Dangerous Compassions

Jamaican punch

“Jamaican punch?” I asked.  We were driving home from the snow cone shop.  I had my usual banana snowcone with vanilla ice cream inside.  “Jamaicans I’ve known are usually too high to punch you.”

“What about Jamaican rum punch?” he asked.

“Well, rum punch.  That’s an entirely different matter,” I said.

I don’t drink, smoke weed, or any of that.  Oatstraw tea and magnesium glycinate calm me down sometimes, and this song.


I tasted it.  “Hmm, you’re not going to like this because it tastes like coconut.  Tastes like…suntan lotion from 1986.”

“From 1886?”

“No, 1986,” I said, thinking of long beach days I spent on Avila Beach in summers when I was a kid.

Ming was navigating four way stop intersections.  “Is that racist?” I asked.  I was referring to the weed idea.

“Yeah, I was wondering about that,” he said.  “Jamaican punch…like it’s very exotic.”

“Coconuts are all over the place in Florida,” I said.

“They are?” Ming asked.

“Yeah, I saw in a picture from B.  There were coconuts all over the place, in this vacant lot.  Like nothing.”

“Hmmm,” Ming said.


I was thinking about alligators, manatees, B, tropical life.  If coconuts are all over Florida, is that exotic?  What’s exotic?

I think exotic is other-izing people in a way that seems glorifying, but it’s really a cartoon.  A disrespectful cartoon.  Like if you don’t play the cartoon role correctly for the non-exotic person, the non-exotic person will snap, and you will lose everything.


Walking in our neighborhood, we saw a burned out shell of a car in a vacant lot, one street over from our house.  It was a shocking thing to see, and part of me wanted to avoid it as horror, but I walked toward it, curious.  The curious part of me won.

burned car

Ming asked, “Has this been here a while?”

“No!” I said.

He was trying to figure out if it burned there or was pushed there.  We decided it burned there.  Glass was by the sides of the car, like it got to a certain temp and exploded?

I saw a handle and photographed it.

handle it

Always thinking about what I can and cannot handle, and how to get a grip.


I saw a fragment on the ground, as we walked toward the car.  I nudged it with my shoe.  Yes, it was glass.

crack pipe

“Is that a crack pipe?” I asked Ming.

“I think so,” he said.  He suggested we look on google images.

“Wow,” I said.  “I never saw a crack pipe before.”  But how did I know that’s what it was?


Later at home I googled crack pipe.  The first autofill result was “crack pipe amazon.”

I felt sick.  Ugh.  People buying crack pipes on amazon?  Really?  Then I was looking at some harm reduction stuff about not burning your mouth, and how smoking it is better than shooting it up.

I got really sad.  I was like–I guess I’m not cut out for drug harm reduction.  Too sad too fast, I was over-muched in just a few seconds.  We all have different sensitivities and needs.

Love to the people who can do drug counseling and harm reduction work.  Thank you for talking about what’s hard to talk about and helping people.  Drug addicts are valid and matter as much as anyone else.


The world is full of destruction, pain, and the pain we create trying to avoid pain.  But if we have love and snowcones, we have a lot.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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