Thursday, March 26, 2009


So, then. I have taken, I suppose, step one in being a normal human being again—I introduced myself to the cute girl working at the coffee shop. Nothing more, but it's something. I know her name now, and hopefully that will become something more than a familiar nod here and there or some such pleasantry. Her name is Chelsea, and apparently she had meant to introduce herself but was nervous or some such. Amazing how that works.

I have been watching Battlestar Galactica and have blazed through three seasons in about a week. There's only a few episodes left, then, and they haven't finished downloading yet. It will be okay, I think, to take a break and wait for the rest of it—less distraction to occupy my time, fewer things to escape into instead of doing things need doing. I do hope to finish it soon, though, so I do not miss out on all the conversation on the internet about how it ends. I have managed to avoid spoilers thus far. The internet has honed my information avoidance skills.

I really have to pee. I am skipping out on working out for the day. My rotator cuff is sore as all get-up and I am really not feeling like aggravating my already-sore muscles. I think I work harder at it than my dad does—he may run further and faster, but that is due to his already being in something resembling shape. I am working hard, and I start to think it may be too hard at times. I cannot drive at this pace so constantly—I always feel as if my body has had no time to recover any, and that is bad for business.

I don't know what any of that had to do with having to pee, but I am leaving it as it is. I think my dad is somewhat disappointed that I am skipping out on workouts, but I have been highly consistent and haven't taken many off days. He can deal, and I suspect I can, as well. My body has hurt all day—even sitting in certain ways that are normally fine are terribly uncomfortable. My left shoulder and triceps, especially, are brutalizing the bits of my brain that process pain.

I am going to drink more coffee and try to keep up at this writing thing. I have taken a few more pictures of the neighborhood I am in, particularly the view from the balcony of my house. I have taken pictures of it before and have never felt satisfied that they convey the grandeur of the view. I doubt that I will be able to. Perhaps I will post a video somewhere that demonstrates the scope of it. I will ensure that I take video at sunset, when the spectacle of it is at its height.

A woman missing most of her teeth but not lacking in extra weight just joked that she is going to sell her body, but in a way that didn't immediately convey the humor intended. She has a bad lisp and the hectic, erratic gestures and diction of someone who is either off meth or kicked the habit but not before it wrecked the brain. Her sort is familiar, given the Springs' infamy for meth production and addiction. She occasionally gets a long stare, gazing off into nothing for moments before snapping back into cogency. She came in with a partner who has the wide eyes and gaunt face of someone still in the throes of methamphetamine.

There's a man here with them, a man I've seen before, a man who comes in and sips his drink and simply watches the people in the cafe, blatantly and unapologetically people-watching, observing, with a fuck-you posture and the steely, pursed-lipped demeanor of someone tired, suspicious, and fed up. I remember seeing him a couple weeks ago, watching me as I watched people, our gazes occasionally meeting and holding for several seconds at a time, I trying to see behind his eyes and he, unwavering in his stare, as if to say there is nothing behind the eyes to see. He walks and moves with the same exhausted focus. He seems like he is perpetually seething, anger simmering under the surface, hardly contained

A young couple is sitting next to them, the gentleman trying to explain Tropic Thunder to the lady, both of them tired, weary, the conversation slurred and lazy, like both of them stayed up all night and are desperately trying to stay awake just a little bit longer. They seem bored in a way that fatigue exaggerates. She obviously doesn't want to talk about the movie but he seems to have nothing else to say, so he stays with it. They have been together for some time. Those conversations don't occur to the newly-acquainted.

It is 5:09 in the evening and two young women have just come in and sit on the couch next to mine, divided by a table with a lamp on it. I wish I had the cafe to myself, just the coffee shop girl and I, so I could have a comfortable conversation with her. On the contrary, the cafe is too crowded to have a quiet chat.

She was an existentialist, I think, in a certain way—I think she said she was Wiccan?” “She didn't live for the past or the future, she lived for right now, in the moment, for right now.” Overheard between the two girls to my left, meant to be slanderous, “she was turning into a monster.” Apparently this unseen victim of unkind words shaved her head a few times, ran away a few times, met a guy who was mixed up in the wrong things, dropped out of high school, only has a 9th grade education, et cetera. The two girls are 17 or 18, short, thin, attractive, dressed casually, and have the vocabulary reflective of their age and the diction stereotypical of girls their age. “You're a terrorist and I'm a drug lord, high five!” one (the white one) says to the other (the brown one).

Their conversation is boring me—one of the billions of conversations in a given day that have no weight or interest within them, the general chatter of two people on any given day. Not their fault—I certainly haven't had a conversation with anyone today that has any weight or interest (the therapy session aside, I suppose—that certainly had merit, though I doubt anyone aside from me would agree) so I am certainly in no position to judge. Sometimes I type things and move my arm a certain way and my arm flexes and then it hurts like hell.

The two girls have to be closer to 17 than 18. They're too short, undeveloped at the jawline and around the wrists, and move with the over-exuberant spring of girls who think they're women and children who think they're adults. I still really have to pee. I should take pictures of this place so you know what it looks and feels like. It has lighting that is half Montague's and half Pike's Perk, white light mixed with yellow, bright but atmospheric, the furnishings comfortable but not resplendent or gaudy. They play good music here—sometimes satellite radio tuned to atmospheric instrumental music, sometimes their iPods mixed with Regina Spektor and Sufjan Stevens and Johnny Cash and all sorts of other bands that I enjoy.

Both girls gossiping, their laptops open, Facebook loaded, commenting on others' pictures aloud, working on some sort of school work intermittently, the rest of the patrons with noses glued to laptops (just like me) or having chats with one another (unlike me) or having chats while their noses are glued to laptops (unlike me and somewhat indicative of the future) while coffee shop girl shoots off texts and makes myriad coffee drinks and prepares machinery for future use.

I am going to use the restroom soon, then get a refill and drink my coffee with a cigarette or two, map out my plan of attack on the rest of the evening and the bulk of tomorrow, curiously anticipate the weekend with unnecessary expectation, and carry on glancing about the establishment with furrowed brow and sidelong spatterings of curiosity. Curiosity is a word that trips me up spelling-wise. I always put the “u” in, “curiousity,” like you would expect but not like it is. I am going to shove it into my head like I have “license” and “suspicion,” words I have to spell out by letter in my head to make sure they're right. Same with “believe,” always spelled it “beleive” for some reason, though it looks completely wrong.

Girls say that a friend's writing compares to Hemingway, other girl doesn't know what that means, whether that's good or not, whether she should like it or not. I have my doubts as to whether he writes like Hemingway but I also have my doubts as to whether I deserve to have even ignorant people put me in the same stylistic category as the writers I adore. So at least he's got that going for him.

It is 5:33 in the evening and Operation PISSCOFFEESMOKE has reached T minus nothing re: execution. Make it so.

I had to branch plan the operation—I went to have a refill only to find that I still had half a cup of only slightly-warm coffee remaining in my cup. So, I took it and smoked two cigarettes, drank the coffee (finishing it off halfway through the second smoke) and then went inside for the refill.

Once inside, the other cute coffee shop girl served me and had a brief chat about the value of the three pennies remaining after the transaction—the cost is 97 cents, the available funds one even dollar—and concluded that, though seemingly useless, those three pennies are worth three Swedish Fish or, if you are so inclined, three Sour Patch Kids. We both agreed that such an acquisition is a worthy endeavour, though I still resigned the three pennies to the tip box, therefore ensuring a bevy of loose change either in a pocket or left to languish in the tip box into perpetuity.

Enthralling developments, I know. Coffee shop girl number two, though cute and interestingly round in the face, is not the object of my intrigue and enthusiasm. I do intend to make efforts to be friendly in kind with friendliness, of course, and the waitstaff here are ever-so-eager to please. How much of that is driven by me and how much is driven by their general demeanor is a subject of mystery, but I am not so arrogant as to presume that any amount of special treatment is afforded me, free refill doled out by Chelsea earlier in the day notwithstanding.

Did I not mention that? Free refill. A man cannot argue with the meaning inherent in the shits-and-giggles distribution of coffee without expectation of compensation. One also cannot argue with the small wave offered earlier in the day, in a previous visit to the coffee shop, given as I said “thank you” and departed. A “see ya” with a small, nervous wave seemed like little more than an unexpected courtesy until I found myself in the bathroom several hours later, imagining myself at work and mimicking the tone, volume, and delivery of the “see ya” and the shy, stilted breadth of the wave. That was not a courtesy but, rather, an attempt at something more connective, akin to a wink or a slight upturn of the mouth at the corner, but put through the filter of introversion and hesitance.

That wave was, at one point, ingrained in my muscle memory, and revisiting it was a warm nostalgia, a remembering of a time when I did occasionally delve outside of my own neuroses to connect with persons of interest in a tangible way. Though seemingly feeble and passive, it is the most I was once able to muster, and more than I have been able to scrounge up in quite some time without the benefit of intoxication and reduced inhibitions. It is a vestige of that year and a half and more I did without alcohol, the days between waking up one morning and deciding I wouldn't drink for a while and waking up one morning and deciding that I was getting back on that horse shortly after my 21st.

It is overcast and dreary, with a steady half-wind half-breeze mulling about, indecisive as to what degree of discomfort it would choose to dole out on the town of Newport. It has trickled a thin layer of rain on us, intermittently, while back home snow is seemingly falling by the inch by the hour. The girls next to me are talking about Twilight and the white girl said her friend's dad is reading it, followed by “fail. Epic fail.” She describes it as “softcore porn designed and marketed for fourteen year old girls,” a claim that I cannot assert with any conviction (not having read the series) but can speculate as being reasonably close to the truth.

I am unsure if I have given a good description of Chelsea, coffee shop girl, and so now I will endeavour to do just that. She is of average height, perhaps 5'5” or so, thin but hinting at the prospect of curves, dressed in pants that pear-shaped indie girls tend to wear close to their form but that fit her close in the hips and upper thighs but loose around the knees and ankles. Her hair is short, chin-length, and blonde with a generous helping of pink and red streaks throughout, bandana holding her hair back, not worn as I wear it but folded and tied into a band, the bangs that flank her temples dangling long and loose around the frame of her face. She has half a snake bite on her left lip, sometimes with a stud and sometimes with a loop that goes over the lip, glasses with black rims and hybrid retro-modern design, not the thick black hipster rims that men have made trendy and then beaten to the ground but general thinnish black ovular shapes, a black hoodie advertising the head shop across the street, skater shoes but not beaten up like a skater's shoes, thin red and black and green fabric bracelets on the wrists, rings abound across the range of her fingers, unknown piercings in the ears. Not an elegant description, not a sensual description, but the elegance and sensuality are implied, understood as something inherent but not broadcast, something I know without knowing.

That went on far too long. I think she is leaving now. I hope she'll come by and say something, “nice to have met you” or “hope to see you again soon,” but I have my doubts. It could be I'm misinterpreting everything, that my inferences are misinformed, that she has no interest in me beyond what is presented, a common courtesy and occasional generosity doled out without consequence or hope of same, a platonic gesture welcoming me to the establishment. I am going to go have a cigarette and hope to catch her on her way out, provide an environment somewhat more receptive to casual conversation, someplace where her coworkers are not necessarily dropping unsubtle eaves. Many spies have many eyes—Frodo, don't wear the ring, the magical bling-bling.

Back in moments you won't even perceive have passed, excepting now, as I return, to tell you that moments have passed.

It occurs to me that I am quite gassy today. That's not entirely something good, aside from demonstrating the health of my gastrointestinal system. Two guys next to me, at two tables put together, studying physics equations and every so often asking one another for an explanation of some formula or another. It was not raining when I went outside. Chelsea just left, bundled up and with backpack slung across shoulders, without so much as a glance or a motion in my direction. Alas for the course of things, I suppose.

It is 6:22 in the evening and I will be down this way for another half hour or so. Jewel, old Jewel, “Who Will Save Our Souls,” hurt to lift my coffee to my mouth earlier, while the cup was in my left hand, The Aviator, wave of the future. I do feel like taking a bit of a walk around town, finish my coffee and listen to music, singing just above my breath, strolling around the murky gray of the outdoors, fluidly crossing from street to street, guided toward a general direction but unpredictable in the course, like a leaf fallen into a river.

Half a cup of coffee, half an hour, half a chance, half a clue, half a mind, halfway gone and half-cocked, a man with half-missing arms, a woman dressed like a man but definitely a woman hugging him from behind as he half-hugs a friend, halfway there, O Glory, I'm halfway there.

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