I couldn’t contain the nightmares last night, so it was a miserable time. But this morning, everyone else is in a good mood. Cathy was very nice to me at the market and introduced me to her trainee named Thomas, who will cover weekends. He’s a young guy with a black beard. The day is wet out although the rain that comes down is very light and fine. The spring rains remind me of my philosophy class with an old Jewish professor at the university a long time ago. My route to the Education buildings took me past the Pioneer Cemetery on my left and in behind the Knight Library. I always carried my Duck umbrella and my book bag with me to class and I took notes using a spiral notebook, which I suppose was traveling lightly. Dr Zweig wore a suit the day he lectured on Wittgenstein, but other days his back bothered him and he could be a bit crabby. The talk he gave on William James inspired me, though his specialty was Immanuel Kant. He spoke convincingly about transcendental idealism and the virtues of the thing called reason, which could guide a person rightly and overcome any difficulty.
Beyond the university campus it’s a dangerous world of small minds and attitudes. My whole family has pretty much disowned me for my mental health issues, so it’s really hard to forgive them their prejudice. What has been my crime?
I witnessed some good spirits at the market just a bit ago. A pair of women shot the bull with Lisa and apparently they had jobs in healthcare. They made jokes about paranoia and so on. I noticed that they were buying Mike’s Harder Mango at a very early hour. As I approached the parking lot from the sidewalk I saw a sign at my feet that read “For Rent.” Somebody must’ve dropped it there for a joke. The apartments across the way off of Maxwell Road go for $1400 a month. I think of how fortunate I am to own my home, and there’s something to be said for staying in one place for a long time. Inside the store, another customer examined the greeting cards on the revolving tree. The atmosphere was laid back and even pretty jovial. When I was going out I ran into a young Black man and said hi for no particular reason and held the door for him… The sky at dawn was gunmetal blue this morning. Yesterday it rained most of the day with occasional snow. Right now the sun wants to come out to the greeting of the birds. My dog gets breakfast in just a few minutes.
Eight twenty. I just heard from my friend in Texas. She’s been through extreme weather that damaged her house last night. She is without power and more bad weather is still coming. I hope someone comes to help her very soon. Why do bad things happen to good people?
Eight o five.
At the market it was Raj taking care of things today. Since it was very early and a Sunday, I didn’t see many other people outside. I looked at the sky and saw a hint of blue through the overcast, and the forecast says sunshine later. I had a strange day yesterday, just with my mood and mental state. Caffeine can do that sort of thing to you. By the way, Raj told me that Michelle will be back next week, so I said I’d be glad to see her… I feel I ought to read something, maybe a Hemingway novel, but it’s hard to focus my attention for very long. My mind is often a flight of ideas when it’s not impoverished of thought. Although I told Pastor I’d be in church today, I have to ask myself if I really need that anymore. Next month I’ll have four and a half years of sobriety, with or without church support. The thing that has helped me the most is to avoid feelings of guilt and shame. Learning to do this is a philosophical thing, something existential. When you disable remorse, it’s possible not to drink or otherwise self destruct, and then life can go on.
Eight fifty five. I’d like to say the weather is beautiful now, but it’s still cloudy and windless. Yet even with the cloud cover there’s an abundance of light.
Quarter of six.
High winds and it’s raining cats and dogs in the darkness before the dawn. My main anxiety is the puddle at the end of the street, where I know I’ll get my feet wet again when I go to the little store around the corner. Once bitten twice shy. Behaviorism in action. But is the dampness in the puddle or in my feet? Mind over matter. Something about rainy days promotes abstruse thinking because you tend to stay indoors; it’s a kind of solipsism, being cut off from the outside world and shut up in your head. It’s rather strange to go out and encounter the rain with no covering but for an umbrella, hoping the wind won’t turn it wrong side out. And then what happens? You get wet; but the damp is in your mind, as George Berkeley argued three centuries ago. Life is but a dream within the dream of Vishnu, for the Hindus had the same idea long before Berkeley. All the while, the rain pelts against the house, determined to get inside. I just sit here waiting for daylight to come. I infer from past experience that the sun will rise today, though nothing is a given— except the inevitability of the rain.
