Learning

Five o’clock.

Another pitch dark predawn morning. I had a dream about going to hell, probably inspired by The Space Merchants. It didn’t shake me up much. I woke up and calmly contemplated it. This short novel by Pohl and Kornbluth is the closest thing I’ve experienced to a movie in a long time. It feeds my dreams, so I guess that’s a good thing. Often when I sleep, my mind only thinks in black and white logic. There isn’t much imagery or anything between the lines. Not even a story. I could be overdosing on pure thought, on words; logos. Again the food needs seasoning and the robot wants an imagination… I have physical therapy today at five in the evening. This time I will start out a little later. Obviously I was wrong regarding Santa Clara. People and places change, of course, and it’s difficult to make generalizations about them. I was taught in school to abstract generals from particulars in order to be able to think about life. Now I know that some people don’t do that. Interpretation may be a dying art. And philosophy is definitely on the chopping block. It makes me wonder how people nowadays really do use their heads.

Six o’clock. No daylight for another hour and a half. Perhaps I’ll read a book for a while until the sun comes up. I think it’ll be a good day. Take note of life’s surprises along the way, let them teach us new perspectives. Usually it is fruitless to assume or even try to predict about people and things. We feel safer when we can forecast the future with accuracy. We guard against surprise, but this emotion and joy are often linked. And this is the fabric of learning. 

Melancholy and Moliere

Ten o’clock.

I just got off the phone with Polly. We talked mostly about dogs, and that was okay. My taxi is coming at ten thirty. I feel a little nervous, but I think it’ll be a good trip to Springfield. Not much to talk about right now. It’s another sunny day. I can’t predict what will happen today, so I’m playing it by ear.

Eleven o’clock 🕚. Here I am at the doctor’s office. There’s some lame classical music on the hifi. The weather is beautiful except for the smell of smoke in the air. The cabbie was quiet but nice enough. Steve Miller was on the radio, uncensored for the “funky shit going down in the city.” I had to chuckle at that. It was nice to be driven by a young woman.

Quarter of noon. I got done early. Waiting for my return ride. Everything seems more optimistic than two weeks ago. Human life has a future, possibly.

Two o’clock. My mood has taken a nosedive. I feel like crying because I’m just not happy with modern life. It has gotten to me. And there’s no self indulgent solution to the world sorrow I feel. Drinking beer wouldn’t help anything. I stopped and visited with K— and Angela over a donut. Thursday is Angela’s birthday, so they invited me for lunch at twelve thirty. Mexican food. It feels kind of wrong to me because I disagree profoundly with K—‘s attitudes. This is probably why I feel so low since getting back home. I’ve said before that I don’t really belong in the Maxwell community. I have to fake everything in order to get along, and that goes against my grain. People will believe I’m something that I’m not. For some reason, it’s important to me not to be an impostor. It may be because I studied Moliere in college. I was only 19, and I never forgot what I learned. My freshman year contained many lessons in integrity; it was the dominant theme in everything I read and heard. I don’t know what other people take away from their college experience, but integrity hit me over the head. If your life lacks authenticity, then it lacks soul… Thus I came home wanting to cry from having betrayed myself. But it’s Angela’s birthday, and I like her very much. It’ll just be rather a challenge for me socially. I’m not good at dissimulation.

Wildfires

Two thirty. I wonder if I should fire up my P Bass and rock out for a little while?

Three fifty five. I kicked out the jams on my white bass. Sounded pretty cool. This is something I couldn’t have done four years ago, when I was drunk all the time and had no time and no money for my hobby. I’d like to buy some Rotosound stainless steel strings for my other P Bass and just rock the house. Someday I’d like to run into my old friend Dave and tell him what he can do. He was so ungrateful to me after I helped him on his way. Or perhaps I just felt ashamed of my own alcoholism as it took over my life. I couldn’t stop drinking yet I didn’t know why. I believed that I was defying someone, but really I was only destroying myself. Alcohol gave me a false sense of power, a feeling that I could do anything. It made me feel evil, but also I felt safe and comfortable. Actually, I think I was in a lot of emotional pain from losing my mother. I had no other way to cope. It took me at least ten years to get over her death. But Mom was not a well adjusted person. She had huge problems and never sought help with them. As I look back, maybe my college years weren’t so happy after all. I received a thoroughly secular education that makes little sense to me now. Was there any truth to what I learned at the university? And by now, the old canon has collapsed anyway. 

Mentally, I seem to be having a bad day. The squirrels skitter across my rooftop and gather acorns in the backyard. Aesop is resting on the floor at my feet. And I am doing just one thing: staying sober. Sometimes that’s all I can manage to do, get through the day without drinking. My mind can do whatever it wants, but the point is not to drink, no matter what. I guess Polly won’t be calling me today. Maybe tomorrow. The smoke outside is still bad, and firefighters are still working night and day to control the wildfires. In a similar way, I work to put out the wildfires of my mind. But it’s really just a matter of waiting and watching as the thoughts pass by like clouds of smoke. And they do pass. 

Saturday Morning

Eight twenty five.

I paid my utility bill this morning. It was very low again due to the summertime. It amazes me that fall is almost here. I’m thankful that people treat me with respect these days, and actually care what I have to say. My relationship with my family is changing for the better. But I still prefer WordPress to Facebook; it seems a more intelligent platform because you have to be able to write… Today I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to be perfect. A song comes to me, “Walking on Air” by King Crimson. It makes me want to learn to play my Stratocaster better. But there’s that pressure again. Maybe I’ll just listen to the CD and admire Adrian Belew. If I do pick up my Strat today, I’ll be languid about it. I won’t expect too much of myself. I want to enjoy the experience and not be frustrated.

Quarter of eleven. I bought some mint ice cream and shared two dollops with Aesop. The conversation at the salon turned political again, accusing the other side of being political and hateful. It was typical redneck philosophy. I didn’t stay very long because I didn’t agree, and it was awkward for me. Under my conservative clothes I’m still an educated person. People can bray their ignorant opinions and I won’t say anything to their face, but as long as this is my domain, I will write about it. The same people are the ones who hate Mexican immigrants and refuse to learn Spanish to accommodate them. It was always an atrocious attitude. We treat nonwhites very shabbily, and at some point justice must be carried. I’m tired of seeing red everywhere I go, and I’m not the only one… Now I want to play my guitar for a while. 

On the Dock

Two o’clock. It looks like my Dell laptop is about to ship because the transaction has reappeared on my bank statement. I bet it will arrive Friday… Is Sigmund Freud the truth or is he just another school of thought? Overall, my college education was very Freudian, and so subtly that I didn’t realize I was being indoctrinated. I think every university has a platform. Very strange to see it now, and to see it demolished. Freud is just one more discarded image today. Likewise, my education is dated. Some parts of it are salvageable, but the central thrust of it is defunct… Now, considering myself, can my worldview be adapted to the present day? Or will I wander around the dock as the last Freudian who missed the ferry boat?… Imagine if I’d been brainwashed with something else when I was young! It could have been anything… I’ve looked around at the books in my library, scowling to think of how I was duped. And then, what happens when every doctrine has been fully eradicated from a person? Do you have the philosopher’s ideal? Maybe just a vegetable…

On the Rails Again

Noon hour. FedEx just brought my new flatwound strings earlier than expected. I’m going to save them for a while, but they will probably go on my Mexican Fender. I hope I can play with the church, at least. Maybe I’ll email Pastor about that today. I feel like the ultimate geek because no one wants to play music with me.

Quarter after six. Feelings of shame lead me to do regrettable things. The opposite of shame is pride, and pride, rather than a sin, is indispensable to a guy’s wellbeing. Being rejected by the drummer this morning with no explanation made my pride implode. I can be okay one moment and then the next be thrown into a vortex of depression. If no musician wants to play with me, would it help me to know that I’m too good for him? “The better you become, the fewer the people you’ll have to play with.” A music teacher told me this truism in 1998, and now I’ve fulfilled the prophecy. I don’t even want to play bad music like I once did 20 years ago. I can laugh at rock and roll’s absurdity today, whereas then it gave me delusions of demons. The medication changed all that. Currently I feel I want to do something serious with music. The same teacher told me that I’d be a perfect candidate for music school. Said I could major in composition and play any instrument I wanted. I didn’t pursue it because my illness was not under control. But how about now? Could Eduardo introduce me to some people at the school of music?

Happy Trails

Five o’clock 🕔.

Summer heat is no fun unless you’re a young child. The best advantage to the season is lower utility bills, but otherwise forget the summertime. When I was a kid I used to play with my neighbor friends down the street, not knowing any better than the Batman tv series and Tonka toy trucks except for the interesting comic books that were available. At Darlene’s funeral in March, her daughter gave me a stiff hug but didn’t speak to me or look at me, for our paths had diverged so much over the years. Nor do I blame myself for the way life went. Our destinies were discrepant, even contradictory. I imagine she thinks I am a snob, that typical Oregon ways aren’t good enough for me. And in a way she would be right, because redneck to me is like being suffocated with outing flannel. For some reason, of the three West Coast states, Oregon is the forgotten one. Washington and California have big cities to redeem them, but Oregon only has Portland to keep it sophisticated. But the odd thing is that people keep migrating here from other states, I guess because the cost of living is cheaper here, plus Oregon has a lot more natural beauty left unspoiled by human greed. The land here is beautiful and the people are the natural expression of the countryside. Rednecks are hewn from the very mountains of Central Oregon and the Pacific Ocean provides their lifeblood. Then what makes me different from the landscape? How am I above my blood? From comic books to Tarzan books and on to James Joyce, it’s been an adventure in letters. Some people pursue the trail of words, and others are still on the Oregon Trail…

Morning Thoughts

Nine thirty.

I left a voice message for Jeff this morning. He won’t call back. He can hold a grudge longer than anybody else I know. It’s weird, though; I’ve done nothing wrong to him. I could try calling Polly, but I’m not as interested in her life. Besides I run the risk of being put in a subordinate position. She has always been too assertive, just like Mom. And she would probably ask pointed questions about how I’ve been doing my household chores. Also about my participation in church. I feel myself getting resentful at the mere thought. So I won’t call her. It would just be a situation where I could explode at her… I know a guy from church whose college attendance made him at odds with his family.

Ten thirty five. Whatever. I guess I’m just curious to know what’s going on with them. Not a good reason to call her up. If we really wanted to bury the hatchet, then that’s different. But I’m not making any concessions to ignorance and bigotry. Our family feud stretches back for as long as I can remember. Let it be… Looks like the clouds will disperse and it will be another sunny day. I could call my old psychiatrist today, but I think I’m doing all right without him. He used to push me too hard. But I sure wish I could chat with Kate. My neighbors across the street are outside, busy with different stuff. Aesop is lying on the floor with his bones… The music in my head is by Chick Corea Elektric Band, the title track to Inside Out. Thirty years ago. It’s as though this past decade went by without me, yet I know I was around. I simply spent it drunk. Freedom is a gift, one that I shouldn’t question. I think I’ll email Mark…

Xenophilia

Quarter of eleven. I’m beginning to have faith that common sense will triumph in the world, or at least it will in my life, even if I have to emigrate to Canada or something. Americans, my fellow citizens, are mostly gutted with the unreason of Jesus and the delusion of the supernatural. I daresay America is the next Atlantis, this sinking continent drowning in the deluge of superstition and absurd politics. How can we call ourselves great when other countries shrug and shake their heads at our stupidity?

The really sad thing is that America has produced some of the most brilliant works of art and culture, but we kick them around like the useless gems on the streets of El Dorado in Candide. I was fortunate enough to get a great education from the State of Oregon, one that gave me a broader perspective on the world. And, to America’s credit, when I was a student I was assigned to read A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen three times. Now it seems to me that other countries benefit more from American genius than we do ourselves. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy and the latest pharmaceutical discoveries are all but unobtainable here, while we ship them abroad to the great behoof of more intelligent countries.

But all I really know is my personal experience of this nation. The most compelling writing I can do is to keep reporting my daily life to my followers and hope it will educate them. And for my part I hope to have a fulfilling life in spite of every obstacle in my way. Is that selfish? I don’t think so, because the writing I do, honest and true, is doing you a service.

The Great Divide

Quarter of eleven. I forgot my Vraylar last night, so I will take it again pretty soon. I don’t really know why Polly isn’t talking to me, but it’s probably something childish and stupid. I had a dream about my nephew Ed a few hours ago, but it didn’t make much sense. I was on the phone to Polly while driving or walking on the Beltline where there was a wreck and a fire 🔥. I was saying something about the gravel quarry next to the highway. I often dream about that section of the Beltline Highway. And then Ed was in the dream, and we met in the same location. It was evening time before sunset. But I don’t remember what we talked about or what the issue was. I only know that I felt like the bad guy, and there was reproach in the look on his face. In reality I don’t know Ed very well except for his ignorance and his sexual morals, which are excessive and conservative. His morals in general are simplistic and judgmental. And yet he drinks too much, and even drives drunk 🥴 or with open container. So then what issue would he have with me that I would dream about it? Poor Ed. He just isn’t very smart. Maybe I feel guilty about that? He seems to be Polly’s successor as the moral leader of the family. Very strange. And of course I am on the outside of all of this. So much time has been wasted since we got along okay. But no, not wasted, because I wouldn’t want to be uneducated like them. I guess I left my family behind a long time ago. No sense in regretting it now, whatever I may dream. There’s no blame to be had. I did what I had to do, and sacrificed my family for wisdom. Still, my unconscious regrets that it couldn’t be different…