Sugar and Spice

Five thirty.

The morning is still benighted for two more hours, but even so, I might go to the store at opening time: six o’clock, and see Michelle. What makes a nice person nice and a mean person not nice? Michelle is made of sugar and spice, in accord with the old nursery rhyme. In colloquial French, the word for “nice” is sympathique; and “mean” is mechante. And the person who wears a frown is malheureuse. The rain is forecast to start again at noon today. It’s warm enough outside to go without a jacket. I think Aesop would probably like to get more chicken strips, so I’ll oblige him if they still have those. Pretty soon I will leave the house and just pretend there’s an invisible sun in the sky.

Six fifty five. I heard about Michelle’s weekend while I was at the store. More out of control stuff; her life seems quite unmanageable, so I hope she gets some help. Perhaps she’s been a little too nice and not assertive enough with the people who push her buttons. People generally talk about their “spiritual leader” nowadays, but I’m very skeptical of this, of course. No supernatural power is going to take control over your life and make everything better. It’s all up to you to take the wheel and drive your life like a car, with as many passengers as you wish. Even God can take a back seat if you must have one. I won’t go to hell for saying so, either… Now the sun pushes over the rim across the street from me, illuminating gray clouds. The gibbous moon was directly overhead when I went out an hour ago, accompanied by a few stars through an opening in the cloud canopy. Nature is enough. 

My Truth My Dower

Quarter of five.

I slept all I could, and now it’s going to be an early day. I was thinking last night about Henry James, kind of, and how he influenced me when I made friends with a Scotswoman on the internet. It was not just an escape for me, even though I drank like a fish; it was a necessity when my illness was so bad and a spiritualized America drove me insane. People had no evidence for the things they believed, and this loss of contact with reality exasperated the crap out of me. Everywhere I heard people saying “Jesus loves you” and other unverifiable claims that stood no chance of being true. So I needed a good dose of common sense in a world that had lost its mind… Yesterday I was absent from church for the fifth consecutive week. Finally I’m getting so I can use my brain again with satisfactory results. I was very tired of imagination run amok. I’ve rounded up a little regimen of books for reading about Enlightenment attitudes. It’s a start.

Six o’clock. This is when the store opens. I won’t forget the dog food this time. It won’t be light out for over an hour more, but I’ll go ahead anyway. I’m reminded of a bass solo by Jaco Pastorius titled “Portrait of Tracy.” I haven’t heard the studio version in many years, but the memory brings tears. 

Pinch of Salt

Quarter after eight.

Conspiracy theories… I don’t know what to think. I simply live my life from day to day. Last May I still was concerned with the idea of individual freedom, but the next month, something went wrong. I went to DDA meetings when I would rather not. I suppose I did a number of inauthentic things, however no one is perfect, and maybe it’s better not to adhere to rigid principles. I like to believe that I am flexible in these trying times, a point in history when nobody knows anything. Six children of Sheryl’s family were diagnosed with Covid, I just read this morning. She is a member of my church. I’m becoming less and less of a skeptic of the pandemic…

On the other hand—

Yesterday afternoon I scrolled down the news headlines on my tablet and groaned at how ridiculous they were, and sometimes just terrible. Yet the media flourishes because readers eat it up and ask for more. We don’t care if a story is even true. I guess the need to believe is human nature, and if a fiction is pleasing, we’ll take that sooner than the facts. People believe what they want to believe, and the media panders to just that. I think Jamesian Pragmatism is mostly hogwash because it’s non rational and non factual— which James himself admitted. In other words, it’s a lie. And we’ve seen what mendacity has done for us.

Quarter after nine. I’ve been vaccinated for Covid, and it cannot be reversed. So I guess I’m committed to a certain perspective on current events, though with some inconsistencies and some reservations. I do the best I can. 

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.