Coffee Log, Day 174

Hi.

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

On the way to work, I caught a report on NPR: an unaccompanied minor detention facility in Shenandoah, VA has been cleared of all allegations of child abuse; incidentally, the inspection that cleared them also documented cases of migrant children restrained to chairs with mesh bags placed over their heads.

So anyway, I turned the station to 102.1, heard the bass thump, hip-hop and traffic, it was blue skies with gray clouds, later in the day it rained. I worked eight hours. I clocked cash, counted time. My coworkers: vibrant. If it was busy, we worked well together. If it was slow, we shot the breeze.

If you google pictures of the Shenandoah facility (which I did) you see a pack of picketers outside a building that could just as easily be a library. It’s blue there too, though I guess the kids don’t see it, and someone’s trimmed the bushes, though I guess the kids don’t see it, and even though there were only fifty protestors it’s still something, waving signs in solidarity like high-school colorguard, done in the honor of kids who won’t see it because they’ve got mesh bags on their heads and tight straps on their legs.

I’d packed lunch. Pasta – red sauce, soy chorizo – I sat in the break room while the microwave spun the plastic container. Beep! My phone was on, it’s always on, I texted two friends while I ate the pasta then I took a walk through the parking lot where the rain had stopped and the lot was cool, a good breeze. I sat in the car and listened to five more minutes of NPR but they were doing a food show. I turned it back to 102.1 and swiped Tinder; pretty smiles, so many possibilities for a Friday night I can afford to flick them away forever.

On Google, the other pictures of the holding facility lacked protesters but the building still looked like a library. Long, angular, brick. A trim sign. It’s fitting, really: a house of knowledge; kids learning important lessons: if you’re young, poor, friend and fatherless, the Land of the Free tins you in a confinement can, bags you like an execution, ties up your dignity, then signs off on it.

Cleared of abuse.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” – George Washington
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Coffee Log, Day 169

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

Blue Raspberry lollipop – it turned your whole mouth blue. Nephew of my coworker, the women show you off. Your mom was a drinker but you changed that. Your aunt talks tense phone-calls to laughter. Your friend – another coworker – has a strong southern accent.

How will you talk in 2035? You’ve got good parents, blond hair, blue eyes, but if you’re lucky – if we’re all lucky – those marks won’t have the same cache’ they do today. Will you spend fourth grade watching that one girl from the back of class, only to grab her hand in the lunch-line and kiss it, only to tell her that means you’re married, only to tell your parents and hear them laugh it off like ‘That’s what young men do.’ Will they teach you abstinence or responsible love?

In history books, white western men sin in the 100’s, fight in the 1000’s, conquer through the 21st century; they fight, kick, scream, spill blood until their hands are sticky enough to never drop the reigns. They don’t love, except voraciously; they don’t cry, except pathetically.

You walked behind the counter to get another lolly. I was there. I said: “High Five!” You were static smiles, so much innocent joy it got stuck on me. We smacked palms then you went running. I hope I gave you something. I spent twenty years making love to ill-gotten power, the next ten making up for that. I’m still making up for that. I hope you felt: brave; storied; vulnerable; open; powerless. I was born in the twilight of western white manhood. I’m fighting daily to make sure it dies. I hope you’ll never have to look at your naked limp body in the mirror and pick it down to honest sinews, take scalding showers to wash your grandfather’s sins. I hope you get to choose a good man, an honest man, an equitable man from the beginning.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“It is strange,’ he said at last. ‘I had longed to enter the world of men. Now I see it filled with sorrow, with cruelty and treachery, with those who would destroy all around them.’
‘Yet, enter it you must,’ Gwydion answered, ‘for it is a destiny laid on each of us. True, you have seen these things. But there are equal parts of love and joy.” – Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron
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Coffee Log, Day 131

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; back to basics; grinding beans like a kid’s eraser tip

Drake’s got me thinking about kids. It’s the most relevant thing he raps about on ‘Scorpion.’ For those who don’t know, Pusha T called him out on hiding the fact he has a son. He did hide it, but he tries to give some excuses on the album. They’re maybe good, maybe bad. They’re well-written if nothing else.

As a kid, I was pretty convinced I’d never want children. I saw my gangly arms and bowl-cut hair as profound signals: the world doesn’t need another one of these. That notion stuck around until 2012.

That autumn, I helped my partner on some nanny gigs. I remember a walk in the woods. Three boys, me and them, twenty-two, five, and three years old. I was scared of snakes so she led the way. I’m still scared of snakes, a little less so. As we were leaving the park, the littlest kid cried. He was tired. In the way that only makes sense when you’re that young, he didn’t want to leave the cold fall park for a warm suburban bed. My partner started to carry him. He kicked.

That’s when I kicked in: I told stories. I started with the trees: “Did you know it’s fairies that take the leaves and hide them so they don’t get too cold in winter?”

He liked it, wanted to hear more; I needed something better. You could see all the big stones in the foliage. I picked the biggest, roundest, and said: “Did you know that’s actually a sleeping witch?”

He screamed. Not scared, the kid loved Halloween. Half the time he wouldn’t leave the house unless you let him dress like Woody from Toy Story. He just knew that horror was a gate to courage and the kid was ready to be brave.

“She’s a big, gnarly witch. Her nose is this big. Her toes have caterpillars living under the nails. When she breathes it smells like Brussels Sprouts, when she catches you she’ll turn you upside down and tickle you and then give you a cold bath. Run!” I said.

We ran. S didn’t drop him. We got in the car and the kid fell fast asleep. His brother had us play “Moves Like Jagger” on repeat.

That day made me think: how lovely to give stories to a small someone. I still don’t know if I’ll ever have kids. I believe in being responsible and my life is far from bountiful. If nothing else, though, I think I get it.

And yet there are a few thousand families still separated at our border; a few thousand kids in steel cages. America spins a different sort of horror story.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

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