Coffee Log, Day 290

Hi.

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

At noon, the snow gave way to rain.

There’s a special sadness to rain that washes out snow. It’s something like a falling out. These things are brothers. In a little while, they’ll both be gone.

I didn’t take a walk today. I got my clothes washed, coat fluffed, shoes dried, then the rain started. I think that’s okay. I’ve seen snow before. I’ve been through this before. Instead, I made tea and then some coffee and watched the unraveling whiteness from the kitchen window. I read ‘Cherry.’ I’m trying to finish that book. I’m trying to finish anything.

I’ve been having nightmares about teaching again. I often have nightmares, but it’s been awhile for this specific variety. Maybe the stint at the middle school writing club brought them back. I’m standing in the hall with all the lights off. There’s a storm outside. The classrooms are empty. In some of the classrooms are school supplies – books, backpacks, coats and phones – so I know students used to be here. They’re chased off. They’re not coming back. And somehow that feels like my responsibility.

Another year closes. What did we learn? Things seem dire. It’s hard to tell how dire they really are. We have a habit of fixing on the negative. There’s a human resilience, but it’s often tested, and I don’t know that any of us are ready to be tested again.

A month ago, a 13yr-old girl was abducted and murdered in Lumberton, NC. Her funeral is coming up. Her father is Guatemalan and lives and works in the country. The US just denied his Visa to return for her funeral.

What is my responsibility? I write some things and some of them matter. Is there something more? I’ve been thinking about teaching. The thought of teaching paralyzes me. I don’t think I made much of a difference in my students’ lives the last time. A lot of them had hard lives. Some of them didn’t have homes to go to. Meanwhile, I talked a lot about the water cycle.

But that’s the trick: you only have the time to do one specific something for the world. You can’t do anything more. It’s terrifying to think that ‘something’ might not be enough. Or rather, it’s terrifying to know that it can’t be. But you still have to pick it and I guess that’s what I’m trying to do.

Novel Count: 15,400 words

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

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Melancholy were the sounds on a winter’s night.

Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room


Coffee Log, Day 288

Hi.

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

I bought figures and a game book at the local hobby shop for a DnD campaign I’m running. The store was busy. They were hosting tabletop games.

I like places where people feel comfortable to be themselves. There was a lot of cheering, a lot of laughing at the store. Community is valuable and hard to come by.

I’m writing this in the Chinese joint I frequent. It’s my second trip this week. I’m with two friends, we’re just about the only ones in here. It smells like fat and salt. The lady at the counter knows my order.

A cold whipped Saturday night. Winter storms on the way. In food or games, we wait for the sky to harden and crack apart together. A little warmer this way.

Novel Count: 15,980 words

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

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I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. – Dr. Seuss

Coffee Log, Day 285

Hi.

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

When I think about Christmas, I think of a thrift store off Main. I’m pretty sure it isn’t there anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure the store only lasted a few years, and I only went to it once or twice.

Anyway, it was on this side road in East Burlington that if you took long enough would either get you to the middle school or to Graham. It was in an old, hollowed out brick building that had fallen on hard times, it was lit like an ER, there were old black particle-board tables set in rows and cardboard boxes full of stuff obliterating the even lines. The owners were old ladies. So what I’m saying is, the thrift store was nothing unusual.

I went there with my Mom. I think it might have been after school, or maybe it was a weekend. Either way it was dark outside. We were Christmas shopping. Not for the family, rather the ancillary gifts you put a few dollars and two cents into in hopes of warming up the people you sort of know and would like to know better. We walked around for an hour and I got bored. There were tinsel wreaths. There were craft ceramics. I bought a tiny straw angel for a family I knew took angels seriously. Then we left.

But that whole store was Christmas to me: a dim, uncomplicated lull of gift-giving; the cheap earnest dressings; the streetlight evening through the windows; I think they were playing Christmas songs on a scratchy record player.

Anyway, that thrift store has been on my mind lately. I’m glad it was there. I wonder if anyone else remembers it?

Novel Count: 15,069 words

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

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Why they were loaded with bags of beans and peas and anything else they happened to pick up when they were still some distance away from the street where the first blind man and his wife lived, for that is where they are going, is a question that could only occur to someone who has never in his life suffered shortages.

Jose Saramago, Blindness


Coffee Log, Day 282

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s brand; rich, muddy, and deeply familiar; just like the wet clay soil you had a mudfight in with the neighborhood kids before you were grounded for tracking mud through the house.

It smells like diesel at our apartment. They’ve been re-roofing the building and one of the guys has this gas-powered blower that knocks the old tiling down. They’ve packed up for now, it’s about to rain, but they’ll be back tomorrow. When I opened the curtains this morning there was a ladder in front of me.

As long as I’m not stuck under it, I like a cold rain. There’s a sort of reclamation. The trees give up the last of the year’s leaves, all but the greedy conifers. The dirt gets soaked but it’s so cold that mud is more pudding than a landslide. Grass looks like the washbasin at a hair salon.

I tried to take a walk but got caught by a few drops. My hair smells like ammonia now, which makes me wonder what we’re putting in our water. I read somewhere that acid rain is less of a problem than it once was, so maybe the smell is natural, bits of seafoam carried from the coast containing the relinquished acids and oils from tiny things that die in the thousands without you noticing.

But I might just need a shower.

Novel Count: 14,900 words

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

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The rain lets up. The devil stops beating his wife, but I beat the dashboard, punching it over and over, numb to the pain of it.

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give


Coffee Log, Day 275

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; I found a reusable filter in the cabinet. It’s not as fine as the paper. I’m drinking Turkish coffee – muddy, the grounds brewed in – except without the better taste.

It’s Saturday. I’m working. I picked up a shift because I figured I don’t have plans with my family and this is Thanksgiving Weekend, other people might. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but what better have I got to do?

It’s dreary. Wet. Rain. Clouded over. My kind of day. I don’t know how to think when it’s sunny. There’s a pressure to perform, like that beautiful man or woman you got in bed with without knowing their last name. Nah, the clouds suit me just fine.

Sometimes, when it’s almost December, I feel like I’ve got an answer for the year. It’s never a good one. Rarely bad, either. Instead, it’s just a feeling of being spent. Put the batteries in the Energizer bunny and he marches a full circle. Here we are again.

At least for now the whole world looks blue. The sun’s barely up. The trees are bent by last night’s rain. It’s brutal cold and I wonder how the birds are doing. I’ve always wondered how birds stand the cold winter winds, perched in a bush or tree. Not all of them have the luxury of flying south. But they do manage. And I guess that’s the best hope for any of us: birds in December, shivering for Spring.

Novel Count: 12,062 words

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

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Ignoring me, she looked up at the pigeons sitting on the windowsills, which this year were so caked with droppings that they looked quite disgusting. The pigeons were a big problem at Wolfsegg; year in, year out, they sat on the buildings in their hundreds and ruined them with their droppings.

Thomas Bernhard, Extinction


Coffee Log, Day 274

Hi.

Coffee Tea: Earl Grey, Bigelow; still having filter issues. Working on it!

The night got so cold there’s condensation on my window. Never been able to resist drawing finger-faces in it.

I guess we’re headed for another winter. There’s that come-down after Thanksgiving, the year-end doldrums, where everyone’s out and frantic for the holidays but also frantic because they know another year’s about to end. It’s an even mix of optimistic and rattled. I like the energy.

One thing I didn’t mention about my trip home yesterday was how dilapidated East Burlington looks to me know. It’s always been run down, but the modern economy has further stripped its stores. There were plans to turn the old rail junction into a supermarket. Those plans were scrapped so now the lot is not only big and empty but full of dirt mounds and deep holes, all of it grown over with nosehairs of green grass.

It’s been going this way for a while: suck all the money out of your physical footprint, keep a presence in the affluent areas, throw the rest of your resources online. Retail’s not what it used to be. Yes, the economy might be doing great in aggregate, but it’s leaving more and more holes in its pockets. What’s a community when it’s stripped of communal spaces?

They closed the Wendy’s I’d been going to since 5 years old. In its place is a local burger joint. I didn’t visit, but I imagine the burners going, the smell of dead beef flicking up in gas fire. There’s an old man by the window. There’s a family of three, two kids and a single father. There’s a woman on her lunchbreak from the Wal-Mart. Real and local. Still thriving. I can only hope it lasts.

Novel Count: 11,888 words

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

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What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

Kurt Vonnegut, ‘Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage’


Coffee Log, Day 229

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Java Jive Cary; tasted like two dollars spent on losing lottery tickets.

It’s been a grey day and that’s a-okay with me. The sun came late this morning. It’s still stuck behind clouds.
#
I’ve been having elaborate dreams. Two of them, Sunday and last night:
1) She’s wearing dark makeup. I’m uncomfortable, she leads me by the hand. We’re in a giant walk-in shower. She undresses. She’s got black tattoos up and down her arms. I like them. I can’t stop touching them.

2) It’s winter. I’m wearing four coats, no shirt. I’m in a mall parking lot, standing by the car. You walk by with your parents. I follow, get their attention. You’re wearing my shirt. We hug. I ask for the shirt back. You look disgusted, say: “Don’t you have anything more important to think about?” You walk away. The wind blows like birthday candles. I’m very cold.

#

I bought lunch at a Subway from a woman with a cut on her hand. It was taped up but you could see the blood. I watched her work. She wore gloves. I kept looking at her finger. When she finished, I paid her and ate in the store. I had red onions on the sub. I took a few of them off. Red onions, white paper, cut blood glove.
#
I’m traveling tonight, one city over, leaving soon. Night’s been coming quicker and lasting longer. Bad traffic; congestion. I’m a dot on the ant-line interstate. What dreams will all this give me?

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

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“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” – Victor Hugo

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