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. 



The ides of January, I suppose. I got back from church 45 minutes ago, stopping at the store in between. The best part of the service was the Debussy postlude. You don’t hear the second Arabesque often, so it was a treat for me. The weather continues windy with scattered showers. I feel kind of like a worthless epicure, a person who doesn’t inconvenience himself to help others as a Christian does. There have been other insights to what made my sobriety possible, not so admirable except for my honesty in observing them. Pastor didn’t address a word to me today; he’s probably a bit upset because I wasn’t there for Christmas Eve. But it was okay. Nobody booed and hissed at me. I noticed that turnout today was pretty low. Dunno. I sometimes feel like a reverse magnet, a repellent for people. At least I tell the truth; and that’s exactly why I am avoided. With that, the sun breaks through a little. It shines on righteous and not so righteous alike. I used to think the sun was partial to everyone but me, like the blonde assassin passing on in the Dickinson poem. But it was always the same.

Paranoia comes and goes… 

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.

Friends Come and Go

Eight twenty five.

Last night I suffered a minor case of probable diverticulitis after eating a lot of tortilla chips for a snack. I was uncomfortable for hours. Happy Birthday, I guess. And then, all night I dreamed dreams of guilt and self accusation, as if I really believed I’d done something wrong. The music in my brain is “David” by The Guitar Trio, from Passion, Grace, and Fire. It’s a flashback to when I was a college senior. But what isn’t? I never wanted to finish school. Just be a perpetual student… Today is gray with showers here and there, and fairly warm out. I used to own the Beatles “red” compilation but gave it away to my psychiatrist as a kind of bribe to soften his attitude toward me. We weren’t getting along well for those last five years. I couldn’t stop drinking until, ironically, we terminated his service. I remember the phone conversation with his receptionist when I stated baldly that I didn’t want to talk to him at all. It’s a truism that people change over time, which changes our relationship with them. One of my differences with the man was that I believed in being honest and aboveboard, whatever the stigma of schizophrenia. I didn’t agree with his crafty approach to living, and I still think an ethical lifestyle is worthwhile. As for The Beatles, he’s welcome to it.

Nine thirty.

Yesterday afternoon I overheard Roger swearing as he worked at his truck building hobby. Probably a few things aren’t going his way, but I guess that’s tough for everybody. I felt a bit sympathetic for him. I never see him receive visitors to his house. He could likely use a friend.

This Is Thursday

Eight thirty.

So far I haven’t gone to the store this morning. I feel kind of crappy from taking a gabapentin mixed with a Coke last night, plus a bag of potato chips for a balanced junk food meal. But it was my birthday and I took some liberties on my own personal day. Now it’s done. Back to normal.

My head feels rather empty just now so it’s good to sit and do nothing for a while. There’s no pressure on me at all today; Aesop has been fed his breakfast. I’ll be “late” getting to the store but that’s only a joke with the employees… One more bill paid. Ever since I quit drinking I’ve tried to minimize quantitative thinking and I don’t carry cash anymore. The numbers are all imaginary and symbolic like Monopoly money to me. It all spends just the same and everyone is happy… There’s a light breeze in the magnolia tree and the puffy clouds are pretty to look at. This is Thursday. Aesop saw a squirrel in the backyard and barked accordingly. I just saw a U Haul drive by my window and did a double take: someone is moving.

Ten forty.

Around the corner I had a nice visit with Karen and Kim on the way back from the market. I will let Kim borrow the dvd of a documentary of the career of The Police, the great rock band from the early Eighties. If she likes it she can keep it. My rockstar days are probably finished, except sometimes I’d like to play drums again. My old friend who taught me lessons said, Once a drummer, always a drummer. Percussion is a life path for some people. It’d be good to return to my roots.


Nine thirty AM.

I ran into a few people on my trip to market, or rather one significant one I don’t see every day. Lisa, formerly of Karen’s salon, walked in and said hi as she got a couple of items. I wished her a belated Merry Christmas and she said, “Oh you know, Christmas was Christmas, now it’s over, time to move on.” She sounded tired or bored with the whole thing, like a cynical person or someone very smart. Either way she was superior to the holidays, which was fine with me. Kathy also was there, doing something like inventory work plus the usual cashiering, but it was Thomas who helped me at checkout. I got my stuff together and headed out the door. By the time I reached N Park I saw Lisa in her little navy blue Chevy cruising past me toward River Road and probably from there to the highway. As she went by I uttered softly, “There she goes.”

Santa Claus

Quarter of nine.

I’m done filling another journal with stream of consciousness thoughts. Reviewing it, I see a few thematic threads that repeat. One of them is my refusal to condemn my parents for their lifestyle of moderate alcoholism and belief in utilitarianism. I don’t think it’s right to denounce anyone for committing sins that you wouldn’t do. It was maybe two years ago when a peer from church disparaged thoughtless hedonism to me over coffee. Now I ponder what is so “thoughtless” about it. But his attitude affected me deeply for quite a while, so that I wanted to come to my parents’ defense… There was a service for Christmas last night but I decided not to go. I had my own sort of Santa Claus Christmas with my dog and we were happy enough. From around eleven yesterday morning it rained all day and night. Today the ground is still wet and it’s rather warm out. While I was at the store, Kathy walked in to say hi to Thomas, who was glad to have a slow day. Outdoors I saw a few people and we all greeted each other on this holiday. I didn’t miss anything last night. Everyone likes Santa Claus.

The Day Before

Nine o’clock in the morning.

Christmas Eve. Pastor Dan put a little atom bomb in his daily email to the congregation, a guilt trip intended to bring people to the service tonight. This time I’ll stay home, having learned that guilt is not a good form of motivation. This Christmas will be my own kind of holiday, a time to remember my family and my parents; things more personally meaningful than a tradition going back two thousand years. Polly said she might call me tomorrow. If she doesn’t, then I might call her myself. We’ll both be alone for Christmas Day. It makes sense to share it on the phone. The dawn today was unusual, with a skyline like rhubarb or like apricot ice cream marbled with cold blue. Fortunately our bout of freezing rain seems to be done, and the streets, though wet, were not slippery. I found out that Lisa had been late getting to work yesterday due to weather, inching along at 20 mph on the ice. We talked college football and whether the Ducks had secured a bowl game or not. The Beavers won the Civil War game; probably trained all season for the very purpose of beating us. I find that amusing nowadays, while some find in it a reason to get drunk. Gloria is coming this morning, so I’m just counting the minutes. The day has started off well.

Freezing Rain; Bemused

Seven ten at night.

I know a few people who are kind of bummed about politics today, a pessimism I don’t really share. It’s a weird thing. This morning it freezing rained, preventing me from making my daily trip to the store until about two thirty. So I went out walking, stepping very carefully to avoid slipping on the slush. I saw a neighbor on Fremont Avenue deicing his front porch with a propane blowtorch, which seemed rather extreme to me, if not kind of silly. Most people put down salt or sand. Moving on, I crossed a perfidious part of N Park to gain the sidewalk. All the time, the trees overhead dripped rainwater as if it were still raining. I made it to Karen’s salon, but the ramp to the entrance was no go so I entered from the side door. Karen and Kim were in the back room but they invited me to sit with them for cookies for a few minutes, sending me off with a nice salad. That was very pleasant, and then I pussyfooted it to the store to get some stuff and saw Kathy and Suk. On the way home on the sidewalk I looked into the distant purple haze that appeared like a low fog, feeling emotions equally vague and hard to define. Maybe my mind was simply empty or at best bemused as I picked my path back to the house. It was an odd kind of day.