Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 18

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; over-eager like a new puppy, it jumps in your mouth and wags around, restless, happy, wholesome, until a few minutes later it pees on the floor. The blend was good at first but I brewed it too strong. Spent the rest of the day anxious.

I tried to write. I had writer’s block. Lately, I’ve been alternating between ‘off’ and ‘on.’ Either I’ll write five hundred words in fifteen minutes or nothing in a day. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing. It isn’t an easy thing. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing. Maybe that’s a part of a larger problem.

I’ve been planning a vacation. I was picking locations, settled on Richmond. I’ll go there in late April. It’s only three hours away. I picked the city because it’s got a good hostel. The last hostel I stayed at was in DC. Four years ago, touring American University before I applied for their MFA. I got accepted to that one and with a half-ride scholarship. Still couldn’t afford it. Still couldn’t go. Anyway, what I remember most about that trip was two things: the creeky bunk beds; having a quick coffee with M. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We caught up at a cafe and talked about her fear of mannequins. I kind of fell in love with her. Later, I’d tell her that, and later still, I’d really mean it. But that afternoon was just coffee and mannequins.

That’s it – the first day of daylight’s savings. Maybe that’s why I feel hungover. Maybe that’s what opened up a thin hole. Memories. Bugs. Afternoon static. A cool day, then a hot day, now a cool one again. Things come back to you. Or at least, we often hope they do.

Novel Count: 30,349

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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I went to the Hotel of the Violet Hippopotamus and drank five glasses of good wine.

Anton Chekhov


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 3

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’ve been writing these logs late in the day recently. Nine or ten, just before I go to bed. It’s like I’m trying to wait for something to hit me – some big thing. Of course there’s never that big thing. Only a marble-bag of small ones.

The rain broke today. All of a sudden everything was gunked up in sun. Blue-white skies and warm skin. People came out of the woodworks to check their mail, walk their dogs, talk to their neighbors – any excuse to be outside. I’m usually more a fan of cloudy days, but even I had to admit it was magic to see the sun again.

I remember when I first moved to this apartment. I had two weeks before I started a new job. I spent most days sitting outside under the gazebo. It was an old gazebo, full of wasps, it isn’t there anymore. Back then I was taking notes for a different novel. And I was keeping a journal, something of a predecessor to this blog. I wanted to make sense of that anxious feeling you get when you’ve moved somewhere new. I don’t know that I ever got my hands all the way around it, but the writing helped.

Night now. I should get to bed. I still feel like I’m waiting. It’ll follow me to sleep. Maybe we’re all always waiting for something. And it might be too boring to find it.

Novel Count: 26,571

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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“For a while” is a phrase whose length can’t be measured.At least by the person who’s waiting.

Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun


Coffee Log, Day 319

Hi.

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

At about 10:30 I was reading Killing Commendatore in our dining room with the sun going high behind me. I had black coffee. Kids were shooting each other with water guns on the playground. The first bright day in who knows? But I just couldn’t sit still.

I don’t get what makes me restless sometimes. There are days that look exactly how you want them, and there are days where everything’s up in smoke, and it’s a 50/50 which of those will keep me calm. I had a therapist tell me I might have ADD. Shortly after, she told me I seemed pretty put together. So I’m not here to claim I have ADD or that I’m very put together, but focus and calm have always been elusive to me.

So anyway, I decided to get lunch. There’s this new place in Raleigh, the Morgan Street Food Hall, that a lot of people I know have been talking about. Like so many other places in Southern cities, it’s an old warehouse that’s been repurposed for leisurely afternoons. I like old buildings and complicated spaces. I drove twenty minutes on the highway and parked a block away.

But after five minutes inside the crowded food court, I was done. I got as far as the line for a curry stand where three tall women with tossed curls and beige sweaters talked loudly while swinging around their iphones. It was a place like that: affluent. The bars were buttoned up and the food was made behind a barrier – no sense that the people cooking it could come here and feel comfortable in their off time. It broke my heart. Beautiful old building built on sweat and labor only to become a place for people to spend easy cash. Needless to say, this whole experience didn’t help my restlessness.

Maybe it’s just something about being Southern – the under-your-skin tick telling you to go out looking, searching, longing for a perfect place to sit down and smell the wildgrass, or the braised greens, or cooked corn.

Novel Count: 11,743

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same.

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Coffee Log, Day 250

Hi.

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

Long day. Worked eight hours. Came home, didn’t work out, but should have. I ate Taco Bell. The cheese was orange and got stuck to the wrappers and now I smell like a flea market. Messy. It was what I wanted.

I’m trying to make moves – career, personal, artistic, etc. I’m always making moves. In college, I thought I’d major in biochem. When that got old, I majored in philosophy. When that got old, I fell in love and took school less seriously. When that got old, I quit my job and moved and failed for a few years until I understood myself.

‘Restless’ would be a word to describe me. ‘Ambitious,’ if you’re generous. But anyway, long day, worked and ate and worked some more. There’s a half-empty bottle of wine from a week-and-a-half ago on my kitchen counter; it’s sour, but drinkable. Me and that wine have a lot in common.

This is all I’ve got tonight.

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

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“I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective

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Coffee Log, Day 214

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I talked to a friend who said if he had more money the only change he’d make is that he’d travel more. I talked to a retired divorcee who’s selling Triangle property to move to an aluminum cabin he built for himself in Alaska. I talked to my mother who said she’d like to see Vienna someday and my father who said if he ever got to go to Korea the first thing he’d visit is the DMZ. In college, I paid two grand to study dead cultures in Greece; in 2014, I paid about the same to teach in Japan.

Why do we try so hard to get some place where we aren’t recognized? Is it privilege? Restlessness? The wide-eyed pastures of American culture? When you look in the mirror and see pajamas, a button down, no bags packed in the periphery, where does the stress come from, the shame, the disappointment?

So many posted pictures of places you barely recognize, showing off other peoples’ lives like they’re your own. Spend one more minute alone in your own bedroom and you’ll have to reckon with what you’ve made of yourself. You only stick around when the money’s gone, only pay attention to the street of premium parking lots where there used to be someone’s backyard if you can’t afford the next ticket out of town.

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

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“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” – Anthony Bourdain

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Coffee Log, Day 188

Hi.

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

Slush life, you wake up too early, your bed’s not made, your breakfast sits on the counter long enough to make lunch; twigs in the window punctured by streetlights; toothpaste grin.

The hot water says ‘shower’ but you don’t want to. There are dirty knives in the sink. You turn up the radio. Your roommates are sleeping. You turn it back down. Bone-carved pyramid – your elbows, arms, head on the table next to speakers. ‘Passion Pit’ – Charlotte loves you, you only used to hear them in the city. ‘Sleepyhead’, a song… you planned it but feel lucky. You’re old enough to know all the work that goes into magic.

Strings like a spider’s web, the bad old times try to snare you. Every night, you wake up for the bathroom, only to settle in the arms of a different dream.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

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“Wake up when you want to/
’Cause no one’s really watching.” – Passion Pit, Carried Away

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Coffee Log, Day 82

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

An errant day – oops, sorry, I meant ‘errand’ day… Pun?

My first experience today was laundry and dishes. I lugged the laundry, soaked the dishes. I spent an empty couple hours showering, thinking, then I went to buy groceries. The clerk was cheery and cracked jokes about the weather. I’ll never trust a man (or woman) who doesn’t like talking about the weather. It’s code for so much more.

I’ve been brainstorming recently, trying to figure out what’s next to write. I don’t want to be one of those writer’s holed up on his pie-in-the sky. I got some great feedback from a friend and then other feedback from the DnD campaign I ran at Landon’s bachelor’s party. People seemed to dig the game. A month ago, I talked to a big guy with a bald head who wrote raw Southern poetry and he said he got started with his writing by being a DM. Captive audience – you see what works, what doesn’t.

Still, I’m no fantasy writer. I spent the rest of the day talking to family, calling my mother (it is Mother’s Day, after all), drinking peat-brown beer, and prepping dinners for the week. Life feels inscrutable. I guess there’s nothing wrong with a day of productive rest.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“…to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, [and] criticise after dinner…” – Karl Marx
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