Proteus

Quarter after seven.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking things I’d rather not think. So then I can let myself off the hook and choose my next thought or mood. This morning is very overcast with cooler temperatures. Very blah and tasteless. At the store I saw the big dairy truck parked at the front. The driver used a hand truck to move cartons of ice cream and milk into the building: as boring as the weather today. But in my mind, there’s something missing about the scene. The people are all different from the ones I used to see. There’s no Belinda or Vicki, and JR only does Wednesday afternoons now. The ownership is totally new since three years ago, and only keeps changing faces. In 2019 I used to go to church every Sunday and now I hardly ever go. Even the same people change their attitudes and habits. The curse of a good memory is having to forget what you remember… Squirrels on the roof chase each other playfully like little clowns, the same thing every year, but different specimens each time. They are like the 59 swans in the Yeats poem, the same situation but different swans from year to year. The next year there’ll be 60 of them. Do people still read Yeats? Roger’s garage door just squealed open; another day, another project. As always, Aesop wants his breakfast. This is something constant, at least for today. When I stepped outside the house I heard a gaggle of Canada geese, but looking around, I could see them nowhere. Those birds had flown.

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Hazard Lights

Ten twenty five.

I’m having a good morning so far. We went to Bi Mart to get a bunch of things. After that we stopped at Carl’s Jr. for a loaded burrito. Aesop isn’t very happy to be pent down the hallway… My neighbor told me that his car had been broken into, and that’s why the hazard lights were flashing the other morning… Maybe it’s not such a great day. It’s a mixed bag of stuff. I was glad to see some familiar faces at Bi Mart.

Noon.

Those are things I see very few of anymore. The agency is entirely changed from what it used to be when I was an employee. But when I step into Bi Mart it’s a time capsule, a place where change doesn’t exist so much. I feel sentimental thinking about it. I remember so many people who’ve gone in and out of Bi Mart over two decades. Sometimes I’d bring bottle returns to the customer service desk. Once I ran into Mark, the guy who played the bass with Don at the Electric Station restaurant. I didn’t get to hear him play, but he taught me a few lessons at his house. He was a good teacher… Just today I saw Bill, my neighbor on N Park, at the same place. We talked about the tree service recently. It’s sort of like a Beatles song: “And the people that come and go / Stop and say hello.” The old store is a community hub where you see a lot of the same faces every day. It’s a sour note to think of the car burglary in my neighbor’s driveway or the drug house a few streets down from mine. This gives The Beatles a grungy twist they didn’t intend. That’s honesty for you.

What the World Needs Now

Eleven twenty at night.

I don’t like to consider the money aspect of things like some guys do. Indeed, the cynicism about the oligarchy etc is very trendy today. We are not what we are by virtue of our bank accounts or our sources of income. It’s a fallacy to say money makes the world go round when what really does it is love. Somebody in a high place set a bad example for everyone by replacing the ❤️ with the💲. Every situation is slow to change, particularly public opinion, but I thought I’d help it along as I can. Try dusting off the old Beatles collection and play “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” John Lennon said, paraphrased, “You in the cheap seats clap your hands, and you in the balcony just rattle your jewelry…” Maybe that’s a bit cynical too, though his intentions were good. There’s an episode in Ulysses that refers to the “foot and mouth disease,” which infects most people from time to time. More important is the recurring theme of “metempsychosis” that brings everybody together, regardless even of race or ethnicity.

“He proves by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.”

While it sounds like nonsense, Joyce pulls off something like this with his book. The question is whether we really treat each other like family.

Across…

The sun has been trying to peek through a few times today, and the clouds have thinned out to show some blue sky. My mind feels very clear, no longer like someone who is brainwashed and bound in the chains of some doctrine, although I shouldn’t be cocky or complacent about it. That’s like Odysseus crowing at Polyphemus, but finding out later that Poseidon was his father and then paying the penalty all the way back home. All of literature has lessons for us, the Bible included, and also philosophy and so on and on. The purpose of it all is essentially to teach and to preach. 

Funny but my mother loved music yet she disregarded the lyrics unless it was something like “Penny Lane” by The Beatles, whose words made a simple vignette with no heavy moral overtones. And really I don’t blame her for that. She also esteemed Edgar Allan Poe a genius for similar reasons as The Beatles. Suddenly I remember a bit what eighth grade was like. It was the school year when John Lennon was killed. Shortly after this, Mom bought me the red and blue Beatles compilations at Fred Meyer. The one I listened to more was the red, which covered the years 1962 to 66. But gradually I got to like the later stuff better, especially when I reached college and heard “Across the Universe” again. It made me gush hot tears; caught me totally off guard. My parents had gone to bed and I listened by myself after midnight. The thing about it is not just the music but the awesome lyric, like a work of poetry, all put together for devastating effect.

Things Endure

Seven o’clock.

When I got to the store, the Coca-Cola guys were wheeling in sodas on hand trucks. Michelle told me that cottage cheese had been selling out lately. She was sorry that no new sandwiches were in yet. It was very early, and again all I saw were male customers. The morning is cloudy and cool, so I put on my green Michigan State hoodie that I’ve had for 36 years; my brother’s wife gave it to me for Christmas when I was a college freshman. It still fits if I don’t zip up the front. Things will last a long time if you take care of them. Your memories too… It felt quite cozy inside the market, with warm and fuzzy tones of brown, gray, red, and green here and there, at the checkout counter and over the beer cooler. I had a good day yesterday because of the dip in the climate. It will be even cooler today, which is nice for my afternoon trip to Springfield. Last night I went on Amazon and almost bought the new remaster of The White Album. My head was playing “Yer Blues,” with Paul’s loud bass, slightly out of tune, obnoxious and great. I still might go back and buy it… I was thinking on the way home about something from the book of Genesis that is an obvious tool to control and manipulate the masses. Church just isn’t for me after this. 

Art and Life

Quarter after eight.

Everyone at the store was very courteous this morning except for one man who walked in and conducted business without wearing a mask. Michelle resented this disrespect but didn’t say anything to him. As I was walking down my street I could hear the scraping of squirrels’ toenails on the trunks of large trees. It’s only partly sunny so far today. I’m expecting a phone call from Heidi this afternoon. The song in my head is “Norwegian Wood.” A friend once told me that John Lennon deliberately imitated the style of Bob Dylan when he wrote this song, and yet it inevitably came out sounding like himself. Another time, when I was 21, I sort of rediscovered “Across the Universe” while listening to the blue compilation late at night. I was totally unprepared for what I heard, and the effect of the music just made me bawl hot tears. Also the words, of course. Someday I’d like to commit the whole lyric to memory. In stark contrast to my experience with the music, my clueless and insensitive dad was sleeping in his room down the hall, oblivious and obtuse. Why would anyone ever want to be like my dad?

Quarter after nine. And yet I named my dog Aesop because I was thinking of my father. Also he was very proud of my grades in philosophy. Dad could be logical, and sometimes made jokes that were absurd, though he was never shrewd or sharp, nor very perceptive. The best I can say about him is that he was constant, as if rooted to the ground like a great tree. He resembled a Faulkner character or two in this respect. And his core values were comfort and security: not very imaginative, but you could always depend on him in a crisis. Who would I be if I were a Faulkner character? 

Thursday Thoughts

Quarter of seven.

At midnight last night I spun the disc of Rubber Soul and really enjoyed it. The vocal harmony on “Nowhere Man” sounds awesome remastered. I love the following lines:

Nowhere Man, don’t worry

Take your time, don’t hurry

Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand

The pastor of the Lutheran church is a huge Beatles fan. I wonder if I should go see him this Sunday morning? But you know, my life keeps changing, and I don’t feel very religious anymore. Today I have DDA group again, and this program is hardly religious at all. They must’ve figured out that homeopathy doesn’t work for schizophrenia. If you have religious delusions, why fight them with more religion? I remember when psychiatric rehabilitation was a very uncomfortable thing… The sun is coming out, and pretty soon I’ll take off to the store. One of my core beliefs, from the time I was in junior high school, is free will, due to the song by Rush. Thomas Hardy held just the opposite opinion, which is fatalism, but this depends on the universe being designed by an intelligence. I think it’s desirable to believe in your own responsibility and be an active agent. Passivity doesn’t conduce to personal happiness. We have to legislate the world ourselves by what we do… and this is what democracy is all about. 

Thursday

Quarter of noon. I walked to and from my appointment for the vaccine. A very sweet girl administered the shot, and then I was kept there for 15 minutes to make sure I was okay. I ran into Carol and Helen from church while I was there at Bi Mart and said hello. It’s really a beautiful day today, good for going out and seeing people. A lot of senior citizens shop at Bi Mart, which endears the place to me because of my parents. It’s like backwards time travel to step inside this store… So many of the faces are familiar to me at Bi Mart; the same employees have worked there for ages. As I was going home on Silver Lane I started hearing “Lovely Rita” in my head, just the chorus looping, and I thought of how John Lennon found beauty in ordinary life, the things no one would consider poetic, for instance a meter maid doing her job. Meanwhile I looked at the bulldozers working on the site for the new North Eugene High School; the layout seems quite massive. Maybe voting for this action was a good thing to do, so no regrets. And when I got home, I opened the package of Aesop’s marrow snacks and gave him four of them. 

“Fixing a Hole”

Five o’clock.

At midnight I listened to Sgt Pepper, which was a gift from Kate about seven years ago. I’d forgotten all about the song “Fixing a Hole.” It was one that Paul wrote, and hearing it again was rather breathtaking. The whole album reminded me of when I had too much fun drinking. I don’t feel necessarily triggered, but it makes me wonder how I made the decision to start doing a 12 pack of beer every day. The logic that led me to this action is alien to me now. Today I can take the survey of my entire life, not just since my mother’s death, and make more sense of it. The lotus land of alcoholism was merely a stop on my personal odyssey. And as I ponder it, I imagine that I did drink to deal with the illness. It really was misery to live with delusions of the devil and other superstitious things. The only option I had was to self medicate.

Six thirty. On one hand you have morals. On the other hand there’s necessity, reality. Schizophrenia is a biological disease, not a sin or defect of character. Everything that happens, happens by cause and effect. Things happen because they must; and because they do. They are inalterable even by the will. So David Hume was probably right about determinism. It only makes sense. 

With a Beatles Tune

Two o’clock. I put Aesop outside and picked up more of my empty Snapple bottles. They’re in the garage now. The weather is beautiful this afternoon. Why can’t we just fast forward to New Year’s Eve and forget about the religious holiday? Am I the one who has a blind spot or is it everyone else? All the while, my book of Victor Hugo beckons me to read more.

Five o’clock. Twilight outside. I rested in bed for a while, and the sun was in my face as it declined in the sky. Clearly I miss alcohol, but there’s no recourse to the way it used to be, so I must adapt to the present circumstances. The biggest hurdle is the church. Or maybe it’s my attitude toward the church. I can’t decide what to do. Yesterday afternoon I had some odd thoughts about good and evil while I was poisoned by caffeine, sort of like religious delusions. Very uncomfortable. Caffeine is a wild card drug, always unpredictable… Philosophy is getting that much closer to religion in my experience. I’m coming near to a definitive answer Yes or No. And I wish S— would agree to meet with me in person someday. Today she told me she was not sure it would ever happen. The lyric to “Hello, Goodbye” occurs to me. I even played the bass line to it the other day. Now I think I know why.