How helpless I feel with a full cup of coffee and the urge to sneeze.

“I got a full, doctor and psychiatrist-recommended, fully-functional human being requirement of 8 hours of sleep last night. It rained today and the autumn wind nibbled at the edge of my turtleneck and flirted with the goosebumps sliver of skin above my ankle boots. 

The night before that, I fell into the company of bar flies, procrastinating college students, and penniless writers and went to bed at 2:30 to wake up at 7:15. It looked like a country song: sunny and 75 with girls in short shorts carrying overpriced sugary bean water in cups with a green mermaid printed on the side

Not that it matters what the weather was like – welcome to October in the Midwest. But thus begins the cycle of waking and wanting.   

I take my coffee like myself.  Hot and slightly bitter.  

I take my tea the same way.  Stronger than it needs to be. 

And yet I can wake up in the morning without actually drinking what’s in the mug that warms my hands.  It’s the experience.  It’s the standing in line at the coffee shop, admiring the way the barista expertly pushes buttons, pulls levers, and drips coffee into paper cups but not envying how early they had to get up to do so (they have to be earlier to work than even I!).  It’s simply carrying it to class and having something comforting to wrap your fingers around, the warmth slithering to your veins. It’s the smell and knowing what you have to look forward to, the anticipation of putting the mug to your lips and feeling the slight tink of the ceramic against enamel. 

Take it a step further. It’s the first sip that burns the same place on your tongue over and over, forgetting how hot it was the day, week, month before.  It’s the bitter bite of the flavenoids on the back of your tongue and the churning of your stomach as the acidic coffee hits the chyme. It’s the jitters that course though your fingers and the shake of the pen as you take notes for your caffeine-logged brain to register later.

Like all things, the experience is almost better than the thing.  The relationship is always better than the person.  The person is imperfect and selfish, a student and a tutor with pimples on her nose because she was too tired to wash the makeup off, a student teacher with too little motivation and time to invest in things other than the class schedule.  People are messy but it’s the relationship itself that makes it worth it.  

Coffee leaves stains but it’s the experience that I need.”

She nodded, satisfied as her eyes flitted across the lines once more.  One hand slid on the keyboard to publish the post and the hand wrapped tightly, possessive, and slightly neurotically around a mug of black coffee that glimmered seductively in the low lamp light.

The experience, indeed. big_thumb_f58f2692810eb6f9a6f06f3d5224aea5


What in the world can you buy with an apology?

“I’m sorry,” whimpered the innocent eyes.

“I didn’t mean to, ” pleaded the bloodless hands.

“Will you forgive me?” begged the virtuous heart.

And yet my head screamed no.

Apologies are not sincere when received from the wrong donor.  A blood transfusion is hardly worth anything if the antibodies don’t match – in fact, it would kill you.

That’s why I don’t accept the words spoken from his mouth when they should’ve come from yours.  One man does not, could not, should not take the place of an entire institution.  I do not accept this.

And yet my entire faith is based upon this concept.

When my alma mater (though the words drip toxic from my bitter tongue) plays favorites with the graduating seniors, when the achievements of some are overshadowed with songs and theatrical talent, when misunderstood academic concepts become Stars of David upon the graduation gowns, that’s when the apology ceases to be acceptable from the mouth of a messenger.  A child cannot forgive a parent who forgets they exist.  Resentment festers and this is what you end up with!  A tantrum from the child who tries way too hard to gain acknowledgement from the ignorant parent.

(*They say ignorance is bliss.  I say ignorance creates monsters.  If you don’t believe me, look at the American government and educational system.  Ignorance in the system has created an abomination to imagination and creativity that is now too large to contain.)

Now listen to the voice of the child who has grown up and spent four years in the shadow of everyone else that you elevated above me.  I am grown.  I don’t want you.  And, perhaps most dangerously and most importantly, I don’t need you.

And in the future, when you claim your confidence in my ability to make you proud as your alumni, when you want to attach your name to mine, when you want to invite me back to prattle in your little chapel speeches, I will say yes. Oh, and don’t you dare act surprised. You should know that I would never pass up the opportunity to tell you to your face my true feelings:

“Go away you evildoers.  I never knew you.”

Writing is easy – just sit at a keyboard and bleed.

“Your writing is wonderful.” She paused, drenching her next words in pity, bitterness, and familiarity.

“The inside of your mind must be a terrible place.”

And she wasn’t wrong.

People write because they need to write, or they hope to find the sanity merged within the ink on the page, or they hope that someone else can find the sense that they’ve misplaced, or they hope that maybe – just maybe – something they’ve done can be permanently etched into the history of humanity that convinces others (or more dangerously, themselves) that what they’ve mundanely done is worth something.

Isn’t it ironic?

One worthwhile thing done to justify the other worthwhile things makes those other things meaningless anyway.

They often say not to show your writing to other people unless you want it to get torn apart.  People ruin beautiful things, they said. And they aren’t wrong either.

But my writing isn’t pretty.  My writing is the trash that I need to dump in order to purify my thoughts once more.  Do monsters make war? Or does war make monsters? Do writers show the gnarled rottenness of life, the ugly sneer of the days that pass, the bittersweet stench of what-ifs and has-beens?  Or do those gnarled, rotten, ugly, sneering, bittersweet moments make the writers?

What does it matter when all that’s left in the end is the writer and a pile of pages that no one wants to read?