Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 138

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I’ve got two faces. A flipped coin. Spring and winter. The dial on the faucet that goes from cold to hot. Courtney and her lover disagreeing about which oven to buy for their new house. The thin white line that takes the top of puddles lit by moonlight. I’m the Sphinx and I’m riddling myself.

It was a long day at work. Then, at home, I sat restless for a few minutes still dressed in my best threads. The house seemed to have fallen down around me. I was still in my office. Four walls, an oblong feeling from being in an interior room with glass walls. I saw myself doing all the things I should be doing tomorrow, and I tried to put them away, but I couldn’t. On the flip side, if I had to wager, I’ll spend a good portion of tomorrow looking through my work computer to neighborhood trees and sentences I need to write.

What I’m trying to say is, work/life balance isn’t easy. Or maybe it doesn’t exist at all.

With nowhere else to go, I’ll keep on spinning, flipped in the air loosely.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The stress so strong it got me weak
I’m so on, it threw me off (Yeah)

JID, 1993

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 136

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Sometimes I daydream about a bonfire. It’s on the side of the creek. It’s in a grass bed. It’s surrounded by trees.

There’re five other men sitting by the fire. I don’t know two of them. I’m friends with the other three. One guy has an orange insulation vest. He’s roasting sausage on metal spits. The other stranger tells stories about when he was young.

In this daydream, I’ve got a sleeping bag but no tent. Nighttime is coming. The sun’s hit the ground and lost some teeth, venus, the north star. I hear the water running through the creek bed but can’t see it. Rushing water gets louder when it’s dark.

I know I need to hide somewhere. My three friends will fall asleep. I’ll be alone with the strangers who tend the fire. I try to grip the old, last season leaves still stuck in the summer grass. I try to build a cover so they can’t find me. But it’s no good. I’m exposed.

Six midnight hours of ravenous flame. In the daydream, I wake up with two tick bites, a light head, and everyone gone.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

Charles Bukowski, Factotum

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 135

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was talking to the manager of the subway about problem customers.

“There was this lady an hour ago,” he says. “She sees me making four subs. I am the only one working. When I am on the second sub, she asks me what’s taking so long.” The guy pauses like he’s told a story before. “I think she’s joking, of course. But she’s not joking. I see it in her face. She says very loudly I’m making her late.”

“And? Does she get a sub?”

“No, she leaves first.”

We move down the conveyor belt. My sub’s done toasting and I tell him to add all the veggies. This guy’s from Ethiopia, gave me the name of a good vegetarian restaurant I haven’t had the chance to try. What I’m saying is, we know each other, but we’re on a last-name basis.

At the sauce, he says: “The worst customer I ever had was two years ago. He was an old man. He was taking a long time. There were other customers. I asked him to move if he needed to decide, he wouldn’t move. Then he asks me if there is anyone else working and I tell him it is only me. And he says: “Well then I’m leaving because I don’t want my food being made by a foreigner.””

It’s the kind of moment you wish you had a stress ball to demolish but you don’t so you’re standing there, locking eyes with this guy, still smiling. I couldn’t stop smiling, like my muscles were in shock.

“That’s awful,” I told him. “And pretty damn un-American.”

But there’s a happy ending, or at least a silver lining: the customers in line behind the old man cussed him out. And the next day they brought the Subway manager home-baked cookies; and the day after that they brought him a giant cardboard card signed by a 150 people who work in the shopping center saying how happy they are he’s a part of the community.

“That card is still hanging in my home,” he said.

I paid for the sub and shook his hand. His fingers were strong enough to slice a hundred loaves of bread.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal.

Victor Hugo, The Memoirs of Victor Hugo

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 134

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee

I knew an old guy whose daughter died to a heroin addiction. The addiction didn’t kill her directly – a 9mm bullet did – but it was the heroin that bought the guns in the first place.

This old guy lived beside my parents. He wore denim jeans and plaid shirts. He couldn’t afford the electric bill after his daughter died and he couldn’t see shit anyway so he sat in the dark. Or, on nice days, he sat outside.

The old guy had a moped. He’d lost his license and his truck didn’t have tags anyway. One night, some guys broke in – friends of his daughters’ – and stole parts off the moped. One of them gun-stocked him hard enough to break skin. Needless to say, the moped stopped working, so sometimes he’d ask my dad for a ride. And since this was years ago and I was living at home, sometimes he’d ask me too.

The old guy’s favorite place to go was the homeless shelter. Not because he got half his food there (which he did) but because there was this lady two decades younger he called his girlfriend. She was playing him – I saw it, my dad saw it, hell, the old guy probably did too. On two separate occasions she stole his flip-phone. But he said he loved her and he went so far as to help her get a job at Wal-Mart (which she promptly lost). This was after they’d broken up. That shortcake-with-the-strawberries kind of love.

Eventually, the landlord managing the old guy’s house wanted him out. He was late on the rent and bad news for the neighborhood. In the middle of the night, the landlord drove out and stapled a sign on the front door that said the building had been condemned. It was pink paper, light ink, not a lot of dollars spent for the notice.

Well, the old guy moved. He wasn’t quite evicted but when a building gets condemned there’s not much more to do but go. He had no relatives and had made enemies with his girlfriend’s folk at the homeless shelter. One day, he hopped in a taxi and that was it.

A month or so after he was gone, the condemnation notice mysteriously disappeared.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

And when they slowed down, the fallen leaves in the forest seemed to make even the ground glow and burn with light.

Malcolm Lowry, October Ferry to Gabriola

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 133

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I almost forgot to post this today. I woke up early and went to work. I came home and crashed. I spent most of my hours in an almost stupor. Here and there, our temporary puppy nibbled at my toes to wake me up.

The most beautiful thing about today was wading through the scraps of 4th of July fervor. I talked to a guy who’d just come back from Europe. I talked to a number of people who’d taken burgers to grill on the beach. There’s an anxious look to people who’ve gotten off vacation. Their eyes are trying to find any cool pillow and soft mattress, a couch and two hours of serial dramas, the privacy of their own bed. They’ve had their great crusades into the wider world and come back a little bloodied, no matter how much fun they’ve had. For the first time since this same vacation last year, they feel comfortable doing nothing, having seen the world, tried it on, and found it doesn’t fit as perfectly as they were expecting.

I didn’t go anywhere for the 4th. I haven’t taken a vacation. In fact, I’ve mostly been working. But I still want to feel like all those vacationers coming home. So, that’s where I’ll end it – goodnight.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

When people went on vacation, they shed their home skins, thought they could be a new person.

Aimee Friedman, Sea Change

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 131

Hi.

Coffee: House Blend, Ithaca Coffee Company; It’s been a long time since I’ve ground my morning coffee; I’ve gotten in the habit of drinking the work stuff, or splurging for out-of-housers on my days off; today, I wanted to feel that old sensation of tiring my arms out, and I’ve still got some of these beans my friend gave me a month ago, so I put my all into it; the coffee came out tasting like green beans fresh off the vine

There’s a puppy in the apartment. His name is Gus. He’s my roommate’s brother’s dog and we’re watching him while they’re out of town. This morning, I was up before anybody and went to pet him in his sleeping-crate. He gnawed on my fingers with prickly puppy teeth.

I walked by the pool today and saw people sunbathing. Storm clouds came but they stayed there, bearing the heat and imminent rain, cooking on the grill, exposing their right to live here freely, embracing independence with burned bodies.

It’s the 4th of July – a celebration of America’s independence. I haven’t done much to celebrate. A friend posted a link to the Declaration so I read it. I saw how it said all ‘men’ are this and that, equal and free, etc, etc, and couldn’t help but remember my time studying Classics in college, ancient Athenian law, where there was a functioning Democracy with extensive freedoms for all citizens, only ‘citizen’ was a small category that included only Athenian-born men.

I grew up loving the sound of ‘America,’ and have grown old getting more and more skeptical of what I hear. When we celebrate, what are we celebrating? An old dim dream? Or something you can put your arms around?

There are children being caged on American soil. And I’m not just talking about the migrant communities. In a country of for-profit prisons, can we really celebrate freedom each year?

More work to be done.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence