Slactivism & Poetry & Activism

Lena got grumpy on Facebook today

I don’t want to be like France. France’s color-blind racism is awful.

Color-blind Racism in France: Bias Against Ethnic Minority Immigrants

Taking the race question off of applications isn’t going to prevent racism.

Minorities Who ‘Whiten’ Job Resumes Get More Interviews

Taking the race question off of applications doesn’t help, it makes it so white people can think even less about their role in systematic oppression.

There is box I want banned.

I’m doing my best to provide and share intellectual resources. I’m studying and crying about the past, the atrocities of the present. Feeling sad about how shock dissipates, as the past and present echo, horrors feel predictable. Arguing with friends but mostly avoiding bigots. Writing poetry when I can’t not. Sometimes I protest, but not as much I feel I could. I still have more first-hand experience than most of my ivory tower peers. Honestly, mostly I hide. I hide out of fear of the state / the ugliness of police / the intensity of the feeling of protest and sense of community that overwhelms me. Right now? I hide because there is a plague. Often, I vote and worry I’m doing nothing.

What’s in a name? Hellmaggot

Okay, I’ll explain it. First, a visual aid: a picture of myself and my paternal grandmother.

Grandma Margaret & Little Lena
“See how pale she is and her hair was almost white, doesn’t that remind you of a maggot?” my mothers words in reference to this picture “here she is in her larval stage”

I have a joke about my first name: it is spelled Helena, but I take the He off because smash the patriarchy. Also, Helena is for Hell.

When I was little I didn’t want to be called any cute nicknames. I only accepted awesome nicknames, like monster and maggot. I have my grandmother’s name Margaret as my middle name. Margaret is for Maggot.

That’s why my blog is HellMaggot.

Some Days Having a House is Really Hard

Today I had 2 of my ACs serviced, one had stopped working and one was being weird. I got a quote to replace the third one, which had got a temporary repair on Monday, but the furnace is older than me, it needs replacing. The other AC I replaced back in 2017 and it is the only one behaving. After that, sewage started bubbling up in my basement. My champion handyman came quick and roto rooter’d it.

Now, now things are quiet. The house is cold. The toilets can flush.

Next, the sewer lateral needs to be scoped, as likely some section of it has collapsed and that will need to be fixed.

I am overwhelmed. And yet. And yet. I feel lucky. I feel lucky I bought too much house. It feels like almost enough house for being stuck in for a pandemic. I feel grateful for the people who help me maintain the ecosystem of this house. To the handyman and the hvac fella, my father who watches the porch, my husband who is making me dinner right at this moment, my friend who is trapped here with us who makes amazing coffee and brought me a glass of water explaining that without AC hydration is non-optional. Her and ET alternate making dinner and I have maybe never had such varied delicious homemade meals.

Thinking of the house as an ecosystem makes it much much easier to engage with.

I have big plans.
I have small plans.
I like having plans.
I have plans interrupted.

I want to get the garage roof replaced. I want it to have a green roof. I think I might be able to get a grant to help pay for replacing the garage roof with a green roof. I want a set of steps I can use to go up there. I want a hammock up there, a hammock with mosquito netting. May a rig for a yoga swing? Those seem cool.

I have little plans. I am getting a rain barrel later this month. I want to put it at the downspout from the roof. I need to fix the gutter on the balcony.

I want to paint my front steps (as they are new, but ugly).

I need to get my neighbor’s trees trimmed so they’ll stop kissing my house in storms.

One day I need to have more tuckpointing done.

I ought to learn how to repair plaster, and fix some of the water damage that has been addressed by the new roof.

I need to fix my taxes. Something is wrong with almost every year going back to 2015. I need to file the 2019 taxes, I have an appointment. I’m supposed to get a tax credit for my solar panels.

My solar panels are running!
My bills are lower.
I need to look at those bills. Another time.

I have too much to do. I am overwhelmed.
But I also know.
I can do it all.
I don’t have to do it all.
The house tells me what can’t wait anymore.

I’m busy at work. Overwhelmed. I’m in a pandemic trying to work from home. I found a project I can do.
I am loving this project.
You can look at student activity logs, and see what they’re all up to. You can also see that I am meeting with multiple students every day overseeing a massive effort to discover and showcase faculty works, identifying what of it is open access.

It’s a good project.

I got a new project yesterday. Make a library guide: “focused on the 2020 protests across the United States and the social issues surrounding them. It focuses on racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the relationship between police and people of color, and understanding the death of George Floyd in the context of institutionalized racism.”

I’m happy with how the guide is turning out. I’m working on it with two coworkers. I have great coworkers.

I think it is time for me to look into getting a new mortgage. Since getting the place I got a new roof, with solar panels too. I think the appraisal price would go up, and maybe the interest could go down. I need funds to replace the sewer lateral, the garage roof, maybe pay other debts? Probably not the student loans, I hope I can stop paying for my education one day, but for now at least another 2,533 days until those are gone and another 9,469 or so until the mortgage is paid off, if I don’t get a new one. I am going to have an involuntary pay reduction at work for the next year. It is a weird time and a hard time for planning. I’m overwhelmed. I am not under-prepared.

I am able to work on things that align with my values. I’m able to support a household I love. I am overwhelmed, but I am not alone.

Next, I’m going to go play a silly VR game or pet a cat or look at my strawberry plants. I am not going to look at refinancing and repairs and taxes tonight, because too much has happened today, but I did spew it all out on my blog, and that’s pretty good. Writing this all out was good.


Sometimes the internet points me in strange directions.

Now I want a scythe to mow the lawn.

I’m hesitant to get it because impaling yourself during a pandemic seems very avoidable by not getting a scyth.

I am content to want and not have. I can mow the lawn easily (but not well) with a weed whacker.

May day!

I had a good busy feeling May day.

Saw ducks in the park

ET creature and I went to the park.

Husband creature in mask

We didn’t try to go swimming. My friend Rhea have us masks. I bought groceries from the restaurant supply place that does curbside delivery. My friend Joseph stopped by and sat in the yard and we chatted from the porch. My mom’s handy man came over and didn’t mow all my newly planted strawberry plants. We had Thai takeout for our weekly exciting food night. I like weekly takeout. I want to support all the wonderful restaurants near me.

In job news, I got furloughed. So I won’t be paid for a week this month or next. I took a vacation day for today and I totally did work. I can’t do that when I’m furloughed. That is going to be hard for me. My job doesn’t consume my identity, I don’t need it, but damn do I enjoy it. I miss my physical library, but there is much I can do for the institutional repository from home. I have taken on a number of practicum students. Much will get done, much will be taught and learned. I’m excited about it. Being furloughed feels extremely inconvenient on a number of fronts.

Most everyone I know are having a hard time of it. I’m worried about a number of my friends, especially the folks with depression. It feels like gravity has been turned up, and they’re the folks who tend to be carrying the most.

I had a busy and beautiful day. I’m tired. This is my almost 3am post. Time to return to head to bed! Good night internet.

Poem – Darwin Award

Why do I hate it when you say ‘darwin award’?

because you are trying to protect yourself from something by saying it hurts dumb people, so it can’t hurt me
but it can

because Darwinism isn’t about what you think it is about
because Darwin isn’t about what you think he is
because my relationship to the history of science
and to the history of faux science
runs deep, and the meaning of your statement
expands in my mind
way beyond what you mean
and it fills me with despair

you wish death on people
you relish the idea of a deserved death
inside a mad world
where death comes to the people helping us
to the people helping them

Social Darwinism is steeped in a history of rich American racism
a racism that is reflected in the deaths in my city
why is this killing black people?
because the society we live in doesn’t believe black lives matter
I don’t know how to navigate
when you say
‘Darwinism’ what I hear is
I don’t understand history
I don’t understand science
I’m scared
I’m angry
I want to feel in control of the uncontrollable

and to me
it means you are just as bad as the people you wish harm on
and I don’t know how to explain
I am too interested in the history of science
I am steeped in pop science and faux science of the past
I can’t explain to you that
this isn’t what Darwin would have wanted
that this isn’t how evolution works
this isn’t about evolution, or Darwin or Social Darwinism

you don’t know about the racist history of science
the intersections of eugenics and meaning-making

every time I read your comments of
– Let Darwinism take them out
– Give them a Darwin award
I hear an echo of a history of racism and hatred that I can’t convey
I don’t know how to explain
it’s a history deep and old
and it isn’t about science
and it is about hatred and division

please stop it
please don’t say it anymore
I don’t want to read it
every time I do
I revisit a history you don’t care about
and I can’t stop you

you say ‘natural selection’
with a sneer
like it will protect you
like it will save you
and that isn’t how it works
you’re looking at death
and making it the other

Originally posted on facebook