Author Topic: Two Steps Away From a War Zone  (Read 1446 times)

Q. G. Pennyworth

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Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« on: March 26, 2018, 08:09:48 pm »
If a protest goes well, if the gods are smiling and the sun is bright and everyone keeps their cool and there are no counter-protesters and the government is on board, if everything aligns exactly right, it's a perfectly lovely day on the streets.

But if things go as wrong as they can, it's two steps away from a war zone.

My friend is saying he will volunteer as a medic and I am telling him about the advice I've gotten from other street medics on packing some trauma bags: a gallon zipper bag with 3 4x4 sponges for cleaning, a water resistant bandage for bandaging and a roll of gauze for if the wound is larger than the bandage and a pair of gloves. You know, if someone is hurt and you need to get them out of there fast, you don't have time to mess around with a fancy kit with everything sorted properly. He says if someone is bleeding like that you shouldn't be moving them, you need to call 911 and wait.

Sometimes the bad thing is still happening. Sometimes your choice is to leave them to bleed out on the street or move them when it's risky. He has never been this close to a war zone.

I am talking to the children about what to do if they get arrested, what to do in a stampede, where to go if they get separated and what happens if the police shut down the whole common and they have to make it home by themselves. I am constantly managing my language, adding caveats, calling myself paranoid. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." I an swearing like a sailor, because active shooter drills are more offensive than any cuss word.

There will be counter protesters. They are saying they will be armed.

At night I lie awake imagining getting shot in front of my kids, making contingency plans to get them out of there safely no matter what happens to me. I am talking with my friends about the optics of my potential injury or death. I am screaming inside, not a wail or a shriek but something battle-hardened and furious and fearful. I have the vocabulary for this. I know what I am doing.

I show them how to make flyers and why you use quarter sheets and how much text is too much and give them permission to demand more, to shout louder, to take a radical stance and let the other motherfuckers negotiate you down. I teach them chants and we talk about intersectionality and how fucking useless the kids in the next grade up are and how they've stopped talking to one of their classmates because he "has mixed feelings about the Holocaust."

"Don't resist if they go to arrest you, they'll be using the zip ties and those really hurt if you struggle."

They brought munchkins to their planning meeting and I've brought donuts to the day of the march. They are smiling and she is wearing her mockingjay pin and every year she looks more like Katniss and the world looks more like the dystopia that needs her, and I know why my baby has a crush on her. We are going over last minute plans and coordination and we are stocking up on water and snacks and we are double checking the maps on our phones to be sure we're talking about the same places.

"Everybody needs a bandanna or a scarf." I tell them. One of the other moms realizes what they are for.

I forgot my bullhorn and there is someone on the train who has his sign out and ready at our stop and there's more and more at every stop on the way, the doors open to a sea of young faces and sensible shoes and signs with slogans from the internet and memes only a middle schooler could love. We are in pairs. We are not panicking. We know how to move with the crowd.

"If there is a stampede you need to stay up. Move with the crowd, and keep yourself upright. Falling down is how people get hurt or killed."

The sun is shining and it is cold and the organizers could never have prepared for this but they have done an amazing job anyway. We see the politicians and the unions and the street medics and the socialists, the refuse fascism folks and the moms demanding action. We are courageous and prepared and we check in with our home base and we wait for word from the people who went to put themselves between us and the nazis. Because it's 2018 and nazis are a normal part of our political discourse.

Nobody gets shot.

My husband is live on facebook and they are calling him a felon and they are making teenagers cry and he holds his ground and he draws their attention and they stay away from the stage and away from the people who would not be able to take that trolling so lightly, the people who might be goaded into throwing the first punch.

I am in the crowd and the girls are leading chants and a hundred people around us are responding to them and we yell BLACK LIVES MATTER in front of the police station. My son is the only one brave enough to say hello to his Senator, until another mom speaks up and tells him that we're from his home town.

My voice is hoarse from screaming and the other moms did not know I am this person, but they know now.
Overheating Pheremone Pustule of Last Saturday's Jiggle Fun| _xgeWireToEvent: Unknown extension 131, this should never happen.

Don't fucking judge me, I've got tentacles for a face.

MMIX

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2018, 08:19:30 pm »
Wow. Kudos on your writing - and your life
Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders.     St George Carlin

Cramulus

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2018, 08:42:13 pm »
Thank you for that, QGP, for all of that -- from, everyone

Q. G. Pennyworth

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2018, 09:25:12 pm »
I am very glad I incorporated a church into my life this past year. Showed up there the day after and just cried like an idiot because adrenaline crash suuuuuucks.
Overheating Pheremone Pustule of Last Saturday's Jiggle Fun| _xgeWireToEvent: Unknown extension 131, this should never happen.

Don't fucking judge me, I've got tentacles for a face.

The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2018, 11:29:53 pm »
I am humbled by your efforts QG. I can't think of anything else to say other than that you have my lasting admiration for your courage and will.
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Q. G. Pennyworth

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2018, 11:40:40 pm »
I am humbled by your efforts QG. I can't think of anything else to say other than that you have my lasting admiration for your courage and will.

I am currently only accepting compliments on the writing :P
Overheating Pheremone Pustule of Last Saturday's Jiggle Fun| _xgeWireToEvent: Unknown extension 131, this should never happen.

Don't fucking judge me, I've got tentacles for a face.

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2018, 12:15:42 am »
I am humbled by your efforts QG. I can't think of anything else to say other than that you have my lasting admiration for your courage and will.

I am currently only accepting compliments on the writing :P

Good. I can do that.

Your writing is written by a wonderful person. And the writing itself is similarly wonderful. I am pleased to share my planet with you.
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Doktor Howl

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2018, 01:14:07 am »
Seconded.  QG is one of the reasons that I haven't entirely given up on humans.

Also, this was amazingly well written.

I'd also like to add that, speaking as a veteran, the comparison between protesting and war is valid, except that protestors are usually doing the right things for the right reasons, and don't get stained with innocent blood.
Well, that's hardly my fault.  I was just doing what I do, doing my little dance, singing my little song, you know?  And then Hirley0 got on the dance floor and said

SHAKE THAT
First ^  Then V

And I did.  I didn't feel like I had any choice.  Between P-Funk and Hirley0, I became the man reptillian menace I am today.

Bootsy Collins did this to me.

Pergamos

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2018, 06:22:07 am »
When I was young I got my war rush from protesting, that adreniline surge that I assume soldiers have, when they know the bad guys are out to get them.  I got lucky, my big battle was Seattle WTO, we won, nobody got killed, and it was dramatic and violent and I got to help people who got teargassed and beaten, and know that i was making things better for them.  I started a march, on the day that they weren't allowed, but I realize now I was a puppet, some guy came along and said "start shouting 'workers and students downtown'" so I did, then we went downtown,a nd got gassed and arested, and I was lucky my sister asked Kuan Yin for an escape and she ushered us into a little convenience store just before the cops came down and the owners let us out the back. 

My family hated the military, I was raised thinking soldiers were just murderers.  I understood why people would be soldiers in that experience, how you could follow orders you thought were right and lead people to get hurt and later realize the guy who gave that order was getting you hurt.  I am profoundly grateful for those on the streets.  I have been thinking about getting back out there myself, but we thought we won vs the WTO, they closed down their meeting, and then everyone lost their jobs anyways and the backlash elected the cheezit fuerher.  And now Seattle is all full of rich people and they riot when their football team wins, or loses, like good Merrkans.  And the kids politely leave school on a permitted political action day to politely ask if the police would please take some guns away from the people who have them.  We're rude when we should be, I don't know, I don't care about sports, but I imagine an appropriate reaction to winning or losing something I care about and it doesn't involve burning cars.  And we're way too fucking polite about anything that matters anymore.  People shooting kids is an appropriate reason to burn cars and we aren't doing so.

ReverendJesus

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2018, 08:15:23 am »
People shooting kids is an appropriate reason to burn cars and we aren't doing so.

THIS.
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Pergamos

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2018, 12:35:16 am »
People shooting kids is an appropriate reason to burn cars and we aren't doing so.

THIS.
Say, you still in Seattle?

Reasonably close.  up in the San Juans.

ReverendJesus

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2018, 07:40:38 am »

I'd also like to add that, speaking as a veteran,

Mind if I ask what branch?
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Doktor Howl

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2018, 09:31:16 pm »

I'd also like to add that, speaking as a veteran,

Mind if I ask what branch?

Army.  Plain old 11B.
Well, that's hardly my fault.  I was just doing what I do, doing my little dance, singing my little song, you know?  And then Hirley0 got on the dance floor and said

SHAKE THAT
First ^  Then V

And I did.  I didn't feel like I had any choice.  Between P-Funk and Hirley0, I became the man reptillian menace I am today.

Bootsy Collins did this to me.

Zenpatista

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Re: Two Steps Away From a War Zone
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2018, 05:14:00 am »
I am humbled by your efforts QG. I can't think of anything else to say other than that you have my lasting admiration for your courage and will.

I am currently only accepting compliments on the writing :P

Good. I can do that.

Your writing is written by a wonderful person. And the writing itself is similarly wonderful. I am pleased to share my planet with you.

Me too. I'm sure a lot of people feel the same on this. It captures a lot of what should be in a pamphlet on "how to protest". It really needs to be widely shared.

I like how the sentences go from short to long to short in places. It feels like the reader is on the subway - stop and go - and then it's a mad rush out to the gathering area. It's hard to read it without tearing up. I've had to read it quickly in spots because the words get blurry. It's hard to compliment the writing without also complimenting the writer and the action. I very much like the imagery. The details make it seem like you're there. Somehow I imagine a little kid shaking the hand of a politico and looking polite but serious. There's a great motivational and inspirational quality to it all.