Quarter of seven.
It’s going to be partly cloudy today. The horizon to the east is red, as in the old proverb. After eight o’clock I have to make a couple of phone calls. Heidi is scheduled to call me this afternoon, but I doubt that she’ll be able to make it. I have something happening every day this week. Last night my thoughts turned to the old behaviorist B.F. Skinner, who denied that free will is real. He was also an atheist, so I naturally compare him to David Hume the skeptic. Even Sartre had difficulty with the basis for human freedom when he wrote The Flies. It had to have been given us by God, but people have the freedom to reject him. It’s quite a head scratcher how free will is supported and where it came from. If not for metaphysics, humans would be entirely subject to the deterministic universe, and therefore not free. The Ancient Greek tragedians knew intuitively that human beings are free and also fated by the gods. I should pick up Aeschylus and read about Orestes and Electra, or else give up the whole intellectual wild goose chase for a while… Tomorrow my new bass is coming, probably by FedEx. This should take my mind off philosophy for a day. I guess I’ll go to the store pretty soon. But if I wait a while, then I’ll have more stuff to choose from.
Nine twenty five. I got my morning tasks out of the way. I don’t really have anything inspiring to say lately, nothing poetic or uplifting; maybe it’s time for a change for me? It might be kind of cool to work again; I used to like proofreading for Gutenberg from 2013 to around 2017. I feel my mind shifting to a more technical mode, but I should still be able to make music with my friends. It’s hard to nail down exactly what I feel and to predict where I’ll go next. Partly I don’t even know where I’ve been in the past; and the future is unreadable as yet. I have no idea what’s coming. But I do sense that the blogging community has changed— or rather stayed the same while the world is on the move, and me with it… I have a busy week. A lot of people to contact each day. How did this happen? Yet it’s a good sign; it means my life is healing and I can look forward to better things… I hear birdsongs in my backyard as the springtime flowers with full force. The maple tree and the oak are leafing out in front and back. Painful memories of my last girlfriend float to the surface, and I illogically wish I could get her back into my life. Other fish in the sea, as they say. And you can’t hurry love.
Eight thirty five.
Last night was strange. Aesop didn’t rest very well and everything was out of joint. Pastor’s daily email was political, which demonstrates to me how obsessed he is with the subject. Maybe I’ll stay home from church tomorrow. Instead of healing the division of the country, Pastor helps to fuel it even more. I only want to enjoy my life. Aesop has some kind of discomfort with his hindquarters, so I have to watch him for a while. As I said yesterday, I’m just sick and tired of everything. Today I’ll do what is expected of me and nothing more. Nothing really gives me pleasure anymore at the age of 54. So there’s no point in having even a Snapple tea or whatever.
Ten ten. I guess I’m just adapting to the changes since staying sober. I should give myself some space and not try to force things to happen. My mother is truly gone, so there’s no reason for me to keep doing the old stuff. It was nice to see Melissa this morning. Plus I stopped and said hello to Karen and Jessica. Kim will probably return in April. She had a rather gnarly surgery on her shoulder last month. And Angela has left her job with the salon. Everything changes, both outside and within. It’s hard for me to keep up with it. “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / For the times they are a changing.” …I did go ahead and had a Snapple tea and it was very good. Aesop is acting like he wants to be with me; he doesn’t like being on the floor by himself. He’s a very intelligent dog.
Eleven twenty. He let me know he wanted attention, so I petted him for a few minutes. There’s also a fly buzzing around the house, which bothers him. Beelzebub means “lord of the flies,” but Aesop wouldn’t care about that.
Noon hour. The pizza Hot Pocket tasted great. I realize now that I’m lonely here at home. I need real social stimulation to keep me going. The internet is not the same as a real physical presence, which is why I often think of D.H. Lawrence and his message of love and anti industrialism… I feel very tired and unmotivated. I don’t see where life is leading me and I don’t feel close to anybody anymore. I have this sense of what am I doing here and now, besides sitting on a loveseat and writing to myself. Everyone seems so distanced from me and from each other, yet no one complains about it like I do… I can conjure memories of good times with old friends when I was young. I drank more than my share of beer, but the liquor and the music and camaraderie were all worth doing at the time. Now I think I’m over the hill. Still I hope the band I’m in goes somewhere. I missed having a rehearsal yesterday— one of the real activities I get to do each week.
One thirty. Forget it.
Quarter after three. I just read two stories by Paul Bowles. Very good. His characters are often neurotic, while his own narrative voice is indifferent to them, even blackly humorous at times. The sky is a solid sheet of gray although the rain ceased hours ago. I feel like going to the store for a treat, but what do I want? Frequently I forget that past mental states have little or no bearing on the present. Life is forever in flux and this reality hits me when I fail to repeat history. It is a river, not a rock. The trick is to accept the here and now. I disagree with Freudian determinism: personality is not fixed from age four or five. The self is just as malleable as its surroundings. If this were not the case, then my sobriety would have ended already. In his own way, Emerson was a wiser thinker than certain other mental giants. I love how his prose flows like air or water, never dogmatic like stone. And never really conclusive…
Seven thirty five.
I got quite a restful sleep last night, so today is already off to a better start than yesterday. It’s the first light of dawn out. The sky looks gray with clouds, though currently there’s no rain. Amazon tells me that my new hoodie has been delivered. I ordered it in gold, and I think it should be rather pretty… I retrieved the package and put on the sweater: the color is bright and reflective. I really like it. My band will practice again today at four o’clock. We’re going to try out my new bass amp in our studio. I will run my blue Fender through it. Last night I went to church with Roxanne and did my duties of singing and reading. Pastor was downhearted and nobody was really bursting with joy. I felt tired and apathetic. Still, we got it done. Now it’s time to go to the store.
Nine ten. I encountered no one on the street; only a cat that I startled. When I approached the doors of the market, two cars pulled into the lot, but otherwise the place was pretty deserted. Or maybe the emptiness is inside of me? I thought of how we’re all forced to wear a mask in public just because someone said so. I read that the death toll from the virus has reached two million worldwide, yet it still seems kind of unreal to me; more like an exercise in obedience. It surely hasn’t been much fun. I picture myself in the parking lot of that silly little store, observing the drastic changes over the years. This is the pain of having a long memory, seeing things change irrevocably, leaving behind people and good times that I loved. You may wish to freeze and dogmatize the progress of the world, all to no avail. Time moves in one direction only. Turning back clock and calendar is denial. So we move on with the current of life…
I did things a little differently this morning. Aesop was out of canned food and I was concerned that he didn’t get enough variety, so I walked the mile to Grocery Outlet under the clear sky. I bought him four cans of Blue Buffalo in three flavors, plus sourdough bread, dry salami, pepper Jack cheese, and a summer sausage for me. A demo team on Silver Lane is tearing down my old grade school. I stopped and watched the big Caterpillars doing this dirty work. I don’t know if a new building will replace the old… According to the official report, the new North Eugene High School will be built on the grounds of the old Silver Lea school. The Japanese immersion program has moved to Kelly on Howard Avenue, and Corridor School has closed forever. So this really means goodbye to my elementary school. I attended there from 1973 to 1979. Learned a little bit of everything. Through the wrecked walls I could see into the classrooms, with the wall clocks frozen at two o five. I don’t remember how I voted on that ballot measure. I didn’t realize that revamping the high school necessitated the demolition of Silver Lea. Obviously the measure passed. Be careful what you vote for. Otherwise it’s a beautiful morning, and now I have a few groceries.
Eight thirty. I know that nine years ago was a long time, but I have a hard time letting it go. I loved Kate, simply enough. Yet the simplicity was complicated by other circumstances, including my alcoholism when I knew her. I guess what I need is to be patient with the process of recovery. In some ways I feel quite lost, while in others I’m very confident. For a while, I have to content myself with smaller pleasures before I’m ready for a relationship. But I have no regrets for what happened in the fall nine years ago, and hold those memories sacred.
Nine thirty five. I wore my new Duck mask on my trip to the store. Michelle was very nice, as always. Sometimes my thinking is clearer when I’m walking around. I realized that what I really miss is not my Scottish friend but rather the alcohol! Booze is a great facilitator of daydreams, and truly I lived in a fantasy years ago. I had a wonderful time when I drank, yet nothing short of heaven is permanent bliss. And then I speculated on the necessity for fantasy in all our lives. Dreams keep us going. If the frigate can’t be alcohol, then give me a good book. Today I’ll probably read more in Victor Hugo. The sky is overcast, though not as dark as yesterday morning. I think I love November. Music by Stewart Copeland runs in my mind, a souvenir of old times when I believed I was happy. Is all happiness just an illusion? Whatever your bliss, nothing in life is forever. Sobriety is to experience the roller coaster of real life. And these ups and downs are what I have to accept.
Quarter after nine. This morning is exceptionally beautiful, all decked out in autumn colors over a backdrop of clear blue sky. Fallen leaves litter the streets everywhere, soggy from recent rain. Vicki was in a good mood, and I was the only customer there at eight thirty. I had the whole neighborhood to myself. A couple of times I stopped and looked around me. The world may take a while to get its bearings after yesterday. Things will shift and change with the transfer of power. The blogging community will be different. The transition is comparable to the face that nature puts on, shifting colors and shapes like Proteus. The landscape feels like a vast place, illimitable even by the blue sky, the dust before black space takes over. Through it all, the silence roars. No one dares break the spell. I stood alone in the parking lot and took the measure of the universe. It was very still and soundless, waiting for something while I watched. And yet all is right with the world, today and every day henceforth… I spent over $13 on foodstuffs for Aesop and me. I bought two Snapple teas, against my better judgment. I know the caffeine interferes with my sleep, yet I crave it for some reason. My dog scarfed down his breakfast, even though it was nothing special. He was hungry. I should call Bi Mart about getting a night light for my outdoor walks… I just have the sensation of being able to breathe again, and soon the world will breathe with me. If it doesn’t, then maybe I’m in the wrong blogging place. It won’t be doomsday. Life is mutability. Everything passes like clouds across the moon, including ourselves, and the changes are unpredictable. This is the beautiful part of it. When we can accept it, we become true adepts at the process of living.
Quarter after eight. I’m preparing to go to the store, primarily to buy Snapples. I’ve been getting away from soda, out of boredom with the same old stuff…
I observed a few fallen leaves on the street. The blocked gutter at Fremont created a little pond, as usual. I heard more bird life than is typical; wonder where they’ve been all summer. There were lost coins on the pavement, and even a discarded Bandaid. In the market, Michelle was wearing a pink sweatshirt over her blouse; yesterday it was Snoopy and Woodstock. She is always kind to me. I saw Derek on my way back, and we exchanged a hello, nothing more. The vehicles were missing from his driveway, which seemed strange. I’m counting down the minutes to Aesop’s breakfast, as he begins to lose patience.
Nine forty. The damp street, as I plodded along, called to mind countless times I’d gone to church by a hop, skip, and a jump. I reminded myself that it’s been the same old me for the past three years. And yet, the self can be a vessel for big changes. And no one may ever be expected to stay the same forever. People grow and progress with the passing of time, and the natural world we know is changing too. There’s no revoking it. The universe that began as a mere point of light and exploded into diversity keeps expanding like a balloon, and everything in it gets farther and farther apart… I encountered only four people at nine o’clock this morning. Overhanging tree limbs dripped water on my head here and there. I’m ready for the fall season.
It’s a painful discovery to learn that innate gifts don’t necessarily translate into a career. Ayn Rand makes it sound like a possibility, or even something that ought to be. Maybe she was just a dreamer, not a realistic observer? I was spoiled by reading The Fountainhead in my youth. It gave me a lot of false hope and expectations for the future. It turns out to be just an American fairytale, not a statement of what is possible. I made the mistake of taking it literally. And then think of all the people who have not read the same book. Maybe it’s a beautiful book for a beautiful dream. But in the end it’s just an elaborate lie… This morning is overcast and cool. Already, though, I see a shaft of sunshine. Aesop is asking me when his breakfast is due, so I give him the countdown. It’s a thing he can depend on, getting his breakfast on time. What can human beings rely on from day to day? What can we safely infer about reality? We assume that the sun will come up tomorrow, but even this is not guaranteed. Future contingencies are unforeseen. Though it would be nice to have a rock to cling to, life offers us only wind and water instead. Existence is change. Even the truth changes, so there are no eternal verities. It feels good to hold a writer like Emerson in a book. It is good to fasten things down and analyze them. But the essence is still mutability, a river and not a stone.
Quarter after six.
Sometimes I miss Kate profoundly, and regret how Europe has shrugged off the United States since the last election. It feels unfair because I had no control over that. I had trouble sleeping during the night. Aesop’s iq blows my mind. I give him a request and back it with a sound argument, and he complies if it makes sense to him. I can see him weighing my logic in his mind.
Nine o’clock. I bought Aesop three cans of Alpo for 30 cents off with my bottle returns. Weird how I can never have Coca-Cola again. The caffeine reacts badly with my medication. I’m starting to feel as if I were on a treadmill day after day, so I should mix things up a little. Suddenly I think, Who was my love interest in 2007? But I had no one then; no relationship except with alcohol. My date every Friday night was a 12 pack of Foster’s or Henry’s. Oh yeah, I had a love hate relationship with a certain coworker. I wonder what happened to my supervisor? I only know he doesn’t work there anymore. And the frenemy retired… Eight years ago around this time, I had to have Henry euthanized. A pug, he was smaller and cuter than Aesop, and far more sociable. Mom purchased him from Bobcat Pets in the Santa Clara Square, a strip mall north of me on River Road. Inside his glass prison, Henry sought to engage with everybody who looked in. His passing at 14 was a very hard thing. The veterinary hospital sent me a sympathy card signed by the entire staff. I kept it up until the fire happened.
Ten twenty. Aesop had his filet mignon and bacon, and now he’s waiting for a snack. We’re both enjoying the cooler weather today. Then tomorrow will have no mercy; high of 98 degrees. Ninety six on Monday… Memories of places flit through my mind, never materializing long enough for description. Some of those places don’t exist anymore; and if they do, they are changed. Only in memory are things permanent— and not even there.