Last night there was a power outage for about 80 minutes. My cell phone has a flashlight that came in very handy. I turned it on after making a call to the utility company, and then went to bed to curl up and wait. When I got up this morning I was dying for a Snapple tea, so I finally went out in the cold waste and marched to the market. I only slipped once and caught myself from falling. Michelle said they had gone through a lot of milk at the store. Apparently people were stocking up on it for the weather conditions. I bought four sandwiches, two Snapples, and cookies for Aesop. I was very glad I had a pair of ASIC shoes for making the trip. The snow on the ground was quite deep in places, above my ankles easily. I saw the mail truck go past my house before I took off. The sky is white or close to the color of lead; almost silvery, and it reminds me of a painting of a snowscape by Claude Monet. A friend gave me a framed card of it for my birthday in 1993. Lost but not forgotten. Her name was Janet, a volunteer at American Cancer Society.
Five in the morning.
Yesterday at noon I started reading Native Son, and after a while I reflected a little on the abstract of power in our personal lives. I used to hesitate to use this word, but now it seems like the best one for the condition. By the way, yesterday the thought of alcohol never crossed my mind. It only occurred to me when I was asleep and dreaming that I’d been drinking occasionally for the past four years. I could hand control over to my subconscious mind, but who would be so foolish to do that? This would overturn rule by reason and create tyranny of the soul by the instincts, according to Plato. The Platonic model is something I learned very well at the university, and it resonates with Freudian psychology. I kept running into these ideas in Renaissance literature, for instance in Sir Philip Sidney. Now I wish I had read the whole book of The Old Arcadia, yet I think I learned the take home lesson… I don’t think I’ll leave the house at all today due to the snow, which by now is frozen and treacherous. In my head I hear Pastor’s acoustic guitar playing our holiday medley last Friday night. We sucked at our performance but nobody cared, though this apathy is precisely why we continue to be bad.
Quarter after ten.
The sun is out in the blue sky and everywhere there is snow. I picked up three bags full of empty bottles and left them in the kitchen. My visit with Sean is probably still on for today. I kind of dread it because the dog doesn’t like me being on the phone or my iPad with someone else. Generally I feel rather uncomfortable with the circumstances today. After a tough holiday we get this weather disaster. I also miss my Snapple tea this morning. I just have this exaggerated sense of immobility, of being stuck at home when I don’t want to be.
They’re saying that it’s snowing here right now but I can’t see anything for the darkness. Minutes ago I was dreaming about the fourth Led Zeppelin album, a rock and roll bible I haven’t listened to for a long time. I probably was thinking of “Misty Mountain Hop” because at the same time I dreamed about The Hobbit. And then I got up, being sick of myself and my mental events. Now I feel tired and want to go back to bed. There won’t be any daylight for an hour more, and even then I won’t be ready to go out to the store.
Quarter of ten.
The snow that was promised is finally here today. Pastor canceled church for this morning. I trudged through the blanket of white stuff to get to the store where I loaded up on sandwiches and cottage cheese. So far the snow on the ground hasn’t frozen. Oregonians in the Valley are not used to extreme winter weather. This is not Minnesota or Wisconsin, but a temperate place with a lot of timber and usually rain. At this point the snow is kind of fun, especially for the children to get out and play in… I can hear them right now having a ball. Spirits are high.
I’m a little alarmed because I can’t get ahold of my sister this morning. I fear she may be in the hospital or something due to the heat. I’ve just had a Snapple tea and feel fairly okay. Sleeping last night was pretty impossible. It’s hard to believe that I walked over to the store; like somnambulism.
Ten o’clock. My sister called back: she’s doing fine. She told me about a movie she’d seen on the life of George Gershwin. So I asked her if she’d heard of Aaron Copland, another American composer. And then my mind began to play Fanfare for the Common Man. At nine thirty I fed my dog, panicking a bit when I realized the food cans had no pull tabs for opening. Sometimes my can opener makes a mess of things. But this time I had no trouble at all, and Aesop had his chicken and barley breakfast. My magnolia is blooming like crazy; it seems to thrive in this heat, though I don’t know much about gardening. I always thought plants were rather boring because they can’t move. They merely sit still and look pretty. And yet there are times when I consider the trees and bushes my mother planted that have survived her. As living things, they carry on her legacy and serve as souvenirs. They almost give her immortality in a way. Planting a tree is an investment in the future, like having children or like writing to be famous. The aim is not to be forgotten, to be eternally true. Plato and Shakespeare both said something in this vein.
Eleven o’clock. It’s heating up and the air is deathly motionless. Please say a little prayer for us in the American Northwest.