Perfectible

Quarter of eight.

As I started walking down my street this morning, my head began to spin and I lost my balance for a few seconds. Dunno what caused it, though it could be my cholesterol medication, or maybe the heatwave. I mastered myself enough to finish going to the store for a few items. No Snapple today. Too risky. I’m also under a lot of stress in general and life has been unkind lately… At ten o’clock I have a Zoom appointment with Rebecca. I may be a bit nervous about that. Aesop gets breakfast at eight thirty. I think I should take it kind of easy today and aim for church on Sunday. My apocalyptic view of this summer could be exaggerated for some reason. However, I still think we could use a good rain here in Oregon. I feel rather tired and also sad about a few things. Every loss brings grieving. I don’t believe my Freudian education is valid anymore, or applicable to my current life. But I learned other things in college I can salvage for use in the present. Information tends to flow and ebb with time. And if I’m just a man out of time, a fish out of water, then I can learn to adapt with everyone else.

Quarter of nine. The day looks quite ugly to me. I’ve thought of how much I miss old times when our winters were actually cold. People still wear jackets and coats in the wintertime, but the truth is that they are not necessary when it’s fifty degrees out. We’re past the tip of the iceberg, and we did this to ourselves by polluting our habitat beyond sustainability. No one listens to scientists because we prefer the flattering lies of religion. The time was yesterday for paying attention to their warnings. Now, the new normal will be more and more abnormal for everybody. If only human nature were perfectible, as Percy Shelley hoped a long time ago… 

My Big Mouth

I’m afraid I might have blown it with R— and the whole proposition of getting a personal care attendant. I texted her Monday morning but got no reply all day. If I don’t hear from her again, then I guess that’s the consequence of my big mouth, talking big about “freedom” and independence, etc etc. Also I guess I didn’t like R— very much, especially the way she employed dishonest tactics and handled schizophrenia in such a shameful manner. I would have hoped for better because she had two kids with autism. We just didn’t hit it off, and you either like certain people or you don’t.

So, I’ve had rather a bad day all day today, and additionally the wheels seem to be coming off my blog writing. Like in the Carole King song, I am down and troubled, and nothing is going right. Hopefully the darkest hour is before the dawn. This thing called responsibility for our choices has a double edge: it means the individual is in control, but also he is accountable for what goes wrong… It tends to offend people when I use logic with them and point out their fallacies and inconsistencies, such as telling R— about the absurdity of “hiring” a person to give me orders in my own home. But you know, I felt very strongly based on my observation. And when I had my say on the phone, well, I took a chance. I felt pretty big for my breeches. She talked with me for only 15 minutes that day.

I could apply other silly abstractions to what happened with the PCA opportunity, but the common sense answer is again that I blew it by offending the wrong person. I could evoke ideas like the zodiac or other expressions of fate. My brother would say I acted like my dad. He thought my dad had a tragic flaw, the unfortunate tendency to stick his foot in his mouth when the stakes were high.

But I think that either way I acted from a pure and authentic impulse; I spoke my mind and said what I meant to R— on that fateful day last month. And knowing this, I have no regrets for my behavior.

And I guess that’s all I have to say about that!

Saturday Peace

Eight o’clock.

In a better mood this morning, I hoofed it over to the store to buy a couple of things. Heather was handling business very well on her own. I let another customer go ahead of me because he had cash. People were quite courteous to each other. On N. Park I saw a guy loading his vehicle with fishing gear and stuff, preparing for the holiday weekend. I also passed Colin’s house and reflected that I never see him outside anymore, I don’t know why. I don’t see Kat very often, either. Fear drives people to do strange things, and self preservation is the strongest instinct… The way some people hibernate in their homes, we might as well be bears living alone in the woods. I find that people are only indecent when they are out of their senses, due to substance abuse or madness of some kind. It is not our natural state to be wicked, and yet we’re so mistrustful of other people… Aesop is asking me when his breakfast is coming, so I tell him a half hour and he understands. The morning is partly sunny. Music: from Rush’s Counterparts, but there’s also a real train horn off to the southwest. I hear a mourning dove cooing somewhere near. Consciousness is a complicated thing, a system of associations with multiple layers, like peering down into a well, or at an overhead projection with different transparencies. Margaret Atwood uses these images somewhere in her fiction, probably in Cat’s Eye… And again the silence in the house overwhelms, but today it isn’t a bad thing.

Nine ten. I’m actually thankful for the peace today, and I’ve gotten my shots out of the way. It was good to talk with my sister yesterday morning. I don’t know if my family will ever accept me, or even if I care, but for now I have my sister. People can be ungrateful when you treat them kindly, or perhaps we’ll never know how they feel. 

A Pearl Sublime





I couldn’t sleep; a troubling vision works

A spell o’ my nerves: in the antique wood lurks

An elfin girl, the Pearl o’ The Scarlet Letter

Decked with wildflowers, standing in the sun,

And doubled by a pool, ambiguous one,

Not knowing for the bad or for the better.

Is she the emblem of original sin

Or rather purity? Equivocal grin

As she kissed the letter on her mother’s chest.

Artless and wild, the mannequin of Nature,

Distrustful of the church’s legislature,

A Pearl sublime by nothing is oppressed.

I tossed and turned and finally arose

To find the Hawthorne volume no one knows.

As soon as I had opened to the pages

Pertaining to the child, the spell was broken:

A mystery to occupy the sages.

Was it for nothing that I was awoken? 

Conspiracies

Eight o’clock.

Everything you hear from the media sounds like a scare tactic. It uses fear to control us— because it works. I’m sick of playing this game. I’m not the only one who feels that way. The guy I heard yesterday in the waiting room was whacko, and yet the feelings he expressed were universal. Who is the tycoon in charge of all this? Surely he is jerking our strings, making us put on a mask in perfect uniformity. But now I sound like a whacko too. Everyone says how crazy the times are, but no one knows who is responsible. Maybe it’s just human nature to want to blame somebody… I remarked to Michelle that the market is running out of food. She said there’s a shipment coming in Wednesday. I guess Raj hasn’t been satisfied with the Portland distributor, so he switched to another one. Michelle said it didn’t make any sense. Anyway, I got my run to the store done early to beat the heat. Hopefully the forecast is inaccurate… I heard more weird conspiracy theories in church last night, regarding the postal service. The madness has to stop somewhere. Somebody with some sense must sort it all out for us. Frankly I’m tired of the church group as well. We’re all equally ignorant about what is happening, so stop dreaming up things. We should mind our own business and just hang on until a better day.

Naivety

Five thirty five. I remember the reek of beer and piss in the recreation room of Ken’s roof and floor workplace 32 years ago. I couldn’t understand why all the homophobic jokes among the laborers. I was a city boy visiting this mill in bucolic Harrisburg. The only reason for my presence was the music we were playing. Our practice room was upstairs in the loft. The empty bottles we set on the windowsills attracted yellow jackets like a dog whistle. They would hang hovering above our heads in the middle of the room, then dive down at us. There were numerous blackberry bushes growing outside the building, where the bees usually loitered. Here and there downstairs were pornographic pinups on the wall. Everywhere I felt the pressure to conform, to be macho; and I just wasn’t. Aside from the music, I didn’t fit in at all. Ken had a multifaceted personality, chameleonic even, which he employed to be diplomatic with people. He could change colors to blend in anywhere. He tended to be a social caretaker, stepping in to save a conversation when possible. For my part, I was passive and hopelessly myself. When I spoke, it was often cluelessly cerebral, as if said in a foreign language. Burke was at a loss; then Ken would hear me and translate it for him. I served as the creative leader of our music project, but the camaraderie was mostly between Ken and Burke. They entertained each other with foul and offensive humor and sort of ignored me. I had entered into the situation as a naive dreamer and idealist. The dirty talk always puzzled me, but after more than a year of it I became numbed. The fact is that everyone who encountered my idealism tried to sabotage it, to tear it down and squat on it. I was kind of like the male version of Blanche in the play by Tennessee Williams. People, particularly if they were older, sought to shatter my dreams. Today I wonder why…

Confession

It’s very odd being 53 years old, and having such a wall up with my family. I regret it only a little. Overall I think the division is irreparable. Jeff still hasn’t called back, nor will he. Polly told me some wild stories about him, and she usually tells the truth. But the moral shortcomings all around are really hard to ignore. How do you forgive racism? Or gratuitous lying and cheating— even stealing? I know I’m a lazy person, and proud. Still, I don’t screw anyone over. I do remember a time when I was a chameleon with people I didn’t particularly like. I told them what they wanted to hear and they were completely fooled. Eventually I was exposed, and then the poop hit the fan. I don’t know where I learned to be a deceiver, though I saw my brother dupe the family enough times. His practice caused a great deal of pain. In the last decade I began to see duplicity for what it is. So many times he tried to swear me to secrecy about his feelings toward the rest of the family. Every time it backfired because Polly demanded to know the truth from me. My siblings used me like a shuttlecock in a game of badminton. I think now they finally realize how they feel about each other, so now they have no use for me! Funny how it turned out. Anyway, now I’m free of the mess…

Salon Visit

Eleven thirty. I went and hung out at the salon for an hour. Karen lost her temper at Lisa over the parking lot situation. The latter had tried to be her spokesperson in her absence and it was wrong. Darlene was in good spirits. Her face lit up when she saw me. Poor Karen has quite a Type A personality. I fear for her having a heart attack or something. Lisa is young and capricious. And Angela is sort of a diplomat between these two opposites. Karen is very concerned for success in her business, but she also takes in people who need help; seniors and people on the wrong side of the tracks. I guess that includes me too. Karen knew me when my addiction was so bad. It seems to me now that I was a different person then. Lisa asked my dog’s name, and I was surprised when she recognized Aesop the fabulist. I told her she was one of the few who did know the name. She said she had hung around guys who claimed to know a lot. I began to wonder about myself; maybe I was another such guy? And maybe I really was from the wrong side of the tracks? The dynamic of the salon is interesting, with the customers tending to be relaxed and pleasant but the staff rather tense and anxious. Then there’s me, the bum who comes around to visit Darlene. But of course it’s more complicated than that. I’m not exactly a bum, and Darlene is an old friend. It was a pleasure for her to see me again, and that’s what I do it for.

One Foot Out the Door

Quarter of five. Mom had no faith and no hope. But I don’t have to be like her. Dad was more optimistic, so I want to use him for a model. Think about Stravinsky again, as I did before Christmas. Do some classical music. Dad’s influence was healthier. I love The Firebird and the way I felt in 1993, at Christmas time. I loved Fifth Pearl Shops, the Music Gourmet especially. My dad wasn’t the jerk my family deemed him to be. I got into classical music big time from that Christmas on.

Five forty. I scheduled the ride to Mark’s house no problem. Pickup time is six thirty: perfect. This jam should be a lot of fun. Jeez, Mom really had problems with her outlook. Negativity is the root of mental illness I think. Nobody can live like that without severe consequences. Mom needed help. Life is supposed to be happy and good. Mom defeated herself with her pessimism all the time. It was fear, but it was unfounded… In ten minutes I’m putting my stuff outside and waiting for my taxi. Remember that people are nice and not evil as my mom used to think. Money can corrupt people, as can alcohol and drugs. But mostly human nature is pretty good.

Disillusion

Eleven thirty five. I was thinking as I lay in bed that I want to get away from people for a while. I can’t believe the drama I’m seeing from Nate and Chad, their shameless squabble over money. Nate is saying Chad sucks; Chad is saying Nate sucks. Neither wants to work with the other ever again. All the while, Nate is dangling 70 thousand dollars over Chad’s head and taunting Merry Christmas. And all I can do is stand by and watch. But it’s my damn house they’re fighting over. I need a break from people, a separate peace from the constant furor. Just one week alone with my dog should be sufficient. I may be feeling like a misanthrope, which is always self contradictory. Still, I’d prefer an insular life with my dog for a holiday. While I’m away, the human comedy can go on with the almighty dollar fueling its progress. Contra naturam.