Sacramento, California is not a bad place. It just isn’t mine. I lived here for over six years. And it never did feel like home. Santa Cruz wasn’t home, West Los Angeles wasn’t home, the DC Metro Area wasn’t home, Brooklyn wasn’t home. I had different reasons for not being wholly, roundly happy in any of them. But wonderful things and magnificent people abound in all of them.
So I’m in my mom’s house and I need coffee. She’s a tea drinker. (Incidentally, she gets her imported Welsh tea from the Tea Cozy, a little independent, local shop near her house. Strongest bagged tea I’ve had.) I was driving around picking up take out Mexican and I drove past Insight Roasters and stopped.
I usually ask the people who work at a place to recommend to me what I should try first, especially if they aren’t busy at the time. It was evening, and chill. Nice space, airy and light. Sacramento has cheaper rents than the Bay Area, so rooms are bigger here. It feels less claustrophobic than any other place I’ve lived. (I told Shadow Fairy I thought my apartment was 300 square feet and she was appalled. I didn’t tell her she’d be appalled with the rents in Southern California should she get down there.)
I was recommended the Guatemalan by the very nice man pulling shots behind the counter (barista still feels like a stupid thing to call a coffeeshop gentleman or lady), but they were out, so I got twelve ounces of the Brazil. Fifteen dollars, which isn’t cheap, but that’s probably what an independent roaster has to charge to make a profit. Beans aren’t cheap, equipment, et cetera. And it’s not like Peet’s charges that much less. Plus you get a free shot of espresso with every bag of beans. Nice.
The coffee itself was one of the smoothest brews I have tasted in memory. It is chocolaty, sweet and complex–without any sugar or milk in it. These are the beans talking. They aren’t greasy or very dark, which is usually what I reach for, but that’s fine; they’re mellow, full, rich, and deep.
I went back and am on the Guatemalan now. I prefer the Brazil, but the Guatemalan is nice, too. It’s heartier, with more of an acrid finish. My next bag is the Sumantra. Haven’t opened it yet.
I grew up on Peet’s coffee, so I’m used to a really dark cup, and Insight satisfies that. It’s really full coffee–don’t let the sweetness in the description or the review throw you off. I’m sure they have a coffee that hits a more bitter note if that’s how you roll. (I don’t care for Starbucks, myself. Tastes acrid-bitter-burnt and bites on the top of the back of the throat.)
They also sell unroasted beans. I have wanted for years to roast my own coffee beans at home. I haven’t, but I want to. You can do it using a popcorn popper, or a heat gun, or a skillet, or a wok, or a cookie sheet in the oven. Anyways. I don’t need another expensive, time-consuming hobby. I probably won’t make better coffee, and it really isn’t that much cheaper when you consider how much time I’m spending cooking it and storing it and shipping beans to my house. But a girl can dream.
Anyways: this is damn good coffee. Highly recommended. When you’re here and I’m here we’ll go here and get a cup.
Sparrow didn’t grow up in a rich-ish part of Oakland, but her folks live in one now. Oh, let me clarify something. People who don’t live anywhere near the Bay Area sometimes assume Oakland is like Bartertown or something. It’s not. Oakland is huge, and it’s like LA or Chicago or DC or Brooklyn. There are sketchy parts, and gorgeous parts with multi-million dollar mansions. Unlike New York, though, the ghetto goes on for larger stretches, and the bourgie areas are bigger. It isn’t like a checkerboard, block by block, with abandominums across from co-ops across from the projects across from brownstones. You can drive everywhere and not see really poor people–or really rich ones–if you don’t want to.
I’m moving again. I hate moving, but I do it all the motherfucking time. In 2004 from NorCal to SoCal. Then two years later to DC. Then a year later to Brooklyn. Then a little more than a year after that back to the Yay Area, the place where I was born. Now I’m doing my first move of less than 200 miles in seven years. It’s different, I’ll tell you that much.
I always have a very good reason for moving: school, a new job, witness protection program, something like that. But I’m still a rolling stone. I still keep myself from committing to a place and living a real, grown-up life. I mean, I’m already thinking about moving to Portland (Oregon, not Maine, although I have been there and it’s alright, but extremely weatherish and Seer doesn’t cope well) in two years.
Yeah, I’ve been away. I’ve been dealing with headaches and woes, man. So some people did me, in my opinion, way wrong. And I had to go see a judge about it. It had major repercussions in my life financially and emotionally. I felt victimized for a bit. Then I stopped and realized that I’m not a victim at all. I’m a volunteer.
Today was my birthday, which meant I got to talk to everyone in the world. That’s right, I talked to Jonathan Franzen and Cindy McCain and Stone Phillips and Snooki and Biz Markee and Noam Chomsky and Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Maury Povich and David Attenborough and Elijah. The last time I had talked to them all was last summer at John McEnroe’s place in the Hamptons. Such a charming soiree!
So I talked to Namaste for a quick minute. She’s back in California, where she belongs. She’s only here briefly, which is not the way it should be. We talked about how much better it is here.
“There’s no snow here,” I said.
“Oh, the snow’s all gone there too,” she said. “All that’s left are piles of cigarette butts. Cigarette butts, and dog poo, and garbage, and filth. It’s so disgusting. It’s like a tide of garbage went out and left this horrible mess.”
I don’t miss it. It was in the forties this weekend here! That was unreasonable. And I saw motherfuckers wearing gloves! Jesus. I laughed at them. One of whom was a dear, dear friend and still I cackled.
Not in that particular order. Those adjectives, I mean.
Did you know that homeless people sleeping in your carport is “A Thing”? Neither did I!
I live on the end of a long block, and it ends on a cul-de-sac. That’s a dead-end. There’s no outlet. So there’s not a lot of foot traffic here. You come down the street if you live here or if you need to see someone who lives here or your connect stays here. (Dealer? Who calls them “dealers”? Narcs and lops and people who don’t use drugs because they’re good and clean and wholesome and sane and saved, that’s who.) You do your business and leave.
My neighbors’ granddaughter found some people nestled up against her car in the carport one night, asleep. She’s in college and a cute young thing of about 19, and it shook her up. I think anyone else who lives here would have been all, “Whoa, that shouldn’t be,” or “Get the fuck outta here, you bums!” or “Call the policcccce.”
I am now on a list. I am not allowed to buy any firearms for five years. I understand completely where the State of California is coming from, but I still didn’t sign the form that said I agreed to this, and that I did or did not want a hearing upon my release. Because I don’t like being told no, and because I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years. Please note I have never even held a gun in my life. But all the sudden all these scenarios in which I will need a gun to protect myself come to mind. Madness. I should take Krav Maga first. But now I’m listed. I am in the system.