Hey baby, hey baby, hey!

Hey baby, hey baby, hey!
Girls say, boys say
Hey baby, hey baby, hey
Hey baby baby

Can you make it make sense? Why would anyone think sending me a private IG message trying to hook up was a good idea, was a sensible idea, was an idea that should actually exist in any reasonable version of a universe that I inhabit?

I love that Gwen Stefani song, and those lyrics fit this dude so perfectly. Let’s factor in some additional data:

  • You “met” me in a zoom meeting this morning.
  • During the course of that zoom meeting, you twice mentioned your wife. TWICE.
  • While I do have the most gorgeous virtual background in the history of fake rooms, there is absolutely nothing about me in that space that looks anything like flirting or an invitation of any kind.
  • To open your message by saying, “I sure had to do some digging to find you online!” is super creepy. Yes, I’m sure you had to make some kind of effort to find my IG. Why would you do that?

Ugh. Needless to say, I rejected the message and creepy dude is blocked. I am most definitely too old for this nonsense.

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
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Original Slicer - GirlGriot

What? We could be sailors.

I am a lousy thumb typist. Phones are small, and my thumbs are big, and it just doesn’t always go particularly well. Couple that with autocorrect’s insistence on changing perfectly normal words into chaos and my texts and emails sent from my phone are often comical and hugely embarrassing by turns.

I had a serious text exchange with a friend over breakfast this morning. Or it would have been serious if I hadn’t immediately derailed us by typing nonsense.

Me: “So great to hear you’re looking for a new jib!”

She: “A new … what now?”

Me: “A jib. A jib? Didn’t you just say you’d started looking?”

Still me: “Oh crap. Thank you, big thumbs.”

There’s the text I sent my sister-in-law where I wound up telling her I was stopping for ammo before heading to the train.

And the message to my old landlords telling them some pigs had arrived for them and I’d put them inside my gate. (That was supposed to be “pkgs” … I have no idea what I was trying to say that turned into “ammo”!)

There are all the times I’ve wanted to send a joyously-exclaiming greeting … and have sent “Ho!” instead of “Hi!” yeah.

These are just three of thousands.

I love my hands. I am very (VERY) vain about them. They are big and long-fingered, and men who are smart enough to compliment me on them get high marks (really, anyone who compliments me on them gets high marks). They aren’t however, a helpful size and shape to excel at typing on the phone. And, naturally, so much of my communication these days is about typing on my phone.

This morning, my friend told me that she has finally decided to leave the position she has hated for years and start looking for something new. This is fabulous, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. But, instead of having a great conversation about that, my thumbs decided our time would be better spent with me making nautical references. Maybe she’ll be happy as a jib hunter. Seems like a waste of both of her masters degrees, but we all need to follow our passions …

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
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Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Just a little green …

Like the color when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green

I’ve always loved that Joni Mitchell song. I haven’t seen any crocuses yet, but I have seen little hints of the change of seasons. The trees and shrubs are starting to plump, to fill with the energy they’ll need to burst any minute into new leaves and flowers. The light in the morning has more … glitter somehow. And this not-at-all-young woman’s fancy turns to thoughts of being more out in the world.

I’ll get my second Moderna shot soon, and I am thinking of what that will mean, of how I want to add small bits of socializing back into my schedule. Small. Nothing extreme. Just enough for me to feel less like a prisoner. Enough for me to start remembering what it’s like to not look with disdainful suspicion at every person who stands closer than six feet.

I’m looking forward to feeling like I live here, instead of feeling like I’m holed up here.

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
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Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Continuous Passive Motion

Today, in a BIPOC antiracism group I co-facilitate, we talked about Atlanta, and one of the women in the group brought up the belief that Black people and Asian people don’t get along. She talked about some of the responses to the Atlanta attack that were coming up in her friend circles and in her family. And that conversation reminded me of this:

After my first knee surgery in 2016 (not my first knee surgery, but the first one I had that year … it’s a long and un-pretty story), I left the hospital and did the first couple of weeks of my recuperation in a really nice rehab facility in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Most of the nursing assistants in that place were Asian women. Many of the patients were Asian, too, but not all.

I had brought a lot of pass-the-time stuff with me, imagining that I’d need the distractions, that I wouldn’t just be doing physical therapy or sleeping, which is generally what one does after knee surgery. One of the things I brought with me was the baby blanket I was knitting for a friend’s newly-arrived first child.

Everyone was interested in my knitting. They would all ask what I was working on, and I’d tell them, and they’d say it was a nice gift. One morning, I’d gotten some super adorable pics of my friend and her baby, so when the first person asked me about the blanket, I decided to also show her the picture of the gift recipient. I pulled up the photo on my phone and handed it to the nursing assistant. She looked shocked, which wasn’t the response I was expecting. She turned the phone to face me.

“Your friend is Chinese!”

And that was true, but so? I acknowledged the yes, my friend was Chinese. She nodded and handed back my phone. “Wow,” she said quietly. I’m not sure she actually looked at the baby at all. I was puzzled, but let it go. I showed the picture to some of the other Asian women who took care of me and got almost the same response each time.

Months later, after my second knee surgery that year (as I said, a long and un-pretty story), I was back in the same rehab place. A friend had come to visit me, and then another friend arrived. Both are women I knew from my old job. The first woman who’d come by is white. The second woman who came by is Chinese — not the mother of the baby, whole different friend group. For the purposes of this story, I’ll call the white woman Anne and the Chinese woman Miao. While we were hanging out, one of the nursing assistants came in to check on me. She looked stunned to see Miao and immediately excused herself. Thirty seconds later, another assistant came to the room, got a look at Miao and dashed away. This continued. Maybe five or six more times.

Anne remarked on the incredible attentiveness of the CNA staff. It seemed pretty clear, however, that the staff were coming to see Miao with their own eyes, some in-the-flesh proof of my having Chinese friends. When I said this and told Miao and Anne about the baby photo, Miao nodded. “Yes,” she said. “It’s surprising that you have Asian people for friends. I was taught to think Black people don’t like us. Maybe they were, too.”

Which made me feel sad and naive at the same time. The idea that Black and Asian people don’t get along wasn’t new. I just hadn’t thought about it or seen it play out in such a glaring way in my own life.

my friends wondered if seeing Miao would mean I’d get better treatment. I waved that off as ridiculous, and am happy to say that I was proven right. I was already getting fabulous care. The only way they could have improved on their treatment of me would have been for one of them to morph into my mom and come sing me lullabies to put me to sleep each night.

The idea that Black and Asian people don’t like one another is absurd … or it should be. In the BIPOC group today, we talked about the ways anti-Black racism builds walls between groups, keeping everyone under its thumb, keeping everyone busy laying blame on one another rather than looking at White Supremacy. The careful and intricate constructions of racism keep doing their work, keep humming along under everything.

One of the tools used to support recuperation after knee surgery is a CPM machine: Continuous Passive Motion. You put your leg in this device and it moves your knee through its full range of motion until you turn it off. I both loved and hated that machine. And in our BIPOC group today, thinking about the shocked women in the rehab center, I made the connection that one of White Supremacy’s powerful tools is that it functions like the CPM machine. You don’t have to move a muscle. You are strapped into the apparatus, and it cycles you through the various ranges of hateful motion. It functions in the background with no need for your awareness and will continue to do so until you take deliberate action to shut it down.

When will we be ready to turn off that switch?

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
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Original Slicer - GirlGriot

What I Don’t Want to Say

Since Wednesday, I’ve been thinking about all of my Asian friends … but I haven’t been checking in with any of them. Not directly. I’ve certainly clicked “love” or “care” or “angry” on their FB comments. I’ve shared articles they’ve posted. But I haven’t reached out.

And, clearly, I feel lousy about that, or I wouldn’t be writing about it now.

Last year, people started checking in on me. Sometimes more than once a day. Lots of people. Close friends, not-so-close friends, people who weren’t really even friends at all. I got emails, texts, notes on Messenger and IG. It was a lot, and I had no idea what to do with any of it.

It was early June. It was right after the murder of George Floyd. Yes, because that’s why everyone who knew me was checking in.

(Of course, when I say “everyone,” I am lying. There were some unsurprising and conspicuous absences from the cavalcade of “How are you doing?” messages. The folks for whom Floyd’s murder didn’t register, didn’t matter, the ones who were entirely pissed off and threatened by the uprising that spread across the globe but couldn’t acknowledge the wrongness of the killing that sparked the protests. Those people didn’t check in. And yes, I have those folks in my various “friend” lists. I leave them there so I can get the occasional glimpse of what’s happening in that mindset. It’s bracing, to say the least.)

I appreciated that my friends and everyone else were thinking about me. I mean, I mostly appreciated it. I was also really frustrated by it because, often, the checking in was accompanied by a request for me to do something — when was I going to start posting about it on FB, when would I write some essays? And yes, people had reason to expect some kind of written response from me, since that was a way I’d shown up after so many other murders of Black people. But I went silent last year, so a lot of the people who reached out also asked when they were going to hear from me.

And that didn’t feel good. It felt, instead, as if I couldn’t just rage and grieve in private but had to share, had to do some rib spreading, let everyone see my feeble, shredded heart.

And I really am not trying to sound as much like a jerk as I sound right now. I love my friends, and they love me. I imagine they struggled with what to say to me just as I’m struggling right now.

I haven’t been contacting my friends. And that’s because I remember how I felt over the summer and don’t want to pile on. At the same time, I have to be honest and admit that I have no idea what to say. I certainly don’t want to say, “How are you doing?” because how can anyone be doing right now? What would I have wanted people to say to me last year? What would have felt less like pressure and more like love?

And maybe that’s all there is to say, maybe that’s what I would have wanted to hear last year. My love feels thin today, though. Doesn’t feel like nearly enough, though it’s the only thing I have in abundant supply.

There’s no neat and tidy bow to tie around this. I’m sad and angry and angry and angry. And I feel like a bad friend right now. Raging and grieving in private feels selfish today.

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot