Coffee Log, Day 316

Hi.

Coffee: Folger’s Something-or-Other, brewed in a 12 cup office pot anonymously; it was wet and grey outside so coming in to coffee was a good way to start the morning; the brew tasted like those chips you stick in a hedgehog’s terrarium; it had a bitter aftertaste; but I loved it all the same.

I’m on a quick lunch at home. I had leftovers from my weekend stir-fry. I made that meal in December, now it’s January. A rice-bowl bridge between two years. It’s really hitting home that it’s 2019.

I don’t know my plans for this year. I’d had 2018 all mapped out but ended up with a lot of detours. So maybe it’s just as well that I’m not too busy planning.

I think we spend a lot of our lives coasting. There are these invisible highways – work schedules, curriculums, diet plans, there’s this fear of slipping off the road, of going too fast or too slow, of getting ticketed for not following the line. A lot of good can come from coasting – it often gets you somewhere. But it’s just as easy to veer off route and the penalty is rarely what you expect.

A few years ago, I was on a skype call talking about chocolates with a friend. They came in these silly wrappers with ‘inspirational’ quotes on the inside. It was raining. Throughout the conversation, I kept hearing that rain. So at one point I asked her to hold and I got up and walked out into the yard. I didn’t bring an umbrella, didn’t bring a jacket. I got soaked. When I came back, she laughed at me. She asked me why I’d done something so ridiculous. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a clear answer. Eventually, I realized I’d done it mostly because it was ridiculous. And that I needed to remember some ability to surprise myself.

Novel Count: 10,810

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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The line of traffic advancing towards the rising sun looked like a procession of the returning dead. Every one of them, solitaries in clean shirts, smoking, checking mirrors to see if their reflections were still there, wore dark glasses.

Iain Sinclair, London Orbital


Coffee Log, Day 314

Hi.

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

There was this woman I dated a while ago who I used to go to malls with. This was back when malls were still a foundational part of American culture, though even then you could see the signs that they were moving on.

But that didn’t matter to us. For me and her, malls were a personal thing. They were spaces we could be comfortable around each other. There were lots of spaces – including the apartment we shared – where that wasn’t true. Some people click with you when you’re alone and some people click with you when you’re in public. Me and her were public people. And for those few hours walking around, talking about this or that, living in a world of window-shopping and picked-up objects, I think we had a special love.

I went to Southpoint Mall in Durham, NC for the first time in forever. I’d been writing in the morning but my laptop cut itself off to update so I needed a place to be. It was a strange day, a patchy sky, sometimes cloudy and sometimes bursting with a New Year’s sun. There was ample parking. I found a space across from a couple church buses.

Inside, the place was reasonably busy. It still smelled like Christmas – pine trees and peppermint. I walked in and out of stores not really looking at anything, paying more attention to the people, and I saw a lot of store-workers looking drained at the end of a long season. But even that was lovely – fake, hard, unfair, but perfectly predictable, a call-out to a time when walking along a covered boulevard overspending all your credit cards was the pinnacle of living. In the end, I left without buying anything. I’d gotten what I came for.

I remember this one particular time at Southpoint towards the end of that relationship. It was night, we’d gone to dinner, we were walking about an hour before the stores were closing. I think it was summer. There’s a big ceiling light that spans the whole inside of the place. It’s covered in floodlights that change for the season. That night, the lights were undulating shades of blue. It looked like the ocean. Staring up at those lights, I felt like we were a part of something old, fluid, indecipherable. I held her hand and imagined we were on a beach somewhere. A far away place you couldn’t pinpoint. We stayed until close.

Today’s her birthday. Wherever you are, shopping or at home, I hope you have a full heart and restless, excited dreams.

Novel Count: 9,255

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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The breach between the mind and body can’t be healed by more knowledge.

Barry Webster, The Lava in my Bones

Coffee Log, Day 311

Hi.

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

Pizza at a place I haven’t been to in years. The walls are all painted with an exaggerated mural. Same mural, same booths, same broken Bud Light sign over the counter. Only the most innocuous things stay the same.

Three down drunk on the last Saturday of the year. As much intoxicated by the company as the beers. Sometimes it’s hard to be around people that you know. It’s like those moments when you’re thinking of some common word and can’t remember how to spell it.

Novel Count: 7,400

Currently Reading: Nothing! Will pick a new book after the holidays.

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Pizza is good medicine for disappointment.
– Katherine Howe


Coffee Log, Day 310

Hi.

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

It’s the kind of day that makes you want to go swimming. Not because it’s nice weather – it’s not especially warm, it’s cloudy, there’s rain – but because you know the end of something is right around the corner and you’d rather duck your head under a layer of dark water than have to deal with tying things up.

I’ve been busy. I’ve been thinking about buying a calendar. It seems sort of silly these days when I already run so much of my life through Google, but having a physical thing to stick dates to has a certain appeal. The way I’ve been living, the days slip by faster and faster. It would be nice to acknowledge that I’ve got time, at least a little bit.

This is a quick post. I’m on my lunch break. I’ve got to work late and then there’s dinner, more writing, planning for the weekend. So this is all I’ve got right now.

Out the window I can see a steel lamppost. There are two brown leaves sitting on it. I’m pretty sure that lamppost is the most peaceful thing in the world.

Novel Count: 7,125

Currently Reading: Nothing! Will pick a new book after the holidays.

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Sometimes you’re the lamp post, and sometimes you’re the dog.

Catherine Steadman, Something in the Water


Coffee Log, Day 308

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; I asked the barista if she’d had a nice holiday; her eyes got real narrow and she looked like she was about to spit in my drink; eventually, when the coffee came, it was double-cupped; ‘we’re out of sleeves,’ she says; I imagine it took great restraint for her not to burn me for the affront of holiday small-talk. Oh, and the coffee was alright.

And it’s another Wednesday. Christmas is over, the year’s winding down. I’ve still got half my life packed in the backpack I’d taken on the trip to my family. My room feels like a hostel. Holiday vagabonds.

The bank isn’t busy today. No-one wants to acknowledge that life is getting back on track. There’s so many fires to put out, ones you’ve been tossing small glasses of water over for the back half of the year, too busy partying to plan, but now half the forest is coming down. The government is a quarter closed. Two Guatemalan children died this week in US custody along the border. The world won’t wait for you to finish putting away your merriment. We’ve all got something to be responsible for in 2019.

I saw two cats this morning. One was licking the other, getting at the dirt and ticks. I almost stopped to pet them but they seemed so focused on the moment that I didn’t want to intrude. I pulled out of the parking lot feeling a little more committed than before.

Novel Count: 6,375

Currently Reading: Nothing! Will pick a new book after the holidays.

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Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.

Benjamin Franklin