WTF, Mom?

My mom called last night to chat and she announced that she and my dad have all kinds of plans for what we’re going to do while they’re here and how it’s her goal to get me up and cooking as quickly as possible. Because “you will be fine.”

I need my parents, my mom especially, here for two reasons–to drive me home from the procedure and to help me tend the wound if/when it’s in an awkward spot. I don’t need firm reassurance or to be rehabbed. Plus, the Butcher is a good cook, he just doesn’t do it very often.

I’m trying to be patient, because I’m sure they’re freaking the fuck out in their own ways, but my dad is the bossy one. My mom is the one who’s kind and understanding. I can’t live in a world where the poles have flipped.

Living Ahistorically

Last night, Nashville had a community meeting about whether Ferguson could happen here. Over at Pith, I already went into how what was a weird question, because it has happened here.

But this morning on my walk, I thought of a better way to illustrate the problem. We live in a city where white people ask a question that rests on an unspoken question, “Do we have that kind of despair over racial inequity here?”

We live in a city where people my age have living parents who were banned from whole swathes of the city, who were beaten and poisoned and arrested for trying to make that different. Those people my age are trying to raise children in this city–a city that would treat their parents that way.

The people who treated their parents that way, some of them, are still alive. Their children and grandchildren still live here.

And yet, it always seems like we want to move ahead as if the past doesn’t weigh on us. At least, some of the past. We pick the weights we want to bear and it seems like Nashville’s long history of what we do to black people is a weight most white people are constantly surprised to find still exists.

Won’t You Stay and Keep Anna Lee Company?

It’s weird to think about how we’re all just a shaky collection of agreed-upon stories. I was reading the other day about a study where researchers convinced college students that they’d been molested (licked in an unfriendly manner and not let go) by Pluto while at one of the Disney themeparks, even though it hadn’t actually happened. They were able to convince a sizable minority of the people participating in the study to remember it happening.

They made it real for them.

I sometimes wonder how much of my own life is fake, misremembered or misconstrued events that take on meaning to me, or things that seemed trivial at the time that become oversized in importance later. How often do I think something was a turning point in retrospect but, at the time, if there was a curve, it was so gradual as to be unnoticeable.

I’ve been staring at “The Oath of the Thirty-Three Orientals” for three days now. Nothing I’ve read of the landing of the thirty-three easterners would indicate that they should have landed at a place with a building and yet, if you look at the painting, you see that many of them are standing in the shadow of some rectangle with, maybe, a steeple of some sort? perhaps a church? Something casts a shadow.

That’s how I feel about the past–that I’m trying to determine what’s there based on where and when I’m in the dark.

The Red Baby Afghan!!! Of Doom!!! Or Something!!!

I took this picture so that you could see how I covered up my fuck-up with the lace part pulling way in compared to the half-double-crochet part. I didn't have enough yarn to do a frilly border, but what I did was to go around once with a single crochet, but when I hit the lace, I did a triple crochet, which built out that part. Then I did a simple triple-crochet/chain-one border on top of that. The sides are not quite square (though I may be able to pull them squarer when blocking) but the gap isn't glaringly obvious.

I took this picture so that you could see how I covered up my fuck-up with the lace part pulling way in compared to the half-double-crochet part. I didn’t have enough yarn to do a frilly border, but what I did was to go around once with a single crochet, but when I hit the lace, I did a triple crochet, which built out that part. Then I did a simple triple-crochet/chain-one border on top of that. The sides are not quite square (though I may be able to pull them squarer when blocking) but the gap isn’t glaringly obvious.

They Pray and Rob Churches

I find this terrifying. The police in Ferguson have apparently robbed a church. After making public shows of praying before press conferences and praying before nights of violence.

We’re all told that, if we just do what the police want, we won’t be harmed. But how can you figure out what someone wants when he tells you to go one way and his partner tells you to go another and they arrest you for not following orders? How can you figure out what they want when you’re not resisting and they say “stop resisting?” When they pray like they’re Christians but aren’t afraid or ashamed of entering a church to steal from it so that the church cannot do the work it’s obligated to do?

I am scared to death for the people in Ferguson. People who pray in public and then rob churches… I mean, what can you even say? These aren’t people who act by a moral code. But they’re armed and state sanctioned.

Update on the Broomstick Lace Baby Blanket

Though I settled on three rows of broomstick lace as a decorative element, I ended up doing about seven rows just to get the three rows right. That shit is hard! Well, no, doing it is relatively easy once you get the hang of it. But trying to figure out where you’ve fucked up and how to rectify it? That’s hard as shit. I just kept tearing out and redoing until it worked, though I can’t say why it finally worked when it did.

And now I’m in this situation where the half-double crochet part is wider than the broomstick lace part, which, duh, now in retrospect, of course it would be. And I’m not quite sure how to fix it. Blocking will help some, but I think the other important thing I’m going to do is to put a really ruffly border on it, so the shorter rows aren’t as noticeable.

Still in love with that red, though.

It’s Going to Hit 100 This Weekend

Which means, if I procure a shower curtain, I can block the Kool-aid afghan out in the back yard. I really hope it doesn’t run.

I have done my first row of broomstick lace on the red afghan. I really, really like it. I’m going to do three rows. I love the color of this yarn, but I’m not really digging the yarn. It’s a little too stringy, too cotton-feeling, even though it’s mostly acrylic, wool, and nylon. So, I’m glad I got something lovely, but, eh, now I know I don’t like that.

I finished a draft of this year’s October thing. It’s not really scary. It’s just weird and funny. And it doesn’t take up all thirty-one days, but I’m hoping I might have something special on the 31st, just for y’all.

So, well, fuck. I guess I’m about wrapping up everything I need to have wrapped up before the surgery. I wish that made me feel better, but it kind of doesn’t.

Ferguson, Continued

I think the thing I find most interesting about this is just watching how the racial attitudes I grew up surrounded by and the racial assumptions of the power structures in those places sound to outsiders.

In a way, the dynamic is very similar to how abusers talk about the people they abuse–there’s always a long list of wrong-doings, and, as we talked about, often those accusations are true. Brown appears to have robbed a convenience store. He had been smoking pot, apparently. Neither of those things being punishable by death.

And, for sure, being angry that a confrontation between the police and an unarmed kid lead to that kid’s death doesn’t justify a quasi-military invasion and occupation of your neighborhood.

But I grew up in towns where it was just assumed that black people, except the “good” ones, were more dangerous than white people (even the “trash”) and that they had to be constantly surveilled by the police if and when they were around because, well, “you know how they are.” And everyone nods along, with rare exceptions.

I can see this same attitude in the Ferguson and county police, who keep trying to trigger the “and everyone nods along” portion of the event. Everything they’ve released is about trying to show that Brown is not “one of the good ones,” and therefore, whatever happens to him, it’s not really important for “good” people to bother themselves with.

That they cannot force this dynamic to play out with this individual seems to have caused them to try to escalate things in Ferguson so that they can try to trigger it at a community level–these are all “bad” ones because they’re outside when they’re told not to be, because they don’t respect the authority of the police, etc.–so that they can be vindicated in their treatment of the community and therefore of Brown.

They are afraid, that much is obvious. And that makes me worried more people are going to end up dead by the time this is over.

The Best Way Out is Always Through

I have been thinking to myself a lot “the way out is through,” and I got to wondering who said it originally. And there, in a pile of inspirational quotes, was “The best way out is always through” attributed to motherfucking Robert Frost.

If you know Robert Frost, you know why I say “motherfucking Robert Frost.”

Robert Frost is like king of the pithy quotes that, when taken out of context, seem, yes, inspirational and wise. You know Robert Frost only two lines at a time, you think Robert Frost is some sweet old New England farmer handing out gentle wisdom while leaning on his hoe, overlooking his lovingly tended garden.

“Oh, Mr. Frost, I seem to be tangled up in your blackberries, which also may be a metaphor for my life!”

“I see that, girl. But just keep coming toward the sound of my voice. ‘The best way out is always through.'”

“I’m free! Oh, thank you, thank you, Mr. Frost.”

“I don’t have time for gratitude. I have to help this person trying to make a big life decision decide which path in a metaphorical woods he should take.”

That’s never how a Robert Frost poem goes in real life, though. They’re always sad, someone is always missing a connection with another person or about to.

And thus it is with “A Servant to Servants.”

I’m still going to think of that phrase, but it feels maybe a lot more honest and a little less inspirational to know that the speaker of the poem feels rather ambiguous about it. As you do, when you’re thinking about your crazy uncle locked in a cage in the barn.

Could This Happen Here?

One of the things I find most disheartening about the Ferguson situation is that I see a bunch of folks asking if “this” could happen here.

None of them are talking about whether a cop could shoot a kid down in the street.

I guess we’re just all assuming that could happen. So, let’s jump to the worry about whether people’s rage/grief/fear here could spiral into this kind of chaos. A kind of chaos that might affect all of us.

But I wish we dwelled longer on how to train our cops to deescalate and how to demilitarize their presence.

It is Marvelous

This red.

I’m about halfway done because I have all this nervous energy but I can’t concentrate to read. I want to sit on my end of the couch and be as small as possible, as tuned out from the world as possible. Just me and this red blanket.

Maybe not a Whole Afghan of Broomstick Lace

I think I’m going to do a simple half-double crochet and just accent it with broomstick lace, because doing a whole afghan that way for my first attempt was probably too ambitious.

But holy shit, the baby blanket is going to be red, because they had this red at the yarn store that is like… Oh god, I don’t even know. It’s dark and and rich. It’s a kind of red that, if blood were this color, you’d forgive vampires.

And I finished the Kool-aid afghan, with the exception of the little problem of how to block it, which should be funny.

Broomstick Lace

Tell me if I’m biting off more than I can chew here, but I’m thinking why not send the lavender baby blanket to the family I know will get a kick out of it and making a different blanket for my cousin. A broomstick lace baby blanket. It would be my first foray into lace making of any sort. But I did a test swatch using a pen instead of a broom stick and it seems pretty easy and the results are pretty dang cool looking.

And I’m going to finish the Kool-aid afghan up tonight, for sure, so I need something to do while I’m fretting about upcoming events.

I Make No Promises

But I feel like a book that describes itself like this is going to be awesome:

You know all about Son House and Muddy Waters, but have you ever heard of Eraserhead Morgan? Lester “Proudfoot” Jackson? Hootin’ Jack Wilson? Probably not, because technically they never existed. The fact that they’re imaginary does not mean that their stories aren’t worth sharing. Obscure Early Bluesmen (Who Never Existed) helps to fill in the gaps left by music historians who refuse to acknowledge the important role played by fictional performers. Inside this book, you’ll find accounts of seventeen entertainers who, had they existed, may very well have had some impact on modern music.

At Full Frazzle

So, they’re going to stick a guide wire in my breast first. And then I’ll go to surgery.

I am low about it. I’m not sure why, but I both can’t talk about anything else and am so tired of talking about it. Everyone has the same questions and I only have the same answers, which means that I feel like my day is just me repeating things that I know are going to alarm people who care about me. And then I feel like I have to manage their alarm. But I also am alarmed.

And I feel kind of guilty because it’s not the worst news, right? It’s just a fast-growing, relentless tumor that’s going to require them to take a big halo of perfectly good tissue with it so that it doesn’t come back. But it could be worse. So, who am I to feel scared and uncertain?

I get so angry when people say they’re going to pray for me. I have to extricate myself from the conversation as quickly as I can, because I just want to yell “Fuck you, for knowing the right thing to do and say.” And then I feel like an asshole for even thinking it. But I’m jealous of and offended by the certainty.

When I texted my uncle to tell him that the biopsy was that it wasn’t cancer, he texted me back, “God is good.” And so I feel a little like I’m inconveniencing people by not being fine since I had good news.

And I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I can recognize a whole mountain of support from good people who love me and who I love, but today I experience it as overwhelming and it’s making me more scared. I want to turn off my phone and hide from everyone.

Though admitting it makes me feel better.

The Lavender Afghan is Done

The purple afghan from the front, with green border.

The purple afghan from the front, with green border.

This was a small enough afghan that I could have sewn it together, but I love the way the seam looks on the back.

This was a small enough afghan that I could have sewn it together, but I love the way the seam looks on the back.

And then this gives you a good idea of how the green is just a lovely hint on the front. Very pleased with how this one turned out.

And then this gives you a good idea of how the green is just a lovely hint on the front. Very pleased with how this one turned out.

Benign and Soon Gone

The surgeon is going to take it out on the 28th. My parents are going to come down.

It’s fine, but I feel discombobulated. I’m already ready for my routine back.

The dressing gown was way too small.

The Butcher thinks someone tried to take the dog, let him out the the car and walked off with him and then, in typical Sonnyboy fashion, he saw the jogger, who was more interesting than the dognapper and took off after her and her dog.

Here is the thing. When the Butcher called me, even before he said a word, I knew something terrible had happened. And I felt that terror for about fifteen minutes. And then, I felt relief and I went on about my morning. I knew he’d found the dog, even before he said so.

I have to write this book.

And finish these afghans.

I feel sad and happy. I don’t really know how to explain it.

I’m glad the dog’s back.

Things, Always Things

–This morning, a bicyclist who passed me on Lloyd was singing to himself. Sadly, I couldn’t tell what song he was singing, but it made my heart happy.

–The green with the purple of the baby blanket makes it look like some kind of old-school computer game. I’m almost done. I can’t wait to show you guys a picture.

–One thing I have my eye on in the Ferguson situation is just how many different types of people on social media are showing that picture of the unarmed kid with long hair facing a wall of armed cops with his hands up and saying “Look how the police respond to us in our own streets.” Not just black people, but a lot of white libertarian types (though probably not surprising) and a lot of young people who, I think, perceive themselves to be the same age as the kid in the picture.

It seems to me that one “problem” facing police forces these days is that non-black people of my generation and older, by and large, look at that picture and, even if we think what’s happening in that picture is outrageous, even if we think what happened to that poor dead kid is unacceptable, we think “Oh, how terrible what’s happening to them.”

That “them” sentiment allows cover for a lot of police bullshit. Because it means the people with the actual social power to make the police behave aren’t always paying attention to what the police are doing. Even if, if we were, we’d think it was wrong.

We’re trained to see police tactics as mostly right and mostly in our best interest and, when we become aware of their shortcomings, we see that as a failure in an otherwise working system.

But I just don’t think that’s a majority opinion among people younger than me. There’s been a paradigm shift. In a picture with a young black person facing off against a wall of white cops, young people, it seems, mostly see themselves in the position of the young person, not in the position of the police.

I think, even in my day, a lot more young white people would have identified with the cops.

As terrible as Michael Brown’s death is, I don’t think it will be enough to spur real change in how police forces engage

 

–Oh, fuck. The Butcher just called and the dog got out of the car on him and now he can’t find him.

News!

I don’t have cancer! I have a fibroadenoma, which is nothing to worry about and a phyllodes tumor, which is a fast-growing tumor that can, apparently, grow to ridiculous size and, since I can’t possibly find a place that will make me a three-cup bra, I’ll probably eventually have to have it taken out. I am waiting to hear from my primary care physician about a surgical consult and we’ll go from there.

Oh, Monday

The dog peed in my shoe. That self-same shoe broke. So… I don’t know if the pee was a warning about the shoe or the shoe was like “Fuck this shit, Phillips. I give up.”

I have a blister on my boob, near where the Band-aid was. And when I pulled the Band-aid off, my boob started bleeding. Like I’ve become one of these people with tissue paper skin or something. Last night, when I was attempting to examine the blister, I started to feel woozy and sick to my stomach. I had to sit down on the edge of the tub and let it pass. I think it’s just that this doesn’t look like or feel like my boob. The bandages that are left have ugly black bruises leaking out from them. I don’t normally have blisters. So, it’s uncanny to the point of making me feel like throwing up.

I have to write this Nashville book. No matter what the news is.

When You Can’t Do a Lot, You Do What You Can

purple afghan

This is for my cousin’s baby, due in November. These are the same squares from the Kool-aid afghan (which still sits unfinished for want of a clean sink) but with five rows instead of four. I picked these colors because that light lavender was our grandma’s favorite color and the dark purple makes it little boy-ish. I ran out of both yarns, though, so I have to go back to Haus of Yarn and hope they still have the same dye-lots. Plus, I think I’m going to connect it with gold, just to break it up a little. I want it to seem sleek and blocky, not dire.

On a Scale of 0 to 10

Sorry. I should have updated here yesterday, but I was just feeling scattered and overwhelmed. I had to alternate all day 15 minutes on the ice pack 15 minutes off. And today I still feel like my boob is the wrong shape and in my way.

So, anyway, it was cool in that I got to watch it happening on the ultrasound and it’s basically like this–imagine that my boob is a large Jello salad, shot through with thin ribbons of Cool Whip. They basically press on the side of the salad trying to see if they can get a glimpse of a pea that wasn’t supposed to be in the salad, but, hey, you’re making Jello salad and tuna salad on the same counter, shit happen. So, they press and a pea shows itself and they stick a long needle in and click click click grab samples of the pea. So, that’s how the first one went. Took a while to even find said pea.

But then they move on to the second one, which is over closer to my arm, and they press a little and what comes to the surface of the salad is not a little pea, but a great marble. Not a regular marble but an old fashioned shooter. A sun around which other marbles rotate. Oh, god, this is like the Inception of metaphors here. But it was huge. Is huge. And I realize that the ultrasound is magnified, but I mean, even just comparing it to the other thing. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, except “Wow, that’s really easy to see.” But all afternoon, I was like, there’s a huge thing in my boob. And I’m putting ice on it.

All of this implies that it has more color than it does. Maybe it’s more like you’re looking at a piece of dark gray marble with light gray lines running through it and you come across these great holes. That’s more the impression that you get, that you’re looking into a black hole. It’s just this spot where there’s nothing that looks anything like the surrounding tissue.

Anyway, they leave a little titanium marker in the black spots so they can find them again. Then they tell you they’re going to do another mammogram and you think “I can’t live through another mammogram, especially not after you just shot needles into my boobs all morning, because that sucker is going to hurt, I don’t care how gentle you are.” But it doesn’t really hurt.

Not even now. Fingers crossed. On a scale of 0 to 10 of pain, I’ve been at a 0 or a .5 since the procedure and extra strength Tylenol has dealt with that just fine.

But on a discomfort scale, I would say that I’m at a 3 or 4. It’s tender. The bottom side, where they did nothing, itches, I assume just because my body finds it funny to see me attempt to gently itch my boob. I feel kind of like throwing up any time I think about the fact that I’m not going to know until Tuesday what this is. And I’m terrified of it getting infected or opening back up, even though rationally, I know none of those things are going to happen. I want to carry my boob around like a small kitten, just tucked in my elbow, for safe keeping.

Anyway, I am glad there’s the term “cancer scare” just because this time period feels like a big, traumatic thing and I’m glad to have some phrase, even if everything turns out to be benign, that acknowledges that this part fucking sucks, too.

Other, Scattered Thoughts

–I don’t blame Ramsey for trying to unseat the Supreme Court Justices. He had to know that the pendulum was somewhere near its far right apex (though exactly where was hard to judge) and so, this was either a moment too late to try for it or the last possible moment ousting them could be done. I think the only misstep he made was throwing his money into it. He should have realized that, if it was going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars to potentially unseat them, he’d missed his moment.

–I’m curious to see how this bodes for the anti-abortion amendment in the fall. I still think, in spite of everything, there’s a good chance it could pass. But Tennesseans pride themselves on being thoughtful, somewhat conservative, moderates. I’m not sure that’s how the group supporting this amendment has presented itself.

–I have longer thoughts on the danger of stripping our country’s traditional folk magic practices of all of the signifiers that make clear that it’s a.) magic and b.) potentially dangerous and repackaging it to sell it back to us as “wellness,” but I can’t quite organize them in my head yet.

–I slept like shit. Kind of a blank, restless sleep. No dreams. Just long nothingness.