Model Parents

Seven fifty.

I rolled out of bed, sat down for a while, then walked to the store when there was enough daylight. Once there, I ran into Lisa and her daughter Olivia. Lisa bought a bunch of energy drinks and a Coke for her kid. At my turn to check out, I told Lisa the clerk that the sale priced beers on the table were a distraction for me. But she helped remind me that you lose everything as an alcoholic… At ten o’clock I have Gloria today. Thursday I’m going to the agency to see my med prescriber, a PNP named Todd I’ve known for four years, though I can’t believe how time flies. It’s also been that long since I had contact with my brother, whom the family has sort of ostracized. The only relative I talk to now is my sister, the family matriarch; but I’m always on the fringe of the gang, having a totally different set of values from them. I think it goes back to my dad, and my mother too. They cared about education and sophistication, whether or not they could be accused of snobbery. My dad was a peculiar kind of guy, with polished manners but many foibles. Both of my parents were hard to get to know, keeping to themselves in their safe little bubble. The rest of the family despised them.

But they gave me everything they had…


The Sky

Eight forty.

The sun is shining, no clouds, and expected to stay the same all day. It’s also very cold. I haven’t seen the news in a long time; am I missing anything? No one else talks about it. I guess the news is that people are working for a living. If I had a magic wand, everyone’s life would be exactly as they liked it. It’d be a return to the Golden Age, or like Eden, where living is free and carefree. I wonder who invented money and when it replaced bartering for goods. I would make a poor economist or banker; I don’t even like numbers or quantities… I suppose it’s time to go get a Snapple and stuff to eat for today. It’ll be fine to look at the blue sky on my way to the store around the bend.

Quarter of ten.

I ran into a friend of Gloria’s, the boyfriend of her granddaughter, at the market. He was shopping for energy drinks. We didn’t say much except to greet each other. Outdoors, it’s still below freezing, though with few icy spots. Hardly anybody was out and about. Coming home, a blast of frigid wind hit me on N Park. I contemplated the sky a bit, wondering if it made sense to imagine something “behind” it as in the fiction by Paul Bowles. The blue atmosphere is caused by dust, a physicist will tell you. But people believe what they want to believe, a condition that may spell our ultimate undoing. 

Like a Star

Nine o’clock.

My trip to the store this time was a bit different. It was later, so I saw more women inside the market, some of them very nice looking. One woman drove a cobalt blue sedan and let me cross her path on the sidewalk. Then I watched her drive over to the green espresso shack and get in line. She had stood behind me at checkout. She was slender with red hair and wore a cardigan, which didn’t seem like enough on a cold winter day. I was dressed in my eternal blue parka and a navy blue beanie that covered my ears. On my way there, I passed an old white bearded man carrying a coffee who gruffly nodded and said hello. I always notice the moss growing on the asphalt just outside Randy’s car lot, enclosed by a wire fence with a locked sliding gate. Maxwell is a derelict section of the community, but sometimes graced by passers through, or saved by a local celebrity, as when Lisa deigns to make an appearance at the market. The other night I put in earbuds and listened to “Josie.”

When Josie comes home, so good

She’s the pride of the neighborhood

She’s the raw flame, the live wire

She prays like a Roman with her eyes on fire

Apollonian Life

Nine o’clock.

I don’t know whether to feel tired or amped. I’ve got a zoom appointment at ten thirty regarding my PCA, so I’m a bit nervous. For a while I’d like to forget everything and chill out. The weather is foggy right now, and I saw how busy Maxwell Road was at eight fifteen. My own street was sleeping or dead to the world. Most of the traffic came from the south side of N Park or from River Road to the east. I hugged the inside of the sidewalk on my way to market as the cars whizzed past me. It tends to make me feel small and insignificant, like a kind of insect underfoot, dodging the world above my head. I can also relate to turtles and tortoises: anything that moves slowly like a sloth. But the rabbits of the world don’t take time to think about what they’re doing or what others do. Thus I’m fairly content with my lot in life. There are the thinkers and the doers, and I’ve never really been one of the latter. 

Wine into Water

Nine thirty five.

I’ve been to the store and back in the rain. The wind made it hard to use my umbrella, so I ended up putting up my hood and just shivering through it. Didn’t see much of anything new for the trip around the bend. A book I ordered of Paul Verlaine is delayed a couple of days, no explanation why. The deeper I go into Western literature, the farther I have to go to find my way out. I feel like pulling the plug on all of it and following nature, the world of ordinary things. The thing that puzzles me about Baudelaire is his jump to metaphysics from everyday reality, spontaneously addressing prayers to the devil and so forth, just assuming the existence of such beings. It seems naive to me not to know the difference between material and spiritual, and yet he uses the term “ideal” freely. Maybe I’m the one who’s naive? And maybe the natural world I seek doesn’t exist… The rain keeps coming down. On a good day I’d say it was a shower of fine wine from heaven. Today is rather blah; the rain is merely water, the sky a vapid gray.

Ten thirty.

The City of Eugene finally sent out a team to pick up the leaves at our curbs. This is just ordinary stuff. Lord or Lucifer had nothing to do with it.

A Flowerpot

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…

Not to Ask Why

Quarter after nine.

I took a nap since five and now I can’t remember what happened before that. It’s coming to me little by little. From morning till noon went very well, and Gloria and I had lunch together at Lupita’s Tacos. At one point, Debbie from the veterinary hospital walked in and picked up an order to take out. We were the only ones sitting down to eat in the restaurant. The food was great, but it was Saturday, I guess. After Gloria went home I was alone again, and my mind turned to self scrutiny, which isn’t always good. Sometimes I’d just as soon quit being analytical and try to live in the moment. Convert myself to creativity, building things up instead of breaking them down. An insight here and there can be liberating, but dissection kills the subject… Tim is picking me up for church tomorrow morning: I just got a text from him and decided at the last minute… I’ll try not to ask questions for a while. The inquiries of why and how will eventually make anyone crazy. Outdoors, the windstorm rushes in violent whispers. Earlier today you could catch sight of the blue sky if you were looking for it. Otherwise it was a cloudy obscurity the day long. Welcome to winter.

The Stand

Eight thirty five.

I fed the dog first this morning and then made my daily run to the market. A few lines from Dylan came to me on the street: “You’re invisible now / You have no secrets to conceal / How does it feel… like a rolling stone?” Nothing new really presented itself before I got to Maxwell Road. Just another cloudy day. In the store it was quite busy. Ahead of me at checkout stood a tall Black man who apparently wasn’t a regular customer. I thought Lisa could’ve treated him better. It reminds me of Bruce Hornsby a long time ago. He was shocked when his tune with jazz licks and lyrics about racism was a hit. Sometimes public opinion really is a surprise. It gives me a little hope for humanity, even in the darkest times… As I marched back home, I gazed east, straight down the road, marking the heavy traffic: a string of red taillights, car upon car. They were heading into the heart of the sunrise, except for the clouds. Near the end of Maxwell Road in that direction stands the Lutheran church. Probably I’ll attend this Sunday, just to belong someplace, and Lutherans are the closest to what I can accept. Though the dawn is tardy, somewhere in obscurity there is sunlight.


Quarter of ten.

At the intersection with Fremont Avenue I stood in the gutter while a car passed me and I saw Jan wave at me from inside. On the way back I introduced myself to Wade who was neighbors with Kat before she and Corey moved into their new house. I took a risk on the snowberry Peace Tea when I was at the store and was surprised that it tasted awesome and very sweet. Also I bought Aesop’s favorite chicken jerky for $1.20, to his great delight. I noticed that walking south on N Park is where the wind is always worse, virtually knocking me off my feet the other day. This is Sunday, and there is church for those who want to go, but I’m staying home today. Right now I feel really good. It’s mostly overcast with a few rays of sun coming through. I had a nice little trip. A bit later I might read to the end of the Whitman book, though it’s hard for me to finish the things I begin. It’s like saying goodbye, and I don’t like sad goodbyes. 

The Old Kid in Town

Six fifty.

I can hear the rain. I feel cold in here perhaps because of the moisture. In my sleep I dreamt about the superego and the Id of Freudian theory: maybe more than just an idea? Some people are discontent with civilization and alcoholism seems to foster those feelings. And some argue that sobriety is not our natural state; yet no one is born with a bottle in their hand. By the way, Freud was addicted to cocaine, I heard from more than one person.

Quarter after eight.

I’ve been to the store in the cloudy twilight. Like providence, the rain had stopped before I set out; or maybe I picked my time wisely. Either way, I didn’t get wet. I don’t remember when Randy said Will’s Auto Repair was supposed to open shop. It hasn’t happened yet and it’s been six months or so since I heard about it. Every morning I tread around the old car lot and don’t give it much thought. In the early Seventies it was an ARCO station and in good shape. My mother used to gas up her yellow Chevy Luv there frequently. But now the place is a wreck, a graveyard for old memories. The only business on Maxwell that flourishes today is the same little market. I feel old thinking of how my elementary school no longer exists. They demolished it to build the new high school on Silver Lane, which should be ready for students next fall. I myself feel like a bundle of ashes and dust, a walking anachronism with life puffed into my nostrils. I shouldn’t even be here.