Today I plan to go to church. I realized something just now. It’s the Peace Tea that triggers associations with a friend I used to know whose politics was very different from mine. We had a big blowup over a disagreement and I haven’t heard from him in 12 years. Probably I feel some regret for what happened, but some things are inevitable and no one is blameworthy. If anyone is guilty, it’s likely me for being a drunk at the time. But that bridge is burned and no way to apologize now. After today I’ll try to avoid Peace Tea and those memories of my lost friend. Or maybe it’s okay if I keep them conscious so they don’t go underground to wreak havoc… The weather is clear right now, though clouds are expected to roll in at noon. For every sunny day there are clouds and eclipses. Hawthorne wrote that the first things necessary for any utopia are a prison and a cemetery. Well said. Still I look forward to church this morning. It’s a good place to confess and be forgiven.
Five twenty five.
Hard to believe it isn’t even summer yet. To me it feels like next autumn already. The climate has been very temperate lately except for a few days in the lower nineties. Right now the sun is just coming up. I hear the soundscape from “Close to the Edge” in my brain. It is curious how a lot of Americans disregard music from across the Atlantic, as if they didn’t understand it… I don’t know if I’ll call my sister this morning or not. It might be very uncomfortable for me if I did… I have problems with motivation, and also my body is giving out as I get older.
Quarter after seven. It has just begun to rain seriously. I got a few drops on me coming back from the store. Heather was super nice to me when I checked out. I had enough change in my raincoat pocket for a non comestible item, so she took my smaller coins and let me have my quarters. Also I got good news in my mailbox this morning. Probably I will avoid church this Sunday and just go to my band rehearsal in the afternoon. My sister said something pejorative about churchgoers who are not fundamentalist, or who don’t interpret the Bible literally, word for word. To her mind, these people are not really Christians. She doesn’t realize that she represents only one form of religious belief, and that others are equally valid.
Quarter after eight. I’ve decided not to call her this weekend… It’s different to see it dark and rainy here today; I kind of like it for a change. There’s such a disconnect between my mind and my body, and between thinking and acting: it’s almost too much to try to initiate a movement. It’s not a matter of laziness or anything moral like that at all… It looks like communication is reopening between America and the UK, if I’m not being too optimistic. And if I had the courage, I might do a Henry James for real and travel to the motherland at least for a holiday.
Quarter of one. Long conversation with my sister this morning. She is definitely opposed to rock music, especially the image part of it. But I halfway agree with her… dunno. She has religious objections to rock and roll, as if it were inspired by the devil. It makes a part of me rather mad, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Whether she’s right or wrong is impossible to say, so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I think that her opinion is awfully narrow and unfortunate, but I don’t need her blessing to play rock music if I want to. She represents a certain type of Christian; not all religious people are like her, luckily. Pastor likes rock music, even Led Zeppelin. It’s just my sister’s complacency in her opinion that gets my goat. This difference in taste goes way back to when I was in junior high school and I got involved in the band program. I’m feeling very defensive right now, maybe a little persecuted because my sister is so convinced that she is right. Why should I care what she thinks? Is it because we’re family? She categorically tars and feathers all rock and roll, and that’s not very fair. I guess it’s up to me not to personalize her attitude. It hurts my feelings, but I should let it roll off my back. Her opinion is adamant, so the only thing to do is avoid the subject with her… After our talk, I replaced the battery in my Aria bass and made some racket for a while. I’ve had that guitar for about 11 years and just now am discovering its potential. I felt angry but a bit daunted at the same time. As if there were something wrong with the activity. And I remind myself that I am the only musician in my whole family— but not the only musician in the world.
Bitterly, I just thought of my stupid sister and her monstrous son, and how they will probably vote this fall. The best I can do is avoid talking with them. I can’t believe how stubborn they are, how entrenched in old fashioned beliefs. I’m simply not responsible for what they do. If I ever get around to making a will, they are entirely excluded. Closed minds don’t deserve a piece of me. Now Polly is trying to say that beliefs don’t matter. Baloney! Of course they matter! What you believe is what you are. My family is a bunch of Skinheads. There are a lot more of them who go to Serenity Lane, the so-called treatment program for chemical addiction. All they do is brainwash you with Republican ideas, referring to them as your “culture.” It’s just an excuse for ethnocentrism.
Ten forty. I stopped by and said hi to Karen. Sort of sorry I did. She was spouting some pro racist stuff that I couldn’t agree with. So I didn’t stay very long. Everybody has an opinion. Even ignorant people do. I think it’s a symptom of Oregon life, all the racism and bigotry. Old people here go on and on about what a hero Theodore Roosevelt was. Ugh. Henry James called him a jingo, and it was probably true. I’m very tired of these old sticks in the mud who resist progress. Why do they want to conserve old politics that never worked very well in the first place? The young ought to have the strongest voice, particularly on issues of equality and justice. The old need to move aside and make way for the young… Victoria passed me on the street as I was coming home. She was jogging. So young, she makes me feel old, yet inspired with confidence that the future is in good hands.
Quarter after two. I’m getting cynical about Fender as a corporation. Everything is different since the days of the prog rock I remember. The ‘70s were 50 years ago. The quality of the gear available is not the same as the old days. But also I don’t know if I can play with the drummer in our band. I tend to have nightmares about him since our tussle in texting some weeks ago. I fear his temper, and maybe he’s a little afraid of me as well for standing up to him. He’s in for a surprise if he thinks he can be a bully to his band mates, especially me. I really don’t like him after our disagreement over the pandemic, and the irrational way he behaved. I think I might quit and be done with it, and see about working with Mark, the other drummer, who is really nice. But another voice says I should stick it out with Mike and Ron no matter what. I wouldn’t want to get a reputation among musicians for being hard to get along with… Just thinking about it makes me nervous, and I don’t like having nightmares about Mike’s temper… I’m used to dealing with people who are more reasonable and peaceful, more self controlled. It’s quite a shock to run into Mike with his rude personality. It’s so much like the situation with SLO, which got more and more volatile as time went on. Those people acted like children, and had no respect for each other. Totally uncivilized. I felt so uncomfortable with that band, yet I did it as long as I could. In a word, they were immature, especially the ones who sang, and also the guitar player. Everyone else was fine.
Three forty. Now I think of times with Blueface when things were tense. I couldn’t have handled them sober, without a screen for protecting myself from the reality. My last gig with them was in June; the same with Satin Love… I think I’ll go lie down for a while and try to relax. Nothing can ever make me drink again. But when a band is getting on my nerves and giving me nightmares, maybe I should do something about it.
Eight fifty five.
I owe OHI another $400 for the refrigerator. It’s nothing I didn’t know about. The email went to my junk folder, so I missed it until now. Aesop needs both kinds of food. Heidi is coming at one o’clock. I haven’t heard that the food pantry has been cancelled. I might email Pastor Dan about that… I skipped my Vraylar last night, and I haven’t started the cholesterol drug. White clouds are blotting out the sun. Last night I dreamed that I had been drinking for a long time. Occasionally my conscious mind stepped in and reminded me of the truth that I’ve been sober for two and a half years.
Ten thirty. There is a song by Duran Duran called “Cracks in the Pavement,” and it seems I’m looking for those today… Sure enough, Heidi had to cancel my appointment today due to the corona virus… It appears that the more primitive instincts in people are going obsolete. Hardly anyone has a romantic love anymore, or maybe it’s only me. Human beings are becoming as mechanical as the machines they use. This is the real apocalypse, not the corona virus… I’m lapsing into a depression now. I feel like going to bed. The day got off to a raunchy start even at the market. Michelle tried to undercharge me by over three dollars, so I caught it and she fixed it. But even then we still weren’t communicating with each other. A lot of people are imprecise in their thinking and speaking, and it drives me nuts. We can’t agree or disagree on anything if we don’t refer to the same thing. But this is just another crack in the pavement. Meanwhile the blind sun shines through the hazy cloud cover for no reason whatsoever, but we take it as a compliment. It is another miscommunication. When every relation of people with each other and with nature is dissolved, I don’t know what we will do.
My dream was probably inspired by reading A Swiftly Tilting Planet more than a month ago. The mail has arrived… My D vitamins were there, so I took one. I hope for a difference in mood very soon. I learned that the next food pantry is not until the 14th. Band practice is this Saturday at three o’clock. Maybe I can get to the laundromat this week? No other engagements I know of. It’s really only a time investment. A while ago I unwrapped a clock that belonged to Mom. It is small and white, electric, and analog. Made in the USA. It runs a little fast, and it varies in speed here and there, but it’s a good souvenir of my mother. The sun, partly confounded by clouds, is beginning to decline for the day. Calls to mind the Greek myth of Phaethon’s ride. I don’t remember what became of him after he lost control of the chariot. Was he punished? Or did he simply drown in the sea?… He drove the chariot too close to the earth, so Zeus struck him down with a thunderbolt, according to the internet. But I’d like to get it from Ovid myself. It was in seventh grade English class that I first saw a film of Greek mythology, and Phaethon was part of it. Mr Olson’s class, way back in 1980. In the days of film reels, with an analog projector on a pull down screen. The lights were turned off, and after the focus was adjusted, it was showtime.
Quarter of five. I feel more serene now, at peace, and equal to a challenge. Yet I wonder why my family can’t get along together. My mother wouldn’t have wanted it this way. My sister thinks it’s a sin to desire anything like knowledge or wisdom in this life. Book learning is against her religion because of a few stories in the Old Testament. I don’t know. I just can’t reach her in her redneck land. She has a hard time even forming original sentences in English. She doesn’t try, and never applied herself in school…
Eight fifty five. The New Testament also derogates human wisdom as opposed to divine, and Polly seems to have adopted this attitude as law. Some versions of scripture have it as “not philosophy but Christ.” So that if you spend your whole life with your nose buried in only the Bible, all other books in the world will seem forbidden and taboo. They are unworthy to be read and understood, let alone applied, for being mere human information, when only Christ knows what is important. Polly’s religion is so watertight and closed that all her hopes are pinned on the afterlife in heaven, and that’s a gamble she is willing to take… but not me. Do I admire her devotion, or rather mock it as foolish? Many people will scoff at her beliefs, including my brother. I can only shrug and leave her alone, for I don’t share her worldview, or rather her view that renounces the world. It’s very puritanical, like Anne Bradstreet or another throwback to 17th Century America. The best I can do is respect my sister’s right to believe, as long as the respect goes both ways. More likely, what seems like respect is really aloofness for incomprehension of each other. It’s too bad, but that’s life.
Life sucks in a world where people can’t be what they want to be. Polly talked Alyssa out of going to college. The latter got lots of letters from universities and scholarship offers. Polly wouldn’t allow it. Now, Alyssa is just a bank teller. What did she want to be? God forbid an actor or musician or something creative. Alyssa is smart and could’ve done anything she wanted. The family is strictly working class and incurious about what can’t be eaten, worn, or slept under. Anything more than that is considered selfish and useless. They all despise poetry and poets as unrealistic and self indulgent. Trying to argue with them is pointless, for not one of them sees it my way. To the best of my ability, I have set up my life to enable myself to be what I want to be. My family sneers at me for a lazy reprobate, but I’m sick of feeling guilty. For a change I’m dishing it back at them and calling them names. What it all comes down to is mutual misunderstanding, and nobody wants to take the blame. But now I’m done with blaming myself. If Polly wants to take issue with me, then she’s in for a surprise. I am a writer, and that’s all there is to it.
That summer I was persecuted and abused, and my stupid neighbor got involved. I still don’t talk to him. We had a big disagreement over my involvement in the Church. Sheryl the therapist objected to it too, and that was significant. An entire website, an online forum, additionally voted down my support group. Sometimes it feels like you can’t please anybody. I was caught in the wringer between Christians and godless people. The latter are surprisingly more prone to outrage than the former. I found myself in a position where I was asked to defend my decisions or be savagely cut down. The strangest predicament of my life. America is like that: the God issue is one or the other, and you’d better not be a fence sitting agnostic. Unfortunately that’s exactly what I am. The existence of a god is unverifiable by any method known to humankind. My neighbor was a complete jerk on the topic, along with the therapist and even my brother in the end. And I just keep pleading ignorance, because that’s all I can do…
Karen stopped me on my way to the store. She was inside her suv with the engine idling and her phone in her hand. She asked if I was coming to see Darlene tomorrow. Karen will be on vacation, but Lisa, Angela, and Jean will be there to tend to Darlene. She was also curious about the house, so I gave her a report. As usual, Karen had a million things to do; she keeps busy to avoid thinking. And that’s okay if that’s how she’s comfortable. At the store I bought some snack jerky and a two liter of Sprite; also a pair of scissors for less than two dollars. JR was in a good mood. Tomorrow evening there’s a movie at the church, but I don’t like leaving Aesop alone more than necessary. Katie called last night after eight o’clock and congratulated me on my two years. It was very nice to hear from her… The River Road community south of the highway is pretty cool. Pastor lives in Santa Clara, far up north, so I guess the population is more mixed there than I realized. Maybe everybody is getting more easygoing than was the case last decade. Nothing is ever cut and dry and easily classified, and that’s as it should be. The feud between my sister and me was so bad that we drew territorial lines in the dirt. When Grocery Outlet moved south of the highway, Polly refused to shop there anymore. Family can be a big fat mess. Pastor is all in favor of breaking down divisions between people, politically and otherwise. Those who babble about a second civil war and such are oversimplifying things. There may be hope for my family to get together again, but it takes willingness on all sides, and now doesn’t seem like the time. Polly is 71 years old and may have some years left. Btw, Heidi told me that she bought her own pug at Bobcat Pets in the Santa Clara Square just as my mother had done before. Perhaps my personal prejudice towards the community up north is coming to an end. But the family issues still remain…