Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 49

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: 5
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

I was talking to a friend about old TV shows. Very old, cartoons. She made a joke that turned into a reference that turned into twenty minutes of wiki searches. We shared our nostalgia and felt that nice tingle you get from calling up old names. Evey generation says this – ‘Back in my day’ – but the repetition doesn’t make the feelings any less real.

There was a kid in the bank today. She was two years old, barely walking. She had a big blue pacifier and followed her mom to the teller line. When she looked at me, I waved. No reaction. She was busy with secret somethings – all those events happening a couple feet off the ground – that only a two-year-old can know.

Nine years ago, I had a flash-fire feeling I could become a father. It was early on in a love affair and our protection fell through. I remember falling asleep beside her with blurry amber fantasies. I was in and out of sleep that night. The next morning, we rushed to the CVS and got a morning-after. I was giddy when she took the pill. We went to ihop and I bought us both endless rounds of pancakes. I wasn’t thinking about what had happened, or what kind of racking the pill might have on her body. I didn’t ask. I was only thinking about myself, my own future – bright, sunny, hopelessly clear.

I think all of us are hardwired to push and pull against passing ourselves on to another generation. Everyone ends up on a different side of the tug-o-war. There’s no right, no wrong, just a frightening sense of ‘life isn’t just about me.’ You can give yourself wholly over or be in various stages of walking away. No matter what, though, you’re afraid to lose something special – slick nostalgia, saturday morning cartoons. ‘Back in my day’ only lasts until tomorrow.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.

Dr. Seuss

Coffee Log, Day 223

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I bought the first tin of this blend when I moved to Cary a year and two months ago. Our empty apartment – I brewed you quick and hot in the morning; I had the place to myself; nothing to keep me away from simplicity.

If September wears the vintage polka-dot dress to the party, October’s got the fitted romper. She’s less rambunctious but somehow less reserved. Of all the drinks she picks a Malbec and she sits in the corner where the lit geeks congregate (and conjugate, and…) but doesn’t talk to them. She’s there for the atmosphere – or at least that’s what you’re guessing. You’ve been watching her since 8:30, everyone has, and you’re pretty sure she hasn’t left the seat.

Finally, at last call, you get the courage to start a conversation, but there’s just a hat, gloves, chapstick where she’d been sitting. She left it. She didn’t really need these things. The host is piss-drunk and his partner’s taking care of him. You let yourself out. Outside, on the curb, you look up at the building’s still-lit windows and think about October’s wire-frames. You wish you could have gone home with her, but that leaves you feeling guilty of something deep and dark. It’s a long walk to the car. For the first time since graduation, you smoke a cigarette.

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

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Coffee Log, Day 208

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; the barista said ‘Welcome to the ‘bou!’ and I said ‘Can I get a Venti?’ We were stuck in different places, trying too hard to cross each others’ wires; she had nice glasses; I never know how long you’re supposed to look someone in the eye when they’re wearing glasses.

In a Sentimental Mood – Duke Ellington; each of the few letters I’ve written in my life, I’ve written while listening to that track. I’m not writing a letter right now, the song’s on anyway. I guess you could say it’s been that kind of day.

I worked with some storytellers. Well, I worked with the same crew I often do, only today I got them telling stories. One woman’s on and on about the cold coffee she didn’t drink yesterday, still in the break-room. She’s scared it might have spoiled. I tell her coffee doesn’t go bad. She tells me her son lives in Boone, they’re getting Hurricane rain, she’s worried about landslides. I look up the coffee – “Was it black?”

“Yes,” she says, and I like her better.

“Then – like I said – it can’t go bad.” She drinks the stuff and stops bringing up her son.

Another lady does color-by-numbers on her phone, says it’s relaxing. I ask her to show me. Instead of showing me, she talks about ‘Three Kings’ Day.’

“In Puerto Rico, we don’t do Christmas, well we do Christmas, but really it’s the ‘Three Kings’ Day’ that we celebrate.” She talks a lot about what her mother cooked, the hay and water they leave under the beds to feed the Wise Mens’ camels. Then a customer comes, and afterward she shows me the app. She never makes the connection between coloring and the holiday; I don’t press her. It’s enough to know about the bright, simple things that matter.

I spent my lunch break gnawing down my Hurricane supplies, my only opened jar of peanut butter on bread. I don’t like the stuff, but it’s no good throwing it away. In between bites ‘1’ and ‘25,000,’ I was caught thinking about you. You have your hair down. You’re in the whitest January morning. There’s everything in the kitchen but you toast the oldest bread, scramble for yesterday’s butter. Our loaf has mold on the front but you shave it off. Somewhere in the house, a few generations of your blood are still sleeping. The jam is so molten it looks like you’ve cut your finger.

We eat in the temporary: an in-between home, you’re staying at your parents, I’ll be driving back to my own hometown in less than an hour. Mild southern winter; mismatched chairs.

Before I’m gone, I tell you that my breakfasts usually come pre-packed with nutrition labels, fortified bars; you say “Gross!” and kiss me goodbye. For the next few weeks, I’m buying whole breadloafs and sticks of butter. These days, it’s back to granola.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“In A Sentimental Mood, I can see the stars come thru my room.” – Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington, In a Sentimental Mood

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Coffee Log, Day 156

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

The back-up camera on my car caught a nice glare. It was so pretty I took a picture. I was driving to pick up dinner at the Chinese joint I used to go to after work at the bookstore. I took the same summer roads I’d taken a year ago. It’s been one year (almost exactly) since I moved to Cary.

And you’re already splattered with buckets of experiences, tails intact, fins flapping, with the heads cut off and left on the calendar squares…

Today was the first day I felt proficient at the bank. It was busy, complicated, I worked the line with a colleague who started a month before me. Our manager was tied up so it was just us. We encountered problems: equipment broke; customers cussed; it was a messy day but I kept a smile. More than that, I flipped the manual and made a day-long string of calls to this and that department sorting out customer concerns. When my colleague needed it, I helped him. It’s a big, free feeling to answer a question confidently.

I was confident at the bookstore. I didn’t like the job, but I’d held it so long I was in control. Because of that, it hit me even harder when they laid me off. Today, I drove past the driveway to the old employee lot on the way to the Chinese joint. My knuckles always go white or red or both, my eyes are heavy, I feel like I’m passing something important but unapproachable, a high school yearbook. Cary’s already got a few things I’ve lost dirtying up its fingernails.

So no matter how confident I get at the bank, I’ll try to remember that life is mostly driving in a car on a series of semi-familiar roads, listening to music, thinking about winter, licking for dinner, remembering the people you wish would love you; the place you leave and the place you end up are less important.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Check surroundings for your safety.” – the back-up camera in my Hyundai Accent

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