Daily digest

What I did today:

– I wrote nearly 2,000 words about Phineas Gage
– Bought an orange crysanthemum plant that takes up roughly 1/8th of my living room
– Went to self defense class (+1 confidence boost)
– Stopped by the Giant (area grocery chain) in Hampden for some light doomsday prepping in advance of the maybe hurricane coming this weekend.

The Giant was dark, but people were going inside anyways so I thought I’d investigate. There was a police officer stood out front telling people that the store was open, but we could not purchase any perishables. People were shopping using the light from their phones, and I don’t think they were necessarily shopping for essentials – I overheard a couple discussing whether or not they should pick up a can of aerosol silly string.

The power was off for everything except the cash registers, and the ever present “easy listening” radio station music that blares in every American grocery store.

– Went to an improv show (this is almost frequent enough to not be noteworthy)
– Went to the liquor store (again doomsday prepping). Dejected liquor store patrons talked about moving out of Baltimore if the Ravens continue to do so poorly.

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Light pressure no big deal return to bloggy world

What I did today outside of routine:
– Left work early to help set up a volunteer event for the homeless.
– Sorted papers.
– Took pictures of volunteer dental stations.
– Toured the new grocery store downtown, called “Streets.” It looks like “Fresh & Green” but with a whole selection of Korean items.
– Spraypainted a barrel to make it look like a toxic keg at the Baltimore Rock Opera Society HQ.
– Decided to blog again.

– I was in the left turn lane, waiting for oncoming traffic to stop oncoming, and the asshole behind me laid on his/her horn.

Surprises / discoveries:
– Found out one of the other volunteers works in my same building. Had a long chat with her! She seems nice.
– Listened to a free stream of the cast recording of the hip-hop musical “Hamilton”, about Alexander Hamilton, his political/personal life, the duel.

– I like helping, even in boring capacities such as sorting papers.
– I have run out of long term storage capacity, hence the need for offshoring memories into written/digital format.
– I can’t not eat cheese doodles.

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Silence and noise

I’ve been silent for a long time. Especially here, where my much neglected blog gathers Internet tumbleweeds and spam comments advertising exotic boner pills. In general, though, I have largely shied away from political commentary, or pretty much anything that could result in elevated blood pressure for any participant. When my co-workers, largely older conservatives from the suburbs, gather around my desk (always my desk!) and weigh in on issues with stances that I disagree with, I shut my mouth and put in earbuds rather than try and rock the boat. In my thirties I have become more conflict averse, and chicken shit.

I have been writing in general for my column over at Hobo Trashcan, but to be honest I am kind of embarrassed by my last column, an attempt to write about the situation, written after a couple of sleepless anxious nights with information overload. So many others have written better, more comprehensive and thorough reactions to the events unfolding in Baltimore. And so many have not had their voices heard, for so long. Do I really need to add another privileged white perspective to the mix? (And yes, for all intents and purposes here, in spite of elevated melanin content I am white. I am from Kansas and I listen to indie rock, so brain-wise I am lily-white like a Kleenex.)

Increasingly, though, amidst a backdrop of voices in unison shouting for justice, and constant oversight by hovering helicopters booming at everyone to “go inside immediately!”, I am finding silence untenable. Yesterday’s announcement regarding charges being pursued against officers for the extralegal killing of Freddie Gray was unprecedented. Momentum is on the side of change and reform, but it can’t happen if we all just go back to sleep after the news cycle dies down.

“No justice, no peace.” I’ve heard the calls too. I’m ashamed that people had to resort to rioting in order to get me, and others like me, to hear them.

This Health Department report describes the conditions in which residents in Sandtown-Winchester, a neighborhood away from me, live every day. No, I am not responsible for these problems. And I couldn’t solve them even if given Miss Marvel-like powers and fifty uninterrupted years. But no longer can I just blithely go about my business, thinking of this as “someone else’s problem.”

The little things I can and resolve to do: volunteer with food drives. Go to meetings with people from the next neighborhood over from mine. Listen. Pay close attention to the news. Recognize my privilege and figure out a way to leverage it for good. Advocate for my viewpoint to others who may not agree with me in a calm, reasoned manner. Above all – speak up.

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Of trash and treasure

I recently attended an item swap, which involves people exchanging their unwanted things for other people’s unwanted things. I believe these are also called “naked lady parties” (although there were non-ladies present at this one, and nobody was naked). I acquired several belts, a dress, and a purse.

Tucked away forgotten in the back pocket of the purse are: a thank you card, a list and hand-written directions to a rural location. The list is scribbled onto the back of an empty label template; the first item on it is “GPS” (hence, the handwritten directions). Later, “Fishing stuff” (I love the non-specificity), “Face Sunblock” and “Eye Drops.” On the other side, in different handwriting – “DSW” (for a different trip, or fishing appropriate footwear?), “CDs,” and, bafflingly, “holes.” The thank you card is for the gift of a book, and alludes to exciting and also unspecific creative projects on the horizon.

I am walking around with the purse today, hand-me-downs from the previous owner and all. I’m banking on these totems giving me inspiration to be the type of person who has such a wealth of perfectly good belts and purses that I feel comfortable decluttering, vs. hanging on to things well after they become threadbare. I want to be the one leaving mysterious notes in my wake. Instead of a creepy scavenger sifting through cryptic leftovers from other people’s lives.

I want to stop borrowing things and make my own. (I’m still keeping the purse, however. It goes so well with all my other thrifted outfits.)

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From my fingertips, to your eyes: