Lose one, gain one. I looked for an old copy of Stephen Crane but could find it nowhere in the house, so I concluded that I gave it away to a friend and later forgot it. In the process of searching, I found an Ian Fleming book I thought was lost. From Russia with Love was a novel I read forty years ago in the summer, and then my mother decided to reread it as well. After that, she revisited the whole series of James Bond, leaving me in the dust. The last Fleming I finished was Diamonds Are Forever, just as I was starting high school.
How interesting if I could tap the psychology of myself when I was 15 years old. At the time I lacked the words to identify my feelings and thoughts, though I know I was growing more sensitive and perhaps a bit depressed moving into high school. I think I was ambivalent regarding music, because it was a huge relief to drop the school band program as a junior. Now I don’t remember how that came about or whose decision it was. I believe maybe it was mine, but my mother disapproved strongly. My health dictated something else. She cried when the doctor said I had mononucleosis. He kept me out of school for five weeks and put me on horse pills of erythromycin. Mom felt so badly that she made me oatmeal several times daily. I played a lot of Phoenix on my Atari setup, which messed with my vision. A girl from school called me on the phone a few times. I felt awkward and didn’t know what to say.
My phase of Edgar Rice Burroughs ended after tenth grade; I never finished Tarzan and the Madman, the 23rd in the series. I didn’t feel like a hero anymore. Life became more complicated than good guys and bad guys. The heroes themselves could show weakness and melancholy, or perhaps I was the one who changed. My reading changed to match my self concept. Eventually the hero thing dissolved totally.
Still it would be cool to have another peek at From Russia with Love. I had a wonderful time during the summer when I first read it. My friends and I played Rush tunes in Pleasant Hill, and we were really pretty good. For a time I felt I was on top of the world. I guess disappointment is inevitable but you have to get up again sooner or later. Sometimes it’s later.
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.
About four hours ago I found myself writing of WW2, or more specifically of Hitler and his intention of creating a super race of “Aryans,” a sort of elitism gone way wrong. I remembered his reactions to track athlete Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games, this Black man who embarrassed Hitler’s Aryan runners, leaving them in the dust. He was beside himself with rage. And the sick elitist thing he started, the Allies finished, though people today don’t remember this crucial historical fact. A few years ago I used to get junk emails saying what a genius Hitler was! And I shook my head, thinking how ignorant people can be. The truth is that he was the second Antichrist, after Napoleon was the first (if we can believe Nostradamus and his editors). But mysticism aside, we must review our history and beware of this kind of thing happening again. And truly, it already did occur very recently. Long live the memory of Jesse Owens and the evil force he went up against, and crushed the Aryan competition.
Quarter after six.
It’s been a good day, probably because I did something different this morning, got out and saw a different piece of the community. It gave me food for thought. It’s always cool to see young people gathered someplace and making conversation together. The future belongs to them, so of course they will make it happen. I was able to put aside my self pity for a while and kind of look around in awe and wonder at the workings of humankind, providing for a future that I probably won’t see very much of. People have sounded so hopeless about the pandemic, putting on sackcloth and sprinkling dirt in their hair, wailing and moaning; and then I see these teenagers meeting the challenge almost with nonchalance, either bravely or foolishly, but definitely heroically. It’s enough to make me spit at my own shadow or the cloud hanging over my head; who cares about the aches and pains of one person who is growing older when these youngsters are our saviors? So that’s what I see since my morning excursion to River Road today. We all could stand to be a little more courageous and not snivel at the difficulties we face. Life goes on because humanity goes on, building its new schools almost like the Jerusalem that never comes; as if we don’t really expect the world to ever end.
Midnight. Yesterday and today I’ve done more than the usual thinking about my brother. He was very admirable when he seemed omnipotent. To my child’s mind he was the real model behind every ERB hero I read about. However, I think heroes fall into at least two classes: the egoist and the altruist, the physical and the spiritual. There’s a world of difference between Tarzan and Luke Skywalker. One depends on his own wits and strength, the other gets his power from an all pervasive Force. The first seeks his personal happiness, the second restores order to the Galaxy… If my brother resembles Tarzan, then I’m still a far cry from Skywalker, but I think the latter is a worthier goal.
One o’clock. I don’t really have the money to buy myself a big birthday present. I heard from Mike the drummer. He says we may have a jam on the weekend just after Christmas, and this in itself comprises a holiday gift. I’ll take along a bass guitar that’s comfortable to play. But the jam is still not set in stone. It makes me feel like a wandering minstrel to hike over to Mike’s house down the lane behind the little market. Minstrels have a place in the grand scheme of things as well as the heroes. Yet I speculate just what that plan really is and where it’s taking us. It’s about more than money and worldly success. And again, “Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot is appropriate.
Quarter of noon. I’m totally confused now. Pastor won’t give up on trying to keep me part of his flock. But I really don’t believe in angels and demons and the traditional concept of heaven. Pastor is trying to say that it doesn’t matter. What counts is being good to one another… It occurs to me that I work too hard on my blog posts. As a result, they require more work to read. Some people don’t want to think.
Two o’clock. Lunch at the salon was fantastic. I walked in the door and everything was all ready. Jean was also there, making it a party of five. Angela looked very cute for her birthday. People joked about where to put away the calories. Karen mentioned that the lockdown may get more stringent again. I wonder how this would affect the church? Angela’s kids are being schooled at home… The air outside is awfully smoky from the wildfires, both regional and from California. We could use more rain anytime. If I’m going to the pharmacy today, then I’ll take a taxi. But I’ll probably wind up just going in the morning. Then, I can take my time and not be anxious. Make it a little promenade to Silver Lane. Maybe snap a few photos— though there’s not much to show when it’s smoky and people are masked… The longer I abstain from drinking, the more complex life around me seems. Current events only become more catastrophic to my mind, and the solutions more elusive. Perhaps in another year or two my brain will be serviceable for something better than blogging. Many years ago, I would’ve said set my brother on the task of saving the world. I verily believe he could’ve done it.
Three twenty five. I suddenly remembered my appointment with Todd for tomorrow afternoon. It will be a video call, sort of like Zoom or Skype. I asked about Heidi, and they said she hasn’t come back from furlough. Something smells fishy. It sounds like she’s not going to be my case manager after this. Miranda took over part of Heidi’s case load, but I haven’t heard from her since early summer… I hope L— H— doesn’t put pressure on me to be religious or something that goes against my personal beliefs. If they do, then I’ll have to figure out other options. I never did like the Christian character of the agency. It was too much like Serenity Lane: Jesus or nothing. I always will find it unconstitutional and unlawful to shove Jesus down our schizophrenic throats. If push really comes to shove, then I’ll emigrate to Canada or something drastic just to preserve my sanity.
Quarter of three in the morning. Yesterday evening I published a post whose sincerity was dubious from the start. A moment ago I went into my posts and trashed it. The writing of it was probably inspired by my trip to Sacred Heart yesterday morning, a phone conversation with L— H—, and finally a shotgun email from Pastor. I retired to bed at ten o’clock and slept four hours, dreaming strange dreams. At one point, I saw a white crockpot that was full of tube worms but which also yielded up old editions of Tarzan, one after the other. At another juncture, I was walking to the church at night and got hit by a car. Though it hurt, I kept walking. When I awoke, I reflected on the nature of heroes: how was Tarzan different from Jesus? Answer: Tarzan did not depend on supernatural powers to expedite his adventures. His strength was purely physical and mental, never spiritual. I considered that I grew up with heroes like everyone else, but they happened not to be Christ. Not even Luke Skywalker, who relied on the Force for his power. Nor Frodo Baggins, aided by the old wizard Gandalf. If anything, the heroes I read about pitted their wits and strength against the supernatural, in the form of nefarious cults with weird, soul devouring gods. Which type of hero was correct? I only know that Tarzan fueled my fortitude in my youth.
Eleven thirty. I went out to my mailbox and found a small windfall. Quest Diagnostics refunded my payment of about twelve dollars. So I ended up paying zero dollars for the bloodwork. It raised my spirits for my walk to the store. They were doing a good business today because of Mother’s Day. I’m of a mind to call Polly, but she’s not my mother. Roger is out working on something in his driveway. Aesop is a bit happier than the other day. My rhododendrons are blooming in the front yard, pink and lavender. The air outside is perfumed with blossoming things. The feel and the smells remind me of past Mother’s Days, especially when I used to drink beer. I miss my family whenever there’s a holiday. Even if I had a limitless supply of money I would not buy alcohol again. Money is not our only lifeline.
One o five. Spring sunshine brings back a lot of things. When I was in seventh grade we studied The Red Pony and a novel about the Oregon Trail. The following year was The Call of the Wild. Then the next I read A Separate Peace and a lot of mindless books for pleasure, Tarzan and Doc Savage especially. I still can’t guess what I liked about these two Herculean superheroes who could do anything. Anything they willed was not only doable but done. Fantasies of strength and control gave me vicarious power. I don’t think it was homosexual necessarily, but rather compensation for weeny feelings. I wished I could BE Doc Savage and manage my life accordingly. If I had been Tarzan, my wishes would’ve been realized. No sooner thought than done. But I don’t remember what I wished for, and maybe at the time I didn’t know. I had a crush on a girl named Kathleen and never told her until years later.
The Coke was a winner, now finished. Soon I will have a burrito for lunch. I just read “Some Words with a Mummy,” a playful little tale by Poe. Not a major work by him. The copy I read from I purchased at Borders over twenty years ago. Library of America. I did have a vehicle back then, a green Nissan pickup truck. One night, when the happy hour and dinner were done, I drove to the bookstore and picked this volume for its authoritative texts. The cashier looked at the book skeptically, as if wondering how it differed from the bargain volumes of Poe that abounded. I suppose I thought I deserved better. Likely I was a snob, but this was two decades ago. Still, the book is worthy to keep and venerate as a sort of monument. I went and fetched it from a box of my things, and my place in it was still marked after many years. I had read some 800 pages of it. Even Henry James condescended to like The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, while T S Eliot despised everything from the Romantic period. Many critics denounce Poe, but he still became famous overnight with the publication of “The Raven.” I had a guitarist friend who told me he was going to write an opera about Poe. I wonder if he ever did? Another friend, from Baltimore, sneaked into the cemetery where Poe was buried and slept on his grave. I figure that’s devotion for you. Still another band mate admired the prosody of Poe’s poetry, with every line meticulously put together. Then of course there was my mother, who proclaimed Edgar Allan Poe as a genius for his originality. One could do much worse than Poe for a champion.