Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 221

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

There were two kids in my office who couldn’t help climbing over each other. Their dad tried to stop them but they kept going. They laughed at fart jokes and hid small plastic fishes below the desk. Every so often, one would run out the door and into the halls, blowing fog on my glass office walls, and waiting for their sibling to make faces. Dad was calm through all of it and out of his element. Brilliant laughs, private education, no consequences, I wondered who these kids will be.

It was the last day before my coworker’s retirement. She’s been working part time for 35 years. She told us not to make much of it, that she didn’t want to cry, but we couldn’t help bringing balloons and flowers and different potluck dishes. Our office manager bought an ice-cream cake. It tasted like the kind you find at every five-year-old’s birthday party, which at first seemed kind of silly for a retirement, but then seemed kind of perfect.

It’s hard to see where you’re headed. In retrospect, though, the answers approach you as obvious. They’re the nameless but familiar faces in the supermarket, a ‘Ted’ or ‘Marge’ or ‘what’s-her-name,’ coming up and tapping you on the shoulder, saying how nice it is to see you, unsettling like a flat glass of soda, knowing something more about you than you know of yourself. 35 years from now, will that brother and sister who were falling all over each other look back to my office and see the hidden fishes? And if they do, will they realize all the spots inside themselves that were born in nooks and crannies of a banker’s desk, or running wild in the halls while their half-absent father called?

Nothing wrong with hoping we’ll all make it to a happy retirement.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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He knew now that it was his own will to happiness which must make the next move. But if he was to do so, he realized that he must come to terms with time, that to have time was at once the most magnificent and the most dangerous of experiments.

Albert Camus, A Happy Death

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 205

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was in a taco shop watching the waiters with one eye and a bit of football with the other. Sun-bleached, day-dazed. I’d done my time at the office. I’d spent half an hour shopping for coconut milk and oatmeal soap. I didn’t have it in me to focus on just one thing.

A brunette said there’d been a water leak at opening. She was talking to the manager, who I’ve met before. The laughed about it, walked off, problem solved, all dry now, but the image stuck with me. I saw the shop in six inches. The tables were slopped up and the chairs were floating. Tortilla tugboats ran laps in the open waters. There were cliff jumpers diving off the salsa bar.

When the food came, I had to steady myself to keep from slipping. Sometimes, the pictures in your mind are more real than the dry ground under you.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Sometimes, from beyond the skycrapers, the cry of a tugboat finds you in your insomnia, and you remember that this desert of iron and cement is an island.

Albert Camus

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 188

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I texted a friend who was waiting at an airport. Her flight got delayed. Someone had an excited dog in the lobby. The woman next to her was flossing.

I like liminal spaces. I like the way you look when you’re wearing the clothes you woke up in. I like walking backwards because I dropped my carry-on. I like picking up People magazine because there’s no better way to kill time.

I haven’t flown in a minute. I don’t know the next time I’ll fly.

It feels like life is getting away from me. I’ll be 30 in three months. But life’s always running and we chase it. Years ago, I met an actress by the beach. She joined us at a punk rock show. Later, that actress was flying beside me on an airbus out of Detroit. She’d been living in Hawaii and was coming home. Now she runs a small production company with another filmmaker.

There’s this anecdote that goes: “Don’t count the colored linen before labor day.” Or am I mixing that up? September can take a snail’s pace. I’m not eager to lift off.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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She had put on a white linen dress and let her hair down. I told her she was beautiful and she laughed with delight.

Albert Camus, The Stranger

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 35

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I like to work out in my bedroom with the windows open. It’s a nice way to feel alive. I have a routine – nothing fancy – that works in some aerobics with strength building. All-in-all, on a good day, I spend about half an hour working out.

Today, as I started jogging in place – heart pounding, lips flapping like a disoriented duck – an eleven-year-old girl walks by the window. My room faces the walkway and has a perfect view of our front door. The girl walks right up to the door and knocks. She’s our downstairs neighbor and drops by sometimes for this or that. For a second, I’m still jogging. Then she turns, looks right at me, and waves. I wave back. After that, I close the curtains.

There’s no such thing as privacy. You could move to the mountains on a private road and never leave your home, but either the government or google would still find you. I was reading an article about a guy who tried to eliminate his identity after someone threatened his family. He set up a series of trusts and llc’s, dummy addresses, dummy cars, fake names even, and all he managed to do was wipe over one identity for another. Maybe no-one could peek in on the original him, but everyone knew the new ‘you.’ Like I said, try as you want, there’s no such thing as privacy.

But maybe there used to be.

A lot of human history is an example of cutting up the world into carefully closed boxes. Castle walls, winter clothes. We try to give things shape. We let some things in and others out. There are only certain people who should look in your bedroom closet, fewer still who get to see what’s under your blankets. If you speak a certain language or swear to a certain flag, whole swathes of a culture are off limits to you. You can change the shapes you fit in, but you never fit into them all.

The internet changed all that. Technology has a way of breaking down your door. It all came on so quick and fast that we’re still living like we’ve got these carefully concocted privacies, yet in reality we’re all exposed. Our homes, our lives, our bank accounts. I think there’s something profound and terrifying about that. Also a little exciting.

So anyway, I should have known better than to leave my window open while I worked out. I should have known someone would catch me and I’d be embarrassed. That said, I’m sure I’ll open the windows again tomorrow. Privacy’s a done deal anyway.

Novel Count: 34,368

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

Albert Camus


Coffee Log, Day 338

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; the last of the batch. Which is a good thing; I’ve been draining on these beans for too long. I’m a little mosquito that keeps nicking you at the pool. Our blood romance should have died in October.

I get paid $30 a month to not smoke cigarettes. It’s part of a wellness program at work, an insurance credit. My first year I didn’t sign up for it. The second year I did. I haven’t smoked since that night we held each other on the deck chairs in the apartment commons. I can’t think why I’d smoke again. Still, there’s this self image of myself in a plaid shirt with the buttons half done smoking out an open window. It’s the kind of sickness that gets in any self reported writer, like a rabid dog seeing everything as water.

But at least no-one’s paying me not to have a drink.

I read an article on whole grains. Typical stuff – health benefits, etc. Then I read an article linking fiber intake to longevity, and another that says gum disease may be the leading cause of alzheimer’s. Well, that’s probably true. A lot of people are getting paid to research it. But what can anyone do with that kind of information? You wake up and spit a little blood in your toothpaste – does that doom you? Probably, but it’s got to get in line behind a long list of other mundane travesties that laid claim on you first.

I remember this one morning a couple years ago where I got up and downed a shot of whiskey first thing. I was messed up, soul lost and heartbroken. I’m not an alcoholic and wouldn’t claim to be, but I’ve always known it runs in my family. So I think that morning I was trying to let something simple take me under. I was too scared to spend a long forever watching the blood come out of my gums. I wanted control. It’s what everyone wants.

Two things saved me from a second, or third, or lifetime of morning shots: the acceptance that people need me, for my tax dollars and cast vote if nothing else; and a deep, lovely cynicism – that all of us are Sisyphus, and the only way out is to accept the boulder as it crushes you, a tiny paper plane to pilot your spirit.

Novel Count: 18,933

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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One always finds one’s burden again.

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus