I Can’t Be Satisfied

I have this terrible habit of calling my friends and asking their opinion about something and then getting pissed when they give it to me.

So, I’m all mad at Mack because I called him up for advice on buying a house and he gave it to me and it involved shit that bothers me and so I’ve been sitting around all night “Well, fuck that; he doesn’t know,” like I’m fourteen.

The thing that irritates me is that I never made any other plans.  I was going to go to college, find a husband, get married, have some kids and spend my days bitching about doing the dishes.  So, just like now, but totally different.

And for the most part, I’m glad things didn’t work out that way, because, frankly, I like difficult men and I, myself, am the kind of person who sits around and gets pissed when people do what I ask them and I don’t guess I believe that I could ever be happily married.  I reckon this, in part, because I’m always delightfully surprised when I find married couples that still like each other–like it’s a hen’s tooth or something.  This isn’t because happy marriages are all that uncommon, I don’t think; it’s just that I never thought one for myself was possible.

So, yeah, that’s fucked up.  But it is what it is.  And, like I said, I’m happy that my life is how it is and I’m very happy that I didn’t just settle for who would have me, with the expectation that I should just be happy someone would put up with me, no matter how shitty the match was.

But what I didn’t do, and what I still don’t do, is make other plans.  Okay, so I’m not getting married to someone I don’t really like and living in a little town where he drinks too much and I sit on the phone complaining to my friends about what an idiot he is.  I’m not devoting my life to my kids, because I don’t even have kids.

So, what, instead?

And, frankly, in general, I don’t know.

I think it’s a theological problem.  Of all the things I can’t let go of, it’s hardest for me to let go of the idea that there’s some plan, that all this stuff happens for a reason, leading to some great purpose, and if only we could get enough perspective, we would see it.

There is no plan.  There’s just me, who needs to suck it up and get on with it.

And it’s also a feminist problem, really.  I cannot quite let go of this idea that my goal in life should be to be someone’s perfect match–to not get too entangled in a happy single life, so that it won’t be too messy for me to give things up to incorporate myself into being a wife.

Though I think those two things go hand in hand; that they reinforce each other.  I feel like I’ve been trained, since I was very, very little, to think of my primary job in life as being a good wife and so everything that I might want to do, no matter how cool, is just a way to burn time while I’m waiting to be chosen, which will then prove my worth as a person.

It’s hard to admit that to myself out loud because I hate it and, if any one of my friends spouted such nonsense, I would spend the next three hours lecturing them about what bullshit it was.

I can recognize it as bullshit.

But, if we think of each woman as a bonzai person, contained and kept as a kind of simulacrum of full people that don’t actually exist, what I’m saying to you is that this is the shape of my roots; barely deep enough to nourish me, but the shape I’ve been given my whole life.

At some level, maybe, feminism is about realizing that–that you are root-bound–and working towards putting seeds and shoots in free soil.

But this is the shape I take.

And what I want to tell you is that I’m afraid of trying a new shape on my own.

Even though I know it’s stupid, it’s so hard for me to do what I want to do just for me.  Sometimes, I can trick myself into doing things by convincing myself that they’re for the Butcher or for my parents.  Sometimes, I can impose on others to do some of the stuff for me.

But this house stuff, I need to do that for me.  And I can’t quite figure out how to go about it.  Not the outward stuff.  But whatever it is in me.

But articulating that makes me feel better.

An Open Letter to Midwesterners

My Fellow Midwesterners!

Did you know that they’ve changed the University of Missouri–Rolla to Missouri University of Science and Technology?!  How, I ask you, is a girl supposed to say “Oh, Missouri University of Science and Technology” with the same amount of smug disdain that a girl can roll “Oh, Rolla” off her tongue?  How could they do this without consulting those of us who didn’t go there?

Alarmed,

Aunt B.

p.s.  Come on, Missouri, why isn’t your state tourism slogan “Missouri loves company”?  It’s so good I can’t believe I’m the first person to think of it.

Two Things, Er, Three Things. Wait, four.

1.  If I ever need to give someone a look of any sort, I’m totally hiring Katie’s baby to do it.  Take a look at these pictures.  We have “I will tear your head off,” “Um, maybe you shouldn’t wear that in public,” “Is that Lee Greenwood or Ray Stevens?” and “Let us never speak of this again.”  I could make good use of any one of those looks.

2.  Isn’t Fleetwood Mac, at this point, just a Fleetwood Mac cover band?

3.  One last Google Street Map view.  If you lived at the old zoo, you, too, might have a bear cave in your front yard.

4.  Ha, ha, Ex, your governor’s an idiot.

Looking at Old Things

Oh, I forgot to tell you why we were at the Presbyterian church.  So, see, as you know, there’s not really a “Battle of Nashville” historic battlefield of any sort, because we put houses on it.

But the city (or maybe the state, I forget) has been given this tract of land, with a house and some outbuildings and a couple fields, which is a big swath of land in town that is just how it was back when the battle was fought.

And I just wanted to get a look at it.  Se we went to the church next door.

But it was pretty overgrown and there wasn’t really any good way to get a look at it.

But I want to see it!  How can I make this happen?

Our River is Beautiful. What is Wrong with Us?

Nashville, I spend a lot of time, when I can, driving aimlessly around our city looking at things and then mulling them over.  It’s my way.

And yesterday, as I was attempting to ascertain how Timothy Demonbreun got into his little cave home and looking at just the gross-ass litter I had to drive through a bunch of non-river related industry to see, it dawned on me that we have this beautiful feature of our landscape that we treat little better than a sewer.

In general, we’ve lined it with industry and chosen to live elsewhere.

In the past, this made sense.  The river was, first and foremost, the equivalent of an interstate–full of traffic and noise and things that need to be moved from one place to another.  I live right next to the interstate and I can tell you, every morning, when I’m out walking the dog, I’m thinking “Should I be breathing this?”  So, I can understand why prior Nashvillians were not that eager to look at the river from their homes.

And it’s hard for me to imagine a day when future Nashvillians will sit in their houses and say to their friends “Why aren’t there more houses along the interstate?  Who wouldn’t want to stare at those twinkling lights all day?  It’s so beautiful.”  But what the hell?  It could happen.

My point is that I don’t understand why, with all the growth in Nashville, we’re expanding ever outwards instead of evicting the non-river-related commercial stuff from along the river and growing there.

Hmm, If Only There Were Some Mechanism for Collecting Money from the People who Work in Your State…

Passed along from S-town Mike without comment:

In general, sports teams do not generate much, if any, local economic impact …. The reason is simple. Sports teams, and especially those in leagues that play weekday evening games, attract insufficient “new money” into an area to overcome the large leakages created by players and owners who live outside the local area during the off-season and spend a large portion of their income elsewhere

Sunday Kind of Litter

Nashville, here are the things I found just laying around our city today:

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God, I hope my rosemary looks that good someday.

sunday1.jpg

Yep, let’s all go to the top of Tim’s cave and litter.  Nice.

sunday3.jpg

Here I am at the corner of 12th and Wedgewood.  If you look straight ahead, you can just see the top of the Batman building.  Can I really be that high up?

sunday4.jpg

Presbyterians, I have some bad news about what your church has done with your Easter cross.

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Except for the whole littering thing, it looks cool, still, though, I thought.

Wake Up, Professor!

I have so much to do today.  I need to go to the stores, pay bills, do taxes, do dishes (of course, fucking dishes), walk the dog, take a shower, blah blah blah blah blah.

But what I really want to do is goof off with the Professor all day.

I hope I can talk her into it.

My Own Private Nashville

The first time I saw this house, I about fell over. This, my friends, is the house I would live in, if I could. Well, after renovations. I’m sure the house has a good vibe, but I need central air, too.

The John Work House.

I love the bathrooms at the Ryman.

Ryman Auditorium.

When Zora Neale Hurston lived here with her brother, she lived somewhere in this block.

Lafayette Street.

In my dreams, I own this building.  I run an occult shop out of it.

Ooo, spooky!

And I walk up here to pay respects to Jack Macon, famous root worker.

The city cemetery.

I like this church, sitting on its narrow sliver of land.

Hurray!  Purity Milk.

Somewhere along here is Timothy Demonbreun’s cave.  I’ve never been able to find it.  And yet it’s supposedly on the national register of historic places.

A Confession

I have a friend who works at the same place I do, but in a much more important position than I do, and every time I run into him, he’s talking about his ergonomic chairs in his office, which are see-through.

And I have to tell you, I spend a lot of time sitting in my office, behind my desk made of glorified cardboard, thinking about invisible chairs.  Being slightly jealous of those invisible chairs.

It’s not like I really want see-through chairs.  I just want something in my office that other people would covet, a little bit.

Yes, I covet covetable things.

I have half a mind to sneak over to his office and take a picture of his see-through chair, just to post it here.

Then you, too, can covet the chair I covet, even though I’ve never seen it, though I’m not sure I could see it even if I could.

I Feel Like I Should Oppose the Opposition to Toll Roads on Principle

So, the conservatives of our fine state are up in arms because the governor wants to put in some toll roads and I’m really suspicious of anything the conservatives want that appears to make sense on the surface.

Are the opposing the toll roads because toll money is going to be used to provide healthcare for children?  Are the toll roads designed to slow down traffic in front of pre-k providers?  Just what is it that’s keeping the conservatives so angry?

Well, it rarely happens, but I have to tell you, I believe the conservatives are angry because this is just a stupid idea.  Why, you may ask, are toll roads in Tennessee a stupid idea?

1.  We are a state of many roads going to the same places.  If I, for instance, want to go to Dickson, I can get on about five different roads.  If it’s going to cost me money to get on one of those roads, I will just switch to another.

2.  Where are these toll roads going to go?  Because I’ve driven all over this state and the only stretch of road that seems to consistantly have enough traffic to support tolls is I-24 between Nashville and Chattanooga.

3.  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  Do state legislators actually drive through our cities?  You think traffic is bad now, let’s make everyone stop every mile or two to pay a toll.

4.  Have our state legislators ever been to a toll booth?  In general, on busy interstates, you have twice as many toll lanes as you do regular lanes, if not more.  If you put tolls in or near cities, just where exactly are all these toll lanes going to go?

5.  If you don’t put tolls on busy roads, how is that cost effective?  How long will it take to offset the cost of putting in the tolls with the actual tolls paid?

6.  We are a poor state and almost every city in it has shitty public transportation.  Public transportation between cities is virtually non-existant.  Forcing people to pay tolls when they drive, when they have no other alternatives, is kind of a bullshit move.

Anyway, I wonder if any of you know where these proposed toll roads are supposed to go.  I’m very curious.

In Which I Use Self-Promotion to Promote Myself

(sung to the tune of O Tannenbaum!

Oh, Nashville Scene! Oh, Nashville Scene!

How lovely is your website.

Oh, Nashville Scene,  oh, Nashville Scene,

I read it every day and night.

And I would be so greatly charmed

If you would take me in your arms

And link to me for all to see

Oh Nashville Scene, I’m begging.

Random Things I’m Keeping an Eye On

–The “For Rent” sign that went up in front of the neighbor’s.  I’ll be curious how long it takes our landlord to fill the place.  I’m sure the house on the corner is still empty, though that “For Rent” sign has been gone since the last storm.

My absence from the Pith in the Wind blogroll.  Is it because I haven’t shaved my legs in a week and a half?  Is it all the cooter talk around here?  What?

–The storm door that is still resting against the side of the house.

Harold Ford Jr.

Crossville Flying Spaghetti Monster

Y’all, today I received an email so awesome that I’m a little in awe of the fact that people this cool think to write me and tell me about their coolness.

Before I get to it, let me just give you a little background, for those of you who are not from Tennessee.  Because, while I think you can find it funny without really understanding Tennessee, with a little background, you’ll enjoy the following story even more.

Here’s what you need to know about Tennessee–it’s filled with contrary people.  It’s one of the reasons why I love it here: I love contrary people.  But people in Tennessee are not going to be told what to do; that’s just the way it is.  We don’t need smart people coming here with their ideas telling us how they did things in New Haven (or wherever, shoot, we here in Nashville don’t need people from Jackson coming over here getting all high and mighty).  Hell, I don’t need, say, Slarti, coming over here from West Nashville with his singing and his cooking and his walking around.  We don’t need Yankees coming down here telling us we can’t have slaves, but god damn it, we’re not going to let some punk ass folks from Georgia or, god forbid, Alabama decide when we can rejoin the Union.  And we love Jesus, and fuck you if you don’t, but we also love to antagonize the people who love Jesus.

The story I’m about to bring you involves the community of Crossville, TN, which sent an equal number of men to fight for the Union as they did for the Confederacy, just to set things up.

Okay, so I get an email today from a woman over in Crossville, where the Jesus-lovers have taken to decorating the courthouse lawn with all manner of Jesus-y goodness–most of which appears to be carved out of logs with a chainsaw.  Because they love Jesus in Crossville and (remember) are not going to be told by some hippie outsiders like the ACLU that they can’t have their Christian stuff on the courthouse lawn and yet they aren’t looking to get sued, the folks in Crossville have to give equal space to whatever other religions want to put up displays.

I’m sure they just assumed that there would be no other religions represented on the courthouse lawn because they probably thought there weren’t any non-Christians who felt passionately about things so they could have the open invitation and never worry about it.

This woman–the email sender–has made her own effigy of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and put it up at the courthouse!

I ask you, America, doesn’t that make you feel a little proud?

After all, it’s one thing to make a display of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and put it up in some city where the Christians are not also talented chainsaw wielders, quite another thing to put it up in Crossville.

Someone Stole My Cooter!

Y’all, as you may recall, I sent Rachel from Women’s Health News a crocheted cooter through inter-office mail two weeks ago.  It has yet to arrive.

I think it may be time to acknowledge that the cooter is not going to get there.

One wonders if someone in the mail room confiscated it.  Or if Rachel’s boss has it sitting in on his or her desk, unsure about how to ask Rachel why a cooter is coming to her through inter-office mail.  Maybe it’s sitting in a lawyer’s office somewhere as they ponder the sexual-harassment potential.  Maybe I should have stuck a note in there, an invoice, something to give my cooter legitimacy.

This strikes me as so funny I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

Fortunately for Rachel, as soon as I’m done with the TCP afghan, I can whoop her up another one.

But you can bet I’m going to be scrutinizing the folks in the mailroom from here on out, trying to guess which one of them is a cooter thief.

The Crazy, Feminist Bathroom

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the craziest thing I saw yesterday (not counting Mack’s driving, which I would like to let pass without comment, though word of warning, not much passes Mack on the interstate without comment from him, the kinds of comments that would make a sailor blush, the kinds of comments that make a girl wonder if there’s some kind of special comment training one gets in the army): a feminist bathroom at the Honda dealership.

It was large and clean and had a special stall for breastfeeding that was roomy and had comfortable seating.  And there were two framed posters–one full of all the financial ways women kick butt, how much money we make, how we control the financial decisions in most households, the loyalty we exhibit to car dealers who treat us fairly, etc. and the other a long manifesto about sexual harassment and how everyone who works at the dealership should deal with it and not stand for it and how everyone should feel secure in knowing that they never have to tolerate unacceptable behavior in order to keep their jobs.

It was pretty wild.

We’re Not Family, So Don’t Call Me Sister

Over at Slate.com, they’re talking about race and gender and such on their blog The XX Factor and Melinda Henneberger, in her entry, is wondering why some black women reject this notion of sisterhood with white women.

Anyway, what Donna said was, you know, women don’t vote as a block because we never had to go through something like the slave experience together. So the biological and cultural deal that I consider such a sealing bond just doesn’t compare.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, coming at it from another direction, lately.  I’m not so worried about why women don’t vote as a block.  I’ve been thinking about the different responses to Obama and Clinton, even my own responses.

I’m not sure how this is going to go, but what the fuck, you know?  Let’s just step off the edge and see what happens.

I think that we’ve come to talk about oppressions as if they are all similar–that it’s about “othering” some group to the point where we think it’s okay to mistreat them or subject them to intense scrutiny or whatever that results in them not being able to function like full, free adults in our society.  And, on the one hand, I think that’s true.  I think that’s why it’s very easy to just swap one hated group out for another–first the Irish are ruining things, and then the Chinese, and now the Mexicans (or whatever).  It’s the same narrative, just with different characters, and because it’s a narrative, told in a round, we can have this moment–this strange, strange moment–where people do genuinely seem to be floundering for some way to acknowledge and move past how black people have been treated in this country while at the same time we seem to be devising ever more ridiculous ways to single out Hispanics for bullshit (though I should be clear that I have very mixed feelings about said floundering).

I say that because we cannot take a step back and say “Oh, hey, same story, different players.  Why do we want to continue to tell that story?” we will continue to to tell it and then shift uncomfortably in our seats later on when our children and their children ask us to explain ourselves, as if we both did and didn’t know exactly what we were doing.

So, on the one hand, we do tend to cram all our stupidities into similar form.  So it makes sense that folks would want to compare tragedies and measure them against each other, as if something is gained from seeing who has it the worst.  And it makes sense that women would sometimes say “Hey, we are all women and so we have all been through some shit and so we have this ‘in common’ that should bind us together.”

But here’s the thing, I don’t think the oppression of women works much like other forms of oppression, when it comes down to it.

There are three big differences that prevent “women” from being one great big shiny monolithic sisterhood.  One is that the oppression of women works at both a personal and a societal level, so you could have a woman who was severely abused in her own home, who’s still a racist and willing to use her power as a white woman to make other folks miserable even as her status as a white woman is contributing to her misery.  Being a woman, even a woman who’s going through some shit, doesn’t mean we’re not pulling some shit on others.  So, women of different groups are bound, I think, to be wary of locking arms and declaring ourselves to be bonded without first seeing some real evidence that a woman’s whole heart is in the right place.

Two, I can’t think of any other form of fucked-up-ness in our country that relies so heavily on the victims of the fucked-up-ed-ness to police themselves and each other.  Yes, of course, it’s there to some extent–otherwise insults like “oreo” and “twinkie” wouldn’t sting.  But I think most folks–black and white, for instance–see the “see there’s black people and there’s niggers” distinction for the load of racist shit it is, as a way for white people to try to exert power and authority we don’t rightly have over black people and to try to police their behavior and encourage behavior that makes us comfortable while discouraging behavior that makes us uncomfortable, as if black people should just be running around worrying about making us comfortable.

But, oh sweet and tender Jesus do we cling to the “me v. bitch” distinction! 

Oh, god yes, the world is full of bitches, terrible bitches who are too smart or too ambitious or too rich or too stuck up or too, heh, bitchy and god we hate those bitches.  We are not those bitches.  See, those bitches deserve the crap they get.  Shoot, those bitches need to be told a thing or two.  Sure, it sucks for us to point out what a terrible bitch you are, but better us than for the men to have to come in here and settle it, because clearly, you will lose and, though it hurts when we put a bitch in her place, it really hurts when the men do it.  Don’t make us bring the men into it.

Oh, hey, men!  Don’t you worry, honey, we’re not bitches like those bitches.  Yeah, we hate those bitches too.  Can I bring you a beer?

How can we have some kind of bond because of the cultural shit we’ve been through together as women when, often, the front line of people putting us through that shit are other women?  In any other circumstance, we get that people who identify with their tormenters are deeply wounded.  Why can we not see it in this case?

Whew, I thought the second reason was going to be the hardest to talk about, but it turns out that I’m actually having the most trouble with the third reason–sitting here staring at the screen, wondering if I can’t just trust you to glide over the rough edges of my first point, laugh along with my second point, and let the third point go without saying.

I guess not.

Okay, here goes.

The third reason is that, in broad generalities, the oppressor and the oppressed don’t see themselves as being a part of the same group.  So, Mexicans might face a lot of racial prejudice from white people, for instance, and as damaging as that is, they can just hate white people.  They can build up a little protective shell of hatred that has them and their loved ones on one side and the folks that do them wrong on the other side.

But where do you build that wall when the man who beats you is the same man that makes your heart skip a beat?  How are you not like your father, who tells you that no man will ever love you?  How do you accept that a man you know loves you with his whole heart and would give you the world also is fine with letting you be the one who does all the housework and the childcare and the shitwork of the marriage because he’s the man and you’re the woman?

With most other forms of oppression, the hate is there between the groups and often it’s up to charismatic leaders to say “Hey, if we’re going to overcome this, we have to learn to love each other, to see each other as human beings.”

But women, for the most part, see men as human beings.  We already love men.  We have tied our fates to them.

And frankly, I look at us at this moment and I do see a lot of people who look at Obama and his candidacy as saying something, or at least as an opportunity to say something, about race in America.  A lot of people want to live in an American where things are okay enough between black and white people that a black man can be president.

Now, we can argue all day about whether things really are okay enough between black and white people.  We can argue all day about whether Obama’s candidacy says anything about what’s really going on in American for black people.

But the truth is that we’re at a moment where most people in the country are saying “Yeah, something is fucked up between us and I wish it weren’t.”

That acknowledgement by society of and for women isn’t here yet.

And I know we’re skating dangerously close to the Oppression Olympics here, so I just want to reiterate that this story–about women in this country–is much different than other forms of oppression. 

I don’t believe we’re ever going to have some national moment of “Yeah, things are fucked up between us and I wish it weren’t.”  Because we need to have millions of individual moments like that–between men and women AND among women.

An Open Letter to Huntsville

Dear Huntsville,

Don’t be coy.  Just cozy up here next to Tennessee and let a girl get to you.  This pretending to be on the boarder, then sneaking south as I try to reach you is cute, but we’re too old to play chase each other down the interstate.

Plus, fuck, it’s a long way to you and home again in an evening.

Love,

B.

Those Little Things that Trip You Up

So, I’m doing what everyone does while sick, sitting on the toilet reading Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe and two things catch my eye and have stuck with me all day.  One is a small matter–of parts of Prussia not being Christianized until as late as the 1500s.  This seems possible to me, considering the long and contentious history of trying to Christianize the Lithuanians (a brief recap–1009-1386–Lithuania hems and haws about becoming Christian.  Sure, it seems like fun, but Lithuania has a cake in the oven and the baby is napping and now’s just not a good time.  1387–Lithuania is declared a Christian nation.  Many Lithuanians still busy doing other things.  1413–Oh, all of us were supposed to convert?  Sorry, we thought you just wanted those Lithuanians to become Christian.  Okay, we’re getting right on it.  1569–No, look, seriously, we’re all Catholic, we swear.  1868–What?  We’re just having a little solstice party here and catching up with some old Friends.  We’ll be at church on Sunday.), but I’d love to see her sources on that.

The other is that she’s going on about shamans and using the male pronouns to count for both genders, but this time, reading through it, I catch that she’s saying that it’s widely known that men and women could be shamans and she’s talking about how shamans reach the spirit world and one way is said to be on the back of a goose.

I, for one, am all about riding around on the back of a goose.  It tickles me how a woman with a pointy hat riding a goose is a good omen for children but a woman with a pointy hat riding a broom is a bad one.  Does having a goose insulate you from the temptation to lure children to your candy house and eat them?

One wonders.