Before July 2020 Disappears
It’s a few hours before another month vanishes, nothing left but memories and an old calendar page (if you are one of the few who still use paper calendars). I hope you have some good memories to take away from July and can scratch off any bad experiences as easily as deleting an old appointment form your calendar (for those of you who have gone digital).
I spent some time this month exploring the topic of vanishing, both literal and metaphor. Some things that vanish impact the individual and others an entire culture. It’s important to take notice of what vanishes whether it be a person, place, or something that we hold dear. We are all recorders of history in one sense or another. Maybe that is what history is, just trying to remember what has vanished.
When the Past Vanishes
Anybody who is familiar with my journos will know that I tend to sentimental sketches and ramblings at times. If you are new here consider yourself warned. I once read that if you sit in one place long enough you will eventually run into everybody you know (I’ve spent enough time in bars and coffee shops to think there may be some truth to this). I’ve also read that if you live in one place long enough you will see pieces of your own past vanish (I’ve lived long enough in one place to think there may be some truth to this).
There used to be this just low class enough, just dive enough bar that I frequented in my early twenties. It was one of those kinds of places you would go with friends to drink heavily and try to meet someone (or a least be a wing man for one your friends who was trying to meet someone). It was the kind of place where you would spend a good chunk of your week’s pay on not too cold beer and watered down whiskey drinks. It was the kind of place that had a second rate DJ on Friday nights and third rate bands on Saturday nights. It was the kind of place with long lines at the bathroom and a haze of cigarette smoke (showing my age here) over the dance floor. In short, it was the kind of place that was the source of many good times with friends, many of whom have faded away over time. It’s amazing how we move from being friends who drink together until 3:00 a.m. to friends who occasionally “like” each other’s social media posts. If friendships of youth vanish it stands to reason that the places, those dive bars, would vanish too. There were many nights spent at Dreams with Brad, Chris, Dano, Drew, Ken, and others. Dreams is gone, a fire burnt it to a shell, and I’ve lost touch with most of those friends, two decades can cause people to fade away.
An absence of place (an old dive bar) and friends (moved on or faded away) can make you feel as if a part of life has vanished. But life isn’t a collection of places and proximity. Life is experiences and how we react to them. I went to the upscale bar and grill that has replaced Dreams a few weeks ago. I bought their cheapest beer, took a sip, closed my eyes and realized that the important things will never vanish if you care enough.
Five Pieces of Fleeting Advice
• “There was not a moving up into vacated places; there was simply an anachronistic staying on between a vanishing past and an incalculable future.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald-
• “I should like to tidy things up and disappear.” -Virginia Woolf-
• “Leaders should lead as far as they can and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit.” -H.G. Wells-
• “I do have a sense, and I’ve never not had it, of how easily things can vanish.” -Doris Lessing-
• “Plunder, v. To take the property of another without observing the decent and customary reticences of theft. To wrest the wealth of A from B and leave C lamenting a vanishing opportunity.” -Ambrose Bierce-
or A Moment to Get Sentimental
June is leaving a heat wave in its wake in the Midwest, and with June’s departure the topic of coffee and cigarettes has come to an end. I feel as if I only scratched the surface of this topic. I started the month mentioning an individual’s relationship with coffee/caffeine and cigarettes/tobacco. Hopefully some of this month’s posts got you thinking about your own relationship with coffee and cigarettes, it did for me.
Caffeine and tobacco are vices for many people, but vices tend to provide some of the best memories. This month got me thinking about how many hours I’ve spent in various cafes drinking coffee while reading books and how the two activities are interconnected for me. I remember reading Still Life with Woodpecker at a Borders Café on a rainy Sunday. The book cover got the attention of an inquisitive redhead and the caffeine gave me the courage to start up a conversation. The redhead and I didn’t work out it but it is a fond memory. I’ve also been thinking about the many nights spent smoking cigars and playing euchre with friends when I was in my early twenties. I’ve lost touch with most of those old friends, but the cigar talk and trading stogies are memories I’ll never lose.
I mentioned at the start of the month that an individual’s relationship with coffee and cigarettes (caffeine and tobacco) can give you a bit of insight into that person’s character. Thinking about your own relationship with coffee and cigarettes can also give you personal insight and maybe stir up some fond memories.
or Why I’m Going to Pass on the ‘bucks and the Dunk’
I am a creature of habits (some bad, a few expensive, but most relatively harmless). As the state I live in moves into the next phase of its quarantine I feel like some raggedy ass bear coming out of hibernation (if you saw my beard you would have a better visual). One habit that this forced solitude has allowed me to break is my ‘need’ to stop at coffee shops.
I always make coffee in the morning whether it’s a K Cup or a full pot, but on most days I stop off at a coffee shop after work to get a caffeine boost. I’ve come to realize that this coffee shop habit is mostly laziness on my part. It’s just as easy (and hell of a lot cheaper) to make a cup of coffee when I get home. They (insert name of major coffee brand here) want to convince you that their coffee shops are a “third place.” They want you to believe they are a home away from home, a caffeinated version of Cheers where every barista knows your order. These branded coffee shops are nothing more than big box retailers on a different scale. They are creating a ‘need’ I don’t have or want (three months of quarantine cold turkey have proven this).
So here’s to staying home and brewing your own. Here’s to sipping coffee (cold brewed or regular) on your porch, patio, deck, or front stoop. Here’s to making a cuppa joe and going to the library which is a much better “third place” (they have free internet too and books, oh so many books). Here’s to being you and realizing you don’t ‘need’ to conform to somebody else’s idea of where to get a good cuppa joe.
A Love, Hate, or Required Relationship?
In a spirit of full disclosure you should know I’m writing this while enjoying my afternoon iced coffee and a cigar (I moved beyond cigarettes a while back). I don’t encourage you to use (imbibe, ingest, or whatever word your prefer) caffeine or tobacco, but I won’t criticize anybody either. There are Dunkin’s and Starbucks on almost every corner, and every self-respecting strip mall has a tobacco and/or vape shop. Coffee and cigarettes are part of our daily lives.
I’m fascinated with a person’s history with coffee/caffeine and cigarettes/tobacco. When you learn when, where, why, and how somebody started drinking coffee and/or smoking cigarettes you get a bit of backstory that usually makes that person a little more interesting. When somebody shares his/her relationship (for good, bad, or other) with coffee and/or cigarettes it makes him/her just a little more human.
Coffee and cigarettes are vices to some, guilty pleasures to others, and a fuel that is necessary to make it through the day for most of us who drink coffee or smoke cigarettes. This month let’s take a look at the sometimes love, sometimes hate, and often required relationship people have with coffee and cigarettes.