Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 31

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

There was a thunderstorm today. While it was on, I opened the windows and read a book. Isn’t that exactly what you’re supposed to do in such a situation?

I’m working my way through ‘The Sense of an Ending.’ I like it better than I had to begin with but still find it overly wrought and pretentious. Maybe it’s supposed to be. That said, being true to yourself doesn’t fix everything.

Anyway, the narrator is constantly caught up in philosophies. He and his friends pick apart life for the logical core – a tootsie pop, but with no humor. And less owls.

That all got me thinking about different intelligences. For the bulk of my life, I considered myself rational. Hell, I got a degree in Philosophy, for God’s(s) sake. To a younger me, it seemed being rational – and rationally intelligent – was key to living a good life. More than that, it was the only key. You were either someone who thought critically or you were making deep mistakes about yourself. What I was missing – and what all of western patriarchy so carefully misses – is that reason is only one small way to understand the world.

I remember having this conversation with an ex about feminism. She said one of the ways women are discounted is by being labeled emotional. Well, I knew that much, and I was on board. But she went on to say that there are these broader ways of looking at a situation – through emotional, psychological, social, etc lenses – that get completely ignored by the competitive mainstream. And by ignoring them, you exclude people who may not have been given the keys to the Castle on the Hill, but who have very real, valid, meaningful experience to bring to the table.

Anyway, the Narrator of “The Sense of an Ending” goes on and on about this girl who broke his heart. And he’s constantly trying to pick apart his memories of her to figure out who she really was and why she did some things she did. But what I think he’s missing – and maybe so is Barnes – is that a lot of action, by both men and women, is not taken like a fruit from some tree of logically consistent causality, but from any other sort of vibrant garden, whose bushes grow great branches without every caring about a things like reason or intelligibility.

Novel Count: 34,291

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 30

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; my roommate E made us both coffee this morning. It was a nice thing to wake up to. Even though she used the same beans, it tasted better. I asked what she’d done differently and listened to her describe her process and it sounded suspiciously like mine. She’d poured a few scoops in the grinder, ground them, brewed them with five cups in my small pot. Identical methods. So the only answer is that it was the unexpected that gave the coffee it’s flavor this morning – the gift of not knowing what you’re going to wake up to and being surprised when it turns out to be ready coffee.

I missed writing a Coffee Log yesterday. I wish I could say there was some great reason for it – sudden adventure, unexpected events – but in all honesty I spent the day the way you would any lazy Saturday: reading, writing, messing around until sundown. It’s not that I was overly depressed. It’s not that I was completely slothful (I wrote a good bit on my book). I just simply forgot to write the blog. Now it’s like that day never happened.

Maybe that was necessary.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. This is not the first time you’ve heard me say that, and all told I live an easy life, but I’ve got a lot of things cooking in my personal fire – both at work and in my literary aspirations – that have been chowing down on my time. I’m like a wick burning a 1000 year oil, fire still going strong, only the wick itself has gotten caked and crusty in thick soot. I needed a reset, now I’ve got it. Surprisingly, I felt refreshed when I realized this morning that I’d forgotten yesterday’s log.

But here I am again. Semi-renewed and re-committed. It’s been a beautiful Sunday with a crisp breeze and the anticipation of Spring. Tomorrow morning I’ll get up feeling positive also, though maybe a little less so, and then I’ll keep repeating that pattern until someday – maybe a year from now – I’ll screw up and miss a post again. But that’s life, isn’t it? You chug along until you lose the tracks. And magically, like little faerie lights, it’s when you’re most lost that you happen to find them again.

Novel Count: 32,750

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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It is strange how new and unexpected conditions bring out unguessed ability to meet them.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 29

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I’m sneaking in this coffee log right at the tail end of the day. It’s 11:20pm. It’s a blue-purple kind of dark. That tells you it’s Spring, because only Spring has nights like this.

I spent most of my day working. I spent the rest resting. I didn’t go out for dinner, I didn’t much leave my room once I got home. That’s how I wanted it – what a week… Because of that, though, I don’t have much to say tonight.

Here’s a poem:

It’s like a pearl necklace
And you wear it
Only in your hair instead of around your neck
And nothing had to die to give it to you
Well, maybe some old, rotting dinosaurs
And maybe the planet, if you look hard enough
Rough cracked road asphalt
Looks a lot darker
More appealing
When you’re wearing that pearl necklace
Of streetlights.

Novel Count: 31,808

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Marco Polo had seen the inhabitants of Zipangu place rose-colored pearls in the mouths of the dead. A sea-monster had been enamoured of the pearl that the diver brought to King Perozes, and had slain the thief, and mourned for seven moons over its loss.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 28

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; we got a new coffeemaker at the office. It’s a big red 12-cup Mr. Coffee. It brews 3x as fast as our old machine and the cups come out without the skunk of brewing pots for years with minimal cleaning. It’s got less character, more quality. I like it well enough. My favorite part is it’s got a function to brew ‘stronger’. It puts the same amount of water in the cup, so I can only assume it’s upping the pressure to get more out of the grounds. The cheap Maxwell stuff tastes a bit better this way. However, my colleagues have had the jitters.

A long, productive day. So long and so productive I don’t have much energy to talk about it. Instead, I’ll talk about English classes:

I read an article about how small colleges are cutting their English Major. There’s competing thoughts on this: some people moan, others cheer. Regardless, the courses are getting cut primarily due to lack of enrollment. The students themselves don’t want to bother with Brit Lit. And who can blame them? In an economy where it costs you more than a mortgage to get a degree – and where there’s no guarantee of a good job just for having one anymore – who but the inherited wealthy can afford to spend four years studying something with no economic value?

Thankfully, you don’t need an English Major to appreciate good English.

Here’s a secret – people read more now than at any other point in human history. By many magnitudes, even. Where once reading and writing were prized skills of an upper class concerned only with the luxuries of power, now everyone can read, more or less, and not thanks to school (which doesn’t teach you anything, take it from a former teacher) but to the preponderance of lives lived predominantly through social media. We read each other’s identities on the daily. We consume news, art and entertainment in 250 word bites.

Some might scream: where’s the grammar? where’s the spelling? Woe to the death of cursive! But whether they realize it or not, all those things – the normalized trappings of the English language – belong in a museum. A deeply complicated, darkly revealing museum about human oppression. Why do black Americans have a different dialect than the mainstream? Because their white oppressors wouldn’t let them read or speak ‘proper.’ And so on and so on, ad infnitem.

So what I’m saying is: there may still be some value in an English Major, but if there is one, it’s primarily as a historical study of insidious oppression.

God bless twitter. I ❤ u all

Novel Count: 31,808

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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After three years of English at Cambridge, being force-fed literary theory, I was almost convinced that literature was all coded messages about Marxism and the death of the self. I crawled out of the post-structuralist desert thirsty for heroines I could cry and laugh with. I was jaded. I craved trash.

Samantha Ellis, How to Be a Heroine


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 27

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

For two minutes in the cutting 7pm cold, I saw a long-haired white and black cat. It was sitting on some stones.

I had dinner at a Thai restaurant. Spicy curry. It was full of carrots and snap peas. Who puts carrots and snap peas in their curry?

This afternoon, I looked at the dishwasher and saw it was full. I considered making it empty. I’ve got dishes to put in. In the end, I didn’t do anything other than look at it.

My brain isn’t screwed in right. I’ve been working, writing. I’ve been successful. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve gotten drinks with coworkers. I’ve walked in the rain and watched black crows take cover. I’ve done the things I love. I’m not at all happy. It’s a weird feeling. Admitting it feels weirder. But I think it’s important to be honest about uncomfortable things, otherwise no-one else will feel comfortable being honest about uncomfortable things.

You could call it depression.

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

On a bare branch a crow is perched – autumn evening

Basho


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 26

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I heard a woman talking on the NC State University radio about wanting to go vegan and straight edge because choosing to reject what the world tells you to put into your body is the purest form of rebellion. I see her point. However, something about that notion – the rejection of the world – makes me sad. It means the world is worth rejecting.

I watched the Google press conference on their new games streaming service, Stadia. They talked about architecture and data centers and how you’ll eliminate the need for any kind of hardware requirements on the user. Music’s streaming, movies are streaming, why not games? It sounds like a democracy, like it’s giving everyone the opportunity to do something only a very few could do before. But the hands holding that democracy are the most bloated, ubiquitous tech and data giant in the world.

Ever been to Rome? Did you see the colloseum? How about any other handful of ancient monuments? Well, most of those were built by Emperors. In the ancient world, a surefire way to hold your power as a tyrant was to build lavish public works. Everyone’s happy and equal. Unless you disagreed with your lord, then you lose your head. But I can’t stress enough that it was the TYRANTS – not the Roman Republic or Athenian Democracy – that placed protections on the livelihood of the lowest common denominator.

That’s the rub, eh? We all want to have our cakes and eat ’em. Forks at the ready. We want to be free to rule ourselves, but when we vote together, it’s so easy for the majority to manipulate things into existence like ‘segregation’ or ‘apartheid.’ We want the security from injustice, but when we place our hopes in the righteous fist of absolute power, it’s so easy for that fist to crush the people at the margins who just won’t play ball.

What’s right? What’s wrong? It’s not so simple.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a vegan. Long gone are my high school days of being straight-edge. And I’ll probably buy into Stadia if it’s a cheap, easy solution. At the same time, I know I’ve got a golden lap, a wine-drunk fountain, the fortune of American dollars and white skin. I can participate in the oligarchy or autocracy in equal easy measure. For me – and people like me – there’s never been a difficult choice. That’s the real injustice.

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.

Plato, The Republic


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 25

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

All of a sudden, I started calling this thing a ‘memoir’ instead of a ‘blog.’ Honestly, it’s probably both. I guess I felt like getting it dressed up. It’s the Coffee Log’s first prom. It’s pinned and tuxed. It’s wearing one of those white flowers people pin to themselves. It splurged and got a real one, a real dead flower. Boy, what an event!

But anyway, I wrote a memoir once. It was under great duress, let me tell you. Freshman year writing class, we had assignments to write a little bit of everything. And when it was time for the memoir, the only think I could think of was ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ I don’t much like ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ I tried reading it once on recommendation. It read like the kind of coworker who’s always trying to talk to you about her kid’s soccer games.

The memoir I ended up writing was a bit about cooking for Thanksgiving. I was seeing this girl at the time and we’d made green bean casserole for her family. It was a total mess. I described it like that. When I first wrote the memoir, it was supposed to be funny. Charming. I was giddy. In puppy-love. Well, after Thanksgiving, that girl up and vanished from my life – no word, no letters, stopped returning my calls. Needless to say, my mood had changed. I re-wrote the memoir halfway between ‘The Stranger’ and ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ But I kept the comedy. Can’t amount to much of anything if you can’t laugh at yourself.

Looking back, I think that green bean casserole was the start of everything: years and years of writing, a few publications, this endless damn blog. (oops, I meant memoir). Life’s a strange dish. Messy. To be honest, I’ve always hated green beans.

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

I think I deserve something beautiful.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love