Something happened just now that changed my whole mood for a day. It’s a very simple thing. I made a call to my pharmacy to request a prescription refill and dealt with an individual who was exceedingly nice to me and who made the process much easier. Her name is Laura. With some people you just have a certain chemistry and with others it’s more of a battle, and nothing can explain it save for the stars and planets or the vibrations of names and numbers. I think sometimes that the initial letter of a name can tell you a little about human interaction. In this case, “Laura” begins with L, whose number is 3 on the Pythagorean chart. The traits of the 3 are mostly creative expression and maybe emotive qualities. The R in Robert is a 9, meaning humanitarianism and the arts.
Is it all a lot of baloney? But even if it is, people need a way to make sense of life. We need a calculus of human and social chemistry to navigate the maze of this existence, and occult science seems as good as any method.
Quarter after eleven.
I ate a salad for lunch and then hit the street, carrying the little owl in a bag for Kim. On the way I felt dizzy and lightheaded but managed to get to the salon. I found out that Kim wouldn’t start work until noon; so I put the toy on the counter with Kim’s things and Karen said she would call her attention to it. I turned around to go home then. Roger is outside doing his pet project and I saw a team of Mexicans busy with some construction work. Actually they were just talking among themselves in Spanish and I felt like addressing them in their own language. But often it makes them a bit paranoid if you do that, so I thought better of it. I just said hi in English. I got home and ate a lot of chocolate to help with my dizziness, if that makes any sense. All the while, it’s a clear and sunny day and the temperature is very mild and pleasant. I think back to the times when my yard guy was a Mexican named Juan and his friend Geronimo fixed my truck’s electronic problem— and then wanted to buy the vehicle from me. I haven’t seen those guys since the politics got unfavorable for them, which is a sad story in itself. And sometimes I’d like to just drown my sorrows and forget everything happening today. Pass the chocolate…
Between seven and ten o’clock I slept, then got up when the sky had gone inky black with the nighttime. Sunday was a better day than Saturday, though it had its share of anxieties and worries; and maybe I magnify molehills into mountains, another irrational thing identified by a forgotten therapy. They used to tell me that it was okay to be imperfect; indeed, perfectionism would make you unhappy and depressed because no such thing as perfect exists. But as it happens, a useful tool, accurate and intelligent, got lost in the shuffle of human confusion if not intentionally crushed by the Church. Americans dislike a perspective of realism and reason, instead going with something fanciful and wild. I used to know a person who told me she was very ordinary, and her reality also was centered and avoided extremes to either side. She said her dad and her sister would often clash and have horrific fights. She learned from observation. I wonder why people today can’t find the gray area in the middle of the poles as we did ten years ago? The situation of the public grows more and more volatile and it’s a huge rack of confusion. If we could be guided by common sense; but no, we insist on the things we cannot see, chasing ghosts and phantoms and expecting Armageddon at any moment. The ones sitting down and shutting up nonetheless think what they think, and you hear it slip out in speech from time to time.
I’m just mulling over something my PCA said Saturday morning, an unfortunate remark that got my imagination spinning. I sometimes think we should call the whole thing off. Meanwhile, the church can keep blithering about demons and whatever medieval crap it can conceive. I long to turn back the calendar 10 or 12 years to a better, more rational time. And maybe it was all a dream in the end. And maybe I discovered a whole world in one person, the one who got away.
At eleven o’clock tonight my air conditioner suddenly quit running although the power was still on. So I turned it off and now I hope it works again tomorrow. If it doesn’t, then I might be in a world of doo doo with these temperatures. By Thursday, the weather is supposed cool down to about 79 degrees for a high. The bizarre thing is that it’s only May yet so summery already. The sun comes up at 5:45 every day now and goes down at 8:30, making very long days. Astronomers must have something to say about that.
I was wondering if knowledge is overrated; do we use it to possess and control the world and other people, and is this desirable. Maybe it’s for a reason that the Old Testament forbids knowledge of nature, as if science was a sin? Is it better to live your life or to dissect it like an etherized frog or earthworm? And here I go again with the endless questions. I had a lady friend who sometimes frustrated me by being closed and uncommunicative, like John Lennon in “I’m Only Sleeping.” But why did that nettle me? D.H. Lawrence criticized Edgar Allan Poe for his desire to know Ligeia, to get at her essence and secret. And in “The Oval Portrait,” the artist saps all the life out of his subject to put her soul into his painting. Again you see the drive to know, to possess, and to control. Really it’s about domination; so perhaps the Old Testament attitude concerning knowledge serves as a warning to us that we have the means of self destruction right here in our intellect.
But it’s only me still with the never ending questions.
Quarter after ten at night.
The sun went down 90 minutes ago and it was cloudy, windy, and hot outside. A minute ago I rolled my trash and recycle bins to the curbside for pickup in the morning. Thanks to the air conditioner, Aesop and I are quite comfortable in the house. At the moment I can’t complain about anything. The older I get, the more life is about feeling comfortable and painless than about the active pursuit of pleasure. Both conditions are epicurean, which is what I grew up with. But you know, I spend a lot of time looking back on times of intense pleasure, and the memory still gives me a warm sensation in my heart. I knew a woman who referred to Bertrand Russell familiarly as “Bertie,” so now I associate her with his mentality. Sometimes I think that no ideas exist but in the real people I’ve known personally: therefore the slogan of Carlos Williams may be modified to say no ideas but in people… It’s strange how people come and go in your life; and perhaps all human relationships eventually fall apart for one reason or another. Maybe that’s why man’s best friend is a furry quadruped: do dogs have ideas? What is their belief system? Why are they so devoted to their owners, so loving and forgiving? Why are human beings not like that?
Though it’s Thursday, I keep thinking tomorrow is Saturday. I guess I’m just bored and lonely. I look forward to having company this weekend, so my imagination tries to rush it. During any given week or even a day, I go through mental phases, but I usually end up on what is rational and realistic. There’s a difference between believing and being a historian of beliefs, if I am either one. I’ve just squandered eight dollars on two classic books of Freud dealing with society and culture. His attitudes on science may be on the upswing again, for all I know. Eight bucks can also buy a great cheeseburger. I get this image of my old psychiatrist’s office in the Minor building downtown very long ago. For some reason I refused to grow up mentally while under his care. If anything, I regressed to a childlike state. Was I being deliberately perverse with him? The more he pushed me, the more contrary I became. His assumptions were like Freud’s: science was a higher development than religion, just the opposite of Kierkegaard. My shrink was not familiar with philosophy such as existentialism. He didn’t waste his time. Today I can’t think of Freud without linking him to my psychiatrist. Ironically, it seems safe now to go there, to read his (rather dated) stuff and rise out of the primordial ooze.
Nine twenty five.
The ground is still wet since the overnight rains but the clouds seem to be breaking up to let in some sun. It’s windy and kind of cold. The Friday conversation with my sister almost didn’t happen; at the last minute I called her at eleven, an hour later than usual. It’s interesting how a chat can be dominated by one side or the other, as though from the parent to the child and the reverse. People often take turns dominating and submitting; but this relation is not the ideal way. Rational exchanges are adult to adult, according to the theories of Eric Berne: by now rather dated yet still useful for getting along with others. It’s just kind of silly to ride the seesaw with a person, being on top or the bottom instead of level together. Talking up or down to people isn’t much fun. It is neither civilized nor very informed. Strange how theories and practices go in and out of vogue, depending on what the times demand. Are there any eternal verities, truths that are independently valid at all times?
Eight twenty five.
Last night I suffered a minor case of probable diverticulitis after eating a lot of tortilla chips for a snack. I was uncomfortable for hours. Happy Birthday, I guess. And then, all night I dreamed dreams of guilt and self accusation, as if I really believed I’d done something wrong. The music in my brain is “David” by The Guitar Trio, from Passion, Grace, and Fire. It’s a flashback to when I was a college senior. But what isn’t? I never wanted to finish school. Just be a perpetual student… Today is gray with showers here and there, and fairly warm out. I used to own the Beatles “red” compilation but gave it away to my psychiatrist as a kind of bribe to soften his attitude toward me. We weren’t getting along well for those last five years. I couldn’t stop drinking until, ironically, we terminated his service. I remember the phone conversation with his receptionist when I stated baldly that I didn’t want to talk to him at all. It’s a truism that people change over time, which changes our relationship with them. One of my differences with the man was that I believed in being honest and aboveboard, whatever the stigma of schizophrenia. I didn’t agree with his crafty approach to living, and I still think an ethical lifestyle is worthwhile. As for The Beatles, he’s welcome to it.
Yesterday afternoon I overheard Roger swearing as he worked at his truck building hobby. Probably a few things aren’t going his way, but I guess that’s tough for everybody. I felt a bit sympathetic for him. I never see him receive visitors to his house. He could likely use a friend.
Quarter of six evening.
Something brought me down late this morning. It rained cats and dogs and I felt tired already so I got some rest. I still needed a mood lifter when I got up, hence I treated myself to Tim’s potato chips and a big Coca-Cola from the market. But as I traversed my neighborhood I wondered what I was doing and what for. I felt kind of weird, like an actor in a play, while the sky and everything were a glaring silver. It seemed almost like I shouldn’t be there: I was an intruder or trespasser on my own street. For some odd reason, people are quietly hostile, though keeping to themselves, probably grinding axes in the backyard. I got the same feeling when Aesop was a puppy ten years ago, this strange cold war with the neighbors. Also I get the premonition that somebody’s going to sell their house and move away.
I haven’t been thinking much about Christmas today. I’ve read the first two acts of The Tempest. Pretty good. The slaves of Prospero both want their freedom. These are Ariel and Caliban. The latter is a deformed anthropoid brute, smelling of fish, who was taught language by Miranda and whose mother was Sycorax, a witch. There’s something interesting about a monster learning to speak and express feelings that are barely human. It’s much like the monster in Frankenstein, who is not human, and represents the sublime. Or how about teaching sign language to gorillas and chimpanzees? Or the voice of the raven croaking Nevermore from the bust of Athena over the door? Another thing: Caliban says that learning English was only convenient for him to curse with. He really doesn’t like his master, kind of like Frankenstein’s monster systematically popping off his family… Anyway, I’m about halfway through the play.
I still haven’t heard the news from Gloria, and she didn’t come to work today, as I wouldn’t have expected. Aesop and I spent a quiet day alone together while the wind howled and once some sleet came down mixed with rain. The only excursion was to the store this morning, which was nothing unusual for me, though Lisa reported having a bad day so far. When I thought about that later, it seemed like the fragmentation in Mrs Dalloway, with everyone locked in their private worlds. It’s impossible for people to truly share their perceptions, even through the seeming agreement of language.
This is just the mood I’m in today. Tomorrow I have to go to church like I agreed to do. Hope for the best.
I got the H.G. Wells book yesterday. Found it on my doorstep when I went out for the mail. It’s very nice, with a format very similar to the Verne volume.
I probably hang out too much with my dog here at home, but it’s quite fascinating to observe how his mind functions. His intelligence is nearly human, unless I project much of myself onto him. Strange to consider such a relationship between animal and man, as if we could really communicate together. Some dogs are a little too smart, I suppose. What we have here tends to blur the boundaries of one nature and the other. I guess that’s why I feel a little confused on what defines a human being versus the definition of animals. Now I’ve finally put my finger on it.
Aesop is not a person!
Nine thirty AM.
I’m beginning to see some social friction growing for two places up and down Maxwell Road. For some reason, the customers that come to the little market in the morning have become rather rough. A different bunch is attracted to the business, and I’m liking it less and less when I have to go there for my daily groceries. Meanwhile, attitudes at my church are divided among the parish while the pastor keeps going his own way and screw the feedback. A lot can happen during a hiatus of three months. Irrelevantly, the song in my head is “Tango” by Igor Stravinsky. Or maybe not so off the wall, in that social life is like a dance; but it’s an apple cart that can be upset. I just called my sister but she was eating breakfast, so I suggested calling back in twenty minutes. For my walk this morning it rained, though it wasn’t heavy. I carried my umbrella without using it. I feel like I can negotiate almost anything, especially by the use of language to communicate with others. And yet, words can do as much harm as good, depending on time and place. It might be a weird kind of day today.
I’m now off the phone with my sister. It was a two hour rambling marathon, with her doing all the talking, going off on tangents infinitely, and I just saying uh huh a lot. In the meantime it’s begun to rain in heavy earnest. Thankfully I don’t have to go anywhere else today. At least for the rest of the day I have some free time; maybe from today until Sunday. Let it rain…