Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 217

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It helps to remember the moments you can’t live without – that afternoon in Hiroshima where we dropped stones off the bridge and watched the riverside come alive with a thousand crabs. I need to believe that if I shake things enough, something will happen.

I had dinner at Bocci. The last time I ate there was eight years ago. Compared to then, a lot has changed, but the restaurant looked just like it did back then. It’s an Italian place tucked in the back of a small shopping center off Lochmere, one of the wealthier neighborhoods in Cary. The bricks are red and the bar is full of old men watching.

We were there to give our goodbyes and congratulations – a coworker got a job in the back office, she won’t be around as often. There were eight of us in all so the staff put together two tables. There were only two people working the floor. Our waiter was older. He had lanky legs and an Italian accent. Anytime he said ‘please’ it sounded like an interrogation. N, who worked for two years teaching for the Peace Corps, whispered this: “Everyone else thinks he’s being mean but I love it. The last thing you learn in a language is inflection.” After that, I saw the guy in a different light.

After dinner, I drove home with the window down. I thought about eight years ago, the way we count our time. I was at the back of Bocci by a window, an ex on my right and her father across from us. He was buying. I never knew how to talk to him. I didn’t like taking favors. I ordered chicken and it was bitter. My arm was on fire – back then, I had a nine-to-five doing data entry and it had gotten me over with carpal tunnel. By the bathrooms, my ex asked me to try harder. I told her that pissed me off. Years passed, now I understand what she was saying.

Tonight smelled like hot dogs, chicory, and parked cars.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing.

Haruki Murakami, The Year of Spaghetti

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 209

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; I walked to the clubhouse to use the free machine this morning but it was out of filters; so I walked back to my apartment with an empty thermos, ate a quick lunch at the dining room table, then drove a couple minutes to the closest Caribou; the weather was late-summer fireworks and the sun made pin-head incisions in my skin; open window, laid out arm; the guy in the drive-through had puberty on his cheeks; his voice cracked when he handed me the coffee; oh, it’s flavor? like a walnut, but one you’ve left sitting one day too long in backyard soil

A friend came over to bake a focaccia in our oven. He got here at 5pm, left the bread outside to rise, then sprinkled it with salt and oil before loading it in the oven. As it baked, we caught up. The sun got in our eyes so we moved to the living room. Later, while the bread was cooling, we went out to buy cucumbers and tomatoes to make fresh sandwiches.

It was a nice day. Lazy in the best sort of way. No-one needing anything that wasn’t right here.

At 10pm, our friend left, I spent some time cleaning. I brushed all the breadcrumbs in the trashcan. I washed the cutting board clean of cucumber juice. The kitchen’s sleeping like it’s been on a pilgrimage. It’s motionless, peaceful, waiting for the next time it’s put to use.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller (life hasn’t had much time for reading lately, but I’m almost to the end; more thoughts soon)

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To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread. It will be a great day for America, incidentally, when we begin to eat bread again, instead of the blasphemous and tasteless foam rubber that we have substituted for it. And I am not being frivolous here, either.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 180

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It was crowded in the Chipotle. Two pretty women were working the line. I ordered first, R was behind me. I tried looking a little taller.

“Would you like hot sauce?” she said.

“No thanks. Busy day?”

“I just got here. Guac?”

Thirty seconds to the checkout guy. He couldn’t read my order so I had to tell it back to him. Half my age and bright-eyed as his braces. I was happy to see someone with some possibilities in front of them.

I left the Chipotle with a veggie bowl and no-one’s number.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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It is my trade,” he said. “I work for the bean family, and every day there are deaths among the beans, mostly from thirst. They shrivel and die, they go blind in their one black eye, and I put them in one of these tiny coffins. Beans, you know, are beautifully shaped, like a new church, like modern architecture, like a planned city

Janet Frame, Scented Gardens for the Blind

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 177

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

We ended up at a Chinese sit-down that had yellow walls, thick menus, and the word ‘love’ done up in streamers two times across the western wall. They were serving duck. Half the menu was duck, it seemed.

I had a view of the windows. I thought it might be raining but it was just the air-conditioner fogging up. We shared the place with two other tables, bigger groups, and they were speaking Mandarin or maybe Cantonese. The proprietress got excited when E said I was a vegetarian. She was sure to point out the part of the menu just for me.

I don’t often end up at new places on weekdays. We tried getting takeout from our old standby but it’s closed on Mondays, a fact none of us can ever remember. Sometimes it takes poor luck and bad planning to shake the dust and cobwebs off you. I settled on the House Tofu. It was good.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The only time they ever throw anything away is when it’s really and truly broken, and then they make a big deal about it. They save up all their bent pins and broken sewing needles and once a year they do a whole memorial service for them, chanting and then sticking them into a block of tofu so they will have a nice soft place to rest.

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time-Being

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 143

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I took a first attempt at making a garbanzo bean daal tonight. I had a recipe but only half-followed it. When I went out to buy the groceries, I didn’t read the part that called for a food processor. You’re supposed to blend the onions. I don’t have a food processor so I couldn’t blend the onions.

Anyway, it turned out well. My fingers still smell like garlic, always a good sign.

Cooking can be a way to come to terms with yourself. This is the shit and piss that will leave your body, but in a more perfect form. It’s the best you can be, green cucumbers, ripe tomatoes. Every ingredient has that sheen of just-washed and it’s waiting there for you to work with it. In the same way, every day starts you fresh and ready to be worked on.

Geez, I’m sounding sappy tonight.

In the end, I added too much cayenne and not enough turmeric. The daal tasted like a long car ride in the desert, beautiful if excruciating, soaked in heat, but with the next great oasis visible on the horizon.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Oh, I adore to cook. It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.

Truman Capote, Summer Crossing

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 244

Hi.

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

I got Chinese with my roommate then went home to watch Haunting of Hill House. Everyone’s been talking it up. We popped the tops on plastic quart cartons and ran the first episode. They filmed it with a filter that makes everyone look jaundiced. All the actors and actresses looked the same. We stopped the show three times just to figure out who was who.

So anyway, I’ve got lukewarm first impressions of Hill House, but dinner was great. The lady at the restaurant always smiles when she sees me. That’s nothing special, she smiles for everyone. I ordered the Sichuan tofu. It was piping hot. At home, halfway through the show, I had a moment where I got a bit of onion and a bit of sauce, dipped it in steamed rice, and realized I’d die someday.

I’ve been thinking ‘death’ since birth. In 3rd grade I used to imagine I might get reincarnated as the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls. I’d picture myself in his body playing shows. He was the coolest person I could think of. I imagined this every night as I was going to sleep. If I didn’t, it was all cold sweats and heavy breathing, the black wall of inevitability. Like I said, I’m an over-thinker.

So it wasn’t too unusual to think about dying when the slick, red, acidic stuff touched my tongue. But the way it felt tonight was more of a ‘maybe this is okay.’ I’ve been stressed lately. Taken in full, 2018’s done a number. It’s like the third week of school: first is exciting; second’s a breeze; the third is when the tests come, and no matter how you do there’s no going back from the bright red branding of the grade. I’ve been considering next year, and the year after. I feel stretched like good leather.

After the first perfect bite I took another. Some broccoli, dipped. The rich sauce got caught in her green perm. It tasted like something that shouldn’t be so good for you. The stem snapped in my jaw. I washed her down with tapwater.

“I’m gonna die someday,” I thought, “but this is nice for now.”

We finished dinner and the episode. I feel pretty full.

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

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“…food that can burn you down to a charred, smoking little stump.” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, Sichuan episode

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