Mates

Quarter of nine.

Today’s weather turns out quite pleasant. You can see blue heavens and the sun, and even a gibbous moon in the southwest, so faint it looks like another cloud. Two squirrels played together on the trunk of a tree outside Steve’s house. A scrub jay screeched and a Canada goose honked in solitude an hour after sunrise. The lavender rhododendron is blooming, and there are buds on the pink one and on the rose bush. My dog Aesop has had breakfast and a snack of doggie pepperoni. For her 30th wedding anniversary, Lisa said she’s taking a three day holiday to the coast with her husband. I said hi to my neighbor Jeff but he didn’t hear me, being absorbed in some job. Crossing N Park took a little time, as I had to wait for five cars to pass. A solo recording by Pat Metheny begins in my brain, “Fallen Star.” It’s very beautiful but very sad, and it reminds me of loneliness. Perhaps it’s a loneliness that everyone feels deep in their soul. It takes the union of woman and man to be whole and perfect, as Lawrence wrote in a poem I read many years ago. Once we were self contained, but became separated into two sexes. This isolation is torture…

Love of Music

Quarter after ten at night.

I’m awake since having lots of dreams of the collapse of civilization tonight, and when I got up, my conscious thoughts ran to The Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. Now I’m trying to clear my mind entirely and start over again… During the day I played my modified P Bass two different times. At once, the instrument is a war axe and a highly sophisticated piece of technology. In neither light is it quiet and subdued by any means. I did a great deal of shredding on it, eventually slowing down to pound out a few Rush tunes from the turn of the eighties. It makes me emotional to revisit old songs like “Cygnus X-1,” a throwback to happy times as a drummer jamming with friends my age for the summer of 1982. They were no older than 16 and ready to go pro in the L.A. music scene, but my parents protected me from such a future and ensured that I’d finish my education. My path with my friends crossed again in another 15 years for the disco gig. I’m not sure what I learned from that experience, or even how I feel about it. Music as expression and music as a business are different things. Robert Fripp advised young musicians to stay out of the industry if they really love music. From what I’ve seen, I’m inclined to think he’s right.

Jackknife Barbers

Quarter of ten.

I was off to a late start this morning; I simply slept in a while. One thing I keep telling myself is the difference between fantasy and reality. And it’s the reality that counts for more. We’re having rain showers today, so I took my umbrella on my walk. The FedEx driver waved when we passed on my street. Just now a little tune by Jethro Tull appears out of nowhere, with exaggerated moralism: “And the jackknife barber drops her off at school…” I ran into Melissa, a former employee of the market, while I was there. She says that her four year old boy is a dinosaur expert and can inform you all about them, and correct you when you make a mistake. At the time I was shopping, I sneaked a peek at the price on my old poison of choice in the beer cooler: $10.49 before deposit. But I was only curious and not seriously tempted. “There’s no problem that a little alcohol can’t make worse,” said my next door neighbor five years ago… A few factors have conspired to make me think of Aqualung, the classic prog album. It gave alcoholics a bad reputation, perhaps, even with these lines: “Aqualung my friend / Don’t you start away uneasy / You poor old sot, you see it’s only me.” I guess I’m sensitive to criticism like this. It’s much easier to judge others than be in the hot seat yourself. Everyone needs a taste of their own medicine occasionally… The showers have ceased for now, and in a symbolic way also. My five year birthday will be sweet.

For a Hoover (Humility)

Gloria came this morning. She said she felt sore from doing yard work recently, yet she drove me to Bi Mart and stayed in the car. I went inside alone long enough to buy two items and see what they had as far as vacuum cleaners. They had two Hoover models that looked good to me, for under $170. Did you know that people in Britain refer to vacuuming as “hoovering?” And then Gloria and I worked some more in my garage after she vacuumed the carpets. She had brought her own Shark Navigator for the job.
I had an insight this afternoon into Kate’s personality (she was my friend from Scotland). It occurs to me that she was very humble and understated as a person, whereas many Americans are more pompous and exaggerated, especially in their speech and self expression. Of course this means myself as well. I actually think Kate’s policy of no drama is very commendable. She loved The Beatles for its simplicity and its ordinariness in a lot of cases, like with “Lovely Rita” and “Penny Lane.” The first song is about a meter maid. British culture is so different from ours; they don’t have the same problems we have. So now I try to catch myself when I’m hyperbolic and inflated. It makes me feel kind of disgusted with Pastor’s oratory style as well: it is so grandiloquent and proud, and over the top with drama and bombast. I really believe that Americans can learn a lesson from people in the United Kingdom, especially since our disasters in politics lately. We’re not very realistic over here. We need to give up our delusions of grandeur.
I think that’s all I had to say for now, and I think I’ll buy that Hoover this summer.

The Answer Is “Yes”

Quarter of one in the afternoon.

Yesterday I went across the street to ask Roger for his help with my bass guitar again, since we did a rather incomplete job the first time. He smiled and agreed to work with me tomorrow at ten o’clock. It’s sort of a symbolic truce to my mind. Though he’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat, still we are civil to each other and achieve something together in the name of music, which shouldn’t have an ideology… The unseasonable rainy weather keeps on day after day, with showers that come and go. I suspect that when the sun shines again it’ll be like summer already, so there’s no hurry on that. Gloria was here and we did some tidying up around the house. In passing, she expressed her hope that the former president doesn’t run for office again, saying how rude he was and how insane— and she’s a Republican. A few lines from a Yes song come up. “A simple peace just can’t be found / Waste another day blasting all the lives away / I heard the thunder underground / Tunneling away at the very soul of man.” And later: “There, in the heart of millions / Seen as a godsend to us / There stands our future / There can be no denying / Simple as A B C D / There stand our children’s lives…” Is this too optimistic, or too utopian for people to grasp? Have we lost our faith in the power of poetry and song? It is said that two wrongs don’t make a right. When love is no longer the solution to our problems, then humanity is in deeper dudu than ever before. This demands that we go back to the drawing board and search not just our minds but our hearts. “It takes a loving heart to see and show / This love for our own ecology.”

Friendly Counsel

And it’s quite a nice one. I just made a second run to the salon and store, gabbing with Kim and then picking out a huge cookie for Aesop that got some attention from Deb and Cathy. Of course I also bought a Coke. This morning with Gloria went really well. We drove to Springfield to recycle again, but I gave all the money to her for doing my laundry. The amount she asked was equal to the value of the bottles, just a flukey coincidence unless it was a Jungian phenomenon. You never know.

I think I know what you mean about the situation with blogging, though I’m curious what the other blogger wrote that made your heart sink. There are some days when I can offer pearls on my domain but still nobody cares. I get no likes or comments at all except from Liz and maybe one more person. Yet it doesn’t bug me too much. I think I’m getting used to rejection. I’m learning to feel satisfied just reading on my own and writing in my journal— and to you every day. Further, I seem to be accepting that fame and immortality will never happen to me, whatever my mother dreamed for me. I doubt if I’ll be the next Edgar Allan Poe or Jack London, or whoever Mom admired. I believe a lot of being famous is being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, and having a shrewd business sense. You also need to be tough, maybe even unscrupulous to some extent. It’s probably true that nice people finish last. Those who have a genuine sense of morals and what’s right have a slimmer chance of success. In sum, the ones who make it big time are usually jerks. I’m thinking particularly of the guy who led the disco band, but it applies to other careers as well.

Right now, it’s enough for me to live in comfort and security with a certain feeling of contentment. I can hardly believe the way good things are falling in my lap since this year began. I don’t feel especially oppressed or anything for having my diagnosis. It’s kind of like plucking dollars off of trees, a life of the Golden Age as Hesiod tells it, or like the Garden of Eden: prelapsarian existence, before Adam and Eve had to work for their living. Maybe I should feel guilty or ashamed for my idleness, but somehow I circumvent feeling lousy about myself. Family dynamics are almost telepathic, with a certain subliminal language; but it’s a language I don’t use anymore. Now I don’t give a damn what they think of me. And with my free time I can express myself however I want. Perhaps when I’m gone, a kind soul will save my notebooks and preserve them.

Did you know that Emily Dickinson became famous only posthumously?

It may seem like a waste of time and effort, but I hope you keep writing even if it’s just for yourself. If you don’t try at all, then your chances of success really are zero.

I guess it’s a question of why you write, or why anyone writes. Are we looking for immortality or what? Do we need self empowerment?

I only write because it’s a natural function for me. I once had a dream that I was a speech writer for Donald Trump! It gave me all kinds of privileges, yet he was a very dangerous man to work for… Just a dream, as I said.

Maybe it’s just a matter of sheer faith in what you do. “Have faith in you and the things you do / You won’t go wrong / Oh no, this is our family jewel.” Sister Sledge.

Lluvia

Seven fifty five.

The next day it rained. And it’s more than a light drizzle; just a steady medium rain to make everything green. My umbrella got drenched en route to market, and wouldn’t stop dripping after I shook it out. A wonderful old Herb Alpert tune plays in my ear, probably from the album SRO back in the mid sixties. Often my mind doesn’t discriminate today from decades ago, so all of time is allowed to coexist at once. It’s sort of like the character Benjy in the Faulkner novel, where his memories are indistinguishable from what goes on right now… I was able to buy a nice potato salad this morning, and since the Snapple teas were gone, I got myself a Coke. The place was quite busy with customers even for a little after seven o’clock, and everyone was kind and considerate to each other. There’s something rather mystical about rainy days, taking me back to my early childhood in Astoria and Salem, though it was over fifty years in the past. At some businesses I qualify for a senior discount, which I find drily humorous. As I was going out the door I ran into Lisa from Karen’s salon at one time. She was there to grab something before heading out to work. Now as I finish this, the rain keeps coming down like so many mental events today or yet to come.

A Rite of Spring

Midnight hour.

The wake of a beautiful sunny and warm day with a lot of social activity outdoors. During the mid afternoon I wandered over to the salon to chat with Kim about her successful divorce. She seems to feel quite good, or as she said, relieved. The first thing she will do is purge her house of everything that reminds her of her ex husband. And from there I strolled to the market for the usual treats. Deb asked me about my dog, so in kind I asked her about her cats, which she said were big and fat. She has tomorrow off, when she said she will mow the lawn and simultaneously get some sun. Every spring and summer Deb basks in the sun and turns a deep brown… Later, I waited at home for my yard guy to come and mow my lawns, but evidently he had other plans or something came up. Out in the street I could hear Diana calling to a neighbor, “Are you looking for your dog?” And I guessed the rest… I’ve read up to Chapter 8 of The Portrait of a Lady, impressed more by the style than the plot, which isn’t very kinetic, but kind of holds still for a dozen analyses. The writing is anything but crude. Its fineness and sensitivity are Victorian, a little bit boring, though the book may be worth getting to the end of. 

Airborne

Quarter after eight.

Tomorrow I have an appointment at the agency in the morning, so I’ll get to do a little sightseeing on the way by taxi. It is yet another overcast day here, making it about a fortnight since the last time it was sunny. I actually like it when you can see great rolling billows of gray and white clouds in the springtime, and the rain doesn’t bother us in Oregon. At dawn, the clouds often appear blue, even midnight blue, and on afternoons they can be purple. Occasionally it hails here with pea size stones or it will rain mixed with snow, though not usually in April. I find it interesting how the natural scene complements what is going on sociopolitically, like the weather in a Shakespeare tragedy when it sympathizes with human affairs. Sometimes I feel like a radio for frequencies borne on the air and traveling right through everybody, these long, slow waves bearing information of the world. In an astronomy class I learned something about the different kinds of rays. Gamma rays are very fast and cause cancer if you are exposed to them. But radio waves can go through you without doing any harm. Conceivably, everyone is a radio receiver of sorts, though we don’t think about it much. The desirable thing might be to wrap a colander in aluminum foil and wear it on your head in order to bounce off the airwaves. This was actually a joke I heard from a friend twenty years ago, maybe not so funny, and not my original invention. I also heard a paranoid guy say at a gig that he wasn’t wearing a wire, even though the doorkeepers believed he had one. At the time I wondered if he was off his meds, but the show went on anyway, and the bandleader took all the money and paid us nothing for the night’s work. Meanwhile our audience at Taylor’s had disappeared, everyone, to my shock, having found a lay for the weekend. 

Money

Gloria was here this morning and she vacuumed the family room but with a very inconvenient tool, a Compact machine from back in the sixties with a section of the hose missing, forcing her to stoop over the whole time. She told me it hurt her back. I felt bad about that, so I guess I have to think about buying a new vacuum cleaner. But on the bright side, the work she did on the green carpet looks fantastic, and after a shampooing it’ll be divine. I do have a Eureka upright vacuum cleaner missing the dirtbag; I could look on Amazon for a replacement bag before I invest in something totally new. And then we made another trip to the thrift store to drop off more stuff I don’t need anymore. The weather grew rather inclement at that point; it rained and hailed on us, though by the time we got back home there was blue sky in the west. Springtime is sometimes a blustery mixed bag here in Oregon. I kind of like it when I’m feeling okay.

Before I took a nap I read two more chapters in my Henry James novel. Somehow the story reminds me a little of Jane Austen and her concerns with marriage, especially among the wealthy classes in America (now I mean Henry James) and in Europe. This makes me think very regretfully of my college education and the unfairness of social class in this country and everywhere. In a heartbeat a person in a privileged position can slip through the cracks and be a pauper with nothing to his name. So that I think Henry James is rather shallow in ignoring such realities as poverty and woe, because intelligent people exist at every level of society. Now I think writers like Twain and Melville were much more aware of the truth of money and the people who have it and the ones who don’t. I even have to give credit to Charles Dickens for having open eyes and ears to people at every stratum of our social structure. Just imagine not having a car! And yet this is my situation here today: a pedestrian in the direst of poverty. What would James say to the homeless population here in America? Would he turn a blind eye and go on sipping his English tea in the afternoon, on the green lawn with the Thames River meandering down the hill apace, and his back to an old Tudor mansion?