Coffee Log, Day 255

Hi.

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

There’s a YouTube channel I’ve gotten into the habit of plastering the background of my days with. I read an article about it a couple months ago: a live stream, lo-fi electronic music, animated loop of a girl writing notes with her cat beside her. There’s somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000 people tuned in at any given time. A chat runs on the side. People ask each other’s ages, nationalities. Because it’s the internet, people sometimes tear at each other for their ages, nationalities. Old men try talking to young girls. But mostly I don’t see that sort of stuff here. A second ago, someone posted: “Type ‘c’ in chat if you wish you were this girl’s cat.” Now the log is full of ‘c’s’.

ChilledCow is the channel, if anyone’s interested.

I grew up in the ’90’s. Like everyone else of the era, I got fed this line that the internet would be this grand replacement of our public spaces. The clued-in kids were living lives on message boards. Fresh out the cold war, you could have casual conversation with a Russian and feel like maybe we aren’t so different after all.

For the most part, it didn’t go that way.

There are all sorts of communities on the net but they’re far from open. Subreddits on subreddits, you can get a group of like-minded mouths to build your echo-chamber. Step outside those boxes into something more public? Everything’s an ad or an assault. Meanwhile, brick and mortar America is dismantled, and the public spaces – the parks, the malls, the old downtowns – are stripped for expensive condos or parking decks.

I’m a part of this, or course. I go from work to home and back again. I don’t often have the thick skin for getting lost in the desolate unknown. But I wonder how we’ll know each other in fifty years? Gummy lips gone to atrophy.

So anyway, that’s why I think tiny public places like ChilledCow’s channel are precious.

Novel Count: 4,096 words

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

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“Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society, pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise), understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes, consumption or conservation. They map our lives.” – Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

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Coffee Log, Day 162

Hi.

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

I talked about education today. My coworker has three kids, all in school. Two take band and the third just got signed on the cheerleading team. There were a few facts that caught me:

Band dues are $400 yearly; compared to other Wake County schools, that’s considered cheap.

According to their pediatrician, cheerleaders have about as many concussions as football players; they get teeth knocked out; they miss weeks of school. However, there’s no protective gear for cheerleaders. There also aren’t many cheerleading scholarships.

What these facts tell – as plainly as a Hemingway short – is that music isn’t for the poor and safety and respect are subsidiary to beauty.

My coworker’s single. She doesn’t make that much more than me. She works four Saturdays a month, extra shifts. She showed me a powerpoint her son made arguing his case for a cell phone. It was perfect – not persuasive, just innocent. He doesn’t see the long bills his mother sweat-pays.

At 10:00, my coworker tells me she’ll be taking lunch late, mid-afternoon. I say “Won’t you be hungry?” She says “Well, I’ve got to get my daughter to practice.”

Remind me what the ‘public’ is supposed mean when we stick it next to ‘education?’

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“But I weather the storm, I’m a lightning streak.” – Lil Wayne, That’s All I Have

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Coffee Log, Day 150

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

A day in transit: I went to the NC Museum of Art then to Burlington for M’s birthday. The museum had a piece by Yayoi Kusama. It was a mirrored box with tiny portholes. Inside, lights flashed. I waited forty-five minutes to see it. They let in three of us at a time. We saw each other through the holes, cascaded in the strobes, the rest of the world carefully kept behind us. It was intimate, public, aloof.

Four years ago, I saw one of Kusama’s polka dotted pumpkins outside the Fukuoka art museum. My guide told me she didn’t know why it had so many dots. I didn’t either. I told her that in America, all the pumpkins are orange. She found that strangest of all.

We pray together at private phone cathedrals; waiting in line, mutually restless.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Polka dots can’t stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments.” – Yayoi Kusama

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