Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 25


Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

All of a sudden, I started calling this thing a ‘memoir’ instead of a ‘blog.’ Honestly, it’s probably both. I guess I felt like getting it dressed up. It’s the Coffee Log’s first prom. It’s pinned and tuxed. It’s wearing one of those white flowers people pin to themselves. It splurged and got a real one, a real dead flower. Boy, what an event!

But anyway, I wrote a memoir once. It was under great duress, let me tell you. Freshman year writing class, we had assignments to write a little bit of everything. And when it was time for the memoir, the only think I could think of was ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ I don’t much like ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ I tried reading it once on recommendation. It read like the kind of coworker who’s always trying to talk to you about her kid’s soccer games.

The memoir I ended up writing was a bit about cooking for Thanksgiving. I was seeing this girl at the time and we’d made green bean casserole for her family. It was a total mess. I described it like that. When I first wrote the memoir, it was supposed to be funny. Charming. I was giddy. In puppy-love. Well, after Thanksgiving, that girl up and vanished from my life – no word, no letters, stopped returning my calls. Needless to say, my mood had changed. I re-wrote the memoir halfway between ‘The Stranger’ and ‘Edgar Allan Poe.’ But I kept the comedy. Can’t amount to much of anything if you can’t laugh at yourself.

Looking back, I think that green bean casserole was the start of everything: years and years of writing, a few publications, this endless damn blog. (oops, I meant memoir). Life’s a strange dish. Messy. To be honest, I’ve always hated green beans.

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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I think I deserve something beautiful.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

Coffee Log, Day 364


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I went back to the open mic I’ve been going to for one year now. It’s called ‘Third Wednesday.’ This was my anniversary with the group, though I only realized that after everyone had read and we were sitting around eating falafel. I think there was pita in my mouth when I had the ‘aha!’

You could say that Third Wednesday and this blog are intimately tethered. You could say that and I would say it. Last year at this time I’d just lost my job to layoffs. I’d also finished the last draft of my first novel and realized it probably wasn’t publishable – too short, too much vanity. I’d been working on that novel for four years and employed at the same job for three of them. Last February, life completely changed.

So I figured: what the hell, let’s start over. I looked up open mics for writers in the Raleigh area. I picked the place that was closest to my home. I’d never read my work in public (unless you count college classrooms or the two lines I gave during my acceptance for a writing scholarship) and I needed something to back me up, make me feel prepared. I wanted to walk in looking like I was supposed to be there. So I made this website ground up – blog and writing samples and templates and everything – the day before.

Tonight I read a bit of the book I’m working on. I’d had a few drinks and the passage wasn’t edited so my words just sort of slumped over. Not my best reading. But not once did I feel nervous with that mic in my hand. The audience was an even split of familiar faces and new. Some were people with a penchant for words and others were already making writing close to a career. And whatever their opinions of my reading, however they took this particular train wreck, I didn’t care – I had no doubts that I had a right to the mic in my hand.

Writing about coffee (or not about coffee) for 364 days straight does a number on you. A good number. Take it from me.

Novel Count: 25,512

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Coffee Log, Day 309


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve said this before, but this roast is like coming home: rich, complicated, delicious with nostalgia, but by the third cup you’ve forgotten how to drink it; the sour comes out.

I’ll let you in on a secret: there were two prior iterations of this website. The first was a brief blog on tumblr. It had some flash fiction and a travel blog. It started at an open mic in Hillsborough, at a cafe/bar that doesn’t exist anymore. I’d been invited by a friend I was kind of in love with. Before the show, we walked around a dilapidated lot next door. There was a toilet in tall weeds, broken in a hundred pieces. We looked at that toilet for a long time. I told some stories about it, its owners. So did she. L was creative like that. Later, the concert seemed like chicory in coffee, completely alert, and I knew I had something to write about. Six months go by and life takes over; I forgot that ceramic magic.

Then there was website #2: a real winner, mostly stories (that are too old and unpolished to post here), designed immaculately by a friend who’s an artist, a musician, a bit of a wanderer, and a web designer. We worked together on it for a few months and when it was up it sort of saved me. Except I didn’t know what to do with the site. I hadn’t found the right voice for my stories, and since the site was hand-crafted, I couldn’t ever figure how to manage the content. So that’s gone too.

I’m coming up on a year of keeping my Coffee Log. I haven’t added much fiction to the site, but that’s only because I’m still trying to publish what I’ve written. It’s been a busy year. And it feels a little different this time, like even if I don’t know where it’s all going, I’ve given enough gas to the tank and oil to the gears that it’s bound to end up somewhere.

Third time’s the charm. Thanks for hopping on the ride.

Novel Count: 6,712

Currently Reading: Nothing! Will pick a new book after the holidays.

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The windows of my Corolla are all rolled up and the radio is off.  Earlier in the week, or maybe the week before, I spent a while moving fast food cups and odds and ends off the seats and out of the car so now it’s mostly empty.  I think about this for a second while L stretches her legs in the passenger seat.

Gareth Livesay, The Depot, Hillsborough NC Sometime in June 2013