My ride is coming for me in a half hour or so, and I’m feeling nervous about that. I’m doing a good thing for myself but I feel guilty for it. It might be because of my dog and his moods, as silly as that sounds. But I never do anything for me anymore. Just this once I’m splurging and spoiling myself with a trip to the bookstore. I feel as if some catastrophe could happen to me today just because I’m being selfish for a change. Funny how that works. It’s like belief in karma or something. But it doesn’t make any sense.
Here I am at the bookstore, sitting down in the cafe. I feel like an outsider and almost unwelcome, maybe because I never come here. I bought one book from the philosophy section by William Barrett. Now I’m just people watching and trying to relax. Very strange to just hang out by myself at a table, an old guy who never goes out or does anything for fun. Everyone is a total stranger. But I’m stuck here until one o’clock, when my return ride comes for me. A lot of these people are well dressed and professional.
The ride home was fun; I shared it with another passenger, and the driver was very nice. When we approached my house, the sun was shining right on the yellow side of it, as if on a pot of gold. By the way, the title of my book purchase is Irrational Man, and it’s a study of existentialism. But I probably picked it for its symbolic significance, and the absurdity of just hanging out at Barnes & Noble for an hour. Still, it was worth it for the stimulation from the people I saw.
I feel much better now than I did before four o’clock today. I knew I felt well enough to play my G&L bass, so I did that for an hour or more, and then I sat down and analyzed my feelings in writing, concluding that therapy is not for me. It was like throwing a millstone off my shoulders, and immediately I felt better. I think I’m capable of navigating my own ship. Sometime this month I want to take my other bass guitar to a technician for modification. I have the part I want to install already: a Di Marzio Model P hum bucking pickup with ceramic magnets. I love these pickups for their milky tone and high output. I hope the weather cooperates next week so I can walk over to the bank to cash my check. This will be my transportation money. I think everything will work out just fine.
Until now I’d forgotten how I love January, and you know, it doesn’t matter if I get mystical with the zodiac; I might take a peek at my new astrology book, indulge my curiosity and contemplate the thing called fate, even like Thomas Hardy, once my favorite novelist.
I jammed on my G&L bass for a while. The snow was so bright that I didn’t have to turn the light on in the room. Out the window I could see Victoria sweeping her car of snow. A lot more people are coming out today to drive or walk around. They talk together in raised voices as if excited. When I was out on the sidewalk I heard this lyric: “The moments seemed lost in all the noise / A snowstorm, a stimulating voice / And rest for the day / With cold in the way.” During the time I played my bass, I moved the switch to the center to tap all the pole pieces, giving me a full range of tone. Sounds great, but I need someone else to play with. I expect two packages today and tomorrow, but the one coming by mail might be delayed… I can’t believe it’s only two thirty. But our daylight will be spent in another two hours. I don’t know if my little Rumble 25 is reparable or not. I may have to get a new amp for church, which doesn’t break my heart at all. There are some really nice combo amps for bass for a bit more money. Although, I don’t want to leave it in the sacristy all the time to be disused.
Some very old music rises to my consciousness by the Ray Brown Orchestra. He was an amazing bass player, and hardly anyone realizes that he could play electric bass as well as acoustic upright. The tone of his Fender Precision would melt in your mouth and he was all over it with his huge hands… Amazon had one more copy of the music I wanted in stock— so I snagged it. It arrives on my birthday.
I was out very early this morning. I caught the sickle moon waxing in the east through a chink in the rosy clouds; would have taken a picture, but I knew it wouldn’t have turned out good. A neighbor on Fremont Avenue flies a blue flag saying “Let’s go Brandon,” and today I finally looked up the meaning of this. But I could have predicted it pretty much. Inside the store, an old Toto song was playing on the radio, so I asked Michelle if she liked them. She didn’t sound very enthused about the band. I commented that they were extremely tight as a group, sort of like Michael Jackson in his heyday. Her interest waned even further… Last night I got an email back from Pastor regarding my resignation; he said he’d been kind of expecting it. But we’re on friendly terms at least, and we may have a meetup to discuss it. Yesterday overall was a bizarre day, with human connections being quite difficult for me. Things just weren’t syncing up very well. Right now the daylight is growing, showing the sky gray out my eastern window. Aesop’s moods seem mostly rather bored. He’s only interested in snack foods and he balks at eating his breakfast. When I get up the nerve I’ll try walking him around the block a few times to spark his zest for life again. It appears that everyone around the world needs a jumpstart in their lives today. They need something more than the holiday shopping frenzy and other hoopla. They need the next Beatlemania.
Quarter of six.
Like a stroke of luck, about a week ago my Wittgenstein book showed up in a box of other books, lying face down on top. The event was so providential that I blurted thank God, then corrected myself when I realized my contradiction. So far I haven’t dared to attempt reading it, though I made it through the introduction by Bertrand Russell. I’ve wanted to find the Tractatus ever since sampling from another book of logical positivism, where it is said that the movement was inspired by Wittgenstein… Also I found the motivation to finally install the Badass bass bridge on my white Fender. Now it sounds quite prodigious. And I’ve resolved to pursue music again and to enjoy my life, hoping that other people will follow my example rather than living in fear of sickness and death. Lately during bass guitar practice I play a song by the Chili Peppers called “Savior,” from their 1999 CD. It’s fun to pick out Flea bass lines from the older stuff. I’ve decided that life is all about having fun whenever possible, or it’s all for nothing: another reason I’m leaving the church. I don’t subscribe to the idea of kingdom come; I cannot accept that kind of pessimism about earthly life: and that’s my final answer.
Quarter of ten.
I’ve gotten back some of my confidence and motivation since yesterday. It only took actually doing something: working up my nerve and getting out of the house to do something different. I’d been stuck in a bad cycle, never doing anything for me, and beating myself up. It’s okay to have some fun and forget about the pandemic. Without pleasure and happiness, life is for nothing. Be selfish for a change and spread a little happiness around you. I disregard what St Paul said about self regard; Plato’s position on this is more useful. It’s important to respect yourself, for if you don’t, then it’s a recipe for depression and ill health. So, yesterday I indulged in a little fun, and the sky didn’t fall. It’s a mistake to think that our duty is to feel depressed. The very opposite is true to keep us sane and healthy… It’s a beautiful sunny morning in October. The leaves on the trees are changing, and today I’m living in the here and now, with some anticipation of the future. However, the past is not a bucket of ashes, because our past achievements give us confidence to achieve even more good things. It’s a series of ups and downs with no finish line.
Ten thirty five. It is possible to be selfish and generous simultaneously. Being selfish doesn’t necessarily mean hoarding or thieving, coveting, or whatever. It means being prudent and using your own judgment. You take care of your own needs first, and then help others to their particular happiness. Trying to be selfless is really to be soulless, and a soulless person is no use to anybody. And everyone’s happiness is something different and peculiar to them. So, a collective eudaemonia makes no sense. “One law for the lion and ox is oppression.”
Quarter of six.
The store will open shortly. I need my morning tea for a pick me up. I feel tired and sore from what I did yesterday. Think I’ll just go ahead and go now…
Quarter of seven. Michelle and the guy from the dairy were tallying items ordered against those received when I walked in. I headed straight for the dog treats, then got the usual stuff for me. Even as I write, Aesop has fallen back to sleep. It’s been an oddball week for us both, but on the other hand there’s no normal anymore. If we practice tomorrow, it’ll be earlier in the day due to the expected heat. The times today are very hard for everybody. Ron said a couple of times that he anticipates a revival of Roman decadence and hedonism to compensate for the pandemic. I wouldn’t mind that, actually. The world doesn’t get enough of the joy of living. Seize the day before the day seizes us. Somewhere, unpublished, a few people are probably doing audacious things, like having dangerous liaisons, staking everything and going for broke. According to smart writers like James Joyce, pursuing passion is the right thing to do. Right now, the world is in a state of paralysis little different from his Dublin a century ago… I think that people nowadays have spiritualized themselves out of living a fulfilling life in the here and now. What will it take to shake us awake?
Eight o’clock. So I hope Ron is right about the Roman revival. I didn’t read Edward Gibbon, but I know his thrust. Decadent morals brought about the collapse of the Roman Empire, therefore any civilization needs a measure of rational restraint to ensure its longevity. However, Shakespeare suggested that order is restored after people take a good holiday…
I only heard about the Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon this morning. Apparently it’s been going on for some time. That’s my reward for not watching television or going to church: I’m out of the information loop… It seems like I feel terrible every day now. My right foot pops when I put all my weight on it, as if it had a stress fracture. I need to make the pleasures of life outweigh the pains to feel happier, or else existence is a burden. Tough luck, I guess. There are things money can’t buy, including your health and wellness in some degree. The joy that keeps me going is my rock band, without which I’d have nothing. The summer drags on way too long with no sign of rain on the horizon. “When April with its sweet showers / The drought of March has pierced to the root…” But we didn’t get much rain in April. I’m just feeling depressed with the state of the world. It appears to be on the brink of collapse. Consequently, people need more parties, more fun while it’s still possible to have a good time.
Quarter after nine. Big white clouds roll in, darkening the sun and keeping it cooler. My raspberry tea was good, and Aesop liked his turkey and pea breakfast. Tomorrow I get to visit with Heidi in her office at the agency; for this reason my mood is lifting a little… I was just looking at the anatomy of the human foot: much more complex than I knew. My foot doesn’t hurt, but just pops under pressure. Well, I could complain about a score of little things that bother me, while there’s one thing that pleases me most, and that is making music. Is it an exaggeration to say that music may be our salvation?
Ever since Sunday I’ve been worried about Pastor’s reticence regarding my rock band. This silence tends to make me imagine all sorts of things that may be blown out of proportion to reality. In the first place, I can’t figure out why his opinion means so much to me. It’s as if his approval were the ultimate judgment on the quality of the music, especially its spiritual goodness or badness. So then I have to remind myself that Pastor is just a human being, not a god or even a saint. Maybe he’s just concerned that I might be tempted to use drugs with the other guys and mess up my life?… I didn’t notice much on my excursion to the store today. It’s cloudy right now. I bought Aesop two peanut butter bones for a special treat. I’m not so afraid now that I will lose my sobriety, so when I go into the market, the place feels rather dull and insignificant to me. It is simply where I get something to eat every day and chat a bit with Michelle. The old excitement associated with the store is gone. The only thing that gives me a thrill now is playing music in the band, and I anticipate it all week. Intellectual gymnastics don’t interest me as much as they used to. I still like good books, though perhaps something a little lighter than heavy old classics. Dunno; I’m just figuring myself out while the times keep changing and developing into new things. Now it’s time to feed my dog.
I had a great time yesterday with Ron and Mike. We held practice at five o’clock and it was a sunny evening. My old Aria bass through the Fender amp ground out a beefy tone, kind of aggressive, but perfect for our music. I described our sound to a friend as unsubtle and often dissonant but with a beat that gets you moving. It is probably more rock than jazz because the keyboard is sometimes fuzzed and gritty. Ron said his influence is more Keith Emerson than Rick Wakeman, hence visceral and raw as opposed to refined. I think we do pretty well as a trio of keyboards, drums, and bass guitar. One of the songs we did yesterday was “Bubble House,” in which I have to take a solo on bass in G minor, not one of my better keys. But I hacked my way through it and came out sounding reasonably good. Before and after rehearsal I got a lift from the other guys. Now I owe Ron a book of John Berryman, so next time I’ll bring him The Dream Songs. The sunny weather continues this morning. At the market I bought a peach Snapple tea in honor of my friend who did the same thing yesterday. My cattle dog seems happy that I’ll be home all day today: no engagements at all.