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

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“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

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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 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

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“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

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Coffee Log, Day 189

Hi.

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

I cooked dinner: homefries and a soy chorizo hash. To start, I chopped vegetables into separate bowls. I washed the potatoes. In cubes, they glowed like church Sunday. Gold robed skin, candlelight eyes. I set them in a colander to drain.

Two pans going, sunflower oil popped concessions at the movie theater. I fried the potatoes with spritzes of pepper and dill, then cooked onions, mushrooms, tomatoes in a lot of a hot sauce. Fragrance. I watched starch break down and thought about moving: that feeling you get when all the stiff spots in your heart aren’t holding you up anymore. Later, I threw in the chorizo.

I haven’t cooked in a while. My last dish was quick fried rice from the freezer. My hands took to it tonight. Chop, pick, grip cutlery like you used to grip a sabre. Years ago, I was a fencer.

It was a good meal. It’ll last me three more days. I’ll be burnt-skin sunsets, rust on the train-tracks, the wandering evidence of comfort and home-cooked meals, at least a little longer.

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

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“I went to a cooking specialty store, bought tomatoes by the dozen, purchased every brand of spaghetti I could lay my hands on. Particles of garlic, onion, and olive oil swirled in the air, a fragrance one might have smelled on an ancient Roman aqueduct. Every time I sat down to a plate of spaghetti, I had he distinct feeling that somebody was about to knock on my door.…” – Haruki Murakami, The Year of Spaghetti

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Coffee Log, Day 167

Hi.

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

I met a lady and her mother. The lady says: “Guess her birthday!” Her mother says: “Aha,” a bit embarrassed. The lady’s glowing so I throw out a number. “Wrong!” she says. “It’s September 1921!” I was off by 20 years.

A century…

My grandfathers died in their 70’s or 80’s, grandmothers did the same. My mother’s mother lived with us before she died. She had hospice. I got the call in 7th grade and my Dad came to pick me up. My mother was too torn up to drive. I remember sitting in the back of Lit class not telling anyone why I was leaving. I was scared of getting bullied; I was even more scared of pity. You’re a weed in the garden, something that doesn’t fit; death has stiff burrs.

Last year, I knew a woman in her 90’s. She had soft hands, I remember shaking them. She told a lot of stories then told them again; she’d become disconnected. We talked about Burlington. We talked about Greensboro. I knew her through a partner, we sat together in the winter-white bedroom and watched old family tapes. Those were nice moments, but they were just lace on the larger tablecloth of care-giving; winter-black nights trying to keep your hot, wet, scared, stressed, granddaughter’s body from shaking out of my arms.

I told my Dad I didn’t need to see the body. So he made the call, we drove a couple blocks, and came back to an empty hospital bed where her soul used to recline. My mother was crying in the living room, I wasn’t ready for that. Instead, I took five minutes with the empty bed. The last few months before she died, my grandmother had become disconnected. She called me by my uncle’s name; told unknowable stories to my mom. I’d seen her sweat, shake, and piss herself. Now, there were clean white sheets. Hospice had spirited away every trace of her. “Better place, better place,” but sometimes she’d seemed happy in her delirium. Didn’t know my name or maybe her own but she was still my grandmother. You’re never lost completely. Otherwise, why would the care-giving hurt?

The lady and her damn-close-to-100 mother drove off. They were beaming and proud. They had each other, had full heads and strong bodies. You never know who’s shaking themselves to sleep, though.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star.
It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago.
Maybe the star doesn’t even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.” – Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
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