Wide Awake

Eight thirty.

The day starts out mostly sunny with some high clouds. The thought of things like Arthurian legend transports me back 25 years, to when my parents still lived and life was a different ballpark: and I wish like heck I could return. If the same sun shines today as back then, then why is my experience so different now? I pin it mostly on the death of my dad. When he passed, it was like a cataclysm that tilted the axis of the world. I can remember listening to music like The Orb in that last year, and people expected something very strange to happen for the Millennium. There were books of Nostradamus on the stands in bookstores and even supermarkets; I bought a few. I had a girlfriend who gave me a book describing the quest for the historical Avalon, the island where King Arthur was buried… But all that really materialized for me at the turn of the century was the loss of my parents. Since then, it’s been a fight for my independence, forming an identity for myself while beating down the jackals who would steal my soul. “It don’t really matter to me, baby / Everybody’s had to fight to be free.” There’s always someone to carry on the search for Noah’s Ark. But somehow it seems to me like selling phony pieces of the cross.



After midnight.

I agreed to show up for Advent midweek worship Wednesday night at the little church on Maxwell Road. Something made me think of my old psychiatrist saying that humans are a cancer on the face of the earth, and the big decision I made to leave him in favor of an idealistic Christian church five years ago. The key word is idealism, and it’s not a dirty word. There are Christians and there are Christians, some more cynical than others, some of them anti intellectual, and so on. But I think there’s always something to be said for honesty with a dream. Cynics tend to be the biggest sinners because their attitude gives them an excuse to act accordingly. It’s not about moral superiority, however. Not about holier than thou. I think it’s a matter of a sincere wish to believe in something beyond the physics, a heaven we can all look forward to: and to defend the dream against annihilation. I keep remembering the lines from William Blake where Newton blasts the trumpet of doom for the future of the religious imagination. It may be really as simple as the real and the Ideal. Unfortunately I think I’ve been too much of a Newton. Maybe we all have. 

Does Mephisto Know?

Quarter after seven.

Today I’m supposed to see my med prescriber at the agency, so I hope the taxi comes through for me. I didn’t notice much on my trip for groceries. The dairy distributor guy bought a few items from Michelle. Part of me asks what I was doing there so early in the morning. All I could observe was how my body felt: old, tired, sore, and crippled, while my head was reeling and dodgy. “Without love, where would you be right now? / Without love…” But those old love songs don’t necessarily mean anything, do they? You can hear them in any public place, comforting you and goading you to buy more stuff. I never used to feel so cynical, yet something has gotten into me. The introduction to the Penguin edition of Faust, Part One includes this phrase: “Cynicism is the only sin.” It pertains to Mephistopheles, the devil in his intellectual role. I found this information twenty years ago and I never forgot it. If we can’t afford to be innocent, we also have to trust something beyond ourselves.

It’s another cloudy morning. I was just tracking a strange archaic beetle on the wall, when to my surprise it flew with a farting noise across the room towards the kitchen. I didn’t expect it to have wings. It only shows that I don’t know much about entomology, or maybe a lot more besides. 

Otro Domingo

Eight thirty.

Mellow morning Sunday. I hear the whooshing of the swallows in my chimney, and we coexist okay. Eventually as a flock they will fly away. Cloudy but no rain so far. Aesop’s mood is much better than the other day. Thinking now, I don’t know why I don’t take him in for routine toenail trims the way I did for my pug. Probably I got wise to being exploited by the veterinary people, who made it sound mandatory. Some clients actually take their dogs in for tooth brushing. I’ve heard of doggie psychotherapy too. These shysters used to play me like a violin, screeching my guilt strings. It worked because I was an alcoholic and felt bad anyway. That has all changed. My conscience is a lot clearer now. I will play my bass at noon again today. Try to invoke the muse and get the machine to run. Sometimes the trucks I hear driving by sound like prehistoric beasts. They groan and lumber along like brachiosaurs, day or night. Just now there is sunlight through a chink, now gone again. “Since you left I’ve been watching blue skies come and go.”


Eight ten.

A rainy morning, which makes a nice change from the sunny weekend. Seven hours ago I ordered new strings for my bass. I’m uncertain about the band I’m in. If Mike is always paranoid about contagious disease then he might not want me in the project. I’m quite confident in my immune system, so I haven’t worried about the virus. Frankly I am sick of hearing about the Coronavirus every day, and I know that the media is profiting off of it. This in itself is disgusting. The scaremongering keeps us all in line with someone’s agenda— not God’s. There’s a tycoon somewhere jerking our strings. More than one. Every disaster for the people is a harvest for the corporate executives we don’t even see. Like in a really bad Harold Robbins novel.

Aesop is mellow this morning. It’s good to see him more relaxed. I slept pretty well and dreamed about a young woman I knew in college. Just a friend from a poetry writing workshop. I really liked her poems, but I was only 19 and didn’t know much. I remember the attic in the house where we had the class. The transition from high school to college felt rather strange. It was like a vacation because the work was so easy. I didn’t have to take math, and I put off my science requirements till later. That summer I finally got my driver’s license. I was so scared learning, so afraid of accidents on the highway. I would still be a little scared today. The highway is a good metaphor for life in general. People either speed along it with no problems or find a way to avoid it altogether. Take the slow back roads. The latter is what I chose.


Quarter after one. Like yesterday, I’m not very inclined to play my bass guitar. Ready to hand I’ve got so many wonderful books and music CDs. I feel like feeding my mind with cerebral ambrosia. The Woolf was a lot of fun. To bask in beauty is a great thing. The reading over the weekend diverted my thoughts from my family— which is beyond hope. In the back of my mind is the memory of where I was last year: a trailer parked in the driveway. Amazing that Aesop and I survived it. What the situation demanded was the faith that all should be well; that there was a plan and purpose to events. I told myself that the remodeled house was a reward from God for my recovery. And so I clung to this idea all through the spring and summer… until my sister intruded last October, making cynical remarks about the construction job. My religious sister! She must’ve thought I was naive or simpleminded. If I was, then it still got us through those six months. Now I can step back and reinterpret exactly what happened. I read in a book that “cynicism is the only sin,” and it is a characteristic of Mephistopheles. Polly came along with her attitude and messed up what had been working for me. Ever since October my rosy glasses have been colored black. She set a bad example of a Christian… unless we call it disillusionment. Now I don’t know… The quote I remembered is from the introduction to the Penguin edition of Faust Part One. I just now pulled it out… I feel my optimism coming back, pandemic or no. The springtime is unstoppable, the life irrepressible, and the joy unsurpassable.