Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 259


Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

It was a bitter cold. The wind blowed like Ikea. All bluster, taupes and blues, thinner when you’re in it than looking on from the outside. I watched a small yellow dog run laps around her owner. I thought: we’re stuck together, little dog, the same home, same ground, you and me, like it or not.

I worked today. It’s a Saturday. That always throws me off. So instead here’s a story: I used to work at a coffee shop tucked up one level in a Barnes and Noble. It had its own podium, tables, chairs, but you could see the whole store so you felt both a part and apart. When it was busy, I smoked lattes off the steamer. When it wasn’t, I’d watch bits of rain come down the windows.

There was one customer who always ordered a hot cider. He came alone, mostly, once with his daughter. He had a bald head and black eyes and wore button-ups, was important, or looked that way, and his vice was the hot juice, that sugar. Unlike the other regulars he wouldn’t talk to you and if you asked his name he wouldn’t repeat it. He wasn’t sour, just stoic, looking past us, self-absorbed, but in an endearing way, like school teachers, or marble statues. Late nights, closing the cafe on a Saturday, he’d show, and we’d talk (about the order), and then he’d leave, and I’d forget about him, pass him out, pass the gallstone, until I saw him again. But now that he’s so far gone from me, I catch stories going over in my mind of his face and features, because it bugs me, wondering who he is, this person I used to see so regularly, and what he’s doing now.

That was it, the whole story. Was it alright?

Sicker winds in the evening. The kind you want to hold, wrap in blankets, inhale, a sense of camaraderie.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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On the way down the hill we walked three abreast in the cobblestone street, drunk and laughing and talking like men who knew they would separate at dawn and travel to the far corners of the earth.

Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 133


Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I almost forgot to post this today. I woke up early and went to work. I came home and crashed. I spent most of my hours in an almost stupor. Here and there, our temporary puppy nibbled at my toes to wake me up.

The most beautiful thing about today was wading through the scraps of 4th of July fervor. I talked to a guy who’d just come back from Europe. I talked to a number of people who’d taken burgers to grill on the beach. There’s an anxious look to people who’ve gotten off vacation. Their eyes are trying to find any cool pillow and soft mattress, a couch and two hours of serial dramas, the privacy of their own bed. They’ve had their great crusades into the wider world and come back a little bloodied, no matter how much fun they’ve had. For the first time since this same vacation last year, they feel comfortable doing nothing, having seen the world, tried it on, and found it doesn’t fit as perfectly as they were expecting.

I didn’t go anywhere for the 4th. I haven’t taken a vacation. In fact, I’ve mostly been working. But I still want to feel like all those vacationers coming home. So, that’s where I’ll end it – goodnight.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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When people went on vacation, they shed their home skins, thought they could be a new person.

Aimee Friedman, Sea Change

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 112


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve had this batch of beans for a couple months; I’ve been drinking other stuff; this morning seemed like a nostalgic time, so I ground a batch to try again; it tasted more sour than I remember; nothing’s quite like your memories

I scared a small bird two times today. That’s a thing I’m good at – scaring small birds. I’ll describe it to you: first time, I open the sliding door in the morning to go out on the porch. Meanwhile, the bird’s been building its nest in the third floor overhang, so it hears me when the door opens. It stops building to flap all over the place, drops off the balcony, and hides on a nearby pine tree. The nest looks messy from all the commotion. Of course, there’s nothing I can do about that.

Second time is after I’ve been out there a while. I was reading. I was letting myself get sun. If all you do is sit inside all day, you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything. So instead, I sometimes sit outside all day, and this works wonders. Anyway, it was getting to be lunchtime and I’m hungry. I got up, stretched, walked over to the railing. I didn’t know it, but I was right below the house finch, who completely lost it. The bird flapped so hard I felt the pressure, it twitted and twaddled, then escaped the porch and went hiding in that same pine tree. A little later, some ravens came by and chased it away.

The point of all this is simple: if you’re a house finch, you’re going to build your nest near houses; that’s just what you do. And if you’re a 29 year old man with too much free time, chances are you’ll scare something, whether you’re meaning to or not.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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A lost bird appeared in the court and was half an hour jumping around between the spikenard. It sang a progressive note, rising an octave at a time, until it became so acute that it was necessary to imagine it.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, In Evil Hour

Coffee Log, Day 360


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m sitting back in my chair with the keyboard on my lap (it’s wireless). I’ve been sitting like this for fifteen minutes. I’m trying to think about what to write.

Some days get rolled out like dough. A strong-armed woman in the sky slaps you up with a rolling pin. That is, time just kind of passes.

I woke up on time. I skipped breakfast but still read a book in the kitchen and did a little writing on my own novel, my morning ritual. At noon I took a shower and went grocery shopping. Through the afternoon, I alternated reading, dozing, and preparing things for a D&D game. Oh, and I did my taxes. Like I said – not much happened. Now it’s 8:00 and I’m here.

I read this article once that talked about the perception of time: it’s not constant. You’ll have moments that last your whole life and days that are gone before you’re blinking. New Age gurus tell you to be more present. Capitalist mongers tell you to work more. In the end, though, I’m not convinced you can control it – that hidden hand of time.

As I write this, my eyes are going lower. I’m tired. It was a long week. So goes another Saturday – eaten up like a mouse’s cheese. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Novel Count: 23,970

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Coffee Log, Day 318


Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; a bit more burnt than usual; I carried the cup into work where they had the heat off despite the cold; it was nice to have something hot in my hands, bitter or not.

The hardest days to work are the ones you don’t work regularly. Paradoxically, they’re also the easiest.

The bank has us scheduled to work two Saturday’s a quarter. There’s only a handful of branches open on Saturday and they’re only open until noon. So really it’s nothing to complain about. I spent years working at a bookstore where a Saturday shift from two to midnight wasn’t only common, it was weekly. But everything in life is about expectation and when you’re no longer expecting to work the weekend, those hours drag long.

But there’s also something kind of neat about it.

Way, way back, I was one of those kids who joined academic clubs. Lit club, science bowl, I was in orchestra from 4th grade on. So it wasn’t unheard of to have to stay a few hours after school. There was magic in that. The halls were empty. The teachers were walking around talking more casually than you were used to. It was like catching your mother with her hair down for the first time, or your father out of his suit. You were in on something. It was good and special and dorky and powerful.

The Saturday crews rotate at the bank. You’ve got people from all over the triangle at different branches than they usually work. By chance, I was at my home branch today, but I worked with a couple people I haven’t seen in a while. We talked a lot, mostly work stories, and even though we hadn’t really said anything, there was an ease you can’t feel with the same people you see everyday. We passed four hours.

We packed up to go. Lately, on a weekday, we’ve been getting out when it’s already dark. But today it was only noon. The sky was blazing with the sun.

Novel Count: 11,157

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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As we approached each other, the noise and the students around us melted away and we were utterly alone, passing, smiling, holding each other’s eyes, floors and walls gone, two people in a universe of space and stars.

Jerry Spinelli

Coffee Log, Day 311


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

Pizza at a place I haven’t been to in years. The walls are all painted with an exaggerated mural. Same mural, same booths, same broken Bud Light sign over the counter. Only the most innocuous things stay the same.

Three down drunk on the last Saturday of the year. As much intoxicated by the company as the beers. Sometimes it’s hard to be around people that you know. It’s like those moments when you’re thinking of some common word and can’t remember how to spell it.

Novel Count: 7,400

Currently Reading: Nothing! Will pick a new book after the holidays.

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Pizza is good medicine for disappointment.
– Katherine Howe