Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 300

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s

January’s almost over. It hasn’t felt much like January, a lot of warm days, not much cold. It makes me wonder how much my memories of January are accurate, and how much is made up – was it always this way? I’ve got this vivid picture of 10th grade – I’m in the Pre-Calc class with a lot of juniors; it’s an old school building and we’re on the second floor; suddenly, in the middle of doing problem sets, it starts to snow. Not a lot, just flurries, but it’s enough to drag us out of our seats and watch it. Cautious cream-colored snowflakes, falling down.

I read this article today about how traditional fishermen around the world are struggling to make ends meet, not just because of the overfishing from big commercial operations, but also – and ironically – from fish protection efforts that mark out sanctuary spots in coves in bays. These spots are supposed to help the ocean’s population recover, they’re blacklisted for fishing and come with stiff fines. But they’re also some of the easiest places to reach when what you own is a one-person row-boat. The commercial fleets can press farther and farther into the open oceans to dig up whatever survivors have swum that far, but people living simply – out of necessity, mostly, though sometimes choice – are punished for trying to take what little they can find close by.

The world’s changing. The seas are warming. We’re left with shorter winters, at least around here. It makes it hard to hope sometimes, but change is change, even when it’s bad, and the only golden rule to change is that it’s unpredictable, so I guess there’s also room to hope.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it’s only in troublous times that you line your pockets.

Aristophanes, The Knights

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 299

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s

A goose gaggle had taken over the parking lot outside Trader Joe’s. They were everywhere, and it was hard to drive.

I heard this story from M about how kids in an art project at her museum were asked to think of objects that they used everyday and 99% of them said their smartphone. And when she tried to poke and prod for other answers, there were blank faces, incredible stares, like ‘what else is there?’ These were first graders.

I took my cactus, Herbert, from the old office because no-one was watering him. He doesn’t need much, but he does need some, and now he’s sitting in my bedroom window drinking up the sun. I watered him yesterday and liked the way the dirt clumped around his narrow roots. I liked the idea of touching something, remotely, through a simple act of benevolence, it made me feel like a Messiah, in my own way, the best sort of full-of-yourself. Because the fact is, this cactus needs me, and another fact is, I need him.

What objects do I use everyday? It’s a long list, smartphone’s certainly up there. Then there’s the desk, and chair, and water glasses, the first and the second (I always forget the first glass and pour another before I come to my senses), computer keys. I don’t know what I’d do without any of it. Modern comfort. The first world.

The geese are headed south. They’re only here for a stopover, I don’t know how far they’re going. Geese like to eat and sleep as I do, and they like the company of other geese. They’re a million miles high sometimes, and others they’re on the ground. In a few months they’ll hatch their eggs, New life, new birth. What will the goslings says coming into this world?

‘Mom, where’s my iphone?’

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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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 289

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Dark Roast, Don Pablo’s; a gift from my father; he bought the beans off the internet, had read reviews about what brand’s best, settled on Don Pablo because it showed up on so many lists; and it’s good; easy; like late winter, with your socks on, by the windows, never quite needing to go out

It got up to 70 today so I cracked the window open. It was cloudy, and then it rained. I liked listening to rain (I think everybody does) so I enjoyed myself, had a couple glasses of ice water to keep cool, to keep cold like the winter, to remember what season I was in. Because it is winter despite the temperature, and just because the world’s greenhouse heat-throws is the new normal doesn’t mean you have to forget the crisp seasons of your childhood, all the things that brought us here.

I’ve been having a sick day. A couple sick days, actually. My throat’s scratchy and my nose is running, but neither so terribly as to lay me out. It’s one of those bugs that muddies up your head but doesn’t take the energy out of you. I feel like I could run a mile but forget where I was going halfway through. To deal with this, I’ve been hooked in to TV screens and book reading, things to catch my focus, keep me less in the present with all it’s fuzzy green gunk and more in that nebulous fiction of no-time, self-entertainment.

The year’s almost over. Some would say the decade, I’d say so too. Zero is such a round number it makes you want to climb inside it and push off, a raft ride, spiraling by into uncharted waters.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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We knocked on the doors of Hell’s darker chamber, Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in,

Joy Division, Decades

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 287

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I slept on an air mattress that was laid out on the same spot where my grandmother had died twenty years before. She’d been in this big bed hospice brought, a bunch of wires, and hospital gowns (the gowns were gowns, the sheets were gowns, a deathbed wears you, like it or not). Her bed was raised up, mine wasn’t, so really I was sleeping about twelve inches under her ghost.

That was Christmas this year.

Back to work, I met a woman who was my age but had just finished school. She’d been living in the West, out in NorCal, then Arizona, but she kept ending up in warm places during winter so she’d be surprised by the cold. She couldn’t take it anymore and moved back to Raleigh. All told, she’s missed two years’ worth of summers. She said this greedily. Her nose was red. She had sunny blond hair.

These stories fit together for me. Life changes, and sometimes it’s gone. I spend a lot of time listening to other peoples’ stories. And when I’m thinking about my own, they’re always hovering a few feet over me, less a curse, more gentle, a cobweb, but beautiful, and rainbowed, viciously drinking up the colors.

I had a plan to move to Michigan once but it wasn’t much of a plan so it didn’t happen. If I had moved, I reckon it would have been cold.

Currently Reading: Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

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Besides, nothing mattered to her any longer. If she had anything left it was her horror of cold — and the uncle had coal through his contacts. But she found the atmosphere of Berlin hard to bear. She dreamed of escape, of going to live under some more clement sky, far, very far away from it all, closer to nature.

Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 16

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I’m losing an hour tonight. Daylight sucked into a void for its own saving.

When I was a kid, I used to wait until the morning to set the clock forward. It felt more important to see it happen. Nowadays, I sleep through the change. I set my alarm for the same time as always and wake up one hour more tired. It helps to have a phone that does the calculations for you. But even if I had to set the hands myself, I’d still turn them the night before. I guess getting older is being comfortable with lost time, or at least so resigned to it you don’t notice.

I’m celebrating this last dark day of late winter with old friends in Burlington. I’m writing this on my iPhone. Before we know it, we’ll have slipped another hour. See you on the other side.

Novel Count: 29,897

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED! 

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At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme, I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise in spite of themselves.

Robertson Davies

Coffee Log, Day 346

Hi.

Coffee Tea: Black Tea; I got home late last night and didn’t feel like getting the coffee ready. So I didn’t have coffee this morning. I microwaved a cup of water for two minutes and popped in the tea bag. It was sweet, a little nutty. It was just fine.

I had to work today, despite it being Saturday. I spent the morning listening to a young Colombian talk about getting engaged.

My cousin posted a video of him doing a penguin dive in Montana. The lake was frozen so they’d cut a square off the ice by the shore. He walks out in shorts and a tie-dye t-shirt, stands in line with a lesbian couple in matching tu-tu’s, and jumps. He does a cannonball. Spoosh! I’m a little worried when he hits the water, but then again, I don’t really know the guy.

In high school, I used to joke with R that his brother didn’t exist. At that time, his brother was off in college so he didn’t come around too often (at least that I could see). But if anyone had made the same jokes with me – that whatever aunt or uncle wasn’t real – I’d be hard pressed to prove them otherwise.

My family keeps the four corners of America. That’s a busy enough job that no-one ever visits each other. There’s a sliding scale of bad blood between them. And even when the blood’s decent, no-one feels like they have much to share.

The older I get, the more it sticks with me that I don’t have an extended family. Sometimes that’s a sad thought, other times liberating. It makes you feel like there’s just no chance that you’ll walk outside and see someone who shares your DNA. A tourist in your own home town.

I’ve got another cousin who came by last summer. He’s a big guy, friendly, a little drunk on fancy words. He makes movies. Or really, experimental film. He’s been posting snippets of a video he did on cow auctions. They fix the cows in a vice so that they can only face forward. Cattle all around, belting and hollering, but try as you might, you’ll never get your eyes on them.

Novel Count: 21,067

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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What are they, Dad? Cows, son. What are cows, Dad? Cows are cows, son.

Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes


Coffee Log, Day 296

Hi.

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

I drive back to Burlington with a scratchy cough and a bottle of Advil. The streets are disappearing in fog.

I went home for a belated birthday get together with family. We met in a crowded Mexican restaurant where I used to know all the waiters but now I know some of the waiters. It was cold and crowded and loud and bright with pink string lights set out for Christmas. It was comfortable but nothing like I remember.

Later, I met friends for dinner at an empty Chinese sit-down. They were running Greensboro news. The food was so-so. The staff was familiar. They hadn’t aged. We each got soup with the dinner and most of us gave our soups to C. He had so many soups you’d think he were trying to drown, but pleasantly. We finished eating and my fortune told me to follow my heart.

Cold old roads, cracked winter pavement.

Novel Count: (on hiatus while I recover from this cold)

Currently Reading: Cherry, Nico Walker (Finished! Mixed feelings overall; I’ll try to get to a review this weekend)

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Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form inself on the edge of consciousness. – Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep