Be Yourself

Two ten. It used to be that my ear for bass playing depended on having gear identical to my favorite celebrity bass players. I finally decided that this was a fallacy, for I am just myself and not someone famous. Why pretend to be somebody else when I pick up a bass guitar and start to play? Now I’d rather sound like myself. When I used a Music Man bass back in the day, people would compliment me, but I said it wasn’t me they were hearing, it was the instrument. It sounded familiar to them, being a popular bass on the radio and television in the ‘90s. By using one, I was just being an imitator of what was cool. Now I need to figure out a new way of playing the bass, and make it my voice that people are hearing… The afternoon heat is forcing my eyes to close, but my brain still feels okay. Marci from the pharmacy called and said my Vraylar is a special order and will be ready at noon tomorrow.

Four fifty. The indoor temperature has reached 80 degrees. I lay down on the bed for a while and let my mind wander. Feared I would pass out, but so far so good. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow… I love the notion of the dignity of man, how with the intellect we can overcome being animal and vegetable and be divine. Psychoanalysis does the opposite of this, strips you down to a defenseless brute, basically dehumanizing you. Because, after all, the only weapon and shield people have is their God-given reason, and this defines us as human, even as Aristotle said 400 years before Christ. What is the point in disabling a person’s reason? Most people reject Freud nowadays, and I have to agree. Whatever promotes the rational faculty is a good thing, because the essence is freedom and happiness.



Ten twenty.

Pastor asked for four singers for the livestream worship this Sunday. I might get asked personally to do it, but I don’t want to. Not only does my voice suck, but also I don’t believe in the hymns we sing. Though if Lisa asks me, then I’ll probably comply. My situation with the church is very odd. Everyone sort of knows I don’t believe in God, yet they need my help to make service go smoothly… Well I volunteered to sing Sunday. Lisa will be out of town! We’re kind of screwed but we’ll make it work… I bought some cotton candy ice cream and tried it: tastes like pure sugar. Flavor of the month. I’d been curious about it for a while. Won’t buy it again. Vicki looked cute this morning…

Eleven twenty five. I vaguely recall old times in the summer when I drank every day and lived sort of lawlessly. And yet I was still the same kind person back then that I am now. It was my family that painted me black. Kate never thought I was a bad guy. Really, no one did, except for the relatives who hated me for some obscure reason. My crime was simply to exist. Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I actually love myself now, and that’s okay. There’s no one more worth loving. I just am, without qualification, without blame for who I am. Everyone exists as if chiseled out of stone, a separate soul. Some people like you, others may hate you, and some are indifferent. But you remain what you are regardless. We encounter so many opinions from other people, and who can keep them all straight? It doesn’t matter in the end. We just are what we are, and that’s good enough. We do what we can in our lifetime. It may seem like not enough, but who’s keeping track of your accomplishments? No time is ever a complete waste, for all of it is part of the learning experience… I do regret not having Kate for a friend anymore. I’d love to have another transatlantic friend to chat with… There’s hardly a breath of air outside; it is still as death, and sunny and warm. It’s beautiful, but one could wish for it to cool off.

Noon hour. Privately I’m letting myself off the hook with Ron and Mike. I don’t think I will keep playing with them. If I do practice one more time, I will confront Mike when he gets surly; no leaving my balls at the door. It is only fair to assert myself in this situation. Mike is not very grown up and needs to be told off when he steps on people’s toes. I don’t believe a band should be a dictatorship, but instead a democracy, a thing of cooperation. I’m not going to be a wimp with these guys. Show me some respect or you’re out.

33 Months

Nine thirty.

Today I’m going to swap bridges on my new bass. It needs a little boost in the low frequencies. Might be a fun experiment. I was just at the store. The rain missed me, gave me a window of opportunity. For a change I bought peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of white bread. Also dry food for Aesop and a two liter of cranberry ginger ale. It all was quite a load to carry home, but I live just around the corner. Now I feel a bit lonely, but things are quiet and serene at least. I’d be lost without Aesop’s company.

I guess today is the birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not very impressed. AA members never did me any favors. Often they are terribly self righteous, crashing the meetings of alternative groups. After all, we are merely people. We all have red blood, and it is immaterial who has God on their side. Tomorrow I will have 33 months sober, totally without the involvement of AA. Maybe someday I’ll write my own recovery self help book, but I kind of doubt it. Every individual has to find a recovery that works for them. Some people, like me, are too smart and too defiant for a “simple program.” There are a few dozen reasons not to join AA. Nothing in life is ever that simple. You can stuff your brain into a little jar and force things to be simple, but eventually the jar bursts. Perhaps we’re all in the recovery game alone, but I can live with that.


Quarter of midnight. The lesson I cannot overemphasize is to believe in your own judgment. The only faith you’ll ever need is faith in your reason and your senses. And if, in the case of madness, your mind betrays you, then don’t forsake your heart. Courage resides there when everything else has deserted you…

Poking around in a stack of CDs, I uncovered another unexpected treasure: Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater. Now I should have two of their albums. The one in question I remember being a lot like Kansas in lyric concept: the quest for truth, both particular and general. John Myung is a good bass player, though his lines tend to coincide with the guitar riffs. I like Geddy Lee better because his bass phrases often stand apart from what the guitar is doing. It is a strong, independent voice in the mix. I can remember how, twenty years ago, the Myung Yamaha six string bass was on sale for under seven hundred dollars from Musician’s Friend. I avoided it because my hands are too small to manipulate a six string neck, plus that neck would be super heavy. Still, I can imagine worse ways to spend such a sum on a beautiful Japanese made instrument. It was turquoise, as I recall. The flagship bass of the RBX series. I do regret that I didn’t get one. Anyhow, I can listen to it on Dream Theater albums— and be thankful for the things I have.

Stopping the Cycle

Quarter of nine.

It’s all about kindness to yourself and others. Sheryl the therapist abused me by labeling me gay and submissive. All this spring I have done myself the injustice of perpetuating her abuse, like a sort of masochist. As long as this is my house, my mind, and my life, I make my own judgments on everything. If I feel angry toward Sheryl, then it’s a righteous anger, to which I’m entitled. I trust what my feelings tell me. I felt outraged by her affirmations of sadomasochism and domination and submission, and my objections were totally valid. Sheryl played a power game with my sessions that I called to an end but didn’t really win. She did a great deal of damage. So from now on I vow to stop the cycle of self abuse. As for the Baldwin books, those I will consign to the book share on Fremont Ave if not to the trash.

Thoughts on Solitude

Five twenty. My practice on bass guitar was uninspired today. When I got out and headed for the store, I realized that I needed the stimulation of other people. This would give me a better high than the buzz of caffeine. Sartre wrote that hell is other people, but heaven is other people too. One blogger complained about people using social media in order to validate their self image. But Sartre observed that we live only in the eyes of other people. I wouldn’t care to disagree with an intellectual giant… I was saying my music was not inspiring this afternoon. I needed my friends to jam with, a reason to play my instrument. A sage said, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” I’ve been lonely all day today. Tomorrow I have an appointment at 11:30, a break in the monotony. Wednesday there is Heidi. Thursday is open, and Saturday. We jam again on Sunday. There are pitfalls to living alone. The freedom of solitude comes at the price of longing for company. Maybe for love. I’ve lived alone since 2001, so almost for 20 years. I could be getting tired of it. Like everything, solitude is a tradeoff. When you are alone, you don’t have to compromise with anyone. You live by your own rules, and break them when you feel like it. I guess it’s true that I’m doing pretty good, yet I get awfully downhearted for lack of someone to talk to. Company is what you sacrifice for freedom. Heidi told me she envies the way I’ve set up my bachelor existence. Perhaps many of us would like to live with a minimum of responsibility. Have I been clever, or is this really the way I wanted my life? Thinking harder about it, this is probably the way I needed it.

The Newbie

Six o’clock. The newbie worker is still here alone. I have a stomach cramp from all the uncertainty. I think I’m going to need my family’s help with this one. Just let go and let them. It will take more power than one person possesses to see this thing through. Or anyway, I don’t feel very strong. I’ve never had such a challenge as this in my life. On the other hand, maybe my family is an added stress to an already bad situation. If there is a god, he doesn’t seem very provident. I thought God was supposed to take care of people. Maybe I won’t go to church tomorrow. And if I do, I might come clean with my true beliefs. I may have blessings to count, but right now I’d really like to have a shelter from the cold. Could it be that God sent my family in my direction? If so, then there’ll still be things to work out. And that will take even more strength and courage that I barely have. Through it all, the new guy keeps working on the house. Night has fallen and it’s getting cold. I don’t know if he has light to see by. When does he plan on going home? It makes me nervous. What thoughts are going through his head? What if he were to hurt himself and need help? The whole day has been slipshod and loose. I feel as if I might have to take all matters into my own hands. Depending on God doesn’t get anything done. If nothing else, the experience of the fire has been a supreme test for me. I’ve been through other ordeals, but this one takes the cake.

An Observation

What was the last movie I saw? St Vincent, last fall. It was okay. Otherwise I’ve been isolated from pop culture, what everyone else is doing. I’ve been like the vampire in Anne Rice, hibernating underground and listening to life above for a few centuries. Will I ever watch tv again? See a movie in the theater? How contrary do I want to be? My assumption is that I am wiser than pop culture. Current political trends can dig up stuff from old philosophers and I won’t be snowed. It sounds terribly vain of me, considering myself a know it all. But it may be okay to be an antiquarian, for my memory is very good. My attitude is like Ecclesiastes: there is no new thing under the sun. Show me any new thing and I’ll show you a precedent. Still, part of me feels that I’m being pretentious, especially when I earned my degree twenty five years ago. The last new book I read was The Sun and Her Flowers. I disliked it because the woman was too self sufficient… which on second thought reminds me of my own self sufficiency. Maybe there really is something wrong with that attitude? A woman recently asked me if I could bear children. I said not by myself. She admitted that she couldn’t either. But the current thinking tends toward introversion, for lack of a better term. I see the potential for that to be taken to an extreme. The feeling I got from Kaur’s book was a freezing cold shoulder. Is it only women who are going this way? But that book was two years ago already. Time flies.