Coffee Log, Day 261

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I watched someone’s backyard for eight hours yesterday. You could see through the drive-through window at the branch. They had a small shed between trees. The shed had a window on it, though I got the impression that window is never opened.

Across the lawn, the house was propped with scaffolding that hasn’t come down for six months. There’s tiles on the top for a roofing project but maybe these days fixing your roof is the last thing on your mind.

Pretty soon, it started to rain. Cold cloud cover. A marginal fog. The shed light popped like a shipping beacon. Puddles grew in grass. It stayed like that all afternoon – fits and spasms, cold and damp, a hibernating storm. When the cars drove by they’d kick some of the water up so it looked like they were spitting.

My colleagues called it ‘dismal.’ I had to disagree. There’s something about a cold rain that locks you in place. Uncomfortable but preserving. I watched the stranger’s yard in a slow freeze. It was a beautiful thing so I just wanted to share.

Novel Count: 7,262 words

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

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“It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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Coffee Log, Day 259

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

It’s light in the mornings after the roll-back of daylight savings. I’m sitting here with the curtains open. It’s been a busy morning, it’ll be a busy day. Manageable, though.

A North Carolina autumn is a fickle thing. I’ve been working in Apex this week. That town’s about ten miles west of Cary but over there the leaves are vanishing in fits of red. Outside my window, it’s mostly green.

Every year, I tell myself I’ll chase the seasons a little more. I’d like to be the kind of person that takes a trip to the mountains just to watch the world change. Instead, while fall drives by in it’s pick-up truck with new rims and a fresh paint job, hollering at the cities and chasing down the summer birds, I’m stuck in my apartment with the blinds drawn and some music going thinking about a few separate seasons from now, what I’ll be doing and how I’ll get there.

Ambition is a bad flu – unavoidable until you get over it.

Novel Count: 6,376 words

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

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“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” – Salvador Dali

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Coffee Log, Day 253

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m at the desk in my pajamas. Well, I don’t actually sleep in them, but this is what I wear when I get up: a gray shirt that’s too big for me, gray gym shorts that still fit. I’m drinking coffee, Sumatra, same stuff as yesterday, but I take a little more time with it and there’s a tang to it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it’s an honest thing, and so there you go.

In the summer, I’d have the curtains gone by now. Fall keeps the light low. I peeked out and saw a black cold ground, a couple hungover streetlamps, nobody walking, nothing eager to start the day. There’s beauty in that too, right? Something of a collective longing for ‘two more hours,’ slices of security blankets, a warm night.

I take a few more sips of the coffee and maybe that taste doesn’t even belong to it. Maybe it’s the box of honey-glazed cheerios I finished, or the coconut milk I dunked them in. Maybe it’s tomorrow already greedy, poking it’s fingers in yesterday’s night. Maybe it’s anticipation. I’ve been feeling the need to walk something – dirt, gravel, who gives a-, as long as it’s going somewhere. Or maybe it’s just my stomach bubbling up after a week of too much candy.

I’ve got mixed feelings about November: specifically, the label it’s come to acquire of ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ In my experience, there’s nothing ‘national’ about writing a novel and no good way to fit it to thirty days. On the other hand, I won’t lie that the drive and discipline I’ve seen friends commit to for the moniker is inspiring. I feel like I’ve been learning again and again how important consistency is, whether it’s in writing, work, family, or brewing coffee every day to write about in your blog.

So anyway, I’m writing another book. Not something that I could finish in a month, but still something new. I started a couple weeks ago but haven’t kept a schedule. If I can’t keep that, I’ll never keep the book. I’ve learned a lot of ‘letting go’ since starting this coffee log. To really write, you’ve got to paradoxically let go of all the will to put things to words in the first place and focus instead on the fingers on the keyboard. I want to have that again. I want to bring that to my fiction. I also want to bring you along with me. I can’t share the words (someday I’ll be shopping them around to publish and you know how picky agents are about having first dibs) but I can share how many I’ve written each day. It’s a selfish thing, a bit of self-accountability, and I appreciate you letting me use all of you as motivation.

So anyway, expect my coffee logs to come in the AM now as I’ll be writing fiction every night. Looking forward to waking up with all of you.

Novel Count: 3,043 words

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

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“You don’t know the risk if you ain’t carried the weight
If you ain’t never been down the road that wasn’t already paved.” – T.I., Big Ol’ Drip

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Coffee Log, Day 246

Hi.

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

In between dinner with you I hear the rain. It’s on the roof, the windows. It’s flooding the creek. It sounds like a velvet bag of go pieces. White and black, perfect round, picked up and let back through your fingers. It feels good to drop something and know you can pick it up again.

There’s a white and black cat in the neighborhood, no-one knows her name. She stalks the other cats but strays from people. Once, she let me pet her, but just because it was okay once doesn’t mean it ever will be again. I got home and popped my umbrella. It was cold, wet, windy, the wind tried taking everything from my hands. On the switchback to my second floor apartment, I saw the white and black cat. She was sitting on the rail catching balance. She wasn’t doing a good job of it on account of the rail being slick. It was the least graceful I’ve seen her. Fat paws tossed like woks. I fell in love.

I said: “Kitty!” and “Hey!” It took her attention. Two black eyes, carbon on its way to diamond, the cat threw caution and grace behind her and leapt off the rail to get away. I was a little worried so I looked down. She was fine. Last I saw, she was chasing dry spots in the rain.

Now, in the bedroom, listening to music, I don’t hear the storm.

I had a dream that someone I cared about was being chased. I tried to fight the chaser. My fists were putty and I just kept poking, prodding. They took off anyway. I’m sort of glad I didn’t hurt them. I don’t want to hurt much of anything. I’ll cut the sound and really listen. Autumn; a chill; rainfall; a lullaby.

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

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“Amanda took the torn page from Maniac. To her, it was the broken wing of a bird, a pet out in the rain.” – Jerry Spinelli; Maniac Magee

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Coffee Log, Day 240

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

I did laundry today and the dryer was clanking. When I checked, I found two buttons. I’ve now lost the button on three pairs of pants, all within the last week. I guess I’m haunted. My ghost’s a tailor, but a bad one.

It’s been a slow day. I’m not complaining. I woke up early with an awful stomach ache. The kind where you’re sweating, rocking, thinking about your loved ones because you’re sure this is gonna be the thing to finish you off. Dramatic stuff. After that, the day got better.

Up until an hour ago, we were locked in a chilly autumn drizzle. I spent the morning working on this and that, listening to instrumental music, watching clouds go by. I tried to print something at the office but the printer was out of toner. I spent a bit walking around, then got groceries, and on the way out of the grocery store the sky broke like a Halloween egging. I got caught in the downpour. It was cold. I was soaked. I liked it.

A few years ago, in midsummer, I walked out the back door of my parents house – I was still living there at the time – and into a thunderstorm. I had nowhere to be and nothing keeping me from the warm, dry indoors. I stepped off the porch and the storm hit like dumped butter. Even with the porchlight it was hard to see. I kept going. I made it to the back of the yard where an old swingset still stands. I held the wood and looked up until half an ocean was in my eye. I stood out there for five minutes then went back in and dried off. An hour later, I had a skype call with you. You asked what I’d been up to. I told it plain and simple.

“Why’d you do that?” you asked.

I thought about it and gave my only answer: “I didn’t want to forget what it feels like to be surprised.”

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

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“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.” – Vladimir Nabokov

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Coffee Log, Day 238

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

Woke up with a crick in my neck. I took two ibuprofen but it stuck around. Now I’ve got this itinerant friend, nag-nag-nagging me at home, at lunch, at work. It’s nice to have company, but he’s a little overbearing.

I went to the apartment office after work. I’m expecting a package, it hadn’t come. The managers were meeting in a huddle around a corner desk. They were talking whispers, hushed when I came in. The walls were done in fake spider webs and somebody had managed to string a few purple lights. Smiling on the ceiling was a plastic ghost. In the midst of such a scene, I can only assume the managers were conducting a seance. I guess our new neighbors will slip right through the thin walls.

A neighborhood kid came by to borrow a key fob for the gym. She was in a sweatshirt. It was chilly, already getting dark. I thought to myself: “I guess it’s Autumn.” There’s a special kind of wonder to the back half of the year. All the biggest holidays. It’s a cold, dark time to be an adult, but the best time to be a kid. When you’re ten years young and half my size, you’re still getting tingles as you look for what’s behind every corner. Then you grow up and see that it’s only dead grass and hoarfrost.

But the grass looks good when it dies, and frost gets your lover’s lips pink. Seasons change and change you with them.

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

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“Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt, exhausted, and stayed.” – Emily Fridlund, History of Wolves
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Coffee Log, Day 223

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I bought the first tin of this blend when I moved to Cary a year and two months ago. Our empty apartment – I brewed you quick and hot in the morning; I had the place to myself; nothing to keep me away from simplicity.

If September wears the vintage polka-dot dress to the party, October’s got the fitted romper. She’s less rambunctious but somehow less reserved. Of all the drinks she picks a Malbec and she sits in the corner where the lit geeks congregate (and conjugate, and…) but doesn’t talk to them. She’s there for the atmosphere – or at least that’s what you’re guessing. You’ve been watching her since 8:30, everyone has, and you’re pretty sure she hasn’t left the seat.

Finally, at last call, you get the courage to start a conversation, but there’s just a hat, gloves, chapstick where she’d been sitting. She left it. She didn’t really need these things. The host is piss-drunk and his partner’s taking care of him. You let yourself out. Outside, on the curb, you look up at the building’s still-lit windows and think about October’s wire-frames. You wish you could have gone home with her, but that leaves you feeling guilty of something deep and dark. It’s a long walk to the car. For the first time since graduation, you smoke a cigarette.

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

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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