Coffee Log, Day 283

Hi.

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

Hi.

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


Coffee Log, Day 270

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Thanksgiving feels like it was yesterday. Instead, it’s three days from now.

Holidays are like a spring cleaning: you beat the rugs on the balcony; you clear out the corners.

There was a little while I was on crutches. This was years ago, ten of them actually. It was summer. I was in High School. I was spending the summer at an NC academic camp in Winston Salem called Governor’s School. A six week program, I tore my ACL in the first week playing ping pong. It’s not that I was good at ping pong, rather that I was bad at it.

So they stuck me on crutches for a month. It was awkward, I was young. I felt like a sore thumb – I hurt and I stood out. But I made do.

The way the classes were set up, everyone took two a day and then had a couple free periods. You could fill those with homework or seminars or whatever else. My schedule left me this big block of hours in the morning, 10am to 1pm. There wasn’t much going on and not a lot of people out. Hobbling already, I got stir crazy.

I started taking walks to Ollie’s Bakery. Ollie’s is now closed. They served fluffy scones and vanilla lattes. They had a corner of a road about a mile away, a little brick building, not enough room to think or worry when you were in there, you’d get full on the smells. The trip took me through Old Salem and across a creek. Then it was a hop and skip through this faded industrial district. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was arduous on the crutches. Again, I made do.

I’m remembering this now because it’s important to remember that first time you felt independent. Holidays will put a lot of old sweaters on you: that scratchy-wool love. They’ll show you everyone that has a hand in your pot. They’ll also show you who’s missing.

But no matter how much your family or friends or people you wish were around might matter, when you’ve cleared the clutter and put all the boxes away it’s just you in an apartment, early morning, a torn knee. You can walk to the cafe or sit at home. Either way, the joy is only your own.

Novel Count: 10,411 words

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

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He fell off the table like a crab looking for the sea.

Charles Bukowski



Coffee Log, Day 243

Hi.

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

I worked with a guy who wears burgundy pants. They matched his tie, a knit tie with squared tip, and there was pink in his dress shirt but only if you looked hard enough. I’m impressed by people who ‘pull it off,’ whatever ‘it’ is.

I used to love a girl who kept dying her hair different colors. She was working at a bakery, the bakery was in a grocery store, the store manager kept harassing her to tone down the hair. She didn’t, of course. Instead, she read up on the employee handbook and gave the old, stale, crusty lady a lesson on company policy. I liked her a lot for that. But my favorite picture of the girl was in black and white and maybe that’s why it couldn’t work out.

There’s this Discord channel I’m in with a few friends. We get together sometimes in the literal world, too. A few weeks ago, the guy who runs the channel made emojis out of old pictures of us, inside jokes, etc etc. One picture is of him biting into a Turkey leg. I always smile when I see it. The look on his face is worth a million. This guy takes life just the right amount of seriously, he considers every option and sticks to the right one, he’s honest and consistent. He’s on a short list of people I trust unconditionally.

I took another walk tonight. I saw familiar faces: kids in bicycle helmets; a round man walking his rounder beagle. We exchanged five-second hellos. I reckon they recognized me too. As I went by a couple, one said ‘I see that guy every night.’ It kinda creeped me out, then I warmed up to it. Maybe everyone’s got their ‘thing.’ Maybe we’re all pulling it off.

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

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“Yeah, but they’re PURPLE pants,” Bobby said as if that made some kind of distinction. “Hence, I’m awesome.” – Amanda Hocking, Wisdom

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Coffee Log, Day 239

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

Whenever I remember taking nighttime walks around Duke’s campus it’s always cold, even if I took the walk in August. Here are a few examples:

  1. A breezy Spring Semester romp through the Engineering campus. I’m bored, lonely, talking on the phone. It’s a weekend, maybe, because there aren’t any students. I see cars come and go from the Divinity school. This part of campus is steep; clean; new. The cafes are closed and I’m disappointed because I’d like to visit. Everything is new to me. I’m a Philosophy major, nobody needs me over here.
  2. The week before my Sophomore or Junior year, I’m passing back and forth over a ditch cut between two dorm buildings. I’m waiting on a woman I’ll often wait for, even many years later and well after she’s no longer waiting for me. We haven’t seen each other since last year and there’s a whole summer’s worth of conversation. We circle Old Chem, pass Perkins library, and spend time admiring the statuary on the Chapel. It’s hot and balmy, but the memory’s like freezer frost. I like to transport myself to that time before some of my most important questions had answers.
  3. This time it’s actually winter. We’ve had a snow. I’m walking late in good company. Couples throwing snowballs, kids taking pictures on second-gen iphones. I’m talking to a friend who’s going to school in Charlotte. We’re both intoxicated on a mutual distaste for parties and alcohol. Underneath me, snow melts like modern glaciers. My hot body, raging at all the wrong parts of the world, but breathing that cold air brilliantly.

