Coffee Log, Day 108

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; the barista said ‘Welcome to the ‘bou!’ and I said ‘Can I get a Venti?’ We were stuck in different places, trying too hard to cross each others’ wires; she had nice glasses; I never know how long you’re supposed to look someone in the eye when they’re wearing glasses.

In a Sentimental Mood – Duke Ellington; each of the few letters I’ve written in my life, I’ve written while listening to that track. I’m not writing a letter right now, the song’s on anyway. I guess you could say it’s been that kind of day.

I worked with some storytellers. Well, I worked with the same crew I often do, only today I got them telling stories. One woman’s on and on about the cold coffee she didn’t drink yesterday, still in the break-room. She’s scared it might have spoiled. I tell her coffee doesn’t go bad. She tells me her son lives in Boone, they’re getting Hurricane rain, she’s worried about landslides. I look up the coffee – “Was it black?”

“Yes,” she says, and I like her better.

“Then – like I said – it can’t go bad.” She drinks the stuff and stops bringing up her son.

Another lady does color-by-numbers on her phone, says it’s relaxing. I ask her to show me. Instead of showing me, she talks about ‘Three Kings’ Day.’

“In Puerto Rico, we don’t do Christmas, well we do Christmas, but really it’s the ‘Three Kings’ Day’ that we celebrate.” She talks a lot about what her mother cooked, the hay and water they leave under the beds to feed the Wise Mens’ camels. Then a customer comes, and afterward she shows me the app. She never makes the connection between coloring and the holiday; I don’t press her. It’s enough to know about the bright, simple things that matter.

I spent my lunch break gnawing down my Hurricane supplies, my only opened jar of peanut butter on bread. I don’t like the stuff, but it’s no good throwing it away. In between bites ‘1’ and ‘25,000,’ I was caught thinking about you. You have your hair down. You’re in the whitest January morning. There’s everything in the kitchen but you toast the oldest bread, scramble for yesterday’s butter. Our loaf has mold on the front but you shave it off. Somewhere in the house, a few generations of your blood are still sleeping. The jam is so molten it looks like you’ve cut your finger.

We eat in the temporary: an in-between home, you’re staying at your parents, I’ll be driving back to my own hometown in less than an hour. Mild southern winter; mismatched chairs.

Before I’m gone, I tell you that my breakfasts usually come pre-packed with nutrition labels, fortified bars; you say “Gross!” and kiss me goodbye. For the next few weeks, I’m buying whole breadloafs and sticks of butter. These days, it’s back to granola.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“In A Sentimental Mood, I can see the stars come thru my room.” – Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington, In a Sentimental Mood

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Coffee Log, Day 207

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

There was a rock I used to sit on in City Park back in Burlington. It was big and out of the way, you had to climb on top of it and when you did there was this scruffy view through scruffy trees of the scruffy creek that floods sometimes. One time, toward the end of High School, I sat on the rock for a whole morning watching a groundhog consider jumping in the water. She was a fat, brown animal, pine-cone eyes. She was scared of me, I was in love with her.

Earlier that week, a girl from English class had kissed me outside her car, then stopped returning my calls, then got together with a close friend whom she’d later marry. In comparison, I liked the way Ms. Groundhog spelled ‘simple.’

At noon, families flooded the park. The rides spun up. I got distracted. When I looked back, the groundhog was nowhere. I checked the bank. I checked the water. I didn’t hear a splash, but groundhogs are slippery. I left without seeing her again; I ate an overpriced burger on the way home.

Like most people I’ve loved, Ms. Groundhog wanders into view sometimes. Something in the right kind of late summer light. I wonder what happened that morning – if she gathered up the straw-fire courage to jump.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it.” – Phil (Bill Murray), Groundhog Day

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Coffee Log, Day 206

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

My car smells like the ocean. Maybe the hurricane stuffed the hood with fish ghosts.

I took two trips today: short ones, the first to get groceries, the second for dinner. The grocery store was vacated like a June school building. The restaurant was the same. A long weekend for some, hard weekend for others, everyone reeling from the vacuum-suck of dodging Florence’s bullet – we made it through safely. Banks and government offices will re-open tomorrow. September keeps passing. Today gave us all time to sit and think about wasted preparation; the responsibility of safety.

I think I’ll donate the case of water, jars of peanut butter I bought and didn’t open. Give goods to people that need them; lessen the sunken weight of prosperity.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” – Chinua Achebe

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Coffee Log, Day 205

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

I don’t write particularly well when I’m drunk. I don’t do much of anything particularly well when I’m drunk. That said, I’m drunk.

I sat on the porch and re-read ‘Hear the Wind Sing,’ Haruki Murakami’s first novel. The storm was raging, my neighbors were chatting on the deck below me, and for a short while a latina in a gray tee bounced happily up-and-down on the third floor across from my apartment. She was pretty. She waved at someone else. All of us watched the creek surging like a well-fed boar.

In such circumstances it felt unconscionable not to have a drink. I drove to the nearest gas station. Far as I could tell, no trees were down, but the road was messy with leaves. It was warm, I listened to a collection of leaked Young Thug b-sides. What traffic there was was moving fast and with a purpose.

At the gas station, I bought a six-pack of Negra Modelo and the guy recognized me so I wasn’t carded. A few weeks ago, I told a Tinder date that the first beer I drank was Negra Modelo.

“Wow, pretty extreme for a first beer,” she said.

She was a pretty girl, sociologist, almost-professor, who spent the date talking over me and looking at a point somewhere on my forehead, never in the eye. There was no chemistry but I asked her out again anyway. “There was no chemistry,” she said. Hard to argue.

In all honesty, I gagged on Negra Modelo the first time I tried it. I was a Junior in college. I’d just turned 21. I went to the Armadillo Grill on campus – the only place with a bar – and ordered the drink with dinner. They gave me an open bottle. You weren’t supposed to take alcohol out of the bar but I was so nervous – so wrapped up in dreams of what the beer might do to me – that I tore foil off my chicken tacos and capped the drink. I stuffed it in a hoodie pocket and walked out, sweating the whole way home. Afterward, I played Call of Duty and drank half the beer. I called my girlfriend at the time – a short social worker who’d go on to get drunk one December years after we’d broken up and invite me over – and said I hated it. She was disappointed. S liked to drink.

‘Hear the Wind Sing’ holds up on a second pass, just as I’m sure it holds up on a third. It reminds me of The Tatami Galaxy – light, short, funny, heartbroken – it’s no surprise I’m in love.

When the latina waved I almost waved back. I would have liked to have invited her over, given her some of this six-pack to help me finish it. In a storm, anything’s possible. When the rain stopped, though, she disappeared.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“The Rat’s novel had two good things about it. First, there were no sex scenes; second, no one died. Guys don’t need any encouragement – left to themselves, they still die and sleep with girls. That’s just the way it is.” – Haruki Murakami, Hear the Wind Sing

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Coffee Log, Day 204

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s; like year-old boxes of Valentines chocolates.

Maybe I wanted something to scare me. Since rumors struck on Sunday, I spent the week preparing for Florence. I bought stuff, planned for the power outage, even got in contact with an old love. Now I’m sitting with my window open watching the drizzle. There’s a light breeze, smells steely. The NC coast is suffering, but Cary keeps rolling by.

It’s a good thing to be safe. I’m still disappointed. People look for things to punctuate themselves – break the year up into moments to look back on. Holidays, break-ups, weddings, disasters – something more magical then waking up and going to back to sleep sixteen hours later. I see a lot of problems with that mentality. You can only get bored if you’re living a good, easy life. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the dull itch for something to crash upon me.

The rain’s beautiful. A cardinal’s going bananas in the tree. I hope everyone farther east is okay. The hurricane wasn’t magic. Nothing comfortable is.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“I wonder what ants do on rainy days?” – Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

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Coffee Log, Day 203

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s

The bank closed early. It was cloudy for the drive home. For now, we still have power. The storm hasn’t hit us yet. Likely, it won’t do much here. It’ll veer south and uproot peach trees in South Carolina. It’ll water-log the mountains. On the maps, we’re just outside the zone.

I’ve got my fan going and the lights off, I want to keep the room cool in case we lose AC. I’m watching fusses of rain start-stopping outside. Before I’d ever traveled, North Carolina seemed like an incredibly normal place. Having been a few other places now, I see the cracks in that old understanding. So much of the world is wracked with natural disasters: drought, wildfires, tropical storms. So much of the world has crumbling infrastructure, rampant conflict. But central NC is placid. There’s hardship, sure, but it keeps itself below the overpasses, beside the train-tracks, miles off the highway – out of sight and in the margins. For many people – myself included – the place is safe and and dull.

Everyone has a different idea of paradise. I can still taste the ripeness of a Kyushu morning. But in the end, your home is undoubtedly someone else’s paradise, and if you were ever to venture one of those dreamed-up hotspots as your own home, the cream would slowly melt like room temperature butter.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“The true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.” – Marcel Proust

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Coffee Log, Day 202

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s

I don’t know how bad the storm will be. Friday will tell me; the coast will know tonight.

I called my dad this morning. Right now, my parent’s house is projected to get it worse than me. As long as I’ve known them, my parents are prone to worry too little about the big things and too much about everything else. That swung my pendulum the other way, so now I’m a little too worried for them. Their arms and legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. That said, as long as I’ve known them, my parents have never been ones to underestimate.

Today’s sky was six-year-old blue: she has the pick of 64 crayons but settles for one color. It didn’t belie the turbulent weather; it was good cover to walk under. I watched white clouds idle. Mr. Cobwebs was chasing geese. I had to take off work today, woke up sick and tired from a night of bad dreams. Hazy, every needle in the pine trees seemed to be some other lonely raft floating away.

Once, many years ago, my apartment was robbed. They took everything, even cracked the door as a temptation for our two cats to escape. That evening, I threw up. We were staying at my partner’s family house. She helped me clean up the mess. It was such a kind, wonderful moment. Still, it had me certain that when the bandits broke our window on a hot August afternoon, they’d bagged up our future together with the TV’s and computers.

That is to say: I’m not scared of loss anymore.

I got some more water, some more bread, it’s just me and R in the apartment. I printed out some DnD campaigns, think I’ll run one if the power goes. When the sky’s dark and the ocean’s coming down on top of you, might as well enjoy the time.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“Talkin’ to myself my homies call me crazy
Livin’ by myself my mama say I’m lonely
Sleepin’ by myself my bitches think I’m lyin’
Listening to myself cause I’m my favorite artist
Depending on myself, the people call me mighty
Defending more than self, the people call me hero
I’m good within myself, the people say I’m humble
And I’m protecting myself trying to stay away from evil.” – Lil Wayne, Third Strike

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