Friends / Philosophy

Nine twenty five.

I left the house for the store at eight thirty, just missing the rain. Before that I called Polly to have a chat. I bought Aesop some original Milk Bones. He was pretty excited to see the red box in my hand when I came in the door… My mind is kind of a blank right now. Last night I urged my pen pal to treat herself to a new book she really wants. She has her eye on a book of bird writing from an online seller. I hope she springs for it today. She deserves a reward just for being herself. I think more people need to spoil themselves a little. We tend to believe we have to rationalize being kind to ourselves, and we feel guilty when we splurge. It depends on our upbringing… I was rather zoned out last night, didn’t realize what I was thinking or saying, but it turned out good. My heart expanded and I was full of benevolence for my friends. To start with, I felt anxious about the well-being of Polly and Roxanne because I hadn’t heard from them in a while. So I called Roxanne to see if she was okay and we talked for a half hour.

Ten twenty five. Probably I was in a reverie yesterday afternoon, hypnotized by the book I’d been pondering. It contains some mathematical logic that’s alien to me, plus some unfamiliar terms and usage. But overall the concern is with truth and language. I keep running into the condition of pessimism regarding what people can know, a hurdle everyone jumps every day anyway without a thought. And being introduced to philosophy is the real trouble, because then you have to find your way out of its problems. Wittgenstein: “Philosophy is the disease for which (philosophy) is the cure.” Most of us get along fine without philosophical complications. I guess I’m not like most people… Honestly, this stuff I had put aside and forgotten about for many years. My sense of smell remembers the reek of burning mint fields when I was 21. After taking Aristotle in the winter I had a loss of philosophical faith. I just turned to intuition and irrationalism like the existentialists. Soon my mind melted down completely. Is it possible to live without logic? Seems you can exist on Romantic feeling and take things on faith… 

Saturday Night Jam

Midnight hour.

When I was walking past the salon in the afternoon sunshine, Karen came out and flagged me down to tell me that Kim’s shoulder surgery didn’t go very well, and to keep her in my prayers. I understand that she’s in quite a bit of pain and sleeps most of the time. I was on my way to band practice with bass guitar in hand. 

Ron was already there when I arrived at Mike’s studio and knocked on the door. Mike said I could walk right in, joking that only cops ever knock. Our practice went pretty well, but the energy was less intense than the jam the week before. After two hours and twenty minutes Ron said he was tired, so we called it a night. A few times I had doubts about my involvement in music during the time we played. It seemed like an activity done better under the influence of alcohol. And generally, I realized that alcohol enhances pleasure I take in everything else in life. It’s like seasoning for a meal. In its absence, the meal is more of a chore to eat. It doesn’t taste as good but I suppose you still have to eat it… The tone of my bass through the new amp was pretty massive and powerful. I liked it. Low G on the E string hit me in the right spot. I think I had the most fun playing “Burning Coal” last night, a riff in G7 that goes on infinitely, no bridge or anything.

All in all, it was a good practice. Maybe we can add a new song to our repertoire before next time. Mike made a good point in passing, and this was that we need organization. I think this is true in general, so maybe we can open a discussion about it. 

And the Word Is…

Six o’clock.

I didn’t sleep very well. I had nightmares and in general just couldn’t relax. Also I felt like I couldn’t get enough oxygen. I’m probably overtired from Saturday evening. Music: “Show Me” by The Pretenders. I remember listening to them the term I took my Chaucer class in spring 1990. What a great guitar band they were. Simple but also tasty in their choice of chords, the same way as The Police. Chrissie Hynde had a lot of heart. “Brass in Pocket” reminds me of going to the grocery store with my mother when I was in junior high school. She would go off to shop while I perused the books on the stands. Thinking now, I can’t believe the trash I read at that age, yet it served to build my vocabulary. Some of the reissued pulp fiction from the thirties was pretty good, especially the original Conan tales.

Ten twenty. Karen has hired someone new at the salon, starting tomorrow. She says that Angela has lost her enthusiasm for work, her whole attention absorbed by homeschooling her kids. And Kim has other problems. I suggested something vague about Karen being too much of a Good Samaritan. She hires people with issues, and farther down the line it hurts her business. But it’s up to her how she does things. Everything that’s going on lately is a little too much for my poor brain to process. It makes me glad that I’m only a musician. I’ll try giving Polly a call in a bit. I feel sort of weepy and sad, and pulled in different directions simultaneously. Everyone is so different and does things for different reasons. I can’t sort it all out. Maybe no one asked me to. Maybe it’s me putting pressure on myself. I wonder if I’m alone in feeling this way?

Show me the meaning of the word…” 

Before and after Band

Two thirty. Hard to believe that Vicki got fired last November. I was so used to seeing her every day, though I can’t say I really liked her much. She became an anachronism in the little market, a fish out of water. Everything else changed, but she didn’t. I feel bad for her. And it’s true how much the store has changed since May 2019, when Belinda sold the business and the run of history would be altered forever. No going back.

It’ll be time to go to practice pretty soon. Stay calm. It should go well. A lot of life is free will and making good choices. And that is a matter of wisdom.

Wee hours.

Practice went great again. While we were playing, I noticed a transformation beginning within myself, a revival of my creative spirit. This is related to my philosophical beliefs about determinism versus free will, and I think creativity depends on a libertarian perspective. Also while playing music, I was able to arrest intrusive thoughts and just concentrate on my business. We jammed for nearly three hours yesterday evening. Messed around with “The Mincer” at one point. Ron told me that he’d gone back and listened to Starless and Bible Black, saying he’d forgotten how good it was. During the solo section of one of our songs, I found myself playing the bass line to “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. The tone of my Fender bass sounded great. I need to figure out how to manipulate the pre gain and post gain controls on the new amplifier, and maybe cut the high frequencies a bit. The sound I was getting was very bright. 

Weariness

Seven thirty five.

I got quite a restful sleep last night, so today is already off to a better start than yesterday. It’s the first light of dawn out. The sky looks gray with clouds, though currently there’s no rain. Amazon tells me that my new hoodie has been delivered. I ordered it in gold, and I think it should be rather pretty… I retrieved the package and put on the sweater: the color is bright and reflective. I really like it. My band will practice again today at four o’clock. We’re going to try out my new bass amp in our studio. I will run my blue Fender through it. Last night I went to church with Roxanne and did my duties of singing and reading. Pastor was downhearted and nobody was really bursting with joy. I felt tired and apathetic. Still, we got it done. Now it’s time to go to the store.

Nine ten. I encountered no one on the street; only a cat that I startled. When I approached the doors of the market, two cars pulled into the lot, but otherwise the place was pretty deserted. Or maybe the emptiness is inside of me? I thought of how we’re all forced to wear a mask in public just because someone said so. I read that the death toll from the virus has reached two million worldwide, yet it still seems kind of unreal to me; more like an exercise in obedience. It surely hasn’t been much fun. I picture myself in the parking lot of that silly little store, observing the drastic changes over the years. This is the pain of having a long memory, seeing things change irrevocably, leaving behind people and good times that I loved. You may wish to freeze and dogmatize the progress of the world, all to no avail. Time moves in one direction only. Turning back clock and calendar is denial. So we move on with the current of life… 

Another Tuesday

Four forty.

The sun is getting ready to go down on another Tuesday. I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary today, except to treat myself a bit more kindly. I’m still the same old pleasure seeker as always. Played some Queen songs on my green Dean bass, including what I could remember of “A Kind of Magic.” 

Something made me think of my mother again; it began with my dreams last night, flashing back to January twenty years ago. Life wasn’t too bad back then, although I didn’t feel as free as I do now. Poor Mom never had any friends, and the family from her generation had all passed away. I guess it’s fair to say that she was very difficult to get along with. I wouldn’t want to do it again. Her subjective opinions were so absolute to her as to be irrational. There was no discussing anything with her. She was as hardheaded as adamant. So it was rather odd to have a dream that was indirectly about her. I wonder if it’s because of her memory that I still do rock and roll music? I had another friend whose perfectionism was instilled in him by his bipolar father. He carried his dad around with him in his mind, and it made him depressed and suicidal. Possibly I’m a little bit like him, with the difference of some insight into myself. My mother expected nothing short of rock stardom from me, but maybe this isn’t the lifestyle I want. I think I’m happy enough as a writer of blog posts for right now. But nobody ever said I can’t be both a writer and a musician— again, like Paul Bowles. I reckon some things are just spelled out in the stars… 

Mike and Ron and Me / Windows

Eleven thirty. Band practice with Mike and Ron went really great. Once we got warmed up, we fell into a groove pocket together and made some progress. Being in that zone is what music is all about. We incorporated influences from King Crimson and Led Zeppelin, and worked on a Nirvana song. Ron played a three keyboard setup this time for a larger palette of sounds. Mike added a tambourine to his drum kit. The bass I used was very simple and traditional, a Fender Precision, but with extra punch from the Omega bridge. I enjoyed messing around with “The Mincer” by King Crimson… We jammed for two and a half hours. The weather was good for my pilgrimage over to Mike’s house; mostly sunny and nearly fifty degrees. Right now there’s a light rain on the back patio cover. Pastor wrote me a thoughtful reply to my email from last night, and said I should probably apologize to my friend for a disagreement on politics. I’ll have to turn it over in my mind a little before I decide. No truth is ever very cut and dried, especially the deeper you think about it. Only ten days remain until the inauguration of Joe Biden. Rather than a rerun of history, I hope for general advancement in the future. The future may seem like a blind wall, but really it’s a window. 

Haircut Day

Quarter after nine.

Today I get my hair cut with Karen. I’ll probably get rained on. I had a conscientious dream this morning that I won’t describe right now. I tend to dream better when I miss a dose of my antipsychotic. At the store, Michelle mentioned that she has diabetes. The regulation of blood sugar is a real pain, she said. Occasionally I get tired of taking my medication as well. Sometimes it’s important to be able to dream and confer with the soul. If my guilty dream put me on the spot, then at the same time I managed to come to my own defense very effectively, even in the context of a deep sleep.

Quarter of eleven. Karen was all ready for me when I got to my appointment ten minutes early. Kim was also there at the salon and watched and joined in the conversation. Looking in the mirror, I could see the Maxwell bridge out of the door, the cars with their lights glaring in the rain. Karen buzzed over my head with electric shears, then fine tuned the job with scissors. Afterwards she gave me a wash. I paid her a generous tip because things are tight lately. When I took my leave, went out the door and grabbed my umbrella from the rail, a reckless driver screamed by on Maxwell Road. Right behind him came a City of Eugene police officer. I stopped to watch what the cop would do, but I was disappointed. I came home humming melodies from the Prince Igor overture. Crossing N. Park, I passed the sexy neighbor mom who waved to me from her car. I regretted that I didn’t know her name. 

Flexible Expectations

Midnight hour.

Our practice went just okay this time. I observed more limitations on the part of all three of us. I felt a little tense after I noticed that “Bubble House” was supposed to be in G minor rather than C minor, as the guys had been playing it. They must’ve been a bit nervous as well. When we played Ron’s song “Boba Fett,” he stopped because he’d forgotten the lyric. As for myself, my old body got tired and kind of let me down. I felt that my bass licks were in a rut, somewhat repetitive and dull. But just when we were about to call it a night, I had a little inspiration sitting with my bass. Out of nowhere I started playing Nirvana’s “Come as You Are,” a very simple riff that we could groove on for a while. I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know how Mike and Ron felt after we said goodbye until next weekend. My own thinking is that it’s important to be realistic concerning what our trio is capable of. It’s wiser to let them call out the tunes they feel comfortable with.

The journey to Mike’s house in the rain was executed with dogged resignation. I held my bass in my left hand, an umbrella in my right, and just hoped that no big gust of wind would blow the latter wrong side out. For visibility I put on a white baseball cap. I took a shortcut through the parking lot of the convenience store to the lane off of Maxwell Road. The trip took me about 18 minutes, putting me there almost precisely at 4:30pm. 

Illumination

One thirty in the morning.

I just had a beautiful thought about my life today: it seems to me that I’ve paid my dues for whatever heinous thing I might’ve done in the past. If schizophrenia is a divine curse, then it’s been expiated at last. This doesn’t mean that I now have carte blanche to do anything I want. But it does mean that I’ve been granted a second chance to get my life together.

Practice with Mike and Ron yesterday afternoon was a good experience. The three of us had fun making music and getting reacquainted. Ron’s prodigious keyboard playing was a pleasure to hear, and the rhythm section of Mike and me got so it locked pretty well. My new Fender bass cut through the mix and sounded awesome. Yet I suppose it isn’t so much about the gear we use. An instrument is just a tool, and the musician himself is an instrument of the divine. Music is more than sound, even more than feeling. It is a meaningful message from powers we scarcely understand. Mythology is said to be the picture language of the soul. Likewise, music is a language of sound, but it is conveyed through the medium of time. Music moves… We plan on getting together again next Saturday for more practice. Funny, but Ron said I look kind of like Adrian Belew of King Crimson owing to my pattern baldness. I took that as a compliment.