Smarts


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He stood at the condiment bar and shouted into his phone.

What the fuck are you talking about? He screeched. Who the fuck told you you were smart? I’m the smart one in the family. I’m the fucking smart one. You’re not fucking smart. I’m the fucking smart one.

Caramelized honey latte, sir? I asked. I slid the cup toward him.

He looked up and gave me the friendliest smile I’d seen all day.

Sure! Thanks!

His voice was so jolly it made my teeth hurt. He took the drink from me and then turned back into his phone.

I’m the fucking smart one. Not you. Not the FUCK you.

I stared at him. He put some sugar in his already sweet drink.

No, he said. No, no, no. Fucking NO! FUCKING NO.

He walked away.

I kept staring.

And I wondered…

What could the other person have possibly said?

I’m assuming it was his brother that he was talking to. Did he call up and say hey brother, guess what? The IQ test came in and… well,, it’s 215. I’m a genius.

The man on the phone, the smart one in the family, probably took this really hard.

When he and all of his siblings came out of Mom, she had labeled them all. She had lined them up in a row and pointed to them, one at a time, and said to anyone around exactly what she thought they would be when they got older.

That’s the smart one, Mom said when the smart one came out.

This one’s the pretty one.

This one’s the dumb one.

This one’s the athletic one.

But this one? The first one? That’s right. He’s my special boy. He’s the smart one.

His whole life the smart one lived in the shadow of his mothers fateful pronouncement. He learned to talk first and it made him seem smarter than his babbling siblings. He walked while his kindred were still crawling around on the floor like slugs. He pooped in the toilet while brothers and sisters pooped their diapers and cried about it.

He was the smart one.

He wasn’t good at sports but that was okay because he was the smart one. He let go of the bat when he swung it, his footballs flopped out of his arms like drunk bananas when he threw them, and he considered it in the hoop if he hit the backboard with his basketball but all of this was fine because he wasn’t the athletic one, he was the smart one.

He wasn’t good at school but that was okay because he was just too advanced for his classes. The other dumb-dumbs held him back. Especially his brother the dumb one. Mom got him in the advanced program later that year, where he barely managed to advance to each grade.

Each time.

He was an alternate on the scholar bowl team. Mom couldn’t explain away that one. She didn’t try to. She just told everyone he was on the team and left it at that, and when they won the county championship she told anyone who would listen that it was the smart one’s doing.

It wasn’t, though.

But they probably didn’t know that.

The smart one didn’t get into the Ivy league. He went to State and eventually failed out. Mom didn’t say anything this time.

She didn’t say anything because she was in the hospital. Again.

Cancer’s a bitch.

The smart one took care of her as his siblings graduated college one by one, especially the dumb one. They all silently enjoyed the schadenfreude of the smart one’s fall from grace. They pursued careers while the smart one held his mothers hand as she lay in the hospital bed and told her it’s okay, mama. The smart one’s here. The smart one’s here for you. Tell me what you need.

She couldn’t articulate it half the time. She couldn’t remember him half the time. In the back of her eyes, though, in the back of her eyes the smart one saw the old fire of the woman who named all of her kids smart, dumb athletic and pretty when they were born, and goddamn it, she was right.

She had to have been right.

The dumb one got his novel published a week before Mom died. He called to tell her, but she was asleep and the smart one didn’t relay the message when she woke up.

The smart one was there with her the whole time. He had taken a part time job as the guy who takes parking tickets at the hospital so he could always be close.

He was with her at 2:38 AM when it happened. He felt the strength drain form her hands, and he saw that old fire go out.

No one else was there. It was horrible.

The smart one didn’t know what to do.

So he left the hospital and went to a Starbucks to get some caramelized honey latte and his brother called him.

The dumb one.

Hey brother, the test came back and my IQ is 215. I’m a genius.

The smart one’s stomach clenched up like rigor mortis.

He hand’t told anyone yet. He hand’t told any of them. They hardly ever visited. Would they even care.

He cared.

He was the smart one.

He was.

And then he was gone.

I watched him as he walked away. He didn’t have the gait of someone who’s mom just died.

He walked like an asshole who would yell at his brother over the phone that he wasn’t allowed to be smart because he was the fucking smart one in the family, not him.

He walked like a jerk.

I don’t know how I would walk if my Mom just died. Probably normally.

So I just watched him.

And I picked up a rag.

And I wiped down the bar.

And I put the rag away.

And I went back to making drinks.

And I thought:

No one would call somebody and say the test just came back! My IQ is 215! I’m a genius. It sounds like something from a bad movie.

Nobody would say that.

So I wonder…

I just wonder.

And make the next drink.

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The Order


 

Fluff

I was in the backroom at Starbucks because I was putting away The Order.

We get The Order every Wednesday because we need more things to make your stuff. I spend hours lifting heavy boxes full of things. I put the things on shelves so that some time later we can take those things from the back room and bring them to new shelves in the main store so that we can later take those things off the new shelves in the store and put them in refrigerators or cabinets so we have the things at hand to make stuff for you when you come to our store and want stuff.

This whole shelf changing process repeats itself for several days until we start to run out of things. They’re little things at first, things you probably wouldn’t notice if we left out, but by the time Tuesday rolls around we’ve run out of most of the things for your stuff, so we have to apologize and say we can’t make your stuff and offer you different stuff comprised of things we still have.

No one likes those things, though. The stuff that goes in them isn’t as good. People become angry because they waited in line for the stuff they like, not the stuff they don’t like, and they find it very irritating that we don’t have the things to make their stuff.

“Why don’t you have the things?” They ask. “I want my stuff. Just order more things so you can make my stuff.”

“I can’t order more things because I already ordered more things. The things come in on Wednesday, when the truck brings them. That’s why I go to the backroom on Wednesdays. I put the things on shelves so that later we can move those things to other shelves so that later we can put those things in refrigerators and cabinets and trays and use them to make stuff for you,” I say, “Sorry about your stuff. Have you tried this other stuff though? Some people say it’s nice.”

“I don’t want that stuff,” they say, “that stuff is junk.”

Sometimes people bring their own things from home and try to get us to put it in their stuff. They see with me with my apparatus and they say “can you put my thing form home in there? I like it. It’s nice.”

I can’t let them put their thing in there because their thing might be junk. If their thing is junk or came into contact with any junk while at home, then it might affect other peoples stuff.

I’ve seen it happen.

“Why does my stuff taste like junk?” she asks, wiping stuff off her lips with a napkin. “Did you put junk in my stuff?”

“I did not put junk in your stuff,” I tell her, “I only put things in your stuff.”

“Then why does my stuff taste like junk?”

I shrug, even though I know it’s because that one person a while ago brought junk form home and asked me to put it in my apparatus. They said it was a thing. I was pretty certain it was junk, but i put it in my apparatus anyway, and now everyone’s stuff tastes like junk and all I can do is apologize.

“I’m sorry your stuff tastes like junk” I apologize, “can I make you some new stuff?”

“Please,” she said, handing me her stuff. I dump her stuff out in the trash bin and wash my apparatus. Then I put things in it and make more stuff. I hand her the new stuff.

“Sorry about your old stuff, “I say, “you’ll like this new stuff though. It’s nice.”

Sometimes, though, I don’t have the things to her make her stuff because The Order hasn’t come in yet.

When that happens, you know someone is going to yell at you. People like their stuff. They want it to be nice, not junk, and when they think it’s junk they let you know.

“What’s wrong with her?” a toad-like woman asked me one time. I was cleaning the counter we put stuff on and my friend Peach was making the lady some stuff. “I’ve asked her to make my stuff without this thing twice, and she keeps making it with that thing! Is she retarded?”

I just shrugged. Sometimes people don’t want things that are hard to take out of their stuff. Peach wasn’t retarded. To this day she still remains very unretarded. She can make stuff well.

I wanted to tell the woman that she shouldn’t say retarded. I wanted to tell her she was being very rude.

I wanted to tell her it was just stuff.

It’s just stuff.

But I didn’t.

I knew she wouldn’t understand.

She really wanted her stuff.

People need stuff.

Not junk.

Stuff.

That’s why The Order comes in.

So every Wednesday I put The Order away. All that stuff. It goes up on its shelves in preparation for moving to new shelves in preparation for going into fridges and cabinets so I can put it in my apparatus to make you stuff and I look at all my things and I wonder…

Do we really need all these things?

Do you really need this stuff?

Do you?

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Automaton


2a-orange

I sit in the shower with the heat turned up so high that the steam makes it hard to breathe. The mist spirals out of a small, sliding window high up on the wall. It must rise into the night like smoke from a 19th century train

I wonder what people walking by think.

“He’s a steam punk enthusiast,” a girlfriend says to her boyfriends as she points at the window. “He’s in there with red tented goggles and a dark leather lab coat. He’s trying to build an automaton to do his laundry.”

“If he’s really good,” the boyfriend replies, pulling the girlfriend closer, “it’ll do the dishes too.”

A car streaks by. It makes the girlfriends long shirt billow. The girlfriend scrunches up her nose and pecks him with a kiss. “Tonight’s your night.”

The boyfriend smiles. “I know.”

I don’t see any of this, obviously. Not only is the window too high, but the steam would obscure them. They’d just be silhouettes, and I’d only be able to snatch muffled words from their conversation.

I couldn’t see the caring way he holds her, nor the cheap watch on his wrist, nor the three scratches on his glasses’ left lens.

I couldn’t see her dark hair, or the way the skin around her nose crinkles as she scrunches it. I couldn’t see her bracelets or tattoos, nor he calf muscles bunch as she stands on her tip-toes to swoop in for the kiss.

I couldn’t see any of these things.

They might not have even happened.

“You know,” I tell Matt as I make a caramel macchiato for an Armenian woman who talks  loudly on the phone, “one day a robot will do our job.”

“They already do,” Matt says. He dumps some ice into the ice bin. “They’re like Redboxes but for coffee. You can do it all on your phone.”

I think about this as I hand  the woman her coffee. She doesn’t even notice me. My hand might as well be a metal claw.

She brushes up against my index finger and doesn’t even flinch. If my skin were smooth and hard and cold and reflective she would have reacted the same way.

She’d probably prefer it.

“So what can we do?” I ask Matt.

“What?”

“When we’re automatons.”

“We are?”

“Well, our job. We’ll still be Matt and Charles.”

“We’ll have better jobs by then.”

“Yeah, but they already have programs that can write songs and paint pictures.” Matt’s a musician. This hits him rather hard.

“Pretty soon they’ll write self indulgent blog posts too, and then what will I do?” I continue.

“We’ll get drunk,” Matt says.

This is Matt’s answer to everything. It isn’t a bad answer.

“Yeah, but for people like us, people who burn to express themselves, people who make things, people who demand to be noticed, what will we do to satisfy us?”

“Drink.”

“But if there’s a computer program that writes things better than anything I can ever dream of, no one will ever care about my book. No one will even read my blog!”

“I would.”

“Why?”

“Because I know you made it.”

He wasn’t kidding, either.

I looked across the bar. Debbie was there. She’s one of my regulars and always asks that I make her black tea for her. It’s just pouring liquid up to lines marked on a shaker, but she says I do it better than anyone else.

I don’t know if I do, but I know she likes it more because she knows I made it.

I smile at her, and she smiles back.

So I sit in the shower and craft my automaton. The steam makes me cough, but I like it that way. It adds mystery to the world. It’s so hot I sweat, and it reminds me of sweltering summer nights in Trevor’s front yard.

We had these green cloaks we had gotten from a renaissance festival, and my friends and I would play a game where the person with the cloak would run into the yard and just lay down somewhere. The cloak would be over them and it’s uncanny shade of green made it almost impossible to see them. We’d have to find the person in the cloak, and whoever found them first got to wear it next.

It would get unbearably hot under that cloak. Ants would crawl on your legs. Mosquitoes would land on the outside. I probably got West Nile half a dozen times, but you can’t move, you mustn’t move or they’d find you.

I know you can’t make an automaton for that, so I don’t bother.

The girl was right. Making one for laundry is just the ticket.

I craft it out of bronze and leather. It’s powered by a great billows that blows life into its limbs. It creaks as it walks on spider legs.

It does my laundry for me every day except Tuesdays, because on Tuesdays I get my tips and I can’t bare to give my automaton three dollars for the wash. Not when there’s so many other things I can buy.

I never tell it that I take the cash to the laundromat down the street.

I’m sure it will find me one day as it puffs down the street on some errand or other. It’ll do a double take as it passes the plate glass windows and sees its master sitting on a dryer, watching clothes spin round and round in a circle inside a washing machine.

I hope it’s not hurt.

I think it’ll understand.

It’ll lean up close against the glass. It’s vicious claws will hang meekly by its side, and it’s huge glass eye will watch me, and my automaton will understand that sometimes, sometimes you gotta do you’re own laundry.

Sometimes you gotta watch it spin yourself, because even though your automaton is perfect, you’ll never shake the feeling that you do your laundry better.

 

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The Rainwalker


(the following was written while listening to Closer to the Edge by Yes)

When you live in Los Angeles and you tell people you walked somewhere, they look at you like you just told them you own five copies of Mein Kampf, one of which is signed.

“Why?” Is almost always their first question.

“Are you okay?” People sometimes ask, as if you something might have slain you while you perambulated around the city.

“Are you crazy?” Still others say.

L.A. is a city of cars. You need one of two things to get around: a vehicle or a lot of extra time. A ten minute car trip can take an hour on the bus.

The buses smell. The people on the buses smell, but in a different way then the bus. The places where you wait for the buses smell, but in a way other than the other two, so that on any different bus trip you have to put up with at least three different kinds of smells, all different, but all similarly colored in varying shades of urine and body odor.

They’re all bad.

So when my registration expired and I was waiting for my tax returns to re-register my car, I decided to not ride the bus, but to walk places. I had become very hermit-like and inactive over the winter months. This happened because I wrote a novel (I’m now in the process of revising it and preparing to send queries to agencies!) and any free time I had not writing a novel was spent sleeping, working, or feeling guilty about not working on my novel.

I was fat and happy so I decided I needed to be unhappy and thin. I would walk to work. It was two miles. Then I’d walk back from work. That was also two miles. All in all, I would walk four miles every day, which I judged to be a sufficient amount of exercise for someone who never exercises.

The last time I walked to work Julian, a co-worker complemented me on how tan I had become. “You look great!” He said. “What’s your secret?”

“Oh, you know,” I lied, “I’m just a creature of the outdoors, really.”

He gave me a shifty look.

Ah, my co-workers. Thou knowest me too well.

“My car broke down so I’m walking to work.”

“Oh,” Julian said, “Why?”

The city is different when you walk. You catch the breeze, the smells, the sounds. You get to witness first hand the furtive looks people give you as you pass them; the quick, downward glances that practically beg you not to murder them.

“Oh, please,” their eyes beseech, “take whatever you want, stranger walking beside me, just don’t take my life.”

I don’t look frightening. I have long hair and wear all black, but so do lots of people. Maybe I achieve alpha street villain status because I sing along to folk music and David Bowie as I walk down the street. Maybe that’s something only crazy people do.

I waited for my refund and I walked to work. I loved it. It gave me a break form writing that I didn’t have to feel guilty about. Sure, I had to leave an hour early and get home an hour late, but that didn’t matter. The stress evaporated from my pores as I walked. It floated up above the power lines and past the clouds. It wafted into the stratosphere and drifted away, eventually becoming not a thing. Nothing at all.

One day it rained.

It was a drizzle. They would have said it was spitting if I was in London.

I wasn’t, so everyone said it was raining. They warned each other to drive safely and, god forbid, no matter what you do, don’t go outside unless it’s absolutely necessarily.

I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never met people that could be so blase about terrifying natural disasters like Earthquakes, sometimes even bragging about how they slept through it.

For a native Californian, I suppose, water is a thing that stays in the sea or comes out of sprinklers. Anything else is just unnatural, proof that the spirits are displeased with us.

The rain doesn’t scare me. I’m was born in Oklahoma, a place where tornadoes wipe out whole towns.

I grew up in Florida, where the rainfall in July would bust California’s drought. I’ve swam in the rain. I’ve drank in the rain. I’ve walked outside in the eye of a hurricane and looked up at the solid black walls of cloud and wind and lightning and water and I’ve laughed, not at the storm, not in any mean way, but just at how utterly bizarre it all was.

I’ve been on top of a mountain on the Appalachian trail during a thunderstorm. Lightning was striking so close that I thought my ears would split. There was so much electricity in the air that all of my body hair was standing at varying degrees of attention. My Dad and I avoided stepping in puddles for fear of getting blasted.

You’re supposed to lay down in lightning storms. You dot this so your less of an attractive conduit for the lightening. I remember my dad looking at the flooded trail as the storm started and saying “Well, we’ll just have to keep going. We can’t lay down because if lightning strikes any of this water, it’ll kill us.”

So we walked up a side of the mountain in the lightning and the rain.

So I decided to walk to work in a drizzle.

Everything is different in the rain. It’s darker, not just because clouds block the sun, but also because the water stains everything it touches a darker hue of whatever it was before.

There’s a smell in the air. It only happens right after a rain, or during the first rain in several days. It’s a crisp smell, a clean smell. The smell is amplified in Los Angeles. The air is so dirty that when the rain knocks some of the dust and smog away it smells like you’ve been transported somewhere else all together.

I put on Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song” and walked to work.

It was wonderful. It was the best walk I had in a long time.

“Did you catch a ride?” Steven asked me when I got to work.

“No.” I said wetly. His eyes widened.

“You walked?”

“Yeah. It was nice.”

He blinked. “But it’s raining.”

“Yeah.”

“And you walked.”

“That’s right.”

“Why?”

I could hear the rain hitting the skylight thirty feet above me. The pattern was soothing in its irregularity.

The thing about rain is that it falls all over the place. It doesn’t aim. It just hits a bunch of spots in the concrete. When it hits, it makes them darker, makes them smell fresh, makes them more interesting.

I ran a cross country race in the rain about ten years ago. It was at the park in the Vineyards. It was raining so hard that when I tried to breath through my mouth my lungs would fill up with water and I would have to cough it all up. I had really bad allergies and sinus problems back then so I couldn’t breath through my nose.

I coughed up a lot of water that day.

I was near the back of the race. All the grass was already obliterated. Instead of a well marked path, there was just a river of mud. There was a canal to my right that was about to overflow, and I wondered what would happen to the alligators that lived in it when the canal suddenly became the whole park.

Back in college, I walked in the freezing rain over the bridge into Beeson woods. I made the mistake of betting against the weather and showing up to German lab. I couldn’t afford to miss anymore. I had arrived just as Caitlyn was leaving. “Haven’t you heard?” She asked me. “Classes are cancelled. It’s not safe to drive.”

It wasn’t safe to walk either. I lost traction halfway down the bridge and almost slid into the ravine over which the bridge spanned. I managed to grab the sign that said welcome to Beeson Woods, and vowed to never leave my dorm again if it was twenty eight degrees and raining.

I walked in the rain down Tottenham Court Road with my friend Erich. We popped into a pub whose name escapes me in order to rewrite his whole screenplay. We got drunk on some fine English beer and by god we did it.I still remember laughing all the way home. I turned up my collar against the stiff wind and all that was in my mind was a cup of Earl Grey and some toast with Nutella and butter.

