…is an ironic activity. I would have thought that people who litter are neat-freaks who can’t stand to carry trash around in their cars, but what I have observed is that litterbugs are pigs whose cars look like (what else?) a pigsty.
…I’ve fixed three flats in three weeks on three of our four bikes. A lot of flats are caused by broken bottles, and a lot of bottles are broken on purpose, some of them on bike paths. It is the kind of thing that makes me favor capital punishment. I’ve never understood why capital punishment is reserved only for big things instead of things that are senseless—like breaking bottles on bike paths. Let’s say a woman kills her husband. He beat her for years, and one day she exploded, and blew the s.o.b. away while he was taking a nap. I could understand that. I could have sympathy for that. I could cut her a break for that—just so long as she didn’t litter.
…I imagine that my feelings—or at least my emotions—run deeper than those of most people. I try to hide this, because to feel so intensely looks weak if not unstable. Maybe I am weak, and maybe I am unstable, but that’s beside the point. Besides, maybe I’m neither weak nor unstable; maybe I’m strong; but again, I’m talking about how I want to appear, although it’s hard to defend wanting to appear to be other than I am, especially considering that I usually have so little respect for those people whose respect I seek.
I’ll give an example of the kind of feeling I’m talking about. I cry when I hear Jimi Hendrix. I do this because he could make a guitar come alive like no one else, and because his life was tragic and ended when he was twenty-six. Sometimes, I even cry over a comedian if the comedian is really good. It’s not just sadness that gets me; it’s excellence. Only, as I see it, excellence is sad because its over in the flash that we call life, and because to be excellent in our society—maybe in any society—is like smelling good in a pigsty.
…A car nearly hit me today while I was on my bicycle. This happens rather often, partly because the law doesn’t require that cars maintain a minimum distance when passing. Such a bill was introduced, but the cops argued that it would be hard to enforce, and the truckers insisted that maintaining any required distance would be a hardship. Think about that. On one side of the scale was life, and on the other was convenience, and our lawmakers chose convenience.
Despite my worthlessness to legislators, I don’t think I should have to play Russian roulette every time I exercise my legal right to ride a bicycle. Furthermore, I should like it very much if the man who nearly ran me down today had to put his life in the hands of hundreds of harried, negligent, and even hostile strangers every time he runs an errand. I don’t think he would appreciate being passed that close, even if he were in his car surrounded by metal and protected by air bags and seat belts. Maybe he felt confident that he wouldn’t hit me, but no one’s skill or judgment is infallible, and it wasn’t him who would die.
…Having finished one biography of, and more than one book by, Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan series, I’ve gone on to one biography of, and more than one book by, Hunter Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Both authors were messed-up people who shot themselves in the head—Howard with a .380 when he was thirty, and Thompson with a .45 when he was sixty-seven (I was surprised to learn that even a .380 can go all the way through a man’s head, but that’s another matter). So, one wonders, why did Thompson hold out for twice as long? Well, he—by implication—attributed his survival to illegal drugs. Howard didn’t do drugs—probably no one did drugs in Cross Plains, Texas, in the ‘20s and ‘30s—although he did get a little drunk with his friends from time to time. I’m also reading a book about the Beat writers, most of whom were also crazy, and most of whom also did lots of drugs and were incredibly self-destructive even when they didn’t out-and-out kill themselves.
I wouldn’t want it to be thought that I am only interested in insane-addict-suicidal-writers, although such qualities are a recommendation. The truth is that an insane society defines as sane those who mirror its insanity. This means that a certifiably sane person is unlikely to write much if anything that is arresting or original. Of course, many of the certifiably insane might really BE insane, and therefore have only gibberish to contribute, yet the insane are what I’m left with after having defined society as insane and those who adapt to society as equally insane.
…I just came from an appointment with my shoulder orthopedist. He seemed much nicer today in little ways like shaking my hand and showing an interest in my condition, rather than not shaking my hand and sitting just inside the doorway looking bored. The reason for the change appeared to be the pretty young medical student who accompanied him. He gave me a steroid shot in my left shoulder when I last saw him, and told me to come back for one in my right if it helped. It did, and that’s why I was there, yet he declined to give me another shot for no apparent reasons than that no one told him that was why I was there, and he was running late, and he had a sweet young thing with a clipboard following him. He advised me to come back another day if I really thought I needed a shot, and I told him that I was there on this day for that very reason. Still, he demurred, and I left feeling mad at myself because I hadn’t insisted. The fact is that I need him more than he needs me, him being one of the few shoulder specialists in Eugene.
I don’t sleep well on either side or even on my stomach due to pain in my shoulders, and I don’t sleep well on my back because it too hurts by day and by night, but especially by night. I am tired of living with pain, but I don’t see an end to it. Everything I do to help myself either serves as a temporary fix or makes matters worse. My groin still hurts despite hernia surgery in early spring, and my wrist still hurts despite carpal tunnel surgery in late spring. Then there is the arthritic and chondromalacial pain in my left knee, tendon pain in both shoulders, fingers chilled by Raynaud’s; at least three sleep disorders; and, as of last winter, chronic back pain.
I imagine that I must surely be doing something wrong to cause all this pain, but I don’t know what to do differently. Some people say that I am simply getting old, but if the level of pain I am experiencing at 59 is normal and will increase, I don’t see why anyone would even want to reach seventy.
My challenge is to keep a positive outlook, because continuing as I am is unthinkable. Until my knee surgery three years ago, I was strong as a horse. Now, I feel like an old man who must be careful lest he further injure himself.