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October 15, 2003

showed my pictures tonight. starting with birth. all the funny sad awkward loved lonely confused triumphant moments when someone thought to turn a camera on me and press the button.

me in front of the old yellow house on tenth street that i almost can't remember at all, we moved out when i was three. i remember sitting on a hardwood floor playing with a toy car. nothing else. but me in front of the house with a doll in a toy stroller and just bawling, so obviously hating the world and everything everyone in it. swinging on a vine in a jungle in hawaii. in the boat with my dad. the flood. the house my parents lost. high school danceline. mike. doing some silly dance with my brother in the kitchen.

and the more recent ones. hawaii again, with ml. yosemite with her. karaoke with friends. watching the fell street off ramp close from my living room window.

ended with the set from the protest day. march 20. shutting down bechtel. riot cops. all the supporters shouting and cheering yelling "be gentle" when they finally arrested us. playing music for us, feeding us, thanking us. i told aaron that before that day the idea of solidarity was an abstraction, something that people just said. that day it began to mean something for me. and even if it didn't change anything. i still have that.

i have photos of police having cleared an intersection that had been blocked, sweeping and arresting protestors, anyone who got in the way. and one old gray man in a yellow sportcoat. dress slacks. he just broke free of the crowd. and he walked out into the middle of the empty intersection. and he sat down by himself. and for a moment, everyone just looked at him, awestruck. this simple solitary beautiful moment of heroism. i still have it.

so frightening though, i remember. afterwards people told me how brave i was. i remember thinking no i'm not, i'm not brave at all. i was scared and alone and i didn't want to do it. i didn't want to be there anymore, wanted to get up and go home. i just had to grit and clench and wait until the decision making time was past. then wait for them to arrest us so slowly, one by one. if we wouldn't stand they hurt us. "pain compliance" techniques. i stood. i'm not that brave. i'm not.

then in jail for so long. sometimes okay but sometimes with this panicky mistake feeling...i don't belong here. this isn't me. let's go back and try this again. how d was there. always there on the phone whenever i called and i don't know what would have happened otherwise. how he waited and waited and i knew he was right outside, right around the corner and playing music for me that i couldn't hear, couldn't reach. and i wanted to be with him so badly. wanted to say "okay i'm ready to leave now ready to be done" but i couldn't leave and couldn't and couldn't. then the smiling photo he took of me walking out finally. 2.30 am.

later on my roof with him and a drink and a cigarette and feeling free like spinning and flying and just reveling in knowing that i could go downstairs and play some music. read a book. whatever. hearing about everything he saw that day. waking up a few hours later with him on my couch still and just looking for a minute. and then how it didn't happen the way i wanted after that. but the whole point is that none of that really matters because i have the photo of him with blankets on my couch and his black t-shirt that said "police brutality did not die on september 11". there with me, there for me. it was only a moment. but it was.

i don't go back to that day often. but right now i'm so goddamn grateful for all of it. every last photo. i have forever the look on the face of the officer whose photo i snapped coming off the bus after they cut the zip cuffs before they took all my stuff. anger. fear. they ran out of buses and had to send us on muni instead. they ran out of holding cells. they ran out of everything.

and i'm remembering what i should really never forget but it always seems to get lost in the details of just living every day. what it is to do important things. to be surrounded by people you love. nothing else really matters very much. i'm glad i am thinking of it now. i will try to hold it tight.