It was good to get out of bed because my dream thoughts were nihilistic and hopeless. Everything seemed so futile to me, even my favorite things, like philosophy and books. Now I’m waiting for the sun to rise on a new day… Funny but “new day” calls to mind New Day lawn care, the business owned by a Mexican friend I used to know before Trump came along, and the ICE scared illegal immigrants to death. I remember the smell of fresh mown grass years ago when Juan would come and do the job. I was younger and more alive then: everything seemed like that, and I still had my Nissan truck for getting around. I think I miss having a car. Last night I dreamed about a conversation with my brother about transportation. He couldn’t imagine not having a vehicle to go places. And I suppose my dream was trying to tell me something about the situation. The smell of grass might really be the smell of gasoline in my mind: but do I really miss that in my life?
My therapist is concerned that I’ve been too withdrawn lately, so I think I’ll plan another trip to the bookstore, although I wouldn’t know what I was doing there. I could go to Smith Family for the sake of nostalgia, to remember my dad when we liked to knock about town in the mid nineties. I could go to Tsunami on Willamette to visit with Scott, if he even remembers me now. I used to sell him my books when I didn’t have any money. In those days I was more mobile than today, having my own vehicle and a different situation in life. It makes me feel nervous to consider going there because I’m a Highlander and Tsunami is in the rich south part of town where my psychiatrist still has his practice. I’m completely out of the habit of visiting the south hills of Eugene; it’s an intimidating prospect to me, plus it might trigger me to drink beer. The difference is like the Country Mouse and the City Mouse; like a person from Drain Oregon going to New York City and being totally outclassed and mortified by the culture shock. I’d be tempted to stay in North Eugene and embrace the place, even though it’s homely and plain, with values of meat and potatoes: basically, survivalism. But it’s where I live, judge it how you may. If Tsunami is a little too swanky then the happy medium is probably Smith Family on Fifth and Willamette, where Downtown Eugene starts.
It is literally freezing outside and they say there’s black ice on the roads, so I’m waiting a bit before going to the store. The term “black ice” reminds me of a kind of beer I used to buy when I didn’t have much money. It tasted terrible but it was cheap and got the job done. The sun on the rooftops hits the ice and makes a vapor that mists away on the air. Aesop ate his breakfast without a complaint. If I didn’t have a couple of credit cards, then I wouldn’t be able to live currently on my income. So it’s really a story of being in the poorhouse right now even though I don’t drink and I don’t have a car for expense. Thank goodness my bank is gracious and works with me.
Ten twenty five. I managed to avoid the slippery spots on the streets on my trip. The sky is mostly clear and blue. I came across my neighbor Jeff walking a dog he was sitting, and he warned me about the ice. He has an outrageous white beard that looks like a gnome’s and long white hair. Cathy at the market was just unpacking the sandwiches for the fresh food display, so I asked her for a poor boy hoagie out of the crate… Twenty years ago today my mother passed. I think of some of the good friends I’ve made since then, and others I said goodbye to. No relationship is permanent except yours with yourself, yet I still remember old friends and things I learned from them. Music in my head: an adaptation of Bach by Jethro Tull, recorded in the sixties, and once included on Living in the Past. My brother handed me down his copy on vinyl a long time ago together with other treasures he no longer valued. I’m not too proud to be a scavenger sometimes.
Five twenty five.
I’ve got financial problems since last month, mostly due to transportation costs. Maybe it’s a little bit of everything. Poverty really does suck, like the old poster said on the wall of my friend’s frat house… It’s been so long since I played music with a drummer that my ability on the bass has atrophied. Or perhaps I should stop wasting time with my P/J bass and use a bass that sounds better. You don’t always get what you pay for. The little J bass I assembled from a kit for under $250 sounds better than the genuine Fender that cost 5 times that. I guess it’s the name that you pay for… In general it just feels like times are hard right now. I was never a Charles Dickens fan but maybe I should give my copy of David Copperfield a read. It’s in the garage with a lot of other books. Then again, I probably had a reason for putting it out there.
Ten thirty. There’s Rebecca at eleven o’clock. I just got home from the store, but Michelle wasn’t working when I got there. I hope she’s doing okay. I was cashiered by Brandi this time, while Cathy was busy doing something else. It wasn’t a very remarkable trip today, though I would have liked to see Michelle.
Three thirty in the morning.
The weather yesterday was cloudy. I didn’t pay much attention to it; stayed indoors all day, scribbling notes in my journal. It’s odd to think of how utterly responsible we are for the biosphere and the cycles of the weather. We believe we’re doing good just by working to earn a living, yet the economy is not everything. It’s a small, artificial part of a much bigger whole. “All the busy little creatures chasing out their destinies / Living in their pools they soon forget about the sea.” …I don’t remember what dreams I had before I got out of bed, but they were set in my own street.
Eight o’clock. It is foggy at the tree line. Heather had on a T-shirt with the logo “Ghost of Gatsby,” a local rock band that plays originals. She said they were pretty good. I stood deliberating in front of the freezer, looking at the peppermint candy ice cream, and finally decided a negative. Instead I got a mango tea Snapple, plus a reuben sandwich and some cottage cheese. Through Kat’s front window I could see the backs of three heads that were fixed on the giant tv screen as I ambled by on Fremont Avenue. Karen’s salon front sported a homemade sign: “Nail technician needed.” Jessica has been gone for a week or two now, left to be with her family. Kim still works there, I think, but she doesn’t do nails. Something about the salon gives me an impression of any book you like by Charles Dickens. Probably I should stick my head in the door and say hi someday soon, and forgive Karen’s rightwing politics. I might be just in time for “A Christmas Carol.”
Quarter after eight.
The guilt and self criticism were getting me down yesterday, and still hard to fight off today. I don’t know what’s doing this to me. It’s sunny this morning. Michelle complained to me about a customer who was difficult, so I told her about an old joke that she also remembered… I feel very vulnerable and depressed, perhaps because of my relationship with the church. I really don’t want to go back again. Every day I feel less superstitious from taking the Vraylar so that the notion of metaphysics is implausible to my mind. I’ve totally lost my faith. I feel more like I did when I was younger.
Nine o’clock. I guess blind faith is taking another person’s testimony for something miraculous. But some thinkers like Emerson advocate judging for yourself. Dare to know and use your own reason. I’ve never seen a miracle… I thought my visit with Todd yesterday went poorly, but I felt terrible and had no defense from my own accusations. Yet I’ve been saying all this time that I don’t care for the agency. It’s not a comfortable place to go to. I am extremely tired of being treated badly because of my diagnosis, as if I were a second class subhuman. Thus I resolve to keep blogging and raising awareness for mental illness. We keep getting the shit end of the stick. If you fall through the cracks then you’re destined to stay there, hoping for a miracle. I’ve never seen a miracle.
Reality dawns on me a bit more all the time, and in America, very little can be done without money. It makes the difference between paradise and damnation, like in a tale by Edgar Allan Poe of how an inheritance of a lot of cash plus a knowledge of horticulture are able to build the Domain of Arnheim here on earth. But it would’ve been impossible without the money. Capitalism is the curse of American life that keeps us in the dark ages, especially if you don’t have any money. I think I’d rather live in Xanadu than in Arnheim, although the vision of Poe is a symptom of the reality of economics. By the way, Poe was poor and only genteel by means of his intellect. He had fame without riches. If I had to pick one over the other, then I’d take fame; but then I could never live in a place like the Domain of Arnheim. Does Xanadu still offer an open door or maybe a window? And is “Xanadu” really Canada? Then Arnheim is a place in the United States, or in its imagination… These thoughts keep me awake at night. I always believe there must be a better way to govern the people than by capitalism. So that Poe’s paradise needn’t be achieved through the almighty dollar, but through ingenuity alone.
Quarter of three. Just now I went to the little store around the corner. In his driveway, Colin was blowing leaves a bit early in the season. The same smoke alarm started cheeping again, so I’ll have to hit the button on it. At the market, JR helped a woman out with a lot of plastic bags of empties. Cathy covered the registers and rang up my Snapple tea. I saw some rather rough looking people today, strutting around puffing cigarettes, and I think they come out in the afternoon. Generally, the morning bunch is nicer and more reputable. I’ve been going to that place for nearly twenty years, to begin with for a watering hole, but now just for convenience of location. When I reflect on it, the place seems haunted with old memories of how it used to be. Since those days, I had therapy that was traumatizing, opening a can of worms we should’ve left alone. But as it is, I know more than I ever did before the experience… The little store in the afternoon is quite a seamy place, or can be, depending on when you hit it. Sometimes I feel that I fit right in with the squalor; yet other times I long for something better, like a gutter ball looking at the stars on a romantic night. I’ve got one foot in each world, though I know I’ll never live to colonize the stars: or perhaps I’m wrong about that. Stranger things have happened.
Nine fifty five.
A rainy Saturday morning. I got off to a late start today. The store was very busy, or maybe everyone came in at the same time. I saw one woman with a pink hippo backpack and a lot of guys behind me in line. The rules of face masking seem quite lax at the market. Sometimes I consider going to a different store, especially on weekends; someplace a bit more professional and conscientious. I get tired of the Maxwell community, just a hole in the wall compared to the larger River Road vicinity. The whole of River Road is not particularly affluent, which has always been depressing, plus its paucity of imagination. The Whitaker neighborhood is also poor, but the politics there are more liberal and intelligent. In that place you’re more likely to find a good rock band jamming in somebody’s house. But of course I’m generalizing from a few examples that I’ve seen. About the coolest thing we have on River Road is the Black Rock Coffee Bar, in the same parking lot as Cal’s Donuts.
Ten fifty. I guess I’m feeling kind of down this morning. Yesterday at noon I played the bass really hard, doing some lines from the Chili Peppers. I was frustrated with my situation with music, and it affects a lot of other people too. In other areas, I get mad at people and programs that overemphasize the God stuff. I keep calling to mind my high school junior year, when I learned the word agnostic from our vocabulary book and made it mine. During the spring that year I read Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, and though his style doesn’t appeal to me, I might take another look at it.
The cloud formation I can see from here is very pretty, more natural than during the wildfires. When I go out the front door, the writing in the sky might say, “Surrender, Robert!” Vapor trails left by a Wicked Witch. This idea made me laugh. No clue what it pertains to or what it means. I only got up an hour ago. Guess it’s time to go to the store. So far I feel good today.
Quarter of nine. I met with a couple of surprises on my outing this morning. The first was seeing Lisa, who used to work at Karen’s salon, in the parking lot of the market. She greeted me by name and with a deft movement stripped off her mask while I fumbled to remember who she was. Then she told me she had a new job at a salon that fit her better. I’m happy for her on one hand, but the happiness is superficial when you begin to think about it. I also think to myself that cream rises to the top, but it’s always at the expense of somebody else. Maybe I’m being too Charlie Brown about an otherwise good thing… The other surprise was the sight of schoolchildren on their way to the middle school. I was a bit worried for them crossing Maxwell Road, but apparently they knew how to do that… The more I think about Lisa, the more I dislike her supercilious attitude. There’s something very Scott Fitzgerald in this scenario: an oligarchy of the beautiful people, whereas those without beauty are the losers. It makes me self conscious. I tramp around the neighborhood in soiled clothes, the epitome of penury; and yet I have something that Lisa seems to lack. Give me a few minutes and I might recall what it is… Does she know who Fitzgerald is? And what is an oligarchy?