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


Coffee Log, Day 297

Hi.

Coffee: Bolivian Medium-Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

My hands are on fire. I was cutting jalapenos for a while.

For dinner, I made: some kinda rice thing. I got the rice going in E’s Korean rice cooker. I chopped up two different kinds of peppers, an onion, soy ground beef. I stirred all that in a big silver bowl and added tomato paste to keep it together. Then I dashed it up with cinnamon, cayenne, and garlic powder.

The trick was the consistency. I’ve got a habit of cooking all the juices out. I’m not a delicate touch. Burning on the red-hot coil, I stirred in vegetable stock. It started to boil. Bubbles came up like drowning divers. I turned the heat down. Then it wasn’t hot enough so I turned it back up and added more liquid. This was a dance, we managed, but we’re not making prom king and queen.

Just past six, the rice was done. I poured five bowls for the week, one for tonight, and topped them all with my pepper stew. In the end, the stuff was rich and spicy and I could almost taste it through my stuffy nose. We’ll see how it is tomorrow when the sickness is gone.

Novel Count: 5,907; Yes, this is about 10,000 words less than the last count. Sickness brings clarity and all that. I’d pushed and pulled the novel in a few different directions over its first five chapters, settled on a direction, and now all the other wanderings are washed out. It’s progressive, even if it looks regressive. Onward and upward.

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

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Spike: Uh, listen Jet. You said “bell peppers and beef.” There’s no beef in here. So you wouldn’t really call it “bell peppers and beef,” now would you?
Jet: Yes, I would.

Cowboy Bebop, Episode 1: Asteroid Blues


Coffee Log, Day 256

Hi.

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

A real looker: thick lips, cute smile, curves in all the right places. Careless to the mud, down to earth, but pride in the eyes from knowing you’ve got something special.

I’m talking, of course, about a mulefoot pig.

I read this article about the mulefoots, how they’re drawing toward extinction. There are 200 or so of them left. Used to be a feed pig, popular in America, but they’re big, wild suckers who won’t let you keep them in little cages, and so with the advent of industrial farming nobody raises them anymore.

The article went on to talk about how there’s this midwestern movement to bring the pigs back. Like everything in the world, they need money to do it, and they get the money by selling mulefoot meat at a premium. So far, the initiative’s working and the population’s growing.

This gave me a headache. Not for the news itself, but for the ethical dilemma. I went vegetarian at the beginning of this year. I feel good, I feel healthy, and most of all I feel honest not eating animals I know I’d struggle to kill. I’m not one to speak my opinions too far onto others, but of course I think what I’m doing is generally right.

But then you have the mulefoots. Or whatever other livestock animal you’d like to insert. It’s a hard world for non-human life. Our efforts to thrive have cut the line on many species. There’s surely no way to save everything while still looking out for the interests of people. That said, when there’s this easy opportunity to save a few hundred pigs – a route to mutual benefit – only the catch is you take a knife to the hog’s throat and cut it into bacon, what’s the ethical move?

I honestly don’t know.

Novel Count: 5,177 words

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

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“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” – Winston S. Churchill

Mulefoot Pig article linked HERE

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Coffee Log, Day 230

Hi.

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

All eyes on the sky as a second Hurricane mumbles toward North Carolina. We’re not getting the brunt of it. Florida’s uprooted. Still, our ground’s so wet that any rain will be like more wine in Aunt Marilyn’s glass and we all know she’s a lush.

Haruki Murakami’s new book is out. I’ll buy it soon. I’ve been excited to read it but then I saw a note on Variety saying it’s got a central fascination with an elder businessman’s feverish pursuit of a 13-yr-old girl. I’m tired of books about men chasing women. I wrote a book about a man chasing a woman, though it was also about how often art becomes about a man chasing a woman. The whole mess scares me. What space is left for love when you’re breakneaking towards Midas’s touch, turning people into golden objects?

I cooked dinner. The onions were glassy, perfect. I’m so damn proud of myself. There’s enough for five people. I’ll end up eating the whole meal myself, spread over a few days.

My roommate’s filled the house with company. I’m a hair-raised badger spitting dirt from his hole. That is to say, I’ve got the door locked and I’m playing music. A perfectly contained room. I’m not a curmudgeon. Well, not usually. But I’ve never known how to handle a room full of people I half-know. I’m happy they’re happy. Now shove off as I dig this loam.

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

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“Step aside? I step aside for nobeast, whether it be a hallowed hedgehog, an officious otter, a seasoned squirrel, a mutterin’ mole or a befuddled badger!” – Brian Jacques, Taggerung

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Coffee Log, Day 228

Hi.

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

I didn’t take a shower until 4:00pm but when I did I lay down and let the water tell me about its day.

I didn’t work today; the banks are closed; it’s Columbus Day. A perfect celebration for modern America: wealthy white man who gets lost, screws up, loses half his fortune then makes it back on the backs of brown-skinned bystanders. Reminds me of a certain president.

But personally, it was a good day. I slept well. I dreamt of reconciliation; dreams are as close as you get sometimes. I spent the morning working on projects, the afternoon drinking ice water and submitting short fiction. For dinner, I went with a roommate to Remedy Diner in Raleigh. They serve the Impossible Burger, she wanted me to try it on account of my meatless-ness. I tried it. It was good. Had the tang like something had died for me, but nothing did, nothing with a head full of thoughts anyway, and so it was guiltless. Outside, NC State students paraded to this or that bar like they’d never know another summer.

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

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“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” – Haruki Murakami, After Dark

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Coffee Log, Day 201

Hi.

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

Hurricane’s coming. It was on NPR the whole morning drive. It was top of the feed on Google News. It came out of every set of lips I worked with today, some trembling, some laughing, some just full of gunk.

Hey Florence, nice to meet you.

After work, I went to the store and bought bread and peanut butter. Easy to eat without power as a vegetarian. Traffic was backed up around multiple corners outside every grocery store so I did my shopping at a Walgreens. It was busy too, but not so much. There were kids buying Halloween candy with their lunch money. There were families stocking toiletries, distressed dads. On the way in, I passed a woman in a sleek blue dress and wondered what party you might go to on a Monday. At checkout, a Swedish woman asked me two times if I had a membership card.

The Southern way is to joke about things that scare you. Power-poles falling on your relatives, rampant flooding, or the dry creekbeds of yet-another-industry-departure. We stand up straight and sneer real good and maybe have a drink or two. There’s no extra strength in the show, it’s just bravado, but there’s a power in the collective spell of casting your best side outward with a mouthful of tobacco spit and letting whatever comes, come.

I might drive home to beat the worst of Florence or I might stick it out. I hope those on the coast make it through.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.” – Bob Dylan

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Coffee Log, Day 189

Hi.

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

I cooked dinner: homefries and a soy chorizo hash. To start, I chopped vegetables into separate bowls. I washed the potatoes. In cubes, they glowed like church Sunday. Gold robed skin, candlelight eyes. I set them in a colander to drain.

Two pans going, sunflower oil popped concessions at the movie theater. I fried the potatoes with spritzes of pepper and dill, then cooked onions, mushrooms, tomatoes in a lot of a hot sauce. Fragrance. I watched starch break down and thought about moving: that feeling you get when all the stiff spots in your heart aren’t holding you up anymore. Later, I threw in the chorizo.

I haven’t cooked in a while. My last dish was quick fried rice from the freezer. My hands took to it tonight. Chop, pick, grip cutlery like you used to grip a sabre. Years ago, I was a fencer.

It was a good meal. It’ll last me three more days. I’ll be burnt-skin sunsets, rust on the train-tracks, the wandering evidence of comfort and home-cooked meals, at least a little longer.

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

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“I went to a cooking specialty store, bought tomatoes by the dozen, purchased every brand of spaghetti I could lay my hands on. Particles of garlic, onion, and olive oil swirled in the air, a fragrance one might have smelled on an ancient Roman aqueduct. Every time I sat down to a plate of spaghetti, I had he distinct feeling that somebody was about to knock on my door.…” – Haruki Murakami, The Year of Spaghetti

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