Breaking the Monotony

Six forty.

Roxanne asked me to remind her about church tonight at six o’clock, so I will send her a text. Hopefully church will make a good diversion from the other things bugging me.

Eight twenty five. The cold sun hits me right in the face. I expect two packages today, one from FedEx. The other one is my book of Montaigne. As of now, I feel again that I need a verbal coat of armor. I’m up a creek when I’m stripped of my words, and of course these create my experience of reality. My trial of physical therapy has been similar to acting and singing when I was a child. Strange forgotten feelings arise from doing those things. Maybe it only takes some adaptation to it. My head and my body don’t know each other, and the head usually rules. I ought to talk to Erin about this, but she’s not a psychologist… Aesop needs canned food, so I have to go to the store very soon.

Nine thirty. The market was rather busy this morning. Two guys stood ahead of me in line. One of them bought hard lemonade, the other just a bottle of water. I figured out that the computer terminal comprises an advertisement for cannabis. What else? As usual, I saw no people of color, which disturbs me a little. Michelle looked a bit stressed out, but that’s nothing extraordinary. My life is in something of a rut. I should probably change some things, yet the little store on Maxwell sits so close to my house… Darkness will have fallen when Roxanne comes to pick me up. I will take my Aria bass, my Fender amp, and a guitar stand. I won’t forget a patch cord. I hope my back holds up. 

On Winged Sandals

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. 

Have a (Snapple) Day

Ten ten. Karen gave me a ride home on her way to Silver Lane on some business. I also got a donut. My trip to the store was just okay. I heard New Country music coming from Darlene’s old house as I walked by. A few places are really decked out for Halloween. Before I left from home, I found an email from Pastor asking permission to use a Romantic poem I wrote a while back in his newsletter. So I replied that that was fine… Overall, this month for me has been a time of uncertainty and of figuring things out. I’m only a faithful reporter of my experience, not a panderer to people’s tastes. Thus it isn’t all pleasant or unpleasant, but rather a realistic mix of both. I’m having a peach tea Snapple and kicking back. Aesop is probably bored with sprawling on the carpet, and maybe someday we can go for walks around the neighborhood. I just hesitate because he is so aggressive toward other people… The book of Montaigne shipped earlier this morning, scheduled to arrive Friday. Also on Friday I’m doing music with the church. They’re right: it’s not good to be cooped up at home, pandemic or no.

Eleven forty. The good news is that fall is happening in spite of the wildfires we saw in September. The smoky air on that particular Monday was traumatizing, such that it was hard to imagine nature coming back. We still need more rain, but November is usually quite wet, even stormy. The autumn is only a third of the way done. My red oak turns its leaves before the maple tree does. Taken together, this fall season is proceeding somewhat normally. The sun is shining amid great muscular clouds, and the face of nature looks friendly enough. 

A Mile and a Third

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.

Slice of Life

Quarter after ten. Pastor called me and we talked for a few minutes. It went okay. We’re going to play music together next Friday. I just got home from the store. The customer ahead of me took a long time with Oregon Lottery tickets, and Vicki was the only cashier. But the lineup of people were patient and courteous. I noticed again how the little market is starting to resemble other modern convenience stores. There’s a computer terminal I hadn’t seen before, with advertisements for some product. I imagine how my purchases over the years helped pay for the upgrades. In a way, it’s nice to see the market growing and advancing. I got myself a deli sandwich, a burrito, and two Snapples, plus dry dog food. The Dog Chow was ten bucks for only four pounds, but it’s Aesop’s favorite. JR was just starting his shift when I was on my way out. The sun from earlier this morning has disappeared behind the overcast. My yard sign for Black Lives Matter got knocked down, and then someone else set it up again. Dunno; it’s kind of a mellow morning in the hood. As I was heading home on N. Park, I passed a young person of color. Just a kid. I said hi, and he half smiled and walked by without a word… 

Rainbow Sherbet

Quarter after nine.

It’ll be Michelle at the store today, so I’m happy about that. The song in my head is “Speak Like a Child” by Jaco Pastorius, one I hadn’t thought of in a long time. I wonder what prompted it? I got my original copy of this album in the winter of 1989, but not sure where. Someplace Downtown or in the Valley River Center.

Ten thirty. I spoke with a handful of people while I was out just now. Kim gave me a piece of quiche, saying it was her first attempt at it with a crust. It tasted great to me, especially the peppers and ham. She told me a little more about her husband’s life. The first person I encountered was Colin, walking his dog Lolo up our street. We talked a bit about the postal service and receiving our ballots in the mail. At the store, Suk said hi, and Michelle assured me that there will be cottage cheese tomorrow. The weather is beautiful again today, the sunshine soft and orange. Part of me would love to glut my senses with some pleasure, as in the old days. But I have to settle for sunshine and poetry for my sources of beauty. I’ve also been invited to record with the church singers Saturday night, so maybe I’ll go and do that. It should be a colorful time to go see my friends in church. Color is what my life lacks, making it a T or F existence, logical and devoid of quality. It’s like food without flavor, no seasoning of any kind. There’s something to be said for taste in human life. I think most people would agree on the importance of color and harmony, like savoring a good rainbow sherbet. Or maybe a lyric poem by Wallace Stevens? The stark words in black and white belie the impression of a prismatic spray between the lines… 

Uptown, Downtown: a Letter

Well I had an interesting day. It was sort of interwoven with old and new for my interior experience, and there was definite interplay between mind and reality, creating one person’s impression. I began to notice this in the waiting room of the physical therapy office: although no Halloween decorations existed, my mind imparted this essence to the colors I saw around me, giving them the luster of October 2002 from my memory. Doubtless this was the influence of having read Wordsworth recently. And yet our minds probably create this way all the time, making a fiction of fact, therefore who knows what is real? My appointment went well enough. Christina knows her business and was able to help me quite a bit today. The weather started with a high fog that burned off and gave way to beautiful sunshine before it was noon. The excursion took me up north a mile on River Road to the Santa Clara Square, where there’s a big Albertsons supermarket and a strip mall with a lot of small shops. Axis Physical Therapy is housed in the lower level of the medical building stuck in the middle of the parking lot. There is also a Shari’s Restaurant that’s been there forever. And across Division Avenue is the big Fred Meyer shopping center, where my sister goes for groceries at least once a week. In our petty disagreement with each other, Polly has staked out the territory north of the highway for herself, and south of it is my domain. I suppose a lot of this is my imagination, but I think Polly sees the same political division of north and south up and down River Road. The farther south you go on this street, the more it takes you into the heart of the city. It actually merges with Chambers Street at the bridge, and down underneath it is the Eugene Mission. It begins to get interesting for me around Fifth Street. Downtown Eugene starts more or less here, and Sixth and Seventh are arteries for heavy traffic; also 11th, 13th, and 18th Streets. I love Downtown! I don’t get to go there often enough. From the top of Skinner Butte you can see the layout of the whole city of Eugene. But my absolute favorite place is probably Fifth Street, especially the corner of Fifth and Pearl, where Musique Gourmet used to be. And I believe Smith Family Bookstore is on Fifth and Willamette… I get a bit emotional describing these places because my dad used to drive me there in the years when I wasn’t well. I guess I really miss my dad. He seemed to be better adjusted than my mother…

Culture Shock

Nine thirty 🕤. I’m in the waiting room of the physical therapy place, situated on the lower level of the building. I arrived very early due to Ridesource policy. The colors are very beige and pumpkin. I think my appointment starts at ten fifteen. At least it’s kind of comfortable here: only one other person in the room. I’m glad I brought my iPhone, because there’s nothing else to do. I feel rather alienated from my normal self. It’s so much like Halloween, but from 18 years ago. This place is located in Santa Clara, where I haven’t been in a long time. I don’t like this sector of town at all. The farther north you go, the worse it gets. Maybe it’s only an impression on my part. I see no Halloween decorations, and yet the nutmeg carpet and the custard walls give off the sense of the season— in 2002… How much time did I use to spend in Santa Clara? My sister lives here, way up River Road. I’m probably just psyched out. I identify with the south side of town mostly.

Quarter after one. My physical therapist, Christina, is very good at her job. But I’m still glad the appointment is over with. Right now I feel lightheaded and kind of tired. Funny, the cabbie for the return trip said that the receptionist wouldn’t inform him whether I was there or not. She was trying to uphold HIPAA regulations, protect my privacy. I kept him waiting for about 15 minutes because Christina was behind schedule. I was very apologetic when I finally came out to the car. As we drove away, I saw that Albertsons had a great mound of pumpkins piled up next to the front entrance. How strange it felt to go north of Division Avenue! It’s like going behind enemy lines, although a decade ago I traveled there occasionally. Up there the people are so very rednecky and incurious about cerebral things. This strip of River Road, before it debouches into farmland, extends some seven or eight miles. I think of it as an intellectual desert. All this space and nobody home. 


Quarter of noon. The girls were very nice to me this morning, both at the store and the salon. At the red checkout counter, I paused a minute to just be there in the present. There were four of us in line, and Vicki called Cathy away from her unpacking tasks to man the other register. To me, it felt a little like old times, with the difference that I don’t drink anymore. In some ways, I’m still the same old guy as ever. I have more recall available to me as well. My entire life coalesces into coherent sense. At the salon, Angela said they love to have me drop in. Karen was on the phone making someone an appointment. The rain was rather light, thus I could manage the trip without using an umbrella. Just now, the rain is coming down more seriously; I timed my excursion about right. But who cares about getting caught in a little rain? My mother used to think it was a major disaster. I’m glad I’m not a child any longer.

The breakfast burrito was pretty good. Meanwhile the rain keeps coming down. I thought of human kindness, and how it’s universal. You can find it everywhere that there are people. My dog has changed. He enjoys affection from me now and loves to be petted. We didn’t use to have such a bond. It’s something new… As on every Tuesday, the Sanipac garbage truck is making the rounds. We are cozy inside the house and can’t ask for more. 

From Rail to Rail

Quarter of six.

Black as ink outside, and it’s been raining again. I could hear it hit the rooftop last night. I hear a train barreling by, possibly an Amtrak full of sleepy passengers. There’s the horn, like the spouting of a whale. An aural beacon in the darkness before the dawn. One lesson I took home from The Prelude is the primacy of imagination. It is a belief that challenges the cognitive therapy I learned two years ago. Surely a great poet like Wordsworth couldn’t have it wrong?

Eight o’clock. Clouds outside like purple chalk as the sun ascends on a Sunday. Not a sound but the whir of my mother’s electric face clock. Three minutes behind. Now the furnace kicks on to keep it 72 in here. Squirrels scamper overhead, drumming with tiny hands. Moments ago I lay in bed dreaming of books I have yet to read, particularly by Thomas Mann and perhaps Marcel Proust. Until I do, the books sit there in mute limbo, letters awaiting a lector.

Nine o’clock. I don’t think cognitive therapy had creative people in mind. There’s such a de emphasis on imagination, which is very similar to the Vienna Circle. No one ever said I had to be a logical positivist. I feel a little like Wordsworth, living in the city for a while and losing his vision and his judgment. Fortunately, in Eugene there is still a faction of Jungians running around.

Ten ten. It looks like a true October in my backyard. Only a few of the oak’s leaves are red, bunched together in clumps, though already many have fallen. Oregon Lottery is up and running again at the store. Right inside of the checkout counter is a glass display of the different games offered. Strategic and subliminal. Vicki sold me two Snapples. I didn’t observe much on the way: the same bandaid on the concrete sidewalk, and the shards of a broken brown bottle next to Randy’s auto lot. Passing the stop sign at the intersection made me remember something from two years ago, a painful experience with my team at P—Health. Suffice it that I’m glad those days are over. The sea green espresso shack wasn’t very busy because it’s Sunday. And as I write, the railroad sounds still waft this way from the southwest.