Coffee Log, Day 237

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

The train tracks are brown all around but silver on top. That’s where the force of friction burns clean as the train goes by. I’ve always liked this, the contrast. It’s hopeful – maybe we can all be burned clean.

I’ve been too busy this week to keep up with the news. I can imagine it just fine. I don’t know if it’s the times we’re living or if I’m just getting old but I’ve gotten to where I can tell the national trauma by checking peoples’ faces.

Today, I ate lunch at a Noodles & Co. It was busy, slick, wealthy. People kept coming in from the outside. Halfway through my meal (a pad Thai, too sweet) this girl in a red NC State hoodie takes a table two up from me. She has her plate, glass, everything she needs. But it’s a window table, and tall, and public, so she picks everything up again and sits in the corner where the walls meet. She eats fast and fingers a tablet. Her bushy black eyebrows are winter caterpillars.

So after lunch, I knew the world must still be wrong.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“I’ve got nothing to offer you kids but these noodles. They’re good noodles but they won’t change the world.” – Madeleine Thein

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Coffee Log, Day 233

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

I went to a showing of Friday the 13th: Part 3 at the Carolina Theater in Durham. It was packed. The movie was in 3D. We had polarized glasses. Mine didn’t work, or maybe my eyes didn’t work. I ended up watching the entire movie without the glasses. The scenes were blurry, gags and goofs were screwy, the murders looked like you were watching them in a puddle forming during heavy rain. It was a strange show. It gave me a headache. I had a lot of fun.

The event was put on by Splatterfix. It’s a weekend long convention. They had booths set in the theater. Posters, blu-rays, coasters painted with movie scenes. Every booth had a group stuck around it talking; the line for popcorn was almost out the door. It felt like stepping back to something. Before the movie, everyone clapped. They all laughed at the goofy 3-D. There were a lot of black jeans and chain wallets. Every other woman had dark-dyed hair.

We left after the show. Our car was in a parking deck. The light above it had been blinking since we got there but it took on new meaning in the spooky evening. I drove slow behind a line of other cars. Some people exited the elevator: two men, one woman. One guy walks away from the others and turns to wave. He only half waves then he sticks his hands in his pockets and keeps going. The woman walks a few steps after. Her hair’s blood red and she’s got a lot of mascara. We finish the line and I see her leaving arm-in-arm with the other man. It was a crisp night, everyone’s got an October story. In the movies, we’d all be strung up on a meat hook before we got home.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.” – Clive Barker

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Coffee Log, Day 229

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Java Jive Cary; tasted like two dollars spent on losing lottery tickets.

It’s been a grey day and that’s a-okay with me. The sun came late this morning. It’s still stuck behind clouds.
#
I’ve been having elaborate dreams. Two of them, Sunday and last night:
1) She’s wearing dark makeup. I’m uncomfortable, she leads me by the hand. We’re in a giant walk-in shower. She undresses. She’s got black tattoos up and down her arms. I like them. I can’t stop touching them.

2) It’s winter. I’m wearing four coats, no shirt. I’m in a mall parking lot, standing by the car. You walk by with your parents. I follow, get their attention. You’re wearing my shirt. We hug. I ask for the shirt back. You look disgusted, say: “Don’t you have anything more important to think about?” You walk away. The wind blows like birthday candles. I’m very cold.

#

I bought lunch at a Subway from a woman with a cut on her hand. It was taped up but you could see the blood. I watched her work. She wore gloves. I kept looking at her finger. When she finished, I paid her and ate in the store. I had red onions on the sub. I took a few of them off. Red onions, white paper, cut blood glove.
#
I’m traveling tonight, one city over, leaving soon. Night’s been coming quicker and lasting longer. Bad traffic; congestion. I’m a dot on the ant-line interstate. What dreams will all this give me?

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo

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Coffee Log, Day 228

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I didn’t take a shower until 4:00pm but when I did I lay down and let the water tell me about its day.

I didn’t work today; the banks are closed; it’s Columbus Day. A perfect celebration for modern America: wealthy white man who gets lost, screws up, loses half his fortune then makes it back on the backs of brown-skinned bystanders. Reminds me of a certain president.

But personally, it was a good day. I slept well. I dreamt of reconciliation; dreams are as close as you get sometimes. I spent the morning working on projects, the afternoon drinking ice water and submitting short fiction. For dinner, I went with a roommate to Remedy Diner in Raleigh. They serve the Impossible Burger, she wanted me to try it on account of my meatless-ness. I tried it. It was good. Had the tang like something had died for me, but nothing did, nothing with a head full of thoughts anyway, and so it was guiltless. Outside, NC State students paraded to this or that bar like they’d never know another summer.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” – Haruki Murakami, After Dark

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Coffee Log, Day 212

Hi.

Coffee: Drip, Carolina Coffee Shop; it was sour enough to know it had been sitting out for a while. The restaurant was busy. Our waitress said she’d been on her feet since 8 am.

I’ve been eating at Carolina Coffee Shop for eighteen years, first going there every now and then on trips into Chapel Hill with my parents. I met my parents there today. It crowded. There was a UNC football game so I had to park in Carrboro and walk up. It was sunny, humid, but mostly pleasant. There were kids in blue polos, dads in blue polos, girls dressed better than their dates. I walked fast and checked my reflection in the windows. Lots of unfamiliar windows, new buildings, I looked five years younger in them. “I used to live here,” I kept thinking. You only get disgusted by places that grow up without you.

About 80% of the times I’ve eaten at CCS – which must be in the dozens – they’ve sat me in a booth on the western wall facing the door. The restaurant’s been renovated over and over but they keep on putting me there. The bar’s in arm’s reach. We’re halfway to the bathroom, halfway to the doors. If you swung a pendulum from the antiquated ceiling, it’d hit me square at the apex. I assume it’s cosmological: put me anywhere else and someone in China slips off a ladder; two-headed dogs are born; or all the whales beach on chilly coasts south of Anchorage.

Today, the view was my family on the booth-back, the struggling waitresses, foot traffic on Franklin. Yesterday, it was the same. For everything that’s changing, this one thing can’t. Everyone you’ve said goodbye to, all in one place.

I got the eggs benedict but traded ham for avocado. It was good. Next time, I’ll probably order the same.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss
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Coffee Log, Day 193

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast from Sheetz; the taste was a nice mix of cardboard and acetone.

I drove to Pilot Mountain. I started to climb it. The trail was tough. I was wearing jeans, it was hot and humid. I didn’t have much water. I was alone. I walked back down and drove to the peak. It was busy on the peak, lots of families. There’s a short climb from the summit to a rocky overlook. I took it. No-one was on the overlook with me. North Carolina was more green than I’d ever seen her. I searched the tobacco farms and treestands, highways like shriveled veins. I didn’t find anything. In the end, I drove down Pilot Mountain without knowing why I’d come.

Why do we travel? I’m sure everyone has their own answers, or at least you might stumble into one if you searched hard enough. In the past, I thought I traveled for stories. In a sense I still do – I’m writing about my day-trip, telling you all about it. But stories are everywhere and I’ve always had the sense there’s something else going on, a nagging drive, a persistent bug-bite.

The drive home was bright. The drive over was cloudy. Both trips I kept the windows down and music turned loud. I had my old iPod – a relic from 11th grade – set to shuffle; I was partying with ten years worth of memories. I’ve moved since 2007. I’m not a Burlington-bound straggler, though I’m still Burlington born. I’ve done three stints in Durham, one in Chapel Hill, I’ve settled on Cary like old geese, too fed up with flying to join the flock again. Each place I’ve lived has had a different sound, from early aughts indie to vibrant 2010 punk bands. What I’m saying is: all of those homes are stable, codified.

But not travel.

I saw a big spider before I turned around on the ascent. It was making webs between two dead trees, both bleached like surfer girls. It had white spots on its legs and a ruddy body. It was horrible, innocent, and interesting, and most of all it was something I’d never have to see again. We can be anything when we travel. When you’re in company, that anything is a perfect pocket world where it’s easier to understand each other. When you travel alone, you’re free even from that. There’s no fixed point to look at and say: ‘Ah! This is something that understands me!’ You can crawl up the cracked-rock road and peel every spider from its branches; you can crush leaves and topple sprouting flowers; in bleak nature, you begin to see your features like staring too long in the campfire, eyes dry, head hurting, but arms and legs capable of dancing great, horrible shadows across the forest floor. Or, you are free to turn back and walk to your comfortable car with it’s predictable clutch, take a short drive up a mountain, and stare a little lonely at the valley you sometimes call your home.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.” – Simone de Beauvoir

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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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