The Slope

Eight o’clock.

Michelle told me she left her other job. Evidently the place was quite mismanaged and there was inadequate communication with her supervisor. When I first got up and looked out the window, the sun was a great copper cannonball in the east. I let the dog out and took out the trash. I skipped my medications last night and so far I feel better for it. The weather people keep telling us the air quality is good, yet the colors outside don’t look right. Next door to me, Lenore is having her house painted a medium gray with white trim by a local budget service. It doesn’t look so great, especially next to my bright yellow house. Lenore also never offered to pay me a portion of the cost of the fence that Damien built last year. I have crap neighbors, and nothing I can do about it. No one seems to have a conscience anymore, while the big brazen sun keeps making its daily circuit: sunrise, sunset… 

Aesop just ate his breakfast. Every morning I give him a peanut butter bone from the store, so now he expects it as a matter of course. I love to see him enjoy it while I quaff down a Snapple tea; it’s a high point of the day. When the world is sloping downhill, it’s good to have a creature comfort or two. Yesterday I thought of my brother, whose immaturity belies his 68 years of age. And I think of how he has no excuse for being a jerk to me, his younger brother. But life is very strange to a person in recovery, far stranger than any fiction. 

Perfectible

Quarter of eight.

As I started walking down my street this morning, my head began to spin and I lost my balance for a few seconds. Dunno what caused it, though it could be my cholesterol medication, or maybe the heatwave. I mastered myself enough to finish going to the store for a few items. No Snapple today. Too risky. I’m also under a lot of stress in general and life has been unkind lately… At ten o’clock I have a Zoom appointment with Rebecca. I may be a bit nervous about that. Aesop gets breakfast at eight thirty. I think I should take it kind of easy today and aim for church on Sunday. My apocalyptic view of this summer could be exaggerated for some reason. However, I still think we could use a good rain here in Oregon. I feel rather tired and also sad about a few things. Every loss brings grieving. I don’t believe my Freudian education is valid anymore, or applicable to my current life. But I learned other things in college I can salvage for use in the present. Information tends to flow and ebb with time. And if I’m just a man out of time, a fish out of water, then I can learn to adapt with everyone else.

Quarter of nine. The day looks quite ugly to me. I’ve thought of how much I miss old times when our winters were actually cold. People still wear jackets and coats in the wintertime, but the truth is that they are not necessary when it’s fifty degrees out. We’re past the tip of the iceberg, and we did this to ourselves by polluting our habitat beyond sustainability. No one listens to scientists because we prefer the flattering lies of religion. The time was yesterday for paying attention to their warnings. Now, the new normal will be more and more abnormal for everybody. If only human nature were perfectible, as Percy Shelley hoped a long time ago… 

Thursday Mood

I don’t know what to do with my book of Jack Kerouac. Perhaps I’ll just place it in the book share on Fremont Avenue; it’ll be a great score for somebody, a beautiful new volume still wrapped in plastic. But no; if I see Ron again, I’ll give it to him… The summer sunshine repeats itself outside.

Quarter after nine. I talked with my sister for an hour. She said her son is on the mend from the virus. It wasn’t one of our better conversations, however. Now I’ve got the rest of the day unspoken for. Very quiet in the house, and the day is still young. It might be a good time to go out someplace, except the weather will be very hot and uncomfortable. The thought of drinking beer crosses my mind, but I’m not serious about that. I can play my bass guitar this afternoon, but by myself is not the same as with other people. So it makes me wonder if sobriety is really worth it when you end up all alone. Life is always difficult for one reason or another. A song by The Motels occurs to me: “Only the Lonely.” It reminds me of my mother’s solitude when I went to high school, and how I made a pact with myself to be her friend in that time. I never knew my own identity because of my sacrifice, yet I still think it was the right thing to do. Today I can relate to her loneliness; she was just a little too smart for her own good.

Quarter after ten. Something bugs me now. I still feel like getting loose with a beer buzz or whatever. I remember the trips I used to take to the coast with my brother, sitting on the balcony of our room, looking at the ocean and drinking beer after beer in the sun. This was my brother’s reality, and I participated in it with him like a kind of religion… until my addiction nearly killed me and I had to stop… Roger fired up his collectible truck and drove away to Highway 99. Life goes on even without alcohol. How would it be to reread A Separate Peace by John Knowles? A classic novel about envy; about the irrational, and the unaccountability of human behavior. Sometimes it’s not all lollipops and lemon drops. 

Word on the Street

Quarter after ten.

My burrito was good. Aesop ate his breakfast after he understood the cost to me. He even understands when I ask him, “Are you mad at me?” His attitude softens and he wants to make peace. Very smart dog. I hear a pressure washer somewhere near, and a conversation in my street. I’ve quit eating my heart out about the girlfriend who ghosted me in 2017. Still, I imagine it’ll be hard for me to listen to an album like Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the memories it triggers. I guess just don’t listen to that CD. The clouds have formed a solid white sheet that admits only a bit of sun. The religious thinking is going away, giving way to realism again. I really enjoyed Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells and might look into The Octopus by Frank Norris. The opening chapter was very powerful with its description of a train plowing into a flock of sheep that had wandered onto the tracks… Didn’t sleep well last night, so I feel rather wiped out. It doesn’t bother me much anymore who is the US President, or how this would affect my sobriety. Staying sober is an independent thing from all other issues. I had bad dreams about my dad last night. He was a real jerk because no one liked him, and vice versa: a vicious circle…

The chatterboxes in the street are still going at it. I don’t want to know what they’re prattling about. You can’t pick your neighbors, usually. Probably the ones I have don’t like me, just as they disliked my mother.

Eleven twenty five. I’ve got oodles of time to do whatever today. However, days often go by when nothing gets done. And I suppose I’m okay with that.

Dawn is a feeling

A beautiful ceiling

The smell of grass just makes you pass

Into a dream

You’re here today

No future fears

This day will last a thousand years

If you want it to

Morpheus

Six ten.

Another hot one is predicted for today. Think I’ll stay home from church yet again. The reading I did of Shakespeare during the night got me reflecting on collectivism in a new way. Autolycus as a character in The Winter’s Tale is a fly in the ointment, and by nature he is unlikable with his dishonest purse cutting and bawdy songs. It makes me compare his role in the play to my own place in the church and the community. And seeing myself in this light, I don’t really like my image. Funny how reading a good book can make you self aware.

Seven thirty. The store was supposed to be open at seven, but when I arrived, no one was there and the doors were locked up. I’ve never seen this happen before at Community Market, a total failure to show up. So I crossed the street to the espresso hut and bought a raspberry tea from the pretty girl and came home. I can’t speculate what happened to Heather this morning. I only know she didn’t show up to open the store today… I’m still contemplating going to Our Redeemer for Sunday worship. It’s a very long walk there, and Aesop won’t be happy about my absence. I’ll leave it to the last minute to decide… Band practice was such a disaster yesterday that I won’t make an Orpheus post this time. My mates were too stoned and drunk to be able to play their instruments, let alone think and make sense in speech. I was terribly embarrassed. Maybe in this case it’s two strikes and you’re out. I wasted my time yesterday with these bozos. I just want to make music, while the others make music secondary to the drugs… Church is looking better and better as I think about it… 

Family and Fowl

Eight forty.

I fed Aesop early today. I’m beginning to stress about leaving him here while I go to my band practice, if we decide to do that today. The dog was in such a bad mood yesterday from my absences on Wednesday and Thursday. Very pouty, and he even snarled at me last night… Well now it’s a date set in stone: rehearsal at one o’clock. Maybe Aesop will forgive me. The high temperature might be 95 degrees. I’m getting rather sick of blue sky every day and no sign of any precipitation. You start to wonder if it’ll ever rain again, and will autumn ever come. I hear sparrows and falling acorns out back. Tried calling my sister again with no answer. My guess is her son is probably home. He and I don’t get along together very well; but the whole family thing is stupid and really out of my hands. I wrote them off when I quit drinking almost four years ago. I have no control over family nor the power to change the situation. But at least they also have no power over me. It’s not like they made a little voodoo doll of me for sticking pins in; we don’t cast spells on each other back and forth like two teams of wizards. Right now, as I write, there’s no one in the room with me but for Aesop. The rest is my imagination.

Nine thirty five. I’ve been through a lot of things since 2017 and seen so many faces, heard many stories. I guess none of it was wasted time as it’s part of the same learning experience. Still there are some things I wouldn’t want to repeat. Even now, there are circumstances I’d rather get out of and risk going it on my own…

I just observed a pair of sparrows on the grass, copulating like crazy. It appears that all of nature is in a state of confusion, unless mating season is supposed to be yearlong for these birds. I dunno, but I suspect foul play. 

More about the Green House

I rode with eCabs today and I liked the drivers going both ways. They had to double up on passengers but I didn’t mind sharing a taxi with someone else. This particular company has only eight drivers and does nothing but a Ridesource contract. The first guy is named Scott, with whom I’ve ridden a few times. I like him. Funny, he’s critical of Eugene for wanting to be like Portland, while preferring places like Springfield that are I guess more homey and down to earth; it has a personal vibe that Eugene is losing the more it grows. He said the Eugene City Council was “Communist,” and I understand what he means. It isn’t exactly that, but it’s definitely Marxist and Socialist, using a language that baffles people with its emptiness. I think it’s fair to say that Springfield is a time warp to a more romantic age, where people are franker with each other and not so deceptive or slippery; in a word, they’re honest… which is also like the people of Cottage Grove. So I can see why some people prefer the twin city to the sophistication of Eugene.

At one o’clock I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my stuff; but you know, afterwards I was pretty exhausted and felt rather lousy for a while. Two miles is kind of heavy duty walking for me. But on my way home I observed the same kind of thing as this morning, or maybe I was looking for it, and it provided a common theme for my day. You saw the post already, I know. It was that green house on Kourt Drive that defies the laws of time and space (to my mind), and takes you away in a magic Delorian to the Forties or Fifties, or rather transplants the past to the present day with a sprinkling of pixie dust. And this house just sits there, stark against the blue sky, an anachronism that doesn’t belong there and ought to be extinct, and yet there it stands like a shimmering vision out of an old yearbook, a page torn out of history…

So I imagine that my concern with anachronisms has to do with my own age, and maybe with everyone in my age category. Shoot: what was it I was saying the other day? It was on a topic very similar to this one. Oh yeah, it was about rewriting the history books to make people like us obsolete, and I made a post about it. But you know, it’s really true! And the older I get, the truer it becomes. The voices of seniors get lost in the shuffle and no one wants to hear us anymore. And it turns into a strange paradox of being and non being: just like the green house on Kourt Drive which ought not to be there, and yet, by God, it still stands like an ephemeral monument.

Springfield / La Maison Verte

Nine twenty five.

I’m waiting in the lobby for my appointment with the doctor. Not very happy about it but it’ll be over soon. The music on the PA is crappy: too sentimental and soppy. Springfield is an antiquated place, though some people like it better than Eugene. Maybe it’s more humane and personal than the sister city. I’ve been in rock bands that played regularly in Springfield, so it’s like home to me in a way. I miss the old days when Blueface used to play the Hollywood Taxi on Main Street…

Ten thirty. My appointment went great. Jeff, my primary care physician, said I’m a good guy and he appreciates my honesty with him. He will refer me to physical therapy again for my back issues. He happens to be a musician, so we had that to talk about. Now I’m waiting for my ride home. The dispatcher is very nice as well.

Noon hour. The ride home was fun, but I’m kind of glad to relax again with Aesop. A couple of hours later I’ll walk over to Bi Mart to pick up my meds. I wonder why yesterday was not a good day for me? I guess it isn’t very pleasant to go to the agency and serve up my heart on a silver platter. To hell with it. I can manage my life very well myself, and if I don’t want to go to church or to Twelve Step meetings, then I think I’m so entitled.

Two ten. I’m just back from the pharmacy, a little winded but okay. The walk home on Kourt Drive was quite beautiful in the sunshine and shade. The road itself was a frying pan, but away from it the houses lay in cool shadow, and I saw again my favorite mint green house on the north side. It’s like a time capsule to the 1940s, and kept up so nicely that it brings 80 years up to date: a tesseract or stitch in time under the blue sky. I forgot to take my phone with me, or else I’d have snapped a picture of the house. I guess it’s enough that I know where to find it again, and to mention it here. 

Lenore’s Rooftop

Eight o’clock.

Already it feels like I was never at the store this morning, yet I know it was only an hour ago. Roger is firing up his old Ford; now he has chugged away to the south to get on Maxwell Road. By the time he’s on the bridge he’ll be cruising along at fifty miles an hour, a streak of burnt orange and chrome. I saw him doing this once and I marveled a bit at the old machine’s horsepower that left me in its dust. For different boys it’s different toys: I’d rather collect more bass guitars and books… I brought home a peanut butter bone for Aesop which he politely munched on till it was gone. Heidi told me in an email she was going to call me today to schedule us a visit if I was interested, so of course I’ll accept her offer— because of her, not because of Laurel Hill. After nine o’clock I have to call Bi Mart to renew a $1463 prescription that I know they won’t refuse. They love to see us coming. The weather is predictably sunny as it has been every day for a few weeks.

Last night the gibbous moon, waning, shone on my pillow. The light from it looked somewhat smoky, making orange of pale yellow. I felt inclined to endow the orb with feminine qualities, but all the time I knew the moon is just the moon. In other words I was caught between poet and anti-poet. Somewhere, Shelley writes that poetic language is vitally metaphorical, comparing one thing to another. But this poetry breaks down when you see reality as it is. Most poets are pessimistic that accurate perception is even possible. Sometimes I guess I’m not very romantic…

Quarter after nine. As I was returning home today I encountered two crows perched on Lenore’s rooftop, exchanging croaks as if in conversation. It made me think of Hekyll and Jekyll, the old cartoon series. Yet everybody knows that a crow is only a crow… and a raven is just a raven. 

Friday Morning Again

Quarter of six.

If I slept at all, it was just a shallow slumber and not very restful. Throughout, I kept hearing music by Prokofiev, like just now with Love for Three Oranges. A strange thought comes to me, the question of human instincts versus society’s expectations and industrialization. Also consumerism. “We’ve taken care of everything / The books you read, the songs you sing / The pictures that give pleasure to your eye.”

Quarter of seven. I made an early trip to the store to get Aesop’s Dog Chow and the usual stuff for me because of my lab appointment at ten o’clock. Kat’s family from inside their Dodge Caravan smiled and waved hello as we passed each other on the street. It seemed like everybody was waving at me from their car: was I seeing things? Michelle was quite gabby this morning, but for my part I feel rather tired and washed out due to poor sleep. She wished me luck with my labs today… Tomorrow would be my mother’s birthday if she were still here. But actually, it’s her birthday anyway. July 17, 1928 was when she was born. Off and on I’ll probably stop and think about her tomorrow… The band agreed to have practice Saturday at three o’clock. I’d like to take my blue Fender bass for the comfort of it. Looking forward to getting the Di Marzio pickup in the mail likely in August; but then I have to find someone to install it.

Eight thirty. The taxi will come get me after nine o’clock. Like an idiot, I drank my Snapple when I was supposed to fast for the blood draw; I totally forgot about that. It’s too late to cancel it now. Is this an example of a Freudian slip, meaning that I don’t really want to go to my appointment? I think it was just an accident. Freud claimed that there are no accidents in human behavior; we do everything intentionally. When bad things happen to us, it’s because we’re being masochistic, etc etc. I don’t believe this is very probable… The sun rises on the promise of a nice day. I ought to email Heidi today and see what’s up in her world. Someday it would be great to get together again for a bubble tea at Cal’s Donuts; celebrate old times and make a toast to the future.

Quarter of ten. I’m waiting outside of the clinic for my return ride. The phlebotomist was not very friendly, but it’s over with. Maybe that’s why I tried to sabotage this appointment, and Freud would be correct about my motives.