Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 245

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Halloween.

A witch’s wind whipped up the parking lot. I watched kids cramming into cars to cart off to safe spaces to trunk or treat. ‘It isn’t safe here,’ they were saying with their perfect plastic pumpkins and slammed doors. ‘It isn’t safe here’ was all I heard hounded out of exhaust pipes.

One family was left behind. A dad and daughter, he’s forty, she’s four. He’s in his work rags and she’s a bright yellow. Map in hand, looking for the apartments marked ‘open’, he’s got his hands full. The wind gets under and over, slips grey fingers, tries to take away his map. It doesn’t want them to know where they’re going. When you cast a spell, you surrender yourself.

We’re under watch for tornadoes tonight. You can smell them, the dug-up, acid-wash. It’s 78 degrees and humid. A thin blue mist sticks to all the windows. Looking up, past the cloud, you catch catches of what you think are stars. But who can be sure of anything on a Halloween? A midnight? A too-warm October? Small black frogs have the path along the stream but won’t dive it. Whether it’s from knowing or not knowing what’s running in that water, who can say?

It isn’t safe here. And we all know it implicitly because we’re the ones who make this place. No trust, no knowing your neighbors, no stepping too far beyond your front doors, we’re all black frogs on the river bank, and who can blame us when the world is a few degrees warmer? I want to love you with my breath and sweat and hands but I’m too scared to feel you, to find what’s out there, to pick you from the dark.

Happy Halloween. I hope the kids come home with clear heads and full pumpkins. And to the Girl in Yellow, keep close watch on your father – he needs that bit of magic you haven’t lost yet, a ward against the night.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Tis the night—the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without,
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they—it is they!

Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Halloween: A Romaunt

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 161

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend; the coffee came out so hot I burned my mouth on it; that’s one way to wake up; out the window, there was the aftermath of thunderstorms; I thought about lighting striking, trees catching fire, the energy in my blood; one morning to another, daily breaking bonds like ATP; when my taste came back, the roast was a bit too bitter, but mostly good

I caught a two-year old chasing a yellow butterfly outside my apartment. A hallmark card, but without all the saccharine additives. She was barefooted and in a colorful bathing suit. She walked behind the butterfly, more curious than anything, while the bug swept this and that way between blades of grass. Still, it didn’t fly away. It was leading her somewhere. Her parents were in the gazebo, a hundred feet away, not watching their daughter wholly captivated by the yellow-black bug. But when I came by and said “What a pretty butterfly!” the two-year old’s eyes went wide and she wandered closer to her family. Broken spells.

All of us are still dying a little inside, hoping to be bewitched.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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…and when all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful.

Ruskin Bond, Scene’s from a Writer’s Life

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 24

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I have this skin condition called vitiligo. It means I’ve lost the pigment in patches along my face and arms. I forget about it mostly. Even in the healthy spots, my skin is the color of a peeled banana, so what’s a little more white to do to me? But I went walking today for a couple hours and now I’m cherry soda.

Skin damage notwithstanding, it was a nice walk.

I was thinking about stories. What’s the first story you remember someone telling you? Was it from the family? Did Grandma Lutz have a secret drinking habit? Was Grandpa Dan a lieutenant in the Second World War? Instead, it might have been fiction. Something cooked up.

I’ve got this vivid memory of sitting awake some afternoons in my crib reading a baby book about a woman’s lost britches. It was done up in whites and oranges. It was hardly real. And a little later in life, the things that really stuck to me are the fantastic – Llyod Alexander’s Black Cauldron books. The first few things I tried to write were fantastic. I wrote a poem about greek gods embodied in the clouds. I wrote a breezy novella about a man with a sword. All of this was before middle school. Since Middle, only realist words come out.

A few days ago, I posted something about the ‘ordinary’ being the most compelling thing to capture in writing. I stick by that. But I also think the ‘ordinary’ might only appear when you pit it against the extraordinary.

There’s this video game that’s the fourth in it’s series called ‘Persona 4.’ I might have talked about it on here before. It’s a long, winding RPG. The protagonists have supernatural powers and fight a supernatural threat. But they all live in a small Japanese town in the 2000’s. In fact, half the game (no exaggeration) is spent studying for math exams or going to soccer practice, idling rainy days at the local ramen shop, watching TV with your cousin. Shadows and monsters lurk in every corner, but they’re there to put a spotlight on ordinary life. You stay at home and build a plastic model, knowing that the whole world could come down around you tomorrow. Kind of Sisyphus, when you think about it. Damn if that game didn’t stick to me.

So I have to ask myself: can I come back? Can I re-capture that magic? I’ve been stripping stories down, taking out the pigment. Is there some pixie dust around with which to put it back?

Novel Count: 30,740

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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Child, child, do you not see? For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are.

Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron


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 188

Hi.

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

Slush life, you wake up too early, your bed’s not made, your breakfast sits on the counter long enough to make lunch; twigs in the window punctured by streetlights; toothpaste grin.

The hot water says ‘shower’ but you don’t want to. There are dirty knives in the sink. You turn up the radio. Your roommates are sleeping. You turn it back down. Bone-carved pyramid – your elbows, arms, head on the table next to speakers. ‘Passion Pit’ – Charlotte loves you, you only used to hear them in the city. ‘Sleepyhead’, a song… you planned it but feel lucky. You’re old enough to know all the work that goes into magic.

Strings like a spider’s web, the bad old times try to snare you. Every night, you wake up for the bathroom, only to settle in the arms of a different dream.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

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“Wake up when you want to/
’Cause no one’s really watching.” – Passion Pit, Carried Away

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