ON LOVE: I am in limbo. I am roiling about in that very strange place called “betwixt and between.” It is thrilling and giddy making and it smells like freedom. But sometimes, freedom smells like loneliness, and it can be hard to distinguish one from the other. Little things make me unexpectedly anxious, while big things are just, so big, that they can’t fit through the pores of my perception, and so they just sort of roll over me, and I tend to ignore them altogether. Logic says this will catch up with me. But self preservation informs me it’s the survival strategy I need right now. Right now, I just need to live. My heart is still a little broken. It will always be a little broken. Everyone we love, leaves their imprint upon us. We are shaped by the force of these emotional contours . Love is incomprehensible. Sometimes, it’s the end result of circumstance and the passing of time and shared experience and it creeps up on little filamentous threads and binds itself around your heart. Sometimes, though, it’s entirely irrational, a matter of unseen forces and alchemal processes, the work of pheromones that don’t even register as detectable scents. We are aligned with our children, our friends, our lovers by some divine game of pattern matching and we are entirely unaware of this subtle, yet overriding guidance. There is a song that says, “You can be in love with almost anyone.” And after the last few weeks of kamikaze dating, I’d respectfully like to disagree. Love is a kind of magic. Maybe it’s the only kind. I am not particularly religious, but I believe in Love. There is no “invisible hand” in terms of markets and commodities, but I think there may be, when it comes to affairs of the heart. We can flail around like spawning salmon, filling every orifice until we are temporarily sated. But that is something else. That is physicality. That is lust. It can be a component of love, but it lacks the depth and the resonance and the something…the something strange and wonderful that loosens a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to tingle and flush and sacrifice and bond…And here we are, “civilized” humans, thrust forward into a technological age that has fulfilled and rivaled the predictions and visions of science fiction. And we upload photos and we write out dating profiles and we adhere to strange rituals and protocols and click, “send” and click, “send” and click “send”…but for all our bravado, all our advancements we still have no greater understanding or hold on that most elusive of treasures…love. The heart is a mystery. Birth, death, love. These three are still beyond the grasp of our most ambitious calculations. We don’t find love…it finds us. And in between, we wait, and we hope, and we ache, and we thrash, and we desire, and we live. We live. Because of love, or lack of love, or want of love, or deep in love…we live. We stay alive because of biological imperatives…but we Live because of Love.
As the political climate continues to heat up and peaceful protestors the world over are being attacked by police and government forces, I wanted to share some ideas that have been useful to me as a volunteer medic in the West Bank and as a participant and medic at protests, marches, and civil disobedience actions over the last twenty years.
Here are some tips on HOW TO STAY SAFE at PROTESTS and WHAT TO DO WHEN ATTACKED BY POLICE AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
1. BE PREPARED. Understand that police can attack even (and often) when the situation is peaceful.
2. STAY CALM. Your body will be flooded with adrenaline and a fight or flight instinct. If possible, WALK, don’t run. Try to keep your voice and body calm and under control. In this way you can better help those around you and make clear assessments. Remember, if you encounter chemical weapons, it isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. “THIS IS TEMPORARY, AND WE ARE VERY VERY STRONG.”
3.GET SAFE. Protect yourself from further harm. Get as far away from chemical weapons as possible, unless you are remaining behind to help others. Remember that the longer you or your friends or patients are exposed, the higher the physical risks. Get the worst afflicted to a medic, then step back and let them work. If you have been tear gassed or pepper sprayed, remove and dispose of all clothing and put on the clean clothes you keep in a sealed bag with you in your back pack.Contacts can trap chemicals and damage the eyes; wear glasses or remove contacts with clean hands, immediatly. Get to a cold shower as soon as possible, being cautious not to spread contamination to other parts of the body, especially mucous membranes and genital regions. Use baby shampoo or dish soap to help remove residue. (Do not use hot water, as it opens the pores and allows chemicals to penetrate skin more deeply).
4. DOCUMENT. If possible, get photos, video, badge numbers, names. Write down or record the details of your experience as soon as you are able.
5. LEGAL. Look for National Lawyers Guild members, ask for their help. Call the NLG in your area if you are hurt by police or arrested. National (212) 679-5100. Los Angeles-(323)653-4510. EVERY time you head out to a protest, write their number and the numbers of your emergency contact on your leg or arm in black sharpie. Do not assume you will be able to access your phone or contact lists. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions, and you have the right to legal advice.
6. DEBRIEF. It is normal to feel upset, depressed, angry, or anxious. Spend time talking about the situation with trusted friends. If necessary, reach out to the community or professionals for help. We must support each other.
7. BE LOVE. GET LOVE. Being attacked is stressful. Focus on what people did right. Don’t blame yourself or others. On another day, you can look at the situation and see how you can improve, but in the time immediately surrounding an attack, accept that sometimes we will make mistakes and that everyone is doing their best. Be loving and supportive to yourself and others. Our love is what makes us strong.
8. LA LUCHA SIGUE. The fight continues! We are not afraid! Stay safe and I’ll see you in the streets!
I don’t want to be part of an organization. I don’t want to agree on demands, or make reforms, or shake hands with police. I don’t want to be in lockstep with anyone or have my anger reabsorbed into a monolithic political body. I DO, however,want to ride the wave of momentum. I want to get all up in the energy that is moving through this country (this planet?). I think, maybe, it could be incredible.
I want us to question and connect and check privileges, and I also want it to be okay to bumble around a bit and make mistakes and make space for the voices of new activists and families and youth and undocumented folks and people of color and queers and women and dis-abled folks, and also remember that straight white men can be righteously angry, too, and they can also be great allies. Hell, given the climate of the country, at some point, we may be marching side by side with working class red staters.
I just want the real change to happen! I want to see this system DIE. I want us to KICK IT TILL IT BREAKS and replace it with new intimate forms of community. I want us to skill share, to plant things, to create health collectives, and new ways of feeding each other and new forms of economy and exchange. I don’t want utopia. Let’s disagree. Let’s work across unexpected lines. Let’s leave each other if we need to, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water; NOW is the time.
WE are the one’s we’ve been waiting for, not any specific organizing body. No one has and no one should have a monopoly on dissent. Let’s do this organically and fiercely and our way and new ways, but let’s not walk away! Get frustrated, get mad, and then get out there and make it yours. Hope to see you on the streets soon, and in living rooms, and back yards, and coffee houses, and bookstores; let’s decolonize everywhere, make our rage and our love visible, not just on the permitted sidewalks outside city hall, but everywhere we live, work, play, and breathe. Love and Rage,
They think I’m a fraud. Sure, on all the kid’s paperwork, I fill in the space that says “mother” with my full given name, but it’s a mock title, a farce. Mothers keep tiny boxes of first curls, they file their child’s dental records and photocopied alphabet worksheets. Mothers are blond, thin, wear pink velour track suits and devote entire Saturdays to the distribution of orange wedges and Gatorade at soccer matches. Mothers don’t look forward to an evening cocktail and David Lynch burlesque. They don’t say “fuck”. They don’t leave their answering machine full because the daily flood of calls from creditors is too much to bear. Mothers don’t battle with their child on the mile long walk to kindergarten, and then miss the phone call from the school nurse to say, that during lunch, their five-year old passed on his sandwich and sunk his teeth into a classmate instead. Not good mothers, at least…
I had hoped that, maybe, this year would be something different, something fresh, maybe even stable. We are renting a huge house. I like a nice boy. The kid seemed calmer after months in daily intensive therapy. I thought maybe we could redeem ourselves with public school, brown bag lunches, and the PTA. We could decorate the lawn with styrofoam tombstones and hand out exactly the right Halloween candy. Maybe we will be able to blend, pass ourselves off as something normal, or at least something you can ignore. But in one afternoon, the thought becomes laughable. A bite means another round of testing, an IEP, therapists, meetings, phone
calls, and yet more paper work where I have to fill in sections entitled “Responsible Party”.
No, I don’t think any one will be rushing in to nominate us for family of the year. I will always
be the freaky anarchist with the bright, but volatile autistic child. We will never be status quo. But I will go to the school and look his teacher in the eye and we will figure out what happens next. I
may not be anyone’s version of good, but I am mother to my son and between us there is fierce love and a fierce instinct to survive in a way that makes sense to us, regardless of what anybody else believes that we should be.
The soft cotton sheets become a drop cloth for dreaming and fucking, impregnated with the scent our bodies make when they come together. I hold the cloth against my face like a holy relic, inhale deeply, then bundle the sheets in my arms. Tenderly, I carry them to be washed clean. All our sweat and ecstasic emissions rinse free and rush through the pipes below Angel City. They travel beneath the feet of business men, school teachers, and beautiful whores before jumping into the cold Pacific. We join every ocean drop in an orgy of molecular bonding, and then evaporate into the clouds that hang low over Catalina Island. I smile at those thick white clouds and think, look at all the places we make love!