Past Is Present

One thirty. Aesop was able to swipe off the basket muzzle, as I had expected. My next idea is to play with him in the backyard. Elsewhere this afternoon, I jammed on the white Fender bass and decided I like it. It emits treble frequencies that my other basses don’t, which is good for cutting through the mix. I’ll use it in my next practice with Ron and Mike. Eventually I will put a high mass bridge on it. Harmonics played on it ring out very clear. I found myself sliding harmonics not only up but down. Ron wrote a song called “Jersey” in E minor that really lends itself to improv and dynamics. I should send a text to my band mates regarding practicing again. I’ve got the urge to play very keenly… In a couple of days Damien will begin work on the fence, a disruption of two more days…

Eighteen years ago I had a gig with Blueface at a club called the Foxfire. It really was quite a nice place. Stan, the bassist of Mr Wizard, came to hear us. So did Mike, the bass man with a job at Guitar Center. The band’s guitar players were pretty bad, so Richie and I as a rhythm section carried it off. Our singer had perfect pitch and was good at mimicking people’s voices. He just had a good ear. The lead guitar did not, but his energy was magnetic. The other guitar happened to be wealthy. A long story. Now, both Blueface and the Foxfire are extinct. The singer went from construction work to driving a city bus. The weather today, so vernal and suggestive of summer, brings back the past.


Ten thirty. The sun is out in a sky full of little white clouds. The edges are grayish and indefinite, and the clouds look as if painted on a canvas. I peeked in the windows of the salon going both ways. They seemed busy. Events were casual at the convenience store. A stranger smiled and said hi to me as I was perusing the sodas. Not one person wore a mask. The Zeppelin song “Tea for One” was with me, sort of the ether in which I swam from place to place. Vicki tried to scan the chip in my food card when none existed. She’d been talking to two people at once… Thoughts of my family are at last becoming more fleeting. It’s been nearly two months since talking with my sister. If she were to contact me today, we’d have little to discuss. She weighs the worth of everything in dollar signs, which I think is rather odd for a religious person. I’m beginning to accept that my relationship with the family is over… It might be a good day for walking Aesop. Our connection has been a bit strained in the past few weeks. It is relatively warm outside today and no hint of rain. Something to consider.


Quarter of midnight. The lesson I cannot overemphasize is to believe in your own judgment. The only faith you’ll ever need is faith in your reason and your senses. And if, in the case of madness, your mind betrays you, then don’t forsake your heart. Courage resides there when everything else has deserted you…

Poking around in a stack of CDs, I uncovered another unexpected treasure: Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater. Now I should have two of their albums. The one in question I remember being a lot like Kansas in lyric concept: the quest for truth, both particular and general. John Myung is a good bass player, though his lines tend to coincide with the guitar riffs. I like Geddy Lee better because his bass phrases often stand apart from what the guitar is doing. It is a strong, independent voice in the mix. I can remember how, twenty years ago, the Myung Yamaha six string bass was on sale for under seven hundred dollars from Musician’s Friend. I avoided it because my hands are too small to manipulate a six string neck, plus that neck would be super heavy. Still, I can imagine worse ways to spend such a sum on a beautiful Japanese made instrument. It was turquoise, as I recall. The flagship bass of the RBX series. I do regret that I didn’t get one. Anyhow, I can listen to it on Dream Theater albums— and be thankful for the things I have.

SX Bass

Two o’clock. I just did some maintenance on my SX hybrid bass, a project in progress. It may always be a project bass, something to tinker with for fun. A week ago I disposed of the SX body and neck I didn’t want, so now there’s only the one composite P Bass copy. It is still a firewood axe, I suppose. I hot rodded it with a Di Marzio pickup eight years ago. For pole pieces this has iron blades that rest against a ceramic magnet down inside the housing. The output is super deep and loud, best for heavy metal… I will hang onto this guitar for a souvenir and a reminder of what I went through. DBF71DE8-61A0-49BE-AAB4-695C7F7531DE


Quarter of eleven.

My idea that has now crystallized is that I’ve analyzed my sexuality down to a point where it wouldn’t make much sense to have a relationship. I know what all the component parts, the nuts and bolts, of attraction signify for me. So that my reason is much bigger than my libido, for better or worse. It only remains to write about my experience of life inside and out.

I began to reread James’s The Golden Bowl, and found my comprehension to be fifty percent better this time. The Prince is presented as humble and sincere, honest, though by his admission morally antiquated. The plot will grow murky when he implicitly cheats on Maggie with Charlotte. I don’t remember how the book ends, or why the Prince and Charlotte have an affinity for each other. Will this affair ruin his engagement?…

It’s a cloudy day in late spring. The tone is lethargic from the holiday. In his driveway, Roger is out putzing with some project. There’s hardly a sound outside. Aesop’s basket muzzle came today. I have yet to open the package. On the skirts of my mind I consider my psychiatrist from of old. How would it be to start seeing him again? Would he try to push me too hard? He always thought I should have a gainful job. I resented this, and yet I care about the guy. Is freedom more important than fidelity? As long as I’m still sober, I’ll reckon I’m doing the right things.

Maybe in time I will fall in love with somebody, and it will be genuine and sincere. Love transcends the rudiments of the libido. I haven’t seen L— from church in a long while. The memory of her radiant face has pulled me through some difficult times. Perhaps I will send her an email asking about future choir practices.


Midnight hour. I had unpleasant dreams about my mother. She wanted to punish me for something, I don’t know what. The maddest she ever got at me was when I’d do something to magnify her feelings of guilt. She didn’t realize that the feelings belonged to her and not me. The way I feel right now, I didn’t care much for my mother. For too much of the time she was completely irrational. She made me feel unwelcome in her life. I think my dad was a little afraid of her as well. If Mom was unhappy and frustrated with her life, she shouldn’t have given me birth. She felt trapped in a loveless marriage, but she had only herself to blame for blocking her exits.

In hindsight, it seems like a lot of Mom’s lifetime was spent fleeing from herself or from reality. So much of her existence proceeded from her own bad decisions. She figured that loveless company was better than none at all.

What really alienated her from people was not her quantity of intelligence but its quality. Mom’s place was among artistic people. One day she confided to me, “I don’t fit.” The other homemakers on our street tried to involve her in games of bridge and going out to lunch, but Mom disliked gossipy gatherings. That kind of activity wasn’t real to her. She craved intimacy and sincerity with others, but unfortunately she couldn’t drop into a groove anywhere. If she had only taken an interest in confessional poetry such as Anne Sexton or Sylvia Plath, or anything creative along these lines, and risked a little rejection from critics… But Mom was afraid of rejection. Thus the end result is a conflicted life whose theme music is the chorus to “Eleanor Rigby.”

The Caffeine Trap

Quarter after four. I restrung my J Bass and gave it a good workout this afternoon. The strings are extremely bright and made more so by the bridge. I told Pastor that I’d be willing to buy a keyboard amplifier for the church so Eduardo can set up outdoors. Maybe at Guitar Center I can work a trade in for the American Fender bass. But no: see about an exchange from Musicians Friend first. Call them Tuesday, after Memorial Day is over with. On Friday I spoke with a rep who was a complete ignoramus. She knew absolutely nothing about music gear, nor how to retrieve records from their system. She was too stupid to be embarrassed about it. I came away frustrated and angry… Meanwhile, Aesop is dozing after an anxious afternoon of me messing with my bass guitar. And I’ve probably overdosed on caffeine again, making me irritable and kind of mean. I felt great five hours ago and now I’m a jerk. One two liter of Coke is almost a six pack of cans. Also I feel like I’m having to rationalize my caffeine intake. I know that it’s too much to be healthy and moderate. I begin to use it because it makes me feel good, and then I want more and more of that euphoria. How does that differ from an alcoholic buzz? In principle it is no different, and that’s why I have to justify doing it. It’s another addiction.