Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 145


Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Last night, I went to the Third Wednesday Open Mic hosted at Fig. A colleague read from her new novel. It was pointed – as in, her words were written to have a point. A few months ago, I had my own featured reading with the group.

It’s no good time for small business. Despite the economy on an uptick, the gains are going to deeper pockets. Yes, there’s greater purchasing power, and yes, wages have gone (a little bit) up, but the blood and sweat of Americana – that store on the corner that knits your community together – is bottom-up.

Two years ago I was in Roanoke Rapids. It’s a tiny town on the Virginia border. I was taken on tour by my partner at the time, who’d grown up there. We drove around the town. There were bright old buildings with small front lawns. There was a factory that had shut down. In the epicenter, all the downtown storefronts were at best boarded over, some worsened with broken glass, a few lit windows poking through. At night, we picked up dinner at a still-thriving Chinese take-out. For lunch, we ate an an old diner that reminded me of a few places in my own home.

I read an economic outlook that says the next few years will likely avoid a recession. Rates will taper but we won’t bottom out. Good news, and from a trustworthy source. But it misses the picture of all the lives that aren’t off I-40, the towns you take a local road to get to, or the city bars stuck in a unlucky corner, destined to drown not in alcohol but in weeds.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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That night, after the movie, driving my father’s car along the country roads, I began to wonder how real the landscape truly was, and how much of a dream is a dream.

Don DeLillo, Americana

Coffee Log, Day 363


Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; I haven’t had espresso in a few weeks. It hits you different than straight coffee. It’s smoother, thicker, has a bite. That bite’s different than strong coffee. Think of it like this: you’re walking on a beach. The tide’s gone down. You could walk up top where it’s dry and naked and the sand will burn your feet, or you can walk on the sea shells – cool, but they’ll cut you sometimes. Espresso’s the part with the seashells.

Sometimes I think I’ll always be stuck in an airport. Before you get the wrong idea, I haven’t been flying anywhere recently. It’s just this feeling that the only times that ever mattered happened in cold, bright, crowded airports.

Coming back from Japan I got caught in flight delays and layovers. I ended up in Newark around 3:00 a.m. Because it was my port of entry, I had to go through customs, but because it was so early the security checks weren’t open for me to make my way back in. I waited for three hours in a pre-dawn terminal. The only place open was a Dunkin Donuts. I hadn’t slept for 24 hours and had been up all night drinking with my Japanese friends before that. I remember the too-sweet smell of the plastic-backed chairs that I pulled together into a makeshift bed, and I remember the sound of a West African man talking to his daughter on his cell.

Landing in Heraklion, Crete, I had no money. No cash of any currency. It was my first time out of the country (well, I’d been to Canada, but that hardly counts) and my plan was to withdraw from an airport ATM. Problem was, the ATM didn’t take my debit card. I didn’t know what to do. The airport was about ten miles from the city where my school group was staying. I couldn’t afford taxi fare or buses. Eventually, a nice Greek guy gave me a couple Euros and I hopped the bus. But I’ll always have the yellow-brown walls and dumbfounded white eyes of the flight attendants locked in memory. I was alone and lost in a world of constant transit. It made me realize that I am always a little bit alone and a little bit in transit.

So find me at an airport bar getting tipsy on double-priced Modelo. Anywhere else and there’s a good chance I’m barely there.

Novel Count: 25,064

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Air travel reminds us who we are. It’s the means by which we recognize ourselves as modern. The process removes us from the world and sets us apart from each other. We wander in the ambient noise, checking one more time for the flight coupon, the boarding pass, the visa. The process convinces us that at any moment we may have to submit to the force that is implied in all this, the unknown authority behind it, behind the categories, the languages we don’t understand. This vast terminal has been erected to examine souls.

Don DeLillo, The Names

Coffee Log, Day 325


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

How to say the same thing you’ve said five hundred times…

I was at the Durham Co-Op on the way to a bookstore. E came along. We had lunch and did some shopping. It was a light grey day that the checkout lady said looked like snow. I told her I could see it but didn’t think we’d be that lucky.

So I ate the un-chiken salad sandwich watching cars park through the window. Everyone came out bundled. This is a nice corner of Durham, next to Duke, both poor and not poor, full of problems, but nice to be around, at least for someone marginally wealthy like me. I admit all the sin in me saying that, but I can’t take away that I have a longing to be there.

The last time I was in this Co-Op, it was dark and close to closing. We bought bread and lettuce and everything you need to make fake bacon out of coconut chips. We went back to M’s place and cooked it up. The coconut chips shiver when you bake them and I always thought they seemed confused. Two toast bread, slip on the mayo, the heirloom tomatoes, and eat until it’s all gone.

We’d watch the traffic together on gray mornings. There wasn’t much parking where she lived and one time this guy knocks on her door and chews her out, telling her that her ‘man‘ took his space. She said sorry, I moved the car, then she said sorry to me about the whole thing. But deep down I regret not talking to him and giving him my own apologies, because it was his neighborhood and I was just visiting, even if I tried to make it stick, make it dance like coconut in the oven. In the end, you never get to choose where you’re welcome.

After lunch, E and I packed into the car and turned the heat up. We went to the bookstore, gave money to a guy who asked for it, walked around, and stopped at another grocery on the way home (cheaper produce). All in all an okay day. But there’s some part of me still stuck walking the aisles, looking for coconut flakes and soy sauce, waiting for you to take me home.

Novel Count: 14,080

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip.

Don DeLillo