Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 185


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was at a kitchen table playing Dungeons and Dragons at twelve years old. It was Z’s birthday. His older brother was DM’ing. We were playing 2nd edition.

I’d rolled an Elven wizard who had 2 hit points. First level spells, hardly devastating. I spent most of the game waiting behind the party line as they fought monsters, scouted traps, preciously keeping my few spells for when they were most important. We went through a dark dungeon and came out of it. Then we met some merchants. Our warrior decided to rob them. I couldn’t handle that so I cast my first spell. I got him with a magic missile and it killed him (he’d been hurt in the dungeons). Promptly after that, our ranger got me back with an arrow to my 2HP skull. Two party members down and no high-level priests around to revive them, we all called it quits on the game. Some of the other kids were pissed. I’d put a stop to the night.

Every year I get older seems to muddy my convictions. I talk to Trump supporters and try to find the places they tuck away the good. Maybe its that I’ve had a longer life to live out my own imperfections – mistakes and missteps, tumbling off of high highways with no way of getting back.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

Aristotle, Politics

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 62


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

L came over. We’re playing Dungeons and Dragons tonight. For once, he’s DM’ing instead of me. That means he’s the storyteller, I’m an actor in the story. It’s a nice change of pace. A different perspective.

All my life, I’ve loved getting wrapped up in stories. My parents read me Narnia before I’d gotten to elementary school. I watched Power Rangers religiously. Maybe that’s where my itch to write comes from – when I run out of things to read, play, experience, I want to create them myself. There’s more to it than that, but it’s an important part.

At work today, we all talked about things that happened during the week. That’s what you do on a Friday – reminisce. One person had luck with their clients, another couldn’t get anyone to return their calls. We talked about lunches, talked about weather. A colleague gave me a bottle of Raspberry Vinaigrette because earlier in the week we’d been talking about how much we both liked salad. People understand themselves in retrospect. We’re not present creatures, but just-done narratives.

Tonight, I’m playing a Bard. The setting is 1939 America. My character makes magic by playing his harmonica. I’ve been looking up old folk songs on youtube. It’s a fun fantasy. A good way to end the week.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.

Toni Morrison

Coffee Log, Day 361


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s BrandI was in line behind a couple women at the Old Navy. I was buying underwear, they were buying shorts. One lady’s in and out but the other starts to argue with the cashier. When it’s my turn, these 20-something wage workers are stressed and strung out and I don’t know what to do. I had a second where I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to create some light in a difficult situation. Then I remembered that I’m here buying underwear so I clammed up. No sage advice can come when you’re holding a bag of boxer briefs.

It’s been a slow day. I’ve been waiting for night to fall when an old friend’s coming over. Years ago, he introduced me to D&D and I’ve got a lot of fond memories rolling dice at his parent’s dining table, ordering pizzas, passing out on the couch. Time’s changed the both of us and each time I see him it’s like meeting a different person. But those old days are worth pouring a libation to now and again.

That’s it for me today. My one year anniversary of writing for this site is coming up this week. I still don’t know what I’ll do for it. Maybe nothing. Either way, it’s like watching great big storm clouds on the horizon – something’s coming, all you can do is wait.

Novel Count: 24,810

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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You are not entering this world in the usual manner, for you are setting forth to be a Dungeon Master. Certainly there are stout fighters, mighty magic-users, wily thieves, and courageous clerics who will make their mark in the magical lands of D&D adventure. You however, are above even the greatest of these, for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to the all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow.

Gary Gygax

Coffee Log, Day 236


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

I spent the night talking stories in a DnD game. I spent the day talking stories in a bank. I’m storied-out, but in a good way. So pardon me if I’m brief.

There were about five peaceful minutes. I ate lunch in the breakroom then went outside to my car to get a stick of gum. It had been sunny but clouds came over. I sat with the door open watching cars go by.

When I was a kid and home for the summer, my mother would sometimes lead me on a scavenger hunt. I’d wake up to notes stuck beside my bed and follow them around the house – to the kitchen, the closets, the laundry room. Clue after clue, I’d look for buried treasure. Usually, the hunt would end in the garden. She’d be planting flowers and play it off like the hunt was something she’d never heard of. I got down on hands and knees and helped her dig. Maybe it was a trick to get me working with her. Still, I always found buried treasure – a toy, a treat, a trip to the mountains.

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

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“As he was about to climb yet another dune, his heart whispered, “Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That’s where I am, and thats where your treasure is.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

image_123923953 (7)

Coffee Log, Day 227

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

I sat in a Chinese takeout joint and watched a young white guy wearing a bathrobe and bath slippers open and close the door to the drink cooler then run behind the counter at a breakneak, past the stoves, out the back of the store. For one quick second everyone was watching and then he was gone. An older guy followed him. The staff acted like it happened all the time.

Later, I led some friends in a Dungeons and Dragons game. Someone else wrote the world but I’d made changes and then my friends made changes and by the end of it we’d ended up somewhere other than I’d been expecting. It was fun. When I was fifteen I wanted to be in a band. I played cello and a friend played electric bass, another played electric guitar, we tried jamming but I was always in my head. I couldn’t do it. My cheeks were pink. I was embarrassed. I wanted things to sound a certain perfect way that I seldom heard on my own time, sure couldn’t find with other people playing.

Tonight, though, it stuck. We told the story together. I’d like to think that means I’m getting somewhere. It’s easy to slip into a manic auteurship as an author. You and the keyboard, pen-pals. But writing is telling stories and you can’t tell much of anything to an empty room. We’ll continue the D&D campaign next week. Can’t wait to see where the story goes.

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

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“The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.” – Gary Gygax


Coffee Log, Day 202


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

I don’t know how bad the storm will be. Friday will tell me; the coast will know tonight.

I called my dad this morning. Right now, my parent’s house is projected to get it worse than me. As long as I’ve known them, my parents are prone to worry too little about the big things and too much about everything else. That swung my pendulum the other way, so now I’m a little too worried for them. Their arms and legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. That said, as long as I’ve known them, my parents have never been ones to underestimate.

Today’s sky was six-year-old blue: she has the pick of 64 crayons but settles for one color. It didn’t belie the turbulent weather; it was good cover to walk under. I watched white clouds idle. Mr. Cobwebs was chasing geese. I had to take off work today, woke up sick and tired from a night of bad dreams. Hazy, every needle in the pine trees seemed to be some other lonely raft floating away.

Once, many years ago, my apartment was robbed. They took everything, even cracked the door as a temptation for our two cats to escape. That evening, I threw up. We were staying at my partner’s family house. She helped me clean up the mess. It was such a kind, wonderful moment. Still, it had me certain that when the bandits broke our window on a hot August afternoon, they’d bagged up our future together with the TV’s and computers.

That is to say: I’m not scared of loss anymore.

I got some more water, some more bread, it’s just me and R in the apartment. I printed out some DnD campaigns, think I’ll run one if the power goes. When the sky’s dark and the ocean’s coming down on top of you, might as well enjoy the time.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“Talkin’ to myself my homies call me crazy
Livin’ by myself my mama say I’m lonely
Sleepin’ by myself my bitches think I’m lyin’
Listening to myself cause I’m my favorite artist
Depending on myself, the people call me mighty
Defending more than self, the people call me hero
I’m good within myself, the people say I’m humble
And I’m protecting myself trying to stay away from evil.” – Lil Wayne, Third Strike


Coffee Log, Day 82


Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

An errant day – oops, sorry, I meant ‘errand’ day… Pun?

My first experience today was laundry and dishes. I lugged the laundry, soaked the dishes. I spent an empty couple hours showering, thinking, then I went to buy groceries. The clerk was cheery and cracked jokes about the weather. I’ll never trust a man (or woman) who doesn’t like talking about the weather. It’s code for so much more.

I’ve been brainstorming recently, trying to figure out what’s next to write. I don’t want to be one of those writer’s holed up on his pie-in-the sky. I got some great feedback from a friend and then other feedback from the DnD campaign I ran at Landon’s bachelor’s party. People seemed to dig the game. A month ago, I talked to a big guy with a bald head who wrote raw Southern poetry and he said he got started with his writing by being a DM. Captive audience – you see what works, what doesn’t.

Still, I’m no fantasy writer. I spent the rest of the day talking to family, calling my mother (it is Mother’s Day, after all), drinking peat-brown beer, and prepping dinners for the week. Life feels inscrutable. I guess there’s nothing wrong with a day of productive rest.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“…to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, [and] criticise after dinner…” – Karl Marx