Doctor Foster

Ten o’clock AM.

It started raining a little after the dawn, when the trees were still black silhouettes out of my window. Eventually I plucked up the motivation to walk to the market in the heavy rain, hoping that my umbrella wouldn’t blow inside out. At one point it almost did, on the way back on the sidewalk. I saw people only in cars, logically enough, and I took care not to get splashed by the traffic. The old nursery rhyme seems apt.

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester

In a shower of rain

He stepped in a puddle up to his middle

And was never heard from again

Arrived at the store, I found no small bags for the doggie chicken jerky, so I went up to Thomas and asked him a bit curtly for one. It pays to be assertive and get what you need rather than go any way the wind blows, and besides, I knew Aesop expected his treat at home.

Last night I surfed a little, looking for a suitable edition of the paintings of Dali, and came up with zip. It’s another lesson: if you’ve got it, keep it.

Currently the rain is even heavier than an hour ago. Perusing the weather forecast, it suggested no break from the rain all day. I guess the time I picked was as good as any for making a trip. The rest of the day, I can stay indoors and think abstruse stuff to the rain’s imponderable patter.

The Witching Hour

Eleven o’clock at night.

I feel particularly human tonight as opposed to Christian or divine. I believe that American writers of the 19th Century helped declare our independence from what some people call “longstanding beliefs.” The old matriarch of my family holds fast to biblical ideas and attitudes and everyone else must take a stand for or against her. After many years of being bullied and beaten down by her and her loyalists, finally I am rejecting those ideas once and for all. The real battle for me began with my mother’s death: she was something other than Christian; however, there’s no reason to smear her mentality as “satanic” or whatever, because the devil is also a biblical notion and cut from the same myth as Jesus.

I do recall a reference to the devil by Melville at the end of Moby Dick, but his seriousness about it is hard to determine. And Emerson wrote that his ideas could be coming from the devil— but he didn’t think so. Finally, Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is about a witches’ sabbath, and every citizen of the village shows up for it; but the idea of evil is still a figurative thing in the story, not to be taken so literally. One more example is Poe’s “Bon Bon,” in which the devil states that he himself was Epicurus… My mother didn’t read most of this stuff. And the more I write and reflect on it, the more it becomes a problem of psychology: why does the Christian mythology sneak its way into every thought I can entertain? It makes it much harder to declare oneself an atheist. You can’t have the devil without God.

Why did Edgar Poe say that the devil was Epicurus? It’s going to bug me now. 

Having a Look-around

One ten PM.

I feel tired but also at peace for the moment. It’s funny how a good thing here or there can make your day. It’s very quiet in my house and outside there’s a little wind in the maple which happens to be turning gold. I saw it through the music room window as I was making noise on my jazz bass. Green and gold against the grays of the sky create a splendid scene while the oak tree goes to rusty burgundy. I don’t care if it rains now, though it makes the mornings lethargic and sluggish combined with the dark background. Halloween must be a week from today but I never hand out candy, especially now with my dog so aggressive. I may have a little remorse for my church absences but I really prefer going to the agency, where I can be more natural just hanging out. I believe tomorrow will be fun, and I get to make a little trip outside my usual stomping grounds. And more and more of the music I heard last week floats back to my mind at unexpected times, but beautifully. 


Nine fifty.

My morning started off lousy, but I managed to motivate myself to go to the store and when I ran into Melissa, my whole day got turned around. I decided I would go to DDA group tomorrow afternoon, so I set up my rides there and back. The weather today is so dark and dreary that it’s hard to get anything done. It rained overnight and will probably rain again at eleven. I wonder if the French verbs for raining and crying are related to each other: pleuvoir and pleurer, respectively. This would make sense from a human point of view, and autumn can be a sad time of the year, though beautiful in its own way.

Last night I thought maybe being honest is foolish; but I think I heard that somewhere; something my brother said about “advantage” and cutting out the Boy Scout stuff. Some people are honest on principle or by upbringing. When honesty is rewarded, the behavior gets reinforced and repeated. Other people have the opposite experience with telling the truth. It’s always a double bind: screwed if you do or don’t. Cordelia told the truth to King Lear and was martyred for it. The cosmos was in an uproar for the tragedy. Events had gone terribly wrong. Is there still a doubt that the truth is a good thing? My brother’s birthday is about ten days away. Seventy big ones. 

Quack 🦆 Attack!

Eight ten.

A morning of thick fog, typical of Oregon October. I feel better for having missed my medication last night. The Ducks beat the Cougars last Saturday, I learned belatedly from Lisa just today. Washington State was the school where my brother got his doctorate, so I’m glad that my school won the game. Now Oregon has to play Stanford, but it’s a home game this time: home field advantage, and our fans are very obnoxious and rowdy. My sister always says something bad about the Ducks, no matter what they do. It’s because she blew her opportunity to go to college before I was ever born. Today she is totally sour grapes on higher education, especially universities, and she despises the word “intellectual.” But it’s entirely her own problem, and her fault and her bad judgment when she was young and hotheaded. I doubt if she remembers, and I wasn’t yet born. Still the feud over college football rages on. I hope the Beavers screw up royally and don’t get a bowl game. To my mind, the Ducks are always the underdog, and I root for the underdog.

Elegy of Autumn

Sometimes it seems that life is cheap, or maybe people don’t want to talk about it. It’s said that some people with my illness don’t live to be 60 years old. In some degree it is in my hands, though ultimately it’s in the lap of the gods. (Now I’ve got that song in my head.) All you can really know are the changes, yet there’s so much we want to repeat out of a desire for comfort. People crave permanence, and that’s why the invention of heaven was successful. We dread the loss of what we love. Life is one of the things people love. Beyond life you simply don’t know.

I just read a cool story by Hoffmann that involved things like the alter ego and losing your shadow or reflection to the devil. The introduction to the book is informative and very well done and goes into the doppelgänger idea somewhat. It’s one of those wonderful Dover editions I love so much… I’ve been sleeping poorly for a long time. I’ve noticed a change in my breathing when I try to sleep at night. Maybe it’s the Vraylar; and overall I feel kind of like a resuscitated corpse: death warmed over. A man whose soul is stolen, left to wander the underworld in quest of it. Kiss innocence goodbye.

Or perhaps it was just a bad day for me. There’s always tomorrow and the difference of a day.

We can forget the past, but the past doesn’t forget us.

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.