A Word, a Wall

Quarter after six.

I’m considering making an early trip to the store…

While I was there, I saw a few Black people. The storefront looked warm and inviting as I came up to the double door. I thought fleetingly of my brother and then disposed of him. It’s a cloudy morning. The landscape from along the Maxwell sidewalk reminded me of November a few years ago, and I remembered how afraid I was of people’s criticism. I’m in much better shape now, or perhaps the health organization I dealt with was really lousy with respect to people with schizophrenia… I’d forgotten that the Oregon Ducks won the Rose Bowl in 2012. This fact was advertised on a green sign by the beer cooler. Both parties of customers ahead of me ordered biscuits and gravy, so I stood there waiting patiently. Sometimes I think of Vicki when I’m at the market, but today I didn’t. Frankly she wasn’t a very nice person… I have to be ready to go at nine o’clock to be at Laurel Hill by ten for my appointment with Heidi. I’m still not very awake yet.

Quarter of eight. It’s interesting that being okay with yourself is a matter of balancing positives and negatives. Guilt and shame are the worst feelings you can experience, so it’s good to eliminate them. On the asphalt in the middle of Fremont Street, someone had spray painted the word “Gay” in red. So there it was in writing, the wall that everybody comes up against. It really doesn’t surprise me for this part of the city, this stupid conservative suburb. 


Monday Morning

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. 

“If I Had a Hammer”

I’ll be getting physical therapy twice a week from this Monday till the 9th of December. The receptionist called me this morning and we scheduled all these appointments in advance. I plan on walking to each appointment, weather permitting, since it’s only 1.3 miles away from home. And it may be rather a pleasant walk in the afternoon down Silver Lane to River Road and beyond Division Avenue. The leaves on the trees will be turning and dropping all this autumn, and hopefully the sights will restore my confidence that all is well with Nature. By the way, I looked up a weather prediction for 2021 in Oregon: typical La Niña, and we may get an early winter, and wetter than usual, which is okay since the drought we suffered this summer and into the fall. Another good reason to walk to physical therapy is because it discourages pollution from fuel emissions. Pedestrian power doesn’t contribute to climate change. The weather today was really beautiful in the afternoon, though I didn’t go outside and take advantage of it. The color of the sunlight was a deep and mellow orange, the sky cerulean as it ought to be. I know that the wildfires continue to burn, but they seem to be more under control by now.

I keep saying this, but being sober in 2020 is a very strange experience. I think most of my family has deserted me, and Polly is just testing the waters with me until further notice. I don’t really care, just on principle, because she and her whole family are terribly racist and show no signs of wanting to change. On Columbus Day, a citizen vandalized a public statue of Christopher Columbus and Polly didn’t understand why— being ignorant of the facts regarding him and Cortes, the way they treated the Natives, and how the way history is taught today is vastly different from what she learned in the 1950s. The truth about Columbus is that he and his crew wiped out six million Arawak Indians by bringing Caucasian diseases, plus he forced them into slave labor and often mutilated them as punishment for disobedience— all for the sake of discovering the gold that he was sure existed in the Americas. This is the truth! Cortes and Columbus were no kind of heroes at all. Only from a white supremacy perspective did they pave the way for civilization. But the new perspective on history is very difficult for older people to grasp, just because old dogs can’t learn new tricks as a general rule. I feel sorry for Polly, but her son who is my age has no excuse for his ridiculous bigotry. In their family, people who graduated from college are seen as the enemy. Their suspicion of new ideas is very conservative, but the genesis of conservative politics is, in my opinion, ignorance and fear of the unknown. I think Edmund Burke might make a fascinating study for me. He was a renowned conservative Englishman who reacted against the French Revolution, seeing the bloody and inevitable consequences and concluding that ideas are dangerous. Does that seem relevant to our time? I wonder if it makes me a political radical, along with all the other protesters for the sake of people of color… Whatever, I don’t have much sympathy for bigots. If I must defect from Polly’s clan, then so be it. I can’t reverse the knowledge that I have, nor can I teach those who don’t want to learn. To them, like to Burke, ideas really are dangerous, so maybe they are better off left alone.

Sorry this turned into a little rant on racism. It’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. I hope you weren’t offended by it. But it’s something I feel very strongly about, and damn the torpedoes if people can’t handle it. Many truths are inconvenient and untimely, but on the contrary, they arise when the need is the greatest.

Statement of a Brother and Uncle

Nine thirty.

Nighttime is when I have some breathing room. Families are a drag. Mine bears a resemblance to the crazy characters in William Faulkner fiction. The members each have some degree of neurosis, myself being the hardest hit. I had lunch with the leader, the sort of elder of the clan, which gradually I’m coming to accept as such. It appears we are on good terms at this point. But you know, the family system is dissolving and decaying fast. It manages to propagate itself for the generations, but as an individual, I still feel inclined to defect from its traditions. These are so old fashioned as to be maladaptive for the changing times. I could be wrong, yet my feelings are what they are. In particular I can’t countenance the racism and bigotry that pervade the family’s structure. As a man of principle, I reject these things. The family needs to examine itself and reevaluate its core beliefs before I will consider being a member. Until then, I deem myself a conscientious objector to family policy and practice.


Nine thirty. I dreamed that, at the end of the pleasure cruise, I was going to be executed. And in reality, the trailer will be picked up Monday. This puts pressure on me and also on the contractors… I just realized that the thought that makes me weak is that of Polly. I deplore her racism and always will. When I say I dislike Jung, preferring instead the grace of Emerson, I really mean it. By giving Jung another chance, I made a concession to Polly for a while. But now I reject them both on the grounds of indefensible bigotry. I am strong enough to stand without family support. I’ve been doing it for over two years already. I’ve seen firsthand the damage that Jung’s theories can cause socially. Whether the contents of the collective unconscious are the same for a person of color as for a white person is a stupid immaterial question. Jung’s theory of what causes people to be gay has been formally thrown out for reasons of discrimination. Too much of his psychology presupposes the white maleness of his clients. His ethnocentrism is an embarrassment, and belongs left behind in a museum. Meanwhile, my family will probably never be raised in consciousness, which is a sad thing. I just have to do what is right, not only for me, but for the world. Raising consciousness, in the end, is a matter of courage.


Just a note:

There is no excuse for bigotry in this or any other country on earth.

The mental healthcare system is in bad need of reform, at least in Oregon. Everyplace I go for care I run into skinheads and other racist creeps. It will take many more years to overhaul the status quo, but it must come about. Public opinion is a snail to catch up to the wise, unfortunately. Still it is an eternal verity that racism is and always was indefensible.