Tale of Two Lisas

Quarter of noon.

Though I feel exhausted today, everything has gone pretty well anyway. Gloria and I drove to the Bottle Drop in Springfield— and I ran into Lisa from Community Market as we came out of the doors. “What are you doing here?” I said, knowing it was a stupid question. She held up her plastic bag and said, “Same thing you just did. Gas money for the Jeep!” This time I collected $12.20 in redemption value for 5 bags of bottles and cans. While it was clear and sunny here, in Springfield there was smoke in the air from the regional wildfires. Now, at one o’clock, I get my hair cut with Karen just around the corner from home. She’ll set the trimmers for 3 and buzz off the little hair that I have on the sides and in back. Since my twenties I’ve had my dad’s pattern baldness but it never has bugged me. Afterwards I’ll go to the store again and treat myself and Aesop: I could use another Snapple tea.

I think I’ll skip church this Sunday after the lousy sermon I heard last time. Only if I was desperate for company would I go back. And meanwhile I can read some good poetry for illumination, though it may bring me pain. Great writing comes to us at a cost of anguish to the writer and also the reader. I question whether all the rules of the Bible are really for me when my only offense was being an alcoholic. Why bind myself to unnecessary rules if I don’t have to? I think the secular laws are enough to keep things safe and orderly. It must be remembered that a dual diagnosis is not a sin, and disease is not a moral issue, to disagree with the thinking of a hundred years ago. But old traditions die hard even if they are dysfunctional. People don’t test the things they believe in. And I don’t take anything on secondhand report, which is the meaning of “faith.”

Quarter of two.

Karen was busy with two other clients when I arrived for my appointment. There isn’t much to write about it. Very early this morning I bumped into another Lisa at the market. She has a job at the nationwide beauty chain in the Gateway Mall. She told me she was tired. Lisa is tall and very pretty, with black hair, dark eyes, and a few freckles on her face that add to her loveliness. It’s an inspiration to see her when our paths cross on some mornings.

Better than TV

Ten o’clock.

We’ve been to Bi Mart and also gotten breakfast across Silver Lane from it. They were selling televisions for around $200. If I wanted to pay a cable bill each month then I’d probably consider it. It seems like a good way to kill time when that’s all you want to do. On the other hand, it’s just pollution for your mind. Some people say you have no control over what you see when you watch tv, and it’s a passive activity— not like reading a book. My main objection to it is the incredible noise it makes, and my dog would hate it as well. So I guess I’m not buying one… I saw Judi at Bi Mart and the cashier was familiar but I don’t know her name. I got dog food, PineSol, and tall kitchen bags with yellow drawstrings: $26 all together. Again today it’s sunny and the sky is a rich cerulean. I’ll probably go to church tomorrow morning. Gloria is working very hard at the vacuuming. I’m quite lucky that the PCA process has worked out for me. A lot of people who tried don’t get the service that I’ve gotten.

Eleven thirty.

I never did go to the corner store this morning because of doing too much caffeine yesterday. There’s still plenty of time to go there if I want to later.

Three o’clock.

And then, I took a nap and had the most beautiful dream of a gorgeous brunette, kind of like Misty, who kissed me. This dream was like something from a literary work by Goethe or Joyce, where the focus is on passion and romantic love. After that I got up and walked back into the very unromantic world of streets and sidewalks, yet with the gossamer dream still clinging to me to dazzle the view around me like a trillion diamonds. 

Human

Eight ten.

The sky was beautiful ninety minutes ago: partly cloudy with shades of lavender and rose. I must have been only half awake for my daily pilgrimage to Maxwell Road. “So breathe in deep / You’re not asleep / Open your mind.” Carl Sandburg wrote that nobody will be remembered in ten thousand years. On either side of us there’s a stretch of ten thousand years, a thought to humble the reader. Will anyone recall Moses in so many years? Chances are that no humans will exist to do the remembering… It angers me when some people pretend that “God” is on their side, making them superhuman. It’s even worse when they say their way is the only way and try to mess up your projects. These people should try being human for a change. Unless their blood is green, they are ordinary like you and me. Is it just an American thing? On this side of the Atlantic, people are put on the spot for their religious beliefs, but over there it’s no big deal… I daresay that when people no longer exist, then their god will perish as well.

Tuesday Morning

Eight o’clock.

I dug out a copy of Machiavelli and perused the introduction; afterwards I suffered for my sanity a little bit, but I’ll be all right. It’s enough to say that Christian theology demonizes the idea of power and control over your life. AA says something about “self-will run riot” in alcoholic people, and this is very bad. I don’t know anymore, so I’m leaving this topic for a while… I’ve been to the store already and didn’t get very much stuff because Gloria and I are going to breakfast at Carl’s Jr. this morning. The blue sky was peppered with little white pasta shells of clouds over my head. At the intersection of N Park, Roger came up in his Dodge van and let me cross the street in front of him. He was probably going to WinCo foods in West Eugene to stock up. It’s a gigantic store that makes me feel agoraphobic if I have to step inside. I prefer much smaller places. The last time I was there was likely with my brother, when he bought me a lot of spaghetti sauce and some pasta around Christmas time. He got very impatient with the customer ahead of us in line for checkout: she was in a wheelchair and paying with food stamps and small change, dropping coins on the floor. My brother was fuming. Classic alcoholic behavior, if you believe in AA ideology, which tends to be oversimplified and circular in its logic… So, Roger passed me in his blue van and I went on. There isn’t much else to report about my excursion. I saw some workers for Huey and Sons, a roofing company, I think. 

Green Shirts

Six twenty.

The morning is dark and cloudy. Yesterday I realized that I’d been putting pressure on myself where it was unnecessary, resulting in depression. I decided not to use “should” statements with myself. I am motivated by delight more than by duty. Aesop was uptight yesterday for most of the day and the weather got very warm.

Quarter after seven.

The store was quite busy, but I didn’t see any women customers at all. My brother told me about a restaurant in Ohio, Skyline Chili, that put chili on everything. You could get pasta, but they covered it with chili. But the observation he made was that the customers were all guys; you never saw a woman in the place… The guys in the market were courteous and kind to one another. Mostly blue collar types on their way to work. In the afternoon yesterday I lay in bed to take a nap when, looking out the window, I was surprised to see a man in a lime green shirt in the top of a fir tree. I watched him as he trimmed the limbs and eventually climbed down… I saw one woman while I was out: she walked her dog southward on my street and we traded greetings. My dog is settled for now since I gave him some chicken jerky. Each strip is only 30 cents. I’ve heard of people buying it for themselves to eat because it’s so cheap. By the way, the price on my Italian sandwich went up 50 cents… I see many guys in fluorescent shirts. But by coincidence I notice that the shirt I’m wearing today is also green.

Ocular Proof

Quarter of eight.

I guess I’m just the eternal skeptic. The weather report said it was raining, but I saw no such thing. So I left the house without a jacket or umbrella, and my ocular proof was right. I got to the store and back without feeling a drop. Firsthand knowledge can’t be emphasized enough. Always judge for yourself when possible. Take nothing on faith. This is the lesson I’ve learned by experience. But I suppose it can be taken too far sometimes, like when I was warned that alcoholism would kill me. I didn’t believe it until I was inches from death.

The cloudy August morning brings back things from years ago, like seeing Vicki and Belinda at the little market on weekdays. Time stood still for that place for a handful of years. I remember a guy who worked there named Tyler who was very nice, and also a guy named Perry who wore glasses; kind of intellectual. I gave him my copy of Sartre’s Nausea which he read and gave to another person, starting a circulation of the book. He told me about a biography of Richard F. Burton that he’d read. And then I remember Cecil, the guy who played the drums, doing fast paradiddles on the countertop. He knew someone who bought a fretless Ken Smith bass brand new. He was afraid to even touch it, it was so precious… I saw a lot of people cycle through that place around the corner from my house. I recall once standing in the rain with an umbrella, chatting with Lacey about business at the deli. She said they sold lots of burgers and fewer sandwiches. She made jewelry and put it out for sale inside the deli. It all feels like a dream to me now, an impossible kaleidoscope of someone else’s memories. Yet the chalice for it all is just my own soul.

Noise and Glory

Seven thirty.

The silence right now is sepulchral. But when I went to the store it was fairly busy. I saw mostly guys there, but also one Black woman in line ahead of me. It’s another clear morning with the high expected to be 98F. In the parking lot of the market I passed a car occupied by a very voluble bloodhound. It took me a minute to realize the origin of the noise; I could hear it from many yards away on the sidewalk. When I compare a day like today with events only a year ago, I think, “There hath passed away a glory from the earth.” I wonder whither fled the visionary gleam with the freshness of a dream. Everything is so ordinary, prosaic, and mundane nowadays. And yet, who are we to demand more than this? Vaguely I was also thinking of my mother as I walked home, and her name just happened to be Gloria. It was she who gave my creativity a soul for most of my lifetime.

Eight twenty.

Aesop my cattle dog had his breakfast of turkey and green bean canned food, chomping it down with gusto. The quiet prevails, broken only by the sound of birds. But now, Roger decided to come out and do one of his projects. There’s a siren beyond my suburb screaming bloody vengeance at somebody. Silence is golden, but the noise can’t be helped. It’s the contract we make with society. I’m opting out of church again, indefinitely. I’m free to do at least that. “Give me my freedom for as long as I be / All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.” If silence is golden, then music is glorious.

Home, Sweet Home

Ten o’clock.

The next day it rained. Gloria is here now, doing some cleaning work in the kitchen. I feel pretty tired but a little anxious too. After one o’clock today I expect my loveseat to be delivered here. My prospect of playing music with others is looking less and less realistic, unless it’s just with the church. I don’t have much in common with the people who play rock and roll. Meanwhile my mother’s dream for me gets less relevant the longer she’s gone. Maybe I dreamed it for myself as well. I’ll hang onto my bass guitars just in case. My magnolia has one flower on it to symbolize the off chance to realize a dream. Down the hall, Aesop is scratching at the door to protest being shut in. He wants to be with me— or does he simply want liberty? Like the prop plane I hear flying overhead outdoors: free as a bird on the wing.

Eleven o’clock. Gloria was having a low energy day so she went home a bit early, and now Aesop gets his wish. The swallows in the chimney sound happy, as even the mourning dove does outside my window. It’s a day of cheerful domesticity and independence.

An Average Day

Eight o five AM.

It’s supposed to be cloudy all day today. I’ve decided to take the pressure off myself to get well in a hurry, so far a good strategy. My new copy of The Joshua Tree came yesterday afternoon; I found it this morning and opened it up. The jewel case is intact and everything is shipshape. It’ll be nice to hear “In God’s Country” and “Bullet the Blue Sky” again… I’m still weighing the idea of genius and hubris versus being small and ordinary. I think we could all stand a dose of humility and realism. I got so used to over the top pomposity everywhere I turned until it grew kind of ridiculous. Maybe it’s an American thing; I don’t know. The word “meretricious” comes to my mind: all show and no substance… I bought Aesop some carrot sticks this morning because he’s overweight from so many treats. Probably he won’t acquire a taste for them, and I’ll end up eating them myself. I heard an alternative weather forecast in the marketplace today, saying sunshine this afternoon. Nobody knows anything until it actually happens. And although astrology is a fun game, it’s still entirely artificial, like a lot of things people stake their lives on for lack of knowledge. When in doubt, look and see. When you have a hypothesis, test it against reality. The best information is gathered firsthand.

For a Hoover (Humility)

Gloria came this morning. She said she felt sore from doing yard work recently, yet she drove me to Bi Mart and stayed in the car. I went inside alone long enough to buy two items and see what they had as far as vacuum cleaners. They had two Hoover models that looked good to me, for under $170. Did you know that people in Britain refer to vacuuming as “hoovering?” And then Gloria and I worked some more in my garage after she vacuumed the carpets. She had brought her own Shark Navigator for the job.
I had an insight this afternoon into Kate’s personality (she was my friend from Scotland). It occurs to me that she was very humble and understated as a person, whereas many Americans are more pompous and exaggerated, especially in their speech and self expression. Of course this means myself as well. I actually think Kate’s policy of no drama is very commendable. She loved The Beatles for its simplicity and its ordinariness in a lot of cases, like with “Lovely Rita” and “Penny Lane.” The first song is about a meter maid. British culture is so different from ours; they don’t have the same problems we have. So now I try to catch myself when I’m hyperbolic and inflated. It makes me feel kind of disgusted with Pastor’s oratory style as well: it is so grandiloquent and proud, and over the top with drama and bombast. I really believe that Americans can learn a lesson from people in the United Kingdom, especially since our disasters in politics lately. We’re not very realistic over here. We need to give up our delusions of grandeur.
I think that’s all I had to say for now, and I think I’ll buy that Hoover this summer.