Five o’clock 🕔. And then the phone rang: the PT receptionist asked if I could come early today, since they’d had a few cancellations. I said yes, though maybe should’ve said no. Suddenly I had to put my shoes on and hit the road. Hoofing it through my neighborhood, the phone rang again: Sally from my health insurance wanted to do my annual review. So I kept her on the phone for as long as I could hear her voice above the traffic noise. Meanwhile the clouds to the north were black and forbidding, portending rain or maybe hail, and my destination led me right towards it. Luckily I felt only a few raindrops. It was the first time I’d ever had a phone conversation on the run. When I got to the medical building, I was already a bit tired, and then Erin chewed me out somewhat for not doing my homework exercises. Otherwise my appointment was tolerable. I found out that Erin is a rock drummer: I spotted the eighth note tattoo on her hand and said something. She is a fan of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and also the drummer for Tool… For the return home, I realistically took Oregon Taxi. The dispatcher was very friendly and the cab arrived in only five minutes. The cabbie was a white haired old gerontion and new to the job. I gave him directions as we moved along. He did pretty well, except he almost hit a pedestrian crossing River Road because he simply didn’t see him. I had to yell to him to “watch out for this guy.” Finally I got home and I gave Aesop three bacon strips for his inconvenience and patience with the developments of a couple of hours.
Quarter after nine.
It’ll be Michelle at the store today, so I’m happy about that. The song in my head is “Speak Like a Child” by Jaco Pastorius, one I hadn’t thought of in a long time. I wonder what prompted it? I got my original copy of this album in the winter of 1989, but not sure where. Someplace Downtown or in the Valley River Center.
Ten thirty. I spoke with a handful of people while I was out just now. Kim gave me a piece of quiche, saying it was her first attempt at it with a crust. It tasted great to me, especially the peppers and ham. She told me a little more about her husband’s life. The first person I encountered was Colin, walking his dog Lolo up our street. We talked a bit about the postal service and receiving our ballots in the mail. At the store, Suk said hi, and Michelle assured me that there will be cottage cheese tomorrow. The weather is beautiful again today, the sunshine soft and orange. Part of me would love to glut my senses with some pleasure, as in the old days. But I have to settle for sunshine and poetry for my sources of beauty. I’ve also been invited to record with the church singers Saturday night, so maybe I’ll go and do that. It should be a colorful time to go see my friends in church. Color is what my life lacks, making it a T or F existence, logical and devoid of quality. It’s like food without flavor, no seasoning of any kind. There’s something to be said for taste in human life. I think most people would agree on the importance of color and harmony, like savoring a good rainbow sherbet. Or maybe a lyric poem by Wallace Stevens? The stark words in black and white belie the impression of a prismatic spray between the lines…
Mad scientist upon the witching hour
Toys with a demonstration of his power;
Outside, a bolt of lightning cracks the sky
In sympathy for enterprise too high
For a mere mortal man with which to meddle
Or maybe Nature has a score to settle.
From Florida, his spies have brought to him
A water sample from the Fount of Youth,
Elixir of everlasting life in truth
Once hidden in the Everglades so dim;
So now the madman reaches for the jar,
Unscrews the lid to relic from afar,
And from a package ordered through a book
Shakes in Sea Monkeys with a leering look.
Noon hour. I’m hearing an old song by The Cars in my head: “Good Times Roll.” It was their old sound, before they went synthetic in the 80s… I wanted to buy some Snapples for Damien before it gets too warm out. I didn’t think of it on my trip this morning. I looked out for Number One instead. I think a lot of people are doing that, but it’s making us miserable. One thing I am enjoying, however, is A Farewell to Kings by Rush. I still haven’t heard all the bonus material or read the booklet. IMO, this album was the beginning of their more sophisticated sound, working with complex chords and soft subtleties. It was more sensitive overall than 2112, and more musical in the abstract. It was just different from their previous stuff. Basically, it was inspired.
Three twenty five. Damien hasn’t replied to my text from this morning, and he isn’t here yet. I take people too literally, I guess. He has things on his mind and a lot of work to do. I skimmed the liner notes to the Rush album. It goes into some musical detail about each piece, some of which looks inaccurate to me, particularly the analyses of time signatures, but I know I’m being pedantic. I’d forgotten that the band recorded it in Wales, so this explains part of the difference in temperament from previous records. Alex Lifeson also reports having used chorus effects on his electric guitar for a fuller sound… The music gets sort of lost in the translation into words. I can say with confidence that hearing these old songs makes me feel happy. And it’s very satisfying to sit down with my bass guitar and nail a part played by Geddy Lee on the original recording. I feel as if Rush were in the room. Who says rock and roll is dead?
Three thirty five. I’m not going to church tonight. I let Pastor know in an email this morning, and then I texted Roxanne. I wonder what the upshot of these times will be to posterity. We who are living through it sit around and scratch our heads. Nothing in our knowledge seems to add up. Our venerable traditions are unequal to the situation we face. I find the apocalypse prophecies especially inadequate, because at bottom, nobody wants to pretend there are righteous and wicked people. The objections I felt to the Last Judgment still stand. This is the real reason why I’m an absentee tonight. If one person goes to heaven, then everybody should go to heaven. But IMO it’s better to dispense with religion entirely and work together to save our natural lives. I like to envision a future of joie de vivre, as in the Picasso painting done after WW2.
Meanwhile, Rush’s “Madrigal” floats back to me, reminding me of a trip my parents took with me up to Victoria, BC. One evening, from the hotel we walked up the street to a restaurant with a glass enclosure where you could watch the chef grilling your steak on a big cauldron. I also remember buying a hotdog on the ferry and having a look around outside the cabin. The ferry was called the Coho, and it was black with red trim. On our second trip to Canada, we left the car in Port Angeles and just walked around Victoria. We may have taken cabs; I don’t recall. We shopped at Eaton’s, and Mom bought a teapot in the gift shop of the hotel. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Who needed heaven when Victoria was just across the water from Washington? I prefer to think that my parents went to Victoria when they passed away…
Today is supposed to be a little warmer than yesterday. It’s partly cloudy. The colors and shadows are pretty, and rather heraldic of fall. This makes me think of autumn leaves, and in turn of lawn care: I should get ahold of Damien… I don’t have to go to the store this morning. I look forward to treating Aesop to his natural dog food. I could be tempted to go buy a Coca-Cola— but no. Caffeine gives me insomnia. By the way, I slept better last night. Today I’ll make some ice and have ice water rather than soda. At 11 o’clock or so I’ll move some more boxes out to the garage… The rest of the day can be spent reading Sense and Sensibility. Maybe take an hour to play my bass guitar. I feel disappointed that the situation with Ron and Mike fell through.
Quarter of nine. Tempted again by that Coke. But the reality is that the little market is losing quality. Or maybe my perception has changed. Probably both. I might go grab a Coke for old times’ sake, though this would be a delusion. The past can never be the present again except in imagination. Does history really repeat itself, or is that just human error? Right now I disagree with circular reasoning. The past stays in the past, and the rest is wish fulfillment. I wouldn’t even want to repeat events. Life would be boring that way… I could go to the store just to see some faces, and just to get out of the house… and get a Coke into the bargain.
Quarter after ten. I went to the salon and visited with Angela and Kim. Karen is away on family business until next Thursday, so it’s just the two of them. I asked Angela about her wedding, and she said they haven’t set a date. They want to have a big ceremony, but it’s expensive and there will be a lot of people. Also the Covid condition makes it difficult… Then I walked to the store and got my Coke. They’re replacing some counters and shelves, Michelle said. The weather today is still cooler, thank goodness. Aesop really enjoyed his new canned food. It was gone in a few seconds. And of course the Coca-Cola is divine.
At around ten o’clock I will go to the salon for Kim’s birthday party. Who can decline lemon meringue pie? I was able to get a little sleep last night, finally. Part of the “pressure” I was feeling arose from something that happened ten years ago. I had promised a friend that I would play music for his niece’s wedding which was to take place in August. But something went wrong with our friendship, mostly a difference of political opinions. It is odd how things that happened long ago can influence behavior in the present. Yesterday evening I relaxed by picking up Sense and Sensibility and reading the first five or six chapters. About nine years ago I reread Pride and Prejudice and discussed it with Kate, my old friend. Just now I remember how logical and even tempered Kate was; very realistic. The world, at the time, seemed to me very superstitious, so that my friend gave me an escape from the local people. Today, everyone I know is still touched by the same delusions, and the only person like me is myself. But this time I’m strong enough not to collapse under peer pressure to believe in spooks. My situation with the church is rather strange, for they still want me around no matter what I believe— or disbelieve. What I really hope for is a reconciliation of America with the rest of the world, especially the United Kingdom. We’ve lost our credibility with the motherland in the past four years, and my friendship with Kate was a casualty.
Eight o’clock. But it isn’t that I underestimate the friendships I currently have. I suppose every relationship has its no-go areas. The ideal would be to share everything in common, or at least the most important things. Alas that the world is not perfect; but who is it to be perfect for? No two people will agree on what is right for us all. Everything is relative to individual tastes… I anticipate a nice day ahead of me. The sky is blue again rather than white. The Austen will be fun to read, mainly because her thinking is quite gray, not black or white. She finds a way to unify opposites by means of plot structure, of interactions between characters. The music in my head is Debussy again, from Images pour Orchestre. It’s a cheerful sound, setting the tone for a day in the life.
Nine thirty five.
I’m pursuing a lead to a music jam. I talked with him once this morning. So far it’s not very promising because he doesn’t like white people music, and I can’t help being a white intellectual. I feel self conscious of my whiteness, which is blinding. Maybe he won’t call back. I’m not a racist at all, but I’m white and I like The Beatles… I fed Aesop and then tried to call Polly… It’s another sunny day today, but it won’t be so humid. I dreamed that my brother was an inpatient at a drug rehabilitation place, and I had gone to visit him. It would be my habit to see him once a week. I wish something like that would really happen.
Noon hour. I’ve spoken with the musician again, and also with Polly. The music thing will probably fizzle because I am sober, and most musicians do alcohol and weed. One way I can network for people is to go to a few AA meetings… He just called me back and said we’re on for Wednesday at two o’clock, so it’s true that mind reading doesn’t work. Now I’m looking forward to making some music this week. By a coincidence, his name is JP, like my old friend from a decade ago. I doubt if there are any mysterious parallels at work here, but it’s fun to entertain the thought.
One forty. I jammed on my white bass long enough to ensure that everything was there. I really hope it all works out for Wednesday. It’s been so long since I was a minstrel. That is the real purpose of music: to educate and humanize people, and make them feel good.
Five o five.
For what seemed hours I dreamed about an artificial paradise, probably one induced by alcohol or drugs. The most tangible part of the dream was holding a brown medicine bottle in my hands and removing the adhesive label. It contained some kind of elixir, but I didn’t want my parents to find out. I hid it in the medicine cabinet of the half bath. Throughout the dream I was thinking of “The Domain of Arnheim” by Poe and the “Artificial Paradises” of Mallarme. The setting was nocturnal and urban. Right now I hear “The Perfumes of the Night” by Debussy.
Nine o’clock. This is my oldest nephew’s birthday, but I won’t call him up. I’ve heard a lot of negative things reported of him by my brother. I also had a firsthand conflict with him three years ago over politics and this thing called net neutrality. That was the time I blew up at my sister on the phone… It isn’t very warm this morning. The furnace has been turning on to keep it 70 degrees. This fall I think it would be nice to be able to use my living room. So I’ll make it a project to get those boxes out of there and create some space. Do it little by little. The books I don’t use can go in the garage. I keep forgetting that this is my house, every square foot of it. I could even start my project today. I never did buy the beanbag chairs I wanted…
Quarter of noon. I participated in the Zoom meeting and during this I got another bite on my Craigslist ad. So I called the guy and left a message. This could be fun. Today feels to me like autumn, or rather a foretaste of fall. It’s beautiful out, hinting of the potential for something good. I’m reminded of Labor Day 2003, when I met JP and Dave the first time and we jammed in the Whitaker neighborhood. All of us were sober. I haven’t abandoned hope for music. It’s just a matter of the right time and place, and the kindness of the gods.
Quarter after one. I just finished reading North & South. I picked up on the element of the Second World War especially in “Sleeping Standing Up,” where Bishop suggests that the tanks are lost in the woods like Hansel and Gretel, with no way to find the “cottage.” The poem “Roosters” is packed with connotations of men and war and deserves another read. I really like “Seascape” for its dissension with orthodox religion, the character of heaven and hell. In “Monument,” she suggests that the wooden building of her self is “ecclesiastical,” perhaps more so than the conned words of the church. That’s what I glean from the first collection of poems. I think my favorite poem so far is “The Man-moth” because of the moth’s attraction to moonlight on one hand, and then the poem takes you to the subway. I’ll have to read it again…
For a moment it is silent as death in this room, as the air grows close and stifling, smothering. There’s nothing going on outside either. The silence is oppressive. Now, the refrigerator kicks on at last. There passes a car up my street. The market was nearly out of things for me to eat, but I bought chocolate chip mint ice cream for a treat. Soon it’ll be time to turn on the fan. Survival in the summer.