Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 225


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I got a spam comment on a Coffee Log from a couple days ago inviting me to click a link for an online gambling site. The fact that this algorithm caught me from the sea of thousands upon thousands of wordpress blogs is a little flattering. I’ve got the eyes of internet scammers. I’m worth being fished.

Does this mean I’ve made it?

In all seriousness, though, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to define my own success. When I was a kid, I used to say I’d only be satisfied if I won a Nobel Prize. Okay, let’s be honest, I was saying that as late as a few years ago. But things have changed. I had a lot of setbacks on the path I’d set for myself as a writer. And, even more damning, I’ve had a lot of successes in things that have nothing to do with writing.

No-one really knows what they’re looking for. The prize lacks luster when you find it. And one trip’s end just begins another. Etc, etc. I’m on the brink of 30. That’s not old in the whole of human population, but it looks like a milestone to me. One clear feeling has crept out of the space between the big ‘3’ and ‘0’, and that’s a sense of dis-belonging – or, to put it another way, that life isn’t so much about being recognized as about recognizing yourself. With or without a Nobel, 99% of your time is spent with yourself.

So I’m trying to write for me. Turns out, that’s more challenging than imagining my best-selling audience right around the corner. Sitting down to type something is no different than being alone, and being alone can be both brutally honest and miserly un-forthcoming. You’re not a question. There’s no answer to yourself. You’ll get up tomorrow and things will change or they won’t. Maybe you’ll be the one to change them. But none of that comes home with you. You only go to sleep with dreams of wildflowers, mixed magic, spidersilk.

Frankly, I’m exhausted. I hardly ever do anything, but I spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how to do it. If I hadn’t given my word to a faceless health insurer to lay off smoking for $30 a month, I’d light something right now. But your word’s important, and you’ve got to stick to it, even when you’d rather be burning up.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Yes, I know what you mean about writing and writers. We seem to have lost the target. Writers seem to write to be known as writers. They don’t write because something is driving them toward the edge.

Charles Bukowski, On Writing

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 31


Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

There was a thunderstorm today. While it was on, I opened the windows and read a book. Isn’t that exactly what you’re supposed to do in such a situation?

I’m working my way through ‘The Sense of an Ending.’ I like it better than I had to begin with but still find it overly wrought and pretentious. Maybe it’s supposed to be. That said, being true to yourself doesn’t fix everything.

Anyway, the narrator is constantly caught up in philosophies. He and his friends pick apart life for the logical core – a tootsie pop, but with no humor. And less owls.

That all got me thinking about different intelligences. For the bulk of my life, I considered myself rational. Hell, I got a degree in Philosophy, for God’s(s) sake. To a younger me, it seemed being rational – and rationally intelligent – was key to living a good life. More than that, it was the only key. You were either someone who thought critically or you were making deep mistakes about yourself. What I was missing – and what all of western patriarchy so carefully misses – is that reason is only one small way to understand the world.

I remember having this conversation with an ex about feminism. She said one of the ways women are discounted is by being labeled emotional. Well, I knew that much, and I was on board. But she went on to say that there are these broader ways of looking at a situation – through emotional, psychological, social, etc lenses – that get completely ignored by the competitive mainstream. And by ignoring them, you exclude people who may not have been given the keys to the Castle on the Hill, but who have very real, valid, meaningful experience to bring to the table.

Anyway, the Narrator of “The Sense of an Ending” goes on and on about this girl who broke his heart. And he’s constantly trying to pick apart his memories of her to figure out who she really was and why she did some things she did. But what I think he’s missing – and maybe so is Barnes – is that a lot of action, by both men and women, is not taken like a fruit from some tree of logically consistent causality, but from any other sort of vibrant garden, whose bushes grow great branches without every caring about a things like reason or intelligibility.

Novel Count: 34,291

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.

Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending