Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 131

Hi.

Coffee: House Blend, Ithaca Coffee Company; It’s been a long time since I’ve ground my morning coffee; I’ve gotten in the habit of drinking the work stuff, or splurging for out-of-housers on my days off; today, I wanted to feel that old sensation of tiring my arms out, and I’ve still got some of these beans my friend gave me a month ago, so I put my all into it; the coffee came out tasting like green beans fresh off the vine

There’s a puppy in the apartment. His name is Gus. He’s my roommate’s brother’s dog and we’re watching him while they’re out of town. This morning, I was up before anybody and went to pet him in his sleeping-crate. He gnawed on my fingers with prickly puppy teeth.

I walked by the pool today and saw people sunbathing. Storm clouds came but they stayed there, bearing the heat and imminent rain, cooking on the grill, exposing their right to live here freely, embracing independence with burned bodies.

It’s the 4th of July – a celebration of America’s independence. I haven’t done much to celebrate. A friend posted a link to the Declaration so I read it. I saw how it said all ‘men’ are this and that, equal and free, etc, etc, and couldn’t help but remember my time studying Classics in college, ancient Athenian law, where there was a functioning Democracy with extensive freedoms for all citizens, only ‘citizen’ was a small category that included only Athenian-born men.

I grew up loving the sound of ‘America,’ and have grown old getting more and more skeptical of what I hear. When we celebrate, what are we celebrating? An old dim dream? Or something you can put your arms around?

There are children being caged on American soil. And I’m not just talking about the migrant communities. In a country of for-profit prisons, can we really celebrate freedom each year?

More work to be done.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence

Coffee Log, Day 270

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Thanksgiving feels like it was yesterday. Instead, it’s three days from now.

Holidays are like a spring cleaning: you beat the rugs on the balcony; you clear out the corners.

There was a little while I was on crutches. This was years ago, ten of them actually. It was summer. I was in High School. I was spending the summer at an NC academic camp in Winston Salem called Governor’s School. A six week program, I tore my ACL in the first week playing ping pong. It’s not that I was good at ping pong, rather that I was bad at it.

So they stuck me on crutches for a month. It was awkward, I was young. I felt like a sore thumb – I hurt and I stood out. But I made do.

The way the classes were set up, everyone took two a day and then had a couple free periods. You could fill those with homework or seminars or whatever else. My schedule left me this big block of hours in the morning, 10am to 1pm. There wasn’t much going on and not a lot of people out. Hobbling already, I got stir crazy.

I started taking walks to Ollie’s Bakery. Ollie’s is now closed. They served fluffy scones and vanilla lattes. They had a corner of a road about a mile away, a little brick building, not enough room to think or worry when you were in there, you’d get full on the smells. The trip took me through Old Salem and across a creek. Then it was a hop and skip through this faded industrial district. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was arduous on the crutches. Again, I made do.

I’m remembering this now because it’s important to remember that first time you felt independent. Holidays will put a lot of old sweaters on you: that scratchy-wool love. They’ll show you everyone that has a hand in your pot. They’ll also show you who’s missing.

But no matter how much your family or friends or people you wish were around might matter, when you’ve cleared the clutter and put all the boxes away it’s just you in an apartment, early morning, a torn knee. You can walk to the cafe or sit at home. Either way, the joy is only your own.

Novel Count: 10,411 words

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

He fell off the table like a crab looking for the sea.

Charles Bukowski



Coffee Log, Day 133

Hi.

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

How can I celebrate America in 2018?

It was ’07; July; I was away for the summer at Governor’s School, a preppy, open-minded camp for academic kids in NC. I had a roommate I rarely saw, a kid who liked swimming and tennis and picking his nose. One night, before going to bed, he talked about the French Revolution. He’d been learning about it in some seminars. He said the French had it so much better than the Americans, chopping heads, etc etc. I told him he was wrong. The kid kept me up for two hours while we argued. He was so convinced that neither of us were allowed to sleep.

Anyway, what I told him was: America’s ideals are perfect. We stand for an optimistic freedom. We give everyone equal power, equal voices, and believe so much in the good in people that we have confidence in a collective outcome.

In 2018, that collective looks shaky. We claw at each other. The one value of our current civil strife is that it’s showing us just how far from the American ideal we’re sitting. Much of the country’s never known equality; those who did knew it the way ancient Athens did – that ‘freedom’ means rich and ‘equal’ means man.

My family likes to brag that one of our ancestors rode the boat with Washington when he crossed the Delaware. I’m skeptical of the story’s veracity, but not of it’s message: revolution’s in my blood. On this Fourth of July, I’ll keep my eyes open and chest poked out. I’ll believe in the America a bunch of immigrant landowners accidentally dreamed up two hundred fifty years ago, not the country she’s turned out to be.

Donate to RAICES, vote in November, talk to your neighbor, film the cops.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

IMG_1326