I’m in my living room, a place of blue carpet no longer cluttered with boxes of books and stuff, thanks to my PCA and the agencies that made everything possible. I don’t know if there’s an Agency beyond the human ones; does it matter? Like every morning, I walked around the corner to the convenience store to get the daily groceries for me and my dog. The early hour explains why I met with hardly anyone. My life makes a pretty dull story, but I’m actually thankful for the humdrum of my existence. Things can always be worse than they are. I tell Aesop it’s 15 minutes to his breakfast and he understands and accepts. We’re having a very mild summer, mercifully. Sometimes good fortune seems to be dumped in my lap, and when this happens, I try to appreciate what I have. Kicking down the sidewalk of Maxwell Road, I heard a song by Yes called “Looking Around.” And for a timeless interval I knew the essence of the music, a suspension like satori, a nirvana that didn’t have to end.
Seven thirty five AM.
There’s a reprieve from the wind and rain of yesterday and last night. Outdoors I saw tree debris scattered all over the streets. Also I noticed for the first time that a lawn on Fremont Avenue had gone completely to seed. The grass was so tall that it was lying sideways with the blades tipped like little spears. I wonder what the situation is with that, though it’s not my business. The same house is where I observed the white truck with Confederate flag license plates in January a year ago. And on the street in front of the house someone had sprayed “gay” one time. Very strange. So I ambled up the sidewalk to market and went in. I encountered a young lady who had a pleasant face and like a klutz I blurted, “Hi!— how are you?” She smiled politely and returned the greeting. The delivery came through yesterday, so I grabbed two deli items; but the distributor didn’t say what happened to the missing driver… The little store has changed so much in three years. Sometimes I think of Michelle, now someplace in Wyoming. She’s only been gone since March: two months ago, but it seems like longer than that. Who knows a month from a year anymore? I entertained the idea of going to church this morning, but those people are too paranoid of Covid and I’m still throwing off a cold. Besides, I don’t feel like singing hymns today or any day. The church was there when I needed it, when it counted, and I’m grateful for that.
Quarter of nine. When he’s in the mood for it, Aesop likes me to pet him. I couldn’t have picked a better dog than him for intelligence and devotion. He is day and night different from the pug I owned ten years ago. He guards the fort and keeps me safe. I don’t even have to lock the front door when I leave the house. Blue heelers are an amazing breed. Aesop is one more reason why I can’t complain about my life.
Quarter of ten.
I begged Gloria for a light duty day since my dental ordeal Thursday morning and the long day yesterday. So now she’s mopping the floors while I take a siesta on the loveseat, languidly writing a desultory note to myself. The weather is rather lemon.
Eleven fifty five. The clouds have blown away to make a bright sunny Saturday. I was thinking that if humanity has free will, then anything is possible with our lives, including breaking bad habits like alcohol abuse. Independence is essential to everything we do, and often no one’s opinion matters but your own. Contrary to what people tell you, you are capable of thinking for yourself… I might go bash my four string war club down the hall a while, make a brash brutal rock and roll racket on it for my daily catharsis. Or I could read Richard Wright or Mark Twain. It’s possible to do both today. But I think I’ll be considerate of my dog’s anxiety and spend the day quietly. Even this, however, is a personal choice from a few available options. I merely looked before leaping… Everyone anticipated this beautiful weekend, but now that it’s here, I feel very tired, sore, and somewhat dodgy and daft. I think I’ll delay making a decision.
I ended up both reading and playing the bass, and both were fun. Outside, the quality of the sunlight feels rather obscure and filtered; maybe dark and sensuous. Church happens tomorrow, but if I went, I’d know my reasons were insincere, for I’m not a true Christian. I feel tugged in several directions. But what’s done is a done deal. The future presents options; but “when you look behind you there’s no open doors.” And there is no would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve: only what actually happened; what you did. Everything else is a trick of grammar.
Quarter after eight.
I spotted the moon in the west as I ambled the sidewalk toward the little store. It was two thirds full and ghostly. Today is Heather’s last day working at the market, so we said our goodbyes. She was realistic when she said she’d probably never see me again… Last night I had a problem with my smoke detectors chirping. Unfortunately I think it’s an electrical issue with the house. In my depressed state I thought it was an act of god or something else superstitious. But I’m feeling better this morning and the sky is blue to the west. Tomorrow there will be no therapist to answer to: another positive thing. I feel kind of like surfing the web for new friends. Maybe find a philosophy club online.
Nine ten. I had a friend once who was a fan of Rudolf Carnap, and to a lesser extent, Bertrand Russell. She was a hard boiled realist most of the time, though when I first met her she admired Gerard Manley Hopkins. That was a decade ago, but I still remember our emails to each other. I recall struggling to read “The Wreck of the Deutschland” to impress her, and indeed it was very difficult to decipher. I read it through, but didn’t really understand it… I guess I’m in a reverie of friends gone and friends still here. I’m not a stoic or a believer in mindfulness. To think about the past is human.
I’ve been out of the house and seen several people this morning. It was late enough that Cathy was just starting her shift today and helped me at checkout. One of the card sliders had a problem, so I used the one that worked. For Aesop I bought a couple of dollars’ worth of chicken strips. I had to have my Snapple tea and something to eat for today. Coming back home, I stopped and said hi to Karen and Jessica at the salon. Karen announced that Jessica would be leaving in three weeks to go live with her family in a small Oregon town. Now it’ll just be Karen and Kim every week, and Kim works only part time. Home again, I read my mail: my primary care provider has left the practice “for personal reasons.” I had him for only one year and now I have to pick a new physician. People in autumn are often on the move, plus with Covid, they seem to leave their jobs at the drop of a hat. Also, Bi Mart is closing its pharmacy the first week in November, moving most customers to Walgreens up the road in Santa Clara. The only thing that stays the same is change itself. It is wet outside; the rain will probably start again at around eleven o’clock. I used to have a memory that operated in cycles, but with my Vraylar, the present time is what it is without the undertones of the past. Still, I can abstract a few general ideas of events that are happening right now, and it seems that people pass through turnstiles, connecting with each other only temporarily. But one thing that doesn’t go away is the persistence of mental illness. And hunger never goes out of style.
Everyone was pretty friendly when I went out a little while ago. I heard Roger’s voice say, “Hi Robbie,” but I couldn’t see him, and I said so. Then he stepped around his truck and waved, explaining with a laugh that he’d seen me through the window. At the store, another customer and I finished shopping at the same time, so I let her go ahead of me in line. After she was done buying her pint of half and half, she turned to me and thanked me. I recognized her as one of the regulars at the market. Behind me was a big guy with gray hair. We got finished simultaneously at the registers and I held the door for him going out again. The essence of the convenience store depends on how it is used. The morning bunch is different from the people who go there in the afternoon and evening. It’s almost as if there were two different stores, each having a different purpose… My mind is playing a hymn from church: “Healer of Our Every Ill.” My brain is disposed to play back the music it hears, often quite randomly and unexpectedly. I can be in the direst predicament while the music keeps going unperturbed, as though it were party to a separate reality, someplace beyond particulars and their accidents. And for all we know, perhaps music really is our vehicle to the divine… and the divine is a place within us.
Ten fifty five. I haven’t read Joseph Campbell in ages, but it’s from him that I gleaned the terms of time and eternity, the first being a lapsed condition of existence, and the second one existing outside of that condition, external to it and unaffected by it. You can see time and eternity operating in your daily life, like two opposing halves, and one owes its being to the other. I read in a psychology textbook long ago that the right hemisphere of the brain may be just stupid. But there must be an evolutionary reason for the fact of it, and it takes up so much space to be merely useless. Maybe the right brain is more like a radio receiver on a frequency to God?
I rode with eCabs today and I liked the drivers going both ways. They had to double up on passengers but I didn’t mind sharing a taxi with someone else. This particular company has only eight drivers and does nothing but a Ridesource contract. The first guy is named Scott, with whom I’ve ridden a few times. I like him. Funny, he’s critical of Eugene for wanting to be like Portland, while preferring places like Springfield that are I guess more homey and down to earth; it has a personal vibe that Eugene is losing the more it grows. He said the Eugene City Council was “Communist,” and I understand what he means. It isn’t exactly that, but it’s definitely Marxist and Socialist, using a language that baffles people with its emptiness. I think it’s fair to say that Springfield is a time warp to a more romantic age, where people are franker with each other and not so deceptive or slippery; in a word, they’re honest… which is also like the people of Cottage Grove. So I can see why some people prefer the twin city to the sophistication of Eugene.
At one o’clock I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my stuff; but you know, afterwards I was pretty exhausted and felt rather lousy for a while. Two miles is kind of heavy duty walking for me. But on my way home I observed the same kind of thing as this morning, or maybe I was looking for it, and it provided a common theme for my day. You saw the post already, I know. It was that green house on Kourt Drive that defies the laws of time and space (to my mind), and takes you away in a magic Delorian to the Forties or Fifties, or rather transplants the past to the present day with a sprinkling of pixie dust. And this house just sits there, stark against the blue sky, an anachronism that doesn’t belong there and ought to be extinct, and yet there it stands like a shimmering vision out of an old yearbook, a page torn out of history…
So I imagine that my concern with anachronisms has to do with my own age, and maybe with everyone in my age category. Shoot: what was it I was saying the other day? It was on a topic very similar to this one. Oh yeah, it was about rewriting the history books to make people like us obsolete, and I made a post about it. But you know, it’s really true! And the older I get, the truer it becomes. The voices of seniors get lost in the shuffle and no one wants to hear us anymore. And it turns into a strange paradox of being and non being: just like the green house on Kourt Drive which ought not to be there, and yet, by God, it still stands like an ephemeral monument.
At nine o’clock I plan to go to church and get a tuneup of my spirit. Aesop will have breakfast at eight thirty. It’s another sunny morning with hardly a breath of wind. I feel a little anxious yet calm at the same time, as if quietly expecting some minor catastrophe. I’ve been to the store already, and Raj was opening today after a long absence. Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be perfect, or that perfect doesn’t exist. I dreamed this morning about my old psychiatrist, who apparently wanted my business again. This only means that I miss seeing him, but in reality he was rude to me towards the end of my sessions. The last time I saw him was four years ago. He shared a political joke with me that I enjoyed, but it wasn’t enough to fix the damage.
Eight thirty five. Is the past really a bucket of ashes? Some people want to demonize everything that happened before, but I can actually draw strength and learning from the lessons of my past. It makes little sense to categorically condemn our past experiences. Our lessons give us evidence that what we need to do can be done because we did it before… I have to leave in ten minutes.
One forty. Well I got it done, actually went to church and saw most of my old friends. I think Sheryl was the happiest to see me, but also Tim, Lisa, and Doug. The sermon seemed to harmonize with my situation of dealing with evil in the world, and the difficulty of doing this. I was only away from home for two and a half hours, then when I got back I had my potato salad and crashed with the dog for a little nap. The weather continues sunny like yesterday, except there’s no wind this time, and the stillness and quiet of Sunday feel quite impenetrable.
Quarter of seven.
It’s going to be partly cloudy today. The horizon to the east is red, as in the old proverb. After eight o’clock I have to make a couple of phone calls. Heidi is scheduled to call me this afternoon, but I doubt that she’ll be able to make it. I have something happening every day this week. Last night my thoughts turned to the old behaviorist B.F. Skinner, who denied that free will is real. He was also an atheist, so I naturally compare him to David Hume the skeptic. Even Sartre had difficulty with the basis for human freedom when he wrote The Flies. It had to have been given us by God, but people have the freedom to reject him. It’s quite a head scratcher how free will is supported and where it came from. If not for metaphysics, humans would be entirely subject to the deterministic universe, and therefore not free. The Ancient Greek tragedians knew intuitively that human beings are free and also fated by the gods. I should pick up Aeschylus and read about Orestes and Electra, or else give up the whole intellectual wild goose chase for a while… Tomorrow my new bass is coming, probably by FedEx. This should take my mind off philosophy for a day. I guess I’ll go to the store pretty soon. But if I wait a while, then I’ll have more stuff to choose from.
Nine twenty five. I got my morning tasks out of the way. I don’t really have anything inspiring to say lately, nothing poetic or uplifting; maybe it’s time for a change for me? It might be kind of cool to work again; I used to like proofreading for Gutenberg from 2013 to around 2017. I feel my mind shifting to a more technical mode, but I should still be able to make music with my friends. It’s hard to nail down exactly what I feel and to predict where I’ll go next. Partly I don’t even know where I’ve been in the past; and the future is unreadable as yet. I have no idea what’s coming. But I do sense that the blogging community has changed— or rather stayed the same while the world is on the move, and me with it… I have a busy week. A lot of people to contact each day. How did this happen? Yet it’s a good sign; it means my life is healing and I can look forward to better things… I hear birdsongs in my backyard as the springtime flowers with full force. The maple tree and the oak are leafing out in front and back. Painful memories of my last girlfriend float to the surface, and I illogically wish I could get her back into my life. Other fish in the sea, as they say. And you can’t hurry love.
I was thinking all kinds of ridiculous thoughts yesterday. Essentially I bought the new bass because I wanted it. Now it’s done. Move on to other things. There’s practice tomorrow. And today I’m meeting with Tim from church for a chat. I hope to recover my wits somewhat during the day today. Maybe read a book. Give it some thought. The weather will again be sunny and warm all day, with a high of 79 degrees. In spite of myself I’m feeling quite depressed and unmotivated. I don’t know why. I’ve fallen into a slump this week. Maybe my Aria bass makes me feel lousy when I play it? It reminds me of times when I drank and had no real friends. I guess I could sell it to somebody who is interested. The instrument is a total misfit and a rare thing— kind of like me. I’ll take it to practice tomorrow and mess with it. The guys might like the sound of it. Then I’ll just leave it at the studio. Or maybe not. It’s probably worth $400. That’s what I’ll ask for it if I decide to sell it.
Nine forty. In my mind I contrasted the past with the present regarding the little market and felt a bit of a shock. I remember when the checkout counter was in the middle of the floor and Vicki and JR worked every morning. It went on that way for a long time. Belinda sold the business almost two years ago. It’s very different now. What should we do with our memories? They seem to be such a burden, a weight on our shoulders. Every time I play the Aria bass I’m taking out the photo album and reminiscing on times that weren’t so pleasant…
Ten thirty five. Today is a whole different ballpark. So it’s probably for the best to dump the dark times in the past. Even better to rewrite the past and say it was my responsibility all along.