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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Coffee Log, Day 202

Hi.

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

I don’t know how bad the storm will be. Friday will tell me; the coast will know tonight.

I called my dad this morning. Right now, my parent’s house is projected to get it worse than me. As long as I’ve known them, my parents are prone to worry too little about the big things and too much about everything else. That swung my pendulum the other way, so now I’m a little too worried for them. Their arms and legs aren’t as strong as they used to be. That said, as long as I’ve known them, my parents have never been ones to underestimate.

Today’s sky was six-year-old blue: she has the pick of 64 crayons but settles for one color. It didn’t belie the turbulent weather; it was good cover to walk under. I watched white clouds idle. Mr. Cobwebs was chasing geese. I had to take off work today, woke up sick and tired from a night of bad dreams. Hazy, every needle in the pine trees seemed to be some other lonely raft floating away.

Once, many years ago, my apartment was robbed. They took everything, even cracked the door as a temptation for our two cats to escape. That evening, I threw up. We were staying at my partner’s family house. She helped me clean up the mess. It was such a kind, wonderful moment. Still, it had me certain that when the bandits broke our window on a hot August afternoon, they’d bagged up our future together with the TV’s and computers.

That is to say: I’m not scared of loss anymore.

I got some more water, some more bread, it’s just me and R in the apartment. I printed out some DnD campaigns, think I’ll run one if the power goes. When the sky’s dark and the ocean’s coming down on top of you, might as well enjoy the time.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“Talkin’ to myself my homies call me crazy
Livin’ by myself my mama say I’m lonely
Sleepin’ by myself my bitches think I’m lyin’
Listening to myself cause I’m my favorite artist
Depending on myself, the people call me mighty
Defending more than self, the people call me hero
I’m good within myself, the people say I’m humble
And I’m protecting myself trying to stay away from evil.” – Lil Wayne, Third Strike

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Coffee Log, Day 178

Hi.

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

Midnight shows its teeth. Tar-paper, Saturday flies poking out of apartments. L left an hour ago, the place stills smells like him, clothes in the rain. My roommates are up to something – two separate somethings, separate rooms, wind-downs. My new fan takes up all the unwanted space in the room.

A thunderstorm hangs on to the town’s outskirts, wetting the skin of whoever’s dumb or desperate enough to be out in it. It blew over hours ago and washed all the birdshit off the cars. Fertilizer; the green grass gets even greener after the bad stuff sinks down.

Fuzzy – marginal headache, persistent itches, stiff fingers, blender thoughts. A normal bedtime for halfway-through-28, head in arrivals but body inching toward departure, the kind of eminence Caesar saw when he stared at Alexander’s statue.

There are three lost geese stuck on the greenest grass beside our creekbed. Leftovers from a northern migration, they’re waiting it out til Autumn. When the flock comes back, they’ll get to see if they still recognize themselves. Tonight, I hope they’ve found dry branches.

Invisible moon, eyelid stars. Together, anxious morning.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“The clouds were disappearing rapidly, leaving the stars to die. The night dried up.” – Andre Breton

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Coffee Log, Day 135

Hi.

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

The rain took the heat away, then the rain went away too; packed-up houses. I took my daily walk in the space it left.

Tonight, I saw: a new family. The mother and father were both taller than me; their son was twig-high. He was toddling, dressed in a red tee. They held both his hands when he needed it. The three walked the parking lot searching for sticks and acorns. He picked one; he wasn’t satisfied.

“They’re better by the playground,” Dad says.

“Yeah,” says the toddler.

There’s a bend in the neighborhood that obscures oncoming traffic. The rain washed the tires of an SUV loud enough for me to dodge. My downstairs neighbor drove by. She waved. In her wake, I saw a mother and daughter slogging toward recycling. Mom was stern. She had handfuls of wood and cardboard. Her daughter was sterner. She pulled a pink wagon full of broken boxes.

Trees look best in a storm; your first love coming out the shower. I snapped a few pictures, even the sewers looked nice.

At the dog park, wet fluffs were yapping. They had death in their lungs but cuddles everywhere else. Their owners chatted across the fence. The dogs weren’t happy. Both were fat, still hungry.

The last stretch goes by the office, the pool, there’s a deck that’s always open and a guy in a dark armchair who’s always watching TV. We see each other often but look away when our eyes catch.

I took the new bridge across the stream. I saw the family again, only the Dad and son this time. I waved. Dad waved. The kid ran circles, he was scared of me; I’m no stick, no acorn. I said “Hi Hi!” to red shirt, folding my best paper-plane smile.

“Say hello,” said Dad.

“No!” said his son.

He ran away to find more fairies. I wasn’t hurt; summer storms are enticing company.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I’m tryna get high as I can.” – Future, Hate the Real Me

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