Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 140

Hi.

Coffee: House Drip, Fiesta Ole Mexican Restaurant; the coffee came in a cup with three creams on the side; I’m always thrown off when restaurants give you those tiny plastic cups without you asking – like you expected this, you were owed; dreams of deep reefs gone white from sun bleach, starved fish nibbling the thin plastic sand; comfort is predicated on waste; oh, and the coffee tasted good, but not as good as I was expecting

I took my father out for a belated birthday lunch at Fiesta Ole. It’s a Mexican restaurant halfway between Durham and Chapel Hill and it used to belong to a family of restaurants called ‘Torerros’. The name changed but the menu didn’t, same big bright plates and large portions, and we all enjoyed our food.

The building was bright on the outside and dim in the middle, two stories, though the second was gutted so you could see the rafters. The booths were small but spacious and the place smelled like a fresh coat of wax. It was busy. Lots of people eating, a good sign. The way the light slipped out of the kitchen made me feel like I was being transported, a big black barge, high waters, the kind of cabin that takes you somewhere, drops you off, and leaves without looking back.

It was good to see my family. We talked like we used to. They told stories about different uncles. When the food came, we ate together and the boisterous dining hall got quieter, like the steam was a blanket, and we were making a fort from it, and this space was only for us.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The tone of the repartee was familiar, as was the subject matter, a strangely comfortable background music to most of my waking hours over the last two decades or so – and I realised that, my God… I’ve been listening to the same conversation for twenty-five years!

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

Coffee Log, Day 313

Hi.

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

It’s New Years Eve. I guess my clock was a day off because I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I’m exhausted. I might miss the ball drop. Years ago, that’s something that might have bothered me, but I’ve grown comfortable missing out.

There’s this myth that life is the big moments. That’s why there’s an entire industry around weddings. But after the wedding, after you’re back from the honeymoon, what then? I’m as much a fan of pomp and circumstance as anyone, but I worry about those people that live life expecting it. What’s left when the ball drops and the bars close? Just a bunch of guys and gals in jumpers cleaning up the mess.

I read another chapter of Killing Commendatore at 9:30 last night. It might be what kept me up. I wouldn’t call it great. I would call it mesmerizing. The chapter went to great lengths to describe a painting that doesn’t exist. Very Murakami. And there I was in the margins watching a fake man dissect a fake painting. The fan was on. The lights were off. When I tried to sleep, the room was a bit too hot, too bright. But there I was.

On the other side is that modern yuppie zen shit. Culturally appropriated excuses for privileged white adults to work themselves at the bare minimum, thereby buying into a status quo that fully supports them at the expense of other people’s labor. Lazy. A bad look.

So as the year turns 19, old enough to die for her country, too young to get drunk doing it, who are we supposed to be?

I fell in love with Murakami when I read A Wild Sheep Chase in 10th grade. I liked his writing, liked his world, liked the direct and vital sex (I was full of teenage hormones), but most of all I liked this one passage where the narrator is spending days in a hotel room watching an office across the street from his window. There’s guys typing, filing, printing, copying. There’s an office romance that never gets to the surface. It’s all terribly boring. It’s the realest thing in the world.

So even if you miss the ball drop it’s okay as long as you’re missing it because you’re stuck to a complicated, hard, breathing life. There will always be another New Year. There’s only one you.

Novel Count: 8,688

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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festive hearts wane
and sink like tides of joy.

Ben Ditmars, Night Poems

Coffee Log, Day 252

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; when it sits out a few hours, good and cold, and you grab a mouthful and hold it there on the back of your tongue, it tastes real good; new pair of shoes.

I spoke with a middle-aged lady in a denim dress with black cropped hair. She had teacher’s glasses, or maybe librarian’s. Her posture was prime. Her figure was a stick. I asked her if she’d had a nice Halloween.

“Oh,” she says, “We don’t do that. We celebrate Reformation Day.”

And we looked each other dead-on and it was awkward for a sec.

2018 doesn’t teach you how to talk to people. Sure, there’s lots of communication – texts, message boards, the meet-up you do every other Wednesday at the pool bar – but there’s no art to flapping your lips at the familiar. We’ve gotten so good at finding the like-minded to give our time that we’re blindsided when someone with different views comes along. In some ways, I imagine it’s always been so. People are tribal. You stick to your tribe. But I also think that old cave-carving tradition of huddling around a fire and waving sticks at whoever approaches is comically sad.

So I said: “Oh yeah? I’m not familiar. What’s involved with Reformation Day?”

Stick lady lit up. You could tell she was gearing for a fight and this was something other. Her little lips went northward and I watched those glasses bob. Pretty soon, though, she straightened herself and started talking: “Well, it has to do with Martin Luther.”

This much I had gathered. What I hadn’t, though, is that she sits the whole family down in a warm den. There’s a movie on, something Christian, and her husband watches with the kids while she gets things ready. In the kitchen, she’s working a special kind of magic. She files a pretzel to a mock stake ‘like so,’ bakes a big sheet of rice krispy treats, and carefully writes out Luther’s Theses in sweet syrup. When it’s done, they pause the movie and share the meal and talk about a radical faith that’s far removed from anything I believe, but they talk about it earnestly.

When they’re done, it’s another night in bed, another morning, and here we are together, me and her, having had two separate celebrations but sharing the same air, the same blood, the same label of ‘America’ with all it’s horrors and glories.

I thanked her for the story. She started walking. When she was almost out the door, I said “Happy Reformation Day.”

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

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“‎What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and work flow.” – Martin Luther

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