We Plead

“On behalf of all of the black folks of the USA, which are the only group that didn’t vote for the motherfucker, we plead innocent to all charges, claims, accusations, allegations and associations connected to the Klansman in The Oval Office, so help me God.”

— Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods, 2020

168// Manually Adjusting

I woke up feeling quite sure I’d finally reached the weekend; it took a painful moment to adjust to the realization that it was actually only Tuesday, only 4:00 in the morning, and very much time for me to make my way out of bed and into the garage for a workout. The grogginess didn’t last long, thankfully. I have been practicing the art of manually adjusting my attitude so I can get the most of of these early morning routines.

Work was easy, too easy. It was nice to come back to my normal work location for the day. Everyone here takes the pandemic and the necessary precautions we are taking seriously, including taking temperatures at the door and wearing masks at all times.

I did what I could but by mid-morning I wasn’t feeling well and had to head home early. A quick meal and a nap later I’m feeling much better, still not myself, but better. I increased the dosage of the steroid medication meant to keep my flare to a manageable level so the infusion medication can do its job and I’m already seeing an improvement. And not a moment too soon because my foreseeable work schedule will not allow for many days of self-care or rest.

This evening I’m giving myself permission not to be productive. I’m listening to podcasts, reading old articles I saved, working on my logbook, and brainstorming over my essay project, and productive tasks, but I’m working with no rules, no timers, no goals in mind. Surprisingly, I’m writing better without the weight of expectation or limits. I have to do this more often.

Tomorrow I go back to CPR and First Aid teaching, but I’m only helping out and observing until Friday. I’m looking forward to a morning jog at the track, an afternoon of freewriting, and time to read.

167// Beat the Sun to Rise

I had a late start due to a late end to the day before and an anxious night tossing and turning but I still managed to get a 20-minute jog around the block in before heading off to work.

Having to beat the sun to rise in order to get a little exercise in is a drag, but there really is no better way to start the day. The world is so quiet and the ordinary streets around me are so beautiful under the mix of twilight and artificial light. I’d planned to workout in the garage every other morning, but I love these scenes so much I might end up jogging much more often.

The work day was a lot quieter than I expected it to be. It wasn’t my turn to teach CPR and First Aid, so I hung back in the corners and helped clean and complete paperwork instead. I won’t have to teach again until Friday and then after that I won’t have to stand in front of another class for nearly 3 weeks. After just one week, I already need the break.

While staying out of the way I managed to get a little work done on a personal essay I’ve been turning over in my head for a while. Of course, it’s growing into something entirely different from what I meant for it to be. I’m trying to decide whether to wrestle it in or let it be free.

By the time I got home, the day had exhausted me. My health is in a gradual decline and naps are required at regular intervals now. The doctor has ordered me back up to the original doses of medications I’d been trying to taper off of for months now and the constant worry about how bad things might get this time is only making matters worse. Two steps forward, another two back. Progress never lasts, but neither do the setbacks I suppose.

166// Brainstorming Day

During the quarantine my wife and I developed a morning routing of waking up around 7:00, going for a 45-minute walk, coming home and eating breakfast together, usually bagels and lox, and then separating to tackle out individual goals and projects for the day. I’m so happy we’ve held on to the habit at least for the weekends if not the week days.

By now she’s already off to grocery shop and to pick up supplies for her new “weekend project”. Since we are still coming home early from work most days (for Covid-19 reasons) these “weekend projects” no longer need to be confined to Saturday and Sunday only. This week she’s putting in a new shelf behind the couch complete with “hers and hers” outlets and mood lighting. I’m excited!

As for me, it’s understood between us that I will tackle the little day-to-day chores like the dishes and the meal prep and work on my writing.

And that is exactly what I’m trying to do now. I’ve broken down my essay writing schedule over the course of the next week. All I have to do today is choose a topic, question, or argument, decide on direction and goals, and jot my ideas into a document. That is, it’s brainstorming day.

Tomorrow will be research day where I find useful quotes, read other works on the subject, mine my own memories, and put together an outline. For three days after then I just write as much as I can. At the end of the week I will edit and schedule the post. My fingers are crossed for a new piece come next Thursday.

165// Justifying

My family is getting together today for the first formal family day we’ve had in months. I was a great time and I’m so happy we got to have even the short visit that we did. I’ve missed the kids and there’s so much that has happened I need to catch up on. I love that now matter how long I’ve been away or how much I’ve missed, I always have that little place just for me. I’m loved. I belong. I’m wanted.

Still, there is always some underlying negative feeling. I kept thinking about how left out I felt too. Not because they left me out on purpose, but because of the quarantine and social distancing. I know they’ve seen each other during the quarantine but I’ve been social distancing much more strictly and doing my best to stay home not just to keep my wife and I safe but to keep them safe too.

Knowing I was the odd one out made me feel sad, lonely, guilty, and stupid. I’m struggling with those feelings as I watch the world open and see my friends and loved one’s venturing out to restaurants and bars to see each other and enjoy the world while I just work and stay home, work and stay home.

I guess the real emotion I’m feeling is jealousy, and anger. I’d love to be having fun too. I miss being social and having experiences too, but I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m angry that so many others are not trying to do the right thing.

I feel myself trying to justify my own tiptoeing back into society too. I’m trying to find my “new normal”. I have to get out there to find a way to go about this new normal life safely. I can’t stay in forever and it’s better to go out now and find the way than wait.

Those are just excuses and they hardly make sense. I’m just trying to make it okay to give in to my wants and cravings, my needs, but I have to stay strong and so do more of us. I know life is dull right now and a chance to smile and forget any of this ever happened is what we need the most, but it’s only what we need now. We have to have a longer view. We have to make the long term the immediate.

But today wasn’t the day for willpower or lectures. Today was a day to give in and give up because I’m human. Perhaps the other side of this battle isn’t so hard to understand after all.

164// I’m Hurt

I thought today was going to be a good day. I got through my first CPR class as the official instructor yesterday without any major mess ups or gaffs and I figured today would be even smoother but almost from the beginning it has been awful.

I don’t want to say too much about what happened because it may result in an awkward HR battle and some serious consequences but I will tell you at least that during my class today while trying to enforce our workplace mask policy, someone who doesn’t believe coronavirus is a serious or even real threat and was infuriated by having to wear a mask vented his anger, frustration, and quite possibly disgust by spitting near me.

The incident happened quickly and I’m still processing my emotions. I’m furious. I’m afraid. I’m sad. I’m hurt. I blame him. I blame my superiors. I blame myself. I feel sorry for myself. I think it’s a big deal and I want to believe it’s nothing. I want to let it go and I want to take this is far as I can.

Most of all I’m shocked. I’ve read about this happening to other people but most of those stories were about customers, not fellow employees. I’m shocked too because I do my best to always be professional and kind when I’m training people. I’m hurt because too often my kindness is taken for weakness and between my male coworkers and I, I’m always the one that gets the push back and has to work harder for respect and compliance.

After work I sent an email out to just about every one of my bosses across all locations to explain the incident and to establish my boundaries. For my part I will be much more firm when explaining the policies and the consequences of our precautions and I will not tolerate for a second anyone skirting or refusing to adhere to them. I also ended by asking that the man who did this to me be reprimanded in some way. I don’t need an apology. I need documentation and consequences at the very least and I won’t let this go until that happens. I need him to know he didn’t win.

But all that will have to wait until Monday. Until then I’m going to order my favorite Mexican comfort food, drink a couple of hard ciders, and spend time with the one who makes me feel safe. I’m going to take time to take care of myself and prepare for a war.

Intersectionality

Like the other identifiable races, Black people are in reality a collection of groups differentiated by gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, culture, skin color, profession, and nationality-among a series of other identifiers, including biracial people who may or may not identify as Black. Each and every identifiable Black group has been subjected to what critical race theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw has called “intersectionality”—prejudice stemming from the intersections of racist ideas and other forms of bigotry, such as sexism, classism, ethnocentrism, and homophobia. For example, sexist notions of real women as weak, and racist notions of Black women as not really women, have intersected to produce the gender racism of the strong Black woman, inferior to the pinnacle of womanhood, the weak White woman. In other words, to call women as a group stupid is sexism. To call Black people as a group stupid is racism. To call Black women as a group stupid is gender racism. Such intersections have also led to articulations of class racism (demeaning the Black poor and Black elites), queer racism (demeaning Black lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people), and ethnic racism (concocting a hierarchy of Black ethnic groups), to name a few.”

— Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America