Coffee Log, Day 362


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I took a short walk. About one third of the route I usually take.

There’s been this tension in the air – hot days, cold days. It feels like the world’s a toddler trying on school clothes. And that’s made it hard for me to focus. One side wants to run out and rip a hole in soft, black dirt. Another wants to drink hot coffee by a cold window.

I’ve been working through this novel. It feels real to sit at the computer and write, whether its for four hours or fifteen minutes. I wonder sometimes why writing feels like that to me. Everyone’s got it – that something that makes them tick. But where does that come from? Who gets to choose what passion will devour you from your toes up?

I shared my pot of coffee with two old friends this morning. I didn’t really want to. I would have rather been alone. But they were there and so I shared it and in the end that was okay too.

Novel Count: 24,930

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.

Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Coffee Log, Day 279


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, single-serve packet; I brewed what they had at the bank branch. I had the time but not the energy to make my own this morning. There was a big box of plastic pouches, two scoops each, enough for a pot. A waste of plastic. As for the taste, imagine being a woodchuck on a cold night; you’ve got to make yourself something but the only trees to bore are aging, wet oaks; you suck it up and chew.

A dead-end sort of day. You keep turning circles and it’s just another wall.

I woke up at 3am. Thought there was a snake in my bed. There wasn’t. I stayed up awhile letting nightmares in and out. Then I got up late.

Cold outside, a puffy coat militia. I’ve been thinking about rivers. I’d like to take a dip, freeze up, and see what extremities come off. 

I’m doing revisions on the book. New directions. You’ll see the word count drop and rise sporadically. Still writing everyday, just writing over. White out.

Art is a stuck pig. You tie him up and gut him. Then you’re shaving parts, boiling the bones, making stew. There’s lots to devour. Some of it’s even good.

Novel Count: 14,684 words

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

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I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Coffee Log, Day 253


Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m at the desk in my pajamas. Well, I don’t actually sleep in them, but this is what I wear when I get up: a gray shirt that’s too big for me, gray gym shorts that still fit. I’m drinking coffee, Sumatra, same stuff as yesterday, but I take a little more time with it and there’s a tang to it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it’s an honest thing, and so there you go.

In the summer, I’d have the curtains gone by now. Fall keeps the light low. I peeked out and saw a black cold ground, a couple hungover streetlamps, nobody walking, nothing eager to start the day. There’s beauty in that too, right? Something of a collective longing for ‘two more hours,’ slices of security blankets, a warm night.

I take a few more sips of the coffee and maybe that taste doesn’t even belong to it. Maybe it’s the box of honey-glazed cheerios I finished, or the coconut milk I dunked them in. Maybe it’s tomorrow already greedy, poking it’s fingers in yesterday’s night. Maybe it’s anticipation. I’ve been feeling the need to walk something – dirt, gravel, who gives a-, as long as it’s going somewhere. Or maybe it’s just my stomach bubbling up after a week of too much candy.

I’ve got mixed feelings about November: specifically, the label it’s come to acquire of ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ In my experience, there’s nothing ‘national’ about writing a novel and no good way to fit it to thirty days. On the other hand, I won’t lie that the drive and discipline I’ve seen friends commit to for the moniker is inspiring. I feel like I’ve been learning again and again how important consistency is, whether it’s in writing, work, family, or brewing coffee every day to write about in your blog.

So anyway, I’m writing another book. Not something that I could finish in a month, but still something new. I started a couple weeks ago but haven’t kept a schedule. If I can’t keep that, I’ll never keep the book. I’ve learned a lot of ‘letting go’ since starting this coffee log. To really write, you’ve got to paradoxically let go of all the will to put things to words in the first place and focus instead on the fingers on the keyboard. I want to have that again. I want to bring that to my fiction. I also want to bring you along with me. I can’t share the words (someday I’ll be shopping them around to publish and you know how picky agents are about having first dibs) but I can share how many I’ve written each day. It’s a selfish thing, a bit of self-accountability, and I appreciate you letting me use all of you as motivation.

So anyway, expect my coffee logs to come in the AM now as I’ll be writing fiction every night. Looking forward to waking up with all of you.

Novel Count: 3,043 words

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

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“You don’t know the risk if you ain’t carried the weight
If you ain’t never been down the road that wasn’t already paved.” – T.I., Big Ol’ Drip


Coffee Log, Day 157


Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

We were promised thunderstorms. I checked the weather all week. At work, I heard from customers about their houses getting water-logged. I was excited, but I never saw a drop.

In my novel, I write about the Anpanman museum in Fukuoka. I hadn’t been there so I looked up lots of pictures. There’s a big glass ceiling over the stage where they do costume shows. I thought: I wish I had seen it rain from below the glass. There were lots of storms in Japan but never one while I was in Fukuoka. Now, since the novel, my memory of that city is changed: raining, static, wet and overwhelming.

It’s made me doubt myself more broadly. If I can rewrite a place for a novel, couldn’t I be doing that with the rest of my life? My four years of philosophy come out like spring spiders and start eating this and that certainty; I sit with Descartes at a candlelit desk and contemplate. I’ve known for a while that I don’t know much of anything, but to think that maybe I’m less in touch with things I thought I did? Spooky – where’s the Halloween candy?

But when the doubt fades I sort of love it. My life, your life, we’re narratives. That’s romantic. Telling you my story until it changes, until the me between your two ears is one that I don’t even know.

Outside, clouds are coming. We were promised thunderstorms. A little out of sight, the sky bled like a new mother, birth-marking peat and loam.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I act with complete certainty. But this certainty is my own.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty


Coffee Log, Day 76


Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand; I can’t remember if I’ve had this coffee before. There are only so many fair-trade, whole bean brews at Trader Joe’s so it’s possible. It tastes muddy, a bit sour, and makes me think of banana trees. If you took a waxy banana leaf and chewed on it, I imagine it would taste something like this.

I forget a lot of things. Names, dates, birthdays, casually dropped stories in conversation and sometimes even important parts of peoples’ lives. I may have even written about this very thing on this very blog before; forgetting, forgetting, forgetting.

I used to be proud of my memory. When I was little, I’d say the youngest memory in me was a rough allergic reaction when I was two. I remember being blurry, hazy, and I remember the terrycloth blue chair in my parents’ living room. I practiced that memory so long that it’s still in me, but ask me what happened last week and I’d be pressed to tell you.

But ask me any two lines of my novel and I could spit the scene like I’d just lived it. Or any two lines of the short story I just sent off and I could breath each breath of each character, smell the hot sticky powder of a prose spring. I wonder sometimes if that’s where my memory’s gone – real things pushed to the corners while fiction fills my attic. If so, that’s not so bad a trade.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“Do a hundred-ninety in the lane called memory
And I know you in that lane with me
But when the light change, you didn’t change with it
And now I’m honkin’ my horn
Got to get that dead grass off of my lawn.” – Lil Wayne, Let’s Talk