20 June 2017 @ 01:30 pm

Posted by Sigrid Ellis

It’s the longest, lightest, day of the year here in Minnesota.

I always think, during this part of summer, about times past. About how very little could be accomplished in the dark. About these long, hot, summer days of work and accomplishment, warehoused against the turning dark.

I think it’s supposed to be cloudy and rainy today, to be honest.

But that doesn’t stop the light.

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19 June 2017 @ 02:30 pm

Posted by Sigrid Ellis

M is off to a week of camp. It’s his third year, and he is an old, experienced hand at it, and the departure went without a hitch.

K is working hard at her circus classes, including teaching herself a trick one of her coaches said she’d never learn to do.

The summer is going well.

They are good kids.

They are also, oh my god, teenagers. Frustrating, frustrated, aggravating, empathetic, selfish, competent, thoughtless, variable teenagers. I’m not going to post their minor failures and faults here; they are their own people, and get to share that or not.

But let’s just say, I love them to pieces, but this blog post was indeed inspired by events.

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17 June 2017 @ 03:19 pm

Posted by Sigrid Ellis

Officer Yanez was found not guilty on all charges yesterday.

There is no justice for Philando Castile.

He died on live video as his girlfriend tried to console the officer who murdered her boyfriend, in the hopes that he would call 911.

Officer Yanez was not found guilty of even reckless discharge of a weapon, despite the presence of a four-year-old child in the back seat of the car.

I watched Unicorn Riot’s coverage of the protest last night for an hour or so. I wished I could have gone and marched.

What would justice be? What do I want to happen now? What on earth do we all do with a system that, after Graham vs Connor, enshrines into law the right of law enforcement officials to murder anyone who scares them?

That’s not hypothetical. I’ve been trying to figure out the answer all of yesterday and this morning.

I think there are three basic approaches:

1) Retrain law enforcement to not be reflexively, racistly, terrified of black men.

2) Make shooting citizens cost-prohibitive for police departments and cities.

3) Disarm law enforcement.

Looking at item three, first, it seems that having a large contingent of police officers carry ONLY non-lethal ordinance might help. There are still problems with the use and abuse of tasers, chemical spray, etc., but it might help prevent murder.

If we as a society charge and prosecute as many instance of police violence as possible, it may become too costly for cities to bear, and police departments may be forced to change their policies and culture out of self-defense.

If law enforcement training focused *at least half* of its hours on deescalation, anti-racism, and how to not be a dick to your citizenry, it might help establish new, less lethal, reflexive actions under stress.

There’s no reason we can’t do all three.

(This letter sent to my local government this morning.)

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14 June 2017 @ 02:00 pm

Posted by Sigrid Ellis

I’m not who I was, seven months ago.

I care more now than I did then. I care more about people I know, people I’ve never met. I care about politics both large and small.

I read the news every single day, the BBC, the New York Times, Vox, the Washington Post, the Pioneer Press, Twitter, Tumblr. I take in all this information about the world and the people in it, and I care.

It’s painful. It’s enraging. It’s exhausting. It hurts, a lot, to care to helplessly.

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When my kids were infants, I discovered I could no longer watch new horror movies. I could watch the ones I’d see before I had kids, those were still fine. But I could not watch any new horror movies. You see, instead of identifying with the protagonist, or even the victims, I imagined myself in the place of the grieving parents. Confused, afraid, uncertain how it was that their lives had come to this point of watching the morgue attendant unzip the heavy bag containing meat that used to be their child.

I couldn’t do it. I would burst into loud, snotty, sobbing tears.

When my children were infants I would find myself crying in the shower, probably partially from exhaustion, but also because my heart had left the safety of my body and was now sitting out in the world, raw and exposed to every passing harm. There was so little I could do to protect them, to protect my heart. Loving things, loving people, it sucks sometimes. It’s full of uncertainty and fear and helplessness and it just hurts.

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When I was a young adult I was surprised to find that the world still existed. I had grown up knowing — not fearing, but just knowing — that the world would end in nuclear nightmare long before I had a chance to be an adult. I was not worried about this anymore than I was worried about the heat death of the universe. It was bad, sure, but simply beyond my control. No sense getting worked up about it.

After the Cold War ended, though, I began to realize that there were other bad things in the world worth my time and attention. I sort of tried caring about a few of them, but I always backed away from real, genuine involvement. I went to Pride, I voted, but I never volunteered time or money to making change in the world. I always told myself it was because I was too busy, and other people were doing the work anyway, and most problems weren’t going to be solved by me in the first place.

Those reasons were lies.

I lied to myself because caring about people or things was and is painful, and I did not like feeling hurt.

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Since November 9th, 2016, I have not been able to stop caring.

It’s not a lot of fun, all this caring. I am frequently just angry, in my head, all day, every day. It’s an anger composed of seeing the harm done in the world, by action and inaction, and seeing other people refuse to do what is needed to stop the harm. The anger comes from helplessness, from knowing I do not single-handedly have the power to effect change, and begging other people to do what is needed. Sometimes they do it. Sometimes not.

I am furious that GoFundMe and YouCaring are becoming major sources of health care funding, when as a nation we have the capacity to provide for everyone. I am furious that the money that could save 24 million lives is instead being handed to the very richest people in our country.

I am furious that my country is refusing to accept the Paris Climate Accord, the small, self-generated promise to start trying to work on reducing human contributions to climate change. I am furious at the condemnation of the future, of my children and grandchildren, for the sake of some spurious concerns about making money.

I am furious that law enforcement organizations, including border patrol, are welcoming open members of white nationalist organizations into their midst. I am furious at the continued cultural insistence that black people are inherently monstrous and thus deserve to die at the hands of fearful police.

I am helplessly, furiously angry that I cannot do more, give more, be more for those in need. Every plea for funding that I can’t contribute to makes me angry. Every recalcitrant member of Congress in another constituency who I cannot call makes me angry. Every jury who lets another uniformed murderer go free makes me angry. Every municipal budget passed that cuts funding for arts, science, and education makes me angry.

Caring about things hurts, y’all. I really don’t enjoy it.

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But I like who I am. I like that I will be able to look back on myself from some future time and say, yeah, I did my best. I like that my kids are seeing me call Congress, seeing me donate money and goods to those who need it, seeing me go to some marches and rallies.

I hear people say, “I just can’t care too much about what’s going on right now,” and I get it. But that’s not me here in 2017. I seem to have started caring, and it’s not really going away. Not yet.

I’m not who I was last November. This new, caring, me isn’t always happy about the state of the world, and that is frustrating as hell. But I am happier about being me.

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13 June 2017 @ 01:30 pm

Posted by Sigrid Ellis

Well, yesterday I picked up my CPAP. Last night I used it for the first time. It was … fine? Awkward, but not impossible? Will take some adjustment?

And for the next thirty days I am on administrative duties at work, until the Flight Surgeon is assured that I am complying with treatment and that the treatment is effective.

Onwards!

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