Coffee Log, Day 283

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s brand

The world came apart like it was raining at about 10:30 this morning. It had rained, of course, overnight, but that rain was tame in comparison.

I was out walking. Mr. Cobwebs (the cat) was following me. The sky was opal. The grass was new-money green. When I crossed the bridge, crossed the basketball court, and got up to the lot around the apartment office, things were coming undone. 10:30 brought this great white wind out of the clouds and it got it’s jaws on everything. The ground swelled, my shirt went up, and she started biting all the trees. It was the biting that did it: all the great old oaks and maples were so shaken they couldn’t hold on to their leaves. Browns and golds and oranges catapult down like blizzard balls. For five straight minutes, all of us were swatting crumply old leaves.

I feel guilty sometimes when I’m loving where I live. I don’t always love it. But then there’s a windstorm and I’m raptured. It’s the best things that make you most aware of the worst things you’re responsible for.

A portion of every one of my paychecks goes to fund a bit of horror. It pays the clerk who stamps the order to deport this that and whoever on scratched together grounds (as they are currently perpetrating with a Mr. Samuel Oliver Bruno of Durham, NC, who has lived in the US for 22 years and is now awaiting deportation in Texas). It pays the public servant who’s told to serve the public by standing at the back of the Mexican border with a loaded weapon, or maybe firing teargas in the eyes of El Salvadorians. It clutters the coffers of this judge, that judge, zealous senators, some of whom are trying honestly to produce good judgment, however misguided, and others who are trying dishonestly to produce skewed judgment, guided quite narrowly by money or power or rumors of an afterlife that only loves you if you’re white and male. Really, those portions of my paycheck are a constant windstorm, and though I’m always voting, I can only keep on eye on a portion of the positions of the leaves.

All of that is to say: life is pretty. It’s worth living. But when you have the wind whipping you everywhere at once, freely filling your lungs, it’s hard to have your heart beat healthy with the knowing that you’re responsible – like it or not – for a cavalcade of forces keeping others locked up.

Novel Count: 14,915 words

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

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

Never forget:
we walk on hell,
gazing at flowers.

Kobayashi Issa


Coffee Log, Day 245

Hi.

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

It’s been a week of traffic. I’m driving to a branch in RTP. Maps says 25 minutes but the trip always takes longer. I was five minutes late the first day, five minutes late the second, etc. I even turned the clock back on departure but I was late all the same.

I like it though.

Five years ago I was a teacher. I got the job in Durham then had a bad break-up. I’d been living there, the break-up broke that up. I moved home for awhile. The commute was Burlington to Durham, 45min one way. I left early and stopped for coffee at a truck stop in Haw River each day. I got to see the sun rise. On three separate occasions, I passed a burning semi pulled over in the pre-dawn. It got to be an omen. I didn’t like the commute so much back then.

But I’ve come to appreciate the in-between. Nothing can phase you on the road. No goals, no expectations. You’re stuck. It’s lovely. It may feel like you’re trapped, but really the whole world is on hold for you. What’s that? There’s dishes needing doing? Later! And work? Bumper-to-bumper says I’ll be a few minutes late. And when I get there I’ll unpack the car of all your things – the clothes, the letters, the mattress pad you used to sleep on, hand them off one at a time in your driveway, and watch you take the shortcut through the garden on a cloudy day to deposit yourself back in comfortable places, turn the key, wave from the window, and lovingly say ‘bye’ forever – but for now, the doors are locked and I’m moving, only looking left and right and never too far in the future.

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“A sip of wine, a cigarette,
And then it’s time to go.
I tidied up the kitchenette;
I tuned the old banjo.
I’m wanted at the traffic-jam.
They’re saving me a seat.” – Leonard Cohen

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Coffee Log, Day 214

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

I talked to a friend who said if he had more money the only change he’d make is that he’d travel more. I talked to a retired divorcee who’s selling Triangle property to move to an aluminum cabin he built for himself in Alaska. I talked to my mother who said she’d like to see Vienna someday and my father who said if he ever got to go to Korea the first thing he’d visit is the DMZ. In college, I paid two grand to study dead cultures in Greece; in 2014, I paid about the same to teach in Japan.

Why do we try so hard to get some place where we aren’t recognized? Is it privilege? Restlessness? The wide-eyed pastures of American culture? When you look in the mirror and see pajamas, a button down, no bags packed in the periphery, where does the stress come from, the shame, the disappointment?

So many posted pictures of places you barely recognize, showing off other peoples’ lives like they’re your own. Spend one more minute alone in your own bedroom and you’ll have to reckon with what you’ve made of yourself. You only stick around when the money’s gone, only pay attention to the street of premium parking lots where there used to be someone’s backyard if you can’t afford the next ticket out of town.

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

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” – Anthony Bourdain

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Coffee Log, Day 206

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s

My car smells like the ocean. Maybe the hurricane stuffed the hood with fish ghosts.

I took two trips today: short ones, the first to get groceries, the second for dinner. The grocery store was vacated like a June school building. The restaurant was the same. A long weekend for some, hard weekend for others, everyone reeling from the vacuum-suck of dodging Florence’s bullet – we made it through safely. Banks and government offices will re-open tomorrow. September keeps passing. Today gave us all time to sit and think about wasted preparation; the responsibility of safety.

I think I’ll donate the case of water, jars of peanut butter I bought and didn’t open. Give goods to people that need them; lessen the sunken weight of prosperity.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” – Chinua Achebe

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Coffee Log, Day 140

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand; I know I’m getting boring. I’ve been busy, my checkbook’s been busy. I’ll try something new this weekend!

Two black women come into the branch. Mother and daughter, the girl’s in high school. We talk about the heat, AC. Mom needs to open a business account. She goes to our manager’s office. Daughter sits on one of our froofy chairs and checks her phone.

Afterwards, three fat white men come in. They’re regulars. “Hey!” my colleagues say, brightly. First guy’s got a deposit. He’s pink as insulation. His head’s bald. He talks about the shave. He shaves his head often, sometimes his girlfriend does it. Last time she shaved for him, she rubbed raw and left some scabs. He waves his hands big. He doesn’t smile. “Almost hit her with the pine switch,” he says.

I’d been listening. I’d been smiling. And I didn’t say a damn thing to him.

Given my position, I don’t know whether or not I should have – customers, etc. I did glare at him. He caught that, we both looked away. I felt bad for the girl. I looked at her too. We were both too confused to sit our eyes together long. I kept to myself after that. When the men left, I didn’t know what to say. When the women left, “Have a good one,” was the best I could come up with.

Anyway, that’s growing up a girl in America: come to the bank with your mother to celebrate her success, hear strange men laughing about gender violence.

We’ve all got to do better.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Yes, we love the good men in our lives and sometimes, oftentimes, the bad ones too- but that we’re not in full revolution against the lot of them is pretty amazing when you consider this truth: men get to rape and kill women and still come home to a dinner cooked by one.” – Jessica Valenti, Sex Object: A Memoir

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Coffee Log, Day 119

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I haven’t really known what to say about it. I’ve watched the videos, read the articles, listened to the rhetoric. A part of me wants to pack up and drive to the border to do something. As a kid, I always wondered why the Germans didn’t fight the Nazi’s more.

I’ve got a vivid picture of myself at four-years-old: we were in a Roses; there was this action figure, a Power Ranger probably, I was fixed to it like flies in the summer. I turned around to share the treasure but my parents weren’t there. They’d wandered into the racks and racks of clothes, my dad needed new jeans. To me, they were gone.

I screamed. The whole store heard me. First there was the old lady with the side-longs, then the young mother who said ‘It’ll be fine sweetie.’ A clerk found me. She was big and wearing blue. She knelt beside me, gave a hand to my shoulder. It was kind, but my world was still ending. Where are my parents? For the first time in my life, absence, loss, terror felt manifest. I could cup my fears and breathe on them. I could watch them grow.

My parents came back in less than five minutes and everything was fine. I’m White. I’m American. My country used to keep it’s darkness at the edges.

For two months now, thousands of children are feeling that same terror. Only they don’t know if their parents are coming back; only they don’t have any kind hands on their shoulders; only they’re locked in cages with inch-thin mats and thermal blankets; only their suffering is driven by the collective will of my country.

Guns aren’t as loud in 2018 than they were in the ’40’s. Every puncture in injustice has a few dollars behind it now. Some very active, educated friends recommend this charity – RAICES – as a meaningful initiative to provide relief for family separations at the border. I’m replacing my coffee tip button with a link until the crisis is over. To the extent I’m financially able, I’ll match any donations made via my site.

Don’t let human – American – darkness take our brothers and sisters. Fight with your wallets now and with your votes in November.

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the BorderRAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Coffee Log, Day 115

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I walked into my apartment last night and the TV was on, the kitchen cooking, a friend on the couch. “Hey,” I said.

“Well hello,” he said.

A couple months ago, I’d clapped for his wedding. Today, though, L was laid-off.

We sprung for Chinese and I bought brandy. I was the only one who had any, but I needed a drink. It had been a hard week for all of us. We watched shows, played games, lived loosely, I was happy L was over. In between the happy, he told me how they sent him home early, wouldn’t pay out his scheduled shifts. He told me that just two days ago his dad was also laid-off, and we don’t know if it was the stress or other demons but his father was admitted to the ER after the news. Diabetes; a family thing; I watch L and think of my own father, my own health, his health, the Southern tan that men get on their bellies and women on their forearms, we’ve got to eat – a lot – to love ourselves.

Night grew on and I kept drinking. It was cheap, warm, mellow. I thought about four months ago when I lost my bookstore job. I thought about three months ago when I finished the best draft of my first novel. I thought about two months ago when I asked a woman to marry me right before she moved out of the state, knowing she’d say no, loving her all the same. I thought about one month ago when I was inducted to a strange financial world that’s got one foot in small-town community, one foot in digital predation.

I thought about a lot of things. One thing I didn’t think about, though, was this blog. I didn’t post.

Sometimes I feel like sugar tacky. A rolling pin, a marble table, I’m spread four corners thin. For the first time since February, I missed a day posting my Coffee Log. This morning, that’s been a bit of a wake-up, even though I got up late. It’s easy to let the mechanics of life get in front of your dreams.

So what does that mean for Livesay Writing? Well, probably not much. I’m dropping my current reads. I’m going to commit myself to a schedule of reading the best regarded, best selling, award winning fiction books published last year. If I’m going to join that market someday, I need to know it. Besides that, we’ll see.

L spread his big arms on our couch. He spat breath at the ceiling fan. “What’s that look for?”

“I’ve been through a lot this week,” he said.

I felt that like it was my own marrow. I gotta remember to remind him to keep his dreams in focus when everything else is falling apart.

Currently Reading:

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

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

“Hell is full of musical amateurs: music is the brandy of the damned. May not one lost soul be permitted to abstain?” – George Bernard Shaw

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