Watching It Happen

Wednesday
Nov 4th, 2020
7:30am

I did not watch the news last night. Instead, I looked at a small robot color in the states once they were called. Borders made by men so thin on this paper.

To scale, the robot hovering from left to right making tiny halted rotations as it colors in blue and red and blue and red looks like the most giant UFO. The visual ASMR of quiet repetitive motion, the patient scrawl, the stillness until there is something known.

I expect the swing states are still sitting blank in front of the robot holding her markers. All these numbers are humans. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

(When is the last time we had a one term president? When is the last time we had a president who did not abuse his power for the sake of power? I told myself I would not be surprised any longer. I did not tell myself I wouldn’t be disappointed.)

Thursday
November 5th, 2020
9:15am

Friday
November 6th, 2020
8:00am
Saturday
November 7th, 2020
7:53am
Sunday
November 8th, 2020
8:00am-ish

Yesterday I taught a 4 year old girl how to do her first forwards roll.

You begin with waking up the body, leading warm-ups where we touch ourselves, feel the warmth of our palms, squeeze the mass of our muscles. I ask, “how does that FEEL?” You stretch, sing songs, get to know the ground. You sneak in some rock and roll’s, asking her to hug her knees to her chest and tip backwards, feeling the spine roll against the ground, falling off your center of gravity, allowing the world to go slightly upside down just for a moment.

Then we practice strength, testing our arms ability to hold our body off the ground even when we lift our feet away. You teach bear walks (grounded yet inverted), monkey jumps (trusting the hands and arms with the weight of the body, but briefly), then donkey kicks (more trust of the upper body, more inversion to upside down.)

You ask her, “would you like to try a forwards roll?” She says “no.” You say “Okay! We don’t have to, let’s try this instead.” You take three steps onto the mat, stretch up high, tuck down low, then with hands and feet firmly on the ground, you lift your hips to the sky, open a window between your knees, peek your head out, and give the flipped world behind you a wave. We practiced that up and down the mat, up and down the mat. You have to see the world from an entirely new perspective and feel that you are safe there. First, we have to take a timid peek out of the window and realize that the frame of our bones and blanket of our muscle still holds us together.

I ask, “would you like to try a forward roll?” She nods. I ask, “is it okay if I touch your back?” She says “yes.” She reaches up high, tucks down low, peeks between the window of her legs. I hold the back of her neck and the back of her thighs and gently press forward. She rocks with my pressure and her spine reaches the mat in front of her. A full 360 rotation forwards to flipped to sitting straight again. She smiles, stands, and runs to hug her mom, soaking up the pride.

Is that a transfer of power? Facilitating the moment of four-year-old girl leaves verticality with awareness, support, choice, strength, and joy? Allowing ourselves to be upside down? Trusting that something new is possible but letting it take its time? Changing our minds and giving each other room to do so? Keeping each other safe?

Later that day, I went to my friends house who had a television with the news on. We watched shots from helicopters flying over every liberal city in the U.S. Crowds in the streets waving flags with rainbow stripes, with words “Black Lives Matter,” with the “Biden Harris 2020” campaign sign. They danced with effigies of Trump and signs that read “You’re fired!”

Lesdi, my friend, said that this is what the photos looked like when Nicaragua overthrew their dictator. I saw an article online about how a country collapses while you think about what you’ll eat for dinner.

My partner was upset by the celebration in the streets yesterday. He said, “they think something has changed, nothing will change, it will just get quieter, are they actually excited for Biden?” I said, “we have to allow people their joy, there is no new era dawning, but can we take a day to celebrate an incremental defeat of a violent and hideous man?”

It’s an ongoing conversation. I don’t disagree with him, I just still wish to believe in the power of hope, of joy a fuel for change rather than only discontent.

Thursday
November 12th, 2020
8:42 AM, Sedona, Arizona

I am staying in an Airbnb outside of Sedona, Arizona with my parents for a week. We are here visiting my sister who is here for a month to work and mountain bike.

We drove Highway 40 East through California into Arizona. 12 hours of long straight roads through plateau and desert. Any time we reached a town, we saw a billboard advertising rest stops to truckers and we saw Trump flags.

I always wonder how people handle groceries when they live in these places. The nearest grocery store seemingly hours away. I imagine stockpiles of canned food and an entire cow in the freezer or I imagine only ever eating what you can find at a gas station.

We’ve had this trip planned for about a month. In the days leading up to and after the election, my mom said she was nervous to go if Trump won. If Trump won, we were a mixed race family walking into a gas station with our masks on in Ludlow, California where everyone voted for Trump and even if we were white as day a mask could give us away.

We were still that, but if Trump won something would have felt different about power.

Of course, my mom is the one who fields every scowl and has to respond to the man that says “you need to buy something to use the bathroom” with, “my HUSBAND outside is pumping gas.” Finding whatever identity signals she can that gives her more power is a survival mechanism. Relying on cis-hetero identity to align her with a dominant norm.

We posture for power in small and large ways, constantly playing into a set of social rules that are both completely arbitrary and hugely impactful.

In the bubble of the Bay Area, we can play with our relationship to the norms, we can perform our queerness or our nativeness or our ambiguity for social capital and acceptance. We can be identity rebels, proud of the ways we give the finger to the mainstream. We refer to our cis-gendered male “husbands” or “boyfriends” instead as “partners” because it feels more true, more level, more queer, and less heteronormative. But the moment we find ourselves needing to pee in Ludlow, California we posture towards any thread we have of the mainstream.

Of course, my mom cannot lighten her skin, I cannot straighten my hair, and neither of us can fully shake off whatever air of otherness we so clearly exude in this place. Relative to so many people, we are privileged to find some ways to pass. We are not Black and that is meaningful.

Biden won, we took the trip gazing out the window at Trump flags flying. We packed our own food.

Friday
November 13th, 2020
12:00pm
Saturday
November 14th, 2020
2:30pm
Tuesday
November 17th, 2020
1:00pm
Wednesday
November 18th, 2020
1:00pm
Friday
November 20th, 2020