Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 54

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve been putting off cleaning my coffee pot for a couple weeks but I finally bought white vinegar; I ran the vinegar for two cycles, dumped it, rinsed it, ran the machine with water; the coffee still tastes the same, but it’s got more confidence than before; cleaner; self-assured; that kid in middle school who made all A’s and didn’t even know people were poking fun at her about it; blank paper.

Yesterday’s Coffee Log was live. I read a few selections from the past year at Fig Raleigh. I answered a few questions. “Do you ever worry about alienating the friends and family that you write about?” Yes, but I don’t stop writing about them. I wouldn’t know how to stop. Etc, etc. After the questions, I listened to twelve colleagues read. They read fiction and poetry. I like being an audience for people who’ve got something to say.

I’m driving to Richmond today. I’m excited for the trip. I’m nervous for the trip. I feel like one of those puppies you see in commercials – eyes wide, half-wanting to be adopted, half-scared of everything outside the pen. It’s been five years since I’ve traveled on my own. I used to make a point of traveling – taking off to wherever. Then I thought ‘hey, I need to get to know a place, I need to responsible to the people that feed me with their taxes.’ I’ve been getting to know NC like an old-new friend, someone you lost contact with long enough to forget about them. Now that I kind of know her I’ve forgotten important parts of myself.

Back to the reading: I love listening to people’s voices. The way you say something on stage is different from how you and I are talking. And it’s different from person to person. Z came to watch me. Then we stood in the audience together and listened to the other performers. He said everyone had a different style. They did have different styles. I don’t think there’s anything more honest than putting yourself in a spotlight. It’s not the you that comes naturally, it’s everything you’re aspiring to be.

Tomorrow, I’ll write this blog from a hostel bar. Or a Richmond cafe. Or a bench outside an art museum. Or a street corner. Or the backseat of my car. Who knows? I’m two blades of grass pressed together, stuck between your teeth, anticipating whatever kind of sound is about to blow.

Novel Count: 38,047 (I’ve been so stuck on preparing for the open mic feature, the trip, business at work, that the novel’s gotten stagnant. And now that it’s stagnant I don’t know what to do. I’ll push through, but that might mean surgery. I might cut out some things, change some others. Marriage – hard work to fall in love all over again.)

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 53

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 1
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

Tomorrow’s always a day away. This particular tomorrow, though, is a big one.

I’ll be reading as a featured author at the Third Wednesday Open mic in Raleigh, NC tomorrow (see above for details). Though I’ve been reading at open mics for over a year, this will be my first time in the spotlight. I’m excited and nervous. If you can make it, I’d love to have you in the audience.

Sometime around my third job after college, I had a theory: most of life is a performance.

I was shelving clothes back then. I was fresh back from Japan, working at a Saks Off 5th, trying to write a book. I’d get up at four in the morning and start work just before six. I’d spend seven hours stripping designer clothes out of excessive packaging.

I realized something: all these eyes were on me – customers when I was on the floor, coworkers whenever else. They looked on with entire lifetimes of expectations and would wait for me to meet them. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. I wasn’t trying to put on a show but they filmed me anyway. Prime-time TV.

These days, I lean into it. I like to act. However I act becomes a part of me. There’s this line in our society about being ‘authentic,’ but I don’t buy it. A person isn’t something you dig deep and find buried inside yourself, it’s the clothes you wear, the comb of your hair, what words you pick to say ‘I love you.’ We’re all active expressions of being. ‘Dasein,’ if I’m flirting with turn of the century Germans. What’s so surprising that those expressions might change day to day?

All of that is to say: I’m looking forward to performing for you tomorrow night. I’ll be reading some selections from the Coffee Log. Also, I’m damn terrified, so just know that if I make an utter fool of myself it was only an act – something avant garde – a kind of self-expression, intentional or not. You’ll see a different side of me the next go-round.

Novel Count: 38,047

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

But remember that in order to symbolize everything to everyone, you will be both loved and hated.

Bonnie Huie, Four Essays


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 52

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 2
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

The thunder woke me up twice last night. When I woke up it sounded more like a long checklist of things to do.

Sometimes when I’m bored or lonely I’ll take a long shower. I tilt the nozzle so it’s close to the drain and lie down. I’m not too tall (five-foot-seven) so I fit going lengthwise in the tub. It feels like one of those rides at the water park: a dark, gushing tunnel, no room to move.

In the spring, I like to sit outside and think about smoking. I don’t smoke. Not at all now, not much ever, but nice days are conducive to watching thick burnt embers trail out of your mouth and no matter what I do I can’t seem to shake that image. Burnt lungs in a fine garden. It’s the contrast, maybe.

Later this week I’m going to Richmond. I don’t know what to expect from that trip. A coworker gave me suggestions. I spoke to a hostel worker about parking options over the phone. Secretly, I’m exhausted, and when I think ‘vacation’ I see a dark blanket wrapping me up at home, but I have to go, because if I don’t it means something I’m not ready to admit: that I’m not someone with the energy to get out and move.

I saw a scared cat. She was hiding around the corner from a rough brown dog. I came down the stairs and scared her a little more, then she recognized me and we got along. I’m a scared cat some days, and others I’m coming down the stairs. No telling which I’ll be tomorrow. No choice but to find out.

Novel Count: 38,047

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

regret is mostly caused by not having
done anything.

Charles Bukowski


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 51

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place from an Automatic Dispenser in the Apartment lounge; I’ve been needing to clean my coffee maker; I’ve had it almost a year and it’s showing it’s age; but I didn’t have vinegar (and I’m procrastinating buying any) so today I got coffee from the lounge; it comes in one of those machines you stick a cup under and wait; it reminds me of a hospital; I poured too much in the cup and had to dump some in the sink; in the end, the coffee tasted like time spent waiting for surgery.

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 3
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

All day has been threatening to storm. There’s weather reports from Georgia that tornadoes are touching down. We’ve been waiting to see them here.

I had a long dinner at the The Remedy diner. I ate fake chicken and real cheese. A mix of identities. The restaurant was less busy that I usually see it but it was still bustling. The waiters couldn’t keep up with the orders.

Walking back to the car, I overheard a woman at a nearby bar. She said “Well my mom’s a Leo.” I got thinking about symbols and a friend told me he liked to put it this way: “At it’s best, astrology is just a series of tools to help you understand something about yourself.” That made a lot of sense to me.

I was writing for four hours today. I was writing about a place I haven’t been. My images of it are based on a real building in downtown Durham, and by the time I was finished writing about it, my memories had shuffled around. Like constellations passing with the season, Durham didn’t look the same inside me anymore.

Right now, there’s two branches reaching around the side of our apartment and tapping. They sound like bent fingers, or maybe a couple carrots. That means the wind is picking up so we might have some tornadoes after all. I close my eyes and see the parking lot devoured by a storm. When I wake up tomorrow and walk across it, will it be the real pavement or my imagination that holds under my feet?

Novel Count: 38,047

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 50

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 4
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

The AC froze in our apartment. You’d think that’s a good thing – icy cool – but it’s not as good as it sounds. The coils froze over and the ice warped the filter. We called maintenance. A tech came over. He did what he could. A nice thing to have someone help you on a Saturday.

Anyway, the problem’s not fixed so now it’s just set to fan. Thankfully we’re still early enough in the year to have cool nights. I thought about cracking the windows but there’s too much pollen. I’m noticing the lack of sound in the apartment now that the AC’s not blowing. Sometimes it’s nice to miss something.

I stayed in Oita for one week when I was working in Japan. We had some camps at a rec center there. Oita’s in the mountains and surrounded by verdant fields. Picturesque, except for the hot sun and endless bugs.

Like most of the places we stayed, the rec center had no AC. We slept on the floor with five of us to a room. All night long, our sheets crawled with tiny critters. Working those summer camps, everyone was so dead tired that they usually fell asleep right away after the long days. But in Oita we’d stay up telling stories by flashlight. It was something to do, something to take your mind off the heat. We’d drop off gradually, talking quieter and quieter, until everyone was asleep.

Summer will be here soon. NC’s no joke when it gets going. Here’s crossing fingers our AC gets fixed soon.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

I guess I’m supposed to sit here in this oven like it’s 1950, hoping I don’t go to hell for stealing a church fan.

K. Martin Beckner, Chips of Red Paint


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 49

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 5
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

I was talking to a friend about old TV shows. Very old, cartoons. She made a joke that turned into a reference that turned into twenty minutes of wiki searches. We shared our nostalgia and felt that nice tingle you get from calling up old names. Evey generation says this – ‘Back in my day’ – but the repetition doesn’t make the feelings any less real.

There was a kid in the bank today. She was two years old, barely walking. She had a big blue pacifier and followed her mom to the teller line. When she looked at me, I waved. No reaction. She was busy with secret somethings – all those events happening a couple feet off the ground – that only a two-year-old can know.

Nine years ago, I had a flash-fire feeling I could become a father. It was early on in a love affair and our protection fell through. I remember falling asleep beside her with blurry amber fantasies. I was in and out of sleep that night. The next morning, we rushed to the CVS and got a morning-after. I was giddy when she took the pill. We went to ihop and I bought us both endless rounds of pancakes. I wasn’t thinking about what had happened, or what kind of racking the pill might have on her body. I didn’t ask. I was only thinking about myself, my own future – bright, sunny, hopelessly clear.

I think all of us are hardwired to push and pull against passing ourselves on to another generation. Everyone ends up on a different side of the tug-o-war. There’s no right, no wrong, just a frightening sense of ‘life isn’t just about me.’ You can give yourself wholly over or be in various stages of walking away. No matter what, though, you’re afraid to lose something special – slick nostalgia, saturday morning cartoons. ‘Back in my day’ only lasts until tomorrow.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.

Dr. Seuss

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 48

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 6
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

I walked up a hill after work today. It wasn’t very big. A kid came roller-blading down the hill. She lives in my neighborhood and said ‘Hi!’ At the top, I said hello to a couple couples and their dogs. The sun was out but low enough that it didn’t burn. Then I got in my car and went to the store.

Driving. I kept the radio up and the windows down. The college station was playing grimy electronica. I liked the music. I took an extra loop through a neighborhood before stopping at the quick shop. The guy at the quick shop knows me. Not by name, and we never say anything to each other, but he’s always there and I’m there often enough. So he didn’t card me when I bought a six-pack.

I don’t know why I bought the beer. I thought it over the whole way home. It’s a Thursday. At home, I put the beer in the refrigerator. I looked at it in it’s plastic bag. Earlier in the day, I got a call from a coworker who was in a traffic accident. She was distraught. I pulled the plastic bag a bit to look at the bottles. They were starting to condensate. I closed the refrigerator door.

On the way back down the hill – driving home – I saw that kid again. She said “All these cars, I keep having to move out of the way.” I said “Yeah that’s no fair.” Now it’s late at night. The lights are still on. Even in the kitchen. Not a lot of things are fair.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

The wastes of snow on the hill were ghostly in the moonlight. The stars were piercingly bright.

Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown