All about the story

Was Mike Brown an unarmed, innocent man, killed by an evil racist cop?

Or was he a vicious, dangerous criminal who had to be taken out by the police officer he attacked?

Words are power, as people like to say, but I keep reading about Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the many, many other black people who have come into contact with the police and died as a result, and it’s impressed on me again and again: it’s all about the story. Everyone is trying to control the story.

Narrative tells the world what it was, what it is, what it should be, and what it can be. The ability to spin narrative is the closest thing to a true superpower that exists, especially when the narrative is someone else’s story.

So… now we have duelling narratives. Which one should you throw your weight behind? For me, the answer is actually very simple.

It’s about whether these people – men and women of color – deserved to die. Whether it was inevitable that they die.

The police spin a narrative of fearful officers facing dangerous, desperate individuals; regretful split second decisions; if only this, if only that. Best judgment of the situation at hand. Thought he had a gun. Thugs vs. cops. The story theme veers between ‘deserved to die’, and ‘unfortunate but necessary’.

The protestors spin a narrative of ordinary, imperfect people going about their lives and being targeted by trigger-happy racists with guns. Judgment heavily influenced by bias. Cops are dangerous to black people. Didn’t deserve to die.

I keep falling on the side of the protestors, for one simple reason: the first narrative means dehumanization. I cannot deal with that. I can’t support it. The very instant a narrative involves this thread of dehumanization, of less than, of reducing a person to a thing, is the instant that I am out and I am not coming back. For better or worse, even the greatest monsters among us are human, and to take a life – no one, no one, should do that lightly. Dehumanization makes killing easy. Such a thing is evil, unrelentingly, unrepentantly evil.

It breaks my heart that these pundits on the news – these people, who shape the story as it is told by their viewers – use words that turn Michael Brown and Eric Garner into things, into less-than. Unworthy. “Not like us”. Not fully human.

Gods, let us scream this if nothing else – THEY HAVE A NAME. THEY WERE MEN. THEY LIVED AS WE DO. THEY WERE HUMAN. And in each case their lives were ended because someone thought they were not.

Weep for that loss, and for what it says about all of us.

//shay

I have many

I love all my friends. I love all of you too, who read this, because you are my friends, but I have several friends who rise high in my esteem, and they are more treasured.

Such is the way of things. Relative value and all that. The closeness of speaking one on one means more than the one to many.

One of my esteemed friends may be in trouble.

I am worried. I ask them, what do you plan to do, in this time of strife? They don’t have an answer – at least, not a complete one. This worries me more. They are far from me, this esteemed friend, and all the resources I can bring to bear are useless. All I have are words, and advice, and perhaps a friendly ear to talk at.

Is it frustrating? Good gods, yes. Would that I could teleport across the world, and be their friend in person as well as through a computer screen.

Hope is a wonderful thing. So I have to hope, even as I worry, and wait for some word of whether they face a greater calamity or not.

Feel free to wait with me, dear friends. And think of another of us, very far away, who needs more than a few friends right now.

//shay

Exhaustion

It’s a hell of a thing.

But I’m back, baby. I’m writing. And the feeling is good.

It’s close to midnight and I’m not sleepy, not yet. I’m in that weird limbo place where you know you should be tired, but your brain works too fast to rest properly. I will pay for this in the morning, and I am largely okay with that as long as I can keep this feeling.

By Thor’s eternal scrotum, I have missed the writing headspace.

There is a cat staring at me accusingly. I think she wants to play. Away from me, small animal! I have scenes to write! So many scenes! And PORN! How I have missed you, my delicious porn! Let me count the ways… or maybe not, because we’ll be here all night at that rate.

This weekend, my dears. This weekend. I’m back, and I WILL deliver.

//shay

You know something

…wonderful happens when you’re deep inside your writing space.

Writers know this feeling. It’s like a song in your head, isn’t it? The story sings to you. It becomes magical, as if you’re not so much telling the story as reliving it, a hundred times over, until it plays out right. It’s the purest kind of imagination, the ability to dream intensely; something we never gave up when we grew up.

To have that taken from you, even for a little while, is like having the colors washed out of everything.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s how someone who doesn’t dream sees the world, and suddenly a lot of the bad stuff makes a whole lot more sense.

//shay

When we fall down

What do we do, when we fall down? When we’re knocked back, knocked up, beaten up, shamed, dismissed, hurt…

One step forward, two steps back. Such is the way of life. And clichĂ©s are the nuts and bolts of language, for all that they’re overused.

I’m made out of pretty tough stuff. I have to be. I haven’t had an easy life. I’m only glad that it’s made me compassionate, instead of unfeeling. It lets me understand pain.

Times like these, when I have to carry a hell of a lot around inside me, it makes me resilient. What do we do, when we fall down? We stand up, and sometimes it makes us that much harder to trip again.

I’ve been knocked down enough that it takes nothing short of a major bombshell to faze me. After this… I think it’ll take a nuclear blast or more, right to the frontal lobes. Because I will get through this. Every word I type brings me closer to being whole again, to living and breathing in stories again.

I will get through this, dear friend. And when I do, we shall celebrate with beer and cookies and cocktails full of suspiciously sticky liqueurs.

//shay

Still here

I never thought I would ever experience writer’s block.

It’s terrifying.

I’m still here, dear friend. I’m not entirely here, but enough of me is here so that I can write this much.

Someone close to me is sick. Very sick. They are sick in a way that scares me more than having writer’s block. The knowledge of this is making me feel a little less human, and a little more fragile.

I can put on a brave face, up to a point. I can still talk, and ramble on, and do anything to stop myself from thinking about it. I can still laugh. But it hides in the back of my head, and it will not let me live in stories. And the words don’t come any more.

I don’t really have anyone to talk to about this, but… it helps to name it. It helps that I can write this much. It means that it’s not forever, that I’m tougher than I look, that I will be back again. What a strange kind of therapy it is… no wonder everyone does it.

I’m still here. I don’t know when all of me will be here. I’ll have to wait a while, and see what happens.

//shay

So I got to thinking

…about stuff like depression, mostly.

This is a thing I do not understand. You will find that there are many things I do not understand, not even with my mighty brain, like writer’s block and reality TV. Depression is also on that list. This is okay, I think.

I ask one of my esteemed friends, “What is it like, to be clinically depressed?”

She thinks for a moment. “It’s like this horrible gaping hole of nothing inside your head, that doesn’t go away and makes you think that all the light of the whole world has been sucked into it and will never come back.”

My friend has a graphic imagination, and I tell her so. She agrees with me. “But that’s what it’s like,” she says. “As if there are no happy ever afters – and there never was, and never will be.”

I live and breathe in stories, and I can’t understand the concept of no happy ever afters.

I hope that reading about… whatever the hell I write, I don’t even know at this point… makes it easier. I don’t have to get it to know that I find the idea scary, or to never ever want to know what it feels like. I trust my esteemed friend to know what she’s talking about.

I got to thinking about it lately because that thing that everyone says came up again – “It’s all in your head, and you just have to stop feeling so down all the time.” I don’t like this. It would be like listening to my esteemed friend, who I have known and loved for many years, and not believing her when she describes depression. This is another thing I don’t understand – why anyone would choose to think their friend, their sibling, their parent is a liar when they talk about their feelings.

Sometimes people tell me they’re dealing with depression. I have no idea if it’s the right thing to say, but I always end up saying the same things: “That’s terrible.” “Have you talked to anyone about it?” “Do you want to talk about it, or will we just have coffee/play with some puppies/talk about that movie?” These are mostly the same things I’d say if they told me they were having panic attacks, or feeling majorly stressed out, or [insert problem with life here]. I believe them. This is what we should do, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary – and people generally are an authority on what going on inside their head.

Sorry. I don’t mean to get so heavy this early in the day, but this is what happens when I have too much coffee and start thinking before 3pm.

//shay