Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 24

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I have this skin condition called vitiligo. It means I’ve lost the pigment in patches along my face and arms. I forget about it mostly. Even in the healthy spots, my skin is the color of a peeled banana, so what’s a little more white to do to me? But I went walking today for a couple hours and now I’m cherry soda.

Skin damage notwithstanding, it was a nice walk.

I was thinking about stories. What’s the first story you remember someone telling you? Was it from the family? Did Grandma Lutz have a secret drinking habit? Was Grandpa Dan a lieutenant in the Second World War? Instead, it might have been fiction. Something cooked up.

I’ve got this vivid memory of sitting awake some afternoons in my crib reading a baby book about a woman’s lost britches. It was done up in whites and oranges. It was hardly real. And a little later in life, the things that really stuck to me are the fantastic – Llyod Alexander’s Black Cauldron books. The first few things I tried to write were fantastic. I wrote a poem about greek gods embodied in the clouds. I wrote a breezy novella about a man with a sword. All of this was before middle school. Since Middle, only realist words come out.

A few days ago, I posted something about the ‘ordinary’ being the most compelling thing to capture in writing. I stick by that. But I also think the ‘ordinary’ might only appear when you pit it against the extraordinary.

There’s this video game that’s the fourth in it’s series called ‘Persona 4.’ I might have talked about it on here before. It’s a long, winding RPG. The protagonists have supernatural powers and fight a supernatural threat. But they all live in a small Japanese town in the 2000’s. In fact, half the game (no exaggeration) is spent studying for math exams or going to soccer practice, idling rainy days at the local ramen shop, watching TV with your cousin. Shadows and monsters lurk in every corner, but they’re there to put a spotlight on ordinary life. You stay at home and build a plastic model, knowing that the whole world could come down around you tomorrow. Kind of Sisyphus, when you think about it. Damn if that game didn’t stick to me.

So I have to ask myself: can I come back? Can I re-capture that magic? I’ve been stripping stories down, taking out the pigment. Is there some pixie dust around with which to put it back?

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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Child, child, do you not see? For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are.

Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron


Coffee Log, Day 169

Hi.

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

Blue Raspberry lollipop – it turned your whole mouth blue. Nephew of my coworker, the women show you off. Your mom was a drinker but you changed that. Your aunt talks tense phone-calls to laughter. Your friend – another coworker – has a strong southern accent.

How will you talk in 2035? You’ve got good parents, blond hair, blue eyes, but if you’re lucky – if we’re all lucky – those marks won’t have the same cache’ they do today. Will you spend fourth grade watching that one girl from the back of class, only to grab her hand in the lunch-line and kiss it, only to tell her that means you’re married, only to tell your parents and hear them laugh it off like ‘That’s what young men do.’ Will they teach you abstinence or responsible love?

In history books, white western men sin in the 100’s, fight in the 1000’s, conquer through the 21st century; they fight, kick, scream, spill blood until their hands are sticky enough to never drop the reigns. They don’t love, except voraciously; they don’t cry, except pathetically.

You walked behind the counter to get another lolly. I was there. I said: “High Five!” You were static smiles, so much innocent joy it got stuck on me. We smacked palms then you went running. I hope I gave you something. I spent twenty years making love to ill-gotten power, the next ten making up for that. I’m still making up for that. I hope you felt: brave; storied; vulnerable; open; powerless. I was born in the twilight of western white manhood. I’m fighting daily to make sure it dies. I hope you’ll never have to look at your naked limp body in the mirror and pick it down to honest sinews, take scalding showers to wash your grandfather’s sins. I hope you get to choose a good man, an honest man, an equitable man from the beginning.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It is strange,’ he said at last. ‘I had longed to enter the world of men. Now I see it filled with sorrow, with cruelty and treachery, with those who would destroy all around them.’
‘Yet, enter it you must,’ Gwydion answered, ‘for it is a destiny laid on each of us. True, you have seen these things. But there are equal parts of love and joy.” – Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron
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