Diary, 3/8 to 3/12/19

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Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{3/8/19}  Weight 220.4.  Blech.

MESH speed test:  17/48/40

Pablo has a hearing problem, an aggravating factor in his constantly misunderstanding me:  it’s often because he hasn’t heard me.  I have mentioned this to him sometimes, but he has no interest in a hearing aid.  You know why?  Because he’s not really interested in what others have to say.  He doesn’t listen, doesn’t care that he doesn’t listen (apparently), and doesn’t even want to listen (apparently).  This is fucked up.

The thing to do is what the philosophers do when they are disagreeing:  require the other to state your position, and to keep working on that until you agree that they have your position right.  An idea that I got from Dennett.

Spent $28.50 to see Captain Marvel and buy lunch at the theater:  carnitas tacos, popcorn and a souvenir-cup soda.  The movie had some great moments, but seemed to me overall a bit weak.  Brie Larson is excellent, and it was amusing to see “very young” Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg.  The “tesseract” makes an appearance.  ‘Nuff said.

Caught a documentary on Link TV called Wall, written by D Hare, based on his stage play.  Very interesting look at the wall separating Israel and the West Bank and its effects on both regions.


{3/9/19}  Weight 220.4

Long, crazy dream this morning (five paragraphs).  I was at a school function in the auditorium and we were all standing up, and someone was introduced as a singer.  She moved to the front and was standing right next to me, about to begin, but some women were talking loudly about twenty feet away.  The woman began to chant softly.  I tried to tell her that nobody could hear, but she just kept on.  When that was over some large woman carrying two small children began prancing around doing some kind of “jimmy-jammer” routine (?) and the whole crowd copied her words and actions; I tried to do it as well, but didn’t know how.  So I wanted to leave, and I was with someone, call him or her “X.”  We left the auditorium, and some others left as well, and we were looking for the way out.

I saw an open door leading to the outside, and I said “Here’s a door” as I turned and went to the doorway.  I could see a street and I said, “Here’s a street,” and we went out.  Then I was looking for my bicycle but there weren’t any by the auditorium.  Someone suggested that they had been moved across the street, “cleared away” by the authorities.  We looked in driveways looking for the missing bikes.  One house had about ten bikes, but someone said something to suggest that they weren’t the ones we were looking for.  Then I went into a garage with X, looking at about six bikes, and I thought one, blue, might be mine, then I realized that I hadn’t bought it yet.

Then I was in a car, driving on a highway, and a couple of men were pacing us on the passenger side though they weren’t in a car.  One had a big mouthful of something and I was afraid that he would spit it on us or in the window, and I urged X to roll up the window but I couldn’t see if he was rolling it up or down.  Then something happened in front of the car, this is unclear, then there was a large glass jar, like a gallon jar, full of something, possibly coins, that had been put on the front right fender of the car I was driving.  I tried to shake it off by turning the wheel of the car left and right…

Then I was with X in my place and we walked into a small, empty room, and I looked back toward the doorway.  The bare yellow wall was badly stained or very filthy, with long streaks running down, and larger things, as though there had been a flood, which receded, leaving this mess as though the wall had been a floor (I’m trying to say how it looked, there was no hint in the dream of flood or floor), and the doorway was closed off by a long sheet of paper, like wallpaper, that X had tacked up, and the pattern on the paper was very similar to the markings on the wall, though clearly not the same.  Then I woke up.

I’m surprised that I could get the whole thing down, I’m pretty sure that there was nothing much more than what I’ve written.  The only things I can relate to real life is the blue bicycle, which looked very like the trike I’ve been planning to buy, and the wall with markings, perhaps a carryover from watching the documentary Wall last night, which had near the end a long sequence of scenes of walls with colorful decorations and graffiti.

So I went to Dagny’s for Writers Writing and to use the Internet.  Pablo, J, and G came by, and D and Salomé.  I got in about 75 minutes of work on Kick Me.  I left around noon, then walked down to the corner and bought the tricycle at last.

I rode it around the parking lot and discovered that it’s not as easy as you’d think.  All my reflexes and instincts were wrong, formed by decades of bike riding.  When riding a bike you are always avoiding, consciously or unconsciously, loss of balance or even falling over.  On a trike there’s much less chance of falling over, but it takes a while to gain that confidence.  So, to get started you sit down and put both feet on the pedals, and start pedaling when you feel like it, and when you stop, you can keep your feet on the pedals.

The trike has only one speed, which will eventually become annoying, but for now one speed is quite enough.  After about ten minutes of practice in the parking lot, and stopping soon to raise the seat, I headed for home, a middling block away.  I soon stopped to give my legs a rest, and in all I had to stop about four times in that very short ride—my legs were that weak.  When I finally got home and got off the trike, my legs threatened to collapse, but didn’t.  I locked up the trike and came inside to rest a bit.  Eventually, I installed the two motion-detection alarms, put the two locks on, covered the whole thing with the sorta-fitted tarp thing, set the alarms, and came inside.

The only other problem is that the alarms will go off, one way or another, while I am at Dagny’s tomorrow.  What I’m going to do is turn off the alarms during daylight hours, and just use them at night or when I’m home—I don’t want them blasting for hours while I’m not around to stop them, naturally.  This is an imperfect solution to a difficult situation.

So what now?  Work, work, work, to get my legs strong.  Then maybe I can use the trike as real transportation, at least for short trips.  After that maybe I can go back to a bicycle, because it will be faster, and thus more suitable for longer trips (within Bakersfield, is all).


{3/10/19}  Weight 219.2.

As I was leaving this morning at 9:00 to go to the Hemlock Club meeting, I found a purse in the parking lot behind the dumpster.  Since it was clearly full of stuff, I took the time to drop it in my apartment, and went off to the meeting.

When I got home, I looked through the purse.  It was loaded with credit cards, Medicare ID, two driver’s licenses, many worn bits of paper, $150 in cash (a fifty and a hundred), photographs, and so on.  Two old people named Huff.  I think I’ve seen the woman on the bus.  I couldn’t find a phone number, so I tried Information for the woman on the DL.  I got an address and a number.  That number was disconnected.  So I tried again for the man’s DL, got addresses and numbers for a Junior and a Senior.  Both numbers were disconnected.  Just about out of options, I tried my landlord and his wife; the people weren’t recognized, but the landlord promised to ask around.  And that’s where it’s at.

Tomorrow I’ll try my probation officer, or maybe just go to one of the addresses.  I’m undecided—the PO would be easier (if she’ll take over)—but less interesting.  I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow.  At this point, though, it’s become a pain in the ass.

Watched large chunks of the Magnificent Seven remake with Denzel Washington.  While most of the elements were there, it just never worked for me, not even close.  It was nastier than the original, and that put me off, and it lacked any sense of humor.  I think the big flaw was the script, but it didn’t help that there were so many unfamiliar faces that I couldn’t keep them straight, and of course the music was very inferior to Bernstein’s original.  The important female character was earnest and appealing, and the scenery was greatly improved, if often a bit obvious, but these pluses weren’t enough.  It was completely unsatisfying, so I skipped about an hour in the middle and fell asleep reading Naomi Klein.

On the bus downtown I got to reading Ben Franklin’s Autobiography, in the Library of America volume that I had planned to donate.  It’s a book I’d read when I was very young, possibly as a preteen; I’d liked it, but was somewhat skeptical of some claims that he made, especially regarding his self-education.  Anyway, the little that I had time to read was very interesting and even inspiring, so I decided to keep it.  But now I’m not sure that I want to read it…

J brought in a book, At the Existentialist Café, which I thought at first was a novel.  He wants me to keep it for him, and I told him that I wanted to read it, but now I’m doubtful.  Existentialism just doesn’t hold much attraction for me, so much of it seems so obscure—all this stuff about “being.”  The one idea, that “man makes himself,” is important, crucially important, and maybe “the absurd” has something going for it, but the more I read, the less interested I am.  Since my release I reread Barrett’s Irrational Man, and I read the summaries or other bits in his Philosophy in the Twentieth Century, and I’ve read some Camus and one of Sartre’s novels [actually two], but I’m just not excited.  I want to read Rorty and Popper and other stuff, and maybe some Nietzsche again—maybe.  But existentialism?  Meh.

And of course none of this has anything to do with “climate catastrophe” and my role in preventing that…!  Which, along with writing, is what I’m supposed to be doing.

And I’ve got these two huge, recent, “important” books that I want to read that are nagging at me:  Behave, and NeuroTribes.  And of course many others recently mentioned.


{3/11/19}  Weight 220.2.

A dream involving great quantities of a dessert made with whipped cream and strawberries.  I picked mine up like “the Claw” in Toy Story 3.  A room which looked like there had been a food fight with these desserts.  Nothing else remains of this dream.


{3/12/19}  Weight 220.2.

So, yesterday, I left home at 10:30 to begin my search for the Huff family to return the purse I’d found.  I took three buses and walked a bit to get to one of the addresses I’d gotten from Information.  The neighborhood was poor, with aggressive fences and aggressive dogs.  But the address was for a vacant lot, fenced in, with a realtor’s sign in front.  I called the number on the sign and was told that the lot had been vacant for ten years and he didn’t know about the Huffs.  So I headed back toward the bus stop, walking a couple of blocks until I found a place to sit down and check my map of Bakersfield.  A second address was within walking distance, so I retraced my walk-back and came to a house.  There were five dogs in the yard, the last to appear being the largest, a German shepherd that jumped at me and almost got its fangs into my tender bicep.  The noise from the dogs brought a woman to the distant door, followed by an angry-looking old man.  I told them I was looking for Nina Huff or Ronny Huff.  He responded, “They haven’t lived here for fifteen years, brother,” in most unbrotherly tones.  I walked back to the bus stop.

The third address was in the same general area, but too far to walk.  So I took one bus, then another—the address was on Sumner Street, the same street in Kern Oldtown, I think it’s called, where I spent my first night after getting out of prison, the real skid row of Bakersfield, though I didn’t realize this from the map.  When I was about to get off the bus, I asked what street we were on, then asked how to get to Sumner Street.  It turned out that I’d gone one stop too far, and walking back was out of the question, so I waited for the return bus.  Meanwhile, I called Pablo and told him that I wasn’t able to meet him as we’d arranged.

The third address was across the street from a railroad switching yard, and very nearly underneath a big, sweeping concrete overpass, in other words, the poorest possible neighborhood.  The large, bare yard had a relatively new wooden fence completely around it, and again five dogs raised a ruckus.  A woman, about thirty, came to the gate.  When I told her that I was looking for Nina Huff and I’d found her purse, she got very excited and ran, stumbling, back to the house, shouting all the way.  Before she gets there, out comes Mrs. Huff, looking grayer and sadder than her driver’s license photo.

She comes outside the fence and takes the purse, but almost immediately says that the money is gone, and the phone.  I say, no, there’s $150 in there, but she doesn’t hear me.  She’s very happy, thanks me sincerely, hugs me, tells me that her husband is inside, he’s had three or four strokes, wears diapers, she’d gotten two thousand dollars from the bank, if she had it she’d give it (or something) to me, now she was going to have to move, something about the dogs, and so on.  In response to a question she tells me that she’d lost the purse downtown, she blamed the fabric of her coat for being slippery.

And so I came home at 2:45, very fatigued, with bittersweet feelings, wishing that I could have helped her somehow while seeing how miserable this society is for poor people.  These things never work out the way you think they will, or might, or should.

Late that evening, after I masturbated and cleaned up, I was puzzled by my remote controls, of which I have four.  I couldn’t remember what the TV control was for, and the cable box remote seemed unfamiliar.  I wanted to change the TV input from the DVD player to the cable and didn’t know how.  After a minute and pushing a couple of buttons, I got it switched over, and sort of remembered, while worrying that I’d had a mini-stroke.  I also tried but couldn’t remember the first names of the Huffs (was it Nana?  what was his name?) which seemed very strange, since they’d been on my mind all day, or really for two days, until I’d gotten home eight hours earlier.

My sleep last night was somewhat unusual.  I went to bed but didn’t read at all, which was unusual in itself, then I woke an hour later, not sure until I checked the clock whether I’d slept at all.  I got up to pee, then went back to bed and right to sleep again, waking up before 7:00.  This morning my mind seems to be normal as far as I can tell, but I don’t feel easy yet.

I didn’t ride the trike yesterday and may not today, since I have to go to the VA for lab work, and want to get on the Internet also.  This is not ideal for strengthening my legs, but, we’ll see.  Since there is nowhere I can go on the trike, it is right now just an inconvenient exercise machine.  This is a worse outcome than I had anticipated—I’d thought that I could at least ride to the golf course three blocks away, or the library about four blocks away.  Right now, neither is even close to being within reach.  I had judged based on my experience with a bicycle more than a year ago, but the trike is orders of magnitude more fatiguing to ride, as well as being much more inconvenient re storage.  This state of affairs is somewhat distressing, but there’s nothing to be done about it except to make some kind of commitment about riding it.

I think that I understand somewhat last night’s post-orgasm confusion.  My brain is not as adept as it once was in switching focus, that is, most of the time I’m all “in my head,” but while I’m masturbating my mind is all “in my body.”  This switch takes a bit of time, rather more now than when I was younger.

Reading Chomsky this morning and recognizing how little I understand of pretty much anything—the subject he is addressing where I am in the book.  I recognized yesterday that I pretend to understand that mass causes a curvature of space-time, that we call “gravity.”  But how this “curvature” is translated into the “weight” of an object in my hand, this I do not, cannot even pretend to understand.  How to fit this into “the bleak philosophy” is, at the moment, obscure.

All my understandings are in the form of how, floating on a vast, dark sea of why.  I understand and can almost recall Newton’s formula for gravitation; I know that I can look up Einstein’s revision of Newton; yet I do not understand why the mass becomes “weight” in my hand.  I have models, while recognizing the mystery.

Shit.  My battery is down to 38%, and I was going to go to Dagny’s after the VA.  Not much point in that now.  I need to go home and get the charger, or recharge the laptop, before I get on the Internet.  Or just go to Valley Plaza and Internet for a half hour or so.

I made an accidental detour to Walmart, am now at Valley Plaza.  I blame Noam Chomsky for making What Kind of Creatures Are We? too interesting.

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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