Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 19

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I talked to a lawyer about taxes. Not my taxes and not his either. He doesn’t do tax law. But somehow we got on the subject and were talking for over an hour. We also talked about computer architecture and teenager’s cell phones. I feel best after long conversations with people I don’t know. It was an interesting day.

A friend told me about his sleep studies. They smacked him with Apnea and a few other things. My father had Apnea also and I remember him wearing a face mask. My friend calls it a face-hugger. Alien, anyone? Anyway, there were these nights when I was little and scared where my bedroom would fill up with night terrors. I’d go into my parents’ room. They’d let me sleep beside them as parents do. Some nights, I’d sleep beside my father while he used the face mask. It sounded like an ocean. With boats. And crabs. And a few storms.

Right now, I’ve got the wok cooking veggies while the rice finishes. I added soy sauce and vinegar and oil. The oil’s bubbling. It sounds like red wine. I’m not having any wine because it’s a weekday but I can imagine. A spring day. Wildflowers. Sweet dreams.

Novel Count: 30,349

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three.

Antoine de Saint-Exuperry, The Little Prince


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 11

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; about done with this batch. I’ve been drinking less coffee lately. Down to a cup or two (though I still brew strong). It picks me up without dropping me after. Anyway, the Sumatra has a taste like lead pencils. Like you took all your number two’s from after the EOG’s and boiled them. Like you’re over one hump, about to climb the next one. It’s smooth, its bitter, it creeps up on you.

I cooked a big batch of pasta for the week and now my fingers smell like garlic. The pan I usually use was in the dishwasher. I could have washed it but I didn’t want to take the effort. So I cooked my veggies and soy hamburger in the wok. At the end, I tossed it in sauce. It worked better than I’d expected. That said, the mushrooms are a little undercooked.

So far, it’s been a week of canceled plans. None of us can fit our schedules together. That’s left me in those hazy spaces of ‘I might have something to do.’ You can’t move on. You’re stuck in the expectation of something that could happen. Times like that, I like to cook. Cook and eat, eat and cook. It’s a simple sense of accomplishment. My tastebuds are always available. They give immediate commentary.

That’s all I’ve got tonight. I’m off to wait on more responses, more loose threads. Whether anything answers, who knows? In the meantime, I’ve got some orange marmalade. Think I’ll toast some bread.

Novel Count: 29,630

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED!

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I began by preparing my pasta: my deft fingers forming the intricate shapes of rigatoni, ravioli, spiralli, spaghetti, cannelloni, and linguini. Then I would brew sauces of sardines, or anchovies or zucchini or sheep’s cheeses, of saffron, pine nuts, currants, and fennel. These I would simmer in the huge iron cauldrons, which were constantly bubbling above the fire.

Lily Prior, La Cucina


Coffee Log, Day 340

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

I bought a toaster. Therefore I am officially an old man.

In the spectrum of household luxuries that identify you as having crossed a certain hill into self-sufficient aged tedium, none could be a better symbol in 2019 than a toaster. It lacks the utility of an oven, the ubiquity of a microwave, and the pizazz of a food processor. It’s not your father’s starter set of china or the blender you bought in college that was a margarita-only machine for the first few years of it’s life; it’s not a pot or pan or spatula or any other cooking necessity; it’s excessive, but in the most boring kind of way.

Toasters occupy the same space as a waffle maker. They have a single, specific function backed up by a whole lot of 20th century machinery. But the toaster isn’t there to spice up Sunday brunch for you and your boo whenever she (or he) comes over. A toaster toasts bread. It’s the tired uncle that got divorced at forty-five and hasn’t remarried. It’s Auntie Marge coming home from a double-shift at the post office to an apartment full of expensive, miniature dogs. The toaster doesn’t love you but that’s fine because it treats you fair and square. It ignores your choice of bleached white breads and sugary jams.

In fact, the toaster might be the pinnacle of functioning, healthy capitalism: a completely unnecessary expense that nevertheless serves its function reliably.

I just unpacked my toaster. I cleaned it, heated it, let it air out for a few cycles. Tomorrow I’ll toast two slices of wheat bread. Boy, have I made it

Novel Count: 19,824

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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The toaster (lacking real bread) would pretend to make two crispy slices of toast. Or, if the day seemed special in some way, it would toast an imaginary English muffin.

Thomas M. Disch, The Brave Little Toaster

Coffee Log, Day 297

Hi.

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

My hands are on fire. I was cutting jalapenos for a while.

For dinner, I made: some kinda rice thing. I got the rice going in E’s Korean rice cooker. I chopped up two different kinds of peppers, an onion, soy ground beef. I stirred all that in a big silver bowl and added tomato paste to keep it together. Then I dashed it up with cinnamon, cayenne, and garlic powder.

The trick was the consistency. I’ve got a habit of cooking all the juices out. I’m not a delicate touch. Burning on the red-hot coil, I stirred in vegetable stock. It started to boil. Bubbles came up like drowning divers. I turned the heat down. Then it wasn’t hot enough so I turned it back up and added more liquid. This was a dance, we managed, but we’re not making prom king and queen.

Just past six, the rice was done. I poured five bowls for the week, one for tonight, and topped them all with my pepper stew. In the end, the stuff was rich and spicy and I could almost taste it through my stuffy nose. We’ll see how it is tomorrow when the sickness is gone.

