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…
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.
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 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.
I just had a little dinner that Gloria brought me this morning. Very good. She made round steak with mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, and green beans. I thought it was really nice of her. But earlier today I had a hard time with my thoughts and my mood, and again I could trace it to a conversation with T—; also to D’s sermons. I realize how thin my skin is and how sensitive I am. I can’t seem to help it, or maybe T— really is kind of a jerk. It’s a possibility. Also I think my position and attitudes are rather unpopular, especially with the church, but unfortunately for me, the church is a huge phenomenon these days. C— really rubs me the wrong way when we talk philosophy, because he stresses how philosophers run afoul of the church and get themselves killed, etc etc. The best thing for me is to get myself out of these situations in order to be safe. Of course I really resent these guys. Maybe Oregon is just a bad place to be a freethinker. It’s also bad for Muslims and anyone who isn’t a redneck or a hippie. Even these groups agree about the Bible and hate gay people. I dunno. I’m feeling like I don’t belong as an American citizen, or that I should move to a much bigger city than this jerkwater one in the most bigoted place on the West Coast. It’s driving me crazy and getting worse all the time.
If I laid my cards on the table and bared my soul to the people here, I’d probably be shot on the spot.
But we need a place for confession today, and not as if we’d done terrible wrongs, but because we’re all human beings and ought to be able to relate to one another’s experiences. Instead, I feel like we all are forced to wear a disguise: a face mask for real. It’s been a time of jumping through the hoops and being obedient to authority no matter what they say. I think it’s time for people to say what they mean and that includes me. The situation is getting ridiculous, and I’m just bursting at the seams from all this suppression of important stuff.
People are smarter than we give them credit for. But if you expect stupidity from them, then they’ll be inclined to comply because they want to please you.
Oh well… The sunshine that was forecast today never came. The weather people have been inaccurate for some months now where we’d never had a problem before. Everything is a state of snafu. I’ve ordered a book by Iris Murdoch arriving today unless it’s delayed like the last few packages.
I was awake at three, then slumbered another hour and a half. The store opens at six, so I’ll probably stumble over there before sunrise. I’m not having much fun lately; rather, I’m frustrated that people aren’t more intelligent.
Eight thirty five.
Just a cold white sky. I got a little more sleep this morning, and now I’ve fed the dog. I dreamed about drinking again, and what a superman it made me feel like, but the reality is Clark Kent. Dreams are necessarily not real unless you live in one, like Edgar Poe in all his decadence and brilliance. Chemical dependency is a strange thing. It seems larger than life at the same time that it takes it away from you. Mostly it’s a game of self delusion. I don’t even think my dog believes I’m a god. Everyone is mortal and makes mistakes, if you are honest enough to confess it. It would be weird to read Nietzsche again, speaking of supermen and mistakes. We’re all vulnerable and ordinary, so it’s probably not right to make yourself a hero.
I haven’t felt this kind of humility in some time. Soon I’ll go on flat feet over to the market and get my regular stuff for the day. Everyone can agree that it’s cold today. I’ve put on a gray sweater: no flamboyant colors. I’ll wear a belt because I ordered my jeans a size too big in the waist. And wear a beanie to cover my bald head on top.
I went for a walk with early Beatles songs in my head, and observed how those guys could really sing; was it George who hit the highest notes in harmonies? Now it’s sad that life has nothing like The Beatles to offer… Elsewhere, some people swear by the ideas of Kierkegaard and his stages of esthetic, ethical, and religious, but these have been a hangup for me for many years. Can you really typecast individuals according with these labels? Is it wise to do so? I’m on the point of throwing out existentialism completely. Existentialism is actually a form of moral philosophy. Some people use it to condemn the ones who disagree with the church; for instance, they think Camus is all about executing Meursault for his amorality. But The Stranger is only one of his books, and the picture is really more complex than that if you read The Fall and The Plague… I think I was summoned to jury duty three different times, and the last summons was while I still was working. And each time, I excused myself from doing it. My supervisor knew about it and said he wished he could be a juror. But you know, those who are the most eager to do it are usually the worst candidates. Also, the first people to point the finger are those with the biggest skeletons. I believe that this is the kind of thing that Camus wants us to be aware of, particularly when reading The Fall.
Quarter after nine.
It’s very cold out this morning, but the trip around the corner is short; maybe a quarter of a mile or less. I went outside without much self consciousness, sort of in a state of nature. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. What happens on January 20? Seems like it should be something special for some reason. No doubt it’s someone’s birthday somewhere in the world… I felt rather happy when I got up, fed the dog, and walked to the market, but began to feel more serious when I sat down to think. In fact, nobody seems very happy with life right now, as if nothing was worth writing about or commenting on. It’s a situation like the ennui in Baudelaire. People just do their perfunctory work and don’t get excited for anything: there’s no romance in our experience; no passion and no love. In this sense, everybody is dead, and the anesthetic snow falls generally on the world. We seem to turn inward and ignore others, and pass up opportunities for good things to happen. All around me the world has gotten ugly with selfishness and apathy for anything other than making money to survive. Every individual is so isolated, looking at life with tunnel vision, blind to the potential for beauty and joy. It takes two people to turn it around before everyone is dancing in the streets. But first there must be music that everyone hears and agrees on. As it is, the tunes are all discrepant and jar with each other. The result is mayhem; and who said anything about beauty in the dissonance?