Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 107

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I heard on the radio that Durham’s getting a few fleets of electric scooters soon. They’re the kind you rent and ride wherever, paying where you park. Raleigh’s already got ’em, most of the big cities do. An ‘it’ thing, hip transportation, a symptom of not knowing how to take the time to walk.

Everything changes. The only thing open to you is whether to be bitter about it. Grumpy old guardians of tradition, not acknowledging the transgressions made in your own youthful years against the expectations of your fathers. There’s a danger there – sometimes the canes we wag from our front porches are hiding swords.

I was talking to a friend about the ’80s. He thought they had better music back then, better art, a better flair. He liked the bright colors and rumblings of futurism. He didn’t like, so much, what that decade’s dreams developed into – a high-tech paradise the color of skim milk, where the robots are more likely to sell you something than to question their identity.

How do you preserve good old things without bringing along the baggage? How do you let the world change without losing the rest of the timeline?

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The future is there… looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.

William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 74

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

This week has felt weightless. On Sunday, I opened a door inside myself. I don’t know what the key was – writer’s block, two back-to-back showers, a little liquor. When the door opened, air came out. Thick, heavy air that had been building up in me for a long time. It rolled across the floor like spilled oil. It flooded my home, my shoes, my bedroom. Since then I’ve been standing on the film, two inches up, weightless.

R and I walked to where the food trucks were supposed to be but the trucks weren’t there. Dejected, we drove to Chipotle. The restaurant was empty when we walked in but it was still noisy. The line leader was yelling at two new associates. He kept calling them kids. One looked scared and embarrassed. The other looked smug.

Just before dinner, I sat outside for half an hour tossing words at my laptop. Only a couple stuck, but that didn’t bother me so much today. I had one of those big plush chairs that’s treated to survive the rain. Beside me, around the fire pit, a man and woman were watching their kid swing on the swingset while talking plans for the future. She kept saying “If you say so,” he kept saying “This is what you need to do.” On the other side of me, two kids were playing sevens. For those that don’t know (and I didn’t know until tonight), sevens involves slapping patterns on a table together. It was loud and distracting, frustratingly lovely.

Walking around tonight, I noticed a dead flower on the sidewalk. A week ago I’d taken a picture of the flower and posted it on here. Back then it was vibrant, now not so much. My instinct was to find that kind of sad, but then I looked closer and there were so many more details to the dead flower: pulled-out fibers, sour yellows, a lively brown slime. Ugly on the surface but beautiful in function: a tiny generator of new life. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere but I’m too tired to find it. I’ll leave that up to you.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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I might pull up late to class, but I always show up

Sylvan LaCue, 5:55

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 65

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand

Every now and then I think about Charlotte, NC. It’s been a while since I’ve been there. For a couple years, it seemed like the edge of the world.

Today, specifically, I thought about the arts district. I used to go there with an ex-girlfriend. And sometimes I’d check out shows at the open mic my friend hosts. I’m sure it’s changed, but nine years ago it seemed like a place that was always a few feet ahead of itself. The people there were moving in all different directions, not stopping to figure out where they were going.

I thought: ‘This is how I want to be.’

But I look back and just see gentrification.

Progress happens faster than it used to. The speed of building, moving, renovating is a thousand times what it was. Generations get to see the world change around them in ways much of human history wasn’t used to. It’s modern, it’s progress, but it’s rather disorienting.

The flip-side of progress is what gets pushed out of its way. You build a place up until it’s booming, until the people who used to struggle there can’t afford to stay. Where do they go? What margins do they get pushed to? Homelessness is rampant in America, but even if you have a home, it’s likely you live in one of many faceless, forgotten communities, waiting for the next round of renovation to kick you further down the road.

Nowadays, I can’t look at pretty places without wondering who had to move on to make them happen. It’s sucked a bit of color from the world, but put some back in my soul.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Bennie’s corner of Brooklyn looked different every time Sierra passed through it. She stopped at the corner of Washington Avenue and St. John’s Place to take in the changing scenery. A half block from where she stood, she’d skinned her knee playing hopscotch while juiced up on iceys and sugar drinks. Bennie’s brother, Vincent, had been killed by the cops on the adjacent corner, just a few steps from his own front door. Now her best friend’s neighborhood felt like another planet. The place Sierra and Bennie used to get their hair done had turned into a fancy bakery of some kind, and yes, the coffee was good, but you couldn’t get a cup for less than three dollars.

Danile Jose Older, Shadowshaper


Coffee Log, Day 352

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I woke up in the morning and ground the beans. Maybe I was still walking around with one foot in the bed because I ground too much. The coffee was thick like tar. It was too strong. One cup and my blood was buzzing. Oh well; I drank most of it anyway.

There’s this bar on the far side of downtown Cary. To get to it, you drive down Walker which right now is under extensive construction. When I moved here a year ago, Walker was a calm street with a few white houses, a city park, and a church. Now they’re building a parking deck where the park was and they’ve knocked down half the church. Even some of the houses are gone. I wonder what happened to the people who lived there?

The bar was busy. It was a nice day. Warm weather, a blue-sky breeze. I drank alone and listened to three guys talking about their jobs at Epic. Whenever one of them made a point, the next would make their point a couple decibels louder, until all three were shouting. It wasn’t an argument. They were all smiling.

I’m on vacation right now. Just four days, not going anywhere. I took the time because I can and because it’s important to sit alone with yourself every once and a while. R was working and E was gone. I had the apartment to myself. I left the windows open and thought about a year ago, then a year before that. I drank a bit of cold coffee from the pot. It was strange. It feels like every day they tear down a new building inside of me and there’s just no telling what will go up next.

But that’s okay. That’s just living. The only thing constant is this: right now, you’re here.

Novel Count: 20,929

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Drenched in café au lait stucco, the mall was bordered by an example of America’s most unique architectural contribution to the world, a parking lot


Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer



Coffee Log, Day 339

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

Some friends came down and we went to Raleigh for dinner. It’s this pizza place by NC State. We’ve been there a bunch of times. Tonight, the roads were full of people. The restaurants were crowded. Hillsborough street was dotted with half-built buildings.

It’s strange how places change. Well, not so strange in the grand scheme of things, but strange to experience. You expect that empty lot to stay empty, or the convenience store to always be owned by the same family from New Jersey. But like a game of hide and seek, it all changes as soon as you take your eyes off it.

Earlier today, I was talking to a friend who said we’ve all been forcing new memories. I think there’s a lot of truth to that.

Novel Count: 19,148

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Somehow I had entered another world. I’d heard that eating pizza before bedtime can cause nightmares, but I didn’t think it could transport a person.

Rick Riordan


Coffee Log, Day 266

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Another rainy morning.

Most of my life I’ve been a morning person. You couldn’t get me to sleep as a kid. I’d wake up early and want the whole world served to me like toast and butter. I’ve got vivid memories of naptime – no sleeping, just a rouge room colored by the not-quite-thick-enough curtains, rolling around restless in a crib, reading pictures books over and over with photos of old ladies or elephants and little bumps or dawdles to scratch your fingers on.

I’m still an early riser, though it doesn’t come as easy.

But there was one year when everything changed. I was 20/21. She was 21/22. She was going to school in Charlotte and I didn’t have a car so I took trains to see her. I’d stay down most weekends, even longer in the summer, and I don’t know if it was the travel, the air pollution, something in the water but I stopped falling asleep or getting up early. I’d be up until 3am. We’d get out of bed past noon. Most nights, she’d be out before me so I’d stay up watching things – half my attention to the miasma of whatever-was-on-the-TV, half to her closed-off face. She had this look like she was perpetually going away from something.

That’s when I learned that you can let people change you. And sometimes, afterward, you can change yourself back.

Novel Count: 8,980 words

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

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“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” – Ernest Hemingway


Coffee Log, Day 234

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

The button came off a pair of my work pants. I think I can sew it but the pants are old and wearing and I’ve been meaning to get some new pairs so I went to the store. I had an ad in my email for BOGO at Express and the closest store was in Triangle Town Center so I went there. The mall’s a half hour through Raleigh. When I got there, they were doing renovations and the store was closed.

But the trip wasn’t for nothing. It was a cold day, cloudy, the kind of weather you want to break your heart to. There was a lot of traffic on the roads. I’m not used to going this way so the flighty voice of a map app guided me. She took me down Capital Boulevard. I saw many closed stores and open office parks. A newish high rise with no name and glass windows stared down a shuttered hotel. They’d been doing work on the hotel and stopped when the money ran out. The walls were chipped and the asphalt lot had big holes in it.

Triangle Town Center was much the same. Aeropostle was closed, Dillards was limping, Sears was a wasteland. Inside, many of the stores were stripped to lightbulbs and they were running big, silver, exposed ventilation around the bottom floor. Still, the mall was busy. People walked around on cell phones. Kids eyed cookies as big as their heads. It was alive but listless, broken like the gray day, a hymn to late 20th century capitalism, everyone working hard and poor to put themselves on the pages of the already half-written history books.

I didn’t buy anything. I drove home and ordered two pairs of dress pants online.

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

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“Since the Leeburg Pike [at Tyson’s Corner] carries six to eight lanes of fast-moving traffic and the mall lacks an obvious pedestrian entrance, I decided to negotiate the street in my car rather than on foot. This is a problem planners call the ‘drive to lunch syndrome,’ typical of edge nodes where nothing is planned in advance and all the development takes place in isolated ‘pods’.” – Dolores Hayden, Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000

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