Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 95

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

There was a highway beside the neighborhood where I grew up. It didn’t look like a highway and everyone called it Church St. It was two lanes most places. There were many spots you couldn’t go faster than 35. But take it far enough East and you’d hit the Atlantic, far enough West and you’d be in California. It’s strange to think of that packed asphalt having the power to take you to a different time zone.

The NC DOT is currently trying to extend Interstate 540 through the southern half of the Triangle. They want it to be a beltline, something to take the edge off the traffic and accelerate peripheral growth. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it isn’t. Either way, the project involves tearing down 1800 acres of forests and buying out 209 homes with eminent domain. That’s a lot of change for a road that won’t even take you to California.

Tonight, two kids were playing on the swings at my apartment complex. The sun had gone down enough to take the edge off another hot day. The kids ran, jumped, and twisted up the swings like two steel hangs of DNA. Neither of them’s thinking of a highway, or property laws, or the Atlantic, but I wonder what this town will look like when they’re my age? What will be the ratio of neighborhoods to highways?

Currently Reading: Have picked a new book but not had the chance to start it yet; more info to come

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The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.

Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

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

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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 176

Hi.

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

Met a teacher of twelve years who’s quitting the profession because it doesn’t pay as well as her summer gig bartending. She’s got an MA in Education but the state of North Carolina doesn’t compensate for that.

I talked to three different techs on a customer service line and each time they started asking me to solve the problem, like “What happens when you do this?”; “What do you think we should try?” A technical issue, we fixed it. Solidarity’s something, I guess.

There’s a technical issue at work that makes certain associates stay late; the higher-ups suggest ways to be productive after close, all of which rely on systems affected by the technical issue. When the point’s raised, it’s taken in stride, we all laugh about it, no better suggestions come to mind.

I took two courses on the Philosophy of Science. We talked about paradigm shifts and air pumps, but mostly we spent time trimming authority. Much of what we know (or think we know) as a society is secured by appreciation of scientific or technical expertise. We point to people who mastered a common dogma, who’ve run the right tests and passed with colors. ‘Experts:’ stuck on pedestals like cherubs in the clouds, but we seldom come to terms with the fact that we, the people, built those pedestals.

Which is sad, scary, and dangerous, because it’s fuel on the fires of ‘fake news’ and other evil exploitations of reasonable doubt. A tug-of-war, two sides taught, one believing everything and the other nothing. ‘Truth,’ instead, is gritty, changing, evolutionary; it’s somewhere in the mud.

So NC tells her best teachers to kick bricks with their fancy graduate degrees, bigwigs burned by too many flawed phone calls with their cable reps.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“My answer to him was, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” – Isaac Asimov

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Coffee Log, Day 150

Hi.

Coffee: India Extra Bold Roast, Cafe Crema

A day in transit: I went to the NC Museum of Art then to Burlington for M’s birthday. The museum had a piece by Yayoi Kusama. It was a mirrored box with tiny portholes. Inside, lights flashed. I waited forty-five minutes to see it. They let in three of us at a time. We saw each other through the holes, cascaded in the strobes, the rest of the world carefully kept behind us. It was intimate, public, aloof.

Four years ago, I saw one of Kusama’s polka dotted pumpkins outside the Fukuoka art museum. My guide told me she didn’t know why it had so many dots. I didn’t either. I told her that in America, all the pumpkins are orange. She found that strangest of all.

We pray together at private phone cathedrals; waiting in line, mutually restless.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Polka dots can’t stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments.” – Yayoi Kusama

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Coffee Log, Day 122

Hi.

Coffee: Fair Trade Ethiopian Medium Dark, Harris Teeter Brand

I sat down and almost wrote something about Japan. A bad habit. I don’t want to deal with the gunk of 28 years in NC so I play in Kumamoto, Fukuoka. There’s meaning in escapism, forgiveness if you learn the right lessons from it; I wrote a book about her, the country, the city, the woman I stole a kiss from in Hakata station; I’ve got to stop talking about that separate place.

The weekend’s gotten busy. I’ll be going back to Chapel Hill in an hour to support another writer’s book release. I’m always going back to Chapel Hill. Last night had me there. A month ago. A few years ago. In high school, my dad gave me ten bucks every other week to buy CD’s from Schoolkids. Schoolkids gave up, then it was CD Alley; hard times closed the joint and Schoolkids bought it back. Yeats cycles.

Maybe I’ll never know what to say about a Southern June. Her toes were purple but they’d grown out so the purple only tipped them, pig’s blood; the rest of her was human, stretched leather, you can almost see through but not quite.

June dates me like she’s missing something; she’ll squeeze, squeeze, spritz liquor, collect me in a mason jar, take the stuff back to someone else. We’d always rather be on the other side of the world.

I sat in a tire swing at my parents’ friends’ house at seven years old and watched the chicken coop suffer. They were all inside having barbecue. My mother couldn’t eat, she was vegetarian. It was a nice house. I couldn’t stand it. I’d had my fill of pig’s blood.

Currently Reading:

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

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

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Coffee Log, Day 113

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I’m getting bored of my same-old coffee. Any suggestions? Comment me some. It’d be swell.

I worked in Pittsboro. The last time I saw the city was in 2012 shortly after my apartment was robbed. We lived in Chapel Hill. After the incident, we spent a week at her father’s house in Cary – we couldn’t bare sleeping there anymore. Day two, I had to drive back to talk to the police and take inventory. To get there, I drove through Pittsboro.

I remember thinking it was a lovely, quaint town. Back then I didn’t recognize the bookstore that has racks of Nietzsche and historical accounts of Nazis; the confederate statue pointed North. I’d thrown up all night long. My mouth still tasted like acid. I was on the way to salvage a life I’d worked hard for. I welcomed my small town drive.

I took a walk today. I remembered six years ago. I saw the statue by the courthouse. I ate at an old diner on Main and was surprised they had vegetarian options. I talked to a lot of folks today, one of them saved $700 in pennies and donated it to a church project – they built a rec center. He told me he donates all his excess now. Three years ago, his house was robbed by his nephew. Took all the cash, valuables. He said he felt sorry for the guy, but that taught him money’s best when it’s doing work.

I don’t save much, mostly because I don’t have the opportunity. I don’t give much either, unless you’re counting time. There’s a few of us watching the Northern border that are trying to make up for the toll our ancestors took.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

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“The robb’d that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.” – William Shakespeare, Othello

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Coffee Log, Day 103

Hi.

Coffee: Two cups drip from Cocoa Cinnamon; One cup Iced from Joe Van Gogh; the first two were better.

It was a long day. Distracting, like one of those stinkbugs that climbs your wall and looks like the paintjob until you really focus.

It wasn’t easy and I don’t have much energy.

When I was seventeen, my dog Becky was taken to the vet in the morning for pains that ultimately killed her. The same day, I stopped at a gas station on the way to work. There was a woman on the ground. She was crying. Bleeding from her face where she’d hit the curb. The couple passers-by told me that a man had run up, hit her hard, and run off. They didn’t know why he did it. She didn’t either.

I got the gas and drove to school.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

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

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” – Mark Twain

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