Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 153

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

I had a friend who launched rockets. He does other things now, but he used to put satellites in orbit, or point ships at the space station. I thought that was cool. It seemed like something to be a bridge-maker toward the final frontier.

But space isn’t how we all imagine it, really.

I’ve been seeing lots of news about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Interviews with astronauts, articles about the rigorous (and delicate) science, even some conspiracy theories. Not since Trump’s ill-advised ‘Space Force’ have the outer bounds beyond our tiny planet seen so much coverage. I haven’t read many of the articles, only stolen glances at the pictures, but it feels hopeful to think about people who broke the boundaries of human experience, and those who are doing so right now again and again.

And it’s romantic, but it shouldn’t be, because space isn’t what we want it to be.

We come to the notion of outer space seeking the best parts of ourselves. Technological marvels, the vast and glittering worlds of 70’s sci-fi. A limitless place to paint ourselves over and over, the hope of human renewal on a galactic scale.

When we look up, though, into the blackest night skies, and when we step out into the stars, there’s more emptiness than anything. There’s a crisp, barren beauty to Mars and an awful violence to Venus. But they never know each other, never touching, never holding hands, separated by blank space, whispering nothing. The scary thing is that this is a better reflection of us – multiple minds divided by the unbreachable expanse; galaxies you’ll never see.

I think it’s beautiful we made it to the moon. I think we should keep trying to go farther. But I think the lessons aren’t all bright ones, and the human heart is as much the empty parts and barren planets as it is a flickering sun.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Coffee Log, Day 286

Hi.

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

When I drove home the sky had cracked open. That peach-blood sunset, firing up winter one day at a time.

I presented to a middle-school writing club. There were eight of them, mostly girls. I was glad for that because the world’s already heard a lot stories written by men.

They were a sharp group, wrapped up in coats and jackets and pencils and papers, that odd time in December when you’re halfway between break and school. We practiced some things, I read a story, they asked questions. Afterward, I gave them all print-outs of lit journals that accept work by kids or pre-teens because the one thing I always wish I’d had as a young writer was some sort of guidance for where to put my work.

But I’ll say again, the kids were sharp.

It’s a cheesy line, but there’s hope in kids. It’s not that they see the world any brighter – from the time I’ve spent teaching, it’s clear that kids are often facing the darkest corners of the world’s closet – but that they haven’t narrowed their options for how to deal with the dark. It’s just as real to bite the apple as it is to throw it; no one use, no one route to peace and love and success and joy; and that to me is all hope amounts to, a not giving in to simple despairs.

It was good to work with the kids. I hope I gave them something. I know they imparted a bit on me.

Novel Count: 15,580 words

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

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Adults constantly raise the bar on smart children, precisely because they’re able to handle it. The children get overwhelmed by the tasks in front of them and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they innately have. When they’re treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. It takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. Kids’ hearts are malleable, but once they gel it’s hard to get them back the way they were.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore