Coffee Log, Day 152

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema; today the taste was ‘woodchips from your grandpa’s studio’ and a hint of ‘college dorm’

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto looks just like you: gray skies, string lights, cooking fire.

I’ve been to Canada once – ninth grade, an orchestra trip; we played at a high school, then listened to the Canadians play. These days, they’d probably do a Drake arrangement. Back then it was Beethoven.

On an off day, we toured the city. The Market was a morning stop, breakfast for many, though I don’t remember eating anything. I walked around with a few friends. We warmed up by the food stalls. It was late winter and mostly freezing. For those who haven’t seen it, St. Lawrence is in an old brick shipping warehouse. There’s a ground floor and a basement. Eventually, we got tired with the main floor so we went to the basement. There are more and more stalls down there. I looked at fish drying. I spied the pretty girls with fourteen-year-old eyes, careless.

Back against a pillar, tucked off the main drags, a man in blue jean-rags played guitar with the case open. He had a wild beard. His music was better than the Canadian orchestra’s, better than ours. I’d bought currency at customs and had already broken most of the bills. Pockets full of one and two-dollar coins, I emptied all the foreign money in his case. It was thirty-something. He nodded my way but didn’t miss a beat.

Last night, a gun, bullets, and fire-blooded man shot 15 and killed 2 people on a restaurant-packed street in Toronto. He was crazy, they say, but they always say that. I wonder what songs St. Lawrence’s guitarist is playing right now?

Gray skies, string lights, cooking fire – you can’t find what you’re looking for in the restless brick walls and crowded market, so you take it from someone else, irreversibly.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It seemed to me that everybody ended up in Toronto at least for a little while.” – Alice Munro, Dear Life

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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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