I was more productive with my bass practice today than usual. All along it’s been me and not my music gear, of course. I used my Jazz Bass and covered some Thomas Dolby songs, from The Flat Earth especially. It sounded pretty great to me this time. Most of the time I can’t make anything happen with my music. There’s nothing wrong with my bass guitars, just me. In this case, it can be tempting to use a substance for better productivity or for inspiration. The honest truth is that sobriety took away my creativity. Or perhaps my poor brain is just going downhill as I age.

It might help my ability to just throw myself into a situation with other musicians. But without a car for transportation, it’s a lot harder to make this happen.

It seems like the government ought to do more to help citizens adapt to everything that’s going on in the world right now. It’s just unbelievable, the bs and the problems facing everyone these days. And it’ll probably get worse. Lisa at the store told me that the emergency food stamp boost will end in February— next month. This means I’ll get only $83 in food stamps per month, so I’ll have to spend more out of pocket to eat. Thus, how are seniors and people with disabilities, who depend on a fixed income, supposed to live?

For reading matter, Theodore Sturgeon is looking pretty good.

I say we elect Superman President!

Amid this crowd of Clark Kents there’s gotta be somebody who can do a quick change of clothes in a phone booth and save the world.

Just take a weekend and do it.



Nine twenty.

Another day, another worry. I used to listen to music to soothe myself but now I don’t know what happened to that. It’s been forever since I heard piano music by Erik Satie, just to sit and listen by myself. Some of the best things in life are going by the wayside, though I don’t know who or what is responsible unless it’s only me. However, something good came my way at the store, kind of. She was tall and quite pretty, and I let her in ahead of me at checkout. I don’t see much of that anymore. These are such unromantic times when nobody gives a damn for what’s really important. We clutch our wallets and say it’s all about me; but you can’t marry your money and you can’t take it with you past the grave. I stopped with Karen at her salon: she’s fussing over a valuable ring she had modified by a jeweler’s but they ruined it. Now she’s seen her lawyer and is taking her case to the top of the management, demanding that they fix the ring properly. I think it’s a sign of what people care about these days. We cherish dead matter instead of live human beings, and it’s all for ourselves… For some reason I keep writing on morality, but I’ll just go with it. It’s a dirty job that somebody has to do, so why not me? 

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.”


Quarter of seven.

First I canceled with Gloria this morning and started out for the store, but then I remembered that they don’t open until seven on weekends. So now I’m waiting to make my official trip. A mourning dove hoots emphatically what morons we are. I believe the dove really is the Holy Spirit as it descended upon Jesus when He came of age. But my brain has been baking in the heat for a week, so anything’s possible. Any mirage in the desert looks good.

Everyone is talking about the heat. And my backyard is like an aviary this morning. I don’t put out bird feed, either, yet still they come. Also the squirrels: they hoard acorns from the oak tree. Often I forget that it’s all life, all of the wild species around us, as valid as humans are. The Canada goose flies alone over the neighborhood. Aristotle said that human beings are political animals, but why aren’t animals allowed to vote? Socrates said that the countryside had nothing to teach him of philosophy. Maybe philosophy is overrated.

Eight ten.

Though I’m not watching them, I know I hear a family of house sparrows on my back porch. That old birdhouse is a wreck, yet they keep returning there to lay eggs and raise nestlings. Most of the noise is from the babies clamoring to be fed. It seems late for mating season but everything is kind of messed up. The little prop plane over my head aspires to be a bird, and almost succeeds. Some dreams need revision as they hit the wall of reality.

My dog is hungry.

Egg in a Vise

Four o’clock.

I must be losing my marbles. I read back what I’d written in my diary since Thursday and felt horrified by all the bad things I said about the people I’ve known. I pointed the finger at everyone but myself, when the source of my perceptions was just me. I think my moods go in cycles that accelerate the more I do caffeine. I could be bipolar, as Todd has suggested a few times. Also the thought of suicide crossed my mind a little while ago. I wonder if cutting out the caffeine might help my behavior? I feel wretched and very dissatisfied with my life sometimes, alternated with occasional elation and gratitude for good fortune. The world may be going to hell in a hand basket, but that’s not everything that’s up with me. If I thought alcohol would help me then I’d drink again, but I know it would exacerbate everything. For just once I wish someone knew what they were doing. Instead it’s a lot of shrugged shoulders and scratched heads, so a person virtually has to be her own doctor. Or maybe even this is a thinking error?

I believe that everyone is under considerable stress…

One Big Boat

Seven thirty.

Today I’m skipping the caffeine completely. It was turning into a problem with my sleep. There’s just a light rain this morning, but we get more rain than sun this June for whatever ecological reason. At one time, all I worried about was staying alive, but now I worry about more complex things. Frankly I’m tired of the stress. It’s tempting to just opt out of life one way or another. But then I’m probably not alone with the bigger picture. I’ve gone from poor to virtually penniless due to inflation. It doesn’t help when people say that the ultra rich will alone survive in the long run. Something must be done for the little guys, the paupers with nothing but the clothes on their back. My bank makes it more difficult for me. Maybe I should switch to a credit union or something. But not until I’ve paid off my credit cards, a long way away. I really need to talk to somebody at my bank, but they don’t answer the phone. I feel I’m up a creek without a paddle, but again, perhaps not alone.

The Pen Is Mightier

The pen is mightier than the sword in a country that makes college tuition free.

Free tuition is the fastest way to equalize the population and end our political conflicts.

Beef up not our arsenal but our intellect, and don’t pray to a god for this to happen.

Only human effort can pull it off, while prayer is a fifty fifty proposition as reliable as chance.

Ignorance is not bliss, as life today demonstrates. The nation needs a fast track to wisdom and no time to waste.

Or rather, we should take it slow and thorough, and read entire classics instead of excerpts: bring the whole works to a grinding halt and put ourselves in the classroom.

People shall not live by bread alone, nor by chili cheese fries at the drive through. What makes the world go round is not money.

The perfect world is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity, and no satire about it: this is dead serious stuff.

If we can realize dystopia, how much harder is it to go the other way? 


Quarter after one.

The media is making another mistake. The more publicity they give to the mass shootings in America, the more people are going to do that just for the attention. What they are doing creates a vicious circle that spirals out of control.

But not that we shouldn’t repeal the Second Amendment.

In some countries, not even the police have firearms. It seems to work for them okay.

Why do we have to be special? The cost is too great. We stand to gain a lot by joining with the rest of the world. A Brit who was visiting Eugene said to me once, “Only in America can you have a World Series where all of the teams are American.”

We need to swallow our pride and be realistic. Other countries will call us stupid if we don’t. They call us that anyway. So don’t give them ammunition.

Que Pasa?

Seven twenty five.

I’ve got “Tea for One” playing in my ear, the old Led Zeppelin classic. I slept badly last night, but I’m thinking that Freud was close to the truth about human beings. The clouds are gray and puffy in the east; maybe we need a good rain today. Something to wash away cares and worries. Memories from my childhood keep haunting me, though I don’t know how important they are to the present day. My experience with the church was just a veneering with doctrines. The situation now is unique: I am sober and also have a lot of free time for soul searching… Freud is depressing. I prefer to feel happy and free and proud of myself. Like being in ninth grade again, and having a skill I was very good at. But even then, I had latent feelings for people, but it wasn’t my fault. You are just what you are.

After nine o’clock.

I’m in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. The music on the PA sucks; very drippy and sad sounding. No one here seems very happy, and I’m already having a bad day. The receptionist was rather rude and cold. I don’t know. Something is wrong with the whole scenario. I’m so sick of going to healthcare appointments one after the other. My life feels controlled by forces I can’t perceive, by god and government, by the media and whatever else. I don’t have the freedom to choose what I do with my life anymore.

Eleven o’clock. I guess I was just in a foul mood, and I waited a half hour past the time of my appointment, which lasted 15 minutes. My cab was there when I got back to the lobby. I didn’t want to keep him, so I hurried out to start our journey home. 


Eight twenty.

It’s colder this morning than yesterday but it isn’t raining and the atmosphere definitely feels like March. I didn’t notice much of anything outdoors; I wondered why Kat is always gone from home when I pass by her house. I guess it’s none of my business, though she used to be friendly and a good neighbor. Life is ever in flux and nothing stays the same. The pendulum swings to and fro as history moves forward like some ogre stalking along, left to right and back again. I can’t shake the music in my head; it is “Soon,” an old piece by the prog band Yes. I don’t see its relevance to my life right now. Perhaps it’ll be clear later on. Some of my neighbors seem pretty vexed with the current state of affairs but it’s not my problem. In Oregon, the mask mandate is going away on the 12th of this month: looking forward to this a lot. Even the sparrows on my patio sound cheerful, unmindful of the price of oil and gasoline and other things that people believe they can’t do without. People ought to have the ingenuity to save themselves from ecological suicide, but only time will tell if they choose wisely.