Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 54

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve been putting off cleaning my coffee pot for a couple weeks but I finally bought white vinegar; I ran the vinegar for two cycles, dumped it, rinsed it, ran the machine with water; the coffee still tastes the same, but it’s got more confidence than before; cleaner; self-assured; that kid in middle school who made all A’s and didn’t even know people were poking fun at her about it; blank paper.

Yesterday’s Coffee Log was live. I read a few selections from the past year at Fig Raleigh. I answered a few questions. “Do you ever worry about alienating the friends and family that you write about?” Yes, but I don’t stop writing about them. I wouldn’t know how to stop. Etc, etc. After the questions, I listened to twelve colleagues read. They read fiction and poetry. I like being an audience for people who’ve got something to say.

I’m driving to Richmond today. I’m excited for the trip. I’m nervous for the trip. I feel like one of those puppies you see in commercials – eyes wide, half-wanting to be adopted, half-scared of everything outside the pen. It’s been five years since I’ve traveled on my own. I used to make a point of traveling – taking off to wherever. Then I thought ‘hey, I need to get to know a place, I need to responsible to the people that feed me with their taxes.’ I’ve been getting to know NC like an old-new friend, someone you lost contact with long enough to forget about them. Now that I kind of know her I’ve forgotten important parts of myself.

Back to the reading: I love listening to people’s voices. The way you say something on stage is different from how you and I are talking. And it’s different from person to person. Z came to watch me. Then we stood in the audience together and listened to the other performers. He said everyone had a different style. They did have different styles. I don’t think there’s anything more honest than putting yourself in a spotlight. It’s not the you that comes naturally, it’s everything you’re aspiring to be.

Tomorrow, I’ll write this blog from a hostel bar. Or a Richmond cafe. Or a bench outside an art museum. Or a street corner. Or the backseat of my car. Who knows? I’m two blades of grass pressed together, stuck between your teeth, anticipating whatever kind of sound is about to blow.

Novel Count: 38,047 (I’ve been so stuck on preparing for the open mic feature, the trip, business at work, that the novel’s gotten stagnant. And now that it’s stagnant I don’t know what to do. I’ll push through, but that might mean surgery. I might cut out some things, change some others. Marriage – hard work to fall in love all over again.)

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 53

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: 1
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

Tomorrow’s always a day away. This particular tomorrow, though, is a big one.

I’ll be reading as a featured author at the Third Wednesday Open mic in Raleigh, NC tomorrow (see above for details). Though I’ve been reading at open mics for over a year, this will be my first time in the spotlight. I’m excited and nervous. If you can make it, I’d love to have you in the audience.

Sometime around my third job after college, I had a theory: most of life is a performance.

I was shelving clothes back then. I was fresh back from Japan, working at a Saks Off 5th, trying to write a book. I’d get up at four in the morning and start work just before six. I’d spend seven hours stripping designer clothes out of excessive packaging.

I realized something: all these eyes were on me – customers when I was on the floor, coworkers whenever else. They looked on with entire lifetimes of expectations and would wait for me to meet them. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. I wasn’t trying to put on a show but they filmed me anyway. Prime-time TV.

These days, I lean into it. I like to act. However I act becomes a part of me. There’s this line in our society about being ‘authentic,’ but I don’t buy it. A person isn’t something you dig deep and find buried inside yourself, it’s the clothes you wear, the comb of your hair, what words you pick to say ‘I love you.’ We’re all active expressions of being. ‘Dasein,’ if I’m flirting with turn of the century Germans. What’s so surprising that those expressions might change day to day?

All of that is to say: I’m looking forward to performing for you tomorrow night. I’ll be reading some selections from the Coffee Log. Also, I’m damn terrified, so just know that if I make an utter fool of myself it was only an act – something avant garde – a kind of self-expression, intentional or not. You’ll see a different side of me the next go-round.

Novel Count: 38,047

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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

But remember that in order to symbolize everything to everyone, you will be both loved and hated.

Bonnie Huie, Four Essays


Coffee Log, Day 273

Hi.

Coffee: Some kind of sweet stuff they served at the Koury Center Thanksgiving Buffet; they told me it was coffee, but all I could do was take their word.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Things I’m thankful for: ….

Don’t you hate being put on the spot like that? Of course, in all honesty, I’m thankful for lots of people, places and things. But with the finger-guns to your head and a ‘ready-set-go!’ to tally up what matters in life, nothing seems to cut.

I drove to Burlington. I picked up my parents and we drove to Greensboro. It’s been years since we’ve cooked anything. Everyone’s busy, no-one can coordinate the labor, and none of us have a stomach for some kind of patriarchal pushing of the hard work on one person. I don’t miss it. I can cook any day of the year; only a few excuses for long drives with my family.

The convention center is done up like usual: two big Christmas tress in the lobby, a long aisle past the 1970’s indoor pool, a row of chairs around steel canisters pumping hot apple cider, reservation takers by the bar. You’re led to a table and slapped on the back like a new baby: ‘onward to feasting!’ My favorites this year were the sage stuffing and bundles of cherry peppers.

It’s nice seeing the faces people wear for the holidays. Painted and perked, you strain to smile at Uncle John’s bad humor or Aunt Tameka’s weird work stories. You don’t know these people. Hell, you don’t much like them. But today they’re family and you can’t deny that family matters. You’re trying to dip this moment in amber. You’re making a carefully staged photograph where all of you look better than on a Monday, or Tuesday, or…

A woman with a service dog tapped my shoulder as I was sitting down with a second plate.

“You really put it away for such a little guy! I’m impressed!”

I was caught off guard and didn’t say much, just a smile. She ate some ice cream with her partner and left. I’m glad the lady tapped me. I’m thankful to have been a part of her Thanksgiving.

Novel Count: 11,651 words

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

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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.

Oscar Wilde, ‘A Woman of No Importance”


Coffee Log, Day 186

Hi.

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

The last day of five days vacation. I spent it – mostly – walking.

I took a hike in Hemlock Bluffs. It was a hot day, sticky enough to fix every little this-or-that to you. Sun, sweat, text-message chains. The trails were steep and set with wooden overlooks. There was red creek water, gray mayflies, blurry green. Cicadas held the woods like a defending army. I passed a lot of people on the trails but still felt alone.

I took a hike around the neighborhood. Familiar trails, still morning. Shade cut currents on the concrete and it was good to be swimming, even metaphorically. Mulch got in my shoes. Sticky steps. Life is full of reminders of the sun, sweat, text-message chains.

A kid on a back porch practices trumpet. School starts next week. I remember old days playing cello for parent-proud auditoriums. I’d practice in the bedroom, my floor was linoleum, paintings and bookbacks held their ears. For a few years I’d record myself on a black cassette player. I’d count flaws on the playbacks. On stage, I’d hide flaws in my cummerbund. Sticks in your tummy, reminders of everything waiting after the music: sun, sweat, text-message chains.

In 2018, you do a lot of living through fiber wire; the park might be all around you but you’re still dug in the airwaves, conversing electrically.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“No sound, once made, is ever truly lost. In electric clouds, all are safely trapped, and with a touch, if we find them, we can recapture those echoes of sad, forgotten wars, long summers, and sweet autumns.” – Ray Bradbury, Now and Forever
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