Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 171

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Do you ever listen to a piece of instrumental music and wonder if the person who wrote it spoke the same language as you? I read that the reason music resonates with people is the tones are tied to our own vocal ranges, which themselves are tied to emotion. But people speak differently with different languages. “Mm’ means something different when you’re Japanese.

These days, a lot of electronic music uses samples of ambient sounds – raindrops, moving cars. No-one questions that it’s music. Does that mean the world’s speaking a language, too?

I once stood in an ancient Greek amphitheater. We took turns standing on the podium and saying something softly, seeing if we could hear each other up in the stands. We could. The Greeks knew acoustics. They were kind of obsessed with sound. Eventually, that obsession was passed down through Neo-Platonism and led to Kepler learning orbits – he thought he was deciphering the ‘music of the spheres.’

I don’t talk on the phone much anymore. It’s all come down to texting. I remember this one time back in college when I asked a classmate for her number and called her on the weekend. She was so confused by the call that she said she didn’t want to see me, and the rest of the year she sat on the other side of the class. I asked a buddy what had happened, and he said I should’ve sent her a text.

Right now, I’m listening to music and whistling along. What language is that?

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.

Maya Angelou

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 90

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I only know one language. Sometimes, I wish I knew more.

In elementary there was this Spanish teacher. She came around to classes once a week. I liked her because she was pretty and paid attention to me. My parents liked her because I was doing well in class. I don’t know the mechanics of it, but they worked something out where she’d tutor me after school twice a week. I might be getting the numbers wrong, but that’s what it felt like.

Anyway, I didn’t learn any Spanish. I knew some words, but that’s it. I don’t remember what we studied, or any of the extra lessons I did. Instead, I remember this one time she and I helped set up a buffet for some kind of open house. I stole a couple pigs-in-a-blanket. I’d never had them. She thought that was funny, or at least my nine-year-old mine thought she did. I remember feeling good about the stealing, and about being alone in this big school with my teacher, like I’d gotten one over, like I was an important part of the world.

She taught me how to say pig in Spanish. I remember her teaching it to me, but don’t remember the word.

Currently Reading: NOTHING! will pick a new book soon

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They had chains which they fastened about the leg of the nearest hog, and the other end of the chain they hooked into one of the rings upon the wheel. So, as the wheel turned, a hog was suddenly jerked off his feet and borne aloft.

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Coffee Log, Day 357

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House, Office drip; the stronger you brew it the less it tastes like grass but the more it tastes like construction paper. What do you want to remember: soccer practice or kindergarten crafts?

Grammar: good, bad, or ugly? Ugly-bad, I’d say.

I’ve been swiping pictures like a fiend on Tinder. Internet dating never goes much of anywhere, but it’s an interesting addiction, like peeking in the metro windows during morning commute. Everyone’s dolled up and trying to impress each other. Or actively NOT trying, but that’s just another type of effort. I’m doing it too. We’re all peacocks. Anyway…

A lot of people put ‘good grammar = important’ on their profiles. They’re looking for people that can ‘talk,’ ‘spell,’ or ‘write’ right. I find that a little fascinating, that how you put your words together can be a metric for your desirability and worth. The same people usually use words like ‘looking for someone stable, who has their shit together.’ Ok, at least you know what you want.

I used to be someone who cared about Grammar. I’d be the kid in elementary who corrected your sentences if you said them wrong. Not a lot of people liked me, that’s for sure. I didn’t realize at the time that I was a product of something sinister: hundreds of years of history written by a ruling class.

What is ‘good’ language? In the textbooks, it’s well defined: it’s and its mean two different things, ‘good’ ain’t ‘well,’ etc. But when we’re talking under the blue February sky and you say ‘he did real good on his spelling test,’ I know exactly what you mean. So why should I care what word you used?

If you want to oppress someone, keep them away from books. Take out their tools to match an expectation of society. Don’t talk southern. Don’t talk mountain. Don’t talk black, or latin, or anything but rich white. If you say ‘y’all’ you’re ignorant. It’s selective understanding – we tell you it’s not good enough to get your point across, you’ve got to do it the right way. It’s bred in you to love yourself if you know how to comma and hate yourself if you don’t.

What a crummy view of language.

A thin black box to cram the whole world inside – no room, no air, no breath for different colors.

So anyway, I don’t judge those guys and gals that say they’re looking for a good grammared partner. I get the force of history clenching it’s fist around them. But I do swipe left.

Novel Count: 23,930

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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All my [people] talk like yo cotton picking ancestors
That don’t make us stupid, we just deeply rooted

Doctur Dot, Earthgang, Momma Said

Coffee Log, Day 161

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I can hardly keep up anymore. Each day is a different story, different spin. Last week’s crises are Alexander crossing the Euphrates; this morning was the Civil War. Part of it’s attention, part of it’s the internet – things go a lot quicker when it takes two seconds to send a message around the world.

The powers that be are clued in: Giuliani tells Mueller to ‘hurry up.’ Obama won’t mention Ocasio-Cortez in his endorsements. Old men of power want you to forget that change can happen, that real change takes time; instead, they want popcorn press conferences and Chinese-made American flags.

Language is power, but language is also dangerous. In Rome, they’d nail your hands to a cross and cut you open for preaching a single book; that went on for hundreds of years. Now, it’s tweet tweet post post caption this that picture, narrate the video where your black lover’s murdered by a white cop, hashtag twenty-seven years of men’s hands on your ass. It’s vital, succulent, burst open like ripe tomatoes, easily washed down the drain like so much juice.

It’s hard to pay attention when everyone’s got an important story. It’s easy for power to change a word, a phrase, delete this and that and make us miss the important parts. We need our holy book. We need a thick bound compendium worth being crucified for. Each page a sex, creed, color, representation. All our spit-blood memoirs wave-wave on the internet and pass us by. We need something stable and shared.

But what’s permanent look like in 2018?

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Hold down through these troubled times, be another victim to my stubborn pride

Stuck in the grind, Stuck in the grind, I’m stuck in the grind” – Nipsey Hussle, Stucc in the Grind

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Coffee Log, Day 104

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast; I poured it in a new travel ceramic for work. The mug didn’t work too well but I like the way it looks. It was made by machines, but looks like it was made by hands.

First off, some house-keeping: I’ll be announcing the winner of the April/May contest this week! Life happened fast these past two months so I wasn’t able to promote the contest as much as I would’ve liked. Because of that, I’m putting contests on a hiatus while I catch up. I’ll do better in the future.

Now, onto the Log:

I talked shop with a geneticist outside a cafe. He told me his best friend was a writer. He told me his best friend makes no money but publishes anyway. I told him the guy sounds crazy. He told me the guy’s real happy. We talked a bit about labwork, the dullness of it, then he talked about the the way’s he’s compiling the human genome electronically. Computers talk like your high school English teacher: big words, clauses, Latin to me.

Speaking of language, I’m obsessed with it. There isn’t a better word. Probably a better phrase: dim-witted fishhook in a constant stream. But anyway, language is my obsession. When I was four, I wouldn’t let my parents put me to bed until they’d answered a few questions. The content wasn’t what I was after, but rather how they would say it: what’s two plus two? Four…door’s brother and dour’s close cousin. A lot of people call me Garrett and I think that’s fine, but deep down I’m obsessed with the ‘h.’

I spent some time trying to talk it out. We could be something, yeah? We could have something, yeah? Parrots for each other’s happy. But we just talked beside each other. Not past, because the words were hanging close to both of us, a finger, thread, half-done zipper. Then our conversation tied its shoes and walked off. I doubt I’ll hear from you again.

Do any two people speak the same language?

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

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“The past is always tense, the future perfect.” – Zadie Smith

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