Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 50

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

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: 4
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

The AC froze in our apartment. You’d think that’s a good thing – icy cool – but it’s not as good as it sounds. The coils froze over and the ice warped the filter. We called maintenance. A tech came over. He did what he could. A nice thing to have someone help you on a Saturday.

Anyway, the problem’s not fixed so now it’s just set to fan. Thankfully we’re still early enough in the year to have cool nights. I thought about cracking the windows but there’s too much pollen. I’m noticing the lack of sound in the apartment now that the AC’s not blowing. Sometimes it’s nice to miss something.

I stayed in Oita for one week when I was working in Japan. We had some camps at a rec center there. Oita’s in the mountains and surrounded by verdant fields. Picturesque, except for the hot sun and endless bugs.

Like most of the places we stayed, the rec center had no AC. We slept on the floor with five of us to a room. All night long, our sheets crawled with tiny critters. Working those summer camps, everyone was so dead tired that they usually fell asleep right away after the long days. But in Oita we’d stay up telling stories by flashlight. It was something to do, something to take your mind off the heat. We’d drop off gradually, talking quieter and quieter, until everyone was asleep.

Summer will be here soon. NC’s no joke when it gets going. Here’s crossing fingers our AC gets fixed soon.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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I guess I’m supposed to sit here in this oven like it’s 1950, hoping I don’t go to hell for stealing a church fan.

K. Martin Beckner, Chips of Red Paint


Coffee Log, Day 190

Hi.

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

Late August heatwave. My dash reads 98. At least I parked in shade.

A busy day – at work, after work. Thursday smells like the weekend you can’t bite into, green bananas.

I want to take a trip for Labor Day. I had two trips planned but both fell through. For a few years, each get-out-of-town has been preceded by pop-up drama, heartfelt taking stock, calendar confusion. I might go somewhere alone. I might climb a mountain to remind myself I can.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

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“Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.” – Jack Kerouac

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Coffee Log, Day 185

Hi.

Coffee: Americano from The Blend, Burlington NC; honey covered pecans, a pie too early in the year, warmly unexpected.

I went home. Capital ‘H,’ Burlington, NC, where I was born. I sat downtown with my phone off. Guys in tank tops crossed the road; the amphitheater was setting up for a wedding.

I ran into two old faces: H, a high school classmate I barely remember, stops me on his way out of the cafe. Tells me where he’s  working, he’s got more beard than ten years ago, cleaner eyes.

I saw L. Once, a different summer, years ago, bent into old-day memory like kneading dough, we went to an open mic in Hillsborough and I wrote a travel blog about it. Tumblr – it was a hot site back then – I kept the blog for three posts then forgot about it. Now I’m here.

Thanks for the belated inspiration, L.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“I remember awakening one morning and finding everything smeared with the color of forgotten love.” – Charles Bukowski

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Coffee Log, Day 184

Hi.

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

There goes August: running fast enough to trip itself.

I read an article about the ‘A-Team’ on NPR. Not the TV series, but rather the short-lived 1970’s experiment dreamed up to answer widespread migrant worker protests. It happened in California, mostly, and involved granting crop-picking jobs to white high schoolers for the summer. The act passed Congress on the heels of ‘They’re taking our jobs!’ It singled out the best and brightest, the most active white boys for the honor. Within three days of the first year, 200 kids had quit. Those who stuck out the six-day weeks at minimum wage talked about it like an earthbound Hell.

The privilege to walk away.

Not much has changed. Farm labor is still largely migrant labor; or, if you’re in Eastern NC tobacco farms, it’s seven or eight year-olds who pick all day and sometimes miss school. Regardless, it’s hard, unloved work given to people who are most desperate. Five centimeters past slavery, in other words. No wonder our country can’t stomach loading it on well-to-do white boys.

I sit in the shade. Cold tea, new book. September mentions herself in a nice breeze, we exchange calendars and contacts. Autumn ease, there’s not a cloud in sight. Somewhere west of here, another 28-yr-old man bakes until his skin comes off, blood on knuckles, only knowing the sadistic love of burrs and melon seed.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” – Cesar Chavez
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Coffee Log, Day 180

Hi.

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

The light-switch by my bedroom door is crooked. Tilted left. Hadn’t noticed it, now I can’t un-notice it. It’s the little things, man…

Lots of kids coming in for textbook money. Big deposits, the college arcade game nickel and dimes you. Some of them have parent’s cash. I see the white SUV’s idling outside, a father in pink polo, mother in aviators, alone long enough to consider if those thousands will go anywhere past a frat’s doubledoors. When I ask the kids, most say they’re going into liberal arts.

Then there’s the workers: leaner than the well-to-do, coming in bright red suspenders, flour-stained shoes. They’ve been saving three months of tips while living off Ramen. When I ask, most of them say they’re going into business.

I see a few high-school seniors. School starts next week, they’re wide-eyed. They do their best to sound almost-eighteen, almost ready to stamp a ballot, smoke tobacco, shoot or die for our endless occupations in the Middle East – but they never look you in the eye. We cut checks for fast food or baby care. Sometimes, we talk college. Most of them say they’re hoping to be doctors.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Some people get an education without going to college. The rest get it after they get out.” – Mark Twain

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Coffee Log, Day 179

Hi.

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

1:00pm, before all last night’s clouds are gone, I sit outside. I’m reading LaRose. The book’s worked me over. I know Snow and Josette; I’m afraid of Landreaux; Romeo reminds me of the old man who got evicted down the street from my parents, though a few decades younger.

I made a batch of E’s barley tea and let it take the edge off summer. She’d swept the deck but left the spiders. They baby their eggsacs, welcome the corners. A crane fly sits on the glass door behind me. Can’t figure out how to get inside, or maybe can’t accept it’s never going to.

Twenty, thirty pages… kids are carefully rambunctious by the creek, school starts next week, fall takes the bark out of the dog days of summer. Occasionally, I look across our building at other decks, stacked like cardboard. Our third-story neighbor has made a mess. Shelves collapsing under boxes. Six potted cactus. A menagerie of dreamcatchers that probably smell like last night’s rain. Put too many things together and you can’t tell what’s what.

Sometimes, I wish I could have obsessions. I’ve tried collecting: beer bottles; plastic models; foreign currency. Lost a lot of it, packed the rest. Instead, my apartment’s got bare white walls and a bursting schedule – if I’m not working, I’m thinking about the next best way to work.

Accomplishment – the trick, I’ve learned, is that you never get there. That perfect soft hand you fell in love with in first grade, running track, two to three steps and always behind. When they bury my neighbors, some son or daughter will take detailed notes on graph paper about this and that cactus, vibrant wall-hangs, store-bought stories.

What sorts of things will be left to make sense of me?

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.” – Margaret Atwood

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Coffee Log, Day 175

Hi.

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

College, summer, we filmed shorts, me and a few guys. One of them’s still in film, the other’s a rockstar.

We dug a hole in my surrogate-aunt’s backyard. We’d been hired by the fiction but the labor was real. Hours, hot, NC sweat lodge. It took a week but we did it. ‘Dig,’ he named the film.

I go back there. I’m in that hole. My muscles are younger. Hair thicker. I haven’t lost patches of my pigment to vitiligo. Brown dirt, careful not to hit the worms.

I liked it, working toward something with all of you.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” – George Bernard Shaw

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