A Little Light

Four twenty five in the morning.

I pored over some of my old poetry from twenty years ago and grew rather weary of the old canon of literature that fed it. My friendship with someone overseas for six years broadened my experience a great deal. What we can learn from real people in our lives is far superior to mere books… Last night I walked to church. Darkness had fallen, and the leaves on the streets were wet and treacherous. Where there were no streetlights I could hardly see. A few cars passed me as I navigated Fremont. Down Hemlock, I saw a man who carried a little light with him. I thought, I need one of those things. As it was, I wore a black rain jacket and dark blue jeans. No light colors or reflectors. So I wonder if Bi Mart stocks anything for a pedestrian’s visibility at night. I should call them and find out. Once I gained Maxwell Road, obviously the lighting was better and I felt safer. To my right across the road loomed the dimly lit form of the Methodist church, a great big A frame enclosing a cross. This building is more modern than my own church, which was built in the mid 1950s, the decade before my house was made. It dawns on me as I write this that I have belongingness needs like everyone else. A place to call home, and a bunch of people to call family are indispensable. My hike through the gloomy night along perfidious streets was sort of like wandering in search of a doorstep on which to place myself. After Roxanne brought me home, I set about looking for my copy of City of God by Saint Augustine. As if guided by providence, I found the book in a box I’d had yet to open… 

Driving to Utopia

Two twenty. My taxi ride to the pharmacy went just fine, and I avoided the rain as it started on the way back. I got to see Shawn, who didn’t recognize me with the mask at first. Jeanine was at the register, but amazingly there was no copay for my Vraylar. The insurance company came through for me again, so the prescription that would cost $1400 out of pocket cost me $0. The parking lot for Bi Mart and Grocery Outlet was quite busy this afternoon. Todd, the cabbie, threaded his way meticulously through the traffic. The fare for the trip came to under $15. I might have looked like a spoiled brat riding in a taxi for the one mile to the pharmacy, but I simply put aside the feelings of guilt. People could eat their heart out. 

Another time, I may take a ride Downtown to the environs of Fifth Street and knock about. I’d like to visit Smith Family Bookstore again; it’s been probably three years since the last time I saw it. And there might be a new shop or two on Fifth Street, though I doubt it, based on the state of the economy and the number of homeless people living in tents beneath the bridge between First and Fifth Streets. Truly it’s a grim sight as you drive by the Washington Jefferson Street Park. My dad and I used to travel through the Whitaker neighborhood to get to Downtown all the time twenty five years ago. And when I was working, I drove home on First Avenue every day; but I never saw anything like the poverty so blatantly obvious nowadays. The so-called invisible people make themselves known, and I don’t blame them. Thus, it would be futile to go Downtown seeking to make the past materialize out of a memory; it’d be a delusion or a wish fulfilling dream… 

Innocence

Seven thirty.

I couldn’t rest very well due to my appointment Wednesday, when I was poked and prodded in the spine and made to do wall squats repeatedly. My posture was also criticized and the way I lock my knees when I stand. Was it really worth it? I’m losing sleep because of it… Meanwhile, I’m gaining objectivity of perspective. For a long time I was quite a narcissist… Going back to bed. I can’t think or write at this moment.

Ten o’clock. I had a pleasant little outing to the salon and store, except for the cold weather… or maybe because of it. On the wall behind the checkout counter they’ve put up grayish brown paneling. This looks totally different from before, and I don’t know what to think of it yet. It darkens the interior of the place, which I wouldn’t choose to do. Suddenly it seems that the upgrades are coming too rapidly, so that I hardly recognize the market now. It feels foreign to me, so completely unlike the days when Belinda was the owner. Business must be thriving, or perhaps the new owners invest more in their establishment to make it nice… In some form, they’re selling marijuana, but I’m not interested enough to know how that works. Also I saw on display what looked like capsules for sale, the kind you swallow. I’m very ignorant about these things, but I know that we legalized weed many years ago… In fact, the display of pills and capsules is very big and conspicuous, and a computer screen advertises weed constantly. I’ve just stumbled onto an observation that feels a bit uncomfortable. My dad would be rolling over in his grave. 

On Winged Sandals

Five o’clock 🕔. And then the phone rang: the PT receptionist asked if I could come early today, since they’d had a few cancellations. I said yes, though maybe should’ve said no. Suddenly I had to put my shoes on and hit the road. Hoofing it through my neighborhood, the phone rang again: Sally from my health insurance wanted to do my annual review. So I kept her on the phone for as long as I could hear her voice above the traffic noise. Meanwhile the clouds to the north were black and forbidding, portending rain or maybe hail, and my destination led me right towards it. Luckily I felt only a few raindrops. It was the first time I’d ever had a phone conversation on the run. When I got to the medical building, I was already a bit tired, and then Erin chewed me out somewhat for not doing my homework exercises. Otherwise my appointment was tolerable. I found out that Erin is a rock drummer: I spotted the eighth note tattoo on her hand and said something. She is a fan of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and also the drummer for Tool… For the return home, I realistically took Oregon Taxi. The dispatcher was very friendly and the cab arrived in only five minutes. The cabbie was a white haired old gerontion and new to the job. I gave him directions as we moved along. He did pretty well, except he almost hit a pedestrian crossing River Road because he simply didn’t see him. I had to yell to him to “watch out for this guy.” Finally I got home and I gave Aesop three bacon strips for his inconvenience and patience with the developments of a couple of hours. 

A Mile and a Third




The day at home was pretty boring and uninteresting, so I kind of waited through it patiently until the time of my appointment with Erin at five o’clock. I set out on foot an hour early to give myself some ouija room and met with no trouble, putting me there at four thirty almost exactly. Erin led me through some exercises and at the end had me sit down to push pedal the machine for ten minutes. While I was doing this, she cleaned the things I had touched and started talking about a break in that had happened to the office prior to Monday morning. The perpetrator stole the cash and some food but luckily left the laptops. From there, we began to discuss the current situation of the country under Trump, and fortunately we agreed on each other’s politics. Kind of interesting how she opened up to me while I pumped away on the exercise machine. After ten minutes it was about six o’clockand the sunset was expected at 6:28. So I took my leave and walked home again, and again without a snag. Thinking back to the return walk, I passed some homeless people’s camps, a few tents and supplies by the off ramp to the Beltline Highway. My path along River Road took me under the overpass of the same highway and I went past something that smelled of urine. I didn’t pause to really examine my surroundings, and I arrived home at around six twenty. I remember crossing a crosswalk in front of a cop car at the intersection of Division Avenue, and now I reflect, How safe are we in the hands of the police as they exist today? Are the cops any better than the common people wandering around in the city? IMO, probably not. The population is just a big mishmash of people with different situations and fortunes, no one really superior to anybody else, everybody having an equal opportunity to live or die with some degree of justice and dignity in this dubious place called a civilized city in the Western world; more specifically, America… I also reflect that the urine reek coming from under the overpass could just as easily have been mine in different circumstances. The city is a barely domesticated place, with the law being quite a fragile and breakable thing. The only thing holding the line of cars back at the crosswalk is a red light, which seems a cold comfort to the pedestrian skipping across the street. Such a naked feeling, just your body and those big metal boxes called automobiles ready to charge out of the gates… So that was my little walk, my adventure on River Road during the rush hour traffic and before sundown on an October Monday evening.

Slice of Life

Quarter after ten. Pastor called me and we talked for a few minutes. It went okay. We’re going to play music together next Friday. I just got home from the store. The customer ahead of me took a long time with Oregon Lottery tickets, and Vicki was the only cashier. But the lineup of people were patient and courteous. I noticed again how the little market is starting to resemble other modern convenience stores. There’s a computer terminal I hadn’t seen before, with advertisements for some product. I imagine how my purchases over the years helped pay for the upgrades. In a way, it’s nice to see the market growing and advancing. I got myself a deli sandwich, a burrito, and two Snapples, plus dry dog food. The Dog Chow was ten bucks for only four pounds, but it’s Aesop’s favorite. JR was just starting his shift when I was on my way out. The sun from earlier this morning has disappeared behind the overcast. My yard sign for Black Lives Matter got knocked down, and then someone else set it up again. Dunno; it’s kind of a mellow morning in the hood. As I was heading home on N. Park, I passed a young person of color. Just a kid. I said hi, and he half smiled and walked by without a word… 

Uptown, Downtown: a Letter

Well I had an interesting day. It was sort of interwoven with old and new for my interior experience, and there was definite interplay between mind and reality, creating one person’s impression. I began to notice this in the waiting room of the physical therapy office: although no Halloween decorations existed, my mind imparted this essence to the colors I saw around me, giving them the luster of October 2002 from my memory. Doubtless this was the influence of having read Wordsworth recently. And yet our minds probably create this way all the time, making a fiction of fact, therefore who knows what is real? My appointment went well enough. Christina knows her business and was able to help me quite a bit today. The weather started with a high fog that burned off and gave way to beautiful sunshine before it was noon. The excursion took me up north a mile on River Road to the Santa Clara Square, where there’s a big Albertsons supermarket and a strip mall with a lot of small shops. Axis Physical Therapy is housed in the lower level of the medical building stuck in the middle of the parking lot. There is also a Shari’s Restaurant that’s been there forever. And across Division Avenue is the big Fred Meyer shopping center, where my sister goes for groceries at least once a week. In our petty disagreement with each other, Polly has staked out the territory north of the highway for herself, and south of it is my domain. I suppose a lot of this is my imagination, but I think Polly sees the same political division of north and south up and down River Road. The farther south you go on this street, the more it takes you into the heart of the city. It actually merges with Chambers Street at the bridge, and down underneath it is the Eugene Mission. It begins to get interesting for me around Fifth Street. Downtown Eugene starts more or less here, and Sixth and Seventh are arteries for heavy traffic; also 11th, 13th, and 18th Streets. I love Downtown! I don’t get to go there often enough. From the top of Skinner Butte you can see the layout of the whole city of Eugene. But my absolute favorite place is probably Fifth Street, especially the corner of Fifth and Pearl, where Musique Gourmet used to be. And I believe Smith Family Bookstore is on Fifth and Willamette… I get a bit emotional describing these places because my dad used to drive me there in the years when I wasn’t well. I guess I really miss my dad. He seemed to be better adjusted than my mother…

Autumn Calls

Three thirty 🕞. I took out three bags of trash while Aesop made a loud racket in protest. It was embarrassing for me, but I had to do at least some garbage this week. It is so nice to have cooler weather again, so I can actually think. It feels definitely like October, and while it conjures up past autumns, I also have to ask myself where do I go from here. In the etymology of “decision” is the word for “cutting.” Basically I have to cut away my past and move forward without dragging along the baggage. The turning of the leaves and their descent to the ground will mean something different to me this year. I am neither a drunkard nor a Christian anymore. It remains to be seen just what I will be from now on. It’s very overcast right now; I thought I felt a sprinkle of rain, although the forecast says no rain until next weekend. Rain and autumn leaves are so typically Oregon in the Valley. I’m glad Damien got the new fence up last May because we can expect monsoons and high winds in the fall. Gradually the days will get shorter and a bit cooler, the nights jet black and often wet. I’m also glad I don’t drive a car anymore; it’s too expensive and too stressful to keep doing. Leave the driving to someone else. Many people are all too willing to do it. I look forward to my next journey to Bi Mart or maybe Grocery Outlet. It might be interesting to go there in the late afternoon, just before dark. I haven’t seen Silver Lane at night for a while. Grove Avenue is beautiful in the fall because of the row of trees fronting each house… 

Mostly, I don’t feel many pangs or twinges of guilt or remorse anymore. Somehow I can duck these useless feelings. It may be a philosophical maneuver I learned from reading Sartre last spring and summer. It’s also a product of taking my Vraylar every night. Dunno; I just don’t feel paranoid like I used to, and that’s a great thing. I know someone who feels righteous about being depressed; he wallows in guilt as if he enjoyed the suffering. It’s not for me… 

Springfield

Nine o’clock. Yesterday, Polly told me that T— and R— are having another baby. I didn’t say much, but now I think of how stupid that is. The evidence of our demise is everywhere apparent, and still people are having babies. People don’t think! People are in Disneyland! I consider all the times when Polly has accused me of selfishness, but who’s being selfish now? Her little feelings of grandmotherly pride are absolutely thoughtless… My taxi is coming after ten o’clock. I dreamed last night that I retired my first car, which was quite symbolic. I parked it in some parking lot and then handed the keys to my dad. I was done with driving. Perhaps some aspects of my life are over as well.

One thirty. Darcy is concerned that I may have hip arthritis, so I have to go in for X-rays sometime soon. No appointment necessary. The ride home was rather circuitous because we had to pick up another passenger at RiverBend. We passed two different locations of Shari’s restaurant in Springfield. I remarked that the strip malls all look the same. Everywhere, it was smoky and it appeared like an industrial nuclear winter. Once I caught a glimpse of blue sky behind the smoke. No one really knows if it will rain tomorrow. After my arrival home, I walked to the store and stood in line to check out for several minutes. JR was cashiering all alone and it was the noon hour. I felt annoyed because they’re doing a lousy job of restocking food items. I got a Snapple raspberry tea and, when I got home, sat down and drank it leisurely. Aesop probably whined and howled in my absence. But now my big excursion is out of the way. 

Domingo de Nuevo

Eight twenty.

The Coke was not an experience worth repeating, at least for a while. It gave me trouble sleeping and also mild hallucinations. Plus it altered my thinking for a while. The house cooled down considerably overnight. My third “birthday” is only a few weeks away. On that day I think I’ll celebrate Aesop’s birthday too. Officially, it is 12 September, but 911 is easier to remember. I will get up and go to the store pretty soon. Aesop needs dry food. Yesterday didn’t go as planned, so maybe I won’t plan for today. If I play the bass again today, will it sound as great as it did yesterday? But this is perfectionism kicking in. Simply plug in and play and go from there. The sunshine is cheerful but also soft like autumn… I feel like doing something generous for someone, like being thoughtful and kind. Lately I’ve only been concerned for myself, but last night I pondered how others may suffer and need kindness. On that note I’m going to the store right now.

Nine thirty. Vicki wasn’t very pleasant, and it was kind of a bummer of a trip. I’m glad to be home again. I bought no soda at all. Trying to stop a bad habit. I hope today is a better day than yesterday. In general, August can be a rough month. Sometimes I really miss my parents and the way it used to be in the mid 1990s. There won’t even be Duck football this fall. But it was only an occasion for drinking beer with friends. Everything changes, and happiness resides with looking forward, not back. Aesop is getting amped for his breakfast.