Four forty.

I finished reading The Tempest yesterday afternoon, and I figured out why I never really liked Shakespeare. Everything in his plays centers on the noble class, while the illegitimate characters are looked down upon, and they are always outsiders with no place in the Christian world. Personally, my dad was adopted, and his birth was illegitimate. His father took no interest in him or his twin brother, so the mother gave them up. A good man, an attorney named Charles Graden, and his wife Ida Mae, adopted them. But this was in 1925, when adoption was much more scandalous than today. It was similar to divorce in being socially unacceptable.

Shakespeare believed that characters had to be highborn to be interesting. This policy continued in drama until Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen presented A Doll’s House, shattering old conventions and advocating freedom for all individuals, whatever their social status. The production at its first performance caused the audience to riot.

For me, the history of the stage begins with Ibsen.



I don’t know if there’s a deus ex machina in all of this. I suppose I could choose to believe such a thing, and yet no good fortune happens without an individual being assertive with the situation and people.

Once, a friend told me something humorous on that head. I’d had a phobia of parking my vehicle in crowded places Downtown or on the campus. Mike said, “You see? The parking gods will be kind to you if you show a little courage.” He was mostly an atheist but a great songwriter, leading the band with me in it. The same year I began dating a woman my age who was a Lutheran working in a bookstore. I did a lot of reading in Herman Melville, starting with Moby Dick, though his worldview clashed with the Tennyson I also tried to embrace. The result was a big mess for me, and in the end I lost those friends plus my best friend and my dad died that year: and on the whole it felt like 1999 was the end of the world.

I don’t know which impulse won the day, the blackness of Melville or the Christian sunshine, however, life went on with my dad’s passing. A few days later I bought two little books related to Epicurean philosophy but this was soon drowned out by the era of the holy wars and incidentally my mother’s death. And then my whole world was transformed, though I fought it as my addiction to alcohol progressed and eventually took over my life. Just today I pondered what the new hub of my life had become, and it seems to be the written word probably more so than music. As I think about it, a lot of living is adapting to sociological changes out of my control, surviving them and holding onto the wave like the old song by Yes says. Personal freedom is a comforting idea but ultimately it’s a tired illusion, so that my recovery from alcoholism really isn’t creditable to me at all, but rather to something like fate that operates within and without the individual person. 


Quarter of eight.

I’m figuring things out about my life. I think being an alcoholic can totally warp your personality, right down to your soul. I saw it happen to my dad and then it happened to me. I had no understanding of him until I started drinking with him in high school. All I could see was that his behavior was malevolent and diabolical, cruel and malicious. Now I get that my dad’s identity was disguised, even from himself.

At the store this morning, Lisa was taking too much time with one customer. For some reason she opened five different packs of cigarettes for this person who seemed to be looking for something. The guy ahead of me in line turned and walked out the door. No one could comprehend why Lisa indulged this customer this way. The latter was clueless that people were growing impatient behind her. It was one of life’s irrational and embarrassing moments, and an oddball mistake. 


Seven thirty.

Things make a lot more sense now, the whole panorama of my life. It’s partly cloudy again this morning. I went on Amazon to price the Hamilton edition of Plato just for fun. The man where it all began. Once I found the book at St Vinnie’s and bought it for two bucks, later giving it away to an alcohol and drug counselor. She lost it and didn’t seem to care at all. It’s amazing what I can remember and how everything is falling into place. I even know now why graduating from college was so difficult for me, and the return to the real world. My experience in high school had been such torture in terms of the social life, but today I can think on it less painfully… And then there was therapy with the psychologist when I was still a student that went nowhere. Stuff about being assertive, etc etc. He was struck by my intelligence. But the city of Eugene is very narrow and limited for a person like me. Still, I can no longer keep up my defenses. It’s time to just be myself… Gloria will be here in ten minutes.


It looks like it might rain. I think I’ve found my old Dell computer, put away in a closet next to the front door. I won’t fire it up for at least a while. The screen of BS has been cleared almost totally from my mind. I was wrong; the sun is coming out. And Gloria discovered my copy of On the Beach, for which I’d looked a long time without success. What would you do with the rest of your life in the event of nuclear war, something you’d always wanted to do? Also the poem by Sara Teasdale occurs to me:

And for a breath of ecstasy,

Give all you have ever been, or could be. 



A fence encloses me

Formed of impaled skulls on wooden spears

Shoved in the mud in a circle around my feet;

I stand naked in the center

And the radius between me and each spear

Is about two yards.

My cage of refuge

Is located in a tiny clearing

In a huge hazardous rain forest,

A jungle swarming with unpredictable contingencies,

Random accidents of chance,

Crazy events involving both the living and dead.

Occasionally as I scan past the treetops

For a patch of azure sky,

A parrot or bird of paradise crosses overhead

And shits on my shoulder or hair;

The skulls grin at this subversively,

But mostly they provide faithful service.

These bodiless heads are scarecrows,

Except more like a four yard diameter pentagram

In their portentousness,

Warding away evil from the heights

Of their ten foot javelins.

In the mud at my bare feet

I have scratched a crude representation

Of extravagant female breasts

And one mantric word: