I’m expecting Gloria at ten this morning, and we’ll probably go to Bi Mart because Aesop needs canned food. The lemon sky and something about the atmosphere suggest to me an early spring, not to mention the sparrows behind my house. There are times when I admit to myself that I’d love to get drunk on a tasty beer and pretend it’s the Pleasure Dome. But at this point, the consequences of alcohol are very dire. I have everything to lose by getting plastered, so I just daydream what I can’t actually do. There is music in my mind by Ravel from Daphnis et Chloe. I have the disc of the ballet and could listen to it, but I remember how it sounds well enough. Also, I’m feeling rather tired of being versed in the Western tradition in the arts and philosophy. There must be a way to escape it all. For today, it’ll have to be sufficient to make a trip to Bi Mart.
I was awake at three, then slumbered another hour and a half. The store opens at six, so I’ll probably stumble over there before sunrise. I’m not having much fun lately; rather, I’m frustrated that people aren’t more intelligent.
Eight thirty five.
Just a cold white sky. I got a little more sleep this morning, and now I’ve fed the dog. I dreamed about drinking again, and what a superman it made me feel like, but the reality is Clark Kent. Dreams are necessarily not real unless you live in one, like Edgar Poe in all his decadence and brilliance. Chemical dependency is a strange thing. It seems larger than life at the same time that it takes it away from you. Mostly it’s a game of self delusion. I don’t even think my dog believes I’m a god. Everyone is mortal and makes mistakes, if you are honest enough to confess it. It would be weird to read Nietzsche again, speaking of supermen and mistakes. We’re all vulnerable and ordinary, so it’s probably not right to make yourself a hero.
I haven’t felt this kind of humility in some time. Soon I’ll go on flat feet over to the market and get my regular stuff for the day. Everyone can agree that it’s cold today. I’ve put on a gray sweater: no flamboyant colors. I’ll wear a belt because I ordered my jeans a size too big in the waist. And wear a beanie to cover my bald head on top.
The ides of January, I suppose. I got back from church 45 minutes ago, stopping at the store in between. The best part of the service was the Debussy postlude. You don’t hear the second Arabesque often, so it was a treat for me. The weather continues windy with scattered showers. I feel kind of like a worthless epicure, a person who doesn’t inconvenience himself to help others as a Christian does. There have been other insights to what made my sobriety possible, not so admirable except for my honesty in observing them. Pastor didn’t address a word to me today; he’s probably a bit upset because I wasn’t there for Christmas Eve. But it was okay. Nobody booed and hissed at me. I noticed that turnout today was pretty low. Dunno. I sometimes feel like a reverse magnet, a repellent for people. At least I tell the truth; and that’s exactly why I am avoided. With that, the sun breaks through a little. It shines on righteous and not so righteous alike. I used to think the sun was partial to everyone but me, like the blonde assassin passing on in the Dickinson poem. But it was always the same.
Paranoia comes and goes…
I was late getting to the store after trying to sleep in for a while. The forecast said possible snow this morning followed by rain and it’s cold. In my journal I’ve been thrashing out my problems with the church, the arguments and attitudes of Christians. If I say anything about Kierkegaard then more likely it’s something I heard from a friend. I think it’s important to keep everything personal and immediate, real and specific, and less general and intellectual. I’ve burnt out on abstracts and rhetoric and the hot air balloon of metaphysics. One more thing I’d like to investigate is the work of Coleridge before saying goodbye to the spiritual stuff, then never look at it again… It’s begun raining.
Quarter of one.
Aesop hurt his foot from scratching the door of his prison while Gloria was here. Things otherwise are quite settled and mellow just now, the atmosphere outside still and breathless and the sky leaden. It is cold and wintry. It’s probably not a good day for another walk outdoors, though the squirrels disagree. I feel bad for my dog.
Quarter of ten.
At the intersection with Fremont Avenue I stood in the gutter while a car passed me and I saw Jan wave at me from inside. On the way back I introduced myself to Wade who was neighbors with Kat before she and Corey moved into their new house. I took a risk on the snowberry Peace Tea when I was at the store and was surprised that it tasted awesome and very sweet. Also I bought Aesop’s favorite chicken jerky for $1.20, to his great delight. I noticed that walking south on N Park is where the wind is always worse, virtually knocking me off my feet the other day. This is Sunday, and there is church for those who want to go, but I’m staying home today. Right now I feel really good. It’s mostly overcast with a few rays of sun coming through. I had a nice little trip. A bit later I might read to the end of the Whitman book, though it’s hard for me to finish the things I begin. It’s like saying goodbye, and I don’t like sad goodbyes.
So far I haven’t gone to the store this morning. I feel kind of crappy from taking a gabapentin mixed with a Coke last night, plus a bag of potato chips for a balanced junk food meal. But it was my birthday and I took some liberties on my own personal day. Now it’s done. Back to normal.
My head feels rather empty just now so it’s good to sit and do nothing for a while. There’s no pressure on me at all today; Aesop has been fed his breakfast. I’ll be “late” getting to the store but that’s only a joke with the employees… One more bill paid. Ever since I quit drinking I’ve tried to minimize quantitative thinking and I don’t carry cash anymore. The numbers are all imaginary and symbolic like Monopoly money to me. It all spends just the same and everyone is happy… There’s a light breeze in the magnolia tree and the puffy clouds are pretty to look at. This is Thursday. Aesop saw a squirrel in the backyard and barked accordingly. I just saw a U Haul drive by my window and did a double take: someone is moving.
Around the corner I had a nice visit with Karen and Kim on the way back from the market. I will let Kim borrow the dvd of a documentary of the career of The Police, the great rock band from the early Eighties. If she likes it she can keep it. My rockstar days are probably finished, except sometimes I’d like to play drums again. My old friend who taught me lessons said, Once a drummer, always a drummer. Percussion is a life path for some people. It’d be good to return to my roots.
Nine o’clock in the morning.
Christmas Eve. Pastor Dan put a little atom bomb in his daily email to the congregation, a guilt trip intended to bring people to the service tonight. This time I’ll stay home, having learned that guilt is not a good form of motivation. This Christmas will be my own kind of holiday, a time to remember my family and my parents; things more personally meaningful than a tradition going back two thousand years. Polly said she might call me tomorrow. If she doesn’t, then I might call her myself. We’ll both be alone for Christmas Day. It makes sense to share it on the phone. The dawn today was unusual, with a skyline like rhubarb or like apricot ice cream marbled with cold blue. Fortunately our bout of freezing rain seems to be done, and the streets, though wet, were not slippery. I found out that Lisa had been late getting to work yesterday due to weather, inching along at 20 mph on the ice. We talked college football and whether the Ducks had secured a bowl game or not. The Beavers won the Civil War game; probably trained all season for the very purpose of beating us. I find that amusing nowadays, while some find in it a reason to get drunk. Gloria is coming this morning, so I’m just counting the minutes. The day has started off well.
Seven ten at night.
I know a few people who are kind of bummed about politics today, a pessimism I don’t really share. It’s a weird thing. This morning it freezing rained, preventing me from making my daily trip to the store until about two thirty. So I went out walking, stepping very carefully to avoid slipping on the slush. I saw a neighbor on Fremont Avenue deicing his front porch with a propane blowtorch, which seemed rather extreme to me, if not kind of silly. Most people put down salt or sand. Moving on, I crossed a perfidious part of N Park to gain the sidewalk. All the time, the trees overhead dripped rainwater as if it were still raining. I made it to Karen’s salon, but the ramp to the entrance was no go so I entered from the side door. Karen and Kim were in the back room but they invited me to sit with them for cookies for a few minutes, sending me off with a nice salad. That was very pleasant, and then I pussyfooted it to the store to get some stuff and saw Kathy and Suk. On the way home on the sidewalk I looked into the distant purple haze that appeared like a low fog, feeling emotions equally vague and hard to define. Maybe my mind was simply empty or at best bemused as I picked my path back to the house. It was an odd kind of day.
I feel great today even though I skipped church this morning— or maybe because I did that. No pangs of conscience, no guilt or remorse at all, since I did what was good for me. I’ve just been sitting here near my back door, watching the activity of the different birds and squirrels, and thinking a bit about instinct versus intellect, and finally what it was that saved me from drinking any further. I still don’t really know how it happened; only the fact that I don’t drink now. It sounds like a person chopping firewood outdoors at a nearby house. The cold has been bitter and biting for the past week and today it’s cloudy after two days of sunshine. With the clouds has come slightly warmer weather. I hear old Genesis music in my mind. I’m almost done with the selection of Whitman’s poetry. I’m aware of being a scatterbrain but I don’t punish myself for it, and I can only repeat how good I feel at the moment. The wood chopper keeps on working, while most people are indoors probably watching tv. The furnace kicks on now and then to make it cosy in here, and though I am glad for that, I’m not thankful to anything in particular. No angels or devils; no holy horrors. It’s a little like being in a Carlos Williams poem where only the details are important.
I’m at the agency, in the lobby right now. The sun has come out from a mostly cloudy sky. The ride here was smooth and without incident and people are pretty nice. I just saw Cassidy walk in the door with his laptop and head towards administration deeper in the building. Mostly I’m just sitting and minding my own business. Often I have flashbacks to the times when I had a job here and denied that I was one of the clients myself. I was in far better shape than the other people, of course…
Three twenty five.
When I came out of my appointment I noticed T— sitting alone parallel to the front desk. She was afraid she had missed her ride home, so I let her use my phone to call the service. But just then, her taxi arrived: I went outside and the driver shouted who he was looking for, so I asked him to wait. My own ride came a half hour later. Our path took us through Skinner Butte Park, eventually to First Avenue. We passed a fancy liquor store and a bunch of weed dispensaries in the Whiteaker Neighborhood before arriving at the bridge where River Road meets Chambers Street. Continuing on to the Northwest Expressway, out of my left window I observed distant shafts of pale sunlight on the hills beyond the railroad tracks. Above another bank of clouds, the sun was implied in the reflection on a silver cloud like a flash in a pan. I said at the end of the drive that the gps’s were getting better all the time. The cabbie was a nice old guy with gray hair who put on glasses from time to time. And he agreed with me.