On my doorstep I found a new package: the selection of John Berryman had arrived, and it’s in time before our next band practice. So I opened the box but left the book wrapped in the plastic for delivery to Ron this weekend. Now I have to think of something for Mike; maybe a music CD, but which one?… I walked off to the store to get a few things. The sky is mostly cloudy and it’s cooler than yesterday. When I came home from church the other day I saw a big white prop plane low in the blue sky. I thought that I’d rather observe it from the ground than be a passenger on it. The same day, I stopped and said hello to Johnny in the green house on Fremont. He told me he hadn’t built the book share himself. It was someone who lives three blocks away from him. Then he wished me a happy Father’s Day, whether I was a dad or not… I think I’m going to opt out of DDA group. There’s one person who lords it over the rest of us at every meeting and I can’t tolerate it anymore… The Tuesday garbage trucks are making the rounds and it feels like an ordinary business day in the neighborhood. I have a renewed sense of individual freedom today.
Ten o’clock. Colin and Roger were just talking to each other in the street; I wonder what they have in common? Generally I don’t like a lot of my neighbors. North Eugene is sort of a purple zone, leaning towards the red in many places. Roger said he would like to move to a red state like Montana. He tunes the radio in his garage to conservative political talk and eats his heart out. What a waste of energy, so full of resentment and pure hate. He told me that education was excessive but for reading, writing, and arithmetic. No wonder he’s an ignoramus… I used to work in an office with a bunch of turkeys who mostly had a phobia of books and learning. The only way I could keep going to work was by pretending my education ended at eighth grade. But as with all self delusions, this situation couldn’t last. The truth comes out. So now I’ve changed my mind about that big twin engine plane: I’d prefer to fly the friendly skies.
Two forty. I’m leaving for band practice in less than an hour. We should have fun today. Going with my original plan to give away the SX bass after playing it this afternoon. I’ve shaved my beard completely off, leaving my face clean. Not sure why I did this, but it looks much better now. I can’t believe the self destructive way I used to behave. My teeth are in pretty bad shape from many years of alcohol abuse. I just didn’t love myself, and I kept the kind of company that always put me down. My brother is absolutely toxic to me. I can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. For some reason he hates my guts and does everything he can to mess me up. I don’t like other alcoholic people who lie and do dishonest things. My old supervisor was another lousy person. So I had to take care of myself and get out of that situation. The bumper sticker is true: Mean people suck… Outside, the sunshine is bright yellow. Today I can finally get down to business with music. No worries, no guilty conscience— because there’s no reason to feel badly. At last I’ve shaken the crap off of me so I can just mind my own business… Only about seven minutes to go before I take off out the door. I feel pretty calm right now.
Two o’clock in the morning.
If I believed that the future could be reconnected with the past, I was probably deceived. I don’t believe history repeats itself in a circular way, whether personally or publicly, but rather keeps going forward in linear fashion. Does a straight line ever cross itself in its progress to infinity? I’ve forgotten my geometry lessons… I had a good day yesterday. The events of the day were as favorable as the sunny weather. Mike must think I’m a little nutty on the subject of Rush. Neither he nor Ron wanted my SX bass, but I left it at the studio anyway and walked home empty handed. By the time I got home it was just after seven o’clock. As I passed the Fast n Fresh Deli I peered in the windows to see any customers. I found only one person, and he probably worked there. I don’t remember what I was thinking on my way back. I felt rather giddy from playing music. I do recall being suspicious of the passing cars, and I hugged the inside of the sidewalk whenever they went by. Just now I was thinking about going to Grocery Outlet sometime soon. I would kill for some of that Seattle International sourdough bread and some Gallo dry salami; maybe some pepper Jack cheese, too. But you know, it isn’t very thrilling anymore. Music is the only thing that floats my boat. My taste buds are in my ears…
Noon hour. I just jammed on the bass guitar for an hour. This cloudy day makes me think of early summers in junior high school, or late spring. I can’t believe how bright everything is, how vital and resonant. Maybe it’s just me who is full of love of life recently, and of hope for better things in the future. Right now it’s super quiet in the room and everywhere else. It’s very strange when this happens; like I’m the only human being alive on earth. It will be a lonely afternoon again today, unless I decide to go to Bi Mart. I guess I’ll do some housework after a bit. While playing the bass, I copied the line for “Invisible Sun” by The Police, a song that always gives me goosebumps. It takes me back to my sophomore year in high school, when the future was unlimited, and yet my vocabulary was inadequate to compass my experience of life. Maybe it was this innocence that made life seem so boundless and infinite, like I could live forever. I bought Ghost in the Machine on vinyl a year after it was released. I still think it’s a better record than Synchronicity because it’s more groove oriented… I didn’t know how to think when I was 15 years old. It must’ve been an odd mode of existence, being so green and inexperienced, nonverbal and inarticulate. Language gives me a handle on things and events, a feeling of having control and power over situations. Otherwise I’d be just a passive leaf in the wind. Or maybe we’re all merely leaves in the wind anyway? Except for a few geniuses who move and shake the world. Sometimes it takes more than genius; it takes money to legislate what people do and think… I really hope the band I’m in can be a modest success here locally, and maybe get some radio airplay. Notoriety around town can be a good thing. The three of us are all around 50 years old, but not too old to have ambition. Whether we win or lose, we’ll still be having fun in the endeavor.
Our practice went just okay this time. I observed more limitations on the part of all three of us. I felt a little tense after I noticed that “Bubble House” was supposed to be in G minor rather than C minor, as the guys had been playing it. They must’ve been a bit nervous as well. When we played Ron’s song “Boba Fett,” he stopped because he’d forgotten the lyric. As for myself, my old body got tired and kind of let me down. I felt that my bass licks were in a rut, somewhat repetitive and dull. But just when we were about to call it a night, I had a little inspiration sitting with my bass. Out of nowhere I started playing Nirvana’s “Come as You Are,” a very simple riff that we could groove on for a while. I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know how Mike and Ron felt after we said goodbye until next weekend. My own thinking is that it’s important to be realistic concerning what our trio is capable of. It’s wiser to let them call out the tunes they feel comfortable with.
The journey to Mike’s house in the rain was executed with dogged resignation. I held my bass in my left hand, an umbrella in my right, and just hoped that no big gust of wind would blow the latter wrong side out. For visibility I put on a white baseball cap. I took a shortcut through the parking lot of the convenience store to the lane off of Maxwell Road. The trip took me about 18 minutes, putting me there almost precisely at 4:30pm.
Noon hour. I had chili for lunch. Both of the Snapples are gone, a half gallon of fluid in my system. Late last night I listened to another old Rush album from 1987. That was fun. I really like Alex Lifeson as a guitar player, regardless that he is underrated in the polls. His style is beautiful and exhibits excellent taste. His solo on “Turn the Page” is very colorful and passionate in a cerebral way. One day, when I was waiting in the lobby of Willamette Family, the PA played a lot of garden variety pop music. Then suddenly, “Tom Sawyer” came on and totally dominated. There was no comparison to the other bands. Perhaps Rush simply spoke a language that I understood.
One twenty. Again I sort of wish I had another bass with active electronics.
Three o’clock. And then I have second thoughts about rock and roll as a profession. Music of any genre can be rather dangerous to get into. Mom didn’t demonstrate very good sense when I joined Blueface in 2001. Maybe she never did have sound judgment where I was concerned. Everyone else denounced her as quixotic, idealistic, and just an idle dreamer— even crazy. But I think I can be the judge of that, having grown up like her only son. It brings to my mind Kermit’s little song, “Rainbow Connection.” What’s wrong with being a lover, a dreamer, or even a lunatic? If my mother was crazy or stupid, still you have to forgive her, if not admire her audacity to dream big.
Quarter of nine. I bought pumpkin pie ice cream at the store, but no drinks. I grew tired of insomnia from the caffeine. I feel kind of tired today. This afternoon I have Erin for physical therapy. I leave the house after two o’clock. It rained all night again, and now it’s just cloudy. On my walk to and from the market I encountered nobody except one old man with white hair wearing earmuffs, or maybe headphones. We passed each other without a word. I also had the store pretty much to myself… Aesop just had his chicken and rice dog food. He doesn’t complain about the monotony of flavors, but I’m considering a trip to Grocery Outlet for some variety. Things are getting stagnant. To avoid getting upset, I won’t call my sister this week. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round, but sometimes I can’t tolerate bigots. Her concept of what is orderly I don’t share… Now I hear “Love Is the Drug” by Roxy Music. I want to pick up my Precision Bass and make people dance around the world. Maybe someday this will be more than just a dream, and British people will love what they hear. Until then, I’ll keep practicing and waiting out the pandemic.
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.
Noon hour. FedEx just brought my new flatwound strings earlier than expected. I’m going to save them for a while, but they will probably go on my Mexican Fender. I hope I can play with the church, at least. Maybe I’ll email Pastor about that today. I feel like the ultimate geek because no one wants to play music with me.
Quarter after six. Feelings of shame lead me to do regrettable things. The opposite of shame is pride, and pride, rather than a sin, is indispensable to a guy’s wellbeing. Being rejected by the drummer this morning with no explanation made my pride implode. I can be okay one moment and then the next be thrown into a vortex of depression. If no musician wants to play with me, would it help me to know that I’m too good for him? “The better you become, the fewer the people you’ll have to play with.” A music teacher told me this truism in 1998, and now I’ve fulfilled the prophecy. I don’t even want to play bad music like I once did 20 years ago. I can laugh at rock and roll’s absurdity today, whereas then it gave me delusions of demons. The medication changed all that. Currently I feel I want to do something serious with music. The same teacher told me that I’d be a perfect candidate for music school. Said I could major in composition and play any instrument I wanted. I didn’t pursue it because my illness was not under control. But how about now? Could Eduardo introduce me to some people at the school of music?
Four twenty five. I continue to be more aware of Aesop’s discomfort. I suppose I’m more empathetic than I used to be. We need to fix the problem of his boredom and inactivity… The food pantry is a go tomorrow morning. Speaking of feeding the community, this morning I remembered a cruel thing my brother bragged about doing to a panhandler some years ago. The panhandler had a dog, so Jeff went inside the store and bought dog food for the dog and nothing for the man to eat. At McDonalds another time, Jeff threw a cheeseburger to a beggar’s dog. My brother is an unkind bastard. I hope someday he pays for his cruelty to me and everyone else he has mistreated. Actually, that might be happening as it is. His rheumatoid arthritis is extremely painful. He has boozed himself into neuropathy and amnesia. Looking over the span of his life, his fate has been rather an instructive one. As a young student he was a nice guy; but he became corrupted by the career he chose. It was all for the almighty dollar. I suppose most families have someone like my brother. Ambitious and driven to make a pile of money. Well, his devotion to Mammon has consumed his soul. There’s nothing left of the nice young student. I would pity him if I could, but in his case, I’m fresh out of pity.
No thoughts to record, so maybe writing will bring them out. Band practice was good for me, though the guys didn’t say much about it. Ron is fighting off a cold. Mike seemed to have something on his mind. We went for just two hours. I felt that my gear delivered for me today. You can do amazing things with a 100 dollar bass guitar. Ron’s keyboards were purchased at thrift stores. And Mike has owned the same Tama drum kit since 1988. I don’t know what their expectations are for this band, for rock and roll. Perhaps mine are a bit ambitious. The sooner we can get out and gig, the better. Things might develop for me, though it’s better not to look too much to the horizon. We should probably discuss our goals in music. I want to be a professional musician, so I’m looking for a way to get my foot in the door. It would be cool if we got ourselves a steady gig someplace in town. Work up a following. If the other guys are driven like I am, then we ought to get somewhere. Partly it depends on what kind of music scene Eugene has to offer. Ron describes it as a place of hippies and rednecks. Pretty accurate. I’ve been in bands with both… I guess I’m feeling restless to get the show on the road. I drank away most of my life, and now, sober, I’m ready to be serious with music and writing.