Quarter of seven.
It was six o’clock when I hiked to market, and my right foot stabbed me with pain a few times. I saw no one else outdoors although the birds were all very awake and raising a racket. Above me, the clouds were scalloped small and gray on blue sky and westward I heard crazy cars on the highway. If I focus hard enough I might recollect my thoughts. Anyway: yesterday I learned the names of the neighbors in Derek’s old house, and they told me he had a job in Oakridge and had bought a house there. Not that it matters much, because I think those neighbors are Skinheads, judging by the truck parked at the curb with Confederate plates. True, that was two years ago, but a leopard doesn’t change its spots overnight… The rest of my promenade was very ordinary, banal, and boring, and now the sunshine is going away. But at ten I’ve got Gloria and we had planned a trip to the bottle drop in Springfield today. I look forward to that, even though an excursion to Springfield is a voyage back in time thirty years. Maybe that’s why I like it. Aesop barks for his breakfast. Life today is a mixed up mess, especially in a place like Oregon.
The light of day will come in 45 minutes. I need another Snapple tea for stimulation. I guess begin with how I feel: kind of lonely and blue. The other morning, I ran into my neighbors Colin and Willie with their dogs on the street; it might’ve been yesterday. I was coming back from the little market, a dog treat in each hand. Then I felt awkward because they were for my dog, and should Aesop share with Lolo and Rosie? I knew the neighborly thing to do, but curiously I kept the treats for Aesop and continued on home after a brief exchange of words. Now I wonder why I acted as I did. It wasn’t the Fred Rogers solution by any means, much less like James Joyce. Are people losing their sense of community and family in the world today? And what is the glue that should hold people together? Again I know the answer but I turn the other way. Social life nowadays is like the “Game of Chess” in T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land. People generally are polarized and pulling away from each other, but does this help anything? I ought to ponder this for a while.
Six fifty five.
The day has the potential to bring something good. The moon still is in the heavens, low in the south, obscured by haze. I thought I saw my neighbor James drive past me in a new electric car, black with Kendall dealership plates. The cost of an electric car just boggles my mind when I can barely afford to eat. I’m not the only one. Can I turn my writing into something lucrative? Perhaps five cents a word? But this would cheapen the quality and ruin a beautiful thing. Like putting a dollar sign on every drop of blood in my body: every cell accounted for. “We matter more than pounds and pence / Your ‘economic theory’ makes no sense.”
But I’m fortunate to have shelter and enough clothes to wear, and a small empire of books to read. I’m quite comfortable. I don’t need my own electric car for getting around. The postal and parcel services bring stuff to my door. How did the ending go to “The Shoemaker and the Elves”? I only remember that he was impossibly overtaxed with work and at night the elves came and finished his work for him. Where there’s endurance there’s a way.
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends…
Ten twenty five at night.
I wrote just now that a lot of conservatism is a reversal of utility. If I can’t be happy, then I’ll make sure that nobody is happy. And if I’m miserable, the whole world will share my misery. It’s a denial of happiness to others. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Also a lot of conservatism is born of ignorance and incomprehension, and the fear of what you don’t understand. The result of all this is frustration for everyone involved in the picture, beginning with the ones who say you can’t do this or have that. Come to think of it, both parties try to piss on each other’s fun.
I get weird vibes still from the neighbors on my street, and I wonder where their attitudes are tending. The situation feels tense, and I don’t have to do anything to draw their fire. My existence alone is incendiary enough.
Quarter of six evening.
Something brought me down late this morning. It rained cats and dogs and I felt tired already so I got some rest. I still needed a mood lifter when I got up, hence I treated myself to Tim’s potato chips and a big Coca-Cola from the market. But as I traversed my neighborhood I wondered what I was doing and what for. I felt kind of weird, like an actor in a play, while the sky and everything were a glaring silver. It seemed almost like I shouldn’t be there: I was an intruder or trespasser on my own street. For some odd reason, people are quietly hostile, though keeping to themselves, probably grinding axes in the backyard. I got the same feeling when Aesop was a puppy ten years ago, this strange cold war with the neighbors. Also I get the premonition that somebody’s going to sell their house and move away.
Who is my neighbor?
It sounds like a cliché, but I ask anyway, where’s the love? My neighbors around here ignore my presence as insignificantly as if I were a crow or squirrel; something beneath contempt. Two or three times I have stood in my driveway, in plain sight of everybody, when Victoria came out for her afternoon jog and very deliberately avoided looking at me or saying anything to me. I just get the idea that I’m in the wrong place. But I might get the same treatment everywhere I go. I don’t know; is it just me or does everyone feel so invisible with other people? What on earth is wrong with everybody?
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.
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.
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…
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.