Serial displacements

President* Trump,

So Old Lizzie seems to be feeling some better. She was able to come upstairs to go to bed last night under her own steam and in between crashed out naps, she’s been super hungry today, which we are taking to be a good sign. It’s hard, though, seeing her so creaky and ginger when she moves around and of course, being a dog, she can’t tell us exactly where it hurts and how she’s feeling. It’s obviously always been the case that we’ve had to take all of our cues regarding what she needs and what we should do for her from her observable behavior, but now that she’s ailing, it feels a lot harder because the stakes are higher – we don’t want to cause her any more pain or distress. Honestly, I was hoping that there would be something apparent in the testing yesterday so that the decision about when to put her down would be easier. As it is, we’ll have to wait and see when she gets to the point where she’s just not wagging her tail anymore, isn’t interested in us or food or her nudgy little dog brother, and generally seems like she’s done, assuming that she doesn’t appear to be in a great deal of unmanageable pain sooner than that.

This is the third time I’ve started this letter to you because my computer kept crashing during my wait-in-the-car-while-Laura-does-the-grocery-shopping time. I’d get a couple of paragraphs in and the cursor would just freeze and even though I could move the little mouse thing around, it was like it wasn’t connected with anything – I couldn’t even click on the icon to let me quit applications. It was like the mouth was still moving but no one was home. Hmm. Kind of a lot of that going around lately.

Anyway, hard shutdowns were the only option and frustratingly, that didn’t even work to reset the system. Fortunately, when we got home Laura took a look and tinkered with it a bit and now it seems to be work ok, though I don’t exactly trust it and am doing lots more interim saving than usual.

While I was having my forced downtime in the car I got to see some bird drama. It started out familiar enough with a crow chasing off a seagull. They came careening across the parking lot and when they’d gotten far away enough from whatever the crow was protecting, the crow peeled off and perched in a tree while the seagull alighted on a lamppost. After a bit another seagull came onto the scene and perched on a lamppost across the way from the first seagull. Seagull #2 was probably there about two and a half minutes before Seagull #3 flew to #2’s lamppost and took it over. And wouldn’t you know it, Seagull #2 flew straight over to Seagull #1’s lamppost and pushed #1 off of it. Then all hell broke loose and the three seagulls were flying at and around each other before one took off with the others in pursuit. The crow was nowhere to be seen.

Maybe the members of the seagull trio are all friends and it was just a silly, fun way to pass the time. Maybe. I’m obviously not a seagull behavior expert, but seeing #3 displace #2, who in turn, displaced #1 reminds me that those of us with frontal lobes need to put them to work and use our higher cortical functions much, much more reliably. We’ve got to stop clicking into bird (or lizard) brain when we feel our territory, whether it’s a literal piece of ground or something else we feel entitled to, is being encroached upon so that we will stop the primitive, dangerous, and all too often lethal, retaliatory behavior we are so apt to engage in when we think some So and So is coming to knock us off our perch. And yes, I’m speaking directly to you right now.

May we use reason and self-restraint to keep everyone safe.
May we be willing to radically empathize with one another.
May we channel Audre Lorde and engage in self-preservation as a radical act of protest.
May we accept that we’ll have to reboot many, many times before we home in and get things right.

Tracy Simpson

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