At Sea

I don’t know how to describe this day, really. Pretty lonely, and nothing going on around here. I think I was up for five hours last night, but now I don’t know what for. I guess I’m sort of in a daze this week, and all these memories crowd in to plague me. Like yesterday, when I reminisced on the last decade before the 00, from the middle to the end. In my journal I recollected part of my old route to Chris’s house in Springfield. He led the band I was in. Things have changed so much since 97. Not even the roads are quite the same anymore, and when I go to Springfield now I’m really lost. I think I kind of miss driving my own car. There are pros and cons either way. It’d be tough for me emotionally to drive around town and see how nothing is the same. Even just riding, I saw Autzen Stadium, home of the Ducks, a year ago or more, on MLK Blvd and marked the changes to it. Today it’s a huge black structure, really scary looking, like nothing my parents had imagined. And I suppose that’s the bottom line. So that it’s more comfortable for me to walk into places like Bi Mart, a capsule of frozen time resistant to change, perhaps to perversion. You go in there on a Tuesday and check your lucky number, like they’ve done for fifty years. Maybe you’ll win a toaster or something cool.
I’m just rambling, trying to get my feet under me to understand my feelings today.
It’s partly sunny just now. Yesterday evening there was blue sky from five until sundown… I need a way to drop anchor in this emotional sea, because I’m feeling kind of seasick. It helps me to make notes in my diary and to read them back later on. I often find that in hindsight, all my writing makes perfect sense. So, the words themselves serve as anchor for the seasick passenger on deck.


Seven ten morning.

I did a lot of sleeping between now and yesterday evening, getting up officially at six o’clock. It’s funny how nothing stays the same, not even the self that experiences life. Each raindrop outdoors is a monad born from the sky and destined inevitably to hit the ground. Gravity. I took my umbrella and used it for my hike up around the zigzag to the store on Maxwell Road. Nothing unusual about that. On Yelp, someone commented that the market was better before it changed owners. Perhaps it’s more impersonal now than in the old days; more computerized and efficient but less warm and human… Some people thrive on change, though a lot of people don’t. The sun is supposedly risen today but the gloom belies the fact. It’s dark and ugly and not very springlike. Just one of nine planets that circle the sun, however stable or unstable. The only constant is the need of personal freedom. The more it is denied, the greater the need. It’s kind of like a dream deferred.

Ten Years Hence

Nine o’clock.

I found a letter in my mailbox from the church that I tucked away before walking off to the store. Finally I opened it at home again: it was a resignation letter from the pastor, effective the end of June. I guess now it doesn’t matter whether I go to church or not. A new pastor will change the complexion of church entirely. The changes keep coming, so the philosophy of Heraclitus has merit. Nothing is permanent in life. And the rock and roll counterculture is mostly dead by now. Ten years ago I drank like a fish and listened to The Beatles every afternoon and night, then in the wee hours I would bat emails with my friend in Scotland. I guess rock music went out with a bang, and today we’re just coasting along, waiting for the next sensation to come.

They’re building a remedy

For Khrushchev and Kennedy

At any time an invitation

You can’t decline

Now Here This

Six ten evening.

My circadian clock is off kilter today for some reason. Before the sun went down, I made a last minute run to the market for iced tea and a doggie treat. Now the twilight sets in. I checked my mailbox coming back and was surprised to find that my package arrived in one day from Genoa pharmacy. Those people are the best. Whatever else is going wrong with my life, this is not one of them. If I’m too old to rock and roll, then there’s something else I can do. This morning, the gals at Carl’s Jr were genuinely excited to see Gloria when we walked in the door. But I think it was otherwise a low energy day for her, or maybe for me… Later on, at home I managed six pages of Strange Interlude by Eugene O’Neill. But the classics are getting old to me, and they tend to bleed into one thing. The title, A Moon for the Misbegotten, still has a charming ring to it however. Is there such a thing as human nature? And if so, does it change with time? Whatever the truth is, it is good to roll with the times and accept reality for the thing it is.

Life Resists Dogmatism


My P Bass is now a modified monster that sounds unlike a Fender anymore. Still, I can’t wait to play it again tomorrow. Music by Chick Corea comes back to me with his first Elektric Band, but then I remember that he passed away fairly recently.

Nothing and no one lasts forever, and even eternity would be a mistake in logic, because nothing has extension and motion without spacetime: existence is impossible otherwise. Thought itself would not be possible if time didn’t exist. Everything occurs within this framework, which I’m getting from Walter Pater’s conclusion to his Renaissance studies. The experience of life is entirely sensory, a series of fleeting impressions. I don’t know how Boethius would respond to this argument. He separated human experience into transitory and permanent, saying that rational love is the latter. I think Saint Paul said that philosophy is carnal and only Christ is true and spiritual. In his view, what Pater wrote would be carnality and thus execrable.

It seems that everyone who has an idea wants to make it a dogma. But dogma itself is a fallacy because everything’s in constant motion. Nothing sits still for its portrait. There is no immobility in human life. Goethe was probably right that experience is the best teacher, so go outdoors and leave the books behind. I’m convinced.

Friends Come and Go

Eight twenty five.

Last night I suffered a minor case of probable diverticulitis after eating a lot of tortilla chips for a snack. I was uncomfortable for hours. Happy Birthday, I guess. And then, all night I dreamed dreams of guilt and self accusation, as if I really believed I’d done something wrong. The music in my brain is “David” by The Guitar Trio, from Passion, Grace, and Fire. It’s a flashback to when I was a college senior. But what isn’t? I never wanted to finish school. Just be a perpetual student… Today is gray with showers here and there, and fairly warm out. I used to own the Beatles “red” compilation but gave it away to my psychiatrist as a kind of bribe to soften his attitude toward me. We weren’t getting along well for those last five years. I couldn’t stop drinking until, ironically, we terminated his service. I remember the phone conversation with his receptionist when I stated baldly that I didn’t want to talk to him at all. It’s a truism that people change over time, which changes our relationship with them. One of my differences with the man was that I believed in being honest and aboveboard, whatever the stigma of schizophrenia. I didn’t agree with his crafty approach to living, and I still think an ethical lifestyle is worthwhile. As for The Beatles, he’s welcome to it.

Nine thirty.

Yesterday afternoon I overheard Roger swearing as he worked at his truck building hobby. Probably a few things aren’t going his way, but I guess that’s tough for everybody. I felt a bit sympathetic for him. I never see him receive visitors to his house. He could likely use a friend.

Westward Pioneer

Quarter after eleven at night.

I’ve decided to jump ship to a different church and check out the music potential elsewhere than Our Redeemer Lutheran. There’s a Catholic church west of the store, beyond Bushnell and the Maxwell Connector but before you get to the bridge. It’s a place I’ve never been to before: all the more reason to go there. I’ve been stuck at a dead end for a very long time, so it’s time to change something, anything. Sometimes the way to progress is blocked by a single person, someone with some clout, for instance a spiritual leader. Then, the only recourse you have is to leave the situation and look for something more favorable. I think I deserve a better situation than the current one.


Quarter after seven.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking things I’d rather not think. So then I can let myself off the hook and choose my next thought or mood. This morning is very overcast with cooler temperatures. Very blah and tasteless. At the store I saw the big dairy truck parked at the front. The driver used a hand truck to move cartons of ice cream and milk into the building: as boring as the weather today. But in my mind, there’s something missing about the scene. The people are all different from the ones I used to see. There’s no Belinda or Vicki, and JR only does Wednesday afternoons now. The ownership is totally new since three years ago, and only keeps changing faces. In 2019 I used to go to church every Sunday and now I hardly ever go. Even the same people change their attitudes and habits. The curse of a good memory is having to forget what you remember… Squirrels on the roof chase each other playfully like little clowns, the same thing every year, but different specimens each time. They are like the 59 swans in the Yeats poem, the same situation but different swans from year to year. The next year there’ll be 60 of them. Do people still read Yeats? Roger’s garage door just squealed open; another day, another project. As always, Aesop wants his breakfast. This is something constant, at least for today. When I stepped outside the house I heard a gaggle of Canada geese, but looking around, I could see them nowhere. Those birds had flown.

It Isn’t Just Me

Five thirty.

I had a good morning, but after twelve o’clock my mood went downhill and I felt uncertain and unstable. I have doubts about playing the bass guitar anymore or doing anything at all with music. I don’t know what I want to do besides write. Above all, I feel quite rudderless the more I realize that my mother is really gone. I’ve set my course for sobriety, whatever this entails for my mental state and however lonely it makes me. It’s hard to seize the day when the day is so slippery. It’d be cool to be a master strategist, planning every move like a chess player— like my brother. He always kicked my ass at chess and every kind of game. My own method was defensive and passive, simply reacting to action.

The other thing to consider is that my brother was rather unkind. People like to believe that kindness counts for something. We wish for good to be rewarded and badness punished. But it’s difficult to say whether the cosmos has those values. Five years ago I began reading An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. The novel deals with just that question, and you wonder throughout the story if crime is punished or not. Will the protagonist get away with manslaughter? And is it more than a coin toss which way it goes? Which outcome are we pulling for?

But I didn’t get very far in that book.

It feels like we live in an amoral culture today. The Machiavelli approach to life is not worth it to me, I guess. I certainly hope that the meek get the heaven they deserve.

“Death defying, mutilated / Armies gather near / Crawling out of dirty holes / Their morals disappear.”

Things Are Different

Seven fifty.

Aesop is trying to tell me something but I don’t know what he wants. It’s another overcast day. I’m going to church after nine o’clock… I feel tired and old. All kinds of memories come and go in my mind. I’ll be taking old Maxwell Road to the east towards River Road, about a mile hike. Some sights will be familiar, others new and strange to me. The last time I went that way, I saw that the beekeeper’s house had changed ownership. There’s a house of white brick that I’ve always admired. A lot of things I’m not happy about with this country, enough to tempt me to drink. The squirrels are lucky not to know the difference as a trio of them scampers around my house. I got a neighbor’s junk mail by mistake, so I dropped it off on her doormat a while ago. Music: “Peace and Quiet Time” by John Patitucci, a jazz bass player and composer.

Eight fifty five. Time to go pretty soon.

Quarter of noon.

Church was good. Pastor said it was okay to come whenever the spirit moved me. The new musician, named Grant, asked me if I was coming again next weekend; apparently he wants some support while he gets used to his job, so I might do it to help out. Eduardo and Tori are moving to Oklahoma to take their positions at one of the universities there. This was their last day with the church. I felt just different in service today, like it was no big deal, not a matter of life and death exactly what I believed. But it was really good to see everybody again and check in with them all.