Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 32

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; usually the office coffee tastes terrible but in a good way; today it tasted like nothing but in a bad way; I used the same scoops, same amount of water, same machine; no telling what was different.

The first day back to work after a vacation (even just one day off) feels momentous. All of a sudden you don’t recognize your coworkers. You can’t find that paperwork. Someone moved the stapler. The rest of the day it trickles back, these bits of beige confetti. “Hi Sandra, how’s the kids?” “Oh Steve, you joker.” But the suspicion that you’ve walked in on something – the whole entire world with it’s pants down – persists. By 5:00, you’re comfortable, but you’re keeping one eye open while you sleep.

I’ve got a short work week. Friday feels like it’s just a day away (really it’s three). I’ve got no plans for the evenings, no plans for the weekend, but spring’s perked up and now I’m restless – that feeling you should always be doing more. Ah, well. I’ll ride this wave as long as it lets me. I’ll write a little more. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, next week will be here soon enough.

Novel Count: 34,291

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.

Maya Angelo

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 18

Hi.

Coffee: Breakfast Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; over-eager like a new puppy, it jumps in your mouth and wags around, restless, happy, wholesome, until a few minutes later it pees on the floor. The blend was good at first but I brewed it too strong. Spent the rest of the day anxious.

I tried to write. I had writer’s block. Lately, I’ve been alternating between ‘off’ and ‘on.’ Either I’ll write five hundred words in fifteen minutes or nothing in a day. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing. It isn’t an easy thing. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing. Maybe that’s a part of a larger problem.

I’ve been planning a vacation. I was picking locations, settled on Richmond. I’ll go there in late April. It’s only three hours away. I picked the city because it’s got a good hostel. The last hostel I stayed at was in DC. Four years ago, touring American University before I applied for their MFA. I got accepted to that one and with a half-ride scholarship. Still couldn’t afford it. Still couldn’t go. Anyway, what I remember most about that trip was two things: the creeky bunk beds; having a quick coffee with M. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We caught up at a cafe and talked about her fear of mannequins. I kind of fell in love with her. Later, I’d tell her that, and later still, I’d really mean it. But that afternoon was just coffee and mannequins.

That’s it – the first day of daylight’s savings. Maybe that’s why I feel hungover. Maybe that’s what opened up a thin hole. Memories. Bugs. Afternoon static. A cool day, then a hot day, now a cool one again. Things come back to you. Or at least, we often hope they do.

Novel Count: 30,349

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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I went to the Hotel of the Violet Hippopotamus and drank five glasses of good wine.

Anton Chekhov


Coffee Log, Day 352

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; I woke up in the morning and ground the beans. Maybe I was still walking around with one foot in the bed because I ground too much. The coffee was thick like tar. It was too strong. One cup and my blood was buzzing. Oh well; I drank most of it anyway.

There’s this bar on the far side of downtown Cary. To get to it, you drive down Walker which right now is under extensive construction. When I moved here a year ago, Walker was a calm street with a few white houses, a city park, and a church. Now they’re building a parking deck where the park was and they’ve knocked down half the church. Even some of the houses are gone. I wonder what happened to the people who lived there?

The bar was busy. It was a nice day. Warm weather, a blue-sky breeze. I drank alone and listened to three guys talking about their jobs at Epic. Whenever one of them made a point, the next would make their point a couple decibels louder, until all three were shouting. It wasn’t an argument. They were all smiling.

I’m on vacation right now. Just four days, not going anywhere. I took the time because I can and because it’s important to sit alone with yourself every once and a while. R was working and E was gone. I had the apartment to myself. I left the windows open and thought about a year ago, then a year before that. I drank a bit of cold coffee from the pot. It was strange. It feels like every day they tear down a new building inside of me and there’s just no telling what will go up next.

But that’s okay. That’s just living. The only thing constant is this: right now, you’re here.

Novel Count: 20,929

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Drenched in café au lait stucco, the mall was bordered by an example of America’s most unique architectural contribution to the world, a parking lot


Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer



Coffee Log, Day 215

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I had the day off. I didn’t do much with it. I read some. I sat outside. I got a call from a friend who’s having bad job interviews. Some real scumbags, power creeps. We laughed about it. I thought about drinking. I didn’t drink. I sat outside again. I decided to buy pants. I drove to Old Navy. I looked at all the pants two times each. I didn’t like any of them. I drove home. There was a maintenance guy at the door. I let him in. He said our stove was working up. I told him I hadn’t noticed anything. We spent a half-hour together in the kitchen. He turned the burners on. He boiled some water. “Weird. Not good,” he said. I asked him what was wrong. He said he wasn’t sure anything was wrong but not to use the burners ’cause it might burn the house down. He had a good laugh. A NY accent. He’s been Southern for ten years.

I was going to cook dinner but I didn’t. I ate cereal and watched TV. A hot/cold/hot September’s showing summer reruns. One second I feel like I’m on to something, the next everything’s over.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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“The bell was ringing
Our souls were singing
Do you remember, never a cloudy day.” September, Earth Wind & Fire
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Coffee Log, Day 190

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s

Late August heatwave. My dash reads 98. At least I parked in shade.

A busy day – at work, after work. Thursday smells like the weekend you can’t bite into, green bananas.

I want to take a trip for Labor Day. I had two trips planned but both fell through. For a few years, each get-out-of-town has been preceded by pop-up drama, heartfelt taking stock, calendar confusion. I might go somewhere alone. I might climb a mountain to remind myself I can.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

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“Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.” – Jack Kerouac

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Coffee Log, Day 160

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; advertised strong, rich and dark; visions of the high-powered machos from Sex and the City; in reality, it came out rough and mellow like a rained-on kitten.

I went to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary, NC. It’s a Tuesday, so I was expecting it to be vacant. There was a packed driveway. Kids were led around by girls in green polos, a summer camp. Lots of stay-at-home mothers. I was one of two men on the trail, adult men, and that saddened me. How many of those mothers would rather be working? How many dads would rather spend a cloudy Tuesday with their kids?

The trail snakes down a terrace of plank paths and risers. It’s well marked, educational. The bluffs were covered in ferns. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re a few hundred miles west in the Appalachians. The drops are steep, valley’s unknowable. I’ve been to Hemlock Bluffs two times before, once with friends and once with a lover. In my memory, it’s always cloudy. The trail goes fast on the way down. It burns your calves on the way up.

Last day of vacation, last day of July, the dog-hot days of summer. My neck and arms are pricked by tiny bug-bites. Cicadas are singing in the pines. Twenty years ago, my mom would yank me to Roses right about now, shopping for pencils, paper, big stashes of things a kid only ever uses half of through the school year. The scared sweat of meeting rooms full of people, of stacking black letters beside your name. I miss it sometimes, playing the academic game. You’re a specific kind of ‘free’ when teachers and parents tell you what to do.

On the way out the park, I walked by an open door. The conservancy was buzzing; big plastic tables; a full class of just-past-toddlers sorting sticks and leaves. I hope their mothers are happy working, hope their fathers pick them up. To the kids, it won’t matter for another couple decades – right now, all they need to know is which leaf is from the birch tree, which stick fell off the tallest pine.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“There’s always a bit of suspense about the particular way in which a given school year will get off to a bad start.” – Frank Portman, King Dork

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Coffee Log, Day 159

Hi.

Coffee: Americano from Caribou Coffee; it was lukewarm but the summer day made up for it.

A busy day. I took work off, planned PTO. There’s a wellness program that gives a credit on insurance. It requires a quick physical – just some measurements, a blood sample. I scheduled the physical for today.

The place was hard to find. It was a diagnostics shop, a number in a big office building. I circled the building a few times without finding it. An old couple almost backed into me. Finally, I took a chance on an unmarked door. It took me to a foyer, some elevators. The diagnostic place had a name marked on the second floor.

I don’t like getting my blood drawn. Something about a needle in my veins, my own heart pumping the blood away. In high school I donated, I guess I was tougher then. Maybe age has made me squeamish; maybe I’m too aware of all the ways my heart could stop.

Otherwise, the day’s been good. I finally saw a thunderstorm. It didn’t last long, but it was good company as I put the finishing touches on a short story. I’ll be submitting it to journals so I can’t post it here for a while, but something to look forward too?

I’m off tomorrow too. Vacation, vacation, the days pump out voluntarily.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” – Clive Barker

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