Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 201

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I could be watching a crowded stage full of important people debating; instead, I’m sitting by the window listening to a couple kids playing outside.

Tonight, I tried to be peaceful. I went to the store. It was crowded, unusually so for a Thursday at 7pm. I picked out dressing for a salad and thought about buying eggs. I didn’t buy the eggs. On the way out, I walked by the beer aisle where they had a promotion pouring taps. Half-priced pints, tipsy Thursdays. There was a bustle around the bar. There was also one table with two chairs. It was halfway into the dairy aisle. A couple had the table. She was sipping quietly, he was on his phone.

At home, I dressed my salad and added half a can black beans. It’s good to eat cold, crunchy food sometimes. I thought about a rainforest. Less about the fires than about those nature shows we used to watch as kids.

At work, we all got together in the lobby, me and my coworkers. A slow day, so we had time. They were worried about Trump. The election was on everyone’s lips. They made some points and I agreed with them, mostly. But I couldn’t help draining out of the room and into the summer sunshine outside, the tops of elm trees, yesterday’s cut grass. I felt bad for being distracted. I was trying to be peaceful.

The conversation got heated. Three women who voted for a woman who should have won by the numbers, but didn’t. The burnt bones in their throats brought me back down. Oh – peace isn’t on offer to all of us, I realized.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Damn real live people, getting in the way of peaceful ideals.

John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 184

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Five minutes into trying to fix the phone the screen goes black. My customer restarts it. We get a little further and it goes black again.

“I’m going to be your problem today,” she says.

With effort (and a call to IT) I help her fix her digital banking.

Later, I was chopping mushrooms. I was afraid I might cut myself. I hadn’t used the knife since a month ago when I cut my thumb. I quartered the mushrooms. It was easy. Then I pan-fried them on medium-high with a bunch of onions. No problems.

At 7:30, I cut all the lights off and lay down with my laptop. My curtains were open and it was twilight. I could hear kids playing. My room smelled like laundry detergent (they vent the building outside my door). I tried writing. The only thing that came to me was the feeling of turning on and off a phone. I closed the laptop and listened to the kids. It got steadily darker in my room.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 183

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Brew

What’s the value of work?

I went to the store today to buy cheese. Yesterday, at the grocery, I bought a bag of vegan mozzarella and half-gagged. I’m working my way to vegan but I’m not there yet.

Today, the cashier was a woman with red hair and black glasses. She was short. She had a pin on her shirt that said ‘Happily Serving Since 2019.’ Her hands had a lot of freckles on them.

Part of what was in our cart was a pom-pom mushroom. The cashier tried to ring it but it wasn’t in the system. So she set to flipping through the sku book, searching the computer, all to no luck. Eventually, she took the price per pound and multiplied it out by weight. She did the calculation on a piece of receipt paper.

Before we left, I asked the cashier how her shift had been. She smiled and said she’d been working since morning. Just before we came up she was supposed to take her half-hour break but the store got busy so she was sticking around to help. I thought that was really something.

Outside, under a cool gray sky, I tried to find pride in the way I spend my days.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

And suddenly, not a soul’s at the store as for other & similar & just as blank reasons, they’ve gone to the silence, the suppers of their own mystery.

Jack Kerouac, Book of Sketches

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 180

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It was crowded in the Chipotle. Two pretty women were working the line. I ordered first, R was behind me. I tried looking a little taller.

“Would you like hot sauce?” she said.

“No thanks. Busy day?”

“I just got here. Guac?”

Thirty seconds to the checkout guy. He couldn’t read my order so I had to tell it back to him. Half my age and bright-eyed as his braces. I was happy to see someone with some possibilities in front of them.

I left the Chipotle with a veggie bowl and no-one’s number.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

It is my trade,” he said. “I work for the bean family, and every day there are deaths among the beans, mostly from thirst. They shrivel and die, they go blind in their one black eye, and I put them in one of these tiny coffins. Beans, you know, are beautifully shaped, like a new church, like modern architecture, like a planned city

Janet Frame, Scented Gardens for the Blind

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 160

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I saw a pair of shoes I liked and was going to buy them until I looked at the label: leather lining. I put the shoes back. Can’t be both a vegetarian and a hypocrite, but when I got home and told this story to my roommate, her response was ‘leather is better for the environment.’ And that’s true. I know a guy who bought a $400 pair of leather loafers because they’re hand-crafted and able to be repaired, less lifetime waste. And even my mother – the first vegetarian I knew – bought leather shoes, for similar reasons.

But I can’t wear something else’s skin again. I just don’t have it in me.

I read a story about artificial eggs and dairy. The newest entry in the trend of impossible meat-free meats, biochemists isolated the whey protein producer and egg compounds and got a bunch of microbes to produce them en-mass. They sold their secrets for top dollars and now one company – Perfect Day – sells dairy-rich ice cream that never touched an udder. Pretty amazing. One of the scientists says ‘It’s a lot cheaper and more energy efficient than keeping a bunch of animals alive.’ I feel like there’s a dark lining there.

So I stick to my morals, I don’t buy the nice leather shoes, and I choose almond milk alternatives to dairy nine-times out of ten. But I still eat eggs occasionally, or a bit of cheese. What happens to the animals when we don’t need them anymore? A cow makes a poor pet.

Is there no way out of the violence? No, probably not.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

A modern woman sees a piece of linen, but the mediaeval woman saw through it to the flax fields, she smelt the reek of the retting ponds, she felt the hard rasp of the hackling, and she saw the soft sheen of the glossy flax. Man did not see ‘just leather’, he saw the beast – perhaps one of his own – and knew the effort of slaughtering, liming and curing.

Dorothy Hartley, The Land of England: English Country Customers Through the Ages

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 157

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I cooked a curry but really it was just some stuff I had lying around. An onion, two tomatoes, garbanzo beans, a healthy heaping of cardamom and turmeric. At first I had the burners too high so some of the onions caramelized, only they didn’t stop getting sweeter and burned black onto the pan. Too much of a good thing.

In the end, my makeshift curry matched the mood of the day: hot and scattered, but overall alright.

I talked to a guy who’d lost his job a few years ago. The company he worked for went under and out went his life savings. Since then he’s been building back up, and now he runs a few small businesses. He told me the worst decision he’d ever made was to do just one thing.

Later, I talked to a woman who’s just starting out. New job, new paycheck, looking for a way to build credit. She comes to me with a couple friends. I’ve met them all before, they move in a unit, they complement each other. Anyway, she’s got bigger dreams than I can help her with, but we have a long conversation about putting plans in motion, and she never stops being optimistic as she leaves for the door.

When I ate the curry, I couldn’t help picking out the different parts. I’d spear an onion or scoop a tomato. I had it all over rice. It was red and white and yellow, bits of green from some leftover edamame that snuck. I liked the colors. They looked good together, a complicated life.

For a moment, or a second, the pinched expressions of the cynical, world-weary, throat-cutting, miserable bastards we’ve all had to become disappears, when we’re confronted with something as simple as a plate of food.

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 143

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I took a first attempt at making a garbanzo bean daal tonight. I had a recipe but only half-followed it. When I went out to buy the groceries, I didn’t read the part that called for a food processor. You’re supposed to blend the onions. I don’t have a food processor so I couldn’t blend the onions.

Anyway, it turned out well. My fingers still smell like garlic, always a good sign.

Cooking can be a way to come to terms with yourself. This is the shit and piss that will leave your body, but in a more perfect form. It’s the best you can be, green cucumbers, ripe tomatoes. Every ingredient has that sheen of just-washed and it’s waiting there for you to work with it. In the same way, every day starts you fresh and ready to be worked on.

Geez, I’m sounding sappy tonight.

In the end, I added too much cayenne and not enough turmeric. The daal tasted like a long car ride in the desert, beautiful if excruciating, soaked in heat, but with the next great oasis visible on the horizon.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Oh, I adore to cook. It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.

Truman Capote, Summer Crossing