Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 174

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

This blog’s changed a lot over the last two years – I don’t talk about coffee much anymore. Well, who are we kidding, I never talked that much about it to begin with. Since switching to a work routine brewing the same blend every day I have less connection to it. I don’t miss it all that often because life’s busy and you need free time to miss something. Some days, though, my hands feel ready to hold the old grinder and twist it, then empty when there’s no beans in the house to grind.

People change.

I grew up loving elaborate performances. I took every opportunity to present projects or act in plays at school. Then I got older and introverted for many years, only to end up making a living by performing – an office chair prop and a sales desk stage. Anyway, that was just an example.

I remember drinking frappe’s outside of Athens. The World Cup was on and Greece was playing. We ended up at the least crowded bar. I wasn’t drinking then, so I had them serve me coffee. It was late at night but you never sleep when you’re traveling. I watched the bartender draw someone’s draft. He worked black magic not to drop a bit of foam. Then he filled a cup with Nescafe instant and frothed it with ice and sugar. He looked like a streetlight when he was handing it to me – blinking on and off. Greece hadn’t scored a goal.

I make money to cover my responsibilities but sometimes I spend it on frivolous things. Life’s dry toast without the frivolous things. It’s a long weekend. I might have grown away from grinding coffee, but maybe I’ll find a cafe for a change.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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There were some problems only coffee and ice cream could fix.

Amal El-Mohtar, Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 173

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I read a short story that took place beside a pool. It made me wish I’d gone to the pool more this summer.

I’ve got this memory of 8 or 9: I’m at the YMCA taking swim classes. My instructor is a college kid who looks like I imagine myself in ten years. At nights, I dream about him tagging me along on adventures.

The class is mostly floating. Bobbing up and down, learning not to drown. There are breaststrokes in all our eyes but that’s for next year. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is stay your age and keep coasting.

We had a bad thunderstorm one afternoon. My mother came to get me. I dried off in the locker room and went with her to the downstairs concession hall. They had events there sometimes, Kiwanis club or birthday parties. That afternoon, though, it was just us refugees.

My mom bought me a gatorade from the vending machine. It tasted like cut lemons. For fifteen minutes, all of us milled around while the rain died down, then we packed in separate cars and went home. I don’t remember much about the other people, or the event space, or the storm. I mostly remember the sour gatorade. But the point I’m trying to make is, I got to go home. There are kids kept by the American government in similar facilities right now, only they’re packed in tighter than your grandfather’s toolbox. Their doors are locked and armed guards chase away anyone trying to donate food or drinks. This is happening right now. The kids can’t go home. This is legal.

Most days I take a walk around the apartments and pass our pool. It’s often crowded. Girls and guys with salt-greased scalps and summer tans. Jumping in the water like new fishes, just born, and opening themselves to the entire ocean, infinitely free.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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At Dachau. We had a wonderful pool for the garrison children. It was even heated.

William Styron, Sophie’s Choice

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 172

Hi.

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

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

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, Year 2, Day 171

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Do you ever listen to a piece of instrumental music and wonder if the person who wrote it spoke the same language as you? I read that the reason music resonates with people is the tones are tied to our own vocal ranges, which themselves are tied to emotion. But people speak differently with different languages. “Mm’ means something different when you’re Japanese.

These days, a lot of electronic music uses samples of ambient sounds – raindrops, moving cars. No-one questions that it’s music. Does that mean the world’s speaking a language, too?

I once stood in an ancient Greek amphitheater. We took turns standing on the podium and saying something softly, seeing if we could hear each other up in the stands. We could. The Greeks knew acoustics. They were kind of obsessed with sound. Eventually, that obsession was passed down through Neo-Platonism and led to Kepler learning orbits – he thought he was deciphering the ‘music of the spheres.’

I don’t talk on the phone much anymore. It’s all come down to texting. I remember this one time back in college when I asked a classmate for her number and called her on the weekend. She was so confused by the call that she said she didn’t want to see me, and the rest of the year she sat on the other side of the class. I asked a buddy what had happened, and he said I should’ve sent her a text.

Right now, I’m listening to music and whistling along. What language is that?

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.

Maya Angelou

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 170

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I’ve been sitting here for fifteen minutes thinking about what to write today. My mind keeps getting stuck on violence.

I was reading articles about India. Modi’s grab of Kashmir, Pakistan’s reaction. I’m not Indian. I’m not Pakistani. I don’t know much about Kashmir. What I’m trying to say is that I can’t speak on the conditions creating the conflict. But reading about the hot afternoon protests and the armed guards walking the streets stuck a knot in my head.

I watched a video about conservationists catching hellbenders up near Asheville. Hellbenders are a particularly large and ruddy kind of salamander. To catch them, the men and women waded in thigh-high river water and turned over submerged stones. They brought the slimy red bodies into a plastic tract to measure them. Hellbenders are good indicators of a stream’s health – they’re sensitive, so they die in poor pollution.

In Canada, they just found the bones of two boys who left home to commit murder. They started with an old man who lived alone and caught more attention by killing an American woman and her Canadian boyfriend. As far as anyone can tell, they were dead set on committing the murders, not out of any particular ideology, but a deep personal desire. There’s a clip circulating of one of the kid’s Dad’s talking about how he knows his son is going to die. How he still loves him. How he’s sorry he couldn’t save him. This was before they found the bones.

I think about cool, running water. The weight of the world is a river stone.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I like it, I’m not gonna crack
I miss you, I’m not gonna crack
I love you, I’m not gonna crack
I killed you, I’m not gonna crack

Nirvana, Lithium

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 169

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Brew

I went walking in the woods and startled a black snake. She had skin like greased leather and a head like an almond. She was basking on a bridge. When she heard me, she shot off in the direction I was heading. She was candy, licorice, strings on the back of a dress. She stopped at the edge of the bridge. There was a wooden railing to wrap around. She kept her head out of view, but I could still see her tail.

I like snakes, but my heart jumps anytime I see one.

Besides the walk, I spent most of Sunday sitting inside under the ceiling fan. Even though it’s a cooler 89 degrees, that’s still too much for me. I listened to a podcast. An NPR anchor interviewed Colson Whitehead about his new book ‘The Nickel Boys.’ It’s fiction, but based on a real correctional school in Florida that had been operating for decades. The school was known for its abuses. They brought on one of the former boarders for interview. He talked about how he was brought to a small white room on his third day and beaten with a leather whip. Later, they mentioned the unmarked graves on the schoolgrounds, and how one of the bodies had buckshot in the bones. The school was investigated numerous times but only got shot down in 2011.

There’s this milky-white wisdom we all learned in kindergarten classrooms: snakes are poison, America has her amber waves.

What makes your heart jump when you see it?

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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I could see the bird soaring away. And then I realised there was no more shutting of your eyes to the truth,no salvation in being blindfolded,no dream and reality,no being awake or asleep. Everything is one and the same continuing eternal day and world, coiling around you like a snake. This is when I saw vast , remote happiness as being small but close.

Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 168

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Brew

I talked to a couple from Bangladesh yesterday. I did my best pronouncing their names. They did their best pronouncing mine. It felt good to make mistakes together. She’s working part-time at department stores and fast food, he’s sticking to the burger line. He told me he has a Masters from Bangladesh but none of the American jobs will acknowledge the degree.

I got a little lost last night, though in the tempered way you know you’ll come back from. We walked a trail through a dark forest and found that the trail had changed. It forked at a clearing where the sky broke open to show off her stars. There was an old shack and a basketball court, sand set out for beach volleyball. All of it looked silky in the moonlight, like the spiderwebs we’d been tangled in along the way.

I’ve been thinking about communication, what it takes to know someone. Sometimes the best way to say ‘I appreciate you’ is by putting your lips around a person’s name (no matter how complicated you find it). Other times, words are only the boards on the bridge and not its suspension – to get to the other side, you string a line between each other, stretching, until the two ends touch.

This afternoon, I stood by a tree for five minutes watching a squirrel. It was on the trunk. It had a white mushroom. At first, the squirrel got nervous and stopped eating. When I didn’t make any quick movements, the squirrel gnawed off the top of the mushroom and dropped its stalk. It climbed a few more feet. It circled the tree but came back to look at me. It’s little heart was beating so fast you could see it chattering through its teeth. Its eyes were neutron stars. For those five minutes, I felt like we understood each other. Then came a late summer breeze that blew us both away.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.

Fred Rogers