Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 269

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I’m in the last two weeks of my 20’s. Whether I like it or not, here 30 comes.

I measured myself in role-playing games as a kid. The kind on the PC where you click little characters around, swing their swords, give them names. Those were my summers – fantasy. I played Neverwinter Nights a dozen times.

My favorite moment was at the start. The screen’s still black and your polygonal person is rotating. You pick the face, nose, eyes, a class and stats, what weapons they’ll be good with, a general idea of who they’ll be. It was powerful; scared; visions of fifty real hours of my time tracking this miniature me. Bringing out the best in someone, getting to a fixed ending, a place you’re supposed to be.

Some games let you pick an age for your character. This was cosmetic, it didn’t change anything, but I’d still spend time thinking about the number. The oldest I would go was 18, then 21, then 26 on the high end. These seemed like places I could imagine – far-off, enticing, a little more powerful than my 13-yr-old pajama pants planted in a computer chair. It was impossible to think of anything past the mid-twenties because I had no point of reference. My parents had always been older and I had no close relatives in their 30’s. Those were dead years, somewhere you were lost or found in, but that were inaccessible until you got there.

For the past year, I’ve tried to imagine 30, but it’s no good. After all this time, the next decade is still a blank box. Some days that scares me, other days it’s exciting. The closer I get, the more exciting it becomes.

I got to the boss and beat it, this weird-dark doppleganger of my early life. I’m starting over. It’s a black screen, a rotating model, empty slots for new stats. The only thing fixed is that single cosmetic: ’30.’ Time to take the journey all over again.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

My name’s Pavel. I’m one of the new recruits. I just arrived here at the Academy this morning. You’re….

Pavel, Neverwinter Nights

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 268

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

M told me a story about a shark. Big-boned, young, named Cabot, a Great White. Cabot has a twitter feed that tracks his location. Recently, he’s been moving down south along the Carolina coast. He found the sound then got stuck in a river. He gets turned around a lot. In a few days, M will be staying in a cabin in that river just a few feet above him.

Sometimes I’m thinking about sharks. A vast life, ocean waves. What is it to be so separate from everything gong on up here? Even when you can taste the melting glaciers, there’s ten thousand pounds of water between you and anything you can do about it.

Cabot will (God hoping) have a long life. He’ll make his way out of the river and back to crisper waters. As of today, Cabot has 13.7k twitter followers. I understand, he’s quite a looker.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

Today we can see that @GWSharkCabot is making some big moves south. He’s filing down the Delmarva Peninsula in the footsteps (or tail wash??) of several other sharks who passed by here in the previous few weeks.

Nov 8th, @OCEARCH, retweeted by @GWSharkCabot

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 267

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee

Every semester in undergrad I had to write thank you letters to the donors who were paying part of my financial aid. I don’t remember their names anymore.

In 2010, which seems like a much longer time ago than nine years, I spent a summer studying in Greece. The donors paid for that too, in part, everything but the plane ticket. We traveled from Crete to the Cyclades and up the mainland, then back to Athens where we launched off on an island-hopping yacht cruise. Each night we ate fresh fish, bread, olive oil until we were full.

There was one girl who was also on aid. She had anxiety, she said, and sometimes forget to sign up for classes. One night she asked me to go out drinking, and I wasn’t drinking back then, so I stayed in the yacht as it rocked docked, playing a handheld videogame. The waves were atrocious. The sea was endless. I had anxiety.

These days, I’m making money for myself and making money for others. It’s nothing to feel bad about, but sometimes I think I feel too good about it. I wonder where that girl went, how she’s living, maybe she’s still stuck in Greece. All of us have a strained relationship with money. We suck it up like the worst kind of co-dependent lover. We make it in the shape our ourselves, a perfect picture, but one that always captures our worst side.

Some shapeless people inherited the green girth of wage-labor’s produce, and either out of charity or a tax write-off, gifted that girth to me. I’d never have seen Greece without benevolent Capitalist donors.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

Money can’t buy me happiness
But I’m happiest when I can buy what I want, anytime that I want
Get high when I want

Jelleestone, Money (Part 1)

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 266

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I got up and ground the coffee; it was heading on eight, dawn was long gone; there was a spider by the grinder, a big one; I looked her up to make sure she wasn’t poisonous and when she wasn’t I left her alone; all morning, I sat six feet away from the spider drinking my coffee, reading my book; it rained outside; I listened, she listened; it was good to be together; the coffee had a flavor like pipe smoke, and it stuck to my tongue like a phlegmy kiss

I didn’t leave the house today. It was just that sort of weather. Grey, cold, on and off rainstorm. I took the weather like a sign and kept myself in comfortable gym clothes. I had hot drinks, coffee and tea, and a beer with dinner. The apartment stayed warm.

Around noon, E started de-boning two pounds of chicken. She had a pair of scissors and blue plastic gloves. When it was finished, she threw the meat and bones into a big pot full of water and set it boiling. After a slow boil, she turned it down and left it on low. Every couple months, E makes chicken stock. When she does, the smell swallows the whole apartment. Thick, viscous, you’re walking through fog that’s two parts Kentucky fried and one part iron, that bit of dead flesh that hasn’t started rotting, a smell like nothing else. The first day’s the hardest then we get used to it. Usually, she runs the pot for half a week.

It’s late night now and the rain’s started up again. An average Saturday.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

But that cold soup stayed with me. It resonated, waking me up, making me aware of my tongue, and in some way, preparing me for future events.

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 265

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

When I came in from lunch, everyone was huddled behind the teller line staring down. I put my coat up, straightened my tie, took a sip of coffee. I walked back to the lobby and they were still there.

“What are you doing?”

“There’s a mouse in here.”

And sure enough, there was a mouse.

At first he was hiding. My coworker had named him Sebastian so we were waiting for Sebastian. My other coworker had crumbled a couple peanut-butter crackers from her lunchbox and left them out to lure him toward a paper cup. The idea was to get him by the cup then catch him, carry Sebastian outside.

I got as low as I could, my tie tangled in the carpet, my nose in old dust, money dust, trying to catch this thing’s eyes below the furniture.

A third coworker came in. She asked what we were doing then suggested getting glue traps. “No, we don’t want to kill it,” someone said, and she responded “Well...” then went about taking customers while the rest of us watched for any skitters from Sebastian.

Twenty minutes went by. I heard: “Look! By the cracker!” and there were two tiny hands taking crumbs off the edges. We were quiet, silent, breathless. Long clear whiskers, a pink nose. Then his eyes, bits of coal left over from the old days when coal made you millions. Slowly, we let him get to know us, and finally we saw Sebastian, a small gray house mouse.

He stuck to the wall at first. He looked up with those eyes and I know he saw me. He’d pick a piece of cracker, or dance here and there, but he kept a good four feet away, too far for me to catch him. Someone said “Just do it!” and another said “What are you waiting for?” but I kept waiting, watching Sebastian, keeping my hands where he could see them. I’d put a bit of peanut butter in the cup and he could see it. When he seemed ready, I nudged it forward.

You know how it ends: he comes out, I catch him, I let him go in soft green bushes, evergreens, and pine straw, and leaves of ever color, a place something small can disappear. But before all that there was a minute – can’t have been longer, maybe not even that long – where everyone was comfortable, even the mouse. He danced right up to the cup and sniffed it. He backed up a bit and stood on two legs. He pistoned one leg to scratch his floppy ear and licked his hands to better bathe his fur. Like a cat, any animal shows they’re comfortable when they clean themselves around you. It was the happiest thing, knowing I could give a bit of comfort to this mouse.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

The April sun, weak but determined, shone through a castle window and from there squeezed itself through a small hole in the wall and placed one golden finger on the little mouse.

Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 264

Hi.

Coffee: Service Lounge Drip, Johnson Hyundai; even though it was only 7am, right when the lobby opened, the coffee had gone sour, so you had to figure it had been brewing all night, or leftover from yesterday, the kind of coffee with lots of stories, that’ll find you at the local deli and tell you how the kids have been, who has a a phone full of pictures of that last trip to Oklahoma, something natural, American, free-born, but they only stopped at the malls and they stayed at a Hyatt, that kind of coffee

I was up early to take my car in for inspection. Property taxes are coming up. I took my book of Baldwin and two coats because I didn’t know how cold it would be. Last time I went for service there was snow on the ground and it kept getting in through the automatic doors.

I like the way people look in the morning. I like them before work. It’s secret time, a bonus, like finding your best friend’s porn collection and not telling them about it. There was a man in a shirt that was too big for him, even though he was pretty big himself. He had an ipad and a pair of headphones so when the floor manager came to ask how we all were doing she asked him three times, and when she walked off he looked mortified. Leave me alone in my moment, there’s not a lot of peace these days.

After servicing, and with a clean stamp on my car, I sat in the parking lot and adjusted things. The chair was too far back, the mirror wasn’t right. It was a lot of important tinkering but even so I took longer with it than I needed to. The car was still warm from when they’d revved it. The sun was coming out. I had to finish my sour coffee. I kept catching glimpses of the lobby through the automatic doors.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 263

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Before 8am, fire trucks ran the road in front of our apartments. I stood in the kitchen and listened, trying to count, but I couldn’t get a number. More than one, less than five. The sirens brushed together, like second cousins at a funeral.

It was a long day. Tomorrow’s an early morning. I haven’t felt inspired. Or, I’ve felt inspired, but my inspiration keeps dribbling into other things, life, hobbies, work. I’ll have more for you tomorrow. But it was an empty day, anyway. Except for those sirens. Those stuck with me. I still hear them.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

My brow still burns from the kiss of the queen; I have dreamed in the grotto where the siren swims . .

Gerard de Nerval, Selected Writings