Kiva Han, Forbes & S. Craig

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Oh how I’d like to get myself some peace, some true freedom to coast amongst the conversations and hear none of them. I’ve taken to blocking out people with the brim of my hat where it is a world of my book, my knees, and some ungodly thundering Incantation album (I’m partial to Mortal Throne of Nazarene) or other such obliterating nonsense in my headphones. Why am I out in public? Superb question! It seems a fabulous idea until I am entrenched in a foreign armchair or couch corner. At that point even in the retreat of my hat brim a sense of diminishing returns drives my incessant time keeping and at last when a pair of shuffling feet taps into the bleak horizon ‘neath brim and above book, I am driven back out into the breeze to race for my home.

kiva_07

In Pittsburgh on this steely autumn afternoon I was traveling in a pack. I had managed to break free in a little stuffy bookshop just down the road from the chainy noodle boutique we had lunched at by tediously reviewing the constellation of Proust texts much to the annoyance of the illiterate knaves on my case. I exhaled as they passed by the dirty window, crammed the bloated volumes back onto the shelf, and stood in the alcove watching until the band crossed Forbes and headed west. Satisfied that they had loosed me I headed with relish just up to the corner shop to take a coffee. The doors were open and cool air drifted in, ruffling my tie, and calming my spirit.

kiva_02

I began my tenure in the loft above the barista looking out over the heads and laptops of the folks downstairs, trying to let the wind cloud my ears. But as though emerging from the coffee within my veins a racket of typing, shuffling, giggling, and posturing took to the hard walls of the downstairs and ricocheted all about until pooling around me in the loft like a dumpster of hardware, glass, people chewing popcorn, crinkling foil bags, and talking with feigned lisps lidded down over me. Without headphones my sickening, guttural escape was not possible and I took my cup down to the street level hoping the wind might sweep away the painful registers and still all the sound into simple nauseating potage. Yet who did I not notice at the barista’s station below but a thorny and droll cohort also broken free from the herd retrieving a coffee and headed for the same bistro table as I. It was too late to duck away, although over time I have learned that it is never too late, greater people’s senses of indignation heal far quicker than my own, and that I could have easily slipped away with a simple wave of my Dos Passos.

kiva_05

I parked it at ‘his’ table and we looked at the gray sky back out over CMU. We were in Pittsburgh together for the opening of a new building that neither of us had any affiliation with and we took the opportunity to question all of the things that the armchair critic has the license to question. Why were the interior finishes so compromised, why was the central atrium so dark, did the chaotic exterior window pattern really heighten the sense of individuality for the office denizens inside? It grows easier and easier to smother the endeavors of others with our own paranoia as time goes on and we continue to put so little into the world. Suddenly you are a forty-five-year-old-man sitting at a bistro table realizing that the golden years of your creative virility have been spent spinning cocoons of doubt around what other people have had the confidence to fling out into the world and move on from to the next of their public accomplishments. Realizing this as your craft has nothing to do with the fight to unburden yourself from it. By the time you are of this age most of your behaviors, from simple core tendencies to those woven into the fabric that you would call ‘what identifies me’ have the tenacity of a physical addiction. Truly they were laid down in sedimentary layers over your entire adulthood rather than bludgeoned into your neural circuitry by the first ecstatic pull off of the meth pipe, but they are just as ossified. So my tablemate and I, exhausted of our disparaging bons mots, simply looked over each others head at the drizzle until we had finished our drinks.

kiva_08

In a TGI Friday’s at the Pittsburgh airport I took the second step in my new 12-step-program to contribute to society by taking a tepid Molson with two of my bros from the group and sat crippled with nausea the whole flight home. Crapped out at step two, here I still am throwing darts behind an assumed name.

cup

For those readers who undoubtedly will find this tableaux too self-indulgent, you may be amused by one of my more satisfying pasttimes of documenting Starbucks stores in direct adjacency to real coffeeshops.

kiva_06


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Kiva Han, Forbes & S. Craig

420 S Craig St
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
http://www.kivahan.com/


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CAFE TABLEAUX
is a compendium of literary, anecdotal musings on coffeeshop and cafe culture.
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