I took a walk tonight and before I did I put on a sweater. The first sweater since March. The apartments had gotten dark and I made my usual circuit. Bewitched by the lights of the clubhouse, I took a detour. Our community espresso machine can make a hot chocolate; I hadn’t had one, now I have. It seemed right to baptize the night in unnecessary sweetness. The first Fall evening only happens once a year.

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

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“Some days you get up and you already know that things aren’t going to go well. They’re the type of days when you should just give in, put your pajamas back on, make some hot chocolate and read comic books in bed with the covers up until the world looks more encouraging. Of course, they never let you do that.” – Bill Watterson

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Coffee Log, Day 186

Hi.

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

The last day of five days vacation. I spent it – mostly – walking.

I took a hike in Hemlock Bluffs. It was a hot day, sticky enough to fix every little this-or-that to you. Sun, sweat, text-message chains. The trails were steep and set with wooden overlooks. There was red creek water, gray mayflies, blurry green. Cicadas held the woods like a defending army. I passed a lot of people on the trails but still felt alone.

I took a hike around the neighborhood. Familiar trails, still morning. Shade cut currents on the concrete and it was good to be swimming, even metaphorically. Mulch got in my shoes. Sticky steps. Life is full of reminders of the sun, sweat, text-message chains.

A kid on a back porch practices trumpet. School starts next week. I remember old days playing cello for parent-proud auditoriums. I’d practice in the bedroom, my floor was linoleum, paintings and bookbacks held their ears. For a few years I’d record myself on a black cassette player. I’d count flaws on the playbacks. On stage, I’d hide flaws in my cummerbund. Sticks in your tummy, reminders of everything waiting after the music: sun, sweat, text-message chains.

In 2018, you do a lot of living through fiber wire; the park might be all around you but you’re still dug in the airwaves, conversing electrically.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“No sound, once made, is ever truly lost. In electric clouds, all are safely trapped, and with a touch, if we find them, we can recapture those echoes of sad, forgotten wars, long summers, and sweet autumns.” – Ray Bradbury, Now and Forever
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Coffee Log, Day 183

Hi.

Coffee: Americano from Crema Cafe, Cary, NC; I drank it by the cafe window; the roast was bright for an espresso; girls and boys happened by, old women talked about their grandsons’ first days at school; the environment overpowered the taste.

For the first time in a season, I took a walk around the neighborhood. Farther than the apartments, I crossed the dead Thursday afternoon, cut through beating sun, and found shade on a Cary trail. It was calm. It was good. It brought back memories of talking on the phone to him or her, walking this way last year when I was still a bookstore worker with lots of weekdays off. Dandruff autumn, coming back around to you.

I’ve been doing this blog for six months now, only missed one day. To those of you who’ve read one, two, however many posts: thanks. I’ve grown a lot. Maybe you have too. I started this thing on a whim, no real goal, and I still don’t have a goal, but the whim feels a bit firmer, bread rising.

Here’s something I believe: the everyday is magic. A boring, stinky, uneventful magic, but magic all the same. I finished reading LaRose. It paints real characters in larger-than-life situations. I liked it a lot in the end, but it’s pretty contrary to my vision for the world and my work in it. I think real life is made up of larger-than-life people stuck in toothpaste tubes, two-piece suits, pin-stripe dresses; the gooey caramel core of the mundane. I hope my Coffee Log catches a bit of that – licks the stiff surface, dalliances toward the weird magic inside.

There was a fuzzy bug on the trail. It walked sporadically, caught on concrete. In the bleeding sun, the bug looked melted, wispy, a ghost. I realized it must be the Guardian God of every old phonecall I’d taken on the path. Heartbreaks that crunched like new winter ice, thawed now. I almost touched him. The bug saw me coming and shimmied to a patch of shade. Out of the light, it was just a caterpillar.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich; FINISHED!! Will have a review soon

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“But nowadays I really miss my fucking idols, so that’s the title.” – Trippie Redd, Missing My Idols

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