On Winged Sandals

Five o’clock 🕔. And then the phone rang: the PT receptionist asked if I could come early today, since they’d had a few cancellations. I said yes, though maybe should’ve said no. Suddenly I had to put my shoes on and hit the road. Hoofing it through my neighborhood, the phone rang again: Sally from my health insurance wanted to do my annual review. So I kept her on the phone for as long as I could hear her voice above the traffic noise. Meanwhile the clouds to the north were black and forbidding, portending rain or maybe hail, and my destination led me right towards it. Luckily I felt only a few raindrops. It was the first time I’d ever had a phone conversation on the run. When I got to the medical building, I was already a bit tired, and then Erin chewed me out somewhat for not doing my homework exercises. Otherwise my appointment was tolerable. I found out that Erin is a rock drummer: I spotted the eighth note tattoo on her hand and said something. She is a fan of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and also the drummer for Tool… For the return home, I realistically took Oregon Taxi. The dispatcher was very friendly and the cab arrived in only five minutes. The cabbie was a white haired old gerontion and new to the job. I gave him directions as we moved along. He did pretty well, except he almost hit a pedestrian crossing River Road because he simply didn’t see him. I had to yell to him to “watch out for this guy.” Finally I got home and I gave Aesop three bacon strips for his inconvenience and patience with the developments of a couple of hours. 

Glory Days

Six thirty 🕡. I just listened to an old Rush album; kind of corny but it was fun. I think of one of the rock bands I was in and have to smile at how bad we were. We played by instinct and the sense of hearing alone. Never mind music theory, we’ve got this. From the perspective of jazz theory, we had no idea what we were doing, so there were times when it didn’t work. I recall a gig at the Moose Lodge in Cottage Grove, around Christmas time 21 years ago. We did a Judas Priest song with an extended intro, just chugging eighth notes on the same F sharp chord until people recognized the tune. Supposed to be dramatic, but really it was cheesy. There was food for us, but I don’t remember eating very much. I sat at a table with the drummer and we talked about music; we had nothing else in common. The gig was a little disappointing because we had to mix our own sound. There was no house PA system or sound man to give us credibility. Our Cottage Grove gigs were all like that. But two years later we scored a steady situation at the Hollywood Taxi in downtown Springfield. The owner of the club mixed sound for us, yet we still weren’t very good. Our rhythm section was very competent overall, but the guitarists were rather awful. We tried to do Led Zeppelin and slaughtered it. The Hendrix we did fared even worse. One time we played two different AC/DC tunes simultaneously due to confusion of one with the other. Both songs were in E minor and cut from the same cloth.

Everywhere we played, the singer depended on the band’s “bible” of song lyrics because he couldn’t memorize the words. To his credit, however, he had perfect pitch. Also he was good at impersonation while singing a song. And when he brought out the harmonica for a tune by The Romantics, everybody caught the spirit and we rocked the house. It was a lot of fun when things clicked with the Muse, as happens to people in a group. Probably because we could work this energy in the band and with the crowd, we gained a little following locally and regionally… And then come home with my ears ringing all night long. One night at the Taxi I played hard enough to scrape the skin off of my fingertips and bleed on my ‘79 Precision Bass. The blood came off with some Windex, but for a few weeks I could only play using a pick.

There are lots of things I don’t miss about being a professional musician… and then something conspires to call me to adventure all over again… 


Three twenty five. I suddenly remembered my appointment with Todd for tomorrow afternoon. It will be a video call, sort of like Zoom or Skype. I asked about Heidi, and they said she hasn’t come back from furlough. Something smells fishy. It sounds like she’s not going to be my case manager after this. Miranda took over part of Heidi’s case load, but I haven’t heard from her since early summer… I hope L— H— doesn’t put pressure on me to be religious or something that goes against my personal beliefs. If they do, then I’ll have to figure out other options. I never did like the Christian character of the agency. It was too much like Serenity Lane: Jesus or nothing. I always will find it unconstitutional and unlawful to shove Jesus down our schizophrenic throats. If push really comes to shove, then I’ll emigrate to Canada or something drastic just to preserve my sanity.

Quarter of three in the morning. Yesterday evening I published a post whose sincerity was dubious from the start. A moment ago I went into my posts and trashed it. The writing of it was probably inspired by my trip to Sacred Heart yesterday morning, a phone conversation with L— H—, and finally a shotgun email from Pastor. I retired to bed at ten o’clock and slept four hours, dreaming strange dreams. At one point, I saw a white crockpot that was full of tube worms but which also yielded up old editions of Tarzan, one after the other. At another juncture, I was walking to the church at night and got hit by a car. Though it hurt, I kept walking. When I awoke, I reflected on the nature of heroes: how was Tarzan different from Jesus? Answer: Tarzan did not depend on supernatural powers to expedite his adventures. His strength was purely physical and mental, never spiritual. I considered that I grew up with heroes like everyone else, but they happened not to be Christ. Not even Luke Skywalker, who relied on the Force for his power. Nor Frodo Baggins, aided by the old wizard Gandalf. If anything, the heroes I read about pitted their wits and strength against the supernatural, in the form of nefarious cults with weird, soul devouring gods. Which type of hero was correct? I only know that Tarzan fueled my fortitude in my youth. 


Seven twenty.

There are some clouds this morning, so maybe it’s going to be cooler today. Obviously I would welcome that. I’m in the process of shedding my church indoctrination, including the silly belief in teleology, which says that life’s events occur for a purpose. It seems to me wishful thinking, and besides, nature doesn’t revolve around you and me. It is egocentric to think so. But I figured out my interest in my trees lately. Indeed it is me anthropomorphizing them, giving them human character in order to feel befriended. Loneliness is a strange thing. Like Tom Hanks in Castaway, making a human face out of a soccer ball and naming it “Wilson.” The high winds are rolling in these clouds, thankfully. In my head I keep hearing “Because” from Abbey Road. Acorns from the oak keep smacking the house. It is a huge tree, visible from blocks away. The shape of its branches suggests that it is shooting straight for the sun. I don’t know for a fact that squirrels eat acorns, but it would be a convenient arrangement for them. They could hoard a lot of them away for the winter… I haven’t been to Grocery Outlet in a very long time. It’s a painful reminder to go inside it because of my losses of friends and family. However, I think I’ll go there today and buy some food. I need an adventure to break the monotony. I love their Seattle Waterfront sourdough bread and some of the cheeses.

Bi Mart

Quarter of noon. Executed my trip to Bi Mart in the sunshine. Felt calm but a bit distant from the here and now. I took Kourt Drive for the return walk, noticing the dandelions at the roadside. Cars passed me occasionally. Before getting to the road, there’s a little path of dirt and gravel leading alongside the tennis courts where I saw a couple practicing their game. The path comes out next to the old Church of Christ on the right. The building is just a beige shack with a cement walkway leading to the door. Gravel parking lot. I’ve speculated on what their religion must be like. The pastor camps outside the church in a motor home. Dandelions grow in crevices of the walkway. I used to drive past it all the time… On the way to Bi Mart I felt repelled by the Carl’s Jr. in the Silver Lea Center. The sight of it reminds me of meetups with my siblings. Unpleasant times. I bought two pairs of Rustlers in slightly different sizes. Just under 30 bucks. Even as I write, I sort of wish to resurrect the past, but time only moves forward. But if it could be done, Bi Mart would hastily comply. Such a conservative store, an anachronism.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The storefront. Taken a couple of years ago.

More to Learn

Ten o’clock. After Damien was here to mow and remove the dead blackberries, the wind picked up and it grew cloudy. Aesop and I turned in for a nap near seven o’clock, and I had some funny dreams about church and my parents. A third dream was about being assigned a long division problem, 3 figures into 6 figures, and the quotient began with 222. I asked my school valedictorian to solve it, and he wrote it on an overhead projector and used a calculator. All three dreams dealt with reading and arithmetic, of the Bible and writing checks respectively. Overall I was dreaming about what we call the “real world,” the kind of stuff I learned in junior high school. I wasn’t particularly smart throughout the series, but people liked me… What was the point of this dream sequence? No idea.

When I first opened the sociology textbook and saw the terms “culture” and “society,” I recognized a concern that runs through a lot of my own writing. And yet this science is so broad and so vague that it seems meaningless. Contained within it are things like history and political science, anthropology and psychology, etc etc; why do we even need such a bloated discipline? Just another perspective on the same world, I guess. More macroscopic than other fields. Too extroverted for me, in the end. Now that I think on it, however: wouldn’t it be strange if groups, societies of people behaved according to independent scientific laws? As if the group were an entity in itself and not merely composed of individuals. This would be a novel concept for me, and maybe worth pursuing, simply because it is so foreign to my mind. My curiosity is getting bigger than my ego, reminding me to never stop learning.


Eleven o’clock. Aesop had another adventure with the possum just now. It was in the middle of the backyard. When Aesop caught up with it, it played dead and I yelled to him to leave it alone. Aesop moved off to do his business, and meanwhile the possum got up and headed for its hole under the house. My dog caught up to it again, but finally it slipped away out of sight. The possum is a slow moving creature, with an ugly head packed with odd shaped teeth. Originally from South America, it is a marsupial. Oregonians mostly complain about the possum population, but I imagine that as part of the ecosystem, they’re good for something. I’m used to hearing conservative opinions about undesired animals on their properties. To listen to them talk, you’d think that possums and large rodents such as the nutria were vicious and dangerous creatures. I doubt the truth of that, but I suppose this possum is a pest.

The Big Plan

Michelle joked that I didn’t buy any ice cream this morning—- which gives me an idea. Perhaps I’ll go back and get some. It’s raining right now, so hold off until it stops. The sun goes down every day at around six o’clock. Now it’s a hailstorm!

It’s funny how people once believed that nature sympathizes with human affairs. Shakespeare and all the Romantics thought so. Emerson was serious about it, but he might have been the last one. Melville explored more of the possibilities for cosmology, and ultimately a sympathetic nature was discarded from the mainstream. I was always frustrated with AA because they revived old Romantic notions that didn’t hold water anymore. The evidence didn’t support their claims to mysticism, so I reckon they were a bit deluded. People in a group can make any belief real if they wish, but it’s still a delusion. One need only gather the proof. I never saw a reindeer that could fly, nor has anyone else, except on television.

Meanwhile, here I am, waiting out the rain. I’ve been watching the weather reports, judging when might be a good time to execute my plan.

Five ten. Success! I brought home pistachio almond ice cream. The rain was light, so I hardly got wet. I shared a couple of dollops with Aesop, of course. He deserved it since being brave for the vet on Thursday morning. I suppose I earned my ice cream too.

Bremen Town or Bust

Six thirty five. And of course my generalization “we” is really just myself. The one doing the disposal of tradition is only me, and I’m a little panicky as to where it’s going. I don’t know what will be my guideposts into the future. Hopefully my good instincts will light the way. The one who wants to blaze a new trail is simply me, out of a spirit of rebellion and invention. This controlled chaos that is my life is fashioned by me. It’s nowhere near perfect, especially by conventional standards, but I embrace it for being mine. The future is still a blank unknown, somewhat like a dice throw. No one told me to take up my axe and find other musicians to play with. No one said to put aside the job search and pursue this avocation. The orders came solely from me, and that’s what I feel shaky about. I feel like Merlin in The Crystal Cave, having a vision of the birth of Arthur and trying to manipulate events to ensure that the baby is conceived. He succeeds, but at a bloody cost. Then of course the future King of Britain pulls the sword from the stone, proving his birthright. All along, however, there were elements of uncertainty and risk. And the same goes for my future as a musician. Win or lose, I’m going for it. There will be times of depression as well as of joy. If I don’t know quite where I’m going, the end results inform the intentions in hindsight. When I reach my destination, I will know.

Sprout City Studios

Quarter after ten.

The jam went very well, Ron and I both judged. I was being auditioned, and I guess I passed the test. Ron said we got a lot done. He taught me all his originals but for one, perhaps. I took my DIY kit bass and a practice amp to the studio known as Sprout City at 11th and Chambers. Mike the drummer picked me up at a quarter of three. We loaded in my gear and took off towards the Northwest Expressway. From there it was a right on Chambers and only a hop and a skip to the vicinity of Papa’s Pizza. The afternoon was sunny and cold. My hands were freezing, and I kept my jacket on once inside the studio. My gear was more or less plug in and play, and there was a guitar stand built into the wall. Mike used the house drum kit and Ron brought his own Yamaha keyboard, purchased at a St Vinnie’s. A couple of times the treble notes on this instrument pierced my brain. But mostly I enjoyed listening to Ron’s prodigious and tireless chops. His girlfriend stayed and watched us jam, then she and Ron took me home, after we all pitched in on the studio rent. It was still light outside when we finished at five o’clock. The evening colors were like visual perfume, cold pink and blue. Home again, I moved my stuff inside the door and presently nuked a burrito for dinner. My thoughts then turned afresh to Edgar Allan Poe, whose “The Domain of Arnheim” had mystified me with its description of an earthly garden Paradise.