Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 80

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I drove across town today for a meeting. You could see the places where we’d had hail. Yesterday, a big storm blew through intermittently, pummeling roofs and cars. When it left, it had sucked all the summer heat up and left brisk wind.

Later, I cooked black beans and rice for dinner. I spent an hour chopping vegetables. My hands still smell like lime. I watched the blue sky from the kitchen window, shivered when the wind would blow. That big empty space storms leave in the summer.

Now, a little past my bedtime, I try to rest.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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She awaits the rain like a writer embraces metaphors,
A drizzle isn’t for the child who dances in the storm.
Of rain that washes away the petrichor it brings,
A downpour of a hail of bullets, and she calls it spring.

Sanhita Baruah, The Farewell and other poems

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 78

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Trader Joe’s Brand

All day, the house has smelled like chicken. There’s a pot of skin and bones bubbling on the stove. My roommate put it on late last night and has been tending it since then. The water’s yellow. The bones have gone from gray to deep brown. Heat sucked out the marrow. At 2pm, I poured a glass of fizzy water and even that tasted like chicken. Potent, ‘fowl’ stuff.

I was re-reading a Murakami novel – ‘After Dark.’ It takes place between midnight and 6am in Tokyo. I took the book to the porch where the sky had gone gray but couldn’t find it’s tear ducts to rain. I sipped my chicken-flavored seltzer and read for three hours. The wind came and went. Some birds made a nest above me, in that spot where the third floor lips over ours. Kids were running around but I didn’t look for them. Four white guys played basketball across the creek and had a portable speaker blasting Drake.

Now it’s dinnertime and I’m finding it hard to have an appetite. It feels like I’ve been licking chicken skin since morning. I remember what it was like to eat meat. Bone-in, such a puzzle: you study a dead animal’s geography, engineer it to simpler shapes with your fingers and teeth. Just bones, you toss them, or at least I would, but sometimes we’re not satisfied. Sometimes you have to squeeze the bird of it’s blood and juices, milk it like a California almond, and drink that too. Is that better? Less wasteful? Absolutely. Snip the chicken like a magazine clipping, removing it completely from the green earth.

At 7pm, it still hasn’t rained. No use waiting, so I guess I’ll get on with my day.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens.


Isaac Bashevis Singer

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 61

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Last night, I bought a bean burrito and took it home. I ate the chips first so it was twenty minutes in that I found out they’d given me steak. Black as black beans, but sour like flesh. It tasted good. I let the steak sit on my tongue a bit before spitting it out. An opportunity to remember what it’s like to live off another critter’s life.

We all make mistakes. I’ve learned to let them roll off me (well, other peoples’ anyway). The lady at the taco shop was apologizing profusely, saying how frustrating it must have been since I don’t eat meat. I told it her it was fine, it happens. It does happen.

At the end of work today, we had an irate customer. I won’t get into the details, but he left spewing profanity. I think his biggest hiccup was that my boss is a woman. He kept asking to speak with me and I kept telling him to talk to her. She kept her cool. Eventually he left and we all laughed about it. It’s sad to see the world as two separate parts, disconnected, dangerously clean.

Our temporary dog goes home tomorrow. Her owner’s here, staying the night. I was petting the dog with my door open and she ran into my room. Her owner says ‘Just let her know she needs to leave.’ I didn’t mind her in my room, didn’t mind her leaving either. Her owner called her. She sulked out then started wagging her tail again. Water rolling off your back. We all make mistakes.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

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Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

L.M. Montgomery

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 45

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Rain came dramatically after work, a thunderstorm. It’s turned us all into frogs hopping between tiny islands of dry ground. We need the rain. It’ll wash off some of the pollen. Earlier, everyone was coughing on a yellow pine-pollen cloud.

I made something new for dinner. It had many familiar parts – onions, soy ground beef – but the seasoning was different. I chopped up cilantro. I added two limes’ worth of juice. I topped everything with cans of black beans. Mexican-inspired. I served it over rice. It was a good experiment.

Today was long and frustrating. I spent a lot of time spinning in place. Not literally, of course (that might have actually been fun). Work was a series of problems. I solved all of them, but they weren’t the kind of problems you feel any sort of accomplishment having solved.

I think that’s where I’ll leave it today. Right now, I’m drinking a glass of water and listening to the rain. I’m trying to move from ‘frog’ to ‘fish’ so when the thunderstorm goes long enough and the creek outside stars flooding, maybe it’ll carry me away.

Novel Count: 37,208

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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And since today’s all there is for now, that’s everything.
Who knows if I’ll be dead the day after tomorrow?
If I’m dead the day after tomorrow, the thunderstorm day after tomorrow
Will be another thunderstorm than if I hadn’t died.
Of course I know thunderstorms don’t fall because I see them,
But if I weren’t in the world,
The world would be different —
There would be me the less —
And the thunderstorm would fall on a different world and would be another thunderstorm.
No matter what happens, what’s falling is what’ll be falling when it falls.

