It’s a dull day. I guess that’s better than a stressful day. My PCA is here, cleaning the bathroom. The dog is shut in down the hall like every time we do this. I don’t know. Life is pretty weird for everyone these days. I remember the times of high inflation under Reagan when grocery stores offered generics to save us money. My brother drank beer from white cans with a label that said “Beer.” We ate food with generic “Ketchup.” But he usually tried to find ways to save money, for no particular reason that I could see.
I was dreaming of a way of thinking, but there was a piece that didn’t fit the rest of the pattern. It drove me kind of cuckoo so I had to get up. Now awake, the thought of my sister comes up, and the last conversation we had. I’ve always known that she is a stoic while I am the exact opposite, an epicurean because of my parents. It’s an odd thing for two people to each be so convinced that they are right, yet contradict each other. To me, the principle of the greatest happiness makes perfect sense, whereas her stoicism seems like masochism to my mind… She would never consider writing a valid form of work. It’s too easy, and it actually gives the writer pleasure to do, as well as the reader. If an activity isn’t painful, then how can you call it work? Thus, I’m at an impasse with my sister and her family. Maybe she believes that I will go to hell for my ideas and approach to life. It may be best for me to let her go, at least for today, and just mind my business for a while.
For some reason, my mind summons up memories of my work experience and the supervisor I could hardly tolerate. The job was a dead end with no opportunity to advance up the ladder, so I couldn’t imagine doing the same thing for twenty more years. The rest of it was a matter of fate. We were told that someone in our area had to go, and there were only two of us. And I was unable to cover the whole workload myself because I wasn’t very fast. There were 19 layoffs throughout the organization due to a mistake by our office manager. We failed to secure a contract that accounted for 40 percent of our revenue. I guess it was just the writing on the wall for us, at least temporarily. I left the job voluntarily because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. In a way, I got my wish, and in a way I didn’t. All’s well that ends well— if it ever ends. How much of it was my own will and how much was fate? For a year I’d planned my escape from drudgery, yet even this didn’t work out because of my addiction to alcohol. The best laid schemes of mice and men… or maybe all I wanted to do was drink. And maybe life is just spontaneous and playing by ear.
Nine ten AM.
The low temperature last night was 28 degrees and it still is below freezing. The Oregon race for governor has not been decided yet. It seemed like a big deal yesterday but today, nobody appears concerned about it. The sun is out in a mostly cloudy sky. Yesterday I did some thinking about the job I used to do, about meaningless work versus something worthwhile to do. I didn’t like being a data slave, with all those indifferent numbers and letters I had to index for future retrieval. Every day I’d wear a box chain like a collar around my neck with a sterling tag engraved with Reason to remind me of my industrial commitment. Everyone probably knows the feeling of being a robot in a worthless job, but I felt I had more poetry and beauty in me to share with the world. I didn’t want to waste my life away as a work turtle. Again I’m singing to the choir of a billion people who feel just the same way I do. I guess my point is, if you have other options, then you probably ought to take them and run the risk of rejection. It’s better to do this than let your life be controlled by feelings of guilt or shame, so you end up stuck in a bad situation while time passes you by. That’s been my experience. You can ask yourself if it’s better to be assigned a job like street sweeper and live with the burden, or instead strive for what you were born to be. The ideal place is one where everybody can be what they want to be, but it’s probably a long time coming. But I don’t think the answer is like Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The nature of our work really does matter, not just the quality with which we do the job. After a while, something snaps and it’s necessary to throw off the slave collar.
Two o five.
Well, everything went just fine with my PCA’s first day and we got some things done. We recycled more than 310 bottles at the bottle return place in Springfield. It’s kind of a nice facility, and one of the attendants was fairly polite and helpful. After that we picked up a lot of boxes and some trash and took it all out to my bins outdoors. We started at nine o’clock and I pooped out by noon while Gloria kept going for another hour and a quarter. Then we called it a day. Aesop seemed to be okay in the backyard, though he was quite exhausted when I finally let him back in the house. I think he’s a bit mad at me now, but sometimes he has to learn his role as a canine being. Meanwhile, all of my thoughts on freedom and politics, etc, have been bogus and probably paranoid. Definitely inflated and totally vain in multiple senses of the word. I believe it would be good to invest some time reading something mature, sober, and realistic. Also my own style of writing will morph in a new direction, depending on what happens next with my life’s events.
Eleven thirty at night.
I’ve been dreaming about the devil in his role as deceiver, the one who trips you up and does you in. It’s a mystery why such a Christian dream should keep occurring to me. Does it mean I ought to go to church again? In my opinion, you can be a good Christian without church involvement, which is what Kierkegaard partly had to say. The church I used to attend expected that you tithe when you could, but I can’t afford to give away money anymore. I’m on a fixed budget that allows no extras, not even a car to get around town. Financially, I’ll never get ahead, and that’s fine with me as long as I have free time to think like a natural human being. I spent five years as a data entry slave, typing in alpha-numerals that were meaningless to me, oiling the machine with weekend binges, and hating life. Towards the end of my job, I figured out their game and started winning at it. At the agency meetings and when a prize was raffled off, I would come out the winner, and then give it away to somebody. The game turned out to be a shallow and silly one, something for children. A coworker told me I had outgrown the workplace, and before long I left that job. I guess all jobs are transitory things. Even a church can be a thing you use up and move on from. Sometimes a smart person ends up with nowhere to go until the next big change. And sometimes he learns that he constitutes the big changes himself…
I found an old CD of Alan Parsons Project in my stuff so I’ll listen to it today or tonight. I haven’t heard the album in over fifteen years and I’ve forgotten what it sounds like except for “Games People Play.” I bought the disc at Fred Meyer when I had a clerical job with the agency, and during that time I really believed my job would lead me to something better eventually. But it turned out to be a dead end and actually an alcoholic trap that could have killed me. I started out with high hopes for my future at what ended up as drudgery.
Eleven thirty five. But if I hadn’t started drinking again, my future in that job might have panned out very differently. Right now I kind of miss having a businesslike occupation to do, something involved with money. The way it was, alcohol and money became synonymous with each other; and now I don’t even carry cash because it reminds me of my addiction and other illicit stuff that goes with the workplace. I used to know a few people who were dishonest and unethical, but I just grew accustomed to it until it was normal to me. One of them would chide me for being a “Boy Scout.” I guess I was really in the wrong place for a long time and it took its toll on me. Today I think I’m okay with being a sober person with a disability, who doesn’t worship money and the things that people kill for. So it’s quite interesting to examine what happened in my life and the phases I went through, the corrupt people I knew, and everything else. Maybe the guy was right to sneer at my Boy Scout policies, but I don’t think so. And this person happened to be my brother…
Two o’clock. All this time, the sunshine has been strong and very pretty, with the temperature nearly 60 degrees outside. I quaffed most of my Coke and then played the bass guitar with a view of the blue sky through the window. It’s like springtime except the deciduous trees are still bare. Later I’ll listen to the Alan Parsons and appreciate today and the opportunity I have to think about everything.
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.
Now I wonder if Vicki will be working this morning. My imagination can summon all kinds of fates that could have happened to her. But the only fact I know is her absence yesterday. I also know the circumstances of her headache that never went away, the tumor on her brain, and the doctors who didn’t give her any straight answers… I don’t know how I feel about it, but I was used to seeing her every week morning for many years. Her quality of life probably wasn’t so great. She lived by herself and worked like a drone every weekday. She didn’t seem to enjoy it anymore; even stopped bantering with the guys who came in from the distributors. Her sense of humor had gone out of her life… What makes life worth living? Endless drudgery doesn’t seem to be the best thing. Rolling that boulder up the hill over and over again gets tiresome and boring to tears. The futility of it brings you down after a while. I lived that way for a short time until I learned that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had options available to me, and I chose wisely. My brother can call me names all he wants, but he isn’t happy with his life. He tends to blame others for his own unhappiness, but he needs to bring responsibility home to himself. He is free to choose for himself, regardless of what other people do with their lives. The truth is that everyone is responsible only for their own feelings, their own behavior. The ultimate arbiter is you.
Quarter of seven. I imagine that with the change to a Democratic administration, blogging will change accordingly, but I was prepared for this. I plan to keep writing on into the next year and see who shows up… I heard a shower of rain a few minutes ago. There should be daylight by seven twenty or so. When it comes, I will go to the store as I do every day. My heart is open to what the new year and the new government bring. It seems like anything can happen, but personally I’m very happy for the defeat of a tyrant who made us an embarrassment to the rest of the world. Aesop has finally gotten out of bed and wants a snack. I catch myself still avoiding the salon because I think Karen is very disgruntled over politics. Roger probably is too. I don’t see people openly jumping for joy, and yet my heart leaps quietly. Eventually it will be okay to talk about it. The rain has begun again, fortunately, though it’s still very dark outside. It’s going to be one of those days.
Six thirty 🕡. I just listened to an old Rush album; kind of corny but it was fun. I think of one of the rock bands I was in and have to smile at how bad we were. We played by instinct and the sense of hearing alone. Never mind music theory, we’ve got this. From the perspective of jazz theory, we had no idea what we were doing, so there were times when it didn’t work. I recall a gig at the Moose Lodge in Cottage Grove, around Christmas time 21 years ago. We did a Judas Priest song with an extended intro, just chugging eighth notes on the same F sharp chord until people recognized the tune. Supposed to be dramatic, but really it was cheesy. There was food for us, but I don’t remember eating very much. I sat at a table with the drummer and we talked about music; we had nothing else in common. The gig was a little disappointing because we had to mix our own sound. There was no house PA system or sound man to give us credibility. Our Cottage Grove gigs were all like that. But two years later we scored a steady situation at the Hollywood Taxi in downtown Springfield. The owner of the club mixed sound for us, yet we still weren’t very good. Our rhythm section was very competent overall, but the guitarists were rather awful. We tried to do Led Zeppelin and slaughtered it. The Hendrix we did fared even worse. One time we played two different AC/DC tunes simultaneously due to confusion of one with the other. Both songs were in E minor and cut from the same cloth.
Everywhere we played, the singer depended on the band’s “bible” of song lyrics because he couldn’t memorize the words. To his credit, however, he had perfect pitch. Also he was good at impersonation while singing a song. And when he brought out the harmonica for a tune by The Romantics, everybody caught the spirit and we rocked the house. It was a lot of fun when things clicked with the Muse, as happens to people in a group. Probably because we could work this energy in the band and with the crowd, we gained a little following locally and regionally… And then come home with my ears ringing all night long. One night at the Taxi I played hard enough to scrape the skin off of my fingertips and bleed on my ‘79 Precision Bass. The blood came off with some Windex, but for a few weeks I could only play using a pick.
There are lots of things I don’t miss about being a professional musician… and then something conspires to call me to adventure all over again…
We are currently socked in with a thick fog outside. I can hardly see the houses across the street. About three hours ago I ordered myself a birthday present of a sci-fi novel anthology. I just wanted something to commemorate this three year mark. Yesterday I thought about my work experience and how my boss was an alcoholic. I had a good streak of sobriety going before I started my job. After working for eight months, I lost what I had. I really hated working for that guy, but I was stuck with him. I didn’t realize what my options were until years later. Shame held me back from doing what would have benefited me. Today, people can criticize me all they want, but it won’t make me drink again. And I’m very wary of toxic people.
Ten ten. Vicki wasn’t pleasant at the store, but I’ve never liked her very much. I just got a text from someone from church to congratulate me on three years. I bought a cranberry ginger ale and something to eat. The fog makes things appear surreal. The little perching birds seem to be confused; they think this is mating season. I see a lot of fox squirrels in my backyard and in the neighborhood, scrounging food for the winter. Fall and winter will surely come. I don’t feel so doom and gloom today. Last Monday was very odd, yet we got through it. I guess the pessimism was only me after all. My sister attributes the bizarrerie to this particular year, 2020. If that’s all it is, then I really hope next year will be more normal. It’s kind of a wonder that I stayed sober through this year, given everything we underwent. But it’s a consolation to know that we’re all in this together.
Quarter after eleven. The fog is lifting a bit, but there’s still some wildfire smoke. It’s nice to have cooler weather. Aesop has been very good over the past week. He let me brush him last night. I don’t know what happened to Damien a week ago, and I haven’t heard from him since. I feel a little lonely, and alone with my memories. Pastor said that in person church services will resume on 18 October. I don’t know how to feel about that, or whether I will attend. It’s an emotional thing. Meanwhile, my reason says the Jesus stuff is absurd. The people in church have been wonderful to me, of course. They’re like no other human beings I ever knew. If my mind were to mirror my heart, I’d have no problem with attending worship. There’s something compelling about a mass of people who are all doing the same thing. I reckon we’ll see how it all shakes down when the time comes.