Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 291

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

When we shot the rocket that killed Soleimani the stock market took a dive. The whisperings of war can be bad business – they bring uncertainty. This afternoon, without any more explosions, or gunshots, or any major players blowing each other up, the stocks climbed, hitting back at the record highs we’ve been seeing, as investors bought up the low-sells and stocks for defense spending and military suppliers soared. It’s a optimism, I guess, that even a bit of bloodshed can’t slow us down, that a certain level of killing is acceptable, desirable even in the ways it opens opportunity for more profit. That’s the world we live in. Optimism, like a long-lived vampire, ample blood.

Two weeks from now I’m getting my investing licenses. The Series 6, some life and insurance, just enough to dip my toes in the water, to buy and sell products based on the rates of the S&P and Dow. If it all works out, I’ll help clients take their savings and make more of it. I’ll have a hand in marriage funds and retirements, in putting some money away to pay for your first kid’s college. There’s this vision of bankers as unloving husks, the kind of people worn by their own suits, but that’s never how it’s felt to me. I sit with peoples’ stories and try to help them write the ones they want. Yes, it’s a business, but I’m in it more for the small impacts in peoples’ lives that they pay back to me by letting me in.

A few months from now, depending on where the world’s at, and how the market’s doing, I might help someone save for their retirement by earning them interest on weapon manufacturer funds. I won’t know it – I’m not daytrading, picking or choosing what companies to buy or sell from individually – but more then likely I’ll wake up to that languid smell, like winter iron, of a bit of blood on my hands.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

George Orwell, 1984

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 290

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

A couple kids around a campfire as the sun goes down, speaking Russian; the last day of a long decade.

Happy New Year’s Eve.

2020 confounds me. The strange thing about the future is that it makes you look back and so 2010 is where my head’s at tonight. I was younger, a virgin, had never tried whiskey, or smoking, my vices were less dramatic but more severe. I was an introvert. I was in college but couldn’t stomach it. Classes were fine, but the people – they all seemed to have somewhere better to be.

It was around a decade ago that things changed. They’re always changing, but 2010 was different. We started drinking up each other through the long straw internet. Smartphones. The first iphone was in 2007 but by the 10’s they’d taken off. You’ve got everything in your pocket, all your money, all your friends, too much and too little time. Life got demarcated in ways it hadn’t been, so that the big pictures were clearer than ever while the details got so subdivided into clickbait attention-takers – we all became farsighted. Even while I’m writing this, I’ve checked the time and answered two texts.

I went to Greece that summer in 2010. June, my first trip abroad, first trip alone. It was to study but I didn’t really study. We had classes but we traveled. And the country was in uproar. They were reeling from the same financial crisis that had hit America and there were riots, marches, austerity. I ate a lot of 2 Euro gyro’s on desolate pigeon’ed streetcorners and most were good but one, in Thessaloniki, came without tzatziki and was full of mustard, so that was kind of bad. Otherwise, I remember the beaches, the Aegean, and the sound of rough talking in back bars about things I couldn’t understand.

I’m in love with this year, 2019. Not for anything special about it, but because I look at who I am, at all my surroundings, and things have changed, I’m bolder colors, I’m unrecognizable from who I was before.

Again, happy New Year’s Eve.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Kindness, kindness, kindness.
I want to make a New year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.

Susan Sontag

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 289

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s; a gift from my father; he bought the beans off the internet, had read reviews about what brand’s best, settled on Don Pablo because it showed up on so many lists; and it’s good; easy; like late winter, with your socks on, by the windows, never quite needing to go out

It got up to 70 today so I cracked the window open. It was cloudy, and then it rained. I liked listening to rain (I think everybody does) so I enjoyed myself, had a couple glasses of ice water to keep cool, to keep cold like the winter, to remember what season I was in. Because it is winter despite the temperature, and just because the world’s greenhouse heat-throws is the new normal doesn’t mean you have to forget the crisp seasons of your childhood, all the things that brought us here.

I’ve been having a sick day. A couple sick days, actually. My throat’s scratchy and my nose is running, but neither so terribly as to lay me out. It’s one of those bugs that muddies up your head but doesn’t take the energy out of you. I feel like I could run a mile but forget where I was going halfway through. To deal with this, I’ve been hooked in to TV screens and book reading, things to catch my focus, keep me less in the present with all it’s fuzzy green gunk and more in that nebulous fiction of no-time, self-entertainment.

The year’s almost over. Some would say the decade, I’d say so too. Zero is such a round number it makes you want to climb inside it and push off, a raft ride, spiraling by into uncharted waters.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber, Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in,

Joy Division, Decades

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 288

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was thinking about this place along the coast in Fukuoka. A paved pier next to a shipping consortium, with tennis courts running up its middle. I don’t know if was was remembering it right. I wrote about the pier ten or twelve times trying to put together my novel and none of the attempts made it to the final cut. Even so, when you write about something often enough it gets stripped of its original colors, paint thinner-like, and you can’t tell if the things you call up are real objects or your own ghosts.

Anyway, I was thinking about this place for no reason other than that it got cloudy, and the clouds often remind me of what it feels like to travel. I saw that pier on the night of Yamakasa. It was past midnight, a few kids were still playing on the tennis courts, and people jogged, back and forth, like waves, or the boats out there past the buoys in the deeper water. You could see a long way across the water. You could spot the Fukuoka Tower and a couple islands, some lit up, some just blotches where the stars got caught. There were lots of sounds, despite it being so late at night, but they were cautious and filled with anxiety, like looking in on your older brother while he’s putting on eyeliner before a date. Thump, thwack, and long, beating waves.

I sat in the memory a long time. It wasn’t real, wasn’t not real, and I liked it, somewhere only I could go on the untidy, cast-over, too warm December day.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature.

Andre Agassi, Open

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 287

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I slept on an air mattress that was laid out on the same spot where my grandmother had died twenty years before. She’d been in this big bed hospice brought, a bunch of wires, and hospital gowns (the gowns were gowns, the sheets were gowns, a deathbed wears you, like it or not). Her bed was raised up, mine wasn’t, so really I was sleeping about twelve inches under her ghost.

That was Christmas this year.

Back to work, I met a woman who was my age but had just finished school. She’d been living in the West, out in NorCal, then Arizona, but she kept ending up in warm places during winter so she’d be surprised by the cold. She couldn’t take it anymore and moved back to Raleigh. All told, she’s missed two years’ worth of summers. She said this greedily. Her nose was red. She had sunny blond hair.

These stories fit together for me. Life changes, and sometimes it’s gone. I spend a lot of time listening to other peoples’ stories. And when I’m thinking about my own, they’re always hovering a few feet over me, less a curse, more gentle, a cobweb, but beautiful, and rainbowed, viciously drinking up the colors.

I had a plan to move to Michigan once but it wasn’t much of a plan so it didn’t happen. If I had moved, I reckon it would have been cold.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Besides, nothing mattered to her any longer. If she had anything left it was her horror of cold — and the uncle had coal through his contacts. But she found the atmosphere of Berlin hard to bear. She dreamed of escape, of going to live under some more clement sky, far, very far away from it all, closer to nature.

Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 286

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Talked to a woman recovering from a cult life. Her husband’s still in it, but she left when he beat the kids. They took her money, asked for her financials, talked to her about salvation. Before all this, she’d lived in four different states teaching in each of them, and had six years overseas growing up in a military family. A full life. Unforgettable. Now she lives on 3 acres in the country and counts the birds, the rats, the deer, the stars, the snakes.

I’m back to telling other peoples’ stories after two days away. I didn’t go anywhere, not really, not a trip, nowhere new to stick my body, but I still left, in spirit, because I didn’t have room between me and the world to talk about it, we were dancing too close. I’ve turned thirty. I had a belated second celebration. Friends came up and we got sick at a silver-walled diner. At home, I got sick on one Guinness. The next day, I was hazed over, and the sky was all sundown from the morning, and it was a kind of quiet lonely beautiful I hadn’t felt in a while.

But anyway, now I’m back.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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If you lose your ego, you lose the thread of that narrative you call your Self. Humans, however, can’t live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others.

Haruki Murakami, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and The Japanese Psyche

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 285

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It’s been a month of birthdays. I had a mine and I couple days before that E had hers. She had some family over, some friends, we sat around talking and watching and trying to accept the fact that none of use knew each other. There was just E, and it was her birthday, so we couldn’t well expect her to solve it all for us.

And for the past two days we’ve been celebrating R. He’s one week younger than me, and there are more friends around. We got dinner from the same place twice, two days in a row. In a little while we’re going to watch Star Wars. I hear them talking in the other room.

December speaks life into me, all it’s roots and narrows and beauties and complications. None of us have kicked the bucket, but the coin-flip gets us a little closer to the other side.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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

Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.

Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies