A Debt

Nine ten AM.

The sunshine this morning is very nice, though it’s extremely cold with a frost on everything. I slept in today and woke up in a better mood. I’ve gone to the store where people were fairly pleasant and polite to each other. It feels like a diurnal time somehow rather than benighted in a melancholy mood. Credit the sunny day, I guess. Aesop has had a half can of breakfast followed by his chicken jerky from the market. I keep forgetting it’s Saturday and church is tomorrow: I have an impulse to skip it because I can’t agree with the pastor’s collectivism, or his emphasis on the rights of society over the individual. A great drama on that topic is The Crucible by Arthur Miller, which I read again 13 years ago. It’s probably time to read it yet again for fresh inspiration… The thought of it reminds me of a teacher from high school, Mrs Taylor, who passed away some time ago. I heard of it only afterwards when I walked into my old school out of curiosity or wanderlust five years in the past. The doors were open, so I let myself in and made my way to the office and spoke with the secretaries. The news made me sad because I would’ve looked up my old teacher and let her know she was appreciated. In a way, I owe her for my recovery. 


The Weather; a Savior

Midnight hour.

As the afternoon drew upon three o’clock, I got the jonesing for a Coke so I checked the forecast which was clear of rainfall until five. Then I put on a light black jacket and took my chances. I got almost to Fremont when I turned for a look at the reddening trees and the sky full of huge muscular clouds. It drizzled on me a little bit although some blue sky still showed. I made it to the market without incident except to compliment Deb on her aquamarine dress, saying she always had a flair for picking flattering colors. The way home also was uneventful, but I observed the piles of leaves on Steve’s curbside. People are such islands to each other these days; I encountered nobody outdoors. I’d gotten myself settled back in the house with my phone in hand when the rain like hell broke loose. You know it’s raining hard if you see the rebounds bouncing up two feet from the ground. It kept doing this for ten minutes, finally slackening enough to let Aesop out to do his business. I reflected a little grimly that I had just missed the cloudburst; however, Oregon weather is capricious like that, and entirely unpredictable. By contrast, the interior of my house was very warm and cosy.

Two thirty five AM.

I guess I don’t have anything important to share when I resort to the weather to make a post. The reader feels like saying so what. But they say that no news is good news, and uneventful is better than unpleasant surprises. Sometimes it’s nice to appreciate the comforts of home and the security that we usually take for granted: imagine being a homeless person with no income, no education, and no hope. Homelessness could’ve happened to me with my addiction. My world was falling apart while I dreamed away on Cloud Nine, a fool’s paradise in a beer bottle cathedral. It makes me wonder what intervened to save me: could it have been myself, from a tiny inner voice that screamed for attention?

Jane Austen & Cognitive Therapy

I’ve picked up Sense and Sensibility where I left off some time ago. It really hits the spot. Austen definitely favors Elinor over Marianne, and she is the rational figure of the two. It again makes me wonder why the original cognitive therapy has been abandoned by our therapists today. For schizophrenia, there’s no better treatment than something rational and realistic, since the illness is imagination run amok. It never made sense to treat it with religion, as homeopathic remedies don’t work. And there’s nothing wrong with the patient’s character or morals. It is a terribly superstitious way to try to help a person. Not enough is known about schizophrenia, but it ought to be the jurisdiction of science and medicine and not of religion and psychology, as I keep saying.

I was misguided when I joined the church, but then my psychiatrist had his own problems, so it’s just as well I left his care. Now I have a lot of people for support rather than just one or two people. I’m thankful to them and also I think it’s indispensable to advocate for yourself.

One word I think characterizes Austen more than anything else: she is the embodiment of prudence.

Yellow Things

Six o’clock.

The temperature has dropped quite a bit so the climate feels like fall. Accordingly my brain feels the change and my thoughts will be something different from the summer. Hours ago I had a very sharp recollection of living in Salem with my parents in 1970. My mother would take me with her to the bank and the grocery store and I was three years old. We had a Christmas at the “brown house” on Buena Vista Street. My brother was there and maybe his girlfriend. She gave me a music box that played Brahms’s lullaby… Two or three years later for Christmas, my mother gave me a stern lecture about selfishness, so I felt miserable on Christmas Day. Still, this reproach didn’t effect a change in my personality; I kept being an egoist as the years went by. Today, I don’t see what difference it makes. It seems to me that blowing away your ego blows away your humanity. For there to be happiness, there has to be a self to feel it. A nirvana existence would be a living death. Pastor’s collectivist sermons have no soul.

Seven thirty.

It’s sunny today, but so chilly I had to wear a light jacket on my walk. I saw one woman on foot crossing Maxwell Road behind me. Another woman was a customer at the store and had a bright yellow Mustang. I asked Lisa if inflation was ever going to come down again and she shook her head. So I said that our incomes would have to go up to match the cost of living. When I observed the yellow car in the lot I felt outclassed and kind of wimpy, but usually I’m pretty content with what I’ve got. I wouldn’t do anything different if I had the decision to make over again. After all, I still have a bright yellow house. 


Seven forty.

I’m in my living room, a place of blue carpet no longer cluttered with boxes of books and stuff, thanks to my PCA and the agencies that made everything possible. I don’t know if there’s an Agency beyond the human ones; does it matter? Like every morning, I walked around the corner to the convenience store to get the daily groceries for me and my dog. The early hour explains why I met with hardly anyone. My life makes a pretty dull story, but I’m actually thankful for the humdrum of my existence. Things can always be worse than they are. I tell Aesop it’s 15 minutes to his breakfast and he understands and accepts. We’re having a very mild summer, mercifully. Sometimes good fortune seems to be dumped in my lap, and when this happens, I try to appreciate what I have. Kicking down the sidewalk of Maxwell Road, I heard a song by Yes called “Looking Around.” And for a timeless interval I knew the essence of the music, a suspension like satori, a nirvana that didn’t have to end.

Time Flies / No Complaints

Seven thirty five AM.

There’s a reprieve from the wind and rain of yesterday and last night. Outdoors I saw tree debris scattered all over the streets. Also I noticed for the first time that a lawn on Fremont Avenue had gone completely to seed. The grass was so tall that it was lying sideways with the blades tipped like little spears. I wonder what the situation is with that, though it’s not my business. The same house is where I observed the white truck with Confederate flag license plates in January a year ago. And on the street in front of the house someone had sprayed “gay” one time. Very strange. So I ambled up the sidewalk to market and went in. I encountered a young lady who had a pleasant face and like a klutz I blurted, “Hi!— how are you?” She smiled politely and returned the greeting. The delivery came through yesterday, so I grabbed two deli items; but the distributor didn’t say what happened to the missing driver… The little store has changed so much in three years. Sometimes I think of Michelle, now someplace in Wyoming. She’s only been gone since March: two months ago, but it seems like longer than that. Who knows a month from a year anymore? I entertained the idea of going to church this morning, but those people are too paranoid of Covid and I’m still throwing off a cold. Besides, I don’t feel like singing hymns today or any day. The church was there when I needed it, when it counted, and I’m grateful for that.

Quarter of nine. When he’s in the mood for it, Aesop likes me to pet him. I couldn’t have picked a better dog than him for intelligence and devotion. He is day and night different from the pug I owned ten years ago. He guards the fort and keeps me safe. I don’t even have to lock the front door when I leave the house. Blue heelers are an amazing breed. Aesop is one more reason why I can’t complain about my life.

Having, Having Not

Eight ten.

Heather just told me she had given her two weeks’ notice to the market for her resignation. She wants to dedicate more time to her salon, and also she can make more money that way. My own finances are very squeaky this winter, with hardly anything for extras. I don’t know how good of a job the current administration is doing for the disabled, particularly the mentally ill. I saw an article saying that the president has a blind spot for that. If writing is power, then I need all of the power I can get… The sun is already burning off the fog and it should be a sunny day. What I really want is the rhetorical muscularity of a Victor Hugo, a pompous Romantic voice to grab people’s attention. There’s a lot of us living in “misery” today, people with hardly a means to express their plight. It just feels like such a trap. But then I ought to feel thankful for my free time to do as I wish, poverty aside. Life is never perfect. For every gain there’s a loss somewhere. The law of conservation.

Perhaps you’re only as poor as you feel, and true wealth is wisdom. One’s situation can always be much worse. Content yourself with what you have. 

Another Thanksgiving

Quarter after six.

At some point today I want to pick up my Snapple empties and bag them. This is grunt work that I hate, but I’m lucky that my life is not drudgery like that of many people, including my family. They have an antipathy for books and everything intellectual, despising what they don’t understand. This Christmas Eve for me is like another Thanksgiving, and the thing I’m grateful for is being the smart person I am. There’s an old cliché that goes like this: Which would you rather be, dumb and happy or smart and sad? It’s the same as saying that ignorance is bliss. But I think I disagree. Intellectual work is a lot more pleasant than manual labor, and overall, the life of the mind is a wonderful thing. So today I’ll make a start on the Snapple bottles and bless every moment I get to spend using my brain. Another thing. As students in junior high school, my friends and I used to play chess in the library. Often, a bully would come along and knock all the pieces over from sheer incomprehension and resentment. It was a symbolic scene that still goes on in the present day at some level. What can we offer the bullies now except a little music to soothe their feelings? Meanwhile I move on to celebrate the beautiful things in my life. 

Seven Heroes

Eleven thirty at night.

The rain is as hectic as my day was today; it’s dumping down my duties outside. Wednesday has been a time to orchestrate the rest of the week, with five or six phone calls, a text message, and a visit from Damien to do yard work. Only now do I have some time to sit back and think a little about life. At least two people were very heroic in helping me out today. Darcy saved me from going without my medication for the next two weeks; I just need to go pick up the free samples. The dispatcher at Oregon Taxi was open to having Aesop ride with them to his appointment Friday morning. And finally, Damien came over and braved the rain and the nightfall to clear away the oak and maple leaves. That’s three people. The fourth person was a newbie at the call center for RideSource just learning her job. Also the UPS driver delivered my books to me in the pouring down rain after darkness fell. Sixth and seventh are Michelle at the little convenience store and my cattle dog Aesop, who provide a great service to me every day. Service like this makes the world go around, while the best I can do is to thankfully write about it.