Coffee Log, Day 216

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I don’t remember when the insomnia started. Years, at least. I can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep, don’t sleep well. I used to pass the box for The Machinist in a movie rental back in High School. I never picked it up but Christian Bale looked like death and horror on the cover so I read the box: “Man suffers debilitating insomnia…” Anyway, the image stuck with me.

Other oddities of getting old: I can’t really smell anymore. Flowers, sure; piss, sure; something weaker, not so much. I also can’t quite hear because my ears are always stuffed. And speaking of stuffy, I don’t remember what it feels like to have two clean nostrils. In fact, the left channel is frozen over like an English winter. Maybe that says something to the smelling.

Life fills you up to spilling with humors, bile, juices. They become blood brothers. You can’t think to leave them. Maybe they chase out dreams, diminish anticipation, but the dull numb throbbing is something you welcomed, something you wanted, an amorphous scuttle stuck into you to keep the daily doldrums from spilling out.

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

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“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.” – Leonard Cohen

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Coffee Log, Day 198

Hi.

CoffeeTea: Bigelow’s Earl Grey, pre-packed (still need to buy a new coffeepot)

She talked about her dead brother like he was still breathing so I did too. She had wild hair. Sometimes, she walks outside in her nightgown. When I check the ID I see a birthday in the 1920’s. A rager baby, booming in the A.M. of modern America, partying now in it’s dusk.

The brother worked gov’t and made good money. I’ve heard this one before: “He was a banker, you know.” She says it word for word. Doesn’t remember telling me the last time, the last last time, the time before that. We dance.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, yes. Did you know that the USA paid him $300/hr to fix some messes from the local banks?”

“Wow! That so?”

When she left, the room smelled like cigarettes and other fond memories. Old NC: she’ll surely soon pass to meet her brother, leaving love or nothing. A few dozen years from now, I’ll walk into wherever I’m a regular and say: “Did you know I used to know this lady whose brother was a banker?”

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“There’s only one lesson to be learned form life, anyway,” interrupted Gloria, not in contradiction but in a sort of melancholy agreement.
“What’s that?” demanded Maury sharply.
“That there’s no lesson to be learned from life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

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Coffee Log, Day 178

Hi.

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

Midnight shows its teeth. Tar-paper, Saturday flies poking out of apartments. L left an hour ago, the place stills smells like him, clothes in the rain. My roommates are up to something – two separate somethings, separate rooms, wind-downs. My new fan takes up all the unwanted space in the room.

A thunderstorm hangs on to the town’s outskirts, wetting the skin of whoever’s dumb or desperate enough to be out in it. It blew over hours ago and washed all the birdshit off the cars. Fertilizer; the green grass gets even greener after the bad stuff sinks down.

Fuzzy – marginal headache, persistent itches, stiff fingers, blender thoughts. A normal bedtime for halfway-through-28, head in arrivals but body inching toward departure, the kind of eminence Caesar saw when he stared at Alexander’s statue.

There are three lost geese stuck on the greenest grass beside our creekbed. Leftovers from a northern migration, they’re waiting it out til Autumn. When the flock comes back, they’ll get to see if they still recognize themselves. Tonight, I hope they’ve found dry branches.

Invisible moon, eyelid stars. Together, anxious morning.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“The clouds were disappearing rapidly, leaving the stars to die. The night dried up.” – Andre Breton

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Coffee Log, Day 167

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I met a lady and her mother. The lady says: “Guess her birthday!” Her mother says: “Aha,” a bit embarrassed. The lady’s glowing so I throw out a number. “Wrong!” she says. “It’s September 1921!” I was off by 20 years.

A century…

My grandfathers died in their 70’s or 80’s, grandmothers did the same. My mother’s mother lived with us before she died. She had hospice. I got the call in 7th grade and my Dad came to pick me up. My mother was too torn up to drive. I remember sitting in the back of Lit class not telling anyone why I was leaving. I was scared of getting bullied; I was even more scared of pity. You’re a weed in the garden, something that doesn’t fit; death has stiff burrs.

Last year, I knew a woman in her 90’s. She had soft hands, I remember shaking them. She told a lot of stories then told them again; she’d become disconnected. We talked about Burlington. We talked about Greensboro. I knew her through a partner, we sat together in the winter-white bedroom and watched old family tapes. Those were nice moments, but they were just lace on the larger tablecloth of care-giving; winter-black nights trying to keep your hot, wet, scared, stressed, granddaughter’s body from shaking out of my arms.

I told my Dad I didn’t need to see the body. So he made the call, we drove a couple blocks, and came back to an empty hospital bed where her soul used to recline. My mother was crying in the living room, I wasn’t ready for that. Instead, I took five minutes with the empty bed. The last few months before she died, my grandmother had become disconnected. She called me by my uncle’s name; told unknowable stories to my mom. I’d seen her sweat, shake, and piss herself. Now, there were clean white sheets. Hospice had spirited away every trace of her. “Better place, better place,” but sometimes she’d seemed happy in her delirium. Didn’t know my name or maybe her own but she was still my grandmother. You’re never lost completely. Otherwise, why would the care-giving hurt?

The lady and her damn-close-to-100 mother drove off. They were beaming and proud. They had each other, had full heads and strong bodies. You never know who’s shaking themselves to sleep, though.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star.
It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago.
Maybe the star doesn’t even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.” – Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
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Coffee Log, Day 114

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I looked in the mirror above the cash drawers. It’s one of those big round mirrors so you can see the whole lobby warped like a fish eye. The angle was strange. I saw the back of my head. My hair’s thinning right on top, tonsure. I’m certainly not young anymore.

I have anxieties. What if I don’t find anyone to love me before I’m ugly? Ugly is owned individually. We put the beauty in each other – I see you and you’re lovely – but again, ugly is personal. I’ve got gray in my hair. I’m slowly balding. Recently, I’ve had to shave around my earlobes because there are a couple black wiry things. It’s getting harder and harder to keep the weight off.

I’m terrified of how I’m changing. I remember watching the five dogs of my childhood grow fat and old and die. It was a little different for each of them, but they all had more hollow eyes before the fall. I see myself in ten years as a hollow-eyed dog. I’m scared to bare the burden of life in the world, especially this world, one of so much responsibility, where I have it relatively good and so many Americans don’t; immigrants take their lives in federal prisons.

But we all put the beauty in each other. I pause and think it over. I guess what I’m really scared of is growing ugly before I’m able to love myself.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

Fund the Coffee Log 🙂 – https://ko-fi.com/livesaywriting

“I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.” – Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

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