This text by Phil N/A is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.
Coffee #1 stares back from its thick, semi-spherical container. No milk to adulterate its primordial blackness, its motherly embrace. Cheeky grains oscillate, leaving a brownish trail as they float.
Their words oscillate also, on the frighteningly thin line between “You’re convincing on an intellectual level” and “I can tell you’re way more invested in this than I care to disprove you.”
My face must look pale, so they ask me if I’m troubled by all the terrorism, people dying quite often now. I am not, I just haven’t had the chance to drink my coffee yet.
Caffeine and its promise of delusion are very important, for if you stare into the phd the phd stares back into you. What it sees is about as empty as your cup, just before you say bye, shove your papers in your backpack and venture into the light rain.
Supervision meetings can be inspiring at times, others frustrating, occasionally dreadful. The above has been a case of the Ds.
Caffeine, however, I was saying, is enough to delude you back into focus and self-confidence, with crisp goals and research questions planted firm into your head.
It reminds me I am a man of difficulties rather than problems, and that even when I spread my ideas too thin, when I spread them invisible, there are still ways to communicate them.
Coffee #1 is often all it takes to conjure up visions that, if not bright, are at least vivid. They’re at least not ∞.
Coffee #2 is best consumed alone, on the rolling elation sparked by coffee #1. The rain has evaporated into a galvanising light, revealing the treasures of a new city. I can hardly sit, also because coffee is encouraging my bowels like a personal trainer, slow-driving alongside my lunch with a megaphone. I would leave this semi-comfortable desk by the window, where I can see the buildings glistening, but part of me is afraid these busy people wouldn’t notice a stranger waltzing in and slily eloping with the one unattended MacBook on display.
I can type one more paragraph before the inner blaring gets louder than my shame, so I bother an entire table of maybe art students maybe homeless people on a lucky day to say hey, I will be shitting while you guard my treasure, thanks. They lift maybe 1/40 fingers to declare my shitting granted.
Coffee #3 happens half-heartedly, on a soon regretted whim. For the past couple of hours ideas have been coagulating into sentences and then paragraphs, sections have been re-numbered and effortlessly moved up or down, clicking deeper into narratives. Coffee #3 – religiously ordered at a new location, possibly streets and neighbourhoods away from coffee #2 – is really just a congratulatory treat, a cap on a day of relative productivity.
Yet, the urge quickly loses its margins. Within minutes from the first sip reality is boiling, the screen becomes irrelevant. Acting like a cosmic sponge makes me nervous, so (masturbation being momentarily unavailable) I start whatsapping and fb msging friends in a flooding outpour of love for those who write back.
In between “how are things”’s and “see you soon”’s I swipe left on high heels, snowboarders, group photos, +children, volunteering holidays, i scroll past sugary treats but 👍 lunches, I 👍 profile pics but ❤ (some) family pics, especially I ❤ when people are clearly overposting because of a mental breakdown/psychotic episode/chemotherapy treatment. If the coffee has reached deep enough I will whatsapp or fb msg the person, I will force myself to use the words my mother would use. She is shit at social media, she uses too much punctuation and too little irony, but empathy she knows better.
4g is like a quadruple gravity pull towards those who care, 1g per each city I called home. One day, maybe, I will rank among those who can write the name of their neighbourhood instead of their city as their Twitter/Facebook location. For now, I beat the urgency of all the simultaneous truths inhaled into my brain by hammering my discomfort into 140 characters, only to erase it immediately in a reflex of better taste. To live in an unfiltered bubble is, I feel, a luxury I cannot afford.
To dissipate the fuzzy alertness ignited by coffee #3 I perform the 10k ritual. I like to squeeze music too violent for my background in between my ears, covering the wheeze of my O2 ins and CO2 outs as I trot and trot.
Before the 10k I press a blue icon on my phone to make sure the 10k is not a 9.5k. If necessary I will go around the block once or twice more, because slacking on the double digit would be kind of like shitting on all those good paragraphs and sections mentioned earlier. At the end I press the button again, so everybody (1) knows I’m still killing it. We 👍 and ❤ each other’s runs because we’re both old and single and we need someone to give a shit also.
I almost never watch anything on my list. There seems to always be something more urgent or less demanding available, something I can fall asleep to despite coffee #3 and courtesy of the 10k.
Some say you should not watch TV before bed, but I sleep like a baby only if my cultural muscles have been squeezed exhausted. If I feel too weak to force myself into the newest hype, at least I try to consolidate my quirky taste. Often, alone in the darkness, I think of names and titles, categorise styles, make daring parallels between performers few of my friends know. As I drift deeper into the lightness of hypnagogia, I have conversations with all of them.
Phil N/A is a tenuous entity emerging from the white noise of anti-social media and generalised intellect. It lives here: https://twitter.com/feelingbuster
Also published on Medium.