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


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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