Like a typical Sunday, it’s quiet and rather lifeless, especially outdoors. Suddenly Roger throws open his garage door across the street, getting ready to tinker with his truck project. Aesop, my dog, is in a good mood today so far, which makes a difference to us both. I’ve got music in my brain from Genesis a long time ago, an album titled Duke. I miss sharing music with my old friend ten years ago; she was very literate and intelligent with it, and her brother was a big fan of Genesis and Steve Hackett. But now I just have to muddle along until a new friend comes into my life with the same brilliance. I believe that appearance is not reality in many cases and you can’t judge a book by its cover. I’ve learned how to be platonic and to love rationally as Boethius prescribes, as well as Chaucer and Shakespeare (the marriage of true minds). And even so, it seems that nothing lasts forever and most relationships fall apart when circumstances change. We had a cool transatlantic friendship for six years. Maybe it was coincidence that the complexion of American politics changed when I lost contact with her. It still feels pretty messed up, with two visions of what America should be grappling for supremacy. Life hasn’t been very fun for a long time. Any message in a bottle on the stormy sea is a godsend.
Quarter of seven.
I got up too early. I’m waiting for an email from my friend in Texas, but she has visitors and is probably busy with them right now… I was just thinking of how a lot of people invert human knowledge. They put ingenuity before the facts we actually know. For example, the Bible is a much older book than any garden variety biology textbook, so they give it more weight. It’s as if language were logically prior to the information from our senses and scientific method. The history of ideas is more important than the facts we take for granted. You can see this when you walk into a bookstore and browse the titles. One I remember was Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, I don’t know the author. Many Americans reject evolution even now, while in the UK it is accepted as fact everywhere, Catholic schools included.
I’m having a low energy morning so far, though I made it to the store already. If I read some of Coleridge’s poetry, would his metaphysics convince me or would I see it as fluff?
I’d like to know what people are reading in other countries today. My own country has become very isolated, so we’re limited in what we think and do. I’ve begun to feel claustrophobic with the same old stagnant notions. I need a breath of fresh air from across the Atlantic, if anyone there takes us seriously. But maybe no one really thinks anything in the current state of affairs: the war of the Ukraine and Russia. Maybe I’m living in the past and eating my heart out…
If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
Cos I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands
Quarter after nine.
It’s such a long way from here and a long time from now. To the past or to the future makes no difference; the present moment sucks. But the world around me goes on and on as if nothing had ever happened. If I could stitch time between now and the last decade, then I’d call to her to cross the bridge to be with me, if she’d have somebody so poor and pitiful as myself, and so obtuse…
Gloria came this morning. She said she felt sore from doing yard work recently, yet she drove me to Bi Mart and stayed in the car. I went inside alone long enough to buy two items and see what they had as far as vacuum cleaners. They had two Hoover models that looked good to me, for under $170. Did you know that people in Britain refer to vacuuming as “hoovering?” And then Gloria and I worked some more in my garage after she vacuumed the carpets. She had brought her own Shark Navigator for the job.
I had an insight this afternoon into Kate’s personality (she was my friend from Scotland). It occurs to me that she was very humble and understated as a person, whereas many Americans are more pompous and exaggerated, especially in their speech and self expression. Of course this means myself as well. I actually think Kate’s policy of no drama is very commendable. She loved The Beatles for its simplicity and its ordinariness in a lot of cases, like with “Lovely Rita” and “Penny Lane.” The first song is about a meter maid. British culture is so different from ours; they don’t have the same problems we have. So now I try to catch myself when I’m hyperbolic and inflated. It makes me feel kind of disgusted with Pastor’s oratory style as well: it is so grandiloquent and proud, and over the top with drama and bombast. I really believe that Americans can learn a lesson from people in the United Kingdom, especially since our disasters in politics lately. We’re not very realistic over here. We need to give up our delusions of grandeur.
I think that’s all I had to say for now, and I think I’ll buy that Hoover this summer.
I slept very poorly and today it’s raining a light rain. I took my umbrella and hiked off to the store as always. For now the rain has ceased. I never did get any reading done yesterday but Russell still sounds like a good choice. It’s good to feel so levelheaded, even on a rainy day, so typical of Oregon. I see a squirrel climbing the magnolia tree out back. Ten years ago I knew a friend living in Scotland who liked analytic philosophy because of its proximity to science. I believe she was smarter than I was, though toward the end of our friendship she told me she preferred silence to conversation. Was that a form of nihilism? I wish now that we could have worked it out. In King Lear, the Fool says it’s better to know more than you show; but I think he was ironic about that. After knowing me, my friend went back to being her old self, and today I have no clue what her life is like. Hopefully she took something of myself with her that she can use. And from her I got Russell and Carnap— and some great Beatles music; and much else that is even more priceless.
The daylight is bright like springtime in spite of the occasional rain. It’s a day to be quiet and speculative.
Nine o’clock at night.
Today didn’t amount to anything, except my dog was pretty happy, maybe because I didn’t play the bass. Last night I priced different brands of flat wound bass strings from three different sellers, and they were all close to forty dollars. With an eye on my finances, I might spring for the Rotosound set as the month progresses. Nothing is a giveaway right now because of holiday consumerism. They get you coming and going. It could be a very long season.
It’s interesting when it isn’t frustrating how people are pressed into such solitudes for the things they believe or don’t believe. America is notorious for this kind of alienation, as some people know who have traveled abroad and experienced cultural differences here and there. Sometimes I feel inclined to do a Henry James and emigrate from here to the Old World, if I only had enough money to do this, and a monopoly of daring. Most people’s imaginations are so limited by what they learn from their environment, their immediate family and upbringing. I vaguely remember the photographs that Kate used to send me of Rosyth, the little town across the bridge from Edinburgh in Scotland, with cobbled streets and foreign cars in black and white. Was it all just a drunken vision or did I really see those places on my computer screen? I’m beginning to lose my sanity thinking of it. Somehow in my euphoria I slipped over the rainbow to a land beyond my wildest dreams.
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.
Five twenty five.
Hard to believe it isn’t even summer yet. To me it feels like next autumn already. The climate has been very temperate lately except for a few days in the lower nineties. Right now the sun is just coming up. I hear the soundscape from “Close to the Edge” in my brain. It is curious how a lot of Americans disregard music from across the Atlantic, as if they didn’t understand it… I don’t know if I’ll call my sister this morning or not. It might be very uncomfortable for me if I did… I have problems with motivation, and also my body is giving out as I get older.
Quarter after seven. It has just begun to rain seriously. I got a few drops on me coming back from the store. Heather was super nice to me when I checked out. I had enough change in my raincoat pocket for a non comestible item, so she took my smaller coins and let me have my quarters. Also I got good news in my mailbox this morning. Probably I will avoid church this Sunday and just go to my band rehearsal in the afternoon. My sister said something pejorative about churchgoers who are not fundamentalist, or who don’t interpret the Bible literally, word for word. To her mind, these people are not really Christians. She doesn’t realize that she represents only one form of religious belief, and that others are equally valid.
Quarter after eight. I’ve decided not to call her this weekend… It’s different to see it dark and rainy here today; I kind of like it for a change. There’s such a disconnect between my mind and my body, and between thinking and acting: it’s almost too much to try to initiate a movement. It’s not a matter of laziness or anything moral like that at all… It looks like communication is reopening between America and the UK, if I’m not being too optimistic. And if I had the courage, I might do a Henry James for real and travel to the motherland at least for a holiday.
Eleven thirty. It’s nice when I get likes from European readers. There aren’t enough of them. Kate, as I recall, was very literal and realistic, and she disliked extremism in any form. She was not religious or even Romantic. She thought I was crazy when I joined the church and the American way, which I can understand now. I really miss her and her sophistication, so different from my own country. It was this foreignness that attracted me to her. It seemed like a healthy way out of my illness. The problem was that I couldn’t stop drinking all during that time. Today I’m just kind of in suspense to see what happens next. Everybody is. The light of the sun is bright again like yesterday. Is psychology an overrated science? Sometimes I could do without it. I think it’s an American concern, more so than across the Atlantic, from what I’ve experienced.
Quarter after two. The sunshine goes on, with the sky mingled blue and wisps of white. There’s a tree frog screeching in my front yard, but otherwise it’s quiet as a deserted church. Only one other sound: an air conditioning unit next door or somewhere close by. Seems odd for January. Now a prop plane overhead. I just finished playing my Dean bass for today. Saturday afternoon I’m taking my blue Fender to practice again. It’s my favorite instrument and my main axe. It feels unreal that I don’t drink anymore. Certainly if I did, I couldn’t do music with other people, and my life would be useless even to me. Drinking beer is extremely expensive and it takes a huge toll on your quality of life. I still have dreams about alcohol at night sometimes, usually connected with my mother and my brother. My brother is still alive, yet I doubt if I’ll ever see him again. He seems to think that you can’t have a good time without alcohol. Even if he called me one day, I’d probably have to keep him at arm’s length. We’re not in the same situation together, and we have nothing in common anymore. I used to crave his approval so desperately, but now I don’t see why. I used to need my sister’s approval too, but since being sober for three years, family is expendable. I’ve discovered that I can think for myself and solve my own problems without depending on other people. I’m not anybody’s perfect poster boy, but still I hold my own… Sunlight filters through the kitchen window and shadows glow a little green. Except for a bit of a hum outside, the room is silent. I like myself.
When I got to the store this morning, I saw Michelle’s car in the parking lot, but Tuesday is supposed to be a Vicki day. Michelle told me she’d been called in to work with no explanation… Have I been brainwashed to believe that human beings are more than just biological organisms? And maybe they’d be right. It’s hard to say. Today is Evolution Day, though I think the Church excludes humankind from natural selection. People don’t mention Darwin’s other book, The Descent of Man. I observe that much of my current thinking is a response to my church, sermons creeping in by osmosis. They’re sometimes intrusive like a virus I try to fight. Ideas are airborne like infectious diseases, or like radio waves going right through you. They diffuse everywhere… The sun is farther south in the sky than it was during the summer. Right now it’s clear and cold. Through the windows of the store it shone directly in Michelle’s eyes as she rang up my stuff. She seemed a little dazzled and bemused. This morning has started out rather odd. Trash pickup for Sanipac is going on today. I fed Aesop a breakfast of turkey stew for dogs. Also, I left a voicemail for my sister. And I have a package coming by UPS today. Life continues on, but I hope Vicki is okay.
Noon hour. My sister called back and we chatted mostly trivia, like different foods and the toys we played with when we were kids. After that, my Sophocles book arrived, a quaint little thing of beauty… For fun I just looked up “quaint” on Search Chambers online, and it reminded me of a friend who gifted me the 12th Edition Chambers Dictionary in September 2016. It particularly impressed her for its etymological detail and for the stress on short, muscular, Anglo-Saxon words. It is a distinctively British dictionary. She used it for solving crossword puzzles, and she told me she won cash prizes from the local newspaper. So that’s a bit of British culture my friend shared with me.
Two thirty five in the morning.
I couldn’t sleep any longer, so I got up. It seemed to me that the Eugene population is being thinned of Mexican people, so I did a little research with Google. I learned about an agency called ICE, a division of Homeland Security. But most of the articles I found were from last year. Who knows what’s happening right now? I only know that I don’t see many Mexican people locally anymore. They used to be very visible. One of them overcharged me to do my yard work all through the Obama presidency. The alternative was to hire a white guy who charged even more, and who insisted on a contract that would last a year… I don’t know what to think about the current isolationist attitude of the United States. We don’t want anything to do with the rest of the world. It’s a formula for stagnation and cultural poverty. Republicans don’t perceive it that way, caring only about money— a huge mistake. My life was a lot richer when I had a friend from abroad. She introduced me to Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry— the whole ‘70s glam genre in the UK. John Wetton played bass guitar brilliantly on Ferry’s solo album. Was it only a dream? A lot can happen in eight to ten years. The trend I see is the social withdrawal of America, so how can we really understand what it means to be fully human? We can learn a lesson from the life and writings of Henry James, the American expatriate who enriched literature forever. And from The Beatles and the British Invasion of the ‘60s, and again from New Wave in the ‘80s… The same sun shines on the rest of the world as on America. It makes no sense to put up walls.