Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 136

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Sometimes I daydream about a bonfire. It’s on the side of the creek. It’s in a grass bed. It’s surrounded by trees.

There’re five other men sitting by the fire. I don’t know two of them. I’m friends with the other three. One guy has an orange insulation vest. He’s roasting sausage on metal spits. The other stranger tells stories about when he was young.

In this daydream, I’ve got a sleeping bag but no tent. Nighttime is coming. The sun’s hit the ground and lost some teeth, venus, the north star. I hear the water running through the creek bed but can’t see it. Rushing water gets louder when it’s dark.

I know I need to hide somewhere. My three friends will fall asleep. I’ll be alone with the strangers who tend the fire. I try to grip the old, last season leaves still stuck in the summer grass. I try to build a cover so they can’t find me. But it’s no good. I’m exposed.

Six midnight hours of ravenous flame. In the daydream, I wake up with two tick bites, a light head, and everyone gone.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

Charles Bukowski, Factotum

Coffee Log, Day 160

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; advertised strong, rich and dark; visions of the high-powered machos from Sex and the City; in reality, it came out rough and mellow like a rained-on kitten.

I went to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary, NC. It’s a Tuesday, so I was expecting it to be vacant. There was a packed driveway. Kids were led around by girls in green polos, a summer camp. Lots of stay-at-home mothers. I was one of two men on the trail, adult men, and that saddened me. How many of those mothers would rather be working? How many dads would rather spend a cloudy Tuesday with their kids?

The trail snakes down a terrace of plank paths and risers. It’s well marked, educational. The bluffs were covered in ferns. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re a few hundred miles west in the Appalachians. The drops are steep, valley’s unknowable. I’ve been to Hemlock Bluffs two times before, once with friends and once with a lover. In my memory, it’s always cloudy. The trail goes fast on the way down. It burns your calves on the way up.

Last day of vacation, last day of July, the dog-hot days of summer. My neck and arms are pricked by tiny bug-bites. Cicadas are singing in the pines. Twenty years ago, my mom would yank me to Roses right about now, shopping for pencils, paper, big stashes of things a kid only ever uses half of through the school year. The scared sweat of meeting rooms full of people, of stacking black letters beside your name. I miss it sometimes, playing the academic game. You’re a specific kind of ‘free’ when teachers and parents tell you what to do.

On the way out the park, I walked by an open door. The conservancy was buzzing; big plastic tables; a full class of just-past-toddlers sorting sticks and leaves. I hope their mothers are happy working, hope their fathers pick them up. To the kids, it won’t matter for another couple decades – right now, all they need to know is which leaf is from the birch tree, which stick fell off the tallest pine.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“There’s always a bit of suspense about the particular way in which a given school year will get off to a bad start.” – Frank Portman, King Dork

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