Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 79

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; that early morning smell – woodchips going down a blender; guinea pig bedding; cheap office coffee brewing in the back; I blew on the cup to cool it down, but wish I hadn’t; when the coffee got cool enough to drink, it was also cool enough to taste.

A writer was taking the DC metro when she saw one of the workers eating in the corner of the train. So she tweets: “When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train. I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds.” And she takes a photo of the woman to tag with it. That tweet gets scene by a bunch of people, including Jezebel, who wrote the article I read about this in. The author’s name is Natasha Tynes. Her publisher is considering pulling her book deal.

Good riddance.

Like all stories, there’s always a few sides, and to give Natasha the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was having a bad day when she publicly shamed this metro worker for her basic bodily functions. If I’m being less generous, though, the story didn’t surprise me from the moment I read that Natasha is a writer. There’s a slippery undercurrent to writing books. A two-headed thing, a salamander, something old, that idolizes the times when ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ were divine acts given only to the most noble or holy castes of society. It peeks beneath casual comments about grammar or over the thick-rimmed glasses of your freshman writing prof when he says ‘we only study literary fiction here.’ Writing has a rich history of being exclusionary. And writers have a way of eating that exclusivity up.

Which is particularly ridiculous given what the value of writing fiction is: a sieve. Good books drop the world in one end and pass it back out the other, only the pieces are rearranged to something more sensible than the onslaught of daily chaos we all experience in our lives. It picks out the faults, the fears, the idiosyncrasies of being human. Those chipped edges are the bread and butter of good writing. How much passion or woe must have been in every bite the metro worker took of her sandwich, and instead of words to work this image big, bold and beautiful as it deserves to be, Natasha cuts her down. Self-defeating elitism. The snake nips its tail.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

Tynes says she confronted the employee, who told her to “worry about yourself.”

Emily Alford, writing for Jezebel; A Writer Who Shamed a D.C. Metro Worker for Eating on a Train Could Lose Publishing Deal

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 78

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand

All day, the house has smelled like chicken. There’s a pot of skin and bones bubbling on the stove. My roommate put it on late last night and has been tending it since then. The water’s yellow. The bones have gone from gray to deep brown. Heat sucked out the marrow. At 2pm, I poured a glass of fizzy water and even that tasted like chicken. Potent, ‘fowl’ stuff.

I was re-reading a Murakami novel – ‘After Dark.’ It takes place between midnight and 6am in Tokyo. I took the book to the porch where the sky had gone gray but couldn’t find it’s tear ducts to rain. I sipped my chicken-flavored seltzer and read for three hours. The wind came and went. Some birds made a nest above me, in that spot where the third floor lips over ours. Kids were running around but I didn’t look for them. Four white guys played basketball across the creek and had a portable speaker blasting Drake.

Now it’s dinnertime and I’m finding it hard to have an appetite. It feels like I’ve been licking chicken skin since morning. I remember what it was like to eat meat. Bone-in, such a puzzle: you study a dead animal’s geography, engineer it to simpler shapes with your fingers and teeth. Just bones, you toss them, or at least I would, but sometimes we’re not satisfied. Sometimes you have to squeeze the bird of it’s blood and juices, milk it like a California almond, and drink that too. Is that better? Less wasteful? Absolutely. Snip the chicken like a magazine clipping, removing it completely from the green earth.

At 7pm, it still hasn’t rained. No use waiting, so I guess I’ll get on with my day.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens.


Isaac Bashevis Singer

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 77

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand; today was the first time in two weeks that I ground my own coffee for the morning; I put four scoops in the grinder and sat in my desk chair turning the handle; the beans went ‘swoosh!’ like they always do; beach sand; things taste better when you put a little work in them; the coffee was like old daydreams, the kind you can still get lost in from time to time.

Today I got caught in traffic coming and going from Burlington. I was driving down for mother’s day. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that puts chicken broth in their rice and lard in their beans. Hard times for a vegetarian, but it was nice seeing my parents nonetheless.

Back to the traffic jams – today was rainy. Fits and starts of the stuff, never a full-on storm. I guess that’s why there were so many accidents. People weren’t prepared for the wet flashes. There was no telling what would happen next.

On the way down, I spend half and hour at a full stop listening to old mixtapes. Coming back, I called a friend. Both ways, the wet grey day brought bright colors out of the parked cars. The rear-lights were bulging zits over the back bumpers. The paint could be anything from candy to a pocket full of change.

One thing I like about driving is how it forces you to slow down. You’re at the mercy of something outside of yourself – the traffic won’t move no matter how much you yell at it. Most days, I’m wrestling with the things I can control. It’s nice taking a break sometimes.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

Frank O’Hara

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 76

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

We went to see a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s one of those theaters that serves food with the movie and has a full bar. It was in an out of the way strip mall in Raleigh. They had big bay doors in front that were open like a welcome summer. It reminded me of some time when people used to go to movies, when getting out of the house was an event, and when the act of being out somewhere was a part of the joy, not just the transmission of light and sound coming out of the screen.

So much of life is your environment. You pick people and activities to fill your daily spaces but it’s the spaces themselves you’re most intimate with. Tomorrow you might lose your job. Wednesday that woman you were dating will move away. All the things you involve yourself with change by the months or hours, but that same bleak road that snakes out of your subdivision hasn’t changed.

I spent fifteen dollars on a drink. It was bourbon and sours, it was okay. From the glass rim, I watched waiters taking orders before the movie’s start and people scuttling to get to their seats. I saw the plush red backs of well-worn chairs, popcorn stomped into the carpet, and plastic lights on the walls that had ambitions to be chandeliers. This was a space where events took place, not just the day to day. Reverent like Christian Sunday; eager like couch conversations at a crowded party.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.

Alfred Hitchcock

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 75

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Every couple months I get these flashbacks to when I used to listen to rock. I’m a piss-poor college student living like he’s independently wealthy. I’m on a side-street somewhere looking for a record store. I’m throwing out band names at a party like they’re over-priced candy. I’m angry, sober, antisocial, a worried virgin. All the while bleeding from my ears to cranked up overdrive.

Simple things in life.

It’s easiest to yell and scream about the big things you have no control over. Capitalism, consumerism, hedonism, etc. Meanwhile, your voice goes so hoarse you don’t say much about the changes you could actually make. You walk past the homeless man without looking at him. No matter if you’ve got money to give, you don’t even shake his hand or ask his name. And don’t get me started about all the personal prejudices you’ve wrapped into hard-lined rock-and-roll attitudes. Most people who think they’re punk just can’t cope with their other labels.

I took another walk today. I’ve been walking around every day this week. Never far, just the neighborhood. Today, the clouds had covered half the sky but left the other half blank, a blue and white split like Santorini houses. There were people in the pool and geese leading babies. At one point, I stepped off the sidewalk to make room for a woman and her dog. The dog came over and sniffed me. She told me “That’s Atticus.” I told her “He’s a sweetheart.” The black lab licked me two times then they walked away. It was a harmless interaction, the kind you can’t have walking around with headphones on.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

Smart but too lazy
To ever pick one thing
Now I’m staring at a dead end

Hard Girls, Running

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 74

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

This week has felt weightless. On Sunday, I opened a door inside myself. I don’t know what the key was – writer’s block, two back-to-back showers, a little liquor. When the door opened, air came out. Thick, heavy air that had been building up in me for a long time. It rolled across the floor like spilled oil. It flooded my home, my shoes, my bedroom. Since then I’ve been standing on the film, two inches up, weightless.

R and I walked to where the food trucks were supposed to be but the trucks weren’t there. Dejected, we drove to Chipotle. The restaurant was empty when we walked in but it was still noisy. The line leader was yelling at two new associates. He kept calling them kids. One looked scared and embarrassed. The other looked smug.

Just before dinner, I sat outside for half an hour tossing words at my laptop. Only a couple stuck, but that didn’t bother me so much today. I had one of those big plush chairs that’s treated to survive the rain. Beside me, around the fire pit, a man and woman were watching their kid swing on the swingset while talking plans for the future. She kept saying “If you say so,” he kept saying “This is what you need to do.” On the other side of me, two kids were playing sevens. For those that don’t know (and I didn’t know until tonight), sevens involves slapping patterns on a table together. It was loud and distracting, frustratingly lovely.

Walking around tonight, I noticed a dead flower on the sidewalk. A week ago I’d taken a picture of the flower and posted it on here. Back then it was vibrant, now not so much. My instinct was to find that kind of sad, but then I looked closer and there were so many more details to the dead flower: pulled-out fibers, sour yellows, a lively brown slime. Ugly on the surface but beautiful in function: a tiny generator of new life. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere but I’m too tired to find it. I’ll leave that up to you.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

I might pull up late to class, but I always show up

Sylvan LaCue, 5:55

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 73

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

The pool’s open. I walked by as a tiny ten year old did a cannonball on the deep end. Her mother didn’t look too pleased.

It was an average day. So average I don’t remember most of it. It doesn’t help that I spent the morning with a headache and the afternoon solving mundane problems at work. The power went out. Just a blip, but it was long enough to make the server crash, which then crashed some of our computers, which then led to me being on hold for half an hour with tech support. Like I said – mundane problems.

But you need days like this sometimes. All the bright moments won’t stand out on a vivid background. There’s a reason most walls are painted cream and most furniture is some shade of brown.

Outside, a dog barked at me. It looked happy. It was playing fetch with it’s owner, running over and over, bringing back the stick. Average, but in a good way.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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

There is an hour of the afternoon when the plain is on the verge of saying something. It never says, or perhaps it says it infinitely, or perhaps we do not understand it, or we understand it and it is untranslatable as music.

Jorge Luis Borges