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

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

Bonnie Huie, Four Essays


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 40

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Two weeks from now, I’ll be reading selections from the Coffee Log at Fig Raleigh in Raleigh, NC at the Third Wednesday Open Mic as the night’s featured author. The reading starts at 6:30 and there will be an open mic afterward. It’ll be a fun time. I’ll be slightly nervous. If you’re in the area, come out and make me slightly more nervous. I promise I don’t bite.

It’s been a strange week. The weather’s been up and down, rainy and cold or hot and sunny, and I’ve been up and down with it. A see-saw with four or five raccoons on the other end, periodically getting on or off.

I’ve been waking up late. 7:30, almost time to go to work. I’ve tried setting an earlier alarm but my body doesn’t listen. It’s like my muscles are that stringy stuff you find inside a pumpkin, not tough enough to do anything, and I spend at least an hour each morning carving it out. I’d gotten on a good schedule of reading and writing in the mornings but that’s been thrown off. Maybe this is just me getting older.

‘Alabama’ was on the news today. The Justice Department is suing the state for keeping unsafe conditions in it’s prisons. I didn’t catch the details, but the lawsuit seems like good progress. All day I’ve been thinking about the word ‘Alabama.’ It sounds like old trees hanging over dirt roads.

I met this kid today at the bank. He was five, his father was opening an account. The kid wouldn’t stop talking while we were going over the opening. He found a hole in my office desk that cords come through and I told him that’s where we keep all the bank secrets. He spent the next half hour peeking inside the hole and describing the shapes of strange objects. By the end of it, I figured he must have found something even I don’t know about.

And that was my day.

Novel Count: 36,238

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

George Orwell, 1984


Coffee Log, Day 354

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

The clouds looked like down caught in the lint trap. A little dirty, but you know they’ll be soft. A cold, remorseful sky. The trees have already started blooming flowers.

I went to The Remedy diner in Raleigh as a belated Christmas present to my mother. She’s been vegetarian my whole life and I wanted to buy her an impossible burger. The restaurant is one of those places that’s right on the verge of trying too hard to impress you with it’s apathy. The art’s all edgy and every third waitress has a bull-ring. But the food was good and everyone was nice enough. It was a fine afternoon.

And now it’s nighttime. I’ve been getting into this routine where I’m afraid to go to sleep. Once or twice a week, I’ll wake up after a couple hours in a hot panic – heart racing, head throbbing, a pudding of sweat – and then I’ll sit in that directionless terror for a while before finally falling back to sleep. I’m not sure what’s causing it. I’ve tried monitoring my diet, sticking to an exercise routine, but I can’t find a connection. And so the midnight terror has sprinkled outward like a lawn hose and I’m strung out for a few hours before bed.

But it’s not all bad. I listen to music. I talk to friends. I might wake up wasted but I’m getting extra time in the evenings. The great trick to life is to realize that nothing bad is so bad as to damn you, or if it that you probably won’t last long enough to realize it.

I’ve got a youtube channel playing calming rain sounds. I might make some tea. See you on the other side.

Novel Count: 23,209

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.

Werner Herzog


Coffee Log, Day 331

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; back in the office after a week of off-site training; just as brown as stale wheat bread; just as oily as a nervous kid in gym class.

The dishes are piling up on my table again. I keep telling myself I’ll do something about them, but the excuses are easier than effort. I’ll get rid of them eventually. I always do.

I was talking to a guy who moved here from halfway across the country. I found myself suggesting places to go. I told him to check out Durham, to find something to eat in Raleigh, and to sleep tight in Cary. It was good advice, I thought. But it got me thinking about where I fit in to the central NC picture.

When I went to Duke, we were all afraid of Durham. There was this rumor that you’d lose a lot more than your wallet if you stepped too far off campus. And before that, when I was growing up, everywhere between Winston and Wilson seemed like a place to get away from. Turns out, it takes a lot of effort to get away from anything. And usually, those times you manage it, you end up somewhere pretty much the same as you left.

I got dinner with R at the Taco Bell. We picked it up, took it home. The guy at the drive-thru was so busy he walked away before taking R’s card. You could feel the sweet winter air hacking through our window. I was in a jacket. I almost took it off to feel the wind a little better.

As of writing this, all the dishes are still there.

Novel Count: 15,761

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.

Teju Cole, Open City


Coffee Log, Day 237

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

The train tracks are brown all around but silver on top. That’s where the force of friction burns clean as the train goes by. I’ve always liked this, the contrast. It’s hopeful – maybe we can all be burned clean.

I’ve been too busy this week to keep up with the news. I can imagine it just fine. I don’t know if it’s the times we’re living or if I’m just getting old but I’ve gotten to where I can tell the national trauma by checking peoples’ faces.

Today, I ate lunch at a Noodles & Co. It was busy, slick, wealthy. People kept coming in from the outside. Halfway through my meal (a pad Thai, too sweet) this girl in a red NC State hoodie takes a table two up from me. She has her plate, glass, everything she needs. But it’s a window table, and tall, and public, so she picks everything up again and sits in the corner where the walls meet. She eats fast and fingers a tablet. Her bushy black eyebrows are winter caterpillars.

So after lunch, I knew the world must still be wrong.

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

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“I’ve got nothing to offer you kids but these noodles. They’re good noodles but they won’t change the world.” – Madeleine Thein

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Coffee Log, Day 228

Hi.

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

I didn’t take a shower until 4:00pm but when I did I lay down and let the water tell me about its day.

I didn’t work today; the banks are closed; it’s Columbus Day. A perfect celebration for modern America: wealthy white man who gets lost, screws up, loses half his fortune then makes it back on the backs of brown-skinned bystanders. Reminds me of a certain president.

But personally, it was a good day. I slept well. I dreamt of reconciliation; dreams are as close as you get sometimes. I spent the morning working on projects, the afternoon drinking ice water and submitting short fiction. For dinner, I went with a roommate to Remedy Diner in Raleigh. They serve the Impossible Burger, she wanted me to try it on account of my meatless-ness. I tried it. It was good. Had the tang like something had died for me, but nothing did, nothing with a head full of thoughts anyway, and so it was guiltless. Outside, NC State students paraded to this or that bar like they’d never know another summer.

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

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“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” – Haruki Murakami, After Dark

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Coffee Log, Day 147

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

We sat outside at two black tables with a tree taking up half the space. The tree was potted. Someone had stuck a bow in it.

‘Writers’ – what a weird word. Less a profession than a red-eyed cry of aspiration, though anyone of us claiming the title probably wishes there were dollar bills behind it. I called myself a writer in elementary school when my poems won contests and my first short story was printed and bound by the school librarian. Then I stopped in high school when I realized I was only writing for myself and friends.

Well, I’ve been published a couple times since then. It’s not much, nothing to brag about, but I mention it because it didn’t take the feeling of ‘not-a-writer’ away. In 2016, the sense that no matter who saw me, who read me, I might still feel insufficient sunk me like a swiss cheese boat. I’m still sinking. But I’m also working harder, planning smarter, and writing every day.

Am I a writer yet? Damning, liberating, only way I can respond is: who cares?

I ate falafel with friends from the Third Wednesday Open Mic tonight. They all wrote good words. Secretly, though, I spent half the night staring at the girl in the black dress with the boat-oar legs at a separate table; she was scribbling something furious in a bound journal.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann

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