this is my president (after e. e. cummings)

this is my president:rages come and go,
frail Azures suffering from night’s upset wing
strong silent Greens silently sorrowing,
absolute shame like baths of orange snow.
This is my president:pursed lips do blow
upon dark flames within white hearts,and sing
(of strength deplorable and the insulting sling)
minority faces he will now lay low.

This is my president. Time shall surely reap
and on Death’s blade lie many a loved one curled,
in other lands where other songs be sung;
yet stand They here encaptured,as among
the slow-shown hate perpetual and deep
some tiny-fingered monster steals the world.

 

(the original is at http://hellopoetry.com/poem/1656/this-is-the-gardencolours-come-and-go/)

No Title Can Convey the Grief

What a horrible week.

CW: Dallas, rage, etc.

<3

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5 officers dead in Dallas. 7 more wounded. This is the worst loss for law enforcement since 9/11.

I don’t know all their names yet, so I can’t speak them.

But I can say that while I understand the rage of Mr. Micah Johnson, Army veteran (and honestly white folks I know you do too, even if you pretend not to), that does not excuse his actions. The same way nothing excuses the actions of the officers who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice and TOO many beautiful human beings taken from us).

It’s even more devastating when I read that the people who were protesting – POC who are members of protest groups like Mothers Against Police Brutality – report that the Dallas police force were working hard to regain the trust of the black community there. That the police were being good to the protestors.

… yeah, I got nothing. I’m off to cry for a good long time.

Why the FUCK Does This Keep Happening? What is WRONG With Us, White People?

CW: Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, police brutality, really seriously gross murder details, talking about white people (and acknowledging I’m one)

<3

Are you ready? *deep breath, squares shoulders*

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So I didn’t read or see any details about Mr. Sterling until after 3-something pm my time yesterday, because I fucked up something at work and was paying attention to fixing that fuckup.

(Side note: What LUXURY that is. That’s privilege, folks. That someone can be brutally murdered within a certain community and no one is texting me to cry about it, no one is sending me DMs to express their pain and outrage… I could easily have made it through the entire day without more than a cursory awareness of what occurred.)

And then I saw it. The photos were bad enough, but the videos? Father of five. Looking at the cops with complete incomprehension on his face. Thrown across a car and onto the asphalt by these cops, one of whom knelt on his neck and screamed in his face before taking out his gun and pressing it against him.

I fought not to throw up, even before I heard the shots.

I can hear the coming justifications now – criminal, selling illegally, he had a gun, he didn’t get on the ground freaking fast enough, he fought. According to the convenience store owner, Mr. Sterling didn’t do a damn thing wrong before the cops started yelling. And I defy ANYONE who isn’t a martial arts expert to not struggle when someone is kneeling on your NECK.

Anil Dash spoke truth to ignorance here:

It’s nothing more than white supremacy to think that somehow, this man on the street, someone respected by the people around him for *pulling himself up* after his criminal past, is more deserving of this treatment than Travis Kalanick, who comes from solid upper middle class roots, who has disclaimed any and all responsibility for the assaults that have been perpetrated by his employees (consultants or no) while breaking multiple laws in his effort to “disrupt” the industry.

And then this morning.  HOLY CRAP. I can’t EVEN fathom what the fuck happened there.

HE WAS IN THE CAR. He was INFORMING THE OFFICER HE HAD A CONCEAL AND CARRY PERMIT.

And bam.

This officer freaked the hell out because a law-abiding black man had a gun, because the ONLY thing he could imagine, after asking a man for his license and registration, was that he was going for that gun. I simply cannot FATHOM that there was any reasonable, logical reason for an officer to then shoot this man in front of his girlfriend and a 4 year old who was sitting in the back seat.

WHY ARE WE SO AFRAID? White people, WHY? Black people are NOT perpetrating violent crimes against us at ANY rate half as close as we perpetrate on ourselves. (Yeah, you talk about black on black crime – lemme talk about white on white crime sometime. Psh.) And yknow, we even might deserve what we’re actually afraid of, but it *isn’t happening* and we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and why this gut-level reaction is happening.

Because these are people. And they’re good people. And it is completely insufficient to say that they’re one-off reactions because we KNOW that isn’t true. Good people are being murdered – yes, murdered – and we are writing it off.

Stop looking at what you yourself would do (or think you would do) to people of color, white people. Start looking at what far too many specific assholes do publicly, and then recognize that for everyone who does something publicly, there are *five more* who will do something horrible to a POC’s face that we never see, and then look at what those numbers look like as a statistic about us.

Stop defending yourself. Start defending LIVES.

Because anyone who dares say All Lives Matter? I dare you to start ACTING like it.

A Day and a Year Since the Charleston Shooting

CW: Charleston shooting, Emanuel AME’s history, racism & murder.

<3

I’m going to repeat one of the things I said in the last post.

This act by Dylann Roof was an act of terror as well as a hate crime and an action taken by a sick person.

These beautiful human beings – Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Reverend Depayne Middleton Doctor, Reverend Daniel L. Simmons, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, and Ethel Lee Lance – were kind enough to allow a young white man to join a small Bible study group held for their black congregation. In return, this young white man accused them of “raping our women” (note that 6 of the victims were women above the age of 45; 3 were grandmothers) and “taking over our country” – then shot at people attending, killing 9, before turning the gun on himself only to discover he had exhausted his ammunition.

According to survivors, the first person he aimed at was 87-yr-old Susie Jackson. 87 years old. A respected and beloved elder whose nephew, Tywanza Sanders, attempted to talk the shooter down. Mr. Sanders was shot when he threw his body in the way of the first bullet, which was meant for Mrs. Jackson.

Why would someone who was just sick, or even intending to perform a hate crime, specifically target the oldest woman there first?

Because, of course, Roof’s intention was never to just kill people. His intent was to terrify the congregation, with a specific political and social aim of trying to undermine the church.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, otherwise known as Mother Emanuel, is the oldest black congregation in the south and has rebuilt itself quite a few times since being founded in 1816 (though the movement on which it is based was founded in 1787, after Richard Allen and other black Methodists rejected the church in Philadelphia due to racist treatment). The church itself has suffered many acts of terror in its history – for instance, after Denmark Vesey, a leader in the church in the 1820s, was hung for supposedly organizing a revolt of enslaved people that was scheduled to occur on June 16th or 17th of 1822, the whites of Charleston burned the original Emanuel AME building and forced many of the leaders of church out of the state.

There is some theory that Roof chose the day he chose to echo this same event. The fact that five black churches were burned within a *week* of the shooting underlines this unpleasantly. Terrorists are known to prefer anniversaries of other successful attempts as a form of symbolism. (But then again, so are governments.) Sick people… not so much. Even hate crimes on one or two individuals don’t follow that pattern. Those are most often crimes of opportunity.

We really need to start recognizing that domestic terrorism is a thing, and that people of color and people in the LGBT community are the most likely targets.

We need to acknowledge that America has had a *history* of terrorist activity.

Let’s start focusing the war on terror on the hate we generate and perpetuate.

Let’s look in the mirror, folks.

The Charleston and Orlando victims, survivors, and their families are owed that.

 

 

OK, Now I’m Pissed Off

CW: Ranting about responses to the Orlando tragedy.

You’re warned. <3 <3

*sigh* Y’know, I was horrified yet numb, before.

I was churning inside but I was calm on the surface, before.

But days of seeing all the media, and the content of that media, has set me off.

And so I pass along a wholehearted FUCK YOU to the wide range of assholes out there, inadvertent or otherwise.

Fuck you to ANYONE who tries to say this isn’t a hate crime against the LGBT community. It is. It’s a direct attack against my beloved community. If a foreign terrorist organization REALLY wanted to strike fear into the hearts of all Americans, they would NOT specifically hit a subculture that is among the most reviled in the country. Fucking stop already with that minimizing bullshit.

Fuck you to those awful people on social media saying explicitly that this isn’t so bad because the victims were gay. Fucking stop already and grow a fucking heart.

Fuck you, Mr. Trump, for turning this tragedy into Twitter fuel for your disgusting Islamophobic campaign. You should have fucking stopped ages ago.

Fuck you, the vast majority of American Republican lawmakers, for being too chickenshit to include anything about the victims being LGBT in your chickenshit “prayers.” If you were truly devout you’d love all your siblings on this earth. So fucking stop already – we see through it.

Fuck you, Marco Rubio, for being the one Republican who mentioned sexual orientation in your “sympathies”… and making it a “We stand by Americans even if you’re gay” qualification. Fucking STOP already.

And this isn’t as bad, but still: Fuck you to those of you who think that it can ONLY be a hate crime or ONLY be an act of terrorism, and not both. It is time to start treating mass attacks on people who are covered by hate crime legislation as terrorism. Because that’s most often what it is – according to the definition as laid out by the US Code of Federal Regulations, terrorism is “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (emphasis mine.) That shooter meant to frighten gay people back into the closet, which is both a political and a social objective. Fuck off if you can’t understand this.

Fuck you, to everyone in Congress who voted against the Maloney Amendment, making it STILL okay to for federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees, despite President Obama’s executive order. Great thing to have as part of your fucking “prayers.”

Even fuck you, Bernie Sanders! Dammit, even though I’ve loved you, fuck you for saying initially “we do not know whether this was an act of terrorism, a terrible hate crime against gay people or the act of a very sick person.” You are supposed to be the politician with insight and vision. Why couldn’t you see it was going to be all three? Why are you falling into the same trap everyone else is?

….

And now I’m off to cry.

RIP Thelonius

Black cat with gold eyes on blue plaid sheets On Friday, June 26th, our beautiful Thelonius Huxtable Davidson – Theo for short – was released from his struggle with cancer. Theo was only 14, and we didn’t expect this. He had what looked like an abscessed tooth, and after getting dental surgery he seemed fine. A month after dental surgery we noticed a growth on his gums, and made an appointment with the vet. Within the two days between the call and the appointment the growth was noticeably bigger. A biopsy confirmed what we were afraid of. Theo had aggressive oral cancer. By the time the biopsy came back, the growth had spread through his palate and into his lower sinuses. There was nothing we could do without submitting the poor guy to a feeding tube, and our vet said that while we could extend his life, we were looking at just a few months rather than the weeks we had, now.

~

When I met Theo, he was not an affectionate cat. He was elegant, and fastidious, and tolerant of his younger brother and sister, and he liked lying *next* to you but not on you. My best memory of him back then was him sitting patiently behind me, waiting for me to notice that he had a purple string draped over him.

Black cat looking up at the camera, an ombre purple silk string draped over his face and back

Theo in Pittsburgh, waiting for me to notice the string. May 27th, 2011.

He then waited even longer for me to take a picture with my phone, then shook his head, got the string off, and walked off to clean up. But when Jon and I moved in together, things changed.

Cat wanting lurvles

Cat wanting lurvles

Within a few months of us moving to the Bronx, he had started sleeping on us when we slept curled together, then graduated to wiggling himself just so, in order to sleep between us. We discovered he had a heck of a purr. He would roll over onto his back for cheek rubs, though he still wouldn’t tolerate his belly being rubbed. By the time 2014 hit, he was starting to tolerate the belly rubs, and he started to love snuggling with his brother.

Theo_and_Monte

Theo and Monte, early 2014

What he didn’t know is that he had also decided that Amelia was part of his pride, too. This past March, while we were packing for the move to our new place, I was feeling distraught and frustrated, and the music I was listening to over my Bluetooth speaker wasn’t cutting it. I decided to take a break and watch some videos of Amelia – specifically the ones of her dancing in the old hallway in Windsor Terrace.

If you’ve seen that video of her running down the hall on my post for her, you can hear her collar jingling pretty loudly. Well, Theo heard it too. And he perked up, then ran to the door looking for her. Then ran back to the bedroom. Then started looking all around for her.

He was upset. He wouldn’t let me console him. He was going to find her.

It took him about 2 hours to stop looking.

~

Last night, Jon had a dream. He dreamed that Amelia was in a giant version of the carrier we used to take Theo to the vet when he could no longer eat, or even close his mouth without pain. It was used by all the cats but it was pretty much Theo’s carrier. In Jon’s dream Amelia was her normal weight and rolling happily on her back like she did when she wanted to play the bitey game, similar to how she rolled after baths. And when he told me this, we mourned together at that fact that we both really, badly wish we could believe that Theo had gone to find her.

Unfortunately, we can’t. We’re not believers in an afterlife. There’s no heaven in our ideology, and without a heaven, there’s no rainbow bridge to comfort us.

But yknow, it’d be really freaking awesome if we were wrong on this one. :)

We love you, Theo.

Sad News

black cat with yellow eyes lies on orange duvet cover, tongue sticking out

Theo, May 2015

Yesterday Theo was diagnosed with aggressive oral cancer.

Our amazing vet, Dr. Rosado, gave him a few weeks to live.

He also said that while oncology could prolong his life, it wouldn’t be more than a few months.

Jon did some additional research, and the prospect for treatment is pretty awful – it means cutting away most of his face and having the poor guy live with a feeding tube. The tumors are in the top of his jaw and we’re 90% sure it’s grown into his sinuses, so it’d be a pretty dramatic thing.

He just had a few teeth extracted on April 29th. Nothing looked amiss then.

Neither of us are taking this well. We lost Amelia only 8 months ago. And this will be the 2nd cat Jon has lost to oral cancer, so this is feeling pretty fucked up to both of us.

…. Yeah, that’s all I can manage now.

RIP Amelia Joy

Born 12/2/1997, died 10/31/2014

Amelia, 2011

Amelia, 2011

I have lost a part of my heart.

In the middle of this past June, my beautiful girl was diagnosed with late-stage renal failure. We had also been doing some research on her mobility issues, and that same week figured out that she had been fighting degenerative myelopathy for the past 2 years or so. For the past 4 months, we have been giving her subcutaneous fluids and medications to help her with the renal disease, but nothing could stop the progression of the myelopathy.

However, we were dearly hoping she would make it to her birthday in December, because over the past decade she had taught me well that she could handle a LOT of obstacles. She tore her meniscus in 2006, and when the surgeon called me to tell me the results of the surgery, she also told me to not let her run anymore. I remember saying something along the lines of “I don’t think I can STOP her,” at which point the surgeon said “well she’s an old dog and you should start treating her like one!”

Amelia had no intention of letting me treat her like an old dog. 3 months after her surgery, she had no perceivable limp (one of the vets said “I can only say she favors that side if I want to be really uncharitable”) and was chasing the ball as usual.

No snuggles@! Time for ball!

No snuggles@! Time for ball!

She was also mostly blind since 2011, after losing one of her eyes to pigmentary uveitis in 2008 and having the lens of the other slowly occlude with pigment over the next 3 years. I thought this was the end of playing ball, but oh no…

She was still chasing the ball.

(and running down the hallway, and jumping, and spinning…)

She really only started to slow down when we moved to the Bronx. The park was not as close anymore, she had started coughing a lot, and it seemed her back legs were really bothering her. She was still happy to play and scamper, but the first issues were becoming evident… she was no longer jumping. Then she started losing weight.

Fast forward to this month. Even after losing 16 lbs due to not eating as much as she needed (she hated the renal diet), she was still able to play some on October 12th, when we took her back to her favorite park.

A week later, the 18th, she still wanted to play, but she could barely stand on her own, let alone dive after the ball. She fell over while playing in a local park and simply didn’t want to get up again. Falling over while playing was a source of frustration and depression for her.

Then, early in the morning on the 26th, she had a horrible seizure that lasted a minute too long.

We made the appointment.

I said to Jon “The only way I’ll change my mind is if she is able to play again.”

We plied her with McDonald’s french fries, which she used to only get when we traveled together, and little balls of butter so she would take her pills without needing to be force-fed. We gave her as many of her favorite Stella and Chewy’s patties as she wanted – we had had to stop giving them to her due to their high phosphorous content, but at this point, I was willing to give her anything to maybe let her gain back a few lbs to see if it helped her at all.

It didn’t. She wanted to play, but simply could not even pay attention to the ball without falling over.

Amelia, Oct 31, 2014

Amelia, Oct 31, 2014

This was taken on her last day. We took her to a safe patch of grass and held her ball for her. We picked her up the one time she fell and made sure she wouldn’t fall a second time. We let her stand and sniff.

And then we carried her to the vets, gave her as many treats as she wanted to eat, and we said goodbye.

~ * ~

I’ve written all of this in a semi-dry narrative fashion because I have spent so much time crying over this past week that it hurts. Laying out the map of events makes the tears lighter, makes the sobs quieter.

But I’d be seriously remiss if I didn’t share the easing of grief we experienced on Saturday.

Jon and I both (separately, we didn’t discuss it) started feeling weirdly guilty, like we had somehow made the decision to say goodbye because we were tired of caring for her and tired of spending the money needed to maintain her in the most comfortable manner that we could. I don’t know what made me do it, but I went to my phone and I took a look at the earliest videos I had of her.

Like this one.

It was… transformative. I saw the dog that I suddenly realized I had been waiting to come back to me. I saw a dog that took such joy in making you laugh. I saw the goofball that she had stopped being earlier this year.

And I realized that what we did was right. It was even the right time. We tried our hardest to give her back that delight, but there was nothing we could do, and there was no way to fix it even though we could now see in hindsight she was asking us to fix it so she could play again.

So we gave her the best possible last experience she could have, and made sure she would never fall again.

~ * ~

Earlier today, I was going through Amelia’s Facebook page to get some dates correct. Facebook sometimes gives you prompts, and I saw this:

“What are some of your favorite memories?”

1. One of my favorite memories of being with Amelia is a Valentine’s Day while I was still in my 1st Park Slope apartment. I can’t remember precisely what I was doing, but I was carrying some large amount of stuff into my apartment. Amelia was, I thought, quietly playing with some rawhide. But when I locked the door and looked down at the remains? There was a perfectly-chewed little heart, made out of a paper napkin.

Dog-sculpted heart, 2002

Dog-sculpted heart, 2002

That was one of the most awesome coincidences I ever saw.

2. Amelia had a several-year “no pictures” phase, and made it very difficult for me to catch her in good poses. So it was quite a treat when, on my birthday one of those years, she let me take this:

Birthday Present, 2005

Birthday Present, 2005

3. So my girl hated baths & showers. She REALLY hated baths & showers. But post-bath? SO CRAZY.

For those of you who’ve read this far, thank you. I will never not have a hole in my heart, but sharing this amazing girl’s life helps.