Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 282

Hi.

Coffee: Black Drip, Sweet Hut Bakery; it was the second time I went here, an East Asian bakery on Peachtree selling all kinds of bean buns and glazed kringles; we went for breakfast, took our tray to the counter, watched people walking dogs up and down the road under a crisp blue sky; I tried the ones you tried; we each had our own coffees; unlike the bean-buns, the coffee wasn’t sweet, wasn’t savory; it was weak as old beetles clinging to trees in a rainstorm, and tasted more like dishwater than brewed beans; still, I enjoyed it, because it was what I needed before a long day, a last day, plane flights, some caffeine, a little perk to sustain me

I came back from Atlanta. It was a full plane and crowded airports. We’re in the season where everyone’s going, going, going, trying hard to find somewhere to be. I saw a man in a button up rushing back and forth to ticket counters trying to check what flight he was on, a woman in a red cap and black shawl and crooked knees, two brown dogs and one white one, frustrated day-workers, a baggage loader doing jump-ups on the conveyor belt, and my own two tired feet in new socks and new shoes standing around waiting for a plane in the company of pleasant memories.

It was my third trip to the city. Isn’t it funny how the more you see of a place the smaller it’s getting? Like an erector set, only every time you add so many buildings you move down a scale, cutting off a few inches, cramming more and more into the same fixed space. I saw a lot more of Atlanta over the past four days. We went walking, driving, took a few trains. We ended up in Five Points where the wind was blowing ten degrees out of us and all the shops were closed while the Georgia State kids were on winter break. We took a trip to a district thirty-minutes outside the city where the buildings were emptying out to lay-offs and a long black turkey chased trucks out of the parking lot.

And now I’m back. Cary creeps around me like a missionary, handing out it’s pamphlets and hoping to win me over. But my heads still knocking around the Atlanta streetcorners, shaping up the city, and I think it’ll be there for a while.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 280

Hi.

Coffee: Iced Americano, Ovation; a cafe on the corner of the Woodruf Arts Center in Atlanta; the view is glass and metal and dead cut grass; the coffee tastes too light for the scenery

I’m sitting in a semi-foreign city on my 30th birthday, a good book by Baldwin I’m too tired to read, heavy backpack, fresh off a flight, missing part of my front tooth. When I woke up this morning, I tongued the tooth and half came off. Twenty years ago, I’d broken it on the back of a classroom chair.

A new decade, beginning with dental repair. Who knows a good Atlanta dentist?

There’s an abbreviated feeling to the morning. Slippery picture window, hims and hers out on the cold museum grounds. We’re all walking quick towards somewhere warmer. I imagine you in a coat and boots coming from your office, hands tucked, ears gone red, a celebration, but briefly, because who has time to celebrate in 30 degrees, who has enough patience to part their lips when there’s just jagged broken edges inside? I’m dreaming of things I can’t do with you yet, and 30 is exasperating.

For now, this is what I’ve got: coffee through a straw on my good side, steel tables, and restless wind.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 202

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Sitting at home on a gray day on my lunch break writing a Coffee Log early because I’ll be driving this evening. Weather calls for thunderstorms. Open highways, greased lightning.

Last night was spent packing. I’ll be living the weekend away. I haven’t gone too far lately, this will be the farthest. I like long drives. Here’s one I remember:

Ten years ago, headed back from the beach with a full car. We’d gone to a concert, Bomb the Music Industry! It was a good concert and let out at midnight but none of use felt like staying in New Bern (or had the money to). E was driving. He took us home through the early morning. We listened to more music, but softer because all our ears were blown. Just past Raleigh, I fell asleep. There were guys to either side of me. Warmer than a blanket, people I still know.

I’m not taking today’s trip alone. A different E’s coming with me, though we part ways when we get there. Sometimes it’s nice to take stock of what you’ve got, the people who won’t lose you, no matter what kinds of storm winds blow.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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God have pity on the smell of gasoline
which finds its way like an arm
through a car window,
more human than kerosene,
more unctuous, more manly.

S. Jane Sloat, In the Voice of a Minor Saint

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 159

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I remember being on a boat. On the North Carolina coast there’s an aquarium, except it’s off-shore on an island and you have to take a ferry to go see it. This was twenty years ago. I was with my family, mom and dad.

What stuck with me most about the ferry were the seagulls. They lapped the water like a wedding procession, lining up in their best white gowns, waiting for bread. My mom had brought a stale loaf from our kitchen. We were a whole wheat family so the bread was dark brown and balled up well in your hands.

I tossed it. The seagulls latched on. They picked the best pieces, or fought for the rest. Blinding, a blizzard, white wet snow. By the time we got to the aquarium, there was no room in my head for other memories. The seagulls are what followed me, nothing else.

A few years ago, thousands of miles distant from the NC coast, I took a different ferry, much larger, and with a few friends, from the island of Miyajima back to mainland Japan, where we had a train to catch for our Hiroshima hotel. I was beat. We’d been walking since the morning and we’d climbed a mountain. We’d watched the sky go grey and threaten summer thunderstorms from the peak. But the thunderstorms never came.

On the ferry, I mostly thought about getting older. It’s the kind of thought you have when you’re leaving a place you’ll never see again. Halfway up the mountain, I’d gotten exhausted. I had to slow down. I was with three other Americans, they were all a few years younger, and they were happy to wait for me (we took up by a stream trailing down the mountain), but I felt bad about it anyway.

Eventually, I pushed on with them and reached the peak. At the top was a rock with no railing, a sheer fall into green forest. My companions climbed the rock and let their legs hang like Christmas mistletoes, but my arms were too heavy to lift myself and my head was full of vertigo, so I sat down in some dust by the old, grey stone. I looked up at the sky and it didn’t look any different now than it had at the foot of the mountain. Gradually, as clouds came, I took to sleep.

I couldn’t have been out for more than a second, but when I woke up I saw a single black crow on a gnarled, toothless tree. It had it’s head cocked and eye bobbing like it saw me, and when I’d rubbed the sweat off my forehead and gotten myself more conscious, the crow took off, careening toward the ocean, vanishing near the water where I’d soon embark a ferry, and leave Miyajima for good.

Grey-black skies at the end of something, or white seagulls at the beginning. Always getting ferried between the two.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

I was and still am that same ship which carried me to the new shore, the same vessel containing all the memories and dreams of the child in the brick house with the toy tea set.

Luisa A. Igloria

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 77

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand; today was the first time in two weeks that I ground my own coffee for the morning; I put four scoops in the grinder and sat in my desk chair turning the handle; the beans went ‘swoosh!’ like they always do; beach sand; things taste better when you put a little work in them; the coffee was like old daydreams, the kind you can still get lost in from time to time.

Today I got caught in traffic coming and going from Burlington. I was driving down for mother’s day. We ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that puts chicken broth in their rice and lard in their beans. Hard times for a vegetarian, but it was nice seeing my parents nonetheless.

Back to the traffic jams – today was rainy. Fits and starts of the stuff, never a full-on storm. I guess that’s why there were so many accidents. People weren’t prepared for the wet flashes. There was no telling what would happen next.

On the way down, I spend half and hour at a full stop listening to old mixtapes. Coming back, I called a friend. Both ways, the wet grey day brought bright colors out of the parked cars. The rear-lights were bulging zits over the back bumpers. The paint could be anything from candy to a pocket full of change.

One thing I like about driving is how it forces you to slow down. You’re at the mercy of something outside of yourself – the traffic won’t move no matter how much you yell at it. Most days, I’m wrestling with the things I can control. It’s nice taking a break sometimes.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

Frank O’Hara

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 54

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; I’ve been putting off cleaning my coffee pot for a couple weeks but I finally bought white vinegar; I ran the vinegar for two cycles, dumped it, rinsed it, ran the machine with water; the coffee still tastes the same, but it’s got more confidence than before; cleaner; self-assured; that kid in middle school who made all A’s and didn’t even know people were poking fun at her about it; blank paper.

Yesterday’s Coffee Log was live. I read a few selections from the past year at Fig Raleigh. I answered a few questions. “Do you ever worry about alienating the friends and family that you write about?” Yes, but I don’t stop writing about them. I wouldn’t know how to stop. Etc, etc. After the questions, I listened to twelve colleagues read. They read fiction and poetry. I like being an audience for people who’ve got something to say.

I’m driving to Richmond today. I’m excited for the trip. I’m nervous for the trip. I feel like one of those puppies you see in commercials – eyes wide, half-wanting to be adopted, half-scared of everything outside the pen. It’s been five years since I’ve traveled on my own. I used to make a point of traveling – taking off to wherever. Then I thought ‘hey, I need to get to know a place, I need to responsible to the people that feed me with their taxes.’ I’ve been getting to know NC like an old-new friend, someone you lost contact with long enough to forget about them. Now that I kind of know her I’ve forgotten important parts of myself.

Back to the reading: I love listening to people’s voices. The way you say something on stage is different from how you and I are talking. And it’s different from person to person. Z came to watch me. Then we stood in the audience together and listened to the other performers. He said everyone had a different style. They did have different styles. I don’t think there’s anything more honest than putting yourself in a spotlight. It’s not the you that comes naturally, it’s everything you’re aspiring to be.

Tomorrow, I’ll write this blog from a hostel bar. Or a Richmond cafe. Or a bench outside an art museum. Or a street corner. Or the backseat of my car. Who knows? I’m two blades of grass pressed together, stuck between your teeth, anticipating whatever kind of sound is about to blow.

Novel Count: 38,047 (I’ve been so stuck on preparing for the open mic feature, the trip, business at work, that the novel’s gotten stagnant. And now that it’s stagnant I don’t know what to do. I’ll push through, but that might mean surgery. I might cut out some things, change some others. Marriage – hard work to fall in love all over again.)

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 52

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: 2
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

The thunder woke me up twice last night. When I woke up it sounded more like a long checklist of things to do.

Sometimes when I’m bored or lonely I’ll take a long shower. I tilt the nozzle so it’s close to the drain and lie down. I’m not too tall (five-foot-seven) so I fit going lengthwise in the tub. It feels like one of those rides at the water park: a dark, gushing tunnel, no room to move.

In the spring, I like to sit outside and think about smoking. I don’t smoke. Not at all now, not much ever, but nice days are conducive to watching thick burnt embers trail out of your mouth and no matter what I do I can’t seem to shake that image. Burnt lungs in a fine garden. It’s the contrast, maybe.

Later this week I’m going to Richmond. I don’t know what to expect from that trip. A coworker gave me suggestions. I spoke to a hostel worker about parking options over the phone. Secretly, I’m exhausted, and when I think ‘vacation’ I see a dark blanket wrapping me up at home, but I have to go, because if I don’t it means something I’m not ready to admit: that I’m not someone with the energy to get out and move.

I saw a scared cat. She was hiding around the corner from a rough brown dog. I came down the stairs and scared her a little more, then she recognized me and we got along. I’m a scared cat some days, and others I’m coming down the stairs. No telling which I’ll be tomorrow. No choice but to find out.

Novel Count: 38,047

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

regret is mostly caused by not having
done anything.

Charles Bukowski