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 201

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I could be watching a crowded stage full of important people debating; instead, I’m sitting by the window listening to a couple kids playing outside.

Tonight, I tried to be peaceful. I went to the store. It was crowded, unusually so for a Thursday at 7pm. I picked out dressing for a salad and thought about buying eggs. I didn’t buy the eggs. On the way out, I walked by the beer aisle where they had a promotion pouring taps. Half-priced pints, tipsy Thursdays. There was a bustle around the bar. There was also one table with two chairs. It was halfway into the dairy aisle. A couple had the table. She was sipping quietly, he was on his phone.

At home, I dressed my salad and added half a can black beans. It’s good to eat cold, crunchy food sometimes. I thought about a rainforest. Less about the fires than about those nature shows we used to watch as kids.

At work, we all got together in the lobby, me and my coworkers. A slow day, so we had time. They were worried about Trump. The election was on everyone’s lips. They made some points and I agreed with them, mostly. But I couldn’t help draining out of the room and into the summer sunshine outside, the tops of elm trees, yesterday’s cut grass. I felt bad for being distracted. I was trying to be peaceful.

The conversation got heated. Three women who voted for a woman who should have won by the numbers, but didn’t. The burnt bones in their throats brought me back down. Oh – peace isn’t on offer to all of us, I realized.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Damn real live people, getting in the way of peaceful ideals.

John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 193

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

There was a patch of trees between an old motel, the fire-hose plant, and the house I grew up in. Eventually, they demolished the motel and the plant became a plumbers operation. The trees were cut and burned. It’s a car park, now, city trucks.

I remember two things about those woods: sledding through the trees in seldom NC snow and being watched by The Beast that lived there.

The house on the corner was lived in by a few kids and their grandparents. Off and on, their parents would be there, too. I can’t remember their names or faces, only that we played together. One day, the kids went away. They started showing up only sporadically, the way you catch the moon coming in and out of clouds. My parents told me something had happened. I saw dark looks on the kids’ faces. They had a tree fort we played in. The walls were painted blue. Later, I learned one of their parents had killed themselves.

The Beast was faceless. It had brown fur, dark and hard to get your eyes on like sesame oil. It stayed hidden in the day but stalked our neighborhood at night. Any stray cat that died was taken by it. It’s nose could smell you through brick walls, especially when you were sleeping. In the mornings, sickly white mushrooms grew in its footprints.

The Beast had two rules: 1) Never look directly at it; if you broke this rule, the punishment was that it would take three steps closer, a direct line to wherever you were; and 2) Leave an offering every New Moon, something significant, like a clean sock, or fresh mulberries, or a bit of your dog’s fur. Without the offering, The Beast would have free choice over what it took from you.

Eventually, the kids stopped coming altogether. I don’t know where they ended up. The grandparents lived on for a long time but we never talked to them. Finally, they moved too, or maybe passed over; death and departure are indistinguishable when you’re young.

The woods kept on while new residents moved in, and the old blue treehouse stood for a long time. As I got older, I stopped looking in the forest so much at midnight. I stopped catching eyes with The Beast. I was leaving little messes everywhere as a teenager, beautifully important things I cast off and couldn’t claim back, and I’m sure it took a few of them for offerings. But eventually it was gone. I can’t pick out the exact time, but somewhere between then and now The Beast had left us for good.

No-one remembers what happened in those woods. And maybe that’s just as well.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?

William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 174

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

This blog’s changed a lot over the last two years – I don’t talk about coffee much anymore. Well, who are we kidding, I never talked that much about it to begin with. Since switching to a work routine brewing the same blend every day I have less connection to it. I don’t miss it all that often because life’s busy and you need free time to miss something. Some days, though, my hands feel ready to hold the old grinder and twist it, then empty when there’s no beans in the house to grind.

People change.

I grew up loving elaborate performances. I took every opportunity to present projects or act in plays at school. Then I got older and introverted for many years, only to end up making a living by performing – an office chair prop and a sales desk stage. Anyway, that was just an example.

I remember drinking frappe’s outside of Athens. The World Cup was on and Greece was playing. We ended up at the least crowded bar. I wasn’t drinking then, so I had them serve me coffee. It was late at night but you never sleep when you’re traveling. I watched the bartender draw someone’s draft. He worked black magic not to drop a bit of foam. Then he filled a cup with Nescafe instant and frothed it with ice and sugar. He looked like a streetlight when he was handing it to me – blinking on and off. Greece hadn’t scored a goal.

I make money to cover my responsibilities but sometimes I spend it on frivolous things. Life’s dry toast without the frivolous things. It’s a long weekend. I might have grown away from grinding coffee, but maybe I’ll find a cafe for a change.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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There were some problems only coffee and ice cream could fix.

Amal El-Mohtar, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 165

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

All of us thought there’d be a storm. We heard it on the weather; common gossip on customer’s lips. And for a while it looked like the sky would crack like torn-up asphalt, but in the end the clouds cleared.

Every so often I go back to Greece. Not physically, of course. We got caught in showers coming down Mt. Olympus. They slicked up the ice toward the top and made it run. I wonder if that ice is still up there? The world’s a lot warmer than it used to be.

I walked by our apartment pool and it was full of people sun-bathing. Or drowning the week’s worries under five feet of water. They looked like skinned fishes in a Saturday market. They had pocks on their backs and matted hair. One family had a dog.

I like the sound a storm makes just before it arrives. The whip of air. Frantic quiet.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Older Fags and Younger Fags, Like Legally Young. Daddies. Zeus and Ganymede.
Ganymede was a child, Ziggy schooled her.
Yeah, You Were There, Michelle retorted, On Mount Olympus. You Were Working the Door. You Carded Ganymede.

Michelle Tea, Black Wave

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 107

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I heard on the radio that Durham’s getting a few fleets of electric scooters soon. They’re the kind you rent and ride wherever, paying where you park. Raleigh’s already got ’em, most of the big cities do. An ‘it’ thing, hip transportation, a symptom of not knowing how to take the time to walk.

Everything changes. The only thing open to you is whether to be bitter about it. Grumpy old guardians of tradition, not acknowledging the transgressions made in your own youthful years against the expectations of your fathers. There’s a danger there – sometimes the canes we wag from our front porches are hiding swords.

I was talking to a friend about the ’80s. He thought they had better music back then, better art, a better flair. He liked the bright colors and rumblings of futurism. He didn’t like, so much, what that decade’s dreams developed into – a high-tech paradise the color of skim milk, where the robots are more likely to sell you something than to question their identity.

How do you preserve good old things without bringing along the baggage? How do you let the world change without losing the rest of the timeline?

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The future is there… looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.

William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 74

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

This week has felt weightless. On Sunday, I opened a door inside myself. I don’t know what the key was – writer’s block, two back-to-back showers, a little liquor. When the door opened, air came out. Thick, heavy air that had been building up in me for a long time. It rolled across the floor like spilled oil. It flooded my home, my shoes, my bedroom. Since then I’ve been standing on the film, two inches up, weightless.

R and I walked to where the food trucks were supposed to be but the trucks weren’t there. Dejected, we drove to Chipotle. The restaurant was empty when we walked in but it was still noisy. The line leader was yelling at two new associates. He kept calling them kids. One looked scared and embarrassed. The other looked smug.

Just before dinner, I sat outside for half an hour tossing words at my laptop. Only a couple stuck, but that didn’t bother me so much today. I had one of those big plush chairs that’s treated to survive the rain. Beside me, around the fire pit, a man and woman were watching their kid swing on the swingset while talking plans for the future. She kept saying “If you say so,” he kept saying “This is what you need to do.” On the other side of me, two kids were playing sevens. For those that don’t know (and I didn’t know until tonight), sevens involves slapping patterns on a table together. It was loud and distracting, frustratingly lovely.

Walking around tonight, I noticed a dead flower on the sidewalk. A week ago I’d taken a picture of the flower and posted it on here. Back then it was vibrant, now not so much. My instinct was to find that kind of sad, but then I looked closer and there were so many more details to the dead flower: pulled-out fibers, sour yellows, a lively brown slime. Ugly on the surface but beautiful in function: a tiny generator of new life. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere but I’m too tired to find it. I’ll leave that up to you.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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I might pull up late to class, but I always show up

Sylvan LaCue, 5:55