I rolled out of bed, sat down for a while, then walked to the store when there was enough daylight. Once there, I ran into Lisa and her daughter Olivia. Lisa bought a bunch of energy drinks and a Coke for her kid. At my turn to check out, I told Lisa the clerk that the sale priced beers on the table were a distraction for me. But she helped remind me that you lose everything as an alcoholic… At ten o’clock I have Gloria today. Thursday I’m going to the agency to see my med prescriber, a PNP named Todd I’ve known for four years, though I can’t believe how time flies. It’s also been that long since I had contact with my brother, whom the family has sort of ostracized. The only relative I talk to now is my sister, the family matriarch; but I’m always on the fringe of the gang, having a totally different set of values from them. I think it goes back to my dad, and my mother too. They cared about education and sophistication, whether or not they could be accused of snobbery. My dad was a peculiar kind of guy, with polished manners but many foibles. Both of my parents were hard to get to know, keeping to themselves in their safe little bubble. The rest of the family despised them.
But they gave me everything they had…
The sun is shining, no clouds, and expected to stay the same all day. It’s also very cold. I haven’t seen the news in a long time; am I missing anything? No one else talks about it. I guess the news is that people are working for a living. If I had a magic wand, everyone’s life would be exactly as they liked it. It’d be a return to the Golden Age, or like Eden, where living is free and carefree. I wonder who invented money and when it replaced bartering for goods. I would make a poor economist or banker; I don’t even like numbers or quantities… I suppose it’s time to go get a Snapple and stuff to eat for today. It’ll be fine to look at the blue sky on my way to the store around the bend.
Quarter of ten.
I ran into a friend of Gloria’s, the boyfriend of her granddaughter, at the market. He was shopping for energy drinks. We didn’t say much except to greet each other. Outdoors, it’s still below freezing, though with few icy spots. Hardly anybody was out and about. Coming home, a blast of frigid wind hit me on N Park. I contemplated the sky a bit, wondering if it made sense to imagine something “behind” it as in the fiction by Paul Bowles. The blue atmosphere is caused by dust, a physicist will tell you. But people believe what they want to believe, a condition that may spell our ultimate undoing.
My trip to the store this time was a bit different. It was later, so I saw more women inside the market, some of them very nice looking. One woman drove a cobalt blue sedan and let me cross her path on the sidewalk. Then I watched her drive over to the green espresso shack and get in line. She had stood behind me at checkout. She was slender with red hair and wore a cardigan, which didn’t seem like enough on a cold winter day. I was dressed in my eternal blue parka and a navy blue beanie that covered my ears. On my way there, I passed an old white bearded man carrying a coffee who gruffly nodded and said hello. I always notice the moss growing on the asphalt just outside Randy’s car lot, enclosed by a wire fence with a locked sliding gate. Maxwell is a derelict section of the community, but sometimes graced by passers through, or saved by a local celebrity, as when Lisa deigns to make an appearance at the market. The other night I put in earbuds and listened to “Josie.”
When Josie comes home, so good
She’s the pride of the neighborhood
She’s the raw flame, the live wire
She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire
I don’t know whether to feel tired or amped. I’ve got a zoom appointment at ten thirty regarding my PCA, so I’m a bit nervous. For a while I’d like to forget everything and chill out. The weather is foggy right now, and I saw how busy Maxwell Road was at eight fifteen. My own street was sleeping or dead to the world. Most of the traffic came from the south side of N Park or from River Road to the east. I hugged the inside of the sidewalk on my way to market as the cars whizzed past me. It tends to make me feel small and insignificant, like a kind of insect underfoot, dodging the world above my head. I can also relate to turtles and tortoises: anything that moves slowly like a sloth. But the rabbits of the world don’t take time to think about what they’re doing or what others do. Thus I’m fairly content with my lot in life. There are the thinkers and the doers, and I’ve never really been one of the latter.
Quarter after ten.
There’s some work being done in my neck of the woods. I saw that Dell is reroofing his house, and across the street from him, the new neighbor is having his house painted dark blue on the outside. I noticed that they’re doing it the hard way, with brushes and rollers rather than a power spray as they did to my house a few years ago… Then on N Park, the Wright tree service was parked at Randy’s car lot, with three guys sitting in the cab waiting to do something. Also, the cleaning lady was working at Karen’s salon because it’s Monday and that’s her schedule. But business was pretty slow at the store after nine o’clock. When I went inside, I had a vague impression of the old days at Community Market, with Vicki and JR and often Belinda in the morning. There’s a lot that I miss about those old times, yet too much of a good thing can be fatal, and if it seems too good to be true… My house sparrows are going nuts just outside my door. I see a bunch of adult males, likely competing for a female, though it seems like an odd time to mate. But it’s also odd for people to reroof and repaint in the middle of winter. Confusion reigns supreme.
I am visited by Beatles music again in my head. If Christianity is the great code for Western literature, then The Beatles are the Rosetta Stone for rock and roll from their time onwards. Except for Walt Whitman, I’m finding literature to be quite onerous nowadays due to my involvement with the church for five years. I see religion everywhere I look. And even if contemporary poetry in the mainstream has moved on, in the public sphere it’s still the same old stuff. I notice that the church mostly ignores literature done after WW2, adhering to the 19th Century. It’s almost as though the last century never happened for them. Never heard of Oppenheimer or the Holocaust. We skipped from one Victorian Age to the next… The church has stunted my growth lately. It’s time for me to do something new. Take a class or something— anything to get me out of this rut. Learning doesn’t have to stop at a certain point, and history didn’t end with the 20th Century.
Nine thirty five.
I’ve been to the store and back in the rain. The wind made it hard to use my umbrella, so I ended up putting up my hood and just shivering through it. Didn’t see much of anything new for the trip around the bend. A book I ordered of Paul Verlaine is delayed a couple of days, no explanation why. The deeper I go into Western literature, the farther I have to go to find my way out. I feel like pulling the plug on all of it and following nature, the world of ordinary things. The thing that puzzles me about Baudelaire is his jump to metaphysics from everyday reality, spontaneously addressing prayers to the devil and so forth, just assuming the existence of such beings. It seems naive to me not to know the difference between material and spiritual, and yet he uses the term “ideal” freely. Maybe I’m the one who’s naive? And maybe the natural world I seek doesn’t exist… The rain keeps coming down. On a good day I’d say it was a shower of fine wine from heaven. Today is rather blah; the rain is merely water, the sky a vapid gray.
The City of Eugene finally sent out a team to pick up the leaves at our curbs. This is just ordinary stuff. Lord or Lucifer had nothing to do with it.
Quarter of nine.
The fog started out high but now has descended to earth, with a peculiar yellow taint, rather hideous. Nobody was outdoors when I trudged to market this morning and business was slow due to the holiday; I was the only customer there. I noted how slow the daylight was coming. Everything just feels foreign or alien to me, even nature, the skyline of winter trees. The wind has decayed to dead stillness. No rain currently. You can hear freight cars clashing together a few miles away. It’s a struggle to make small talk with the neighbors across the street; we look at each other in long awkward silences— then she says something about the weather… One of Karen’s hanging flowerpots had fallen face down on the pavement, I saw as I passed the salon homeward bound. I gazed at it stupidly, unsure what to do with it. So I just left it there. She’ll find it Tuesday morning when she opens shop. Strange to think that we could be having a heaven on earth right now. The garbage truck comes in the yellow mist like a bizarre dinosaur. Such a long way to go…
The ides of January, I suppose. I got back from church 45 minutes ago, stopping at the store in between. The best part of the service was the Debussy postlude. You don’t hear the second Arabesque often, so it was a treat for me. The weather continues windy with scattered showers. I feel kind of like a worthless epicure, a person who doesn’t inconvenience himself to help others as a Christian does. There have been other insights to what made my sobriety possible, not so admirable except for my honesty in observing them. Pastor didn’t address a word to me today; he’s probably a bit upset because I wasn’t there for Christmas Eve. But it was okay. Nobody booed and hissed at me. I noticed that turnout today was pretty low. Dunno. I sometimes feel like a reverse magnet, a repellent for people. At least I tell the truth; and that’s exactly why I am avoided. With that, the sun breaks through a little. It shines on righteous and not so righteous alike. I used to think the sun was partial to everyone but me, like the blonde assassin passing on in the Dickinson poem. But it was always the same.
Paranoia comes and goes…
Quarter after nine.
I took a nap since five and now I can’t remember what happened before that. It’s coming to me little by little. From morning till noon went very well, and Gloria and I had lunch together at Lupita’s Tacos. At one point, Debbie from the veterinary hospital walked in and picked up an order to take out. We were the only ones sitting down to eat in the restaurant. The food was great, but it was Saturday, I guess. After Gloria went home I was alone again, and my mind turned to self scrutiny, which isn’t always good. Sometimes I’d just as soon quit being analytical and try to live in the moment. Convert myself to creativity, building things up instead of breaking them down. An insight here and there can be liberating, but dissection kills the subject… Tim is picking me up for church tomorrow morning: I just got a text from him and decided at the last minute… I’ll try not to ask questions for a while. The inquiries of why and how will eventually make anyone crazy. Outdoors, the windstorm rushes in violent whispers. Earlier today you could catch sight of the blue sky if you were looking for it. Otherwise it was a cloudy obscurity the day long. Welcome to winter.
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.
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.