Coffee Log, Day 329

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

A colleague called me ‘country,’ but not in a bad way, and another said they figured I hung out at cafes wearing berets. Both thoughts are so far off the mark, but I was happy to have made an impression.

It was a busy day of getting to know people better. That wasn’t the point, but that’s what stuck with me. I learned about a woman’s grandchildren, a man’s changing habits after his marriage, and a friend’s penchant for snarky humor. I liked learning about them. I like listening to stories.

That’s all I’ve got today. Still busy, another round of classes tomorrow. Happy January. Hope you get the chance to meet someone new.

Novel Count: 15,629

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It’s the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all.

Guy de Maupassant

Coffee Log, Day 328

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I did an off-site training at the corporate office today. I’ll be doing it for three days, most of this week. It felt like being back in college. We were in a small room with shared tables. There were whiteboards and projectors. We did group activities and answered questions. College – not a place I was looking to go back to.

But I’m always open to new experiences.

There’s a certain slime to corporate spaces. It’s a gregarious slime – fancy, accommodating, obsessed with cost-calculated comforts. I ate lunch with friends in the cafeteria and noticed the treadmills and lime green walls, the tv’s that were easily accessible but not too imposing. A lot of money was spent to make this a place people want to be. Consequentially, it turned me way off.

I watched a 3 part interview series on youtube between a Belgium man and Charles Bukowski. It was filmed in the 80’s, late in Bukowski’s life. They talked about a lot of things and didn’t seem to like each other. At one point, Bukowski takes the guy to this hostel he holed up in for the first few years of his writing career. He told a story about how the landlady would leave him baskets of fruits and veggies because she thought he was mentally unstable after he’d told her he was quitting the post office for writing. The camera caught poor kids in no shoes and suspenders and one young Latino family with gold teeth and jello cups and a chihuahua that kept trying to eat the jello cups. Bukowski said: “There’s stories in these people. Most writers don’t want to talk to these people.” That made a lot of sense to me.

Novel Count: 15,629

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.

Charles Bukowski


Coffee Log, Day 327

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

It was the sort of day kids have mittens put on by forceful grandparents. It rained, it was always a degree away from freezing.

I don’t have much to say today. It was one of those sorts of mornings where not a lot happens. And it was one of those afternoons too. I listened to a story about a toddler walking in his rocker. And a story about getting a paper cut on your cornea with a loose hair. And a story about panic attacks. And a story about a four-year-old that looks exactly like Ed Sheeran. The rest I don’t remember.

Driving home, I listened to loud music and watched people change lanes without their blinker. The rain had stopped, but it was all still slick enough to see your face in. I wonder sometimes which face is mine?

Novel Count: 15,382

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Politicians is the gangstas and the gangstas is the artists
And the artists is the politicians, everybody switching.

Earthgang, LOLSMH


Coffee Log, Day 326

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

There were rumors of snow on the forecast but we only got rain. C’est la vie.

A cold day. I woke up by knocking over the glass of water on my nightstand. It landed on the carpet and soaked an old laptop, thankfully one I’ve backed up most everything I need from. I haven’t yet turned the thing on to see if it still works. I don’t know that I need to. Let the old dog sleep.

I’ve felt a change in myself lately. It’s surprised me, but it’s also safe to say the change was pre-meditated. After so much banging against this or that wall, I knew I had to throw a wrench in what I’d been doing. Most of my life has been one high speed chase toward complex, specific, largely unattainable goals.

For the past few weeks – since the start of December – I’ve been spending weekends looking out the dining room window. I don’t watch the clock and I’m careful not to stay in my room. I have a book to read and my laptop for when I feel like writing and I plug my phone into the speakers so that I can’t touch it. I listen to music. I drink coffee and barley tea.

It was hard at first. Empty time, and me with a bucket full of stresses to fill it up. But I’ve gotten better at the habit and I think it’s seeped in. It’s not just the weekends anymore. I don’t feel as much pressure to board the next plane and arrive somewhere. That’s not to say I’m not working – hell, I’m putting in more hours professionally and with writing than I have at any point prior – but i feel more relaxed while I’m doing it.

This is starting to sound like one of those new-agey posts. Stressless moments and mental peace aren’t options for everyone. When you’re staring at a spreadsheet of expenses trying to factor gas vs. food, you’re in combat with a world that won’t let go of you. Calm is a privilege. All that said, it’s a healthy step if you can afford to take it.

I look in the mirror in the mornings and don’t know myself. It’s all I ever wanted, but I had to let go of all those feverish loves to get here.

Novel Count: 14,971

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Whoever’s calm and sensible is insane!

Rumi

Coffee Log, Day 325

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

How to say the same thing you’ve said five hundred times…

I was at the Durham Co-Op on the way to a bookstore. E came along. We had lunch and did some shopping. It was a light grey day that the checkout lady said looked like snow. I told her I could see it but didn’t think we’d be that lucky.

So I ate the un-chiken salad sandwich watching cars park through the window. Everyone came out bundled. This is a nice corner of Durham, next to Duke, both poor and not poor, full of problems, but nice to be around, at least for someone marginally wealthy like me. I admit all the sin in me saying that, but I can’t take away that I have a longing to be there.

The last time I was in this Co-Op, it was dark and close to closing. We bought bread and lettuce and everything you need to make fake bacon out of coconut chips. We went back to M’s place and cooked it up. The coconut chips shiver when you bake them and I always thought they seemed confused. Two toast bread, slip on the mayo, the heirloom tomatoes, and eat until it’s all gone.

We’d watch the traffic together on gray mornings. There wasn’t much parking where she lived and one time this guy knocks on her door and chews her out, telling her that her ‘man‘ took his space. She said sorry, I moved the car, then she said sorry to me about the whole thing. But deep down I regret not talking to him and giving him my own apologies, because it was his neighborhood and I was just visiting, even if I tried to make it stick, make it dance like coconut in the oven. In the end, you never get to choose where you’re welcome.

After lunch, E and I packed into the car and turned the heat up. We went to the bookstore, gave money to a guy who asked for it, walked around, and stopped at another grocery on the way home (cheaper produce). All in all an okay day. But there’s some part of me still stuck walking the aisles, looking for coconut flakes and soy sauce, waiting for you to take me home.

Novel Count: 14,080

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip.

Don DeLillo

Coffee Log, Day 324

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

There was a wreck on the way home. Not involving me, except by voyeurism. We all drove by the dead car. We drove slow – it had got a streetlight, cut the cord, sheriffs were directing traffic because the light was out – so we had a good look. The hood was ripped up like a poet’s notebook. There was glass on the ground, and in the sunset it sparkled pretty.

I’ve been in three bad wrecks. All of them left me pretty much intact, but each one took something from someone else. The first was ten years ago on Christmas Eve. I was riding with my mother delivering Christmas gifts. A guy runs an intersection and tears up the car. He should have hit me head-on. I shouldn’t have come out the other side. But my mom swerved and he hit her instead. Now she’s had multiple surgeries and spends most days in pain. You wouldn’t know it though. She mostly smiles.

The second wreck was the first day I drove alone. I’d just got my license. I was young and nervous. I stopped at a redlight close to home and suddenly I was in the middle of the intersection. Then, a bit after, I was across the road and up the curb. It took me time to figure out what had happened – I’d been rear-ended. I checked myself out, was mostly okay (though I still have issues from the way the crash re-adjusted my spine), and ran over to the other car. There were two ladies in the car. I talked to the passenger because the driver was hysterical. “Do I need to call an ambulance?” She said no, just that this was her mother’s car, her mother was the driver, her mother was too old, and her mother would now lose her license. The old lady looked like a life sentence. I walked back to my wrecked car to wait for the cops.

And finally, a few years ago, I hit a deer on the highway going 70mph. I was in the fast lane and the deer came from my left. It jumped over the median and landed on the windshield. Because of that, it never tripped the airbags. I have a seared image of a deer hoof breaking through the glass and tearing about six inches from my face. I was briefly unconscious. Thankfully, I kept control and pulled over, spitting out glass I thought for the longest time were my own teeth. I waited for an officer to pick me up (I’ve never had AAA) and he was kind enough to take me to wait at a Cracker Barrel while my family came to give me a ride. On the way, he told me this crazy story: “The saw your deer running around downtown Durham.”

“So it’s ok?”

“Well, yes, but it’s missing one leg.”

Novel Count: 13,732

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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“You’re a rotten driver,” I protested. “Either you ought to be more careful, or you oughtn’t drive at all.”
“I am careful.”
“No you’re not.”
“Well, other people are,” she said lightly.
“What’s that got to do with it?”
“They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an accident.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Coffee Log, Day 323

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I woke up sweating. I’m often hot, my roommates keep it warm. But my mind was in Michigan so I expected cooler weather.

I’d been dreaming about UofM. I visited once five years ago when a friend was attending for his master’s, and I applied three times to the MFA and was rejected. It’s a busy campus, coagulated onto Ann Arbor, and one small courtyard is Gothic like Duke. Being there left an impression, one I can’t seem to shake.

The dream had me missing flights for an open house. I was with someone I had a habit of missing important things for. It was simple, strange, a bit too vivid, there were pine trees everywhere. An old gray day, the way winter is supposed to be yet rarely is down here.

I’ll be 30 this year. Every day, I’m stepping further into a financial career, and every night I’m writing like a sickness eats me. I live in Cary. Nothing looks the way it did at 18.

But I guess that’s just getting older: having a set of people and places that only show up in heat-sweat dreams.

Novel Count: 13,159

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Truly landlocked people know they are. Know the occasional Bitter Creek or Powder River that runs through Wyoming; that the large tidy Salt Lake of Utah is all they have of the sea and that they must content themselves with bank, shore, beach because they cannot claim a coast. And having none, seldom dream of flight. But the people living in the Great Lakes region are confused by their place on the country’s edge – an edge that is border but not coast. 

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon