Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 230

Hi.

Coffee: Lady Grey Tea

I like people more when I see them smoking. Going back home from groceries, I saw a van, a ‘former State Senator’ bumper sticker, and a lady’s arm hanging out the window burning a white cigarette. I like the vice in it, the desperation. Turn lungs to tar, and for what? It makes you seem a little more human.

I’ve had a lazy 3-day weekend. Monday’s off for Columbus Day, so I went to the Nasher to see an exhibit on indigenous American art. Something that stuck with me was the way so many of the pieces seemed to be in communication with the history you hear about, a long-standing culture, colonial oppression. I came away wondering if that’s just what the artists show to a paying white audience and, if so, what is it that they show to each other when the lights go down and the only sound to hear is a sister’s breath?

I bought two pillows off Amazon then I thought about wage labor. Amazon’s not the worst offender but it’s got it’s hands in everyone else’s pies. I spent awhile looking for these pillows from different vendors but the only options were Wal-Mart or faceless eBay vendors. And I tried to find information on who made them, the parts and labor, what foreign factories they were abusing, but I couldn’t dig it up. There’s a lack of transparency that gets in the way of ethical action, and there’s a lack of options also. But in the end I was the one who funneled money to a mega-corporation responsible for devouring the American economy, for widespread store closure, for pushing radical, robotic efficiency on people trying to make a buck to survive. It was my dollars that bought the pillows, just like it’s my head that’ll sleep comfortable at night.

Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and landed on land where other people were living, and did his best to consume them in his colonial machine. He wasn’t the only evil white man crossing an ocean, but he’s one we still celebrate. And he’s somebody’s ancestor, maybe yours or mine. We’ve come a long way, but we still put people in chains, only they bite around your spirit rather than your skin.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

It’s like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people’s shit?

Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 229

Hi.

Coffee:  Americano, Caribou Coffee

I’m lying on the floor. I’ve been sitting or standing all day. It’s my bedroom, so it’s carpet. I wouldn’t call it shag, but it’s not fine either. It’s plastic, brown, and this is the first time I’m thinking so hard about it, but how did it all get here? How is there so much of this stuff in the world? Count the number of apartments you pass each week on your fingers; divide that number in half so we’re being generous (some places prefer tile floors), and I bet you’ll fun out of fingers. At least if you live in a city. At least if you’re keyed in to our bright and golden future.

I watched a couple movies. Got half an hour into The Quiet Place, it was too quiet. Finished Sorry to Bother You, it was strange. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a movie. A friend kept me company over the phone. But what else are you supposed to do when it’s raining but watch movies? Oh, did I mention it was raining all day? We needed it. The creek’s been barren for a month now.

I heard church bells driving with the windows down at eight am. Bled from the steeple, windchimes. A congregation praying for shag carpets. A luxurious life. Bu I don’t want to think about that anymore, so a few more movies then bedtime for me.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another.

Vladimir Nabokov

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 228

Hi.

Coffee:  Americano, Triangle Coffee Roasters

I was hungry at eight pm. I hadn’t had dinner, a light lunch, small breakfast. I got the keys for the car and walked out. It was dark out. It was warm, and the neighbors were all around the fire pit. Too nice, I didn’t want to take the car.

I’ve gone on lots of walks around my neighborhood but not often at night. I left the complex and walked along the road. There weren’t enough streetlights to see where my feet were going. A breeze, fast traffic, dead leaves. I walked three familiar blocks but they weren’t familiar anymore.

Night takes away your day to day securities. You can’t stand on the foundations you’ve built up. But you get back something better, its rough, it’s filling, it’s uncomfortably you.

I ended up buying takeout at the Mediterranean. The pita stayed hot the whole way home.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Rihaku: The night is short, walk on girl!

From the film ‘The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl,’ Directed by Masaaki Yuasa

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 227

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

After getting home from a long workday, and doing some simple workouts, and sitting in my desk-chair for forty minutes as the sun crept down, I left the house to pick up Taco Bell. Here’s my order: spicy potato taco, spicy tostada, and bean burrito. Mm.

Anyway, that got me thinking: Taco Bell is the best representation of America. Cheap, easy, no pretensions. Pumping out junk food by the liter, a web of corporate partnerships, but it still manages to surprise you – vegan options, culinary creativity, a thousand different ways to serve a tortilla. NASA’s best scientists couldn’t beat the chemical tweakers tinkering taste on the crunchwrap supreme.

Some of you might stop me here to talk about cultural appropriation. How there’s a cheapened sort of Tex-Mex over everything, how the commercials used to lean into latinx stereotypes. You wouldn’t be wrong, and I think there’s something hopelessly American in this too. We see things in the boldest colors, no room for nuance, no time to sit down and think. The big beast of a country eats up all the cultures that come to it and spits out something a little simpler. And I’m conflicted because there’s so many problems, such a long history of trauma in ignoring the value of identities outside the mainstream, but at the same time, there’s breezy kind of beauty in stuffing beans and cheese and lettuce in a hard shell and calling it a taco. As much as America is a constant tearing down of the marginalized and different, it’s also a mess of cultures coming together to create something new.

I finished eating around 7. The food sat with me awhile.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Wait… we’re at the Pizza Hut (What?)
We’re at the Taco Bell (What?)
We’re at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

Das Racist, Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 226

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I had a bit of good whiskey. I was buying a bottle for a co-worker who’s getting promoted to a different branch, but when I picked up the first bottle it seemed unconscionable to leave it lonely so I bought another for myself. Knob Creek Bourbon, not the best I’ve had, but easily some of the better. It paired just perfect with my homemade thrown-together sandwich and cheap tortilla chips.

There was a long time of my life where drinking scared me. Maybe it still does, and I’m just more attracted to being scared. Up until 21 I hadn’t had a drop of liquor. You could say I was a stick in the mud. Really, I was trying to be perfect. I figured life was less about being free and happy than about a kind of measured asceticism. I guided my ideas on the hard hand of law.

I take my bourbon over ice. I like the way it changes as the melt goes down. The first sips are pungent, going to your head like a steam-cleaner. In the middle it starts to mellow. And in the end you’re drinking easy, palm trees, or Savannah moss. It’s a depressive experience, bringing you down, down, until your fingers and toes touch, until you see the soil under you, and know who’s dead and buried, which bones are family, and which bones your family put there. Melancholy like home movies. Antiquated, a VHS.

I saw someone break down today. I don’t know what caused it, I didn’t ask. ‘What’s wrong’ is a question for later. Instead, when we met eyes, while she was half-crying and hurrying to get her things together, rushing away from something intangible, I did my best to smile at her. Hell if I know if she noticed, or if she appreciated it. But it was the best thing I could think to do at the time.

There’s only air the glass now. I’ve gone and done it, drunk the whole shot.

Here’s what I’d say to my younger self: sometimes people cry and you’ll have no clue what they’re crying about. Other times, you’ll see the circuitry pumping out societal problems at an alarming pace. I wish life had a beautiful order, but it doesn’t. The beauty hides in the creases.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Frank Herbert, Dune

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 225

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I got a spam comment on a Coffee Log from a couple days ago inviting me to click a link for an online gambling site. The fact that this algorithm caught me from the sea of thousands upon thousands of wordpress blogs is a little flattering. I’ve got the eyes of internet scammers. I’m worth being fished.

Does this mean I’ve made it?

In all seriousness, though, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to define my own success. When I was a kid, I used to say I’d only be satisfied if I won a Nobel Prize. Okay, let’s be honest, I was saying that as late as a few years ago. But things have changed. I had a lot of setbacks on the path I’d set for myself as a writer. And, even more damning, I’ve had a lot of successes in things that have nothing to do with writing.

No-one really knows what they’re looking for. The prize lacks luster when you find it. And one trip’s end just begins another. Etc, etc. I’m on the brink of 30. That’s not old in the whole of human population, but it looks like a milestone to me. One clear feeling has crept out of the space between the big ‘3’ and ‘0’, and that’s a sense of dis-belonging – or, to put it another way, that life isn’t so much about being recognized as about recognizing yourself. With or without a Nobel, 99% of your time is spent with yourself.

So I’m trying to write for me. Turns out, that’s more challenging than imagining my best-selling audience right around the corner. Sitting down to type something is no different than being alone, and being alone can be both brutally honest and miserly un-forthcoming. You’re not a question. There’s no answer to yourself. You’ll get up tomorrow and things will change or they won’t. Maybe you’ll be the one to change them. But none of that comes home with you. You only go to sleep with dreams of wildflowers, mixed magic, spidersilk.

Frankly, I’m exhausted. I hardly ever do anything, but I spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how to do it. If I hadn’t given my word to a faceless health insurer to lay off smoking for $30 a month, I’d light something right now. But your word’s important, and you’ve got to stick to it, even when you’d rather be burning up.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Yes, I know what you mean about writing and writers. We seem to have lost the target. Writers seem to write to be known as writers. They don’t write because something is driving them toward the edge.

Charles Bukowski, On Writing

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 224

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It was the Old Chem building that had the best windows. The classrooms looked right at the quad. Duke University. You could see the library and all the people walking in and out of it.

When I think about Autumn, sometimes I’m in the Old Chem building. I had a couple classes there. The one I remember the most was Philosophy 102. The professor was young, he had strange shoulders – they were like bird wings, but half formed, so his shirts hung on for fear of flying off. And we learned some interesting things, I guess, but mostly I was watching the bird shoulders, and the quad, the changing leaves, I liked it when it rained. I have a thing for umbrellas. I like how people under them are always walking fast.

It rained today, we needed it. The Triangle’s been in a drought. Our apartment creek is barren. The trees had gone brown, but not in an attractive way. Dead rust, parched throat, but all that’s better because it rained. A drizzle. The clouds came over like a circus. I watched them – 30mph, balloon animals. Puddles formed in backed-up gutters. A couple kids got mud on their shoes.

October – this is how you’re supposed to be; quiet, dreary, watched through a window.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables