Gaudior

Seven o’clock.

I have an appointment for a video meeting this morning at eight o’clock. I hope it’s not very long… The clash I have with Pastor is the same as always: he’s a collectivist on the side of the majority of people while I advocate for the individual. His experience in high school was probably very different from mine. I saw a lot of kids suffer from the false oligarchy of the beautiful people. I doubt if Pastor would understand this. He doesn’t like Rush either, though the band spoke for many of us in school in the Eighties and Nineties. We learned from Rush that dreamers and misfits can overcome and be successful.

Quarter after nine.

Okay, I got the meeting over with… My sleep was troubled, riddled with thoughts of mortality and also individual freedom. Life feels like sort of a dead end today. Often I ask myself what I want out of my life, what would make me happy. I know I won’t find a friend who is exactly like me, though I’d like to meet someone with values close to mine… Is it really true that if you let go control, then you’ll get what you need? I knew someone who advised me, “They won’t come knocking on your door.” If you don’t seek for happiness, will it seek you? I have doubts about that.

Quarter after ten.

I get a haircut tomorrow. Right now there’s some wildfire smoke in the air… I don’t remember much of reading Madeleine L’Engle in the past. It’s hard for me to take it seriously. She said something about releasing control, because if you try to control things yourself then disaster will result. This presupposes a god that takes care of everything. Maybe she never heard of Voltaire: this is not the best of all possible worlds. But also I think of the young dissidents in high school who dropped out of advanced classes in protest of our indoctrination. They had a different agenda from school, which makes me curious. Perhaps they knew something that others of us didn’t know.

Schoolchildren

Quarter of nine.

It was a little later before I got up this morning and fed the dog. I read my emails, then finally got my jacket on and out the door on my way to the little market around the corner. The neighbor lady herded her two kids into the van to get them to Howard School at the same time that Diana and Victoria came out of their house. On Fremont, a blonde woman also came out of her house with the intention of going somewhere. I saw a lone woman walking by on N Park and two young girls on the sidewalk of Maxwell Road, probably headed for the immersion school where Kelly Junior High used to be. At the store I ran into a few more kids; one of them I let go ahead of me at the Snapple cooler, a boy of about eleven years, stout with light brown hair. The other two rode bikes on the sidewalk right past me as I went home. Aesop gets chicken jerky for a snack today: I bought 5 for 30 cents apiece and put them in a small brown bag. The first thought I had when I left the house was, I hope it doesn’t rain on me; that would suck. The sky is full of puffy leaden clouds and it’s agreeably cool out. I used to think of my own school experience when I’d go over to Maxwell Road on days like this; sort of dwell in nostalgia. But today all that is behind me, I guess. Do eleven year olds read comic books anymore? 

Afterthought

In the years after Star Wars came out, the cable company here didn’t offer much to choose from. However, we got channels from Portland and also one from San Francisco: KTVU, Channel 2. This last one was a lot of fun for kids in the afternoon. At three thirty or so they had the TV Pow game in between Tom and Jerry cartoons, hosted by Pat McCormick, who also did Dialing for Dollars with a movie every weekday. And then at five o’clock it was Captain Cosmic, who would show old Flash Gordon serials and also talk about Star Wars miscellany for avid fans of George Lucas.

I don’t know when I quit watching Channel 2; maybe after I got to seventh grade and started reading regular books for fun. Also I couldn’t watch tv during the afternoon anymore because I had homework to do every day. And my mother usually helped me with that. In all fairness, I think it was my mother who taught me how to write decent prose, and that was when I was in junior high school. It’s kind of amazing to recognize that now. I learned a great deal in seventh grade from Mom and from my reading teacher, Cathy Cheleen. The latter taught us not to use run-on sentences, and Mom said to make them short and punchy. She told me to use synonyms for the same things for variety; and I still heed her advice even today.

It’s probably the Coke that made me write to you again. Sometimes it makes me feel really good. When that happens, I try to seize the day and take advantage of the good mood.

“Calcutta”

Wee hours.

I hear rain on the roof and on the patio cover, while it’s pitch dark outdoors. A very old song from Andre Kostelanetz plays inwardly: “Calcutta.” This is a souvenir of my senior year in college when I took a religion class and also biology. I still have a soft spot for the religious studies department at the university. The place was just a hole in the wall on the second floor of Chapman Hall the last I knew. It may not even exist anymore: the department was always on the chopping block. The administration talked about merging it with the history department or moving it over to Northwest Christian College, but as of ten or twelve years ago it still remained open. The university in general makes me think of my dad, who had a fiscal job in the psychology department for at least ten years. He found a good niche there for himself and seemed fairly happy with his occupation. Quite a few times we had lunch together in his office or we’d go out for Italian food occasionally. Life back then was very secular for me because of who my parents were. But today it’s anybody’s guess where I belong, though I’ve been doing the same things for a handful of years, in the same comfortable places… Just now the day is dawning gray and wet. I wonder how the weather is in Calcutta?

The Kookaburra

Six o’clock.

I’m just up out of bed, and as I gain consciousness, the old kookaburra song comes to mind. It’s something my third grade class used to sing in rounds, led by Miss Otzby the cafeteria coach, way back in 1975. It was the first school year that I felt more or less human after a bad experience up until then. A teacher can make or break you, and Mrs Baggerman was the dawn after a very dark night. She was a Texas sexagenarian, very strict and not popular with the rowdy boys in class, but she liked me because I was quiet. I remember staying in from recess by choice to do SRA readings. My comprehension grew exponentially as I became rather introverted but not unhappy that way. Of course, one of the high points of that year was the Bicentennial, and we took a field trip to see the Freedom Train when it came through. It was just a mobile museum of Americana. I had a little crush on a Native girl a year older than I, named Robin. And I also remember how nice to me Stephanie was. And Karen, whose family was Jewish, so she stayed home for our Christmas party. And the popularity of Freddie, a Black kid, and Fritz. Everyone was so diverse yet we got along fine together. It makes you wonder why adults do not.

A Little Improv

Five thirty AM.

This is Sunday, my day of rest at last. The light is coming up gray again after probably two weeks of this sunless stuff. Yesterday morning I got caught in the downpour without an umbrella coming back from the store. I got a little wet again in the afternoon when I left Karen’s place. I just remembered that she gave me a refrigerator magnet that I put away in a pocket of my shopping bag. I looked and found it still there and now it’s on the door. It’s interesting, the little symbolic things people do, the things we think that project ourselves onto the world. So that a bad mood reflects bad weather or the reverse in a Petrarchan way if you’ve ever read his sonnets. It’s a beautiful quality of human nature to have this confusion in perception. My dog is still sleeping in the middle of the floor, dreaming doggie dreams of doggie things. His universe is essentially canine because of his nature. The same is true for the squirrels and every creature that creeps or slithers on earth. Sometimes I see snails and night crawlers on the ground at my feet and pay them no heed except to observe that the worm is a hermaphrodite, having both kinds of sex organs. What do worms think about? 

The other kids in eighth grade PE class called me “worm” when we played flag football on the field outside of Kelly Junior High. The ball took a bad bounce and hit me right in the groin. The weather then was like today, gray and wet, and soon I would be reading in the library for third period instead of playing flag football. It was more fun to read Lloyd Alexander than to be called names anyway. “Be kind to nerds. You may just wind up working for one.” And then you discover that the oligarchy of school was a false one. 

The Backwards Traveler

Back in the nineties, there was a commercial for Target on tv that used “Daydream” for the music, and the video showed the Grim Reaper doing good deeds on his day off. He rode a huge bicycle through the fields, carrying his scythe etc, but he did things like putting the fallen bird back in its nest. I thought it was hilarious. I also liked the commercials for Foster Farms chickens, which you had to see to believe. I betcha that YouTube would have those videos if you go searching.
Some days are more difficult than others regarding losing my parents. I think it’d be neat to have a retro movement to the nineties, when people were in much better spirits than today. I feel kind of sorry for the kids born around the millennium, the ones called the millennials. They don’t remember the previous century. It’s as if a great dividing line existed between then and now, but it’s a false situation, totally contrived by the numbers and our superstition about the new century: the predictions of Nostradamus in his series of verse prophecies called The Centuries. Whatever. The method he used, I think, was astrology. Different editions of his stuff were sold everywhere in bookstores and even in grocery stores during a ten year period from 91 to 01. I bought four of them out of a weakness for crazy ideas, but never read them through. No one would have to, because those ideas were spread by word of mouth. Similarly, the world would see a lot of things from Carl Jung, William James, and maybe T.S. Eliot, and yet not know where it was coming from. Advocates of Intelligent Design theory additionally used Aristotle to support their belief in teleology.
I don’t know. I think the world needs to get back to basics and put away ideology for a while. Give it a rest and just live a little. Chill out and listen to good music. Like Supertramp on the radio that I heard this morning: “Give a Little Bit.” When I hear “The Long Way Home” I remember the cafeteria at my junior high school, sitting at a table with Tim Wood and some other guys, just trying to survive the system of education away from home. We were in seventh grade with a long way to go.
Sometimes my sack lunch would have a meatloaf sandwich with ketchup. Leftovers from the night before. Boy those were good!

Strong Dreams

Six o five in the morning.

Another gray day. Funny how emotional scars can carry on for many years and burrow down into your soul. The passing of time only makes the memories richer and more meaningful because of the perspective you gain. Through love comes learning. Everyone is so different and yet so much the same. The problem I still wrestle with is metaphysics and the God thing, feeling myself to be deficient if I am non religious. I guess I missed the critical period for accepting Jesus and the whole Bible, so I should just let it go. Christianity will always be a big item. Like Thomas Hardy, I can only wish it were so… Pretty soon I’ll make a run to the store like every morning. It’s all equal to me if I get rained on today. “It’s a big enough umbrella / but it’s always me that ends up getting wet.” Yesterday was graduation day at the university, which brought back a few things for me. For a gift, my mother gave me a copy of Bartlett’s, still lying around here somewhere. She also paid my dues for membership in Phi Beta Kappa and bought my key. I used to wear it on a chain all the time but now I carry nothing around my neck. No point in being pretentious, although Mom was very proud of my achievement. I suppose I still am a little bit, too.

Seven forty. The Covid virus I had a while ago has now gone away totally. I feel better every day. At the market I saw some Mexican guys who worked for Huey & Sons Roofing and I caught a word or two of their slang. Otherwise my trip was rather dull. The overcast was not complete. There were breaks showing blue sky, very pale and luminous. I hoped for a glimpse of the moon, in vain. But I almost dreamt I could see a ladder to heaven.

Spring Rains

Eight fifty.

I couldn’t contain the nightmares last night, so it was a miserable time. But this morning, everyone else is in a good mood. Cathy was very nice to me at the market and introduced me to her trainee named Thomas, who will cover weekends. He’s a young guy with a black beard. The day is wet out although the rain that comes down is very light and fine. The spring rains remind me of my philosophy class with an old Jewish professor at the university a long time ago. My route to the Education buildings took me past the Pioneer Cemetery on my left and in behind the Knight Library. I always carried my Duck umbrella and my book bag with me to class and I took notes using a spiral notebook, which I suppose was traveling lightly. Dr Zweig wore a suit the day he lectured on Wittgenstein, but other days his back bothered him and he could be a bit crabby. The talk he gave on William James inspired me, though his specialty was Immanuel Kant. He spoke convincingly about transcendental idealism and the virtues of the thing called reason, which could guide a person rightly and overcome any difficulty.

Ten o’clock.

Beyond the university campus it’s a dangerous world of small minds and attitudes. My whole family has pretty much disowned me for my mental health issues, so it’s really hard to forgive them their prejudice. What has been my crime? 

A Little Gem

Four ten in the morning.

The next to last time Gloria was here we found my old desktop computer. I was just dreaming about that, so when I get the nerve I’ll try setting it up for use again. Out of my bathroom window I saw the moon, full and bright, the same moon seen by people in antiquity from Babylon to Stonehenge. It used to mean something personal to me, but now it’s just an insignificant rock; nothing romantic about it. Outdoors it’s less than freezing.

Quarter after eight.

I deliberated on it a while, but I decided not to go to church for Easter. I have profound disagreements with Pastor on three or more issues, and by now the whole thing offends me. My main observance that is anything like religion is honesty, simply telling the truth and not hiding anything from yourself… From the garage yesterday I dug out a neat little edition of The Portrait of a Lady. A student told me once that Mark Twain hated Henry James, though I think he projected himself onto the former. People say the strangest things between the lines. I don’t remember what my reply was, but I stuck to being a James advocate. We were standing in line at the English department, waiting to register for class. When I spotted Katy, I went to her and we had a better chat. It was fall in 1990, and after that my school life went kind of downhill. It could have been better if I hadn’t been seeing a psychologist… Anyway, I still think James is great, and the weather is blue sky.