The Mayor and Governor who invited community leaders of color to speak about the reasons for the protests at today’s Seattle press conference. That’s good education.
Those community leaders, who spoke with passion and compassion.
Peaceful protesters, who not only demonstrated today, but who modeled what nonviolent protest looks like. Also, the police who worked with them to coordinate the day’s events. And the media who covered it all.
Our local media, who continues (for the most part) to draw clear distinctions between the Black Lives Matter movement and the opportunistic criminals seeking to muddy the message.
Everyone who came out to help clean up the city today. Kids! Locals! Suburbanites! It made me smile.
As I jot these notes down, the main peaceful protest group has dispersed with the curfew, having done good work. And a second, seemingly hostile group is marching around ignoring the curfew, looking for trouble.
I guess I want to say that after a good day following a difficult, scary night, I’m reminded how good people can be. And how important it is to keep listening and doing good despite discomfort or fear.
And if a small group of rioters wants to pretend they’re protesting tonight, while attacking our home, we won’t let ourselves be fooled.
Love to you all, blog buddies. Stay safe.
I haven’t slept well this week. And I can’t sleep now. George Floyd was murdered by an evil cop in Minneapolis while the cop’s coworkers watched indifferently, and for two nights I watched live footage of that city burning while hundreds of eager onlookers seemed to cheer. When justice is denied, and when law protects the corrupt, I suppose we’re left with revenge? I empathize with the outrage, but I cannot empathize with the desire to hurt.
Then tonight, I saw big plumes of smoke outside our window in Seattle. I’ve spent all night listening to flash bang grenades. Watching live feeds of my city being burned, trashed, looted. The place where I buy groceries, smashed. The streets I walk every week, glowing with the fiery wreckage of cop cars. I mean, the officers walking these streets didn’t kill George Floyd, but they wear the same uniform. And racism is pervasive. So burn-burn-burn cries the mob. When the right people can’t pay, someone’s gonna pay. Why not the enemy right in front of you? See that they wear a uniform and spit in their face. Burn down the town. Trash every business in sight – they have it coming, don’t they?
That’s where we’ve landed tonight.
The righteous, peaceful protesters went home hours ago and the mob remained behind. And now the owner of a shop that makes handmade clothes is holding back tears on the news, his windows broken, his father trying to board up the holes with plywood the wrong size.
I put my boots near the door tonight, with a flashlight. I feel silly, taking dramatic precautions. But what if someone burns the shops downstairs tonight? Do they know people live up here? Destruction, five blocks away now. Too many looters. Cops are ALL bad, the mob shouted, but the cops are out there now, trying to keep us safe from more fires. No justice, no peace?
No peace tonight.
No sleep tonight.
I think all the fires are out? Until I know, I can’t sleep.
I hate that George Floyd died, and I hate the system that excuses injustice, again and again. My city is being attacked, and I’m pissed and afraid. Is this justice? We know it isn’t. But the mob follows protesters like anger-parasites, drowning out their cries for justice with rage and flame.
So, that’s happening. Not just here, but many places.
I spent all week working on my next book. It’s set here, downtown, where I live. There’s an Italian restaurant in chapter 11, a scene at Nordstrom in chapter 9, and a local coffee shop in the second act. I’ve lived and worked in those places, you know, and I’ve given them a second life in my imagination. Tonight, I saw those same places on TV, burning or broken, spray painted and clogged with tear gas. The places of my memory and imagination defiled.
Property isn’t as important as human lives. And in the grand scheme of this moment, a few trashed buildings aren’t the important issue.
But I’ve got bits of my heart scattered all around this city, you see. My city. And those places are wrecked, and my heart along with them.
And I find myself wanting to yell: Hey, mob. Are you happy now? Now that there’s even more suffering in the world… are you happy?
I’m so so tired.
I hear police calling out on their megaphones a few blocks away. P is stirring restlessly beneath the covers.
And I wish I could sleep. Soon, maybe. I hear voices, and I’ll wait for them to pass.
Morning will arrive, and with it, a chance to remember all that is good. Until then, I’ll try to close my eyes.
And after a week of getting annoyed at photographs of large jubilant crowds elsewhere in the US, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from caring what other people do.
I mean, I do care, in the sense that we’re all interconnected. And I care in that I don’t want a second big wave of infection slamming hospitals and killing people. But I’ve also seen that caring deeply about what I have no hope of controlling is a path to despair. So I’m focused on what is in my control: Being personally cautious, loving my husband, and writing MOAR books. 🙂
Washington State continues to take the slow-and-careful path toward re-opening the economy. We’ve had about a thousand deaths since this started, which is sad, but also kind of amazing given that we started out as the epicenter of the US outbreak. But there’s also a growing sense of this-can’t-go-on-forever that I feel swirling around. P & I work from home, we don’t have kids, and we’re used to living in a small space with our own projects to keep us company. So it’s easy for someone in my shoes to say “Sure, let’s be super-cautious and take our time!” But not everyone’s situation is so cushy, and caution is an expensive luxury when you can’t afford not to go into work.
Amid the outrage about idiots chanting slogans and waving guns in the air, I think we forget that not everyone can work from home, and people need to eat and pay rent. I’m grateful for the small business loan program that has been putting people back to work, including my younger brother and the barista down the street.
Seattle is starting to thaw. While my county is still in Phase One of lockdown for a while longer, the environment is already starting to change. Our local coffee sh0ps are coming back online, one at a time, ending the great coffee clampdown of 2020. (Take-out only) King County had it’s first day without coronavirus deaths recently, a beautiful milestone, and I’m seeing a lot more people wearing masks, even outside. This morning we woke up to traffic noise, something that used to be normal, but which seems shockingly loud after months of near-silence outside.
In a way, this moment feels like the morning after a storm. You go outside and check for damage, counting broken windows and dangling power lines, wondering how much it’s going to cost to put everything back together again. Only the thing that’s broken isn’t a house or a neighborhood, it’s the entire economy. And without a vaccine ready there are likely to be more storms rolling in. Still, even knowing that, I’m relieved to discover tiny moments of reprieve. Like a brief chat with a barista while they pull a shot of espresso, or twenty minutes sitting in the grass in a park.
Give us a taste of that sweet, sweet, normalcy!
Still, my cautious nature tells me that this pandemic is about to get more dangerous, not less, as pent-up humans rush out into the world hungry for the experiences they’ve been missing. We’ve all seen those shocking videos of of packed beaches, busy casinos, and overflowing parking lots. Millions of workers will soon return to work out of financial necessity, and state governments, despite some valiant efforts, have struggled to procure as many testing supplies as they need. Unfortunately, our own federal government has been hostile when they should have been helpful. My state recently received a large shipment of Q-tips from the federal government instead of the promised testing swabs. In this climate, it’s difficult to interpret such a “mistake” as anything but an upraised middle finger coming directly from the White House, but after four years of Trump I’ve reached a point where such events are like being kicked in a sore spot already sore from too much kicking. It hurts, sure, but what can you do?
You keep on living.
My book sales are up, probably due to my marketing efforts, but possibly because folks are reading more. More broadly, I think we’re all still waiting to see what the economic fallout looks like. Seattle, with its high proportion of tech workers, may fare okay on average, but even here the consequences seems serious. Our local restaurant scene is pretty thrashed, tourism, always huge here in the summer, is non-existent, and I can’t imagine feeling safe getting on a plane or a crowded bus anytime soon. Like many people, we’re wondering when it will be safe enough to go and visit our parents. And when will it be safe enough to get together with a friend or two? Also, what does safe enough even mean? And if pent-up humans go crazy and start smearing their germs all over one another in an orgiastic late-summer hug-fest, should the rest of us still stay inside and wait for the second wave of infection to burn itself out?
I suppose we’ll figure things out, as we always do, one small decision at a time.
Take care, everyone, and keep washing those paws.