Like Dickens

Three thirty in the morning.

The weather yesterday was cloudy. I didn’t pay much attention to it; stayed indoors all day, scribbling notes in my journal. It’s odd to think of how utterly responsible we are for the biosphere and the cycles of the weather. We believe we’re doing good just by working to earn a living, yet the economy is not everything. It’s a small, artificial part of a much bigger whole. “All the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies / Living in their pools they soon forget about the sea.” …I don’t remember what dreams I had before I got out of bed, but they were set in my own street.

Eight o’clock. It is foggy at the tree line. Heather had on a T-shirt with the logo “Ghost of Gatsby,” a local rock band that plays originals. She said they were pretty good. I stood deliberating in front of the freezer, looking at the peppermint candy ice cream, and finally decided a negative. Instead I got a mango tea Snapple, plus a reuben sandwich and some cottage cheese. Through Kat’s front window I could see the backs of three heads that were fixed on the giant tv screen as I ambled by on Fremont Avenue. Karen’s salon front sported a homemade sign: “Nail technician needed.” Jessica has been gone for a week or two now, left to be with her family. Kim still works there, I think, but she doesn’t do nails. Something about the salon gives me an impression of any book you like by Charles Dickens. Probably I should stick my head in the door and say hi someday soon, and forgive Karen’s rightwing politics. I might be just in time for “A Christmas Carol.” 

64 Degrees

Eight twenty five.

An hour ago at the store I asked Heather if she thought rock and roll was dead, and she answered no. I said why not. She replied that the stuff young people listen to is just crap. She was raised by her grandmother and is kind of old school. Yesterday, I spotted some 3 pound bags of chicken jerky for dogs that I would have bought if they had been in the system at Community Market. The weather today is quite warm for this time of year, with a little bit of sun through the covering of clouds. I will decide at the last minute whether to go to church this morning. But I’m not really in the mood for hearing a dull abstract sermon about things that likely don’t exist. I feel more like seizing the day, maybe taking Aesop for a little walk later today, and celebrating being alive. Life has as much potential as we give it, and futurity is a friend just waiting for us to grab our opportunities to change and grow. Time never quits, but keeps moving on with or without you. And the only eternity is here on earth… Aesop barks at a car that just drove by the house. I’m thinking that I’ll resign from Our Redeemer so I can be free and independent to live life my own way, not dictated by a “spiritual leader.” I think I’m smart enough to navigate existence on my own. Hopefully my worst mistakes are all behind me. Already I have a plan for my day today. Plans can go wrong, yet with some flexibility, all shall be well… Well maybe I’ll go to worship one more time.

Quarter of noon.

I made it there and back on foot and heard the sermon: in some ways, Pastor said the same thing I’ve been saying about here and now. The difference is that he expects Christ to come again at any time… Is there anything wrong with judging an opinion for yourself? Does it indicate excessive pride if you do so? Some people believe that critical thinking is a recipe for unhappiness; but then, recall Socrates: the unexamined life is not worth living. Plato thought original thinking was indispensable, and everything is subject to scrutiny. But sometimes I feel like I don’t know much, and today is one of those times; except I know it’s too warm for November. 


Quarter after nine.

Doomsday is just ahead. What I fear the most is condemnation by people.

Wee hours of Saturday.

Friday’s big adventure is over with. Aesop is still exhausted but now we don’t have to do that again for another year. I don’t have any plans for later today; a good opportunity to relax for a day. Right now, the room is absolutely silent. Silence is golden. 

Seven Heroes

Eleven thirty at night.

The rain is as hectic as my day was today; it’s dumping down my duties outside. Wednesday has been a time to orchestrate the rest of the week, with five or six phone calls, a text message, and a visit from Damien to do yard work. Only now do I have some time to sit back and think a little about life. At least two people were very heroic in helping me out today. Darcy saved me from going without my medication for the next two weeks; I just need to go pick up the free samples. The dispatcher at Oregon Taxi was open to having Aesop ride with them to his appointment Friday morning. And finally, Damien came over and braved the rain and the nightfall to clear away the oak and maple leaves. That’s three people. The fourth person was a newbie at the call center for RideSource just learning her job. Also the UPS driver delivered my books to me in the pouring down rain after darkness fell. Sixth and seventh are Michelle at the little convenience store and my cattle dog Aesop, who provide a great service to me every day. Service like this makes the world go around, while the best I can do is to thankfully write about it. 

Normal Tuesday

Eight o’clock.

This morning I was able to dream normally, so I was happy for that. Dreams are like oracles from a wiser part of ourselves, and I always feel more human with a dream life. Dreams form our conscience. A hundred years ago, people used the word “moral” to refer to everything psychological, and “conscience” was synonymous with “consciousness.” I’m still torn between biology and psychology as they pertain to behavior. The streets are drenched from the rain last night, like every November, the sky a solid gray sheet. Some of the leaves underfoot are treacherous on the way to Maxwell Road. Michelle at the market wore her blue shirt that says, “Well bless your heart!” They were very busy with customers today. Everyone was courteous and kind to each other. I saw mostly guys, but also a few women and girls. Roger was just coming home in his Dodge Caravan when I rounded N. Park. I read the headlines in Apple News this morning, but went no further. Occasionally I skip the news completely; it’s either bad stuff or something off the wall and silly. Also Misty called me out of the blue and asked to reschedule my visit two weeks from now. There’s a low rumbling noise in the southwest, probably railroad sounds. Now a train horn blows. Life indeed goes on. 

A Cafe Sketcher

Three o’clock in the morning.

I agreed to go to church at ten o’clock today, but maybe I didn’t get my point across to my friend over coffee at Black Rock. He still operates on the assumption that heaven exists, while I tend to reject metaphysics wholesale. He asked me who was my favorite philosopher, and I said John Stuart Mill, the developer of utilitarianism, the Greatest Happiness Principle. As if to demonstrate my assertion, a man down the table from us was busy making color drawings of flowers and hummingbirds. He told us that he would ask people for a thousand dollars or a smile, and got the smile every time. He opened up his sketchbook to show us the flags of various countries of people he’d met, plus drawings by children of things like dinosaur tracks. The key to what he was doing was the very simplicity of it, sort of like Mill’s ethics, and it made excellent sense. So then, Tim and I left the cafe to walk over to the Dollar Tree in search of American flags. We wandered the store from end to end, not finding them, nor did we encounter any employees on the floor to help with directions. The magic of the coffee bar didn’t follow us to Dollar Tree.

Four o’clock. Next, we drove across River Road to the veterinarian so I could pick up a prescription for my dog. It was good to see Debbie again at the reception desk, though I missed Wendy. The place made me think of my old pug, Henry, who lived 14 years before I had to euthanize him 9 years ago. I also thought of the way things used to be in general, and the people I knew. But it seemed like a time for new beginnings as well, and the daylight coming in the windows was the light of future joy. 


Any kind of catnip would brighten my day, yet the responsibility for my mood is mine. If it’s not, then David Hume is right about causation or determinism. My dog now relies on routines rather than on his own wits. He’s on autopilot every day, not thinking of his next moves; not thinking at all. Living with him is possibly getting me down. Aesop used to be so bright and vivacious, but he’s fading at nine years old. He is just a creature of habit.

One ten.

I called Guitar Center regarding pickup installation. Their tech is out today but back tomorrow and Friday. I can’t think of anything very intelligent to say now, except follow what makes you feel happy. Could John Watson really turn a garbage man into a lawyer as he boasted? Is there no such thing as native talent? I’m still stuck on Mark Twain’s “Man Factory” idea. He was also unimpressed by musicians, from what I can tell. Emerson was a lot different about poetry and music, the things that take inspiration from the muses. The sun has come out. My maple and oak have lost all their leaves for the winter. I regret that the medication is so effective sometimes; at night I can’t even dream like a normal person. I think what I need is unconditional love from someone, or just to be forgiven my weaknesses. Then it occurs to me that my harshest critic is myself; so how does that happen? If I disable the guilt, will I feel better? Maybe we should all cut each other some slack, maybe bolster each other up for a change. I know one person I can go easier on right away. 

All Honor and Glory

Quarter of nine.

A very gray and rainy morning. It’s definitely an umbrella kind of day. Motivating myself to go out to the market was difficult, but I managed it all right. The huge mud puddle at the intersection with Fremont Avenue is back, so that I had to tread on Kat’s grass to get to the narrowest crossing. I saw middle school kids with umbrellas running across Maxwell Road, taking big risks with the traffic, depending on the mercy of certain drivers. At the store, the dairy guy was kind of flirty with Michelle. I don’t blame him for liking her, and he’s a nice enough sort of person. He is an honorable, hardworking type, the kind that seems to be getting harder to find these days. By contrast, there I was with my EBT card and tappable credit card, a slacker just floating along the current.

Nine thirty. Aesop wasn’t so skeptical of his breakfast this morning; maybe he was just hungrier than usual. There’s a weird knocking on my patio cover. Doubtless it’s some sort of bird or a squirrel. As long as it’s not human I’m not worried. I don’t believe in spooks at all. I’m not sure if I’ll go to church this Sunday, the day of Halloween. Pastor Dave is subbing for Pastor Dan that day, so the perspective on things will be different. Also I like to hear him sing; he’s really pretty good. I have today and tomorrow to think about it. The rain is expected to continue until about one o’clock, but there’ll be more over the weekend and beyond. 


Ten o’clock.

I’ve been out of the house and seen several people this morning. It was late enough that Cathy was just starting her shift today and helped me at checkout. One of the card sliders had a problem, so I used the one that worked. For Aesop I bought a couple of dollars’ worth of chicken strips. I had to have my Snapple tea and something to eat for today. Coming back home, I stopped and said hi to Karen and Jessica at the salon. Karen announced that Jessica would be leaving in three weeks to go live with her family in a small Oregon town. Now it’ll just be Karen and Kim every week, and Kim works only part time. Home again, I read my mail: my primary care provider has left the practice “for personal reasons.” I had him for only one year and now I have to pick a new physician. People in autumn are often on the move, plus with Covid, they seem to leave their jobs at the drop of a hat. Also, Bi Mart is closing its pharmacy the first week in November, moving most customers to Walgreens up the road in Santa Clara. The only thing that stays the same is change itself. It is wet outside; the rain will probably start again at around eleven o’clock. I used to have a memory that operated in cycles, but with my Vraylar, the present time is what it is without the undertones of the past. Still, I can abstract a few general ideas of events that are happening right now, and it seems that people pass through turnstiles, connecting with each other only temporarily. But one thing that doesn’t go away is the persistence of mental illness. And hunger never goes out of style. 

Cloudburst on My Street

Nine ten.

I told Aesop I’d feed him at nine fifteen, but I might hold off just a little bit longer. He’s getting a drink of water right now. Echoes of last night’s service rise to my mind, specifically the “hold us in love” part of the Holden Evening Prayer. I think there’s a food pantry this morning, but going to church tomorrow should be enough for me. I made a point of attending the memorial for Katie because she was my friend. I’ve been to the little store and seen Heather. Didn’t get rained on, though the air looks kind of blue. I put on a pair of very lightweight slip on shoes that feel comfortable to me because it’s about utility and not so much fashion. Aesop is waiting patiently for his breakfast. Some idiot is mowing his lawn when he’ll probably get wet. It’s not what I would choose to do. The greens outside are really green from the gray day, but it’s getting quite dark suddenly. Maybe he’ll say, “Retreat!” and quit his project.

Ten o’clock. The dog is fed now while the darkness out there grows and a cloudburst looks inevitable. “Into the cloudburst naked / I wanna get my face wet / It’s been buried in the sun for years.” I wonder what Thomas Dolby thinks of the pandemic? I’d really love to know. His lyrics dealing with history are so spot on; depressing but very good, very deep. Now the rain is coming down and the sound of the lawnmower has ceased. Welcome to Oregon weather.