Coffee Log, Day 108

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; the barista said ‘Welcome to the ‘bou!’ and I said ‘Can I get a Venti?’ We were stuck in different places, trying too hard to cross each others’ wires; she had nice glasses; I never know how long you’re supposed to look someone in the eye when they’re wearing glasses.

In a Sentimental Mood – Duke Ellington; each of the few letters I’ve written in my life, I’ve written while listening to that track. I’m not writing a letter right now, the song’s on anyway. I guess you could say it’s been that kind of day.

I worked with some storytellers. Well, I worked with the same crew I often do, only today I got them telling stories. One woman’s on and on about the cold coffee she didn’t drink yesterday, still in the break-room. She’s scared it might have spoiled. I tell her coffee doesn’t go bad. She tells me her son lives in Boone, they’re getting Hurricane rain, she’s worried about landslides. I look up the coffee – “Was it black?”

“Yes,” she says, and I like her better.

“Then – like I said – it can’t go bad.” She drinks the stuff and stops bringing up her son.

Another lady does color-by-numbers on her phone, says it’s relaxing. I ask her to show me. Instead of showing me, she talks about ‘Three Kings’ Day.’

“In Puerto Rico, we don’t do Christmas, well we do Christmas, but really it’s the ‘Three Kings’ Day’ that we celebrate.” She talks a lot about what her mother cooked, the hay and water they leave under the beds to feed the Wise Mens’ camels. Then a customer comes, and afterward she shows me the app. She never makes the connection between coloring and the holiday; I don’t press her. It’s enough to know about the bright, simple things that matter.

I spent my lunch break gnawing down my Hurricane supplies, my only opened jar of peanut butter on bread. I don’t like the stuff, but it’s no good throwing it away. In between bites ‘1’ and ‘25,000,’ I was caught thinking about you. You have your hair down. You’re in the whitest January morning. There’s everything in the kitchen but you toast the oldest bread, scramble for yesterday’s butter. Our loaf has mold on the front but you shave it off. Somewhere in the house, a few generations of your blood are still sleeping. The jam is so molten it looks like you’ve cut your finger.

We eat in the temporary: an in-between home, you’re staying at your parents, I’ll be driving back to my own hometown in less than an hour. Mild southern winter; mismatched chairs.

Before I’m gone, I tell you that my breakfasts usually come pre-packed with nutrition labels, fortified bars; you say “Gross!” and kiss me goodbye. For the next few weeks, I’m buying whole breadloafs and sticks of butter. These days, it’s back to granola.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“In A Sentimental Mood, I can see the stars come thru my room.” – Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington, In a Sentimental Mood

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Coffee Log, Day 198

Hi.

CoffeeTea: Bigelow’s Earl Grey, pre-packed (still need to buy a new coffeepot)

She talked about her dead brother like he was still breathing so I did too. She had wild hair. Sometimes, she walks outside in her nightgown. When I check the ID I see a birthday in the 1920’s. A rager baby, booming in the A.M. of modern America, partying now in it’s dusk.

The brother worked gov’t and made good money. I’ve heard this one before: “He was a banker, you know.” She says it word for word. Doesn’t remember telling me the last time, the last last time, the time before that. We dance.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, yes. Did you know that the USA paid him $300/hr to fix some messes from the local banks?”

“Wow! That so?”

When she left, the room smelled like cigarettes and other fond memories. Old NC: she’ll surely soon pass to meet her brother, leaving love or nothing. A few dozen years from now, I’ll walk into wherever I’m a regular and say: “Did you know I used to know this lady whose brother was a banker?”

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“There’s only one lesson to be learned form life, anyway,” interrupted Gloria, not in contradiction but in a sort of melancholy agreement.
“What’s that?” demanded Maury sharply.
“That there’s no lesson to be learned from life.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

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Coffee Log, Day 182

Hi.

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

A few days ago, the blood of my great-great-grandfather was shoved violently into summer soil. I couldn’t be happier.

It’s gotten national press so I’m sure you’ve heard about it: Monday night, August 20th, Americans tied ropes around the head of Silent Sam – a famous statue memorializing the dead confederates who’d left their studies at UNC to fight the Union – and pulled him down. In April, Ms. Maya Little had mixed red paint with her own blood and marked Sam with it. It was a fair warning, raw art, the State had ample time to dismantle its own awful legacy, but like most things to do with entrenched power, nobody raised a finger. Monday, people got tired of waiting for justice that would never come.

I’ve seen a lot of pushback. Internet hailstorms of ‘respect history!’ or ‘honor the dead!’ A vicious funeral, cries of violence against the protesters, Americans gasping for the right to strip breath from other Americans – we re-enact the Civil War on message boards, painting bleak pictures, goading and goading until some white man or scared cop decides to paint history in three dimensions, black body canvases.

I’m sympathetic to the feeling of watching your past torn down. It’s my past too. But behind the best lace curtains, the wide summer porches, the blue shingles, there’s a black man bent over a table with his shirt off, dancing a waltz with your great-great-grandfathers’ whip. So no, not every student of grand ole’ UNC marched off with blood and slavery slavering out their mouths, but when they loaded their muskets and took aim they still still stood as bastions against humanity, against peace, against justice for all Americans.

There’s no honor for a nazi, and no honor for a confederate son.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“A statue that advocates violence against us, that honors slave owners. At this statue I have felt degraded, and I have also been harassed. I have been surveilled by police. I have been called a n****r. I have been told that I will be hung from the tree right above Silent Sam.” – Maya Little, interview on Democracy Now, https://www.democracynow.org/2018/8/22/meet_maya_little_unc_student_whose

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Coffee Log, Day 122

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Ethiopian Medium Dark, Harris Teeter Brand

I sat down and almost wrote something about Japan. A bad habit. I don’t want to deal with the gunk of 28 years in NC so I play in Kumamoto, Fukuoka. There’s meaning in escapism, forgiveness if you learn the right lessons from it; I wrote a book about her, the country, the city, the woman I stole a kiss from in Hakata station; I’ve got to stop talking about that separate place.

The weekend’s gotten busy. I’ll be going back to Chapel Hill in an hour to support another writer’s book release. I’m always going back to Chapel Hill. Last night had me there. A month ago. A few years ago. In high school, my dad gave me ten bucks every other week to buy CD’s from Schoolkids. Schoolkids gave up, then it was CD Alley; hard times closed the joint and Schoolkids bought it back. Yeats cycles.

Maybe I’ll never know what to say about a Southern June. Her toes were purple but they’d grown out so the purple only tipped them, pig’s blood; the rest of her was human, stretched leather, you can almost see through but not quite.

June dates me like she’s missing something; she’ll squeeze, squeeze, spritz liquor, collect me in a mason jar, take the stuff back to someone else. We’d always rather be on the other side of the world.

I sat in a tire swing at my parents’ friends’ house at seven years old and watched the chicken coop suffer. They were all inside having barbecue. My mother couldn’t eat, she was vegetarian. It was a nice house. I couldn’t stand it. I’d had my fill of pig’s blood.

Currently Reading:

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (2017 Man Booker Prize Shortlist)

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

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Coffee Log, Day 113

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m getting bored of my same-old coffee. Any suggestions? Comment me some. It’d be swell.

I worked in Pittsboro. The last time I saw the city was in 2012 shortly after my apartment was robbed. We lived in Chapel Hill. After the incident, we spent a week at her father’s house in Cary – we couldn’t bare sleeping there anymore. Day two, I had to drive back to talk to the police and take inventory. To get there, I drove through Pittsboro.

I remember thinking it was a lovely, quaint town. Back then I didn’t recognize the bookstore that has racks of Nietzsche and historical accounts of Nazis; the confederate statue pointed North. I’d thrown up all night long. My mouth still tasted like acid. I was on the way to salvage a life I’d worked hard for. I welcomed my small town drive.

I took a walk today. I remembered six years ago. I saw the statue by the courthouse. I ate at an old diner on Main and was surprised they had vegetarian options. I talked to a lot of folks today, one of them saved $700 in pennies and donated it to a church project – they built a rec center. He told me he donates all his excess now. Three years ago, his house was robbed by his nephew. Took all the cash, valuables. He said he felt sorry for the guy, but that taught him money’s best when it’s doing work.

I don’t save much, mostly because I don’t have the opportunity. I don’t give much either, unless you’re counting time. There’s a few of us watching the Northern border that are trying to make up for the toll our ancestors took.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

Fund the Coffee Log 🙂 – https://ko-fi.com/livesaywriting

“The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.” – William Shakespeare, Othello

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Coffee Log, Day 97

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s brand

I stood on the bridge in the rain and thought about smoking something (I didn’t) then I thought about drinking something (I didn’t) then I thought about writing something (I did).

I’ve only smoked four cigars. Tobacco has been in my blood since birth. Well, probably before birth. I’m a North Carolina boy. The pride and prejudice of tobacco leaf grew my home. Pride in the gaunt Southern swagger of smoking something strong on a hot summer porch; prejudice in the bloody hands my ancestors forced to pick it.

Fire’s in my blood.

I think that being Southern means being the most proud, arrogant bastard standing below the sun; I think that being white Southern means an unreachable sin, a wretching guilt, and the knowledge that the day you’re born your heart is already six-feet deep below black-brown soil.

And we smoke that fear away.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.”- Flannery O’Connor

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Coffee Log, Day 80

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

Summer’s just peaches. My mother loved ’em. Grandmother liked ’em. Dad ate them when they were there. At first, I had to have them peeled – when my lips got to the fuzzy skin I felt like I was eating a caterpillar. These days, I like the fuzz. It’s sweet and mournful. Innocent meat.

Food and culture are inseparable. Southern peaches made the sun brighter and my disposition lighter in the hot, tacky days from May to August. The bulk of my culture, though, is better expressed in TV dinners. We fed bones and muscle on carefully organized trays: this here, that there, don’t you mix them! Vegetables and meats never understood each other. And don’t get me started with the mac and cheese…

Is that why Americans can’t let go of segregation?

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fund the Coffee Log 🙂 – https://ko-fi.com/livesaywriting

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”- Dita Von Teese

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