Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 70


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand; waking up an hour late, I barely even tasted it; baggage check at an airport.

I went to CAM Raleigh, a contemporary art museum. All the art was local.

I’ve got mixed feelings about art museums, or at least about urban art museums in up-and-coming techno capitals like Raleigh. They’re a good thing, an outlet, not a lot of ways to show your art. That said, the art they show tends to talk about (and come from) the communities being pushed out by wealthy, techno-global business and the amenities made to serve them – including, of course, contemporary art museums.

I walked around the museum in the mid afternoon. The artwork ranged from oil paints to mixed media. I liked some pieces, disliked others. Much of the art was chasing something about the black American experience. I can’t comment on whether it caught it because that’s not my experience. Behind me, following about six feet away around the entire museum, a dad and mom and two daughters were talking about the pieces. One of the daughters was saying things like ‘chiaroscuro’ and her dad was saying how smart she is. At a different corner, a five year old was crying because she couldn’t touch the paints.

One good moment: downstairs, in the farthest corner, was an installation by Jasmine Best. Best is from Greensboro, near where I grew up. She’d strung a room from floor to ceiling with a facsimile of a southern, screened-in front porch. The porch was made of quilted fabric, and so was the mosquito net, the chairs, the potted plants, everything was quilt. Nearby, a recording played sounds of windchimes. Nostalgic. I stood there as long as I could, letting the families walk in and out. When I left, I felt like I’d remembered something that hadn’t ever happened to me but was vivid and real all the same.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Like a mother, a front porch offers protection and tries its best to keep undesired objects out; or more importantly, to keep the child in. But just like a mother there are limits to how much it can actually shield.

Jasmine Best, About her Installation Screened In

Coffee Log, Day 150


Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

A day in transit: I went to the NC Museum of Art then to Burlington for M’s birthday. The museum had a piece by Yayoi Kusama. It was a mirrored box with tiny portholes. Inside, lights flashed. I waited forty-five minutes to see it. They let in three of us at a time. We saw each other through the holes, cascaded in the strobes, the rest of the world carefully kept behind us. It was intimate, public, aloof.

Four years ago, I saw one of Kusama’s polka dotted pumpkins outside the Fukuoka art museum. My guide told me she didn’t know why it had so many dots. I didn’t either. I told her that in America, all the pumpkins are orange. She found that strangest of all.

We pray together at private phone cathedrals; waiting in line, mutually restless.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Polka dots can’t stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments.” – Yayoi Kusama


Coffee Log, Day 144


Coffee: Drip from Mama Dip’s; my coffee pot broke, so no go on the bag of beans I bought yesterday; the drip made up for it; it was mellow, average, acceptably watered down.

I met up with my cousin who I haven’t seen since I was seven. He came with his wife and his six-year-old daughter. His daughter, Ruby – also my cousin – had the energy of riding lawnmowers in monsoon season. She twisted and twirled. After lunch, we went to an art museum and she drew pictures of the pictures. They were good. Then she asked what she should draw next and I suggested a grumpy pineapple. It was also good.

I rarely feel like I have a family. Well, an extended one anyway. I suppose I felt that way today but the feeling is so rare, so nebulous, that I don’t have the words yet for it. Ruby said she didn’t want to leave because we’d never see each other again. I said “We will, family’s family.” I’ll keep thinking on what I meant by that.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.” – Arthur Conan Doyle