I hate theology, so I doubt if I’ll ever finish reading Les Miserables. The intricate logic of religion pulls my brain apart, so I’m opting for the parsimony of science. The simpler the better. The simpler the truer. My mind echoes “Blue Motel Room” by Joni Mitchell. Yesterday I farted around with the bass line to “Take Five.” It sounds really good on a P Bass with flatwounds. Music is a wonderful thing precisely because it has no ideology, and yet expresses so much. It is the being of the phenomenon, sort of. The quintessence. When words tangle me up and throw me into a tizzy, I take recourse to music to unwind.
Eight o’clock. No plans for today except to go to the market. I noticed that they had some doggie pepperoni on the shelf, so I think I’ll buy it. I might even splurge on a Coke today. The chance of rain goes up this afternoon, but isn’t guaranteed to happen. The squirrels are up and busy. There are still a lot of acorns on the ground. If I overcome my trepidation, I may take another look at Hugo’s massive book. But it’ll be more work than fun to read and think about. Will I come out of the experience converted to religion? Probably not, but I’ll know a few things I hadn’t known before.
Nine ten. There was an autumnal glow to the clouds in the south as I walked home on the Maxwell sidewalk. They appeared purplish and I felt some wind. It’s a reassuring sign that maybe nature forgives us our trespasses in some degree. Michelle gave me a price break on the doggie treats, which was very kind of her. I gave Aesop two of them, to his great joy. Today seems like Saturday to me… On my way home, I thought vaguely of the past when I would go to church, another mile east on the sidewalk. The little green espresso shack has been doing a fair amount of business across the street from the salon. But, I feel like an outsider to the Maxwell community for my views, which are not conservative. The collective consciousness around here has not progressed much beyond WW2, unless you ask the kids.
Ten ten. That reminds me of the errand I purposed to do a few months ago: to make a visit to Kelly Middle School and give a small contribution…
Quarter after eight.
I feel that the church is putting undue pressure on me to make a decision to come back. Personally I’m at war with myself, and it’s driving me cuckoo. I still think the Jesus thing is bogus, along with all metaphysics. None of it can be verified. I guess I’ll grab a Coke this morning, and Milk Bones for Aesop. I had a girlfriend once who thought I was inadequate for lacking spirituality. I could just as easily say she was psychotic. I had two local girlfriends and one who was very remote. Only the last one shared my opinions on the supernatural. I don’t know anymore. I’ve grown very tired of the whole mess. Occasionally I think of ending it all, but I’m too ornery to just give up. I couldn’t be the only atheist in America… Many people believe in things simply out of hearsay. They believe what they’ve been told. If they could do their own thinking about metaphysics, they might arrive at different conclusions. People seem to be unaware of what the human brain does. The brain really suffices to explain all behavior, from the most physical to the most abstruse.
Ten ten. I just got back from the store. The sun through the fog and smoke was white rather than red. I guess that’s a good sign. Vicki was nicer today than yesterday. My spirits are kind of low, but my mind is open to anything good to come along. Aesop is being very good lately. As always, he is very smart and loyal to me. I feel lucky to own such a clever dog. I’ve left a voicemail for my sister. Hopefully that goes well. I have two appointments this week, and the rest of the week free. The chords to “Clockwork Angels” are reverberating inside my head. It’s so weird to recall my old psychiatrist. We parted ways in August three years ago. After he had verbally abused me enough times, I didn’t want to see him anymore. The whole world seemed to change in the wake of that. I feel as if I were just a radio receiver for red and blue. It gets quite tiresome every four years, to the point where I want to cry. Send up a flare and wave the white flag: I surrender.
We are currently socked in with a thick fog outside. I can hardly see the houses across the street. About three hours ago I ordered myself a birthday present of a sci-fi novel anthology. I just wanted something to commemorate this three year mark. Yesterday I thought about my work experience and how my boss was an alcoholic. I had a good streak of sobriety going before I started my job. After working for eight months, I lost what I had. I really hated working for that guy, but I was stuck with him. I didn’t realize what my options were until years later. Shame held me back from doing what would have benefited me. Today, people can criticize me all they want, but it won’t make me drink again. And I’m very wary of toxic people.
Ten ten. Vicki wasn’t pleasant at the store, but I’ve never liked her very much. I just got a text from someone from church to congratulate me on three years. I bought a cranberry ginger ale and something to eat. The fog makes things appear surreal. The little perching birds seem to be confused; they think this is mating season. I see a lot of fox squirrels in my backyard and in the neighborhood, scrounging food for the winter. Fall and winter will surely come. I don’t feel so doom and gloom today. Last Monday was very odd, yet we got through it. I guess the pessimism was only me after all. My sister attributes the bizarrerie to this particular year, 2020. If that’s all it is, then I really hope next year will be more normal. It’s kind of a wonder that I stayed sober through this year, given everything we underwent. But it’s a consolation to know that we’re all in this together.
Quarter after eleven. The fog is lifting a bit, but there’s still some wildfire smoke. It’s nice to have cooler weather. Aesop has been very good over the past week. He let me brush him last night. I don’t know what happened to Damien a week ago, and I haven’t heard from him since. I feel a little lonely, and alone with my memories. Pastor said that in person church services will resume on 18 October. I don’t know how to feel about that, or whether I will attend. It’s an emotional thing. Meanwhile, my reason says the Jesus stuff is absurd. The people in church have been wonderful to me, of course. They’re like no other human beings I ever knew. If my mind were to mirror my heart, I’d have no problem with attending worship. There’s something compelling about a mass of people who are all doing the same thing. I reckon we’ll see how it all shakes down when the time comes.
I was sleeping too much, so I bought a Coke to keep me awake during the day. I guess there is no perfect mental state. Just accept and roll with it. I was the only customer in the market a bit ago. “Magic Man” by Heart was on the radio, followed by Tears for Fears. I wore my straw fedora for the fun of it. I met the same old man walking with a cane on the street. We always say good morning, but I don’t know his name. Before going out, I read a headline about the US not cooperating with the World Health Organization towards developing a vaccine. I believe this isolationism must come to an end. It is ridiculous for us to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and call ourselves “great.” The world outside of America thinks we’re all very conceited and arrogant… and stupid. Why do we have to keep proving them right?… It’s forecast to be a day in the 90s. Aesop’s breakfast is almost due. He’s a great dog, the smartest I’ve ever owned. I brushed him Monday night, and he seemed to like it. Eight years old this month. We’ve been through a lot together… I should get my Rush CD this afternoon. “Can’t we raise our eyes and make a start / Can’t we find the minds to lead us closer to the heart?” “Can’t we learn to feel what’s right and what’s wrong / What’s wrong???”
The Coke was not an experience worth repeating, at least for a while. It gave me trouble sleeping and also mild hallucinations. Plus it altered my thinking for a while. The house cooled down considerably overnight. My third “birthday” is only a few weeks away. On that day I think I’ll celebrate Aesop’s birthday too. Officially, it is 12 September, but 911 is easier to remember. I will get up and go to the store pretty soon. Aesop needs dry food. Yesterday didn’t go as planned, so maybe I won’t plan for today. If I play the bass again today, will it sound as great as it did yesterday? But this is perfectionism kicking in. Simply plug in and play and go from there. The sunshine is cheerful but also soft like autumn… I feel like doing something generous for someone, like being thoughtful and kind. Lately I’ve only been concerned for myself, but last night I pondered how others may suffer and need kindness. On that note I’m going to the store right now.
Nine thirty. Vicki wasn’t very pleasant, and it was kind of a bummer of a trip. I’m glad to be home again. I bought no soda at all. Trying to stop a bad habit. I hope today is a better day than yesterday. In general, August can be a rough month. Sometimes I really miss my parents and the way it used to be in the mid 1990s. There won’t even be Duck football this fall. But it was only an occasion for drinking beer with friends. Everything changes, and happiness resides with looking forward, not back. Aesop is getting amped for his breakfast.
Nine thirty 🕤.
I think I can write off Chuck the drummer. I just called him and he hung up on me, so that must mean that he changed his mind. Human behavior can be strange sometimes. Or perhaps it only appears that way until the reason for it is revealed. Is all behavior ultimately rational? Causes and effects make sense when we can figure them out. Even my first therapist had a motive for what she did to me two years ago. She was losing control of the sessions and she was a control person. Her wish was to make me submissive because she didn’t feel comfortable with me for whatever reason. She hadn’t expected a person diagnosed with schizophrenia to be intelligent. The reality was that she was merely a social worker and not the Sigmund Freud she wanted to be. Anyhow I’m glad to be free of that situation… So, Chuck was another lead gone by the wayside. I’ve had four so far. Now that we’re a third of the way into August, I’m having August flashbacks. Identifying them gives me a little control over them. Life is better now than it was in 2018, at least, and I am still sober. Last night I slept hardly a wink because of the liter of Coke I had yesterday afternoon. This morning I figured that the pleasure of a Coke was not worth losing my sleep for. I bought a ginger ale instead. The weather is sunny again, but it’s going to be 94 degrees.
Ten thirty 🕥. During the wee hours I listened to Copland again, then read the booklet. His compositions for ballet came quite late, 1930s and 40s. And Appalachian Spring had nothing to do with either the mountain range or the springtime. He wrote the music with a certain dancer specifically in mind. The title simply sounded good to her. Copland was awarded a Pulitzer for the ballet. While his stuff is very good, I could only wish there was more of it… This is going to be another long, lonely day. I’m caught up on my monthly bills, and now there’s nothing to do. Honestly I feel really disappointed that my music lead didn’t pan out. I wish I knew why the guy blew me off. Apex just came and picked up my garbage. I watched the mechanical arm of the truck grab the can and dump it in the back. Tomorrow, Aesop has a package of bones coming. I bought him a lot of food this morning. He always enjoys the beef bones filled with peanut butter. Maybe I’ll read a book today. Something to stoke my vocabulary for a while and give me some ideas. It is good to have no financial worries, but it’s a drag having a limited social outlet. I could go around the corner and visit Karen tomorrow, and I think I will.
Eight ten. Aesop understands that he has a package 📦 coming today. He dragged me to the front door and wanted me to check the mail. The carrier is late today, for I tracked the package with Amazon. It’s still out for delivery 🚚… I was doing some thinking about the role of cowardice in alcoholism, but that might be oversimplified. Yet it was helpful for me to meditate on courage when I first stopped drinking. I think I’ll go see Vicki tomorrow or Wednesday morning. I don’t know yet what I’m going to say. Aesop will need food tomorrow, so I’ll just do my usual… I hope I can sleep tonight, but I know that insomnia isn’t fatal. Eventually you will fall asleep, though it take a week or two. Right now I feel calmer than I did this afternoon. Gabapentin used to help me with anxiety but the side effects were getting intolerable. It’s been a weird day, and still no text back from the musicians. Fortunately life doesn’t depend on it. The mail is so late it’s ridiculous, but I wouldn’t want that job. It may feel like a long week. This is only Monday and already I want it to be Friday.
Quarter of five. Polly called me back and we had a long conversation, quite a good one. I confessed that I had left the church. She was understanding of that. And I told her my theory about Jeff and his booze, and why he pursues dating so relentlessly. She agreed with me. It was a good talk. Aesop wants to go nap with me now, even though it’s only five o’clock. It’s about 82 degrees inside and 97 degrees outside: super hot. My Vraylar is ready for pickup at Bi Mart, so I’ll get it in the morning. It occurs to me that my brother’s words had poisoned me against Polly. Today I was open with my sister and it felt kind of good. I didn’t feel judged or anything. I could be myself with her. She gives me credit for being honest, and that’s nice to know. Now I think I’ll give Aesop his wish and take him to bed for a few hours.
Quarter after six.
Sometimes I miss Kate profoundly, and regret how Europe has shrugged off the United States since the last election. It feels unfair because I had no control over that. I had trouble sleeping during the night. Aesop’s iq blows my mind. I give him a request and back it with a sound argument, and he complies if it makes sense to him. I can see him weighing my logic in his mind.
Nine o’clock. I bought Aesop three cans of Alpo for 30 cents off with my bottle returns. Weird how I can never have Coca-Cola again. The caffeine reacts badly with my medication. I’m starting to feel as if I were on a treadmill day after day, so I should mix things up a little. Suddenly I think, Who was my love interest in 2007? But I had no one then; no relationship except with alcohol. My date every Friday night was a 12 pack of Foster’s or Henry’s. Oh yeah, I had a love hate relationship with a certain coworker. I wonder what happened to my supervisor? I only know he doesn’t work there anymore. And the frenemy retired… Eight years ago around this time, I had to have Henry euthanized. A pug, he was smaller and cuter than Aesop, and far more sociable. Mom purchased him from Bobcat Pets in the Santa Clara Square, a strip mall north of me on River Road. Inside his glass prison, Henry sought to engage with everybody who looked in. His passing at 14 was a very hard thing. The veterinary hospital sent me a sympathy card signed by the entire staff. I kept it up until the fire happened.
Ten twenty. Aesop had his filet mignon and bacon, and now he’s waiting for a snack. We’re both enjoying the cooler weather today. Then tomorrow will have no mercy; high of 98 degrees. Ninety six on Monday… Memories of places flit through my mind, never materializing long enough for description. Some of those places don’t exist anymore; and if they do, they are changed. Only in memory are things permanent— and not even there.
I just thought of how beautiful Aaron Copland is. He’s the quintessential American composer, making such a powerful statement in Fanfare for the Common Man and in Rodeo. I don’t think anyone really dislikes Aaron Copland. Even people abroad think he’s great. I should listen to Appalachian Spring again. It’s been many years since I heard it. The music will remind me of 1993 in the summertime, when my brother dropped the bomb on me concerning his hatred of our mother. It was a summer of disillusionment and decision for me. My choice was to remain faithful to my parents, and I still am… I dreamed last night that my sister had hacked into my bank account and stolen everything I had. Mom was alive and was trying to straighten it out with my bank. Apparently Sis took a trip to Disneyland with my money. She seemed like such a foreigner to me, with interests that I didn’t share. I think my dream is symbolic. I put stock in her belief system, and ultimately it wasn’t right for me. Now I’m fixing it up with my “bank.” …I will go to the store in a few minutes for a cranberry ginger ale and say hi to Michelle.
Nine thirty. I said hi to Cathy as well. It feels much cooler this morning, and it is overcast. It was good to get out for a bit. When it’s more temperate, I can think more clearly. Even Aesop forgets his snacks in the heat. Not much is going on. People are surviving but they aren’t having much fun, and that’s a pity. Life is meant to be enjoyed together… The time for Aesop’s breakfast approaches. Then maybe I’ll read a little of something interesting.