Day 80, with Nebulas, Protests and Curfews

Holy crap, folks.

Okay, so first, because it’s most MOST important and this blog is for me to remember dates and times things happened* as much as it is to share with others, this past weekend there were nationwide protests about police brutality, systemic racism and government-sanctioned murder. It’s amazing to watch these protests unfold, and I cheer for folks and wish I could be out there with them. It’s also amazing to me that we’re finally seeing, via video, how white people undermine protestors. I wouldn’t care much about looting – I got disabused of the belief that the word “looting” isn’t dogwhistling for racism during Hurricane Katrina – but I DO care that white people are expressly going against the instructions of organizers, manipulating Black pain for their own ends.

And apparently over the weekend, Atatiana Jefferson’s home was vandalized too? If you don’t know her name, look her up. You SHOULD know her name, because it’s one of the stark demonstrations of how Black people still cannot even be inside their own damn homes minding their business and be safe.

While all this was going on, I was also attending the Nebulas online. I had been planning on attending in person, but WOW am I glad this was done this way because I could do so so much more like this. My physical constraints meant that I’d have missed probably half of what I got to do online, and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity. Plus, what an AMAZING demonstration of what’s possible!! We were all on the airship Nebula, and coming from TechWorld myself, I know how many things could have gone wrong. This was so so well done and so smooth and easy to get through. Even the technical issues were framed in a delightful way and just… aahhh I can’t even.

Additionally, usually because I can only go to a few panels during a con, I have a favorite. This time? Nuh uh. So freaking many extraordinary panels and people and moments and connections and aaaahhh

(Though I admit extra EXTRA squee when Cat Rambo won for Carpe Glitter, because I’d been watching her work on that in her Discord. Feels more personal when you’ve borne witness to something.)

I’ve ordered…. <counts> 18 e-books because of these panels. I mean, wow, that’s a lot for me for a weekend.

Here’s the kicker for this weekend, though – at around 6 pm for both Saturday and Sunday, I received a phone alert that a curfew was being established due to the protests. No notice for the first; very little notice for the second. So for me, very low logistical impact: I had to skip panels in order to figure out how we’d take care of the dogs.

But for anyone protesting? Anyone working? There was NO WAY they could get home. It was an excuse. An excuse for the cops to start arresting anyone they wanted to. (ahemIwonderwhothatwouldbe)

Which means a lot of folks need bail.

I’ve donated, but there are lots of bail funds around the country in cities where curfews have been established. I encourage anyone who has a little room in their budgets to consider donating to help these folks out. Particularly when essential workers are caught out in this curfew as well, and are vulnerable.

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* I’m really bad at remembering time. Like, REALLY bad at it – and it’s nothing to do with age, this has been since I was very young. I can barely remember what year I graduated high school or college.

Day 67, with Last Normal…

A meme is going around on the socials, asking folks what their last Normal Photo is in their camera roll.

:side eyes:

Um, apparently I am Not That Interested in normal? 99% of my phone photos for 2020 are in the apartment, of animals and plants. 90% of the ActualCameraTM photos are of animals and the moon.

What I DO have, though, is a propensity for taking videos of people and animals having fun. So I have a contribution to what Normal can look like, in New York City. I don’t know when they put the seesaws in, but it was so much fun to watch.

Lightbar seesaws, anyone?

Day 41, with 50 yrs of Earth Day

It’s weird that I can’t go out and enjoy the burgeoning spring on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but I get that the weirdness is also poignant and poetic. I’m not the best steward and I should learn more skills in that area, and figure out how best to protest misuse given my physical limitations.

Protest only once the quarantine is over, of course.

Day 34, with Exhaustion

Yesterday morning my voice was ragged and low, what Jon calls my Kathleen Turner Overdrive voice. I sounded like a massive cold was in my throat and lungs, snot not there yet but oh-yeah incoming. And I was TIRED. Really darkdeep tired. I was seriously debating calling in a sick day. But people need, and work needs, and I’m doing (relatively) good work for a fine institution that serves people, and I wasn’t SICK sick.

So I got up, and started working.

And very quickly regretted it.

Not because anything went wrong, per se. Everything in my work-world is exciting and has the typical tech hitches, and the interpersonal dynamics are all familiar to me and everyone associated with my projects really means extremely well.

No, the problem was the tiredness. I haven’t been this kind of tired since the last time I had mono. Adding a LOT of video conferencing calls where I was called upon to be cheerful* was an effort and stress I wasn’t really up for. I ended the day with my head on my desk, my cheeks not just aching but burning from smiling too long, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I actually did go and lie down under the covers for a while, and if I’d had dinner I might have just passed out.

But I was angry at myself. I’m not doing that much; I’m not working up to my personal spec day by day. So there I was, head on desk, thinking “dammit Risa get the hell up and get [that other thing] done.”

If that sounds familiar to anyone, I want to extend a psychic hug. Sometimes gentleness with ourselves and each other is hard, because the world is not gentle and we’re keyed to respond fast and adapt soon after. But nothing about this is actually easy. Living with helplessness is not easy. So I want to remind you that not only is the world full of horror right now, but there was horror we were struggling with before this all happened, and your tiredness or anger or pain? It makes sense. Things are bad. We get tired. Struggling to not be tired only works short-term. In the end, we’ll be forced to admit to the existence of that goopy human who needs to cry or scream or maybe just space out for a little while.

That goopy human deserves all the care and love we can summon for it.

*because otherwise I get the worst resting bitch face.

Day 24, with Inspirations

CW: Coping or lack thereof, discussion of a death unrelated to COVID-19

It’s funny how many tiny inspirations a person can pull from their immediate surroundings when trying to cope with a mass trauma event. I’ve been through more than one, and normally I get my coping juice from being outside or with blooming thigs. This is the first time I’ve started trying to pull some ‘power’ from these intensely localized events and observations. But I figure talking about my little inspos might help others find their own. So here goes!

First inspiration is my wee hydroplants. I adore purple passion vines* and they root really well in water, so I have six different cuttings in water around my office, four of which come from the same plant. Well, yesterday I noticed that one of the plants has decided it wants to have purple roots. In my coupla decades of water-propagating purple passion vines, I have neeeever ever seen this. This one plant has three purpling roots, one long and two just starting the pass the coloring down the length of the already-flourishing root. I am so proud of this baby for pioneering a new way to be purple.

Second inspiration is our adaptability as humans. Today I “sat shiva” with a dear friend via Skype. It wasn’t an unexpected death, but my friend couldn’t go to the funeral without endangering the rest of his family. So he stayed home, and participated in the funeral via Skype, and oh I am so so proud of him for agreeing it was best and being willing to sacrifice his own bit of closure. Seeing my friend do all of this remotely, navigating his mourning, was a strong reminder of how quickly humans adapt to adversity and keep moving.

Third and finally, I made a mask for Jon yesterday. I’d been meaning to anyway, even before the “everyone wear masks outside” directives, but the fact that the sewing machine is both dusty and hard to access right now was a deterrent. However, I realized I had a few holey cotton yoga pants I could repurpose, and an idea struck me. I was able to make a no-sew mask – not the best quality but a better-than-bandanas mask nonetheless. I’m thinking of posting a video, because a lot of people don’t have the resources (or spoons) to sew.

I’m hoping that these kinds of things keep happening, because I’m anticipating at least another 4 months of this. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m preparing to be right.

“A Real Catastrophe”

Lin-Manuel Miranda was right. 44.5 IS going straight to hell.

He’s the real catastrophe.

Between that awful, evil statement about Puerto Rico today and this article on Vox, I might explode from rage. And I don’t even have any relatives there – just an ex-coworker from there. I can’t imagine what folks who have family/friends there are feeling right now. Particularly since they’ve been in budget crisis for years, so this is the worst of all possible scenarios.

I send anyone affected all my love.

Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility, and there’s something I’d like to do that cis folk don’t often do.

I’d like to let people know about my pronouns.

I prefer they/their as pronouns but I don’t mind she/her at ALL *.

I’ve seen a couple of comments going around saying “if you’re not sure about pronouns, ask!” While that’s better than guessing, I would invite folks who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth to start volunteering their pronouns, and requesting pronouns, when talking to others who look as if they are solidly in a specific gender frame. Normalizing the conversation about being able to choose pronouns allows people to stop assuming, and hopefully will allow people who are in the closet about being trans to start feeling more open about it.

I am lucky enough to have known of trans folks since I was in my tweens, and to have met trans folks in person and online since 1996. I feel extraordinarily grateful to have had the friendship of several trans folks (both transitioning and nonbinary) over the years, and particularly thrilled to see visibility becoming more of an option for folks.

* This has been the case since long before I knew of genderqueer as a thing. Since before I left college. If you know me in realspace and it’s a surprise to you, I’m happy to talk about why.

We Take Care of Our People

captain_americas_shield

Created by Ponfield. Used under Creative Commons license BY-SA 4.0

Excuse me while I indulge in some comic book geekery.

I have to admit, I was never a Captain America fan. I came to comics when comics came to TV, where Wonder Woman, Hulk, and Spider-Man were visible and adored. The late-70s movies for Captain America weren’t interesting and didn’t tap into the 1940s FDR-loving ideals of the comic – I know I watched them, but I don’t remember them at all. So I went on my way, blissfully ignorant of what an amazing character Cap was at start.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like Cap was an easy character to write after 1960. In the 1940s, assigning a compelling enemy was easy. Super heroes fought Hitler. Wonder Woman, my favorite, started that way. Thing is, Diana Prince has a rich history of Greek mythology to work with when Nazis are not the most popular villians (the fact of which astounds me but is completely true). Cap came of age in the Great Depression, in Brooklyn, with the Axis powers as the greatest evil America had faced. Once they were gone? That made it tougher. Who else was out there for Cap to fight, to stand against in the name of American values? While one would think, based on his history as a Great Depression kid, poverty would be pretty high on the Cap hit list? That never quite flew in a politics-averse publishing industry. DC Golden Age had characters with a lot of options for stories. Golden Age Marvel is not half as rich with characters we know and love today*.

But really, while I love Wonder Woman/Diana (will always love Diana), America is not her people. I admit that. Paradise Island/Themyscira is her people. She leaves her people to help us. Superman is set up with the same scenario but more distant, and Batman? Well, only Gotham is his people. In the Marvel world, Hulk doesn’t have *any* people because of his situation, and most of the Avengers kind of have that “do we have people?” conundrum.

But Captain America?

His people fill the United States. We are his people.

He explicitly fights for ALL of us, not just white folks or an ambiguous American Way that you just put on a flagpole to pay lip service. In the 40s he used to fight corporate tax evaders. (I’d love to see one of those stories resurrected these days.) He fought in WW2 with a multi-cultural group of people. He fought for Jewish folk, for black folk (though all-too-briefly for my taste), for immigrants, for anyone threatened by fascism.

And that leads me to my point today.

We need the spirit of Cap. We need the lessons he provided. We need the memory of his shield, given to him by President Roosevelt, nearly indestructible.

We know who we are. We take care of our people.

Together, we will be that shield.

 

*(Side note – it’s interesting to me that Groot existed before Guardians of the Galaxy did. I’m hoping someone at Marvel will resurrect Warwolf.)