Coffee Log, Day 353

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I bought a box of heart-shaped donuts from a grocery store I’d only been to once before. It was a quick purchase, spur of the moment. I brought them home in a cold car that stayed cold even with the heat turned up. At the apartment, I ate two and shared the rest with R.

Valentines day is on the way. So is the one-year anniversary of this blog. Marks on the calendar, special boxes, like your kid sister worked them over with a brand new set of gel pens. That gives me anxiety. True love, a life’s work – that’s a lot to live up to.

I drove around today with the radio playing. It was a cold, cloudy morning, a good time for grocery shopping. The store was only sort of crowded, better than a typical weekend. I spent some time picking up and putting down the produce. Is this tomato too hard or too soft? A matter of perspective, maybe, but one with dire consequences as far as lunch is concerned.

And the rest of the day rolled out like an old carpet. It was simple. It was easy. Maybe that’s what got me – what drove me out in the darkness to find something. I came home with a box of heart-shaped donuts but really I was bringing home a piece of myself – proof that I had legs that could take me somewhere.

A week of holidays. Valentines, at least, is covered – I’m not doing anything and I’m pretty comfortable with that. As for the site’s anniversary, who knows? I might just toast it with a cup of coffee. I might just have an average day. Deep down, simple average days are all this blog has ever been about.

Novel Count: 22,363

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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New mysteries. New day. Fresh doughnuts.

David Lynch


Coffee Log, Day 314

Hi.

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

There was this woman I dated a while ago who I used to go to malls with. This was back when malls were still a foundational part of American culture, though even then you could see the signs that they were moving on.

But that didn’t matter to us. For me and her, malls were a personal thing. They were spaces we could be comfortable around each other. There were lots of spaces – including the apartment we shared – where that wasn’t true. Some people click with you when you’re alone and some people click with you when you’re in public. Me and her were public people. And for those few hours walking around, talking about this or that, living in a world of window-shopping and picked-up objects, I think we had a special love.

I went to Southpoint Mall in Durham, NC for the first time in forever. I’d been writing in the morning but my laptop cut itself off to update so I needed a place to be. It was a strange day, a patchy sky, sometimes cloudy and sometimes bursting with a New Year’s sun. There was ample parking. I found a space across from a couple church buses.

Inside, the place was reasonably busy. It still smelled like Christmas – pine trees and peppermint. I walked in and out of stores not really looking at anything, paying more attention to the people, and I saw a lot of store-workers looking drained at the end of a long season. But even that was lovely – fake, hard, unfair, but perfectly predictable, a call-out to a time when walking along a covered boulevard overspending all your credit cards was the pinnacle of living. In the end, I left without buying anything. I’d gotten what I came for.

I remember this one particular time at Southpoint towards the end of that relationship. It was night, we’d gone to dinner, we were walking about an hour before the stores were closing. I think it was summer. There’s a big ceiling light that spans the whole inside of the place. It’s covered in floodlights that change for the season. That night, the lights were undulating shades of blue. It looked like the ocean. Staring up at those lights, I felt like we were a part of something old, fluid, indecipherable. I held her hand and imagined we were on a beach somewhere. A far away place you couldn’t pinpoint. We stayed until close.

Today’s her birthday. Wherever you are, shopping or at home, I hope you have a full heart and restless, excited dreams.

Novel Count: 9,255

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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The breach between the mind and body can’t be healed by more knowledge.

Barry Webster, The Lava in my Bones

Coffee Log, Day 244

Hi.

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

I got Chinese with my roommate then went home to watch Haunting of Hill House. Everyone’s been talking it up. We popped the tops on plastic quart cartons and ran the first episode. They filmed it with a filter that makes everyone look jaundiced. All the actors and actresses looked the same. We stopped the show three times just to figure out who was who.

So anyway, I’ve got lukewarm first impressions of Hill House, but dinner was great. The lady at the restaurant always smiles when she sees me. That’s nothing special, she smiles for everyone. I ordered the Sichuan tofu. It was piping hot. At home, halfway through the show, I had a moment where I got a bit of onion and a bit of sauce, dipped it in steamed rice, and realized I’d die someday.

I’ve been thinking ‘death’ since birth. In 3rd grade I used to imagine I might get reincarnated as the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls. I’d picture myself in his body playing shows. He was the coolest person I could think of. I imagined this every night as I was going to sleep. If I didn’t, it was all cold sweats and heavy breathing, the black wall of inevitability. Like I said, I’m an over-thinker.

So it wasn’t too unusual to think about dying when the slick, red, acidic stuff touched my tongue. But the way it felt tonight was more of a ‘maybe this is okay.’ I’ve been stressed lately. Taken in full, 2018’s done a number. It’s like the third week of school: first is exciting; second’s a breeze; the third is when the tests come, and no matter how you do there’s no going back from the bright red branding of the grade. I’ve been considering next year, and the year after. I feel stretched like good leather.

After the first perfect bite I took another. Some broccoli, dipped. The rich sauce got caught in her green perm. It tasted like something that shouldn’t be so good for you. The stem snapped in my jaw. I washed her down with tapwater.

“I’m gonna die someday,” I thought, “but this is nice for now.”

We finished dinner and the episode. I feel pretty full.

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

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“…food that can burn you down to a charred, smoking little stump.” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, Sichuan episode

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Coffee Log, Day 207

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

There was a rock I used to sit on in City Park back in Burlington. It was big and out of the way, you had to climb on top of it and when you did there was this scruffy view through scruffy trees of the scruffy creek that floods sometimes. One time, toward the end of High School, I sat on the rock for a whole morning watching a groundhog consider jumping in the water. She was a fat, brown animal, pine-cone eyes. She was scared of me, I was in love with her.

Earlier that week, a girl from English class had kissed me outside her car, then stopped returning my calls, then got together with a close friend whom she’d later marry. In comparison, I liked the way Ms. Groundhog spelled ‘simple.’

At noon, families flooded the park. The rides spun up. I got distracted. When I looked back, the groundhog was nowhere. I checked the bank. I checked the water. I didn’t hear a splash, but groundhogs are slippery. I left without seeing her again; I ate an overpriced burger on the way home.

Like most people I’ve loved, Ms. Groundhog wanders into view sometimes. Something in the right kind of late summer light. I wonder what happened that morning – if she gathered up the straw-fire courage to jump.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it.” – Phil (Bill Murray), Groundhog Day

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Coffee Log, Day 155

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Java Jive; it was simple. I liked it.

Before work, I went to Java Jive Cary. The cafe’s about half way between my apartment and the bank branch. I hadn’t made coffee the night before, needed a pick-up. I left with enough time to get there, get a drink, sit down, read. I did it all. Everyone else who came by was over 50 and a regular.

I sat outside. Before noon, the city hadn’t heated up. The morning had that crisp sun, that yellow sun, that blue sun. A few cars were switching lanes. The brick building held shade over me.

I thought about the value of relaxation. I have a decent amount of free time, at least compared to some, but I fill that time like decanters at a wine festival. If I’m not working on an objective, I’m entertaining myself. If I’m not doing either, I’m restlessly bored.

At lunch, I walked to the Publix and bought a Granny Smith apple. I ate it outside by the trashcans. I made myself keep my phone in a pocket. I watched people rushing around. The air had thickened. We were all in molasses. The apple was bad in many spots, mealy in others, I ate it all anyway. Just a core, I held it close to my eyes – there’s the spot I bit you; there’s your brown dead flesh, the sinews I tore open; one spot was slick scarlet; I’d cut a gum.

On the way back to work, I ran into a woman who had been a regular at the Barnes and Noble Cafe in Burlington. She ordered coffee usually, mocha’s on good days, her name was the same as my coworker and they laughed about it. The woman recognized me and we talked. Eventually, I recognized her. She has a strange way of talking, like she’s tripping down a flight of stairs. Now she works at a spa. She told me I had nice eyebrows. I thanked her.

When I’m done writing this, I’m going to put some shorts on and take a walk. I can see the heat rising off our gazebo. Comfort isn’t everything. Neither is excitement. Deep blue sky: let me know you like the hands of my grandfathers, desperately working clay.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It does good also to take walks out of doors, that our spirits may be raised and refreshed by the open air and fresh breeze: sometimes we gain strength by driving in a carriage, by travel, by change of air, or by social meals and a more generous allowance of wine.” – Seneca

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Coffee Log, Day 149

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

I fished this DVD out of our dry creekbed, ‘8 count abs.’ I threw it in the trash because a fish with a six-pack just ain’t right.

The things we throw away… I’ve wasted lots of things. Some of it was junk, some precious. I’ve got this vivid memory of a high school romance who used to fall asleep on my leg. The show would end, sun came down, she’d still be sleeping and I’d get so antsy – like, if I didn’t move, I’d be watching roots grow out of me – that I’d squirm until she woke up. What a simple moment. The older I get, the more I miss the clean, simple moments.

I met a guy today I’ve heard bad stories about. They call him rough, loud, arrogant, mean, difficult. He was all those things but I think he was mostly trying hard to make up for something. He drove a brand new Acura and was trying to buy a house. He told me his parents had only ever rented.

I had a list of discounts when I got hired that I could opt in to. One was a sizeable credit off my insurance if I declared I wouldn’t be smoking. I didn’t check the box. I’ve only smoked four things in my life, all one-dollar cigarillos, and haven’t had one since winter. I don’t have any plans to smoke again. Still, checking away the freedom to burn something up inside me wasn’t worth the money. I need my lungs to remember what it’s like to tingle.

That last time I smoked, I’d just broken the handle off my favorite blue mug. We sat in the cold, arms on legs on arms, passing the cigarillo, dipping pink ash into the empty, broken blue.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“we
sat there
smoking
cigarettes
at
5
in the morning.” – Charles Bukowski, from when you wait for the dawn to crawl through the screen like a burglar to take your life away

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