Let’s Be Smart

Quarter of eight.

In an hour I have to be ready to go to the cancer institute for my blood work. I’ll feed Aesop before I go. I don’t know much this morning, have no insights to offer. Just another cloudy day, dark and gloomy. Thoughts go by in a stream, associated by meaning, sometimes by sound. I don’t record all of them… Human behavior is rather disappointing. I see a lot of cowardice in this pandemic, and some trying to take advantage of the situation. I just play the bass guitar and hope to make the world a bit more beautiful.

Quarter of noon. I saw a diversity of people at the institute: Black, Hispanic, and Asian were mixed with Whites, but you still have to be careful of what you say about race, etc, one way or the other. It’s insane. I wonder if I might’ve hallucinated the redneck truck with Confederate flag plates a few weeks ago. Also the blue flag that said, “Trump lost— lol.” Both of these sights were very temporary, there and gone in a day. The stress of the times could’ve made me more susceptible to psychosis, like the sightings of flying saucers after the end of WW2. 

Speaking of the postwar era, I recommended a book to a friend for inspiration: On the Beach by Nevil Shute. It presents an optimistic view of human nature in a crisis. The characters know the fallout is coming, and they make the best of the situation. Instead of rolling over like a dog and begging for mercy, they respond with intelligence and dignity. A movie was made of it as well… People seem lost at sea in “unprecedented” times, in need of guidance and assurance, yet our literature gives an idea of how we ought to act. Wallowing in depression and self pity is not righteous, as some people think. Let’s be smart about this and do the right things. 

Time for Lunch

Five before eight.

I heard Roger’s truck leave when I was still in bed. There’s a fairly dense fog on the trees across the street. By nine o’clock I have to get both kinds of food for Aesop. Later this morning I should call DHS and renew my health plan. Part of me wants to accuse me of being a terrible person, but really it’s life today that is just awful. I will buy a couple of Snapples and drown my sorrows. I’m very tired of the people who say there’s going to be a civil war. They are the ones who actually wish for it to happen.

Ten thirty. Polly called me back and we chatted for an hour. That was kind of nice. Right now the sun is shining from a mostly clear sky. My spirits brighten a bit. After noon today I’ll probably play my Jazz Bass copy again. It doesn’t look like much, but it sounds great. A work in progress, a diamond in the rough. It’s good for knocking about. A piece of wood with strings on it and basic electronics to produce a signal: that’s all a bass guitar is, and the rest is what the musician brings to the instrument. I already look forward to our next practice this Saturday. I used to wax mystical on the subject of whence a musician gets his inspiration during a gig. Does it arise from some inner reservoir of the psyche, or is the explanation easier than that? I don’t know if I believe Carl Jung anymore, but I’m tempted to read Goethe. Music is more than the sum of the technology that creates it. The experience of it is ineffable in words, and this sublimity is its essence.

Quarter of noon. But it’s difficult to maintain a point of view of mysticism. This is what the conflict is partly about. Is the supernatural real or just a chimera? I only know that it’s time for lunch… 

Weariness

Seven thirty five.

I got quite a restful sleep last night, so today is already off to a better start than yesterday. It’s the first light of dawn out. The sky looks gray with clouds, though currently there’s no rain. Amazon tells me that my new hoodie has been delivered. I ordered it in gold, and I think it should be rather pretty… I retrieved the package and put on the sweater: the color is bright and reflective. I really like it. My band will practice again today at four o’clock. We’re going to try out my new bass amp in our studio. I will run my blue Fender through it. Last night I went to church with Roxanne and did my duties of singing and reading. Pastor was downhearted and nobody was really bursting with joy. I felt tired and apathetic. Still, we got it done. Now it’s time to go to the store.

Nine ten. I encountered no one on the street; only a cat that I startled. When I approached the doors of the market, two cars pulled into the lot, but otherwise the place was pretty deserted. Or maybe the emptiness is inside of me? I thought of how we’re all forced to wear a mask in public just because someone said so. I read that the death toll from the virus has reached two million worldwide, yet it still seems kind of unreal to me; more like an exercise in obedience. It surely hasn’t been much fun. I picture myself in the parking lot of that silly little store, observing the drastic changes over the years. This is the pain of having a long memory, seeing things change irrevocably, leaving behind people and good times that I loved. You may wish to freeze and dogmatize the progress of the world, all to no avail. Time moves in one direction only. Turning back clock and calendar is denial. So we move on with the current of life… 

Scope

The times at large are generally very dark. When is it going to end? Sometimes I wax a bit psychotic thinking about it, deluded that I’m directly responsible for the plight of the world, or that my experience is a microcosm of what’s happening everywhere. I guess the second part is true, but there’s nothing magical about it. And really, everybody is likewise a miniature of the soul of the world. You can’t be conscious without carrying around a world conscience, because we’re all social animals. How strange to think of getting drunk to make reality go away. Everyone has a role to play in this drama, and we all have a day to shine in the spotlight. Many thinkers acknowledge this same truth, from Shakespeare to Emerson to Sartre; Cervantes too.

Wee hours. At the same time, I get tired of the grandiosity of a Shakespeare or a Victor Hugo, or any Romantic voice, and want to go with the ordinary and everyday. It is only in the commonplace that people are human and alive. And we’ve seen the terrible consequences of excessive drama once again in this country. It’s time to change our focus from narcissism to the humble and normal. In my opinion, even the Church is guilty of loftiness and grandiloquence, evident in the puffed up sermons we hear all the time. Perhaps rhetoric does violence to human well-being? And if so, maybe we need to bring the scope down to specifics, to particulars once again, with an attitude of calm and common sense. Instead of Shakespeare then, we get Thornton Wilder: the daily paperboy and the clink of coffee spoons… 

Briar Rose

Quarter of ten.

Conditions were pretty normal at the little market this morning. Michelle and the customer ahead of me were talking about the new tax on cigarettes. Because of this, the cost has gone up to ten dollars a pack. Michelle considers the tax to be punishing people with addictions, which isn’t fair. I can see the sense of that. Pricing people out of nicotine is effectively a form of prohibition. It’s a one sided way of looking at things; I don’t smoke, therefore you shouldn’t smoke either. Well, I voted against the tax, though the decision took some thought. 

I bought a sub sandwich, cottage cheese, and two Snapples. The mail carrier mistakenly gave me Diana’s letter, so I went across the street and wedged it in her door. Bonnie Rose passed me on her way back from the espresso shack and waved without smiling. It really puzzles me that I never see Colin outside his house anymore. We had a big windstorm last night, yet the political sign in my front lawn still stands. So does Roger’s black and blue striped police flag, in a strange and silent standoff between neighbors. Most of the time, people around here are peculiarly quiet, the silence rudely broken by my bass guitar nearly every afternoon. No one says anything, and no one has vandalized my sign or any of my property. The magic spell reminds me of a fairytale in the Brothers Grimm. I believe it was “Briar Rose,” or “Sleeping Beauty.” A woman pricks her finger on a spindle and everyone enclosed by the hedgerow falls into a deep sleep, or maybe a paralysis. They freeze as if catatonic. I forget what or who breaks the enchantment, but it was probably a prince happening by the scene… 

Sunday Grunge

Six o’clock.

I just paid my disposal bill. Really looking forward to my morning Snapples. Aesop wants to go back to bed. Now he’s nudging his dry food. More than once since yesterday I’ve thought of Christina from physical therapy. The last time we spoke, she was very nice. Actually, the whole staff of that place was kind and encouraging. It was only two months ago, but it seems like two years. I wonder if my little prophecy regarding WordPress is coming true? Right now, people are keeping very quiet on the website. Outside, there’s a light pattering of raindrops on the roof over the patio, but my eyesight can descry nothing in the total darkness.

Eight twenty. Daylight, and the rain has stopped. When the hour is decent, I can hardly wait to play with my Rumble amp again. I’ll try to refrain from checking out the news; it only serves to depress me and make me feel jaded. America has a spiritual sickness, sort of like the sickness of Europe during the world wars. Evidently Trump is saying things that some people want to hear, just as Hitler spoke to a Germany that welcomed his words with enthusiasm. Fortunately he can’t say it on Twitter anymore.

Quarter of ten. The raspberry tea Snapple hit the spot. Things were pretty relaxed at the market this morning, low key and easygoing. The music in my head is “Black Hole Sun,” a grunge classic that feels appropriate for the times. When I think of it, I like to drop D on my bass and pound out “Spoonman” occasionally. The neighbors probably hate it, but I’m within my rights to express myself. I ought to try it with a little fuzz from the overdrive circuit. Maybe today. 

Disgusted

Eight twenty.

I just left a voicemail for my sister to call me back when she gets a chance.

Nine fifty five. It’s hard to know what to say after the crazy events of yesterday. Actually, I know exactly what I want to say, but no one will want to hear it on WordPress. I just hope that eventually people will get wise and learn from their dumb mistakes. Our follies only prove how blind we are as a whole.

Today I’m going to walk to Bi Mart to pick up my prescription and buy a new furnace filter. It’s not supposed to rain today. Perfect opportunity.

Maybe on some other day I’ll offer some pearls of wisdom, but today is not that day. 

Mourning Doves

Quarter after nine.

I dreamed that water was leaking into the sanctuary at church. While I was there alone, I changed the settings on a certain air pump that kept out the water. I was not supposed to do this… In my dreams, water often symbolizes alcohol. So there’s a concern on my mind about relapse. Maybe it has something to do with religious faith, but I don’t know for sure.

It’s predicted to rain later this morning, and I carried my umbrella to the store just in case. Michelle wore a cardigan sweater with a rose on each shoulder, which looked good with her gray eyes. Life has been changing so rapidly over the past year. Despite the fact that she was rather abrasive, I miss seeing Vicki every morning. I wonder how she’s doing since losing her job? Having her gone sort of slams the door on my alcoholic past. It is all irreversible history now. I guess I feel a little sad today, a bit lost and disoriented. The chaos of this last year makes me worry about the future. Here and now, in this room, I am utterly alone with the dog, and the winter sky looms overhead, cold and ominous.

Quarter after eleven. Well, my sister called me on the phone, so I wasn’t so lonely for an hour. We might get together for my birthday, and get some food to take out or be delivered. Yesterday afternoon I ordered myself a new bass amp for practice and small gigs. It should arrive sometime next week. Meanwhile, a pair of mourning doves have found their way to my backyard: large white and gray birds with a call similar to an owl. Living in the present moment can be very strange. Outside, the weather is alternating rain and shine with occasional gusts of wind. Times are not very happy, but we stick them out just to see what happens next… 

Fallout

Quarter after nine.

I received a letter from a federal office saying that my eligibility for Medicaid had changed and I needed to take action. Before I do that, I will call my current insurance company and verify the truth of what they say. It could be a miscommunication somewhere. No need to panic until I have more information… This morning is cold and partly sunny. I got my trip to the store done. Bonnie Rose waved and smiled in passing me on the road. There was a new stock of fresh sandwiches, so I bought a Monte Cristo. Loaded down with dog food and a few things for me, I marched slowly home. I remember seeing a couple of Mexican guys at the market. One held the door open for me, and I heard some chatter in Spanish. Gradually it will be safer for them to come out of hiding. What the heck should we do with the Border Wall? I think we ought to dynamite it to Kingdom Come, and let the fallout rain on somebody’s head. 

The Christian Left

Five forty.

Aesop stayed in bed while I got up to look for an email from my friend. My mind hovers on the precipice of pluses and zeros. God or no God. Four hours ago I speculated that the truths of religion are built into the English language. But it feels to me like the miraculous is very far away. The thought that helped me sleep was of a friend I know who has an autistic daughter and two schizophrenic sons. It reinforced for me the validity of psychiatry and the biological perspective. Maybe I should find another psychiatrist? And yet they only prescribe medications. I can’t believe I fired a psychiatrist and gravitated towards the Church and psychology, but that’s exactly what I did. I must have been desperate for a cure for alcoholism. In Les Miserables, I’ve left Jean Valjean and Cosette in the relative safety of a Benedictine convent, and that is sort of like my life currently.

Seven o’clock. It also explains why I’m stuck on the song “Sanctuary.” But is the sanctuary really safe for me? As the general red shifts to blue, my own color changes as well. I will be a blue person in a blue context, and who knows where the reds will go? It’s a rather scary situation for everyone. Like being caught behind enemy lines in the wrong color shirt. Eventually it will get sorted out, but it takes a while. I’d never heard of the Christian Left, but I suppose it exists. Our Redeemer is a Democratic church, so I could be in the right place. I don’t feel comfortable with the Christian Right, however. The times are very confusing. I’m beginning to see where I’ve placed myself as political shades turn from red to blue. Very strange.