The Slope

Eight o’clock.

Michelle told me she left her other job. Evidently the place was quite mismanaged and there was inadequate communication with her supervisor. When I first got up and looked out the window, the sun was a great copper cannonball in the east. I let the dog out and took out the trash. I skipped my medications last night and so far I feel better for it. The weather people keep telling us the air quality is good, yet the colors outside don’t look right. Next door to me, Lenore is having her house painted a medium gray with white trim by a local budget service. It doesn’t look so great, especially next to my bright yellow house. Lenore also never offered to pay me a portion of the cost of the fence that Damien built last year. I have crap neighbors, and nothing I can do about it. No one seems to have a conscience anymore, while the big brazen sun keeps making its daily circuit: sunrise, sunset… 

Aesop just ate his breakfast. Every morning I give him a peanut butter bone from the store, so now he expects it as a matter of course. I love to see him enjoy it while I quaff down a Snapple tea; it’s a high point of the day. When the world is sloping downhill, it’s good to have a creature comfort or two. Yesterday I thought of my brother, whose immaturity belies his 68 years of age. And I think of how he has no excuse for being a jerk to me, his younger brother. But life is very strange to a person in recovery, far stranger than any fiction. 

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. 

Perfectible

Quarter of eight.

As I started walking down my street this morning, my head began to spin and I lost my balance for a few seconds. Dunno what caused it, though it could be my cholesterol medication, or maybe the heatwave. I mastered myself enough to finish going to the store for a few items. No Snapple today. Too risky. I’m also under a lot of stress in general and life has been unkind lately… At ten o’clock I have a Zoom appointment with Rebecca. I may be a bit nervous about that. Aesop gets breakfast at eight thirty. I think I should take it kind of easy today and aim for church on Sunday. My apocalyptic view of this summer could be exaggerated for some reason. However, I still think we could use a good rain here in Oregon. I feel rather tired and also sad about a few things. Every loss brings grieving. I don’t believe my Freudian education is valid anymore, or applicable to my current life. But I learned other things in college I can salvage for use in the present. Information tends to flow and ebb with time. And if I’m just a man out of time, a fish out of water, then I can learn to adapt with everyone else.

Quarter of nine. The day looks quite ugly to me. I’ve thought of how much I miss old times when our winters were actually cold. People still wear jackets and coats in the wintertime, but the truth is that they are not necessary when it’s fifty degrees out. We’re past the tip of the iceberg, and we did this to ourselves by polluting our habitat beyond sustainability. No one listens to scientists because we prefer the flattering lies of religion. The time was yesterday for paying attention to their warnings. Now, the new normal will be more and more abnormal for everybody. If only human nature were perfectible, as Percy Shelley hoped a long time ago… 

Trump of Doom

Seven twenty.

The sky was quite pretty when I went out to the store, with a myriad small gray clouds on the blue. Children on my street had made drawings in colored chalk on the asphalt. And I think, let them dream and pretend. Michelle, the store clerk, told me about a customer who was rude to her yesterday. She seems to be on the receiving end of a lot of bad exchanges with people and with life itself. It would be nice if she could turn this around and take control of her circumstances. See herself as an agent instead of a victim to make her life more authentic. But it’s always easier to describe a problem than to prescribe a solution… I believe I was on N. Park when I stopped dead and looked at the panorama of the sky, thinking something inarticulate about time and eternity. Has the same firmament been here forever, or have we fouled it up beyond repair?

Eight twenty five. Heidi called in sick this morning, so my appointment was canceled. Immediately I had to call Ridesource and cancel my trips for today. But it’s okay; I wasn’t feeling so great anyway… How nice if things could be simplified, reduced to one perspective. Yet this wouldn’t be reality, which is rather encyclopedic. For six years I kept a worldview of logical positivism, a kind of empiricism: only our senses can tell us about reality. This method rules out metaphysics, the supernatural, and focuses on tangible things. It might be good to go back to Carnap’s take on life, but then I couldn’t mix with church very well. The beauty of empiricism is its simplicity. “No ideas but in things.” And you only have to understand determinism, or cause and effect, in a material and physical way… My dog, Aesop, senses that something is wrong with the world, or anyway, it’s wrong with me. Again I think of the benefit to us of paring down all perspectives to one. We can subject it to logical analysis to determine what makes sense and what doesn’t. But the problem with positivism is its utter rejection of poetic language as empty nonsense. It doesn’t refer to anything concrete, therefore it is invalid. As a consequence, the angels in heaven come crashing down to earth with a mighty thunder. 

Word on the Street

Quarter after ten.

My burrito was good. Aesop ate his breakfast after he understood the cost to me. He even understands when I ask him, “Are you mad at me?” His attitude softens and he wants to make peace. Very smart dog. I hear a pressure washer somewhere near, and a conversation in my street. I’ve quit eating my heart out about the girlfriend who ghosted me in 2017. Still, I imagine it’ll be hard for me to listen to an album like Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the memories it triggers. I guess just don’t listen to that CD. The clouds have formed a solid white sheet that admits only a bit of sun. The religious thinking is going away, giving way to realism again. I really enjoyed Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells and might look into The Octopus by Frank Norris. The opening chapter was very powerful with its description of a train plowing into a flock of sheep that had wandered onto the tracks… Didn’t sleep well last night, so I feel rather wiped out. It doesn’t bother me much anymore who is the US President, or how this would affect my sobriety. Staying sober is an independent thing from all other issues. I had bad dreams about my dad last night. He was a real jerk because no one liked him, and vice versa: a vicious circle…

The chatterboxes in the street are still going at it. I don’t want to know what they’re prattling about. You can’t pick your neighbors, usually. Probably the ones I have don’t like me, just as they disliked my mother.

Eleven twenty five. I’ve got oodles of time to do whatever today. However, days often go by when nothing gets done. And I suppose I’m okay with that.

Dawn is a feeling

A beautiful ceiling

The smell of grass just makes you pass

Into a dream

You’re here today

No future fears

This day will last a thousand years

If you want it to

Mixed Blessings

Seven ten.

Clouds like fish scales have moved in overnight. I got two Snapples and a little peanut butter bone for Aesop. Saw a heavyset woman walking two small dogs, and I passed a skittish cat in front of Kat’s house. Now, my house is exceedingly quiet; the only noise is my tinnitus, a whine in my ears from too many music gigs… Maybe all the music was a waste of my time, because you can’t have the music without the culture. I consider myself a nice guy and probably unsuited for rock and roll, especially when I’m not drinking anymore. I feel myself split between so many polarities. Can we blame a philosopher like Kierkegaard for his either/or principle? Or perhaps Aristotle for the Law of Excluded Middle? Too much of life is forced into a scheme of black and white. Even Jesus Christ had a distaste for lukewarm people, saying you run either hot or cold. Dichotomous reasoning is embedded in our culture, but not necessarily in nature. Sometimes I want to shoot spit wads at Aristotle for being a clod.

Quarter after eight. Aesop doesn’t like his science diet food today. I spent thirty bucks for twelve cans of the stuff and he’s turning up his nose. But with all the things that are going wrong lately, I know that not everything is crap. Life is full of mixed blessings. Whatever else happens, I’m still sober. If the world is coming to an end, I’ll be clearheaded to witness it and write about it. 

The Hurly Burly

One thirty.

I just played my Kiloton bass for a while with the switching in split mode and tuned down to D for doing “People” by King Crimson. Sounds really great. My mother used to spoil me by getting me professional music gear when I was a kid, so I got kind of used to that. Then after the moneybag was gone I felt lost and quite stuck up a creek without a paddle. I’d been so dependent on her and suddenly I was screwed. I don’t think I could reason out my situation very well at first. All I could think of to do was drink a lot of beer, because this made me feel comfortable somehow. Otherwise I was too scared to navigate my course, to make my own decisions and do what was right for myself. Recently I’ve realized that there aren’t that many options for me, unless I rule out some of them automatically. Everybody appears to be stuck with limited choices while the pandemic lasts, though I wonder what a brave person like Sartre would do, if this circumstance is anything like the Nazi occupation of France about 80 years ago. Some people don’t believe the virus is real or that anyone is getting sick, and we’re all just pawns in a government game. Now I have reason not to be as skeptical about Covid, having heard of a case in my own family. I know my sister wouldn’t lie about that.

Two thirty. The sky is a hot white color outside my window, not very pretty. Will this summer ever end? It’s dry as a desert in Oregon. Everything just seems unnatural and out of whack. On the prompt of Environment Oregon I sent a prewritten email to our two Senators this morning. It dealt with climate change from burning fossil fuels, and a plan to change our sources of energy. It was worth a shot… There is Heidi again this Wednesday morning, and Rebecca on Friday. Misty never called me back to reschedule… 

Face to Face

Eight o’clock.

I lowered the boom on my band mates regarding alcohol and weed use in an email just now. It may be a while before they get the message. Aesop didn’t sleep last night, and I had trouble sleeping too… It is still very early in the day. In my blank book I wrote something about D.H. Lawrence again, and the polarization of the sacred and the profane since the Victorian Age. During Shakespeare’s time, there wasn’t such a big divide between Church and State, or between religious and simply human. It’s unfortunate how this split occurred. Ideally, life should be more like Shakespeare.

Nine o’clock. I would say that the weather is beautiful, but it’s so redundantly sunny with hardly a cloud in sight this summer. I bought Aesop some original Milk-bones today. My sister told me some bad news yesterday about her family: her middle son has caught the coronavirus and is very sick. I see a lot of catastrophes happening around me since the weekend. And through it all, the sun keeps smiling indifferently every day. Last night my mind wandered into religious territory and I thought the predictions of Revelation were coming true; that this is the Great Tribulation. Things are falling apart at a rapider rate all the time. It really makes you wonder if behind the veil of the natural world there’s a spiritual dimension. Or maybe I’m merely deluded. Sometimes I have to stop and mutter to myself, “This is reality.” My experience is so surreal that I doubt my senses. Perhaps everything could tumble down like four walls and leave me faced with divine wrath. How can you tell the difference between reality and dream? “If we share this nightmare / We can dream Spiritus Mundi.” 

Family and Fowl

Eight forty.

I fed Aesop early today. I’m beginning to stress about leaving him here while I go to my band practice, if we decide to do that today. The dog was in such a bad mood yesterday from my absences on Wednesday and Thursday. Very pouty, and he even snarled at me last night… Well now it’s a date set in stone: rehearsal at one o’clock. Maybe Aesop will forgive me. The high temperature might be 95 degrees. I’m getting rather sick of blue sky every day and no sign of any precipitation. You start to wonder if it’ll ever rain again, and will autumn ever come. I hear sparrows and falling acorns out back. Tried calling my sister again with no answer. My guess is her son is probably home. He and I don’t get along together very well; but the whole family thing is stupid and really out of my hands. I wrote them off when I quit drinking almost four years ago. I have no control over family nor the power to change the situation. But at least they also have no power over me. It’s not like they made a little voodoo doll of me for sticking pins in; we don’t cast spells on each other back and forth like two teams of wizards. Right now, as I write, there’s no one in the room with me but for Aesop. The rest is my imagination.

Nine thirty five. I’ve been through a lot of things since 2017 and seen so many faces, heard many stories. I guess none of it was wasted time as it’s part of the same learning experience. Still there are some things I wouldn’t want to repeat. Even now, there are circumstances I’d rather get out of and risk going it on my own…

I just observed a pair of sparrows on the grass, copulating like crazy. It appears that all of nature is in a state of confusion, unless mating season is supposed to be yearlong for these birds. I dunno, but I suspect foul play. 

Is Rock Dead?

Four thirty.

I slept okay but I think I’m done now. Unbidden, the old song by The Beatles comes to me, written by John for Brian Epstein: “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” It’s more an attack on culture than on his friend, so the title is actually ironic. It raises the question why… Yesterday I had doubts about my participation in rock music. But right now, on the contrary, I’d be stupid to do anything else. Speaking of The Beatles, my mother was a fan, though in the closet with it. Her own mother found the band disgraceful, and her daughter fell in with her opinion. Why was my mother the family pariah? In my estimation, she was far more intelligent than my sister, and probably for this reason she had a difficult time making friends. I wonder why it is that the very best of us get derailed into a self destructive pattern? But she pinned all her hopes on me when I was growing up, perhaps a bit too much pressure for me to handle. Still, I don’t want to let her down, even twenty years after her death… Therefore, it’s rock and roll till I die— or until rock and roll itself is dead, which is a real possibility given these circumstances. Yet like the Ark of the Covenant or the Olympic flame, someone keeps the dream alive and safe.

Five thirty. The sky is bloodless over the treetops across the street. A cadaverous gray. The store doesn’t open until seven on weekends. Not really looking forward to hearing from my sister; maybe we can skip it this week. A mournful train horn sounds in the distance to the southwest alongside Northwest Expressway. I used to know a guy who stowed away on a freight car and rode it all the way from Portland to Eugene. I wish I were so adventuresome. But this guy’s dad was a rich timber consultant, so his poverty had a silver spoon tucked in it… The crows wake up east of me. Squirrel prances on the roof of my house. And now I just await my friend’s email…