I rode with eCabs today and I liked the drivers going both ways. They had to double up on passengers but I didn’t mind sharing a taxi with someone else. This particular company has only eight drivers and does nothing but a Ridesource contract. The first guy is named Scott, with whom I’ve ridden a few times. I like him. Funny, he’s critical of Eugene for wanting to be like Portland, while preferring places like Springfield that are I guess more homey and down to earth; it has a personal vibe that Eugene is losing the more it grows. He said the Eugene City Council was “Communist,” and I understand what he means. It isn’t exactly that, but it’s definitely Marxist and Socialist, using a language that baffles people with its emptiness. I think it’s fair to say that Springfield is a time warp to a more romantic age, where people are franker with each other and not so deceptive or slippery; in a word, they’re honest… which is also like the people of Cottage Grove. So I can see why some people prefer the twin city to the sophistication of Eugene.
At one o’clock I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my stuff; but you know, afterwards I was pretty exhausted and felt rather lousy for a while. Two miles is kind of heavy duty walking for me. But on my way home I observed the same kind of thing as this morning, or maybe I was looking for it, and it provided a common theme for my day. You saw the post already, I know. It was that green house on Kourt Drive that defies the laws of time and space (to my mind), and takes you away in a magic Delorian to the Forties or Fifties, or rather transplants the past to the present day with a sprinkling of pixie dust. And this house just sits there, stark against the blue sky, an anachronism that doesn’t belong there and ought to be extinct, and yet there it stands like a shimmering vision out of an old yearbook, a page torn out of history…
So I imagine that my concern with anachronisms has to do with my own age, and maybe with everyone in my age category. Shoot: what was it I was saying the other day? It was on a topic very similar to this one. Oh yeah, it was about rewriting the history books to make people like us obsolete, and I made a post about it. But you know, it’s really true! And the older I get, the truer it becomes. The voices of seniors get lost in the shuffle and no one wants to hear us anymore. And it turns into a strange paradox of being and non being: just like the green house on Kourt Drive which ought not to be there, and yet, by God, it still stands like an ephemeral monument.
Nine twenty five.
I’m waiting in the lobby for my appointment with the doctor. Not very happy about it but it’ll be over soon. The music on the PA is crappy: too sentimental and soppy. Springfield is an antiquated place, though some people like it better than Eugene. Maybe it’s more humane and personal than the sister city. I’ve been in rock bands that played regularly in Springfield, so it’s like home to me in a way. I miss the old days when Blueface used to play the Hollywood Taxi on Main Street…
Ten thirty. My appointment went great. Jeff, my primary care physician, said I’m a good guy and he appreciates my honesty with him. He will refer me to physical therapy again for my back issues. He happens to be a musician, so we had that to talk about. Now I’m waiting for my ride home. The dispatcher is very nice as well.
Noon hour. The ride home was fun, but I’m kind of glad to relax again with Aesop. A couple of hours later I’ll walk over to Bi Mart to pick up my meds. I wonder why yesterday was not a good day for me? I guess it isn’t very pleasant to go to the agency and serve up my heart on a silver platter. To hell with it. I can manage my life very well myself, and if I don’t want to go to church or to Twelve Step meetings, then I think I’m so entitled.
Two ten. I’m just back from the pharmacy, a little winded but okay. The walk home on Kourt Drive was quite beautiful in the sunshine and shade. The road itself was a frying pan, but away from it the houses lay in cool shadow, and I saw again my favorite mint green house on the north side. It’s like a time capsule to the 1940s, and kept up so nicely that it brings 80 years up to date: a tesseract or stitch in time under the blue sky. I forgot to take my phone with me, or else I’d have snapped a picture of the house. I guess it’s enough that I know where to find it again, and to mention it here.
Some days my shots miss the target wide by a mile, and yet my misses are part of the overall journey of discovery. I believe the dartboard is movable depending on public opinion, so really it’s of no consequence to me… Owing to loneliness, I had a rather crap day. Is it a case of self pity when you admit how lousy you feel? But I was never a stoic kind of person. Band practice was canceled as I anticipated, so that means I’ll spend the weekend by myself unless I go to church Sunday. I guess I’ll write a check to God and make an appearance with the assembly. It just seems like pounding money down a rathole, because I think I’m basically an atheist— but for the human spirit, the human community. Only in my earliest memories do I feel any connection with the Jungian God, an evocation difficult to reproduce today with all my factual clutter. The connection Wordsworth had with Nature was simplistic; he had to clear his mind totally to feel the presence of the divine from the countryside. So, is it really possible to commune with a God in a cityscape of harsh angles, ugly power and telephone lines crisscrossing the sky, whizzing motorcars sending up pollution to the moon, and amid the loud hum of everything electrical? I think it was Thoreau in Walden who wrote a grotesque description of the railroad with the black beastly locomotive intruding on the natural scene. And some people argue that nature and artifice are a false dichotomy! I wonder how they can maintain that point of view after reading a book like Walden?… And so I’ll go to church on Sunday, walking the backstreets to unromantic Maxwell Road, where I might find the graffiti of the prophets written on the sidewalk.
One o’clock. I went to Bi Mart for my prescription and to get some socks and underwear, but on the way, on the Silver Lane sidewalk I almost got hit by a reckless pickup driver. He ran off the road right next to me, up onto the sidewalk, and eventually drove to the turn lane to get on River Road. Three other witnesses were there, and two of them asked me if I was all right. It was just one of those crazy things. And just as swiftly as it had occurred it was forgotten and I continued to the Bi Mart.
The pickings from the men’s clothes were quite slim, so I grabbed whatever they had in my size and checked out at the pharmacy counter. The cashier was an old sourpuss who always works on Saturdays. It’s interesting, but when I was a drunkard I thought Bi Mart was a very cool place to go shopping. Today I see through its shortcomings, which even the employees readily admit. Bi Mart is not Walmart or even Jerry’s Home Improvement. It has a small selection of a little of everything you need to survive. They have a good variety of beers and wines, sometimes on sale for cheap. But I don’t go there for booze anymore, so it isn’t very exciting these days. I think of how many ghosts from the past I’ve more or less exorcised since quitting the alcohol. I’ve accepted the losses and let them go.
Then I took my things in a brown paper bag and walked home the same way I arrived, reasoning that another accident like before was improbable. I got home without further incident.
Quarter of one. I recognize now that I was very delusional Sunday and yesterday. The devil has nothing to do with everyday life, so it was only my illness flaring up. Dealing with religious fanatics doesn’t help the situation at all.
Here I am at the cancer institute, waiting on the second floor. I don’t know how I feel right now; kind of washed out and not very awake. Definitely lonely for a friend. But I’m hopeful for the future. This year has only just started. I miss my old friends from four years ago.
Three forty. I was treated impersonally for my appointment. I waited in the exam room for 25 minutes, then the doctor spent only 2 minutes with me, and was obviously in a hurry to get out of there. Next, the scheduling desk person kept me waiting for five minutes while she jabbered on the phone. When my turn came, she didn’t want to bother the doctor for the approval on my next visit— so I stood there and forced her to do it. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Finally, in the breezeway of the building, I asked the attendant if Joann the oncology nurse still worked there. Her eyes got big and she shook her head slowly. Simultaneously my taxi showed up and it was time to go home.
Passing the marsh by the Delta Highway I saw out the window some large waterfowl, including a white crane with an S curve neck and some darker birds with huge wings. Also we drove alongside the old gravel quarry before you get to the Fred Meyer to the right of the Beltline. Observing these familiar sights, I thought of my parents and felt like the last man living on earth, and for a purpose I couldn’t fathom.
Pastor broadcast my birthday in the Daily Devotions email this morning, and Nancy emailed me her birthday wishes. It is super dark and wet today. At the Fremont end of the street the gutter has backed up and made a miniature pond that was difficult to cross. I chatted with my sister for more than an hour and then fed the dog before my trip. I saw almost no one, and I got the store all to myself when I bought a Snapple and some easy food. I considered an outing to Bi Mart, but the weather isn’t favorable for it. I might put it off until Wednesday afternoon. I received a Stimulus payment this morning, as a lot of people will have. Tomorrow my new bass amp is scheduled to arrive. I’m stressed about that in a good way. And yesterday I ordered a little selection of the poetry of Carl Sandburg to replace the one I gave to a neighbor three years ago. What I remember about it mostly is the panoramic sweeps he made, in a style reminiscent of Whitman. His descriptions of Chicago and the prairie, and of the people traveling back and forth between them, were very interesting… For the moment it has stopped raining, so maybe now is a good opportunity to go to the pharmacy. Regardless of the weather, I’m taking a taxi. Then again I might just stay home today.
Noon hour. Lately I’ve been playing the bass line to “Circumstances” by Rush, a song often overlooked in their repertoire. I love the lyric to it, about Neil’s youth in England before he came back to Canada to join Rush, bringing with him a lot of prog rock influences. The other lyric I always enjoy is “The Camera Eye,” which compares city life in New York and London. Sometimes I wish I lived in a bigger city than this rather backward one, a town of hippies and rednecks with not much else to choose from… And then there are the Lutherans. I think I’ll go to church this Friday night and help with the service. It’s nice that Pastor remembered my birthday today, something I didn’t expect… I had an erotic dream this morning. A young woman across the street from me tried to seduce me, wearing only jeans and a bra. She was a beautiful brunette with luscious curves, and I felt tempted. Suddenly my dad appeared and asked what was going on, and the girl, seeing this, dropped her pursuit of me. Then I woke up with regret that my dream self destructed— or maybe that’s just my personality.
Quarter of seven. This afternoon I think I’ll swap bridges on my Mexican Fender bass. I heard from Mark the drummer last night. Maybe I could email Mike as well regarding next month. I feel tired; I need my Snapple teas to wake up. Just waiting for sunrise before I hike to the store. I might even buy a Coke… First gray glimmer of daylight is here.
Quarter of eight. Fifty percent chance of rain after eight o’clock. I’ll hazard it without an umbrella.
Eight fifty five. The market has a new surveillance system with a monitor screen toward the front door. You can look up and see yourself in it, though there’s a delay time. The management gets increasingly sophisticated and professional, but to achieve this required money. The interior looks quite Christmassy, with a couple of Santas and a festoon of evergreen. You get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the earth tone wall paneling behind the counter. Three people were ahead of me in line and two in my wake, and it was only eight fifteen. Now I wonder if the example of this business might inspire others to grow up around it and rejuvenate the Maxwell community. For thirty years it’s been very run down, not pretty to look at. Back in the seventies and eighties it was quite respectable, with a nice grocery store and a gas station on the corner of N. Park. There was a cool little deli called Luigi’s that made incredible garbage grinders. But during the nineties, the community went downhill, I don’t know why. Hopefully the little store will do something to boost its surroundings.
Four twenty five in the morning.
I pored over some of my old poetry from twenty years ago and grew rather weary of the old canon of literature that fed it. My friendship with someone overseas for six years broadened my experience a great deal. What we can learn from real people in our lives is far superior to mere books… Last night I walked to church. Darkness had fallen, and the leaves on the streets were wet and treacherous. Where there were no streetlights I could hardly see. A few cars passed me as I navigated Fremont. Down Hemlock, I saw a man who carried a little light with him. I thought, I need one of those things. As it was, I wore a black rain jacket and dark blue jeans. No light colors or reflectors. So I wonder if Bi Mart stocks anything for a pedestrian’s visibility at night. I should call them and find out. Once I gained Maxwell Road, obviously the lighting was better and I felt safer. To my right across the road loomed the dimly lit form of the Methodist church, a great big A frame enclosing a cross. This building is more modern than my own church, which was built in the mid 1950s, the decade before my house was made. It dawns on me as I write this that I have belongingness needs like everyone else. A place to call home, and a bunch of people to call family are indispensable. My hike through the gloomy night along perfidious streets was sort of like wandering in search of a doorstep on which to place myself. After Roxanne brought me home, I set about looking for my copy of City of God by Saint Augustine. As if guided by providence, I found the book in a box I’d had yet to open…
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.
The day at home was pretty boring and uninteresting, so I kind of waited through it patiently until the time of my appointment with Erin at five o’clock. I set out on foot an hour early to give myself some ouija room and met with no trouble, putting me there at four thirty almost exactly. Erin led me through some exercises and at the end had me sit down to push pedal the machine for ten minutes. While I was doing this, she cleaned the things I had touched and started talking about a break in that had happened to the office prior to Monday morning. The perpetrator stole the cash and some food but luckily left the laptops. From there, we began to discuss the current situation of the country under Trump, and fortunately we agreed on each other’s politics. Kind of interesting how she opened up to me while I pumped away on the exercise machine. After ten minutes it was about six o’clockand the sunset was expected at 6:28. So I took my leave and walked home again, and again without a snag. Thinking back to the return walk, I passed some homeless people’s camps, a few tents and supplies by the off ramp to the Beltline Highway. My path along River Road took me under the overpass of the same highway and I went past something that smelled of urine. I didn’t pause to really examine my surroundings, and I arrived home at around six twenty. I remember crossing a crosswalk in front of a cop car at the intersection of Division Avenue, and now I reflect, How safe are we in the hands of the police as they exist today? Are the cops any better than the common people wandering around in the city? IMO, probably not. The population is just a big mishmash of people with different situations and fortunes, no one really superior to anybody else, everybody having an equal opportunity to live or die with some degree of justice and dignity in this dubious place called a civilized city in the Western world; more specifically, America… I also reflect that the urine reek coming from under the overpass could just as easily have been mine in different circumstances. The city is a barely domesticated place, with the law being quite a fragile and breakable thing. The only thing holding the line of cars back at the crosswalk is a red light, which seems a cold comfort to the pedestrian skipping across the street. Such a naked feeling, just your body and those big metal boxes called automobiles ready to charge out of the gates… So that was my little walk, my adventure on River Road during the rush hour traffic and before sundown on an October Monday evening.