yesterday was a strange day. well, most days are strange, but sometimes it seems more acute.
as noted, my chronic pain has flared up again, now for over a month with little relief. so i’m not sleeping well, taking various pills and trying all the therapies again and trying to walk the line with my yoga/workouts between doing nothing and overextending, both of which are bad. friday night we went out dancing and i danced as hard as i could while trying not to hurt myself (not *too* ecstatic), and i felt great when i went to bed, but woke up saturday morning feeling tired and broken, and the pouring rain did nothing to lift my spirits.
1. the little match stick girl
sunday morning jay got up before dawn and went to tahoe, which was only a couple of hours after i had finally fallen asleep. i tossed and turned until i needed to get up to go to see my friend Anastazia’s performance with the SF Lyric Opera in a production of The Little Match Stick Girl Passion at ODC.
The Little Match stick girl is a story by Hans Christian Andersen (1845) about an abused child who dies in the snow trying to sell matchsticks on New Year’s Eve. it’s a puritanical tale about the homeless, and it is heavy. i had planned on going Saturday night, but i was already feeling terrible on saturday and seeing such a thing sounded like a bad idea. and, as it is a reverent morality story, i thought it was more appropriate for a Sunday afternoon.
the piece was minimalist, with a choir of 4 singers (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) singing the David Lang vocal arrangement of the story, a cappella besides a few percussive instruments, and Anastazia, all in white, embodying the child. i have seen and performed with Staz many times, and had also read her description of her preparations to take on this role, which were personal and intense, and so on top of the subject matter, my personal connection to the performance as deep. the haunting vocal arrangement, the visceral embodiment of a scared dying child by my friend – by the end of it, i was full of tears.
and then the producer came out, also trying hard to hold back tears, and gave a short speech about how it was no accident that they chose this story to perform at this space – near 17th and Capp, a neighborhood plagued with prostitution, drugs, and homeless problems – as their return to the stage, and asked us to remember the homeless, remember the downtrodden and the dying. do not just walk by. and then i really lost it.
in Staz’s preparation for this, she said
“I feel the role of a contemporary artist no matter the medium used is to reflect our history, personal and planetary, and offer through that reflection another way to view the present while navigating a positive affect on the future.”
this production definitely achieved that goal.
the combination of this emotional intensity, my body pain, my fatigue – i was a mess. i could barely talk to my friends who were there, and i didn’t stick around to mingle.
2. the litterer
after some deep breaths back out in the sunshine for a bit, i met up with reagan, and we had a respite for a while, and then since it was a sunny day i decided to take a long walk from the mission through mid-market to powell street to get back on the train. at 9th and market/civic center, the man standing in front of me waiting for the walk sign threw his emptied single-serving liquor bottle into the intersection. oh how i hate flippant littering!! it took some restraint not to say anything, but i wasn’t just going to let it go by either. so right when the walk sign came on, i stepped directly in front of him, swooped down and picked up the bottle mid-stride and then kept walking directly to the waste receptacle on the other side of the street and plopped it in. i never looked back behind me, i never made contact, so i don’t know if he saw me, but if nothing else the other people in the crosswalk did.
this decision to not confront the litterer was a departure for me, as i usually do speak up to people like that because i think letting it slide reinforces the behavior. sometimes they really are ashamed “oh, sorry i wasn’t thinking” but sometimes they are defensive “who the fuck are you?!”
but last weekend, on March 17, i took a 1-day women’s personal safety course at Bernal Yoga, as i often find myself either confronting people, or being confronted, on the street and on the train and in clubs/at parties. and it was taught that your first priority is to de-escalate any situation, even if it means saying sorry when you’re not in the wrong, and definitely never provoking people. so i decided there to not provoke the situation, but in the few seconds before we crossed the street figured a way to make my point without ever interacting or making eye contact with the person, and that was to step in front of him and pick up the litter and keep walking.
3. the misogynist
a short time later, unfortunately, i had a much more intense situation in which to practice de-escalation. as i boarded the train home at Powell street, *immediately*, and without any provocation whatsoever, not even eye contact, a guy on the train started talking at me, loudly and aggressively, from a few seats away. “who the fuck you think you are, girl? why you dressed like that?” it was so obtuse that at first i didn’t even realize he was talking to me. his companion tried to calm him down with “come on, man, don’t say things like that. chill out” but the guy kept at it. “who you think you are? so what you got sunglasses? i got sunglasses too, BITCH” and his companion got up and moved down the train, telling him to “shut up, man, you can’t talk to people like that”.
then the guy broke into song to the tune of “i’m sexy and i know it” except that he sang “i’m a rapist and i know it”. WTF. the entire train could hear this. he was loud. i sat unmoving, looking forward from behind my sunglasses, wanting DESPERATELY to say FUCK YOU DUDE but instead deciding to get up and get off at the next stop. the companion kept asking him to stop, but the guy kept it up and i could hear him still yelling things at me as i stepped off the train.
in retrospect i am glad i didn’t say anything to the angry misogynist, except that i wish i would’ve said a very direct Thank You before exiting the train to the companion friend, who at least wasn’t just letting it slide (positive reinforcement).
i wish this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. i deal with street harassment at least 50% of the time that i leave my house alone, and that is unfortunately not an exaggeration. it’s usually not as aggro as that dude, more like the guy 5 minutes earlier before i got on the train that leered and swerved uncomfortably toward me and said “hola rubia……..” as i walked by on the street. but that guy is why i took the self-defense class, because while nothing serious has happened yet, with this rate of incident, i’m scared that it will. SIGH.
in the vein of the recent “shit X people say to Y people” meme, there is a “Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street” PSA video for International Anti-Street Harassment Week. if you have a friend who does this to women, make him watch it.
after all that, i needed a beer. so jay picked me up at west oakland and we went to the Trappist and had a couple nice dark microbrews.
another rabbithole complete.
doorway at 19th and Mission, taken yesterdayFiled in art, autobiographical, friends | Tagged with badunklsista, pain management | Comment (0)