Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 194

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

There’s a man in a long tweed coat walking hundreds of miles to meet me. He’s got a long stride. He keeps his hands in his pockets with bent elbows. He keeps his hair tied up in a wide-brim hat. Nobody knows how long it is.

On his coat he’s woven pictures. They’re scattered like tattoos. Bright white fishes spring like chickens on the hem, dancing wildly around underwater mountains. His back is seabirds, and he’s fixed old wet trees around his loin. The tweed coat is so expansive there’s no limit to what it can capture. On his left shoulder is a small picture, two children, a torn down house, and gray rising water.

There are rumors: some say the man was born just one week ago, others say they’ve seen him for a hundred years. He’s the kind of character that creates stories in dark bars or the backseats of fast-moving cars as they hurry away from something. Like all stories, he slips in and out of different colors as he’s passed along.

I heard a story about hurricanes on NPR. It said that as the world warms the trade winds weaken, so big dark storms will move slower and with more force. Hearing that made me think about a paper mill I used to pass riding with my parents on the way to South Carolina, the way it stank like scared animals, and the heavy white cloud that cast off from the factory, rising through the atmosphere, angry at having been kept cooped up for so long.

Right now, the man’s walking around Wilmington. He’s reaching out his long, sweat-thick fingers. He might not find me – I’m good at hiding – but he’ll leave his mark, making sure I can’t forget that he’s here.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 190

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend; like the last day of grade-school, something to wake up for that’s a little disappointing once it’s gone

September sounds better when you say it: “I can’t believe it’s September already!” None of us can, but here it is.

There’s only two months that change the temperature so quick you notice, and March is always forgotten like a junior prom so September is what we pay attention to. Summer’s done and we’re gone off to write in our journals all the tallies we took through the year. We’re out of time to change anything. The rest is left for telling stories.

I smelled new wood on an old trail. They re-boarded the bridges on the Cary Greenway. You’re out in the forest full of lively trees and it’s all taken over by something stripped down dead. The boards were bright yellow, and they’d only replaced half of them so the bridge was a zebra. Shaved down hearts of pine.

A hurricane’s ripping up boards in the Bahamas. Brittle houses, because everything a human hand makes is brittle. There’s pictures popping up of pink siding flown over palm trees, or flooded roads. No bodies because that’s sadness, and not the kind that sells. Also, because who has time to take an official count when a storm’s raging? But there will be bodies, lifeless, washed off, clean like blue saltwater and none the better for it. In the tropics, there’s no meaning to ‘September’ – seasons don’t spin around the belt. But not knowing the ghost won’t stop it from haunting you.

With some effort, better luck to us next year.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changin’ the minds of pretenders
While chasin’ the clouds away
Our hearts were ringin’ in the key that our souls were singin’
As we danced in the night, remember
How the stars stole the night away, oh yeah

Earth, Wind & Fire, September

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

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“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

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Coffee Log, Day 206

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

My car smells like the ocean. Maybe the hurricane stuffed the hood with fish ghosts.

I took two trips today: short ones, the first to get groceries, the second for dinner. The grocery store was vacated like a June school building. The restaurant was the same. A long weekend for some, hard weekend for others, everyone reeling from the vacuum-suck of dodging Florence’s bullet – we made it through safely. Banks and government offices will re-open tomorrow. September keeps passing. Today gave us all time to sit and think about wasted preparation; the responsibility of safety.

I think I’ll donate the case of water, jars of peanut butter I bought and didn’t open. Give goods to people that need them; lessen the sunken weight of prosperity.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” – Chinua Achebe

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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

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“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

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Coffee Log, Day 204

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s; like year-old boxes of Valentines chocolates.

Maybe I wanted something to scare me. Since rumors struck on Sunday, I spent the week preparing for Florence. I bought stuff, planned for the power outage, even got in contact with an old love. Now I’m sitting with my window open watching the drizzle. There’s a light breeze, smells steely. The NC coast is suffering, but Cary keeps rolling by.

It’s a good thing to be safe. I’m still disappointed. People look for things to punctuate themselves – break the year up into moments to look back on. Holidays, break-ups, weddings, disasters – something more magical then waking up and going to back to sleep sixteen hours later. I see a lot of problems with that mentality. You can only get bored if you’re living a good, easy life. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the dull itch for something to crash upon me.

The rain’s beautiful. A cardinal’s going bananas in the tree. I hope everyone farther east is okay. The hurricane wasn’t magic. Nothing comfortable is.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“I wonder what ants do on rainy days?” – Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

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Coffee Log, Day 203

Hi.

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

The bank closed early. It was cloudy for the drive home. For now, we still have power. The storm hasn’t hit us yet. Likely, it won’t do much here. It’ll veer south and uproot peach trees in South Carolina. It’ll water-log the mountains. On the maps, we’re just outside the zone.

I’ve got my fan going and the lights off, I want to keep the room cool in case we lose AC. I’m watching fusses of rain start-stopping outside. Before I’d ever traveled, North Carolina seemed like an incredibly normal place. Having been a few other places now, I see the cracks in that old understanding. So much of the world is wracked with natural disasters: drought, wildfires, tropical storms. So much of the world has crumbling infrastructure, rampant conflict. But central NC is placid. There’s hardship, sure, but it keeps itself below the overpasses, beside the train-tracks, miles off the highway – out of sight and in the margins. For many people – myself included – the place is safe and and dull.

Everyone has a different idea of paradise. I can still taste the ripeness of a Kyushu morning. But in the end, your home is undoubtedly someone else’s paradise, and if you were ever to venture one of those dreamed-up hotspots as your own home, the cream would slowly melt like room temperature butter.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“The true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.” – Marcel Proust

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