Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 14

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I had a new conversation with an old friend. She’s at the same old job. She’s got new responsibilities. She’s working harder. They laid people off. The company’s making money but not enough. They can’t meet growth. There’s new management. There’s old wages. They don’t get raises. They get more hours. They’re all salary. They get more responsibilities. There’s a big project. An old deadline, from before the layoffs, but the new boss had a meeting with the shareholders and now there’s a new deadline a few weeks early. My old friend’s pulling out her hair. She’s drinking black coffee at midnight. She’s wearing bright scarves. We’re talking old memories.

My generation makes money for other people.

Novel Count: 29,897

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami; FINISHED!

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You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.

Tennessee Williams




Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 8

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I was walking past this bird in a bush on the way to my car this morning. The bird was going haywire. When I went by, it stopped. It was cold outside. It’s still raining. That bird had a secret – it had to thrash around for something, something important – but it didn’t want to tell me.

The day was buzz-buzz busy at the office. Cars went by. No-one kept dry. They tracked red mud back and forth in the bank lobby. They tracked it through my office. People having problems making ends meet, too busy for the mud on their shoes. I was on the phone. I was making calls. I was clicking waltzes and salsas on the keyboard. Rich and stressful. Then comes the client and I freeze. Smiles. I know something they don’t – a lot of somethings. Half the time, they don’t want me to tell them.

A week of birds. Bird week. Everything has wings. It can pick up and fly away. I’m waiting on a letter from the other side of the world. I’m waiting on good ideas, better sentences. I’m waiting on September because everyone is always waiting on September. I’m waiting for the weekend.

Oh, that last one’s actually here.

Novel Count: 27,617

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGNFrom the land of red clay, and lottery worship

From the land of red clay, and lottery worship

Spillage Village, ‘Metropolis’



Coffee Log, Day 348

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been waking up a little early, hopping in the shower, and sitting down in the dining room to have my coffee and breakfast before work. It’s an extension of the weekend habits I’ve been forming. It helps keep me calm.

Creativity is a strange thing. Some days, if I don’t write before noon it’s ‘good luck’ if I write at all. Other days it’s the opposite – I can’t pull any ideas out until close to midnight. Yesterday, I got up at 5:30 and milled around for six hours trying to finish a chapter. Then I got groceries and ate lunch and spent another four trying the same. It was only after I was tired and drunk and pulling out my hair that I got something down. If anyone tells you that you’re the mind’s master, they’re really downplaying a fraught and dysfunctional relationship.

The sun’s rising now. It’s blued up the trees, breaking bread with the branches. I’ll be off to work soon and these two hours will feel like they happened to someone else. But there’s always tomorrow. I’m lucky enough to have all the tools to carve out this time.

Novel Count: 20,073

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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The streets are empty and quiet this early in the morning and I can hear my own footsteps as they fall.

Uzodinma Iweala, Speak No Evil: A Novel

Coffee Log, Day 328

Hi.

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

I did an off-site training at the corporate office today. I’ll be doing it for three days, most of this week. It felt like being back in college. We were in a small room with shared tables. There were whiteboards and projectors. We did group activities and answered questions. College – not a place I was looking to go back to.

But I’m always open to new experiences.

There’s a certain slime to corporate spaces. It’s a gregarious slime – fancy, accommodating, obsessed with cost-calculated comforts. I ate lunch with friends in the cafeteria and noticed the treadmills and lime green walls, the tv’s that were easily accessible but not too imposing. A lot of money was spent to make this a place people want to be. Consequentially, it turned me way off.

I watched a 3 part interview series on youtube between a Belgium man and Charles Bukowski. It was filmed in the 80’s, late in Bukowski’s life. They talked about a lot of things and didn’t seem to like each other. At one point, Bukowski takes the guy to this hostel he holed up in for the first few years of his writing career. He told a story about how the landlady would leave him baskets of fruits and veggies because she thought he was mentally unstable after he’d told her he was quitting the post office for writing. The camera caught poor kids in no shoes and suspenders and one young Latino family with gold teeth and jello cups and a chihuahua that kept trying to eat the jello cups. Bukowski said: “There’s stories in these people. Most writers don’t want to talk to these people.” That made a lot of sense to me.

Novel Count: 15,629

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.

Charles Bukowski


Coffee Log, Day 318

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; a bit more burnt than usual; I carried the cup into work where they had the heat off despite the cold; it was nice to have something hot in my hands, bitter or not.

The hardest days to work are the ones you don’t work regularly. Paradoxically, they’re also the easiest.

The bank has us scheduled to work two Saturday’s a quarter. There’s only a handful of branches open on Saturday and they’re only open until noon. So really it’s nothing to complain about. I spent years working at a bookstore where a Saturday shift from two to midnight wasn’t only common, it was weekly. But everything in life is about expectation and when you’re no longer expecting to work the weekend, those hours drag long.

But there’s also something kind of neat about it.

Way, way back, I was one of those kids who joined academic clubs. Lit club, science bowl, I was in orchestra from 4th grade on. So it wasn’t unheard of to have to stay a few hours after school. There was magic in that. The halls were empty. The teachers were walking around talking more casually than you were used to. It was like catching your mother with her hair down for the first time, or your father out of his suit. You were in on something. It was good and special and dorky and powerful.

The Saturday crews rotate at the bank. You’ve got people from all over the triangle at different branches than they usually work. By chance, I was at my home branch today, but I worked with a couple people I haven’t seen in a while. We talked a lot, mostly work stories, and even though we hadn’t really said anything, there was an ease you can’t feel with the same people you see everyday. We passed four hours.

We packed up to go. Lately, on a weekday, we’ve been getting out when it’s already dark. But today it was only noon. The sky was blazing with the sun.

Novel Count: 11,157

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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As we approached each other, the noise and the students around us melted away and we were utterly alone, passing, smiling, holding each other’s eyes, floors and walls gone, two people in a universe of space and stars.

Jerry Spinelli


Coffee Log, Day 250

Hi.

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

Long day. Worked eight hours. Came home, didn’t work out, but should have. I ate Taco Bell. The cheese was orange and got stuck to the wrappers and now I smell like a flea market. Messy. It was what I wanted.

I’m trying to make moves – career, personal, artistic, etc. I’m always making moves. In college, I thought I’d major in biochem. When that got old, I majored in philosophy. When that got old, I fell in love and took school less seriously. When that got old, I quit my job and moved and failed for a few years until I understood myself.

‘Restless’ would be a word to describe me. ‘Ambitious,’ if you’re generous. But anyway, long day, worked and ate and worked some more. There’s a half-empty bottle of wine from a week-and-a-half ago on my kitchen counter; it’s sour, but drinkable. Me and that wine have a lot in common.

This is all I’ve got tonight.

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

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“I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective

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Coffee Log, Day 194

Hi.

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

I sat in a lot of chairs today. R was buying another – his desk chair broke – and I went along with him. We started at Staples, meandered to Target, ended in an Office Max that was once an Office Depot. There were bright yellow clearance bins in the Office Max. It was crowded, mostly kids, back to school shopping. We were there one hour before close.

R sits in a chair and a staffer shows up: “How do you like it?” she asks. She’s got spaghetti blond hair, basset hound wrinkles, she’s over 50. R says “It’s alright, seems like a good deal.” The chair was half off. She’s happy he noticed. Then R says “Yeah, these things can get pretty pricey,” and the woman dead faces him with one last line before walking off: “Well, most people have jobs.” He and I couldn’t stop laughing when she was gone.

We left the store with a different chair and got cheap Chinese for dinner. I kept thinking about the lady. I felt a little bad for laughing. He and I are both employed, but how would she know? And even if we weren’t, it’s bitter and lonely to mock someone who can’t work. But then I got to thinking: it’s Labor Day; a beautiful, stormy September; this lady is stuck doing shift work at an office store. When she looked down on us layabouts testing her chairs and wasting her time, maybe she was actually trying to say: “Don’t look at me. Don’t laugh at me. Don’t see me as less than you. I am working. I have a place that needs my blood, my bones, the sweat of my later years. It might be a corporation that doesn’t respect me – I might get paid pennies to another man’s dime – but here I am working when the rest of the world rests in big, comfy chairs; this is my pride, and if you won’t take it then I’ll shove it down your throat.”

Similar thoughts got Trump elected. And a similar fit of laughter when those thoughts turn the corner tanked any hope for Hillary. I’ll try to accept what the world is handing me: elitism. In spite of that, I’ll try to keep the bitter fire I used to know and bury that elitism below a head capable of hearing what old white women working two jobs on bad knees are trying to say, rather than the words that come out.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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