Diary, 7/8 to 7/14/19

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{7/8/19}  Weight 222.6.

About an hour’s work on Kick Me and I’m ready to cut my throat.  Reliving my worst sins is hard to take, and of course I worry that nobody will ever read it, that I’ll never finish it, etc., etc.

I haven’t finished my two hours, so I’m sorta stuck as well as feeling hungry.  I am allowed a single snack but not breakfast until my time is done.  The soft commitment is working well, though an hour a day or a little more on the rewrite is damned slow.  I guess by “working well” I mean that I’m sticking with it.  I’m at page 56 of the total of 145—it’s a short “book” and getting shorter because I am taking out the chapter breaks and titles, but I anticipate putting them back in, or not.  One alternative I’m attracted to is to leave the quotations as breaks, to announce major changes of subject.

The Hemlock Club yesterday was typically unfulfilling, though I won our Scrabble game, and I enjoyed taking Salomé for a walk through Dagny’s (we were on Skype).  She talked to Donna for a few minutes.  Donna is a regular who I had met once before.  I wouldn’t kick her out of bed…she doesn’t wear makeup, which is attractive in theory.  I should go looking for her some time.  Maybe she won’t find me totally repulsive.  She’s clearly making herself visible there, and she might be a writer.  She’s skinny, but I have the impression that she’s not a smoker.  In other words, all the externals are right.

So, why haven’t I made a move?  Because I never considered her in that light, or in any light, really.  Because I haven’t been “on the make,” I’ve been assuming that my life with women is over.  So, now she’s “fallen into my lap,” and it’s time to make my intentions known to her, like.  Subtly, I hope.  Chat her up.

She wasn’t exactly salivating over me.  But women have found me attractive, the poor, blind fools.  I am aware of how little I have to offer and of how many negatives come with the package.  And there are undoubtedly others that I’m not aware of.  How desperate can she be?  Maybe she’s been assuming that her life with men is over.

To take her to a park, I’d have to get permission.

My two hours are complete.

My printer cartridge is now rejected by my printer, saying that it’s out of toner.  One would like to know how to get around this, that is, to keep printing until the output gets faint—in other words, like printers used to work.  All of a sudden, I am a “slave” to Brother (my printer manufacturer).  I wouldn’t worry about this, but my money situation this month is in flux and uncertain, for reasons not worth going into because these problems are boring.

I’m pretty sure that I created a list of characters for The Brothers Karamazov, but I can’t find it on my computer.  Perhaps it’s available through my old web page, like so many other things are.  I thought I downloaded all that, but, in one way or another, my memory is incorrect.

 

{7/9/19}  Weight 222.2.

I dreamt that my tricycle had been stolen.  Wish fulfillment dream.

Almost two hours of work on Kick Me this morning, yay!  I’m at page 70 of 144; clearly, at this pace I’ll finish this rewrite in another month or so.  Then I can start again.

Traffic at my blog has been nonexistent lately; I guess people are on vacation and stuff.  I have 68 followers who don’t follow my work.

Listening to the Furtwängler Siegfried.  Ludwig Suthaus impresses and the hammer-on-anvil sounds great.  Really, all the singers sound good, with Frantz as Wotan being a standout.  But my judgment is purely subjective—I literally know nothing.

Reading Bertrand Russell:  The History of Western Philosophy (as bedtime reading), so I’ve also started Forrest Baird and Walter Kaufmann:  Philosophic Classics, Volume I:  Ancient Philosophy.  It would be good to keep pace, reinforcing the lessons of the Russell by reading the authors he talks about.  I’ve never paid much attention to any philosophy before Hume, reading only a little Plato and the Russell two or three times.  I suppose Pascal’s Pensées should be counted.  I ignore whatever reading I did at U. C. Irvine for the paltry philosophy classes I took.  Mostly, I’ve tried the old authors and been so put off by the archaic-obscure language (Aristotle) or otherwise bored that I never got very far in any of them.  So, I don’t really expect much progress on this unimportant gap-filling.

Given this opinion, which I stand by, I’d guess now that the project won’t last long.  Surely it makes more sense to stick with the other books I’m reading?  The Russell, at least, will be entertaining.

 

{7/10/19}  Weight 221.8.

I am “only” 72, but I feel the weight of years pressing down.  “Everybody” I knew from media when I was growing up is dead.  All the adults I knew are dead.

 

{7/11/19}  Weight 223.0 at 5:20 am.  Later, 222.0.

A “rude awakening”:  I dreamt that I was playing baseball, I was in the infield when a ball was hit somewhat towards me.  I ran toward the ball across a heavy lawn, but it had started rolling away.  I got the ball and, being close to a runner who was standing on a base, I went to him and tagged him, pointlessly.  Another play, or perhaps just some confusion with the first play, the ball, now in an odd shape, was again rolling away from me, too far for me to run to.  Meanwhile a runner, in this case a male lion, was rounding the bases.  Other players were standing around, and nobody was watching the ball.  I yelled, “Will somebody get that ball and tag that lion?”  I woke up gasping, short of breath, a very unpleasant feeling.

The odd shape of the ball was like a molded hollow plastic dish for pets, like a water dish.

An obvious symbolic interpretation:  I feel like I’m the only one “with my eye on the ball” regarding the coming doom (lion), because “everyone else” is distracted, looking elsewhere.  Like, I didn’t know this?

Got a call from Pablo last night around 7:00.  He was panicky and distraught.  He complained about what I’d said about him on my blog, something critical, apparently, and that he gets no sympathy from me and that I wasn’t helpful—though a moment later he was thanking me for my help.  I thought at first that he was talking about my responses to his two new comments on my blog, but rather it was the posts themselves (which are just diary entries).  We talked a while about his two difficult situations:  some serious infections as a result of an encounter with a cactus, and the dead dog under his house.  Both situations have been getting worse over the past week or ten days because his efforts have been ineffectual.  He seemed to want reassurance and/or praise for his efforts, but I offered neither, rather, giving him advice that he seemed to appreciate, but noncommittally.  Whether he’ll actually respond to these problems seriously, instead of emotionally, and get them solved is an open question.  If he continues dithering, both situations will resolve themselves, perhaps in catastrophic ways.

Finished a second reading of Judith Martin:  Fat Girl.  My interest in it was considerably reduced this time, unsurprisingly, but there was enough good in it to keep me reading.  I did skip a few pages when she elaborated on her relatives and a few lines when she gave lists of foods and dishes.  But I am reminded of Sue:  when she came back from a weekend trip for her Eschatology studies, she would go on and on about the food she had eaten—each meal was memorable to her.  It’s a pity I didn’t read this book early in my marriage, or even while I was seeing “Enid.”  In sum, many people treat fat people very badly, with cruelty or with pity or merely by shunning, especially fat children.

My “rude awakening” could be a warning that I have sleep apnea.  I could die that way, and then where would I be?  I am reminded of times in my youth when it seemed to me that I needed to pay attention to my breathing, because I wasn’t breathing enough.  Fortunately, this sense didn’t last, because it was pretty unpleasant.

Reading Walter Kaufmann:  From Shakespeare to Existentialism, a collection of essays on literary subjects.  He raves so about Goethe and his Faust that I took a look at his Faust translation, reading the long introduction and Goethe’s “Dedication.”  I’ve read Faust (Part I) twice and was bored both times, mostly missing the humor that K talks of.  I’m not eager to read it again—I bought this copy because it has the German text, and I’m always thinking about studying German again, while rarely doing it.  So I have about a dozen books.

1:00 pm and not a peep out of Pablo so far.  He gets up late, which is awkward for our activities together because I get up so early.  For years, when he would call it was around 10:00, but these days it’s generally around 1:00 or later, when I’m often out and about or even back home after an excursion.  Given that I ride the bus, I’m generally reluctant to go out twice in a day.  This would have been a good day to do laundry, especially since the weather is heating up.  100°+ predicted for the weekend; it’s been highs of low to mid nineties for more than a week.  Tomorrow.

Starting Furtwängler’s Götterdämmerung.  So far I am very pleased with this set.

Did good work on KM this morning, and have started a new “Preface.”

I find it interesting to note that when Pablo read a couple of my blog posts, his only point of interest was my comments about him.  The rest, apparently, might as well have been invisible.  But perhaps I am unfair:  he did say that I should keep writing down my dreams and someday I would get their meaning.  I suppose, given that he felt slighted, misunderstood, even insulted, I should treasure this crumb of wisdom all the more.

 

{7/12/19}  Weight 223.0.

A troubling dream:  I am in a large group of people, including a good friend.  About six of us have planned to do something illegal that will make us some money, but I don’t know what the crime is, so I am anxious.  Finally it is time to go, and members of the gang are slapping hands, high-fiving and so on, and I recognize that we’re about to go commit the crime.  I hesitate, but, feeling peer pressure, finally I slap the hand of the boss.  We go out a door, and I’m thinking, or perhaps asking, “What insect do we have to kill?”  I think of this (in the dream) as trying to steel myself for whatever crime I am supposed to commit.

We turn up the driveway toward the back of the house.  Then I see that the door to my garage is open and a dozen or more people, all dressed alike in yellow coats, are working on the contents of the garage.  I guess that they are taking whatever they want, under the supervision of someone whom I trust.  My friend says, “Isn’t that your garage?”  I say, “Yes.  Well, I guess he knows what he’s doing,” and I realize that there’s nothing in the garage that I care about.  And the dream ends.

After waking, I have the thought, when you’re committing a crime, the more people involved, the more likely you are to get caught, because if anyone gets caught, all will be ratted out.

I can’t interpret the first part, the troubling part, of this dream.  Only once have I ever been in a situation of planning a crime involving more than one other person, and that crime was not carried out, which was a big relief.  And I have no intention of breaking any laws, nor have I committed any crimes since my release from prison, not even minor things like petty theft or getting drunk in public.  I am restrained both internally, by my empathy and sense of ethics (being unwilling to harm others), and externally, by fear of prison.

The second part suggests a banal moral:  possessions, especially those in storage, aren’t important, so they might as well be given away.  I know this already, and practice it.  This is essentially the situation with my tricycle, which I have been actively planning to try to sell.  Also, last night I wrote a note, to be opened in the event of my death, saying that I want my possessions to go to my son.  (The “sleep apnea” incident frightened me.)  But I’m not about to get rid of a significant fraction of my books, CDs, DVDs, and so on, even though they would be an encumbrance if I ever wanted to move to a new place—something I think about once in a while but have no intention to do.  I can’t imagine what the yellow coats mean; it seemed like these people were all small and alike, like they were gnomes or dwarves, something odd.

Did some solid new writing on Kick Me, describing my marriage and fatherhood.  But my two hours are up and I’m “starving.”

Now I’m thinking that Pablo is not going to manage to get the dead dog out from under his house.  He will call me.  I will again suggest calling the SPCA, who might not even handle such things.  But I’m thinking that he has nowhere else to go for help, and while a week ago (7/2) I thought it would be easy to say no to him, now I’m no so sure.  I think now I’ll say yes, but we need to start on it early, meaning like 8:00, not 10:00.  Shabby clothes.  Take an extra Dramamine (anti-nausea).  Wet rag over face.  Light on forehead.  And see what we can see.

Did laundry this morning, now it’s 11:25.  I’m a bit overheated.

Today I read Cicero, “On Old Age,” and enjoyed it very much.  I don’t know that it changed any of my thoughts about my present condition.  Quotes (from the Harvard Classics, Vol. 9):

“Nor, in point of fact, have I ever heard of any old man forgetting where he has hidden his money.”  p. 53.

Quoting “our poet Statius”:  “He plants his trees to serve a race to come…”  p. 53.

Quoting Archytus of Tarentum:  “No more deadly curse than sensual pleasure has been inflicted on mankind by nature, to gratify which our wanton appetites are roused beyond all prudence or restraint.  It is a fruitful source of treasons, revolutions, secret communications with the enemy.  In fact, there is no crime, no evil deed, to which the appetite for sensual pleasures does not impel us.  Fornications and adulteries, and every abomination of that kind, are brought about by the enticements of pleasure and by them alone.”  p. 59.  This continues for half a page.

“…Plato, with happy inspiration, calls pleasure ‘vice’s bait,’ because of course men are caught by it as a fish by a hook…”  p. 61.

“…I once said with universal applause, that it was a wretched old age that had to defend itself by speech.”  p. 67.

 

{7/13/19}  Weight 223.2.

Just the start of a dream:  I was to interview a Pygmy woman.  I had just asked her name or the name of her people and was thinking of other questions when I woke up.

Had a visit from Pablo last night.  It was late and I was cranky.

Agents of SHIELD last night was interesting and had a lot of action, and I got to see the whole thing, but I wasn’t that excited about it.  I’ve seen about three episodes this season, of the five or six they’ve shown.

I’ve listened to almost all of Der Ring des Nibelungen, just the Immolation Scene remains (unintentional pun).  I’ve liked it a lot and I thought the main soloists very good indeed, especially the Wotan (Frantz) and Siegfried (Suthaus), though while listening I have longed for the Solti version and especially Birgit Nilsson.  Martha Mödl is at least adequate, however.  Her voice is very distinctive, though not unpleasant—she sounds a bit mumbly, like she rarely opens her mouth very far.  Then, sometimes, it sounds like she does, and it’s startlingly clear.

“The days run away like horses over the hills” (Bukowski).  I am very conscious of time, especially the slow drip-drip of days carrying me towards the end.  Some things, some problems, seemingly trivial, become annoying just because they hang around forever.  For instance:  in getting my bank account changed over to a credit union, I had a purchase from Target rejected by the bank because I neglected to recognize that the weekend might interfere.  That was on June 29th.  So I’ve been waiting for the charge to hit either account, or to hear from Target, and so far, none of the above has occurred.  It’s become my metaphoric “dead dog”—because Pablo still has his late pet under his house.  What’s awkward is that the amount is almost $84, so I need to keep more than that in both accounts, not knowing where or when it will hit, and not knowing how much they might tack on because it bounced.  So I’ve got about $125 that’s unavailable to me until this is resolved, and it’s getting near my next payday.  In other words, like it or not (not), I’m forced to save some money.

Did my work on Kick Me and didn’t hate it.  I’m at page 88 of 142, 62% done, in less than a month.

86° inside at 6:30 pm, 100° outside.

 

{7/14/19}  Weight 222.2.

Dreams:  Setting up a multi-layer database of local attractions, zoos, animals, and so on; then thinking of how Richard Nixon would be as a poker player.  Fragments only.

On Friday, the news was full of dire predictions—rain and flooding—for New Orleans.  Yesterday, for hour after hour, all they could talk about was a relatively minor power failure in New York City.  This morning, again nothing about New Orleans.  I guess I won’t worry about New Orleans.

Hemlock Club today, so I’m taking a break from KM.  Sleep last night was difficult because it was 86° inside and stayed hot.  So I was in bed until almost 7:00.

Picked up (bought) eight books from the library yesterday.  Some rather interesting odd books, most of which went right on the shelf, in other words, stuff that I might never read or make use of.  One is a haiku book focusing on the three top classic writers—but I already have a book of haiku that I liked for about two hours, then put on the shelf.  One is a very thin dictionary of Scots as used in the work of Robert Burns—I got it because it’s weird and goofy words.  One appears to be a German grammar, written in German, that focuses on new popular usage.  Now, I’m interested in German (though not studying it), but this thing is a real long shot (though fortunately also very thin).  Also got a collection of Cicero’s orations that I’m unlikely to make anything of without outside stimulus, like, a specific title is mentioned in another book and I want to see what it’s about.  The Oxford Book of Essays is thick; I read one by Gore Vidal about The Twelve Caesars, but the book isn’t likely to be around long, because thick.  The silliest of a very silly group is The New Diary, which has some interest because of Anaïs Nin’s input and one-page “Foreword.”

Last is The Left-Handed Dictionary, a very extensive collection of joke definitions that I’m actually reading.  I highlighted one:  “Cleanliness.  Almost as bad as godliness.  Samuel Butler.”  I can use that in KM.  Most of the jokes are original to this book or secondary after Variety, Cosmopolitan, and the like, and are generally lousy.  Those that aren’t original appear to be paraphrased to fit the book’s style, and sources are limited to names only—in other words, defective.  But if I get a few that I can use, that’s more than I’m likely to get from the other books I bought.  It will make good “bus reading.”

I had been reading Walter Kaufmann’s From Shakespeare to Existentialism and Nietzsche’s Human, All-Too-Human, but gotten bored with both.  I tried the Kierkegaard book on the bus but couldn’t get into it.  Read some of Neurotribes and it was good for a while.  Then I started on Kaufmann’s Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, the “Introduction,” and that was good until he got to Jaspers and went on and on about Jaspers.  So maybe I’ll skip ahead, or maybe I’ll backtrack, or maybe I’ll just spin in circles for a while.

It has occurred to me that I should not leave the thumb drive at home.  It should be wherever the laptop is not, which means mostly with me all the time.  The thinking is, in case of fire or flood, I want it safe.

 

Copyright 2019 by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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