A Guy Named Sleeve

I knew a guy named Sleeve, once. For a short while. Not long enough to say we were ever friends. There are times when companionship is close enough to settle on. When the journey has your the soles worn thin.

We met while taking brief respite from our respective paths down the road. It was the early fall, the forest somewhere in southern Illinois. A time and place where no one used their real name. Usually they called themselves things like Blue Tick, and Wildfire. There was a half Chinese man that insisted on being called Chink Bob Lee. About a dozen or so scrawny tattooed rednecks all going by Ace. They all wanted to sell you a zippo lighter, or throw in on a keg.

I was Saint at the time. Still am, sometimes, I’d guess. Depends on who you ask. I was running away from my life to figure it all out. This wasn’t the first time. I wasn’t the only one. I never asked where anyone was from. It was just something you didn’t do. So I never knew what happened in Sleeve’s past to drive him out. I did know he missed home. I heard him say, more than once, he could never go back.

We both settled into a temporary routine. Working makeshift kitchens in a transient town. Full of temporary people. I guess that’s everywhere, when it’s all said and done.We wound up talking a lot. Scrubbing pots after servings. Smoking pot before. Long conversations on short subjects.

His high pitch gravelly voice stood every nerve on end. Especially when he laughed.Truth is, I found most things about him annoying. His twitchy mannerisms. A second hand, jam band sense of style. Patchwork corduroy jeans, an old Jesus jumper, and a beard trimmed into a neat, thin ring around his face starting and ending in a grown out bowl cut. The whole package put me in mind of a Henson creation on a meth binge at a Phish concert.

We really didn’t have all that much in common.

Not much but tired feet, a few months of bad nutrition. Awkward conversations over near tasteless boiled coffee. A few hours wasted on micro dots, chasing nothing through quiet nature in the middle of the night. A few more with a loud handle of whiskey.

The rest of the time spent gathering firewood. Cooking meals for layabouts and bliss cases. The time came to move on. I headed south east. He headed, somewhere else. Never asked where he was headed. Never really cared. We weren’t really friends after all.

It was nice to have the companionship for a while though.

I suppose.

 

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Clean

Sometimes I just sit there, huddled at the bottom. Leaning forward, my chest pressed against my knees.  Listening to the soothing white noise of the droplets crashing against the vinyl curtain. Rubbing the warmth into my head and neck. Trying to massage some semblance of ambition into my body.

If I can just scrub hard enough I might wash away the doubt and fear. I might rinse away the filth of the worry, and shame, and guilt.

I look up and let the water run across my closed eyes.

If I just stay here long enough I might come clean.2047183582_3503e149ab_z.jpg

Image Credit: Shower by Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Well Wishes

I woke up this morning without noticing the change. I knew it happened, but it didn’t click.

I arrived in my confident lateness. I went about my routine as if nothing had happened. A cup of coffee, a bit of straightening up.  Barely noticing empty spaces on shelves, or the absence of the small red box where her possessions were kept.

When I opened the journal where, as formality dictates, we forecast our days.

There, in the margin, neatly written was a final message to me.

The weight settled as I read it.

“Good luck, I am happy for you.”

Spring is Here | Happy Monday, March 20, 2017

Today is the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere. That is of course a matter of the relative angle of The Earth to The Sun, your individual weather experience may vary. Traditionally it’s a time for clearing out the cobwebs and looking forward to new beginings.

I’ve not been well lately, either physically or mentally. One most assuredly has to do with the other, though it is hard sometimes to tell which is the chicken, and which the egg. The details of this are not interesting to me in the least, so I won’t go into it I have been finding glorious unproductive solace in playing video games, which have long been a favorite on the escapism front. Now, by some small coincidence of time, I’ve decided to poke my head out of my den, examine what I am looking forward to and maybe shake out the clutter a bit.

I recently found it in my budget to finally replace the computer that died some months ago, which has facilitated my recent foray into Sunless Sea, and Long War 2. This also means that I am able to pursue my sideline interest in game development. I have been making a small hobby of learning a bit of C# programming and using the Unity engine for a while now, which got benched when the old computer crashed. Now I have in mind a long but, manageable project that I am quite excited about working on in the coming months.

A coworker purchased a large number of role playing game books, with the intention of getting into the hobby. He has, however, found it hard to find a jumping off point. I have been convinced/ magnanimously offered to run a short campaign for him to get his feet wet. So I can add that to the list of projects for the coming month. It has been a some years since have sat around a table menacing people with a set of dice, so it seems like it should be quite enjoyable. The group I’ve tentatively assembled is fairly in experienced in gaming so it should also be educational, as well as very geeky.

There are a scant few weeks left of the school year and, my daughter will start summer vacation relatively soon. My work schedule is opposite her school day and I don’t get to see her much most of the year. I’m thinking about a couple  of passes to the community pools and some ice cream dates to catch up with each other. Maybe we’ll get around to building some slingshots in the back yard too.

Lastly I am just glad to see the back of the cold, erratic, and sunless weather of winter. It will be nice to enjoy my late morning coffee and journaling from the comfort of my front porch enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes, watching the flowers bloom.

That’s what I’m looking forward to anyway. I am sure that I have plenty of upcoming things to dread, but it’s nice not to focus on those for a bit… For a change.

How about you?

Happy Monday.

P.S. As a bonus, because I’m in such a good mood I’ll leave you with one of my favorite spring time tunes.

 

 

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.

Laundry Day

I am unashamedly terrible at laundry.

This centers on my inability to distinguish between clothing in categories less broad than mine or, not mine. My wardrobe has adapted over the years, in a near Darwenistic fashion to suit this situation and has become durable, pragmatic, and largely unimaginative. There are a few unavoidable variations in pigment and shade but, I find that comparisons such as the relative darkness or lightness of a particular piece of clothing are at best a matter of subjective opinion, and bordering on being obsessively pedantic at worst. I have also never, to my knowledge, owned any apparel that I would need to request a washing machine  be gentle or, heavens forbid delicate with it. I however have surprisingly few problems putting my clothes away, owing largely to me not really giving a shit where they end up.

This has all served quite well for the better part of my, let’s call it adult, life. In the last fifteen years or so it has become a small source of marital stress.By and large this friction usually results in me having a good portion of the morning to stare blankly at the walls and maybe talk to the pets.Today, however is not one of those days.

Today finds me  befuddled by questions. Such as, does anyone really care about the difference between color fast and permanent press settings? Why would anyone would ever want to operate a dryer on “low heat”? And, why doesn’t seem it count as a folding a t-shirt if, at the end of the activity, it is still a t-shirt and there is at least one crease in it.

I’ve ever really had the patience for philosophy on that level.

Happy Monday.

Dwindling Pages

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been keeping a handwritten journal since about mid October. I have been dutifully entering my morning thoughts, story ideas, and poetry drafts into it every day since then. This is the first time in nearly twenty years that I’ve bothered keeping such a book and am faced with a relatively new dilemma. It is running out of pages.

I mean I have another one to go to, provided once again by my amazing friend Catastrophe Jones1, so that’s not the issue. My problem is, what to do with it once it is full?20170205_222309

Do I just spend my days collecting piles and boxes of spent journals? If I do that, how many years should I spend toting them around? We are talking about several thousand words per journal. Most of which didn’t bear pursuing in the first place. I wonder what the gross weight of my idle, and nonsensical thoughts would come to after a decade or so?

I could burn them ceremonially on my barbecue grill after a specified, or perhaps very unspecified amount of time, in order to signify some sort of emotional something or other like some angst ridden schoolboy2. That seems a bit esoteric for my tastes these days, mostly because I gave up being an angst ridden school boy years ago.

I suppose what I could do I take masking tape and label each detailing the dates they span. If I place the labels on the front cover I could set them up along the top of a dresser like one might do with Christmas cards. I could place them in neat little rows like little tombstones. A tiny cemetery where my unused thoughts can take their final rest.

I think all in all it might be important to keep my journals for reference. There might be the nugget if a story buried somewhere in there that, after some reflection and quite a bit of polish, could be brought up to nice finish. Besides,  there’s no telling if my dull and humdrum notes on the day may suddenly morph into a grim survival journal written by conscientious dissenter and serve as a warning for future generations.henry1

In other news I have found my Henry, who has now been repotted and moved from my  wife’s collections of plants out in the front of the house and taken his place as a desk plant. He seems very happy to be in his own pot soaking up the sun streaming through my bedroom window. I think he livens up the place quite nicely and gives the space a touch of class. Also, I realize that I continually use the pronoun “he” in reference to Henry. I suppose it could be short for Henrietta, which is some thing that we might all want to take into consideration.

Let me know what your thoughts on the matter are.

Happy Monday.


  1. Also my most ardent support of me keeping up this little nonsense of mine. 
  2. We’ve all been there 

Pancakes

Pancakes.cooking-933208_640

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! 

Happy Humbuggery

I haven’t had much time to write in the past week. My job has been a bit on the demanding side what with the caterings for seasonal parties, and the local university’s graduation ceremonies bringing in a couple of thousand extra people into town. All of whom needed a place to have a good meal, most of whom decided that had to happen between five and seven p.m. on Saturday night. I thought I had bulled through it and managed to sleep in on my first day off in a week, but when I awoke  this morning I was introduced to fresh hell that I could no longer put off participating in holiday preparations with the family.

I am neither religious, nor am I a fan of gross consumerism so pretty much the whole holidays thing is lost on me. I am all about good will towards men, so long we’re speaking inclusively about the entire human race. Provided ,of course, that inclusively they leave me to my own devices and don’t go trying to throw any holiday cheer my way. Especially the carollers. I can’t believe we live in world where gangs of roving merry makers are allowed to go around singing at decent hard-working people. What do I pay taxes for, I ask you?

Anyway, the majority of society has these things called holidays. I also have a nine-year old daughter, and as I recall the path to disillusionment and bitterness in adulthood does indeed start with the childhood wonder at the magic of this particular season. In result I am required to do holiday type things. This morning I took her out so she could get her mother a present. To this end my wife is getting a hot glue gun for christmas.

The evening was spent putting together a rather sad little tree purchased at the discount store. Not a real tree of course. I am fairly sure that this one is made from recycled plastics and disappointment. Then, there was the annual sorting of gew gaws so that the could be hung on the skeletal piece of greenery. Nothing glass mind you, because inevitably the damned cat is going to climb up it and knock everything off, and nothing of any significant weight because It would probably make the poor thing look even more depressing. But, it is up and has been sufficiently admired for the time being, and now my family has gone off into separate rooms in order to avoid any uncomfortable togetherness.

So the point of all this is that for the next few weeks I will be busy doing things I do not in general approve of and then moping about how little I have accomplished for the year, and finally making a great deal of overly ambitious and most likely empty promises to myself about the next.

So I hope you had a Happy Monday, and all have a wonderful whatever it is you’re planning on having.

Let’s pick this up again sometime in early January shall we?