An Old Gideon

Eleven twenty five. My friend’s favorite dog passed away last night, and this changed my mind about social media. Coming home from the market, I stopped by the salon and Karen gave me a double chocolate donut, kind of like old times. Jessica doesn’t work on Monday. Karen was going to make a house call to do a haircut today. Her work is pretty much her life, and she tries to help people out. She hires people with problems who need a break. Her activity is very principled, even religious. She keeps plodding on with her life regardless of the world. And this brings me to think on duty and how people feel about it. Where does the sense of duty come from? Kant believed that it comes from the faculty of reason, which participates in the divine. But this highbrow philosophy doesn’t really explain how people behave. Most people get a moral education from Sunday school, and this is the doctrine of flesh and bone, of the real world of poverty and hard knocks. They don’t teach Kant at the Eugene Mission; they preach the gospel. 

One autumn day, up on the campus, a kind old man stood on the corner by the student union handing out Gideons pocket New Testaments from a box. I accepted one because it was reading material, then continued on to my class in Renaissance Thought in Fenton Hall. But I didn’t ponder it much after that. I didn’t suspect that in the blink of an eye, your whole world can be inverted, leaving you dispossessed and friendless. So today I do sort of wonder about that old Gideon on the street corner. 

Quiet

Six forty.

I feel like being an introvert today. Or not so much that as wanting to keep my life local and off of cyberspace. Last night I saved myself over a hundred dollars by canceling the McAfee on the old computer I never use anymore. I recognized their email as legitimate— something I can do when I’m sober. There are so many scammers claiming to be Norton or McAfee to phish for your information… Is rock and roll really dead, as some people say? I guess we’ll see about that. I might as well go to the store for the daily stuff. I think I need my Snapple tea…

Eight o’clock. I bought a peach tea and drank it up. Feeling a little better. I should have an appointment with Rebecca in an hour. But you know, all the business and red tape is making me kind of crazy and I just want to be organic for a day or two. I could restring my Aria bass and jam on that today. Tweak the eq on my amp to dial in the tone. Enjoy myself. I’ve had that bass for eleven years and never done a gig with it… Something on my mind is messing with my mood. Maybe it’s a little of everything. But I need a break from the digital world for a few days before I lose my mind. It’s a sunny day, so everything ought to be peachy with me, but instead I’m so worried over nothing. If I see another computer I’ll probably shit on the spot.

Ten fifty five. I had my appointment with Rebecca, and it went okay. We agreed that my IRS letter is legitimate. It could be a long time before I get through to someone on the phone. Oh well. It’s time for lunch.

Quarter after three. Aesop’s diet doesn’t agree with his system, so I’ll have to feed him something different. He will be nine years old in September. We’re just kind of keeping quiet this afternoon. I was feeling very out of sorts this morning; some thought or other on my mind, but I think it was my dog’s health bothering me. It took a day for me to accept it… I just left a message for Dr Yamada on behalf of Aesop. She might call back this evening… The neighborhood is super quiet this afternoon. It is overcast with white clouds. Sometimes my nocturnal dreams surface to me out of nowhere at odd times of the day. One dream I have recurrently is of me going to an auto repair shop to meet with someone, but I have no idea why. If there’s dialogue to the dream then it is censored out. It seems that I arrive first at the shop and wait a few minutes for my friend to show up. Sounds like the story of my life. And sometimes they never do show up… 

Thursday

Quarter of noon. I walked to and from my appointment for the vaccine. A very sweet girl administered the shot, and then I was kept there for 15 minutes to make sure I was okay. I ran into Carol and Helen from church while I was there at Bi Mart and said hello. It’s really a beautiful day today, good for going out and seeing people. A lot of senior citizens shop at Bi Mart, which endears the place to me because of my parents. It’s like backwards time travel to step inside this store… So many of the faces are familiar to me at Bi Mart; the same employees have worked there for ages. As I was going home on Silver Lane I started hearing “Lovely Rita” in my head, just the chorus looping, and I thought of how John Lennon found beauty in ordinary life, the things no one would consider poetic, for instance a meter maid doing her job. Meanwhile I looked at the bulldozers working on the site for the new North Eugene High School; the layout seems quite massive. Maybe voting for this action was a good thing to do, so no regrets. And when I got home, I opened the package of Aesop’s marrow snacks and gave him four of them. 

In Transition

Eight twenty five.

I see myself moving away from the talk therapy perspective on schizophrenia. Psychology and morality have nothing to do with the illness, so the church is useless to me anymore. The only useful therapy is cognitive therapy, which is not a moral or spiritual thing. I’m totally burned out on religion… The clouds have moved in, making it partly sunny this morning. I slept in for a while, with bad dreams of my vaccination tomorrow. Aesop has fleas, so I should get him some medication for that.

My favorite writer when I was younger was probably Herman Melville. The first book I finished reading after my mother died was Typee. I was aware as I read that this was very different from my sister’s family, with its working class Christianity and general narrowness. And this was my heritage, the values my mother left me: basically epicurean, a life of pleasure. It was either very shallow or very smart, depending on what the truth is. I suppose my mother wagered that God didn’t exist, and lived accordingly. No punishment, no wasted piety.

Nine fifty. Heidi is going to call me at ten o’clock. I can tell her about my confusion over politics and life today.

Quarter of noon. I’m at my best in the morning. After twelve o’clock it’s all downhill, possibly because I crave beer or something to kill time. I was late getting to the store this time, but it was rather nice. I saw a small group of Mexican youngsters who probably lived in those new apartment complexes towards Northwest Expressway. They were very clean and handsome people, polite and courteous. JR was working today, as he does every Wednesday. From the street I saw Derek in front of his garage, and little Natalie chimed out something like hi Robbie and waved to me. That was pretty neat… I told Heidi that my beliefs were in flux, and she said this was okay and pretty healthy. Better than being an extremist or other stick in the mud. We had a good talk for an hour. Hearing from her makes me feel less alone in the world. 

Arrivals

Noon hour. My bass came UPS a little before eleven o’clock and then I opened it up and played it for 45 minutes or so. It has a three way selector switch for different pickup modes. It sounds the best in series, I think. And the bucking pickup happens to be very loud and boomy. They put wimpy strings on the bass, but I change them anyway. Overall it sounds pretty cool! I like the finish color: Irish Ale, just a clear dark red over swamp ash.

It’s still perfect weather, sunny and not too warm. I already had my lunch, and I’m still hungry. This day with this weather reminds me of something I can’t put my finger on. Somehow it’s like the 1990’s again, and I feel quite content this way. Of course I miss my parents and my old friends, but it’s enough to think of them. Finally it looks like life is settling down and it’s safer for people to go out and socialize. We’re in much better hands than we were for the last four years. I feel like a Pepsi or something. I could go get a liter of soda for the joy of it.

Four o’clock. So I went out and got a Pepsi and saw Michelle, Cathy, and on the way back, Karen. This last made me an appointment for a haircut on Monday morning. When I got home I had about half of my Pepsi two liter and then played my Kiloton bass again: it definitely sounds awesome in series mode. I noodled around and picked out the Hungarian Rhapsody, plus a song by Chick Corea from Light Years. This bass is the best one I’ve got now, so it’ll be my main axe for a while.

The color of the sunshine in the late afternoon seems rather mellow, and more summery than springlike. It’s 75 degrees out. It just doesn’t feel like April to me. But I didn’t use to be sober years ago during the spring, so I have no point of reference for comparison. Beginning at three o’clock, I would start drinking like a fish and put on The Beatles; have a big bacchanalian party for one person and his dog. It was really no way to live because I didn’t know what was going on in the world, or I was numb to what was happening. My mind was ruled by crazy rationales and paranoia, even delusions of telepathy or thought broadcasting. I was miserable and out of touch with reality. But today, it feels so much better to be free from more than one kind of oppression and injustice in my life. I am my own ship’s master and commander, steering myself toward what’s right for me. 

Travels of Orpheus

Two forty. I’m leaving for band practice in less than an hour. We should have fun today. Going with my original plan to give away the SX bass after playing it this afternoon. I’ve shaved my beard completely off, leaving my face clean. Not sure why I did this, but it looks much better now. I can’t believe the self destructive way I used to behave. My teeth are in pretty bad shape from many years of alcohol abuse. I just didn’t love myself, and I kept the kind of company that always put me down. My brother is absolutely toxic to me. I can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. For some reason he hates my guts and does everything he can to mess me up. I don’t like other alcoholic people who lie and do dishonest things. My old supervisor was another lousy person. So I had to take care of myself and get out of that situation. The bumper sticker is true: Mean people suck… Outside, the sunshine is bright yellow. Today I can finally get down to business with music. No worries, no guilty conscience— because there’s no reason to feel badly. At last I’ve shaken the crap off of me so I can just mind my own business… Only about seven minutes to go before I take off out the door. I feel pretty calm right now.

Two o’clock in the morning.

If I believed that the future could be reconnected with the past, I was probably deceived. I don’t believe history repeats itself in a circular way, whether personally or publicly, but rather keeps going forward in linear fashion. Does a straight line ever cross itself in its progress to infinity? I’ve forgotten my geometry lessons… I had a good day yesterday. The events of the day were as favorable as the sunny weather. Mike must think I’m a little nutty on the subject of Rush. Neither he nor Ron wanted my SX bass, but I left it at the studio anyway and walked home empty handed. By the time I got home it was just after seven o’clock. As I passed the Fast n Fresh Deli I peered in the windows to see any customers. I found only one person, and he probably worked there. I don’t remember what I was thinking on my way back. I felt rather giddy from playing music. I do recall being suspicious of the passing cars, and I hugged the inside of the sidewalk whenever they went by. Just now I was thinking about going to Grocery Outlet sometime soon. I would kill for some of that Seattle International sourdough bread and some Gallo dry salami; maybe some pepper Jack cheese, too. But you know, it isn’t very thrilling anymore. Music is the only thing that floats my boat. My taste buds are in my ears… 

Firelight

Six thirty five. Sun is rising outside my window. I may go to the store a little earlier today, despite the cold morning. A Snapple tea will taste really great, though it isn’t a necessity to me. My brain is trying to pull up the memory of the Tchaikovsky I heard two weeks ago. I’ll probably listen to the disc again soon. It amazes me that I fired my psychiatrist a few years back. I’d believed that I couldn’t live without one. Yesterday noon I feared that I had made a mistake and lost confidence for a little while; and then it all came back to me. My verbal ability has always been reliable, so I was able to use it to establish my independence from authorities. How could that be a mistake? Now I am a much stronger individual than I was four years in the past. My relationship with my shrink was like Prometheus in reverse: I gave my fire to a god instead of to humankind, but the fire was always mine to keep or give away. Isn’t it the same for everybody? What will you do with your fire? The firelight of reason is native to everyone, and educators are people who ought to fan the flame of curiosity rather than douse it with oppression. To think that I deposed the dictator over my life! I guess I’d had enough of parent figures. At some point we all need our independence.

Eight ten. I saw no clouds on my walk to the market, and so far there’s no wind. It is calm. I feel that there is justice in the world, or anyway the world is good to me lately. Aesop is asking me how long until I feed him breakfast, so I tell him in minutes exactly when it will be. I got the store to myself this morning except for one person behind me, a woman with a baby. Suk ran business on his own because it was still very early. Going along on the sidewalk, I was wary of cars passing by me, thinking a person could be driving drunk or something. My back twinged with pain once when I took a step. It’s unpredictable when this will happen. Getting older has its pitfalls as well as perks. I was thinking I would play my Aria bass later today, but now I have my doubts. The instrument probably weighs 12 pounds, maybe more. Take an ibuprofen and forget it. 

Easter Sunday

Quarter after eight. Sheryl from church texted me a while ago and said it would be nice to see me for the Easter service. So I replied with my reason for not coming to church as often anymore. Interesting; she said she misses my singing voice. And I do have some fond memories of singing with our choir a couple of years ago. The people were so nice and we had a lot of fun together. The only relationship that went kind of sour was the one with Pastor himself, and that’s a regrettable thing for me and the others… I am still very excited about my band. I thought our rehearsal yesterday was the best one ever so far. It seems to me that the three of us feel more comfortable with each other now; we’re becoming better friends, so the music flows a bit more easily than before… It’s another partly sunny morning. The sunlight splashes down and dapples the magnolia tree in my backyard. About two weeks ago I spotted a raccoon jumping into the same tree and settling there in the lower limbs. Even at the time, I thought maybe I was hallucinating; it was so surreal and bizarre to see. Since then I haven’t seen the raccoon again, thus maybe I really was deluded. “Cold hearted orb that rules the night / Removes the colors from our sight / Red is gray and yellow white / But we decide which is right / And which is an illusion?”

Sheryl just texted me back; she’d assumed that my absence was due to Covid. But no, it was the sermon on demonic possession that alienated me from church, at least temporarily. I’m going to stay home today except for my daily trip to the market on Maxwell Road. I had an exciting day yesterday and need a rest today.

Ten o’clock. As with most Easter Sundays, the neighborhood has fallen very silent, and the silence is rather disturbing to me. It is the silence of the tomb, of death, and maybe of intellectual poverty. It is the quiet of oppression, perhaps, when nobody dares to speak their mind. My closest neighbors behave very strangely, not very amiably with each other or with me, keeping to themselves and basically being quite self centered. I find this is true of many conservatives: they’re paranoid and care only about what is theirs. They scoff at people who don’t have a home or a job; people who are unfortunate. They figure that it’s tough luck for them; we got ours, so screw the people who have nothing. Such a selfish attitude, and essentially asocial. How can my neighbors be happy with such narrow views and feelings? They cloister themselves in their homes and watch tv all day… The book of Plato I ordered was probably delivered to the wrong address, but do you think the erroneous recipient will bring the package to me? No one practices common courtesy around here. Every house is an island on my street, and finders keepers, losers weepers… I jumped to a conclusion. The computerized Amazon chat assistant said the book probably hasn’t arrived yet. But this is another example of the dehumanization of society. “It’s so hard to stay together / Passing through revolving doors / We need someone to talk to / And someone to sweep the floors.” 

The New Normal

Quarter of ten.

It’s mostly sunny this morning. I feel pretty good. I saw two young women in dirty clothes at the store; Michelle eyed them suspiciously. It was cold out, with frost on the grass everywhere. I worried a little about my situation with the church, but I think I’ll be all right. They can manage their own feelings. I’m leaning toward a revival of cognitive therapy in my mind. It might be good to read Jane Austen, picking up where I left off in Sense and Sensibility. There’s so much polarity in the world now and not much wisdom to see both sides. Early this morning I had some dream thoughts that were very difficult to verbalize. They had something to do with the concept of the unconscious mind. I ponder whether it’s possible to dissolve the dichotomy of conscious and unconscious and eliminate traditional psychotherapy. Some people are still stuck in Jungian thinking. I just want life to be more balanced and sane… I spent ten dollars on Aesop’s Dog Chow: his favorite since puppyhood. Michelle noticed that the potato salad I’d chosen wasn’t very full, so I exchanged it for a different container. That was nice of her. Without the ibuprofen, my back would still hurt, hence I take one pill every morning.

Quarter of eleven. Also during my walk, I thought about how I don’t seem to belong in the world anymore. It has changed so much and left me behind like a beached whale. Particularly, education is not the same as when I went to school. People are being trained to function like robots rather than humans. No one is encouraged to think their own thoughts. If you do choose to discover your own truth, you’ll be either very rich or very poor. But again, wealth or poverty is not necessarily financial.

Three thirty. The weather is beautiful now, so I made a run to the market for some beef jerky— very expensive. I spoke with my neighbor Jeff for a couple of minutes. Boats are his hobby. He even has a pirate outfit. When possible, he puts his boat in over at Fern Ridge Lake, a man made body of water with a reservoir. Jeff says we’ve been short on rainfall this year and the level of the lake needs to come up a couple of feet. The marina has been closed, but opens again on the First… While I was in the store, I sort of wandered around looking at the different jerky snacks. It was like being in a new world, a world where I don’t have to drink anymore. The other customers appeared rather rough and ragged to me, as if they lived in poverty, so I fitted right in— up to a point. Suk manned the cash register. He asked me if the jerky was everything… I also saw my neighbor Steve, though he didn’t notice me passing by. There were two children in his yard. Somebody on a motorcycle came down Fremont Avenue and nearly stalled. Right now I hear a lawn mower on my street. Things are getting back to a new kind of normal while the sun shines on carelessly in a sky of blue dust. 

Scream for Ice Cream

Three o’clock. I’m thinking I might take a break from reading for a day or two and try to be less intellectual. It seems that you are what you read. If you absorb wise words then you’ll probably spout the same kind of thing— whether they’re really true or not. Some writings can affect my behavior a certain way, not always for the good.

A car in the neighborhood passed by with the stereo playing techno music. The weather is very warm and partly cloudy; outside my glass door I hear a dull roar of traffic on the highway and up and down Maxwell Road. It could be a good day for ice cream, and maybe I’d see Deb at the market. Espresso flavor appeals to my imagination, but the reality is caffeine overdose. Also my body is still tired from my errand to Bi Mart six hours ago. 

It was a two mile round trip adventure on Silver Lane and Kourt Drive coming back. I didn’t have much fun. I huffed and puffed as I ambled along, noticing the upgrades and downgrades in the pavement, and thankful for the latter so I could coast a little. The thought of my Snapple waiting for me at home gave me the motivation to stick out the distance. I accomplished my mission of getting my Vraylar, but there wasn’t much to see or hear on the journey. A resident on Grove Street had a few signs in his front yard. One of them said social media is a source of division, or something like that. Usually he places signs about cruelty to animals, but since then he’s found a different cause to rant on. Otherwise, the trip went almost as if I hadn’t been there.