Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 120

Hi.

Coffee: Large Americano, Caribou Coffee; there was a time in my life when espresso drinks were a daily thing; a cafe on campus at Duke, a cappuccino between classes; or the days I worked for a bookstore, buying Americano’s on break; now, I drink espresso rarely; it’s never close by, like the city on the other side of the hills; today, it tasted like listening to old records bought at a yardsale, or giving your ex a call on a long drive

The older I get, the less I understand violence. Maybe it’s the youth drained out of me, a testosterone spigot, drip drip the golden years of fighting for a chance at fertility. Or maybe I’ve just clued into something I should have seen all along.

I heard a radio program about Baltimore cops who were running a crime ring. They’d stop people in their plainclothes and pat them down, taking cash from their wallets, roughing them up, pressing no charges. They targeted drug dealers and the poor, people no-one would listen to, and they got away with it for a long time.

I saw a video a few weeks ago filmed from inside a Cleveland prison. There’s an old man in a face mask strapped to a chair. Three officers enter the room, check his vitals, then two of them walk out. The last officer punches the man over and over, and when this causes a commotion, another cop walks in and starts punching the man too. He suffered a concussion, so goes the article. He was mentally handicapped, black, and beaten by two white guards.

I woke up this morning to reports of a juvenile detention center in Texas where kids are sleeping on the floor. They’re migrants, seeking asylum, separated from parents, and held in hundred-degree weather without air-conditioning, no diapers for the babies, 300 per cell, little food and water, insufficient blankets, no toothbrushes or toothpaste because that’s ‘not necessary.’ It was a concentration camp, of course, ongoing. To their credit, the Border Patrol agents (at least the ones that were interviewed) seemed just as horrified at what they were doing as me.

I sat outside today and found a small red and black bug. It was attached to the chair and not moving. I tried blowing on it, nudging it off, but it stuck there. It was alive, because its legs moved, and it was committed to sharing a space with me. I sat in the chair with the red and black bug for a long time. I was worried it might bite me. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt it, because one pin prick of my skin isn’t worth the price of a life snuffed away.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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I wish only that my spirit and fury would drive me
to hack your meat away and eat it raw for the things that
you have done to me

Achilles to Hector, Homer, The Iliad

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.

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“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
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Coffee Log, Day 173

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro, Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; ever wake up in August thinking it’s April? Well, you know, cycles and stuff. Anyway, the coffee was okay, just like every other time.

My fan died last night. It was pretty neat to look at. A floor model, the wires ran through the base, when I pushed the buttons I saw sparks inside the plastic.

It was less neat trying to sleep. I’m used to the airflow, the sound. Quiet rooms are penetrable. Yesterday, I heard: my roommate shouting at a game; summer rain; thunder; a cat – either Mr. Cobwebs or Sally – crying outside my window at 4:00 a.m. I kept waking up. I had strange dreams: a furry black monster with claws the length of toddlers; my elementary school, mini-me’s in each seat, friends I hadn’t met yet.

Afternoon’s hanging on longer than I’d like. My eyes are ships that can’t drop anchor. Happy Monday. I’m off to bed…

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” – Homer, The Odyssey

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