First 100 Days

Starting January 20, 2017, thirteen writers journaled the first one hundred days of the Trump presidency. This is our contribution. It was published as a part of First 100 Days, available HERE through Peace Supplies

Jan 20th, noon 

An hour lost looking for an unfindable bandanna. We aren't prepared, it’s the details that act as reminders. No black shoes, no high-protein snacks, no containers for milk, no sling shot. Hopefully, the associations that we’ve been building in the last number of years can weather the missing details, and we can add to the chaos rather than contain it.

 

January 20th, 10:30pm 

Today, I went by hunches and feel, and the looks on other people’s faces. The parents lounge was loud. The little kids played with hard objects, the older ones with devices; the adults talked and picked things up from the floor and went in and out of the doors. Everyone waited. The ladies at the table were real ‘ladies’-- all bright and responsive, giving vivacious and friendly answers to each others questions. Their hair swished effortlessly and their colorful earrings and nose piercings sent out signals of artistry and openness with something slightly bohemian, but money-laced. They all compared notes about their real-estate agents. I wanted to make friends, but the real-estate-agent-shaped hole in my life felt so big and throbbing. 

I had way too much work to do and that hour was the only hour that I wouldn't be stealing away from my six-year-old. If I don’t work while he is busy, I end up like a cubist painting of a mother -- all my parts there on the same plane with him, but inhumanely fractured by communication technology and anxiety about time management. This is homeschooling. 

I glanced at the clock and knew that the swearing in had happened, but no one’s face showed it. The kids were screaming and eating cheese and strawberries in the hallway. Where did they come from, those strawberries? I noticed my loneliness as I talked to another parent about dentistry. 

I want to go, to be with friends, to mark the time, and to feel the slightly dangerous oceanic movement of bodies over pavement, but we pre-arranged our parental split: I got the safety of the six year old. It’s best, but I both convict and defend myself at once for the arrangement. I feel guilty for my lack of bravery, while simultaneously insist that it’s crucial to remember the many women/people who have done the work of care behind and alongside moments of public confrontation and historical change. We can imagine all the kids in the city pelting riot cops with nerf guns, but the truth is my kid is scared of the police and he should be. 

So, we drove home, didn’t listen to Amy Goodman give the ‘war and death report’ (as the six year old calls it) sat by the fire, and worked on writing a play about scorpion mice and chipmunks. After dark, we got texts about the feeling of gas in lungs, and the six year old and I worked on learning to read. 

Jan 21st, 4:30pm 

When we are situated inside a culture of abuse, how do we grow an ethos of solidarity--one that includes both a mode of material support and a mode of defense and attack--without turning on the most vulnerable? Reading of social dynamics and the powers that guide them is difficult in the best of times. Reading a room for its ‘pyramids of rank’ is challenging. There are some clear situations: don’t tease kids in earlier stages of development; don’t tease those in more precarious positions than you; it is never wrong to defend yourself from whiteness or the police. However, complications abound, especially when we allow the reality of life to sit with us without resorting to equalizing abstractions or ideals. Abstractions like freedom of speech or equality, make up a discourse that allows an abuser to have a grip on the reasoning around violence and care. What abusers obscure are the social and economic mechanisms that reinforce our social ranks. They work to naturalize the continued harm they inflict by claiming either an abstract social ideal or a genetic right that entitles them to their position of domination. Their interests are contingent on protecting the family, property, tradition, and whiteness; to keep things intact, in order, ship-shape. How do we escape learning the ‘righteousness of domination’ when our traditions, our language and thoughts are structured to validate these authoritarian forms? How do we break a logic that doesn’t recognize itself in praxis? 

January 21st, 5:00 

After the women’s march we rode the bus home and ate snacks. The mood on the street was different than I expected. There was an underlying belief in reinstating some forsaken democratic America that felt palpable and strange. Maybe it was just my block. When did that faith get re-instated? And how is it different than Make America Great Again? Who started the crowd singing 'America' as we passed city hall? Who wants to take a selfie with a cop? Everyone looked clammy and smelled like moss and riverwater; kids were everywhere. 

 

The two six year olds holding my hands mis-heard the chanting crowd to their right -- heard “We Want Minecraft!” instead of “Stand Up! Fight Back” and exploded in silly spurts of joy, yelling “We Want Minecraft” and stepping in all the puddles on 1st st while we looked for our friends. 

I have felt a strange speechlessness since the election--an inability to answer what is happening in any voice, visual or verbal. It wasn’t that “he who cannot be named” had won, it was that so many people wanted it to happen (and so many white women too). 

The days following, I noticed how many people described feeling the news in their bodies, describing nausea, a loss of appetite, paralysis of the limbs, mental fog, and diminished energy. It wasn’t just the election that made me feel ill, but also the quips and slogans--the churning storm of emoticons that followed. Horrified yellow faces and swirly piles of poop leaked from between the rings of everyone’s fingerprints for days, but it felt tidy and slick, scentless. The content couldn’t change the form, more even than the people on the street. The attention fell on the online scramble, everyone’s outrage turned into profit for the ones on top. It’s clear that words have no power, and images prove nothing.

 

Fact-making isn’t intended to be a DIY process. 

Maybe I wished it on myself with my yearning for a more embodied, long-form, relational response to this turn, because the weeks following the election were full of acrid, intimate messes. Day after day the members of my family filled bowls and floors and car windows and pillowcase with vomit. And, the sweet aging dog started to shit on the floor without even seeming to notice. 

Jan 22nd, 10:00am 

I take my phone off the windowsill; it’s not even six yet. Out the window is dark and wet. The breathing from my two bedmates is discordant and refuses to fuse into an even rhythm. There is a cat, whose breathing I cannot hear, pressing its body along the crown of our heads. My shirt is damp from sweat. My heart is beating quickly. My head is full of burning gasses. I can’t tell if I’ve just woken from dreaming an awful dream or if I am remembering two nights ago. I get out of bed making sure I don't wake anyone. The air in the house is cold; it’s always so cold in the morning. I light the fire

and stand there transferring its heat into my body. I can feel the familiar anger of the morning. Night is always simpler; it’s too late to do anything. The morning threatens the future. In this moment, I’m filled with the last few days. They don’t want to go away. 

... 

In order to stand up to an unjust government, you have to first be sanctioned by that unjust government to do so. I am disappointed in so many things. 

Jan 23rd, noon 

It seems like I am always in the middle of a lie because my survival depends on it. I lie to bosses and funders; I lie to cops and owners. I lie to gain space in which to recover. It exposes something about my vulnerability, not my moral character. To access resources, I have to lie about time and space. 

Jan 24th, noon 

Jason said something to me about the difficulties of distinguishing guilt from love. I knew what he meant. 

Jan 25th, noon 

Kid is seven today. Every interaction the young one has begins with the announcement of the special day. When the birthday proclamation is ignored I feel deeply uncomfortable, when it furthers the interaction I am filled with pride. I want today to be a day of fulfillment--where objects pass the imagination and food fills the belly.

 

However the news keeps coming, reminding us that power wants to poison us and then make an antidote available if we can meet certain requirements. News of offended power eaters and the resurgence of killer black snakes taking over the west, news of brittle whites lashing out when asked to take some responsibility or accountability, news that makes us unsafe fills all sources now. But today aches to be full of love and support. Maybe we can switch the breakers for a few hours. 

Jan 26th, 10:00pm 

Yesterday an unknown package came to our post office box. The only names were ours. No sender was revealed on the outside. Inside the brown paper was a book we do not know, by an author we do not know. It seems to be a novel about a revolutionary. There was a note, no name written, it said “I appreciate the way your minds work. Keep it up.” The note started a warmth that spread in my body for a few minutes. It was the same warm tingle I felt as a child when I shared with someone I loved.

Jan 27th, 11:00pm

Prison is inevitable. Cops have fans. People think fascists and communists are the same. The president is an actual landlord. Comedians and liberals can’t think of anything better to attack than physical attributes. And how is it that all of the blood and flying bullets get blamed on those operating in self-defense. I know abstractions are tricky and work wonders to obfuscate reality, but obviously there are always power differentials. The hierarchy is there, not naturally, but materially. Racialization, gender binaries and class striations justify the hierarchy. It’s news when an anonymous guy punches a celebrity-racist, but not news when a cop punches almost anyone. I had to explain why black lives matter again. My friend cried because I told him that I love him today. 

 

Jan 28th 

We saw three bald eagles today. 

 

Jan 29th 

I wanted to go outside and fuck but things are too busy. The available times, while titillating, are the paid time reserved for more modern pursuits. Other gaps in our schedules are often times of impenetrable emotional reverberations. It takes a lot of emotional labor to deal with humans, more so when they are proletarianized. 

Jan 30th 

All this probing for politically pertinent artworks, texts, and signs is like a taffy pull in our grey matter, not that sweet though. We are all trying so hard to militantly save one another from immiseration. How are we supposed to fortify for striking, stopping and eventually redistributing. If we aren't fighting for redistribution then some of us are in the wrong room. 

Feb 2nd 

When they say you must consider all sides of an argument, they're making sure that the bully gets represented. 

Feb 3rd 

The nihilist. The conservative. 

It’s not a humor mill. 

Feb 4th 

Welcome to the the party ☭. 

We have t-shirts to spare. 

Some of us are always out in the streets. 

More or less ready, more & more though. 

Slowly some of us are stocking food, stacking wood. 

Memorizing routes of assistance. 

Clever ones are articulating possible ways through. 

When the cars aren't going past, there is the sound of the creek. 

Feb 5th 

Reproduction takes up most of the day. Invisible, impossible, intimate. 

 

Feb 6th 

The state owes us drugs and should supply them. 

Bosses owe us food and supplies. 

Landlords owe us housing. 

Corporations owe us luxury and nice things. 

The rich owe us everything. 

We don’t need them. 

I’m having trouble analyzing the nihilism that seems to be everywhere in political discourse right now.

 

Feb 7th 

I wish we could learn our lessons about parliamentary debate. Reflexively, the structure respects ideology not materiality. Reactionaries will always come out ahead in any liberal republic. The architecture of government is designed to project an authoritarian structure into the future, to maintain the relations of oppression, private property, racialization, and patriarchy. The state actively instigates the musings of genocidal rich kids in the name of balanced argument. As we struggle to reform the state, we are also actively maintaining a structure that has violently created space for a voice of oppression. Even our struggle that sidesteps the official political realm can be contained

within the commodity form, using strategies developed through spectacle elaboration. Which leaves the clandestine, the criminal. We obviously need all types of strategies when fighting the coming of this continuing future, but if the ultimate goal is the redistribution of resources, which I believe it is does this mean that theft has to be an explicit strategy of all agents of social and economic change? At the very least we can attempt to destroy the link between criminality and moral failing and stop talking about free speech. 

 

Feb 11th 

More cops copping. More bullets, more public relations. 

More liberals calling for patience. 

Feb 12th

How often are we reacting to what is actually in front of us, and how often are we responding to the continuities between past trauma and present moment? Ask this question a million times a day. 

Feb 13th 

As I understand it, the general strike is a necessary component for material change in society. We cannot change the way things are produced and distributed without first making the current method of production impossible. I support full stoppage. I am not sure I believe the conditions are present for this type of movement. I also didn't believe nihilistic conservatism had as much draw as it does, so my analysis isn't super banging. When talking about something as large as a general strike there needs to be support mechanisms to protect the most vulnerable. There will be repercussions (strikes don’t change minds, they strengthen resolve), and they will fall heaviest on marginalized communities. Some of us can survive scraping food and sleeping rough, but to others it means death. 

The fight against fascism is here. Liberals are going to have to chose a side. Partisanship is self defense. Will liberal ideologists embrace their reactionary authoritarian side or will they come around and communize? I am watching both. 

... 

Glasses are magic. Seeing anonymous blobs become sharp, personified lines in a millisecond makes for a profound shift of worldview. I wish it wasn’t such an individualized vision. I wish we could hold a gigantic glass up and see a speculative world where we were all our vibrating amoebic parts, resonating with each other in autonomous, redistributed glory. If only we could see what it would be like. Fiction is supposed to help, like Star Trek. But the writing isn’t that good in these future worlds and while my imagination is stoked, my poetic elbow isn’t scratched. 

Today, I was thinking about how white supremacists and fundamentalist christians tend to choose literalism over metaphor, and I wonder what drives that impulse? Is it a desire for singularity rather than a multiplicity of meaning. Is this question stupid? Literalism rhymes with liberalism. Which would you rather? Neither. 

Feb 14th 

Dear love, 

We should all be letters. Perpetual professing people. Our arrangement pliable with room for slippage. I may be dragging obstructions that cause great pain but I’m also beginning to notice their points of contact so maybe we can build some shielding, together. I can see that perceived infringements of my autonomy transport me to my actual times of confinement. I can see why positive affects and complements cause me anxiety. These were the affects and rhetorical devices that worked to justify and mitigate abusive practices used to normalize me. The fact that sex always has a non-reciprocating tinge to it has more to do with my first sexual experiences being exertions of power and dispossession rather than expressions of bodies. When a sweet young doctor with a warm Indian accent actually put his hand on me to tell me that there were now little colonizers

floating around in my blood extracting resources and building settlements, time itself sped up, producing in me an impatience I can’t even comprehend. 

Dear love, 

I will be a Ba and you can be a Ka, like in the years of rice and salt, because teaching letter names leads children astray. Sound comes before the letters are shaped and written down to picture ideas for future eyes and mouths perpetually cycling through history. Our arrangement is variable with room for contingency. I am noticing my tendency to think there is all the time in the world, so that what we don’t do today, we can do tomorrow or next week or later when we’re other people. I can see how that is a terrible answer to impatience. I can see how beautiful the cedar boughs are today drying in the wind and how wrong it feels to describe such a meaningless moment of visual pleasure in the face of hurt and instability. The fact that such an experience seems unpegged, without purpose, and outside of need binds it to the superfluous and produces guilt. It’s been a long time since my worry about housing insecurity, money, and mental health hasn’t been there to make beauty seem far down on the list of necessities. 

When I was young I wanted to be old, respected, well-rounded and traveled, but I never wanted to do the rounding or traveling. I just wanted it in my retrospective--wanted accomplishments without accomplishing anything. Who will go out and fix things, while I knit socks to keep our feet warm, because tomorrow it will start raining again. How can my orientation towards my own needs and pleasure also be a way of loving and a way of working in the world? 

… 

Here is a poem for the radio on Valentines Day: 

Glen Greenwald is shrieking. 

The peacekeeping toothless 

will use force 

February 15th 

Banal baking days in Medieval France were days of common bread for quiet celebration, “where life wasn’t owed to the powers that be.” I told this to my students, and we had a day of common bread in class. Loaves kept appearing and the butter and salt and oil left smears on our papers as, we talked about ideas. 

 

After they all left, I lay my head on the table in the dim classroom. I remember this action as the punishment of my childhood. ‘Putting your head down’ was what the first and second and third grade teachers imposed on those who didn’t clean up their messes, or spoke rudely, or disrupted the class. It was forced horizontality, not showing your face, non-recognition, the mildest social death. I remember not being able to quite articulate the difference between right and wrong, but still I only had to put my head down once in 5 years of school. 

I knew something was a little wrong when a boy showed me his penis in the middle of a second grade reading lesson and later would whisper S-E-X in girls’ ears on the playground. He also used to tie bits of string to his papers and walk them up and down the rows of desks pretending they were his little dogs. He was forced to put his head down a lot.  I am still thinking about guilt. 

Feb 16th 

Driving the kid around the wipers are screeching. We sing about noodles. It’s not a waste of time. 

... 

Today I thought about scale. How if I am not working small, nothing big will change. It’s easy to always find myself guilty, to always see my own contributions as mitigations that make the broken system keep limping along. But, S says it matters that I am teaching my son to run when he’s frustrated. It matters how we ask each other questions. It matters that I didn’t check the man who advanced and called me sweetheart on the street like he owned my image. It matters that I didn’t ask the drunk man on the bus to leave me alone, even after the description of his loneliness had looped five times, and he’d told me he’d pay me for me time if I’d just come over to his apartment. 

Working through past hurt is something you do in relation--when the pain is present--called up by some subtlety like the orientation of a question or the quiet violence of someone abusing their rank. To speak for the hurt and fear when they come up, to address oppressions as they occur (even if they move sideway between those who fight with you), feels too hard some days, but that’s where it probably counts: on Thursdays when it’s raining. 

… 

The news is loving this. The victim valiant news filling up our inboxes mailboxes armpits and livers with the outrage and bafflement and more of the same. They are broadcasting the unthinkable so that it becomes widely thinkable and it’s a good game. Riots also make new things thinkable. The New York Times has added 41,000 subscriptions since the election.

Feb 18th 

“I can spell abstinence in alien” the seven-year-old said. 

Feb 21st 

The intensity of police-instigated-violence has dramatically increased since this last election. What was formerly an integral part of the protester dance is now justification for police violence. I try to remind myself that the visibility of state violence ebbs and flows and that our time is not unique in its reactionary approach to dissent, but the sight of it now is still alarming. I wonder if children growing up now will have an easier time understanding the police as racist and violence without having to wade through a lot of confusing ideology, the contradictions are so bare now. Cops have drawn lines that they are now retracing. This means kids are losing their future so that old people can feel better about their past. Whiteness is killing everything so it doesn't have to face itself. Water protectors are feeling the pressure. Black people asking for recognition are being destroyed so liberalism can tell itself that everyone has a chance. It’s all bullshit and I have no money to prove it. Without a telos of abolition and a functional hostility toward police and vigilantes for whiteness, we have no possible way of exiting our current holding pattern. 

