Coffee Log, Day 169

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

Blue Raspberry lollipop – it turned your whole mouth blue. Nephew of my coworker, the women show you off. Your mom was a drinker but you changed that. Your aunt talks tense phone-calls to laughter. Your friend – another coworker – has a strong southern accent.

How will you talk in 2035? You’ve got good parents, blond hair, blue eyes, but if you’re lucky – if we’re all lucky – those marks won’t have the same cache’ they do today. Will you spend fourth grade watching that one girl from the back of class, only to grab her hand in the lunch-line and kiss it, only to tell her that means you’re married, only to tell your parents and hear them laugh it off like ‘That’s what young men do.’ Will they teach you abstinence or responsible love?

In history books, white western men sin in the 100’s, fight in the 1000’s, conquer through the 21st century; they fight, kick, scream, spill blood until their hands are sticky enough to never drop the reigns. They don’t love, except voraciously; they don’t cry, except pathetically.

You walked behind the counter to get another lolly. I was there. I said: “High Five!” You were static smiles, so much innocent joy it got stuck on me. We smacked palms then you went running. I hope I gave you something. I spent twenty years making love to ill-gotten power, the next ten making up for that. I’m still making up for that. I hope you felt: brave; storied; vulnerable; open; powerless. I was born in the twilight of western white manhood. I’m fighting daily to make sure it dies. I hope you’ll never have to look at your naked limp body in the mirror and pick it down to honest sinews, take scalding showers to wash your grandfather’s sins. I hope you get to choose a good man, an honest man, an equitable man from the beginning.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“It is strange,’ he said at last. ‘I had longed to enter the world of men. Now I see it filled with sorrow, with cruelty and treachery, with those who would destroy all around them.’
‘Yet, enter it you must,’ Gwydion answered, ‘for it is a destiny laid on each of us. True, you have seen these things. But there are equal parts of love and joy.” – Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron
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Coffee Log, Day 117

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I started re-watching an old anime, Samurai Champloo. The art’s beautiful, soundtrack’s perfectly cool and melancholy. For those who don’t know, the show follows a ragtag group – two samurai and one former tea-house worker – on a mercenary quest to find the tea-house worker’s missing father. It’s a good set-up. It shifts between monster-of-the-week and bigger plot-beat episodes. I like the way you get to know a group of characters and then let them go immediately, both satisfied and wistful at the end of the episode.

There are some real problems though, ones I didn’t notice when I was 14. Two-thirds of the time, the action is predicated on sexual violence. In episode one, tea-house worker (a woman) is being roughed up by thugs; she hires one of the samurai to save her. Episode three, multiple women are captured by the Yakuza and sold to a brothel.

Everything works out. The protagonists save the day, half the time out of benevolence, half for money, but the day always gets saved. That’s maybe the most damning thing of all: the women in the stories have so little autonomy their danger isn’t even real.

I sit at my desk and try to write something. A man, a woman, loose change jangles, a bunch of a ideas, real heroes don’t go around saving anyone.

Currently Reading:

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund (2017 Man Booker Prize Shortlist)

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“Only hope can give rise to the emotion we call despair. But it is nearly impossible for a man to try to live without hope, so I guess that leaves man no choice but to walk around with despair as his companion.” – Samurai Champloo
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