Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 1

You didn’t think I was done, did you?

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee; The only way to start the second year of the coffee log – with the quintessential cup of joe; that stuff they mass market to middle managers around the USA; that black, thin, pen-ink blend that hits your tongue like a dump truck; the bread and butter of a 9to5 workforce that’s too tired to butter any bread in the mornings; plain, simple coffee, born in factory farms in South America, cut and roasted by underpaid labor, getting in the veins of every wannabe capitalist, giving half-dead men and women enough big daydreams to make it through another day.

Welcome back. Today, like yesterday, and the day before it, I had a cup of coffee. Now I’m here to tell you about it.

But I’ve got a slightly more important cause on my first day back in the Coffee Log saddle.

Josh Shaffer wrote a piece on the 20th for the Durham Herald Sun newspaper. The piece was about a woman named Kanautica Zayre-Brown. Ms. Zayre-Brown did some bad things – insurance fraud, etc – and went to prison. However, the State of North Carolina has decided to detain her for her 9 year sentence in a men’s prison. Why? Because it thinks she’s a man.

Ms. Zayre-Brown made the full surgical and hormonal transition to being bodily a woman a few years ago. Prior to that, from what she and her husband say in the article, she had been mentally a woman for some time. Her name was legally changed to Kanautica Zayre-Brown, but the State of North Carolina still calls her by her birthname. At the prison, she showers in a group with men. Most importantly, Ms. Zayre-Brown says she lives in constant fear of sexual assault. The 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution demands all persons are protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Ms. Zayre-Brown is the only inmate in the Harnett County Correctional Facility to be singled out like this. That is unusual. She’s terrified in a way no-one else in that facility can be. That is cruel.

If you live in a country that gives you voting rights, make sure you hold your politicians accountable for their views on criminal justice reform. If you live in America, make sure you funnel some of the energy in 2020’s elections to your local tickets as well as the Presidential. And if you’re brave and able or in a position with a platform, march against injustice, protest how you can, call your representatives, or at the very least tell your family and friends when something awful is going on.

If you don’t fight for everyone then you fight for no-one. No matter what you might think of Ms. Zayre-Brown if you met her, she deserves basic human dignity. She deserves better than this.

Novel Count: 25,512

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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

Zayre-Brown said that if she had such housing, she could work and begin paying restitution, serving her sentence constructively rather than in fear.
“I would feel the way I’m supposed to feel when I wake up every day: a beautiful girl,” she said. “Being here will make you an angry transgender woman.”

Josh Shaffer and Kanautica Zayre-Brown, “Transgender woman inmate…“, The Herald Sun Newspaper


Coffee Log, Day 283

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s brand

The world came apart like it was raining at about 10:30 this morning. It had rained, of course, overnight, but that rain was tame in comparison.

I was out walking. Mr. Cobwebs (the cat) was following me. The sky was opal. The grass was new-money green. When I crossed the bridge, crossed the basketball court, and got up to the lot around the apartment office, things were coming undone. 10:30 brought this great white wind out of the clouds and it got it’s jaws on everything. The ground swelled, my shirt went up, and she started biting all the trees. It was the biting that did it: all the great old oaks and maples were so shaken they couldn’t hold on to their leaves. Browns and golds and oranges catapult down like blizzard balls. For five straight minutes, all of us were swatting crumply old leaves.

I feel guilty sometimes when I’m loving where I live. I don’t always love it. But then there’s a windstorm and I’m raptured. It’s the best things that make you most aware of the worst things you’re responsible for.

A portion of every one of my paychecks goes to fund a bit of horror. It pays the clerk who stamps the order to deport this that and whoever on scratched together grounds (as they are currently perpetrating with a Mr. Samuel Oliver Bruno of Durham, NC, who has lived in the US for 22 years and is now awaiting deportation in Texas). It pays the public servant who’s told to serve the public by standing at the back of the Mexican border with a loaded weapon, or maybe firing teargas in the eyes of El Salvadorians. It clutters the coffers of this judge, that judge, zealous senators, some of whom are trying honestly to produce good judgment, however misguided, and others who are trying dishonestly to produce skewed judgment, guided quite narrowly by money or power or rumors of an afterlife that only loves you if you’re white and male. Really, those portions of my paycheck are a constant windstorm, and though I’m always voting, I can only keep on eye on a portion of the positions of the leaves.

All of that is to say: life is pretty. It’s worth living. But when you have the wind whipping you everywhere at once, freely filling your lungs, it’s hard to have your heart beat healthy with the knowing that you’re responsible – like it or not – for a cavalcade of forces keeping others locked up.

Novel Count: 14,915 words

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

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

Never forget:
we walk on hell,
gazing at flowers.

Kobayashi Issa


Coffee Log, Day 211

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee

6:13 am: I watched a man walk his two dogs in the almost-morning. He went around the gazebo, stopped to let the dog sniff the bridge. I’d just gotten up. I was still in my boxers. I watched from the kitchen window. It occurred to me later that he might have been watching me, too.

12:35 pm: In the bank’s parking lot, on my lunch break, I watched a tiny silver spider attempt a web from the closest tree to my driver’s side mirror. She had six long legs with two smaller. She kept falling off the mirror then twisting back up. Vexed, I guess, she’d turn circles on my pearl-white car.  I’d try to laugh but my mouth got stuck on peanut butter. Ms. Spider was good company.

3:49 pm: All the news blows up about Kavanaugh’s accuser. She never wanted the spotlight so I won’t name her. There’s different theories as to why she must be mis-remembering: the long time it took her to come forward; the possibility that she was almost-raped by a different man; Kavanaugh’s perfect pearly-white smile. I heard an interview with a good friend of hers who said the woman was choked by the first news of Kavanaugh’s nomination. I couldn’t help but think that Kavanaugh has a great grip, those same ten fingers having strangled a woman for 36 years.

5:57 pm: I bought dinner from a Chinese diner. I tipped a dollar. I ordered to go. The restaurant was smoky and busy, a non-stop phone. The two chefs were men but a woman and her 13-yr-old son staffed the counter. In between orders, she helped him with his homework. In between assignments, he filled a couple notebook pages with his own art. I got thinking: what will this kid’s hands hold? A dog leash? A gavel? Some girl’s throat?

Before I left, his mom had a long conversation with another customer. Friends, laughing. The boy was back to art. Everyone in the building seemed stressed and honest and good and warm. I want to believe the diner-woman’s slowly managing to spin a perfect web.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“In joined hands there is still some token of hope, in the clinched fist none.” – Victor Hugo

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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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Coffee Log, Day 78

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

A black woman and a white man were fired from Joe Van Gogh on Duke’s campus. The story varies on who cut the cord but there’s no question it all started with Larry Moneta. Larry is Duke’s VP. He’s a regular at Joe’s. According to the Indy article, he buys a lot of vegan muffins. Three days ago, he went in for another. The black shift leader – Ms. Britni Brown – was in charge of the cafe’s playlist. ‘Get Paid’ by Young Dolph was playing. It thumps. It’s trap. Dolph uses profanity. It talks about sex. Mature song, mature themes, no better or worse than a passage of Shakespeare. Larry didn’t like the music. He told Ms. Brown to shut it off and she did. She tried to comp him the muffin but he payed anyway. Then he called Joe Van Gogh and (this is where the stories differ) implied Ms. Brown and her coworker should be let go.

I think the crux of this story – what shows you it’s a dog-whistle – is that Larry wouldn’t let Ms. Brown comp the muffin. You see, I’ve worked customer service for many years. There’s a fundamental principal in customer service: please the customer, close the sale, keep them coming back. There were times at the bookstore where we’d knock the price off a pristine copy because it would make the customer happy. That’s business. That’s the game. Ms. Brown is a businesswoman acting as she should. If Larry had taken the muffin, accepted her (unnecessary but business savvy) apologies, and gone about his day feeling like the transaction had been successful – or, if he had simply decided Joe Van Gogh wasn’t for him and left without the muffin – things would have worked out. But instead, Larry paid for the muffin.

Why? Because to him, Ms. Brown’s role is not that of a young, professional woman doing her job and acting in that capacity – it is of a black girl born to be lesser. He saw Ms. Brown’s suggestions of a cordial, business-like resolution and refused her terms. More than that, he demanded his own terms over hers – get this, over her authority as representative of the business – and after she acquiesced to that indignity – had dirty, powerful money forced onto her – Larry decided to get her fired anyway.

That is white power in America: the ability to disregard any policy or institution; the inability to acknowledge the authority of any black man or woman.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fund the Coffee Log 🙂 – https://ko-fi.com/livesaywriting

“Get paid…, Get paid, whatever you do, just make sure you get paid.” – Young Dolph, Get Paid

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