Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 45

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Rain came dramatically after work, a thunderstorm. It’s turned us all into frogs hopping between tiny islands of dry ground. We need the rain. It’ll wash off some of the pollen. Earlier, everyone was coughing on a yellow pine-pollen cloud.

I made something new for dinner. It had many familiar parts – onions, soy ground beef – but the seasoning was different. I chopped up cilantro. I added two limes’ worth of juice. I topped everything with cans of black beans. Mexican-inspired. I served it over rice. It was a good experiment.

Today was long and frustrating. I spent a lot of time spinning in place. Not literally, of course (that might have actually been fun). Work was a series of problems. I solved all of them, but they weren’t the kind of problems you feel any sort of accomplishment having solved.

I think that’s where I’ll leave it today. Right now, I’m drinking a glass of water and listening to the rain. I’m trying to move from ‘frog’ to ‘fish’ so when the thunderstorm goes long enough and the creek outside stars flooding, maybe it’ll carry me away.

Novel Count: 37,208

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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And since today’s all there is for now, that’s everything.
Who knows if I’ll be dead the day after tomorrow?
If I’m dead the day after tomorrow, the thunderstorm day after tomorrow
Will be another thunderstorm than if I hadn’t died.
Of course I know thunderstorms don’t fall because I see them,
But if I weren’t in the world,
The world would be different —
There would be me the less —
And the thunderstorm would fall on a different world and would be another thunderstorm.
No matter what happens, what’s falling is what’ll be falling when it falls.

Alberto Caeiro


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 2

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

After noon I was feeling restless so I drove to the nearest coffee shop. Well, not the nearest exactly, but the closest place I could think of that had the atmosphere I was looking for – crowded, dark, a little too aware of itself.

The streets were drowning. Wet, cold rain. We’ve been under a deluge since last year. The rain shows no signs of stopping. I skidded my car through puddles and jockeyed with zig-zagging traffic. I don’t like to think too much when I’m driving – being locked behind the wheel is one of the few times my mind shuts off – but safety demanded it so I thought.

Of course I thought about the other cars and the slippery road, but I also thought about family and how many miles I am from home.

Pulling off the highway I saw a car on the side of the road. It’s lights were off and it was halfway in the lane. It didn’t look wrecked but it hadn’t ended up like that intentionally. Driving by, I peeked in the driver’s side. There was a young guy and I couldn’t tell if he was moving.

I drove to the cafe a couple blocks away and idled in the parking lot. The dead-still driver stuck with me. I played a few scenarios and none were convincing. He’s fine, he’s not fine. But what could I do about it?

I think a lot about my responsibility to my community. First off, I’m not sure what to consider my community. Cary, I guess, but I only live here. I don’t know this place. It doesn’t know me.

I got sick. My gut knew better than my head. So I turned the car around and drove back to the exit ramp. I parked in muddy grass along the roadside and walked to the guy’s car in light rain. When I waved, he opened the door. He looked real worried. He was about my age. He was smoking a cigar. He says:

“Your car break down too?”

I say: “No, just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

But he told me the engine had just overheated and everything was fine. I didn’t need to worry. We shook hands and I walked off. I got back in a dry driver’s seat and locked the doors. Smoke burned out his windows. Fleshy-red tip of a cigar.

When I finally made it to the coffee shop, I’d never felt so calm before.

Novel Count: 25,842

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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In a sense the car has become a prosthetic, and though prosthetics are usually for injured or missing limbs, the auto-prosthetic is for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale.

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


Coffee Log, Day 355

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

The rain turned our city to a salt lick. All that urban runoff. Wet tar, natural gas heaters. Mother of pearl pools full of oil. I wonder what the rain looked like ten thousand years ago? I bet it was sweeter – nothing but the plants to soak it up.

You and I are killing our world. But it’s not really our fault. When you’re born in a world where the only comfort is consumable, you consume it. And when it’s gone you look for more. Nothing wrong with turning on the heater on a cold February day. Nothing wrong with washing more paper down the toilet. It’s the world you know. It’s an edifice carefully crafted by your grandfather. All of our grandfather’s were woodworkers, tinkering away in converted closets on spare time, trying to build a world where their grandchildren wouldn’t have to think or hurt or dream ever again.

My mother was talking about this sunspot that’s going to save us. It’s a grand cooling, where the sun will lower it’s radiation mercifully for a few hundred years. And maybe it will happen, maybe it will counteract the industrial glut we choke on daily, but to what end? So those of us with money and power can go on digging graves of dinosaurs and burning them to take trips to the beach, or our daughter’s to prom, or our ailing parents to that closest hospital that’s still a dozen miles away? Sure, because those are all nice things. Meanwhile, the people truly left behind will watch their crops shake and shatter at a change of a few degrees. One way or the other, whether the temperature goes up or down, we push off our consequences on the least fortunate.

A lovely electric glow on this computer screen. Burning time so I can write this tiny letter to you all. It’s all I know how to do.

