Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 197

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place Roast, Apartment Lounge Coffee

A 4-year-old girl drops a rock a few feet in front of me. “That’s a rock!” she says, then picks it up to show me. I tell her it’s a good rock, the best one I’ve seen, and she drops it again.

“You dropped your rock.”

“I don’t care!” she says.

I know this girl’s story. She moved in a few months ago. She’s my neighbor. Here’s the questions I don’t ask out loud: Are you old enough to know that your father died because someone put a bullet in his head? Are you old enough to have known you ever had a father, or is grandma and grandpa your now and forever? Do you have sly dreams of Pittsburgh in the winter, the city under five feet of snow? Does that same bullet sit inside you now, passed down, inherited like your pigtails, or pink lips, or small fingers? What do you remember? Maybe it’s better if you don’t remember anything.

Five kids came down and now they live below me. I’ve only see them with bright smiles. The only bleak is what sneaks into the faces of their grandparents who had to bury a father, a son.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Snow is…a beautiful reminder of life and all its quirks. It makes me pause. Think. Stay still. Even my mind takes the hint. It makes me feel giddy. Like a kid. I bring my hot cocoa to the window and simply sit and reminisce…It brings me back to days of school cancellations and snow igloos and King of the Mountain games in my childhood neighborhood…That for this one moment in time, I’m not an adult with all the headaches that can accompany that responsibility, but instead, I’m still the girl in pigtails with the handmade hat and mittens, just waiting to build her next snowman.

R.B. O’Brien

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 75

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Every couple months I get these flashbacks to when I used to listen to rock. I’m a piss-poor college student living like he’s independently wealthy. I’m on a side-street somewhere looking for a record store. I’m throwing out band names at a party like they’re over-priced candy. I’m angry, sober, antisocial, a worried virgin. All the while bleeding from my ears to cranked up overdrive.

Simple things in life.

It’s easiest to yell and scream about the big things you have no control over. Capitalism, consumerism, hedonism, etc. Meanwhile, your voice goes so hoarse you don’t say much about the changes you could actually make. You walk past the homeless man without looking at him. No matter if you’ve got money to give, you don’t even shake his hand or ask his name. And don’t get me started about all the personal prejudices you’ve wrapped into hard-lined rock-and-roll attitudes. Most people who think they’re punk just can’t cope with their other labels.

I took another walk today. I’ve been walking around every day this week. Never far, just the neighborhood. Today, the clouds had covered half the sky but left the other half blank, a blue and white split like Santorini houses. There were people in the pool and geese leading babies. At one point, I stepped off the sidewalk to make room for a woman and her dog. The dog came over and sniffed me. She told me “That’s Atticus.” I told her “He’s a sweetheart.” The black lab licked me two times then they walked away. It was a harmless interaction, the kind you can’t have walking around with headphones on.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Smart but too lazy
To ever pick one thing
Now I’m staring at a dead end

Hard Girls, Running

Coffee Log, Day 269

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

There’s a certain kind of ‘growing up’ that involves realizing your own rebellion was a major perpetrator of the social ills it was railing against. This is a story about Rock & Roll.

I grew up listening to whatever. I was that normal kid, a sponge. Then I got bullied and then I got sad and then I found a few bands that a lot of kids find like Linkin Park and Tool. Later, I found modern punk at a Bomb the Music Industry! concert. Predictable shit.

Watch any interview with Kurt Cobain and then one of Nirvana’s videos back-to-back and you’ll start to see the problem. There was this dream that rock could change the world. Some myth of Woodstock where it sort of maybe did. By the nineties, smidges of social awareness produced bands who realized that promise had been bought out by greedy record execs and they made grungey, sour songs to complain about it. I came in a little later but that culture seemed like me: grungey, sour, complaining; elevated on a white horse above the world yet somehow still an underdog; perfectly removed.

But what’s the real story? Like any kind of power, no matter how self-marginalized and contrary, it’s about suppressing the minorities. A bunch of semi-affluent white boys wield guitars and wear their microphone crowns. You’ll talk about capitalism but won’t play shows in the black or brown towns. You’ll create a groupie culture that encourages young girls – often literal kids – to drink a lot and drug a lot until they’re too unconscious to protest the ‘privilege’ of backstage assaults. There was a credible article about Tool’s frontman luring 17 yr-olds a few months ago, but that got stuffed under the rug because hey, us white boys need our heroes, right?

This all seems obvious in 2018. Rocky and divided as it is, the world woke up two years ago. Battle lines are drawn. It’s a lot harder for monsters to hide. One of the necessary casualties of progress is a war against vestige emblems of the old, bad culture. So, Rock dies. Well, it was dying already – a new wave of commoditization that makes all the big bands more a voice for club drugs and t-shirt sales than any kind of supposed protest. But now the sword hits the hypocritical core – that Rock was a movement – progressive, inclusive, a force for change – and not just the more rebellious face of patriarchy.

In his last interview before he shot himself, Kurt Cobain talks about how he tried to write a song calling out the fucked-up culture of rape in rock-and-roll – ‘Polly’ – but no-one seemed to get it and everyone seemed to love it so he wrote another song called ‘Rape Me’ to try to get it through our thick skulls. The sequel didn’t sell too well.

Novel Count: 10,152 words

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

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Polly wants a cracker
I think I should get off her first.

‘Polly’ – Nirvana


Coffee Log, Day 257

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I want to talk about coffee today.

That feels almost blasphemous, doesn’t it? I’ve spent the better part of a year writing this ‘coffee blog’ with the adamant intent to trim, confine and marginalize any talk about the titular subject. Instead, I rant at the world, soliloquy theories, absorb myself to this or that melancholia, and I’m happy about that, but today I want to talk about coffee.

There was this guy I knew. He lived beside my parents and was the uncle to two kids about my age. Those kids were my first friends. They’d stay at his house in the summers when their mother was working so we’d hang out a lot. We got up to all kinds of somethings: mud fights, sword fights, 8-bit videogaming. Our houses were joined by a giant backyard mulberry tree. We’d eat the mulberries and rub them on plastic swords for battle damage. It was great fun.

Very rarely, I’d be invited over for breakfast. Their uncle would be cooking something for himself while we three ate milk and cereal. Here’s a morning I remember:

He’s got his shirt off and the music going. Something low and simple, maybe Elvis. There’s bright exuberances of light trying to get through the kitchen curtains and some of it makes it in. My friends are at the table talking to each other but I’m watching their uncle work the coffee pot. He pulls water from the sink. He fills the old percolator. There’s all this static and steam when the heat coils go crimson-hot, and then the room’s a bit of drip-drip percussion backing Elvis.

When it’s done, their uncle pours a tall, green mug and dips a donut in it. I’m thinking it’s the most outrageous act of gall, ruining a good cake donut like that, so I tell him. He looks at me with a wiry black mustache full of crumbs. He says: “You’ll understand it when you’re older.”

I’m not a big fan of donuts dipped in coffee, even now. Still, I feel like I get what he was talking about.

….shit, this wasn’t really about coffee after all, was it?

Novel Count: 5,709 words

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

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“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.” – Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

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