how can you run when you know

by Megg on August 13, 2017

Yesterday I watched live as a 20-year-old white supremacist accelerated his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring many others.

We live in a strange time. I say this not because there was literally an angry torch-wielding mob of white men roving through Charlottesville chanting “white lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us.” I say this not because we have a man leading our government that can’t even condemn such things. I say this not because people standing up against such hatred lost their lives yesterday. These things are infuriating, but they are not shocking. They are not unique to our times. Historically speaking, they are much more American than not.

But now we live in a time in which we can watch this unfold, in real-time, on the internet. We can spew off commentary in the comment section, and see all the other opinions and hate-mongering as we scroll on through. We can watch our president tweet about how “sad!” it is that people died.

I do not quite know a word for this deep-set anger, that boils up from my center, mixed with a profound and sweeping sadness; this wound that never heals, for it is ripped open again and again. As I said before, I cannot be shocked by all this. But that doesn’t make it easier.

When I was in Standing Rock, and there were prayer marches and peaceful protests nearly every day, the lawmakers in North Dakota were trying to pass a law to legalize running over protesters in the streets. Though it did not ultimately pass, it got quite close, and North Dakota is not the only state that has been trying to pass such legislation. This was happening after a friend of mine got her foot run over by an angry construction worker (a white man) in a pickup truck who drove through a prayer march and threatened water protectors with a gun. He never faced any consequences for this, yet my friend, a Native woman, faced felony charges for being there.

I can’t stop thinking about how it is not only terrifying how emboldened these neo-Nazis are to chant “blood and soil,” aka “blut und boden”: a German idea that was swept up by the Nazis to proclaim German land for those of German heritage, but also the terrific irony that such claim could only be applied to American land by those who occupied it before Europeans came in and stole it all, those whose blood was spilt by those very settlers.

I am frustrated beyond belief. Aside from a system that squashes dissent and enables these domestic terrorists, allowing them to maim and kill with few legal repercussions, we face the self-satisfied white liberal, who condemns action and all but blames victims for standing up. When non-violent resistance is met with police brutality and unchecked civilian violence, who is there for those putting their lives on the line for justice?

When I see a car plummet into peaceful bodies in a crowded alley I see how easily it could be me or a loved one flying up into the air. I truthfully cannot understand how so many are able to consider that perhaps those people should not have been there, standing up against men with assault rifles and swastika arm bands. These are the people who will cheer when Indiana Jones fights Nazis, or when Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star, but fail to support real-life heroes that struggle against injustice and hatred in the streets of our cities and towns every day. These are people that are more concerned with the occasional broken window than the actual blood that is spilled every day by people of color and their accomplices in the fight against white supremacy.

In the past I’ve heard folks wonder why Germans didn’t take a stand against the Nazis before it got out of hand. Of course there were plenty who did stand up, who risked their lives and often died to save others. But I wonder, as fascism so clearly rises in this country, what Americans who oppose it will do. Will they “angry react” on Facebook posts? Will they “tsk tsk” at protesters who organize to protect themselves and others, calling them too extreme and advising them to “be patient”?

We live in a strange time. And I’m so tired.

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Home

by Megg on August 11, 2017

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The street I live on turns to dirt past the vacant lot next door. Everyday, from beyond the trees and trailers, I hear peacocks lamenting in the thick air of morning. The whole place sizzles with the sounds of cicadas and countless other insects, while the dull clatter of traffic bellows in from the nearby interstate. My toes stick together from the sap of pine fronds as I sweep them off the porch.

A year ago crowds were just starting to gather in Standing Rock. Each day was exciting and exhausting, a great unknown continually answered while new questions were posed. After a month and a half of relative quiet, in the hot, dense Dakota sun, this influx was daunting (even if it was exactly what we’d prayed for). I remember at night, if you tuned out your thoughts, you would hear a constant, high-pitched squeal: the collective chorus of all the little bugs. I didn’t exactly miss this sound once it was replaced with songs, hushed chatter, and steady drums.

home - logan square mural

Home is a funny concept. It’s only now, as an adult revisiting the places of my childhood, that I recognize them as a home. Back then I just wanted to leave, but now I am comforted by the things that are just so… Illinois. The familiarity of the trees, the birds, the smell of the city, the accent, the lake, the color of the soil… I can’t argue with all that. It’s the place that raised me.

Moon 10-15-16

 

Standing Rock feels like home because I lived there more intently than any other place, even if I’d never planned to go there. Living outside has a profound effect: you start to meld into your environment. Nothing binds one to a place so well as cooling yourself in the river on another sweltering day; or being pummeled by rain as you untie tangled cords, brimming with anticipation; or fighting the winds of a blizzard to secure a yurt, knee deep in snow; or walking clear across the river once it’s frozen solid, surprised though the locals told you this was going to happen. Standing Rock shaped me more than I ever could have anticipated, and I still reel from all the transformation.

And southwestern Louisiana feels like home, because everyone knows my name, and I’ve seen the fields of rice and crawfish ponds in every season now. Vowels get longer in my mouth, and the melodies of the songs are familiar (even if I don’t yet grasp much of the French they’re sung in). Still, it’s new enough to stun me, as I drive down a dirt road, slowing for a flutter of massive whooping cranes and roseate spoonbills. The glossy leaves of undeniably tropical plants. The way it rains; the way it floods. The muscle of nature and the failures of man. Roux, crawfish, rice, cayenne. Venturing out on any given night to hear my friends play music with expertise and intangible joy.

It’s daunting to have chosen a place; like choosing a sculptor to whittle me away into the next thing. And it is odder still to settle in after years of decidedly temporary homes, with all their names and views and characters. I’ve been having a hard time with it, to be honest. But just a few days ago I started sitting outside like this every morning, letting the air stick to me, learning the unfamiliar dialects of the songbirds, sipping coffee, watching. Quietly succumbing to home. 

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22. I Don’t Want To Write Tonight

by Megg on August 2, 2017

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I really don’t want to give up. I don’t even want to take a break. But the problem is, I might actually need one.

100 days is a long time for a project like this, but I was up for the challenge. I planned it in June, before I moved to Louisiana.

Then, of course, my car got destroyed on the way down. Instead of July being a month of getting back on my feet financially, it was a month of figuring out how to get another car and putting money into that just so I can be mobile again (which will help with getting a job).

It’s now August and so, it’s now time for me to get that job and make that money.

I could throw a bunch of other “excuses” at you but the truth is I am currently riddled with anxiety and depression and stress, and this project is adding to it. It’s been taking up a lot of time that I absolutely need to use on other things so that I can survive. I started this to get myself used to posting, and already it has done that. I have put a lot out there that I usually would never see the light of day (for better or for worse).

Writing takes a lot of time, and a good portion of that time is spent editing and, for me, digesting what I’ve written. At this point I do not have the kind of time to do what I really wanted to achieve with this project.

That said, I don’t want to let y’all down completely. So here’s what I’m going to do:

I’ve been at this project for 3 weeks now. 100 days is a little over 14 weeks. So for the rest of the rest of those 11 weeks, I’m going to be sure to post at least once a week. I realize that’s a lot less, but it’s what I feel is practical for what I’m going through right now.

Thanks so much to those of you who have been following along and to those of you who have donated. I made enough to keep the site up, which was part of the aim. Thanks also to all the support you’ve supplied, and to those who kept me going and to those who told me it was okay to stop.

Hopefully in the future I can take on another 100 day project (I’m hoping to do it with art next time). But in the meantime, thanks again, and I’ll see ya next week.

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21. loda, illinois 4/6/13

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This is day 21 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going.   across the horizon the hypnotic red blink industrial precision stuns these urban eyes till glistening black among the corn and prairie switch brings soft linens and clouds rewards of excess in a land where mere hundreds squint at […]

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20. I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight

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This is day 20 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going.   I want to go down by the river at night and hear the drums. There was so much trouble, so much trauma, but there were moments of pure magic, I tell you. J took me over the back […]

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19. (another) new home haiku

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This is day 19 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going. I will be doing extensive travel for the next few days and so I will be posting haikus. Longer posts will resume soon.    dance tunes all night long it hits me like a cool breeze i don’t have […]

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18. new home haiku

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This is day 18 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going. I will be doing extensive travel for the next few days and so I will be posting haikus. Longer posts will resume soon.    the sky, pale and low leaves wait, bowing to the rain which falls listlessly   […]

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17. big bend haiku

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This is day 17 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going. I will be doing extensive travel for the next few days and so I will be posting haikus. Longer posts will resume soon.    stars are out in droves the way his eyes catch the light ah, that tender […]

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16. standing rock haiku

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This is day 16 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going. I will be doing extensive travel for the next few days and so I will be posting haikus. Longer posts will resume soon.    another sunrise do our work without reward river is watching       Part of […]

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15. westmont haiku

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This is day 15 of my 100 day writing project. Please donate if you can to keep the project going. I will be doing extensive travel for the next few days and so I will be posting haikus. Longer posts will resume soon.    radient echoes crescendo of cicadas here it reeks of home       Part of […]

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