Coffee Log, Day 229

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Java Jive Cary; tasted like two dollars spent on losing lottery tickets.

It’s been a grey day and that’s a-okay with me. The sun came late this morning. It’s still stuck behind clouds.
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I’ve been having elaborate dreams. Two of them, Sunday and last night:
1) She’s wearing dark makeup. I’m uncomfortable, she leads me by the hand. We’re in a giant walk-in shower. She undresses. She’s got black tattoos up and down her arms. I like them. I can’t stop touching them.

2) It’s winter. I’m wearing four coats, no shirt. I’m in a mall parking lot, standing by the car. You walk by with your parents. I follow, get their attention. You’re wearing my shirt. We hug. I ask for the shirt back. You look disgusted, say: “Don’t you have anything more important to think about?” You walk away. The wind blows like birthday candles. I’m very cold.

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I bought lunch at a Subway from a woman with a cut on her hand. It was taped up but you could see the blood. I watched her work. She wore gloves. I kept looking at her finger. When she finished, I paid her and ate in the store. I had red onions on the sub. I took a few of them off. Red onions, white paper, cut blood glove.
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I’m traveling tonight, one city over, leaving soon. Night’s been coming quicker and lasting longer. Bad traffic; congestion. I’m a dot on the ant-line interstate. What dreams will all this give me?

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

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“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo

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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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Coffee Log, Day 156

Hi.

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

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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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN; It’s good and powerful that families are being reunited but until EVERY family is reunite we must keep fighting.

“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 96

Hi.

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

The last time I was there, Bond Lake was frozen. Thin ice – so thin it looked like tissue paper – but ice all the same.

Today was different. The greens were greenest and the sun bled us all sweat-dry. It wasn’t pretty. Well, in the shady places it was. A few dogs were barking across banks. Some ducks swam through.

In the deepest stretch of forest, I heard something cut a path over dead leaves. I thought it might be a squirrel. Then I thought it might be a snake. I’ve seen a lot of snakes in the triangle. Most often, I see them on the verge of losing something. People, places, what have you. I thought hard about what I might lose today. I didn’t see the snake, so maybe I’ve got some time to prepare. Hopefully, whatever goes will fall off like birch bark. It’s not always a bad thing to lose.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“I am working on a new book about a boa constrictor and a litter of hyenas. The boa constrictor swallows the babies one by one, and the mother hyena dies laughing.” – E.B. White

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Coffee Log, Day 43

Hi.

Coffee: House Espresso from Java Jive, Cary; purchased with a tip from Andrew. Most Espresso falls into two categories – burnt, dirty, something to shoot in a latte and forget about, bottom-shelf vodka; or, overly ripe and sour. Java Jive’s doesn’t speak to either. It’s warm and dark. It’s comfortable. The light in your driveway after a long day at work. Thanks for the coffee, Andrew.

I used to date a girl from Cary. She grew up here, went to school here and as far as I know her father still haunts the southern suburbs. I was frantically in love with her and followed where she pointed. Java Jive was her favorite cafe growing up. We used to buy Thai Iced coffees there.

I remember one afternoon when my ex had some business to take care of and I didn’t have a car. She dropped me off at Java Jive and I sat in the courtyard of the brick strip mall trying to write. I was working on what I hoped would be a novel. The sun was out. It was hot. I had trouble finding shade and lawn bugs kept nagging me. I wrote a chapter and gave up. A few months later, I gave up on the novel.

This week, I’ve been having lots of writer’s block. It’s frustrating. Walking the grounds of Java Jive, I saw the scraps of pulled-teeth ideas sleeping in the bushes. They were mangy old dogs but sitting pretty comfortably. It was nice to remember them. I drove home.

Currently Reading:
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison

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“The fresh smell of coffee soon wafted through the apartment, the smell that separates night from day.” – Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

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