Novel Count: 23,882

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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[I]f I can be sure of any aspect of your character, it is that you are not as I. Since all I can do here is imagine you in my image, of course I have failed. I was as fossil fuels made me. They kept my lights on. Hence I who imagine myself to be open-minded will appear to you as deservedly dead, fossilized in the stratum of my own period’s prejudices.

William T. Vollmann, No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies


Coffee Log, Day 327

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

It was the sort of day kids have mittens put on by forceful grandparents. It rained, it was always a degree away from freezing.

I don’t have much to say today. It was one of those sorts of mornings where not a lot happens. And it was one of those afternoons too. I listened to a story about a toddler walking in his rocker. And a story about getting a paper cut on your cornea with a loose hair. And a story about panic attacks. And a story about a four-year-old that looks exactly like Ed Sheeran. The rest I don’t remember.

Driving home, I listened to loud music and watched people change lanes without their blinker. The rain had stopped, but it was all still slick enough to see your face in. I wonder sometimes which face is mine?

Novel Count: 15,382

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Politicians is the gangstas and the gangstas is the artists
And the artists is the politicians, everybody switching.

Earthgang, LOLSMH


Coffee Log, Day 303

Hi.

Coffee: Barrie’s Blend Drip, office coffee; I was out of beans so I brewed at the bank. The color was like flat cola. The taste wasn’t far from that.

Every kid’s out early on Christmas vacation. They’re stalking the parking lot in posses, preening colorful sweaters, eyeing this free time like it’s the last two weeks to live.

I talked to a woman today who just got back from the Amazon. A cruise, twenty-two days on the river. Her favorite words were ‘luxury’ and ‘they.’ An example: “We were in such luxury on the ship, and we got to see how they lived in the little villages when we stopped.” At one point, she mentioned fishing for piranhas. And I thought that must be awful to fish for little nibbling hunters biting up the river just like her.

It’s a manic Friday, at least with the weather. Wind whips up, then it’s calm and warm and sunny, and then there’s clouds and rain. Temper tantrums.

I had a Subway sandwich again because I wanted to be part of something in aggregate: part of the small, hurried communities of shopping-center interlopers who live and breath and work to be the kind of people that hunt pirhanas, but that will never get there, and so have kept their soul.

Novel Count: 6,879

Currently Reading: Nothing! Done with Cherry, still deciding on the next book.

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May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Coffee Log, Day 301

Hi.

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

I’m convinced you can only love someone in the rain. Rain condenses your world. You have to think about where you’re stepping, whose hand you’re holding. There’s too much pressure to pick a direction in the sun.

A guy in a neon rain slick works phone cables in the parking lot. He’s whistling.

Dead meat steam meets him. A Mexican restaurant, lamps on, lunch tables.

I’m smelling cooked skin and car oil.

The radio tells me what it’s like being dry. NPR stories. But I’ve just got this space, this space, this space…

Lovely shadows of winter trees in every puddle; I’m over there, running to find you.

Novel Count: 6,563 

Currently Reading: Nothing! Done with Cherry, still deciding on the next book.

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Look at the rain long enough, with no thoughts in your head, and you gradually feel your body falling loose, shaking free of the world of reality. Rain has the power to hypnotize. – Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

Coffee Log, Day 290

Hi.

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

At noon, the snow gave way to rain.

There’s a special sadness to rain that washes out snow. It’s something like a falling out. These things are brothers. In a little while, they’ll both be gone.

I didn’t take a walk today. I got my clothes washed, coat fluffed, shoes dried, then the rain started. I think that’s okay. I’ve seen snow before. I’ve been through this before. Instead, I made tea and then some coffee and watched the unraveling whiteness from the kitchen window. I read ‘Cherry.’ I’m trying to finish that book. I’m trying to finish anything.

I’ve been having nightmares about teaching again. I often have nightmares, but it’s been awhile for this specific variety. Maybe the stint at the middle school writing club brought them back. I’m standing in the hall with all the lights off. There’s a storm outside. The classrooms are empty. In some of the classrooms are school supplies – books, backpacks, coats and phones – so I know students used to be here. They’re chased off. They’re not coming back. And somehow that feels like my responsibility.

Another year closes. What did we learn? Things seem dire. It’s hard to tell how dire they really are. We have a habit of fixing on the negative. There’s a human resilience, but it’s often tested, and I don’t know that any of us are ready to be tested again.

A month ago, a 13yr-old girl was abducted and murdered in Lumberton, NC. Her funeral is coming up. Her father is Guatemalan and lives and works in the country. The US just denied his Visa to return for her funeral.

What is my responsibility? I write some things and some of them matter. Is there something more? I’ve been thinking about teaching. The thought of teaching paralyzes me. I don’t think I made much of a difference in my students’ lives the last time. A lot of them had hard lives. Some of them didn’t have homes to go to. Meanwhile, I talked a lot about the water cycle.

But that’s the trick: you only have the time to do one specific something for the world. You can’t do anything more. It’s terrifying to think that ‘something’ might not be enough. Or rather, it’s terrifying to know that it can’t be. But you still have to pick it and I guess that’s what I’m trying to do.

Novel Count: 15,400 words

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

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Melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night.

Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room