Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 250


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Time is a toddler – uncooperative and full of surprises.

I’ve been having a hard time budgeting. Not my money (it’s my job to be good at that) but my time. The more you pour into one thing the less there is to go around. It’s an easy idea, everyone gets it, but there’s a feeling you don’t know until it cuts you up. This piece, that piece, weigh them, leave one behind. There might be room in your heart for everything you love but there’s not enough room in life.

I read an article about how people are unrecognizable as they grow older. It was a study, it followed a few individuals from grade school into their 70’s. Their personalities changed. Wants, priorities. Compare the recordings from when they were younger and you often couldn’t see them in themselves.

I was a cellist. In sixth grade, that’s all I was. Ask me what I’d be in ten years and I’d say professional: playing in an orchestra on a big stage, Manhattan, or Barcelona, somewhere sufficiently fancy and important, one of those places that always smell like it’s about to rain. But I didn’t make it ten years. I quit playing after high school, haven’t touched the cello since.

I felt good today. I’m settling into a recent promotion and we just hired someone to take my old position. I’ve been showing her the ropes. There’s a kind of confidence that only comes from knowing something well enough to show someone else how to do it. I’m a social animal. I might not care about all the sorts of status that society does, but I can’t avoid caring about feeling comfortable and accomplished in the roles I place myself in. And all that really scares me because how much blood will be left to move my fingers when I get home? How much space in my brain will there be for anything else?

The worst thing you can do is have the cake without tasting it. You baked it, might as well dig in. Like it or not, you’ve written off your time before you realize it’s gone. The best hope for any of is to set ourselves in motions we can live with.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Tell me, he said, “What is this thing about time? Why is it better to be late than early? People are always saying, we must wait, we must wait. what are they waiting for?”
“Well […] I guess people wait in order to make sure of what they feel.”
“And when you have waited—-has it made you sure?”

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 243


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s; yesterday, I cleaned out the coffee machine; I filled the pot with half water and half white vinegar, ran it for two cycles, then two more with just water; I washed my mugs; I wiped down the coffee grinder; this morning, just past 8am, I sat at my kitchen table and ground new beans; I used to do this every morning, waking up at earlier hours, getting ready for work; I got out of the habit, but I’m trying to bring it back; necromancy; two days from Halloween, sipping black coffee

I skipped the Coffee Log yesterday. That makes two missed Mondays in a row. I’m one of those downtown diners that shuts up after the weekend, food gone, money spent, not really wanting the rest but can’t afford to keep working. The worst sort of breaks are the ones you weren’t looking for.

It’s important to me to point out where I slip up. It’s important to normalize the hard things. I’ve been on vacation five days but don’t feel it. I’m fortunate, but don’t feel it. There’s complacency in success. The thing the world is working you toward isn’t some great meaning, just the blank stare of not having to look at anything. That’s capitalism. It’s a lot of things, maybe it’s human. I was talking to a friend the other day who said the thing she finds most beautiful about people is the way they’re also animals, messy. And I’d said the thing I find most beautiful about people is the way they can choose to be something else. I still believe that, but I’ve got no illusions that the choosing usually means closing the curtains on the outside, curling up with things that make you feel safe.

I met a man the other day who needed $4.50 to get the bus to Raleigh. I had a couple dollars cash in the car so I went and got it for him. While he was waiting for me, he had this look like ‘don’t pity me.’ And it was complicated because I did kind of pity him, but also I just wanted someone new to talk to, and this was a way to buy a bit of his time. We exchanged names and shook hands and I went back to reading James Baldwin at the cafe. ‘Another Country’, and I couldn’t stop questioning which country I was trying to put myself in.

Here’s another thing my friend said: ‘All those country songs about hometown happiness were written when the singers had already moved to Nashville.’ I thought that was really something.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller (FINISHED! Will have thoughts posted soon)

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He did not seem to know enough about the people in his novel. They did not seem to trust him. They were all named, more or less, all more or less destined, the pattern he wished them to describe was clear to him. But it did not seem clear to them.

James Baldwin, Another Country

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 209


Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; I walked to the clubhouse to use the free machine this morning but it was out of filters; so I walked back to my apartment with an empty thermos, ate a quick lunch at the dining room table, then drove a couple minutes to the closest Caribou; the weather was late-summer fireworks and the sun made pin-head incisions in my skin; open window, laid out arm; the guy in the drive-through had puberty on his cheeks; his voice cracked when he handed me the coffee; oh, it’s flavor? like a walnut, but one you’ve left sitting one day too long in backyard soil

A friend came over to bake a focaccia in our oven. He got here at 5pm, left the bread outside to rise, then sprinkled it with salt and oil before loading it in the oven. As it baked, we caught up. The sun got in our eyes so we moved to the living room. Later, while the bread was cooling, we went out to buy cucumbers and tomatoes to make fresh sandwiches.

It was a nice day. Lazy in the best sort of way. No-one needing anything that wasn’t right here.

At 10pm, our friend left, I spent some time cleaning. I brushed all the breadcrumbs in the trashcan. I washed the cutting board clean of cucumber juice. The kitchen’s sleeping like it’s been on a pilgrimage. It’s motionless, peaceful, waiting for the next time it’s put to use.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller (life hasn’t had much time for reading lately, but I’m almost to the end; more thoughts soon)

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To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread. It will be a great day for America, incidentally, when we begin to eat bread again, instead of the blasphemous and tasteless foam rubber that we have substituted for it. And I am not being frivolous here, either.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 105


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I bought a book from a local bookstore and realized I’ve been shopping more at local stores now. That made me think about my capital, disposable income, and what it means to live in a community when you have means versus when you don’t.

A few years back, I was hovering paycheck to paycheck on part-time jobs trying to write the next great American novel. I wrote the novel, no telling how great it is, but that’s a different story. I remember paying careful attention to how I spent my money back then. I remember when Wendy’s was eating out and how all my necessities came from big-box chains with sweat-shop prices. And to be fair, even then, I was living somewhat luxuriously. There were some days when my dollars didn’t have to stretch.

Here’s a fact: most local shopping is more expensive. Buy a burger at your corner store and it’s more than McDonald’s. Buy beaded dresses in town and it’s more than Wal-Mart. What does that say to the community? You can’t know your neighbors’ best work if you aren’t wealthy. You’re allowed to exist, but only in the neutral space of retail chains.

I’ll say it again: the economics of mass commerce mean the blood and soul of a place is only offered to those with the means to leave it. You earn enough not to be tied to your hometown and suddenly you can access its best features. Meanwhile, the woman across the street working two jobs at less pay than her male co-workers can’t go anywhere other than here, and yet she has no access to the fabric of the place she lives.

I bought the book and later, at a local take-out place, I tipped well, even though a tip wasn’t required. And then I drove home knowing I could just as easily drive to anywhere else.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room