• The Escape Issue

    When Blood Runs Cold

    The Escape Issue

    Notes on care of the body as resistance from the mind of someone who's piecing it together.


    Ruby Brunton is a New Zealand-raised poet and performer who now lives in Brooklyn. She spends a lot of time thinking about how to create community and education alternatives. Find her on Twitter and Tumblr.


    Stealth Care

    When Blood Runs Cold

    Surrounding yourself with people, ideas, and creative energy is one way out of the overwhelming despair.

    When I was young, I had an illustrated book of rebellious women that my mother would read to me as a bedtime story. I would drift off to sleep with images of Boudicea’s white horse charging into battle against the Romans, Zenobia walking side by side with her soldiers, Cleopatra commanding her fleet from the bow of her ship. There were some 30 entries total, each accompanied with a color illustration that depicted the heroines as a cross between a Disney princess and Game of Thrones character. The cover featured a Gaia-like figure with long black hair leaning protectively over the world and all the heroines contained in it, engulfing us all maternally in her strands. Summoning up dream-warriors who had a tangible impact during their lifetimes seems a lot healthier than worrying about monsters under the bed.

    I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of months trying out different search terms in Google in an attempt to locate a copy (all my childhood things are in storage in New Zealand somewhere awaiting my possible though indefinite return) but so far I have not been able to trace one. I wish I could find a copy not only to reread now, but also to save for my child so they can drift off to sleep dreaming of Sojourner Truth and Phoolan Devi. Children’s books are a site for imagining, and this one taught me not that anything is achievable but rather many things you don’t think could be achievable in fact are.  

    When faced with a difficult situation in the past, I’ve found abandonment to be a pretty good solution. I’ve given up on dance styles, languages, university courses and performance projects that felt too hard to master. When presented with trauma, I’ve chosen to run away. The reason why my childhood book of rebellious women is at the bottom of a clear plastic storage box at the back of someone’s garage is because after my mother passed away I took off to the US, land of my birth, and have not looked back. 

    On November 8, 2016, my phone flooded with texts, emails, facebook messages from people in New Zealand asking when I was coming back and from people here asking if I’d consider a citizenship marriage. I replied “never” to the former and “the only kind I’d consider” to the latter. In hindsight I may have been too hasty with both responses. But for the moment, I’m here and with the global world order shifting so dramatically to the right, escape doesn’t seem to be a solution. 

    Lately, I seem to spend my days vacillating between hopelessness, extreme nihilism and an overwhelming attraction to any story, trend or image that gives me a remotely positive feeling. It’s not like we had a perfect global society suddenly ripped apart in front of us overnight, the hopeful feeling that achieving one is possible is now often overshadowed by feelings of discouragement. I don’t know how I’ll survive the future but I do know I can’t do it alone. I don’t yet have a blueprint for how my political action will ultimately look, but I find solace in historical rebels, diffuse resistance tactics, and allowing myself to imagine the kind of society I want to live in. 

    When the hopelessness starts to take hold, I find comfort in remembering times when I almost gave up but didn’t. When that fails to help, I find comfort in friends. One of depression’s cruelest tricks is to convince you that no one wants you or needs you. Doctors love telling you helping others is a great way to help yourself. Being resistant to mainstream middle class feel-good volunteerism, I used to snort at this idea. Now we’re at a moment in time in which many people are asking “What can I do?” and more often than not, I’m one of them. Surrounding myself with people, ideas, and creative energy is one way out of the overwhelming despair. 

    On November 10, I sent Tyler a text of hopelessness and he replied with a link to a zine about The Jane Collective, the underground abortion service that operated out of Chicago from 1969-73, while abortion was illegal in the US. I will add The Jane Collective to my ever-growing list to include in my full color book of rebellious women I’ll write to read with my future child.

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