Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 103

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

A dog got out downstairs and ran havoc on the other dogs at the park. It did what it was born to do – run, struggle, pick apart stiff muscle with whale-white teeth. In the end, no other pup was hurt enough for anything serious, like talk of vet violence, putting it down. But the dog was caught and brought back home. It sits on beige carpet. I know the color because all the apartments have beige carpet. At best, it can fit its front paws on the window, it’s eyes through the glass, it’s breath wet, fogging. Summer day.

I listened to a podcast about masculinity. It said ‘you don’t have to be isolated to be strong,’ and that ‘you don’t have to be tough to be a man.’ It talked about emotion and how everybody has it, a full range, every color. One of the guys says: “men in my father’s generation proved they were men by selling themselves to hard labor, something you can express only with a strong body,” and then “now those jobs are gone.”

Later today, I caught a bit of a radio show about Latina soccer players in the early 1900’s. They were considered crude and rebellious for showing strength with their bodies. Women were supposed to play games and exercise in ways that made them docile, motherly, easy to protect. Accentuate the feminine body – no muscle, all curves. Soccer was too rough for that.

Sitting at a table for a garden party together, we’re all mixed up: socialized men needing places to put their emotions out of view, tuck them under the arms of their women; socialized women, given so few outlets for their strength or independence, are coerced to oblige. Tangled. No-one notices the fisherman’s knot, catching us all, reeling in.

Right now, the dog’s probably sleeping off his busy day. He’s dreaming of damp grass and matted fur. Meanwhile, we gather ourselves around him, staring, like he’s the only animal we’ve ever seen.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The water is a dark flower and a fisherman is a bee in the heart of her.

Annie Proulx, The Shipping News

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 56

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

A dog showed up at our door.

My roommate’s sister is going out of town. While she’s gone, we’re watching the dog. She’s a small Chihuahua with dark brown eyebrows. She’s very quiet, very polite, and runs in circles when it’s time for food.

Growing up, I was surrounded by dogs. My family had seven over all, five at one time. We inherited two dogs when my grandmother came to live with us. I liked the dogs, maybe even loved them, but they never got into my skin. Some pet owners fall to pieces without a canine companion. They love all dogs, slobber themselves on this or that four-legged critter. It’s beautiful, I kind of envy it. No, I loved the dogs I grew up with, but I’ve got little love for dogs overall.

When you look at me, it’s like you see a different side of me. You see someone bountiful. You see hands hiding treats, a place at the couch, a long leash. You see someone that’s an indispensable part of your social order. In or out of the pack, there’s a definite place for me. That’s what throws me off – I’ve never seen myself so clearly as you do; I find myself better in the cautious eyes of cats.

Still, I gotta admit, our temporary boarder is pretty cute.

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes (FINISHED! Will share thoughts soon)

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A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.

Ogden Nash, The Private Dining Room and Other Verses


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 22

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Most days, I go home on my lunch break. My apartment is only two miles from the bank. I make sandwiches or leftovers in the kitchen. Today, this is what I saw:

An old man walking his dog in the dog park.

Whenever I take my evening strolls around the complex, I pass this one apartment on the first floor that has a black fence around the patio. It’s a waist-high fence. The apartment is across from the pool.

On nice days, this burnt orange chow sits behind that fence. He never barks. Hardly looks at me. He’s used to people passing. And behind him, the deck door is always open. You can see inside the apartment. There’s movies on all the time. You can’t see what’s playing, though, because the TV’s facing the other way.

That’s where the old man and his dog live. I’ve seen the guy watching me when I walk by. Not in an off-put way, more curious. He and his dog have a lot in common. Before today, I’d never seen him out of his recliner.

I watched the pair walk around the dog park from my second-story window. I followed them for the whole time it took to microwave some slices of soy bacon. They padded and plodded. The dog didn’t run. The man didn’t either. When they left the fence, the chow walked alongside the guy without a leash. It got a little turned around where the sidewalk goes up a hill. The old man waited for his dog to catch up.

That was the nicest part of my day.

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes


Coffee Log, Day 307

Hi.

Coffee: Folger’s Breakfast Blend, Brewed by my Father; My Dad drinks coffee like it’s been prescribed to him; he brews it weak, two scoops for a 12 cup pot; I must have had five full glasses of the stuff; by pot two, he made it stronger, just for me; there’s no coffee that’s as good as the coffee your father makes.

My parents have this dog that’s shaped like a sausage that my mother wraps presents for every year. We toss them down the hall and she goes running. In half an hour, the house is littered with wrapping paper.

That’s Christmas to me: something full of energy that you expect to follow a toss.

Merry Christmas. Or Merry Winter. Whether it’s with friends, family, or at home alone with a good book, I hope you got to have fun unwrapping your plans for the day. Maybe you even surprised yourself a little. And if it’s messy – if there’s paper everywhere, or if the day tore you up in it’s teeth despite the safe veneer we all expect of the holidays – then don’t worry about picking it up right now. Catch your breath. Do whatever you have to to take care of yourself.

Not every person or every family can find joy. The world’s not fair. But everyone can look inside themselves and see something worth opening. Every time you take a breath you’re proving something valuable. And I’m glad I live in a world full of so many curious persons full of curious things.

Thank you. Happy holidays.

Novel Count: 5,924

Currently Reading: Nothing! Will pick a new book after the holidays.

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One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.

Andy Rooney

Coffee Log, Day 222

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

A dog-walk day.

I took a stroll. Sundown, 2nd of October. My mouth was still wet from dinner. I started on the second floor landing, thought about the book I wrote that started on a second floor landing. Kids on the playground; parents at the picnic tables. I crossed the creek and sidled the first floor apartment that’s got a screen door. The TV was going. A courtroom drama. Objection!

It wasn’t until I passed the pool that I started to see them: bipedallers puttering around with leashes leading every size of furball into the first comfortable day of Autumn. I think I counted five in all, about four more than most days. They fell to two categories: guys in cargo shorts looking bored as toy poodles pulled them around; women in athletic wear talking to their cell phones. That dogs yipped and bapped at each other, yipped and bapped at me, made up for every lack of interest in their owners. To them, it was Christmas. To them it was the fifteen-hundred down on a new car, new wheels, broad October, open roads, wild nights. For five to ten minutes, the dogs got to remember that their paws once clawed beds of dirt, hunted woods and fields. For the same amount of time, the people got to think about what show to watch when they got home.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.” – Aldous Huxley

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Coffee Log, Day 153

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

A few Japanese 7-yr-olds told me you only put soy sauce on rice when you’re trying to get the dogs to eat it. I liked that: maybe I’m a dog.

Since I stopped eating animals I’ve wondered more about being ‘human.’ Unlike the wealthy white kids who wear Salvation Army and dumpster dive because they know they’ll never depend on anything, I see the difference between us and animals clearly. We’ve got a spark, they’ve got something simpler. No wildcat would choose not to eat me. The beautiful, structured violence of a predator.

The voice is exhausting. I think maybe that’s being human: a constant, boring fatigue. Not the tired you get swinging muscles, but the exhaustion of constant thought. We buy our free choice by chaining our mind up to moral dilemma. Humanity is dull like paint drying. Stick with it, though, and you build the best blue house.

But today I’ll take a break. Woof.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

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