Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 114

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Still on the low, so I’ll stick to the most important thing I did today: I saved a worm.

Well, maybe it’s being generous to say I saved it. Had I not come along, or had I been someone else, the worm may very well have saved itself. But that’s the kind of thought that kills kindness, thinking ‘it doesn’t really matter what I do.’

Anyway, it was just before 7:00. I took my nightly walk. I’d made a big batch of pasta and felt good about myself. Most nights, I start going left from the apartment stairs, cross the creek, and circle around the pool. That’s exactly what I did tonight. When I got to the community garden, I saw something move. There was a bit of wet string on the ground, deep and purple, like those grape-flavored ice-pops your grandmother bought you. The purple thing was wiggling on the sidewalk. It couldn’t decide which way to go.

So I stooped down to look at this thing and saw the prettiest little worm I’ve seen in – oh, I don’t know, a week? a month? I see a lot of worms so it’s easy to forget about them. Anyhow, it was a worm. I watched it squirm left, right, and it’s tiny wet body was getting covered in grit. A sidewalk dries you out. A sidewalk’s man-made, abrasive, any skinned-knee knows that. I started to take out my phone to post a picture, but then I thought of those journalists that watch men die in war-time while getting a better shot. I didn’t like the comparison. Instead, I took a stick and offered it to the critter. With this new thing in front of it, the worm writhed around. I spent sixty seconds getting the thing comfortable, then I rolled it around the stick like spaghetti. Carefully, then, I set the worm on cool, dark soil.

That was my day.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I think we consider too much the luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 113

Hi.

Coffee: Light Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’ll keep it short tonight. I’ve been under the weather. Thinking about it a little, we’re all – always – under the weather, since weather’s in the sky, and… well, you get it. Idioms are interesting. Whether they make much sense, that’s another story.

Here’s what I’ve got: I was in a restaurant called Bosphorus that had Turkish owners. The walls were white and curtains blue. They had an open kitchen and it seemed like a family establishment. We got olive oil with herbs and spices, they brought complimentary tea. The tea came in glass cups with blue and white eyes. They looked like the eyes of Naxos, trinkets I was told a long time ago are good luck charms. Maybe there’s a connection. Maybe there isn’t.

We could all use some good luck. Here’s me wishing it for all of you.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 112

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve had this batch of beans for a couple months; I’ve been drinking other stuff; this morning seemed like a nostalgic time, so I ground a batch to try again; it tasted more sour than I remember; nothing’s quite like your memories

I scared a small bird two times today. That’s a thing I’m good at – scaring small birds. I’ll describe it to you: first time, I open the sliding door in the morning to go out on the porch. Meanwhile, the bird’s been building its nest in the third floor overhang, so it hears me when the door opens. It stops building to flap all over the place, drops off the balcony, and hides on a nearby pine tree. The nest looks messy from all the commotion. Of course, there’s nothing I can do about that.

Second time is after I’ve been out there a while. I was reading. I was letting myself get sun. If all you do is sit inside all day, you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything. So instead, I sometimes sit outside all day, and this works wonders. Anyway, it was getting to be lunchtime and I’m hungry. I got up, stretched, walked over to the railing. I didn’t know it, but I was right below the house finch, who completely lost it. The bird flapped so hard I felt the pressure, it twitted and twaddled, then escaped the porch and went hiding in that same pine tree. A little later, some ravens came by and chased it away.

The point of all this is simple: if you’re a house finch, you’re going to build your nest near houses; that’s just what you do. And if you’re a 29 year old man with too much free time, chances are you’ll scare something, whether you’re meaning to or not.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

A lost bird appeared in the court and was half an hour jumping around between the spikenard. It sang a progressive note, rising an octave at a time, until it became so acute that it was necessary to imagine it.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, In Evil Hour

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 111

Hi.

Coffee: Light Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I thought about walking to the grocery store. I didn’t, but at least I thought about it. It’s perfect weather. I cleaned some of the cobwebs off the porch.

Today was Z’s last day in town. He was supposed to be working, we both were, but instead I brewed a pot of coffee and we sat in the kitchen talking about group theory. It was the old days, the burning incense from someone else’s dorm room, the right kind of light to think about things that don’t matter. He taught me about computers. A bit of machine code. I wondered what it would be like to live electrically.

There’s a lot of different ways to understand the world.

Now it’s seven and L is over. We’re going out for a bite to eat. The sun’s still up, cutting through the first layer of your skin but not the second, feeling less like summer than fall. I don’t know where we’re going or what we’ll be eating. I can’t imagine it even, because you can never quite imagine the things that actually happen. Wherever I am, though, I’ll be in good company.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

…it may be that some of the ‘highbrow’ applied mathematics will become ‘useful’ in as unexpected a way; but the evidence so far points to the conclusion that, in one subject as in the other, it is what is commonplace and dull that counts for practical life.

G.H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 110

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I hear someone walking above me. I don’t know my upstairs neighbors. I’ve been living here for two years. These days, we’re all private people.

I get to know you by the way you walk. There’s a few people living there. Often, between the hours of six and seven thirty (pm), there’s a lot of banging above my room. I’ve narrowed it down to two options: you’re working out; you’ve lost control of the thing that lives in your closet.

Usually I don’t hear you. That doesn’t mean you’re not there. There are many things we do that don’t make enough noise to rock the floorboards. You might be reading. Or knitting your grandmother a sweater. Or you could be staring out the window at the lights above the playground, wondering why that one special person said no to kids. Or maybe you’re catching up on the Soaps.

The footsteps I hear tonight are light, brief, comfortable. You’re not thinking about what your feet are doing. It’s Thursday, you’re settling down. I picture pink bathrobes still damp from nine-thirty’s shower and a cup of water you’ll take to your bed. I don’t know where you keep the bed but it might be above me. And there you are, lying down peacefully, not knowing how your sound carries, or who the floorboards take it to.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I don’t know how long I kept at it…
I felt reasonably safe, stretched out on the floor, and lay quite still.
It didn’t seem to be summer any more

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 109

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

College is mostly an ink blotch to me. To be honest, most of my life looks like that when I try to remember it, but college in particular. I know I attended. I know I spent four years at Duke University studying – what was it again? I’ll be damned if I could pin down too many of the memories, though.

Today I talked to a Freshman at UNC. Our conversation was brief. He’s going to school for business. He was wearing a purple polo, the slick kind, for golf. He had his hair done like every college Freshman. He was asking me questions but kept interrupting the answers.

I get nervous around people like that. I start to wonder how many of the same boxes I used to tick. It puts me in a nostalgic mood. I start thinking about school and try picking apart what it meant to me. I see a neon streak of faces. Some friends, some acquaintances, no-one I still know. There’s one crisp memory of standing in line at a coffee shop that doesn’t exist anymore. The barista’s speaking Spanish, even though he’s a white American guy, and it’s the first time I realize that people are complicated.

I had some bad dreams last night. I’ll spare you the details, but in each of them was a bright room I couldn’t get out of. Nothing like being trapped with yourself. I worry sometimes that I’m two people. Or three, or… In all these inky dark spots, who’s hiding? I think about the me that comes out sometimes – needy, scared, possessive. I think about the dreams I didn’t follow, and wonder how long it’ll be until they cannibalize me.

You know, the old myth, twins in a stomach, twisting the cord.

I used to think I knew everything. Yeah, I know what that sounds like, and yes, I was that much of a prick. In particular, though, I thought I knew everything about ‘me.’ I had a memory that stretched back two dozen years, all of it annotated. I could pin-point what I was doing most days from elementary to my first job after school. Now, though, I’ve lost that memory. It’s been gone for a few years. What I once took as ‘fixed’ looks ‘wavy,’ ‘certain’ became ‘confused,’ cats and dogs, etc. Giving it all up, I got a lot more humble.

Tonight had me thinking about college. I like to see myself in the Bryan Center, a student commons, eating food, thinking about you. Only I never know who the ‘you’ is and when I look down, there’s nothing on my plate.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

You’re sure your new roommate won’t be like the last one who wore tinfoil socks and had a tendency to occasionally urinate in the refrigerator. You’re sure you’ll pass Math 106 this time around. You’re determined to actually join some clubs this year and not just sit around in your dorm eating spray cheese from a can and watching youtube videos about cats.

Patrick Rothfuss

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 108

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee; where does all this coffee come from? It’s packed in blue plastic pillows, three scoops per. We get the pillows on order from corporate and they come in brown boxes stuffed to the brim. There’s no sourcing. I don’t know whose hands picked the beans or roasted them, who ground them up. I don’t know how much Maxwell House paid to package this coffee conveniently. I don’t know who’s putting dinner on the table (and who isn’t). I just drink the stuff and pinch my nose at it. Tastes like amnesia, or a radio blackout, every single time.

I read a story on Vice about human trafficking. Specifically, the sale of First Nations women between northern Minnesota and Canada across the wide, cold waters of Lake Superior. The article was mostly a reference to work by Christine Stark, a Master’s student at University in Duluth, who’s doing a study of the subject. Stark spends most of her days interviewing women who survived.

Anyway, the way they do it is gradual – friend, family, or a lover gets the woman (or child) dependent, bit by bit, until she’s obligated by shame or force. They use the water because it’s easier that way. It’s hard to barge into a barge, discover what’s going on. And the money comes mostly from parties. A rented yacht, a bruisy Autumn evening, Superior gone gold like Western movie posters, so glorious you can get away with anything, even the rape and sale of someone you’ve stripped of freedom.

I saw Superior once. I put my hand in her water. It was Presque Park, the tip of Michigan. She lapped like an ocean, even though we were far away from the coast. Clear to the bottom. Welcoming. Winter-cold, even though it was July. Back then, it seemed the only thing she carried were the oak leaves getting loose in a slick wind, but I guess she was also carrying a darker sort of cargo just a couple hundred miles away.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

He paid her bills, rent, and the essentials for her children, but on weekends, “brought up other white men from the cities for prostitution with Native women… he had her role play the racist ‘Indian maiden and European colonizer’ myth…

Dave Dean quoting Christine Stark, on Vice.com, article ‘Native American Women Are Being Sold into the Sex Trade on Ships Along Lake Superior’