Coffee Log, Day 365

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I read an article about the end of civilization. It was by Luke Kemp, this guy who researches trends in the collapse of old empires. All the trends point to our contemporary world going under. It was scary and persuasive, but of course all doomsayers are.

How many Coffee Logs have I started with the words ‘I read an article?’ I guess I could go through and count them. The number would surely surprise me. My own end of civilization statistics – read, written, posted, done. Blog posts come and go like old Rome. Ah, the good old days…

You probably already guessed why I’m being so reflective – this is it, the big 365. I’ve been doing this thing daily for a whole year. This is the Coffee Log’s first anniversary, and like most anniversary’s, it’s one of those days that seem a lot bigger before you get to it. I brought our favorite store-bought coffee, set the template on the post just right, even turned down the lights as I’m writing this on the old keyboard that we started with. Romantic, huh? All the little things that kept us alive last year.

Here are some memories:

The first post I wrote was 44 words long. So short it would give Twitter shivers. I was drinking Guatemalan and reading ‘Women’ by Bukowski. I’d really only chimed in to say that this site existed. Damn if I haven’t gotten long winded over time.

My most viewed post was just a couple weeks ago on February 12th, 2019 (day 356 for those keeping count). On average, Tuesday’s are my most popular days and 2:00 a.m. is when the bulk of y’all read my site. What are you doing up so late?

When I look back on the year, the post that’s stuck to me the most is June 8th, 2018 – Day 108. That was the day Anthony Bourdain hung himself. Bourdain’s death shook me. He’d been someone I’d looked to for guidance – as an artist and a man. That whole morning I felt like someone was stuffing socks in my mouth. None of my words seemed to matter but I had so much to say. I wrote my Coffee Log on a lunch break. Before I knew it, I was writing about Bourdain. That put me back together. I’ve always been a private person, but here was this immediately public way to express my grief. That changed me. And it changed the Log. Gone were the days of two-to-three liners, blips on a radar. Those blips may have been beautiful, but suddenly it felt like I had something to say.

Here I am, still saying it.

I like two things in my life a little bit better than all the others: writing and coffee. I like to write because it’s in me, an animal, a round sneaking oyster, something picking and prying that keeps on coming open no matter what I do. And I like coffee because it gives me the space to write. These are my two passions. I’m pretty happy when I get to share them. For 365 days – one whole year now – I’ve been sharing them with you. Thanks for sticking around.

Here, let me pour you another cup.

Novel Count: 25,512

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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The people of New York City sat out there and drank beer and soda and ice water. They endured and smoked cigarettes. Just being alive was a victory.

Charles Bukowski, Women


Coffee Log, Day 364

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I went back to the open mic I’ve been going to for one year now. It’s called ‘Third Wednesday.’ This was my anniversary with the group, though I only realized that after everyone had read and we were sitting around eating falafel. I think there was pita in my mouth when I had the ‘aha!’

You could say that Third Wednesday and this blog are intimately tethered. You could say that and I would say it. Last year at this time I’d just lost my job to layoffs. I’d also finished the last draft of my first novel and realized it probably wasn’t publishable – too short, too much vanity. I’d been working on that novel for four years and employed at the same job for three of them. Last February, life completely changed.

So I figured: what the hell, let’s start over. I looked up open mics for writers in the Raleigh area. I picked the place that was closest to my home. I’d never read my work in public (unless you count college classrooms or the two lines I gave during my acceptance for a writing scholarship) and I needed something to back me up, make me feel prepared. I wanted to walk in looking like I was supposed to be there. So I made this website ground up – blog and writing samples and templates and everything – the day before.

Tonight I read a bit of the book I’m working on. I’d had a few drinks and the passage wasn’t edited so my words just sort of slumped over. Not my best reading. But not once did I feel nervous with that mic in my hand. The audience was an even split of familiar faces and new. Some were people with a penchant for words and others were already making writing close to a career. And whatever their opinions of my reading, however they took this particular train wreck, I didn’t care – I had no doubts that I had a right to the mic in my hand.

Writing about coffee (or not about coffee) for 364 days straight does a number on you. A good number. Take it from me.

Novel Count: 25,512

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

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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