me down. I had a different father from my siblings, which puts me on an island all by myself.
Quarter of three.
I was feeling low, so I needed to distract myself by doing something different. I played the bass for a bit and found myself picking out an old song by The Motels called “Only the Lonely.” I used harmonics for the synth chords, just simple diatonic fourths, and the bass line was easy enough. Presently I felt sad and pensive, remembering my mother’s own loneliness and need of a friend. When I was 16 I vowed to myself that I would be kind to Mom and be her buddy. The video by The Motels was often on MTV that autumn, causing me to stop and think, though a teenager’s thoughts are mostly nonverbal. At least mine were. And the emotions I felt were pain and pity even though the song was a little lugubrious.
My trip to the store this time was a bit different. It was later, so I saw more women inside the market, some of them very nice looking. One woman drove a cobalt blue sedan and let me cross her path on the sidewalk. Then I watched her drive over to the green espresso shack and get in line. She had stood behind me at checkout. She was slender with red hair and wore a cardigan, which didn’t seem like enough on a cold winter day. I was dressed in my eternal blue parka and a navy blue beanie that covered my ears. On my way there, I passed an old white bearded man carrying a coffee who gruffly nodded and said hello. I always notice the moss growing on the asphalt just outside Randy’s car lot, enclosed by a wire fence with a locked sliding gate. Maxwell is a derelict section of the community, but sometimes graced by passers through, or saved by a local celebrity, as when Lisa deigns to make an appearance at the market. The other night I put in earbuds and listened to “Josie.”
When Josie comes home, so good
She’s the pride of the neighborhood
She’s the raw flame, the live wire
She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire
I let Aesop out of his little prison down the hall after my zoom meeting was done and he barked at me to tell me he wanted his milk bones. The white light of day makes the room appear green, a greenness that reminds me of the cover to a book of Robert Frost I once had when I was a student. If it weren’t so cold out, I’d say it was kind of like the springtime with all the blooms and bird activity, and it stays lighter now for longer. The greens also are souvenirs of a serotonin buzz many years ago from taking Prozac. The drug made me feel impulsive and sociable, but also sleepless and finally suicidal, so I had to stop it. 1991 was very long ago and I can sense how much I’ve aged. It isn’t like Goethe anymore, a creed of seize the day. Rather, it’s a time for quiet reflection and study. Still, the green outdoors is a distraction from cerebral things. It is entirely possible to get too comfortable; security can be a trap that keeps you from pursuing happiness.
And then you ponder the difference between green pastures and ash gray pavements littered with cigarette butts. Where do we go from here?
Quarter of one.
It’s doable to be young at heart. Not to spit in the wind and give up your dream of paradise. They say poverty sucks, but poetry will never desert the pauper. It is there if you look for it, like the kingdom of God. It dwells within you.
I don’t know whether to feel tired or amped. I’ve got a zoom appointment at ten thirty regarding my PCA, so I’m a bit nervous. For a while I’d like to forget everything and chill out. The weather is foggy right now, and I saw how busy Maxwell Road was at eight fifteen. My own street was sleeping or dead to the world. Most of the traffic came from the south side of N Park or from River Road to the east. I hugged the inside of the sidewalk on my way to market as the cars whizzed past me. It tends to make me feel small and insignificant, like a kind of insect underfoot, dodging the world above my head. I can also relate to turtles and tortoises: anything that moves slowly like a sloth. But the rabbits of the world don’t take time to think about what they’re doing or what others do. Thus I’m fairly content with my lot in life. There are the thinkers and the doers, and I’ve never really been one of the latter.