Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 60

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, 42 & Lawrence; I got this from a cafe on the corner of Martin and Blount streets in Raleigh, NC, not 42 & Lawrence like the name might lead you to believe; it was a small shop with a crowded bar; the barista was pretty and had yellow paint on her fingernails; after she handed me the drink, I fumbled with the lids and had to have her help me find the right one; she said “That’s what I’m here for,” which was both sad and inspiring; the coffee was fantastic – cracking open a pecan and sucking out the meat on the first day of the season.

I went downtown to swear my oath to be a notary. It was a nice trip, a bit different than the average work day.

I’ve been avoiding Raleigh for a while now. The city’s gotten slung over with techies and start-ups and there’s new stores and it’s gentrified. You see poorer people on the street corners or (at best) hustling via ubers or cabs. Everyone else is in Italian leathers.

And today Raleigh was all of that – I walked out of the courthouse passing a bride and groom getting marriage licenses, his shirt immaculate and her dress in the thousands – but it was also a bunch of heavy-set men in loose JC Penny suits, determined women wading toward a difficult future, and some young baristas finding a niche in the corporate economy to help them get by.

I liked the tall old buildings. I almost took pictures, but I was too busy looking up at them to take my phone out. Raleigh is a mess of architecture, every block a different decade, but that mess still sticks together with a sweaty southern glue. It all comes back to brick – tobacco warehouses. There’s still a vision here of hard, sad, old, labor above the first floor cafes.

It felt good being outside today. I could still taste that old panic from the weekend – decades of social anxiety bubbling up – but Raleigh is my city, my home, so it was a little easier to shove it down. There’s a contemporary art museum downtown I’ve been wanting to go to but haven’t gotten the nerve. Today was a small step toward it’s front door.

Novel Update: I’m still writing, still working almost every day, but a lot of it is reworking and tweaking directions. I’ll post a new word count once I’ve gotten back in a groove.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Coffee: A beverage made by extracting the soluble solids from the seed of a tropical shrub through the use of hot water.

Menu, 42 & Lawrence website


Coffee Log, Day 305

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; simple, classic stuff. I had a talk with the barista about holiday travel. She’s headed three hours in heavy traffic after the sun goes down. But when she talked about getting home, her eyes lit up like high-beams. It was the warmest cup of coffee I’ve had in a while.

I got up and shaved and took a shower even though it’s a Sunday. I wanted to get ready for something, though I hadn’t worked out exactly what.

I drove to the Caribou for coffee and lemon bread for breakfast, took it home, and instead of setting up my spoils in the single room that’s mine in this shared apartment, I took the food to the dining room where we’ve got two picture windows that let whatever light in. It was still early, not quite nine, I was the only one awake. I ate the pastry and sipped the Americano. I read a book a friend had given me. Slowly, the sun crept up in the window and got hot on my neck. It was a simple, lovely morning. For once, I didn’t check the time.

And so Sunday rolled out like an old carpet. Christmas is coming, I’m starting a new position at work tomorrow, but that’s all just birds on the horizon diving for the ocean – I was comfortably on shore today.

I finished the book and started another. I pulled out an old laptop that my mother gave me (mine died a while ago) and got some writing done. Like things you’re pinning to a clothesline, my roommates came in and out. L came over. We talked and played a couple rounds of Mario Party. When the sun was setting, I had dinner with R at this Mexican joint before he headed home.

Holidays are buzz and bustle. But they’re also time to take the batteries out of the clock. I’ve been running a lot lately – sometimes in the most literal sense – and it was nice to have a day to settle down.

Novel Count: 7,442

Currently Reading: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, Kabi Nagata; A short manga, a gift from a friend; direct and emotional; a catalogue of depressive tendencies; endearing; pink and white art, overly cute, intentionally so; so specific it became universal. I recommend it.

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Now this relaxation of the mind from work consists on playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times.

Thomas Aquinas


Coffee Log, Day 159

Hi.

Coffee: Americano from Caribou Coffee; it was lukewarm but the summer day made up for it.

A busy day. I took work off, planned PTO. There’s a wellness program that gives a credit on insurance. It requires a quick physical – just some measurements, a blood sample. I scheduled the physical for today.

The place was hard to find. It was a diagnostics shop, a number in a big office building. I circled the building a few times without finding it. An old couple almost backed into me. Finally, I took a chance on an unmarked door. It took me to a foyer, some elevators. The diagnostic place had a name marked on the second floor.

I don’t like getting my blood drawn. Something about a needle in my veins, my own heart pumping the blood away. In high school I donated, I guess I was tougher then. Maybe age has made me squeamish; maybe I’m too aware of all the ways my heart could stop.

Otherwise, the day’s been good. I finally saw a thunderstorm. It didn’t last long, but it was good company as I put the finishing touches on a short story. I’ll be submitting it to journals so I can’t post it here for a while, but something to look forward too?

I’m off tomorrow too. Vacation, vacation, the days pump out voluntarily.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” – Clive Barker

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Coffee Log, Day 155

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Java Jive; it was simple. I liked it.

Before work, I went to Java Jive Cary. The cafe’s about half way between my apartment and the bank branch. I hadn’t made coffee the night before, needed a pick-up. I left with enough time to get there, get a drink, sit down, read. I did it all. Everyone else who came by was over 50 and a regular.

I sat outside. Before noon, the city hadn’t heated up. The morning had that crisp sun, that yellow sun, that blue sun. A few cars were switching lanes. The brick building held shade over me.

I thought about the value of relaxation. I have a decent amount of free time, at least compared to some, but I fill that time like decanters at a wine festival. If I’m not working on an objective, I’m entertaining myself. If I’m not doing either, I’m restlessly bored.

At lunch, I walked to the Publix and bought a Granny Smith apple. I ate it outside by the trashcans. I made myself keep my phone in a pocket. I watched people rushing around. The air had thickened. We were all in molasses. The apple was bad in many spots, mealy in others, I ate it all anyway. Just a core, I held it close to my eyes – there’s the spot I bit you; there’s your brown dead flesh, the sinews I tore open; one spot was slick scarlet; I’d cut a gum.

On the way back to work, I ran into a woman who had been a regular at the Barnes and Noble Cafe in Burlington. She ordered coffee usually, mocha’s on good days, her name was the same as my coworker and they laughed about it. The woman recognized me and we talked. Eventually, I recognized her. She has a strange way of talking, like she’s tripping down a flight of stairs. Now she works at a spa. She told me I had nice eyebrows. I thanked her.

When I’m done writing this, I’m going to put some shorts on and take a walk. I can see the heat rising off our gazebo. Comfort isn’t everything. Neither is excitement. Deep blue sky: let me know you like the hands of my grandfathers, desperately working clay.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It does good also to take walks out of doors, that our spirits may be raised and refreshed by the open air and fresh breeze: sometimes we gain strength by driving in a carriage, by travel, by change of air, or by social meals and a more generous allowance of wine.” – Seneca

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Coffee Log, Day 143

Hi.

Coffee: Americano from Cafe Crema; it was more bitter than I was expecting; a lot like adulthood, grow some stiff hair in the right places and all that.

Today was for errands. So of course I got up late and took an hour long shower. It was good, the water relaxed me. Sometimes you can only feel calm by putting things off.

But I got to the errands eventually. I did a rush of dishes. I went to Cafe Crema and got a brand new bag of beans (you’ll hear my thoughts on them tomorrow). I bought tofu. Last week, I got the closest to a good stab at crisp gold on the edges, soft enough in the middle. I want practice so I’ll be frying a big pan of bean curd tomorrow. The tofu’s best at H-Mart so I bought it there.

On the way out the door, sunglasses on, a good breeze, feeling like a million, I heard something chasing me. My hair got stiff and I was too frozen to turn around. There were old bones cracking; slobbering teeth. The sound came closer and closer. Though the shopping center was crowded, I was frozen alone. And then it had me – two long fingers tap-tapping my shoulder. This was it; I was done; a long good life, but now the peripheral ghosts had surely got me.

When I finally turned, it was a cheery Korean girl tapping my shoulder. She was dressed like Sunday and smelled like cinnamon. Her smile was two doors wide. Panting – she’d been chasing me down – the girl says “Oh, I’m sorry to trouble you!”

“No trouble,” I say.

“Good. Well, I’m from Cary’s Korean Church. Do you have a church you go to?”

I told her I didn’t. The parking lot was full of cars and their windshields cut halos all around her. It was ghastly, but in a magical kind of way.

“Well, we’d love to have you!” She pushed a pamphlet in my hands and scampered off. I set the pamphlet on top of the tofu, where it quickly cooled down and caught the perspiration.

Later, on my nightly walk, I saw a kitchen window lined with three bottles of wine and a vased sunflower. The flower made me think of the Korean girl.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I was tryna get the devil out of my charms.” – Young Thug, Safe

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