Seven fifty five.

The next day it rained. And it’s more than a light drizzle; just a steady medium rain to make everything green. My umbrella got drenched en route to market, and wouldn’t stop dripping after I shook it out. A wonderful old Herb Alpert tune plays in my ear, probably from the album SRO back in the mid sixties. Often my mind doesn’t discriminate today from decades ago, so all of time is allowed to coexist at once. It’s sort of like the character Benjy in the Faulkner novel, where his memories are indistinguishable from what goes on right now… I was able to buy a nice potato salad this morning, and since the Snapple teas were gone, I got myself a Coke. The place was quite busy with customers even for a little after seven o’clock, and everyone was kind and considerate to each other. There’s something rather mystical about rainy days, taking me back to my early childhood in Astoria and Salem, though it was over fifty years in the past. At some businesses I qualify for a senior discount, which I find drily humorous. As I was going out the door I ran into Lisa from Karen’s salon at one time. She was there to grab something before heading out to work. Now as I finish this, the rain keeps coming down like so many mental events today or yet to come.


Seven thirty.

I witnessed some good spirits at the market just a bit ago. A pair of women shot the bull with Lisa and apparently they had jobs in healthcare. They made jokes about paranoia and so on. I noticed that they were buying Mike’s Harder Mango at a very early hour. As I approached the parking lot from the sidewalk I saw a sign at my feet that read “For Rent.” Somebody must’ve dropped it there for a joke. The apartments across the way off of Maxwell Road go for $1400 a month. I think of how fortunate I am to own my home, and there’s something to be said for staying in one place for a long time. Inside the store, another customer examined the greeting cards on the revolving tree. The atmosphere was laid back and even pretty jovial. When I was going out I ran into a young Black man and said hi for no particular reason and held the door for him… The sky at dawn was gunmetal blue this morning. Yesterday it rained most of the day with occasional snow. Right now the sun wants to come out to the greeting of the birds. My dog gets breakfast in just a few minutes.

Eight twenty. I just heard from my friend in Texas. She’s been through extreme weather that damaged her house last night. She is without power and more bad weather is still coming. I hope someone comes to help her very soon. Why do bad things happen to good people? 

Morning Minutiae

Seven thirty.

While I was at the store I heard three old tunes on the radio that Cathy had on for background noise: the bands were the Chili Peppers, John Cougar, and Journey. Cathy wore a sloppy green sweater that looked good on her today. She is very adept with the price scanner, hitting the barcodes of the items in your hand unerringly, like something uncanny. It must be a right brain thing for her, but she didn’t remember very well about the Journey song, which happened to be “Separate Ways,” from the album Frontiers, released in 1983. My memory for the dates of events and things is probably a left brain kind of faculty. I hovered in front of the pet snacks for a minute, trying to decide among the different sizes of milk bones. They were also priced differently, which made no sense at all. You can slice a pizza into eight pieces or twelve, but it’s the same amount of food either way. Or you can scrap the whole thing and make applesauce. There are some birds cheeping outside my front window, and it’s cloudy right now, a gray and ordinary morning. I’ve always liked Cathy, though we don’t know each other beyond seeing each other at her workplace. She’s certainly catty with the barcode scanner. 

One Fine Day

Two o five.

Well, everything went just fine with my PCA’s first day and we got some things done. We recycled more than 310 bottles at the bottle return place in Springfield. It’s kind of a nice facility, and one of the attendants was fairly polite and helpful. After that we picked up a lot of boxes and some trash and took it all out to my bins outdoors. We started at nine o’clock and I pooped out by noon while Gloria kept going for another hour and a quarter. Then we called it a day. Aesop seemed to be okay in the backyard, though he was quite exhausted when I finally let him back in the house. I think he’s a bit mad at me now, but sometimes he has to learn his role as a canine being. Meanwhile, all of my thoughts on freedom and politics, etc, have been bogus and probably paranoid. Definitely inflated and totally vain in multiple senses of the word. I believe it would be good to invest some time reading something mature, sober, and realistic. Also my own style of writing will morph in a new direction, depending on what happens next with my life’s events. 

Bam Bam Bam!

Quarter of seven.

I went to the store a little after six o’clock and saw Michelle. Her last day at the market is Friday, her daughter’s memorial service is this weekend, and then she flies to Wyoming Monday where she starts work immediately. She said it was bam bam bam and laughed. I guess a lot of people have lives that are like that, although I try to keep mine as simple and carefree as possible… The sky is bright but mostly cloudy so far. I doubt if my somnolent dreams really count for much. To me, reality is more important, and your beliefs ought to match what is objectively real. Getting the two things aligned can take a while. First you have to admit when your ideas and the world are in conflict. And just because everybody believes something doesn’t qualify it as true. If there’s no evidence for it then the belief is empty. I suppose I’m a realist. I’d hate to go through life operating on delusions. The music in my brain is almost as old as I am; some tune by Herb Alpert. I feel almost as if I’d always been fatherless and motherless. Just me alone with the world from the beginning of my awareness. And maybe this is okay with me. 

The Horizon

Eight thirty five.

In my tizzy this morning I forgot to avoid the rush hour traffic when going to market. The same guys were back, working on the road again, and the cars were backed up in a long line in each direction. I got yelled at by one guy because I would have tried to go around the work area on the right side, but he told me what to do. So I crossed the road twice and made it to the store, where I found Cathy working again. The sun was low in the blue sky, a very fresh and sobering sight in the chill air of winter, like the ritual pot of coffee. I figured it was a two Snapple day. Also I bought a pouch of bacon strips for Aesop. Outdoors, the sky was immense and cold, but it seemed far away from the human workaday world of Caterpillars and asphalt and guys in lime green jackets directing traffic with signs and walkie talkies. The heavens were somehow alien and other from the workweek and human business, something imponderable, removed, and utterly silent. And then I regained my own street and noticed that Lenore’s car was back in her driveway after a few days of absence. Right now the clouds are moving in to block the sun, giving things a lemon pallor while my dog waits for his breakfast. It could be an interesting kind of day. 

Ordinary Holiday

Nine o’clock in the morning.

It was only 30 degrees out, so I had to watch for spots of ice on the pavements as I walked along. The sun flamed low in the east, a great orange glare. I found a new letter for me in my box at the curb. Passing Kat’s house, I saw her black cat wedged in the blinds, observing everything from the window. Karen’s salon was deserted for the holiday. When I reached the bushes outside the store, I disturbed a few small perching birds that took off suddenly, to my surprise. Heather had very little to say this morning except that she felt tired. She went to bed early, missing the fireworks at midnight. I said that I’d stayed up in order to comfort my dog during the noise. Business seemed rather slow; I saw only one other customer, a white haired woman behind me at the counter. Back on my street again, another pedestrian overtook me, apparently out of nowhere, and I watched him stride sure-footed to the north. I also encountered a masked woman with her dog in front of Dell’s house. All through my trip I didn’t think much, but concentrated on my footing to keep from slipping. The ice in some places was made of little star crystals that you could see while the sun kept rising forgotten in the blue east. Aesop gets breakfast in ten minutes, the most important thing. 

The Poorhouse

Nine twenty.

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. 


Nine twenty five.

It is strange to be standing on the bridge between two contrary ways of processing information, the realistic and the romantic. Usually I’m dedicated to the first mode, but then something can happen to plunge me into the primitive, a place of considerable power if not light, like the plunge into Arthurian murk and legend. I had a friend once who gifted me a book that took a serious perspective on the island of Avalon where Arthur was supposedly buried. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed about that: how could anybody confuse a myth with factual history? It was similar to the efforts of some people to search for the remains of Noah’s Ark, the locus of something miraculous that happened. Conveniently, the miracles we hear about took place remotely in time or in place or both. It’s convenient because it makes the truth impossible to verify, to either prove or disprove, so our imagination is free to float in the haze. This condition is anathema to the logical positivists, who subject statements to logical analysis. If a statement refers to nothing empirical and realistic, it is empty of meaning and not worth consideration… When I was younger and more susceptible, I imagined that what the ancient Greeks believed was true: that poetry and music were inspired by the Muses, which in modern thought meant the Jungian unconscious, or for the Romantics, a nameless Power of creativity. Sometimes I still get a glimpse of that old style of thinking, though it makes me uncomfortable to go there anymore. It means surrendering control and letting myself be possessed— but by what? 


Quarter after ten.

Life is hard. Kim’s husband started drinking again after being sober for 16 years, so a person in recovery is never really safe. Today I feel like a humbug. I wish the holiday season would all just go away. Since Sunday morning I’ve morphed back to my normal self more or less. People can be very persuasive, but only if you allow them to be… I passed Willie and his dog Rosie on the street. He’s the guy with a booth at Saturday Market, a happy old hippie. He made a comment about smiling under a mask: how can you tell when someone does that?… Michelle said she was aggravated by the customer who had just left the store. He always gives her a hard time. Then she told me that she and her husband got talked into hosting a Christmas party at their house. She was far from enthusiastic. Sometimes people only want to relax and get away from everything. It’s unfortunate that society doesn’t give us any reprieves. If you do choose to opt out, you’ll probably be alone— which may not be so bad. Though I haven’t read Frankenstein in many years, I always remember the image of the monster fleeing across the arctic wastes to go and live in utter solitude. This is kind of like life with a mental illness.