Xenophobia

Ten thirty five. There are still a lot of xenophobic people in the world. They can’t be reasoned with. If it’s different from us, then it must be bad. We drink coffee and they drink tea. We have football, they have soccer. They drive on the left side of the road. They’re on the metric system. But our way is always better, just because. It’s a very egocentric way of looking at the world. If I could singlehandedly bridge the Atlantic and open communication again, I certainly would. But it will take more than just one person’s efforts. It’s all very wearisome and depressing. Maybe someday people will read my posts and say that I was right all along. We really are better together than isolated. The world is a big place, much bigger than we think. We need to think globally again and work together to save humankind. It’s not just foolish idealism anymore, but a real necessity. I hope to see some positive changes in my lifetime. I had a dream last night that the election was already over with. Can you guess who won?

Wednesday Morning

Nine o’clock.

I was sleeping too much, so I bought a Coke to keep me awake during the day. I guess there is no perfect mental state. Just accept and roll with it. I was the only customer in the market a bit ago. “Magic Man” by Heart was on the radio, followed by Tears for Fears. I wore my straw fedora for the fun of it. I met the same old man walking with a cane on the street. We always say good morning, but I don’t know his name. Before going out, I read a headline about the US not cooperating with the World Health Organization towards developing a vaccine. I believe this isolationism must come to an end. It is ridiculous for us to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and call ourselves “great.” The world outside of America thinks we’re all very conceited and arrogant… and stupid. Why do we have to keep proving them right?… It’s forecast to be a day in the 90s. Aesop’s breakfast is almost due. He’s a great dog, the smartest I’ve ever owned. I brushed him Monday night, and he seemed to like it. Eight years old this month. We’ve been through a lot together… I should get my Rush CD this afternoon. “Can’t we raise our eyes and make a start / Can’t we find the minds to lead us closer to the heart?” “Can’t we learn to feel what’s right and what’s wrong / What’s wrong???”

Back to School

Nine twenty five. Aesop gets his breakfast in a few minutes. I exercise my freedom wherever I can. It’s a beautiful day, with the high temperature predicted to be 90 degrees. I just paid my insurance bill. I’m glad August is over. September is the month when school starts in my city.

I can remember the feeling of returning to school in Stride Rite shoes, either waffle stompers or wallabies, periwinkle cords, and a homemade shirt. I smell my lunch thermos. Scooby Doo or Speed Buggy was the theme. I see the old playground. Monkey bars and structures for climbing on, swings, and a slide. The fierce sun made the asphalt stink like tar. Some of the girls wore Bluebird or Brownie uniforms on certain days. We sang patriotic songs without really knowing what they meant. I was fascinated with dinosaurs, so I started a collection of books, posters, and stickers about them. Mom didn’t approve of this, but she went along with it. It’s strange, I can feel what it was like to be seven years old. The teacher hated me, but some of the other kids were nice. I began piano lessons the same year. I rode my bike to get my weekly lesson early in the morning, then went directly to school.

Mrs Weight lived in the green house at the end of Fremont. Her son had a dachshund named Sergeant Pepper. They called him Sarge. Every Christmas she held a recital of all her students. These were nerve wracking, and I don’t recall them very well. I studied with her for six years, then finally quit and dedicated myself to drum lessons with Ken. Mrs Weight was upset because she didn’t approve of rock and roll… Speaking of which, I ordered the 40th Anniversary edition of A Farewell to Kings by Rush. It should be kind of emotional for me, reminding me of past joys and disappointments. “Madrigal” ought to be particularly sweet.

Bold or Foolish?

Five thirty.

I’ve learned that caffeine makes my paranoia worse, so the obvious solution is not to drink Coca-Cola. This is something I can control. Last night I had a lot of dreams, some of them very complex and emotionally distressing. Is my real life that complicated? And it’s the world beyond me that weighs on my mind as well. It’s a perplex my subconscious is trying to work out. I wonder, still, to what extent people are free in the midst of a pandemic. I had my little music jam last Thursday evening, just two guys, though now it seems I did something bold. I heard from another musician yesterday who wouldn’t have dreamed of getting together for a jam. People’s responses to the lockdown are individual and various. Perhaps I pushed the envelope a little, but I was determined to do something. My head was full of philosophy Thursday morning as I set about cleaning house. I didn’t think about how nobody else was doing music. But maybe it takes one or two people’s civil disobedience to change the general attitude. Time will tell if I did something foolish. Yet I think I will keep pushing for freedom until others get the idea. As long as it’s left up to you and me, we ought to do what is right according to our hearts. A lockdown cannot suppress the healing sound of music.

Philosophy

Four o’clock.

I’ve been reading Nietzsche. I came across some ruthlessness that I didn’t care for. And I can see why Christians don’t like his writing. To him, kindness and virtue are done out of cowardice. He says people don’t want to be hurt, and for this reason they abstain from hurting others. And though this is quite true, what would the world be like where people reversed the Golden Rule? My high school friend was a Nietzsche nut, possibly for the wrong reasons. I remember exchanging letters with him when he was a Marine. We argued over moral philosophy versus amoral. It was such a long time ago, and I drank daily back then. I think I was disposed more toward Hume’s and Kant’s ethical philosophies, while Sean was vehemently opposed to them. I could never understand why, because his outward demeanor was rather shy and quiet. I still can’t really picture him with an UZI. One debate we carried on for a while was over my notion of “security and peace.” It wasn’t much of a philosophy. I learned it by observing my dad’s behavior. In informed retrospect, it resembled the psychology of Alfred Adler more than any philosopher per se. I don’t know where my dad learned his protocol for life, either. Where had he run into Adlerian theory? All he asked of life was to be comfortable. Consequently, he never learned much about himself. Or, if he did know himself, he didn’t share his feelings with others. He wasn’t brave enough to admit to his weaknesses—which would’ve been a commendable strength. Basically, my dad was a coward… I suppose I’ll read the rest of Zarathustra. But I disagree with the deemphasis on kindness. If anything, it requires courage to feel and show kindness to other people. “He held up his riches to challenge the hungry / Purposeful motion for one so insane / They tried to fight him, just couldn’t beat him / This manic-depressive who walks in the rain.” From “Cinderella Man” by Rush, 1977.

Back to Normal

Quarter after eight.

Been to the store already. I saw two fox squirrels on my street. One of them crossed right in front of me. I took my time, strolling along slowly. I was thinking about the violence in Portland, and how my sister might use the shooting for ammunition against me. It was a far right counter protester who was killed. When I got back home, I left her a message. I want to get this conversation over with. We’ve been on opposite sides of politics ever since I can remember.

Ten o’clock. The chat with my sister went pretty well. I disagreed with her perspective on homeless people, but I let it pass. It made a difference to avoid caffeine this morning. Last night I did a lot of sleeping. I was dog tired after a long, hectic week. Today is off to a good start, and now there’s nothing I really have to do. It’s interesting how imagination amplifies and distorts the facts. I caught myself doing that especially last Thursday. When I was certain I’d been stood up, I got a text from Tony in the late afternoon saying we were on. And yet imagination must serve a purpose in human life. What is the human experience without poetry? I like Jane Austen’s novels for their shrewd common sense and insight. I might pick up Sense and Sensibility again today and see how much headway I can make. I’m calm enough today to settle down with a book for a couple of hours. I may even learn something new.

Sunday Afternoon

Quarter of four.

I finally restrung my white bass with the new flats. The old ones were given to me by Kate nine years ago. I think it’s time to throw them away, along with my memories of our relationship. All during our friendship I drank too much, and that altered my mind and judgment. I’ll have to form new associations with my Dell computer, though that takes time. The last couple of weeks have been very confusing to me, just because it’s an election year and the seat of government is up for grabs again. I have a Hegelian streak in my thinking, which may or may not be delusional. Also, I listened to Big Generator by Yes a while back, one of their more political albums. “Moving to the left / Moving to the right / Big generator / Lives out of sight.” This really takes me back to 1987, when my friends still believed in my big dreams. Today, my dreams are smaller and more modest. I’m not even sure what my dreams are. The vision has sort of left me, so now I’m just getting satisfaction where I can. It hasn’t been a very good week for me.

Quarter of five. I feel very tired. Time for something to eat and then a nap. I hope my sleep isn’t plagued by nightmares. I don’t take any drugs anymore that provide the reassurance that everything is all right. Things are what they are, without modification of perception. It takes more courage to live this way.

Sunday Morning

Wee hours of Sunday. I gave Aesop the flea medication, so now he’s being kind of quiet. My mind now confuses S— with K— because of the laptop. So I wonder why I bought the computer in the first place. It could be due to the election year, which arouses hopes and fears for the future— guided by the past. I’d love to see the Democrats win this time and oust the tyrant in office. I’d love to feel so free again. I would be dancing in the streets with a lot of other people. It doesn’t mean I’ll be free to drink beer, but there are better things than alcohol. Music and love, for instance.

Seven forty. It’s too early yet to know how I feel this morning. One thought on my mind is that life without love is not worth living. My sister would say I pity myself, and that romantic love is selfish and lustful. But I don’t need her opinions on love. Her mind replays the same three or four ideas constantly like a broken record. Sometimes I doubt her humanity. She turns her circumstances into prescriptions for other people like a moralizing moron. I used to do that too, when I was twenty. Maybe I still do it to a degree. But I hope never to be a doctrine person… Today will be mild and sunny. Aesop is still rather quiet from the flea medication. Tomorrow I can brush his coat. My feet are sore from much walking in hard, heavy shoes. The story of our lives.

Peace and Quiet

Ten twenty.

I slept in till after nine o’clock, then I marched off to the animal hospital and to Bi Mart for a couple of meds. Everything worked out fine. I’d had some bad dreams this morning about family, especially. But dreams are only dreams by definition; they are not reality. The truth they reveal is only the truth of yourself… Since my laptop arrived yesterday and I’ve played with it, I notice now the limitations of writing with a tablet. Expression is much freer with a word processing program and a conventional keyboard. Eventually I will switch over to composing posts with my laptop for the most authentic words and phrases… I still have to go buy food, etc, at the market. Thursday and Friday were very busy days for me, so now a quiet weekend ought to be nice. Church last night went quite well. I read at the lectern, sang with the group, and listened to the sermon. But I came home awfully tired. Roxanne was good enough to drive me home. She is the other reader at our services… I anticipate a cranberry soda; think I’ll head for the store right now, and take my time.