Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 289


Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s; a gift from my father; he bought the beans off the internet, had read reviews about what brand’s best, settled on Don Pablo because it showed up on so many lists; and it’s good; easy; like late winter, with your socks on, by the windows, never quite needing to go out

It got up to 70 today so I cracked the window open. It was cloudy, and then it rained. I liked listening to rain (I think everybody does) so I enjoyed myself, had a couple glasses of ice water to keep cool, to keep cold like the winter, to remember what season I was in. Because it is winter despite the temperature, and just because the world’s greenhouse heat-throws is the new normal doesn’t mean you have to forget the crisp seasons of your childhood, all the things that brought us here.

I’ve been having a sick day. A couple sick days, actually. My throat’s scratchy and my nose is running, but neither so terribly as to lay me out. It’s one of those bugs that muddies up your head but doesn’t take the energy out of you. I feel like I could run a mile but forget where I was going halfway through. To deal with this, I’ve been hooked in to TV screens and book reading, things to catch my focus, keep me less in the present with all it’s fuzzy green gunk and more in that nebulous fiction of no-time, self-entertainment.

The year’s almost over. Some would say the decade, I’d say so too. Zero is such a round number it makes you want to climb inside it and push off, a raft ride, spiraling by into uncharted waters.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber, Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in,

Joy Division, Decades

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 121


Coffee: Light Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

A sick day. Went to work, came home, tried to screw my head on right. It’s mostly right now, but it’s late and I’m tired. So here’s what I saw today:

Walking across the bridge outside our apartment, I caught something in the corner of my eye that looked like five fingers outstretched, a hand, a gesture of wanting, your step mother offering you one more slice of the pumpkin pie before you leave.

Turns out, on closer inspection, the hand was just some thick grey roots poking up from a river bank.

Like an illness, things can have two colors two them – one full and feverish, the other like a spent canister.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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The general root of superstition : namely, that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.

Francis Bacon

Coffee Log, Day 295


Coffee: Bolivian Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I brewed the pot late and took a thermos to work; it was a wet rainy morning and I sipped it black; bitter enough to cut the cold.

Sometimes getting sick is exactly what you need.

For the past few weeks I’ve been running myself empty. I’d get up early and go to sleep late. I tore holes in my novel and patched them up and tore them again. I was thinking about January, about the new year, about who I’d like to be when the date changes. I was thinking about the farther future and how it’s like crossing a desert: you can see the mountains in the distance but they never seem to be getting any closer.

Not a productive place to be.

Sickness trumps everything. The bug gets in bed with you and when you wake up your whole body is gooed over. You aren’t a banker, a writer, a runner, a dater, you’re just sick. The most difficult thing in the world is refilling your cup of water. Every night is swampy with half-dreams.

But then you sneeze it out. Three boxes of kleenex later and you’re a changed person. You’re lighter, freer somehow. You got rid of something bad.

I’m still sick but I’m on the tail end of it. I’ve got that spring in my brain. In a day or two, I’ll sit down and type something and maybe it won’t look like anathema. I’ll wake up early and understand the blessing and power of being up before the sun.

Novel Count: (on hiatus while I recover from this cold)

Currently Reading: Cherry, Nico Walker (Finished! Mixed feelings overall; I’ll try to get to a review this weekend)

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

This is very important — to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you’re gonna lose everything…just to do nothing at all, very, very important. And how many people do this in modern society? Very few. That’s why they’re all totally mad, frustrated, angry and hateful.

Charles Bukowski

Coffee Log, Day 293


Coffee: Dunkin Donuts Drip from the bank’s breakroom; it could have been sweet, could have been bitter, but my nose is stuffed up more than an over-eager Build-a-Bear so I could hardly taste it.

Still sick. I got off work early to go to the doctors. They gave me a ‘breathing enhancer.’ It was a fancy word for an inhaler. It was my first time having albuterol. They fed me to it for fifteen minutes. By the end, I couldn’t tell a difference.

My dad’s always had asthma. He grew up with it and it got so bad his parents moved him out to Arizona for a while, empty air. So I’ve got all these memories of his inhalers from growing up. They seemed like space-age technologies, something out of Star Trek. I liked the fancy cartridges with all that tiny writing. I liked the colorful capsules he’d fit through his beard. Then there was that sound – a suck! – like the last balloon was undone. It signified something important, something I was too young to understand. Later, I realized, it signified my father was constantly working at keeping himself alive – for himself, for our family, for me.

And in the weirdest way – sick on my 29th birthday – I’ve had that same medicine touch my lungs, and I feel connected, and I feel a little closer to my family, and I feel his old strong bones pushing down those albuterol puffs beside me, and I’m thinking that whatever breaths life still has for me, however many birthdays I’ll get to see, I’ll be forever breathing a legacy of Arizona deserts, modern medicine, and a complicated will to keep going in the world no matter how much it’s prettiest things like cats and flowers might be denied you.

I appreciate my family, my father and mother. I’m glad you gave me this chance to turn 29.

Novel Count: (on hiatus while I recover from this cold)

Currently Reading: Cherry, Nico Walker (Finished! Mixed feelings overall; I’ll try to get to a review this weekend)

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath
the first time his fingers touched the keys
the same way a soldier holds his breath
the first time his finger clicks the trigger.
We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.

Andrea Gibson

Coffee Log, Day 292


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

I spend the last day of 28 sick and reflecting and applying for jobs. I think that’s a perfect last day for this year.

My early 20’s seem like a lifetime ago. In some ways, they feel farther from me than me teens and childhood. Those first two decades can be easily packaged into the right kinds of nostalgia. Early 20’s, though, are unrecognizable. A late-night-scotch-shot: careless, quickly forgotten.

Around 25 I felt myself growing. This was coming on the other end of Japan, of teaching, of failing the first round of MFA applications. I was directionless, sure, but I felt like maybe I was made of the stuff that you draw a direction from. That’s when I started giving my all to writing. I poured a lot of blood out and wrote some truly awful stuff. But then there’s this tipping point and the blood thickens and you’ve cooked something – rich, warm, delicious – just don’t ask where it came from.

And 28 more or less beat all that out of me. I’d found a home in Cary. I’d found a career at a bookstore. I found a woman I wanted to marry (all signs that she didn’t want the same be damned). And I’d applied to MFA’s again with a finished novel that I thought would carry me there. Things were swell. Then, between February and April, all that got taken down, every sense of security, every thing I’d scraped out of my 20’s, unraveled, thread by thread.

I thank God for that. Or whatever is or isn’t up there, floating in the ether, spying on our lives as a celestial voyeur. All those dreams were old dreams. I could trace them back to 18, to 10, to 5 when I loved the girl next door and wrote my first poem about the time our dog peed on the snow. I’d been working out the same old stories for nearly three decades. Anyone would get tired of that, right?

So I’m trying to say ‘thank you.’ When the castle crumbled under me, I started this blog. And I was writing something very different and sharing it very differently than I’d done before. And maybe that’s all there ever was to magic – a spark in adversity, the freedom of failure, the salty ocean expanse of something new. It’s precious to me that you read my tiny coffee thoughts. It’s precious to me that I get to read some of yours.

28 was a bust. It ends in sickness as I knew it would. But 28 brought me to this foundation for something new, something to share with all of you, and that makes me pretty hopeful for what’s waiting for me when I wake up one year older.

Novel Count: (on hiatus while I recover from this cold)

Currently Reading: Cherry, Nico Walker (Finished! Mixed feelings overall; I’ll try to get to a review this weekend)

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice