A Human Mirror

Quarter after eight.

It was another red dawn today: “Red skies at morning, sailor take warning.” I hesitate to go out in the cold, would rather be comfortable indoors. Tomorrow there is church again at seven o’clock. I plan to go and participate. I hope Roxanne is feeling okay. During the wee hours a while ago I started reading The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla out of a nagging curiosity regarding the content and his attitudes in general. It had been a big mystery to me. Fifteen pages into the book, it appears to be simply a realistic diary of a person’s life, starting with his family background and the people he has known in his native Spain up to his 21st birthday in 1918. I think his project is to describe things with very little personal bias, being a human mirror of the life around him. This is sort of the contrary of Romanticism, full of ego and bombast. But I’m getting ahead of myself… It’s almost time to feed Aesop his breakfast. I count down the minutes to him while he gets increasingly excited and vocal.

Nine thirty. I bundled up and went over to the market. Saw nothing unusual. My neighbor Jeff passed by me in his burnt orange Mustang as I was coming home. I can never remember his wife’s name, but I think it’s Sara. He used to be a high school science teacher. He has a long white beard with a swarthy complexion and a little snub nose. Jeff doesn’t invite much conversation when I see him on the street. Outside of his house he flies a skull and crossbones pirate flag, and his mocha colored boat is called the Second Wind. Just across the street from him is Harry’s house, an old conservative guy who lost his wife over a year ago. He used to have two Doberman pinchers in his garage. His daughter Cherie lives on the cross street to the north. Occasionally I see her in his front yard, trimming rose bushes or whatever to help out… The clouds have burned off, showing the light blue winter sky. Yesterday at noon the sunshine was intense, or maybe I’d had too much caffeine. I hope for a serene day today, calm and quiet, except for the rock and roll noise from my bass guitar this afternoon. 

Briar Rose

Quarter of ten.

Conditions were pretty normal at the little market this morning. Michelle and the customer ahead of me were talking about the new tax on cigarettes. Because of this, the cost has gone up to ten dollars a pack. Michelle considers the tax to be punishing people with addictions, which isn’t fair. I can see the sense of that. Pricing people out of nicotine is effectively a form of prohibition. It’s a one sided way of looking at things; I don’t smoke, therefore you shouldn’t smoke either. Well, I voted against the tax, though the decision took some thought. 

I bought a sub sandwich, cottage cheese, and two Snapples. The mail carrier mistakenly gave me Diana’s letter, so I went across the street and wedged it in her door. Bonnie Rose passed me on her way back from the espresso shack and waved without smiling. It really puzzles me that I never see Colin outside his house anymore. We had a big windstorm last night, yet the political sign in my front lawn still stands. So does Roger’s black and blue striped police flag, in a strange and silent standoff between neighbors. Most of the time, people around here are peculiarly quiet, the silence rudely broken by my bass guitar nearly every afternoon. No one says anything, and no one has vandalized my sign or any of my property. The magic spell reminds me of a fairytale in the Brothers Grimm. I believe it was “Briar Rose,” or “Sleeping Beauty.” A woman pricks her finger on a spindle and everyone enclosed by the hedgerow falls into a deep sleep, or maybe a paralysis. They freeze as if catatonic. I forget what or who breaks the enchantment, but it was probably a prince happening by the scene… 

Haircut Day

Quarter after nine.

Today I get my hair cut with Karen. I’ll probably get rained on. I had a conscientious dream this morning that I won’t describe right now. I tend to dream better when I miss a dose of my antipsychotic. At the store, Michelle mentioned that she has diabetes. The regulation of blood sugar is a real pain, she said. Occasionally I get tired of taking my medication as well. Sometimes it’s important to be able to dream and confer with the soul. If my guilty dream put me on the spot, then at the same time I managed to come to my own defense very effectively, even in the context of a deep sleep.

Quarter of eleven. Karen was all ready for me when I got to my appointment ten minutes early. Kim was also there at the salon and watched and joined in the conversation. Looking in the mirror, I could see the Maxwell bridge out of the door, the cars with their lights glaring in the rain. Karen buzzed over my head with electric shears, then fine tuned the job with scissors. Afterwards she gave me a wash. I paid her a generous tip because things are tight lately. When I took my leave, went out the door and grabbed my umbrella from the rail, a reckless driver screamed by on Maxwell Road. Right behind him came a City of Eugene police officer. I stopped to watch what the cop would do, but I was disappointed. I came home humming melodies from the Prince Igor overture. Crossing N. Park, I passed the sexy neighbor mom who waved to me from her car. I regretted that I didn’t know her name. 

Zodiac / Victoria’s Secret

I’ve been sleeping a few hours, and I woke up overheated and maybe dehydrated. I had a number of dreams about the zodiac and the element of Saturn in my horoscope. Somehow, the image of the goat and the similarity of the name Saturn to “Satan” all melted down to the same archetype, I imagine. Traditionally, the devil was depicted in the form of a goat, just like the fauns, satyrs, and the earth god Pan in Greek mythology, and the main idea of the goat was lust and procreative power. Before Christianity took over, goats were sacred to the wine god Dionysus. There was nothing particularly bad or wicked about the goat in antiquity. All of this reminds me that I have a book on the cult of Dionysus in my stuff, written by a Jungian scholar. It might be good. Did you ever read Bacchae, a tragedy by Euripides? Perhaps it is of more interest to me. About fifteen years ago I read it to compare it to Christian tradition, and the parallels between Jesus and Dionysus were rather startling. Both were arrested and brought to justice, and both rose again in the end. Both were too powerful to be conquered… Mythology and its relation to astrology, and the whole subject of symbolism, I find fascinating. It delves into an interior reality of the unconscious, though I think the last word still hasn’t been pronounced on it. The field is still wide open for new scholars and new discoveries.

Well, the mystery of Victoria and her family goes on. This morning I found a thank you card on my mailbox for the chocolate, again from Victoria. This game of note passing makes me imagine strange things about the situation in their home. Maybe Diana is another Republican sore loser like Roger and Alice? I only know that Victoria graduated from the University of Oregon in psychology and wants to be a therapist. Meanwhile, her mother is uneducated and resentful of people who go to school and succeed in something. Victoria probably knows I attended the University a while back, and also her dad is a fifth grade teacher who went to the same school. And then there’s the matter of my political sign outside for Black Lives Matter. Still, all of this is circumstantial evidence and pure speculation on my part. Yet the cards she gave me are very real; I’ve put them up on my bookcase.

“Happy Holidays to a Great Neighbor”

Eight thirty.

I found a little surprise in my mailbox a bit ago: a holiday greeting card from my neighbor across the street, Victoria. She is the sister of Bonnie Rose, the youngest of three daughters. The note inside says thank you for always being so kind to me, and thinking of you. So then I headed for the store with a lighter step. I saw on N. Park not one or two, but three squirrels chasing each other in the spirit of fun. The sun had just barely risen behind the clouds. Michelle told me a little of what was going on with the deli next to the store. And the latter will be open for Christmas, as it is every year. When I saw Bonnie Rose approaching in her big black truck, I stepped to the left to let her pass and waved. Once inside again, I put Victoria’s card on top of the bookcase as a reminder that life is really pretty good. 

Thankful and a Little Wishful

Quarter of nine.

Thanksgiving Day has started out quite nicely. I bought Aesop a special treat of T bone snacks. The peppermint candy ice cream tempted me but I passed today. In the home stretch of my walk, I met with Bonnie Rose in her big black pickup truck. She rolled down the window and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I wanted to ask her if she was the one who kept setting up my lawn sign, but there wasn’t time. It was a little like Beauty and the Beast as I trudged up the street in my sapphire hoodie with a full shopping bag. Or maybe Lady and the Tramp. I can remember when she was a young girl and my mother had just passed away, nineteen years ago. Her older sister played the piano and her younger sister shot hoops with their dad in the driveway. The parents divorced a few years back, and now the family of women keep more or less to themselves.

Quarter of ten. The other morning I spun the disc of Rush’s Power Windows and was impressed with their mid eighties sound. Hearing Geddy Lee play his Wal bass made me wish I had another bass with active electronics. Perhaps someday. I wish even more for opportunities to play with other musicians… What I’m thankful for today is my sobriety and the positive effects this has had on my relationships with people. My pen pal thanked me this morning for my kindness, and it’s nice to be perceived that way. I still believe that alcohol is the root of all evil, though I know madness can stem from other factors. It does seem that avoiding alcohol has a magical impact on my fortunes, the year 2020 with its strangeness notwithstanding. It’s miraculous alone that I stayed sober through the trials of this year. I think fleetingly of my parents: they could never have maintained sobriety for three years. Whatever helps me today, my parents had nothing to do with it. 

Sunday Morning

Ten o’clock. Colin was out walking Lolo with his baby daughter Tessa strapped to his front when I returned from the store. He told me how pretty he’d thought my maple tree was before it dropped all its leaves. And it really was beautiful. Tessa made “stink faces” at me, but they didn’t mean anything. She also waved. Colin speculated on the future of the coronavirus, but neither of us knows anything. We agreed that a vaccine will be a great thing. Lolo sniffed my shopping bag, which was full of stuff.

The store was fairly busy. One customer bought biscuits and gravy. I saw another person head for the beer cooler. I got a couple of Snapple teas and easy food. I found out that I don’t tolerate soda very well anymore, perhaps because of the phosphoric acid, or the carbonation. I tried to do a two liter of Pepsi Friday and felt a little sick. Gradually I’m moving away from things that are unhealthy for me. To some extent, alcoholism is deliberate suicide by a slow means. I’m more hopeful now than I used to be, and a bit more defiant towards people who don’t understand me. My sister and brother used to bully me until I finally broke away and took my chances on my own. I found that most strangers were nicer to me than family, though that sounds counterintuitive. And it’s still a battle with them, especially my brother, who refuses to understand what my life is like.

The Stewart Copeland songs are still in my brain, so maybe I should listen to something else. People always ask me if I hear good music or bad, but it’s really a matter of what I’ve been listening to. Is it a hallucination or instead just having a phonographic memory? I’ve had it all my life and come to live with it… The rain has stopped this morning, but should resume tonight. It rained all night long. At least it’s a little brighter outside than the last few days. 

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.