Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 83

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

A kid at the Chinese take-out squirmed around in his mother’s arms enough to look at me and said: “What did you order?”

I told him what I got – two spring rolls and tofu. He was puzzled, then I asked him about his order and he lit up: “Shrimp fried rice!” All the while, his mom’s got that look that says ‘isn’t my kid everything?’ but ‘I’m watching your every move’ at the same time.

While they were leaving, she says: ‘Say goodbye.’

And he says: ‘Goodbye!’

And I say: ‘Fried rice is classic.’

That was the most interesting thing that happened at the Chinese take-out.

Meanwhile, in Alabama, it’s effectively illegal to get an abortion. The only cases where the doctor’s not liable for a life sentence are where the mother’s immediate health would be compromised. I say immediate, because there’s many physical and emotional impacts of birth and pregnancy that don’t quite tally to death but are still significant and severe. Anyway…

There’s lots of good arguments going around for why this new anti-abortion law is bullshit. A lot better than anything I can say, I’m not a woman and no-one’s got a gun to my bodily sanctity. But here’s a thing I thought about that I think gets brushed over: what does it say to parents to tell them having a child is not really their choice? Accidents happen. People get tossed up in each other and then there’s this new bit of DNA. Maybe you want what it’ll turn into. Maybe you don’t. But Alabama says you’re not allowed to make that choice. Even if you want to be a parent, the kid’s not there because of your intention. She/he’s there because some privileged men knew how to slap a legislative stamp. She/he’s born independent of want or love.

I don’t know about you, but that sickens me.

While he was still on her lap, the mom was rocking the kid with her knee and nonchalantly running one hand’s worth of fingers through his hair. She was checking Twitter with the other. Normal, calm, simple, but wrapped up in her was someone that wanted to be a part of this vibrant, questioning person bouncing on her knee. If I had to guess – accident or otherwise – when push came to shove, she made the choice to offer up nine months of blood and eighteen or more years to give life to her son. Can you feel the weight of that?

But no, Alabama says to hell with that kind of love. You might be screaming ‘state’s rights’ and ‘small government,’ but you’re eager to slip the government’s fingers into other peoples’ pants, or put your long, bureaucratic proboscis into their hearts. You rob them of both their bodily autonomy and the freedom to love. You spoil not only a woman that says ‘no’ but the one that says ‘yes.’ In a grand act of irony, you have devalued both the individual woman and the concept of a family. In fact, the only thing you haven’t touched are greedy, self-obsessed men.

Oh, I get it now.

You are the closest I will ever come to magic.

Suzanne Finnamore, The Zygote Chronicles

Coffee Log, Day 330

Hi.

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

The guy to the right of me had a pepperoni pizza. The lady to the left was eating a grilled turkey salad. And across was a woman who had a hamburger, she was apologizing about the onions. When I opened my order to eat, it was a simple green salad.

There aren’t many vegetarian options at my work’s corporate office.

Later in the day, I got to go home a couple hours early. I stopped at the grocery store for more deodorant and then at my favorite chinese joint on the way home. The woman knew my order: “Tofu garlic sauce!” so I tipped an extra dollar. I sat in the lobby smelling hot oil cook a young latina’s chicken wings.

On the drive home, I thought about Greece – about Mousakka in particular, and that one time I offended a fancy restaurateur for not eating theirs. It was made with veal. I was still a carnivore, but couldn’t bring myself to eat calf meat. I had two servings of strawberry icecream instead.

A personal ethic involves excluding yourself from culture. Sometimes even cultures you would very much like to be a part of. It points you out as someone with a ‘choice,’ and not everyone has a choice, and that’s a fair critique. And it points you out as a spoil sport, a sore thumb, both of which are a little less fair.

I remember having turkey sandwiches a long time ago and loving them, and then a little later thinking turkey was a bland meat. And at some other times, I’ve seen wild turkeys on the roadside looking punch-drunk or confused. Bland animals, too.

Sometimes, I only know how to love myself in opposition to my nature, and in opposition to my culture, and I think that’s equally beautiful and bothersome.

Novel Count: 15,761

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“I went to the kitchen and felt-up the turkey.”

Charles Bukowski, Women


Coffee Log, Day 256

Hi.

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

A real looker: thick lips, cute smile, curves in all the right places. Careless to the mud, down to earth, but pride in the eyes from knowing you’ve got something special.

I’m talking, of course, about a mulefoot pig.

I read this article about the mulefoots, how they’re drawing toward extinction. There are 200 or so of them left. Used to be a feed pig, popular in America, but they’re big, wild suckers who won’t let you keep them in little cages, and so with the advent of industrial farming nobody raises them anymore.

The article went on to talk about how there’s this midwestern movement to bring the pigs back. Like everything in the world, they need money to do it, and they get the money by selling mulefoot meat at a premium. So far, the initiative’s working and the population’s growing.

This gave me a headache. Not for the news itself, but for the ethical dilemma. I went vegetarian at the beginning of this year. I feel good, I feel healthy, and most of all I feel honest not eating animals I know I’d struggle to kill. I’m not one to speak my opinions too far onto others, but of course I think what I’m doing is generally right.

But then you have the mulefoots. Or whatever other livestock animal you’d like to insert. It’s a hard world for non-human life. Our efforts to thrive have cut the line on many species. There’s surely no way to save everything while still looking out for the interests of people. That said, when there’s this easy opportunity to save a few hundred pigs – a route to mutual benefit – only the catch is you take a knife to the hog’s throat and cut it into bacon, what’s the ethical move?

I honestly don’t know.

Novel Count: 5,177 words

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” – Winston S. Churchill

Mulefoot Pig article linked HERE

IMG_1765

Coffee Log, Day 191

Hi.

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

Tortilla-chip philosophy, Fiesta Mexicana had potato burritos and a family talking animal rights. Carried the conversation home like little styrofoam boxes.

In my major, Ethics and Existentialism were my least favorite branches of philosophy. They were fuzzy old photos, no hard glamour to them. Well, the world at 28 is blurry. I don’t know right and wrong like I used to, hardly know that water freezes or the oxygen in the air. These days, Ethics and Existentialism are about the only branches of philosophy I think about.

What does it mean to be a ‘man?’ That one’s got me. 2018 means #metoo marches and non-binary parades, as well it should. So maybe what I’m asking is: what does it mean to be ‘this man?’ I was raised to dress in jeans, distrust gay men, and dominate women, though no voices in my life ever acknowledged it directly. Instead, it was the way they pushed away the Barbies and gave me toy guns; the permissive laughs I got when I kissed that girl – unwanted – in the third grade play; or the way I told my parents at four I’d been experimenting with a boy below our bedsheets and they said it was natural to be curious, but with sodden implications that the curiosity must decay like garden-spider corpses.

So here I am: a straight, white, southern man. If I ever could have been anything else, those doors were long ago closed. But what does that mean? Scratch enough layers and no-one’s wearing clothes like ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘skin-tone,’ ‘socialized gender.’ There are bits of my experience that I could only have by existing in this body but those experiences belong to an identity connected to but independent of them. So what is that identity?

I’ve read the Iliad three times: once in high school, twice in college. By the third, I was there with the sand on Achilles’s beach. He cries for power. His mother answers. A wonderful suit of armor; a shield to protect him; the curse that he will die young but the promise to live forever in immortal memory. Meanwhile, miles up the coast, Hector kisses hearthfire into his son’s forehead before marching to his own, simpler death. The two heroes wage war into the Trojan soil. Best I can figure, my manhood is in that soil: scuffed between a furious drive for something greater and a humble need for love.

Or maybe I’m just a lump of blood and muscle that’s stressing over nothing. Oh well. Either way, the burritos were damn good.

Currently Reading: Nothing! Still poking through some books, will settle soon.

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.” – Homer, The Illiad
IMG_1574

Coffee Log, Day 153

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

A few Japanese 7-yr-olds told me you only put soy sauce on rice when you’re trying to get the dogs to eat it. I liked that: maybe I’m a dog.

Since I stopped eating animals I’ve wondered more about being ‘human.’ Unlike the wealthy white kids who wear Salvation Army and dumpster dive because they know they’ll never depend on anything, I see the difference between us and animals clearly. We’ve got a spark, they’ve got something simpler. No wildcat would choose not to eat me. The beautiful, structured violence of a predator.

The voice is exhausting. I think maybe that’s being human: a constant, boring fatigue. Not the tired you get swinging muscles, but the exhaustion of constant thought. We buy our free choice by chaining our mind up to moral dilemma. Humanity is dull like paint drying. Stick with it, though, and you build the best blue house.

But today I’ll take a break. Woof.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

13B595A9-6BC3-4827-8FFC-E769F5B7FA84

Coffee Log, Day 88

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

I did some research: traditional beer brewing often uses fish bladders in the filtering process. I quickly scanned my favorites to see if they participate in the practice and thankfully the best of the bunch – Guinness, Negra Modelo, etc – were all clear. For those interested, here’s a handy website to see if you’re drinking animals to get drunk: barnivore.com.

We all have our castles. They’re not physical, rather mental, rather dreamed up delusions that the world was always perfect, always an act of divinity (labeled science, god, what have you), came out of the primordial soup with straight plastic lines and nutritional labels. Go back a few hundred years and people knew a lot less but what they did know was immediate and vital. I couldn’t sew a patch in my jeans if you asked me; a few centuries back, my family made their clothes from scratch.

That lack of transparency means we’re all drinking fish bladders without realizing it. We take for granted that every act we participate in is bloodless, safe, pure. When we shop or sit down at the cafe we’re above the muck and grime, blind to prejudice, removed from human (and animal) suffering. But the trick is that we’re doing all the same things we’ve been doing since DNA struggled to produce claws and fangs, only we’ve automated the process so well as to give ourselves the illusion of having no agency over it.

I’m trying to be better. I’ll buy vegan beer. I’ll look at the corporate missives when I buy clothes, try to avoid the sweat shops. I gave up shrimp a long time ago because so much of the stuff was drawn from dark waters on slave ships in Southeast Asia. But try as I might, I’m going to stumble into horror and atrocity with big, ignorant smiles time and time again.

It’s hard to be good and modern at the same time.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka

IMG_1110