Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 200

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

How many posts since I started this thing? 556? No, I missed three days, so 553. Sometimes you’ve got to take stock of yourself. If you’re always looking at the future, you’ll never know what you’ve learned.

I had a friend tell me I was being ‘willfully obscure.’ She was talking about a post I made a few days ago, the way it ended, signs without symbolism, etc. Fair point. If I had to pick a topic to pin the entire Coffee Log to it might be ‘obscurity.’ We all slip in and out of it, putting our heads down so they can’t see us, or hiding our eyes from the roadkill. From the artists in the articles I reference to the banker across the hall, its in all of us, its how we survive. But there’s a difference in creating a narrative to hide in and hiding from something inside a narrative – the ‘willful’ part is a problem, it shares its name with all those black flags that wave around socially acceptable oppression. Another thing I’ll have to pay more attention to.

There was a lot of talk about 9/11 today. Everyone remembered where they were when it happened. The memories came out on blue and red carpet, strutting their patriotic stuff. Someone told me they had ten moments of silence to observe. A few people were pushing commemerative articles.

I was in 6th grade that day. I was taking social studies. We were huddled on the floor working projects, drawing maps. Our English teacher came in and then the TV’s cut on. We saw the fire, the smoke.

By the next class everyone knew what was going on. Some kids called home, some stayed. The teachers knew enough to be more nervous than the rest of us. In all of it, though, the thing I most remember is how we all got to talking about killing. First it was the blonde kid at the back of class, then three girls with pigtails, and even the teachers got in. We wanted vengeance, blood and murder. Everyone was talking bombs.

18 years later, those thoughts we gave birth to have grown up. They take late night drives around immigrant detention centers, party hard with the Yellow Vests in Europe. A white-sand prom in poorer countries, the way we pick apart Afganistan and dance with the Taliban, leaning close to kiss lips of gun muzzles, so caught up in the emotion that we won’t ever let this long night end.

Slow down, breathe, and take stock once in a while. Did the 3000 lives lost really call for all this? Was one awful day worth drinking gasoline with the world?

I love the way you paint your face to look better than you are. But I hate the way you paint over the parts that are hardest to talk about, willfully.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

Voltaire

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 197

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place Roast, Apartment Lounge Coffee

A 4-year-old girl drops a rock a few feet in front of me. “That’s a rock!” she says, then picks it up to show me. I tell her it’s a good rock, the best one I’ve seen, and she drops it again.

“You dropped your rock.”

“I don’t care!” she says.

I know this girl’s story. She moved in a few months ago. She’s my neighbor. Here’s the questions I don’t ask out loud: Are you old enough to know that your father died because someone put a bullet in his head? Are you old enough to have known you ever had a father, or is grandma and grandpa your now and forever? Do you have sly dreams of Pittsburgh in the winter, the city under five feet of snow? Does that same bullet sit inside you now, passed down, inherited like your pigtails, or pink lips, or small fingers? What do you remember? Maybe it’s better if you don’t remember anything.

Five kids came down and now they live below me. I’ve only see them with bright smiles. The only bleak is what sneaks into the faces of their grandparents who had to bury a father, a son.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

Snow is…a beautiful reminder of life and all its quirks. It makes me pause. Think. Stay still. Even my mind takes the hint. It makes me feel giddy. Like a kid. I bring my hot cocoa to the window and simply sit and reminisce…It brings me back to days of school cancellations and snow igloos and King of the Mountain games in my childhood neighborhood…That for this one moment in time, I’m not an adult with all the headaches that can accompany that responsibility, but instead, I’m still the girl in pigtails with the handmade hat and mittens, just waiting to build her next snowman.

R.B. O’Brien

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 189

Hi.

Coffee: House Drip, Carolina Coffee House; the coffee came in a white cup without any ornamentation; bits of smoke, a seat by the windows, crowded company; the roast was smooth – easy to drink, though my father kept adding cream

Five shot dead in Odessa, Texas. Not to mention the shooter. not to mention the wounded. He stalked shopping malls and that’s all we know. He caught an officer and a 2 year old. He was using a rifle.

Plato told this story in the Republic: men sit cross-legged in a cave facing the wall. Outside is a midnight fire. All kind of objects pass by the fire – trees, wind, falling apples. They cast shadows down the long slope of the Cave and dance around the walls. The people see the shadows and take them for the really-real. They’re bright and vital. It’s all they know.

Then someone turns around. He takes the chains off his arms and legs and raises his body. He brushes off age-old dust. Climbing on fingers with brittle nails and toes half-broken by years of sitting, he pulls himself to the lip.

What does he see?

Fire flickers the whole world around it. The real, vital, True. His flesh feels hot and warm. He’s alive for the first time in the heat-wake. So he creeps closer, wanting to know the bright light with all his senses. Feet rake wet earth. Ears hear all the world booming.

Like sugar the first time you taste it, indescribable. Five bright flashes from the barrel of a .308.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

SOCRATES: Whenever any of them was unchained and was forced to stand up suddenly, to turnaround, to walk, and to look up toward the light, in each case the person would be able to do this only with pain and because of the flickering brightness would be unable to look at those things whose shadows he previously saw.

Plato, Republic

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 170

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I’ve been sitting here for fifteen minutes thinking about what to write today. My mind keeps getting stuck on violence.

I was reading articles about India. Modi’s grab of Kashmir, Pakistan’s reaction. I’m not Indian. I’m not Pakistani. I don’t know much about Kashmir. What I’m trying to say is that I can’t speak on the conditions creating the conflict. But reading about the hot afternoon protests and the armed guards walking the streets stuck a knot in my head.

I watched a video about conservationists catching hellbenders up near Asheville. Hellbenders are a particularly large and ruddy kind of salamander. To catch them, the men and women waded in thigh-high river water and turned over submerged stones. They brought the slimy red bodies into a plastic tract to measure them. Hellbenders are good indicators of a stream’s health – they’re sensitive, so they die in poor pollution.

In Canada, they just found the bones of two boys who left home to commit murder. They started with an old man who lived alone and caught more attention by killing an American woman and her Canadian boyfriend. As far as anyone can tell, they were dead set on committing the murders, not out of any particular ideology, but a deep personal desire. There’s a clip circulating of one of the kid’s Dad’s talking about how he knows his son is going to die. How he still loves him. How he’s sorry he couldn’t save him. This was before they found the bones.

I think about cool, running water. The weight of the world is a river stone.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I like it, I’m not gonna crack
I miss you, I’m not gonna crack
I love you, I’m not gonna crack
I killed you, I’m not gonna crack

Nirvana, Lithium

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 166

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I watched a video of an 11-yr-old crying while she told the camera her dad’s not a criminal. This was hours after her father was arrested by ICE (along with almost 700 other brown-skinned men and women in Mississippi). She was wearing pink.

Late last week there two shootings, one in El Paso, the other in Dayton. In Texas, at least, the shooter said he was aiming for immigrants. He called them an invasion. He shot a lot of people, mostly Latinos. He was white, they weren’t.

I read a review of memoir called ‘When I Was White.” The book’s by Sarah Valentine, an author raised white in a white family, but who had a black father, and was taught from day one by her white mother to detest blackness. The review goes into this idea that since the original sin of slavery, whiteness has defined itself by ‘purity,’ the one-drop rule, etc. Valentine finds herself discovering her blackness and losing her former identity in the process.

I met a man who tiles pools. He’s black, and said he has a partner who handles the marketing.

“Why?” I asked. He struck me as a grade-A businessman.

“Because I’m a big guy. And, you know. Around here, people get worried seeing someone like me knock at their door.”

I did know.

When Cortes crossed the ocean and met the Aztecs, he fancied himself a divine visitor. And over the next three years, he cut up all the brown bodies until there was no-one left to contradict him.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

A 7-year old body becomes
A monument to our excess aggression
On Sunday morning she became
An effigy to our excessive aggression
And our lack of suppression
And access to automatic weapons.

We didn’t pull the trigger
But we pulled the blinds down.

The Fucking Cops, Aiyana

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 160

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I saw a pair of shoes I liked and was going to buy them until I looked at the label: leather lining. I put the shoes back. Can’t be both a vegetarian and a hypocrite, but when I got home and told this story to my roommate, her response was ‘leather is better for the environment.’ And that’s true. I know a guy who bought a $400 pair of leather loafers because they’re hand-crafted and able to be repaired, less lifetime waste. And even my mother – the first vegetarian I knew – bought leather shoes, for similar reasons.

But I can’t wear something else’s skin again. I just don’t have it in me.

I read a story about artificial eggs and dairy. The newest entry in the trend of impossible meat-free meats, biochemists isolated the whey protein producer and egg compounds and got a bunch of microbes to produce them en-mass. They sold their secrets for top dollars and now one company – Perfect Day – sells dairy-rich ice cream that never touched an udder. Pretty amazing. One of the scientists says ‘It’s a lot cheaper and more energy efficient than keeping a bunch of animals alive.’ I feel like there’s a dark lining there.

So I stick to my morals, I don’t buy the nice leather shoes, and I choose almond milk alternatives to dairy nine-times out of ten. But I still eat eggs occasionally, or a bit of cheese. What happens to the animals when we don’t need them anymore? A cow makes a poor pet.

Is there no way out of the violence? No, probably not.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

A modern woman sees a piece of linen, but the mediaeval woman saw through it to the flax fields, she smelt the reek of the retting ponds, she felt the hard rasp of the hackling, and she saw the soft sheen of the glossy flax. Man did not see ‘just leather’, he saw the beast – perhaps one of his own – and knew the effort of slaughtering, liming and curing.

Dorothy Hartley, The Land of England: English Country Customers Through the Ages

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 120

Hi.

Coffee: Large Americano, Caribou Coffee; there was a time in my life when espresso drinks were a daily thing; a cafe on campus at Duke, a cappuccino between classes; or the days I worked for a bookstore, buying Americano’s on break; now, I drink espresso rarely; it’s never close by, like the city on the other side of the hills; today, it tasted like listening to old records bought at a yardsale, or giving your ex a call on a long drive

The older I get, the less I understand violence. Maybe it’s the youth drained out of me, a testosterone spigot, drip drip the golden years of fighting for a chance at fertility. Or maybe I’ve just clued into something I should have seen all along.

I heard a radio program about Baltimore cops who were running a crime ring. They’d stop people in their plainclothes and pat them down, taking cash from their wallets, roughing them up, pressing no charges. They targeted drug dealers and the poor, people no-one would listen to, and they got away with it for a long time.

I saw a video a few weeks ago filmed from inside a Cleveland prison. There’s an old man in a face mask strapped to a chair. Three officers enter the room, check his vitals, then two of them walk out. The last officer punches the man over and over, and when this causes a commotion, another cop walks in and starts punching the man too. He suffered a concussion, so goes the article. He was mentally handicapped, black, and beaten by two white guards.

I woke up this morning to reports of a juvenile detention center in Texas where kids are sleeping on the floor. They’re migrants, seeking asylum, separated from parents, and held in hundred-degree weather without air-conditioning, no diapers for the babies, 300 per cell, little food and water, insufficient blankets, no toothbrushes or toothpaste because that’s ‘not necessary.’ It was a concentration camp, of course, ongoing. To their credit, the Border Patrol agents (at least the ones that were interviewed) seemed just as horrified at what they were doing as me.

I sat outside today and found a small red and black bug. It was attached to the chair and not moving. I tried blowing on it, nudging it off, but it stuck there. It was alive, because its legs moved, and it was committed to sharing a space with me. I sat in the chair with the red and black bug for a long time. I was worried it might bite me. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt it, because one pin prick of my skin isn’t worth the price of a life snuffed away.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

I wish only that my spirit and fury would drive me
to hack your meat away and eat it raw for the things that
you have done to me

Achilles to Hector, Homer, The Iliad