Sweet Grapes

3am.

The song I hear is still “Duchess” by Genesis, because of some friends I first met in June after my ninth grade school year. They were a young couple who played guitar and bass and were looking for a drummer for a summer project doing Rush covers. Eventually they planned to be a Top 40 band to play for parties and such. But the thing that impressed me at the time was how talented they were. They were one phenomenon in a few million from around here and the outlying towns like Pleasant Hill. I guess the thing called “talent” is a reality. I knew another person like that at my own school, whose destiny was to become a Grammy winning Nashville producer. The other friends I just mentioned still play in Eugene’s biggest act (arguably) which started as a disco band. At one time, all of us came together in the same band and played some important gigs. It’s funny how a thing like conscience can be a rain on the parade. Some people prefer not to stop and think about what they’re doing in the light of ethics and morality: to prioritize humanity from the business of life. I think having principles of honesty and self reflection is essential to any lifetime, and “the unexamined life is not worth living.” You may end up the lone philosopher, or you may meet a person to be your likeminded friend. There is life and then there’s the meta life of speculation that some people consider a waste of time. It depends on what you value and whether you’re willing to forego what most people call success. 

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Sometimes People Suck

Wee hours.

I can proudly say that I never voted for Trump…

What a strange day I had yesterday, learning that two of my relatives had been in the hospital this week. Seven years ago I was hospitalized time after time with gastritis and withdrawals from alcohol as well as suicidal thoughts. Also I had arrhythmia as a long term side effect of taking antipsychotic medication. My psychiatrist didn’t have much to say about that; he had withheld information about the side effects from me as long as I’d been on the drug. Less than a year later I said I didn’t want to talk to him again, and in August he terminated services, making it sound like my fault.

Most relationships after a while fall to crap. But everywhere you go, you find how common it is for people to be dishonest and downright unethical. And if you have something unpleasant but true to say, no one wants to hear it.

However—

“The most endangered species

The honest man

Will still survive annihilation

“Forming a world

State of integrity

Sensitive, open, and strong.”

Crapshoot

Eight ten.

The weather report says rain, but I don’t see any, looking out my door… My brother believes what he sees on television before he’ll take my word for anything. We need to pull the plug on television and get a firsthand grip on reality. Trust the evidence of your senses and judge for yourself… I disclosed to someone about my illness in an email this morning. Time will tell how she takes the news. Disclosure is a crapshoot, but hopefully the dice are not loaded… I knew someone with a schizophrenic brother who couldn’t read Kafka or Dostoevsky due to his paranoia—

Gloria called to cancel for today. She feels miserable since her shingles shot yesterday. So my mind was made up then to go to the store on my own. So saying, I went on foot and only got a little wet on the return walk. Inside the market, I ran into Melissa, who likewise hasn’t felt well. It’s turning into a theme for the day.

Nine twenty five.

Maybe it’ll be an easy day today. I spent yesterday feeling stressed out on music matters. In time I will delete my post on Craigslist and forget about it. It isn’t worth the hassle and all the explaining I have to do.

News at Five

I just had a little dinner that Gloria brought me this morning. Very good. She made round steak with mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, and green beans. I thought it was really nice of her. But earlier today I had a hard time with my thoughts and my mood, and again I could trace it to a conversation with T—; also to D’s sermons. I realize how thin my skin is and how sensitive I am. I can’t seem to help it, or maybe T— really is kind of a jerk. It’s a possibility. Also I think my position and attitudes are rather unpopular, especially with the church, but unfortunately for me, the church is a huge phenomenon these days. C— really rubs me the wrong way when we talk philosophy, because he stresses how philosophers run afoul of the church and get themselves killed, etc etc. The best thing for me is to get myself out of these situations in order to be safe. Of course I really resent these guys. Maybe Oregon is just a bad place to be a freethinker. It’s also bad for Muslims and anyone who isn’t a redneck or a hippie. Even these groups agree about the Bible and hate gay people. I dunno. I’m feeling like I don’t belong as an American citizen, or that I should move to a much bigger city than this jerkwater one in the most bigoted place on the West Coast. It’s driving me crazy and getting worse all the time.

If I laid my cards on the table and bared my soul to the people here, I’d probably be shot on the spot.

But we need a place for confession today, and not as if we’d done terrible wrongs, but because we’re all human beings and ought to be able to relate to one another’s experiences. Instead, I feel like we all are forced to wear a disguise: a face mask for real. It’s been a time of jumping through the hoops and being obedient to authority no matter what they say. I think it’s time for people to say what they mean and that includes me. The situation is getting ridiculous, and I’m just bursting at the seams from all this suppression of important stuff.

People are smarter than we give them credit for. But if you expect stupidity from them, then they’ll be inclined to comply because they want to please you.

Oh well… The sunshine that was forecast today never came. The weather people have been inaccurate for some months now where we’d never had a problem before. Everything is a state of snafu. I’ve ordered a book by Iris Murdoch arriving today unless it’s delayed like the last few packages.

Friends Come and Go

Eight twenty five.

Last night I suffered a minor case of probable diverticulitis after eating a lot of tortilla chips for a snack. I was uncomfortable for hours. Happy Birthday, I guess. And then, all night I dreamed dreams of guilt and self accusation, as if I really believed I’d done something wrong. The music in my brain is “David” by The Guitar Trio, from Passion, Grace, and Fire. It’s a flashback to when I was a college senior. But what isn’t? I never wanted to finish school. Just be a perpetual student… Today is gray with showers here and there, and fairly warm out. I used to own the Beatles “red” compilation but gave it away to my psychiatrist as a kind of bribe to soften his attitude toward me. We weren’t getting along well for those last five years. I couldn’t stop drinking until, ironically, we terminated his service. I remember the phone conversation with his receptionist when I stated baldly that I didn’t want to talk to him at all. It’s a truism that people change over time, which changes our relationship with them. One of my differences with the man was that I believed in being honest and aboveboard, whatever the stigma of schizophrenia. I didn’t agree with his crafty approach to living, and I still think an ethical lifestyle is worthwhile. As for The Beatles, he’s welcome to it.

Nine thirty.

Yesterday afternoon I overheard Roger swearing as he worked at his truck building hobby. Probably a few things aren’t going his way, but I guess that’s tough for everybody. I felt a bit sympathetic for him. I never see him receive visitors to his house. He could likely use a friend.

Gloom

Nine fifty.

My morning started off lousy, but I managed to motivate myself to go to the store and when I ran into Melissa, my whole day got turned around. I decided I would go to DDA group tomorrow afternoon, so I set up my rides there and back. The weather today is so dark and dreary that it’s hard to get anything done. It rained overnight and will probably rain again at eleven. I wonder if the French verbs for raining and crying are related to each other: pleuvoir and pleurer, respectively. This would make sense from a human point of view, and autumn can be a sad time of the year, though beautiful in its own way.

Last night I thought maybe being honest is foolish; but I think I heard that somewhere; something my brother said about “advantage” and cutting out the Boy Scout stuff. Some people are honest on principle or by upbringing. When honesty is rewarded, the behavior gets reinforced and repeated. Other people have the opposite experience with telling the truth. It’s always a double bind: screwed if you do or don’t. Cordelia told the truth to King Lear and was martyred for it. The cosmos was in an uproar for the tragedy. Events had gone terribly wrong. Is there still a doubt that the truth is a good thing? My brother’s birthday is about ten days away. Seventy big ones. 

From a Letter

Maybe I called myself a moron because I didn’t do anything about that relationship, but I let her slip away. And you’re right: not all Brits and Europeans think alike. I was just writing in my journal about valuing security and comfort every day of my life. I think I’ll give up my persona of the existential hero on my blog and be honest with myself about what motivates me. Surrounding myself with lots of books and music is actually the safe way to learn more about life, but I don’t get the magnitude of experience that I would from something real. My dad was like a character out of a William Faulkner novel or a play by Eugene O’Neill: immovable like a tree firmly rooted to the ground. And I believe that this is a creed of people who drink alcohol. It seems to be built into my family system; that is, the value of comfort and security. Do you remember my post about Scuffy the Tugboat, the picture book given me by my grandmother when I was five years old? The bottom line of the story is safety, like Dorothy at the end of Wizard of Oz: there’s no place like home. Anyway, I looked at my behavior and saw a discrepancy between my words and my deeds, the same way Dr T observed me years ago. Most of my writing is just a bluff, and what drives me is the craving for peace and security— just like my dad. Just like another character from Yaknapatawpha County in Faulkner’s Mississippi. (I doubt if I spelled that right.)

