Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 249

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

Two Greeks walked into my office. Old, retired, they used to live in Thessaloniki. They needed some help setting up ownership, planning for probate, one was the daughter, one was her father, her mother had died. She sounded like peanut butter when she said it, ‘Mom’s gone.’ On their way out, I dug up an old travel memory and said ‘thank you,’ efharisto.

An older woman sat down across from me and raised her hands. “I’m bringing you trouble,” she said, drawing out the ‘t.’ Jewish. She was having issues operating her online banking. I talked to the woman for half an hour and thought we had the problem solved then she came back. We called the hotline and tried different things. She said she’s bad with technology. She said she’s bad with computers. She said she doesn’t understand why something so simple gets complicated, and I remembered all the times I ever said ‘this is easy,’ and felt bad. Later, when the day was done, packing up, she calls, I answer, and she says its working, and that she was so excited she had to tell me. She said I must be happy to be through with her and I tell her I’d be happy helping anytime. I meant it.

I talked to an Indian doctor who tells dry jokes. I ask him how he’s doing, he says awful, as always. He tells me about all the relatives coming down. Then we get to business and I help him send a wire. It’s international. It goes out, It comes back. Our bank needs clarification on the address. So I call him, the doctor, and try to get the address. He talks so soft and fast it’s hard to understand. I have to ask him to repeat it and by the end we’re both laughing. I don’t know why I’m laughing, I don’t know if he knows. Everything works out in the end.

America sounds best in many accents.

I have never lived anywhere but New York or New England, but there are times when I’m talking to you and I hit a Southern vowel, or a word gets caught in a Southern truncation, and I know it’s because I’m swimming in your cadences, that you permeate my very language.

David Levithan, The Lover’s Dictionary

Coffee Log, Day 99

Hi.

Coffee: Hot Americano, Caribou Coffee

I read a long article about a 1950’s program to deculture native Alaskans by shipping them to White/Western boarding schools. It was well written. I think it was on Politico?

Unrelated, except maybe on a subliminal level, I took lunch at China Chef in Apex, a teensy spot two blocks from the bank. It was busy. Every booth was taken but one – a weird half-thing with plush on one side and tables stuck to the windows. I was the only white face. The other customers were all Latinx and most had Sherwinn-Williams shirts. The staff was Asian.

I like to feel uncomfortable. I feel most comfortable being uncomfortable. There’s some good in this, I think – I like the America who weaves every culture into her dress (or pants, take your preference). That said, I try to check my tourism.

The tofu was great today. It was crispy. The rice was good too. I remember cracking natto on breakfast rice bowls in Japan. The kids’ eyes go wide at the stuff – some love it, some don’t, but none of them thought an American would give it time. I did, it was fine, and secretly I liked the attention. They laughed a lot so I think they liked to give it, too.

We need the familiar and the different to define ourselves and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just have to be vigilant that when you look her in the eye – whoever she is, wherever she comes from – you’re giving back as much as you take.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“Read. Read. Read. Just don’t read one type of book. Read different books by various authors so that you develop different style.”- R.L. Stine

IMG_1188