Coffee Log, Day 349

Hi.

Coffee: Locomotive Blend, PennyCup Coffee

I was born the year the Cold War ended, ’89. Growing up, I didn’t get raised in a constant state of fear. There’s a negative to that – I think the blissful ’90’s sewed seeds for the pot boiling over now – but it was peaceful, at least for me.

This week, the US backed out of the INF treaty and Russia followed suit. That’s just some words on paper, ultimately, but they’re scary words, like ‘nuclear proliferation.’ Maybe the world’s just tired. Maybe it stopped taking its antidepressants. Suicidal brinksmanship. Maybe we’ve all just given up.

I’ve known a few people over the years who tried to kill themselves. They never got too far with it, although one was hospitalized. Thankfully, no-one succeeded. The story you’re supposed to hear is that you come out the other side of that better than you were before – you’ve exorcised your demons; you’re thankful to live. But in every case I’ve seen it doesn’t work that way. The same people who wanted to die ten years ago still want to die today. They might have a better handle on how to control their urges, but the urge is there.

When Augustus took power over Rome, he killed 100,000 political dissenters as a first act of order. After that, he had a peaceful and stable reign.

I think it’s all a form of prayer. We’re looking for a cause greater than one more day waking up and trudging the same cold streets as last year. And if there is a God, he’s a silent one, so we need to start fires to believe there’s a chance for magic. The idea of human sacrifice is hardwired into us – be it ourselves, our neighbors, or the world’s blood we’re spilling. Maybe because the only thing larger and more imposing than life is death.

Sorry for the morning doldrums. I haven’t had much coffee yet.

Novel Count: 20,287

Currently Reading: Killing Commendatore, Haruki Murakami

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or fortune having hitherto seconded him in his designs, made him resolute and firm in his opinions, and the boldness of his temper raised a sort of passion in him for surmounting difficulties; as if it were not enough to be always victorious in the field, unless places and seasons and nature herself submitted to him.

Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives Vol. 2 (on Alexander the Great)

Coffee Log, Day 161

Hi.

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

I can hardly keep up anymore. Each day is a different story, different spin. Last week’s crises are Alexander crossing the Euphrates; this morning was the Civil War. Part of it’s attention, part of it’s the internet – things go a lot quicker when it takes two seconds to send a message around the world.

The powers that be are clued in: Giuliani tells Mueller to ‘hurry up.’ Obama won’t mention Ocasio-Cortez in his endorsements. Old men of power want you to forget that change can happen, that real change takes time; instead, they want popcorn press conferences and Chinese-made American flags.

Language is power, but language is also dangerous. In Rome, they’d nail your hands to a cross and cut you open for preaching a single book; that went on for hundreds of years. Now, it’s tweet tweet post post caption this that picture, narrate the video where your black lover’s murdered by a white cop, hashtag twenty-seven years of men’s hands on your ass. It’s vital, succulent, burst open like ripe tomatoes, easily washed down the drain like so much juice.

It’s hard to pay attention when everyone’s got an important story. It’s easy for power to change a word, a phrase, delete this and that and make us miss the important parts. We need our holy book. We need a thick bound compendium worth being crucified for. Each page a sex, creed, color, representation. All our spit-blood memoirs wave-wave on the internet and pass us by. We need something stable and shared.

But what’s permanent look like in 2018?

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“Hold down through these troubled times, be another victim to my stubborn pride

Stuck in the grind, Stuck in the grind, I’m stuck in the grind” – Nipsey Hussle, Stucc in the Grind

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Coffee Log, Day 120

Hi.

Coffee: Percolate from a Big Boxy Machine sitting in a Shell Station; it went through three cycles doing *something* before the coffee came out; I was late to work.

What’s a border, anyway?

Trump signed a premium-pulped bleached paper and now Family Separation’s supposedly over. There’s no concrete plan to reunite the kids though…

A couple months ago, when Duke’s VP of Student Affairs (Larry) got a couple kids fired for playing hip-hop in the campus Joe van Gogh (basically, fired for being and/or celebrating blackness), the school sent a letter out to us alumni talking about ‘big changes’ and ‘accountability.’ Two months later, if you go to Larry’s splash page there’s no mention of the incident; the school trundles forward; Joe van Gogh left the campus; their emails now read “get yourself ready for September’s Homecoming!”

Point is, words are only hot breath, paper’s just diminished trees, and without actions adding up to prove change you should never believe a man (or woman) with power.

What’s a border, anyway? I can drive to Virginia and no-one bats an eye. Flash my NC license at a bar and maybe I’ll get some stares. Try to vote without a residence – slap my wrists and send me packing! But if I were Brown-skinned, starved, holding my family to my chest like flowers on a wedding day, Brown-skinned, running from gun-barrels and empty cabinets, desert scabs on my feet, Brown-skinned – and I try to step from this bleak rock to that one on the Texas border?

Well, we all know how that ends.

Don’t be jaded – the signed order is proof of our voice, our power, we’re making them listen. But don’t stop shouting just because a fat blond man can use a pen.

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.” – George Orwell

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Coffee Log, Day 86

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

Last night I talked to a teacher. She said: “Where’s the storm?” She was talking about rain but I figured she might have meant the Teachers’ March. Yesterday, thousands of NC teachers marched on Raleigh. They’re underpayed, undervalued, underfunded, full of fire; I can attest to all that, I used to be one.

Last night’s teacher was also a waitress. She also ran two small businesses and when we asked about the rally – if she was there – she looked ashamed to say she wasn’t. She was happier to recommend a Red Oak that I drank greedily. I thought about her from the beginning to the end of the pint. She was younger than me. She was all smiles. She probably worked harder than I’ve ever worked. Her blood and soul was marching without her.

There’s a particular privilege in having the resources to fight. Without those resources, the world doesn’t see you, but you’re no less worthy of respect. I hope last night’s teacher goes to sleep knowing her own power. I imagine that’s exactly what she’ll do.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.” – Alexander the Great

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