Over the Hump Day

Seven fifty five.

I am somewhere between comfortable and irritable right now. I just got up. Yesterday afternoon I found an old cassette tape of Sportin’ Life by Weather Report, a throwback to the mid Eighties when I was in college. I didn’t listen to it, though seeing it put me in a strange mood. My ideas in the summer of 1988 started out Kantian and gradually morphed to something like Freud, including a view of the unconscious. I barely had a handle on psychoanalytic concepts; sort of arrived at them independently, but I think Freud was in the atmosphere of my school. Whatever the ideology of a certain place, I tend to sponge it up.

Nine thirty. At the store, another customer and I negotiated over who was next in line. She said quite honestly that she was not in a hurry to get to work. I ended up going ahead of her, but she got served right away because Michelle used both registers. Now I’m thinking that I kind of miss having a job, however I don’t miss the culture of working and drinking. My sister was right: I cut my own swath away from the family, not without a little regret. It would’ve been impossible for me to do it their way. I’ve put aside the shame and just moved ahead with life… It’s sunny with a breeze in the trees. It was 48 degrees out when I made my daily pilgrimage. A homeowner on Fremont Avenue is re roofing her house. A guy in a huge black cowboy hat said good morning while the workers tore up the old roof. For two days now, the white ghost truck has been back in front of Derek’s house: no Confederate plates. At least the truck was real. I didn’t hallucinate. Times are very strange. 

The Door

Nine o’clock.

It’s strange, but every time I post something about racism and racial justice, hardly anyone likes what I have to say. Has our world fallen so low that equality is not obvious to everyone? All other things being kind of gray, one truth is absolute: that there is no excuse for racial hate, no matter what your level of education or any other circumstances. Even when a public figure sets a bad example, we ought to know what is right by instinct. I doubt if there are any racist babies in the world, so be mindful what you teach them. If I lose any followers due to this post, then I’ll show you the door and usher you on your way to a reality I don’t share. 

An Old Tortoise

Seven o’clock.

The store was quite busy even though it was so early in the morning. I had on my “sapphire” hoodie with the hood up and I moved like an old tortoise at the checkout counter, so Michelle scrambled to help other customers at the adjacent register. The daylight was just barely coming and the streetlights were still on, and now it’s a gray overcast. A guy from Derek’s house pulled out of the driveway and passed me by on N Park Avenue, and I automatically thought of the “ghost” truck with a white supremacist message. If you didn’t learn anything in seventh grade social studies, then you never will. I have no sympathy for such people… I paid cash for Aesop’s Milk Bones and peanut butter treat. On the whole trip I took my time, scuffling up and down the pavements and defying the breakneck pace of this world, daring it to act as it thinks. Probably I looked like old Father Time hobbling along in blue clothing and scoffing at people. But no; actually I was just a poor disabled guy walking invisible on the quiet streets of the suburbs, unseen and ineffectual. 

A Word, a Wall

Quarter after six.

I’m considering making an early trip to the store…

While I was there, I saw a few Black people. The storefront looked warm and inviting as I came up to the double door. I thought fleetingly of my brother and then disposed of him. It’s a cloudy morning. The landscape from along the Maxwell sidewalk reminded me of November a few years ago, and I remembered how afraid I was of people’s criticism. I’m in much better shape now, or perhaps the health organization I dealt with was really lousy with respect to people with schizophrenia… I’d forgotten that the Oregon Ducks won the Rose Bowl in 2012. This fact was advertised on a green sign by the beer cooler. Both parties of customers ahead of me ordered biscuits and gravy, so I stood there waiting patiently. Sometimes I think of Vicki when I’m at the market, but today I didn’t. Frankly she wasn’t a very nice person… I have to be ready to go at nine o’clock to be at Laurel Hill by ten for my appointment with Heidi. I’m still not very awake yet.

Quarter of eight. It’s interesting that being okay with yourself is a matter of balancing positives and negatives. Guilt and shame are the worst feelings you can experience, so it’s good to eliminate them. On the asphalt in the middle of Fremont Street, someone had spray painted the word “Gay” in red. So there it was in writing, the wall that everybody comes up against. It really doesn’t surprise me for this part of the city, this stupid conservative suburb. 

Close to Home

Eight twenty five.

The next day it rained. I had planned to do some soul searching today, but now I think I’ll just have a day in the life. My dreams this morning concerned issues of control and why I read so many Tarzan novels in my youth. Maybe it doesn’t matter what I fed my mind with when I was young. The last therapist I saw seemed to think that being a control person was a problem. I’m not even sure what she meant, and what would be the alternative to being in control? I asked her that and she had no answer. She was full of buzzwords and cliches and hadn’t really thought anything through. I don’t think she was capable of original thought but instead sponged her ideas from current trends. A lot of people do that. The result is that people go around prattling nonsense they know nothing about. They were never taught critical thinking skills in school, or how to think rather than what to think. It seems that society doesn’t encourage freethinking anymore. We’ve done away with philosophy classes in some schools or made them an elective to the point where students don’t bother with them. But without philosophy, people have no compass to steer their lives by. They just shoot the chutes of mass production and become model citizens with little self knowledge.

Quarter of ten. I observed something strange on my way to the store this morning. Two guys were working on the roof of a shed where Derek lives. Parked at the curb was their truck, a big white pickup with “Redneck” on the windshield and a Confederate flag for license plates, no number anywhere. Only a block away from them, Chico was still doing yard work for a neighbor on my street. I just hope that Aesop and I are safe here at home. It’s been raining all morning, so I took my umbrella to the market. People were fairly civil to each other inside the store, patiently waiting in line like they’re supposed to. I just wish I could do something to moderate the extremes I see in my neighborhood. What has the world come to? And how can we repair the damage? The situation is enough to make anybody paranoid. 

Home Quiet

Eight thirty five.

The trees have all changed color for the fall. I saw two skirting the market parking lot with burgundy leaves. On my own street, I turned and gave a backward look: much red and gold on either side. In addition, the leaves are well into the process of falling. It’s predicted to rain early this afternoon, continuing into the night. I plan on going to Bi Mart after one thirty today, but I think I’ll call a taxi. Round trip should cost about twenty dollars. That’s what money is for. If you don’t spend it, then it just sits there useless. In itself, money is a valueless fiction. I noticed a new publication on Amazon this morning: the Black Books of C.G. Jung. I felt tempted, but then I remembered why I’m leery of his stuff. He tends to be ethnocentric. For this reason, I always prefer the mysticism of American writers, specifically Emerson. He was passionately abolitionist at a time (the Civil War) when it really counted. Emerson also could be humble in his quest for wisdom, always open to new possibilities and input from people.

Nine twenty five. It definitely felt like rain on my hike to the store. The gray clouds boiled and swirled overhead. There isn’t much light outside for the overcast. It’s the kind of day for staying home and being quiet. Tomorrow I have physical therapy again, with Erin. I neither dread nor anticipate the session. I had some strange dreams last night, inspired by a book I almost bought. Because they were unpleasant, I canceled my order when I got up today. I met with nobody when I made my trip. At eight o’clock in the morning, it’s a ghost town. But I did see a handful of cars at the espresso shack drive thru. There were a few signs of life. And then there was Vicki… 

“If I Had a Hammer”

I’ll be getting physical therapy twice a week from this Monday till the 9th of December. The receptionist called me this morning and we scheduled all these appointments in advance. I plan on walking to each appointment, weather permitting, since it’s only 1.3 miles away from home. And it may be rather a pleasant walk in the afternoon down Silver Lane to River Road and beyond Division Avenue. The leaves on the trees will be turning and dropping all this autumn, and hopefully the sights will restore my confidence that all is well with Nature. By the way, I looked up a weather prediction for 2021 in Oregon: typical La Niña, and we may get an early winter, and wetter than usual, which is okay since the drought we suffered this summer and into the fall. Another good reason to walk to physical therapy is because it discourages pollution from fuel emissions. Pedestrian power doesn’t contribute to climate change. The weather today was really beautiful in the afternoon, though I didn’t go outside and take advantage of it. The color of the sunlight was a deep and mellow orange, the sky cerulean as it ought to be. I know that the wildfires continue to burn, but they seem to be more under control by now.

I keep saying this, but being sober in 2020 is a very strange experience. I think most of my family has deserted me, and Polly is just testing the waters with me until further notice. I don’t really care, just on principle, because she and her whole family are terribly racist and show no signs of wanting to change. On Columbus Day, a citizen vandalized a public statue of Christopher Columbus and Polly didn’t understand why— being ignorant of the facts regarding him and Cortes, the way they treated the Natives, and how the way history is taught today is vastly different from what she learned in the 1950s. The truth about Columbus is that he and his crew wiped out six million Arawak Indians by bringing Caucasian diseases, plus he forced them into slave labor and often mutilated them as punishment for disobedience— all for the sake of discovering the gold that he was sure existed in the Americas. This is the truth! Cortes and Columbus were no kind of heroes at all. Only from a white supremacy perspective did they pave the way for civilization. But the new perspective on history is very difficult for older people to grasp, just because old dogs can’t learn new tricks as a general rule. I feel sorry for Polly, but her son who is my age has no excuse for his ridiculous bigotry. In their family, people who graduated from college are seen as the enemy. Their suspicion of new ideas is very conservative, but the genesis of conservative politics is, in my opinion, ignorance and fear of the unknown. I think Edmund Burke might make a fascinating study for me. He was a renowned conservative Englishman who reacted against the French Revolution, seeing the bloody and inevitable consequences and concluding that ideas are dangerous. Does that seem relevant to our time? I wonder if it makes me a political radical, along with all the other protesters for the sake of people of color… Whatever, I don’t have much sympathy for bigots. If I must defect from Polly’s clan, then so be it. I can’t reverse the knowledge that I have, nor can I teach those who don’t want to learn. To them, like to Burke, ideas really are dangerous, so maybe they are better off left alone.

Sorry this turned into a little rant on racism. It’s a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. I hope you weren’t offended by it. But it’s something I feel very strongly about, and damn the torpedoes if people can’t handle it. Many truths are inconvenient and untimely, but on the contrary, they arise when the need is the greatest.

Thursday Thoughts

Nine o’clock. Today is starting out rather blah. I read that 2020 was the hottest September ever on record, and a clear sign of rapid global warming. I don’t know what to add to this.

Quarter of eleven. My next appointment for physical therapy is Monday at five o’clock. It’s only 1.3 miles away, so I’m thinking I might hoof it rather than take a taxi. According to the maps, it’s exactly a mile to Bi Mart from my house. At 9am it was 44 degrees outside, which was colder than I expected. But I still went to the store without a coat. The sun wants to come out. I’ve been thinking about the cultural differences between Europe and America, and how I decided to plug into my own nationality over three years ago. Was it a choice or was it necessity? I can’t figure out which place is more of an island, the United States or the one across the pond. However, I tend to agree with them that we’ve lost our minds over here. My America is in the grip of a sickness, sort of like what happened to Thomas Mann’s Europe a hundred years ago. We are all in an Alpine sanatorium, trying to get well from our disease— of racism and other injustices. Some people refuse to see it as it is. Even my sister is a white supremacist. It’s a disease that will consume us and spell our doom unless we get wise very suddenly.

Noon hour. I found some little black ants on the kitchen counter, so I did what I could to deter them. They hate white vinegar, and will usually go away if you sprinkle some around where they hang out. The partly cloudy sky is cerulean as it’s supposed to be, though I know the wildfires are still not totally extinguished. Karen’s friend Jean is very unwell with shingles. She showed me two pictures of her face, taken when she came to the salon. Dunno; the news today is a mixed bag of good and bad. I wish I could make the bad go away by drowning it with beer, but then life is supposed to be a problem, a series of hurdles to jump. I can’t imagine being a prehistoric man, fighting tooth and nail for his survival every day from dawn to dusk. We still have our struggles, but they have just gotten more complex, possibly more sublimated and psychological. I wonder how a thing like money was invented. Capitalism is simply a sublimation of the primitive fight to stay alive. Our imagination hasn’t progressed all that much; life is still a competition for food, clothing, and shelter. And then there is the Western religious tradition, which seeks to reverse the primitivism through loving and giving. This impulse to altruism marks humanity apart from the natural Darwinian world… I wonder when the next food pantry takes place? 

Saturday Morning

Eight twenty five.

I paid my utility bill this morning. It was very low again due to the summertime. It amazes me that fall is almost here. I’m thankful that people treat me with respect these days, and actually care what I have to say. My relationship with my family is changing for the better. But I still prefer WordPress to Facebook; it seems a more intelligent platform because you have to be able to write… Today I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to be perfect. A song comes to me, “Walking on Air” by King Crimson. It makes me want to learn to play my Stratocaster better. But there’s that pressure again. Maybe I’ll just listen to the CD and admire Adrian Belew. If I do pick up my Strat today, I’ll be languid about it. I won’t expect too much of myself. I want to enjoy the experience and not be frustrated.

Quarter of eleven. I bought some mint ice cream and shared two dollops with Aesop. The conversation at the salon turned political again, accusing the other side of being political and hateful. It was typical redneck philosophy. I didn’t stay very long because I didn’t agree, and it was awkward for me. Under my conservative clothes I’m still an educated person. People can bray their ignorant opinions and I won’t say anything to their face, but as long as this is my domain, I will write about it. The same people are the ones who hate Mexican immigrants and refuse to learn Spanish to accommodate them. It was always an atrocious attitude. We treat nonwhites very shabbily, and at some point justice must be carried. I’m tired of seeing red everywhere I go, and I’m not the only one… Now I want to play my guitar for a while. 

Tuesday Morning

Nine o’clock.

I’m in the process of scheduling an appointment with my hematologist. Barbara tried to call me yesterday and I missed it. It seems like forever since I’ve been to see him. Was it in February? Prior to the lockdown… Okay, it’s all set for this Friday morning. I have to be ready to go at six thirty. I’ll be seeing his PA, Wendy. Hopefully no phlebotomy will be necessary.

Quarter after ten. I feel tongue tied today. There’s simply nothing to say anymore. It could be from the medication. I have no imagination. I just left a voicemail for my sister. People believe all kinds of nonsense. Maybe it doesn’t matter anymore, or is that defeatist? I only know that I’m on a powerful antipsychotic that might interfere with self expression. I’ve stopped the gabapentin. My mind is as motionless as the air outside. I dreamed that my brother called me and we had a decent conversation. Only the fulfillment of a wish. I wonder if I could go down on the dosage of Vraylar? Then my imagination may return a little. My head feels like a brick or a block of concrete, solid and impermeable. No activity at all. No access. I think I’m just depressed. This Friday I have two excursions lined up, but until then nothing. I might be avoiding the salon because of an opinion I heard there that I couldn’t agree with. It concerned Black Lives Matter. So now it’s rather awkward to have to dance around the truth, and no, I don’t think she has a valid point.

Quarter after eleven. At last my brain is volunteering to play Billy the Kid. I’ll listen to it again today and reinforce it. What I hear is bombastic and slow. And great.