Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 291


Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

When we shot the rocket that killed Soleimani the stock market took a dive. The whisperings of war can be bad business – they bring uncertainty. This afternoon, without any more explosions, or gunshots, or any major players blowing each other up, the stocks climbed, hitting back at the record highs we’ve been seeing, as investors bought up the low-sells and stocks for defense spending and military suppliers soared. It’s a optimism, I guess, that even a bit of bloodshed can’t slow us down, that a certain level of killing is acceptable, desirable even in the ways it opens opportunity for more profit. That’s the world we live in. Optimism, like a long-lived vampire, ample blood.

Two weeks from now I’m getting my investing licenses. The Series 6, some life and insurance, just enough to dip my toes in the water, to buy and sell products based on the rates of the S&P and Dow. If it all works out, I’ll help clients take their savings and make more of it. I’ll have a hand in marriage funds and retirements, in putting some money away to pay for your first kid’s college. There’s this vision of bankers as unloving husks, the kind of people worn by their own suits, but that’s never how it’s felt to me. I sit with peoples’ stories and try to help them write the ones they want. Yes, it’s a business, but I’m in it more for the small impacts in peoples’ lives that they pay back to me by letting me in.

A few months from now, depending on where the world’s at, and how the market’s doing, I might help someone save for their retirement by earning them interest on weapon manufacturer funds. I won’t know it – I’m not daytrading, picking or choosing what companies to buy or sell from individually – but more then likely I’ll wake up to that languid smell, like winter iron, of a bit of blood on my hands.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

George Orwell, 1984

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 172


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Dow dropped 800 points today. Hard to imagine so much weight can come from a number, but for the first time in my life I’m starting to understand the significance. I work with loans, point people toward agents who can sell investments, I’ve got my hands on the puzzle pieces progressively putting them together. I get why a 2.5% drop in markets will affect everything – the less money you save, the less there is to work with, and that comes back to tightened belts and lower profits. No-one knows if this means a recession, but no-one knows it doesn’t either.

But understanding doesn’t mean the system makes sense.

I had a conversation about cicadas and locusts. A colleague couldn’t tell the difference, hadn’t seen a locust in person to compare. So we all swapped stories and I thought about the time in 7th grade where I sat beside a window in science class that looked out at the school garden. In April, the locusts came to the garden and started eating everything up. It felt like the end of the world. Back then, I was bullied, so the world’s end looked welcome.

It’s not you or me that’ll crash the markets. It’s the people with pouch-pockets full to bursting with all the money they’ve drained out of the economy. The richer you are the less wealth you spend. Then again, what’s wealth ever been but a measure of social capital? We sit at the window and watch the long brown grasshoppers eating up the tomatoes until we’re left with shoots and leaves.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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It is the job of the market to turn the base material of our emotions into gold.

Andrei Codrescu, Zombification: Stories from National Public Radio

Coffee Log, Day 232


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I read a lot about stocks and bull markets today. Some analysts think we’re running headstrong into another recession, others don’t. Either way, all the uncertainty is shaking the numbers. The Dow dropped sharp yesterday. Still, it’s been a year of record highs.

I read a lot about Hurricane Michael today. The Florida Panhandle looks like a drunk’s order at Waffle House – smothered and chunked. But they’ll rebuild. There was a long period of dilapidation after Rome got sacked fifteen hundred years ago then you wait awhile and along comes the Renaissance.

A razor breeze this morning, should have worn a coat. In the cold car I couldn’t help but take stock of the year: I lost a job, got another; I lost a car, got another; I lost a love, got…well, that’s complicated, but you get the picture. Point is, it should all sound like something hopeful: we recover. But then I kept on thinking and I remembered the old job, the old car, the day I asked her for everything under a perfect March moon. What is resilience, anyway?

I knew a guy who lost his job to the recession. He was oldish, 60’s, had been a manager at K-Mart for thirty years. Poof! said the market and that was it. I worked with him part-time in a retail stockroom. We folded clothes. He went home every day to a son he had late. I met his son once at a Moe’s. We shook hands. The guy was a proud father, but every time you looked at him there was a thirty-year hole in his gut.

That’s all to say: loss is real.

Good luck to Florida. Good luck to us all when the pearly-white avarice catches up. You’ll get better, most of you, but don’t feel ashamed to sneak a cigarette at 5am on the balcony every once in a while, charring up your insides, dipping ash like spackle as you build the unbuildable back up.

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

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“I want to be two people at once. One runs away.” – Peter Heller, The Dog Stars

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