Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 243

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s; yesterday, I cleaned out the coffee machine; I filled the pot with half water and half white vinegar, ran it for two cycles, then two more with just water; I washed my mugs; I wiped down the coffee grinder; this morning, just past 8am, I sat at my kitchen table and ground new beans; I used to do this every morning, waking up at earlier hours, getting ready for work; I got out of the habit, but I’m trying to bring it back; necromancy; two days from Halloween, sipping black coffee

I skipped the Coffee Log yesterday. That makes two missed Mondays in a row. I’m one of those downtown diners that shuts up after the weekend, food gone, money spent, not really wanting the rest but can’t afford to keep working. The worst sort of breaks are the ones you weren’t looking for.

It’s important to me to point out where I slip up. It’s important to normalize the hard things. I’ve been on vacation five days but don’t feel it. I’m fortunate, but don’t feel it. There’s complacency in success. The thing the world is working you toward isn’t some great meaning, just the blank stare of not having to look at anything. That’s capitalism. It’s a lot of things, maybe it’s human. I was talking to a friend the other day who said the thing she finds most beautiful about people is the way they’re also animals, messy. And I’d said the thing I find most beautiful about people is the way they can choose to be something else. I still believe that, but I’ve got no illusions that the choosing usually means closing the curtains on the outside, curling up with things that make you feel safe.

I met a man the other day who needed $4.50 to get the bus to Raleigh. I had a couple dollars cash in the car so I went and got it for him. While he was waiting for me, he had this look like ‘don’t pity me.’ And it was complicated because I did kind of pity him, but also I just wanted someone new to talk to, and this was a way to buy a bit of his time. We exchanged names and shook hands and I went back to reading James Baldwin at the cafe. ‘Another Country’, and I couldn’t stop questioning which country I was trying to put myself in.

Here’s another thing my friend said: ‘All those country songs about hometown happiness were written when the singers had already moved to Nashville.’ I thought that was really something.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller (FINISHED! Will have thoughts posted soon)

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He did not seem to know enough about the people in his novel. They did not seem to trust him. They were all named, more or less, all more or less destined, the pattern he wished them to describe was clear to him. But it did not seem clear to them.

James Baldwin, Another Country

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 133

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I almost forgot to post this today. I woke up early and went to work. I came home and crashed. I spent most of my hours in an almost stupor. Here and there, our temporary puppy nibbled at my toes to wake me up.

The most beautiful thing about today was wading through the scraps of 4th of July fervor. I talked to a guy who’d just come back from Europe. I talked to a number of people who’d taken burgers to grill on the beach. There’s an anxious look to people who’ve gotten off vacation. Their eyes are trying to find any cool pillow and soft mattress, a couch and two hours of serial dramas, the privacy of their own bed. They’ve had their great crusades into the wider world and come back a little bloodied, no matter how much fun they’ve had. For the first time since this same vacation last year, they feel comfortable doing nothing, having seen the world, tried it on, and found it doesn’t fit as perfectly as they were expecting.

I didn’t go anywhere for the 4th. I haven’t taken a vacation. In fact, I’ve mostly been working. But I still want to feel like all those vacationers coming home. So, that’s where I’ll end it – goodnight.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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When people went on vacation, they shed their home skins, thought they could be a new person.

Aimee Friedman, Sea Change

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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