Coffee Log, Day 200

Hi.

Coffee: Sumatra Medium-Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s; Don’t know how much you miss something until it’s gone. I spent forty-five minutes this morning unboxing, washing, and testing the new coffee pot. It’s nothing fancy, but it makes a good cup.

A girl and her father went around the apartments sticking voter registration forms in everyone’s doors. When they got to mine, the girl looked in my window and our eyes locked. She’s thirteen, fourteen, pigtails only a kid could pull off. She had a blue dress. I was so surprised to see her I didn’t have time to smile so maybe that’s why she hid. It was comedy: I see her drop down below the windowsill; she’s walking like a prowling lion; two feet, four feet, ten – she’s at the door; I’m glancing over, trying not to spook her; she slips the registration form and runs away giggling.

When she was gone, I got wondering: was that an innocent fear – the kind that makes kids creep behind their parents’ legs in the super-stores – or was it something born of 2018, the kind of neighborhood fear that puts horns on pedestrians and ghosts in every window? I don’t know. It was pretty funny, pretty sad. I wanted to tell her ‘Good job.’ Hell of an American way to grow up, getting out the vote.

I’m already registered, was already planning to vote this November. Now I’m geared up again: let’s make a world where our kids feel safe and comfortable.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” – Abraham Lincoln

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Coffee Log, Day 174

Hi.

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

On the way to work, I caught a report on NPR: an unaccompanied minor detention facility in Shenandoah, VA has been cleared of all allegations of child abuse; incidentally, the inspection that cleared them also documented cases of migrant children restrained to chairs with mesh bags placed over their heads.

So anyway, I turned the station to 102.1, heard the bass thump, hip-hop and traffic, it was blue skies with gray clouds, later in the day it rained. I worked eight hours. I clocked cash, counted time. My coworkers: vibrant. If it was busy, we worked well together. If it was slow, we shot the breeze.

If you google pictures of the Shenandoah facility (which I did) you see a pack of picketers outside a building that could just as easily be a library. It’s blue there too, though I guess the kids don’t see it, and someone’s trimmed the bushes, though I guess the kids don’t see it, and even though there were only fifty protestors it’s still something, waving signs in solidarity like high-school colorguard, done in the honor of kids who won’t see it because they’ve got mesh bags on their heads and tight straps on their legs.

I’d packed lunch. Pasta – red sauce, soy chorizo – I sat in the break room while the microwave spun the plastic container. Beep! My phone was on, it’s always on, I texted two friends while I ate the pasta then I took a walk through the parking lot where the rain had stopped and the lot was cool, a good breeze. I sat in the car and listened to five more minutes of NPR but they were doing a food show. I turned it back to 102.1 and swiped Tinder; pretty smiles, so many possibilities for a Friday night I can afford to flick them away forever.

On Google, the other pictures of the holding facility lacked protesters but the building still looked like a library. Long, angular, brick. A trim sign. It’s fitting, really: a house of knowledge; kids learning important lessons: if you’re young, poor, friend and fatherless, the Land of the Free tins you in a confinement can, bags you like an execution, ties up your dignity, then signs off on it.

Cleared of abuse.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” – George Washington
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Coffee Log, Day 135

Hi.

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

The rain took the heat away, then the rain went away too; packed-up houses. I took my daily walk in the space it left.

Tonight, I saw: a new family. The mother and father were both taller than me; their son was twig-high. He was toddling, dressed in a red tee. They held both his hands when he needed it. The three walked the parking lot searching for sticks and acorns. He picked one; he wasn’t satisfied.

“They’re better by the playground,” Dad says.

“Yeah,” says the toddler.

There’s a bend in the neighborhood that obscures oncoming traffic. The rain washed the tires of an SUV loud enough for me to dodge. My downstairs neighbor drove by. She waved. In her wake, I saw a mother and daughter slogging toward recycling. Mom was stern. She had handfuls of wood and cardboard. Her daughter was sterner. She pulled a pink wagon full of broken boxes.

Trees look best in a storm; your first love coming out the shower. I snapped a few pictures, even the sewers looked nice.

At the dog park, wet fluffs were yapping. They had death in their lungs but cuddles everywhere else. Their owners chatted across the fence. The dogs weren’t happy. Both were fat, still hungry.

The last stretch goes by the office, the pool, there’s a deck that’s always open and a guy in a dark armchair who’s always watching TV. We see each other often but look away when our eyes catch.

I took the new bridge across the stream. I saw the family again, only the Dad and son this time. I waved. Dad waved. The kid ran circles, he was scared of me; I’m no stick, no acorn. I said “Hi Hi!” to red shirt, folding my best paper-plane smile.

“Say hello,” said Dad.

“No!” said his son.

He ran away to find more fairies. I wasn’t hurt; summer storms are enticing company.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I’m tryna get high as I can.” – Future, Hate the Real Me

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Coffee Log, Day 131

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; back to basics; grinding beans like a kid’s eraser tip

Drake’s got me thinking about kids. It’s the most relevant thing he raps about on ‘Scorpion.’ For those who don’t know, Pusha T called him out on hiding the fact he has a son. He did hide it, but he tries to give some excuses on the album. They’re maybe good, maybe bad. They’re well-written if nothing else.

As a kid, I was pretty convinced I’d never want children. I saw my gangly arms and bowl-cut hair as profound signals: the world doesn’t need another one of these. That notion stuck around until 2012.

That autumn, I helped my partner on some nanny gigs. I remember a walk in the woods. Three boys, me and them, twenty-two, five, and three years old. I was scared of snakes so she led the way. I’m still scared of snakes, a little less so. As we were leaving the park, the littlest kid cried. He was tired. In the way that only makes sense when you’re that young, he didn’t want to leave the cold fall park for a warm suburban bed. My partner started to carry him. He kicked.

That’s when I kicked in: I told stories. I started with the trees: “Did you know it’s fairies that take the leaves and hide them so they don’t get too cold in winter?”

He liked it, wanted to hear more; I needed something better. You could see all the big stones in the foliage. I picked the biggest, roundest, and said: “Did you know that’s actually a sleeping witch?”

He screamed. Not scared, the kid loved Halloween. Half the time he wouldn’t leave the house unless you let him dress like Woody from Toy Story. He just knew that horror was a gate to courage and the kid was ready to be brave.

“She’s a big, gnarly witch. Her nose is this big. Her toes have caterpillars living under the nails. When she breathes it smells like Brussels Sprouts, when she catches you she’ll turn you upside down and tickle you and then give you a cold bath. Run!” I said.

We ran. S didn’t drop him. We got in the car and the kid fell fast asleep. His brother had us play “Moves Like Jagger” on repeat.

That day made me think: how lovely to give stories to a small someone. I still don’t know if I’ll ever have kids. I believe in being responsible and my life is far from bountiful. If nothing else, though, I think I get it.

And yet there are a few thousand families still separated at our border; a few thousand kids in steel cages. America spins a different sort of horror story.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

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