Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 178

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

My roommate was skinning chicken on the kitchen counter. She had a long sharp knife, a pair of rubber gloves, and a trashbag for the bones. Little pink lumps like a bunch of beetles turned inside-out. They crawled around the counter and registered for a one-night residency teaching anatomy classes in my head.

I’d been thinking about cooking something tonight, but instead I went with cereal.

My thumb’s mostly healed from where I’d cut it chopping onions two weeks ago. The skin’s a little lower like a crater and it’s very red and smooth. I imagine I’ll have a scar for a while. Call me twisted, but there’s something seductive to me about having small scars. Knicks and marks that only you and people closest to you will ever notice – notching on the wall of a body prison.

I talked to a man today who’s moving to Wilmington. It’s got good business for him and he wanted to be closer to the ocean. Eventually, that plastic bag full of chicken bones might find itself in the same Atlantic waters. It’ll travel on the back of a garbage truck, settle in a landfill, let in enough light and moisture for the bones to decompose (but only partially), then, during a bad thunderstorm or errant hurricane, it will wash off the heaps of trash and run from creek to creek to the nearest river, tumbling in the waves, occasionally getting caught on overturned trees or submerged boulders, but finally – inevitably – it’ll get swept out to sea. One morning, years from now, the man who moved to Wilmington might find it, but will he recognize it for what it was? Or will all that time in the ocean have stripped it so clean that it’s barely a trashbag, much less a bag of chicken bones?

There’s no telling what comes back to you. And often, we don’t even recognize it when it does.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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I am always trying to convey something that can’t be conveyed, to explain something which is inexplicable, to tell about something I have in my bones, something which can be expressed only in the bones.

Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 128

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

There’s a market in Asheville that sells arts and crafts. It’s on a streetcorner beside a big old building that houses an indoor mall. The stalls are bright-colored and both times I visited they smelled like incense. Now that the city’s burning up it’s oil for weekend go-getters, I’m sure the stalls are selling more; vacationers are the kind of people who need to bring things home with them. But the way I remember, it, the market was lonely.

I once watched a movie about a Japanese woman who’d gone to give humanitarian aid to Afghanistan during the early years of the American war. When she came home, she was shunned by her family, scoffed at by the townsmen, and had trouble finding a job. I had to read the liner to figure out why they were so harsh with her. The notes said it had something to do with a prejudice against external involvement, particularly related to war. I don’t know if this is true. But I liked my first viewing a bit better, where a woman comes home to bleak streets the color of squid ink, and where anyone who passes pulls their baseball cap down around the eyes.

I like drifting back to the lonely spaces; the frost-choked feeling of somewhere too forgotten to grow, too proud to putter out completely.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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…so too, her glazed ceramics and her macramé are interchangeable with those executed by her women friends in the area, who take courses at the Mill Brook Valley Arts Co-op and whose houses are gradually filling with their creations, like ships gradually sinking beneath the weight of ever-more cargo.

Joyce Carol Oates, Jack of Spades

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 124

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

You never know the moments that’ll stick with you while you’re living them. Well, okay, sometimes you do – your first taste of ice cream, sweet things that don’t go away. But for all the rest, it’s like filling up a slow-cooker, so only years on do you know what your life truly tasted like.

There was a koi pond at Salem College, about six feet long, three feet wide. I say ‘was’ but I assume it’s still there. The pond was next to the student affairs office. It was in the middle of the small campus. There were two benches beside it and a bluster of greenery poking over one end. On hot days, the greenery attracted hornets and flies. On cooler days, it drew in the mosquitoes.

I remember that pond vividly, even though it’s been years since I’ve seen it. I went to a summer camp on Salem’s Campus when I was 17, but I first met the pond a year before. This was 2006. I was visiting a friend a grade ahead of me. She was at Governor’s School for orchestra, she played the violin. I was young and dumb and had brought roses for her performance but I left them in the car. That’s what you do when you’re 16 – you leave behind what’s most important.

After the concert, we hung around for half an hour getting to know each other again. It had been a year since I’d seen her and everything changes. We walked along the campus walks and ended up by the koi pond. Some of her friends had gathered there to celebrate the concert. They were orchestra kids so everyone was in tuxes except for me. I felt out of touch. I was a Christian in Tibet, holding hard to my own foreign faith.

I couldn’t tell you what any of us talked about. I couldn’t tell you what I did or didn’t say to the girl. But I remember the pond – cut to triangles by the amber lampposts, water running back and forth like aired blankets – it looked like where I wanted to be, and the great gulf of all the oceans that kept me from it.

The next year, at the camp myself, I spend much more time around the koi pond, and most notably I recall running away from yellow-jackets. Things change. But nothing digs so deep that it scoops out your most important memories.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

Matsuo Basho

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 95

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

There was a highway beside the neighborhood where I grew up. It didn’t look like a highway and everyone called it Church St. It was two lanes most places. There were many spots you couldn’t go faster than 35. But take it far enough East and you’d hit the Atlantic, far enough West and you’d be in California. It’s strange to think of that packed asphalt having the power to take you to a different time zone.

The NC DOT is currently trying to extend Interstate 540 through the southern half of the Triangle. They want it to be a beltline, something to take the edge off the traffic and accelerate peripheral growth. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it isn’t. Either way, the project involves tearing down 1800 acres of forests and buying out 209 homes with eminent domain. That’s a lot of change for a road that won’t even take you to California.

Tonight, two kids were playing on the swings at my apartment complex. The sun had gone down enough to take the edge off another hot day. The kids ran, jumped, and twisted up the swings like two steel hangs of DNA. Neither of them’s thinking of a highway, or property laws, or the Atlantic, but I wonder what this town will look like when they’re my age? What will be the ratio of neighborhoods to highways?

Currently Reading: Have picked a new book but not had the chance to start it yet; more info to come

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The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.

Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 92

Hi.

Coffee: Black Drip, Waffle House; I had three cups and half of a fourth; I asked the waitress when she was going to get some rest; she said she’d gotten up at four when her twelve year old wanted to talk; she said she was working until 2pm but would be too wired to sleep when she got home; instead, she asked me to take a nap for her, and that that would be enough; I haven’t taken that nap yet; the coffee was woody like a whiskey that’s spent a long time on a dark, warm, dusty shelf.

I got lunch with an old friend at an old restaurant. She said it felt weird to meet again. I agreed. She ordered chicken soup with avocado slices and I got a veggie taco concoction with spinach and cheese. At first, I felt like I was floating on a body of deep water. I had my arms out, legs spread, focusing on every inch of my body to try and stay buoyant. Then an hour passed. And another. And I felt my limbs slip and my head pass under deep water, remembering why we were friends.

It’s nice to talk with a person that’s easy to talk with.

Currently Reading: NOTHING! will pick a new book soon

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Reunions are the first day of school all over again. Time casts away familiarity and replaces it with warm confusion.

Stewart Stafford

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 50

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 4
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

The AC froze in our apartment. You’d think that’s a good thing – icy cool – but it’s not as good as it sounds. The coils froze over and the ice warped the filter. We called maintenance. A tech came over. He did what he could. A nice thing to have someone help you on a Saturday.

Anyway, the problem’s not fixed so now it’s just set to fan. Thankfully we’re still early enough in the year to have cool nights. I thought about cracking the windows but there’s too much pollen. I’m noticing the lack of sound in the apartment now that the AC’s not blowing. Sometimes it’s nice to miss something.

I stayed in Oita for one week when I was working in Japan. We had some camps at a rec center there. Oita’s in the mountains and surrounded by verdant fields. Picturesque, except for the hot sun and endless bugs.

Like most of the places we stayed, the rec center had no AC. We slept on the floor with five of us to a room. All night long, our sheets crawled with tiny critters. Working those summer camps, everyone was so dead tired that they usually fell asleep right away after the long days. But in Oita we’d stay up telling stories by flashlight. It was something to do, something to take your mind off the heat. We’d drop off gradually, talking quieter and quieter, until everyone was asleep.

Summer will be here soon. NC’s no joke when it gets going. Here’s crossing fingers our AC gets fixed soon.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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I guess I’m supposed to sit here in this oven like it’s 1950, hoping I don’t go to hell for stealing a church fan.

K. Martin Beckner, Chips of Red Paint