I walked in the rain on my last day in Florida. My flight had been delayed because of the storm. It was a short walk, just down the driveway to my Dad’s Nissan pickup truck. The driveway was covered in old shells we had brought in years ago. They would always get stuck between the treads in your shoes so that you’d click across our cheap tile floor.

I stopped outside the door and stood in the rain. My dad was doing something in the house. He’s notoriously hard to get going, but once he’s ready everyone else better be, too.

I stared down the driveway, out to Golden Gate drive. I looked over the palm trees and the pines. I remembered all the hot summers I spent walking in between them with a broom to knock down the plate-sized banana spiders who lived in our yard. I didn’t want them to ambush me when I mowed the lawn.

I remembered riding the shiny black lawnmower my grandfather bought me. I remembered the sound it made as it tore up pine cones.

I almost exclusively mowed in the afternoon, and I remembered the pretty, yellow-green color the leaves would take as the setting sun blasted through their chlorophyll.

I remembered imagining whole kingdoms in the grass, and wondering what they would think of the mower as it cut the grass.

I remembered sitting at the bottom of the pool with my sister. It was raining, and we watched water drop onto the top of the water. The ripples made the sky look like quicksilver.

I remembered that the next time I came back to Florida the bank would have repossessed that old house and it would probably be torn to shreds.

I stood there and it was raining. It was raining and, for the life of me I couldn’t think of a better send off.

The house might fade. The yard might disappear just like tears in the rain, but I’d remember. We’d all remember the fights and the love and the laughs and the everything all rolled into one glorious feeling.

It’d feel like home.

And the best thing about that feeling is that you can take it anywhere you go. You store it up in a little box and you walk to work in the rain and you bring it with you, because when you meet Steve at work and you tell him you want a latte and he asks you if you walked in the rain and he says why you can lift the box up.

It’s brown and sort of bowed out in the middle.

He asks why and you open up the box and you show him.

You’ll just show him.

You know… in movies and TV whenever someone opens a box and there’s something magical inside it glows gold.

Not this box.

I opened this one, and it was blue. Blue like water.

Blue like tears in the rain.

I had a professor tell me that that line is the sappiest line ever written in film.

You should take Viki’s word for it. She a genius.

It’s not sappy to me, though.

Don’t take my word for it. I’m not a genius.

I’m just a Rainwalker.

And I know exactly what Rutger means.

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A little bit of housekeeping:

I’d like to thank My Messy World for nominating me for a blog award. I’m very bad about responding to people’s awards. There’s actually been a few I didn’t respond to until months later and the person who gave me the award had shut down their blog.

How embarrassing.

I’d been meaning to blog for a while, but my novel keeps eating my soul. Messy World gave me a wonderful excuse to come back.

So thanks for that.

You guys should go check out her (her?) blog.

Anyway, I’ll hopefully be blogging more often soon.

Maybe someone cares about that other than me.

Maybe they don’t.

I guess we’ll find out.

A Circus


circus at night

“I’ve got this thing,” Mary said, brushing the braided hair from her face “this thing that goes on in my heart during the climax of movies and books. All the emotion. You know? When it builds up, it hurts, so I always just skip to the end.”

“What?” I paused mid-bite, my barbecue beef brisket hanging just inches from my mouth.

“It’s like a condition. It hurts my heart right here.” She pointed at her chest and laughed. It wasn’t a happy laugh. It was an embarrassed one. “I should probably tell my doctor. That’s why I watch Korean TV dramas. They’re very emotional. It’s sort of like my own therapy.”

I took a bite. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I had a hard time understanding what she was saying. Climaxes are the best parts of movies. Why would you skip it? Why would it hurt your heart?

I wanted to tell her that it couldn’t be safe. Stories are like creepy aunts: when she smokes in the car, you ALL smoke in the car. You pick up secondhand emotions from stories. It’s how we become invested in them. You feel the protagonist’s joys, their pains, their triumphs and their heartbreaks. It’s how the magic of cinema works. Not for one moment do you think you’re Miles Teller, but you’re part of his obsession as he drums his way to the top. You feel all his emotions. They build up and build up and then…

They release at the climax. It’s called the catharsis moment. If you just skip to the end, you never get that catharsis. They swill about inside you, just like nitroglycerin, and can blow up from a tiny bump.

It couldn’t be safe. I didn’t say anything, though. I simply savored the fact that Mia found some sriracha for my sandwich.

I just didn’t know Mary that well, so hearing that she couldn’t enjoy the best parts of everything I love came as a shock. This was our first day training, and I couldn’t get a read on her. There were some things I could pick up: she’s a very fast learner, but terrified to fail. Smart but self-conscious. She probably lived a really sheltered life.

Out of all the people I’ve trained, she’s the only one that has ever quoted the supplementary training material back to me. It’s really uncomfortable.

Most confusing and annoying of all, though, is that she never made any decisions.

When you train someone, one of the first things you do is teach them how to make a french press. They get to pick any coffee they want, and then we make it. It was a dream come true when my trainer trained me.

“You mean, any coffee?” I asked, wringing my hands, my eyes wide with wonder usually reserved for kids whose parents pretended to be Santa. Who, you mean he really is real?

“Yep, just go grab one,” Sunny told me.

My hand trembled as I reached for a bag of Kenya. It was heaven.

Mary just stared at me. I thought she might have misheard, so i repeated myself. “That’s right,” I said proudly, “go ahead and pick ANY coffee you want.” She still didn’t move. “That’s right,” I said, “any one at all.”

Mary just shrugged. “I don’t know.”

I blinked. “What do you mean you don’t know?”

“Just pick one,” she told me, shrugging, as if she was the trainer, “I’m bad with decisions”

“But you can pick any coffee you want!” I repeated.

“You should pick it.”

I shook my head. “I’ve tried them all.”

“Okay.” She just stared at me, her face utterly expressionless, like a fish or something.

“Fine,” I growled, “we’ll do pike.”

Pike’s place is the worst coffee we had at Starbucks. We made it, and it tasted like garbage.

“Is this how it’s supposed to taste?” Mary asked me, the subtext here being did you do it right?

“Of course it is,” I snapped, the subtext here being god I hope I did. “We just need to pair it with a pastry. That’ll bring out the nutty flavors.” I gestured to the overflowing pastry cart. “Go ahead, pick any pastry you want.”

Mary stared at the cart. “Anything catch your eye?”

She shrugged. “You pick one.”

I stared at her, my face unreadable, like a fish or something. “What?”

“You’ve tried them all. Pick something good.”

“But you can pick any pastry you want,” I said, “surely you have a preference.”

“I’m bad with decisions.”

It blew my mind. When given a choice, how can you simply choose to not choose?

I’ve met people like her before. The sort that refuse to make a decision, but freely complain when you’re forced to make one for them and they don’t like it.

I chose the pecan tart. It made the coffee taste awesome.

Mary didn’t like it. She doesn’t like caramel.

Even rats like caramel.

I bit my tongue as steam billowed out of my ears like a train whistle.

I just moved to the next part of training.

We learned how to warm food, clean the lobby of the store, restock the case with drinks and sandwiches, and brew coffee before we finally went to the espresso bar.

I showed her how to make a latte. She made me one. It was pretty good, so we went on to mochas and caramel macchiatos. She made them all easily and well.

“How are you feeling on the espresso drinks?” I asked her.

“Pretty good.”

“Do you want to practice some more?”

She shrugged. Some people are fast learners, so we went into making iced lattes and other easy drinks.

“Are you good on hot bar drinks?” I asked her. She laughed at me. Her eyes went wide, like I just asked her if she heard that her mother died.

“Good? I’ve only been doing this for twenty minutes.”

I narrowed my eyes. “But you shrugged when I asked if you wanted to practice some more.”

“I’m bad with decisions.”

I grabbed a cleaning rag and involuntarily squeezed all of the sanitizing solution out of it. I gestured sharply to the bar.

“Let’s practice some more.”

The rest of the day went back and forth like that until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was on edge, jumping at any slight annoyance, barely holding it all in check.

We finished training at 9:00, but we were scheduled for thirty more minutes. I asked Mary if she wanted to leave early. She asked me if I did instead of answering. I told her we could stay if she wanted the hours. She asked me if I needed the hours.

My head nearly exploded. The shift needed our help closing, so we stayed. Mary did dishes. I mopped in sullen rage. Steam rose from where I gripped the mop.

We finally left at 9:30. I told Mary bye, and that i’d see her tomorrow.

I got in my car, turned on the lights and…

The parking lot is divided into three sections: The garage, the outdoor lot, and the far lot over by sports authority, where we had to park during the holidays.

There was a circus in the far lot. It took up the whole thing. A giant circus tent, with lights, one of those test of strength things, a ticket booth, popcorn stand, and all sorts of other attractions. Banners waved in the air, and multicolored lights on strings covered the whole area.

Carnies rushed hither and thither building the tents. Maybe some of them were performers, too. The tent wasn’t up yet. they were probably going to be working late into the night.

A circus.

A fucking circus in the parking lot.

What?

So I laughed. I laughed so hard I cried. Tears ran down my cheeks, and all the frustration and anger flowed out of my. My spring unwound.

It was a real catharsis moment.

I wiped tears from my eyes. I thought about Mary, and wondered what she’d think about the circus, but then I realized that she never would, at least not tonight.

I had walked Mary to her car. She had parked in the parking deck, and wouldn’t drive by the circus on her way out. She might not even know it was there until tomorrow, and tomorrow was a new day.

The timing was all wrong. She’d see it driving into work, look at it and just go “huh” and then drive by.

Parked in the wrong part of the lot. Jesus…

She wasn’t kidding about skipping the climax.

I laughed all the harder. I just sat there in my car and laughed for a long time.

I’m sure the carnies watched me as they built their tents. To the right of the construction, all the performers from the freak show probably stared at me as I howled like a loon in my car, all alone in a parking lot, under a street light.

The bearded woman would lean over to the frog kid and whisper in a voice deeper than Vin Diesel’s “what a weirdo.”

She’d tug on her beard as the frog boy licked his face.

“No kidding,” he’d say, “no kidding”

circus

Run Away


tumblr_mqhvxwCLEc1rvr994o1_1280

I read a lot of blogs. Most of them are the same thing: Normal people posting about their normal days in which they did normal things that will slowly fade back into the tapestry of their normal lives. One day, their normal lives will end, and they’ll look back on it all and say “that was normal.”

I love it.

I love reading about people having problems wth their laundry machine, or someone with an irascible toothache that tormented them all through the day, or how that bitch Carol wouldn’t shut up about her vacation.

I love hearing that you dropped the kids off at soccer practice and almost hit a squirrel, or how you found a new recipe for lemonade that your husband liked so much he made you make a second batch, or how you finally snuck your son into a rated R movie, just so long as he doesn’t tell mom.

I think it’s the normalcy that keeps me grounded. As a writer, it’s easy to get caught up in your own head, an fall down into a pit of snakes. They latch on and don’t let you go. “Wizards,” they hiss, “wizards and demons and car chases and asteroids about to hit earth and aliens and divorces and rockets and armageddon and death and the universe and everything is just so pointless, isn’t it?”

It’s not though. Carol’s vacation isn’t. Nor is Nathan’s baseball game. Don’t forget about pumpkin spice lattes and mortgage payments.

They’re all important in their own ways, in the right perspective which, to me, is a small rectangle full of black and white pixels.

So I read a lot of blogs. I also go on tinder a lot. What do online journals and a dating game app have in common? Not much.

A lot of people on both describe themselves as run aways. They just get up and go, and, like a leaf in the wind, they just can’t help it. To hear them talk about it, it’s like a compulsion, or maybe a disease. As many hipster instagram posts can attest, they just run.

A few months ago, this guy named Jeff transferred to our store. Jeff was a big guy, maybe six feet tall and around two hundred and fifty pounds. He had this peculiar way of moving, like a grandmother scuttling around a kitchen. It was frantic, and when he worked on bar, wiping sweat from his forehead as his cheeks grew flush, he reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire.

Jeff was a nice guy. He was jolly, always quick with a joke or a compliment, and always ready to work.

He was an actor, just like everybody. I have this weird thing with actors where I offer them roles for movies I’m never going to make.

“You’re a writer?” I always somehow get them to ask.

“Well, yes, though I used to do some acting in high school,” I pause then, as if suddenly realizing who I’m talking to, “Say, I’m working on this thing — no, no, nothing big just a passion project — and there’s a role you might be perfect for.”

“Really?

“Really. Are you looking for a role?”

I don’t know why I do this. I’m never going to shoot the damn thing. I guess it makes me feel important. I feel like I’m doing them a favor. All I’m really doing is playing with their souls.

“Are you looking for a role?”

Jeff paused and scratched his head.

“I don’t know…” he said, but the subtextual addendum to the sentence was clear as day: what I’m looking for.

One day, Jeff didn’t show up.

He didn’t show up the next day either.

When someone doesn’t show up at Starbucks, everything goes to hell. You have one lest person and the customers… they sense it. Like sharks around a sinking fat camp cruise liner, they can smell blood in the water. It’s the worst.

So I was pissed at Jeff. Here, I thought he was a nice guy, and then he goes and gives me two no call, no shows. Who did he think he was? Burt Reynolds?

Michael told he had called him and quit. Out of the blue. Just like that.

He just ran away.

Running away never made any sense to me. Well, that’s not true. I’d run from rape-tastic hillbilles. I’d run from a bear. I’d run from the dark lord Sauron.

But a job? A city? It boggled me. One city is the same as any other, really, and you’re going to always need a job, so why run?

You’re just postponing the inevitable.

I still had half the day to go after Michael told me Jeff quit, and knowing why he disappeared didn’t help make the customers any less needy or rude, or make my day any easier at all. I had to close, and we were down a person, so eleven thirty came and went before I got into my car.

I take the freeway back whenever I close. It’s always after ten, and it’s never too busy. It’s much easier to put on some tunes and cruise home without having to stop.

I needed to decompress. I didn’t have a day off until next Saturday. A full week.

Why’d he run off? What was he looking for?

A sign came up. It said 405 north to Sacramento. This was my exit. I take the right lane. Two minutes and I’m home, back to the apartment I can’t afford.

I could go straight, though.

I thought about it.

I could go straight, and follow that sign up north to Sacramento, stop off in San Francisco, make it up to Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage.

I could just drive.

What was holding me here? I had a full tank of gas, there was no traffic, and I just got paid.

It was a weird feeling.

And then I got it.

You don’t run away from something. You run toward something else.

It’s why you’ve got refugees and people jumping over borders.

You might not know what you’re chasing, but for god’s sake, it’s better than what you had.

I could have done it, but I went home. I like to think it’s because I know what I’m chasing, but sometimes I wonder if it’s just because I’m scared.

Running away is scary, and Jeff…

Jeff never came back.

Sometimes, when it’s two in the morning and I can’t fall asleep, I stare out my window, up at the moon, and I think about an old chevy pickup. It’s brown, and has a lot of rust damage from being in the snow too long. It’s headlights paint weakly through falling snow. It’s not night, but it’s dark, and the trees bob left and right from the wind.

A big, coated figure scurries from the cab over to a payphone. I like to imagine it’s at a tiny gas station, but it could be anywhere, really. The figure has a hunting cap on, and long, black, beard, almost too bushy for civilized society.

He dials a number, and speaks into the receiver through a frost-stained beard.

Don’t worry, he says, I’m alright. No, I haven’t found it yet.

There’s a pause, and I get the feeling the person on the other end isn’t saying anything. I wonder if it’s his mother, or maybe someone else, a friend or a lover.

I haven’t found it yet, he reiterates, but I’m going to keep looking.

I like to think he says I love you. Maybe he does.

He hangs up, gets back in the pickup, and drives away.

Off, down a road, and into a blizzard.

It looks grim, but as we crane up over the wilderness, and everything fades away, and the music comes in and the credits roll, I get the feeling he’s going to be alright.

Yeah.

He’s going to be alright.

In Line With The Coffee Girl


clueless

She wore a pink dress, the kind I imagined you would wear to a sorority recruitment party, or maybe a little soiree to a Connecticut country club. She had a pearl necklace, and smelled like lilacs. She was on the phone.

I was working customer support, restocking things, making whipped cream and caramel, and pre-closing the store, so I was walking by the register right when she said it.

“I’m sorry,” she said with that bitchy sort of lilt Emma Roberts would use in a Ryan Murphy show, “I’m with the coffee girl, one second.”

The coffee girl.

My manager is in her thirties, and she wears a special black apron that says Coffee Master. It’d be difficult to mistake her as the “coffee girl,” unless of course you weren’t even paying attention.

Which she clearly wasn’t. Which tickled me all the more.

Working the support role at Starbucks is kind of like being a ghost. You float around, doing things that people don’t really notice, and the troubles of the mortal realm (people on bar and at the registers) don’t really bother you.

They don’t just not bother me, though. They amuse me.

Here a fat woman complains about not getting her venti caramel frappacino fast. She flushes in anger. There, somebody spills their coffee after a pitching a huge fit that it didn’t taste right. Over there, a child screams in line, wanting more and more madeline cookies. If you were affected by these mini tragedies, they wouldn’t be funny. To me though, the friendly ghost, they are better than TV.

So I laughed. Out loud. My manager and the woman turned to me. My manager gave me a sort of motherly “what are you doing? Stop right now,” look, The woman looked at me like I was an unruly servant.

I looked back at her and tried not to laugh out loud. She wasn’t laughing. She still wasn’t even paying attention.

I wondered what her life was like.

She’d leave this land of the coffee people after she got her drink. Maybe she’d do some shopping at Bloomingdales, interacting with the clothes people, or maybe the makeup beings, in their natural habitat, before hopping in her Mercedes and heading over to the pet groomer, where she’d pick up her small, white dog from the dog person. On her way home, undoubtably, she’d stop off at another Starbucks to refuel with another trenta gren tea from the coffee girls, because a dry mouth is no mouth at all, as the cleaning monster used to say. She’d swing by whole foods on her way out of the valley, where the foodlngs and meat creatures would supply her with whatever she desired. On to the 101, where undoubtedly she would speed, a and a law thrall would pull her over and give her a ticket. It doesn’t matter, though. The number demons would have this sorted and paid for as soon as an assistant thing brought it to them.

Money was no issue.

Finally, back in Beverly Hills, where the civilized world lives, she would park in her driveway. Danny, the handsome actor, would wave at her from his yard. I bet his wife doesn’t have to interact with the northern beasts, she thinks to herself as her heels clack across the imported paving stones.

Inside, she passes off her dog to one of her many assistant things, and inspects the work of the cleaning monsters. Flawless, as usual, but creatures of their status excel at menial jobs.

She sits down on a perfect couch. After a hard day of shopping, who doesn’t need a rest?

She’d hear a squawk, and turns around. There, inside the gilded cage, would be the parrot her husband bought her last week. A cleaning monster finishes polishing the outside, and then bows to her and leaves.

She’d walk up to the cage, and gently pet the gold. The parrot would cock its head, look at her with one eye.

“I love you,” It’d say, and then she’d be sad.

She’d be sad because she didn’t know from whom it learned the word.

I clutched my mop to my chest. I was no longer laughing on the inside.

The woman was staring at me. My face just changed from comedy show to funeral in less than ten seconds, with no apparent stimulus. I must have looked incredibly insane. She ordered her drink and left.

“Coffee girl?” My manager laughed once the woman was out of shot. “Can you believe that?”

“This isn’t the 19th century,” Jac laughed.

I didn’t laugh. “She might not have meant it,” I sad. They both turned to me.

“What?”

I searched my thoughts, and then I gave up.

“Never mind.”

I kept mopping, stealing glances at the woman in the pearl necklace, looking for something other than sadness behind her eyes.

The Parrot Cage

And a Madness Came to Sherman Oaks


The Shining

You meet a lot of people at Starbucks.  People who are nice, and people who aren’t.  People having a good day, and people who aren’t.  People who are Steve Carell, and people who aren’t.

It’s tough to make a mean person not mean, but it isn’t that hard to change someone’s bad day into a good one.  A dash of kindness here, a dad joke there, a smile, a laugh, and voila!  You have a happy customer and, more importantly, a happy human being.  It’s my favorite thing to do at Starbucks.  If I can cheer somebody up, I feel like it’s a job well done.  I’ve not yet been able to transmute the not Steve Carell’s into Steve Carell, but I’m working on it.  It’d be a big get.  He tipped me five dollars.

Steve Carell

Even if someone’s order is wrong, there are ways to fix it.  Corporate suggest simply apologizing and saying “what can I do to fix it?”  The fact that you want to help changes so many situations from bad to good.  If you care, people notice.

The one thing you can’t change is crazy.  At last I can’t.  Maybe with the proper medication and counseling a psychiatrist could, but I’m a writer.

We had a regular who came in practically every day over the summer.  I never caught his name, because he only ordered brewed coffee, but I did catch his scent.  It was a miasma of body odor and halitosis, not the kind you might find on a homeless person, but rather on someone who just doesn’t care.

He always wore sandals, cargo shorts and colorful Hawaiian shirts.  More often than not he would have a Fidel Castro hat on.  He was a weird guy, but he’d always been polite, and I enjoyed chatting with him just as much as anyone else who came through that I only sort of knew.

It was a May afternoon, and I had been on register all day.  I was looking forward to getting home, cracking some beers, and playing League of Legends.  I fiddled with the cup holder below my register.  The springs were always cracking and falling out.  I was trying to fix it.

A stench overwhelmed me.  I stood up, and there he was, standing at my register, smiling with this sort of vacancy in his eyes, and lack of movement in his face that made him seem very insane.  He practically starred right through me.

“One coffee, please” he said with a mad lilt.

“Of course”

I got him his coffee, and he just kept smiling.  He took it, and passed me two dollars.

“If they come by, don’t sign it.”

“I’m sorry?”

“The people.  They’re coming around with a clipboard and getting you to sign things.  Don’t sign anything.”

I looked over at Andrew, who shrugged.  I decided to do what I always did in difficult situations: pass the blame up the food chain.

“Oh, it’s Starbucks corporate policy not to sign petitions.”

The smile remained.  He pointed a finger at me.

“It’s state sponsored terrorism.”

“I’m not going to sign anything.”

He smiled, nodded, and raised his coffee cup to me.  Once he was out of earshot:

“What the actual fuck was that?”

Andrew was laughing.

“I don’t know.  He was…”  Andrew stopped.  He starred at the coffee bag display.

“What?”  Andrew just pointed.

The guy was back.  He was still smiling.  He pointed at me.

“It’s state sponsored terrorism, okay?”  He shouted.  I didn’t know what to do.  Normally, I just ignore crazy people.  I’ve learned the hard way that if you even look at them, they might direct whatever is happening onto you.  I couldn’t ignore a customer at Starbucks, though.  I smiled a nodded.  “Don’t sign anything.  I’m serious, okay?  Not kidding.”  He laughed.  It was terrifying.

I just nodded again.  He dismissively waved me away and went to put cream in his coffee.

Why couldn’t I just turn him into Steve Carell?

“Welcome back, Mr. Carell.  I loved you in the office, and basically everything you’ve ever… what’s that?  Five dollars?  Thank you!”

A hispanic woman as at my register.  She seemed nice.  Nothing crazy about her.

“Hi, welcome to –”

“HEY!”

I turned to the coffee again.  He was back.  The smile was gone.  All that was left was rage.

“9-11 was an inside job.  The planes, the oil, jet fuel.  It’s state sponsored terrorism!”  He was shouting.  I looked around for help.  Everyone was just as scared as me.  I raised my hands to signal my passivity.  He just kept going.  “No one else heard what you said, but I heard it.  You know.  9-11 was a fucking INSIDE JOB.”

He twitched.

“They’re after me.  I’m a wanted man.  It’s state sponsored terrorism.  They want me because of what I have in here.”  He jabbed at his head with his index finger.  “In my brain.  They know I know and they’re after me.”

This was possibly the most frightening thing he said.  I searched for a weapon with which to defend myself.  I could use our serrated knife, but we only had one, and we might need it later to cut a bagel.

I settled on the broom.

I heard a snort.  Slater was on the floor, counting over the money from the safe.  He was laughing.  He was actually laughing.  I looked at him and mouthed “what” as in “what the fuck is funny about any of this.”

He just shrugged and kept laughing.

I clutched my broom all the tighter.

“I’m calling corporate on you.  You won’t think I’ll do it?” He threatened.

Steve Carell wouldn’t,  I thought,  He’s a nice man.

I didn’t say anything, though and he went away in a huff of anger.

I went to the back ten minutes later.  Michael and Slater were counting the money.  Slater was laughing again.

“Here he is,” he said, looking at me, “he can probably tell it better than me.”

“Slater was saying some guy was yelling at you?” Michael asked.

I told him the whole story.  Michael took it very seriously.

“Okay, I’ll call corporate,” Michael said, and I thought thank god!  He’ll get banned, or arrested or something! “Just in case he makes a complaint, I’ll let the district manager know he should just disregard it.”

Disregard it?  Disregard it?  The dude’s crazy!  He’ll probably babble on about moon rocks and the dark lord Cthulhu.   I don’t care if they disregard it.  I wanted a body guard, a Starbucks employed strong man than could protect me for when this man inevitably returned with a gun.

He’d motion with a little wave of the barrel.  “Come on,” he’d say, “we’re taking a walk,” and then he’d take me up to the roof of the parking deck for a murder suicide so we could both board the galactic ferry on it’s way to Cariathor to meet the Lord Xenu or whatever.

I’d stare at him, and I’d say “I’m sorry.  Is there anything I can do to fix it?”

Who knows what he’d do then?

I know one thing, though.

If he was Steve Carell, he would have tipped me five dollars and taken his adorable daughter to the Disney store.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.07.59 AM

When it Rains


rain

Los Angeles is a desert.

I remember the first time I saw it.  I was driving in from the West, up and over the mountains, and careening down the 210.  We were coming up from Vegas, Jared, Sonia and I, and had just come through the Mojave desert, where it was so hot that my Garmin wouldn’t stick to my windshield.  I had to awkwardly wedge it up against the dash.  The smallest bump would send it tumbling.

I was coming off a night of heavy Vegas drinking and a bad chicken sandwich that I bought from a gas station in Nevada.  There were signs all over it that told me aliens were real.  I should have taken that as a sign, but I was starving, and ready to make it to my new home.

I crested over sandy hill and there it was, stretching on forever.  In florida, I was used to greens and blues.  In Los Angeles, it was blue and tan, the dry khaki of dirt and sand.

It was a dry land, a land without rain, where it’s tough for things to grow.

It rained once on our trip, on the way back from the Grand Canyon.  It was almost otherworldly.  The Arizona landscape didn’t know what to think.  Here we were, Arizona and I, in a desert, and it was raining.

I love the rain.  I used to sit out on the back porch with my dad during thunderstorms.  This was about every weekend, because, if there’s one thing South Florida has, it’s thunderstorms.  We’d watch the rain, and I’d wonder what would happen if lightning struck the pool cage.

We’d probably fucking die.

It was alright though.  I had a cup of taster’s choice instant coffee, and it kept me warm.  It was cheap, sure, but after years of drinking it, you can even associate cheap with being happy.

It doesn’t rain in Los Angeles.

I would take the 405 to get downtown to my internship every Monday and Wednesday for the first four months I was in LA.  The Santa Monica mountains are basically piles of dirt with a few dried up old scrubs clinging to their slopes.  It was so weird.  The last mountains I had driven in before I came out west were in Tennessee and Missouri.  Those mountains were green and had stuff you could grab onto if you fell off.  These though…

Internships pay you in experience, not money.  I tried eating experience for a while, but it left me hungry and feeling sort of dumb, so I started looking for a job.  No one was hiring.  Not even movie theaters.  It was tough, but I had some money left over from student loans, so I could afford cheap meals:  Ramen with a side of experience.  Chicken broth with a dash of practical skills.  Baked chicken marinated in experience sauce, and a nice cup of experience to wash it down.  Being an intern was working out pretty well.

And the days got hotter, and the nights got drier.

I had never really worked a highschool job.  I was always doing theater or sports or robotics or band, so I didn’t have time.  In college I scanned people’s cards at the gym.  It was amazing.  I worked at summer camps three out of the four summers I was in undergrad.  Besides that, I’d never really worked, so I wasn’t averse to working something like Panera or Chipotle.  McDonald’s was where I drew the line, though.  If I was going to work fast food, I’d at least like it to pretend it wasn’t fast food.

Days turned into months, and November rolled around, and it started to rain.  The city had no idea what to do.  There was a drought, and you think people would have been outside with pots and pans, running around, screaming, trying to catch all the water they could.

Nope.  They were just hitting each other with cars.  I wonder if the driver’s handbook for California recommends flooring it at the first drop of water.  “When it rains,” it must say, “stoplights don’t count anymore.  The only rules are what a man makes for himself.  Hit or be hit.  Him or me.  Blood in and blood out.”

It’s an old joke, but seriously, don’t drive in LA when it’s raining.

One weekend, the streets actually flooded, and I got a call from Starbucks.  My first interview.  I was hired later that week.  I was on fire with writing, too.  I wrote every day.  I finished three screenplays.  I finally got my film industry mentor assigned to me.  I was talking to some other industry people, too.  It was magical.

And it rained, and it rained, and it rained.

And then it stopped, right around my birthday.  Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months again.  The savings dwindled away, and I just kept working at Starbucks.  I didn’t place in a screenplay competition, and then in another, and another, and another.

I just kept waiting for it to rain.

Stephanie bought a basil plant soon after we moved into our apartment.  She set it on our kitchen windowsill, which gets light for a good portion of the day.  She watered it daily.

It got neglected when she got her editing job.  Either that, or it felt restrained in its pot.  Who knows what plants are thinking.  Probably “wow.  I wish I was something else.”

It was July, and I was home alone.  I walked downstairs for some water, and I saw the plant.  It was brown, and leaned to the side.  It’s pot was encircled by decaying leaves.

I stared at it.  I was holding a cup of coffee.  It was warm in my hands.

I stared at the plant and I wondered if it was waiting for it to rain, too.

So I watered it.  It was right next to the sink.  I can’t believe I never thought to do it before.

It’s getting close to rainy season again and, if the weather people are correct, this El Niño is going to make it a doozy.

I can’t wait to see what this next rainy season will bring.

I keep watering the plant anyway, though.

It seems to be doing better.

basil

A Twitching In My Fingers


coffee farm

I wake up every morning twitching.  It starts in my toes, and then travels upward until it finally reaches my finger tips, which convulse like a dying spider.

Coffee.

But, I mean, come on, man.  I don’t need it.  It needs me.  What red blooded american can get started in the morning without a cup of joe?

Am I right?  Amirite?  A,md kmm lslkfdsmnfs fofdfsnj jkn

Sorry, my hand was spasming on my keyboard.  Be right back.

Ahh, that’s better.  Can you smell it?

Starbucks gives me a free bag of coffee a week.  I’ve sampled every single blend, but I make it a point of honor to grab a bag every week, no matter what.  I consider it a raise.  An extra dollar a day that I won’t have to spend on coffee.

Coffee.

Here’s my current stash, minus the dozen or so I pawn off to the less fortunate.

I could start my own store.

I could start my own store.

I don’t have a problem, though.  I’m just lucky to have that much coffee.  I am the one percent.

The first thing I do after twitching is go downstairs and make some coffee.  I usually make eight cups.  The only thing I hate about making eight cups is how long it takes for the god damn coffee machine to finish making eight cups.

What’s that?  Oh, sorry.  Just… I’m not myself until I’ve had my coffee.

I drink my coffee out of a mug I bought in Scotland.  I normally only have about two mug-fulls.

See? I told you I didn’t have a problem.

Scottish Coffee Mug

Oh, god.  It’s almost as big as the coffee machine.

I just measured.  It can almost hold a liter of coffee.  A LITER OF COFFEE.  That’s like as big as a BUBBA MUG.  Is Scotland the Alabama of Britain, or do they just market these things to oblivious americans whose concept of size is so corrupted from fast food that they look at this coffee mug and say “gee, I could drink one of two of those a morning back in my home, ‘merica.”

Almost a liter.

Maybe I do have a problem.

But as I always say, “what’s the point in being addicted to something if you can’t do it every day?”

Happy coffee drinking, readers.  You know we all need it.

coffee genie

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