Coffee Log, Day 280


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, single-serve packet; work coffee again; what can I say, it’s that kind of week.

Sometimes, life takes you to a Subway.

I imagine that one thing will survive the heat-death of the universe and that is the puffy, flaky, styrofoam rolls of ‘Italian’ bread they serve at the Subways. It’s marginally food. You eat it and are somehow left both full and hungry.

But that’s kind of the point: sometimes the only thing to do is start embalming yourself with cheap, sterile, questionable food. There are weeks where every time you stand, another thing knocks you down, so why not relent to it, give in, appreciate a numb, corporate fatigue deftly wrapped in bright colors?

I’d rather be drinking whiskey but even that is a little too lively for me now. Thank you, ma’am. Yes, I’ll take it with mustard.

Novel Count: 14,713 words

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

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The father was long and thin, with a red face framed in white whiskers, and looking like a living sandwich, a piece of ham carved like a face between two wads of hair. – Guy de Maupassant

Coffee Log, Day 213


Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I should have shaved today but instead I got up, pissed, swished, lay in the shower. The curtain cut the tub in hues of Orange Julius – fake and sweet. I lay there until the water irritated my skin. Too hot. I toweled off and said: “Today I’m gonna do it; Today I’m gonna write.” I made coffee and watched a show. It ended; I closed the browser; cursor on the desktop; I clicked Steam. Two hours got played by video games. At noon, I was sweating from the coffee.

I tried leaving the house, tried to get some sun on me, but a day-trip to wherever turned into fifteen minutes of grocery shopping. At home, the apartment was blacked over by cloud cover. I put everything away and took a book to the deck. Not Autumn, which I can’t stand (maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime), but the book I bought yesterday in Chapel Hill – Cherry, by Nico Walker. It’s about a bank robber and it’s written by a guy who robbed 10 banks. Both of these facts I find funny as a Teller.

I stole the book to our deck and destroyed some cobwebs. All that industry, wasted. I read Cherry and kept reading, drank stale LaCroix, a day bleak and wonderful, later I had some beers. I kept thinking to myself how no-one might talk to me again, how the bird’s always gone from the tree by the time you look for it, how people don’t plant flowers anymore. Then I took a walk and it felt like Autumn. All in all, it became a good day.

Depression runs in my family. Don’t feel shame if it also runs in yours.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker (fifty pages in and it’s brilliant; a contemporary Bukowski, only the voice is clean where Bukowski’s had a rasp; Walker’s using the proceeds to pay back the 10 banks he robbed; he’s still serving two years in federal prison)

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“You’ll have friends. Usually it’s nothing.” – Nico Walker, Cherry


Coffee Log, Day 64


Coffee: Organic Bolivian Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; Oh it’s great! It’s sunny, but not in that obnoxious way, more like the best sun in Winter, where you wake up expecting to shiver out of your pajamas but then you pull the curtains and feel your skin prick for the first time since early December. Highly recommend.

July 2013 had me in Petoskey, MI. About a century before that, Hemingway had it instead, and so I took the town at first not knowing the heritage, falling in love with the quaint downtown and brick community college (dreams of teaching there that are still just dreams) and a pretty girl who was working part time in a pie-shop with white flour in her hair and then a stormy pier on Lake Michigan with cold, cold water that talked to the weakest parts in me and asked me to jump. I didn’t jump – and if I had, it wouldn’t have hurt me. It was a ten foot drop – but I’d be lying if I said the thought of dying didn’t stalk the back of my mind. Only after the pier did I read up on the town and when I saw it was still haunted by Hemingway my fatal thoughts made sense.

There’s a parasitic force in Art that tells you to suffer. Too many idols took the easy end of a double-barrel like Hemingway. I believed for a while that happiness meant bad writing and I have dear friends who’ve bought the same cheap story. I don’t know where the source is, if it’s something about the personality prone to artists or something in a culture that likes to vicariously suffer, but it’s a real phenomenon. Thankfully, I’ve been enough of a failure at committing myself to the downward spiral that I’ve aged and grown and worked and matured and now I’ve come to realize that the real ingredients to good art are consistency, composure, a little cynicism, and – yes – happiness. To any fellow artist reading this, I encourage you to spit out the line the world’s been trying to feed you and find something grittier, harder, more long-lasting to chew.

July 2013 had me in Petoskey. I was brokenhearted and desperate. From beyond a coward’s grave, Hemingway bobbed in the cold Michigan water. I don’t know why I turned around but I’m glad I did. He can have the hell that waits for him. I’m happy to live longer and find the more elusive path to health and good art.

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

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“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises