Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 289

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s; a gift from my father; he bought the beans off the internet, had read reviews about what brand’s best, settled on Don Pablo because it showed up on so many lists; and it’s good; easy; like late winter, with your socks on, by the windows, never quite needing to go out

It got up to 70 today so I cracked the window open. It was cloudy, and then it rained. I liked listening to rain (I think everybody does) so I enjoyed myself, had a couple glasses of ice water to keep cool, to keep cold like the winter, to remember what season I was in. Because it is winter despite the temperature, and just because the world’s greenhouse heat-throws is the new normal doesn’t mean you have to forget the crisp seasons of your childhood, all the things that brought us here.

I’ve been having a sick day. A couple sick days, actually. My throat’s scratchy and my nose is running, but neither so terribly as to lay me out. It’s one of those bugs that muddies up your head but doesn’t take the energy out of you. I feel like I could run a mile but forget where I was going halfway through. To deal with this, I’ve been hooked in to TV screens and book reading, things to catch my focus, keep me less in the present with all it’s fuzzy green gunk and more in that nebulous fiction of no-time, self-entertainment.

The year’s almost over. Some would say the decade, I’d say so too. Zero is such a round number it makes you want to climb inside it and push off, a raft ride, spiraling by into uncharted waters.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber, Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in,

Joy Division, Decades

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 287

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I slept on an air mattress that was laid out on the same spot where my grandmother had died twenty years before. She’d been in this big bed hospice brought, a bunch of wires, and hospital gowns (the gowns were gowns, the sheets were gowns, a deathbed wears you, like it or not). Her bed was raised up, mine wasn’t, so really I was sleeping about twelve inches under her ghost.

That was Christmas this year.

Back to work, I met a woman who was my age but had just finished school. She’d been living in the West, out in NorCal, then Arizona, but she kept ending up in warm places during winter so she’d be surprised by the cold. She couldn’t take it anymore and moved back to Raleigh. All told, she’s missed two years’ worth of summers. She said this greedily. Her nose was red. She had sunny blond hair.

These stories fit together for me. Life changes, and sometimes it’s gone. I spend a lot of time listening to other peoples’ stories. And when I’m thinking about my own, they’re always hovering a few feet over me, less a curse, more gentle, a cobweb, but beautiful, and rainbowed, viciously drinking up the colors.

I had a plan to move to Michigan once but it wasn’t much of a plan so it didn’t happen. If I had moved, I reckon it would have been cold.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Besides, nothing mattered to her any longer. If she had anything left it was her horror of cold — and the uncle had coal through his contacts. But she found the atmosphere of Berlin hard to bear. She dreamed of escape, of going to live under some more clement sky, far, very far away from it all, closer to nature.

Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 272

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s

There was a man standing beside a cascade of trashbags piled on his porch. This was the first floor, a nearby apartment. I saw him in the dark. It was 7pm. Rain was coming down, lightly, and it was cold, breezy. The man had fingerless gloves and an iphone. He was wearing a jacket and a hood. I walked past him and was so distracted I went to the wrong car. Walking back, I heard him talking. Words get amplified in a rainstorm. It’s like you’re listening through the other end of a paper-cup phone.

“Mm,” he said, and “Uh-huh.”

I got in my car and turned the heat up. Pulling back, I saw him caught in the back-up camera. The porchlight was on, attracting ghosts of summer bugs. His face and hands were wet but he wasn’t wiping them. bits of rain made rivers on the trashbag mountain. And I was thinking, “What could there be in all those trashbags?” No-one keeps so much garbage. Or, rather, we all do, but we don’t often have the guts to throw it out.

When I came home from supper, the man – and the mountain – were gone.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Little by little I came to the conclusion that in this day and age only the garbagemen could bring a poetic thought to fruition.

Wolfgang Hillbig, The Tidings of the Trees

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 259

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It was a bitter cold. The wind blowed like Ikea. All bluster, taupes and blues, thinner when you’re in it than looking on from the outside. I watched a small yellow dog run laps around her owner. I thought: we’re stuck together, little dog, the same home, same ground, you and me, like it or not.

I worked today. It’s a Saturday. That always throws me off. So instead here’s a story: I used to work at a coffee shop tucked up one level in a Barnes and Noble. It had its own podium, tables, chairs, but you could see the whole store so you felt both a part and apart. When it was busy, I smoked lattes off the steamer. When it wasn’t, I’d watch bits of rain come down the windows.

There was one customer who always ordered a hot cider. He came alone, mostly, once with his daughter. He had a bald head and black eyes and wore button-ups, was important, or looked that way, and his vice was the hot juice, that sugar. Unlike the other regulars he wouldn’t talk to you and if you asked his name he wouldn’t repeat it. He wasn’t sour, just stoic, looking past us, self-absorbed, but in an endearing way, like school teachers, or marble statues. Late nights, closing the cafe on a Saturday, he’d show, and we’d talk (about the order), and then he’d leave, and I’d forget about him, pass him out, pass the gallstone, until I saw him again. But now that he’s so far gone from me, I catch stories going over in my mind of his face and features, because it bugs me, wondering who he is, this person I used to see so regularly, and what he’s doing now.

That was it, the whole story. Was it alright?

Sicker winds in the evening. The kind you want to hold, wrap in blankets, inhale, a sense of camaraderie.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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On the way down the hill we walked three abreast in the cobblestone street, drunk and laughing and talking like men who knew they would separate at dawn and travel to the far corners of the earth.

Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 256

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It stormed over like a bluebird molting above your kitchen window, rain streak-feathered, cold, blue-dashed out of the clouds, a torn up sky, and then at the end of the day when we were just trying to make it home there’s a frozen, bloodied Ruby Red up there, skylined citrus so perfect it’s ominous, begging me to stay, to just sit down, freeze, shiver, crack my teeth on asphalt, goodbye to the ordinary, never going home again.

It was in that bruised and bloodied second that I wanted to be somewhere quiet with you.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Life… is like a grapefruit. Well, it’s sort of orangey-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have half a one for breakfast.

Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

Coffee Log, Day 281

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, single-serve packet; might as well finish the week with this stuff.

I slept with the windows open. It was cold but nice. I like hearing the night. Around 11:00pm the birds stop going. Then, around 4:30am, they start back. We spend a lot of time sequestering ourselves from nature. Even when you’re a hiker, a climber, a camper, you’re someone who’s making nature a special trip. It’s a privilege not to know the cold, uncompromising world, and a privileged thing to choose to flirt with it.

I remember the solar eclipse. The tree outside my window cut moon-shaped shadows on the pavement. I didn’t buy the glasses so those little moons were it for me. R and I walked outside and stayed for fifteen minutes. It got dim then it got brighter. There were all kinds of people out. Lots of kids. There’s always lots of kids. I think I might go a little crazy if not for their constant antics.

It’s been a hard week. On paper, nothing happened. Maybe that’s a part of it. Or maybe it’s the end of the year. Tomorrow’s December. Two weeks and I’ll be 29. My brain’s symbolically predisposed. So is yours. The cold; the wet; the dark bare bark; the pomp that tries to sell you something; the warm fires; the curtained windows you had a chance to peek behind, but that once the year is done you know will stay closed. Symbols.

Happy November. Here comes December. Grab the bottle and toss the cork. Christen your old-body ship into less turbulent times.

Novel Count: 14,711 words

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

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It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready.

Sarah Kay


Coffee Log, Day 279

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, single-serve packet; I brewed what they had at the bank branch. I had the time but not the energy to make my own this morning. There was a big box of plastic pouches, two scoops each, enough for a pot. A waste of plastic. As for the taste, imagine being a woodchuck on a cold night; you’ve got to make yourself something but the only trees to bore are aging, wet oaks; you suck it up and chew.

A dead-end sort of day. You keep turning circles and it’s just another wall.

I woke up at 3am. Thought there was a snake in my bed. There wasn’t. I stayed up awhile letting nightmares in and out. Then I got up late.

Cold outside, a puffy coat militia. I’ve been thinking about rivers. I’d like to take a dip, freeze up, and see what extremities come off. 

I’m doing revisions on the book. New directions. You’ll see the word count drop and rise sporadically. Still writing everyday, just writing over. White out.

Art is a stuck pig. You tie him up and gut him. Then you’re shaving parts, boiling the bones, making stew. There’s lots to devour. Some of it’s even good.

Novel Count: 14,684 words

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

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I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden