Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 202

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Sitting at home on a gray day on my lunch break writing a Coffee Log early because I’ll be driving this evening. Weather calls for thunderstorms. Open highways, greased lightning.

Last night was spent packing. I’ll be living the weekend away. I haven’t gone too far lately, this will be the farthest. I like long drives. Here’s one I remember:

Ten years ago, headed back from the beach with a full car. We’d gone to a concert, Bomb the Music Industry! It was a good concert and let out at midnight but none of use felt like staying in New Bern (or had the money to). E was driving. He took us home through the early morning. We listened to more music, but softer because all our ears were blown. Just past Raleigh, I fell asleep. There were guys to either side of me. Warmer than a blanket, people I still know.

I’m not taking today’s trip alone. A different E’s coming with me, though we part ways when we get there. Sometimes it’s nice to take stock of what you’ve got, the people who won’t lose you, no matter what kinds of storm winds blow.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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God have pity on the smell of gasoline
which finds its way like an arm
through a car window,
more human than kerosene,
more unctuous, more manly.

S. Jane Sloat, In the Voice of a Minor Saint

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 196

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was driving down I-40 when the light cut out. The sun gave up enough to kneel behind the treeline, but it was only 7:30 so the streetlamps weren’t on. A bluish-gold darkness, like ducking your head in old bathwater, or under sheets in the morning, or below two bare thighs. Comforting, but dangerously taking your breath away.

I took off my sunglasses. I’d bought a pair of aviators to replace the old ones my uncle gave me. It didn’t help much, trying to see the world without lenses, only bolded the backlights on fast cars and Saturday fleetrucks tanking overtime. Didn’t change the fact that nothing I was seeing was new.

I have five ghosts that follow me but only know four of their names. They peek through trees around sundown or finger soft scratches on the underside of my car. Mostly they’re reminders of the people in my genes, the squeeze of history, blue smoke, different cancers. The fifth ghost rarely shows itself, though, so I’m wary of it.

I got home at 8:00, pulling in the parking lot when porchlights cut on.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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You got to tell me brave captain, why are the wicked so strong, how do the angels get to sleep, when the devil leaves the porchlight on.

Tom Waits


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 77

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand; today was the first time in two weeks that I ground my own coffee for the morning; I put four scoops in the grinder and sat in my desk chair turning the handle; the beans went ‘swoosh!’ like they always do; beach sand; things taste better when you put a little work in them; the coffee was like old daydreams, the kind you can still get lost in from time to time.

Today I got caught in traffic coming and going from Burlington. I was driving down for mother’s day. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that puts chicken broth in their rice and lard in their beans. Hard times for a vegetarian, but it was nice seeing my parents nonetheless.

Back to the traffic jams – today was rainy. Fits and starts of the stuff, never a full-on storm. I guess that’s why there were so many accidents. People weren’t prepared for the wet flashes. There was no telling what would happen next.

On the way down, I spend half and hour at a full stop listening to old mixtapes. Coming back, I called a friend. Both ways, the wet grey day brought bright colors out of the parked cars. The rear-lights were bulging zits over the back bumpers. The paint could be anything from candy to a pocket full of change.

One thing I like about driving is how it forces you to slow down. You’re at the mercy of something outside of yourself – the traffic won’t move no matter how much you yell at it. Most days, I’m wrestling with the things I can control. It’s nice taking a break sometimes.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

Frank O’Hara

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 71

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place from the Apartment Office Lounge; an overcast, semi-rainy day, unconscionable to not walk somewhere, so I walked to the lounge to get coffee; I was alone in the lounge; by the time I left, it started raining; lightly, though; I dried off at home with the help of the coffee; the taste was a mix of middling hotels and bingo games at the senior center.

Today, I swept the porch. It was still green from this spring’s pollen cyclone. We’ve got three chairs, I wiped down one of them but left the others because spiders had taken them over. If I’m being honest, I was squeamish to swat the spiders but also I didn’t want to hurt them.

So started a long day of going in and out of the apartment. I brought three different drinks to the deck. At 1pm, I tried writing. At 2pm, I tried reading. At 3 I talked to a friend, and at 4 I was just there because I couldn’t figure out where else to be. I was feeling restless. I’ve been feeling restless for a long time.

By six, I’d seen enough from the porch so I took a drive. The clouds had cleared enough to show some bright spots but they hung around the edges like a hopeless lover. There were sun showers and lots of people out walking their dogs. By the end of the trip, I’d crossed Cary. I was all the way in Morrisville. Coming back, the sky was just as complicated.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting

Charles Bukowski


Coffee Log, Day 291

Hi.

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

I’m sick. It’s not terrible: my head feels stiff and my throat itches. Other than that, I’m golden.

But still, I’m sick.

We had work today. It was delayed an hour. It started snowing on the drive. The road disappeared and it was like an expedition. You couldn’t keep the white off your windshield. Along the road, there were three or four cars that had run off into the trees. Each one was partnered by a cop car. The lights were Christmas trees as you came up to them through the blizzard. And in all of this I wasn’t nervous – even when the car kept slipping – and maybe that’s just because I was too sick to think about it.

Here I am. People have a habit of making it through things. It’s the greatest wonder in the world, human vigor. I’m drinking orange juice. The house is warm. I’ll be going to sleep after I write this. Night night.

Novel Count: (on hiatus while I recover from this cold)

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

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being sick feels like you’re wearing someone else’s glasses

Megan Boyle, Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee


Coffee Log, Day 245

Hi.

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

It’s been a week of traffic. I’m driving to a branch in RTP. Maps says 25 minutes but the trip always takes longer. I was five minutes late the first day, five minutes late the second, etc. I even turned the clock back on departure but I was late all the same.

I like it though.

Five years ago I was a teacher. I got the job in Durham then had a bad break-up. I’d been living there, the break-up broke that up. I moved home for awhile. The commute was Burlington to Durham, 45min one way. I left early and stopped for coffee at a truck stop in Haw River each day. I got to see the sun rise. On three separate occasions, I passed a burning semi pulled over in the pre-dawn. It got to be an omen. I didn’t like the commute so much back then.

But I’ve come to appreciate the in-between. Nothing can phase you on the road. No goals, no expectations. You’re stuck. It’s lovely. It may feel like you’re trapped, but really the whole world is on hold for you. What’s that? There’s dishes needing doing? Later! And work? Bumper-to-bumper says I’ll be a few minutes late. And when I get there I’ll unpack the car of all your things – the clothes, the letters, the mattress pad you used to sleep on, hand them off one at a time in your driveway, and watch you take the shortcut through the garden on a cloudy day to deposit yourself back in comfortable places, turn the key, wave from the window, and lovingly say ‘bye’ forever – but for now, the doors are locked and I’m moving, only looking left and right and never too far in the future.

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

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“A sip of wine, a cigarette,
And then it’s time to go.
I tidied up the kitchenette;
I tuned the old banjo.
I’m wanted at the traffic-jam.
They’re saving me a seat.” – Leonard Cohen

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Coffee Log, Day 234

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

The button came off a pair of my work pants. I think I can sew it but the pants are old and wearing and I’ve been meaning to get some new pairs so I went to the store. I had an ad in my email for BOGO at Express and the closest store was in Triangle Town Center so I went there. The mall’s a half hour through Raleigh. When I got there, they were doing renovations and the store was closed.

But the trip wasn’t for nothing. It was a cold day, cloudy, the kind of weather you want to break your heart to. There was a lot of traffic on the roads. I’m not used to going this way so the flighty voice of a map app guided me. She took me down Capital Boulevard. I saw many closed stores and open office parks. A newish high rise with no name and glass windows stared down a shuttered hotel. They’d been doing work on the hotel and stopped when the money ran out. The walls were chipped and the asphalt lot had big holes in it.

Triangle Town Center was much the same. Aeropostle was closed, Dillards was limping, Sears was a wasteland. Inside, many of the stores were stripped to lightbulbs and they were running big, silver, exposed ventilation around the bottom floor. Still, the mall was busy. People walked around on cell phones. Kids eyed cookies as big as their heads. It was alive but listless, broken like the gray day, a hymn to late 20th century capitalism, everyone working hard and poor to put themselves on the pages of the already half-written history books.

I didn’t buy anything. I drove home and ordered two pairs of dress pants online.

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

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“Since the Leeburg Pike [at Tyson’s Corner] carries six to eight lanes of fast-moving traffic and the mall lacks an obvious pedestrian entrance, I decided to negotiate the street in my car rather than on foot. This is a problem planners call the ‘drive to lunch syndrome,’ typical of edge nodes where nothing is planned in advance and all the development takes place in isolated ‘pods’.” – Dolores Hayden, Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000

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