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?

Theodicy

Seven thirty.

I witnessed some good spirits at the market just a bit ago. A pair of women shot the bull with Lisa and apparently they had jobs in healthcare. They made jokes about paranoia and so on. I noticed that they were buying Mike’s Harder Mango at a very early hour. As I approached the parking lot from the sidewalk I saw a sign at my feet that read “For Rent.” Somebody must’ve dropped it there for a joke. The apartments across the way off of Maxwell Road go for $1400 a month. I think of how fortunate I am to own my home, and there’s something to be said for staying in one place for a long time. Inside the store, another customer examined the greeting cards on the revolving tree. The atmosphere was laid back and even pretty jovial. When I was going out I ran into a young Black man and said hi for no particular reason and held the door for him… The sky at dawn was gunmetal blue this morning. Yesterday it rained most of the day with occasional snow. Right now the sun wants to come out to the greeting of the birds. My dog gets breakfast in just a few minutes.

Eight twenty. I just heard from my friend in Texas. She’s been through extreme weather that damaged her house last night. She is without power and more bad weather is still coming. I hope someone comes to help her very soon. Why do bad things happen to good people? 

Free and Single

Eight twenty five.

I was just at the store, where Cathy held down the fort. It was a slow Sunday morning, so I took the opportunity to ask her if she was married. The answer was no, but she said she’s enjoying her freedom as a single person. She also said she’s had a few boyfriends, and she has quite a few friends in Eugene. Then I asked her if she lives in North Eugene, to which she replied that her place is about a mile away from the market. And she knows I live around the corner somewhere. Thus, I wasn’t a hard sell about hitting on her, and her response was not a total rejection either. Maybe I can ask her to a friendly cup of coffee sometime, as long as she feels comfortable. Now, in hindsight I can’t believe my audacity with her, and yet we were pretty rational together.

Nine o’clock. There’s just a light rain this morning. The birds sing in the rain and everything feels quite natural for an April day with its sweet showers. Sometimes Oregon seems like a transplanted England in climate, though the people are nothing alike. The only comparison is life up on the campus. 

For a Green Salad

Ten ten.

Karen did something very nice for me today. She gave me her green salad and some ranch dressing to take home, telling me she would have chili. She had observed that I’d lost weight because of the meager fare at the market and acted accordingly. Karen said that Kim’s divorce will probably go through okay despite her husband contesting it. He hasn’t been behaving well, not doing what he’s supposed to do. They’d been married for 16 years. I think she was being merciful to him… The sky appears like the mercury in a thermometer, silvery with great puffy clouds. Aesop has been very good ever since Gloria started working with me on housekeeping and personal care. Now the sun comes out a little. Yesterday evening I ordered a book of Adler, generally about his individual psychology, which may go well with what I know of Freud, though I’m not a fan of Jung anymore. Eugene is a big Jungian town everywhere you go, so they tend to shove it down your throat. Forcible indoctrination is never a good way to get along with people, but rather it’s a kind of violence. The more the pressure, the more others will rebel. Jung may be a mental giant and an institution, but then so is Shakespeare if I want something Romantic to read and talk about… Across the street, Roger potters and tinkers with a mad scientist project, not at all interested in such things. 

Cosmology

I don’t know if there’s a deus ex machina in all of this. I suppose I could choose to believe such a thing, and yet no good fortune happens without an individual being assertive with the situation and people.

Once, a friend told me something humorous on that head. I’d had a phobia of parking my vehicle in crowded places Downtown or on the campus. Mike said, “You see? The parking gods will be kind to you if you show a little courage.” He was mostly an atheist but a great songwriter, leading the band with me in it. The same year I began dating a woman my age who was a Lutheran working in a bookstore. I did a lot of reading in Herman Melville, starting with Moby Dick, though his worldview clashed with the Tennyson I also tried to embrace. The result was a big mess for me, and in the end I lost those friends plus my best friend and my dad died that year: and on the whole it felt like 1999 was the end of the world.

I don’t know which impulse won the day, the blackness of Melville or the Christian sunshine, however, life went on with my dad’s passing. A few days later I bought two little books related to Epicurean philosophy but this was soon drowned out by the era of the holy wars and incidentally my mother’s death. And then my whole world was transformed, though I fought it as my addiction to alcohol progressed and eventually took over my life. Just today I pondered what the new hub of my life had become, and it seems to be the written word probably more so than music. As I think about it, a lot of living is adapting to sociological changes out of my control, surviving them and holding onto the wave like the old song by Yes says. Personal freedom is a comforting idea but ultimately it’s a tired illusion, so that my recovery from alcoholism really isn’t creditable to me at all, but rather to something like fate that operates within and without the individual person.