Cold Coffee

Four in the afternoon.

I made a little run around the corner for something to drink and give to my dog. On N Park I passed a guy on his bicycle balancing a big half case of Pub Beer. He coasted by with a look of satisfaction on his bearded face, mixed with determination. But it was kind of cool on a Friday afternoon in September to see the varieties of freedom people opted for. I felt happy enough to try a cold coffee and get a rawhide chew for Aesop. Deb sold me three items and I also dropped in on Karen, who was busy cutting a guy’s hair. At one point I glanced up and down Maxwell Road and saw no cars at all. The general mood of the day is insouciance.

Dynamo 2

One o’clock.

I practiced my bass guitar alone for a while. At first I played a bunch of meandering notes without much meaning, until I felt inspired to do some lines by Pino Palladino, a Welsh session player whose work was popular during the Eighties. So I tuned down a step and picked out “Come Back and Stay” and “Wherever I Lay My Hat.” The last song I played was one by Go West called “Innocence.”

The switch to this cool early fall weather has me confused about how to feel. I almost wanted to cry once today. It’s just weird, and I’ve also got the lonelies this afternoon. I recall that twenty years ago in August I was going to volunteer at the UO Knight Library. But the job was so computer intensive and the tasks so numerous that I was overwhelmed and had to abort my plan. I took the bus home and on the way, I remember watching the driver shift gears like a machine servant to a machine: a Lawrentian horror.

In October of the same year I placed an ad in the paper seeking other musicians to jam with, and got a call from a guitarist who was friends with some local celebrities. So we got together at the lot on W 11th and I auditioned with Marc and Tim. It worked out pretty well, so we kept doing that, and did a gig somewhere downtown and made some recordings. My family meanwhile was skeptical of my activities and my mom had been gone for a year. On the sidewalk beyond the lot of woodsheds was a hotdog cart dubbed Dawgs on the Run. When the days were abominably dark and rainy with the autumn I would go buy a Coney Island before rehearsal. But I often got the nagging feeling that I was in the wrong place, hanging with the wrong people. And my mother wasn’t around to justify what I was doing. For a while I was screwed.

Cosmickall Historie of the Wurld, by Robert Fludd

Seven o’clock.

I awoke to a view of the harvest moon shining redly in my bedroom window at four in the morning. Earlier last night, I’d felt compelled to pull out books of astrology and numerology, seeking what I could find on Aries and the number 1. Then I made the connection with the full moon when I saw it outside. Right now, it’s like I’m shaking off a dream of the cosmos while the haze to the east is illuminated orange by the rising sun. I ran to the store when there was hardly any daylight and got foodstuffs for the day. The switch to this month feels rather odd to me, though my brain seems to function better since the change. Still it’s going to be a very hot day this afternoon. Lisa said she wasn’t looking forward to it. I’ve got Gloria tomorrow morning and we’ll probably go to Bi Mart for a few things. But church this Sunday I think is out. I don’t know. I’ve thought about it so much; really overthought it, like Miniver Cheevy in the Robinson poem.

Miniver Cheevy thought and thought and thought and thought about it.

To decide whether to go or not, I could just flip a coin— if I had a coin. Somewhere around the house I must have a coin to decide my fate. It’s a fifty fifty toss, yes or no. And somewhere on the other side of the earth the harvest moon still shines red. 

To Build a Fan

Seven AM.

I’ve been up since two twenty this morning, and I don’t even know why. So I read parts of my journal and then, at four thirty, reread “To Build a Fire.” One of the ideas foregrounded in it is the wisdom of instinct versus the folly of rational judgment. The man in the story who freezes to death has no connection with the earth. Also he lacks imagination and experience. His dog, on the other hand, has both the ancestry and instinct to know how to survive, even when it’s 75 below zero. These counterparts of man and dog remind me of “The Prussian Officer” by D.H. Lawrence, which describes a contrast of two soldiers, one centered in his head, the other in his body, but each dependent on the other. London’s story was published first, in 1908… After that, I moseyed over to the market and bought some essentials for the day. It’s still painfully early and the sun has hardly cleared the trees on the east side of my street. By this weekend it’s supposed to be in the nineties here, and already the climate makes me feel rather odd, affecting my behavior a certain way. I see Roger outside his house, up with the birds today. There’s not a breath of air outdoors. It’ll be a long haul. When it gets warmer this afternoon I’ll fire up the air conditioner and hang out beside it…

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 Rite of Spring

Midnight hour.

The wake of a beautiful sunny and warm day with a lot of social activity outdoors. During the mid afternoon I wandered over to the salon to chat with Kim about her successful divorce. She seems to feel quite good, or as she said, relieved. The first thing she will do is purge her house of everything that reminds her of her ex husband. And from there I strolled to the market for the usual treats. Deb asked me about my dog, so in kind I asked her about her cats, which she said were big and fat. She has tomorrow off, when she said she will mow the lawn and simultaneously get some sun. Every spring and summer Deb basks in the sun and turns a deep brown… Later, I waited at home for my yard guy to come and mow my lawns, but evidently he had other plans or something came up. Out in the street I could hear Diana calling to a neighbor, “Are you looking for your dog?” And I guessed the rest… I’ve read up to Chapter 8 of The Portrait of a Lady, impressed more by the style than the plot, which isn’t very kinetic, but kind of holds still for a dozen analyses. The writing is anything but crude. Its fineness and sensitivity are Victorian, a little bit boring, though the book may be worth getting to the end of. 

L’hiver banal

Two forty.

I played the bass for about an hour. In the process, I stumbled over the chords to “Walkabout” by The Fixx, an old New Wave band, and I began to detect a thought pattern behind my creativity. The thrust of the song is self examination to determine your personal beliefs. It kind of goes along with my observations of Baudelaire’s poetry last weekend, regarding the discovery of novelty, innovation— invention, whether it comes from heaven or hell. My only disagreement with him is that he never thinks outside the Christian mythos.

Meanwhile, my brain keeps returning to a scene from Bartok’s Mandarin, where the chorus starts to sing, low at first and then swelling to a scream, and finally decaying in a weird wail… 

I still don’t feel one hundred percent. The virus I had seems to linger, affecting me physically and mentally. The weather this afternoon is as insipid as it was yesterday, gray and breathless like a cadaver, while the funereal fog creeps in to make specters of the trees across the street. All in all, macabre and surreal, complementing the mood of the Bartok ballet. And in some degree, the echo of Baudelaire. 

Winter Saturday

Quarter of nine.

It’s kind of nice outside, except cold. The metallic clouds barely mask the sun and there’s no rain or breath of wind. When I got home from the store, I gave Aesop three chicken jerky strips, after which he flopped down and asked for a tummy rub. Cathy was just arriving to work when I came out the front doors; she said hi and asked if I was keeping warm. Across the road from the salon I saw a handful of seagulls mixed in with the crows; I don’t see them very often anymore. Evidently they found something to scavenge in that parking lot. The music in my head is by The Crusaders, from a disc I spun early last week. I love hearing Larry Carlton on guitar, with his volume swells and glides up the neck. Also his eclectic chords, like on the fadeout to “A Strange Boy” by Joni Mitchell… A friend told me that she had gotten around to reading “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe and really liked it. And she was impressed with the word “tintinnabulation,” which is archaic and seldom heard anymore, though it’s an awesome word for ringing. Now she says she’ll probably get herself a nice book of Poe’s stuff, so I hope she does that… The cold sun shows itself through lavender gray clouds. I’m having a good Saturday morning.

Snowscape

Eight thirty.

Last night there was a power outage for about 80 minutes. My cell phone has a flashlight that came in very handy. I turned it on after making a call to the utility company, and then went to bed to curl up and wait. When I got up this morning I was dying for a Snapple tea, so I finally went out in the cold waste and marched to the market. I only slipped once and caught myself from falling. Michelle said they had gone through a lot of milk at the store. Apparently people were stocking up on it for the weather conditions. I bought four sandwiches, two Snapples, and cookies for Aesop. I was very glad I had a pair of ASIC shoes for making the trip. The snow on the ground was quite deep in places, above my ankles easily. I saw the mail truck go past my house before I took off. The sky is white or close to the color of lead; almost silvery, and it reminds me of a painting of a snowscape by Claude Monet. A friend gave me a framed card of it for my birthday in 1993. Lost but not forgotten. Her name was Janet, a volunteer at American Cancer Society. 

Winter Discontent

Five in the morning.

Yesterday at noon I started reading Native Son, and after a while I reflected a little on the abstract of power in our personal lives. I used to hesitate to use this word, but now it seems like the best one for the condition. By the way, yesterday the thought of alcohol never crossed my mind. It only occurred to me when I was asleep and dreaming that I’d been drinking occasionally for the past four years. I could hand control over to my subconscious mind, but who would be so foolish to do that? This would overturn rule by reason and create tyranny of the soul by the instincts, according to Plato. The Platonic model is something I learned very well at the university, and it resonates with Freudian psychology. I kept running into these ideas in Renaissance literature, for instance in Sir Philip Sidney. Now I wish I had read the whole book of The Old Arcadia, yet I think I learned the take home lesson… I don’t think I’ll leave the house at all today due to the snow, which by now is frozen and treacherous. In my head I hear Pastor’s acoustic guitar playing our holiday medley last Friday night. We sucked at our performance but nobody cared, though this apathy is precisely why we continue to be bad.

Quarter after ten.

The sun is out in the blue sky and everywhere there is snow. I picked up three bags full of empty bottles and left them in the kitchen. My visit with Sean is probably still on for today. I kind of dread it because the dog doesn’t like me being on the phone or my iPad with someone else. Generally I feel rather uncomfortable with the circumstances today. After a tough holiday we get this weather disaster. I also miss my Snapple tea this morning. I just have this exaggerated sense of immobility, of being stuck at home when I don’t want to be.