Monday, May 26 – Sunday, May 31, 2020
Note: I work on this blog periodically through the week. This week there is a noticeable tone change as I worked through my regular nonsensical musings and came up to May 25 when a white police officer murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis and protesting/rioting broke out around the country and here, 700 miles away, in my neighborhood. How can I reconcile the nonsense and the horrific in one short post?
Well…I believe the joy of life and the horrors of life (and all the other emotions) live side by side all the time. I can’t control what comes at me. So, here is an emotional melange. My week changed drastically.
Let’s start with the nonsense.
The Day in Covid Era Normal – Part One: I definitely had mixed emotions heading out for my first Covid era haircut. To be that close to another human for that long is exactly what we’re not supposed to do during a pandemic. I went because it was important to me to support my guy Kyle. I have to have faith that the salon was doing everything to protect themselves and me. Masks for both of us were required. Diligence was required. Caution was required. I’m sure a lot of the precautions we are taking now will surely go away and we will surely laugh at some of the things we are doing. At this stage in the pandemic though, I’d rather play it safe, and, honestly, I’d rather stay home.
The saddest part was not being able to give Kyle a big hello and goodbye hug but we sneaked in a highly controversial fist bump.
P.S. Are there other service industry members who routinely get hugs like hair stylists do? Can you imagine grabbing the guy who does your oil change or a random cashier or waiter and be all like, “Bring it in here Big Guy! Love you!”
The Day in Covid Era Normal – Part Two: Because I was already out and because the shop was on my way home, I decided to stop into Joseph Beth to pick up a dictionary. It was my first extraneous shopping trip of the Covid Era.
In all my life, I have never spent such a short time in bookstore. I had to hold back my tendency to browse. Right now, I’m just not ready to be inside longer than I need to. I had to concentrate on my simple purchase. With the library being closed and me finally being in a room with so many books I just wanted to take my clothes off and roll around on the New Release table.
The Day in a Simple Blast From the Past: I saw a dude walking up 14th street carrying a red solo cup. Suddenly I couldn’t remember the last time I saw someone walking up the street carrying a red solo cup, a simple, ubiquitous sign of summer. I got a little emotional. I couldn’t help myself and called out to the guy how happy I was to see him with the cup ’cause I hadn’t seen one in so long and because it reminded me of normal. I’m sure he thought I was a crazy person, as he kept walking he said, “I’m glad I could give you some good vibes.” Thank you random dude for playing along!
The Day in Switching to Post-Confinement: During the entire Covid Confinement I kept a white board in my apartment that I used to track time and daily tasks. I used it to motivate my own self into getting things done and to help keep me aware. Everyday I would wake up and write the day of the week and the date (like nurses do for hospital patients!) and any special things I may have had planned for the day (often blank). I completely erased the board today. I can go back to a calendar and to-do lists.
The Day in Pronunciation and Fine Dining: Nicola’s Italian restaurant is one of Cincinnati’s fine dining restaurants and I treated myself to take out on Thursday. Take out from a fine dining restaurant is counter intuitive as sometimes I’m just embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag, but I do. And at fine dining, the staff packages it, which is so fancy!
Anyway, I ordered Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, meat sauce and pasta which I pronounce Bowl-ahn-ayz, ending on the hard Z sound. That works for a good midwesterner like me, but the guy who read back my order pronounced it Bowl-ahn-ayz-uh, adding a very continental extra syllable. I liked it, but I’m sticking to my acceptable way of prouncing it. I’m still scarred from ordering Gnocchi at an Italian dive bar. I asked for Noh-kee, the waiter pointedly said Nyawk-ee. The next time at another restaurant I asked for Nyawk-ee and the waiter pointedly said Noh-kee. Come on!!
So that would have been my post for the week. But the brutal death of George Floyd coming on the heals of the death of Breonna Taylor (in Louisville) at the hands of reckless police officers led first to protests in those cities. By Thursday L.A. joined in. Friday night nearly every urban area in the country was holding protests.
I don’t have anything new to say. Militarized police forces have been running roughshod over local communities in urban areas for years. Forces are infiltrated with white supremacists. Black and poor communities have been mistreated and marginalized for so long most white people accept the narrative that they are to blame for all their social ills. Look, I could talk about how bad the system is and how it needs to change, but this blog isn’t about me solving anything. It’s about sharing what happened to me this week.
And what happened to me this week was my community tried to hold it together while agitators of unknown origins tried to escalate and stir things up. I’ve pulled and edited some posts I made on Facebook. I haven’t had time to reflect, so these raw words will have to do for now.
Protests Friday as I reflected Saturday afternoon:
The emotional tinderbox of race relations caught on fire in urban areas all over the country, including my Cincinnati neighborhood OTR.
I was woken up by a helicopter circling above the area at about 2 am and immediately knew something was wrong. The sound of sirens and honking horns far exceeded a normal weekend night. I watched crowds of people being ushered out of downtown on local TV until 3 am (the main violence was over) and could hear the city settle down by 3:30.
This morning on my way to work, the neighborhood was still asleep. When I returned this afternoon it was bustling. I passed the end of a peaceful protest in Washington Park and block after block of businesses boarding up in anticipation of tonight’s activities, which honestly and sadly we expect to turn to full on, very dangerous rioting.
People here are frazzled, but the kindness in neighbor’s faces (faces of all races) was apparent as I walked down Main Street to grab some takeout food. The second night of protests are always worse than the first. Kids from the suburbs want a piece of the action and they don’t care at all about OTR or downtown. Also, we know non-local agitators from who knows where or what side will be infiltrating and inflaming the already high tensions.
This is going to be a long night and a long couple of days and weeks for downtown, but people are invested in this community and we will find a way past this. The riots hurt. We live in a country that allows this shit to happen on a pretty regular basis and here we go again.
Love to my downtown peeps. Stay safe. Stay indoors. And if you need to go out, make it count for humanity and for our town. This sucks, but we got this.
Protests Saturday as I woke up Sunday Morning:
Waking up to a beautiful morning in OTR. Scrolling through news sites reporting on the violence and unrest in other cities, I am counting my blessings that I live here.
You can read how police and protesters behaved elsewhere, but our community held it together last night in a difficult and tense situation. Our @Cincinnati Police Department deserve great praise for last night. Was every second perfect? Of course not. But they did a decent job. (Note: I wrote ‘great’ in my FB post, but I think decent is more accurate.) The majority of protesters were out to be seen and heard. The people who were out last night are the ones who can bring change. We need them, their ideas, and their energy. We need change.
I got some flack from my liberal minded friends for praising the police. I’m of the mind that saying all cops are bad (the ubiquitous protester ACAB sign) is as naive as all cops are good. Neither viewpoint helps us move toward justice. And police, we can easily forget as they stand behind all that expensive, state-funded gear, are human beings.
My basic point is that there were two opposing forces Saturday night, the same opponents facing off against each other in cities across the nation. Cincinnati did not look like the other cities and the responsibility for that belongs to all the players. We can sort out the sordid details later.
Protests Sunday as I post this just before the 9 pm curfew:
4:25 pm – The peaceful and large protest in Mt. Auburn in walking down Vine St. into OTR. Don’t know where they are headed. D1 is my guess. There were problems there last night. Two helicopters are flying flow around the northern part of downtown (one is police, not sure what the other is). That sound is very unnerving. A large group of people is unnerving. Police on the edge is unnerving. I hope I community can hold it together one more night. And then we can worry about tomorrow.
8:38 pm – Protesters are peacefully standing at the Courthouse four blocks from my house. I’m watching a live Facebook feed to keep abreast of the situation. It seems more tense than yesterday. I am safe inside my apartment. I hope for the best tonight.