Novel Count: 5,907; Yes, this is about 10,000 words less than the last count. Sickness brings clarity and all that. I’d pushed and pulled the novel in a few different directions over its first five chapters, settled on a direction, and now all the other wanderings are washed out. It’s progressive, even if it looks regressive. Onward and upward.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Done with Cherry, still deciding on the next book.

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Spike: Uh, listen Jet. You said “bell peppers and beef.” There’s no beef in here. So you wouldn’t really call it “bell peppers and beef,” now would you?
Jet: Yes, I would.

Cowboy Bebop, Episode 1: Asteroid Blues


Coffee Log, Day 230

Hi.

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

All eyes on the sky as a second Hurricane mumbles toward North Carolina. We’re not getting the brunt of it. Florida’s uprooted. Still, our ground’s so wet that any rain will be like more wine in Aunt Marilyn’s glass and we all know she’s a lush.

Haruki Murakami’s new book is out. I’ll buy it soon. I’ve been excited to read it but then I saw a note on Variety saying it’s got a central fascination with an elder businessman’s feverish pursuit of a 13-yr-old girl. I’m tired of books about men chasing women. I wrote a book about a man chasing a woman, though it was also about how often art becomes about a man chasing a woman. The whole mess scares me. What space is left for love when you’re breakneaking towards Midas’s touch, turning people into golden objects?

I cooked dinner. The onions were glassy, perfect. I’m so damn proud of myself. There’s enough for five people. I’ll end up eating the whole meal myself, spread over a few days.

My roommate’s filled the house with company. I’m a hair-raised badger spitting dirt from his hole. That is to say, I’ve got the door locked and I’m playing music. A perfectly contained room. I’m not a curmudgeon. Well, not usually. But I’ve never known how to handle a room full of people I half-know. I’m happy they’re happy. Now shove off as I dig this loam.

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

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“Step aside? I step aside for nobeast, whether it be a hallowed hedgehog, an officious otter, a seasoned squirrel, a mutterin’ mole or a befuddled badger!” – Brian Jacques, Taggerung

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Coffee Log, Day 221

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I made dinner tonight. I haven’t cooked in a while. I’ve been down. I’ve had some ups, but mostly I’ve been down. I almost didn’t do it. I got home, changed, stared at the bathroom floor. It was sallow, pig fat. Not appetizing. Then I went to the kitchen and started getting everything ready – pots and pans and cutlery. I felt like I was packing for a long flight. Except every time I’ve actually packed for a long flight, I’ve thrown a few sets of clothes and other essential together last minute. A mental malaise, the sticky summer downs won’t let me go.

But I did cook. I marinated tofu and fried it. I stir-fried vegetables, cooked them hotter and quicker to keep them crispy. It turned out well. I served it all over steamed rice. The sauce was black vinegar, soy, a little sugar. I thought about my mother. She’d cook for me every night. She also cooked for herself, also cooked for my father. There are prison bars in domesticity. That said, it’s easy to forget how to use your hands when the doors open, when you run wild, when you’re free.

I read an update about the migrant children we’re keeping in captivity. Over the past week, our government – on behalf of you, and me, and your baby sister, and your best friend, and your cousin who just got a service award, and the preacher, and your lover, and everyone you wrap your arms around thinking ‘this is someone good’ – has been waking the kids between 12 and 6 am from foster care houses all over the country to bus them to a tent compound in Tornillo, Texas. They were going to school, now they’re not. They had access to lawyers, now they rarely do. They spend most days scrubbing toilets. They sleep 12 to a tent. Meanwhile, I complain about a pleasant hour cooking dinner.

Donate to RAICES. The organization is based in Texas, advocates for immigrant families. If you donate, message me on this site and I’ll match your donation to the extent I’m able.

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

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“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Coffee Log, Day 189

Hi.

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

I cooked dinner: homefries and a soy chorizo hash. To start, I chopped vegetables into separate bowls. I washed the potatoes. In cubes, they glowed like church Sunday. Gold robed skin, candlelight eyes. I set them in a colander to drain.

Two pans going, sunflower oil popped concessions at the movie theater. I fried the potatoes with spritzes of pepper and dill, then cooked onions, mushrooms, tomatoes in a lot of a hot sauce. Fragrance. I watched starch break down and thought about moving: that feeling you get when all the stiff spots in your heart aren’t holding you up anymore. Later, I threw in the chorizo.

I haven’t cooked in a while. My last dish was quick fried rice from the freezer. My hands took to it tonight. Chop, pick, grip cutlery like you used to grip a sabre. Years ago, I was a fencer.

It was a good meal. It’ll last me three more days. I’ll be burnt-skin sunsets, rust on the train-tracks, the wandering evidence of comfort and home-cooked meals, at least a little longer.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

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“I went to a cooking specialty store, bought tomatoes by the dozen, purchased every brand of spaghetti I could lay my hands on. Particles of garlic, onion, and olive oil swirled in the air, a fragrance one might have smelled on an ancient Roman aqueduct. Every time I sat down to a plate of spaghetti, I had he distinct feeling that somebody was about to knock on my door.…” – Haruki Murakami, The Year of Spaghetti

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