Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 201

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I could be watching a crowded stage full of important people debating; instead, I’m sitting by the window listening to a couple kids playing outside.

Tonight, I tried to be peaceful. I went to the store. It was crowded, unusually so for a Thursday at 7pm. I picked out dressing for a salad and thought about buying eggs. I didn’t buy the eggs. On the way out, I walked by the beer aisle where they had a promotion pouring taps. Half-priced pints, tipsy Thursdays. There was a bustle around the bar. There was also one table with two chairs. It was halfway into the dairy aisle. A couple had the table. She was sipping quietly, he was on his phone.

At home, I dressed my salad and added half a can black beans. It’s good to eat cold, crunchy food sometimes. I thought about a rainforest. Less about the fires than about those nature shows we used to watch as kids.

At work, we all got together in the lobby, me and my coworkers. A slow day, so we had time. They were worried about Trump. The election was on everyone’s lips. They made some points and I agreed with them, mostly. But I couldn’t help draining out of the room and into the summer sunshine outside, the tops of elm trees, yesterday’s cut grass. I felt bad for being distracted. I was trying to be peaceful.

The conversation got heated. Three women who voted for a woman who should have won by the numbers, but didn’t. The burnt bones in their throats brought me back down. Oh – peace isn’t on offer to all of us, I realized.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Damn real live people, getting in the way of peaceful ideals.

John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 46

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Since it’s Spring, and cool, and a little cloudy, I took a short walk after work today. Nothing special, just a circuit around the apartment complex. There were weeks last summer where I would take a walk like this every day, but with winter and rampant rain for the last few months my strolls had tapered off.

Here’s what I saw:

Two kids were swinging on the swing set. They were both wearing blue, though not the same shade, and they were both talking loudly about school, though with different pitched voices. Isn’t it nice how kids become each other when they’re playing together? It’s easy to slip together with someone when you’re still learning who you are.

I saw a lot of crushed flowers on the creek banks. It rained so hard yesterday that trees were coming down. The creek flooded. The wind walloped. The brightest spring colors were washed into the mud. This means we’re close to summer. Another couple weeks and the heat-stink will be back. Oh well. Spring’s mostly beautiful because it doesn’t last.

A family of four was walking with their dog, a big black German shepherd, and the dad had to reign the dog in when it saw me. It started barking and slobbering. It was trying to protect it’s family. It looked very young. It hasn’t been around long enough to know I spend just about every day choosing to not be a threat. That’s what being human’s all about, right? The choice to avoid violence? Puppies can’t do that without a leash and a firm hand.

Two geese went by as I got home. They shared a long, sad honk. They looked like they were headed somewhere, maybe farther north for summer. I don’t know what they were sad about, what they were missing.

Novel Count: 37,208

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are (the geese), a wavering V headed directly over the hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.
They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.

Wallace Stegner


Coffee Log, Day 341

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

I’m thinking about getting another lamp. One for the kitchen, so that when I take my coffee in the mornings I can be lit up by something other than the bright-as-venus florescent.

The older I get, the more I come to appreciate a certain kind of atmosphere. I want space and windows and the right sort of light to let my mind relax. When I was younger, I cared about those same things, but I was content to let them come to me. Now there’s a desperation. A need for control. You’ve only got so much time so you want to fill it with the right things.

About half of Killing Commendatore is dreamy descriptions of fancy houses in a Japanese mountain range. Murakami spends whole chapters talking about the couches. It’s a little boring but it’s supposed to be. It’s an old man’s book. It’s written for people that understand how important it is to look at a piece of furniture and know it’s not going anywhere; to be in a place that won’t slip out from under you.

I’ve lived in relatively few places, but I’ve lived in each of them furiously. I’ve never hung a picture. If the walls weren’t the right color, I wouldn’t paint them. Always in the act of leaving. But eventually you realize that there’s never going to be a destination. You’ll never get off the train. All you can do is tinker with your cabin so that it suits you – if not perfectly, then a little better than it did before.

Novel Count: 19,974

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

When people photograph an object, they often put a pack of cigarettes next to it to give the viewer a sense of the object’s actual size, but the pack of cigarettes next to the images in my memory expanded and contracted, depending on my mood at the time. Like the objects and events in constant flux, or perhaps in opposition to them, what should have been a fixed yardstick inside the framework of my memory seemed instead to be in perpetual motion.

Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore


Coffee Log, Day 334

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

MLK died so you and I could have a Monday holiday doing nothing much but hanging around the house in sweatpants. That’s not the narrative he or his shooter was trying to tell, but I’ll bet good money it’s the one most of us are living today.

I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing. There are many ways to honor someone.

I cooked a good dinner. I put in so much basil that my fingers still stink like a July garden. And I read a book and wrote a little, drank cheap whiskey, watched this one lady who always walks her dog cross the bridge a few times, dog crossing behind. A simple, pleasant day.

It’s easy to become bankrupt of your own responsibilities. There are so many problems to solve – personal problems, national problems, world problems – that you declare an ineptitude. You pull the blankets over your head and stop watching anything but what’s in front of you.

The flip side of that is the burn out. I knew this woman who worked herself to a fury. She was a teacher. In her spare time, she participated in every march for justice that popped up in the triangle. Eventually, it all caught up with her. She quit her job and now she has a small garden in the back of a small house she shares with a French bulldog and the love of her life. She doesn’t fight too much anymore, but who could blame her? You only have so much sweat to spill until you shrivel up.

I try to pick good battles. Even when I pick them, though, I end up feeling like I haven’t done enough. At this very moment, there are still kids locked in bright hot cages on the border. In fact, there was just an article saying the numbers of minors who were separated from their families was vastly underestimated last year. What I mean is: we still live in sin. Only it’s not god or the devil that guides us to it, just human hands that might be our neighbors, or might be our own. We’re all equally responsible.

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with cutting up basil and watching it burn. There’s nothing wrong with having whiskey on a day off. In fact, those simple things are what all the fights are for – a right to live peacefully and with minor comforts.

So I don’t know if I did a good job celebrating the legacy of King. He’s a powerful symbol and was an even more powerful human voice. But I’d like to think that by writing this, at least, I can share a bit of what peace is about. That being good starts with holding two tight threads: one tied to the necks of everyone suffering; the other on a knot of garlic, or a loaf of wheat bread.

Novel Count: 17,508

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Coffee Log, Day 155

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Java Jive; it was simple. I liked it.

Before work, I went to Java Jive Cary. The cafe’s about half way between my apartment and the bank branch. I hadn’t made coffee the night before, needed a pick-up. I left with enough time to get there, get a drink, sit down, read. I did it all. Everyone else who came by was over 50 and a regular.

I sat outside. Before noon, the city hadn’t heated up. The morning had that crisp sun, that yellow sun, that blue sun. A few cars were switching lanes. The brick building held shade over me.

I thought about the value of relaxation. I have a decent amount of free time, at least compared to some, but I fill that time like decanters at a wine festival. If I’m not working on an objective, I’m entertaining myself. If I’m not doing either, I’m restlessly bored.

At lunch, I walked to the Publix and bought a Granny Smith apple. I ate it outside by the trashcans. I made myself keep my phone in a pocket. I watched people rushing around. The air had thickened. We were all in molasses. The apple was bad in many spots, mealy in others, I ate it all anyway. Just a core, I held it close to my eyes – there’s the spot I bit you; there’s your brown dead flesh, the sinews I tore open; one spot was slick scarlet; I’d cut a gum.

On the way back to work, I ran into a woman who had been a regular at the Barnes and Noble Cafe in Burlington. She ordered coffee usually, mocha’s on good days, her name was the same as my coworker and they laughed about it. The woman recognized me and we talked. Eventually, I recognized her. She has a strange way of talking, like she’s tripping down a flight of stairs. Now she works at a spa. She told me I had nice eyebrows. I thanked her.

When I’m done writing this, I’m going to put some shorts on and take a walk. I can see the heat rising off our gazebo. Comfort isn’t everything. Neither is excitement. Deep blue sky: let me know you like the hands of my grandfathers, desperately working clay.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN; It’s good and powerful that families are being reunited but until EVERY family is reunite we must keep fighting.

“It does good also to take walks out of doors, that our spirits may be raised and refreshed by the open air and fresh breeze: sometimes we gain strength by driving in a carriage, by travel, by change of air, or by social meals and a more generous allowance of wine.” – Seneca

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