Menagerie

Eight thirty.

I guess I’ve been borrowing trouble. I know that my sister will be gone someday, but it’s nothing to worry about right now. And I don’t want to do things just to please her either. I am nobody’s disciple. It’s always something, isn’t it? One worry after another. My dad never worried about anything, and he slept great every night.

I’ve gone to the store and bought necessities for the day. I was barely awake and didn’t notice my surroundings very much. It’s cloudy and gray and feels like fall. I saw a woman at the market wearing just her pink nightie with an overcoat thrown on. The guys I ran into were very polite to me, even though I didn’t look like much, to my knowledge. It’s usually a strange mélange of people who walk into the convenience store but they have something in common, if it’s only their humanity and a partnership with the earth and the universe. The unity and diversity of life is the truth every day, a fact of natural science and the intuition of human philosophies… There’s a lot of activity buzzing around my street and in the community. Good morning, good morning! People come and go, and they come and go from our lives. The only constant thing is yourself to perceive and process what you see. But I’m still not very awake today.

Quarter after ten.

An appointment I was dreading turned out to be a pleasant experience, which shows that you never really know. I put Aesop in a room down the hall so I could have my video meeting with the nurse practitioner. Everything went fine. I might do a little reading today for fun while things are fairly calm and my time is free.

Sundry / Shackled

Quarter after seven.

Lisa of the little market is sad because her cat had to be euthanized earlier this week. I sometimes forget that the store’s location is not convenient for everybody; the people who work there come from sundry distances to their shift. Deb lives in Veneta, about an 11 mile drive from here. Lisa is on Green Acres Road. Only Cathy that I know of lives very close to the market. Occasionally I think back to jamming with my friends on Bushnell Lane over a year ago. This was pretty cool, and I often question if I did right by leaving the band. But everything is in a state of flux today, topsy turvy with the future unforeseen. My sleep last night was disturbed by guilty dreams of church attendance, or rather truancy. It isn’t just negligence on my part; I really don’t want to go to worship anymore. It’d be a nice auspicious thing if everything in the community together made coherent sense, but it doesn’t seem to. You’ve got three churches up and down Maxwell Road, and then the watering hole before the bridge, and a place to get your hair cut: but there’s not much consistency in the way people think. Maybe that’s just as well.

Eight ten.

With the band, I played an interesting version of “The Mincer” by King Crimson, though it kind of decayed to prog rock on quaaludes. The other guys usually wanted to get stoned before doing that song. I wish we could have been more productive and done more Crimson stuff. But the imagination of this community is quite limited, so I couldn’t expect very much. Some people can travel many miles in physical geography but be mentally shackled. It’s sad but that’s what it’s like.

Pioneers: A Letter

Since I met with Cassidy at the Black Rock this afternoon I started thinking about my behavior towards people, especially those like Grant, Cassidy, and even Damien. In response to people I feel irritation and impatience, when I should try to be kind to them. I wrote down in my little diary that times are tough for everyone, and though I feel the pressure, my grace is scarce. Weeks ago I made a post with the egg in a vise, an image I borrowed from an old Rush album called Grace under Pressure. But anyway, probably these tough times are no excuse to act like a jerk. I’ll try to be mindful of this when I deal with everyone from now on. I wonder why it’s so easy to forget it? We forget that we’re all in the same big boat together, or at least I do.
The big full moon is just now rising in the east out of my window. I’d also be making an excuse if I said that the moon is responsible for human madness. I think the truth is that all people are ultimately responsible for themselves, and yet we’re all trying to promote happiness for each other as well. This is utilitarian thinking, the greatest happiness principle. I don’t know what it’s called when people violate this ethical code except it’s a form of injustice. A few lines from Sting with The Police:
It’s a subject we rarely mention
But why do we have this little invention?
By pretending they’re a different world from me
I show my responsibility
and
Lines are drawn upon the world
Before we get our flags unfurled
But whichever one we pick
Is just a self deluding trick
One world is enough for all of us…
I’m not sure if I’m seeing the man in the moon as I gaze upon it right now. I heard a neighbor say he believes the earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese. And though I disagree with him, the fact remains that he is my neighbor. People are all in this together, however we may chafe against it. I guess the main dissident is myself. Does one individual ever possess the right to influence the world? To change it according to her own vision?
Now I do see a face in the moon…

Togetherness

Quarter after three.

I’ve awoken in the dead of night to the sound of a heavy rain. I thought I would get up temporarily and scribble a note. However, I’m drawing a blank at the moment. For some reason I keep hearing music from the late seventies. A few hours ago it was two old hits by Al Stewart. Something’s bugging me. It has to do with family and belongingness, and yet I was never good at compromise, particularly from the age of nineteen. The greatest lesson in familial love for me came from reading Ulysses, but even then, my sobriety was impossible without my independence… The rain has ceased for now, as if to support what I just said.

Seven twenty five.

Life is pretty good today. I made Cathy laugh at the checkout counter with a silly joke about being in the doghouse. The sun comes and goes, and also the rain. Music: “Time Passages” by Al Stewart, so I’m thinking I’ll pull out the disc and listen to it. Some people would rather hear underground music for reasons of integrity, but I like the music polished, albeit packaged for mass consumption. You can drive yourself batty trying to avoid consumerism, so I usually go with the flow. I believe that The Beatles was a good phenomenon.

“Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight…” 

Get Together

Seven ten.

I walked to the store in a mixture of rain and snow, unseasonable for April, at the first light of dawn. The main thing on my mind was how I felt cut off from the church and maybe from the rest of society. Yesterday was Palm Sunday, which made me think of Easter next weekend. I’d also been considering Thomas Mann and perhaps finishing The Magic Mountain. If I had the money to tithe to church, then I’d feel more comfortable about attending, but as inflation has it, I just can’t swing it right now. Well phooey, it’s probably money pounded down a rathole anyway, but still I get awfully lonely for friends. I can’t read a Shakespeare play without relating to the outcast character, the one who is often illegitimate and an egoist; someone exiled from the cosmic dance and order of things. I looked out the window and it’s snowing and raining at the same time. I’m dreaming of a white Easter. My friend in Texas reports temperatures in the nineties with gales of wind. Even the weather is all mixed up and fragmented from place to place. This calls attention to the need for unity and mutual understanding, but of course there’s always a remainder to the quotient. Some pieces just refuse to fit together. 

Broken Harmonium

Quarter of nine.

I wasn’t feeling so great when I stepped out the front door and set out for the market. Just one of those things. It’s another gray morning like yesterday, a chill 41 degrees, so I put up my hood outdoors and strolled along quite slowly. As I was getting out of bed I thought of maybe giving Ulysses another read to see the things I’d missed the first time. The book is more than just an encyclopedia of random details. But if I do that, then I might as well give Carl Jung a second chance also, for both he and Joyce were collective thinkers. And you know, after all, collectivism may not be for me, or perhaps it depends on my mood on any particular day. How important is this vision of the unity of humankind? There’s an element of Christianity in this: love your neighbor as yourself, suggesting the identity of self and other. Yet this wasn’t what I was thinking on my way to the store today. I bought a Coca-Cola this time— and missed the polar bears on the red label. Just now, my dog Aesop rejected his breakfast again. So many little things can throw off the harmony and peace if we let them. It’s hard to keep ourselves together when everybody has a will and interest of their own. Still, there is something good to say about the thing called fellow feeling. It’d be nice if someone sort of translated Ulysses into plain English for everyone to understand it. The very obscurity of it contributes to the confusion we all experience. 

Accents

Eight forty.

It might be nice to fly over the rainbow or fall down the rabbit hole, find myself in an alternate reality of timelessness. I’m avoiding church this morning and just lazing on a Sunday. Trying to drop all my troubles to achieve peace. I’d like to discover a romantic space like a Pleasure Dome, but this also calls to mind hookahs and opium dens. This wouldn’t be very responsible, yet just for a day it is good to dream… Now it’s time to feed my dog… The day clouds up, perhaps to fulfill the forecast of rain. I saw nothing today to really complain about, except the general mood is very blah.

Years ago at the store I occasionally saw a woman from Wales whose accent was a delight, though as an individual she wasn’t sympathetic to people with disabilities. She told me about her experience at WinCo, when a person in a wheelchair blocked her view of the soups. She got quite upset and said something to the disabled person. Basically, get out of my way. It was a lesson to me that out group homogeneity is a fallacy. No two British people are exactly alike, and it’s a fool who thinks so. I haven’t seen this Welshwoman in a long time, but it was a treat to hear her talk. The foreigners around here have all disappeared over the last four or five years, and I’m sad to see them go. Maybe they’ll begin to trickle back in before long.

It’s early and I have all day to take out the trash and recycling. The weather is not pretty, just kind of lemon. But there is a ray of sunshine on the ground. 

Benefit of the Doubt

I just remembered something from two years ago, around this time in October. It was occasioned by paying my utility bill and having it be no sweat. Two years ago I was still living in the trailer with Aesop. What got me through the whole fire disaster was a Pollyanna kind of optimism and belief in divine providence. But in October, Polly and her son came looking for me. And then a few weeks later, she made some cynical remarks about my remodeled home, after which I began to lose my faith in the same providence. I never recovered this optimism, and then in March, Covid hit us. But now I’m thinking that there’s nothing to prevent me from being an optimist again, even though it’s hard to maintain in the midst of a pandemic. Pastor himself has been very gloomy for a long time, giving sermons about the devil and such.

Maybe a revolution in thought can help restore the church to the happy thing it used to be prior to March of 2020. I mean, maybe it’s up to me to change my thinking and bring this back to my church so that everyone will be happy. If this is true, then what do I do with my sister and her family? Or perhaps I’m trying to take too much responsibility.

I used to believe that the good things that happened to me were a heaven’s reward for not drinking anymore. There’s no evidence for this either way, so why not give it the benefit of the doubt?

It looks like I have two families: biological, and the Lutheran church. I felt a lot happier before Polly came back into my life. The circumstances around all of us have changed a great deal with the pandemic, yet the way we think about it might make a big difference in our power over it. Now I’m thinking like another William Blake. I think it’s necessary to change our attitudes in general and to exclude no one from the global community. Consider it one big church of humankind.

Those are my thoughts for right now. They might be different tomorrow.

Tuesday Blues

Seven thirty five.

The sun is just coming up, and there’s frost on Roger’s rooftop. I got a better sleep last night but my dreams were not lucid. At midnight I finished up another blank book, commenting on the faces I saw at Bi Mart yesterday afternoon. They were all unfamiliar to me, so how can I love them all universally? It is Christian doctrine to love your neighbor as yourself, but when everyone is a stranger it can be quite difficult. I think this is why Joyce is important to remember, pointing out the relatedness of all humanity, like a big family. But for me, family is a problem, and has been ever since I fell ill thirty years ago. A lot of bad feeling between our homes, a Hatfield and McCoy feud. Or more like a Cold War. So that my family appears to me as those strange faces in the Bi Mart parking lot yesterday… Aesop doesn’t feel well right now, so I’m going to watch him for a little while.

Quarter after eight. I know that my mother never would’ve wanted for her family to be so divided. Perhaps it ought to be a family unified in Christ, and the same church for all of us. It’s only resentment in me that gives me the defiant independent spirit. Or maybe these ideas are just learning from books, not from experience? I get a bellyful of ideology and would like to level everything down to what you can see and hear, taste and smell and touch. Now the sun blasts into the front window. A few leaves have turned on my maple and oak. I’m ready for a little adventure, but I fear that my dog is unwell this morning.

Nine twenty five. The people at the store looked rather shabby, including me, and spirits were pretty low. I ran into Melissa and her boy at checkout and said hi. Cathy arrived at nine o’clock and finished my transaction at the register. When I was going home I thought of Melissa’s kid, asking myself if I’d ever be mature enough to be a father. I’m probably too egoistic to consider such a thing. And I thought what is it all for when you bring a child into the world. 

Together

Eight thirty five.

The market was very busy this morning; people on their way to work or school stopped to grab something to eat and drink. For a while I forgot my preoccupation with philosophy and religion and became a face in the crowd. If church were not about doctrine it might be kind of fun, but I always find a point to argue with. I guess that subconsciously doctrines are everywhere. With the store bunch I felt like I participated in a Joyce novel like Ulysses, every identity blended into one, a universal mass… I see that my mailbox outside needs a repair; another good tug will pull it right off the post. I hope I can get Roger to help me with it. Worrying about it does no good… It’s rather odd to me to think that we’re all in this together. Being part of a community can be quite difficult if you do too much thinking. I imagine I’ve been guilty all this time of criticism. It should be easier to go with the flow than fight the current.

Ten o’clock. The weather now is a gray overcast. I hear sounds of construction going on. At the intersection of Maxwell and Bushnell Lane was a closed off section marked by orange pylons, but I didn’t see what they were doing. Being honest, sometimes I could really use a six pack of beer to feel more like my natural self. I suppose I’m fulfilling a duty to the community by abstaining. And sometimes this is the best I can do.