Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 108


Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee; where does all this coffee come from? It’s packed in blue plastic pillows, three scoops per. We get the pillows on order from corporate and they come in brown boxes stuffed to the brim. There’s no sourcing. I don’t know whose hands picked the beans or roasted them, who ground them up. I don’t know how much Maxwell House paid to package this coffee conveniently. I don’t know who’s putting dinner on the table (and who isn’t). I just drink the stuff and pinch my nose at it. Tastes like amnesia, or a radio blackout, every single time.

I read a story on Vice about human trafficking. Specifically, the sale of First Nations women between northern Minnesota and Canada across the wide, cold waters of Lake Superior. The article was mostly a reference to work by Christine Stark, a Master’s student at University in Duluth, who’s doing a study of the subject. Stark spends most of her days interviewing women who survived.

Anyway, the way they do it is gradual – friend, family, or a lover gets the woman (or child) dependent, bit by bit, until she’s obligated by shame or force. They use the water because it’s easier that way. It’s hard to barge into a barge, discover what’s going on. And the money comes mostly from parties. A rented yacht, a bruisy Autumn evening, Superior gone gold like Western movie posters, so glorious you can get away with anything, even the rape and sale of someone you’ve stripped of freedom.

I saw Superior once. I put my hand in her water. It was Presque Park, the tip of Michigan. She lapped like an ocean, even though we were far away from the coast. Clear to the bottom. Welcoming. Winter-cold, even though it was July. Back then, it seemed the only thing she carried were the oak leaves getting loose in a slick wind, but I guess she was also carrying a darker sort of cargo just a couple hundred miles away.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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He paid her bills, rent, and the essentials for her children, but on weekends, “brought up other white men from the cities for prostitution with Native women… he had her role play the racist ‘Indian maiden and European colonizer’ myth…

Dave Dean quoting Christine Stark, on, article ‘Native American Women Are Being Sold into the Sex Trade on Ships Along Lake Superior’

Coffee Log, Day 140


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; I know I’m getting boring. I’ve been busy, my checkbook’s been busy. I’ll try something new this weekend!

Two black women come into the branch. Mother and daughter, the girl’s in high school. We talk about the heat, AC. Mom needs to open a business account. She goes to our manager’s office. Daughter sits on one of our froofy chairs and checks her phone.

Afterwards, three fat white men come in. They’re regulars. “Hey!” my colleagues say, brightly. First guy’s got a deposit. He’s pink as insulation. His head’s bald. He talks about the shave. He shaves his head often, sometimes his girlfriend does it. Last time she shaved for him, she rubbed raw and left some scabs. He waves his hands big. He doesn’t smile. “Almost hit her with the pine switch,” he says.

I’d been listening. I’d been smiling. And I didn’t say a damn thing to him.

Given my position, I don’t know whether or not I should have – customers, etc. I did glare at him. He caught that, we both looked away. I felt bad for the girl. I looked at her too. We were both too confused to sit our eyes together long. I kept to myself after that. When the men left, I didn’t know what to say. When the women left, “Have a good one,” was the best I could come up with.

Anyway, that’s growing up a girl in America: come to the bank with your mother to celebrate her success, hear strange men laughing about gender violence.

We’ve all got to do better.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Yes, we love the good men in our lives and sometimes, oftentimes, the bad ones too- but that we’re not in full revolution against the lot of them is pretty amazing when you consider this truth: men get to rape and kill women and still come home to a dinner cooked by one.” – Jessica Valenti, Sex Object: A Memoir