Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 265

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

When I came in from lunch, everyone was huddled behind the teller line staring down. I put my coat up, straightened my tie, took a sip of coffee. I walked back to the lobby and they were still there.

“What are you doing?”

“There’s a mouse in here.”

And sure enough, there was a mouse.

At first he was hiding. My coworker had named him Sebastian so we were waiting for Sebastian. My other coworker had crumbled a couple peanut-butter crackers from her lunchbox and left them out to lure him toward a paper cup. The idea was to get him by the cup then catch him, carry Sebastian outside.

I got as low as I could, my tie tangled in the carpet, my nose in old dust, money dust, trying to catch this thing’s eyes below the furniture.

A third coworker came in. She asked what we were doing then suggested getting glue traps. “No, we don’t want to kill it,” someone said, and she responded “Well...” then went about taking customers while the rest of us watched for any skitters from Sebastian.

Twenty minutes went by. I heard: “Look! By the cracker!” and there were two tiny hands taking crumbs off the edges. We were quiet, silent, breathless. Long clear whiskers, a pink nose. Then his eyes, bits of coal left over from the old days when coal made you millions. Slowly, we let him get to know us, and finally we saw Sebastian, a small gray house mouse.

He stuck to the wall at first. He looked up with those eyes and I know he saw me. He’d pick a piece of cracker, or dance here and there, but he kept a good four feet away, too far for me to catch him. Someone said “Just do it!” and another said “What are you waiting for?” but I kept waiting, watching Sebastian, keeping my hands where he could see them. I’d put a bit of peanut butter in the cup and he could see it. When he seemed ready, I nudged it forward.

You know how it ends: he comes out, I catch him, I let him go in soft green bushes, evergreens, and pine straw, and leaves of ever color, a place something small can disappear. But before all that there was a minute – can’t have been longer, maybe not even that long – where everyone was comfortable, even the mouse. He danced right up to the cup and sniffed it. He backed up a bit and stood on two legs. He pistoned one leg to scratch his floppy ear and licked his hands to better bathe his fur. Like a cat, any animal shows they’re comfortable when they clean themselves around you. It was the happiest thing, knowing I could give a bit of comfort to this mouse.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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The April sun, weak but determined, shone through a castle window and from there squeezed itself through a small hole in the wall and placed one golden finger on the little mouse.

Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 223

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I want to thank a couple people for tipping me a coffee: S&C, old friends from the open mic, respected colleagues, much appreciation. I’m reminded of that time about a year ago where you had a Halloween party in your backyard, we watched The Conjuring on your projector, carved pumpkins, drank beer. It was colder that year, more like fall. The wind in the trees was more mysterious than the movie.

An M – another dear friend I got to know when she entered the life of an old buddy, and whose wedding I got to attend when she finally married him. I’m flattered, and glad my words meant something to you.

I’ll use the tips to try something special this weekend – a different sort of brew, something I’ve never written about on here before. Good or bad, I’ll love every sip of it because of the warm thoughts it was brewed on, and I’ll be sure to give you all my best attempt at a review.

As for the rest of today’s Coffee Log, I’ll keep it short:

A large brown dog came into the bank at the end of the day. He was walking a woman who’d be shorter were he to stand on his hind legs. A sheepdog, the pup was scruffy and long-legged, and when he got to the table where we keep the deposit slips he decided to lie down.

Sometimes you see something and automatically have a name for it: I called him ‘comfortable.’

A couple minutes later, in comes another customer, one of our regulars, and she sees Mr. Comfortable and wants to pet him. The short lady speaks up “Please don’t get his attention.” There’s a pause, a thickening, confrontation, and the lady follows with “He’s a service dog.” That’s the end of that story. A couple minutes later, Mr. Comfortable takes his partner by the leash and leaves. The deposit-slip table looks vacant without him.

Don’t bother a dog when he’s working, I guess.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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 204

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s; like year-old boxes of Valentines chocolates.

Maybe I wanted something to scare me. Since rumors struck on Sunday, I spent the week preparing for Florence. I bought stuff, planned for the power outage, even got in contact with an old love. Now I’m sitting with my window open watching the drizzle. There’s a light breeze, smells steely. The NC coast is suffering, but Cary keeps rolling by.

It’s a good thing to be safe. I’m still disappointed. People look for things to punctuate themselves – break the year up into moments to look back on. Holidays, break-ups, weddings, disasters – something more magical then waking up and going to back to sleep sixteen hours later. I see a lot of problems with that mentality. You can only get bored if you’re living a good, easy life. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the dull itch for something to crash upon me.

The rain’s beautiful. A cardinal’s going bananas in the tree. I hope everyone farther east is okay. The hurricane wasn’t magic. Nothing comfortable is.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“I wonder what ants do on rainy days?” – Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

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Coffee Log, Day 68

Hi.

Coffee: Large Americano from Caribou Coffee; paid for by a tip from Meg. Thanks Meg! The espresso was dusty like an old book but pleasant. Meg and I have been talking about Starbucks. Last week, a store manager called cops on black customers for being black. Loud-mouths argue it’s because they weren’t ‘paying,’ or were ‘threatening,’ but those are just code words for sharing yourself with the wrong color lips. Meg showed me an article from Slate. The commentators described Starbucks’ business model as ‘commoditizing diversity’ and selling it to a white middle class in easy-to-digest doses. I went to Caribou and saw white men and white women with smiling faces served by smiling white baristas. There were people of color there too, but I couldn’t help thinking that the article was spot-on because here was a space designed to make you comfortable and comfort is a privilege given in America on a sliding scale of class and skin-tone.

April’s almost over. I’ve spent the Spring mostly jobless and now I’m ending it well-employed. I like my work so far. I’m making more money than I had been. Still, when I look at the crowning trees and listen to kids playing with the good weather, I’m restless. Spring and Fall are anxious seasons. The more beautiful – the more comfortable – something is, the less you can trust it. Sometimes I think a nice day is just a reminder of how deep the gully is between people. If I can enjoy this weather, there’s a good chance that enjoyment is predicated on someone else’s subjugation.

It’s easy to say a Spring day is free, but freedom is distributed unequally.

Currently Reading:
The Pardoner’s Tale, by John Wain

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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”- Nelson Mandela

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