Coffee Log, Day 172

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; it’s become a tradition to buy Caribou when I run out of beans at home. There’s not much to it – five minutes in the drive-through – but I’ve done it a half-dozen times, guess it’s stuck. The Caribou is two blocks farther than I usually drive. There’s no easy way into the parking lot. I figure it’s a bum gig because I haven’t had the same barista twice. Today, it was a lean guy. Last time, it was a lean girl. Every barista I’ve known has ambitious eyes. Sometimes I miss making coffee for customers.

This time last year, I’d just come to Cary and settled into a job I don’t have anymore. I worked a bookstore, a head cashier, internally prestigious position but I got embarrassed giving myself away with that description. I’m glad I lost that job.

Now I’m a banker. A teller, really, though the title’s dressed up, one of those dogs you see in sweaters. America likes money, so I feel less shame saying I’m a banker than a bookseller, but retail’s retail, and my white collars still come no-suit-required.

Sometimes, if I wake up cocky, I’ll introduce myself as a ‘writer,’ pointing to my few publications and this blog as proof. Then there’s always the questions: “What books you got out?” “What genre do you write?” I’ve got answers, but like lice in your daughter’s kindergarten bowl-cut, the questions keep coming. Friendship and love are well-meant interrogations; justify yourself.

But I’ve got it good. I’ve got a job that sounds mostly respectable, a passion that (though far-fetched) is somewhat relatable; I’m no fast-food chef going home to gorgeous cases of pinned insects, hotel cleaners finding time for life in the margins. No wonder Caribou keeps rotating baristas – bad hours, bad pay, social scorn.

My coffee was good. Simple, but good. The lean guy said ‘bye’ brightly and got ready for the next customer. I want to live in such a way that no-one feels the need to justify themselves to me. To keep breathing – whatever letters are beside your name – is beautiful, full stop.

Well, except for the CEO’s. I wouldn’t mind making millionaires prove they’ve earned the puppet strings.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together.” – Ernest Hemingway

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Coffee Log, Day 159

Hi.

Coffee: Americano from Caribou Coffee; it was lukewarm but the summer day made up for it.

A busy day. I took work off, planned PTO. There’s a wellness program that gives a credit on insurance. It requires a quick physical – just some measurements, a blood sample. I scheduled the physical for today.

The place was hard to find. It was a diagnostics shop, a number in a big office building. I circled the building a few times without finding it. An old couple almost backed into me. Finally, I took a chance on an unmarked door. It took me to a foyer, some elevators. The diagnostic place had a name marked on the second floor.

I don’t like getting my blood drawn. Something about a needle in my veins, my own heart pumping the blood away. In high school I donated, I guess I was tougher then. Maybe age has made me squeamish; maybe I’m too aware of all the ways my heart could stop.

Otherwise, the day’s been good. I finally saw a thunderstorm. It didn’t last long, but it was good company as I put the finishing touches on a short story. I’ll be submitting it to journals so I can’t post it here for a while, but something to look forward too?

I’m off tomorrow too. Vacation, vacation, the days pump out voluntarily.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” – Clive Barker

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Coffee Log, Day 68

Hi.

Coffee: Large Americano from Caribou Coffee; paid for by a tip from Meg. Thanks Meg! The espresso was dusty like an old book but pleasant. Meg and I have been talking about Starbucks. Last week, a store manager called cops on black customers for being black. Loud-mouths argue it’s because they weren’t ‘paying,’ or were ‘threatening,’ but those are just code words for sharing yourself with the wrong color lips. Meg showed me an article from Slate. The commentators described Starbucks’ business model as ‘commoditizing diversity’ and selling it to a white middle class in easy-to-digest doses. I went to Caribou and saw white men and white women with smiling faces served by smiling white baristas. There were people of color there too, but I couldn’t help thinking that the article was spot-on because here was a space designed to make you comfortable and comfort is a privilege given in America on a sliding scale of class and skin-tone.

April’s almost over. I’ve spent the Spring mostly jobless and now I’m ending it well-employed. I like my work so far. I’m making more money than I had been. Still, when I look at the crowning trees and listen to kids playing with the good weather, I’m restless. Spring and Fall are anxious seasons. The more beautiful – the more comfortable – something is, the less you can trust it. Sometimes I think a nice day is just a reminder of how deep the gully is between people. If I can enjoy this weather, there’s a good chance that enjoyment is predicated on someone else’s subjugation.

It’s easy to say a Spring day is free, but freedom is distributed unequally.

Currently Reading:
The Pardoner’s Tale, by John Wain

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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”- Nelson Mandela

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