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… 

Foot and Mouth

Eight forty.

Walking west on Maxwell Road, I saw a man in a white Comcast truck peel out of a parking lot and scream up towards the bridge, swerving out of his lane as he went. I was thinking about the dumb things I used to say when I abused alcohol and kicking myself. When I got to the store, a few older guys with white hair came in and bought Budweiser and Keystone Light, with some incidental biscuits and gravy. Michelle held down the fort by herself. We talked a little about driving drunk and traffic violations. I had a few stupid accidents in my alcoholism. But the worst mistakes were verbal. I cringe to remember some of the things I’ve said to people, both in speech and in writing. So now, when I behold other alcoholics still doing their thing, I’m not sure how I feel. I doubt that I’d want to lapse back to drinking again. Curiously, I still catch myself putting my foot in my mouth sometimes. It makes me think again and repent for being a jerk. They say that alcoholism is more than just the drinking behavior. It’s a personality type. I don’t know if I agree with this, but then nobody asked my opinion… The sky is overcast this morning and it’s quite cool. That’s a fact that no one will dispute. Facts can be comforting, yet even they can be driven to support someone’s argument. The search for truth is a useless passion. Today I will try to simply go with the flow, though for me it’s very difficult. It’s nice to have a reprieve from the heat. 

Xenophobia

Ten thirty five. There are still a lot of xenophobic people in the world. They can’t be reasoned with. If it’s different from us, then it must be bad. We drink coffee and they drink tea. We have football, they have soccer. They drive on the left side of the road. They’re on the metric system. But our way is always better, just because. It’s a very egocentric way of looking at the world. If I could singlehandedly bridge the Atlantic and open communication again, I certainly would. But it will take more than just one person’s efforts. It’s all very wearisome and depressing. Maybe someday people will read my posts and say that I was right all along. We really are better together than isolated. The world is a big place, much bigger than we think. We need to think globally again and work together to save humankind. It’s not just foolish idealism anymore, but a real necessity. I hope to see some positive changes in my lifetime. I had a dream last night that the election was already over with. Can you guess who won?

Wednesday Morning

Nine o’clock.

I was sleeping too much, so I bought a Coke to keep me awake during the day. I guess there is no perfect mental state. Just accept and roll with it. I was the only customer in the market a bit ago. “Magic Man” by Heart was on the radio, followed by Tears for Fears. I wore my straw fedora for the fun of it. I met the same old man walking with a cane on the street. We always say good morning, but I don’t know his name. Before going out, I read a headline about the US not cooperating with the World Health Organization towards developing a vaccine. I believe this isolationism must come to an end. It is ridiculous for us to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and call ourselves “great.” The world outside of America thinks we’re all very conceited and arrogant… and stupid. Why do we have to keep proving them right?… It’s forecast to be a day in the 90s. Aesop’s breakfast is almost due. He’s a great dog, the smartest I’ve ever owned. I brushed him Monday night, and he seemed to like it. Eight years old this month. We’ve been through a lot together… I should get my Rush CD this afternoon. “Can’t we raise our eyes and make a start / Can’t we find the minds to lead us closer to the heart?” “Can’t we learn to feel what’s right and what’s wrong / What’s wrong???”

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.

It’s a Fact

Quarter after three. I spoke with Denise at Laurel Hill. They’re operating on a skeleton crew. Heidi is out of the office and may not be back for weeks. I could tell by her conversation that Denise is a conservative. The virus has become a political issue, with two positions to take, or one in between. Under responders to the crisis are political liberals, over responders are conservatives, and others are independent. There are exceptions, of course. Some Republicans want to open the country again ASAP for reasons of the economy… Anyway, I hope Heidi is doing all right as long as she can’t go to work. Hopefully her husband is still working. Maybe they’ll get a big stimulus check. I feel like going to bed and taking a nap. Nobody’s doing anything. What a waste of a beautiful day! Should I go out for ice cream? No one else is doing anything like that. I might get arrested. But I’ve seen people buying beer and wine every day.

Four twenty five. I bought strawberry ice cream. Saw a man with a mask. Lots of children were out playing. Boys in the street, girls coming out of the store. It was Cathy at the cashier, wearing gloves. Though no one said anything, my internal critic accused me of doing something selfish. It’s only from having heard my sister talk tirelessly about her opinions. She is only a statistic. The ice cream was soft and very sweet. And that’s a fact.

Truth and Lie

Four o’clock.

It is Monday afternoon. Mike is talking about canceling band practice. His wife is worried because he has asthma, etc etc. It’s just predictable how people are going to react to mass hysteria. It reminds me of the terrorist who used to behead people and show the video afterwards. I don’t know how that ever got resolved, but it succeeded in scaring people. Fear is a great motivator, as George Bush figured out a long time ago. Nobody remembers that now. The public is easy to manipulate, and you can feed them any kind of lies and they will believe it. Especially if they are terrifying. I’m always suspicious of the media, especially since the Bush administration after my mom passed away. Every politician’s nose grew to be a foot long. Powell confessed to lying after the fact, but I never believed him in the first place. Wherever there’s something to be afraid of, we need to be especially cautious when listening to our government. I stopped watching television for good 13 years ago on principle. If you want to believe a lie, just turn on the tv. If you want the truth, kill your tv. And don’t go to the movies. Read books instead. Get your information firsthand, don’t take it on faith… Anyway, if Mike is paranoid about germs, then probably practice won’t happen this Saturday. It’s going to become a situation of people suspecting each other of being infected with the virus, pointing the finger and boarding up their doors and windows to keep others out. Meanwhile, the sun shines down placidly, languidly, oblivious to human cares. I’d kind of like to be the sun, with the sun’s indifference and unswerving honesty. Life is a lot more peaceful that way.

Five o’clock. But inevitably, I feel lonely without people around. While it might be nice to build a log cabin on the shore of Walden Pond and live isolated for an indefinite period of time, one still gets lonely. Perhaps there is no truth or lie without people to create it. It’s just hard to watch public opinion go astray and feel obliged to go along with it. Who knows what the truth is? The sun knows; or perhaps it doesn’t know. I had a frenemy who told me in exasperation that there is no truth at all, so quit looking for it. It seems like a long time ago, and it was. Funny, but back then I was misled by Freud’s topography of the human mind. He borrowed his model from Plato’s Republic, which divides the self into the head, the heart, and the gut. It doesn’t matter now what Plato and Freud believed. I was susceptible to a silly paradigm for some reason. It was a belief that maybe caused me some problems. There was an alternative recovery program to AA called Rational Recovery, originally with a basically Freudian idea of a “Beast” that subconsciously wanted to drink. It was only another money-making gimmick in the name of recovery from addiction. I don’t trust any of those programs anymore. Not one. The only way to get sober is to become convinced that drinking alcohol will kill you. And the only way to do that is to nearly die from your addiction. Sobriety is easy after you’ve received this indelible impression. If you want to live, then you will find a way to do it without alcohol. But now I look back on those cheesy gimmicks and sort of smile. They are ineffectual and a useless waste of time. Nothing works until you are serious about life without alcohol.

Letter to a Friend

Hello —-,

Just an update to my first email.

Every activity held at Our Redeemer has been cancelled until Good Friday, so this means no church tomorrow. But Pastor still plans to have a Zoom meeting with us at ten o’clock Sunday morning.

And while I was away at the food pantry, Polly tried to call me. It was about five o’clock when I saw the missed call, so I returned it right away. She just wanted to know how I was doing. Toward the end of the conversation, her politics began to annoy me. Specifically, she has certain ideas about homeless people I don’t agree with. You’ve probably heard the opinion, “Oh, they could get a job if they wanted to.” She and her son Ed, who works as a park ranger, are convinced that the majority of the homeless choose their fate and take designer drugs like Fentanyl. I would like to have more firsthand information before making a judgment on any of these claims, but I can bet that Polly’s right wing politics colors her perception of the whole thing. It just pisses me off royally, to be honest. In her mind, the mere fact of having a home versus not having one makes all the difference between a good person and bad. Don’t you think that’s quite stupid? Where do people with attitudes like that come from? It is terribly insensitive and unkind, and a product of feeble intelligence. But this is what I have to deal with every time Polly talks to me. If I had the proper counter evidence, I would argue with her and show her how absurd and mean spirited her ideas are. I had next door neighbors with the same ignorant opinions who moved away in 2015, to my great relief. When James and Brenna looked at the house before buying, they found not a single book on the premises.

Well you know, there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I can bitch and complain all I want, but morons like my sister and nephew will always exist —- and persist in their wrongheaded views. Still, I don’t have to listen to their BS. And the less often I hear from my family, the better. My brother is a major capitalist, so in that sense he is just as Republican as Polly. Out of my whole family, I am the only Democrat in the true sense of caring about people over caring about money.

Well anyway, now you know where I stand. Luckily, Pastor Dan and a few in the assembly share my politics. I do Food for Lane County from an authentic feeling of duty. Who would be cold and hard hearted enough to withhold a handout to the people who need food, clothing, shelter, and a lot of other things? I don’t see Polly doing anything like volunteering, nor my brother or for that matter anybody in my whole family.

To hell with it.

Talk to you later Gator,

Your Rob