Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 86

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

One of my Japanese friends had her birthday this week and is posting pictures on insta about it. There’s a cake, a mother, and a lot of white roses outside a restaurant somewhere, probably Tokyo. I didn’t know this friend too well five years ago, don’t know her any better now, but I like seeing her happy pictures. The same feeling as your father reading you that picture book before you went to bed: there’s all these beautiful stories happening while you sleep, keeps the nightmares away.

I had a long day of doing pretty much nothing at work. Well, I tried to do something – making calls, setting appointments, canceling appointments – but it didn’t go anywhere. There are days like that. Now I’m home and drinking white wine thinking to myself about a lot of different things, but mostly about stories.

I watched the last episode of Game of Thrones. Before that, I’d only seen the first. So now I can say I’ve book-ended that series, which is kind of a good feeling, engaged but guiltless, like 100 calorie angel food cake. There was only one moment that stuck to me in the finale: Tyrion says (and I’m paraphrasing) “Nothing is more powerful than a story.” The monologue surrounding that concept came off a little cheesy, but most obvious, true things are cheesy when you come out and say them.

I talked to an old friend tonight. She sounded the same and not the same, that time-traveling spiral that all old friends get caught in. She’s working at a museum, and more specifically on a project to give tours to the visually impaired. She said a big part of it was telling stories. “You’re still supposed to talk about color, talk about yellow like being out in the sun.” It was poetic. It made a lot of sense to me.

Currently Reading: NOTHING! Couldn’t get back into Bourdain, no matter how much I tried; will pick a new book soon

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Daffodowndilly

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”

A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 85

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, the apartment lounge machine

I’ve been trying to take my mornings back. The past two weeks I’ve set the alarm clock a little early, and it’s been hard, I’ve been tired, but today I woke up at 6:40 without asking my little blinking clock to guide me and that felt very good.

A part of my early mornings has been starting the day with walks. Nothing far, usually to the office to get coffee. It’s bad coffee, and I miss twisting up the beans with my hand-held grinder, but for now it’s a good excuse to move. Today, E came with me. We went to the lounge via the back way, through the gym (that always smells like yoga mats). There was no-one in the office this early. That was good – it meant this time was ours.

On the way back, mugs full, we stopped off at the community garden where E keeps a plot. She’s growing watermelons, though you wouldn’t know it by the tiny sprigs poking out of the ground. Next to her plot was an overgrown rose bush but the roses had withered and next to that were bright yellow squash flowers. Hornets buzzed between the plots like Monday traffic. A bright green lizard skated in and out of view.

At home, I took my coffee to the porch and wrote a little. I watched our flock of geese chasing each other through the grass. I read a message from a friend who was struggling with her sexuality. I cut an onion on sliced bread and ate it with sharp cheddar. All of this had me in the morning. There was a long, busy day that followed, but that’s another story. The early morning was enough.

Currently Reading: NOTHING! Couldn’t get back into Bourdain, no matter how much I tried; will pick a new book soon

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

I love watermelon!
Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!

Greg Pizzoli, The Watermelon Seed

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 84

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; I thought about going inside the shop but when I drove by the parking lot was filled; so I got my coffee from the drive-through; even treated myself to a slice of lemon cake; the woman at the window had deep green lacquer on her fingernails; it reminded me of mountainsides in the early morning; I told her I liked the color, she said ‘thanks’; later, drinking the coffee, I thought I could taste a bit of wood-bark, pine-sap, morning dew

A hot day. Now that we’ve passed mid-may, summer’s taken it’s gloves off, spit out the tobacco, and is squatting wide-legged in the fields ready to take on all comers. I went out around five to pick up a few things from the pharmacy and got socked in the face. One hit of that humidity and I was walking like I had the weight of the world on me. All the thermostats were reading 90. Like I said, a hot day.

Nevertheless, I spent a lot of the day outside.

I’ve been re-reading After Dark by Murakami. I finished my re-read today. The last time I let my eyes on the book, I was 17 and wading through another hot summer. I was away at an academic camp and within the first week had torn my ACL (a particularly vigorous game of ping-pong was what did me in). So there I was, young and dumb and largely alone, limping around a college campus on crutches, trying to keep up with the world as it whipped by. Because of that, coming back to After Dark has been like finding all those boxes in your parents’ basement full of family photos – you squint at the pictures and try to make them look familiar without getting too embarrassed. Then, in the end, you stare so long so you forget they’re even photos of you.

I was reading on the porch with a cup of peppermint tea beside me. The hot day matched the tea so that you couldn’t tell which was making all that steam. I sweated out my journey into old, semi-blank memory albums, and when the tea was gone and the book was almost over, I had a beer. Finally, soaked to the bone, I finished what I’d come there to do. I closed the book. I put down the bottle. About to go inside, I heard a clapping sound off the balcony. I looked over and saw a family of geese. They were huddled together, pecking through the clover, hunting for bugs. Some of them were so young their adult feathers hadn’t come in. I didn’t know what to make of them – these beautiful, surprising, cuddly creatures walking by – and I still don’t. But I think they’ll be one of those memories I’ll open up fifteen years from now and hardly recognize, no matter how much I might want to.

Currently Reading: NOTHING! Couldn’t get back into Bourdain, no matter how much I tried; will pick a new book soon

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

A giant motherboard of geese,
unruffled by the state
police, swarmed in unison

Kristen Henderson, Of My Maiden Smoking

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 83

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

A kid at the Chinese take-out squirmed around in his mother’s arms enough to look at me and said: “What did you order?”

I told him what I got – two spring rolls and tofu. He was puzzled, then I asked him about his order and he lit up: “Shrimp fried rice!” All the while, his mom’s got that look that says ‘isn’t my kid everything?’ but ‘I’m watching your every move’ at the same time.

While they were leaving, she says: ‘Say goodbye.’

And he says: ‘Goodbye!’

And I say: ‘Fried rice is classic.’

That was the most interesting thing that happened at the Chinese take-out.

Meanwhile, in Alabama, it’s effectively illegal to get an abortion. The only cases where the doctor’s not liable for a life sentence are where the mother’s immediate health would be compromised. I say immediate, because there’s many physical and emotional impacts of birth and pregnancy that don’t quite tally to death but are still significant and severe. Anyway…

There’s lots of good arguments going around for why this new anti-abortion law is bullshit. A lot better than anything I can say, I’m not a woman and no-one’s got a gun to my bodily sanctity. But here’s a thing I thought about that I think gets brushed over: what does it say to parents to tell them having a child is not really their choice? Accidents happen. People get tossed up in each other and then there’s this new bit of DNA. Maybe you want what it’ll turn into. Maybe you don’t. But Alabama says you’re not allowed to make that choice. Even if you want to be a parent, the kid’s not there because of your intention. She/he’s there because some privileged men knew how to slap a legislative stamp. She/he’s born independent of want or love.

I don’t know about you, but that sickens me.

While he was still on her lap, the mom was rocking the kid with her knee and nonchalantly running one hand’s worth of fingers through his hair. She was checking Twitter with the other. Normal, calm, simple, but wrapped up in her was someone that wanted to be a part of this vibrant, questioning person bouncing on her knee. If I had to guess – accident or otherwise – when push came to shove, she made the choice to offer up nine months of blood and eighteen or more years to give life to her son. Can you feel the weight of that?

But no, Alabama says to hell with that kind of love. You might be screaming ‘state’s rights’ and ‘small government,’ but you’re eager to slip the government’s fingers into other peoples’ pants, or put your long, bureaucratic proboscis into their hearts. You rob them of both their bodily autonomy and the freedom to love. You spoil not only a woman that says ‘no’ but the one that says ‘yes.’ In a grand act of irony, you have devalued both the individual woman and the concept of a family. In fact, the only thing you haven’t touched are greedy, self-obsessed men.

Oh, I get it now.

You are the closest I will ever come to magic.

Suzanne Finnamore, The Zygote Chronicles

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 82

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

The army’s at my gates again. They wear bright colors. They wield sharp spears. Some of them ride on porcelain stallions. That’s right, you guessed it: I’ve been letting the dishes collect again.

A nine to five work day is a strange animal. It does things in pieces: mornings are for toothbrushes; day is for labor; at night it curls around to tuck its tail and let all the built-up energies seep into soft bedding. And then the next day is does it again. As predictable as a night owl hunting mice in evening and sleeping through the day. Or a bird that starts crowing at four am sharp.

My own pet workday doesn’t have much room for dishes.

The past few months I’ve fallen out of schedule. For years, I’d been keeping one regularly. Now my nights are sporadic and my mornings are shorter. The loping, nine-to-five animal sits on top of me while I squirm around. I start misplacing things. I forget to buy bread at the grocery. I brush my teeth before shaving. Things are out of wack. At lunch, I come home and tell myself I’ll be productive. A whole hour and eating only takes me twenty, that’s forty good minutes to get things done. But by the time I’ve got my head screwed on and a full account of my senses, the lunch hour’s lapsed and I’ve done nothing. The diabolic dish army has another member. Marching, marching, forks at the ready.

I guess I’m just slumping. An early summer haze. I’ve been setting my alarm clock five minutes back each morning. I’m still hitting snooze, but the thought’s there. Anyway, that’s it for the coffee log tonight. I’ve got a date with destiny; a battle to fight; some dishes need cleaning.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Dishes are one of the tools that support life. Please take great care when using them.


Shoukei Matsumoto, A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 81

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I’ve got a beautiful life. I’ve been thinking about love. Some people love me. There’s a cat I know, she says hello to me most days on my lunch breaks. There’s a man in California that got lost in NYC ten years ago and took me with him. I love some people too. For the most part, those two things line up.

I was at an open mic tonight. I didn’t read. From a corner seat, I listened. I had a beer. It wasn’t very good. I told a few people my name, people I’ve told before. I met a writer who writes about Durham. I told him I write about it too and he says it’s a screwy city. The bar, Fig, is in North-ish Raleigh. It’s tucked in a neighborhood. It’s beside a falafel place. Out back, a woman was teaching tricks to her dog.

There was this other bar I went to three times, The Wooden Nickel. It’s in Hillsborough. It’s screwy. It’s small. There’s not many tables. The third time I went there, I don’t remember much. I remember pouting. The second time I went there, I took pictures in the bathroom. The first time I went there, I fell in love.

I’ve got a beautiful life. I’ve been thinking about love. Some days it’s tap-water. Other days, it’s a well.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

People in bars are always claiming to be boxers, hoping thereby to ward off attack, like a black snake will vibrate its tail in leaves and try to impersonate a rattlesnake.

William S. Burroughs, And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 80

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I drove across town today for a meeting. You could see the places where we’d had hail. Yesterday, a big storm blew through intermittently, pummeling roofs and cars. When it left, it had sucked all the summer heat up and left brisk wind.

Later, I cooked black beans and rice for dinner. I spent an hour chopping vegetables. My hands still smell like lime. I watched the blue sky from the kitchen window, shivered when the wind would blow. That big empty space storms leave in the summer.

Now, a little past my bedtime, I try to rest.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

She awaits the rain like a writer embraces metaphors,
A drizzle isn’t for the child who dances in the storm.
Of rain that washes away the petrichor it brings,
A downpour of a hail of bullets, and she calls it spring.

Sanhita Baruah, The Farewell and other poems