Chronicle of Sunday

Noon hour. Church went really well. Nancy paid me a great compliment after seeing choir perform. She said I looked happy to be up there, and not just a stone face like the others. She singled me out as the best to look at, I guess. I did indeed feel pretty relaxed in front of the assembly. The song was easy enough that I had it memorized. This means that I could raise my eyes from the sheet music and look at the congregation. I was standing right next to Pastor Dan in the back row, with Sandi on my left. That was fun. Pastor Joe wasn’t in church today; apparently he’s been sick. In a few minutes I’m going to the market for a Dr Pepper and something to eat. The weather is cloudy and chilly with the wind. But no rain is forecast.

One twenty five. Often I catch myself trying to catastrophize events, and I will say there is no karma, no devil to play tricks on me and make mischief. Where does the superstition come from, anyway? Is it me or is it what I learned from church? In that regard, church hasn’t been very helpful. It’s a hindrance and a pain in the butt to have to deal with intrusive thoughts that are likely delusions. It’s good to be able to push them away, but I shouldn’t have them in the first place… My mind can hear a little of what practice sounded like yesterday. We’re pretty good! We need to go out on a limb more often and improvise, be spontaneous, for that is the living soul of music.

Quarter after two. Ron texted me that he’s really happy with the jam yesterday. He also said that I’m the man for the job. Said it was destiny that brought us together. I replied that that’s a cool idea… I feel a sound from Bartok again, a chord from the eighth scene of The Miraculous Mandarin. A similar chord appears in Three Pieces for Orchestra by Berg. Just exquisite: mysterious, dark and profound. If I had the endurance, I’d listen to the full opera of Lulu. I haven’t heard it in 22 years. It would bring back some memories. What would it sound like to me sober? Take it one disc at a time and audit all three hours of it. There’s nothing else like great classical music.

Five o’clock. I listened to the first act of the opera Lulu. It was interesting, but there are probably better operas to experience. Berg composed it using the 12 tone system, with the result that it sounds atonal and lacking a sense of key. It isn’t very pretty, except for occasional happy accidents in harmony. If it were done more deliberately to please the ear, I’d like it better. But his intention in writing Lulu was more to offend the sensibilities, and this to make a point. The truth Berg sought to depict was ugly rather than pretty. In my opinion, the opera is about the decay of our morals in modern life… I bought this CD set from Musique Gourmet around the time of my birthday in 1998. By then, I had quite exhausted the store of modern music. I began with Stravinsky in 1993 and ended with Penderecki in 98. Many years later, I picked up some British composers, namely Holst and Vaughan Williams, under the guidance of my Scottish friend.

Six o’clock. Really, the store I exhausted was only the knowledge of two acquaintances, two real people I knew. The first one was an employee at the shop on Fifth and Pearl. The second was the friend I met online. Everyone knows something, just as everyone has a story. It is by sharing with real people that we learn new things. The more personal the contact, the more we learn. We risk losing our identity, but it’s only temporary, and then we come out the wiser. I suppose Kate took everything she needed from me, and that was the end. Relationships are practical that way, though it may seem insensitive or even brutal. Fortunately there are always more people to learn from, and they come along when we need them most.

A Gainful Loss

What a loss, and what regrets! Kate and I could’ve lived together in my Pleasure Dome home— except for the ineluctable responsibility for T—, her autistic boy. Kate wanted to be selfish and enjoy her love life, and I did too, but T— was the hurdle. It was really a terrible situation for me to be in, full of lust and selfish pleasure. What valuable lessons did I learn from the experience? Probably that sensuality is misguided and unjust. Plato believed so, and it still is true. Christians would call it wickedness (as opposed to righteousness). Kate and I flirted with something rather evil, especially so because of the element of T—: so innocent. Kate finally made the right decision and dedicated herself to being a mother. And I wandered off to join the church. I suppose we were both penitent after being so irresponsible.

Oh but how much fun we had together, particularly with the music! I remember receiving her package with four CDs in it, including Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry; also Queen and Kate Bush. That was in October or November of 2011. Night would fall so early, but I was so comfortable and blissful with my beers and the emails Kate batted with me every day. Life was beautiful! At last I had a friend I could trust and even love after my crummy experiences with my family. I even considered moving to Scotland to be with Kate. Was it all a pipe dream? I had never been so fortunate in friendship before, couldn’t believe my incredible luck. Kate showed me kindness where, before, I had been mistreated and misunderstood. I can remember it now. Kate gave of herself to me, and I like to think she got something from me as well. Alcoholic or not, I loved her the best I could at the time. Our paths diverged around the juncture I decided to get sober. Still I count Kate among the best friends I ever had because of how she turned my life around at such a critical point.

What Is Real?

The morning is clear and blue, and the forecast says upper eighties today. Volunteering with the food pantry is one small way I give back to the church. Another way is by reading to the assembly. A third is by playing with the choir. Although a lot of my life has been lived in my imagination, a few of my deeds have been real. Nowadays the distinction between reality and imagination has become blurred, what with social media and other cyber activities. I had two therapists who denied the substantiality of Internet relationships. They asserted that these were unreal. I think I disagree, having experienced them myself. Both of these therapists were older than me and possibly less adaptable. They could be swayed by watching a movie but maybe not by tapping or typing. I found my way to social media by means of desktop computers. It started with a rock star’s online guestbook in December 2010. That was where I met the woman in Scotland. From there I became a volunteer proofreader for Gutenberg for a couple of years, and then started my blog three years ago. All this from a desktop computer with a slow connection! I never owned a smartphone until last April. Imagine me typing on an old Dell quiet key keyboard amid the smoldering ruins of my house, with an Internet connection hanging by a thread. That’s sort of how it’s been. But do we say that all that was unreal? I don’t think so…