Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 62


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

L came over. We’re playing Dungeons and Dragons tonight. For once, he’s DM’ing instead of me. That means he’s the storyteller, I’m an actor in the story. It’s a nice change of pace. A different perspective.

All my life, I’ve loved getting wrapped up in stories. My parents read me Narnia before I’d gotten to elementary school. I watched Power Rangers religiously. Maybe that’s where my itch to write comes from – when I run out of things to read, play, experience, I want to create them myself. There’s more to it than that, but it’s an important part.

At work today, we all talked about things that happened during the week. That’s what you do on a Friday – reminisce. One person had luck with their clients, another couldn’t get anyone to return their calls. We talked about lunches, talked about weather. A colleague gave me a bottle of Raspberry Vinaigrette because earlier in the week we’d been talking about how much we both liked salad. People understand themselves in retrospect. We’re not present creatures, but just-done narratives.

Tonight, I’m playing a Bard. The setting is 1939 America. My character makes magic by playing his harmonica. I’ve been looking up old folk songs on youtube. It’s a fun fantasy. A good way to end the week.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.

Toni Morrison

Coffee Log, Day 323


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I woke up sweating. I’m often hot, my roommates keep it warm. But my mind was in Michigan so I expected cooler weather.

I’d been dreaming about UofM. I visited once five years ago when a friend was attending for his master’s, and I applied three times to the MFA and was rejected. It’s a busy campus, coagulated onto Ann Arbor, and one small courtyard is Gothic like Duke. Being there left an impression, one I can’t seem to shake.

The dream had me missing flights for an open house. I was with someone I had a habit of missing important things for. It was simple, strange, a bit too vivid, there were pine trees everywhere. An old gray day, the way winter is supposed to be yet rarely is down here.

I’ll be 30 this year. Every day, I’m stepping further into a financial career, and every night I’m writing like a sickness eats me. I live in Cary. Nothing looks the way it did at 18.

But I guess that’s just getting older: having a set of people and places that only show up in heat-sweat dreams.

Novel Count: 13,159

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Truly landlocked people know they are. Know the occasional Bitter Creek or Powder River that runs through Wyoming; that the large tidy Salt Lake of Utah is all they have of the sea and that they must content themselves with bank, shore, beach because they cannot claim a coast. And having none, seldom dream of flight. But the people living in the Great Lakes region are confused by their place on the country’s edge – an edge that is border but not coast. 

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Coffee Log, Day 53


Coffee: Cup of the Day from BREW, Cary; purchased with a tip from my Mom. I remember waking up on Saturdays and smelling coffee. The kitchen was next door to my bedroom. My mom always brewed Colombian. She took creamer and sweet-n-low. By the time she was done with it, the coffee was bunny-fur brown. She let me try it once. I spit it out. Coffee’s something you grow into, like all complicated vices. Thanks for the coffee, Mom.

I walked downtown this morning. It’s three miles one-way, about an hour. I took a new route and saw blooming trees. My goal was the farmer’s market and I made it. It was a small thing, just a few stalls, but friendly. I recognized a few faces from the old days working at the bookstore.

I start a new job Monday. It’s the first 9-to-5 I’ve had in four years. Life is easier when you can arrange it, but there was something nice about retail’s irregularity. Maybe I’ll take more walks, keep on my toes. Or maybe I won’t. New things are never new for very long.

Currently Reading:
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison – Finished!! Lots of thoughts. I’ll have a review up soon, still deciding on the next book.

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“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”- Toni Morrison


Coffee Log, Day 44


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

This morning I talked to Z. I’m calling him Z for privacy. Z works the grounds of my apartment complex doing maintenance. He started a few months after I moved in. He’s worked eight years in the industry at other properties. He’s the only black man on staff. Yesterday, management gave him the fall for the negligence of his old, white supervisor.

I don’t want to get into the details of the write-up because it isn’t my affair and I couldn’t speak on it accurately. Instead, I’m going to list facts about Z – some that he has told me, some that I’ve observed – in no particular order:

1) Z has three kids; the third was born last week.

2) Z has solved every problem we’ve had in the apartment.

3) In February, during the biggest snow, Z drove the buggy and laid ice on the paths. We talked about the cold and sleet and snow.

4) On Z’s second day at the complex a white resident referred to him with a racial slur. He told management. Management said he must have misheard.

5) Z was accepted to NC State but declined to go in order to take care of his family. It was a hard decision but he doesn’t regret it.

6) Z is the only member of staff that remembers my name.

7) Pride runs like a wildfire when Z talks about his son.

Here’s a final fact. It’s not about Z, but I think it’s relevant:

8) Whenever they see me, the other staff are all smiles, all laughs, all jokes, always talking pleasant and small, trying to squeeze something out of me because they look at my brown hair and brown eyes and peach flesh and see worth and value, opportunity. They don’t know a thing about me and they don’t need to because of my skin. Meanwhile, they ignore the only man on their staff of any value because of his.

Currently Reading:
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison

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“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” – Toni Morrison


Coffee Log, Day 40


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

Happy April! The March Short Story Contest is over and we have a winner! I’ve contacted her and she’s coming up with a topic so you’ll see the brand new short story on the site soon! Thank you so much to all the people who entered. I’ve got some ideas for an April contest and I’ll post about it soon.

It’s been a long week. It’s felt like limbo. Last night I drank some red wine and my brain felt mushy. This morning, it still feels mushy. The sun’s out, very bright, I hear kids playing. Easter – the holiday was always chocolate rabbits for me, nothing else. Today there’s no chocolate but I can still tell it’s a holiday: friction in the air like rope burns. I might go out and see the town. I like it when places are all closed for something. All those dark lightbulbs and pulled shutters mean people have somewhere lovely to be.

Currently Reading:
Tar Baby, Toni Morrison

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“These people privatized their houses by turning them backward away from the street, but publicized their lives and talked about wine as though it were a theology instead of a drink.” – Toni Morrison, Tar Baby