27 February 2021

0 ya'll

someone unmuted themselves to laugh out loud in my class on tuesday. true story. 

this may have been the proudest moment of my pandemic teaching career. 



18 February 2021

0 truly, this has been, without a doubt, the strangest 32 day period of my life

on the night of january 16th, i was raped on a date.

on the afternoon of february 14th, my offer on an apartment was accepted. 

on the morning of february 17th, i got shot 1. 


03 February 2021

0 your silence will not protect you

the thing that is so wild about the brain is how hard it works to protect you in ways that can ultimately so badly fuck you up. 

when i was raped in college, i had no framework for identifying what had happened. because it wasn't like in a movie. i knew him. we'd been dating for several months by then. it wasn't intercourse. there was no physical violence. we were at his mother's house, on the lower bunk in his nephew's bedroom. i had pushed him away, gently. he knew i was waiting until marriage to have sex. i did not say no. i did not scream. it was all very, very quiet, frightfully quiet. 

he was my boyfriend. i was 19. and i went on to stay with him for two more years. 

only in the last three years, the last year in particular (the testimonies women have given about harvey weinstein have been particularly helpful), have i come to see how violence pervaded the whole relationship and how deeply afraid i-- and even the men around him-- was of this man at the time. 

in october 2017, when we all started taking these things more seriously and expanding our definitions, when i told the man i was dating then that my first sexual experience had involved unwanted sex (that's what i was calling it then. sexual assault i would call it as recently as three days ago. right here, right now is, in fact, the first time i have ever felt comfortable calling it what it was), that man i was dating then first clarified that the experience i was referring to wasn't one i'd had with him. (if ever there was a red flag, that was one.)

he then asked if i had been naked. like that was the most relevant detail.

i told him i had been. 

i did not think i was lying. i truly thought i had. 

it wasn't until i was raped on a date two and a half weeks ago, that i realized i was wrong.

the man i was on a third date with asked if he could pull off my tights and i said yes. i distinctly remember my own shock when he pulled my underwear off too. i had not expected nor wanted nor thought i would be nor agreed to being naked. 

a third date; the first date where, after extensive discussion, a full debrief on our recent activities, multiple phone conversations and two previous dates freezing our asses off outdoors, we rolled the dice, took off our masks, and went Inside together. 

i had already, verbally, seconds/minutes/hours/? before, made explicitly clear that i did not want to have sex that night. 

again. it wasn't intercourse. there was no physical violence. it was all very quiet, almost normal, the violence was breathtakingly muted and banal. 

but that one moment within the broader events of the evening-- most accurately characterized as date rape-- haunted me for two full weeks, the image of my tights and underwear coming off. it ran through my brain like a movie, until a therapy session yesterday moved it into the past, so it went to being more distant, still, like a painting. 

my memories of that night twenty years ago, in late february 2001 are extremely fragmented and fuzzy. the years of coercive control and sexual violence that followed with that man seem to have erased the tape of that first foray.   

we were in his mother's house, on a lower bunk bed in his nephew's room. all i remember is the darkness but i realize now i would not have been naked then, in that context. i realize now, after having this other man remove my underwear against my wishes, i know i would have, at the very least, spent some amount of time preventing my college boyfriend from pulling my pants down. 

no alcohol or drugs were involved in either of these events. not that that matters. consent is consent. my point is that, even sober, the brain tries to protect you but sometimes it does you no favors. 

the need to remain polite, to support the fragile male ego, to not make a scene, to not escalate, these impulses, they are not great. they ofttimes keep you alive, but they also fucked you up. likewise the compulsion to take back control by whatever means necessary once it has been taken from you. doing whatever one can to make what just happened feel as though it were, in fact, what one wanted, laying a veil of consent over the whole endeavor where consent did not, actually, exist.

after i was raped two saturdays ago, i was struck by the reality that one does not typically feel the need to bang on about how consensual the sex was if it were in fact.  

threatened, the brain-- conditioned by a whole world constructed to accommodate men-- does its damnedest to convince you you're ok with this, it wasn't what you thought it was, and none of the available words apply. 

icky is where i initially landed in the text i later sent him, in my effort to hold him accountable. a text in which i reassured him not once but twice that everything that had happened between us was absolutely consensual. i said this not because it was accurate but because it was a rhetorical move that felt necessary to my being heard by him, the language required to be taken seriously. i felt i had to downplay the severity of what had occurred, to deny it even, in order to hold him to account. in the hopes that he would never do the same thing to someone else. 

icky. and, while i was not wrong, it sorely undersold the matter. 

i feel icky that icky was the best i could do. 

this post is a mess and i have no ending. and there's a lot of shame attached to it. unique to this moment is the question of WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING TRYING TO DATE IN A PANDEMIC?!?! 

yes, i did do that. as safely as i could. and yes, this did happen. and yes, those circumstances are actually unrelated. 

i keep pointing out that hopefully the communication demanded of this moment in regards to health safety will make us better at communicating consent. seems we now have compelling evidence: no, it won't. 

every sermon i've heard at my church since this happened has been on the matter of truth. 

last sunday, as i paged through a copy of audre lorde's your silence will not protect you looking for a passage that had popped to mind to write about for a fellowship application due later that day, rev. gayle looked out of the screen on facebook and said, "it's as the poet audre lorde says... your silence will not protect you."

i teach her in all my classes. i'm teaching her again next week. this is the clip i show, which i've now heard at least twenty times, so that when i read this passage or hear it quoted, in my head, it always plays in her voice. 

this is a post without an ending, so i'll just give you this:

22 January 2021

0 truly, they do not know my life

 


for real. 

have the people producing the curriculum for these courses and fellowships on online teaching ever taught online? are they online right now? is teaching this online course on online teaching the extent of their online teaching experience? is that why all the articles about online teaching in this online teaching course are from 2019? 

because YO. UPDATE YOUR SYLLABUS. THE TIMES, THEY HAVE CHANGED!!!!! THE TIMES, THEY ARE DREADFUL!!!!! 

this is not breaking news! this is like year old news at least. 

i update my syllabus approximately every freaking day. c'mon. 

every class makes one or a number of arguments. these classes make the argument that "we here at [institution X] care so little for your time and your success as a teacher in a crisis attempting to support 100 students from your bedroom four days a week that we're not even going to go through the motions of making this class applicable to the reality of your life." 

people, that is unkind. 

people, i have no patience for unkindness. and carelessness. no patience at all. tbh, i have no patience for much of anything right now. 

i cried today. over annoying, medium-sized beans nonsense that unkindly triggered a parade of past horrors, which was real fun times. 

but the cry was good and necessary. maybe not adequate to meet the needs of the moment and the approximately 19 MAJOR THINGS that have happened in the last three weeks, each of which warranted a proper cry, but it was something-- if not entirely a start. 

burvil is scheduled to get her vaccine today. there were two positives in her facility last week. 

this month has felt like 4,000 years. 

time moves so slowly and yet it's all over so fast. things cannot happen fast enough and then they're over and it feels like they never happened. 

howard started this week. already, it feels like the third week of school. 

there was a tweet that said it's as though we've spent the last four years with the music at high volume and now the music's off but we still hear phantom notes in our heads. 

it is simultaneously so loud and terribly, frighteningly quiet, like just after a snow. 

four times yesterday, i talked with a group of 18 and 19 year olds about the inauguration, anger, and michelle obama. again and again and again and again, each group slightly different, each discussion arriving at different ends. four versions of the same show, each shifting slightly to accommodate the changing audience. 

in the latter half of the last class, claude crawled into my lap and looked at me with WHY O WHY eyes then laid down his head and put his polkadotted paws over his ears.

four years. longer than it took to do my phd. 

four years, three cities, at least ten different homes. an unstable period in more ways than one. 

this was january 2017. my 2017 emphasis on The Peaceful Transition of Power has aged especially well. thank god though, garebear and burvil have both lived to see the end. 

the thing is time is so slow but then things happen so quickly. 

in a two day period last july, multiple jobs-- collectively equating to a livable wage-- fell into my lap. 

the times have changed but they also haven't changed that much. i have now spent the entirety of the trump presidency trying to write an essay about kim kardashian and lost time!! 

wherever you go, there you are

debo's sends me links to op-eds in the new york times that talk about what will happen to our country and don't mention the phrase "white supremacy" once. 

a student makes eye contact with me on her screen and critiques the "uncommented upon nationalistic overtones" of biden's inaugural speech. 

it is the same, but it is flowing forward. the future is coming. 

i've a postcard purchased during a 2017 trip to margate that reads: "MESSAGE FROM THE FUTURE: HAVE FUN NOW." they weren't wrong. 

increasingly though, admittedly, i have no fucking clue how fun looks in 2021. 

for now maybe, it's just a walk with K tomorrow along the mall, seeing the fences come down, the army moving out, and the city putting itself back together, reconstituting itself to bear the awful losses that lay ahead regardless of who's in 1600 penn.

this post has no ending so i'll just leave you here. 

17 January 2021

0 these two sentences are what i have for you:

i went on a date and we had ethiopian, and it was my turn to buy dinner and i gave a $15 tip, which was more than 25% of our bill but also didn't feel like it was that generous, but when we went to pick it up the woman, when she heard my name, she was so visibly and effusively verbally grateful for that $15 in these hard hard times, and, ever since, i cannot block out her face, i cannot stop hearing her voice, as i kissed him i enjoyed it whilst also harboring in my mind that i really would've given more because i knew it mattered but, even though i knew it mattered, i did not know it mattered nearly that much, and if it'd known it mattered that much i would've tipped $50 or maybe even $100 because the world is shit and there are troops in my city and i feel like the only thing we can do in these hard hard times is identify the individuals in our orbit for whom we can do something and to do that very small thing. 

so she felt i did something and i feel like what i did was sorely inadequate, and now i sit here pondering if maybe i can order ethiopian again on the same day of the week in order to figure out who she was because i feel i can't just call the restaurant and ask for her venmo, because even though i don't have a lot of money, i've an unrelenting longing to give. 

13 January 2021

1 i do not know what to tell you

the helicopters are back. 

they were notably absent on the 6th. 

it was weirdly quiet. every time i'd think the sirens were out my window, they were actually on tv. 

all of it was on tv. that was not true in june. 

there was a hearse, right? a black hearse, parked in front of the capitol. i saw it. i noted it to debo on the phone and she saw it and asked what it was and i said that is a hearse and there is a poster on the windshield with nancy pelosi's name

i've not heard anyone mention that. 

did you see it? 

truly, i do not think i made it up. if so, it's a delusion into which i carted debo fully. 

***

there was a time in london, early on, when i was grief-stricken and wounded and those are the times, i find, when it's ok to watch horrific things, to fully let one's self submerge in the horror so you can write about the horror. because you're already there, in the horror, yeah? so why the hell not. 

i was Writing then. i am not Writing now. 

this was really early days. i didn't even have a desk yet, but was using the coffee table that came with the apartment, sitting on the floor in an L shape with my back against the plastic sofa and my feet under the table. 

i wrote assignments #2 and #3 of my phd in this pose. the chunk linking jackie to 9/11, which years later became this article

and watched the entirety of the CBS and NBC coverage of the jfk assassination and the CNN coverage of 9/11 in this position. 

"the fog of war" mcnamara called it. the way the story is told when we are in it is how i apply that same notion. 

we don't know how it's going to end, nor when. the outcome is unclear. we narrate as best we can, but the details slip through and later, weeks on, slowly in a trickle, they come out. and we learn the panic buttons were disabled and congresspeople were giving tours on the 5th. 

i wonder about the hearse though. because you know that took planning, some level of coordination. children are not allowed to sled on these grounds and these guys drive a hearse up to the capitol steps? 

when lindear and i talked the other night, we workshopped worst case scenarios for the coming week, in an effort to neutralize our fears. our scenarios were pretty brutal then. today, they seem rather quaint. 

i would say the situation is evolving. 

***

i went on a date last night. twas a trés trés 2020/1 DC date. 

we walked from my house down past the white house and the mall and over to the korean war memorial and up to the lincoln memorial, all heavily fenced, all surrounded by military. 

it was so dark it felt like 11 o'clock. it was 6 pm. 

the police seemed to be closing roads behind us on the whole walk back up. 

there were more helicopters today. maybe one every hour or 45 minutes. 

there was a proper plane late last night, as i lay in bed reading a book about the splintering of the republican party. a distinctive and inappropriate noice that made me clench my jaw so tight that it was still sore this morning. 

***

i spent late last week so grateful that i wasn't teaching during the putsch. joke's on me! i get to teach next week. TWICE. i have to paint my face and costume myself and explain this to 80 people, aged 17-19, approximately. lord, be with us all. 

***

K and i have been going for four mile walks around the mall on sundays. this coming sunday is cancelled due to the insurrection. 

***

my grocery order came today. i've planned ahead so i can make burgers and homemade pretzels and mulled wine and tofu katsu. 

odds are high i'll be living on cereal. 

***

the helicopters are back. like, casually. circling. surveilling. throughout the day. 

i don't know why that's the thing but it is. 

they're flying high so it's nothing like june. 

nothing has been like last june-- which isn't a consolation but an indictment. 

june was hellish and that hellishness was unwarranted. this, THIS is hell and hell has not been brought to bear. 

they drove a hearse up to the steps of the capitol. 

***

my aunt texts me that i should order printer cartridges because there's going to be a shortage due to people working from home. 

i feel like this was a story that went viral last april. i text back that i'm focusing on food in expectation of a curfew and an inability to leave my house. 

she tells me that there has been violence on both sides and its overblown and she just wishes people would stop being so political. 

my sore jaw clenches. 

***

i'm teaching a class on anger this semester. in constructing the welcome email to tell my kids it's going to be ok and that i'm aware there's a pandemic, i wrote that i hoped the class would help them process their feelings over the last year. 

and then i realized that was not enough. 

lifetime. 

it is a LIFETIME. 

of grief and violence and discrimination and anger. 

pelosi's staff knew to cut the lights, block the door and get under the table. 

that is what we are working with this semester. 

they are 17, 18, 19. this is their first year of college, second semester. this was their first election. this is their first "peaceful transition of power." 

my anger, it is capacious.

***

the helicopters are back. my jaw is clenched. my plants, they are all stationed nearer to the sun. they do no longer try so hard. spring is coming. that man at the end of the street is moving out. the fence is probably gonna be there for a long, long while. the fencing surrounds us, we fling our embellishments upon it. 

***

i do not know what will happen. like you, i do not know where this will end. 

to be clear: i do not think it has ended. 

and that is a fucking terrifying thing to sit with, to write with, teach in, live in, date in, cook dinner in, go to sleep in and awaken to.

not that statehood is a cure or anything, but seriously, for real, c'mon: #DCStatehoodNow.



03 January 2021

0 i wrote a thing

about the fence, that i forgot to plug here

the white nationalists are coming back to town this week, protesting the vote certification on the 6th. if you're looking for ways to support people on the ground in DC, violá

01 January 2021

0 truly, not where i saw the year starting