Coffee Log, Day 334

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

MLK died so you and I could have a Monday holiday doing nothing much but hanging around the house in sweatpants. That’s not the narrative he or his shooter was trying to tell, but I’ll bet good money it’s the one most of us are living today.

I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing. There are many ways to honor someone.

I cooked a good dinner. I put in so much basil that my fingers still stink like a July garden. And I read a book and wrote a little, drank cheap whiskey, watched this one lady who always walks her dog cross the bridge a few times, dog crossing behind. A simple, pleasant day.

It’s easy to become bankrupt of your own responsibilities. There are so many problems to solve – personal problems, national problems, world problems – that you declare an ineptitude. You pull the blankets over your head and stop watching anything but what’s in front of you.

The flip side of that is the burn out. I knew this woman who worked herself to a fury. She was a teacher. In her spare time, she participated in every march for justice that popped up in the triangle. Eventually, it all caught up with her. She quit her job and now she has a small garden in the back of a small house she shares with a French bulldog and the love of her life. She doesn’t fight too much anymore, but who could blame her? You only have so much sweat to spill until you shrivel up.

I try to pick good battles. Even when I pick them, though, I end up feeling like I haven’t done enough. At this very moment, there are still kids locked in bright hot cages on the border. In fact, there was just an article saying the numbers of minors who were separated from their families was vastly underestimated last year. What I mean is: we still live in sin. Only it’s not god or the devil that guides us to it, just human hands that might be our neighbors, or might be our own. We’re all equally responsible.

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with cutting up basil and watching it burn. There’s nothing wrong with having whiskey on a day off. In fact, those simple things are what all the fights are for – a right to live peacefully and with minor comforts.

So I don’t know if I did a good job celebrating the legacy of King. He’s a powerful symbol and was an even more powerful human voice. But I’d like to think that by writing this, at least, I can share a bit of what peace is about. That being good starts with holding two tight threads: one tied to the necks of everyone suffering; the other on a knot of garlic, or a loaf of wheat bread.

Novel Count: 17,508

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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

We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Coffee Log, Day 248

Hi.

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

I was in line for an hour behind a short, pretty, blue-haired girl and a family of three. The family was a dad and two girls. The girls were reading books and blowing bubbles. The sun was out. Everyone looked comfortable. We were all waiting to vote.

For sixty minutes, it’s like I knew America again: the friend who moved, your favorite lunch in Elementary, the windows in the old office where you could watch crowds going down to the Subway, everything plain and normal but lovely, unabashed composure, five cents until the dollar that buys bread, hope, grit, confidence, respect. Whoever saw me saw a dumb big grin and eyes that were going everywhere. The kids peeked between their father’s arms. Blue-hair was talking priceless on her cell trying to pawn off an old car.

I’m in love with America, that thirsty love that sees water in a desert. It isn’t healthy, isn’t often returned, but unlike with the complexities of another person – a man or woman you’re pushing too hard to fit your dreams to – America belongs to me as much as I belong to it. It’s a self-love, a vanity, desiring the world to look like me on my best days instead of lost or hungover, wanting to pick up and dust his shoulders when he’s gotten down, wanting to reckon him to all the mistakes he’s made. Like nights on a bender, America gets away from me. But every now and then I catch up.

Early voting’s drawn record crowds in NC. People speak when you push them hard enough.

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
IMG_1745

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