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


Coffee Log, Day 271

Hi.

Coffee Tea: Earl Grey, Bigelow; I went to the grocery store and tried to buy coffee filters but they only had cone filters and my machine’s got a basket; so today I’m drinking tea.

I described someone as being like ‘black tea in the winter’ and then I forgot I’d ever said that. Later, we got together; now, we aren’t together and I finally remember what I meant by describing someone as being like ‘black tea in the winter.’

I got lost just once in Heraklion, Crete. It was the second night there but it felt like my plane had just landed. On approach, ground winds had picked us off the runway. We did three passes of the island, the wings going haywire, the cabin shaking around. I have a knack for bumpy flights.

Anyway, myself and two other guys were exploring. It was late. We were all a little jet-lagged. The city is a grove of brown buildings by the sea. At night, when the lights come on, it’s like you’re only seeing half of things, but the half you’re seeing is the one that matters.

We walked to the coast and back up again. It was on the way back that we got lost. The roads kept their angles from us the first time. New twists and turns. Suddenly, you’re a bird in a tree whose branches you don’t remember.

There was a cafe in the dark. Two roads split around it like feuding lovers. The front was glass. The walls were painted red and white. Two ladies kept the place, owner and daughter. They spoke English because the daughter studied in America. Lost on across the ocean, ages removed from home, we talked to the women and got directions. Then we talked some more over pastries and wine.

There’s a deep sadness in finding out where you’re going. But that moment when you’re just on the other side – surprised, relieved, full to overflowing – that’s a good feeling.

Novel Count: 10,795 words

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

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You have everything but one thing: madness.  A man needs a little madness or else – he never dares cut the rope and be free.

Nikos Kazantzakis


Coffee Log, Day 267

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

R and I went to Fiesta Mexicana. It’s this Mex-American joint across town. I wore my winter sweater because it’s not winter but it already feels like it. The dining room was well lit. There were two lonely people at the lonely bright bar.

I’m prone to eavesdropping. On good days I tell myself it’s research for future stories. We were stuck between two boothes with big parties. Both boothes were making lots of noise.

By the windows was a group of three families on a dinner date. They had their kids with them. One of the kids talked about how she’d learned to eat her vegetables in school. Another kid kept asking her mother for a sister. It was nice to hear the families. The streetlights had a way of showing you their skin. One of those old Greek pots, vibrant people.

The group behind me was something else. Two couples, both 30-ish, only the men were talking. Well, the women tried to talk then the men stopped them. One guy was going on and on about his business meetings. He hated the ‘creative types.’ The other was blaming his date for making his mother re-arrange her holiday dinner plans. She’d talk up a bit and he’d say something like “No.” The phrase ‘They were making fun of me for owning a golf cart’ was passed around. It was quite the drama.

And all I’ve got to say is: Pft. Golf-cart-owning loser.

Novel Count: 9,075 words

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

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“I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.”

– G.K. Chesterton


Coffee Log, Day 265

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Everyone was poking around in coats today. Meanwhile, in California, half the state burns.

I grew up in a household obsessively haunted by weather. My dad would walk outside in thunderstorms. We had a dog that would hide from rain.

But my mother was the focal point for the family’s weather ups and downs. She’d be up late watching documentaries on this or that super storm. Sometimes, she’d watch the weather channel on repeat. Any hint of bad rain and there her hands would go, wringing.

I remember this one time there was a tornado at my elementary. First the lights cut, then the glass was shaking, finally we were in the hall and under our own backpacks on the cold, hard linoleum floor. A lot of kids were crying. The assistant principal was holding the blown-open doors. But I’d watched a hundred disaster films with my mother so I was ready. This was Christmas, a celebration, something wonderfully inevitable. We would all get swooped up and tossed a thousand miles. Nothing could be more comfortably certain.

Sometimes I think there’s a bravery in staring long and hard at the things that scare you. It’s a messy sort of courage – a lot of fits and worries, 2 am texts to your adult son when there’s a national weather warning – but still brave. Can’t look at a horror and call it something else, but you can choose to look at it all the same.

I’ve learned a lot of things from my mother.

Novel Count: 8,742 words

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

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“In any democratic, civilized – even non-democratic nations, if you are a nation, it means to say that in our case, if there’s a hurricane in Louisiana, the people of Vermont are there for them. If there’s a tornado in the Midwest, we are there for them. If there’s flooding in the East Coast, the people in California are there for us.” – Bernie Sanders

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Coffee Log, Day 262

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; the last brew of the batch, kind of sad, kind of frustrating, kind of capitalist – grocery store, here I come.

There’s specific calm to petting a cat’s fur on cold mornings. He rolls around. He’s been hunting bees and birds before they hide away in Winter. His paws have gotten fatter. He’ll lick you now and then.

Here’s this thing with energy – crisp, static – while you huddle in your coat.

You lose your fingers in his coat. Both your breaths are fogging. A patch of sun, the night that froze the concrete, nowhere else you need to be. Cold friction of a life. You take a bit of him with you. He’s hair on black trousers.

Suddenly, you like the cold.

Novel Count: 7,500 words

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

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“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau

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Coffee Log, Day 261

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I watched someone’s backyard for eight hours yesterday. You could see through the drive-through window at the branch. They had a small shed between trees. The shed had a window on it, though I got the impression that window is never opened.

Across the lawn, the house was propped with scaffolding that hasn’t come down for six months. There’s tiles on the top for a roofing project but maybe these days fixing your roof is the last thing on your mind.

Pretty soon, it started to rain. Cold cloud cover. A marginal fog. The shed light popped like a shipping beacon. Puddles grew in grass. It stayed like that all afternoon – fits and spasms, cold and damp, a hibernating storm. When the cars drove by they’d kick some of the water up so it looked like they were spitting.

My colleagues called it ‘dismal.’ I had to disagree. There’s something about a cold rain that locks you in place. Uncomfortable but preserving. I watched the stranger’s yard in a slow freeze. It was a beautiful thing so I just wanted to share.

Novel Count: 7,262 words

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

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“It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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