The Slope

Eight o’clock.

Michelle told me she left her other job. Evidently the place was quite mismanaged and there was inadequate communication with her supervisor. When I first got up and looked out the window, the sun was a great copper cannonball in the east. I let the dog out and took out the trash. I skipped my medications last night and so far I feel better for it. The weather people keep telling us the air quality is good, yet the colors outside don’t look right. Next door to me, Lenore is having her house painted a medium gray with white trim by a local budget service. It doesn’t look so great, especially next to my bright yellow house. Lenore also never offered to pay me a portion of the cost of the fence that Damien built last year. I have crap neighbors, and nothing I can do about it. No one seems to have a conscience anymore, while the big brazen sun keeps making its daily circuit: sunrise, sunset… 

Aesop just ate his breakfast. Every morning I give him a peanut butter bone from the store, so now he expects it as a matter of course. I love to see him enjoy it while I quaff down a Snapple tea; it’s a high point of the day. When the world is sloping downhill, it’s good to have a creature comfort or two. Yesterday I thought of my brother, whose immaturity belies his 68 years of age. And I think of how he has no excuse for being a jerk to me, his younger brother. But life is very strange to a person in recovery, far stranger than any fiction. 

Innocence

Quarter after eight.

I had planned on going to church this morning, but I feel tired and probably won’t make it. From my house to the church is a mile trip and I just don’t have the energy to hoof it. I was at the store a half hour ago and spoke a little with Heather, and I also saw Kat and Corey as I passed their house and said hi. There was some activity in front of the dog rescue place beside Valley Restaurant Equipment. I don’t know what was going on. I observed to myself that Maxwell Road is sort of a slum compared to other places in town. For economic reasons, it has become run down and relatively unattractive. It hasn’t looked good since the early eighties, when I was in junior high school… But on second thought, Maxwell was always a little poor and ramshackle. I love it, though. It reminds me of my mother, when we’d have lunch at Luigi’s on spring and summer days. The hot garbage grinders were awesome, toasted in big ovens and packed with veggies, long before Subway came to Eugene. Ninth grade was a great year for me, being a big fish in a small pond. It was the last K12 school year I really enjoyed. We had a very tough vice principal, but I think he was basically a good man. He was the one who got things done, while the principal was rather a reclusive coward.

Nine twenty five. I must’ve read 17 Tarzan novels that year. I still have dreams of those beautiful paperback books occasionally, with the Neal Adams and Boris Vallejo covers. But by the time I was 16 years old, the innocence had worn away and Tarzan appeared corny to me. I was growing up. 

Candide

Quarter of four in the morning.

I got up for a few minutes, and maybe I’ll go the distance until sunrise. The idea of Panglossian optimism occurs to me, a kind of teleological absurdity that depends on the existence of a benevolent God. Everything works out for the best because he designed it that way. I haven’t read Voltaire in many years, but I can always remember the chapter about El Dorado. And Candide asks questions out of his sheer innocence while he and his friends go from one predicament to the next.

Six o’clock. In another hour I can go to the store, unless Heather misses her alarm again. It looks like the sky is overcast this morning. Speaking of optimism, mine is restored a bit after the events of yesterday. Now I’m more liberated than I used to be. A burden has rolled off. I got a decent sleep last night as a result. I realize that I take things earnestly and hard— probably too hard; I was always very grave and serious about everything. It’s not my nature to be light and satirical, but rather honest and literal like Candide, who, by the way, is quite the opposite of the author who created his character… The sprinklers have turned off and a prop plane drones overhead. The first birds are cheeping outdoors, as free as their nature. Today should be good, as Aesop my dog stares me down with a question on his face. 

Thursday Mood

I don’t know what to do with my book of Jack Kerouac. Perhaps I’ll just place it in the book share on Fremont Avenue; it’ll be a great score for somebody, a beautiful new volume still wrapped in plastic. But no; if I see Ron again, I’ll give it to him… The summer sunshine repeats itself outside.

Quarter after nine. I talked with my sister for an hour. She said her son is on the mend from the virus. It wasn’t one of our better conversations, however. Now I’ve got the rest of the day unspoken for. Very quiet in the house, and the day is still young. It might be a good time to go out someplace, except the weather will be very hot and uncomfortable. The thought of drinking beer crosses my mind, but I’m not serious about that. I can play my bass guitar this afternoon, but by myself is not the same as with other people. So it makes me wonder if sobriety is really worth it when you end up all alone. Life is always difficult for one reason or another. A song by The Motels occurs to me: “Only the Lonely.” It reminds me of my mother’s solitude when I went to high school, and how I made a pact with myself to be her friend in that time. I never knew my own identity because of my sacrifice, yet I still think it was the right thing to do. Today I can relate to her loneliness; she was just a little too smart for her own good.

Quarter after ten. Something bugs me now. I still feel like getting loose with a beer buzz or whatever. I remember the trips I used to take to the coast with my brother, sitting on the balcony of our room, looking at the ocean and drinking beer after beer in the sun. This was my brother’s reality, and I participated in it with him like a kind of religion… until my addiction nearly killed me and I had to stop… Roger fired up his collectible truck and drove away to Highway 99. Life goes on even without alcohol. How would it be to reread A Separate Peace by John Knowles? A classic novel about envy; about the irrational, and the unaccountability of human behavior. Sometimes it’s not all lollipops and lemon drops. 

Word on the Street

Quarter after ten.

My burrito was good. Aesop ate his breakfast after he understood the cost to me. He even understands when I ask him, “Are you mad at me?” His attitude softens and he wants to make peace. Very smart dog. I hear a pressure washer somewhere near, and a conversation in my street. I’ve quit eating my heart out about the girlfriend who ghosted me in 2017. Still, I imagine it’ll be hard for me to listen to an album like Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the memories it triggers. I guess just don’t listen to that CD. The clouds have formed a solid white sheet that admits only a bit of sun. The religious thinking is going away, giving way to realism again. I really enjoyed Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells and might look into The Octopus by Frank Norris. The opening chapter was very powerful with its description of a train plowing into a flock of sheep that had wandered onto the tracks… Didn’t sleep well last night, so I feel rather wiped out. It doesn’t bother me much anymore who is the US President, or how this would affect my sobriety. Staying sober is an independent thing from all other issues. I had bad dreams about my dad last night. He was a real jerk because no one liked him, and vice versa: a vicious circle…

The chatterboxes in the street are still going at it. I don’t want to know what they’re prattling about. You can’t pick your neighbors, usually. Probably the ones I have don’t like me, just as they disliked my mother.

Eleven twenty five. I’ve got oodles of time to do whatever today. However, days often go by when nothing gets done. And I suppose I’m okay with that.

Dawn is a feeling

A beautiful ceiling

The smell of grass just makes you pass

Into a dream

You’re here today

No future fears

This day will last a thousand years

If you want it to

There and Back

Eight fifty. I guess I’ll go. Leaving in ten minutes. I negotiated with my dog about it, haha, and I think he’ll be okay with me being gone for two and a half hours. Also I called the store: Heather didn’t hear her alarm this morning, so she was late.

Now I’m waiting outside of the church for Pastor to arrive. Maybe I should have stayed home. I hear the sound of chickadees in the trees.

Noon hour. I made it home again in one piece. Service was good: Eduardo and Tori gave us a piano and flute duet of music by Lili Boulanger; very modern and French sounding. Great chords, and the flute dynamics were spot on. The sermon was rather Jungian, I thought; like a collective soul of Jesus Christ in which the individual participates. It seemed to me harmonious with the Shakespeare I’ve been reading. It’s interesting how a person can lose touch with Romantic thinking on the force of history… I probably baked my brains in the sunlight on the return trip. Took advantage of the shade of a few trees. Nancy gave away loaves of white bread, so I took two of them and carried them home, one in each hand. I was glad to see everybody today. I might return next weekend, and meanwhile see about what to do with the rock band. This quandary has been bugging me ever since I started playing in the band last December. I think finally I can choose once and for all which way to go… 

Morpheus

Six ten.

Another hot one is predicted for today. Think I’ll stay home from church yet again. The reading I did of Shakespeare during the night got me reflecting on collectivism in a new way. Autolycus as a character in The Winter’s Tale is a fly in the ointment, and by nature he is unlikable with his dishonest purse cutting and bawdy songs. It makes me compare his role in the play to my own place in the church and the community. And seeing myself in this light, I don’t really like my image. Funny how reading a good book can make you self aware.

Seven thirty. The store was supposed to be open at seven, but when I arrived, no one was there and the doors were locked up. I’ve never seen this happen before at Community Market, a total failure to show up. So I crossed the street to the espresso hut and bought a raspberry tea from the pretty girl and came home. I can’t speculate what happened to Heather this morning. I only know she didn’t show up to open the store today… I’m still contemplating going to Our Redeemer for Sunday worship. It’s a very long walk there, and Aesop won’t be happy about my absence. I’ll leave it to the last minute to decide… Band practice was such a disaster yesterday that I won’t make an Orpheus post this time. My mates were too stoned and drunk to be able to play their instruments, let alone think and make sense in speech. I was terribly embarrassed. Maybe in this case it’s two strikes and you’re out. I wasted my time yesterday with these bozos. I just want to make music, while the others make music secondary to the drugs… Church is looking better and better as I think about it… 

Is Rock Dead?

Four thirty.

I slept okay but I think I’m done now. Unbidden, the old song by The Beatles comes to me, written by John for Brian Epstein: “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” It’s more an attack on culture than on his friend, so the title is actually ironic. It raises the question why… Yesterday I had doubts about my participation in rock music. But right now, on the contrary, I’d be stupid to do anything else. Speaking of The Beatles, my mother was a fan, though in the closet with it. Her own mother found the band disgraceful, and her daughter fell in with her opinion. Why was my mother the family pariah? In my estimation, she was far more intelligent than my sister, and probably for this reason she had a difficult time making friends. I wonder why it is that the very best of us get derailed into a self destructive pattern? But she pinned all her hopes on me when I was growing up, perhaps a bit too much pressure for me to handle. Still, I don’t want to let her down, even twenty years after her death… Therefore, it’s rock and roll till I die— or until rock and roll itself is dead, which is a real possibility given these circumstances. Yet like the Ark of the Covenant or the Olympic flame, someone keeps the dream alive and safe.

Five thirty. The sky is bloodless over the treetops across the street. A cadaverous gray. The store doesn’t open until seven on weekends. Not really looking forward to hearing from my sister; maybe we can skip it this week. A mournful train horn sounds in the distance to the southwest alongside Northwest Expressway. I used to know a guy who stowed away on a freight car and rode it all the way from Portland to Eugene. I wish I were so adventuresome. But this guy’s dad was a rich timber consultant, so his poverty had a silver spoon tucked in it… The crows wake up east of me. Squirrel prances on the roof of my house. And now I just await my friend’s email… 

More about the Green House

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.

Springfield / La Maison Verte

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.