Alberto Caeiro


Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 19

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I talked to a lawyer about taxes. Not my taxes and not his either. He doesn’t do tax law. But somehow we got on the subject and were talking for over an hour. We also talked about computer architecture and teenager’s cell phones. I feel best after long conversations with people I don’t know. It was an interesting day.

A friend told me about his sleep studies. They smacked him with Apnea and a few other things. My father had Apnea also and I remember him wearing a face mask. My friend calls it a face-hugger. Alien, anyone? Anyway, there were these nights when I was little and scared where my bedroom would fill up with night terrors. I’d go into my parents’ room. They’d let me sleep beside them as parents do. Some nights, I’d sleep beside my father while he used the face mask. It sounded like an ocean. With boats. And crabs. And a few storms.

Right now, I’ve got the wok cooking veggies while the rice finishes. I added soy sauce and vinegar and oil. The oil’s bubbling. It sounds like red wine. I’m not having any wine because it’s a weekday but I can imagine. A spring day. Wildflowers. Sweet dreams.

Novel Count: 30,349

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three.

Antoine de Saint-Exuperry, The Little Prince


Coffee Log, Day 330

Hi.

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

The guy to the right of me had a pepperoni pizza. The lady to the left was eating a grilled turkey salad. And across was a woman who had a hamburger, she was apologizing about the onions. When I opened my order to eat, it was a simple green salad.

There aren’t many vegetarian options at my work’s corporate office.

Later in the day, I got to go home a couple hours early. I stopped at the grocery store for more deodorant and then at my favorite chinese joint on the way home. The woman knew my order: “Tofu garlic sauce!” so I tipped an extra dollar. I sat in the lobby smelling hot oil cook a young latina’s chicken wings.

On the drive home, I thought about Greece – about Mousakka in particular, and that one time I offended a fancy restaurateur for not eating theirs. It was made with veal. I was still a carnivore, but couldn’t bring myself to eat calf meat. I had two servings of strawberry icecream instead.

A personal ethic involves excluding yourself from culture. Sometimes even cultures you would very much like to be a part of. It points you out as someone with a ‘choice,’ and not everyone has a choice, and that’s a fair critique. And it points you out as a spoil sport, a sore thumb, both of which are a little less fair.

I remember having turkey sandwiches a long time ago and loving them, and then a little later thinking turkey was a bland meat. And at some other times, I’ve seen wild turkeys on the roadside looking punch-drunk or confused. Bland animals, too.

Sometimes, I only know how to love myself in opposition to my nature, and in opposition to my culture, and I think that’s equally beautiful and bothersome.

Novel Count: 15,761

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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“I went to the kitchen and felt-up the turkey.”

Charles Bukowski, Women


Coffee Log, Day 312

Hi.

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

There’s an animal conservatory in Caswell County, not too far from where I used to live. It takes in animals that are abandoned or rescued and not safe to keep anywhere else. It has lions. Today, one of those lions got loose while it’s cage was being cleaned. It killed a young woman who’d been interning there for two weeks before being shot and killed itself. A tragedy, but an all-around innocent one.

When I was 15, I got invited to play with lion cubs. The then-wife of a friend of my father’s worked in conservation. She’d take the wild animals to her home to nurse them until they were fit to ship to wherever. Fifteen years ago, she was nursing two cubs.

I sat on the floor and let the lions walk over me. They made little growls that sounded like a frustrated raccoon. You were supposed to pet them rough – if you were gentle, you were prey. So I slapped the cubs on the tops of their heads. Their fur was wiry. Their bodies were muscle. It felt like cheating – like I’d been let in on some secret the world saves for its gentler species, something off-limits for all-consuming humanity.

Tonight, I cooked a feast. My parents gave me a wok for Christmas. It was a thoughtful gift. I spent an hour seasoning the wok with oil and green onions and ginger. I cleaned it over and over to get the factory oil off. Then, when it was ready, I tossed together vegetables, onions, more aromatics – fresh basil – and tried flash-frying tofu. I finished the dish with chili paste.

The dinner was good. Bloodless. There’s no sin in a wild animal picking it’s game. There’s no real sin in a human embracing her wild tendencies. But I’d like to think I’m a little better than the lions because – when given the choice – I’ll choose not to eat them. It’s a lonely world, artificially pure, privileged, but that’s also what makes it kind of divine.

Novel Count: 8,178

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; Four chapters in and it’s consciously meandering. Jury’s out if it ends up anywhere interesting.

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Did you think the lion was sleeping because he didn’t roar?

Frederich Schiller