Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 296


Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee

I got the car washed but it didn’t do much. There are black spots from last spring where the pollen stuck. I didn’t want a white car but that’s all they had for me. You can choose, but choices aren’t perfect. It was a drive-through wash, automatic, maybe the stains will go away with a bit of elbow grease.

Later, at the Wal-Mart, I was buying a desk-fan. I couldn’t find it and the girl who worked there couldn’t either. She asked a manager, who knew. I bought it but don’t know if it works yet. I need it for my desk in the new office, the one they’ve got me studying at. The office is a sauna. There’s a pretty window, though, on a technical college parking lot, with lots of clean cars.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Told you. Everything sounds better in the car wash.

Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 264


Coffee: Service Lounge Drip, Johnson Hyundai; even though it was only 7am, right when the lobby opened, the coffee had gone sour, so you had to figure it had been brewing all night, or leftover from yesterday, the kind of coffee with lots of stories, that’ll find you at the local deli and tell you how the kids have been, who has a a phone full of pictures of that last trip to Oklahoma, something natural, American, free-born, but they only stopped at the malls and they stayed at a Hyatt, that kind of coffee

I was up early to take my car in for inspection. Property taxes are coming up. I took my book of Baldwin and two coats because I didn’t know how cold it would be. Last time I went for service there was snow on the ground and it kept getting in through the automatic doors.

I like the way people look in the morning. I like them before work. It’s secret time, a bonus, like finding your best friend’s porn collection and not telling them about it. There was a man in a shirt that was too big for him, even though he was pretty big himself. He had an ipad and a pair of headphones so when the floor manager came to ask how we all were doing she asked him three times, and when she walked off he looked mortified. Leave me alone in my moment, there’s not a lot of peace these days.

After servicing, and with a clean stamp on my car, I sat in the parking lot and adjusted things. The chair was too far back, the mirror wasn’t right. It was a lot of important tinkering but even so I took longer with it than I needed to. The car was still warm from when they’d revved it. The sun was coming out. I had to finish my sour coffee. I kept catching glimpses of the lobby through the automatic doors.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 77


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand; today was the first time in two weeks that I ground my own coffee for the morning; I put four scoops in the grinder and sat in my desk chair turning the handle; the beans went ‘swoosh!’ like they always do; beach sand; things taste better when you put a little work in them; the coffee was like old daydreams, the kind you can still get lost in from time to time.

Today I got caught in traffic coming and going from Burlington. I was driving down for mother’s day. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that puts chicken broth in their rice and lard in their beans. Hard times for a vegetarian, but it was nice seeing my parents nonetheless.

Back to the traffic jams – today was rainy. Fits and starts of the stuff, never a full-on storm. I guess that’s why there were so many accidents. People weren’t prepared for the wet flashes. There was no telling what would happen next.

On the way down, I spend half and hour at a full stop listening to old mixtapes. Coming back, I called a friend. Both ways, the wet grey day brought bright colors out of the parked cars. The rear-lights were bulging zits over the back bumpers. The paint could be anything from candy to a pocket full of change.

One thing I like about driving is how it forces you to slow down. You’re at the mercy of something outside of yourself – the traffic won’t move no matter how much you yell at it. Most days, I’m wrestling with the things I can control. It’s nice taking a break sometimes.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

Frank O’Hara

Coffee Log, Day 324


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

There was a wreck on the way home. Not involving me, except by voyeurism. We all drove by the dead car. We drove slow – it had got a streetlight, cut the cord, sheriffs were directing traffic because the light was out – so we had a good look. The hood was ripped up like a poet’s notebook. There was glass on the ground, and in the sunset it sparkled pretty.

I’ve been in three bad wrecks. All of them left me pretty much intact, but each one took something from someone else. The first was ten years ago on Christmas Eve. I was riding with my mother delivering Christmas gifts. A guy runs an intersection and tears up the car. He should have hit me head-on. I shouldn’t have come out the other side. But my mom swerved and he hit her instead. Now she’s had multiple surgeries and spends most days in pain. You wouldn’t know it though. She mostly smiles.

The second wreck was the first day I drove alone. I’d just got my license. I was young and nervous. I stopped at a redlight close to home and suddenly I was in the middle of the intersection. Then, a bit after, I was across the road and up the curb. It took me time to figure out what had happened – I’d been rear-ended. I checked myself out, was mostly okay (though I still have issues from the way the crash re-adjusted my spine), and ran over to the other car. There were two ladies in the car. I talked to the passenger because the driver was hysterical. “Do I need to call an ambulance?” She said no, just that this was her mother’s car, her mother was the driver, her mother was too old, and her mother would now lose her license. The old lady looked like a life sentence. I walked back to my wrecked car to wait for the cops.

And finally, a few years ago, I hit a deer on the highway going 70mph. I was in the fast lane and the deer came from my left. It jumped over the median and landed on the windshield. Because of that, it never tripped the airbags. I have a seared image of a deer hoof breaking through the glass and tearing about six inches from my face. I was briefly unconscious. Thankfully, I kept control and pulled over, spitting out glass I thought for the longest time were my own teeth. I waited for an officer to pick me up (I’ve never had AAA) and he was kind enough to take me to wait at a Cracker Barrel while my family came to give me a ride. On the way, he told me this crazy story: “The saw your deer running around downtown Durham.”

“So it’s ok?”

“Well, yes, but it’s missing one leg.”

Novel Count: 13,732

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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“You’re a rotten driver,” I protested. “Either you ought to be more careful, or you oughtn’t drive at all.”
“I am careful.”
“No you’re not.”
“Well, other people are,” she said lightly.
“What’s that got to do with it?”
“They’ll keep out of my way,” she insisted. “It takes two to make an accident.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Coffee Log, Day 156


Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

The back-up camera on my car caught a nice glare. It was so pretty I took a picture. I was driving to pick up dinner at the Chinese joint I used to go to after work at the bookstore. I took the same summer roads I’d taken a year ago. It’s been one year (almost exactly) since I moved to Cary.

And you’re already splattered with buckets of experiences, tails intact, fins flapping, with the heads cut off and left on the calendar squares…

Today was the first day I felt proficient at the bank. It was busy, complicated, I worked the line with a colleague who started a month before me. Our manager was tied up so it was just us. We encountered problems: equipment broke; customers cussed; it was a messy day but I kept a smile. More than that, I flipped the manual and made a day-long string of calls to this and that department sorting out customer concerns. When my colleague needed it, I helped him. It’s a big, free feeling to answer a question confidently.

I was confident at the bookstore. I didn’t like the job, but I’d held it so long I was in control. Because of that, it hit me even harder when they laid me off. Today, I drove past the driveway to the old employee lot on the way to the Chinese joint. My knuckles always go white or red or both, my eyes are heavy, I feel like I’m passing something important but unapproachable, a high school yearbook. Cary’s already got a few things I’ve lost dirtying up its fingernails.

So no matter how confident I get at the bank, I’ll try to remember that life is mostly driving in a car on a series of semi-familiar roads, listening to music, thinking about winter, licking for dinner, remembering the people you wish would love you; the place you leave and the place you end up are less important.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Check surroundings for your safety.” – the back-up camera in my Hyundai Accent


Coffee Log, Day 91


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

I had to buy a new car. It’s been a long day.

My favorite part of the day was cleaning out my old, transmission-shot 2009 Accent in the empty dealer lot past 9:00pm. There were lots of physical fragments going back to 2013. I was reminded, in order, that: I never gave the kids those pencils; I used to drink a lot of San Pellegrino; my mother keeps buying me auto-safety kits; I’ve been in love a few times and came out the other side of all of them a better person.

The first place I drove was a Taco Bell by my house. I fiddled with the radio and got confused hooking up my phone in the drive-thru.

*I was too tired to take a fitting picture; instead, here’s a picture of one of my favorite sorts of places: and open-air bar*

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“Well it’s good to have a car like that, once in a while somebody’ll say ‘why don’t you come over for dinner?’ and I can just say ‘Car won’t make it.'” – Charles Bukowski


Coffee Log, Day 90


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

I took the day off to deal with car trouble. The trouble’s not resolved, so I don’t have much to say about it.

Instead, I’ll talk about ducks: yesterday, we went to Burlington. My friend’s family lives by a pond. The pond must be doing well because there were waterfowl everywhere. A couple waddled up to us and we gave them old bread. They hung around while my friend shot arrows at some hay. At one point, the ducks got curious and stepped in the way of his archery. He had to chase them off – no-one wants duck-blood on their hands.

Ninety days of logging. Thanks for sticking around for the ride.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“It’s a bird of some sort. It’s like a duck, only I never saw a duck have so many colors.” – L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz