Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 248

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s

I remember when I had a flip phone. Life was less accessible. No maps, no email. But I’m not saying anything new.

A lot of my time is digital. I liken it to playing solitaire at a French cafe. The cards are replaced by the keyboard and the ambient conversations are twitter feeds, but both have coffee and stiff chairs. Matching up moments, looking for aces.

In Another Country, Baldwin talks about how everyone’s caught the shadow of this French Cathedral. The entire town walks with it, watchful, schoolmaster, never alone. It was striking writing and it resonated. But then I started thinking about my own monoliths and I couldn’t come up with one. Cary has an ordinance that prevents building skyscrapers, or putting up billboards. The only tall shadows are the natural down of pine trees. So, living in this low world, I don’t go out much, and if I do the trip takes me father than home, a tourist. Nothing fixes us to that shared center, all our monoliths are our own.

I’m listening to lofi while I write this. There’s 300 other people in the Youtube channel. But I don’t see them and they don’t see me, and I could close this window at any time. Sometimes, I just wish someone would touch me, like bread breaking; French cafe.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Patience’s design flaw became obvious for the first time in my life: the outcome is decided not during the course of play but when the cards are shuffled, before the game even begins. How pointless is that?

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 147

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

I went to the shore to abandon myself. The water was the color of 2% milk. There were long lines. A woman in an airliner’s outfit was trying to guide them but everyone was pushing. Further up, kids without parents were left playing in the dunes.

I took my shoes off. My feet were calloused from all the walking, the sand was hot, so they hurt. Eventually it would be high tide and none of this would matter. ‘Eventually’ can take a long time.

At sea there was a fisher’s boat. It was painted blue. The crew had a heavy old net with weights woven in it that they were sinking to the bottom. Every hour, they’d haul the net and let it hang to let out the milky water. What was left were the effects – shoes, shirts, hair-weaves, and sometimes, if the crew was lucky, a rolex. It was all escheated – that’s what you signed up for – but before shipping it off to the State, the fishers took their cut.

No-one ever asked what happens to the bodies.

When it was my turn, the woman in the airliner’s outfit had me stamp my thumbprint. She took out a roll of string and a ruler, got my measurements. Before she was even done with me, she was looking at the next person in line.

But it didn’t matter. I had gone to the shore to abandon myself. Now, I was ankle-deep in the water. It’s milk licked my slacks until they were a darker color. It was colder than I expected, and I felt like a tree, like all the heat of the day was getting drawn through my toes, deeply buried roots. It scared me. But it wasn’t an awful feeling.

Finally, sunk to my chin, I couldn’t think about anything. All I felt was joy. I couldn’t hear the children with no parents playing on the dunes. I couldn’t see the fisher’s boats doing their drudgery a couple miles off-shore. I’d forgotten how to spell, and when I looked at the clouds the only word that came to me was ‘candy.’ Every bit of horror was gone. And with that, I let the waves crash over me, sniffing out the space I’d made for myself, comfortably disconnected, at the bottom of the sea.

(some Saturdays, it’s hard to turn on the news)

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

So long as the child was fed on its mother’s milk, everything seemed to it smooth and easy. But when it had to give up milk and take to vodka, – and this is the inevitable law of human development – the childish suckling dreams receded into the realm of the irretrievable past.

Lev Shestov, All Things Are Possible

Coffee Log, Day 168

Hi.

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

I take the highway at 65 high-school-track-fields per hour, faster than the 8-minute miles I managed fifteen years ago. Things sped up; times changed.

I’m working Raleigh, a branch I haven’t been to. Maps come out the car speaker anticipating twists and turns, turning the music down automatically, red lines for bad traffic, or lines in the eyes where I haven’t been sleeping, supplementing missed midnights with caffeine.

Crickets in the early mornings when I walk the two turnbacks downstairs to the parking lot, reminding me of that one night after high school when we all went to Cedarock Park and built a fire, grilled hot dogs, slept bare-skinned in sleeping bags, made reckless love with ticks and crickets and coal-cracking store-bought branches; or of nights lost to five-more-minutes with the four inches of my iPhone, a spaceship/rocketship sort of life, burning time like jet fuel; or of strawberry-cheeks and IPA lipgloss, the ways I wish I saw you, the ways I wish you saw me, but only the white walls ever see much of anything, even though I haven’t hung them with anything yet.

I’m a bill-payer; news-checker; chatbox stalker; internet lover; a Modern Man.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“I didn’t need to think of myself as a walleye drifting along in a current somewhere, just waiting for my hook. I was yearning for it.” – Emily Fridlund, A History of Wolves

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Coffee Log, Day 88

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

I did some research: traditional beer brewing often uses fish bladders in the filtering process. I quickly scanned my favorites to see if they participate in the practice and thankfully the best of the bunch – Guinness, Negra Modelo, etc – were all clear. For those interested, here’s a handy website to see if you’re drinking animals to get drunk: barnivore.com.

We all have our castles. They’re not physical, rather mental, rather dreamed up delusions that the world was always perfect, always an act of divinity (labeled science, god, what have you), came out of the primordial soup with straight plastic lines and nutritional labels. Go back a few hundred years and people knew a lot less but what they did know was immediate and vital. I couldn’t sew a patch in my jeans if you asked me; a few centuries back, my family made their clothes from scratch.

That lack of transparency means we’re all drinking fish bladders without realizing it. We take for granted that every act we participate in is bloodless, safe, pure. When we shop or sit down at the cafe we’re above the muck and grime, blind to prejudice, removed from human (and animal) suffering. But the trick is that we’re doing all the same things we’ve been doing since DNA struggled to produce claws and fangs, only we’ve automated the process so well as to give ourselves the illusion of having no agency over it.

I’m trying to be better. I’ll buy vegan beer. I’ll look at the corporate missives when I buy clothes, try to avoid the sweat shops. I gave up shrimp a long time ago because so much of the stuff was drawn from dark waters on slave ships in Southeast Asia. But try as I might, I’m going to stumble into horror and atrocity with big, ignorant smiles time and time again.

It’s hard to be good and modern at the same time.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka

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