Quarter after nine.
It’s very cold out this morning, but the trip around the corner is short; maybe a quarter of a mile or less. I went outside without much self consciousness, sort of in a state of nature. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. What happens on January 20? Seems like it should be something special for some reason. No doubt it’s someone’s birthday somewhere in the world… I felt rather happy when I got up, fed the dog, and walked to the market, but began to feel more serious when I sat down to think. In fact, nobody seems very happy with life right now, as if nothing was worth writing about or commenting on. It’s a situation like the ennui in Baudelaire. People just do their perfunctory work and don’t get excited for anything: there’s no romance in our experience; no passion and no love. In this sense, everybody is dead, and the anesthetic snow falls generally on the world. We seem to turn inward and ignore others, and pass up opportunities for good things to happen. All around me the world has gotten ugly with selfishness and apathy for anything other than making money to survive. Every individual is so isolated, looking at life with tunnel vision, blind to the potential for beauty and joy. It takes two people to turn it around before everyone is dancing in the streets. But first there must be music that everyone hears and agrees on. As it is, the tunes are all discrepant and jar with each other. The result is mayhem; and who said anything about beauty in the dissonance?
Quarter of nine.
The fog started out high but now has descended to earth, with a peculiar yellow taint, rather hideous. Nobody was outdoors when I trudged to market this morning and business was slow due to the holiday; I was the only customer there. I noted how slow the daylight was coming. Everything just feels foreign or alien to me, even nature, the skyline of winter trees. The wind has decayed to dead stillness. No rain currently. You can hear freight cars clashing together a few miles away. It’s a struggle to make small talk with the neighbors across the street; we look at each other in long awkward silences— then she says something about the weather… One of Karen’s hanging flowerpots had fallen face down on the pavement, I saw as I passed the salon homeward bound. I gazed at it stupidly, unsure what to do with it. So I just left it there. She’ll find it Tuesday morning when she opens shop. Strange to think that we could be having a heaven on earth right now. The garbage truck comes in the yellow mist like a bizarre dinosaur. Such a long way to go…
Quarter after seven.
It must be cold outside because the furnace keeps turning on. There’s still hardly any daylight. My curiosity is roused for Montaigne and Camus since last night when I took a peek in a history of philosophy published in 1999. These two were not professional philosophers but men of letters with a great deal of erudition and influence on the current of thought for their time and afterwards. It’s interesting to me that Montaigne calls reason into doubt along with everything else, nor was Camus a rationalist thinker. My question is, what does humanity have if we’re deprived of reason or logic, and how are we distinguished from the animals? And what really is animal and human? Camus suggested that humankind is the microcosm of an absurd universe— just the opposite of Plato’s view that reason pervades the whole cosmos. Whether or not the universe is a friendly place depends on how human beings perceive themselves and each other; this is no one else’s idea, it is mine. What Camus did say is we have to create meaning in our existence. But nothing is very clear or definitive on the whole matter. So I should read Camus myself and draw my own conclusions.
Maybe I should forget philosophy altogether for a while since I’m only making a muddle of it. Besides that, it isn’t much fun anymore. If I went to church today I’d only get more confused and probably rather upset with the pastor and his sermon. So I’m staying home.
Eight twenty five.
There’s something wrong with this picture. I can find no monopoly of intelligence anywhere I go, and I’m all alone with my thoughts and feelings. Everybody has an opinion to sell you, right or wrong. And if you hold something dear, there’s always someone else to come and mess it up. I know that my feelings are inspired by a real person I’ve had a discussion with at some time. I’m just sick of the attitudes of the church and I wish I’d never left the services of my psychiatrist. Another possibility is that all human relationships turn sour sooner or later.
It’s going to be a long day…
Quarter of ten.
I got a statement from my bank: they wanted me to know that I earned one cent on my savings account. After the mail, I walked to the little store as usual where Thomas held down the fort and we both forgot to say Happy New Year. Things are ordinary and kind of dull but this is better than distress. Church will be starting now and I’m already not there. Maybe I’ll finish The Tempest today so I can be done with the problem of Caliban as the evolutionary missing link.
Quarter of nine.
I wasn’t feeling so great when I stepped out the front door and set out for the market. Just one of those things. It’s another gray morning like yesterday, a chill 41 degrees, so I put up my hood outdoors and strolled along quite slowly. As I was getting out of bed I thought of maybe giving Ulysses another read to see the things I’d missed the first time. The book is more than just an encyclopedia of random details. But if I do that, then I might as well give Carl Jung a second chance also, for both he and Joyce were collective thinkers. And you know, after all, collectivism may not be for me, or perhaps it depends on my mood on any particular day. How important is this vision of the unity of humankind? There’s an element of Christianity in this: love your neighbor as yourself, suggesting the identity of self and other. Yet this wasn’t what I was thinking on my way to the store today. I bought a Coca-Cola this time— and missed the polar bears on the red label. Just now, my dog Aesop rejected his breakfast again. So many little things can throw off the harmony and peace if we let them. It’s hard to keep ourselves together when everybody has a will and interest of their own. Still, there is something good to say about the thing called fellow feeling. It’d be nice if someone sort of translated Ulysses into plain English for everyone to understand it. The very obscurity of it contributes to the confusion we all experience.
A Day of Bliss
Quarter of seven.
The first thing I noticed upon waking up was the peach moon out of my bedroom window. I called my dog’s attention to it, but he was oblivious. Yesterday at dusk, the eastern sky was gray as if with clouds. The afternoon overstimulated my senses so that I had to go to bed a few hours. What I enjoyed most about the day was my phone conversation with Heidi, more of a friend than a peer support. After that I tried to write in my blank book, but my mind was blanker than the book. The day was so yellow that it seemed to scramble my poor brain. Today there’s a prescription I should pick up at Bi Mart when it warms up a bit. I try to assess the spirit of the current times and I only find that people aren’t sleeping well lately. Generally, I observe that some friends are getting farther away while others are getting closer to me with the passing of time. These things happen to you just because you exist in the world and you use your brain to make decisions and navigate through life. It’s sort of like scissors through construction paper: there’s what you use and there’s also the waste. I just wish everyone could be happy, if only for a day. One day of perfect bliss, a heaven on earth for the whole world. Maybe this would be enough to redeem us so we could begin again.
Fly in the House
Eight thirty five.
Last night was strange. Aesop didn’t rest very well and everything was out of joint. Pastor’s daily email was political, which demonstrates to me how obsessed he is with the subject. Maybe I’ll stay home from church tomorrow. Instead of healing the division of the country, Pastor helps to fuel it even more. I only want to enjoy my life. Aesop has some kind of discomfort with his hindquarters, so I have to watch him for a while. As I said yesterday, I’m just sick and tired of everything. Today I’ll do what is expected of me and nothing more. Nothing really gives me pleasure anymore at the age of 54. So there’s no point in having even a Snapple tea or whatever.
Ten ten. I guess I’m just adapting to the changes since staying sober. I should give myself some space and not try to force things to happen. My mother is truly gone, so there’s no reason for me to keep doing the old stuff. It was nice to see Melissa this morning. Plus I stopped and said hello to Karen and Jessica. Kim will probably return in April. She had a rather gnarly surgery on her shoulder last month. And Angela has left her job with the salon. Everything changes, both outside and within. It’s hard for me to keep up with it. “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / For the times they are a changing.” …I did go ahead and had a Snapple tea and it was very good. Aesop is acting like he wants to be with me; he doesn’t like being on the floor by himself. He’s a very intelligent dog.
Eleven twenty. He let me know he wanted attention, so I petted him for a few minutes. There’s also a fly buzzing around the house, which bothers him. Beelzebub means “lord of the flies,” but Aesop wouldn’t care about that.
I’ve figured out why I was stuck on the problem of society and the individual. It’s because society to my mind really means my family, and this is an alcoholic system. In choosing sobriety I’ve had to abandon the system, sort of like Lt Henry deserting the Italian Army in Hemingway. Did I need an altruistic motive for staying sober? Or is the validity of self preservation self evident? My brother used to say it was my brotherly duty to drink with him… Family politics is only so much nonsense.
Quarter of nine. I braved the rainy element and walked to the store where Melissa held down the fort. She said her little boy is two and a half years old and a real handful. He’s only quiet when he is sleeping. I said it was nice that she had a little family going, but inwardly I was thinking that it wasn’t for me… I expect Damien will be here at around noon with a buddy to rake leaves. The physical therapy people sent me a bill for over a hundred dollars. I’ll call them tomorrow and make sure they billed my insurance correctly. It could be an expensive month… A while ago I looked up John McLaughlin online: he is 78 years old and still performing and recording. I really like the chord textures in Birds of Fire, such as the augmented octave in the song “Sanctuary.” I didn’t realize the complexity of the mode until I sat with my bass and noodled around with it. It would be interesting to get a few guys together and mess with those scales and chords. Doing this by myself isn’t the same. I reckon a lot of musicians feel lonely through the pandemic. We don’t have a purpose when we can’t get together. The times are as tuneless as a Mahavishnu song. Out of context, the roots in the bass don’t make sense.
Blame the Winds
Quarter of three. On a whim, I looked up the consensus on the most popular Star Wars movie ever, and I would have guessed right: it was The Empire Strikes Back… I’m in a retro mood today, and maybe that’s okay for me. I found my copy of the Star Wars Trilogy and put it in a safe place. How many times did I get wasted and watch Empire? I had a job at the time, but I was very unhappy with my dead end life. I was coasting or treading water throughout that period. I didn’t realize what potential I had, but then again, I was on a different medication that didn’t work as well. Everywhere I looked I saw religion, no thanks to some of the healthcare professionals who shoved it down our throats. The system is just set up that way. It used to be a lot worse than today. By the time 2009 arrived, I was overdue to escape from it. I was a delusional wreck. I’d been surrounded by terribly racist right wing people who didn’t know the difference.
Quarter of five. I guess I would drink beer if I could get away with it. And yet I know I won’t do it. There are too many things in my life that drinking would screw up. Today has been kind of strange and solitary. I feel bad for the salon girls and I wonder why Karen is so grumpy lately. Perhaps business is not so good right now. Also her candidate for president lost the election. Maybe things aren’t going her way in general, but she’s taking it out on her friends, and she might regret that later. Overall it was a topsy turvy week. Some people aren’t very happy with current events. Derek had a sheepish look on his face when I walked by his house. His little girls seemed aloof to my presence. And in spite of everything, somebody keeps setting up my political lawn sign when it blows over. I don’t have to lift a finger. Attribute it to the winds of change…
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.