Coffee Log, Day 337


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

A lady told me today that I look like a rockstar. A long time ago, when I had long hair (high school), I was at the All-State Orchestra practice and a violinist told me I looked like Brandon Boyd, the frontman from Incubus. Both then and now I’ve had a hard time figuring out what about me is giving off the impression. It’s strange being mistaken for something you’re not.

I had a busy day. Lots of back and forth to different places. Everyone’s out with the flu so we make do. Whenever I could find cracks in the chaos, I spent time organizing my office. It was good to feel productive, good to feel clean, and good to feel a part of something. I’m a big fan of binder tabs and a bigger fan of accordion folders.

I’d like to take a trip soon. It’s been a while since I’ve let myself travel. Money and time, hard to justify. I don’t have a place picked yet, but I think it would be good for me to step through a different door. That’s a luxury, but a pleasant one.

Anyway, off to bed for me. Another long day tomorrow.

Novel Count: 18,733

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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And I wake up, smell the Folgers, I don’t know how I woke up
‘Cause I was in a coma, but now I’m in the moment
Wearing high socks on the front porch

Lil Wayne, 5 Sta

Coffee Log, Day 218


Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I woke up early to listen to ‘Tha Carter V,’ the five-year delayed album by Lil Wayne that finally released today. I was excited. I’ve been listening to Wayne for 7 years, he opened my mind to Hip-Hop, to racial and social inequities in America, to a lot of things. His work’s made me a better writer.

By track three something struck me: ‘Tha Carter V’ is an album about failed suicide attempts. That caught me off guard.

In June, Anthony Bourdain hung himself in a French hotel. A few decades ago, Kurt Cobain shot himself. Before that, Hemingway shot himself, Malcolm Lowry shot himself, Virginia Woolf drowned herself with pockets full of stones. Wayne’s a part of a long tradition of self-harming artists. On my worst days, I’m a part of that tradition, too.

There was a Pep Rally sophomore year, High School. It was midday and mandatory. In between third and fourth periods they lined us up and shot us down the hall like pinballs. We took seats. I sat with friends. The Football team rushed out. The band played. The gym smelled like scented candles and puberty. I remember watching the crowd around me. When the quarterback talked, they jumped. When the cheerleaders flipped, they hollered. It was a hot day. Fall would hit us late that year. You could see steel streetlights through the windows. I stopped watching anything but the steel. I can’t explain the feeling – why it hit me, why it crawled up the streetpoles to perch like a vulture, why I noticed it at all – but as the band stumbled our fight song, and the teams flew their colors, and the girls twirled in a whirlwind of pom-poms, I knew – knew – I’d never find a way say the things I wanted. I’d never find words to match the horror of the steel streetpoles.

So I took out my house keys and dug one in my wrist.

All in all, it was a weak attempt. One thing I’m happy to call myself weak about. I didn’t bleed too much – got a little light-headed, felt a buzz in my left hand for a few weeks after – but it wasn’t lost on me that I’d tried. That afternoon comes back to me now and then, sometimes briefly, sometimes in the sixth glass of wine.

On the last track of Carter V, Wayne relates a time he took his mom’s gun from the closet and shot himself in the chest. He was 12. He survived. Later that year, he started rapping with Birdman.

Being strong is asking for help. Being strong is loving yourself anyway. Nothing’s more human than wanting to run away from yourself. Nothing human – nothing great – happens if you do.

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

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“I shot it, and I woke up with blood all around me
It’s mine, I didn’t die, but as I was dying
God came to my side and we talked about it
He sold me another life and he made a profit/(prophet).” – Lil Wayne, Let it All Work Out


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 162


Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I talked about education today. My coworker has three kids, all in school. Two take band and the third just got signed on the cheerleading team. There were a few facts that caught me:

Band dues are $400 yearly; compared to other Wake County schools, that’s considered cheap.

According to their pediatrician, cheerleaders have about as many concussions as football players; they get teeth knocked out; they miss weeks of school. However, there’s no protective gear for cheerleaders. There also aren’t many cheerleading scholarships.

What these facts tell – as plainly as a Hemingway short – is that music isn’t for the poor and safety and respect are subsidiary to beauty.

My coworker’s single. She doesn’t make that much more than me. She works four Saturdays a month, extra shifts. She showed me a powerpoint her son made arguing his case for a cell phone. It was perfect – not persuasive, just innocent. He doesn’t see the long bills his mother sweat-pays.

At 10:00, my coworker tells me she’ll be taking lunch late, mid-afternoon. I say “Won’t you be hungry?” She says “Well, I’ve got to get my daughter to practice.”

Remind me what the ‘public’ is supposed mean when we stick it next to ‘education?’

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“But I weather the storm, I’m a lightning streak.” – Lil Wayne, That’s All I Have


Coffee Log, Day 100


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s brand

I was in a hard place when I started this blog. My work of three years had laid me off. My third attempt at getting into an MFA program had fizzled. Ideas walked my arms like ant-lines but none of them were getting on the page. I was in love.

I’d been meaning to blog for a long time. I’d known that consistency and diligence are like salt and pepper to good work and my writing needed seasoning. Hell, my life was pretty bland at that. There’s a fear, though, in putting yourself out: what if no-one reads? What happens when your blood comes out and there’s no-one there to catch it?

Well, you all caught my blood. I hope you know I’ve caught some of yours. The biggest surprise since February has been all the words I’ve discovered from you. I’ve visited sites by Swedish poets, Filipino fashionistas, American pastors. You’ve taught me good business and good writing. Some of you have tipped me off to good places to eat. And I’ve seen so much coffee I could stay awake only off the fumes.

So here’s to 100, and here’s to 100 more. We’re all in this together. Thanks for helping me feel that. Hope I return the favor.


Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“I like people the enjoy life, cause I do the same.” – Lil Wayne



Coffee Log, Day 76


Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand; I can’t remember if I’ve had this coffee before. There are only so many fair-trade, whole bean brews at Trader Joe’s so it’s possible. It tastes muddy, a bit sour, and makes me think of banana trees. If you took a waxy banana leaf and chewed on it, I imagine it would taste something like this.

I forget a lot of things. Names, dates, birthdays, casually dropped stories in conversation and sometimes even important parts of peoples’ lives. I may have even written about this very thing on this very blog before; forgetting, forgetting, forgetting.

I used to be proud of my memory. When I was little, I’d say the youngest memory in me was a rough allergic reaction when I was two. I remember being blurry, hazy, and I remember the terrycloth blue chair in my parents’ living room. I practiced that memory so long that it’s still in me, but ask me what happened last week and I’d be pressed to tell you.

But ask me any two lines of my novel and I could spit the scene like I’d just lived it. Or any two lines of the short story I just sent off and I could breath each breath of each character, smell the hot sticky powder of a prose spring. I wonder sometimes if that’s where my memory’s gone – real things pushed to the corners while fiction fills my attic. If so, that’s not so bad a trade.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“Do a hundred-ninety in the lane called memory
And I know you in that lane with me
But when the light change, you didn’t change with it
And now I’m honkin’ my horn
Got to get that dead grass off of my lawn.” – Lil Wayne, Let’s Talk


Coffee Log, Day 47


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

I went to the NC State Farmer’s Market. It was a broody sort of day, clouds gray and smooth like the little hairs on a cat’s belly. The rain broke when we got there. Thankfully, the market’s covered by big open bays where birds are always nesting. We walked around, smelled fresh fruit, and heard the birds. I didn’t buy anything but that’s not what I was shopping for.

My ex tells me I need to get out more, talk to people. Well, a few exes tell me that. It’s not bad advice. We got to the market with the express purpose of meeting people. I watched a friend chat with the stall owners. We tried cucumbers and strawberries. I got distracted by a broken water fountain and knelt to take a picture. When I turned around, a pin-stripe lady’s looking at me like I’ve just dropped my pants in the middle of class:

“How’s it going?” I said.

“Fine,” she said. She got going.

Hell, that’s a start, right?

Currently Reading:
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison

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“You know that porch light is on.” – Lil Wayne