So. That was a week. Here’s a day-by-day rundown, because that’s what it needs.
I spent the morning in debate: do I stay home because of COVID-19, or do I go to the Black Lives Matter demonstration at the capitol in the afternoon? Eventually, I had to act as my conscience dictated and went to the demonstration. It was the first time I had seen any of my friends literally since my birthday at the beginning of March. 7,000 people attended the rally (everyone wore a mask), and we ringed the capitol grounds– four square blocks– for an hour and a half, in spite of the rising heat. I was worried that racists would show up and try to start something, and while there was one person there who is notorious around town for having right-wing memorabilia emblazoned all over their pick-up, they left before the demonstration was scheduled to begin. I guess they figured that being a jerk while outnumbered several thousand-to-one was a bad idea.
While the demonstrations were peaceful, when night fell on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, clashes between protestors and police broke out, and a small handful of people vandalized buildings, broke windows, looted a gas station, and set fire to an office building downtown.
On Monday afternoon, news broke that Omaha DA Kleine had released Jake Gardner, a white (former) bar owner who killed 22-year-old James Scurlock (a Black man) on Saturday, May 30. Kleine initially said it was a matter of self-defense and that no charges would be filed (and sure, the case could be made for self-defense, but it disregards several weapons violations Gardner was clearly guilty of and not charged for). After that, Omaha and Lincoln felt like a powder keg ready to blow.
But in Lincoln, when the protesters defied the curfew and gathered peacefully at the Lincoln Mall, the Nebraska State Patrol did something they should have been doing from the beginning: they listened to the protest organizers. The organizers said that if the NSP chief would kneel with them for nine minutes, they would send everyone home– peacefully– at 10:30. The NSP chief took them up on the offer, sent the troopers back into the county/city building, and knelt with the organizers. The crowd was silent for nine minutes. After that, the majority of the protesters went home, though a few marched down the major thoroughfare through the city to protest at Target, whose Minneapolis stores often refused to sell supplies to demonstrators there (they’re also angry about Target’s partnerships with police forces and surveillance systems they say are used against poor people).
If there has been any more violence since the NSP chief’s decision to kneel with the demonstrators, I haven’t heard of it, though the protests have continued by day. The local police are working together with the local BLM organizers to set up a task force to address racial disparities in regards to the police, and the organizers urged protesters to run for local offices. I hope many of them do.
Wednesday and Thursday:
While daytime protests continued downtown, nighttime protests were out of the question thanks to the weather. Violent thunderstorms rolled through the area with high winds, torrential rain, and plenty of lightning. The Thursday night storm’s winds were just 6 mph slower than those of a Category 1 hurricane. There were a lot of downed tree branches and some trees that were completely uprooted, but fortunately no injuries or major property damage. There were some power outages, but those were quickly taken care up.
Friday and Saturday… were pretty quiet. I think everyone was exhausted from the rest of the week, and with temperatures in the high 90s, everything and everyone was moving a little slower.
I made it out to the park near where I work for the first time in a couple of months on Saturday.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
This little nut turned one year old! The veterinarian declared Mina’s birthday to be June 5th on her registration. In honor of the occasion, I bought both cats a couple of tins of the really nice cat food and a bag of Greenies, and got Mina a new toy-on-a-string to replace the old, worn-out one. I also bought more crinkle balls for both of them.
When I got home from buying the things, I thought to myself ‘I should hide these from her so I don’t spoil the surprise’. Then I paused and laughed at myself for thinking that Mina either knew or cared about her birthday.
Whatever she thought of the occasion, Mina is enjoying the new toy-on-a-string and was largely unimpressed by the fancy food.
She’s all grown up now! It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I found her, a tiny, half-starved bit of feral fluff afflicted with fleas, worms, and ear mites. Now she is a healthy– if still somewhat small– cat who runs into the kitchen whenever I go in there so she can pretend she’s starving to death in the hopes that I will give her more treats.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson, audiobook narrated by Kevin Free
- Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps has been on my radar for quite some time, but I finally downloaded the audiobook through my local library. Kevin Free’s narration is fantastic, and it had me hooked from the very beginning. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is a Tor novella, and introduces a world where some people retain the knowledge of science, while others have forgotten altogether, and so it looks like magic to them. The sorcerer, Demane, is one of those who knows about science, and so his actions seem like magic to the people he’s traveling with. I thought the story and world were fascinating, but the final third threw me for a loop, as it grew stranger and stranger, and ended with an incredibly ambiguous finale.
Thomas Cromwell is an exceptional biography of an exceptional man. Thomas Cromwell was born into a lower-class English family during the reign of Henry VII. He escaped that life, went to the continent, and became a wealthy and educated lawyer with connections all over Europe. He began working for Cardinal Wolsey– then Henry VIII’s right-hand man– and managed to survive the Cardinal’s fall from grace, rising and rising until he was the second most powerful man in England. His fall was sudden and breathtaking. MacCulloch’s biography is packed full of meticulously researched detail, and he presents the information event by event, rather than in a strictly chronological fashion. This allows the reader to really take in events like The Pilgrimage of Grace or the fall of Anne Boleyn as a whole, rather than scattering their details across time until they become disconnected from each other. It is a very dense book with about 200 pages of notes and bibliography at the end. But if you are interested in deep dives into Tudor history, this is an excellent work to look into.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles #1) by Dorothy Dunnett (112/543)
- Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly (94/416)
- The Changeling by Victor LaValle, audiobook narrated by Victor LaValle (5%)
No progress this week on The Game of Kings. I plan to focus on this one a little more this week now that I’ve finished the Cromwell biography.
Amberlough is a buddy read with Jackie @Death By Tsundoku. I’m about 100 pages in, and I am enjoying it so far. I haven’t really warmed up to any of the characters just yet, but I love the atmosphere and worldbuilding. It’s set in a world not unlike that of pre-WWII Europe, complete with its decadence and political tensions.
The Changeling has also been on my radar since it (along with Fonda Lee’s Jade City) won the 2018 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Since it was available from my library’s digital collection when basically all the other novels by Black authors aren’t available for another 4-12 weeks, I downloaded it as soon as I finished Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. I’m not very far into it yet, but I am intrigued so far.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, ARC provided by NetGalley
What I’ve Been Listening To:
I’ve been going through my Spotify playlists and clearing out the old ones I never listen to while revisiting some old favorites. I’d almost forgotten about one song: ‘The Promise’ by Globus, a musical group made up of a variety of producers and musicians. Their style is primarily symphonic rock.