Notoriety

Quarter of eight AM.

I tend to generalize too much when I’m writing in my journal. Also my mental state has been kind of unstable since I had the virus, so it’s really hard to say anything with coherence and consistency. I’ve got an old tune by Chic bopping in my head, rather annoying but that’s the way it goes. Aesop has just eaten and my taxi doesn’t come until ten thirty or so. “Rhumba and tango / Latin hustle too / Yowza yowza yowza / I wanna boogie witch you / Bop bop bop bop bah…” I do love Bernard Edwards on the bass guitar. He was my favorite to listen to in disco, along with Louis Johnson. Edwards also backed up Sister Sledge on songs like “We Are Family.” It’s probably on my mind because in June 98 our band did the Loveapalooza gig at the Hilton here in Eugene. My last one with them, and our third Hilton gig. Sometimes I wonder if that ever had to end. But I wasn’t really on the same page with those guys. I don’t think my personality complemented disco or the other way around, so I guess no regrets. It doesn’t mean I never think about them.

The Backwards Traveler

Back in the nineties, there was a commercial for Target on tv that used “Daydream” for the music, and the video showed the Grim Reaper doing good deeds on his day off. He rode a huge bicycle through the fields, carrying his scythe etc, but he did things like putting the fallen bird back in its nest. I thought it was hilarious. I also liked the commercials for Foster Farms chickens, which you had to see to believe. I betcha that YouTube would have those videos if you go searching.
Some days are more difficult than others regarding losing my parents. I think it’d be neat to have a retro movement to the nineties, when people were in much better spirits than today. I feel kind of sorry for the kids born around the millennium, the ones called the millennials. They don’t remember the previous century. It’s as if a great dividing line existed between then and now, but it’s a false situation, totally contrived by the numbers and our superstition about the new century: the predictions of Nostradamus in his series of verse prophecies called The Centuries. Whatever. The method he used, I think, was astrology. Different editions of his stuff were sold everywhere in bookstores and even in grocery stores during a ten year period from 91 to 01. I bought four of them out of a weakness for crazy ideas, but never read them through. No one would have to, because those ideas were spread by word of mouth. Similarly, the world would see a lot of things from Carl Jung, William James, and maybe T.S. Eliot, and yet not know where it was coming from. Advocates of Intelligent Design theory additionally used Aristotle to support their belief in teleology.
I don’t know. I think the world needs to get back to basics and put away ideology for a while. Give it a rest and just live a little. Chill out and listen to good music. Like Supertramp on the radio that I heard this morning: “Give a Little Bit.” When I hear “The Long Way Home” I remember the cafeteria at my junior high school, sitting at a table with Tim Wood and some other guys, just trying to survive the system of education away from home. We were in seventh grade with a long way to go.
Sometimes my sack lunch would have a meatloaf sandwich with ketchup. Leftovers from the night before. Boy those were good!

Fixed Stars for Crooked Houses

Nine twenty AM.

Now I’m back from the dentist and from the store. I have to sort through my feelings about all of it. The medical center was where I also first saw a psychologist at twenty years old, so of course I thought of old times with my mother. You can be a grownup and still feel like an orphan upon losing your parents. I think now that the most careful plans we can ever devise will often backfire, and the future is never foreseeable. It was weird going back to the place where it all started, like revisiting your old school or something. The people may be gone but the places usually stay. My mind digresses to an attraction at the Enchanted Forest in Oregon: the House of the Crooked Man. What distinguishes it is an anomaly in magnetism, a natural phenomenon that just happened to occur in Oregon. I guess it’s called the Oregon Vortex. I thought of it because it’s an example of an unstable place. My second grade class took a field trip there and then I forgot about it until today. Probably the Crooked House and the Oregon Vortex are separate things… Anyway, my new dentist is very nice. It’ll be good to get myself back on track with my oral hygiene.

Ten thirty. Aesop and I just shared some baby carrots from a ziplock bag I bought at the market this morning… Again I think, things gone and things still here, just like the title of a story collection by Paul Bowles. And when every compass and landmark fails me I fall back on the zodiac and steer by the stars.

Day and Night

Noon.

I had a pleasant time with Gloria this morning. We drove to Springfield again to recycle empties and made an easy $13, which I gave her for my laundry last time. Then we went through the car wash with all the colored lights and loud noises of brushes and jets of water. Finally we read the menu outside of Lupita’s and roved over to Carl’s Jr. for an early lunch. The first thing we did was to trim back my rose bush in the front yard, so now my debris bin is full. It’s funny but we never take the same route to Springfield twice, with the result that I’m totally lost each time we go there. The sister city used to be a mill town long ago, maybe why Eugene feels superior to it. 

I remember doing gigs at a club on Downtown Main Street, where it was okay to smoke as well as drink in the establishment. It was a good place for rock and roll. The guy who introduced me to a band called UK owned a record store in Cottage Grove and came to our gigs. My memory is kind of awash with booze, yet I do recall getting those CDs from the Record Garden in Springfield where John was the owner. That was twenty years ago. It was a different sort of life and I had different friends then. Now I wonder what happened to all of them, and are they okay? Those who dance must pay the fiddler. And sometimes I miss that lifestyle, but mostly not. Also I wonder who’s the real fiddler, or maybe it’s just alcohol and weed, thus the cult of Dionysus still goes on. We know him by a darker name. 

My Brother

Quarter of eight AM.

Cloudy day after cloudy day, but it’s depressing to speculate on the reasons why. A little tune by Jethro Tull comes up: “Living in the Past.” I could use a retrospective for a shot in the arm, something to cheer me up. A revival of some really good music would rejuvenate spirits for most people, but nobody seems up to it. Aesop is borderline howling for his breakfast, and I’m kind of dreading work with Gloria this morning. Basically I’m very tired and don’t want to do anything. Tomorrow morning I have the dentist to see… There are pros and cons to being “in the system.” On one hand you are taken care of, but on the other, you’re less free to make your own decisions. If things were really going my way, then why am I still discontent? Life has become a gilded cage to me. But I guess we’re all just numbers in a big impersonal computer network. John Steinbeck calls society “the monster.” It has nothing to do with real individuals, real human beings. It has assumed an identity of its own, with its own intelligence.

My brother is a free spirit with a naturalist impulse. I can imagine him vanish in the remote woods with an Igloo full of beer and a fishing pole, perhaps to build himself a log cabin like Thoreau, incommunicado to the world. And maybe he has the right idea.

What the World Needs Now

Eleven twenty at night.

I don’t like to consider the money aspect of things like some guys do. Indeed, the cynicism about the oligarchy etc is very trendy today. We are not what we are by virtue of our bank accounts or our sources of income. It’s a fallacy to say money makes the world go round when what really does it is love. Somebody in a high place set a bad example for everyone by replacing the ❤️ with the💲. Every situation is slow to change, particularly public opinion, but I thought I’d help it along as I can. Try dusting off the old Beatles collection and play “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” John Lennon said, paraphrased, “You in the cheap seats clap your hands, and you in the balcony just rattle your jewelry…” Maybe that’s a bit cynical too, though his intentions were good. There’s an episode in Ulysses that refers to the “foot and mouth disease,” which infects most people from time to time. More important is the recurring theme of “metempsychosis” that brings everybody together, regardless even of race or ethnicity.

“He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.”

While it sounds like nonsense, Joyce pulls off something like this with his book. The question is whether we really treat each other like family.

Strong Dreams

Six o five in the morning.

Another gray day. Funny how emotional scars can carry on for many years and burrow down into your soul. The passing of time only makes the memories richer and more meaningful because of the perspective you gain. Through love comes learning. Everyone is so different and yet so much the same. The problem I still wrestle with is metaphysics and the God thing, feeling myself to be deficient if I am non religious. I guess I missed the critical period for accepting Jesus and the whole Bible, so I should just let it go. Christianity will always be a big item. Like Thomas Hardy, I can only wish it were so… Pretty soon I’ll make a run to the store like every morning. It’s all equal to me if I get rained on today. “It’s a big enough umbrella / but it’s always me that ends up getting wet.” Yesterday was graduation day at the university, which brought back a few things for me. For a gift, my mother gave me a copy of Bartlett’s, still lying around here somewhere. She also paid my dues for membership in Phi Beta Kappa and bought my key. I used to wear it on a chain all the time but now I carry nothing around my neck. No point in being pretentious, although Mom was very proud of my achievement. I suppose I still am a little bit, too.

Seven forty. The Covid virus I had a while ago has now gone away totally. I feel better every day. At the market I saw some Mexican guys who worked for Huey & Sons Roofing and I caught a word or two of their slang. Otherwise my trip was rather dull. The overcast was not complete. There were breaks showing blue sky, very pale and luminous. I hoped for a glimpse of the moon, in vain. But I almost dreamt I could see a ladder to heaven.

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.

One Big Boat

Seven thirty.

Today I’m skipping the caffeine completely. It was turning into a problem with my sleep. There’s just a light rain this morning, but we get more rain than sun this June for whatever ecological reason. At one time, all I worried about was staying alive, but now I worry about more complex things. Frankly I’m tired of the stress. It’s tempting to just opt out of life one way or another. But then I’m probably not alone with the bigger picture. I’ve gone from poor to virtually penniless due to inflation. It doesn’t help when people say that the ultra rich will alone survive in the long run. Something must be done for the little guys, the paupers with nothing but the clothes on their back. My bank makes it more difficult for me. Maybe I should switch to a credit union or something. But not until I’ve paid off my credit cards, a long way away. I really need to talk to somebody at my bank, but they don’t answer the phone. I feel I’m up a creek without a paddle, but again, perhaps not alone.

Scars

Two thirty morning.

Well, I finally took the bait and ordered the DNA kit from Ancestry dot com because I’m tired of guessing about my origins or the reasons for what I do. My father was adopted and never knew his birth parents, so the genetic test is the best I can hope for. There has to be an explanation for why I have difficulty with religious traditions, especially Christianity. I believe it’s because evangelism is often forcible.

Seven thirty. Another day of clouds. Today I’ll feed Aesop prior to going to the store. I got too much caffeine yesterday and overnight. The guy who called yesterday about the flea medication tripped over my dog’s name; kind of funny, though he felt embarrassed… The treatment program I underwent long ago did a lot of damage to me. I really wish I’d never gone there, and it’s just a reminder that assertiveness is critical to everyone’s well-being. It’s water under the bridge except I have such scars from the experience. Maybe it’s an issue of forgiving them and letting it go. Pop psychology perhaps, but it’s worth a try. After all, they knew not what they did.