Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 280


Coffee: Iced Americano, Ovation; a cafe on the corner of the Woodruf Arts Center in Atlanta; the view is glass and metal and dead cut grass; the coffee tastes too light for the scenery

I’m sitting in a semi-foreign city on my 30th birthday, a good book by Baldwin I’m too tired to read, heavy backpack, fresh off a flight, missing part of my front tooth. When I woke up this morning, I tongued the tooth and half came off. Twenty years ago, I’d broken it on the back of a classroom chair.

A new decade, beginning with dental repair. Who knows a good Atlanta dentist?

There’s an abbreviated feeling to the morning. Slippery picture window, hims and hers out on the cold museum grounds. We’re all walking quick towards somewhere warmer. I imagine you in a coat and boots coming from your office, hands tucked, ears gone red, a celebration, but briefly, because who has time to celebrate in 30 degrees, who has enough patience to part their lips when there’s just jagged broken edges inside? I’m dreaming of things I can’t do with you yet, and 30 is exasperating.

For now, this is what I’ve got: coffee through a straw on my good side, steel tables, and restless wind.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 278


Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

The day slipped away from me like two snakes slithering through tall grass. I read a little Baldwin, in the morning, just enough to get my lips wet. Smacking ’em, wanting a taste. I went out and it was white fog so far you couldn’t see. I cleaned the fog off my car and it came right back. There was the engine, and there went the day.

Monday doldrums with a Tuesday kind of smile, the ‘having-been-here-too-long-already’ scrunches while you tell yourself you’re already almost home. I fly out to Atlanta Thursday, I have the day off. I took it off before I knew I was flying out to Atlanta. The 12th of December is my birthday. My 30th this year.

There was this girl in my senior writing class who wrote better than me and I was jealous of her for it. So I worked real hard at my editing and got good enough to win some awards, ones I don’t know if she even knew about, or cared about, or if she did, cared to win. She wrote prose with good characters and a nice flow. She had thick braids and glasses. I don’t remember her name so I can’t check if she’s published. I don’t know if it matters whether or not she’s published. I guess she’ll be turning 30 too.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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The Dirty Thirties are knocking
in a French accent-

Sahndra Fon Dufe

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 269


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I’m in the last two weeks of my 20’s. Whether I like it or not, here 30 comes.

I measured myself in role-playing games as a kid. The kind on the PC where you click little characters around, swing their swords, give them names. Those were my summers – fantasy. I played Neverwinter Nights a dozen times.

My favorite moment was at the start. The screen’s still black and your polygonal person is rotating. You pick the face, nose, eyes, a class and stats, what weapons they’ll be good with, a general idea of who they’ll be. It was powerful; scared; visions of fifty real hours of my time tracking this miniature me. Bringing out the best in someone, getting to a fixed ending, a place you’re supposed to be.

Some games let you pick an age for your character. This was cosmetic, it didn’t change anything, but I’d still spend time thinking about the number. The oldest I would go was 18, then 21, then 26 on the high end. These seemed like places I could imagine – far-off, enticing, a little more powerful than my 13-yr-old pajama pants planted in a computer chair. It was impossible to think of anything past the mid-twenties because I had no point of reference. My parents had always been older and I had no close relatives in their 30’s. Those were dead years, somewhere you were lost or found in, but that were inaccessible until you got there.

For the past year, I’ve tried to imagine 30, but it’s no good. After all this time, the next decade is still a blank box. Some days that scares me, other days it’s exciting. The closer I get, the more exciting it becomes.

I got to the boss and beat it, this weird-dark doppleganger of my early life. I’m starting over. It’s a black screen, a rotating model, empty slots for new stats. The only thing fixed is that single cosmetic: ’30.’ Time to take the journey all over again.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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My name’s Pavel. I’m one of the new recruits. I just arrived here at the Academy this morning. You’re….

Pavel, Neverwinter Nights

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 258


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I wrote a story about a witch, liked it, let a few people read, and nothing’s come out of me since then, some fits and starts, first chapters, I’ve been traveling, there was the promotion, and I’m training D at work, like a winter squirrel, dumping and digging and everywhere searching for that acorn, but there’s no acorn, and instead next Spring are unintended trees. One month out from thirty I’ve got a beautiful life, but can’t find that spark to sink my teeth.

This isn’t a sob story. I’m bleeding proud. I’m being honest. There’s beauty in the accidents. There’s meaning in this too.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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some moments are nice, some are
nicer, some are even worth

Charles Bukowski, War All The Time

Coffee Log, Day 333


Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

It was a long day with a bit of travel. I’m beat.

A friend from LA was in town for a wedding. I don’t know the people getting married, but he told me he was coming, and we made plans to get together in Burlington, our home town. So I drove sixty some miles with R in the car and spent the afternoon wading in old spaces I used to visit daily. Around six, we drove to La Fiesta for dinner. A funny thing happened then:

I forgot how to get to the restaurant.

This is a place fixed in my memories. I more or less grew up eating out at La Fiesta and I think I’ve even blogged about it a couple times. From the highway, I could get there with my eyes closed, but M’ was staying on a different corner of town out by Elon.

I missed my first turn then couldn’t figure out the next one. It was dark, cold, R was in the car and he helped me navigate. Houses sprung out of the ground where they didn’t used to be and the streetlights seemed to blink like the beads on an airplane, far away. It was a strange feeling. Spend twenty years of childhood in one place consecutively and then one day you don’t even know how to get around.

I’ll be turning thirty this year. I’m neither stressed nor looking forward to it. But tonight that number felt a little more real to me, like I’m about to close the cover on a long, dusty book.

Novel Count: 16,427

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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I still feel at home in Baltimore in a way I will never feel anywhere else – part of the definition of home being a place you don’t belong anymore.

Tim Kreider