Neighbors

Quarter of two.

I left a voicemail for Todd regarding getting me on an antidepressant, and a little later I had another Snapple tea and played my Kiloton Bass, which sounds great when I feel good. I did a few Duran Duran songs for the fun of it, and during “Sound of Thunder” the sun came out temporarily as if in answer to the music. I think my brain chemistry is quite touchy these days, so the antidepressant is a good idea if I have any say so about it. I also don’t know if talk therapy does me much good. I kind of dread every Monday morning for that reason. I’m being pushed into situations and maybe I don’t want to be. There’s something wrong with that. I should be able to command my own ship and guide it to any waters I like.

I just went across the street to ask Roger for help with installing a bass pickup, and he smiled and said he’d do it, and to just let him know when. His answer kind of surprised me; I thought he might say no. This favor from him will save me about $100 in labor and cab fare to have a technician do the job. And by the way, the sun has come out in a mostly clear sky. 

All Honor and Glory

Quarter of nine.

A very gray and rainy morning. It’s definitely an umbrella kind of day. Motivating myself to go out to the market was difficult, but I managed it all right. The huge mud puddle at the intersection with Fremont Avenue is back, so that I had to tread on Kat’s grass to get to the narrowest crossing. I saw middle school kids with umbrellas running across Maxwell Road, taking big risks with the traffic, depending on the mercy of certain drivers. At the store, the dairy guy was kind of flirty with Michelle. I don’t blame him for liking her, and he’s a nice enough sort of person. He is an honorable, hardworking type, the kind that seems to be getting harder to find these days. By contrast, there I was with my EBT card and tappable credit card, a slacker just floating along the current.

Nine thirty. Aesop wasn’t so skeptical of his breakfast this morning; maybe he was just hungrier than usual. There’s a weird knocking on my patio cover. Doubtless it’s some sort of bird or a squirrel. As long as it’s not human I’m not worried. I don’t believe in spooks at all. I’m not sure if I’ll go to church this Sunday, the day of Halloween. Pastor Dave is subbing for Pastor Dan that day, so the perspective on things will be different. Also I like to hear him sing; he’s really pretty good. I have today and tomorrow to think about it. The rain is expected to continue until about one o’clock, but there’ll be more over the weekend and beyond. 

Around the World

Seven thirty five.

I had a couple of little revelations in the last half hour on my excursion to Community Market. Willie was walking Rosie up my street when I came out the front door. We stopped in passing and talked a little. I learned that he makes a living by selling goods from a booth at Saturday Market. Willie fashions shirts and other clothing, and he makes wooden hand drums. When I asked, he described himself as an “old hippie” with a smile. Next, I rounded the corner onto Fremont Avenue and, to my shock, a for sale sign hung like a gibbet in the front yard of Kat’s house. Her family has only been living there for a year and a half. I have no clue what changed their mind or what the circumstances are. And finally, it sounds like Heather is going through a breakup. Willie honked his horn at me on Maxwell Road as I was walking home. He was on his way to set up his booth, for after all this is Saturday. The sun is out this morning in a clear blue sky, but the air is windless. A prop plane hums over my house. My dog anticipates breakfast. Aesop has been rather agitated lately; he doesn’t sleep well and has nightmares when he does. Probably he feeds off my own disquiet about the world today. I’ll be relieved when summer is gone.

They say that endings are really new beginnings. Even so, bring on the autumn… 

Domains

Nine fifty.

I don’t feel very good today. I suspect the cholesterol medication makes me dizzy and unbalanced, plus I have back pain. Just the wages of getting older. I hope I can make it to church tomorrow morning… But mentally I’m doing pretty well. The raspberry tea must’ve helped me. It is definitely cloudy and overcast today, and I kind of like it. Maybe it won’t get so hot this time. My mind dwells on school during the fall of 1990 for some reason. It was the only time I ever went to a Halloween party— and felt like a complete social klutz. It was also a time when I had to choose between music and academics, ultimately picking school. A difficult decision. But I think I was in the wrong place with my musical friends, though I didn’t realize it right away. I dunno; it’s hard to be a divided person with diverse abilities.

Quarter after eleven. Feeling lonely again. Roger has some project going in his garage, something noisy. Since his retirement it’s been hard for him to keep busy. What is a retired cop supposed to do? His job was to bust the scumbags, as he called them. He didn’t care how the bad guys came to be that way. Didn’t think about criminal justice or whatever. If they broke the law, they broke the law: period. That was the training he received… Roger has been my neighbor for many years. He’s an old conservative like two other houses on this street. The most outrageous conservatives used to live next door to me. They laughed at homeless people and didn’t own a single book. I was actually sandwiched between two ultra conservative homes. Those people all moved away by June 2015, to my immense relief. They hated me and didn’t try to hide it. Those were very difficult years.

Noon hour. When you can’t find a niche where you fit in, you have to carve your own niche. That’s what having a domain is all about. 

Pumpkin Eaters

Seven o’clock.

I went to the store super early because I judged that I was free to do so. As I was on my way down my street I heard Aesop barking and crying for some reason; maybe he thought this was unusual for me. There is free will and then there are expectations from others. I saw one Black man inside the market and another guy in a motorcycle helmet. At the checkout counter nothing was extraordinary. I bought four pounds of Dog Chow and two Snapple teas. Michelle might’ve been a little paranoid. Coming home I passed an older couple who greeted me good morning very cordially. Kat was just opening her garage door when I was rounding the corner and said hello. Rather stupidly I showed her the dog food and she said you can’t do without that. I never know what to say to Kat. Her values are probably quite conservative, but you never know until you break the ice, and then you’re taking a risk. People are often not what they appear to be. I have another neighbor who keeps his wife in a pumpkin shell, to allude to the old nursery rhyme, and I always feel so sad for her. She could be having a lot more fun with her life, and meanwhile the decades fly away like sand off the desert dunes. Life can be an open and generous thing, like a bird on the wing, if we only seize opportunities as they are offered. Life also can be deceptive, a thing of duplicity, so again appearance may not be reality. 

Easter Sunday

Quarter after eight. Sheryl from church texted me a while ago and said it would be nice to see me for the Easter service. So I replied with my reason for not coming to church as often anymore. Interesting; she said she misses my singing voice. And I do have some fond memories of singing with our choir a couple of years ago. The people were so nice and we had a lot of fun together. The only relationship that went kind of sour was the one with Pastor himself, and that’s a regrettable thing for me and the others… I am still very excited about my band. I thought our rehearsal yesterday was the best one ever so far. It seems to me that the three of us feel more comfortable with each other now; we’re becoming better friends, so the music flows a bit more easily than before… It’s another partly sunny morning. The sunlight splashes down and dapples the magnolia tree in my backyard. About two weeks ago I spotted a raccoon jumping into the same tree and settling there in the lower limbs. Even at the time, I thought maybe I was hallucinating; it was so surreal and bizarre to see. Since then I haven’t seen the raccoon again, thus maybe I really was deluded. “Cold hearted orb that rules the night / Removes the colors from our sight / Red is gray and yellow white / But we decide which is right / And which is an illusion?”

Sheryl just texted me back; she’d assumed that my absence was due to Covid. But no, it was the sermon on demonic possession that alienated me from church, at least temporarily. I’m going to stay home today except for my daily trip to the market on Maxwell Road. I had an exciting day yesterday and need a rest today.

Ten o’clock. As with most Easter Sundays, the neighborhood has fallen very silent, and the silence is rather disturbing to me. It is the silence of the tomb, of death, and maybe of intellectual poverty. It is the quiet of oppression, perhaps, when nobody dares to speak their mind. My closest neighbors behave very strangely, not very amiably with each other or with me, keeping to themselves and basically being quite self centered. I find this is true of many conservatives: they’re paranoid and care only about what is theirs. They scoff at people who don’t have a home or a job; people who are unfortunate. They figure that it’s tough luck for them; we got ours, so screw the people who have nothing. Such a selfish attitude, and essentially asocial. How can my neighbors be happy with such narrow views and feelings? They cloister themselves in their homes and watch tv all day… The book of Plato I ordered was probably delivered to the wrong address, but do you think the erroneous recipient will bring the package to me? No one practices common courtesy around here. Every house is an island on my street, and finders keepers, losers weepers… I jumped to a conclusion. The computerized Amazon chat assistant said the book probably hasn’t arrived yet. But this is another example of the dehumanization of society. “It’s so hard to stay together / Passing through revolving doors / We need someone to talk to / And someone to sweep the floors.” 

Speak Up!

Six twenty five.

Total blackness outside my west window. There should be daylight at seven o’clock. Mentally I can hear the bass line to “Take Five.” I think the band is on for practice this Saturday. I’m concerned about my back pain, but I plan on gutting it out. I got as much sleep as I could, and then had to admit defeat. Is it a matter of inference that the sun will come up each day? I look to the east, and now I see the gray dawn. My immediate neighbors still behave very strangely. Roger makes no effort to be friendly with Lenore across the street from him. But what I find eerie is the silence around here; I never hear the sound of a human voice outside. It calls to my mind the book by Ken Kesey. Everyone in the hospital is quiet and obedient until the silence is broken by one new patient. When his life is sacrificed in the end, it inspires the big Native to crash out the wall and run to freedom in the sunrise. Or anyway, that’s the film version. The story seems allegorical to me, and applicable to our lives today.

A few purple clouds show in the east. Sky is powder blue… Heidi gave me homework to do before Tuesday: attend an AA meeting. But that might be very difficult for me. I don’t like Twelve Step programs or anything numbing to the intellect. I’m a maverick, I guess. Probably no one wholly agrees with readymade institutions, so they pretend to get along, and keep their thoughts private. Emerson said that a great man is one who speaks what other people merely think. This takes audacity.

Quarter of eight. Pretty soon I’ll make my daily pilgrimage to Community Market. I don’t expect anything unusual on my trip, but you never know. Everything is in perpetual flux and anything can happen. The trick is having resourceful wits, the ability to think spontaneously. 

Looks Can Deceive

Quarter after ten. On my promenade I spoke with three different people this morning, the longest with my neighbor Kat down the street from my house. I got out of bed feeling gloomy and disinclined to go to the store, though I’m glad I forced myself to do it. Jessica said the salon business is pretty good lately, and told me about the vandals who sprayed graffiti on the wall beside the building. Kat said she’d had a bike stolen from her garage recently. Both nocturnal crimes were caught on camera. And Michelle and I lamented how it seems like the end of the world; but I believe we each were thinking something different. On my end, I was considering our ecological suicide. She probably was thinking of something moral in a traditional way… Kat has a big chocolate dog who came up to me, offering me his polyester bone, so I took it and tossed it helicopter style towards the center of her yard. We never stopped talking… But it makes me reflect on appearance and reality, and how two people can use the same words and have entirely different ideas on their mind. Outwardly a person can look a certain way, but inside be just the opposite of what you expect. Maybe the conversation I had with Kat was deceptive, and she believes I’m something I’m not… A wind has picked up that I can see and hear outside. Where I had been gloomy at first, now I’m just speculative as the morning advances towards noon. 

Torn

Eight fifty.

It’s almost time to feed Aesop. He doesn’t care that Joe Biden is being sworn in this morning. And maybe it isn’t such a big deal after all. I got another scam call regarding the warranty on my car, when I don’t own one. In the mail last night I received the Sandburg book. I’m very pleased with it. I read twelve pages early this morning… Now I have to go to the store. Hopefully they’ll have some of those sandwiches.

Ten o five. I came upon my neighbor Willie and his small dog Rosie on the return trip from the store. He saw me coming down Fremont and stopped and waited up for me. Willie has long white hair and a goatee. He’s always pleasant to talk with. His street is the one parallel to mine to the east. Once when I was out walking in the summertime I took his picture with my Kodak PixPro. It was my new toy and I shot everything for a while. Right now it’s quiet and peaceful in the neighborhood. Things seem to be settling down and people can breathe again. Perhaps now we can move on with the new year. First thing this morning I found another good book of analytic philosophy in my stuff. It’s about time for unfounded metaphysics to be put in its place, at least for me. Church is all right with me if it’s just about the people, but I’m not into the supernatural. I think my dog believes in ghosts and things he can’t explain, but human beings ought to know better. I just remembered a passage from Blake. Newton blows the trumpet of doom and consequently the angels in heaven crash down to earth. This is to say that science kills the religious imagination. Possibly I should think on this a little more. It’s hard to know what’s right. 

On Positivism

One ten. The problem with Jungian psychology is that there’s no evidence for any of it, nothing objective and measurable. It’s more like faith: something you feel to be true rather than a truth you can demonstrate. Those ideas just hang there in the ether, incapable of being proven valid or invalid. Logical analysis cannot verify such claims. So what does this do to poetry? Do we rule out the importance of poetry in our lives?… I don’t feel very strong right now. Maybe I’ll pick up a book. Put everything aside and read for a while.

Three o’clock. So I started reading the introduction to the compilation called Logical Positivism by A.J. Ayer: very well done. Some of it was a bit over my head because it involved mathematics, but I could get the basic idea, and with repetition I should be able to master it. I was prompted to read this by my exasperation with metaphysical claims that have no factual basis, that refer to nothing in the world except for language itself. I guess the aim of positivism was to make philosophy closer to a science, a discipline that was absolutely true, though the word “absolutely” isn’t quite right. It was to be a fool proof method of determining truth. I found this reading very enjoyable, while outside it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon. I still haven’t played bass guitar today. Maybe I won’t until tomorrow. I saw Diana gabbing with a neighbor across the street, most likely about current events and politics. She refused to answer her door when I brought over some chocolate at Christmas time, so it’s hard not to take it personally. I suppose just chalk it up to stupidity and forget it. I dislike most of my immediate neighbors, particularly the longest standing ones with ultra conservative attitudes. Their hearts are made of stone and they are very stingy with their money, time, and hospitality. Basically they suck. Now I think I’ll do my bass practice, and to hell with the neighbors.