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 110

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

Not to knock sports, but I’ve never been a sports fan. There’s a bit of self-defensiveness in that because I’ve never been very good at sports. For the most part, I don’t miss it. There are things I love, communities I’m a part of, hobbies that engage me. However, I do feel the gap of big, shared events – the World Series, the Super Bowl – the same way a kid feels vacant when she gets sick on her birthday. These last four years I’ve made my own replacement tradition: the first weekend in June, I drink beer, eat Little Caesar’s pizza, and watch coverage of the E3 video game press conferences.

I grew up escaping into video games and I still do. They’re a part of me, personally and artistically. When I was younger, playing games was still a nerdy thing; it’s moved to broader culture but there’s still some stigma tied to it. “If you’re playing that game, what else could you be doing?”

That’s a fair question. I’ve missed out on bits of life because of video games. In return, though, they’ve given me a large wardrobe of different clothes – vibrant, silly, violent, mournful, fantastic. I owe some personal development to A Link to the Past – it taught me that there’s magic in striving for something. Persona 4 taught me what it takes to write a vibrant, lived-in world.

I skipped the beer today – getting up too early tomorrow to allow for it – and before the shows I ran errands, wrote, checked all the productive boxes – but you can be damn sure I spent three hours on the couch munching cheese pizza transfixed by the possibilities of a thousand virtual childhoods blipping on the screen.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

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Chie Satonaka: Man, where the heck are we? What *is* this place? Someplace inside Junes?
Yosuke Hanamura: Hell no, it isn’t! I mean, we fell through a TV! Actually, uh… what *is* going on here?” – Persona 4

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