February 23rd 

I sat parallel to the man on the bus with the blond mustache, glasses, blue eyes, big coat. It was a mistake. His angry voice elbowed me in the ear as he yelled into his phone. We all gathered traces of hate and trauma in his conversation; he flung them around towards everyone. “You should just shoot them, that way they can’t make a complaint against you…” he said, as he explained strategies of checkpoint, assault, and control. “I’ve probably damaged some kidneys, broken a few wrists.” The cruel volume of his speech came from a different world growing up right next to mine. I wanted him out. 

Later, I didn’t sit down at the stop. I had been sitting all day. I listened into the stress of the students around me. The girl was listening to the boy who had too many papers to write. She remarked that she’d been staying up later than usual because most of her friends are Muslim and she has been making sure to walk everyone home. He continued to complain. She told him as she left “you got this.” Her poise stunned me, she didn’t give anything up. 

Feb 24th 

My car broke in some town in Pennsylvania. Those relentless hills proved too much for the overpacked wagon. Clutches have a finite number of depressions; who counts them? The gas station attendant found my predicament quite amusing. It was not gently explained that I would be waiting a least a week to even talk to a mechanic. Hunting season opened that very day. 

Feb 27th 

No news today simply vomit coming out. Three bodies and three bowls. 

Feb 28th 

Early evening.

There was a kid, 12 or 13 or 14 or 15. He was laying on the road, a highway. Five lanes, two in each direction, one for suicidal turns. The kid had blood on their face. Firemen were buzzing as an ambulance worked through peepers. An older woman was deriding the kid’s choice of where to cross, she was white. We are together right now. We have scheduled time. We hold hands, imagining our own child's chances, because this is real. We live here, this is the roadway that connects us. A kid we caused will learn to walk alone on this street. Streets, cars, traffic, wrecks remind us that the humanist project is absolutely a failure. Cars with small alterations make pleasant planting beds, imagine. Growing treats and beauty. The kid didn't die. We know that much. Will there be trauma support for him? Read an article recently about a condition beyond post-traumatic stress syndrome; it’s called human devastation syndrome. A subjectivity created for kids. It’s ok to cry. 

March 1st 

Let’s not talk jobs. I found amazing music. 

March 2nd 

I have a hard time with bosses. I have a hard time looking at the history of labor organizing without a certain nostalgia for a time when unions weren’t the corporate bureaucracies they are today. I have to spend my week sorting out which of my efforts are going to help my co-workers and which are actually going to help the bosses avoid trouble. And there is also the elegant way that James Baldwin speaks about how “Labor unions along with the bosses created the Negro as a kind of threat to the white worker.” My position has also been used for collusion and collaboration. And, most of the candidates for management’s new labor relations position assert their union experience as an asset to their application. It’s too easy to switch sides. 

Right now, though, I am at the movies. And, I am on the side of the narrator, because that’s the kind of viewer I often am, and because this narrator is right.

March 4th 

“So much has been happened lately” 

“Yeah, what do you mean?” 

“Moving, getting sick, the election, Aidan had surgery…” 

“Yeah it’s a lot. (A state of emergency that is also everyday.)” 

March 5th 

I am re-reading writing. Everything proceeds so sad and slow and passive and angry. Grief...anger...despair like being a captive viewer of Dancer in the Dark and not being able to turn it off, leave the room etc. etc. . Fragmented descriptions of how things are/feel. Let’s try something else. Demonstrate what we are actually doing, on a systematic level, sure (we are a part of a thing), but also on a specific and daily level: on a “what color is the sky today” and “who are you having breakfast with” level on a “why do you still not have your coat on? level”? It’s all terrible and yet there are exciting little projects, and funny expressions, and delicious food, and people supporting each other and conversations about things that matter and things that don’t but feel smiley and small. 

We are making cookies and listening to Smog--the seven-year-old, the dog, the dad, the mom and me: 

I listen to the kid riffing on the lyrics over his lego sphere: 

“The type of memories that turn your bones to glass” 

The type of memories that turn your bones to microscopic ice cream.

The type of memories that turn your bones to seltzer. 

The type of memories that turn your bones to teeth. 

Did you say quiche? The type of memories that turn your bones to quiche? 

No teeth. 

And later... 

“I can be your own personal washing machine...for cookie batter...germ free.” 

March 7th 

Everyday the news. I feel it accumulate in injurious piles all over my house, broadcasts of more intolerance piled on already bruised and scraped bodies. My mother remarked today that she should’ve given up the news for lent. I slightly disagree. The glow of her worry keeps her comfort in check, maybe in a good way. I’m trying to remember bodies. That right now my legs are crossed against the cold, but that I am in a safe place. I have eaten. The state sees me here as a legitimate subject with a right to live. It’s because I am a worker, because I pay, because I am white, because I haven’t been forced or inclined to migrate as so many have before me. My body knows that I prefer the presence of clouds, and that I can’t live in a place where the sky is too big. It knows the way grief feels a particular way in the throat. It’s so easy to forget ourselves as bodied, attached as we are to subject positions and profiles. 

The new news is not sung. Deliveries are droned. We punctuate with patterned nausea. As the other writer says, everyday the news is like a punch in the stomach. Everyone is asking for a break and not just from the hostility of twitter or the “war and death report” but from the economic stress that so many can claim as their victimization. But, there are ways of denying the body-ness of being that are racist and preserve the conditions of inequality and exclusion that characterize the continued development of western ideology. Identifying people by their abstract subject position, means that we lose the specificity and difference of our feelings and shapes. It means we lose hold of an understanding of the complex amalgams we are as our bodies, banging against the realities of our social world over and over again as we live. When we read immigration policy, when we hear Washington DC talk about unifying the country and bringing jobs back, we don’t hear the sound of Fatima, the 13-year-old in California, who watched, sobbing, from the back of the car as her father’s body was stolen by ICE agents. If only we had a way of keeping the sound of that feeling unbearably present in every situation of dispossession. We’d be crushed and for the better.

And, in another way the unification of bodily response: the expectation that since we are all human we should feel the same range of things, that could produce empathy if used right, but more often than not the expectation is a myth, forcefully applied. Society tells us we should like certain things; supposedly golf is fun, and drinking alcohol, and laser tag, sex, christmas, and cruises. But fun smells 

different to every body. Finding the most gentle way to hold other peoples’ tenderness as well as our own is what we should be striving towards. 

March 8th 

Notebooks keep getting piled and buried, disappearing. Files being created, more memory. Producing the most precarious cairns, mixing personal and social contradictions. Everyone is Goldsworthy. Everyone is a shepherd. Almost everyone knows someone that died. I hear the calls for no Goldsworthy's, no shepherds and deadness for everyone. They sound so dramatic. 

Sometimes I can see how it will be. The infectious stuttering shrieking of uncontrollable laughter. Small arms swinging objects and assembling monstrous disasters. There is a willingness to start again. Most of us will have lost our fear of being seen and try to hammer our own nails and combine our own ingredients. 

March 9th 

In a group of injured people, one suggested that masculinity is a mechanism to prevent shame. I wanted them to extend this to whiteness. Not that I believe this particular psychological logic functions in the way suggested, but I was encouraged that they were entertaining a theory that points to the construction of masculinity and away from organic theories. A thought bloom prevented me from articulating. This is not an uncommon experience. What is uncommon is being able to remind myself that now is not the only time to say something. 

March 11th 

How does one get to know the feeling of solidity while ridding oneself of stasis. That the world will look much like it has always looked is both the point and the terror. What if distinctions between self care and self destruction don’t present or present as the same act? Are there ever situations not weighted by interpretations of similar past configurations? We need feeling anchors. In the way that we can’t resist the actual tasting of a spoonful of flan and in that we are anchored to the sensual moment. Under which rock can consistency that holds up when abstractions organizing reality into

comprehensible structures breaks down be found? Some folks have an easy time of moving feelings around making room for multiple narratives 

March 10th 

Silly Fridays with all of their expectations. 

March 11th 

Dear Ivy 

I’m coming to tear you up. 

March 13th 

The weather will do its work. Milk will spoil if not drunk. The dog’s face is grey now and will never be black again. Weekly the kitchen sink needs to be unclogged. Mud clots and pine needles are swept twice daily. People are being jailed because they are desperate for work. But still I find myself thinking about the the sound of a baby crying to be comforted. 

March 14th 

I don’t think I lost anything today. 

March 15th 

If I could be the age of all my family combined, I would. If I could be the meal at the banquet, I would. If I could be the placenta, mediating baby and mother, I would. If I could be whiskers feeling in the dark, I would. If I could turn a beer can into an explosion, I would. If I could be the billboard, I would. If I could be temptation, I would. If I could spell, I would spell out ‘what can a body do’. 

March 17th 

Finding the expansiveness in anything but negation has been a tough perspective for me to acquire. Sanctuary and charity operate on a similar plane. Both concepts refuse to address the cause of anything. People need sanctuary because they have no autonomy to create their own lives. People need charity because social organization has outlawed autonomous reproduction. It’s hard to support care work that only asks us to maintain the status quo. The city is not liberatory because it won’t inform ICE of the presence of migrant workers. If it was, it would be using its tools of violence to push ICE out of town. I saw a tweet once that said - When your local police department says "We won't be working w/ trump on deportations" it means ‘We will stand by while the Feds do it’”. Fuck feeling good about allowing this shitty social structure to florish through concentrating on mitigating the most privileged feelings. 

March 20th 

Liberals love their irony. 

March 21st 

My hands are full of thorns too small and broken to remove. I could soak them, but I won’t.

March 24th

She had a poem with her. A couple pages worth of words about ten years of love. She’s not reading it, and I’m not asking her to. I hope it is multivocal and contains jarring perspective shifts. The poem is handwritten with neat but illegible script. It looks to all be in the same handwriting. I’ve tried writing poems. At one time I wrote song lyrics. My brother liked them. For a few months, I was writing press releases for an art gallery, and it wasn’t appreciated when poetic sentences hit the screen. The job did not work out. How do you make something desirable when it includes nothing desirable? I can write poems about bodies and communism. 

March 25th 

The future is looking brown. I was hoping it would be red. Sure from the dripping blood of the bourgeois, but mostly the hue of communism. 

March 26th 

Tiny stinging cuts have accumulated on my hands. Noticeable everytime I pick something up or move something. I have an intense desire to help a small patch of forest fight against ivy and strangle weed. The desire is so strong I often skip the step of going inside the house and finding a pair of gloves to protect my hands. 

March 27th 

Excited exclamations. So performative and authentic. These young humans repeatedly impressed by one another are not afraid to vocalize their feelings. The construction of narratives is the hardware to construct a base and satellite camps. The terrain shifts so dramatically without any conflict. Giggles and heightened adjectives. Plastic pings on wood boards. Stifled coughs having their own conversation. 

March 28th 

The terrain is shifty. Luckily I have fairly reliable and responsive knees. I have always been capable in my body. Knowing instinctively how to place my feet and knowing what speed to maintain for maximum use of my limbs. Social ability I've found much less natural. Where to place words or hugs is not at all obvious. Determining the speed at which to approach a feeling is all guess work and often ends in a worse place than it began. 

March 30th,

Statement about the manipulation of history: “Please note that market fluctuations may cause the price of memory to change at anytime.” 

March 31 

Old men are fond of posing the question of whether we would rather be locked out or locked in. The pleased smile always accompanying such proposed conundrums has us thinking of dentists and the unequal access to them. Their locking question has come true because of locking up and capitalism's way of ultimately allowing or not allowing access. 

April 1st 

Today will not happen and will have never happened. 

April 2nd 

My brother’s protection of me is why I still have the ability to love. 

 

April 3rd 

But everything is just April fool’s day anyway. 

 

April 4th 

The pile of ripped ivy is now bigger than the car parked next to it. The lattice of roots are complex, shooting in every direction, the tendrils hiding the larger, deeper tendrils pumping resources. Ivy smothers and sucks, killing almost everything in its path. The destruction caused by all this ripping and tearing seems intense. I killed a salamander with my shovel trying to rid the earth of a particularly knotty and deep root. The shiny black body had been crushed, it was probably painful. I stopped working for a bit and thought about life in these woods. I reminded myself that if these woods could again someday support the life they did before genocidal imports, I must first actually remove the ivy from the land by a systematic eviction by force. This struggle of removal will not end for me. For that everyone would need to pull their ivy together. It will always creep back, sending emissaries through the loose topsoil in an attempt to exploit other life of its resources. This is also metaphoric: Ivy is capitalism and I am utopian communism. 

April 5th

Different bodies with different brains that have survived the same catastrophe. Each body makes it’s own way through, building scaffolding, stacking, and suturing.

April 8th 

I’d like to measure my hair against yours. 

Color, length, body, sheen, all of these things. 

It’s always the gait I see first, recognition. 

The filling is the nerves. 

Gifts say look in my direction, but slightly away at something nice. 

Remember me for my thoughtfulness. 

April 10th 

Revenge is self care too. 

April 15th 

It took most of the working day, but I readied a plot for cultivating marijuana, next to two vegetable plots. I can’t find the anti-colonial metaphor as I have with pulling ivy. I feel only privilege, discrepancy. 

April 16th 

Another candy holiday has arrived. This one having bunnies lay chocolate eggs or plastic eggs filled with chocolate. There were all sorts of jokes about zombie gods on the internet this morning. A seven year old desperate to share his euphoria repeatedly offered me bites of cadbury eggs. His frantic joy is palpable. The wonder of hidden sweet treats and games fuels our laughter. 

April 17th 

We keep paying to be alive. 

April 18th 

Every so often someone with a little digitized wand magically looks inside my body to see how much scarring has replaced my liver. All this so they can tell me, yes, I am chronically ill but, no, they will not treat me. There are certain ‘acceptable’ uses for resources. My body and my person are not within that subgroup. I sit in a medical chamber unsure of my proper positioning. I follow orders I see no point in. I am out of my hands. Medical personnel have reminded me repeatedly that I don’t know enough and wouldn't understand the complicated science behind their practices. I have on more than one occasion tried to assert my perspective, and I was locked up for months. Where are we,

when to maintain long-term emotional health we must sacrifice or short term emotional well being. This whole best of the worst ideology has really fucked us long-term. How are we to feel empowered when the professional realm works harder on policing the borders of their ‘field’ then empowering people to feel a part of their position to society.

 

April 19th 

There are forests out there growing. There are some remnants of the forest that stood where my house stands now. I’ve seen three snakes here so far. I keep hearing that there are beavers around, I haven't seen any. I imagine that if we can get enough of the forest restored, creatures will have enough room to prepare for an assault on humanity. 

 

April 20th 

Weed jokes everywhere. DEALS DEALS DEALS. White weed waiting to be wanted. Acronyms replace words just like the aryan nation for witty fun time. All sales final. Free branded merch, yeah! We’re not criminals they are. Compassionate for compensation. 

... 

At the University organized diversity training there really were deep breaths and compulsory affirmations and a colorful wand with bells that was shaken to pause our group conversation. I try to get past it all. The diminutive, white man from the black studies department talks about genocide and conspiracy theories, later Sara likened his presence Mr. Van Driessen the teacher in Beavis and Butthead--the one who is extremely accepting and affirmative. I lean back and kinda like how he explains the tension between freedom of speech and being in a place of learning. He tells his students: 

I say things I don’t want and then don’t say things I should. The room looks at me, everyone feels like a professional, and I have bad memories of this room. 

I don’t understand these self-selecting, incentive-based workshops as a way to equity at the University. We read anonymous responses from students who share that they have been ignored by the curriculum, made to feel unsafe by instructors, pathologized for being who they are. I understand that the folks who really are harming students with thoughtless content or othering behavior in the classroom are probably not the ones coming to learn something today. I see mostly white women. Many adjunct faculty. So many online instructors. 

April 21st 

The patriarchy is getting a 25 million payout. A bribe to promise not to rape again. Only it’s a deal for the public. Bosses don’t care when things are quiet. Let it stay quiet. Quiet means money keeps coming. Quiet means... 

I am looking at a stack of posters that read ‘this dream is not cooperating’. Printed for an exhibition that has been canceled. 500 copies. 

April 22nd

There are periodic reminders to store 2-3 weeks worth of food and water in case of an emergency. I have been getting extra cans of food and storing them, pretending they don't exist. I got a free candle to add to the mix today. It is scented but I don’t think I will mind in an emergency. There is also some rice waiting for the emergency. There isn't any water stocks. 

April 23rd 

If I knew how to make money would I be liked more? If I knew how to walk away would I fight less? 

April 24th 

There are days when the internal contradictions of the work that I’m doing open up under my feet like yawning caverns. How do I hold out for solidarity in a system of individual rewards. How do I hold the desire for post-work realities and the demand for less work, while advocating for and with the un/underemployed? 

April 25th 

I am on hold with the dentist office forever. What do I want to write about? The thing about literacy being a tool of domination, or the thing about how the algorithmic understanding of survival in Minecraft suggests wilderness as a program? 

When things are hard and a certain task poses too much of a struggle, the video-game deprived seven-year-old says that he wishes he could “get some pixelated TNT, burn it down, roast marshmallows over the fire and then find a tablet and just play Minecraft.” But, I say, you’d need a crafting table first. 

April 29th 

I wear loneliness like a balaclava. 

... 

I wear sleep like a life-jacket.

Anna Gray +
Ryan Wilson Paulsen