Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 97

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Friday’s drawn in. The sun’s down, streetlights on, curtains closed. Midnight approaches – a fast black car speeding on the interstate. No matter what you did this week – what things you have or haven’t accomplished – it’ll soon be over. One more hour, not enough time for anything but peace.

My week went by in a blur. The most riveting moment was when I caught my leg on a corner and cut it right open, a quarter sized bit of skin chunked down until it was red and slimy. After it happened, I went to the bathroom and tried to check for damage but found it hard to get off the sock. It was sticking to me. Man and manufacturing combined, I was – for a brief second – the most boring sort of cyborg.

Otherwise, I’ve just been moving along.

This evening R and I went for Chinese. It started raining while we were waiting for our food. The rain turned to hail. The hail was the size of marbles and came beating down on the roof of my car. Driving home sounded like gunfire. It’s been so hot this week that when the hail hit the asphalt, it started to evaporate. A thick white steam. A bright Friday sauna.

As I’m writing, the clock’s just passed 11:00pm. I’m beat. I’ll see you all tomorrow, like I always do, but I wonder who I’ll be come the weekend? We pack our lives in week-sized compartments, like trying on different clothes. Every Saturday morning is a chance to change. That’s a lot of pressure.

Oh well – like I said, now’s not the time for heavy thinking, just peace. And maybe a bit of peppermint tea.

Goodnight.

Currently Reading: Have picked a new book but not had the chance to start it yet; more info to come

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On nights like this when the air is so clear, you end up saying things you ordinarily wouldn’t.

Banana Yoshimoto, Goodbye Tsugumi

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 80

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I drove across town today for a meeting. You could see the places where we’d had hail. Yesterday, a big storm blew through intermittently, pummeling roofs and cars. When it left, it had sucked all the summer heat up and left brisk wind.

Later, I cooked black beans and rice for dinner. I spent an hour chopping vegetables. My hands still smell like lime. I watched the blue sky from the kitchen window, shivered when the wind would blow. That big empty space storms leave in the summer.

Now, a little past my bedtime, I try to rest.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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She awaits the rain like a writer embraces metaphors,
A drizzle isn’t for the child who dances in the storm.
Of rain that washes away the petrichor it brings,
A downpour of a hail of bullets, and she calls it spring.

Sanhita Baruah, The Farewell and other poems

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 51

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place from an Automatic Dispenser in the Apartment lounge; I’ve been needing to clean my coffee maker; I’ve had it almost a year and it’s showing it’s age; but I didn’t have vinegar (and I’m procrastinating buying any) so today I got coffee from the lounge; it comes in one of those machines you stick a cup under and wait; it reminds me of a hospital; I poured too much in the cup and had to dump some in the sink; in the end, the coffee tasted like time spent waiting for surgery.

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
DAYS REMAINING: 3
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

All day has been threatening to storm. There’s weather reports from Georgia that tornadoes are touching down. We’ve been waiting to see them here.

I had a long dinner at the The Remedy diner. I ate fake chicken and real cheese. A mix of identities. The restaurant was less busy that I usually see it but it was still bustling. The waiters couldn’t keep up with the orders.

Walking back to the car, I overheard a woman at a nearby bar. She said “Well my mom’s a Leo.” I got thinking about symbols and a friend told me he liked to put it this way: “At it’s best, astrology is just a series of tools to help you understand something about yourself.” That made a lot of sense to me.

I was writing for four hours today. I was writing about a place I haven’t been. My images of it are based on a real building in downtown Durham, and by the time I was finished writing about it, my memories had shuffled around. Like constellations passing with the season, Durham didn’t look the same inside me anymore.

Right now, there’s two branches reaching around the side of our apartment and tapping. They sound like bent fingers, or maybe a couple carrots. That means the wind is picking up so we might have some tornadoes after all. I close my eyes and see the parking lot devoured by a storm. When I wake up tomorrow and walk across it, will it be the real pavement or my imagination that holds under my feet?

Novel Count: 38,047

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night


Coffee Log, Day 265

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Everyone was poking around in coats today. Meanwhile, in California, half the state burns.

I grew up in a household obsessively haunted by weather. My dad would walk outside in thunderstorms. We had a dog that would hide from rain.

But my mother was the focal point for the family’s weather ups and downs. She’d be up late watching documentaries on this or that super storm. Sometimes, she’d watch the weather channel on repeat. Any hint of bad rain and there her hands would go, wringing.

I remember this one time there was a tornado at my elementary. First the lights cut, then the glass was shaking, finally we were in the hall and under our own backpacks on the cold, hard linoleum floor. A lot of kids were crying. The assistant principal was holding the blown-open doors. But I’d watched a hundred disaster films with my mother so I was ready. This was Christmas, a celebration, something wonderfully inevitable. We would all get swooped up and tossed a thousand miles. Nothing could be more comfortably certain.

Sometimes I think there’s a bravery in staring long and hard at the things that scare you. It’s a messy sort of courage – a lot of fits and worries, 2 am texts to your adult son when there’s a national weather warning – but still brave. Can’t look at a horror and call it something else, but you can choose to look at it all the same.

I’ve learned a lot of things from my mother.

Novel Count: 8,742 words

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

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“In any democratic, civilized – even non-democratic nations, if you are a nation, it means to say that in our case, if there’s a hurricane in Louisiana, the people of Vermont are there for them. If there’s a tornado in the Midwest, we are there for them. If there’s flooding in the East Coast, the people in California are there for us.” – Bernie Sanders

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Coffee Log, Day 246

Hi.

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

In between dinner with you I hear the rain. It’s on the roof, the windows. It’s flooding the creek. It sounds like a velvet bag of go pieces. White and black, perfect round, picked up and let back through your fingers. It feels good to drop something and know you can pick it up again.

There’s a white and black cat in the neighborhood, no-one knows her name. She stalks the other cats but strays from people. Once, she let me pet her, but just because it was okay once doesn’t mean it ever will be again. I got home and popped my umbrella. It was cold, wet, windy, the wind tried taking everything from my hands. On the switchback to my second floor apartment, I saw the white and black cat. She was sitting on the rail catching balance. She wasn’t doing a good job of it on account of the rail being slick. It was the least graceful I’ve seen her. Fat paws tossed like woks. I fell in love.

I said: “Kitty!” and “Hey!” It took her attention. Two black eyes, carbon on its way to diamond, the cat threw caution and grace behind her and leapt off the rail to get away. I was a little worried so I looked down. She was fine. Last I saw, she was chasing dry spots in the rain.

Now, in the bedroom, listening to music, I don’t hear the storm.

I had a dream that someone I cared about was being chased. I tried to fight the chaser. My fists were putty and I just kept poking, prodding. They took off anyway. I’m sort of glad I didn’t hurt them. I don’t want to hurt much of anything. I’ll cut the sound and really listen. Autumn; a chill; rainfall; a lullaby.

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

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“Amanda took the torn page from Maniac. To her, it was the broken wing of a bird, a pet out in the rain.” – Jerry Spinelli; Maniac Magee

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Coffee Log, Day 205

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

I don’t write particularly well when I’m drunk. I don’t do much of anything particularly well when I’m drunk. That said, I’m drunk.

I sat on the porch and re-read ‘Hear the Wind Sing,’ Haruki Murakami’s first novel. The storm was raging, my neighbors were chatting on the deck below me, and for a short while a latina in a gray tee bounced happily up-and-down on the third floor across from my apartment. She was pretty. She waved at someone else. All of us watched the creek surging like a well-fed boar.

In such circumstances it felt unconscionable not to have a drink. I drove to the nearest gas station. Far as I could tell, no trees were down, but the road was messy with leaves. It was warm, I listened to a collection of leaked Young Thug b-sides. What traffic there was was moving fast and with a purpose.

At the gas station, I bought a six-pack of Negra Modelo and the guy recognized me so I wasn’t carded. A few weeks ago, I told a Tinder date that the first beer I drank was Negra Modelo.

“Wow, pretty extreme for a first beer,” she said.

She was a pretty girl, sociologist, almost-professor, who spent the date talking over me and looking at a point somewhere on my forehead, never in the eye. There was no chemistry but I asked her out again anyway. “There was no chemistry,” she said. Hard to argue.

In all honesty, I gagged on Negra Modelo the first time I tried it. I was a Junior in college. I’d just turned 21. I went to the Armadillo Grill on campus – the only place with a bar – and ordered the drink with dinner. They gave me an open bottle. You weren’t supposed to take alcohol out of the bar but I was so nervous – so wrapped up in dreams of what the beer might do to me – that I tore foil off my chicken tacos and capped the drink. I stuffed it in a hoodie pocket and walked out, sweating the whole way home. Afterward, I played Call of Duty and drank half the beer. I called my girlfriend at the time – a short social worker who’d go on to get drunk one December years after we’d broken up and invite me over – and said I hated it. She was disappointed. S liked to drink.

‘Hear the Wind Sing’ holds up on a second pass, just as I’m sure it holds up on a third. It reminds me of The Tatami Galaxy – light, short, funny, heartbroken – it’s no surprise I’m in love.

When the latina waved I almost waved back. I would have liked to have invited her over, given her some of this six-pack to help me finish it. In a storm, anything’s possible. When the rain stopped, though, she disappeared.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“The Rat’s novel had two good things about it. First, there were no sex scenes; second, no one died. Guys don’t need any encouragement – left to themselves, they still die and sleep with girls. That’s just the way it is.” – Haruki Murakami, Hear the Wind Sing

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Coffee Log, Day 203

Hi.

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

The bank closed early. It was cloudy for the drive home. For now, we still have power. The storm hasn’t hit us yet. Likely, it won’t do much here. It’ll veer south and uproot peach trees in South Carolina. It’ll water-log the mountains. On the maps, we’re just outside the zone.

I’ve got my fan going and the lights off, I want to keep the room cool in case we lose AC. I’m watching fusses of rain start-stopping outside. Before I’d ever traveled, North Carolina seemed like an incredibly normal place. Having been a few other places now, I see the cracks in that old understanding. So much of the world is wracked with natural disasters: drought, wildfires, tropical storms. So much of the world has crumbling infrastructure, rampant conflict. But central NC is placid. There’s hardship, sure, but it keeps itself below the overpasses, beside the train-tracks, miles off the highway – out of sight and in the margins. For many people – myself included – the place is safe and and dull.

Everyone has a different idea of paradise. I can still taste the ripeness of a Kyushu morning. But in the end, your home is undoubtedly someone else’s paradise, and if you were ever to venture one of those dreamed-up hotspots as your own home, the cream would slowly melt like room temperature butter.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“The true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.” – Marcel Proust

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