X-ray Eyes

Ten thirty.

It was kind of a hectic morning, but I got the X-rays out of the way. The nicest people I dealt with were the actual X-ray technician and a young girl named Ophelia who helped me with the lockers. The rest were rather perfunctory. And the cabbie on the return trip was also kind. On the way to the hospital, we passed the park under the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge, where I saw a number of homeless people camped in particolored tents. I hadn’t been to that part of town in many months. It was an alarming sight, quite a shock to see it suddenly again. I got a sense of coldness and apathy from the general scene beneath an indifferent gray sky. These were the dispossessed and forgotten, but still not invisible. The feeling of coldness extended to the waiting room of the imaging place. The clients in their masks eyed each other with mistrust, and the receptionists were either dull and impassive or else obsequious and fake. I ran into a Black man from Belize I had met in church riding the elevator. He didn’t recognize me, nor I him until I thought about it later. Evidently he was employed with P—Health; he and a lot of people. All in all, it felt like consorting with a bunch of robots except for a few who were more personal and organic. In every way possible, the scenario was one size fits all, right down to the chaplains. It was so much like a scene out of A Wrinkle in Time, where the suburbs were run by a huge ruthless brain called IT… 

20/20 (My Own Two Shoes)

Eleven o’clock. The rain has spent itself for the next three days. There’s a splash of sunshine on the ground. An old Mark Egan song, “Third World Wave,” dances in my head. I first heard it on local radio, so then I went out and bought the disc, probably at CD World here in town. It was located on 11th and Seneca, and finally closed forever in the spring of last year. I remember that the day after my mother passed away, I sat in my rocking chair and listened to Egan’s Mosaic. It was a compulsion for me to rock my chair while listening to music, a behavior that went away eventually, just as alcoholism did. I don’t know how it got started, but I was about two years old, jouncing to music on a rocking horse on springs. I suppose it kept me out of my parents’ hair. My dad obviously didn’t care for children, and Mom had too many problems of her own. Before I was born, their life together had overindulged in alcohol and lust. After I came along, they were stuck with responsibility they hadn’t planned on. Hindsight is 20/20. My birth and everything that followed it could’ve been avoided. But as it turned out, my existence forced them into some semblance of honor and respect, if not genuine love. Over time, we simply grew comfortable with each other. Meanwhile, my rocking compulsion persisted all the time my parents were alive. Finally it seems to be okay to have my own outlook on life; to be an individual in my own right. To walk in my own two shoes. 

Monologue on a Snapple

Quarter after eleven. The sky is getting dark with rain clouds. I hear thunder. Again the squirrels are very active on my property. Now it’s raining… I used to fear criticism from other people so badly, and I got the worst of it from my brother. But since I stopped drinking, the shoe is on the other foot. I think about him less than before, but I can remember how mean he could be. One thing keeps me straight, and that is the quest for the truth, whatever it proves to be. Another peal of thunder ripples across the sky. I feel more optimistic today, since the rain cleared the air outside. Earlier this week I thought I’d been psychotic, but the next day I felt fine. I actually like myself today, and life is worth seeing through to the bitter end. Perhaps we can colonize other planets, as has been the dream of sci-fi writers since HG Wells and before him to Poe. It’s a matter of how wise and how durable is the human spirit. A scrub jay screeches even in the rain. The creatures are all confused after the fires and the smoke for nearly two weeks… I owe a debt of gratitude to my pen pal for maintaining her composure while I was going a little crazy during the wildfires. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and believed the end was imminent… An idea from Percy Shelley occurs to me occasionally: we all are really just one person, participants in the One Mind. Individuality is an illusion created by language, he said. It’s a trippy concept, yet there’s something attractive about it. I imagine that whatever happens, we all share the same fate… How curious to think about interplanetary existence. Or any solution humankind comes up with to the problem of the uncertain future. The sun peeks through the charcoal gray for a moment. I hear the sounds of the train yard off to the south. More screeching of jay birds. My cattle dog Aesop just got a drink of water in the kitchen. Life is better today, even if for just a day. 

Springfield

Nine o’clock. Yesterday, Polly told me that T— and R— are having another baby. I didn’t say much, but now I think of how stupid that is. The evidence of our demise is everywhere apparent, and still people are having babies. People don’t think! People are in Disneyland! I consider all the times when Polly has accused me of selfishness, but who’s being selfish now? Her little feelings of grandmotherly pride are absolutely thoughtless… My taxi is coming after ten o’clock. I dreamed last night that I retired my first car, which was quite symbolic. I parked it in some parking lot and then handed the keys to my dad. I was done with driving. Perhaps some aspects of my life are over as well.

One thirty. Darcy is concerned that I may have hip arthritis, so I have to go in for X-rays sometime soon. No appointment necessary. The ride home was rather circuitous because we had to pick up another passenger at RiverBend. We passed two different locations of Shari’s restaurant in Springfield. I remarked that the strip malls all look the same. Everywhere, it was smoky and it appeared like an industrial nuclear winter. Once I caught a glimpse of blue sky behind the smoke. No one really knows if it will rain tomorrow. After my arrival home, I walked to the store and stood in line to check out for several minutes. JR was cashiering all alone and it was the noon hour. I felt annoyed because they’re doing a lousy job of restocking food items. I got a Snapple raspberry tea and, when I got home, sat down and drank it leisurely. Aesop probably whined and howled in my absence. But now my big excursion is out of the way. 

Chemical Stew

This is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I avoided my laptop all day yesterday. I wrote some decent posts using my iPad. Today, I hiked over to Bi-Mart and bought Vitamin E and a kit for removing earwax. I have taken one of the vitamins at 400 IU. Afterwards, I felt dizzy and drowsy. I just need to get used to it. Years ago, I took 800 IU daily on the advice of my psychiatrist. I think his reason was to prevent dyskinesia from the old antipsychotic. Secretly, he was also thinking of my heart… It is very strange to look at the blue sky today and see something ineluctably here and now, and to know that here and now is much different from any past I ever knew. The sky appears whitish with smoke or a sort of smog, but it is unlike any ceiling I have seen in the past. A typical summer sky in the NW looks azure, a deep, rich blue. Partly, it is because I am sober that I perceive the heavens as they really are today. Drunkenness could blot out reality and replace it with whatever I desired… In addition to the afternoon white skies, I have observed that the predawn light in the east is virtually greenish mixed with peach. It looks like a kind of chemical stew, improper for the dawn, and quite disturbing. This change in color and climate is what we have done to our habitat… Damien is coming tomorrow at noon to mow and to collect what I owe him. Otherwise, I have no plans for Sunday or Monday. On Tuesday I have my lab appointment at nine fifteen. I must be ready to leave an hour before. I cannot think of what else is going on next week. Wednesday is forecast to be 99 degrees. Tomorrow: 91, I think. Hopefully, my portable a/c will arrive soon. I paid for it a long time ago… I asked Aesop if he would like me to brush him tonight. He seemed a little uneasy about it, but I think he will put up with it… I dislike the Editor feature of this app. It doesn’t allow me to use contractions without it flagging them. If I took its suggestions, my idiomatic English would come out quite plain and sterile. I’d look goofy. Therefore, I’m going to use apostrophes anyway. From my experience so far, I think I prefer writing with my iPad. Okay, I’ve told it not to check for this issue.

Quarter after five. I’m gazing again at the dirty sky. It seems so unnatural, and for that reason, ugly. A good rain might help it… It’s about time for dinner. Just a burrito. Sometime thereafter I can take my other dose of Vitamin E. I don’t remember the last time I took a gabapentin. The good news is that I’m not chemically dependent on any drugs.

Philosophy

Four o’clock.

I’ve been reading Nietzsche. I came across some ruthlessness that I didn’t care for. And I can see why Christians don’t like his writing. To him, kindness and virtue are done out of cowardice. He says people don’t want to be hurt, and for this reason they abstain from hurting others. And though this is quite true, what would the world be like where people reversed the Golden Rule? My high school friend was a Nietzsche nut, possibly for the wrong reasons. I remember exchanging letters with him when he was a Marine. We argued over moral philosophy versus amoral. It was such a long time ago, and I drank daily back then. I think I was disposed more toward Hume’s and Kant’s ethical philosophies, while Sean was vehemently opposed to them. I could never understand why, because his outward demeanor was rather shy and quiet. I still can’t really picture him with an UZI. One debate we carried on for a while was over my notion of “security and peace.” It wasn’t much of a philosophy. I learned it by observing my dad’s behavior. In informed retrospect, it resembled the psychology of Alfred Adler more than any philosopher per se. I don’t know where my dad learned his protocol for life, either. Where had he run into Adlerian theory? All he asked of life was to be comfortable. Consequently, he never learned much about himself. Or, if he did know himself, he didn’t share his feelings with others. He wasn’t brave enough to admit to his weaknesses—which would’ve been a commendable strength. Basically, my dad was a coward… I suppose I’ll read the rest of Zarathustra. But I disagree with the deemphasis on kindness. If anything, it requires courage to feel and show kindness to other people. “He held up his riches to challenge the hungry / Purposeful motion for one so insane / They tried to fight him, just couldn’t beat him / This manic-depressive who walks in the rain.” From “Cinderella Man” by Rush, 1977.

Friday Morning

Quarter after nine.

Another nice day is underway. I won’t go to the store until FedEx has delivered my laptop. Aesop shows that he might have a health problem, so I will monitor him today and see how it goes. My music day went very well yesterday. I slept okay, but my dreams were unpleasant. Something about the end of our sex lives, along the lines of D.H. Lawrence. I read a lot of his stuff when I was younger, and he was prophetic in many ways. He abhorred technology and industry because they rob us of our humanity. People should have taken a warning from his writing, but of course we were too stupid to pay attention. As a consequence, we’re looking at the sterilization of the human race and general ill health. If the body is the soul, as Lawrence stated, then our soul is withering away while the machine head takes control. Probably there’s no going back now because we still refuse to listen to good sense. Just be hopeful that the machines have a heart… It’s Friday, the day of filming the church service. If my package comes early enough, then I’ll likely go participate. I’ve let them know the situation in advance. I wish I’d stocked some food yesterday for today but all’s well that ends well… I think I’ll restring my bass today and play it this afternoon. Where there is music there is hope.

My Wednesday

Life seems to be taking a dump on me, but it’s only a matter of cause and effect. Things wear out over time, and beyond time there’s nothing. Eternity is an idea that is felt, but no one can ever prove its existence… I began to lose my faith when I was stuck in a trailer for seven months. Now, adding on a spiritual dimension to experience doesn’t make much sense to me— especially with a built in expectation of doomsday… Life also dumps good things. I just got a text from a percussionist in answer to my ad. I replied to him, and now it’s just waiting and seeing… It’s almost time for lunch. I feel pretty good today, probably due to the cooler temperature.

One o’clock. Now I’m worried that I can’t get Aesop shut away when people are coming to the house. Maybe I was unrealistic. But I still feel okay. Try to capitalize on this good feeling. Keep some optimism and the trust that all shall be well. Most of all, believe in myself… Man, what a roller coaster my emotions are today.

Quarter of two. The tech is here now, putting in the new water heater. I used my credit card and it went through okay, no worries. I also got a call from Damien a little while ago. He’s been spending time with his dad. Finally, Tony is coming over to play tomorrow at five o’clock. I look forward to that. It’ll be just bass and hand percussion, so all the tuned notes are coming from me. Eventually maybe an acoustic guitar could be added to the group… My mental state is night and day different from last weekend. I don’t know what did it. I’d been so hopeless about everything, and then today I feel the sense of possibilities.

Three ten. The new water heater is in. Now we can relax for the rest of the day… I definitely feel that my sister and I are not compatible types. Every conversation is a real strain on me.

Common Sense

Nine o’clock.

Out of the blue, the toilet decided to run. What makes it do that? Plus, the water heater quit working. I have to call The Home Depot about that. Little setbacks are cropping up as autumn gets a little closer. I slept better this time. Dreamed about making music with some help from friends. I think that common sense is the key to our future, if we can just be patient and persist. For a long time I’ve been trying to declare my independence from the church. To sit around and wait for the Last Judgment is no kind of answer to our troubles. It would be rolling over and submitting like a dog. This is what we’re doing to ourselves spiritually. Well, people believe what they want to believe. But a belief ought to give pleasure, it ought to help us along. I reckon I’ve made my wager on the religion issue. Maybe I’ll go to hell; but why would I go to a hell that I didn’t invent? After all is said and done, every individual creates his own fate.

It’s another beautiful and mild day. I wanted a Coke, so I bought a Coke.

I think I’ll decline on singing with the church this Friday. Sooner or later they’ll get the point.

When I stepped out my front door, I smiled to see the Black Lives Matter sign stuck into my lawn. Little elves had put it there this morning.

Whimpering: a Letter

I played the bass guitar yesterday noon like a madman, incorporating way too many notes to be very tasteful music. As a technical workout it felt good, and my instrument sounded great, but musically it wanted something. It could have used more dynamic feeling and better attention to my choice of notes and chords. I just feel sort of devil may care about it, for no one is playing with me and no one else is listening. “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” It seemed pointless.
Similarly, WordPress was a real ghost town yesterday. Some days are like that. I felt very frustrated and unhappy. But on the other hand, I don’t spend much time reading other people’s posts, either. We are mostly amateurs anyway. What’s the use?
I am very sick of the Covid lockdown and of people saying that this is the end of the world. It is merely an emotion and not a fact. My response to the situation is to say, Why pay lip service to the general attitude of despair? …Funny, but the words of T.S. Eliot keep surfacing to my mind. “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.” People go around feeling dejected and dispirited, having lost all hope and a sense of utility. Again, what’s the use? People have given in to futility and despair. The end result is a feeling of apathy. But— I still try to resist the epidemic of depression.