Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 242


Coffee: Americano, Cocoa Cinnamon; I’ve been coming to this downtown Durham coffee shop for many years; it’s a square building, a box, brick walls, small enough to fit in an unoccupied plot of parking lot, but looks bigger inside, always crowded, smelling chocolate, thrifty furniture; I bought the coffee from a woman who was a foot shorter than me and had her hands full at the register; I tipped two dollars; the espresso had a bright kick, almost too bright, like grabbing orange juice that turns out to be Sunny D, then it mellowed, and tasted like black beans.

I’ve been lacking words lately. And now it’s 11pm on a Sunday and I’m flustered trying to dig them out. I’ve opened books, checked the hamper, cut open the mattress. I’ve picked and prodded the carpet. But the words are somewhere else.

It’s not that I don’t have a lot to talk about. It was a full day, driving back and forth to Durham, walking along a lakeside, watching a kid go up and down a reticulated slide on a playground. Rain in the morning like ‘what are you waiting for?’ and long pauses with people I don’t mind sharing a silence with. But that’s just it – the words went with me out the door this morning and dropped off in all the spots I was passing. Now it’s late, dark, no turning around to retrieve them. Maybe tomorrow. Or sometime soon.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got tonight.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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Don’t gobblefunk around with words.

Roald Dahl, The BFG

Coffee Log, Day 254


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


If there’s been one constant direction to my life’s running, it’s been the creep of southern dialect back into my vocabulary. I was raised to talk ‘well.’ This was in some kind of benign, quiet, judgmental contrast to those people who talked ‘good.’ My mom was a northerner, my dad was a lawyer, my grandparents on both sides came from old aspirations to aristocracy. Language is a tool of conveyance, and from the jump I was taught to convey a lofty, removed superiority.

Hell with all that mess.

I was a confused kid for lots of reasons. In middle school, my parents had me in therapy. It was a good move and I needed it. I went to see a Christian counselor even though no-one in my family was Christian. She was a friend.

I saw her for a year in her downtown office. I’d sit on that green-red couch and she’d make us both coffees with vanilla creamer. We talked about a lot of things. She taught me how to watch people, get to know them at a distance, and appreciate what they must be going through. Said it wouldn’t stop the fists or jabs but it would give you perspective enough to forgive the hits that were coming. Good lessons. On my last day with her, we walked downtown for ice cream. We ate in the parlor. The guy who served us said ‘Y’all take care’ when we left. I remember telling her that he shouldn’t have said that – that it was a dirty word, something like ‘shit’ or ‘damn.’ She laughed. She asked me why I thought that. She said I was southern. I said I didn’t want to be. She said you can’t change what you are.

I took a couple things home with me that night, one of them a sick stomach on account of the ice cream. The next day, I said ‘How y’all doin’ to my family. They were flabbergasted.

Well, I’ve been speaking damn good ever since.

Novel Count: 3,546 words

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

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“So that I might face my past,
I dug these words from the richest southern soil
and held them in my hands like seeds waiting for rain.” – Brenda Sutton Rose