Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 108

Hi.

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

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

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 Vice.com, article ‘Native American Women Are Being Sold into the Sex Trade on Ships Along Lake Superior’

Coffee Log, Day 251 (Halloween Special)

Hi.

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

You wake up in the backseat of someone else’s car. The wind’s beating trees. You can hear it, one of the windows is cracked. It’s pitch, it’s night, there’s a thick orange cloudcover so you must be close to the city. You open the door. The ground’s gravel. You’re in a forest. You don’t know where you are.

It was warm this morning so you’re in shirtsleeves. You wish you’d thought ahead. That same wind brings all the hairs on your arms to attention. You pace a few times around that car.

Are they coming back? Who brought you here?

It’s an old Camry, ’91 or ’92, blue paint faded, a busted front headlight. The only clues  don’t mean anything to you. You peak into the seats to look for keys but there’s an empty ignition. The road curves left up ahead and right behind you. A leaf falls. Your heart shakes. You think about spending the night in the car, but then you consider who might be coming. You start walking down the road.

It’s a slow walk. The path is getting steeper. You trip and when you get back up there’s blood coming from you. For some reason you can’t explain, you lick it. Every dead sow you’ve put inside you; the red ink of our mother.

Scatter – a flock of birds. It was deeper in the forest and something shook them. Ten slick bodies spiral through the leaves. You wait and try to listen, a bit of the blood still on your lips. There’s only the wind at first and then you hear it: “Pad, pad, pad” – little muffled footsteps; a park stroll; only it’s dead night and you woke up in the backseat of a foreign car.

Now you’re pounding. You walk. You stumble. You run. You stumble more. The footsteps are getting louder and louder. It’s all you can do in the dim night to keep to the path, keep your bearings, have a sense that you’re still a part of the world. The road is all uphill. It twists and snakes. You push past a point of exhaustion and think there’s no way for you to go any further. You remember the blood and you push further.

Then there’s a light. It’s through the trees and you only catch parts of it. It’s yellow, orange, a candy corn, somewhat repulsive but still inviting. You quickly realize that if you follow the path you won’t find it. It’s Eastward, and you’re going nowhere close. You pause a second and look behind you. Little specked things are in the trees. They twist and rattle. Beneath the commotion, the footsteps keep coming. With all you have, you step into a mess of bramble off the road. It cuts. It stabs. It’s better than whoever wants to find you.

A half hour passes following that pumpkin light. You can’t tell if you’re getting any closer. Then, all of a sudden, the trees slip back and you’re in a pasture. There’s a wide, mowed field with a house in the middle. It’s a wood house, one-story, a porch with pole-columns and rocking chairs. There’s an old dead tractor rusting on the lawn.

For a second you’re frozen. An unknown home – could be the man or woman who got you, stranded you here. Could be it belongs to the pair of too-light feet that have you in twenty yards. But there’s no time to think. You walk. You run. You’re running. Fireflies escape the blades of grass. A personal sea of stars. The house is forever across the field and then you hear the ‘slap-slap‘ of something running. It’s behind you. You turn around and only see the fireflies.

Time stretches as much as your tired muscles. It’s forever to reach the porch. Finally, though, as inevitable as Spring, you’re there. There’s an old rusty doorbell and light coming through the thick curtains. You try to spy inside but there’s no gaps. The thing behind you is still coming. You don’t know who or what lives here. You press the button. There’s a ringing behind the door.

Bzzt.

Bzzt.

Bzzt…..

“Trick or treat!!” Old Lady Johnson has the biggest smile and pumpkin earrings. She sees your costume – all dolled up as the dark things in the night – and pats your head and hands you two Snickers. On the way down the porch, you see your mother. She’s talking to some other parents, some other families. You open one of the candies and eat it before she sees you. It tastes red and perfect and you’re proud you’ve kept the secret. A million kids are out here tonight but not a one knows your secret: that for a brief time you were somewhere else, lost in a dark forest, haunted, and that you made it home.

Happy Halloween

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

Led through the mist,
By the milk-light of moon,
All that was lost, is revealed.
Our long bygone burdens, mere echoes of the spring,
But where have we come, and where shall we end?
If dreams can’t come true, then why not pretend?” – Patrick McHale, Into the Unknown, a song from Over the Garden Wall

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Coffee Log, Day 233

Hi.

Coffee: Colombian, Starbucks Brand (grocery store bought, a gift)

I went to a showing of Friday the 13th: Part 3 at the Carolina Theater in Durham. It was packed. The movie was in 3D. We had polarized glasses. Mine didn’t work, or maybe my eyes didn’t work. I ended up watching the entire movie without the glasses. The scenes were blurry, gags and goofs were screwy, the murders looked like you were watching them in a puddle forming during heavy rain. It was a strange show. It gave me a headache. I had a lot of fun.

The event was put on by Splatterfix. It’s a weekend long convention. They had booths set in the theater. Posters, blu-rays, coasters painted with movie scenes. Every booth had a group stuck around it talking; the line for popcorn was almost out the door. It felt like stepping back to something. Before the movie, everyone clapped. They all laughed at the goofy 3-D. There were a lot of black jeans and chain wallets. Every other woman had dark-dyed hair.

We left after the show. Our car was in a parking deck. The light above it had been blinking since we got there but it took on new meaning in the spooky evening. I drove slow behind a line of other cars. Some people exited the elevator: two men, one woman. One guy walks away from the others and turns to wave. He only half waves then he sticks his hands in his pockets and keeps going. The woman walks a few steps after. Her hair’s blood red and she’s got a lot of mascara. We finish the line and I see her leaving arm-in-arm with the other man. It was a crisp night, everyone’s got an October story. In the movies, we’d all be strung up on a meat hook before we got home.

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“[Horror fiction] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.” – Clive Barker

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Coffee Log, Day 119

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I haven’t really known what to say about it. I’ve watched the videos, read the articles, listened to the rhetoric. A part of me wants to pack up and drive to the border to do something. As a kid, I always wondered why the Germans didn’t fight the Nazi’s more.

I’ve got a vivid picture of myself at four-years-old: we were in a Roses; there was this action figure, a Power Ranger probably, I was fixed to it like flies in the summer. I turned around to share the treasure but my parents weren’t there. They’d wandered into the racks and racks of clothes, my dad needed new jeans. To me, they were gone.

I screamed. The whole store heard me. First there was the old lady with the side-longs, then the young mother who said ‘It’ll be fine sweetie.’ A clerk found me. She was big and wearing blue. She knelt beside me, gave a hand to my shoulder. It was kind, but my world was still ending. Where are my parents? For the first time in my life, absence, loss, terror felt manifest. I could cup my fears and breathe on them. I could watch them grow.

My parents came back in less than five minutes and everything was fine. I’m White. I’m American. My country used to keep it’s darkness at the edges.

For two months now, thousands of children are feeling that same terror. Only they don’t know if their parents are coming back; only they don’t have any kind hands on their shoulders; only they’re locked in cages with inch-thin mats and thermal blankets; only their suffering is driven by the collective will of my country.

Guns aren’t as loud in 2018 than they were in the ’40’s. Every puncture in injustice has a few dollars behind it now. Some very active, educated friends recommend this charity – RAICES – as a meaningful initiative to provide relief for family separations at the border. I’m replacing my coffee tip button with a link until the crisis is over. To the extent I’m financially able, I’ll match any donations made via my site.

Don’t let human – American – darkness take our brothers and sisters. Fight with your wallets now and with your votes in November.

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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