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


Coffee Log, Day 282

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s brand; rich, muddy, and deeply familiar; just like the wet clay soil you had a mudfight in with the neighborhood kids before you were grounded for tracking mud through the house.

It smells like diesel at our apartment. They’ve been re-roofing the building and one of the guys has this gas-powered blower that knocks the old tiling down. They’ve packed up for now, it’s about to rain, but they’ll be back tomorrow. When I opened the curtains this morning there was a ladder in front of me.

As long as I’m not stuck under it, I like a cold rain. There’s a sort of reclamation. The trees give up the last of the year’s leaves, all but the greedy conifers. The dirt gets soaked but it’s so cold that mud is more pudding than a landslide. Grass looks like the washbasin at a hair salon.

I tried to take a walk but got caught by a few drops. My hair smells like ammonia now, which makes me wonder what we’re putting in our water. I read somewhere that acid rain is less of a problem than it once was, so maybe the smell is natural, bits of seafoam carried from the coast containing the relinquished acids and oils from tiny things that die in the thousands without you noticing.

But I might just need a shower.

Novel Count: 14,900 words

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

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The rain lets up. The devil stops beating his wife, but I beat the dashboard, punching it over and over, numb to the pain of it.

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give


Coffee Log, Day 261

Hi.

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

I watched someone’s backyard for eight hours yesterday. You could see through the drive-through window at the branch. They had a small shed between trees. The shed had a window on it, though I got the impression that window is never opened.

Across the lawn, the house was propped with scaffolding that hasn’t come down for six months. There’s tiles on the top for a roofing project but maybe these days fixing your roof is the last thing on your mind.

Pretty soon, it started to rain. Cold cloud cover. A marginal fog. The shed light popped like a shipping beacon. Puddles grew in grass. It stayed like that all afternoon – fits and spasms, cold and damp, a hibernating storm. When the cars drove by they’d kick some of the water up so it looked like they were spitting.

My colleagues called it ‘dismal.’ I had to disagree. There’s something about a cold rain that locks you in place. Uncomfortable but preserving. I watched the stranger’s yard in a slow freeze. It was a beautiful thing so I just wanted to share.

Novel Count: 7,262 words

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

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“It was a rainy night. It was the myth of a rainy night.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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