Behind the Outward Show

Ten o’clock.

Yesterday morning, my neighbor Derek offered me an air conditioning unit that sits on the floor. He was letting me have it for free. He asked me to think about it and come back when I’d decided. So, this morning I went back to accept his offer. His face clouded and he told me with embarrassment that the unit doesn’t work. My brother used to say, “If it sounds too good to be true…” And then, as if in response to my sign that says “Black Lives Matter,” Roger put out an American flag with black and white stripes and one blue stripe in the center. I stopped and asked him what it symbolized. He answered, “The police.” This makes sense, for he and Alice are retired cops. But what gives me pause is the thought that there may be something beyond the mere phenomena. Facts are one thing, but behind the outward show I feel sometimes that there’s a karmic law. Good is rewarded with good, bad is punished with bad. The mechanism for this is mysterious, while the effects of it are easy to see… I tried to drop in on the girls at the salon, but it was still too early. Damien called me: apparently I owe him for the past three mows. He’s coming over on Sunday. Life seems to be dumping on me, so now I stop to ponder why this is. “You say there’s no reason to conjure / With the force as it has been known to be seen / You say I’m a fool, a believer / Put your feet on the earth, it is green.” 

Kourt Drive Houses

Nine fifty. Just back from the pharmacy. I took Kourt Drive to and Silver Lane from. Saw a big blue GMC truck for sale at $5500, but I don’t have that. The sun was already hot. Made the top of my head sweat. I remember thinking of how far it was to the horizon, where I saw a shimmering mirage, and then being surprised when I had closed the gap. Kourt Drive is a fascinating street, particularly on the north side. Some of the houses are beautiful, like something out of old movies. So well kept and clean, with tidy yards. They may be 70 or 80 years old, but they stand there to baffle the day, immaculate houses that time forgot. They make the blue sky seem prehistoric, something in old photographs, a permanent ghost. Walking by is to step out of a time machine and feel as if in someone else’s dream. You participate in the mind of Vishnu, who slumbers this world into existence. It is definitely a throwback to more romantic times… Finally as I neared my own home, I encountered Lenore mowing her lawn. She was wearing a gray Queen T-shirt. She stopped and I told her I was sorry for her loss. Then I went inside and fed Aesop his breakfast right on time.

Future Revisited

To kill time I just listened to Abbey Road for the first time in many years. It is the one Beatles album that everyone seems to know, like an international anthem of peace and love. The quality of the vocals and of Paul’s bass are beyond comparison; every subsequent band has been an imitation of the original and archetypal. A perfect masterpiece of rock and roll, paving the way for the art rock bands that followed, in particular Yes and Genesis; also Queen. The Beatles had an earthier sound than Yes, however, with lyrics often more mundane and common… It’s interesting how life unravels day by day, like the expression of nature’s DNA, the very blueprint of fate. My neighbor Roger is working on a project outside his garage. The sunlight tastes like tangerine. I catch myself feeling a little greedy, a bit of a spendthrift. But investing in music gear at this point would be useless. There’s no one else to play with…

Nine twenty five. I remind myself that crazy things tend to happen in the summer. The heat has an adverse impact on people’s brains. My pen pal has not yet written to me this morning, so something must have come up… I’ve found my copy of The Planets by Gustav Holst, very poignant for me because of two friends who are now gone from my life. One of them was canine, a pug named Henry. The other was a Scotswoman pen pal. Maybe I won’t listen to it again. The music will conjure to my mind King Voltaire dog biscuits and worse, the taste and effect of cheap beer and sometimes wine.

Ten fifty. I crossed paths with Mike again at the market. He told me straight up that we won’t be practicing anytime soon— if ever. Well you know, the pandemic is going to cause serious problems with our mental health if we continue to socially distance ourselves. And imo, writers like D.H. Lawrence will eventually be brought to light again, being as they are symptomatic of their times, and ours as well. Not only is our society excessively industrial but also we have this virus situation that forces us apart. It is against our instincts to live like bears alone in the woods. Plus I hate to see the demise of music performance, played on real instruments by real musicians. At some point people will do something desperate. We will develop neurotic symptoms, making necessary another phenomenon like Freud. The future will be interesting to observe, if not tragic and sad.

My Saturday Morning

Nine o’clock.

Another summer day starts out sunny. Been to the store, and now I have to march to Bi Mart for my gabapentin and a few pairs of socks. A warm summer day is like an overripe fruit, something excessive and cloying. Spring is still my favorite season. But I really have no worries today. I got the church chore out of the way yesterday. I often feel culpable about my standing with the assembly. Do they think I’m just a hypocrite? It’s not my intention to be a rebel or maverick. I simply obey the honest perceptions of my mind. I never have believed in ghosts or anything immaterial, not even personal immortality… But if any vehicle can help us transcend, it is poetry. Lyrics, poetry set to music, are the most transporting things. The rock bands I like the best are the ones with the best lyrics. Yet the words can hardly be divorced from the music. There’s something about sung words that makes them stronger… Aesop gets his breakfast in just a moment. I give him the countdown until then. After that I’m bound for Bi Mart again…

Eleven o’clock. I took an interesting walk up Kourt Drive to the pharmacy, noticed things new to me. Some of the houses on the north side were as big and nice as mansions, while others were dilapidated dumps with old wrecked cars in front. I wonder how those neighbors get along with each other, with the affluent adjacent to the indigent. Kourt must be a singular kind of community, with its own Church of Christ and a little cul de sac of boxy two story houses. When I got to Bi Mart’s service window, I didn’t see Shawn or Jeanine. It is Saturday, so the clerk was Dona, who isn’t as pleasant. My prescription cost me only $1.30. Along the dirt trail I saw four guys playing doubles tennis on the blue courts behind the high school. A hooded man on a bicycle towing a little cart passed me as I returned to the street. The whole round trip took me about 40 minutes. I felt quite detached from any past I could put my finger on. I was just interested in the sights on life’s way. Last night I saw a V formation of Canada geese overhead, flying very low and close to me. I stopped and watched them go by… There was a food pantry this morning I didn’t go to, but I think they understood why. The volunteers should be wrapping up pretty soon. I’m having a good day so far.

Wotan’s Day

Nine thirty five.

The sky is leaden with blue and pale sunlight caresses the ground. Roger is tapping on something, making a sound like timbales out of rhythm. There’s a wicked red spider on the back doorway. Finally I called Library of America and learned the fate of Elizabeth Bishop: it got sent to the Residence Inn by my mistake. So I called the hotel and Shelley located the package, which she will attempt to forward to me. Aesop and I then returned to bed, but I still didn’t sleep much. Just now I left a message for Shasta at my insurance office. At around two in the morning I listened to Close to the Edge, which made me ponder evangelicalism.

Quarter after eleven. I made my run to the store, stopping by the salon for a donut. Angela is engaged to be married, but she’s known the guy for 11 years. The salon has a new floor now, sort of a beige wood grain color. On my way back from the store, I stopped and had a conversation with Derek outside his house. He has sold his fifth wheeler in favor of tent camping. I noticed its absence because I walk past it every day. He has two little daughters, Claire and Natalie, who are always outdoors playing. We chatted for maybe 20 minutes, as it was 11 o’clock when I got home. People are talking about the heat wave coming next week. I hope it doesn’t get too much above 90 degrees. Today is partly sunny and cool. I asked Roger about help finishing my J Bass and he declined, saying my best bet was to call a professional luthier for an estimate. It might not be worth it, for the kit cost less than the luthier would… For some reason the old Yes song “Survival” is playing in my head. I could go to Bi Mart today or tomorrow, but I have no purpose for going except to get out for a while. Aesop is resting at my feet. I hope Shelley is able to forward the book to my address. I’ll just keep an eye on the mail every day for it.

Aesop’s Breakfast

Nine fifty five. A cool and cloudy morning. I wore my rain jacket to the store. My body feels stiff and terrible because I’ve run out of gabapentin. Tomorrow, Bi Mart for sure. I’ll try to be present for the Zoom church coffee hour today. It’s difficult when I don’t feel well. I feel old and that much closer to the margin of death. I notice it when I overdose on caffeine. At any moment my heart could stop or I could have a stroke. Maybe I have hypochondria. But I know that I don’t feel the same as I did a year ago. Sometimes it hits me that my behavior is similar to my mother’s. I don’t know why I take after her so much; did I learn by observation, or is it genetics? I also think about my neighbors to the other side. I used to go over there to chat with the man until he tried to get involved in my therapy. I feel bad about ignoring them now, but it seemed like a dangerous situation for me. These days I have no idea what they’re up to.

It’s a lazy Sunday so far, and even Aesop is not in a hurry to do anything. I was further thinking that church is a good place for getting a moral education, if you don’t have one already. The metaphysics of Christ will always be problematic for me, but I can agree with the ethical part. Some people are ferociously opposed to religion for personal reasons, but my objections to it are strictly logical. If it doesn’t make sense, then so be it. Sense to my dog is getting his breakfast on time.

Tardes de Miercoles

Quarter after one. I was going to ponder intuition as a method for gathering information, but I don’t know where to look for precedents except for Poe and Emerson, where my interest was first sparked. I could search engine for ideas, but I think I’d turn up a lot of scholarly articles, even some that are pay per view.

Three o’clock. I guess Jennifer did pass away. Lenore received two baskets of sympathy flowers. The delivery driver tried to leave them with me because Lenore was not home. Her boss at Kirkland Flowers said it was okay to leave them on her front porch in the shade. Is it only a coincidence that my sister used to work for Kirkland? It’s a beautiful June afternoon, like one I recall 18 years ago. At that time, my mind was not conditioned by evidence based therapy. It was more Jungian and traditional, and less filtered by logic. Dunno; it was just odd to hear the doorbell ring and see this young girl with flowers for Lenore. She drove all the way from Springfield, and my imagination supplied the rest, creating a synchronicity that may or may not be accurate. Ultimately, one chooses to believe or disbelieve, but for now I’m undecided…

Une Reve

There is no evidence that schizophrenia is caused by repression of gay instincts. It was merely a nonsense theory dreamed up by Sigmund Freud a century ago. Without proof, a theory is sunk, or at least it isn’t a fact. Scientific studies show that the predisposition for schizophrenia is hereditary and not phenomenological. This is what I go by. As for the prognosis, the illness is incurable except in 15 percent of cases. I doubt if Sheryl was aware of either of these facts. She believed she was onto a miracle cure that she read about on the web. I have no faith in talk therapy with regard to schizophrenia. I’m an oddball for my opinion in our time, but posterity will probably prove me right. Talk therapy is in vogue because it is less expensive than psychiatry, and of course the world wants to save a buck or two. The rule goes, any accurate knowledge costs money, while misinformation is available for free. I just hope for a day when this sad state of affairs is redressed. Some rich and generous soul with a science brain must come forward and set things to right. But then, the rich usually get richer while the poor get poorer. This problem needs to be fixed first.

Quarter after two. I slept for about four hours and had at least one significant dream. It featured Vince from across the street many years ago. We were having a conversation in a sparely appointed room about James Baldwin. Vince said very articulately that Baldwin’s life had been a social experiment. He added that it was a difficult one, but Baldwin didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be a homosexual. He was born that way… What Vince was saying so intelligently could not have been voiced by the wife he divorced long ago. Although, his daughter Victoria is studying to be a therapist, or will be someday. I recall the bond of father and daughter they had. They shot hoops together out in their driveway… So when I awoke, I returned to think about giving talk therapy another chance. My plan is to call Laurel Hill this morning and ask about the possibilities for me of doing that.

Good Fences…

Nine o’clock. It’s raining right now, constantly and damply drenching everything in the black night. Aesop braved the weather to do his business. I glanced north to the neighbor’s backyard where there was a porch light on his collectibles. Aesop tended south along the house. The scene out back evokes memories in the darkness, though the chronology is a little obscure. The old neighbors to the south had a big dog named Rocky. Their friends would come over during Obama and play baseball outside. Come nighttime they made a fire in the pit and sat around it telling stories. One day a fence board broke and Rocky and Aesop could’ve fought each other in the chink. I went next door and explained the situation to the wife. That evening at five, her husband replaced the board. I offered to reimburse him, but he said forget it, it was only two bucks. It was perhaps the only time we ever spoke. The neighbors with Rocky might’ve lived there a couple of years. They were renting from Rich and Susan who used to live there with four children. In January 2010, during a power outage, he invited me over to breakfast that became an inquisition about my religious beliefs. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. The November of the same year, they moved away to the fish hatchery out of town where he had a job. Rich asked me to keep an eye on his house, which he’d been unable to sell. Currently the house has been bought by the occupants now there. We’ve only spoken two or three times…

Winding Down

Quarter of four. I had another good practice on my green Dean. The neck scale is a bit smaller than on a genuine Fender, which is great for my small hands. The La Bella flat-wounds sound deep and powerful. Kate bought me that set about eight years ago. She ordered the strings from Germany and they cost her about twice what they go for in the States… Aesop is pressed up against my side on the loveseat. He had a stressful day. Me too. Time for peace and quiet. There will be no strangers around the house tomorrow. I will march off to the church to volunteer like on a normal Saturday morning. Then the rest of the day is ours. Overall, Aesop is very happy to be back home… I hope my bass picking calluses come back soon. My chops were so good last spring. Now that we’re back in the house, I should be able to play much better again… My neighbor Jennifer was angry because one of my workers shouted a profanity in her earshot when she was trying to sleep. I think that’s absurd, because she goes around flaunting a big fat doobie in her hand. I figure she can just be that way, but it surprised me to see her in my backyard. Of course she took exception to my house color too. Still it didn’t ruin my day.