Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 90

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I only know one language. Sometimes, I wish I knew more.

In elementary there was this Spanish teacher. She came around to classes once a week. I liked her because she was pretty and paid attention to me. My parents liked her because I was doing well in class. I don’t know the mechanics of it, but they worked something out where she’d tutor me after school twice a week. I might be getting the numbers wrong, but that’s what it felt like.

Anyway, I didn’t learn any Spanish. I knew some words, but that’s it. I don’t remember what we studied, or any of the extra lessons I did. Instead, I remember this one time she and I helped set up a buffet for some kind of open house. I stole a couple pigs-in-a-blanket. I’d never had them. She thought that was funny, or at least my nine-year-old mine thought she did. I remember feeling good about the stealing, and about being alone in this big school with my teacher, like I’d gotten one over, like I was an important part of the world.

She taught me how to say pig in Spanish. I remember her teaching it to me, but don’t remember the word.

Currently Reading: NOTHING! will pick a new book soon

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They had chains which they fastened about the leg of the nearest hog, and the other end of the chain they hooked into one of the rings upon the wheel. So, as the wheel turned, a hog was suddenly jerked off his feet and borne aloft.

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Coffee Log, Day 139

Hi.

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

In July, I start to wonder what winter will look like. In January, I think the same about July. I guess that means I’m restless. Ready to move or settle down – well, that changes by the day.

I got called to work a Durham Branch. I left in the morning feeling like I was going backwards. Durham’s got so many of my ghosts you’d think I was already buried there. I took 40 to 147 to 12B, one exit before the one I used to take when I went to see you, slicked on 12% romance; a habit of strong beers. Well, 12B put me in the same places – Downtown, Parker and Otis, the Bulls Stadium – until it ran me past them.

The branch was in a Northern corner of the city I hadn’t seen before. We passed the wealth. We passed the haunts where hipsters with fat wallets pretend their money’s thin. Trees gave up to grass lots, curved roads, places where you only cook with butter. Then all that vanished and there was a stretch that looked a lot like Cary. Two medical centers, neither associated with Duke. It was strange – blasphemous – and if I were a praying man I would have crossed myself.

I parked beside a Chipotle, a Chik Fil’A, everything vibrantly counted down into nickel rolls. I met two good people at the bank, then I met a few more. Our clients reminded me of my year teaching in the city – I could see PTA in all their eyes. With my new tie and banker’s credit, I felt like I was hiding something. I checked the old men and old women for hidden colleagues; I checked the young men and young women for former students.

October 31st, best mask, best mask. In the end I’m still free like public water; can’t stop flowing, but there’s a price paid in the bushes somewhere, tucked away.

“Hi, I’m Mr. Livesay, how can I help?”

At lunch, I walked around the lot. I found a nice strong tree. I stayed in its shade a while. When you look at me, Durham, tell me I’m not transparent – take me, love me, hold me, validate those years – but be honest with what you see.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“In one aspect, yes, I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.” – Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls

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