Quarter after nine at night.

I see again that I am screwed by my poverty, which precludes me from playing in a rock band. It’s not feasible without a car of my own. So, I’m not going to drown my sorrows, but just work with my circumstances and do what I can.

The ceramic Christmas tree’s delivery is delayed due to severe weather on the way. There’s a possibility that it’ll never make it here. I think I’ll try buying one from Bi Mart tomorrow, when I have Gloria for transportation. But the world won’t crash and burn if I don’t have a Christmas tree.

It may seem like cause and effect the way life turns sour after staying sober, though I think it’s really just becoming aware of the world around me and my situation within it. A phrase from “The Dove Descending,” words by Eliot, occurs to me for some obscure reason: “the intolerable shirt of flame.” 


The Fog of Time

Seven twenty.

The fog looms denser and lower this morning than yesterday. Leaves drifted from the trees all day, one at a time. I just watched the video of my church from Friday night. The music was pretty bad, but what can you do with a hymn? Last night I dreamed about playing bass seriously in a band, and not just butt rock. I think it would be really cool to play something with European flavor around here, along the lines of Queen or Roxy Music. Why not? We’re all citizens of the world, and isolationism is silly. I still miss my friend from the UK… The trick is to stay sober while having fun in other ways. I appreciate having more money as a result of abstinence. During the wee hours I listened to The Rite of Spring again, the version by Robert Craft, Stravinsky’s protege. It sounded great to me. I thought of Modernism in general, and how Jungian psychology arose from that movement. It made me reflect on my early childhood perceptions. Stravinsky was still alive when I was born; trippy to consider. His music reached a wilder, more pagan depth than any Western composer before him. I will always prefer Modern music to the mathematical dryness of Bach or Mozart. The Rite of Spring has become just a part of my psyche.

Nine twenty five. A silver disk of the sun bleeds through the fog, which is still very thick. For a change I bought two SoBe drinks, both with strawberry flavor. Expensive but good. I didn’t take notice of much on this trip. On the road I encountered no one, not even a cat. I saw one car on Maxwell going probably twice the speed limit. An older woman, pulling out of the parking lot, made way for me to cross in front of her car, but I gestured that I was turning into the lot. And from out of the fog come ghosts of the past and maybe of the future too. 

A Christmas Gift

Four twenty five. The day has been going very quietly. I took some bed rest because I was so tired from PT yesterday. It feels solitary today, and I’m all right with that. The sun never did come out. I look forward to writing a letter to my friend this evening. The day started off right when I saw how much I had in my checking account: the cancellation on that item from Musician’s Friend went through. We’re so close to Election Day; this is the calm before the storm. Hopefully there won’t be a storm of protests by outraged voters… My afternoon yesterday went south after the therapy appointment. I began thinking about three years ago and the bad shape I was in. I’m more hopeful today. At least I’ve learned that I distrust psychotherapy and won’t make that mistake again.

Five twenty. There’s a lot of evidence that I’m doing better now than three years ago. Look at my relationship with my sister, and all the friendships I’ve gained. For six years I had only one friend. I simply had a bad afternoon yesterday. Maybe I can get rid of some of the material reminders of 2017 and 2018… A piece of music begins to play in my head. It is the beginning of Polovetsian Dances from Prince Igor by Borodin. My mother gave me the CD for Christmas in 1989. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have surgery. The disc actually compiled the Firebird Suite and the other by Borodin. It was the first classical music to really blow me away, especially the Stravinsky. The joint effect of having read Joyce that term and the incredibly beautiful Stravinsky was devastating for me. This was one Christmas gift that Mom nailed on the head, and I’ve never forgotten it. 


The sun drives through from a dark gray sky. The Firebird plays in my head. I could listen to The Soldier’s Tale, which would take me back to spring 1995. My dad was alive then. Life was good when I could sit and absorb so much wonderful music. My copy of The Soldier’s Tale, conducted by Robert Craft, is likely out of print. It may be a rare CD… I found one on Amazon for $25, new, but the only copy left. Another volume in the series that I have is available for $50, also the last one. I see some huge cumulus clouds in the east, over the roofline. I can imagine them to be the couches of the Olympian gods. What an indolent life, trailing their hands in the ether, eating green grapes, listening to the seven stringed lyre of Apollo. It must have been an interesting period in music history before Bach invented theory. People had stringed instruments before the 17th Century, but what did the music sound like? It seems to me that music has been the slowest art form to develop. Or perhaps music was never meant to be done with such mathematical precision? Some contemporary composers learn the rules only to break them, and break down the form completely. We have to remember too that there is other music in the world than the Western tradition. How about the sounds of Africa or Bali, India and Tibet, and so on?… With that, I think I’ll spin the Stravinsky and just relax for the afternoon.

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.

Good Tidings

Three thirty. Made my Coke run. Stopped and talked with Roger for a while. He said he doesn’t like the politics in Oregon. I said okay. He doesn’t believe in healthcare or education, etc etc. Typical Republican stuff. But I imagine he feels rather alone with his views. Even the street we live on is much bluer than it was years ago. When John and Rhonda moved away in 2015, I could feel how much the neighborhood had changed. That was when I realized that everything was different. It was safe to stop drinking at that point. Reality was tolerable for me; no need to stay drunk all the time. I hated this conservative place throughout Bush’s presidency. While Polly was jumping for joy and hooting for holy wars, I suffered tortures. Ignorance ruled and crap was king. And it dragged on for fifteen years. Finally my neighbors moved out and new people moved in. I agree with Roger that Oregon is growing bluer, but unlike him, I love the change…

Perhaps it’s significant that it would be my house that had a fire. It would be a mysterious thing, an event of politics and of psychology. Kind of like sighting flying saucers after the end of WW2: the circles symbolized a return to wholeness and rightness, according to Jung. He probably would’ve said that the fire was a purifying thing. Then I would be the phoenix rising from the ashes, recovered from a dual diagnosis. What does the firebird do next? What happens in the scenario of Stravinsky’s Firebird? I ought to know… For some reason I keep thinking of Antal Dorati’s version of The Firebird on Mercury Living Presence. I adore this Cd. It was a very nice Christmas that year, 1993, even if I felt unwell mentally. My head was full of the fortunes of fables. It’s hard to describe how I felt, but suffice it that it was a bit like second childhood. And yet there was nothing wrong with that. I went on the following spring to get my degree and was very happy. There must be a relevance of then to today, one that is yet to become clear.