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Depressing diatribe on date-rape

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Maybe it’s the mid-January slump where people are most likely statistically to commit suicide, but in the past six days, I’ve learned that five of my friends have been date-raped and that a sixth friend, whom I already knew was raped years ago, had been raped again recently. Nobody reported any of it. Additional women voiced that they felt shades of this in their marriages; Christian marriages to Christian husbands. Marriages they have been encouraged to stay in by the pastors of their church.

I doubt the pastors themselves have experienced anything close to sexual coercion sanctioned by their larger culture and microculture. Of course these men, and many more like them, say that rape is wrong; they also may refuse to call anything rape unless the woman is pretty much dead from fighting back so hard the man was obliged to beat her up first. A couple of bruises don’t count. “No” doesn’t count either unless someone else heard you yell it.

Oddly, the absence of a screaming tantrum is not considered a sexual invitation in any other situation. As a guy, you would probably never feel obliged to tell the stranger next to you in a dark theater: “by the way, just in case you feel like groping me while this movie is playing, please don’t, and anyway I have installed razor blades in my jock strap.” But in more private man-on-woman situations? No provable screaming tantrum, no rape.

All of this perpetuates an attitude that allows for rape with literally zero consequence. Secret, serial rapists are entitled assholes who operate in the shades of gray created by the idea that women should be polite and “submissive” to what men want, even if men are not polite or “submissive” to what women want. And the more your culture believes this, the more date-rape tends to get spun as something other than a violation and more like an inevitability of the woman doing something less than perfectly.

Even if patriarchal types do acknowledge that something happened, it’s usually accompanied by annoyance that it hasn’t already been resolved. It happened last week, or last year, or a decade ago. For those who did it, it’s in the past. But for those it happened to, it’s now. Every single day may bring flashbacks. Injuries never heal if you continuously demand things from the broken limb, and even if an injury is cared for in the most healthy way possible, there’s often a scar; a spot on the skin that doesn’t stretch the same way uninjured skin does.

If my friends are any indication, date-rape is not a rarity; it is a reoccurring problem. And if you don’t understand it, try to step inside a compiled average of the internal and external struggle my friends went through. Or don’t, if you’re adverse.

 

In the skin

You don’t know how confused you’ll be when you say no

When you move his hands ten times, twenty times,

And he laughs it off, contradicts you, tells you how much you’ll like it,

So you laugh a little too, break the tension nervously

Try to stop the slow creep forward as he gets further and further inside your clothes

With every trick that occurs to you: with a joke, with a wriggle, with more words.

Then silence so he doesn’t get angry.

You can’t scream; that would be ridiculous. You share too many friends, he bought you dinner, you kissed him too when your lips first touched.

Your screams are mute; tense muscles clamped together, the liquid waves of your hands breaking against his solid and insisting shore.

 

You don’t know how hard you’ll fight

Or not fight

What a hostile private thing will feel like in your fist when you try to push it away

Hands around your throat and crowded into your jaw

Women want dominance, women want a real man who takes what he wants

You don’t know when you’ll give up and decide it’s your fault

You got yourself in this situation, why were you so stupid

Maybe if you tell yourself it’s Ok it won’t feel like this

How is this happening

It isn’t happening

 

You don’t know how he’ll laugh when you claw his smug face

And call you a feisty little kitten

Tell you it builds character that you bleed

I’m sorry that I hurt you, he says, with a smile

But you’re tough, you’ll get over it

You want him to die, and you want to die too.

You have never hated anyone like this. Anything like this.

You go into the bathroom and vomit because the smell of his raw fluid inside you is like poison.

You are so tired, so…

So…

 

Two tracks play in your head, competing for airtime. One: You got yourself into this, you accepted his invitation, you kissed him, you should just lie down and try to sleep. You told him he was handsome. You told him you were interested. He was so kind. He listened so well. He heard you, you felt seen by him. Did you really disappear, that he stopped listening so completely?

Two, slamming into the other and settling over you like a lead sarcophagus: You are a piece of human trash, diseased from his seed, diseased from your own inability to stop him. Shame on you for not stopping him. No one will date you now. You can’t tell your mom, your best friend. It would kill them. They would look at you differently. What to do? What to do?

The next day, you go to the hospital. It’s too late for a rape kit. You’ve showered, you’ve brushed your teeth, you’ve gotten him off you. They ask you if you’re Ok, and you’re not Ok. You can’t handle their questions, the bright lights, the exam, so you leave. He was inside your skin and you don’t want anyone inside your skin again, not even a doctor.

Why are you so stupid? Why do you always do the wrong thing? What the hell is wrong with you?

Well: it’s Ok, you’ll get over it. Something good will come of it. Don’t be upset. Think positive thoughts. Too much pain if you do anything else.

Too much pain. Cover it up with something else. A smile, that’s what.

Everyone likes smiles.

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How (not) to bribe a Mexican cop

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Tulum is uneventful, unless you consider shopping, yoga, food and beach time eventful. I try not to voice my opinion that I feel like I’m stuck in some alternate reality created for tourists, although I frequently fail. We leave for home at 3:45 am on Christmas Eve, filling up the gas tank on the way back. The gas attendants tell us it’s cash only, after we’ve filled the tank. We scramble to ply together the last of our pesos to pay for it, and then roll on. Half an hour later, we get pulled over by a Mexican cop, who tells us we were speeding. I don’t doubt it, and he seems reasonable, almost like he’s about to let us off with a warning. Surely, I think, in the middle of this super-touristy upkept resort strip, he’s not going to do anything weird.

However, the second he gets Collin’s driver’s license, he tells us (specifically me, since nobody else understands him) that we will have to pay the ticket at the police office 20 kilometers away, and it doesn’t open until Monday, and he needs to keep Collin’s license to make sure he pays the fine. We can’t, I tell him, because we’re on the way to the airport and won’t be here on Monday. Well, says the police officer, then maybe just one of you can stay behind to pay the ticket? I shake my finger at him. “No está possible,” I inform him.

At this point, the police officer asks Collin to get out of the car and come back to his car with him. I get out my wallet and survey the pesos we have left: maybe $10 worth, mostly coins, and I’m not sure how much bribing a Mexican police officer runs these days, especially on the resort strip with their gargantuan edifices. Collin opens my door and hisses: “he wants $150 US. And of course nobody carries any cash but me!” Ben hands us a US $20 he has, and Collin takes the wad of small bills. I dump my coin purse into my hands and go to help negotiate; Collin is notoriously shy about any type of haggling, and I have a feeling the cop can sense it. I gesture to the money we have and say, “está todo, está todo,” and Collin shows his empty wallet just to prove it. The cop asks when our flight leaves. “Ahora, ahora,” I say. The cop shrugs reluctantly and says Ok, he’ll take it. I pretend to give him all the coins, although really I only give him some and palm the rest. Meanwhile, he tells me sternly not to speed. “Si,” I say, and jump into the car. “He wouldn’t even write the amount on a piece of paper,” Collin says as we inch away. “He wrote it on his hand, with the peso amount next to it.”

We make it to the airport on time; our flight has been delayed 15 minutes. We make it back to snowy Idaho within 12 hours, and play a certain track from N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton on the way home.

Meanwhile, over the internet, our friends give us advice on how to handle this situation, lots of information, none of it useful unless we decide to revisit a place where bribing police is a thing. Specifically: don’t act like you’re in a hurry. Make small talk. Don’t give them any important documents they can hold hostage; bring photocopies and give them the photocopies. Say “well, how can we fix this?” and offer them the equivalent of $5. Next time I have to bribe a public official, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind.

 

 

Leaving Cuba

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We’re in the Havana airport catching our plane to Mexico, but it’s three minutes until the plane leaves and the airport hasn’t posted which gate to go to, or any other information whatsoever. But this seems to be normal. I wander around the airport asking at various (also unmarked) gates where people are headed. At one point, an American pilot advises a crowd of people headed to Atlanta: “I think the gate is actually over there, because that’s where the plane is. That’s where I’m going.”

I find the correct gate, and apparently we’re delayed, just because there’s nobody boarding. We don’t board for another hour, and then, suddenly, the doors open and the attendants begin scanning tickets, no first class, no pre-boarding, no warning at all.

We arrive to Cancun hours later than we expected, and meet up with Ailsa, whose flight from Boston was also delayed. Once we’re in Mexico, we can get our backlog of messages, including the one that Liathan, Collin’s youngest daughter, is also delayed, and will be arriving around midnight. We pick up our rental car and drive towards Cancun to find some dinner. Both Collin and I remark upon how weird it is that all the cars are new, that the roads are new and totally straight, that the strip of box stores and shining lights and gleaming chrome looks as if it’s been transplanted from California. Cancun, I think, is LA for douches; a colony of US amenities washed up on foreign shores to capitalize on the tourists who flock to gaudy resorts with night watchmen.

“I miss Cuba,” Collin says.

We eat dinner and wait for Liathan to land, accompanied by Ailsa’s boyfriend Ben, whom Ailsa has convinced everyone else to allow on the family vacation. As it turns out, it’s a good move, because we discover after dinner that their flight has been postponed yet again. After boarding they were un-boarded, which means now they’re supposed to get in at 4 or 5 am. They’re not sure precisely when because their plane is being fixed. By this time it’s nearly midnight, and we decide to check in to the Cancun airport Marriott in order to be close by; the night watchman at the gate, however, speaks no English, and keeps asking for our reservation. I repeat a couple of words I’ve seen advertised on the casas in Cuba: habitación, disponible: nosotros no tenemos un reservacion pero, uhhh, uhh, un habitación por la noche? Esta disponible? The night watchman nods and writes down our license and we drive through. We then attempt to sleep in between getting tearful phone calls from Liathan and more stoic messages from Ben, who is apparently passing the time by Facebooking minute-by-minute updates to one of Ailsa’s friends from school:

1:15 am — I just got on a second broken plane so that’s how my day is going.

1:20 — I bought pizza and then an hour later they gave it to the rest of the people on my flight for free.

1:23 — Aila’s sister is currently sleeping next to me.

1:28 — I scored blankets from first class.

1:33 — Liathan wakes from her slumber after being roused by a rude elderly woman.

1:36 — I’m now exiting the plane because we can’t get the flight done in a “legal” amount of time so peace out and bye world. If you need me I’ll be in the Minneapolis airport slowly rotting in a corner.

The second time they’re de-boarded, and subsequently told that the flight is cancelled, Ben makes a beeline for the help desk and tells Liathan they are not moving until they get the first flight out. They manage to get the first flight out, and arrive, after staying for a few more hours in the airport, at noon the next day. We drive to Tulum, check into our Air BnB, and take some serious naps.

To Trinidad

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We’re taking a taxi collectivo to Trinidad. We start out eight passengers crammed into a three-row taxi, me squashed in the back next to a large man at the driver’s request. The driver keeps texting someone as we hurtle down the mostly-empty highway, and I study the sticker he has plastered above his rearview mirror: A Calvin-knockoff comic-book boy flashing the bird and grabbing a tall girl wearing nothing but a thong, with the caption ALANTE NO MONTO VIEJAS. I fake-translate this in my head as “No old women allowed on board,” although I discover later after looking the words up that it would be more accurately “No old women allowed to ride in the front seat.” Either way, it’s charming. I suppose this is why Castro hated pop culture.

We ride two hours and then get shuffled into another “taxi” with eight more people. The driver tries to tell me to get into the back row with four other women because I’m skinny, but I refuse. I’m tired of being squeezed into corners. I take a super-plush hard plastic seat next to the equally small hard plastic seat my boyfriend is sitting in. We quickly discover that the van has no suspension, no vent system, no insulation: $40 per person to rattle down the highway with baggage stuffed underfoot, for the remaining four-plus hours of the trip. Halfway there, we stop for a break and a German girl decides she’s also tired of being squeezed into corners. She takes a French guy’s seat, which offends the French guy. He and his wife begin discussing this highly abnormal and horrific turn of events, in French, while the German girl berates the driver in English: “Everybody needs a seat! There’s not enough seats for everyone! You must arrange something else!” A Portuguese girl translates this into Spanish for the driver, and then translates back his response: “He says it was arranged by the guys in Viñales, and he can’t do anything. He’s just the middle man.”

The German girl hunkers down into her book and her insisted-upon seat. “Assholes,” she mutters in response. Her boyfriend saves the day by making a seat out of a backpack and sitting on it himself.

Six hours into the ride, teeth clattering, Collin announces: “I’m dirty, I’m hot, I’m sweaty, I’m tired, I’m starving, and I have no shoes,” and I laugh, because the fact that he’s devoid of all footwear is really the icing on the cake of this misadventure.

When we arrive at our casa, it’s too late to buy shoes in Trinidad. I tell our host, an endearing old woman who chatters at me in Spanish like I can understand her, of Collin’s predicament. I have researched and memorized a couple of phrases for this occasion. The woman, who thinks Collin’s name is hilarious just to begin with, finds this wildly amusing, and enlists several neighbors to find a pair of flip-flops that he can borrow. Collin is fastidious about most things, but he has apparently come to terms with the realities of being barefoot in Cuba and is genuinely ecstatic to have a pair of too-big, well-worn secondhand sandals. We go to find dinner. We pass one place that I say looks nice, and Collin says it looks too fancy. But I convince him. It is not too fancy, it’s Trinidad, where everything is fancy, in stark opposition to the day’s ordeals. We sit on a rooftop terrace, just the two of us, with the full moon overhead, and eat three courses and drink pina coladas and some local honey-infused cocktail, all for less than $30. “This town is awesome,” we toast, standing up, because the hard plastic seats imprinted on us and there’s no way we can sit down more than is absolutely necessary.

The hiking tour

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We decide to take the National Forest tour someone told us about, and tell our host. Specifically, I tell our host a bunch of strung-together words and he calls a taxi, which drops us off in a field with a sad and mangy horse surrounded by three men in cowboy hats and rubber mud boots. This is unexpected but not entirely out of character for Cuba, so we roll with it and say we want the walking tour, not the riding tour. One of the men slaps the fattest among them on the stomach and grins. The rotund guide grunts despondently and sets out, the two of us following in our sporty Earth Runner sandals. I ask if he can speak English, since our host assured us the tour would be in English. “A leetle,” he says, and then immediately switches back to Spanish. I decide that this is OK and it just means we get some language lessons in-context.

Our guide says his name is Joel, and begins pointing out plants and views, all in Spanish; mango, sugarcane, sweet potato, guava, avacado. He leads us to a tobacco farm, to a coffee-rum-and-honey farm, and to a cave. This takes three or four hours. I had been under the impression that this tour of the National Park meant we’d be hiking in some kind of jungle, but apparently no. Apparently, instead, I smoke a hand-rolled cigar dipped in honey, chew some sugar cane, and try to learn a bunch of new Spanish words, most of which I immediately forget. Collin’s Earth Runners break in the mud on the way back. “Dang,” he says “that’s my only pair of shoes.” He walks through the mud barefoot the rest of the way, rides in the taxi back barefoot with his broken sandals tucked into his waistband. I tell our guide that it’s fine and that at home, he hikes barefoot all the time.

We try to find him another pair of shoes in Viñales, to no avail. It’s Sunday, which means the shops that exist are closed, and even the open-air tourist markets aren’t selling shoes. So tonight, Collin will have to dine barefoot, and tomorrow, he will have to travel cross-country barefoot. “First world problems,” I say. “but actually, it’s more of a third-world problem, I guess.”

Viñales

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We take a two-hour taxi to Viñales with a couple from New Zealand. We talk about politics nearly the whole time. Not necessarily by choice, but because when you’re an American traveling abroad and your country has just elected a guy that the rest of the world considers to be a dangerous lunatic, specifically the kind of dangerous lunatic that might plunge them into war with China, they want answers. We compare our tax rates and they demand why ours are so high given that we get so much less from what we pay. For what we pay, they get health care and a host of other social services. “But oh, yeah, war,” they remember “war is expensive.”

We get to Viñales and wander the streets, taking photos of farmers with teams of horses and oxen, and later, the view of the valley. It is a good place for photos if you’re into that kind of thing.

Arrival in Havana

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We arrive in Havana slowly, lines moving through the exit metal detectors at a humid pace, lines at the currency exchange languid as well. We go to find a taxi to take us to the casa particulare Collin has managed to book in advance using Paypal and Air BnB. I brandish the address I’ve written on a scrap of paper. The lady at the information desk does not speak English, but she does know a guy who can take us to our destination — specifically that guy right there. That guy right there is muy simpatico, and we roll out of the airport in his vintage Russian car with an agreed-upon price between us, past a billboard with photos of Castro through the ages, blazoned with the slogan Fidel Entre Nosotros. I wonder if this has been put up in the two weeks since his death, or if it’s older than that.

The streets are full of vintage cars and diesel fumes, windows rolled down for breeze, me leaning forward to try to communicate with the driver. My pretend-Spanish is only about as good as the French and English cognates he says, which means that I say “si” every few seconds to the things he helpfully points out, like the Plaza de la Revolución, the statue of Che, a photo of his daughter on his phone, the fact that Donald Trump is horrible. I pretend-translate between the driver and Collin when Collin realizes he can’t see any street signs. “No existo de nombres de … via?” and I point out the window. “Si, si,” the driver agrees, “Es Cuba!” and he waves the need for them away. He yells out the window to a random guy: “oy, chico!” and gets directions. We continue down an alleyway teeming with people, bicycles, construction, trim and beautiful girls in pristine school uniforms.

I’ve never seen Collin look so much like a child: eyes as round as saucers, somewhere between terror and delight. We come to a pile of construction rubble in the narrow alley and the driver stops, turns, speaks to me. “What’d he say?” Collin asks, and I say, authoritatively, although I’m not remotely convinced it’s true: “He said he’d leave the car and walk with us to the address.” As it turns out, I guessed accurately. The driver locks up his taxi, shoulders my bag, and marches us through la Plaza Vieja a few blocks to our destination. He rings the bell for us. No answer, or at least none that we can hear, because a quad of youth on the balcony of a nearby crumbling building are blasting Iggy Azalea and reggaeton so loud that nobody can hear anything. The driver yells upwards to the casa’s cleaning lady until she buzzes us in; he doesn’t leave until he’s sure we’re going inside. We tip him well.

The nephew of our host greets us wearing a Bluetooth earpiece and a bike-shorts-and-spandex-top ensemble that’s just loose enough to indicate that it’s a fashion statement. He speaks no English. We wait for our host, sipping water and listening to the deafening syncopation of Iggy Azalea.

Collin, still a bit dazed, says he is nervous about getting around Cuba given that neither of us speaks Spanish. “Nah,” I say “we got here fine. I do this all the time. It’s easier in Spanish than in Thai or Japanese. Way easier. Aren’t you impressed with my fake Spanish?”

Our host arrives, and he speaks English. He tells us where we can find dinner, and says not to worry, the streets may be loud, and dark at night, but they are safe, safer than anywhere else in South America. He yells out the window for the youth to turn the music down.

We explore Havana for the next day and a half, mostly just walking and taking pictures. We quickly get the lay of Old Havana, where there are street signs after all. We drink agua con gas, listening to tour guides tell us about buried Spanish treasure and pirates. Havana is beautiful, and frenetic, and also laid-back; ruined and restored; underrated and yet full of tourists and people wanting us to tip them, from the unwanted table magician to the postal worker.

How liberals lost the working class

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“Uneducated white males.” That’s a phrase I heard from pundits leading up to the election and after it; that’s the base that elected Trump more than any other demographic.

The phrase itself illustrates the main reason Trump won.

It’s true that Trump drew racists and alt-right supporters; that he drew people afraid of what would happen if Hillary became president — including people who believed and re-tweeted the fake stories accusing her and her staff of literal witchcraft. But he also drew a significant segment of the regular-guy population sick of being labeled “uneducated” by politicians; he galvanized the working class by promising to shake up an establishment that treated them with contempt. He promised to bring their jobs back. He promised to resist the tide of globalization sending work overseas. Regardless of the fact that he’d sent his own manufacturing overseas; regardless of rising economics favoring microchips over human workers, they took a chance that he, a big businessman, could help their own bottom line.

This in spite of the fact that worker’s rights have traditionally been championed by the left — the hard-core left and the progressive movement, which plucked turn-of-the-century manufacturing out of the hands of children and instituted the 40-hour workweek, sick leave, child labor laws. The move towards worker’s rights ran contrary to monopolies and top-down capitalism. It was not an easy fight — and in some cases resulted in actual bloodshed.

This in spite of the fact that even in recent years, Republicans have voted against workers’ rights. According to a New York Times breakdown on labor policies, “conservative Republicans supported the right of employers to take money [in this case, tips] that workers had earned. This disregard for the earnings of workers is only an extreme manifestation of a more common phenomenon among Republican legislators: their indifference to the problem of wage theft.”

The left lost the votes of the working class when it began patronizing them, becoming, as many working-class people accused them of, “the liberal elite.” The pontificating college professor, the yuppie stay-at-home mom with nothing better to do than manufacture outrage about a “culturally appropriated” textile pattern or two. The left got out of touch with the working class because it saw “uneducated white males” as the problem, the root of racial tensions, sexual “micro-aggressions” and climate change denial. It tried to educate the “uneducated” with graphs and pats on the head — with accusations and not-so-patient sighs. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t work well. And along came a guy who appealed to the visceral rather than the intellectual, along came a guy who spoke in short sentences and said he was on their side. That he would make their country great again. That he’d mop the floor with the people who looked down on them. And they voted for him.

If the left wants the working class back — and they should, for the sake of the working class itself — they’ve got to stop playing it so safe and calculated and intellectual. They’ve got to stop being patronizing. They’ve got to stand for something rather than merely against something.

They’ve got to find their heart and soul again, and they’ve got to be comfortable with callouses on their hands and dirt under their fingernails.

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The morning after

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I lay awake last night wondering why I felt so afraid. An aging orange caricature, a would-be media star screaming dissonant sound bites and superlatives, has launched himself to the highest political office in the world. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m afraid for myself, for the wandering hands of every man emboldened by this self-styled pussy-grabber. In crowded spaces, women know the lingering touch of the males who feel entitled to run their hands wherever they fall: the faux-polite “I’m behind you” sweep across the lower back or shoulders, the “accidental” ass-grab, the “you’re just so pretty” ass-grab, the “don’t worry about it, you’re wearing leggings” ass-grab, the “you can’t be offended because I’m a little buzzed” ass-grab. I’m afraid for my friends, for my nieces, for the young girls growing up in this world. I’m afraid because in those situations, I turn around, angry, ready to punch someone in the face, and I meet a crowd — no single person to chastise, only the crowd of men who might have done it. And how can you fight a crowd? How can you fight a nation of men who gleefully emulate the guy at the top crowing that his position, his wealth, his status, allow him to do whatever he wants to whichever woman he chooses?

I’m afraid for the land, the bones of the country, for the seams holding us together and giving us clean water, clean air. I’m worried that our public lands will be handed over the highest bidder, our national forests razed, our waters polluted, our earth mined for oil and ore until houses collapse and the air grows unbreathable. I walked through the quiet Austin neighborhoods this morning and leaned into a domesticated oak, and my heart ached. What would we be without our wilderness, without the trees pumping water inland to our fields, to our herds and the wild animals of the forest? Where would we be without clean water to drink? And will the powers that be realize the dangers before we’ve killed our tenuous ecosystems, killed the plants, the animals, and finally ourselves?

I’m afraid for my brothers and sisters of different ethnic backgrounds, especially those fighting on the forefront of keeping their land from being harmed. I’m afraid to see them unarmed in the face of armorment, see them go up against a system where they cannot win. Peaceful protest will land them in jail, and armed revolt would be worse.

I’m afraid for what this means for international diplomacy. For trade and maintaining the peace. My job hinges on international and cultural understanding; the market-driven rather than political kind. The market is always affected by politics, however. Nationalism is bad for the economy, and I’m worried now to see the Dow plunge, the markets panic. To see nations begin to shut themselves off, suspicious of a people who would elect such a uniquely unqualified candidate.

I’m afraid as a journalist. This man’s supporters have issued death threats to journalists; the man himself has threatened the entire First Amendment of our Constitution. I’m afraid for anyone who does not think exactly like this man, whose creed, color or language sets them apart. And I’m afraid for those who are exactly like him. This is perhaps the most dangerous position: the position of complacency and safety — even of victory — where so many others are threatened.

And perhaps these fears will not come to pass. Perhaps the people of the United States will rise above the man they’ve chosen to lead them. Perhaps his words will not define us. Perhaps his narcissism will be curbed and directed by more seasoned individuals. But you will forgive me for my sleepless night, for pressing my cheek into the oak this morning and wanting to cry.

 

Elevate the Vote Austin

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I arrived in Austin, Texas, two days ago. Yesterday I attended an Erinn Lewis class at Sukha Yoga; I stumbled into one of her classes last year and decided she had to be the best yoga teacher I’d ever found. So I made sure to go back, listening to her tell stories interwoven with the intricate vinyasa flow, relaxing into her maternal exuberance. At the end of class she announced that she was leading a free yoga session on the State Capitol lawn on election day, a counterpoint to the frenetic anxiety of the news cycle and the polarizing candidates. So I went. It was beautiful. It was probably the most hippie thing I’ve ever done, but it felt healing to sit in a flash mob community, to be silent, to pray, meditate and laugh with people I didn’t know.