Coffee Log, Day 289

Hi.

Coffee: Bolivian Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve been feeling strung out lately so I added less beans to the grinder to cut the caffeine. It helped a little, though like any solution, it wasn’t perfect. Water me down.

I’m sitting in my room with the curtains drawn but the windows open. They’ve got a fire going in the pit. It smells like someone’s burning off old journals. If only a match took care of all the things you put down.

I’m drinking barley tea. It isn’t summer so I’m doing so out of season. In Japan, they’d brew big pots of barley tea for the kids I taught. We’d line them up in their sweat scarves and the Japanese teachers would dole out glasses like medicine. I always thought it seemed remarkable and magic and I wanted to try it but I didn’t ask because I figured that would break the spell. Now I just make it for myself out of my roommate’s stash and it’s refreshing but not very magical.

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow. I’ve been feeling like there’s a warm ball of lint in my skull. If it does snow, if it’s good and cold and bleached, I think I’ll walk around in hopes of working the lint out. I’ve been trying to decide what to do with myself. I’ve been thinking about money, about houses, about careers. I’m happy with my job but I’m not in love with it. Lots of old couples sleep in separate beds, but I’d like to hold something under the covers. And yeah, yeah, I’m writing, but art’s just your mistress, always taking you away from the rest of your life, a little abused, never there when you need her. Deliberating seems like it might be easier in the snow.

I hear them occasionally – voices from the fire, two guys, a woman, and every now and then this little boy or girl that’s young enough to find rapture in something like a pit-fire, like the winter, like a deep, welcoming snow-day.

Novel Count: 14,999 words (here’s the reality of an early-stage novel: it’s messy. I’ve heard stories about writers that can sit down and hammer a draft start to end and only then do the bloody knifework. I imagine them as boring people who wear turtlenecks and drink white wine. No, for me it’s endless tinder-dates, the waking up without your clothes on, the vomit in the toilet, the realization that you’re a realist now and you never really wanted to be. So anyway, I might rip out half of what I’ve written. Or not. We’ll see. It’s early.)

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith (I’ve tried and tried and tried to finish this book; in the end, I sort of hate it; I don’t think I’ll be finishing it anytime soon); Cherry, Nico Walker

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

With luck, it might even snow for us.

Haruki Murakami, After Dark


Coffee Log, Day 286

Hi.

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

When I drove home the sky had cracked open. That peach-blood sunset, firing up winter one day at a time.

I presented to a middle-school writing club. There were eight of them, mostly girls. I was glad for that because the world’s already heard a lot stories written by men.

They were a sharp group, wrapped up in coats and jackets and pencils and papers, that odd time in December when you’re halfway between break and school. We practiced some things, I read a story, they asked questions. Afterward, I gave them all print-outs of lit journals that accept work by kids or pre-teens because the one thing I always wish I’d had as a young writer was some sort of guidance for where to put my work.

But I’ll say again, the kids were sharp.

It’s a cheesy line, but there’s hope in kids. It’s not that they see the world any brighter – from the time I’ve spent teaching, it’s clear that kids are often facing the darkest corners of the world’s closet – but that they haven’t narrowed their options for how to deal with the dark. It’s just as real to bite the apple as it is to throw it; no one use, no one route to peace and love and success and joy; and that to me is all hope amounts to, a not giving in to simple despairs.

It was good to work with the kids. I hope I gave them something. I know they imparted a bit on me.

Novel Count: 15,580 words

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Adults constantly raise the bar on smart children, precisely because they’re able to handle it. The children get overwhelmed by the tasks in front of them and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they innately have. When they’re treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. It takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. Kids’ hearts are malleable, but once they gel it’s hard to get them back the way they were.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


Coffee Log, Day 257

Hi.

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

I want to talk about coffee today.

That feels almost blasphemous, doesn’t it? I’ve spent the better part of a year writing this ‘coffee blog’ with the adamant intent to trim, confine and marginalize any talk about the titular subject. Instead, I rant at the world, soliloquy theories, absorb myself to this or that melancholia, and I’m happy about that, but today I want to talk about coffee.

There was this guy I knew. He lived beside my parents and was the uncle to two kids about my age. Those kids were my first friends. They’d stay at his house in the summers when their mother was working so we’d hang out a lot. We got up to all kinds of somethings: mud fights, sword fights, 8-bit videogaming. Our houses were joined by a giant backyard mulberry tree. We’d eat the mulberries and rub them on plastic swords for battle damage. It was great fun.

Very rarely, I’d be invited over for breakfast. Their uncle would be cooking something for himself while we three ate milk and cereal. Here’s a morning I remember:

He’s got his shirt off and the music going. Something low and simple, maybe Elvis. There’s bright exuberances of light trying to get through the kitchen curtains and some of it makes it in. My friends are at the table talking to each other but I’m watching their uncle work the coffee pot. He pulls water from the sink. He fills the old percolator. There’s all this static and steam when the heat coils go crimson-hot, and then the room’s a bit of drip-drip percussion backing Elvis.

When it’s done, their uncle pours a tall, green mug and dips a donut in it. I’m thinking it’s the most outrageous act of gall, ruining a good cake donut like that, so I tell him. He looks at me with a wiry black mustache full of crumbs. He says: “You’ll understand it when you’re older.”

I’m not a big fan of donuts dipped in coffee, even now. Still, I feel like I get what he was talking about.

….shit, this wasn’t really about coffee after all, was it?

Novel Count: 5,709 words

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.” – Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

IMG_1769

Coffee Log, Day 230

Hi.

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

All eyes on the sky as a second Hurricane mumbles toward North Carolina. We’re not getting the brunt of it. Florida’s uprooted. Still, our ground’s so wet that any rain will be like more wine in Aunt Marilyn’s glass and we all know she’s a lush.

Haruki Murakami’s new book is out. I’ll buy it soon. I’ve been excited to read it but then I saw a note on Variety saying it’s got a central fascination with an elder businessman’s feverish pursuit of a 13-yr-old girl. I’m tired of books about men chasing women. I wrote a book about a man chasing a woman, though it was also about how often art becomes about a man chasing a woman. The whole mess scares me. What space is left for love when you’re breakneaking towards Midas’s touch, turning people into golden objects?

I cooked dinner. The onions were glassy, perfect. I’m so damn proud of myself. There’s enough for five people. I’ll end up eating the whole meal myself, spread over a few days.

My roommate’s filled the house with company. I’m a hair-raised badger spitting dirt from his hole. That is to say, I’ve got the door locked and I’m playing music. A perfectly contained room. I’m not a curmudgeon. Well, not usually. But I’ve never known how to handle a room full of people I half-know. I’m happy they’re happy. Now shove off as I dig this loam.

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Step aside? I step aside for nobeast, whether it be a hallowed hedgehog, an officious otter, a seasoned squirrel, a mutterin’ mole or a befuddled badger!” – Brian Jacques, Taggerung

image_6483441 (3)

Coffee Log, Day 228

Hi.

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

I didn’t take a shower until 4:00pm but when I did I lay down and let the water tell me about its day.

I didn’t work today; the banks are closed; it’s Columbus Day. A perfect celebration for modern America: wealthy white man who gets lost, screws up, loses half his fortune then makes it back on the backs of brown-skinned bystanders. Reminds me of a certain president.

But personally, it was a good day. I slept well. I dreamt of reconciliation; dreams are as close as you get sometimes. I spent the morning working on projects, the afternoon drinking ice water and submitting short fiction. For dinner, I went with a roommate to Remedy Diner in Raleigh. They serve the Impossible Burger, she wanted me to try it on account of my meatless-ness. I tried it. It was good. Had the tang like something had died for me, but nothing did, nothing with a head full of thoughts anyway, and so it was guiltless. Outside, NC State students paraded to this or that bar like they’d never know another summer.

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” – Haruki Murakami, After Dark

image_123923953 (5)

Coffee Log, Day 205

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

I don’t write particularly well when I’m drunk. I don’t do much of anything particularly well when I’m drunk. That said, I’m drunk.

I sat on the porch and re-read ‘Hear the Wind Sing,’ Haruki Murakami’s first novel. The storm was raging, my neighbors were chatting on the deck below me, and for a short while a latina in a gray tee bounced happily up-and-down on the third floor across from my apartment. She was pretty. She waved at someone else. All of us watched the creek surging like a well-fed boar.

In such circumstances it felt unconscionable not to have a drink. I drove to the nearest gas station. Far as I could tell, no trees were down, but the road was messy with leaves. It was warm, I listened to a collection of leaked Young Thug b-sides. What traffic there was was moving fast and with a purpose.

At the gas station, I bought a six-pack of Negra Modelo and the guy recognized me so I wasn’t carded. A few weeks ago, I told a Tinder date that the first beer I drank was Negra Modelo.

“Wow, pretty extreme for a first beer,” she said.

She was a pretty girl, sociologist, almost-professor, who spent the date talking over me and looking at a point somewhere on my forehead, never in the eye. There was no chemistry but I asked her out again anyway. “There was no chemistry,” she said. Hard to argue.

In all honesty, I gagged on Negra Modelo the first time I tried it. I was a Junior in college. I’d just turned 21. I went to the Armadillo Grill on campus – the only place with a bar – and ordered the drink with dinner. They gave me an open bottle. You weren’t supposed to take alcohol out of the bar but I was so nervous – so wrapped up in dreams of what the beer might do to me – that I tore foil off my chicken tacos and capped the drink. I stuffed it in a hoodie pocket and walked out, sweating the whole way home. Afterward, I played Call of Duty and drank half the beer. I called my girlfriend at the time – a short social worker who’d go on to get drunk one December years after we’d broken up and invite me over – and said I hated it. She was disappointed. S liked to drink.

‘Hear the Wind Sing’ holds up on a second pass, just as I’m sure it holds up on a third. It reminds me of The Tatami Galaxy – light, short, funny, heartbroken – it’s no surprise I’m in love.

When the latina waved I almost waved back. I would have liked to have invited her over, given her some of this six-pack to help me finish it. In a storm, anything’s possible. When the rain stopped, though, she disappeared.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“The Rat’s novel had two good things about it. First, there were no sex scenes; second, no one died. Guys don’t need any encouragement – left to themselves, they still die and sleep with girls. That’s just the way it is.” – Haruki Murakami, Hear the Wind Sing

IMG_1673

Coffee Log, Day 199

Hi.

CoffeeTea: Bigelow’s Earl Grey, pre-packed (New pot is purchased; will use tomorrow)

I was lying down in a hot shower thinking about your cats. You had two. I assume you still have them. In my head, I wrote this poem:

***

Two lump sums
Additive of: day-naps; kitchen scurries; fur balls.
One of you is a great gray fumble, kept to profound lounging, nighttime meowing
At your own shadow, his/her shadow
You chase your tail sometimes, but mostly you’re chasing sleep.
One of you is a slim speckled princess, white gloves on all your hands hiding paws that got declawed.
A safe tragedy
You’d surely use them.

I reckon I’m stuck with
The tick-bite memory
Of lounging in your daytimes
Or napping through our bedtimes
And that one hot day in summer
Where we sat on bathroom floors picking at each other’s
Family fleas.

***

I toweled off. I looked in the mirror. I’m getting older. Cats age faster. A long, lazy day dreaming of things I won’t see again.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Holding this soft, small living creature in my lap this way, though, and seeing how it slept with complete trust in me, I felt a warm rush in my chest. I put my hand on the cat’s chest and felt his heart beating. The pulse was faint and fast, but his heart, like mine, was ticking off the time allotted to his small body with all the restless earnestness of my own.” – Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

IMG_1622