Blog

The Slope

Eight o’clock.

Michelle told me she left her other job. Evidently the place was quite mismanaged and there was inadequate communication with her supervisor. When I first got up and looked out the window, the sun was a great copper cannonball in the east. I let the dog out and took out the trash. I skipped my medications last night and so far I feel better for it. The weather people keep telling us the air quality is good, yet the colors outside don’t look right. Next door to me, Lenore is having her house painted a medium gray with white trim by a local budget service. It doesn’t look so great, especially next to my bright yellow house. Lenore also never offered to pay me a portion of the cost of the fence that Damien built last year. I have crap neighbors, and nothing I can do about it. No one seems to have a conscience anymore, while the big brazen sun keeps making its daily circuit: sunrise, sunset… 

Aesop just ate his breakfast. Every morning I give him a peanut butter bone from the store, so now he expects it as a matter of course. I love to see him enjoy it while I quaff down a Snapple tea; it’s a high point of the day. When the world is sloping downhill, it’s good to have a creature comfort or two. Yesterday I thought of my brother, whose immaturity belies his 68 years of age. And I think of how he has no excuse for being a jerk to me, his younger brother. But life is very strange to a person in recovery, far stranger than any fiction. 

Decisions & Dreams

Noon hour.

I wish I felt better than I do today. I’ve been reading a sci-fi short novel by Pohl and Kornbluth, full of wild action and adventure. It gives me interesting dreams at night sometimes of being kidnapped or shanghaied and left for dead by some enemies. Maybe I can finish it today or tomorrow. The novel is part of a set of volumes I bought last September for my sobriety birthday. The next birthday is just next month: four years clean and sober. I think I’m anticipating it… Mike is bringing my stuff back at one o’clock, and then the business is pretty much finished.

Four twenty five. I did a lot of reading in The Space Merchants. When I put the book down, it suddenly hit me: I quit the band! That’s a huge move for me, not without regrets. But then I remember that last practice that was such a disaster because of substance abuse. It wasn’t my fault; they sabotaged themselves and wasted my time a week ago.

Quarter of ten.

I slept or slumbered about four hours. It was an interesting kind of day today, and Sunday night is usually rather dead. One of the most memorable books I ever read was Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny when I was fifteen and a high school sophomore. My parents didn’t care what I read, and besides, I was old enough to choose my own reading material. It was weird how out of touch with reality my parents were; just thoughtlessly marking time with whiskey and cigarettes and apathetic about everything. I guess they weren’t very smart; but I can say one thing good for them. They bought this house and paid it off before dying so I wouldn’t have to worry about having shelter. And so I could go on dreaming little dreams and big dreams of faraway places and things like the perfect realm of Amber in the Zelazny book. And who’s to say who is out of touch with reality? We all need a good escape now and then: a dream to implement, which is the meaning of Blake’s Poetic Genius. Whatever proceeds from this is right. It builds Jerusalem on England’s green and pleasant land. It takes you on the long road trip with Corwin and Random to the forest where Julian hunts you down on the way to the palace of Amber. The perfect realm is a place inside your head. 

Innocence

Quarter after eight.

I had planned on going to church this morning, but I feel tired and probably won’t make it. From my house to the church is a mile trip and I just don’t have the energy to hoof it. I was at the store a half hour ago and spoke a little with Heather, and I also saw Kat and Corey as I passed their house and said hi. There was some activity in front of the dog rescue place beside Valley Restaurant Equipment. I don’t know what was going on. I observed to myself that Maxwell Road is sort of a slum compared to other places in town. For economic reasons, it has become run down and relatively unattractive. It hasn’t looked good since the early eighties, when I was in junior high school… But on second thought, Maxwell was always a little poor and ramshackle. I love it, though. It reminds me of my mother, when we’d have lunch at Luigi’s on spring and summer days. The hot garbage grinders were awesome, toasted in big ovens and packed with veggies, long before Subway came to Eugene. Ninth grade was a great year for me, being a big fish in a small pond. It was the last K12 school year I really enjoyed. We had a very tough vice principal, but I think he was basically a good man. He was the one who got things done, while the principal was rather a reclusive coward.

Nine twenty five. I must’ve read 17 Tarzan novels that year. I still have dreams of those beautiful paperback books occasionally, with the Neal Adams and Boris Vallejo covers. But by the time I was 16 years old, the innocence had worn away and Tarzan appeared corny to me. I was growing up. 

Domains

Nine fifty.

I don’t feel very good today. I suspect the cholesterol medication makes me dizzy and unbalanced, plus I have back pain. Just the wages of getting older. I hope I can make it to church tomorrow morning… But mentally I’m doing pretty well. The raspberry tea must’ve helped me. It is definitely cloudy and overcast today, and I kind of like it. Maybe it won’t get so hot this time. My mind dwells on school during the fall of 1990 for some reason. It was the only time I ever went to a Halloween party— and felt like a complete social klutz. It was also a time when I had to choose between music and academics, ultimately picking school. A difficult decision. But I think I was in the wrong place with my musical friends, though I didn’t realize it right away. I dunno; it’s hard to be a divided person with diverse abilities.

Quarter after eleven. Feeling lonely again. Roger has some project going in his garage, something noisy. Since his retirement it’s been hard for him to keep busy. What is a retired cop supposed to do? His job was to bust the scumbags, as he called them. He didn’t care how the bad guys came to be that way. Didn’t think about criminal justice or whatever. If they broke the law, they broke the law: period. That was the training he received… Roger has been my neighbor for many years. He’s an old conservative like two other houses on this street. The most outrageous conservatives used to live next door to me. They laughed at homeless people and didn’t own a single book. I was actually sandwiched between two ultra conservative homes. Those people all moved away by June 2015, to my immense relief. They hated me and didn’t try to hide it. Those were very difficult years.

Noon hour. When you can’t find a niche where you fit in, you have to carve your own niche. That’s what having a domain is all about. 

The One in All

Eight o’clock.

A fly in the market was bugging Heather, so on the spot she killed it with the swatter. She was stirring the gravy when I approached the register. I guess she was unfamiliar with the idea of ahimsa, practicing non injury to other beings. Christians and Hindus are much different from each other. I like Hinduism for its consistency with modern science; Brahman is very similar to Energy in Western physics. As I recall, ancient Hindus had the concept of the atom before the Greek Democritus. And the Hindu worldview shows how everything is interrelated by the cycle of rebirths… I didn’t observe much else on my trip this morning. The customer behind me bought a newspaper. The daily round is kind of like reading Ulysses day after day. To show relatedness is to love humankind. I’d hate to see a book like this forgotten, so I keep reminding people to check it out… I remember the feeling I got when I first read a selection from the Upanishads in the Knight Library up on Campus. It was like transcendence of the ordinary mundane to overcome separateness with other people and blend everything together in oneness. A beautiful experience, like being in a trance, but the trance can serve a purpose. It is really a form of enlightenment when you see the sameness of everything: so unlike Aristotle and the Western tradition… Aesop had his canned food breakfast just now. From here we can chill for a couple of hours, feel time dissolve in eternity. 

Candide

Quarter of four in the morning.

I got up for a few minutes, and maybe I’ll go the distance until sunrise. The idea of Panglossian optimism occurs to me, a kind of teleological absurdity that depends on the existence of a benevolent God. Everything works out for the best because he designed it that way. I haven’t read Voltaire in many years, but I can always remember the chapter about El Dorado. And Candide asks questions out of his sheer innocence while he and his friends go from one predicament to the next.

Six o’clock. In another hour I can go to the store, unless Heather misses her alarm again. It looks like the sky is overcast this morning. Speaking of optimism, mine is restored a bit after the events of yesterday. Now I’m more liberated than I used to be. A burden has rolled off. I got a decent sleep last night as a result. I realize that I take things earnestly and hard— probably too hard; I was always very grave and serious about everything. It’s not my nature to be light and satirical, but rather honest and literal like Candide, who, by the way, is quite the opposite of the author who created his character… The sprinklers have turned off and a prop plane drones overhead. The first birds are cheeping outdoors, as free as their nature. Today should be good, as Aesop my dog stares me down with a question on his face. 

Perfectible

Quarter of eight.

As I started walking down my street this morning, my head began to spin and I lost my balance for a few seconds. Dunno what caused it, though it could be my cholesterol medication, or maybe the heatwave. I mastered myself enough to finish going to the store for a few items. No Snapple today. Too risky. I’m also under a lot of stress in general and life has been unkind lately… At ten o’clock I have a Zoom appointment with Rebecca. I may be a bit nervous about that. Aesop gets breakfast at eight thirty. I think I should take it kind of easy today and aim for church on Sunday. My apocalyptic view of this summer could be exaggerated for some reason. However, I still think we could use a good rain here in Oregon. I feel rather tired and also sad about a few things. Every loss brings grieving. I don’t believe my Freudian education is valid anymore, or applicable to my current life. But I learned other things in college I can salvage for use in the present. Information tends to flow and ebb with time. And if I’m just a man out of time, a fish out of water, then I can learn to adapt with everyone else.

Quarter of nine. The day looks quite ugly to me. I’ve thought of how much I miss old times when our winters were actually cold. People still wear jackets and coats in the wintertime, but the truth is that they are not necessary when it’s fifty degrees out. We’re past the tip of the iceberg, and we did this to ourselves by polluting our habitat beyond sustainability. No one listens to scientists because we prefer the flattering lies of religion. The time was yesterday for paying attention to their warnings. Now, the new normal will be more and more abnormal for everybody. If only human nature were perfectible, as Percy Shelley hoped a long time ago… 

Decision

Quarter of four.

I’ve heard from Mike regarding my email. I’m still more inclined to leave the band after sleeping on it. He said something about taking the bad with the good, but it’s always been a dangerous situation for me and my sobriety. By the way, I opened the Kerouac book and read the first page: it’s definitely not for me, and it’s a thing that Ron would probably like. And as for ambivalence, sometimes the dichotomies are real and you have to make a decision one way or the other. I’ve been at a crossroads for the past seven months and now I know what to do. It involves dismissing the past, with my old friends and their attitudes… If I’m not doing music for a vocation, then I suppose I still have writing. Yesterday I also read a little bit of Les Miserables, a book I’d like to finish sometime in the future. 

Thursday Mood

I don’t know what to do with my book of Jack Kerouac. Perhaps I’ll just place it in the book share on Fremont Avenue; it’ll be a great score for somebody, a beautiful new volume still wrapped in plastic. But no; if I see Ron again, I’ll give it to him… The summer sunshine repeats itself outside.

Quarter after nine. I talked with my sister for an hour. She said her son is on the mend from the virus. It wasn’t one of our better conversations, however. Now I’ve got the rest of the day unspoken for. Very quiet in the house, and the day is still young. It might be a good time to go out someplace, except the weather will be very hot and uncomfortable. The thought of drinking beer crosses my mind, but I’m not serious about that. I can play my bass guitar this afternoon, but by myself is not the same as with other people. So it makes me wonder if sobriety is really worth it when you end up all alone. Life is always difficult for one reason or another. A song by The Motels occurs to me: “Only the Lonely.” It reminds me of my mother’s solitude when I went to high school, and how I made a pact with myself to be her friend in that time. I never knew my own identity because of my sacrifice, yet I still think it was the right thing to do. Today I can relate to her loneliness; she was just a little too smart for her own good.

Quarter after ten. Something bugs me now. I still feel like getting loose with a beer buzz or whatever. I remember the trips I used to take to the coast with my brother, sitting on the balcony of our room, looking at the ocean and drinking beer after beer in the sun. This was my brother’s reality, and I participated in it with him like a kind of religion… until my addiction nearly killed me and I had to stop… Roger fired up his collectible truck and drove away to Highway 99. Life goes on even without alcohol. How would it be to reread A Separate Peace by John Knowles? A classic novel about envy; about the irrational, and the unaccountability of human behavior. Sometimes it’s not all lollipops and lemon drops. 

Salt on a Wound

Eleven o’clock.

There’s been yet another headache for me. My debit card was compromised. But my bank was very good about it and I didn’t lose any money. I was fortunate. I think I’ll call my sister… I left a voicemail for her. The bad events hail down on us from a blue sky. Now I know it’s time to give up rock and roll.