Hi, how are you? Yeah, me too. You go back and forth from Grief Desert so many times it feels like maybe you should just build a little shack there and learn to live with no water and too much light. On Thursday I went to a protest on accident, coming out of work into the hell-hot swamp morass of New York July, the east sidewalk of Fifth Ave thick with marchers and the west side clotted with tourists going in and out of stores, oblivious, or taking selfies with the marchers as backdrops. Later that night the police went out into Times Square, threw people to the ground and bound their wrists with zipties and put them into city buses rerouted to city jails, but the sun was still high in the sky when I left work. I saw only a handful of cops on the sidewalk, looking hot and bored, not meeting anybody's eyes, not even bothering to intervene when the march blocked intersections and motorists leaned on their horns in futile protest.
All the chain stores on Fifth Avenue still have their decals from Pride, H&M and American Eagle Outfitters and Eddie Bauer and 7 For All Mankind sporting rainbow flag stickers in their windows and here and there a #weareallorlando. I walked a block with the protest and then I started thinking too much about which kinds of mourning are commodifiable now, and which remain unmarketable, unfit for corporate sponsorship, and then I started crying in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and then I went home. I could hear drumming in Union Square from blocks away. I thought it was more protest but it was a free African dance class, more tourists spinning and awkwardly swinging their hips, sweat-slicked, as the police began to gather.
I keep thinking of that Arundhati Roy interview from last week:
"I don't think hope is necessarily moored to reason. Sometimes hope is a small thing. Sometimes I just look forward to the next sentence I write that I can be happy with. There's the macro scenario--climate change, nuclear war and so on... and then there's the micro scenario. When the bleakness of the big picture begins to get to me, I scale down, I become a frog trying to cross a highway full of trucks. It can be done. Look right, look left... Go! Go! Go! And live to fight another day."
All the brave frogs, flinging ourselves toward the promised land, what else do you do. There is no backward travel to a better world. On the way home I thought, as I often do, about what Eve would've had to say about all of this. If even she would've seen bank-sponsored floats in the Pride parade coming; how human rights are assigned, not to human bodies, but to the movement of capital; how bodies are mattered into being counted only when their bank accounts begin to fill. And I thought, for some reason, of a night a long time ago, when I was working overnights at the DV shelter, and a cop called me at three in the morning and said I have a woman here, a woman and her child, they have nowhere to go, I'll bring them to you, and I said It's a confidential shelter, and he said But I know where it is, and I said Well you're not supposed to, and he said I'll meet you, and I said The shelter is full, and he said But they have nowhere to go why can't you make room, and I wanted to scream into the phone because it's fucking broken, you asshole, because the whole thing is fucking broken, but instead I put on my Social Worker Voice and said She can call in the morning and get on the waiting list, and he said, again, But she has nowhere else to go, and I hung up the phone. I lay awake all night on the couch in the shelter office, thinking about that woman and her child, alone on the street somewhere, what did the cop do, did he just walk away. It was a cold night and I could hear the house settling down around me. All those bodies, dreaming in the dark.
I was reading a book by a man that got a lot of good reviews but I got to page 200 and there was only one lady in it other than an off-stage wife, and she didn't have very much to do other than count cards, and I got increasingly anxious that something bad was going to happen to her for plot purposes or to prove that a bad character was in fact very bad. So I took that book back to the library and now I'm reading Fish in Exile by Vi Khi Nao. And I just finished Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman, which is so good I'm going to write a whole separate blog post about it, but if you have ever tried to prove yourself as a Tough Girl in a sea of men at the expense of your own humanity/safety/wellbeing I think you will like it a lot. There are also lots of funny parts and some great parts about Norway (let's go there!!!! I just watched The Wave and now I want very badly to go to Norway even though almost everyone in that movie dies) and sled dog racing and glaciers and snow. Snow! I am ready, already, for the summer to be over, but then again I always am.
Be good to your hearts and drink a lot of water, and if you are protesting I love you and I am so grateful for you, and if you aren't protesting I love you too and a good thing to do is donate to bail funds for people who are. It's okay if you gotta peace out of the Internet for a while but you should follow Rahawa on instagram, she's hiking the whole Appalachian Trail right now and her posts are keeping me healthy. You can also follow Lola's dog (pictured above) who I met recently and who is an excellent dog in my opinion. He is soft and dumb and fluffy and if you hold out your hand he will gum it gently, not in a bad dog sort of way but in a Teeth!!!! HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THEM, I HAVE THEM TOO!!! sort of way, and he likes snacks. Who doesn't like snacks! Fools, is who. Keep loving, keep fighting.