Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 112


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve had this batch of beans for a couple months; I’ve been drinking other stuff; this morning seemed like a nostalgic time, so I ground a batch to try again; it tasted more sour than I remember; nothing’s quite like your memories

I scared a small bird two times today. That’s a thing I’m good at – scaring small birds. I’ll describe it to you: first time, I open the sliding door in the morning to go out on the porch. Meanwhile, the bird’s been building its nest in the third floor overhang, so it hears me when the door opens. It stops building to flap all over the place, drops off the balcony, and hides on a nearby pine tree. The nest looks messy from all the commotion. Of course, there’s nothing I can do about that.

Second time is after I’ve been out there a while. I was reading. I was letting myself get sun. If all you do is sit inside all day, you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything. So instead, I sometimes sit outside all day, and this works wonders. Anyway, it was getting to be lunchtime and I’m hungry. I got up, stretched, walked over to the railing. I didn’t know it, but I was right below the house finch, who completely lost it. The bird flapped so hard I felt the pressure, it twitted and twaddled, then escaped the porch and went hiding in that same pine tree. A little later, some ravens came by and chased it away.

The point of all this is simple: if you’re a house finch, you’re going to build your nest near houses; that’s just what you do. And if you’re a 29 year old man with too much free time, chances are you’ll scare something, whether you’re meaning to or not.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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A lost bird appeared in the court and was half an hour jumping around between the spikenard. It sang a progressive note, rising an octave at a time, until it became so acute that it was necessary to imagine it.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, In Evil Hour

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 73


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

The pool’s open. I walked by as a tiny ten year old did a cannonball on the deep end. Her mother didn’t look too pleased.

It was an average day. So average I don’t remember most of it. It doesn’t help that I spent the morning with a headache and the afternoon solving mundane problems at work. The power went out. Just a blip, but it was long enough to make the server crash, which then crashed some of our computers, which then led to me being on hold for half an hour with tech support. Like I said – mundane problems.

But you need days like this sometimes. All the bright moments won’t stand out on a vivid background. There’s a reason most walls are painted cream and most furniture is some shade of brown.

Outside, a dog barked at me. It looked happy. It was playing fetch with it’s owner, running over and over, bringing back the stick. Average, but in a good way.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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There is an hour of the afternoon when the plain is on the verge of saying something. It never says, or perhaps it says it infinitely, or perhaps we do not understand it, or we understand it and it is untranslatable as music.

Jorge Luis Borges

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 19


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I talked to a lawyer about taxes. Not my taxes and not his either. He doesn’t do tax law. But somehow we got on the subject and were talking for over an hour. We also talked about computer architecture and teenager’s cell phones. I feel best after long conversations with people I don’t know. It was an interesting day.

A friend told me about his sleep studies. They smacked him with Apnea and a few other things. My father had Apnea also and I remember him wearing a face mask. My friend calls it a face-hugger. Alien, anyone? Anyway, there were these nights when I was little and scared where my bedroom would fill up with night terrors. I’d go into my parents’ room. They’d let me sleep beside them as parents do. Some nights, I’d sleep beside my father while he used the face mask. It sounded like an ocean. With boats. And crabs. And a few storms.

Right now, I’ve got the wok cooking veggies while the rice finishes. I added soy sauce and vinegar and oil. The oil’s bubbling. It sounds like red wine. I’m not having any wine because it’s a weekday but I can imagine. A spring day. Wildflowers. Sweet dreams.

Novel Count: 30,349

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three.

Antoine de Saint-Exuperry, The Little Prince

Coffee Log, Day 304


Coffee Tea: Earl Grey, Bigelow; Still out of coffee. Woke up late and didn’t feel like driving. That and I’m trying to cut back on caffeine. The tea held me over. I had a soda at 2:00.

I went for a run. I’m not a runner. In fact, I haven’t gone running since they forced it on us in high school. I’m still a little sick and I could feel the stuff coming up from my lungs. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But running was something I had to do.

Another lazy afternoon. I’ve started having trouble figuring out how to fill my Saturdays. The mornings are easy – exercise, breakfast, chores – but after the clock laps noon and we’re careening toward the western horizon, I’m out of ideas. I’d like to be writing more. But my writing is stuck in an awful quagmire. It’s like pulling on your ear lobe until all this gunk comes out of your ear, except none of that gunk was what had been blocking you in the first place.

I might take a drive. I might go hiking. I hope it’ll help. But I worry that I’ll run into myself out there on these familiar streets – another me from a few years ago, working through a different sort of listlessness – and that I’ll come home more haunted than I left.

Novel Count: 7,232

Currently Reading: Nothing! Done with Cherry, still deciding on the next book.

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Why do I do anything?’ she says. ‘I’m educated enough to talk myself out of any plan. To deconstruct any fantasy. Explain away any goal.

Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Coffee Log, Day 215


Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I had the day off. I didn’t do much with it. I read some. I sat outside. I got a call from a friend who’s having bad job interviews. Some real scumbags, power creeps. We laughed about it. I thought about drinking. I didn’t drink. I sat outside again. I decided to buy pants. I drove to Old Navy. I looked at all the pants two times each. I didn’t like any of them. I drove home. There was a maintenance guy at the door. I let him in. He said our stove was working up. I told him I hadn’t noticed anything. We spent a half-hour together in the kitchen. He turned the burners on. He boiled some water. “Weird. Not good,” he said. I asked him what was wrong. He said he wasn’t sure anything was wrong but not to use the burners ’cause it might burn the house down. He had a good laugh. A NY accent. He’s been Southern for ten years.

I was going to cook dinner but I didn’t. I ate cereal and watched TV. A hot/cold/hot September’s showing summer reruns. One second I feel like I’m on to something, the next everything’s over.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“The bell was ringing
Our souls were singing
Do you remember, never a cloudy day.” September, Earth Wind & Fire

Coffee Log, Day 205


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


Coffee Log, Day 179


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

1:00pm, before all last night’s clouds are gone, I sit outside. I’m reading LaRose. The book’s worked me over. I know Snow and Josette; I’m afraid of Landreaux; Romeo reminds me of the old man who got evicted down the street from my parents, though a few decades younger.

I made a batch of E’s barley tea and let it take the edge off summer. She’d swept the deck but left the spiders. They baby their eggsacs, welcome the corners. A crane fly sits on the glass door behind me. Can’t figure out how to get inside, or maybe can’t accept it’s never going to.

Twenty, thirty pages… kids are carefully rambunctious by the creek, school starts next week, fall takes the bark out of the dog days of summer. Occasionally, I look across our building at other decks, stacked like cardboard. Our third-story neighbor has made a mess. Shelves collapsing under boxes. Six potted cactus. A menagerie of dreamcatchers that probably smell like last night’s rain. Put too many things together and you can’t tell what’s what.

Sometimes, I wish I could have obsessions. I’ve tried collecting: beer bottles; plastic models; foreign currency. Lost a lot of it, packed the rest. Instead, my apartment’s got bare white walls and a bursting schedule – if I’m not working, I’m thinking about the next best way to work.

Accomplishment – the trick, I’ve learned, is that you never get there. That perfect soft hand you fell in love with in first grade, running track, two to three steps and always behind. When they bury my neighbors, some son or daughter will take detailed notes on graph paper about this and that cactus, vibrant wall-hangs, store-bought stories.

What sorts of things will be left to make sense of me?

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.” – Margaret Atwood