5/1/15 Coffee and Crazy

Some people aren’t meant for this world. Or that is they’re stuck in between this one and another. You can imagine how difficult that would be for anyone.

There was a man on street corner talking to himself the other day, minding his own business. I watched from the safety of a coffee shop as the man sipped his own coffee out of a paper cup. People walking by him gave him room. They didn’t know what to do.

Above the sky was azure, but down here we were only insane. All of us, in some ways. The barista’s behind me made coffee after coffee. Americano. Latte. Doppio. Extra milk. Soy. Americano. And it started around 7 am and would continue until 7 pm. This was an ordinary day. The only man who understood that this was wrong–or perhaps, the only man who felt that this was a waste was the crazy man outside.

I watched as two police officers approached him. I was unsure whether they had been called or if they had just happened by. I suspect the former, but really I couldn’t see what they might do. This man wasn’t breaking the law, and he certainly wasn’t dangerous–or it didn’t look like it. He was just standing on that street corner talk to himself. What he was saying I couldn’t tell.

At my computer I usually use my headphones, but for some reason I took them out that day. I have a difficult time focusing if I hear other people talking. Maybe because they all seem insane to me. Or they are just projections of these things we call self. Though I don’t know why any part me would like an mocha.

“Hey, how are you doing today?” I heard the blonde barista ask. She had a big smile and wasn’t naturally blonde–hardly anyone was around Seattle. I would be if I got more sunlight, but with as much gray in the sky as green on the trees there wasn’t much chance of that.

“Mocha, extra chocolate,” said a man’s voice.

Outside the cops had taken the crazy man across the street and were patting him down by their cruiser.

“Would you like anything else with that?”

The woman next to me ruffled her paper. She was fat and smelled faintly of cats even though the place itself smelled more like coffee–she was gross.

“Take you out for some drinks?” asked the man.

I was determined not to turn around. I waited to hear what she would say.

“I—”

Just then someone turned on the grinder. The blonde’s words were lost in a violent crushing and shopping of beans.

I didn’t turn around. I sat with the cat smelling lady watching the police cuff the crazy man outside. They had emptied his pockets. There had been nothing in there except lint–it seemed, now they pushed his head down and he ducked into the back of the patrol car. Across the room and behind me the man who had asked the girl for drinks took a seat. He stayed. Maybe because she said yes. But then his coffee was made and he got up and when he left I couldn’t understand what he was feeling.

4/6/15 What Would You Like to Text?

It had been years since Bellingham had been her home. Years since she’d spent any time at all. But the skeezy prostitute motel was still there and even though it was February there were still some of the homeless sitting about on the street corners or holding signs for food and money–or just money.

In the dark the stoplight turned red. She grabbed her phone, “Siri,” she said. “Text Alex.”

What would you like to text?

“Ten min away, where’s a good place.”

She put down her phone. The light turned to green. She revved her engine a little too high–she’d never been very good at driving stick, even after 10 years. Her phone buzzed.

Well, are a beer, mixed drinks, or cider person?

She clicked siri, took a sharp right.

“Beer or whiskey, typically.”

Then we should go to the Copper Hog.

“Sounds good, see you there.

“Siri, look up The Copper Hog in Bellingham Washington.”

Down the hill the taillights of other cars flared. The warm lights of the buildings splashed their warmth through the cold glass windows. Her car lurched over pumps and then she took a right, then a left and another left.

As she drove by The Copper Hog looked like a sleepy place, but then–it was a Monday. She parked on the street, since it was after five o’clock it was free. She wondered what this would be like–she hadn’t seen this guy since high school–and even then they hadn’t known each other in any likely sense to be meeting up at this house, on such short notice. The only reasons she’d known him was because his high school girlfriend had been her rival at Tennis. And maybe she’d heard stories about parties at his house? His dad had let them party there when they were young. She supposed if they still had parties they might still have them there–but whatever, most parties were lame.

Outside The Copper Hog sat a small patio fenced in by a sturdy black metal fence. Inside the place was a pretty typical sports bar–though to her right were many tables nicely set. In front of her was a large copper hog and to her left and little in front of her stood a tall slender frame with broad shoulders. Even though he wore a hat she could see long hair flaring out from below the slouchy beanie. There were a couple other people in the bar, but it was dead, really. Mondays.

She walked forward a little slowly and as she did the slender form turned and Alex’s face trained on her. His mouth broke into a smile and he began to laugh. It was a strange laugh, rather high for a man, but it seems slightly contagious, as she found herself smiling as well and then laughed a little also.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey, good to see you.”

“Yeah,” he swooped in for a hug and the one armed it. No use in getting that close–it’d been 9 years, about.

“Whacha drinking?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

To the left, along the bar–lit with dim lights that gave the whole bar a warm feeling even though outside it was cold enough for your breath to be seen–was a chalkboard with a list of all the beers.

3/24/15 How to be K_______ S___________

She knows every cool bar in Seattle. Pickle backs are okay by her. The Frye Museum is her favorite in the Seattle area, but last time she went there the walls were a baby blue.

“A color you’d paint a baby’s room,” she said. It was not the ideal color for any museum exhibit.

The boutique in which she worked. Her niche.

In L.A. she found her niche. She was an L.A. girl for a time. She calls it, “K____ S_____’s L.A. moment,” but the Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher Dogen says that one snap of the fingers is 65 moments so really, she was there for billions, maybe even trillions of moments. Or she was if you believe what Dogen says.

K____ S_____ was a rebel in high school as so many people at the age of 16 are. But her rebellion had nothing to do with drinking alcohol or doing drugs or having sex. Instead she skipped class to sit alone on the beach and read philosophy like Seneca, Heidegger, and poetry by T.S. Eliot, and ee cummings. Later she would leave the small Northwest island she called home and go to Seattle in order to sit in coffee shops and bookstores on Capitol Hill and then, one day, when she came back from L.A. years and years later she would say, “I was so pretentious and wanted to be a cool college student.” Despite only being 17 she probably passed for a freshmen who really enjoyed philosophy and sitting alone.

When she was 16 she decided not to go to church anymore which was something of a problem for her parents. To mess with them she told them she was a buddhist. K____ S_____ isn’t actually a buddhist. She called herself an atheist once, so maybe she’s something in between. When she told her parents this her father cried because he believes she will go to hell for not believing in Jesus Christ. K____, on the other hand said, “None of it is real to begin with, so…” Weeks later, while at a bar she couldn’t follow Malcolm Gladwell’s argument about David and Goliath–the argument being that, really, David should always have been viewed as the favorite–because the Bible is allegory and to K____ S_____ none of it ever happened, so why talk about an allegory as though it really happened? The point is a fair one.

After K____ S_____’s L.A. moment–or trillions of moments, she returned to Seattle for reasons as yet unknown. She misses L.A. more than anywhere. She feels as though her L.A. moment (X trillions) could have continued. She feels as though she left something important behind.

“Every day I woke up and walked down the street and just knew it was the place I was suppose to be,” she said. Then, “I know if we moved there together you would leave me. L.A. changes people and I know you’d get so much recognition and that–that can be dangerous.”