A million years ago, I started doing a 5 things blog post daily based on Ashley Ford’s, which I adored. Ashley has started hers up again here on Medium after a long hiatus, and I’m thinking it might help me actually get things written because my thoughts are too fractured to consistently write long, coherent pieces and essays at any speed.
This week’s 5 things.
1. We recently “adopted” a kitten and she started going into heat a few days ago. And by adopted I mean that she was sickly and dying in the bushes outside our apartment and I managed to catch her and bring her inside where we quarantined her in the midst of our own quarantine. She was covered in ticks and fleas, weighed about a pound and a half and was so dehydrated and hungry we weren’t sure she was going to make it. She did mainly because we wouldn’t let her die. We gave her fluids (hypodermic full of water whether she wanted it or not) every hour and it was the only thing that seemed to help. That and picking all of the ticks off of her. And she lived. But we’ve never had a female cat who wasn’t already spayed so when she started showing signs of distress months later before her scheduled surgery to spay (along with becomes extremely affectionate and vocal with the cutest chirps) we freaked out. It was the first time that I began to understand that I hadn’t really allowed myself even after months, to think that this kitten, this cat was going to live and that I would be devastated if she died. And that I think that about everyone I care about during this pandemic. The trauma is immeasurable.
2. Before the kitten, we adopted a rescue dog who had been through a lot. Her first owner died, and she was left with the body for 2 days before it was discovered. She wouldn’t leave the body. She then went through two different fosters before coming to us. She is, to say the least, traumatized. She follows me everywhere including the bathroom. Noodle was like this too. He’d been dumped in the country, which was how he came to be with us. They both have serious abandonment issues. Noodle finally became more comfortable after a couple of years of us making it clear he was stuck with us. Mighty, like Noodle, is extremely sensitive to our moods, which can be good and bad. Bad in that we have a lot of shit going on, so we are often upset, which upsets her. Good, because it makes me more aware of my moods and how they are affecting those around me. Not just Mighty, but the cats and my wife. Sometimes I feel like we should have waited until our situation was more stable to adopt, but then I realize how unstable our lives have always been, and maybe we can all be what we need together or at least make a good try.
3. The struggles with rescue cats and dog has made my antipathy about pet ownership even more acute. There is a great deal of scholarly work on the problematic and deeply damaging ways in which we humans view other animals and nature as a whole, but there’s nothing to bring it home like an animal now in your care involuntarily because their owner (that word, jfc) couldn’t or wouldn’t care for them. We take these animals from their families/packs, make them utterly dependent on us for everything, even going to the fucking bathroom, then act like they are a burden on us. Feel free to look up statistics on how many animals are killed in shelters every year or how many animals are abused, killed, tortured, even sexually assaulted because any cruelty we do to fellow humans, we have total license to do with animals we own. Mighty’s terror when her fosters first drove away, her utter and destroyed grief was so overwhelming I can’t get over it. I can’t. Oh, she’s just a dog? Imagine that you were completely dependent on humans who may or may not torture you. Who may or may not tie you up in the yard and leave you there every fucking day of the year even when it’s below zero, even when it’s a hundred degrees.
4. Like most people, I’ve been struggling with my mental health and mood. We were already dealing with the nazi in the White House and the daily anxiety and then the pandemic. I am torn between feeling at times like we fucking deserve this, and the world would be better off — humans are literally destroying the planet not just for ourselves but for every other species on this earth — versus feeling that only the powerless will suffer. A small group of mainly white very wealthy powerful men made the decisions (based on profit and increasing their personal wealth) that lead to the rise in overall temperature. But it’s not this small group who will suffer. It’s the powerless, the poor, the women and children who will truly bear the burden of the pandemic and global warming. So, I navigate this constant struggle by fighting with whatever I have against the powerful, the wealthy and the global catastrophe they’re directly causing and profiting from. I fail. I fail all the time. I order from Amazon. I use too much electricity. We live in a rural area right now, so we have to drive everywhere. And I try to remember there’s only so much I can do. The real power to stop this can’t come from me, but I can add my voice to the crowd, the community, trying to hold these ghouls accountable. I’m trying to imagine a world in which my choices aren’t “save people from a pandemic” vs “save the planet from human-caused global warming.” Because they aren’t the only choices, but those in power only benefit if we think they are.
5. Part of that imagining is trying to visualize and really do the hard work of building a world I’d want to live in even if now I can only build that world on paper, in words and thoughts. Instead of raging (I do a lot of raging), I try to take the time to think about how I want this world to work. Things like: A wealth limit. A basic income to combat inequality and redistribute wealth. Universal healthcare with an overhaul of the entire medical system from education to practice. (This and really every part could be (and has been) blow out in hundreds of pages of details, of course.) Universal childcare and just a re-imagining of “care” altogether. A serious overhaul of our laws around ownership, real estate, etc. Either limits on or a complete ban on landlords and the rent economy. Public utilities that are actually owned and operated by and for the public including internet access. A re-imagining of cities and public spaces to increase wildness, decrease our dependency on cars and air conditioning. Reparations. Reparations. Returning land to indigenous people. And on and on. I imagine what a community would look like if it was based around actual community rather than simply everyone trying to improve and/or protect the value of their property or just trying to fucking survive.
The networks that we should be part of our community — the people who supply us with food, clothing, and anything we don’t produce ourselves, which is almost everything now — are not by design. These folks are now simply the cannon fodder for corporations, the forced-friendly, underpaid face of a world-destroying, climate-warming corporation that counts on us to take our anger out on these people in our communities rather than those who really hold power. Anyway, I have an entire book of fragments about How Should A Government Be and I plan to post some of them, but I really feel like this should be a community project. And how to deal with the inevitable creeps and trolls is another part of world-building that is simply too much of an energy-suck right now both in the conceptual project and the inevitable response in the real world. How do you make a world without racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and all the ways minority groups (like cis het white men) try to violently hold onto power when every institution, our language, every part of our culture is built around and on these as a foundation? A foundation of hate, violence, and exclusion. It’s difficult, complicated work even imagining, but it’s also the only safe space I feel I have anymore. And how will we know what we’re fighting for if we don’t imagine it?