Again it’s sunny and smoky here after a cloudy morning. I don’t know when it’s going to rain but we really need it. Speaking of books, I thought about taking out my volume of HG Wells for a look at The Island of Doctor Moreau. I read it during the summer of 04 but I forget how it ends. That same summer I read The Time Machine as well. He wrote some really great ones; The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, The First Men in the Moon, etc. Doctor Moreau is quite powerful for me and it makes you wonder about the nature of being animal versus being human. Where does one stop and the other begin? What is the essence of humanity?

I noodled around on my jazz bass again today and had some fun with it. Sounds great. If I only had a car then I could think about being in a band and playing some gigs. But this is me bluffing again, probably. If I wanted to buy a car badly enough then I’d go ahead and do it. The fact is that I don’t do it. But does that mean never?

Maybe it just takes me a long time to decide to do something. Maybe it takes a little push to get me moving.

Hazard Lights

Ten twenty five.

I’m having a good morning so far. We went to Bi Mart to get a bunch of things. After that we stopped at Carl’s Jr. for a loaded burrito. Aesop isn’t very happy to be pent down the hallway… My neighbor told me that his car had been broken into, and that’s why the hazard lights were flashing the other morning… Maybe it’s not such a great day. It’s a mixed bag of stuff. I was glad to see some familiar faces at Bi Mart.

Noon.

Those are things I see very few of anymore. The agency is entirely changed from what it used to be when I was an employee. But when I step into Bi Mart it’s a time capsule, a place where change doesn’t exist so much. I feel sentimental thinking about it. I remember so many people who’ve gone in and out of Bi Mart over two decades. Sometimes I’d bring bottle returns to the customer service desk. Once I ran into Mark, the guy who played the bass with Don at the Electric Station restaurant. I didn’t get to hear him play, but he taught me a few lessons at his house. He was a good teacher… Just today I saw Bill, my neighbor on N Park, at the same place. We talked about the tree service recently. It’s sort of like a Beatles song: “And the people that come and go / Stop and say hello.” The old store is a community hub where you see a lot of the same faces every day. It’s a sour note to think of the car burglary in my neighbor’s driveway or the drug house a few streets down from mine. This gives The Beatles a grungy twist they didn’t intend. That’s honesty for you.

Cordelia

Nine twenty five at night.

There is still twilight in the night sky, very slowly fading out. I’ve had a four hour nap this evening. Tomorrow perhaps I can play my bass guitar and make a pleasing sound. There are so many great books I want to experience again or for the first time. Can you go wrong with Shakespeare? I feel like I’ve become some combo of characters in one of his plays. If I’d thought I was like Edmund of King Lear, then there’s as much resemblance to Cordelia the soothsayer. For me, honesty is not so much a principle as an artless mode of coping. It is simple and practical to tell the truth because it avoids trouble and complications down the road if you lie. I’d be honest in saying that honesty doesn’t always pay off short term, but then lying can be a disaster for more than just yourself. In the end, it benefits you to tell the truth. The most unflattering truth ultimately is better than an attractive lie, especially regarding the ecology.

The hardest thing for people to accept is that human beings are biological organisms, and as such, mortal. How does a fact like that help us? Maybe we’ll never get beyond the selfish greed for eternal life. I honestly don’t know the answer, but by accepting responsibility for our ecology, we further the future of the whole species of humankind.

Cordelia was not a flatterer but an honest person. And we are like the old king who doesn’t want to hear it.

Beyond Denial

Six o’clock in the morning.

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I thought about how my mentality changed after my first girlfriend, when I loaded up my plate with philosophy courses in school to build up a rational defense from my feelings. But I’m getting tired of this analysis.

Seven ten.

My trip to the market was uneventful and nondescript. The sun is coming up very slowly, or perhaps I made my excursion way earlier than usual. I heard a lot of birds and spotted a pair of Canada geese on the wing. I don’t miss the church much, though I still think of it sometimes. It seems to me like a ship of fools, and Pastor is power hungry with his parish. The outbreak of Covid gave him an opportunity to seize control of everybody, even telling them to get vaccinated and boosted. His sermons are mere brainwashing, like a mass hypnosis for the unwary… I grew to resent all of that and finally shook the crap off of me. There are many roads to recovery. It might be one that you devise for yourself.

Eight o’clock. I remember when V— used to do mornings at the store. She was rather uncivil to some customers, citing her right to free speech. She spared me this abuse for some reason. V— was a sassy little blond and a hard nut to crack, but she opened up to me a few times. She would say she’d get married again if she wanted to be lied to, and she valued honesty from people.