Coffee Log, Day 303

Hi.

Coffee: Barrie’s Blend Drip, office coffee; I was out of beans so I brewed at the bank. The color was like flat cola. The taste wasn’t far from that.

Every kid’s out early on Christmas vacation. They’re stalking the parking lot in posses, preening colorful sweaters, eyeing this free time like it’s the last two weeks to live.

I talked to a woman today who just got back from the Amazon. A cruise, twenty-two days on the river. Her favorite words were ‘luxury’ and ‘they.’ An example: “We were in such luxury on the ship, and we got to see how they lived in the little villages when we stopped.” At one point, she mentioned fishing for piranhas. And I thought that must be awful to fish for little nibbling hunters biting up the river just like her.

It’s a manic Friday, at least with the weather. Wind whips up, then it’s calm and warm and sunny, and then there’s clouds and rain. Temper tantrums.

I had a Subway sandwich again because I wanted to be part of something in aggregate: part of the small, hurried communities of shopping-center interlopers who live and breath and work to be the kind of people that hunt pirhanas, but that will never get there, and so have kept their soul.

Novel Count: 6,879

Currently Reading: Nothing! Done with Cherry, still deciding on the next book.

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May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Coffee Log, Day 193

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast from Sheetz; the taste was a nice mix of cardboard and acetone.

I drove to Pilot Mountain. I started to climb it. The trail was tough. I was wearing jeans, it was hot and humid. I didn’t have much water. I was alone. I walked back down and drove to the peak. It was busy on the peak, lots of families. There’s a short climb from the summit to a rocky overlook. I took it. No-one was on the overlook with me. North Carolina was more green than I’d ever seen her. I searched the tobacco farms and treestands, highways like shriveled veins. I didn’t find anything. In the end, I drove down Pilot Mountain without knowing why I’d come.

Why do we travel? I’m sure everyone has their own answers, or at least you might stumble into one if you searched hard enough. In the past, I thought I traveled for stories. In a sense I still do – I’m writing about my day-trip, telling you all about it. But stories are everywhere and I’ve always had the sense there’s something else going on, a nagging drive, a persistent bug-bite.

The drive home was bright. The drive over was cloudy. Both trips I kept the windows down and music turned loud. I had my old iPod – a relic from 11th grade – set to shuffle; I was partying with ten years worth of memories. I’ve moved since 2007. I’m not a Burlington-bound straggler, though I’m still Burlington born. I’ve done three stints in Durham, one in Chapel Hill, I’ve settled on Cary like old geese, too fed up with flying to join the flock again. Each place I’ve lived has had a different sound, from early aughts indie to vibrant 2010 punk bands. What I’m saying is: all of those homes are stable, codified.

But not travel.

I saw a big spider before I turned around on the ascent. It was making webs between two dead trees, both bleached like surfer girls. It had white spots on its legs and a ruddy body. It was horrible, innocent, and interesting, and most of all it was something I’d never have to see again. We can be anything when we travel. When you’re in company, that anything is a perfect pocket world where it’s easier to understand each other. When you travel alone, you’re free even from that. There’s no fixed point to look at and say: ‘Ah! This is something that understands me!’ You can crawl up the cracked-rock road and peel every spider from its branches; you can crush leaves and topple sprouting flowers; in bleak nature, you begin to see your features like staring too long in the campfire, eyes dry, head hurting, but arms and legs capable of dancing great, horrible shadows across the forest floor. Or, you are free to turn back and walk to your comfortable car with it’s predictable clutch, take a short drive up a mountain, and stare a little lonely at the valley you sometimes call your home.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.” – Simone de Beauvoir

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Coffee Log, Day 99

Hi.

Coffee: Hot Americano, Caribou Coffee

I read a long article about a 1950’s program to deculture native Alaskans by shipping them to White/Western boarding schools. It was well written. I think it was on Politico?

Unrelated, except maybe on a subliminal level, I took lunch at China Chef in Apex, a teensy spot two blocks from the bank. It was busy. Every booth was taken but one – a weird half-thing with plush on one side and tables stuck to the windows. I was the only white face. The other customers were all Latinx and most had Sherwinn-Williams shirts. The staff was Asian.

I like to feel uncomfortable. I feel most comfortable being uncomfortable. There’s some good in this, I think – I like the America who weaves every culture into her dress (or pants, take your preference). That said, I try to check my tourism.

The tofu was great today. It was crispy. The rice was good too. I remember cracking natto on breakfast rice bowls in Japan. The kids’ eyes go wide at the stuff – some love it, some don’t, but none of them thought an American would give it time. I did, it was fine, and secretly I liked the attention. They laughed a lot so I think they liked to give it, too.

We need the familiar and the different to define ourselves and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just have to be vigilant that when you look her in the eye – whoever she is, wherever she comes from – you’re giving back as much as you take.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style.”- R.L. Stine

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