Mice and Men

Quarter after five.

The cocktail of meds I took last night really conked me out. I can’t even think about church today. Of course the sky is still black.

Eight o’clock.

Now it’s sunny out, but I still feel pretty crappy. I’m going to sit here for another half hour before my trip to the market. I’m tired and my brain hurts.

Nine ten. I peeked into my mailbox and found The American Scholar, the Kappa magazine. This might be rather interesting to look through. It’s definitely better than The Tribune News, though clearly it isn’t free. College was so long ago, and I went there on my mother’s money. I was too young to make decisions for myself; I had no clue what I was doing there, and even if so, my best laid schemes went wrong. When I read The Fountainhead, I believed I had a rosy future, and good fortune would fall into my lap. But then the very faculty of reason betrayed me: you don’t have a future without logic. My best friend of eleven years turned on me when I fell ill because he couldn’t accept the change in my thinking. He passed away eight years later, still feeling jaded and bitter. I should’ve been a great musician and composer; but no: there is no “should” in this life, or not according with my will. I don’t beat myself up for it now. You do what you can, and that is all… The sky is brilliant and dazzling white. I thought I noticed a little smoke in the air when I left the house this morning. Heather said some nice things to me. She had actually missed me at seven o’clock, thinking I might not make it today. She said her trip to DC was amazing, and she wasn’t used to the workaday grind now. I was a half hour late getting Aesop his breakfast. He bore it very patiently. And by now, church is getting kickstarted without me to see it. 

Is Rock Dead?

Four thirty.

I slept okay but I think I’m done now. Unbidden, the old song by The Beatles comes to me, written by John for Brian Epstein: “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” It’s more an attack on culture than on his friend, so the title is actually ironic. It raises the question why… Yesterday I had doubts about my participation in rock music. But right now, on the contrary, I’d be stupid to do anything else. Speaking of The Beatles, my mother was a fan, though in the closet with it. Her own mother found the band disgraceful, and her daughter fell in with her opinion. Why was my mother the family pariah? In my estimation, she was far more intelligent than my sister, and probably for this reason she had a difficult time making friends. I wonder why it is that the very best of us get derailed into a self destructive pattern? But she pinned all her hopes on me when I was growing up, perhaps a bit too much pressure for me to handle. Still, I don’t want to let her down, even twenty years after her death… Therefore, it’s rock and roll till I die— or until rock and roll itself is dead, which is a real possibility given these circumstances. Yet like the Ark of the Covenant or the Olympic flame, someone keeps the dream alive and safe.

Five thirty. The sky is bloodless over the treetops across the street. A cadaverous gray. The store doesn’t open until seven on weekends. Not really looking forward to hearing from my sister; maybe we can skip it this week. A mournful train horn sounds in the distance to the southwest alongside Northwest Expressway. I used to know a guy who stowed away on a freight car and rode it all the way from Portland to Eugene. I wish I were so adventuresome. But this guy’s dad was a rich timber consultant, so his poverty had a silver spoon tucked in it… The crows wake up east of me. Squirrel prances on the roof of my house. And now I just await my friend’s email… 

Desperado

I wonder if my Kerouac book has arrived yet? I’ll have to spend cash for my food after yesterday. My stamps are down to almost nothing.

Seven forty. I ran into my neighbor Colin on the way back from Community Market. We agree on the Greenhouse Effect as the cause of the heatwave, and for this, human beings are responsible. I think it’s very strange how many people are in denial about that. Nobody seems to trust our scientists, or not until it’s too late. The world is in a huge pickle on a lot of dimensions. Faith not in God but in the human spirit can help us find a solution to these problems. But only when we claim responsibility can we be effective in making changes. A microcosm of the ecology might be the case of alcoholism in an individual. He stops his suicide by taking responsibility for the consequences of drinking. How is it any different at the macro level? It takes cooperation with each other but we can do it. We’re killing ourselves but no one believes it— and that’s the problem with both situations. There’s nothing cool about self destruction, so why do we pretend otherwise?

I believe there’s church today. I’m not going. 

The Dawning: a Letter

Just a report from the wee hours of the night. I’ll be honest with you, it’s pretty terrible here. Aesop can’t stop panting and I can’t stop sweating. Outside it’s 75 degrees now but there’s no breath of air; inside it’s 86 degrees still. The forecasters are saying 111 degrees for Sunday. The worst part of this is that the summer is only beginning. Unlike you, I can’t be in denial when things are bad. I do what I can to help the situation but I don’t lie and say everything is peachy. Acceptance just is what it is. Pretense is against my nature. However, on a lighter note, I’ve thought on what the Age of Aquarius might portend for humanity today. A few weeks ago I rode with a cabbie who told me his first record in childhood was the 45 rpm of Hair’s “Aquarius” which I also remembered. Well, we’re twenty years into the Age of Aquarius now, and Capricorn progressed to Aquarius is supposed to see some changes in character.

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars ✨

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius!


I have another story about the same song. On the blackboard of a classroom in the Knight Library during spring term of 1989 someone had written the full lyric to “Aquarius.” A student sitting nearby saw it and assumed it was Shakespeare! So of course I corrected her.

It may be worth some astrological research to learn more about the effects of the new age on human behavior currently. As you know, my constitution has a weakness for the zodiac. And by the way, the Seventh House is Libra, the sign of peace and partnership, symbolized by the scales.

Foresight

Seven thirty.

I didn’t sleep very much. I had nightmares that didn’t make much sense. Two things are stressing me out: my appointment with Rebecca and then my shot tomorrow morning at Bi Mart. I was up last night from about one o’clock to three thirty, working on my blank book. Right now my writing looks like random gibberish but eventually a pattern will probably emerge from the whole. Lately I’ve been feeling lonely and not very happy. Is it too much to wish for a girlfriend in my life?

Quarter after nine. The appointment with Rebecca was very short. Then I went out for the daily foodstuffs. Michelle appeared to be in a weird mood, kind of distracted by something. I was already feeling rather guilty over this and that, so this colored my perception of events around me. Moods tend to do that. A shaft of sun illuminates my backyard as an airline jet warbles across the sky. The future is a big unknown that is hard to face, yet I have no choice but to go forward. I try to make good decisions. Sometimes I am guided only by my feelings, and these don’t lie. When I feel resentment about something, or a sense of injustice, usually there’s a reason for it. I stand up and call baloney on things that don’t make sense. And when I feel free and clear of guilt and other worries, life is really pleasant. I’m still learning the ABC of sobriety. It isn’t easy to navigate life without alcohol, and I’ve seen some very bizarre things since I quit drinking. It seems that the strangeness of life is relentless, and foresight is never perfect. 

Exile

Seven twenty five. Today ought to be lighter duty than yesterday. Only my phone appointment with Heidi this afternoon. I want my Snapples, so I’ll get to the market pretty soon. I rescheduled with Rebecca yesterday because I just wasn’t feeling up for talking about hiring a helper. Late last night I texted with Mike for an hour. Today I just want to be myself, and with Heidi I can do exactly that.

Eight twenty. It was quite early, so I met with very few people out of the house. It’s sunny now, contrary to the weather forecast. I’m already looking forward to music this Saturday. I really like to play, to jam, to lock with the drummer and make a groove pocket. It’s nice when the barrier of language is overcome and the music takes over. I hope I feel up to it after my vaccination on Thursday… Michelle wore her pink Tom and Jerry shirt today, and the distributors were just arriving. There was nothing out of the ordinary this morning. I felt the urge to pretend that the past was similar to today, to sort of dwell in nostalgia, but I resisted this and walked in the door. The past has certainty to recommend it, whereas the present is still in the making— and I’m part of the creative process of history. Everyone is. It’s a scary responsibility… The forecast missed the mark, for it’s still clear blue sky. Nobody knows what the future holds.

Nine twenty five. Most people want to repeat pleasant experiences. When we get burned, we avoid the hot stove. Alcoholism is a pleasure dome, a Xanadu away from reality. And when you leave Eldorado, there’s no way back to the same bliss. The Golden Age is far behind us. We were expelled from Eden. All of these names refer to the same utopia. 

Coiling for the Spring

Quarter of seven.

It’s going to be partly cloudy today. The horizon to the east is red, as in the old proverb. After eight o’clock I have to make a couple of phone calls. Heidi is scheduled to call me this afternoon, but I doubt that she’ll be able to make it. I have something happening every day this week. Last night my thoughts turned to the old behaviorist B.F. Skinner, who denied that free will is real. He was also an atheist, so I naturally compare him to David Hume the skeptic. Even Sartre had difficulty with the basis for human freedom when he wrote The Flies. It had to have been given us by God, but people have the freedom to reject him. It’s quite a head scratcher how free will is supported and where it came from. If not for metaphysics, humans would be entirely subject to the deterministic universe, and therefore not free. The Ancient Greek tragedians knew intuitively that human beings are free and also fated by the gods. I should pick up Aeschylus and read about Orestes and Electra, or else give up the whole intellectual wild goose chase for a while… Tomorrow my new bass is coming, probably by FedEx. This should take my mind off philosophy for a day. I guess I’ll go to the store pretty soon. But if I wait a while, then I’ll have more stuff to choose from.

Nine twenty five. I got my morning tasks out of the way. I don’t really have anything inspiring to say lately, nothing poetic or uplifting; maybe it’s time for a change for me? It might be kind of cool to work again; I used to like proofreading for Gutenberg from 2013 to around 2017. I feel my mind shifting to a more technical mode, but I should still be able to make music with my friends. It’s hard to nail down exactly what I feel and to predict where I’ll go next. Partly I don’t even know where I’ve been in the past; and the future is unreadable as yet. I have no idea what’s coming. But I do sense that the blogging community has changed— or rather stayed the same while the world is on the move, and me with it… I have a busy week. A lot of people to contact each day. How did this happen? Yet it’s a good sign; it means my life is healing and I can look forward to better things… I hear birdsongs in my backyard as the springtime flowers with full force. The maple tree and the oak are leafing out in front and back. Painful memories of my last girlfriend float to the surface, and I illogically wish I could get her back into my life. Other fish in the sea, as they say. And you can’t hurry love. 

In and out of Time

Noon hour. I just jammed on the bass guitar for an hour. This cloudy day makes me think of early summers in junior high school, or late spring. I can’t believe how bright everything is, how vital and resonant. Maybe it’s just me who is full of love of life recently, and of hope for better things in the future. Right now it’s super quiet in the room and everywhere else. It’s very strange when this happens; like I’m the only human being alive on earth. It will be a lonely afternoon again today, unless I decide to go to Bi Mart. I guess I’ll do some housework after a bit. While playing the bass, I copied the line for “Invisible Sun” by The Police, a song that always gives me goosebumps. It takes me back to my sophomore year in high school, when the future was unlimited, and yet my vocabulary was inadequate to compass my experience of life. Maybe it was this innocence that made life seem so boundless and infinite, like I could live forever. I bought Ghost in the Machine on vinyl a year after it was released. I still think it’s a better record than Synchronicity because it’s more groove oriented… I didn’t know how to think when I was 15 years old. It must’ve been an odd mode of existence, being so green and inexperienced, nonverbal and inarticulate. Language gives me a handle on things and events, a feeling of having control and power over situations. Otherwise I’d be just a passive leaf in the wind. Or maybe we’re all merely leaves in the wind anyway? Except for a few geniuses who move and shake the world. Sometimes it takes more than genius; it takes money to legislate what people do and think… I really hope the band I’m in can be a modest success here locally, and maybe get some radio airplay. Notoriety around town can be a good thing. The three of us are all around 50 years old, but not too old to have ambition. Whether we win or lose, we’ll still be having fun in the endeavor. 

Impecunious

After eleven o’clock this morning I headed out on foot to Bi Mart to pick up my cholesterol medication. On the way I passed the plot of land where my old elementary school had been torn down. Not one stick of it remains standing, and a sign says the new high school will be built by 2023, thanks to Eugene voters. It’s a little ironic that I voted for the new school, but I didn’t know that they’d be demolishing Silver Lea Elementary, where I attended during the 1970s. Also, doing this forced the resident Japanese immersion school out and into the building for Colin Kelly middle school over on Howard Avenue, a distance of a mile or two from Silver Lea. So I walked by the field of dirt enclosed by a chain link fence and thought of how the world was running down. People set their minds on the future without considering that nature may not be able to sustain human life someday soon. My grandnephew’s wife is pregnant with their second baby, and I ask myself why on earth would anybody want to bear children at a time like this. Even Polly thought the same thing. Travis and Riley must not be very smart, but I’m not surprised at that. Another sign that bothers me is just the quality of the sunlight in our atmosphere that has definitely changed since I can remember. The sun shouldn’t be as bright as it now is, and especially not at the end of March. Things are not the same anymore, not at all promising for our future. And then there is Pastor’s selfish concern for his church on more than one level. I don’t really understand the politics of the synod and the larger Lutheran church, but there’s a lot of money involved.

Then I continued on to the Bi Mart on River Road and observed the people wearing their silly masks. My prescription cost me nothing, and then I sat down on the bench outside the walk up window to gather my strength for the walk back home. Life all around me seemed like such a desert, everybody so scared and also so sterile and isolated from each other. After resting up, I went home the same way I came. The lyric to “Nights in White Satin” came to me:

Gazing at people, some hand in hand
Just what I’m going through they can’t understand
Some try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend
Just what you want to be you will be in the end

The Moody Blues. When I got home I crashed out for an hour from fatigue. Later I did some writing in my blank book, but no reading today. I discovered that I’d like to drink beer in order to feel more human again. But I’m strong and brave enough to gut it out every day and stay sober. Close to five o’clock I took another nap until about nine.

And I guess that was my day. Please pardon my pessimism today regarding the future of human life on earth. But there’s no way to flip back the calendar and turn back the clock. This is the world we created, so now we’re stuck with it. And the cause of our demise has been short sighted self interest, our greed for more and more for ourselves and the ones we care about.

Bucket of Ashes

Seven thirty.

It is just now sunrise. Another four days have gone by, which means I have to buy dog food again. At eight o’clock I’ll head out. As I said before, I no longer need a disguise. I’m a decent bass player but I’m not a rockstar; just a guy who has a skill. For our next practice I’ll use my kit bass, the one I built myself.

Eight forty. It’s super cold outside. A few other customers were ahead of me in line at checkout. I thought a little ruefully about the past, before the market became more sophisticated and mass production. It seems less personal this way, with computerized registers and the surveillance system, and the staff having to watch what they say. Less personal and less romantic. More regimented, like an assembly line or part of a vast factory, industrial and soulless. But I cleaned my mental slate, thinking on the adventure of the present and future. I began my sobriety with the attitude that “the past is a bucket of ashes,” and accordingly a kind of indeterminism that refutes Freud. This got my recovery underway. On Sunday morning we’re having church again, at a capacity for 26 people. In spite of everything, we must plow our way ahead with what is important to us. Nothing is more important to me than sobriety. On this, everything else stands or falls.

Nine forty. Each new day wears a different aspect, and no two days are alike. When you erase the past, anything in the future is possible, and determinism collapses like a house of cards. That is the meaning of freedom and positive change.