Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 260

Hi.

Coffee:  Instant Coffee, Sitar Indian Restaurant; I asked the waiter for a cup of coffee and he said ‘okay, but there’s only instant,’; I told him that sounded perfect then went for my first pass at the buffet; in the back, there was a room marked ‘reserved’ with one man sitting at a white-dressed table in a white linen shirt, punching around his phone; he looked uneasy, like something holy; later, sitting down, the coffee came, a cup and a small silver carafe, I poured it out and drank it because I was tired and I needed the caffeine; Crete came back to me through the cup; they drink instant there, all of Greece, frappes; the coffee smelled like crushed pecans and went down easy as you’d expect

I heard a radio show about open source culture. It started at the internet, ended in a Chilean political experiment. They made an app, disseminated it to constituents, and invited members to publicly vote on issues. There was a political party. The representatives swore to vote with whatever majority had been had in the app. Shaking up democracy, making it open source.

Years ago, I studied Classics. I wanted to know what had put me here, where the gas first got in the car of our Western monolith. There were lots of stories about Athens. At it’s height, the city went to war with Sparta, having conquered much of the Aegean already either through coercion or force. Leading the charge was a man named Alcibiades, a demagogue, he had a quick tongue, he told the people they were oppressed and that political upheaval was the only option. Athens lost the war. Alcibiades was exiled.

I heard a different radio story about Hong Kong. There was a recording of the protests, a British journalist, petrol bombs blowing off in the background, a lot of screaming. The journalist said: “I don’t see any way this can end other than in violence.” From the reports, there’s been death and murder on both sides, the slender hand of subtle oppression pressing down on the pot of populace until it bubbles over. Who wins here? The protestors? The police?

I don’t have a better answer than freedom, and democracy continues to do a lot of good around the world. I’m scared, though, when everything cuts down to a majority. There’s good in everyone, but that good gets cloudy when we all come together.

Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin

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

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?

Mahatma Gandhi

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 240

Hi.

Coffee:  Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

I used to have vivid dreams. Then I didn’t, but lately I’ve been having them again. Some are nice, some are less so. When I was 15, I often got lost in a blustery black-and-white mansion where I talked to the lanky butler.

Dreams are the only times I come in contact with violence. Even there it’s rare, but sometimes it gets me. I was living in Chapel Hill. I had a flat, and three friends lived with me. The friends’ faces changed throughout the dream so sometimes I’d be talking to R, or E, or the girl who sat behind me in sophomore English. Whoever they were, they were always friends.

Here’s what happened: there was a man in the closet. He wore shorts and a tank top. He’d twisted a hooked whip from our coat hangers. He crept out one evening when there was silver moonlight. We didn’t have curtains, or beds, or separate rooms, so all of us were sleeping on the floor. One by one, the man whipped and strangled my friends until I was the only one left. I woke up, he saw me, he ran out of the apartment. It was morning. In bright, brilliant sun, fresh dawn, dew on the heads of every neighborhood ladybug, I chased the man. I was running along Franklin Street in my pj’s and people were watching. The man wasn’t sprinting, wasn’t jogging, he wasn’t afraid of me. Crowded crosswalks or alleyways, I couldn’t catch him, but I knew that if I did I’d beat his bones to powder, his eyeballs to breath, sweat, damp air.

Though it wasn’t a nightmare, I didn’t like the dream. It stuck with me when I woke up. Not so much the midnight horror, but the things I wanted to do to our attacker in the daylight. There’s a bit of a beast in all of us, no matter how little blood we let ourselves take.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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

My heart is lost; the beasts have eaten it.

Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

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