Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 299


Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s

A goose gaggle had taken over the parking lot outside Trader Joe’s. They were everywhere, and it was hard to drive.

I heard this story from M about how kids in an art project at her museum were asked to think of objects that they used everyday and 99% of them said their smartphone. And when she tried to poke and prod for other answers, there were blank faces, incredible stares, like ‘what else is there?’ These were first graders.

I took my cactus, Herbert, from the old office because no-one was watering him. He doesn’t need much, but he does need some, and now he’s sitting in my bedroom window drinking up the sun. I watered him yesterday and liked the way the dirt clumped around his narrow roots. I liked the idea of touching something, remotely, through a simple act of benevolence, it made me feel like a Messiah, in my own way, the best sort of full-of-yourself. Because the fact is, this cactus needs me, and another fact is, I need him.

What objects do I use everyday? It’s a long list, smartphone’s certainly up there. Then there’s the desk, and chair, and water glasses, the first and the second (I always forget the first glass and pour another before I come to my senses), computer keys. I don’t know what I’d do without any of it. Modern comfort. The first world.

The geese are headed south. They’re only here for a stopover, I don’t know how far they’re going. Geese like to eat and sleep as I do, and they like the company of other geese. They’re a million miles high sometimes, and others they’re on the ground. In a few months they’ll hatch their eggs, New life, new birth. What will the goslings says coming into this world?

‘Mom, where’s my iphone?’

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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

Suddenly there they are (the geese), a wavering V headed directly over the hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.
They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.

Wallace Stegner

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 35


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I like to work out in my bedroom with the windows open. It’s a nice way to feel alive. I have a routine – nothing fancy – that works in some aerobics with strength building. All-in-all, on a good day, I spend about half an hour working out.

Today, as I started jogging in place – heart pounding, lips flapping like a disoriented duck – an eleven-year-old girl walks by the window. My room faces the walkway and has a perfect view of our front door. The girl walks right up to the door and knocks. She’s our downstairs neighbor and drops by sometimes for this or that. For a second, I’m still jogging. Then she turns, looks right at me, and waves. I wave back. After that, I close the curtains.

There’s no such thing as privacy. You could move to the mountains on a private road and never leave your home, but either the government or google would still find you. I was reading an article about a guy who tried to eliminate his identity after someone threatened his family. He set up a series of trusts and llc’s, dummy addresses, dummy cars, fake names even, and all he managed to do was wipe over one identity for another. Maybe no-one could peek in on the original him, but everyone knew the new ‘you.’ Like I said, try as you want, there’s no such thing as privacy.

But maybe there used to be.

A lot of human history is an example of cutting up the world into carefully closed boxes. Castle walls, winter clothes. We try to give things shape. We let some things in and others out. There are only certain people who should look in your bedroom closet, fewer still who get to see what’s under your blankets. If you speak a certain language or swear to a certain flag, whole swathes of a culture are off limits to you. You can change the shapes you fit in, but you never fit into them all.

The internet changed all that. Technology has a way of breaking down your door. It all came on so quick and fast that we’re still living like we’ve got these carefully concocted privacies, yet in reality we’re all exposed. Our homes, our lives, our bank accounts. I think there’s something profound and terrifying about that. Also a little exciting.

So anyway, I should have known better than to leave my window open while I worked out. I should have known someone would catch me and I’d be embarrassed. That said, I’m sure I’ll open the windows again tomorrow. Privacy’s a done deal anyway.

Novel Count: 34,368

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

Albert Camus

Coffee Log, Day 88


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:

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