Quarter after eleven.
I feel kind of tired and a bit anxious in general. Maybe I shouldn’t have called my sister on the phone. She has inflexible opinions on everything… I’m watching the squirrels in my backyard while Aesop pouts by the glass door. What would make him really happy?
Nine forty PM.
By now I realize that I’d love to play nineties jazz fusion with my friend here locally. It was an ambition I left behind when that style went out by around 1996 and all jazz converted to acoustic instruments. If we can get it to take off in Eugene then maybe I’ll be spending less time writing and blogging, which is all good with me.
Quarter of eleven. Perhaps it’s me who has inflexible opinions as to how much is possible?:
With happy thoughts and a dash of pixie dust, anyone can fly—
The real world is a far cry from the university campus, but the latter is more expensive. It’s an arrangement that doesn’t seem fair if you’re an intelligent pauper. Poverty can be a prison cell, and yet everyone likes to have free time to do what they love to do. A gain here is a sacrifice there. We barter time for money and money for time but can’t have both. A title from Lord Byron speaks: “I Would I Were a Careless Child.” I long for a Golden Age where necessities grow on trees and nobody has to earn their living. Like children, you can play and enjoy life with no responsibilities. The Golden Age and the Garden of Eden are the same thing, a childhood paradise that would last forever if we only obeyed our father.
At nine o’clock, Gloria is coming to work for me again. The sky is clouded over and there’s no breeze. I bought her a bottled water because she told me she’s diabetic. She worked hard the last time she was here and we got a lot done. I’m not certain what I’m aiming for with my life. I’d still like to play in a rock band if that’s even realistic. Circumstances keep blocking my way, so I think I have to plow an avenue myself where no road existed before.
Nine o’clock at night.
I had a nap from five o’clock until now. Poor Aesop still has fleas and I’m responsible for helping him out with them.
Between noon and one o’clock today, I made a lot of racket on my G&L bass, doing songs like “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Diana Ross and others from the eighties and nineties with bass lines by Pino Palladino and Flea. The Kiloton really rocks, having a tone similar to a Stingray, but it does it without a built in preamp because the pickup is already hot enough to make your ears burn. I also played around with “Three Views of a Secret” by Jaco Pastorius. I think Night Passage is my favorite album by Weather Report.
The main barrier to playing with other musicians right now is transportation, and also I don’t want to deal with substance use in the community. And finally, I run into many musicians who talk themselves up but can’t deliver the goods for lack of talent or the willingness to work at their instrument; they just aren’t serious about making music with quality. A lot of times it’s a failure to be honest and realistic about their abilities. Like everything, being a good musician takes a great deal of work and time investment; there are no shortcuts, and it’s about a lot more than the image of rock stardom. People try to substitute a shallow appearance for real substance and ultimately these people will have a hard time as musicians and, more importantly, as human beings.
I jammed on my G&L bass for a while. The snow was so bright that I didn’t have to turn the light on in the room. Out the window I could see Victoria sweeping her car of snow. A lot more people are coming out today to drive or walk around. They talk together in raised voices as if excited. When I was out on the sidewalk I heard this lyric: “The moments seemed lost in all the noise / A snowstorm, a stimulating voice / And rest for the day / With cold in the way.” During the time I played my bass, I moved the switch to the center to tap all the pole pieces, giving me a full range of tone. Sounds great, but I need someone else to play with. I expect two packages today and tomorrow, but the one coming by mail might be delayed… I can’t believe it’s only two thirty. But our daylight will be spent in another two hours. I don’t know if my little Rumble 25 is reparable or not. I may have to get a new amp for church, which doesn’t break my heart at all. There are some really nice combo amps for bass for a bit more money. Although, I don’t want to leave it in the sacristy all the time to be disused.
Some very old music rises to my consciousness by the Ray Brown Orchestra. He was an amazing bass player, and hardly anyone realizes that he could play electric bass as well as acoustic upright. The tone of his Fender Precision would melt in your mouth and he was all over it with his huge hands… Amazon had one more copy of the music I wanted in stock— so I snagged it. It arrives on my birthday.
Quarter after six.
At some point today I want to pick up my Snapple empties and bag them. This is grunt work that I hate, but I’m lucky that my life is not drudgery like that of many people, including my family. They have an antipathy for books and everything intellectual, despising what they don’t understand. This Christmas Eve for me is like another Thanksgiving, and the thing I’m grateful for is being the smart person I am. There’s an old cliché that goes like this: Which would you rather be, dumb and happy or smart and sad? It’s the same as saying that ignorance is bliss. But I think I disagree. Intellectual work is a lot more pleasant than manual labor, and overall, the life of the mind is a wonderful thing. So today I’ll make a start on the Snapple bottles and bless every moment I get to spend using my brain. Another thing. As students in junior high school, my friends and I used to play chess in the library. Often, a bully would come along and knock all the pieces over from sheer incomprehension and resentment. It was a symbolic scene that still goes on in the present day at some level. What can we offer the bullies now except a little music to soothe their feelings? Meanwhile I move on to celebrate the beautiful things in my life.
Four o’clock in the morning.
I plan on going to church this morning because it’s a community thing, and it’s real and concrete as opposed to the virtuality of blogging. I’ve thought of quitting WordPress many times. The contention of competing voices on the website seems to me rather stupid and pointless anymore. I should have better things to do than get into a war of words with a confederacy of dunces, so today I’ll chuck it all and march off to the church on Maxwell Road. When church is done, I’ll come home and probably take up Wittgenstein’s Tractatus for a taste of real philosophy, like sipping a fine wine. I repeat that if people want free erudition they ought to check out Project Gutenberg and read some classics. I would even consider going back to being a volunteer proofreader for them. It’s a place for learning new things and it’s a great experience.
It was a pretty good day today. I got my account set up at Genoa pharmacy this morning, and the people there were very nice. I saw Darcy and Todd for my appointment. The cab driver was kind of a grumpy old man, yet he was rational to some extent. He didn’t like technology such as tablets and smart phones; and he really hated going online with them. Kind of funny. He said he didn’t like traffic either. I thought of asking him why he decided to become a taxi driver if he felt that way, but discarded the idea! What a moron. Maybe he couldn’t get a job anywhere else. At least he thanked me for guiding him back to my house. It’s interesting to consider how people do such illogical and inauthentic things with their lives. Maybe sometimes it’s because they’re paying lip service to a job they believed they just had to do in order to please another person. Somewhere they choose an option that was wrong for themselves, which takes them completely on the wrong track. Life can be very fascinating from an existential perspective of actions freely chosen by an individual. I find myself in a situation with the church, something that isn’t very genuine for me, and my options are to keep going there and compromise my integrity or to resign from it and be alone but at least okay with myself in conscience. That is, I won’t be a hypocrite anymore if I leave the church. But it takes a lot of guts to do the right thing for yourself; and sometimes it’s not clear which choice is right for you in the long run.
I didn’t do much else today except to play the bass guitar for an hour this afternoon. It was my G&L bass, the one I bought last April with my stimulus money. It’s the best sounding bass I’ve got, by far. Maybe someday soon I’ll have the nerve to look for other musicians again. Guitar Center definitely has a bulletin board for musicians seeking others at the back of the store. Last spring and summer I made some very gut wrenching decisions concerning my music, perhaps the wrong ones. Time will tell, I guess.
Culture is another strange thing. How do certain behaviors get associated with certain jobs or roles in society? Come to think about it, I don’t know what my own role is in this society, but I tend to critique it a lot. Bob Dylan did a song that ends with, “You’re invisible now / You’ve got no secrets to conceal,” and then the chorus goes: “How does it feel / To be on your own / With no direction home / Like a complete unknown / Like a rolling stone?” And I wonder if these lines apply to my own life in a significant way. It depends on how invisible I really am and how persuasive my posts are on WordPress. Or maybe everybody is invisible to a degree?
Writing can be seen as a struggle to get attention to what you write. Some authors go to rash extremities to do that, but it’s probably not worth it to me to join them. It’s better to leave it to the hands of fate than to calculate it too much. So many people are aspiring or disappointed writers. A lot of them end up on WordPress, blogging their lives away. I wonder if I should be planning my next move at this point.
I catch myself being a jerk today and then I have to stop and reevaluate my attitude and behavior. The cabbie for the return ride was interesting. He lived through the great snow of 1969 in Eugene. I mentioned drought after observing that Kelly Pond had shrunk down to hardly any water at all. He said that in ‘69 it was dry for 120 days in a row. I was two years old that year and don’t remember much of it.
My meeting at the agency went pretty well, except as I said, I was kind of a jerk. I look back on my working days now and wonder how I endured the boredom of it. I was not challenged by the type of work I did. There was a coworker who understood that about me. She was very intelligent and incisive, and advised me to get a job in the larger community. But I stayed where I was because I thought it was safer. After a few years it turned into a big mess. The alcohol addiction usurped my life and in general I felt trapped. Today I still feel a little bit that way. Therefore, no situation is really safe. I’d like to do more fun things in the community and try to connect with smart people. Bookstores are a good place for me to start looking for intelligent life, and maybe a trip up on campus. The burden of being smart is that it takes more to keep yourself stimulated.
I heard the rain start again tonight from my bedroom. If I was sleeping, I don’t remember my dreams, though there was a semiconscious thought process. My dog is not sleeping well either. So I got up and came in here to make a few notes. The streetlight is on outside my window and a couple of cars have passed by. The same wooden light post has been there since these houses were built in the early Sixties. There’s an undercurrent of the same old spirit when my family first moved into this house in 1971. This community can be an interesting place if I open my heart to it. Certain pockets of it have resisted change over the years. I need to go easier on the church pastor, I suppose. It’s probably true that my parents were hedonists, contributing very little to the neighborhood, especially my mother. While my dad was simple, Mom willfully sucked pleasure out of life. She did it without consequences for most of her life, until a heart attack cut it short.
I wonder if there’s an ethic to being an aesthete like she was? She got the idea from Hollywood. I remember watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with her on television. Marilyn Monroe was the original, pretty much, with a lot of imitators. I don’t know that much about it. I think my mother admired her a great deal. It’s hard to know where she would have fit in; perhaps as a bohemian artist among other artists. Someone needed to guide her on the right track, but there just wasn’t anybody to do this. Mom was far smarter than the moral majority of churchgoers and gossips and other shallow people.
She was the next Michelangelo.
Quarter of four.
I’ve heard from Mike regarding my email. I’m still more inclined to leave the band after sleeping on it. He said something about taking the bad with the good, but it’s always been a dangerous situation for me and my sobriety. By the way, I opened the Kerouac book and read the first page: it’s definitely not for me, and it’s a thing that Ron would probably like. And as for ambivalence, sometimes the dichotomies are real and you have to make a decision one way or the other. I’ve been at a crossroads for the past seven months and now I know what to do. It involves dismissing the past, with my old friends and their attitudes… If I’m not doing music for a vocation, then I suppose I still have writing. Yesterday I also read a little bit of Les Miserables, a book I’d like to finish sometime in the future.