Saturday, September 20, 2014

Smoke and Dreams

Everything smelled like smoke and ashes yesterday. I assume someone was burning a field somewhere, although I couldn't actually see any smoke from my yard. It smelled so heavy it seemed like we should've been able to see it. It felt like little ash particles actually in my nostrils.

I fell asleep with my nose and throat burning. I am surprised I didn't dream of fire. I was thinking of fire. I was having horror fantasies that wouldn't stop about the fire, wherever it was, spreading to here.

Instead, I dreamed that NFL players were using hashtags to sneak cats into my house to harm my kids.

I had to go to twitter, limit my feed to football players only, then slowly scroll through watching for hashtags. When I found one that looked dangerous, I'd click it, and scroll through that feed, watching for NFL players who had shared photos of cats. I had to examine every photo carefully, because the cat might hide behind someone's legs or even in an image on a kid's clothes.

When I found an NFL hashtagged cat, I had to delete it, then go back to the main feed and start over, with thousands of new tweets posted since.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Herded Like Cattle

Weird dumb creepy uncomfortable dream.

I was at school, moving through the hallway. Everyone was moving through the hallway. It was a tight, uncomfortable press and I couldn't even control my movements. Couldn't speed up, slow down, or turn around if I wanted to. Everyone was going to the cafeteria on the bottom floor, and I was going too, like it or not.

I didn't like it. The stairs, which wound in a squared-off spiral, were too steep. People were moving too fast. There was constant physical contact with people I didn't know by name, Not that I could've seen them to identify them. Nothing to be seen but a rush of color and press of anonymous bodies and movement.

Someone shouted my name,and everyone stopped moving, turned to focus on me. A path cleared and some guy I didn't know, but who apparently at least knew my name, rushed through.

"I'm pretty sure this is yours."

He had a Rubbermaid sort of lunchbox that made me think of a cross between Bento and industrial. It wasn't mine.


He opened the lid to show me the contents. In snug, side-by-side trays, there were carrots, some sort of dip, Pokemon cracker (I didn't know those existed), the tiniest tomatoes I'd ever seen, and tiny slices of cheese cut into shapes.

I said, "No, it isn't mine."

"It looks like it might be yours, though. I think it is."

I took the box and held it up and turned it in my hands. Each side had neatly printed legends, like, "I really lie Pokemon!" and "Lunch is my favorite class."

One side said, 'This lunch box belongs to:' and under it, written in blue marker, was my brother's name.

"This is Corbin's." I said. "See? His name is on it."

The guy just stared blankly, like I accidentally said 'name' in a foreign language.

"See?" I pointed again. "Corbin."

"I think it might be yours. Somebody told me it looked like yours."

I glanced around, and every face I saw looked as confused as his. This live performance was starting to be dull, now that the weird girl wasn't making sense. People started to shuffle toward te cafeteria again.

Then I spotted Corbin, and I called out his name. I said, "I think I've got your lunch box!"

He called back, "What's in it?"

I said, "Vegetables and stuff, but it's got your name on it."

"But what's in it?"

The press of people began to move me again, and I struggled to turn my body back to face the way I was going. Somehow, I managed to hold back just a little, and people jostled and crowded past until the hall was empty. I could see over the last landing's banister into the cafeteria, and watched people swarm like bugs up to the counter, then away.

I went around the last corner, and there were no more stairs. There was still a full story of distance between me and the cafeteria floor, but the stairs ended, with a jagged, ripped-off carpet hanging loosely from the last landing like it had once partially covered the last flight of stairs.

How was I to get down?

A guy I didn't know shoved past me, with an annoyed sound at my lack of motion, stepped on the hanging carpet, and slid, half sideways as though on a snowboard or skimboard, down the available length. Then he leapt off the end, landed neatly on the floor, and headed to the counter like this was the most normal thing.

I tried it, and ended up sliding backward on my stomach, grappling for a grip on the carpet to keep from sliding so fast. Then I was on my hands and knees on the floor, palms stinging.

At the counter, a serving lady handed me a tray. Somehow I couldn't see the contents. I wasn't sure if I wanted it.

"What is this?" I asked, not taking the tray.

"It's what everybody gets. You all get the same." She shoved the tray at me.

I looked around. Was there even a door? I couldn't get back up those non-stairs. How would I leave? I turned to run, with her still calling after me to assure me everyone takes a tray.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Things I Don't Write About

I wrote about Ferguson tonight.

And there are a few things I usually don't write about.

Ferguson has been one of them, for a couple of reasons. One is the reactions. It makes me ill to see people I love say things like, "Well, he provoked..." or "Well, he wasn't complying...."

I can't sit and argue that and still face those people every day.

There are other topics and other reasons, but mostly I haven't written about Ferguson.

But tonight, I wrote about Ferguson.

See, there was this group of protesters who woke up to find a noose in their camp area, and when I googled, it seemed like nobody was writing about it. How is that a nonstory?

So I messaged the youth pastor who had started sharing their story, and I got some information and shared it on, wrote it up, made it officially news on a news site on the internet in the world.

(I feel like I'm advertising but because I'm talking about it here it is. Nobody's making you click.)

And now I'm (well, not now because I got up, but a few minutes ago) lying in my bed, in my temperature-controlled environment, with my walls and ceiling and babies and safe and comfortable (moderately- two toddlers in a bed means moderately comfortable is good), while the people who are actually there, the guys who woke up to a noose, and the people who lost a son or brother or friend, are not lying in a bed with soft sheets, but walking the streets, sitting in living rooms and crying, holding hands and praying, pleading for justice (which I don't think is a possible thing here - even if an investigation proves beyond doubt that this kid never did anything worse than sticking his tongue out at his brother, nobody's gonna give him his life back, so where is justice?), pleading for change, pleading for it not to happen to another kid, pleading for something to make sense.

And I feel guilty for my vague nod to the possibility the police aren't lying about *every single* thing, because I know I'm supposed to be neutral but it's like being neutral on climate change or the sky being blue, so that I feel like I'm supposed to say, "Others argue that the sky is purple with pink polka dots, and color is subjective, but blue is consistent with the language of poem and song." And I feel for those journalists who get slammed for putting on a scientist and a creationist, because 'both sides' is an expected thing even when one is not a side at all.

I hope I gave an accurate depiction while being fair. I hope change happens. I hope Michael Brown's family gets a thing that resembles justice enough to give them some scrap of peace. It can't be more than a scrap, when you lose your baby. I can't even fathom. I look at my babies and I can't even fathom. I know that change is gonna happen, because change does, but change in forty or eighty years when it comes naturally through generations passing on and new ones seeing things differently isn't enough. A lot of people can die in 40-80 years.

What can I do? Nothing but rail and holler. But I guess I can rail and holler, anyway. Even if what I get in response makes me sick. I reckon I can take a little sick to try to make somebody's babies not die, even if it's only try. It's the tool within my reach. Rail and holler.