When I can’t quite build a thought out into something solid enough for this blog, I will often post it to Instagram with the tag #LilliputianLog. The last weeks have seen a few of those posts so I thought I’d share them and the content here for those who aren’t on the other platform.
It is 2020. My mask matches my dress. I email and call the government to remind them that their citizens are human beings. And because I know that won’t work, I remind them that their citizens are voters, too. And because that might not work, I set a calendar reminder to call again in an hour.
A friend texts me a picture of flour in the grocery store, delighted to see it in stock. “Blessed be.” she says, as if we’ve gone full dystopia.
In my drafts folder, there are dozens of drafted emails and phone scripts, ready for me to customize. They all say the same thing. I made the templates when I got home from jail five years ago. I have needed them every other week since, and a nation being picked apart by plague hasn’t slowed it down a bit.
I am tired of begging, but as long as there is not a knee on my neck, I will do what I can.
On a live stream, I watch astronauts waiting to be blasted up to the international space station. This is the future.
The weather stops them from going anywhere. The violence and hate in this world stops us in our tracks too, but only when we can stream it. The feeds are full of outrage and I pray that the phonelines of those who can do something are ringing with as much verve. The feeds are full of silence and fractured, fracturing thoughts. Someone who, years ago, helped me pick shells from my hair after an egg and a slur were thrown at me says that racism is as over-hyped and as unreal as the pandemic. As I block her, I get a text.
Some states send autopsy reports that way now. This is the future. The report details lungs ransacked by the illness that created the need for my mask. I’m grateful. His Black body walked into a hospital and left dead, and I needed proof that this was because of the virus, not because of the systemic smog that keeps disappearing people of color.
The world is closed to almost everything, but all that violence is still in business. My friend says she’ll bring me some flour. I think I might bake for the pound cake challenge I saw on the gram. I make as much space for making as I can. This is the future, but I hope for a sweeter one soon.
#StrokeBrain has been acting up this week. Since the tiny kitchen fires & floods, I wear a red bracelet around my home on bad days so my roommate knows when my forgetfulness could be a danger to myself or our space. Every so often, I take it off because I forget why it’s on. He hands it back to me and for a split second, every time, I think he found a red bracelet somewhere.
I look at it very carefully to see if I can remember a neighbor wearing it. “No idea.” I say, shaking my head at him till his face tells me I’m not understanding something.
Then that thing clicks in my brain, the same thing that made me pretend to be able to read when I couldn’t– and I pretend I understand. I follow his cues and put it on my wrist. A few minutes later I’ll remember why, and wonder why it is my brain finds it so important to pretend it knows what’s going on, even when I’m in a safe space. I use templates to send emails and make justice calls because if I didn’t, I’d forget my own information. (In fairness, I so rarely use my legal name that I forget it exists.)
A month ago, I posted that it was difficult for me to have a normal relationship with people who have shown no mercy towards prisoners during this pandemic. Imagine– but for the blink of 5 years, they would have advocated for my non-violent, chronically-ill body to die alone in a cell– and now they want to know if we should split an appetizer. (No, thank you. I’m not hungry.)
Today I wonder about the people who are standing in the way of justice. How hard it will be for me to break bread with them.
I search for the words to reach them, a final stretch of my hand forward. I think I can hear the blankness of their brain when I hand them an idea, like taking a red bracelet without knowing what it is. I hope that somewhere beyond my sight, they look down at their wrists, blood pumping through their veins, like they are human, like we all are– and truly understand. My arms are tired from all this reaching, but the blessed thing about StrokeBrain is… I will forget.
I’ll forget how close to giving up I get, but my bones will remember the cry of justice– and I will try again and again, and again.
There were times in the last year that I really thought I was going to die, not just someday, but right in that very moment.
I was sad but serene about it. For all my trials, I’ve always been a full riverbed connecting to oceans of love. Never empty. There’s been days the sun came too close, when I ran so low you could see clear to my skeletons, but I refilled. One thing I loved about my life, I’d think in the low tides, is how I found a way to celebrate everything. Celebrate anyway. How I found people to join me and guide me in this. How I let joy sustain my flows, my revolutions.
A year ago, my ears popped and I lost hearing of everything except the blood in my body. I fell over. My head stabbed and then drummed, and words started dancing on the page, and then away from me. Away and away, until I lost them for what I thought would be forever. Later I’d learn more about brains than I had ever cared to, and I’d learn this all started way before then. But this is the anniversary of the beginning of #StrokeBrain, by most measures, and I was lucky enough to have a hand to hold through it.
Normally I describe the boyf’s hands as big like a planet, orbited with silver rings, but it feels important right now to say they are black hands, to explain why I wasn’t going to celebrate this anniversary. This is a time of re-opened wounds, when a disease still runs rampant, pre-dating the pandemic by lifetimes. And the boyf, like most of Black America, is carrying too much of the burden already. But it was his idea to drive out to Long Beach in the middle of the night, anyway. We clinked our french fries together to toast a year of survival, anyway. We celebrated anyway. I rested my masked face on his shoulder, and remembered that this peace is what we can’t afford to let drift away.
These are the pebbles we must anchor to our heart. This is what sees us through, always.
Joy sustains the revolution.