Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 252

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I was standing outside the Chinese shop while I talked on the phone. Crisp night, autumn-darker, a few different engines running at low volume. A couple doors down is the ABC store so people were parking while their partners picked out liquor. I don’t know why people do this – hang like fish in the open ocean, suspended, ready to bolt with the tide – but they do, especially when alcohol’s involved. For the people purchasing, it must be nice to know there’s so much anticipation buzzing for them outside.

I was talking about work. My work, her work. We’d both had busy weeks, and the weeks weren’t always easy. She told me about a coworker who was having a rough time, how he was being tossed around by institutional pressures. And she wanted to help him if she could, or let him know that someone had an engine running for him outside, but she wasn’t sure where the line was between a person’s public and private life, what was okay to ask, and I wasn’t sure either. Along the boardwalk, as we talked, people went back and forth with brown bags, an old man in a green polo was shutting down a store advertising vacuum cleaners.

At home, after dinner, I was thinking about all the people I’ve worked with. Here, there, and elsewhere, some who seemed happy and some who didn’t. A friend from an old office is struggling with her identity and she talks about it online. I had a manager at a clothing store who chain-smoked outside the stockroom door. There’s a woman who moved to Iowa for her family and another who collects old metal keys to hang on her office door. I never asked any of them to elaborate. I never asked if their happy days were really happy, or what was rooted in the days that weren’t.

And I end up feeling thankful for the people who keep the gas running for me.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life. like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way.

Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 153

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

I had a friend who launched rockets. He does other things now, but he used to put satellites in orbit, or point ships at the space station. I thought that was cool. It seemed like something to be a bridge-maker toward the final frontier.

But space isn’t how we all imagine it, really.

I’ve been seeing lots of news about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Interviews with astronauts, articles about the rigorous (and delicate) science, even some conspiracy theories. Not since Trump’s ill-advised ‘Space Force’ have the outer bounds beyond our tiny planet seen so much coverage. I haven’t read many of the articles, only stolen glances at the pictures, but it feels hopeful to think about people who broke the boundaries of human experience, and those who are doing so right now again and again.

And it’s romantic, but it shouldn’t be, because space isn’t what we want it to be.

We come to the notion of outer space seeking the best parts of ourselves. Technological marvels, the vast and glittering worlds of 70’s sci-fi. A limitless place to paint ourselves over and over, the hope of human renewal on a galactic scale.

When we look up, though, into the blackest night skies, and when we step out into the stars, there’s more emptiness than anything. There’s a crisp, barren beauty to Mars and an awful violence to Venus. But they never know each other, never touching, never holding hands, separated by blank space, whispering nothing. The scary thing is that this is a better reflection of us – multiple minds divided by the unbreachable expanse; galaxies you’ll never see.

I think it’s beautiful we made it to the moon. I think we should keep trying to go farther. But I think the lessons aren’t all bright ones, and the human heart is as much the empty parts and barren planets as it is a flickering sun.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 141

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

I sat all day in a stupor like a brown cat curled up, or a cooked shrimp, head and legs missing, a pink glaze, dreamy.

I know why I’m tired:

Last night, L was over, and he’d been having a rough week at work so we stayed out until midnight, eyes pried off the covers, pretending to be real people doing real things, but other people than the ones we usually are. By the time he’d gone and I’d gotten my head fitted to the pillow, it was closing on 1 am. I’m almost 30 – my body doesn’t do well with late nights anymore.

But there’s also the Lexapro – I’ve been taking it in the evenings because it makes me drowsy, but the drowsy hangs over in the morning. I wear it. The drug doesn’t have me in hot sweats like the bupropion but I can’t tell yet if the fatigue is worth it. Everyday becomes a Monday, sludgy, a heavy backpack, the ominous dinging of a new work-week. Maybe I’ll get used to it. Always optimistic.

Right now, the sky’s chicken-vein blue. There’s a full moon, or close to it. A good time to go to sleep.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.

Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 129

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I spent the evening putting together a plastic model. I cut the pieces with a pair of wireclippers. I filed the nubs down with my fingernails. There’s red and yellow dust on the dining room table. There’s sore spots on my hands from holding small pieces in place.

When I was younger I thought I’d see outer-space. Really, I thought I’d live forever. I figured the one thing worth doing with your life was to keep living it so I set on scheming ways to extend myself. At first, these fled to sci-fi fantasies – I’ll live on in a computer, a mechanical body, a sentient satellite on its way to Mars. Then, when I was old enough to feel less dreams and more of my immediate mortality, I figured I’d go into science – biology – and cure cancer, or end aging, or….

But I didn’t have the heart for cold white labs and bits of liquids caught in glass. I didn’t have the mind for it either.

My favorite things are things I can put together. A plastic model, a pot of pasta, the Coffee Log. I’ve got no chance of outliving myself. Most likely, I’ll never see the stars from outside our atmosphere. Instead, I turn to things I can set the boundaries on, tiny things, things I can control.

The model turned out well. A giant robot, it’s sitting on the top of my bookshelf, right above the Histories of Herodotus, which seems to fit.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Everything about me may have been crammed in there, but it was only plastic. Indecipherable except to some machine.

Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 78

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand

All day, the house has smelled like chicken. There’s a pot of skin and bones bubbling on the stove. My roommate put it on late last night and has been tending it since then. The water’s yellow. The bones have gone from gray to deep brown. Heat sucked out the marrow. At 2pm, I poured a glass of fizzy water and even that tasted like chicken. Potent, ‘fowl’ stuff.

I was re-reading a Murakami novel – ‘After Dark.’ It takes place between midnight and 6am in Tokyo. I took the book to the porch where the sky had gone gray but couldn’t find it’s tear ducts to rain. I sipped my chicken-flavored seltzer and read for three hours. The wind came and went. Some birds made a nest above me, in that spot where the third floor lips over ours. Kids were running around but I didn’t look for them. Four white guys played basketball across the creek and had a portable speaker blasting Drake.

Now it’s dinnertime and I’m finding it hard to have an appetite. It feels like I’ve been licking chicken skin since morning. I remember what it was like to eat meat. Bone-in, such a puzzle: you study a dead animal’s geography, engineer it to simpler shapes with your fingers and teeth. Just bones, you toss them, or at least I would, but sometimes we’re not satisfied. Sometimes you have to squeeze the bird of it’s blood and juices, milk it like a California almond, and drink that too. Is that better? Less wasteful? Absolutely. Snip the chicken like a magazine clipping, removing it completely from the green earth.

At 7pm, it still hasn’t rained. No use waiting, so I guess I’ll get on with my day.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens.


Isaac Bashevis Singer

Coffee Log, Day 344

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

My head’s so stuffed with business things that I’m having trouble thinking what to write. I’m one of those new ‘most stuf’ oreos. There’s no room left in me.

How do you evaluate yourself? When I was six, I wanted to be a grocery store clerk. The coolest thing in the world was going to Food Lion with my mother. Then, a little later, I wanted to be a teacher. It felt good when teachers praised me. Figured I should give back.

Well I was a teacher and now I’m not. I think in the end it doesn’t really matter how you spend the time that makes you money. You need the money, that’s enough. There’s value in taking ownership. There should be pride in being good at it. But the details are non-essential.

The first time I read Murakami was in tenth grade. I read ‘A Wild Sheep’s Chase.’ It was like singing with someone: it’s perfect, but you’d be embarrassed if anyone saw you going on like that. Anyway, the book was the first thing that made much sense to me. It wasn’t a goal or fancy title, it simply made me want to write. I stopped writing poetry the next year. I wrote my first short story two years after. And on, and on.

Who am I? Am I a banker? A writer? I don’t know.

I briefly knew a woman in Japan who liked to look in people’s windows when they were lit up at night. She told me how there was something special – and a little scandalous – spying on these intimate worlds. We walked around watching for the tiny lit rectangles. It was a nice night. It was like reading Murakami for the first time.

Novel Count: 20,917

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Of course, that rationalization didn’t work at all. It would have helped if I’d had some Oreo cookie ice cream to eat that the same time. I’ve learned that self-delusion is much easier when there’s something sweet in your mouth.

Lee Goldberg, Mr. Monk on the Couc


Coffee Log, Day 301

Hi.

Coffee: Bolivian Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m convinced you can only love someone in the rain. Rain condenses your world. You have to think about where you’re stepping, whose hand you’re holding. There’s too much pressure to pick a direction in the sun.

A guy in a neon rain slick works phone cables in the parking lot. He’s whistling.

Dead meat steam meets him. A Mexican restaurant, lamps on, lunch tables.

I’m smelling cooked skin and car oil.

The radio tells me what it’s like being dry. NPR stories. But I’ve just got this space, this space, this space…

Lovely shadows of winter trees in every puddle; I’m over there, running to find you.

Novel Count: 6,563 

Currently Reading: Nothing! Done with Cherry, still deciding on the next book.

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Look at the rain long enough, with no thoughts in your head, and you gradually feel your body falling loose, shaking free of the world of reality. Rain has the power to hypnotize. – Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun