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.
Noon hour. I just jammed on the bass guitar for an hour. This cloudy day makes me think of early summers in junior high school, or late spring. I can’t believe how bright everything is, how vital and resonant. Maybe it’s just me who is full of love of life recently, and of hope for better things in the future. Right now it’s super quiet in the room and everywhere else. It’s very strange when this happens; like I’m the only human being alive on earth. It will be a lonely afternoon again today, unless I decide to go to Bi Mart. I guess I’ll do some housework after a bit. While playing the bass, I copied the line for “Invisible Sun” by The Police, a song that always gives me goosebumps. It takes me back to my sophomore year in high school, when the future was unlimited, and yet my vocabulary was inadequate to compass my experience of life. Maybe it was this innocence that made life seem so boundless and infinite, like I could live forever. I bought Ghost in the Machine on vinyl a year after it was released. I still think it’s a better record than Synchronicity because it’s more groove oriented… I didn’t know how to think when I was 15 years old. It must’ve been an odd mode of existence, being so green and inexperienced, nonverbal and inarticulate. Language gives me a handle on things and events, a feeling of having control and power over situations. Otherwise I’d be just a passive leaf in the wind. Or maybe we’re all merely leaves in the wind anyway? Except for a few geniuses who move and shake the world. Sometimes it takes more than genius; it takes money to legislate what people do and think… I really hope the band I’m in can be a modest success here locally, and maybe get some radio airplay. Notoriety around town can be a good thing. The three of us are all around 50 years old, but not too old to have ambition. Whether we win or lose, we’ll still be having fun in the endeavor.
Two thirty. Hard to believe that Vicki got fired last November. I was so used to seeing her every day, though I can’t say I really liked her much. She became an anachronism in the little market, a fish out of water. Everything else changed, but she didn’t. I feel bad for her. And it’s true how much the store has changed since May 2019, when Belinda sold the business and the run of history would be altered forever. No going back.
It’ll be time to go to practice pretty soon. Stay calm. It should go well. A lot of life is free will and making good choices. And that is a matter of wisdom.
Practice went great again. While we were playing, I noticed a transformation beginning within myself, a revival of my creative spirit. This is related to my philosophical beliefs about determinism versus free will, and I think creativity depends on a libertarian perspective. Also while playing music, I was able to arrest intrusive thoughts and just concentrate on my business. We jammed for nearly three hours yesterday evening. Messed around with “The Mincer” at one point. Ron told me that he’d gone back and listened to Starless and Bible Black, saying he’d forgotten how good it was. During the solo section of one of our songs, I found myself playing the bass line to “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. The tone of my Fender bass sounded great. I need to figure out how to manipulate the pre gain and post gain controls on the new amplifier, and maybe cut the high frequencies a bit. The sound I was getting was very bright.
Quarter after eight.
I’m housebound until FedEx brings my big package today because they require a signature for delivery. This means no Snapple tea for a while. I might as well go back to work on my project of the bridge on my Fender bass. During the wee hours this morning I listened to Stravinsky and Borodin on an old CD my mother gave me for Christmas when I was 22 years old. It was absolutely beautiful. The “Polovetsian Dances” was exquisite, and the clarinet lead always reminds me of how my mother played the same instrument in her school band. Of course the booming bass drum is like me playing in the percussion section in my youth… It isn’t raining right now, but it feels rather cold inside the house, and the sky appears bleak and indifferent. Cold white and lavender clouds shimmer over the roofline.
Nine fifty five. I think I’m done tinkering with the bridge. I fixed the whine from the G saddle and adjusted the intonation to near perfection. Almost ready to rock and roll.
Four o’clock. The bass amplifier came at 2:22pm. Aesop behaved terribly, but I couldn’t do anything about that. I plugged it in and played with it right away. Sounds pretty good. I don’t know what my obsession with the Omega bridge is since yesterday. I don’t even remember what year I bought it for sure, but I think it was the fall of 2016, when Kate was still my friend. Maybe it’s a symbol of something political for me, a sign of hope for the future of the whole world. I wish the world could unite once again, and I’m hopeful that it will do so. Anyway, the bridge works quite well on my favorite Fender bass. Another way of looking at it is that it’s symbolic of recovery and perseverance. The bridge is a piece of metal that has survived addiction and still carries on, strong and fearless. The tone it creates has incredible muscle. A house can burn to the ground, yet the cornerstone endures, a gold plated hunk of zinc called the Omega bass bridge.
Five o’clock. After playing with the new amp a bit, I ambled to the store for my Snapple tea and a sandwich. Deb was the sole cashier this afternoon. Her birthday was on New Year’s Eve. The other day I reviewed the birthdate of Edgar Allan Poe: January 19, 1809. And Paul Bowles was another Capricorn. I get an eerie sensation from astrology, but it’s only a weakness of mine. Once I thought about buying myself a garnet ring or pendant, just as a token of my identity. Something to outlast the incarnate existence of myself. Still I know that sand is the residue of all stones… and the prime material of new ones.
This morning has been kind of busy. I called Polly and we talked for an hour. Next, my case manager from Laurel Hill called me to schedule an appointment for Thursday afternoon. Her name is Misty, and I like her very well. Then I went to the store as usual, where I saw Michelle and I bought a few things. I passed Darlene’s old house coming back and spoke with the new occupants. The mother of the family said she really likes the yellow color of my home. She asked me about the fire I had a year ago last March. Finally she said she and her kids were getting ready to roam the neighborhood…
It’s very warm out today; almost 60 degrees, and mostly cloudy. It won’t rain again until later this afternoon. This weekend was rather blah. The mail brought me the blank books I’d ordered, so I opened them and began writing in one of them. The content that came out was quite curious, a throwback to old times. Right now I feel comfortable in the present moment, with a Genesis song looping in my head. “And the changes of no consequence / Will pick up the reins between us…” “The old man’s guide is chance.” The song is nearly 50 years old, yet remembered by at least someone. The past is present. And so soon the present is past. The rest of the day will probably be uneventful, but future contingencies can’t be forecasted. I made a joke to Polly about the Christmas star phenomenon, that it could portend chaos on Earth. Like reading Shakespeare. Astrology was once taken very seriously. Which reminds me to read my Paradise Lost…
Quarter after six.
Sometimes I miss Kate profoundly, and regret how Europe has shrugged off the United States since the last election. It feels unfair because I had no control over that. I had trouble sleeping during the night. Aesop’s iq blows my mind. I give him a request and back it with a sound argument, and he complies if it makes sense to him. I can see him weighing my logic in his mind.
Nine o’clock. I bought Aesop three cans of Alpo for 30 cents off with my bottle returns. Weird how I can never have Coca-Cola again. The caffeine reacts badly with my medication. I’m starting to feel as if I were on a treadmill day after day, so I should mix things up a little. Suddenly I think, Who was my love interest in 2007? But I had no one then; no relationship except with alcohol. My date every Friday night was a 12 pack of Foster’s or Henry’s. Oh yeah, I had a love hate relationship with a certain coworker. I wonder what happened to my supervisor? I only know he doesn’t work there anymore. And the frenemy retired… Eight years ago around this time, I had to have Henry euthanized. A pug, he was smaller and cuter than Aesop, and far more sociable. Mom purchased him from Bobcat Pets in the Santa Clara Square, a strip mall north of me on River Road. Inside his glass prison, Henry sought to engage with everybody who looked in. His passing at 14 was a very hard thing. The veterinary hospital sent me a sympathy card signed by the entire staff. I kept it up until the fire happened.
Ten twenty. Aesop had his filet mignon and bacon, and now he’s waiting for a snack. We’re both enjoying the cooler weather today. Then tomorrow will have no mercy; high of 98 degrees. Ninety six on Monday… Memories of places flit through my mind, never materializing long enough for description. Some of those places don’t exist anymore; and if they do, they are changed. Only in memory are things permanent— and not even there.