Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 250

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Time is a toddler – uncooperative and full of surprises.

I’ve been having a hard time budgeting. Not my money (it’s my job to be good at that) but my time. The more you pour into one thing the less there is to go around. It’s an easy idea, everyone gets it, but there’s a feeling you don’t know until it cuts you up. This piece, that piece, weigh them, leave one behind. There might be room in your heart for everything you love but there’s not enough room in life.

I read an article about how people are unrecognizable as they grow older. It was a study, it followed a few individuals from grade school into their 70’s. Their personalities changed. Wants, priorities. Compare the recordings from when they were younger and you often couldn’t see them in themselves.

I was a cellist. In sixth grade, that’s all I was. Ask me what I’d be in ten years and I’d say professional: playing in an orchestra on a big stage, Manhattan, or Barcelona, somewhere sufficiently fancy and important, one of those places that always smell like it’s about to rain. But I didn’t make it ten years. I quit playing after high school, haven’t touched the cello since.

I felt good today. I’m settling into a recent promotion and we just hired someone to take my old position. I’ve been showing her the ropes. There’s a kind of confidence that only comes from knowing something well enough to show someone else how to do it. I’m a social animal. I might not care about all the sorts of status that society does, but I can’t avoid caring about feeling comfortable and accomplished in the roles I place myself in. And all that really scares me because how much blood will be left to move my fingers when I get home? How much space in my brain will there be for anything else?

The worst thing you can do is have the cake without tasting it. You baked it, might as well dig in. Like it or not, you’ve written off your time before you realize it’s gone. The best hope for any of is to set ourselves in motions we can live with.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Tell me, he said, “What is this thing about time? Why is it better to be late than early? People are always saying, we must wait, we must wait. what are they waiting for?”
“Well […] I guess people wait in order to make sure of what they feel.”
“And when you have waited—-has it made you sure?”

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 126

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place Drip, Apartment Office Coffee

Blood-red back of the eyes when you’re waking up late, sun already exasperating your room. I had dreams about you. I left those dreams for another day.

Later, in the evening, surrounded by friends, tv on in the background, sound like rolling in an inner tube down a wet ride at the water park, I check Facebook and see an old friend getting married. He’s all smiles in pearly white photos. She’s all smiles too.

Soon, another bedtime, to dream of drowning cities so stuck in old ruts they have to paddle.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. 
I am haunted by waters.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

Coffee Log, Day 360

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m sitting back in my chair with the keyboard on my lap (it’s wireless). I’ve been sitting like this for fifteen minutes. I’m trying to think about what to write.

Some days get rolled out like dough. A strong-armed woman in the sky slaps you up with a rolling pin. That is, time just kind of passes.

I woke up on time. I skipped breakfast but still read a book in the kitchen and did a little writing on my own novel, my morning ritual. At noon I took a shower and went grocery shopping. Through the afternoon, I alternated reading, dozing, and preparing things for a D&D game. Oh, and I did my taxes. Like I said – not much happened. Now it’s 8:00 and I’m here.

I read this article once that talked about the perception of time: it’s not constant. You’ll have moments that last your whole life and days that are gone before you’re blinking. New Age gurus tell you to be more present. Capitalist mongers tell you to work more. In the end, though, I’m not convinced you can control it – that hidden hand of time.

As I write this, my eyes are going lower. I’m tired. It was a long week. So goes another Saturday – eaten up like a mouse’s cheese. Oh well. There’s always tomorrow.

Novel Count: 23,970

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell


Coffee Log, Day 212

Hi.

Coffee: Drip, Carolina Coffee Shop; it was sour enough to know it had been sitting out for a while. The restaurant was busy. Our waitress said she’d been on her feet since 8 am.

I’ve been eating at Carolina Coffee Shop for eighteen years, first going there every now and then on trips into Chapel Hill with my parents. I met my parents there today. It crowded. There was a UNC football game so I had to park in Carrboro and walk up. It was sunny, humid, but mostly pleasant. There were kids in blue polos, dads in blue polos, girls dressed better than their dates. I walked fast and checked my reflection in the windows. Lots of unfamiliar windows, new buildings, I looked five years younger in them. “I used to live here,” I kept thinking. You only get disgusted by places that grow up without you.

About 80% of the times I’ve eaten at CCS – which must be in the dozens – they’ve sat me in a booth on the western wall facing the door. The restaurant’s been renovated over and over but they keep on putting me there. The bar’s in arm’s reach. We’re halfway to the bathroom, halfway to the doors. If you swung a pendulum from the antiquated ceiling, it’d hit me square at the apex. I assume it’s cosmological: put me anywhere else and someone in China slips off a ladder; two-headed dogs are born; or all the whales beach on chilly coasts south of Anchorage.

Today, the view was my family on the booth-back, the struggling waitresses, foot traffic on Franklin. Yesterday, it was the same. For everything that’s changing, this one thing can’t. Everyone you’ve said goodbye to, all in one place.

I got the eggs benedict but traded ham for avocado. It was good. Next time, I’ll probably order the same.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss
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Coffee Log, Day 210

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Years ago, I dated a nanny. She worked for two families while we were together, one in North Raleigh, the other somewhere south of Chapel Hill. The second family had infants. They lived in a new development, the kind you drive by and get shivers, like: ‘Have I been here before?’ There were few trees and lots of cul-de-sacs. To get to the family’s house, you had to cross a creek that always had green water.

About the only nice thing in that neighborhood was a circular playground squatting in a traffic circle. It was an island, not too big, some slides and monkey bars, park benches, young oaks. On days when I’d pick my partner up, we’d sometimes take the babies’ last stroll together. We’d stop in the circle and she’d say: “I can picture them goofing off here. It makes me feel old.” And of course we both saw it, six-year old dreams.

It’s been six years since I broke up with the nanny. I haven’t been to that neighborhood since. I’m sure the trees are taller, the creek’s probably flooded from Florence. I wonder if the playground is still there? It seems like every passing day people get more frightened of each other. Can’t let your kid wait for the bus alone, can’t trust the family next door. I have a hunch that instead of grass-stain memories, those kids are tapping iPhones in the safety of their home.

But I’m one to talk. I should get out more.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“Time is a game played beautifully by children.” – Heraclitus

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