Laundromat

Always thought the laundromat would be good for writing. In a dark poetry, seedy underbelly, Tom Waits kind of way.

But, there is scant sad beauty to be had in that one sock left behind at the bottom of the machine.

The dryers aren’t hot enough to burn away your sins. Not at six minutes for a quarter anyway.

It’s been weeks and I have yet to hear any secret, sobering wisdom from the mouths of crazed junkies, if I’m lucky enough to find one.

Shame how life won’t imitate art.

Guess I should be used to disappointment by now.

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Useless Update about a Plant

Henry, my desk plant, was repotted today as it was getting a bit root bound in the small terracotta I had initially used. The blue-grey plastic one Henry now resides is nice but I feel it may not match the rest of my desk decor. My wife has advised that Henry will definitely outgrow the desk plant status eventually anyway.

Such is life I suppose.

On the issue of Henry versus Henrietta, other than the fact that it is an asinine question in the first place,  it turns out that Henry is a plural noun.

With two smaller plants becoming evident now that Henry has had a chance to stretch out a bit.

This is very important information because I am amazed I am actually able to keep the damned thing alive and, I thought I’d share it with you all while I wait for the child to get out of her chorus practice.

One-tenth of a Photograph

If a picture is worth a thousand words, is that a metered transaction?

In exchange for any old photo, should we expect, in return, the appropriate number of words?

Should we count every very and like?

Could I get two selfies and a haiku as change, for a landscape?

Does the value depreciate? If you hear, “Dogs playing poker,” do you have that image in mind? Is there need to detail the placement of the chips, the color of the table. Has familiarity reduced the painting’s value to three words?

Then this notion probably isn’t worth one-tenth of a photograph?

Pancakes

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She wants pancakes this morning.

Of all the concoctions breakfast has to offer, I find pancakes the most objectionable. Arguments about the health benefits of the meal go out the window when the word “cake” becomes entangled in the discussion. It is the cakes part of their name that draws interest. They would hardly come into consideration if they were called panbreads, which is what they really are.

The sickly sweet smell of them. The toasting flour as the batter hits the pan. The caramelization of sugars. I can see myself clearly on the bus, when I was barely older than her. Covered in vomit from a morning meal of pancakes and orange juice. Waiting morosely to arrive at school, so that my father could come bring me home. I still remember the sugary and acidic taste in my throat, and the look of horror on the face of my friend Brian who had made the poor choice to sit next to me that morning. His parents would have to bring him a change of clothes. I would be shunned for weeks afterwards, such is the way childhood goes.

Edges bubble as the first side is nearly done. Water evaporating, escaping the batter. The staggering recollection of countless hours spent sweating over that damned cast iron griddle, crafting these foul things for the masses of the ungrateful neurotics that came to eat brunch every Sunday over that three year period. Each man, or woman, bringing their own ideals of pancakeness. Just slightly off that mark, even once, too dark or not brown enough, too few blueberries or too much whipped cream, they would be sure to send their waiter back with the appropriate reprimand. From then on I would receive weekly reminders, as their tickets came back with little notes on them, listing my past transgressions against pancakes.

My wrist twitches in practiced motion and the wretched thing flips easily. I stare absently for a moment at the golden disc, listening to the wet batter on the other side sizzle against Teflon. I think to my friends who are celiac, or have some other dietary intolerance towards wheat, and others only refuse it because of some fitness or health craze as well. What do they all do about pancakes? Are their lives blessedly devoid of these, things? No doubt there is some convenient solution involving sorghum, or sweet potatoes. Somehow sweet potatoes always have something to do with it. My friend who is doing Atkins or some such mentioned something about psyllium husks. I somehow doubt I would find pancakes more appealing if the word husk became involved.

Lifting up the edge of the cake with the edge of the spatula, to take a small peek at the underside. Knowing it will never brown up so nicely as the top. The pan tilts to let it slide on to the plate hiding the first and slightly misshapen attempt this morning. The landscape of each one dotted with semi melted chunks of chocolate. A pat of butter placed on top, allowed to melt completely before serving them. She likes butter on her pancakes, provide that she can’t see butter on them. She beams at me as I place down the plate. I watch as she swirls syrup on them, until I tell her that she has enough.

I walk back into the kitchen knowing she’ll add just a little bit more.

I don’t like pancakes very much. Instead I’ll just overthink myself some scrambled eggs.

Just a Brief Word | Happy Monday

I expected to return to this space over a week ago. However, the move that was scheduled for November ended up taking place in January. I could probably spend several posts pissing and moaning about how annoying it has been to be living through thcoffeeandjournale holidays in a half packed state, but I won’t because it is boring. I will say that I did plan to get more writing done than I actually did over my break. Actually I did get quite a bit of writing done, if you count the humdrum of my dutiful entries into my handwritten journal, most of which are also quite boring but there are a few pieces that might be worked into drafts here and there.

I have been trying, mostly unsuccessfully, keep from getting sucked into the internet and visual media since the turn of the year. This is largely because I kept finding myself just staring at Twitter or Facebook mindlessly refreshing the screen, and too many hours wasted on the Tube just looking for nonsense to watch. So I’ve been catching up on a bit of reading actual books, in lieu of internet binging. Most notably I have been enjoying Horoscopes for the Dead, a collection of poetry by Billy Collins. As always I’ve been dabbling with a bit of Pratchett as well. Other than that I’ve been doing a little light reading on the technical aspects of writing, but I really have a low vexation threshold for that. Mostly because I find it tedious, unimaginative and, well I guess Raymond Chandler summed it up best when he said, “The moment a man begins to talk about technique that’s proof that he is fresh out of ideas.”1

Anyway reading print books is still difficult for me since the soberness, so it is slow going but steadily improving.

Mostly I am writing this to check in so that I don’t neglect my space too long, and to let people who actually read my what have you that I’m still around.Taking a break every now and then is all well and good, and I do have a lot of personal work to get th
rough. Still unpacking and all. I do suppose however, when you find yourself making a second rubber band ball it’s time to start writing again.

rubberbandballs

That’s all for now.

Happy Monday.


  1. He also said, “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” Which is a reasonable solution to many aspects of life.2 
  2. Viva la footnotes! 

Had/ Has | Happy Monday – December 5th, 2016

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“I’m fine, I just don’t want to do this.”

“I wish I could go with you. I still can,” I tell her, “You know, I can at least just go down there with you.”

“One of us has to pick up Kate.” She replied.

“I know. I’m sorry” I say.

“I’ll be fine.”

This was part of the conversation my wife and I had last week, before she left for her oncology appointment.

My wife had/ has cancer.

We found out about it in June, and she had surgery in July to have the tumor, and half of her large intestine removed. Thing we soon learned about cancer surgery isn’t like other kinds of surgery, it’s not really over with right away.

For instance, I had to have surgery on my knee when I fractured my patella in three places while coming home drunk one evening. I got taken to the ER, had to wait a day, then they operated on my knee. A couple of screws got thrown in there, and four months later I was able to walk around and go back to work. A few aches and pains aside, I was able to just move on with my life.

After cancer surgery, even though they are very sure they got the whole tumor, she still isn’t considered cancer free. Not until after five years have passed without a recurrence. This means that my wife doesn’t really get to move on with her life for five more years. For the next five years it’s a game of Schrodinger’s Tumor; it’s neither there, nor gone until it’s observed, and she has to live in a state of has/ had cancer. These five long years are supposed to involve several trips to the oncology unit for CT scans. Those CT scans are the first line of defense when it comes to detecting if the cancer is really gone or not. They are also priced in a range that I’d classify as unreasonably expensive for someone in my particular income bracket, at least without insurance.

That’s where the ACA becomes important to our lives.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is, quite frankly imperfect. I only enrolled to avoid a penalty imposed by the individual mandate. The policy I can afford, even with subsidies, offers relatively little coverage. It has however one thing going for it.

At least it is something.

I am not going to get into the mire of financial details explaining how expensive everything actually is in my particular case except to say that without that minimal amount of coverage we would not have been able to afford my wife’s surgery, or her post surgical medications. We would not have had the money for her recent CT scan. Going forward, without the ACA we will not be able to get her the rest of the follow up treatments and scans that the medical professionals have deemed as necessary.

Her next scan will be scheduled for sometime next year. After the new administration of the American government is in place. One of the things on the chopping block is the ACA.

2016 is coming to a close, and my insurance policy with it. I am tasked with spending the next few days reviewing coverage options and re-enrolling with healthcare.gov. I have to, not just to avoid a tax penalty this time. I have to enroll in a policy, that I won’t be able to afford without a subsidy, to be able to pay for the CT scans that might detect if my wife’s cancer comes back early enough to save her life again.

And it’s all a giant gamble because I don’t know if that policy will be valid, or affordable if the ACA get’s gutted, or defunded, or replaced. The words, high-risk pool  have been bandied about as well as, voucher system. Those are frightening terms to people who are in the had/ has category.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about.

What’s on your mind?

Happy Monday.

The Big Idea

I have noticed a quirkiness about my handwriting in the weeks since I returned to keeping a journal, and using cursive once again. I mean other than slowly relearning how important it is to have a proper grip on your pen, or how seldom I need to write the letter “L” at the beginning of a sentence on a day-to-day basis.The thing the oddest I find is that I tend to capitalize the word “idea” regardless of where it falls in a sentence. As I look back across the many pages I have scribbled since the middle of October, this would seem to be the only word I have this problem with. I don’t have tbigidea2his problem when typing or writing any formal correspondence.

It’s as if the word itself referenced some higher concept deserving of a proper noun. Perhaps a dignitary from some foreign land requiring some formal address; some oddly dressed ambassador from the forgotten recesses of my thought process. Or maybe some Napoleonic abstraction puffing out it’s chest to make up for it’s otherwise small stature.

When I first noticed it I would angrily scratch out chunks of text, often rewriting entire sentences just to obscure this slight offense to proper style. Lately though, I have been embracing this little errant piece of capitalization. Regarding it as if it were some old friend. Waving at me from across the room, trying to draw my attention. Jumping up and down shouting “Hey! Look at me!” in some flailing attempt to point out the very thing I’ve been looking for all along.

Or maybe I’m thinking too much about it and just need to slow down and pay more attention to what I am doing as jot down my random thoughts, before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee.

I Never Meant to Sleep

I never meant to fall asleep,
Before my work was done.

I felt so weary,
I just laid my head down,
Only for a bit.

The room was cold,
I draped the blanket about me.

My eyes burned,
My head throbbed,
I drew down the blind.

I dozed for that perfect moment,
In the warmth,
Soft and dark.
I dreamt of abundance,
A world of peace.

You threw the blinds open,
I was awake once again.

Jagged rays of midday declared,
Here still is toil,
A place full of strife.

I never meant to dream,
Before our work was done.

Thank You Appendix

“What are you thankful for?” The unavoidable question that will come out of my child’s mouth this year as our small family sits around the dinner table this year. She’ll ask it out of genuine curiosity, out of a sense of tradition, and out of a desire to deflect my attention when I tell her she needs to eat something other than cornbread. I’ve known the question is coming for weeks and I’ve been trying to think of what I am actually thankful for. It’s been kind of a crap year I suppose. It started right off the bat with my wife losing her job and well it just kind of gets harder to pick out good news from there. So I guess I’ll settle for being grateful for bad news.

This year I am thankful for appendicitis. Specifically my wife needing to be taken to the ER with severe abdominal cramps early this summer. She had emergency surgery to have the offending vestigial organ removed. It was then that they found the tumor.

A carcinoid tumor. It’s a slow-growing type of cancer. It often goes undetected for years. If her appendix hadn’t gone then quite frankly the chances of it getting noticed before it was extremely advanced was slim. She was scheduled for another surgery quickly and the rest of the tumor, along with about two feet of intestine was removed.

This little disaster resulted in an out pouring of sympathy and support from friends and family.  Some of this support came in the form of a care package, that included two gift cards, one for a restaurant, and one for amazon. They were just enough to let us shuffle expenses around and kept us from making a hard decision between her post-op medications, groceries and other household needs in the following months.

That package also included a journal and a pen, that after letting it stare at me accusingly for a while I took up and have now been using daily to unclutter my brain every morning. This in turn, has caused me to start blogging again. Because why write it down if you don’t intend it to be read? Doing this has caused me to recently go back and examine some of my earlier work and I am thankful for the realization that it doesn’t entirely suck.

I mean don’t get me wrong there’s some real turds there, but I am happy to have found quite a few I’m somewhat pleased with. Especially the 100 word posts I’ve made but then I have always been a fan of brevity.

So yeah, thanks to my wife’s appendix that no longer is.

Oh yeah. I am thankful for my family and friends, my pets (even the emotionally needy rat terrier), lollipops, indoor plumbing, and all the rest of that stuff.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have turnips to peel.

Percolated

I find myself at the time worn coffe shop once again. I had to lock my bike up a block a way this morning. The racks out front were a boneyard of derelict frames, hanging limply by their u-locks, rusting away, picked over by thieves and scrap men; with fresh corpses abandoned by the previous night’s bar patrons too inebriated to remember where they left them. I’m just rubbing my eyes and wondering why I still come here. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe the ambiance.

The roaring, hammering sound of the motor on the boom lift that is being used to do maintenance work on the upper stories of the plaza’s buildings isn’t adding much to the atmosphere, nor is the hairy-backed sweat troll operating it to get around the courtyard. The high whining of his power tools add to the engine noises of the passing cars, their exhaust enriching the total experience. It’s still early, but any minute I can expect the panhandlers to start cruising through, or the free loaders trying to occupy a nearby table on the patio while they try to drink their smuggled in tall-boys of Natural Light. I should be able to empathize with them. I was homeless once, after all, and a drunk to boot. Those two things do pair so nicely. Still that might as well be worlds away from where I’m sitting now.

The old crowd is gone. The troupe of miscreants and ruffians that I ran with hung out here. Eventually most of them took jobs here, before growing up and either moving away to chase a dream, or just plain got a straight job that occupies most of the day. We knew everyone here and they knew us. Now the place is staffed by an unnamed succession of faceless hipsters, and the customers don’t seem to talk to one another much anymore. The whole world’s been built up around the place.

So why do I still come here? Maybe I’m just keeping up appearances. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, a steaming mug of hot coffee in front of me with a lollipop hanging out of my mouth (I gave up smoking  a few years ago) and scrawling secret notes in my journal. It all serves quite well in maintaining the bullshit, arrogant, intellectual ideal that I hold of myself. The coffee isn’t really that good today, I don’t think it ever was. Thin stuff, not enough bitterness to promote proper thinking. Weak coffee percolates weak ideas.

Still I suppose it does me good to get out of the house.

Percolated