Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 48


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Countdown to my reading as featured author at the Third Wednesday Open Mic:
WHERE: Fig Raleigh, Raleigh NC
WHEN: 04/17/19; 6:30p.m. (open mic sign-ups start at 6:00p.m.)
Come out and support the Coffee Log!

I walked up a hill after work today. It wasn’t very big. A kid came roller-blading down the hill. She lives in my neighborhood and said ‘Hi!’ At the top, I said hello to a couple couples and their dogs. The sun was out but low enough that it didn’t burn. Then I got in my car and went to the store.

Driving. I kept the radio up and the windows down. The college station was playing grimy electronica. I liked the music. I took an extra loop through a neighborhood before stopping at the quick shop. The guy at the quick shop knows me. Not by name, and we never say anything to each other, but he’s always there and I’m there often enough. So he didn’t card me when I bought a six-pack.

I don’t know why I bought the beer. I thought it over the whole way home. It’s a Thursday. At home, I put the beer in the refrigerator. I looked at it in it’s plastic bag. Earlier in the day, I got a call from a coworker who was in a traffic accident. She was distraught. I pulled the plastic bag a bit to look at the bottles. They were starting to condensate. I closed the refrigerator door.

On the way back down the hill – driving home – I saw that kid again. She said “All these cars, I keep having to move out of the way.” I said “Yeah that’s no fair.” Now it’s late at night. The lights are still on. Even in the kitchen. Not a lot of things are fair.

Novel Count: 37,459

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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The wastes of snow on the hill were ghostly in the moonlight. The stars were piercingly bright.

Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 46


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Since it’s Spring, and cool, and a little cloudy, I took a short walk after work today. Nothing special, just a circuit around the apartment complex. There were weeks last summer where I would take a walk like this every day, but with winter and rampant rain for the last few months my strolls had tapered off.

Here’s what I saw:

Two kids were swinging on the swing set. They were both wearing blue, though not the same shade, and they were both talking loudly about school, though with different pitched voices. Isn’t it nice how kids become each other when they’re playing together? It’s easy to slip together with someone when you’re still learning who you are.

I saw a lot of crushed flowers on the creek banks. It rained so hard yesterday that trees were coming down. The creek flooded. The wind walloped. The brightest spring colors were washed into the mud. This means we’re close to summer. Another couple weeks and the heat-stink will be back. Oh well. Spring’s mostly beautiful because it doesn’t last.

A family of four was walking with their dog, a big black German shepherd, and the dad had to reign the dog in when it saw me. It started barking and slobbering. It was trying to protect it’s family. It looked very young. It hasn’t been around long enough to know I spend just about every day choosing to not be a threat. That’s what being human’s all about, right? The choice to avoid violence? Puppies can’t do that without a leash and a firm hand.

Two geese went by as I got home. They shared a long, sad honk. They looked like they were headed somewhere, maybe farther north for summer. I don’t know what they were sad about, what they were missing.

Novel Count: 37,208

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are (the geese), a wavering V headed directly over the hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.
They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.

Wallace Stegner

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 17


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand; last of the batch. I had plans today, the plans fell through. So instead I had three cups of coffee in a sunlit room watching internet shows and reading internet articles and playing games with the new graphics card I got for my computer. Somewhere close to 10:00, I felt the caffeine. This blend is perfect for an easy morning. It’s not your best friend, not your lover, but it’s just good enough to make you feel fine without them. Oh, and it tastes a bit like walnuts.

A windy day. Makes me think of the Aegean. It was always windy on the Aegean. Sometimes, that meant you could stand on deck and spread your arms like flying. Other times, it was nauseating.

With the temperature pushing 70F and the rain having stopped, I took a walk. I went down my usual route but veered right where I often go left. The road spits into a calm park with a basketball court and a jungle gym. There’s a paved trail that skirts the park. I took the trail and called an old friend. He’s in school for a phd. We talked a bit about that, all the usuals of catching up, then I gave him some advice on banking. It’s weird to be able to do that: give constructive advice. For so long my skills have been tied up in art or thinking or workplace efficiency, nothing you can pass on to someone else. Now I’m being useful. It’s nice. It’s new.

After the call, I crossed a road bridge that spans an Interstate. The bridge shook and the wind was higher. A man was walking the other way holding his corgi and covering her ears. We caught eyes and I smiled at the dog. The dog looked terrified. I thought it was nice of him to do his best for her.

And now I’m home. Sunday’s still got a long way to go. Daylight savings – an extra hour of light.

Downstairs, three families are cooking pig ribs while their kids play. I passed them earlier when they were stoking coals. They were speaking Turkish. A long way from where they started, a new home. I wonder if this wind reminds them of the Aegean, too?

Novel Count: 30,349

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 5


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

The forecast says its strolling weather. And by ‘forecast’ I mean the three families and half-dozen kids that are hanging around the apartment playground.

I took a short walk around the complex. Here’s what I saw:

Three 3-foot girls in pink puffy jackets skipping on stones in the creek-bed. Two old men – completely unrelated to each other – both wearing ball-caps and working hard at that sort-of-scowl-sort-of-smile you expect of a grandfather. One dog walking, ignoring it’s owner, and another dog upright behind a black fence watching people walk by. So many cold winter trees. It’s almost spring but they haven’t caught on. A few cars. And a 2nd floor railing that’s still strung up with Christmas lights.

Strolling weather – my favorite time of the year.

Novel Count: 26,709

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

John Muir

Coffee Log, Day 362


Coffee: Sumatra Medium Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand

I took a short walk. About one third of the route I usually take.

There’s been this tension in the air – hot days, cold days. It feels like the world’s a toddler trying on school clothes. And that’s made it hard for me to focus. One side wants to run out and rip a hole in soft, black dirt. Another wants to drink hot coffee by a cold window.

I’ve been working through this novel. It feels real to sit at the computer and write, whether its for four hours or fifteen minutes. I wonder sometimes why writing feels like that to me. Everyone’s got it – that something that makes them tick. But where does that come from? Who gets to choose what passion will devour you from your toes up?

I shared my pot of coffee with two old friends this morning. I didn’t really want to. I would have rather been alone. But they were there and so I shared it and in the end that was okay too.

Novel Count: 24,930

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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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, The Dharma Bums

Coffee Log, Day 283


Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s brand

The world came apart like it was raining at about 10:30 this morning. It had rained, of course, overnight, but that rain was tame in comparison.

I was out walking. Mr. Cobwebs (the cat) was following me. The sky was opal. The grass was new-money green. When I crossed the bridge, crossed the basketball court, and got up to the lot around the apartment office, things were coming undone. 10:30 brought this great white wind out of the clouds and it got it’s jaws on everything. The ground swelled, my shirt went up, and she started biting all the trees. It was the biting that did it: all the great old oaks and maples were so shaken they couldn’t hold on to their leaves. Browns and golds and oranges catapult down like blizzard balls. For five straight minutes, all of us were swatting crumply old leaves.

I feel guilty sometimes when I’m loving where I live. I don’t always love it. But then there’s a windstorm and I’m raptured. It’s the best things that make you most aware of the worst things you’re responsible for.

A portion of every one of my paychecks goes to fund a bit of horror. It pays the clerk who stamps the order to deport this that and whoever on scratched together grounds (as they are currently perpetrating with a Mr. Samuel Oliver Bruno of Durham, NC, who has lived in the US for 22 years and is now awaiting deportation in Texas). It pays the public servant who’s told to serve the public by standing at the back of the Mexican border with a loaded weapon, or maybe firing teargas in the eyes of El Salvadorians. It clutters the coffers of this judge, that judge, zealous senators, some of whom are trying honestly to produce good judgment, however misguided, and others who are trying dishonestly to produce skewed judgment, guided quite narrowly by money or power or rumors of an afterlife that only loves you if you’re white and male. Really, those portions of my paycheck are a constant windstorm, and though I’m always voting, I can only keep on eye on a portion of the positions of the leaves.

All of that is to say: life is pretty. It’s worth living. But when you have the wind whipping you everywhere at once, freely filling your lungs, it’s hard to have your heart beat healthy with the knowing that you’re responsible – like it or not – for a cavalcade of forces keeping others locked up.

Novel Count: 14,915 words

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

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Never forget:
we walk on hell,
gazing at flowers.

Kobayashi Issa

Coffee Log, Day 277


Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; woke up a bit late, caught the coffee just after the heater went off; that’s my favorite time to drink it – a bit stale, a bit sour, but still warm.

I took a walk yesterday. It’s been so cold or wet or dark or busy that I haven’t taken a walk for a while. I took my usual route out of the neighborhood and towards a strip of greenway that follows a stream and courts the backsides of some houses. It was Sunday, there were some families and some joggers. It was just a bit chilly.

I always feel forgiven walking in the woods. Not for anything specific, but the trees are accepting, like ‘this is a place you can be.’

I took the long way up Maynard. There were cars. It’s a steep hill and you’re getting tossed all around by the wind coming off the cars. Then you’re in another neighborhood that goes up and down and has a lot of money so all the lawns are nice. There were Japanese Maples and some yellow trees. I passed a couple. I said hello. They were pleasant. The guy had a limp.

And after all that I came home and opened all the windows in the house, wanting to be baptized in the world a little more.

Novel Count: 13,662 words

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

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We all have forests on our minds. Forests unexplored, unending. Each one of us gets lost in the forest, every night, alone.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wind’s Twelve Quarters