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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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! 

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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)

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

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