Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 297

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; smooth like two oysters rubbed together right out of the river, the way you knock the dirt off, and how the sand is mostly gone but some still gets to you; reliable, and good enough

This is the longest I’ve gone in two years without posting a daily Coffee Log, On Friday I was busy studying for my upcoming investment exams, and when I left the office I drove straight to Atlanta. Over the weekend, I was letting myself have the joy of participating in my life instead of taking a few steps back to look at it. Yesterday was more driving, and a bit of thought about MLK.

I remember we used to celebrate MLK day back in grade school. It was an excuse for semi-black songs sung in music class, the kind that have the culture toned down and not too much rhetoric of emancipation – Respect, or Lean On Me. There was a dream but we dozed through it, especially our teacher. And all us little white boys and girls felt equal in every way.

M watched ‘13TH‘ on Netflix yesterday while I was driving and told me about it, how a clause in the 13th Amendment about freedom’s contingence on criminal status had been manipulated after Jim Crow for the imprisonment of African Americans and the profit of everybody else. She told me how they showed Emmet Till two times on the show. Earlier, on Friday, when I first got to her apartment, she’d been reading this book about James Baldwin and they showed Till in there, too. So it was a weekend bookended by tragedies neither she nor I have to suffer directly, filled through the middle with our joy, a kind of American Oreo how you’ve got the black on the the margins, and this overstuffed privilege in the middle. At least we try to think about it, I guess, and let our hearts be haunted a little, but that doesn’t make it any clearer what to do.

I want to think of my joys as attainable and my sufferings as undeserved, but so much of my joy is bought on the backs of a wicked oppression, one that has its roots in my family tree. It keeps growing now matter how I’d like to trim it. Every year, it bears more fruit, so that the bitterness and hunger is belonged to me, an awful harvest, and one that, despite my clear-eyes and longing conscience, I continue to reap and continue to sew.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Article 1, 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 296

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee

I got the car washed but it didn’t do much. There are black spots from last spring where the pollen stuck. I didn’t want a white car but that’s all they had for me. You can choose, but choices aren’t perfect. It was a drive-through wash, automatic, maybe the stains will go away with a bit of elbow grease.

Later, at the Wal-Mart, I was buying a desk-fan. I couldn’t find it and the girl who worked there couldn’t either. She asked a manager, who knew. I bought it but don’t know if it works yet. I need it for my desk in the new office, the one they’ve got me studying at. The office is a sauna. There’s a pretty window, though, on a technical college parking lot, with lots of clean cars.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Told you. Everything sounds better in the car wash.

Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 294

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s

Somebody I don’t know donated a couple dollars to my Ko-fi account. I’m a little embarrassed, like it’s Christmas but I didn’t get you anything. Mostly though I’m flattered. Anyway, thanks.

I went driving across town. I had the windows up because it was blustery. I was listening to that new Drake and Future drop. Most of the drive was sunny, even though most of the day was cloudy. But it got cloudy again around the old Kroger that Harris Teeter bought. It’s only ever cloudy when I’m around there. I don’t know what it is. Secret magic; un-understood science.

At the light, stopped, on the corner of High House where the lights are always long, I checked the news. There were stories on Iran. How they shot that plane down accidentally and now they’re owning up to it. So I was thinking about Iran the way I have been most of the week. I was thinking about how little I know of the country. I was thinking about that story from last century where we coordinated the coup against their democratic government and re-installed the Shah. A lot of stray thoughts that I don’t have enough room in my house for.

I fell asleep last night while M was still up. She tells me she’s up til two feeling restless, or kept up by the cat. Meanwhile I’m out. It’s funny how we share the world. How some of us are up, some of us asleep. It’s like there’s not enough room for everyone so we’ve got to take turns. A raft ride at a water park, sleepwalking toward the drop. And so much of it is scary but when I think about M up at odd ours, or opening her eyes when I’m clean out, it seems like things are in good hands. That’s peace, I guess.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Workin’ on a weekend like usual
Way off in the deep end like usual

Future feat. Drake, Life is Good

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 293

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. I’ve gotten out of the habit and I’m trying to be gentle with myself about that. There’s a time and place for everything and my time and place have changed since I started this blog. 2020 looks better with the lights off, blissfully dreaming.

But I want to write sometimes and that’s where I’m at right now. I’m thinking about July, as I often do, thinking about the summer when it’s not summer, because summer is inescapable, the sticky heat, the haunting trees, the exasperating blue skies. Thirteen years ago, when I was 17, I wrote a poem at a summer camp. I wrote after curfew and got a few words from my roommate who wanted me to turn my light off, he was trying to sleep.

What a different time.

Last night brought restlessness before a few good dreams. I was thinking about work, about the people, not the job, and about brushfires, and about Iran. Most days, it seems like the world is just as restless as me. It has all these big things in front of it and lashes out anxiously. It can’t sit down, can’t focus, can’t come together, so we just keep killing or looting or burning, because fire warms up the coldest black heart, and disaster is at least some kind of momentum. But I think, really, what we’re all wanting is to calm down, take a good long breath, and find that place that’s peaceful enough for us to write something every morning. The freedom to think about your life is a luxury, one people less fortunate than me are dying for.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Sometimes we can become too holy and therefore, caged.

Charles Bukowski, On Writing

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 292

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s

I wanted to make a pasta sauce so I looked up local kitchen supply stores. There’s this place called Whisk, and it’s only ten minutes away from me, so I went there. Whisk is in Waverly, a shopping center, on the second floor, overlooking an outdoor playplace. It was busy because they were having a sale.

In the end, though, I couldn’t afford to buy local, because the cheapest saute pans they had were $150. I had this half-second binge of being bougie, walking along the aisles with well-off professionals, feeling well-off myself. There was a a woman ten years older than me checking Le Creuset’s off her list. A cadre of retirees cooked pasta at a paid lesson in the back. But I don’t make that kind of money, though I do make a decent living, and I had to leave empty-handed.

In the end, I bought my pan from Wal-Mart. It was even busier, Sunday blues singing through everyone’s day-old pajamas. There were teen couples int he freezer aisle and hair curlers picking up prescriptions. A Portugese family had to ask for help finding a second set of oven mitts. And I felt too well-off to be there, like I’d lost a bit of the struggle I used to feel, and thinking so turned circles in my stomach.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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How do I like to spend my day off? I like to hit up the juice bar, the bookstore, tan, and then flirt with the pharmacy tech at Walmart.

Crystal Woods, Write like no-one is reading

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 291

Hi.

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 290

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

A couple kids around a campfire as the sun goes down, speaking Russian; the last day of a long decade.

Happy New Year’s Eve.

2020 confounds me. The strange thing about the future is that it makes you look back and so 2010 is where my head’s at tonight. I was younger, a virgin, had never tried whiskey, or smoking, my vices were less dramatic but more severe. I was an introvert. I was in college but couldn’t stomach it. Classes were fine, but the people – they all seemed to have somewhere better to be.

It was around a decade ago that things changed. They’re always changing, but 2010 was different. We started drinking up each other through the long straw internet. Smartphones. The first iphone was in 2007 but by the 10’s they’d taken off. You’ve got everything in your pocket, all your money, all your friends, too much and too little time. Life got demarcated in ways it hadn’t been, so that the big pictures were clearer than ever while the details got so subdivided into clickbait attention-takers – we all became farsighted. Even while I’m writing this, I’ve checked the time and answered two texts.

I went to Greece that summer in 2010. June, my first trip abroad, first trip alone. It was to study but I didn’t really study. We had classes but we traveled. And the country was in uproar. They were reeling from the same financial crisis that had hit America and there were riots, marches, austerity. I ate a lot of 2 Euro gyro’s on desolate pigeon’ed streetcorners and most were good but one, in Thessaloniki, came without tzatziki and was full of mustard, so that was kind of bad. Otherwise, I remember the beaches, the Aegean, and the sound of rough talking in back bars about things I couldn’t understand.

I’m in love with this year, 2019. Not for anything special about it, but because I look at who I am, at all my surroundings, and things have changed, I’m bolder colors, I’m unrecognizable from who I was before.

Again, happy New Year’s Eve.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Kindness, kindness, kindness.
I want to make a New year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.

Susan Sontag

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 289

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s; a gift from my father; he bought the beans off the internet, had read reviews about what brand’s best, settled on Don Pablo because it showed up on so many lists; and it’s good; easy; like late winter, with your socks on, by the windows, never quite needing to go out

It got up to 70 today so I cracked the window open. It was cloudy, and then it rained. I liked listening to rain (I think everybody does) so I enjoyed myself, had a couple glasses of ice water to keep cool, to keep cold like the winter, to remember what season I was in. Because it is winter despite the temperature, and just because the world’s greenhouse heat-throws is the new normal doesn’t mean you have to forget the crisp seasons of your childhood, all the things that brought us here.

I’ve been having a sick day. A couple sick days, actually. My throat’s scratchy and my nose is running, but neither so terribly as to lay me out. It’s one of those bugs that muddies up your head but doesn’t take the energy out of you. I feel like I could run a mile but forget where I was going halfway through. To deal with this, I’ve been hooked in to TV screens and book reading, things to catch my focus, keep me less in the present with all it’s fuzzy green gunk and more in that nebulous fiction of no-time, self-entertainment.

The year’s almost over. Some would say the decade, I’d say so too. Zero is such a round number it makes you want to climb inside it and push off, a raft ride, spiraling by into uncharted waters.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber, Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in,

Joy Division, Decades

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 288

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was thinking about this place along the coast in Fukuoka. A paved pier next to a shipping consortium, with tennis courts running up its middle. I don’t know if was was remembering it right. I wrote about the pier ten or twelve times trying to put together my novel and none of the attempts made it to the final cut. Even so, when you write about something often enough it gets stripped of its original colors, paint thinner-like, and you can’t tell if the things you call up are real objects or your own ghosts.

Anyway, I was thinking about this place for no reason other than that it got cloudy, and the clouds often remind me of what it feels like to travel. I saw that pier on the night of Yamakasa. It was past midnight, a few kids were still playing on the tennis courts, and people jogged, back and forth, like waves, or the boats out there past the buoys in the deeper water. You could see a long way across the water. You could spot the Fukuoka Tower and a couple islands, some lit up, some just blotches where the stars got caught. There were lots of sounds, despite it being so late at night, but they were cautious and filled with anxiety, like looking in on your older brother while he’s putting on eyeliner before a date. Thump, thwack, and long, beating waves.

I sat in the memory a long time. It wasn’t real, wasn’t not real, and I liked it, somewhere only I could go on the untidy, cast-over, too warm December day.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature.

Andre Agassi, Open

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 287

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I slept on an air mattress that was laid out on the same spot where my grandmother had died twenty years before. She’d been in this big bed hospice brought, a bunch of wires, and hospital gowns (the gowns were gowns, the sheets were gowns, a deathbed wears you, like it or not). Her bed was raised up, mine wasn’t, so really I was sleeping about twelve inches under her ghost.

That was Christmas this year.

Back to work, I met a woman who was my age but had just finished school. She’d been living in the West, out in NorCal, then Arizona, but she kept ending up in warm places during winter so she’d be surprised by the cold. She couldn’t take it anymore and moved back to Raleigh. All told, she’s missed two years’ worth of summers. She said this greedily. Her nose was red. She had sunny blond hair.

These stories fit together for me. Life changes, and sometimes it’s gone. I spend a lot of time listening to other peoples’ stories. And when I’m thinking about my own, they’re always hovering a few feet over me, less a curse, more gentle, a cobweb, but beautiful, and rainbowed, viciously drinking up the colors.

I had a plan to move to Michigan once but it wasn’t much of a plan so it didn’t happen. If I had moved, I reckon it would have been cold.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Besides, nothing mattered to her any longer. If she had anything left it was her horror of cold — and the uncle had coal through his contacts. But she found the atmosphere of Berlin hard to bear. She dreamed of escape, of going to live under some more clement sky, far, very far away from it all, closer to nature.

Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven