Quarter after nine.

It’s mostly sunny and below freezing this morning. I got wise and indulged in my quart of Snapple tea today. I feel better for it. On my way to buy dog food I passed a crew of workers led by a Mexican. The side of his white pickup truck read Chico Yard Service. Evidently they were paid to remove some debris from a neighbor’s property. Aside from that I ran into nobody during my walk. There was one other Mexican pedestrian, but he was a distance behind me. He caught up to me at the store. Melissa wore a black hoodie with the motto, “Nothing is under control” on the front. I smelled something that had burnt behind the counter, which corroborated the statement. No one was in back of me when I checked out. My pace was quite slow, subdued by the frigid weather. In one of his writings, Jack London describes the murderous cold of the Yukon, as if nature were intelligent and intent on killing people. I’d forgotten how good he is at his style of brutal naturalism. So I got home with Aesop’s canned food and gave him breakfast close to nine o’clock. I’ve got band practice this afternoon. Mike’s place is just a fifteen minute walk away. Like a wandering minstrel I will tote my bass in its gig bag, and hopefully no one will mistake me for a sniper or something.

Quarter after ten. This is Saturday, a non business day for many. It’s a nice breather from the worries of the week. I did my church duty last night, and now I can forget about it. I hear a chainsaw laboring outside: probably Chico’s people. Sounds of shouting off to the west of me. Are things back to normal again? I guess it depends on how you define normal. But I for one feel relieved that the madness has gone away for a while. 

Pedestrian Sketch

Noon hour. I’ve been to Bi Mart and back. Struck out on the furnace filter. They had lots of them, but not one in the right size. At the pharmacy counter, Shawn and Sherri were very friendly, as always. My prescription cost me zero dollars, and because I walked, my transportation was also free. Shawn wished me a belated Happy Birthday. She observed that it’s only 13 more days until the inauguration, and I said I was thankful for that. Sherri said she was just hanging in there… Walking back along Silver Lane, I slowed down when I came to the site where my old grade school had been demolished. Not one pebble of the foundation remains. Where a school had been is now a field of mud surrounded by a chain link fence featuring the name of the contractor. I don’t know when construction on the new high school is scheduled to begin. And then, heading south on Grove Avenue, I was walking parallel to an old bearded guy wearing a Duck slicker and ruined sneakers. After he crossed in front of me, I was behind him around the corner until I saw him enter a house at the north end of Linwood Street. James passed me in his tan Honda. I watched him go inside his home, paying no attention to me. Currently the sun is out in a partly cloudy sky, feeling almost like spring. The atmosphere reminds me of years ago, when things were more stable. But I believe that soon life will settle down again and reason and maturity will prevail. 

Haircut Day

Quarter after nine.

Today I get my hair cut with Karen. I’ll probably get rained on. I had a conscientious dream this morning that I won’t describe right now. I tend to dream better when I miss a dose of my antipsychotic. At the store, Michelle mentioned that she has diabetes. The regulation of blood sugar is a real pain, she said. Occasionally I get tired of taking my medication as well. Sometimes it’s important to be able to dream and confer with the soul. If my guilty dream put me on the spot, then at the same time I managed to come to my own defense very effectively, even in the context of a deep sleep.

Quarter of eleven. Karen was all ready for me when I got to my appointment ten minutes early. Kim was also there at the salon and watched and joined in the conversation. Looking in the mirror, I could see the Maxwell bridge out of the door, the cars with their lights glaring in the rain. Karen buzzed over my head with electric shears, then fine tuned the job with scissors. Afterwards she gave me a wash. I paid her a generous tip because things are tight lately. When I took my leave, went out the door and grabbed my umbrella from the rail, a reckless driver screamed by on Maxwell Road. Right behind him came a City of Eugene police officer. I stopped to watch what the cop would do, but I was disappointed. I came home humming melodies from the Prince Igor overture. Crossing N. Park, I passed the sexy neighbor mom who waved to me from her car. I regretted that I didn’t know her name. 


Eight forty.

We’re getting a break from the rain this morning, but only temporarily. As I walked on the Maxwell sidewalk toward the store, I saw the half moon in the western sky. The moon always looks surreal by daylight, like an image out of a painting. I vaguely thought of my actions being compelled by the moon’s gravitational pull, but didn’t take it very seriously. I went inside the store and bought food for Aesop and me, plus a Snapple tea. There were a few older guys shopping this morning, a Sunday. One of them bought a Dr Pepper. Now, Aesop is letting me know that he’s hungry. 

Another thought I had was that the past ought to stay in the past. Carl Sandburg: “The past is a bucket of ashes.” Also I wondered if I would ever buy a car for transportation again. How long can I live like a pedestrian, some wandering hobo carrying a US flag shopping bag every day to the market? It makes me think of the Bird Lady in Mary Poppins: “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.” Or the old woman eating prunes from a paper bag in the poem by Carlos Williams, receiving solace from the sweet taste. Long ago, I saw a poster in a frat house showing a man in rider’s breeks with a martini perched on the hood of a Rolls Royce. Caption: “Poverty sucks.” Even so, I wouldn’t trade my freedom for self made riches any day. There are better ways to be wealthy than with money. The cold winter sky is beginning to cloud up, and the promise of rain will be fulfilled. 

Mourning Doves

Quarter after nine.

I dreamed that water was leaking into the sanctuary at church. While I was there alone, I changed the settings on a certain air pump that kept out the water. I was not supposed to do this… In my dreams, water often symbolizes alcohol. So there’s a concern on my mind about relapse. Maybe it has something to do with religious faith, but I don’t know for sure.

It’s predicted to rain later this morning, and I carried my umbrella to the store just in case. Michelle wore a cardigan sweater with a rose on each shoulder, which looked good with her gray eyes. Life has been changing so rapidly over the past year. Despite the fact that she was rather abrasive, I miss seeing Vicki every morning. I wonder how she’s doing since losing her job? Having her gone sort of slams the door on my alcoholic past. It is all irreversible history now. I guess I feel a little sad today, a bit lost and disoriented. The chaos of this last year makes me worry about the future. Here and now, in this room, I am utterly alone with the dog, and the winter sky looms overhead, cold and ominous.

Quarter after eleven. Well, my sister called me on the phone, so I wasn’t so lonely for an hour. We might get together for my birthday, and get some food to take out or be delivered. Yesterday afternoon I ordered myself a new bass amp for practice and small gigs. It should arrive sometime next week. Meanwhile, a pair of mourning doves have found their way to my backyard: large white and gray birds with a call similar to an owl. Living in the present moment can be very strange. Outside, the weather is alternating rain and shine with occasional gusts of wind. Times are not very happy, but we stick them out just to see what happens next… 

Spheres in Commotion

Ten forty.

This morning has been kind of busy. I called Polly and we talked for an hour. Next, my case manager from Laurel Hill called me to schedule an appointment for Thursday afternoon. Her name is Misty, and I like her very well. Then I went to the store as usual, where I saw Michelle and I bought a few things. I passed Darlene’s old house coming back and spoke with the new occupants. The mother of the family said she really likes the yellow color of my home. She asked me about the fire I had a year ago last March. Finally she said she and her kids were getting ready to roam the neighborhood… 

It’s very warm out today; almost 60 degrees, and mostly cloudy. It won’t rain again until later this afternoon. This weekend was rather blah. The mail brought me the blank books I’d ordered, so I opened them and began writing in one of them. The content that came out was quite curious, a throwback to old times. Right now I feel comfortable in the present moment, with a Genesis song looping in my head. “And the changes of no consequence / Will pick up the reins between us…” “The old man’s guide is chance.” The song is nearly 50 years old, yet remembered by at least someone. The past is present. And so soon the present is past. The rest of the day will probably be uneventful, but future contingencies can’t be forecasted. I made a joke to Polly about the Christmas star phenomenon, that it could portend chaos on Earth. Like reading Shakespeare. Astrology was once taken very seriously. Which reminds me to read my Paradise Lost… 

Great Figures

Four thirty in the morning.

I just listened to Rush’s Hemispheres after a long hiatus. It sounds as brilliant as it ever did, the product of very hard work. Yesterday I played the bass line to “Circumstances,” or rather the parts of it I could manage. There are some runs that are virtually impossible to copy… After spinning the CD, I began to meditate on the letter R. It is the initial for some important words, to my mind, such as Robert, Rush, reason, and Ayn Rand. In numerology, the letter R falls under the number 9, and resonates with that number’s energy. Maybe I’m thinking along these lines in anticipation of my birthday.

Eight forty. I’m off to a late start today, but that’s okay with me. In the days when I worked, I didn’t earn much PTO, but the day I took off was always my birthday. One time on January 4, I indulged in beer and in the afternoon, UPS delivered an edition of Milton that I still treasure. It is a big maroon hardcover tome published by Hackett. One of these days I’ll finish reading Paradise Lost.

Ten o’clock. It’s mostly cloudy, with a little bleed through of sunshine. Melissa said she hoped it wouldn’t rain, but the forecast calls for a lot of it next week. I stopped on the sidewalk to take a look at the dog rescue shelter across Maxwell on N. Park. I noticed a couple of buses parked outside the building, one orange and the other white. Karen and Kim talked about the local utility company, and how to save on our electric bills. The former was dressed in a royal blue blouse and vest. We also talked of kung pao chicken and shrimp. Just trivial things of no vast import to the nation. No great figures of speech. Roger was busy grinding down something metal, the sparks flying out behind him. I imagined he was vexed about politics. Maybe someday he’ll move to Montana as he’s been threatening to do. Someplace else to live the dream…

Local Life

Quarter of seven. This afternoon I think I’ll swap bridges on my Mexican Fender bass. I heard from Mark the drummer last night. Maybe I could email Mike as well regarding next month. I feel tired; I need my Snapple teas to wake up. Just waiting for sunrise before I hike to the store. I might even buy a Coke… First gray glimmer of daylight is here.

Quarter of eight. Fifty percent chance of rain after eight o’clock. I’ll hazard it without an umbrella.

Eight fifty five. The market has a new surveillance system with a monitor screen toward the front door. You can look up and see yourself in it, though there’s a delay time. The management gets increasingly sophisticated and professional, but to achieve this required money. The interior looks quite Christmassy, with a couple of Santas and a festoon of evergreen. You get a warm and fuzzy feeling from the earth tone wall paneling behind the counter. Three people were ahead of me in line and two in my wake, and it was only eight fifteen. Now I wonder if the example of this business might inspire others to grow up around it and rejuvenate the Maxwell community. For thirty years it’s been very run down, not pretty to look at. Back in the seventies and eighties it was quite respectable, with a nice grocery store and a gas station on the corner of N. Park. There was a cool little deli called Luigi’s that made incredible garbage grinders. But during the nineties, the community went downhill, I don’t know why. Hopefully the little store will do something to boost its surroundings. 

The Picture

Ten thirty five. Some days make me wonder about the meaning of it all. After doing my daily shopping, I stopped by the salon and spoke with Angela, who was alone for a few minutes. I asked her how the homeschooling was going, and she said her fifth grader can’t read. Two of her kids have a learning disability. Also, Angela doesn’t understand the new method for teaching math. Then I asked her if anyone was helping her, but everyone she knows is too busy working. I felt like volunteering myself to help teach them to read, except children don’t take me seriously as a disciplinarian. They see me as just a playmate, and they can get away with murder. And then Karen arrived. The retirement home can’t let her in to do hair styling due to the coronavirus… This episode at the salon plus the phone conversation with my sister started me pondering the real utility of my cerebral life of books and music. There are very real practical problems that could use my help. The need is everywhere for help with survival skills such as reading and arithmetic. Meanwhile, I loaf around eating the lotus of philosophy and poetry. Is there something wrong with this picture? 


Eight o’clock.

No email from my friend yet. I don’t know what she is up to today. I don’t want to go to church tonight or on Sunday. I’m going to boycott Christmas and just take care of myself. I know how to do this better than anyone else. I think I’ll leave the church for good. Religion is usually a right wing thing.

Nine thirty five. It was lovely to see Michelle this morning. From her I bought a new orange bandanna and peppermint candy ice cream, plus ribeye chewy treats for Aesop. It was cold and a little foggy outside. A pretty girl on the sidewalk passed me and we said good morning. I saw Dell carrying some cardboard boxes out to his car. Michelle helped a customer with the propane tanks while I was walking into the store. Her temperament is a lot different from that of Vicki; kinder and friendlier, not so jaded and sassy. Her logic is not so clouded by personal hurts. She is always fair dealing with people, but when she is on the receiving end of injustice, she’ll defend herself. When she had more money, she used to go to the theater… My pen pal let me know that she’ll be late today… The changes are coming a bit more swiftly now. I sense a shift in attitude and mood around me generally. Christina on Wednesday was kind of fun. She even said it was fun working with me after we’d done some exercises in physical therapy… I am hopeful that musicians can play again when vaccines are available this winter. Just wait it out and see what happens…