This is the busiest week of the year for me–leading up to Southern Festival of Books. Last night was the Best of Nashville shin-dig. The Butcher went with me. We got cornered by a local prominent attorney who, when told I blog, informed me he doesn’t read blogs. He negged me! I mean, it’s bad enough to be negged in a romantic context, but just because that’s how some dude goes through life? Ha ha ha.
And I have this friend who’s really pretty in a very approachable way who dude kept trying to impress with stories about how he shot a dude! But the thing that cracked me up about it is that my friend could rock the Faye Dunaway “Bonnie & Clyde” look, but, if you knew her at all, you’d never try to impress her with “I could be your badass” stories. She’s just not the gangster moll. She’d be the gangster.
Tonight I have a meeting about Project X.
Tomorrow is the most important day of my professional life. So, no pressure or anything.
And there’s some stuff happening after that, but who can focus?
I realized I almost let another day pass without blogging and I didn’t want that to be the case. So, here I am. We watched Horns today, which I really liked. It’s visually really funny, which I appreciated.
Yesterday, I took the woman shooting the promotional video for The Wolf’s Bane all around and showed her things. It was cool and she seemed to have a good time. So that stuff is happening.
Also, if I were a DJ, I would play these two songs back to back:
1. “All Heart, No Brains” starts tomorrow at 6 p.m. and will run weeknights throughout October, except for the 31st, when I hope to have a special treat for you “Allendale” fans.
2. I’ll be doing a reading from A City of Ghosts over at East Side Story on the 11th at 6, I think? Not sure about the time. I will find out.
3. It appears that “The Wolf’s Bane” aka Project X will indeed be ready for pre-order this month. We are planning a party. I will have more details about that, too.
–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.
–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.
1. I’ve decided to become a religious demagogue. Please join me in my first public display of religious self-aggrandizement.
2. I think this photo is a fake, but a fake from back in the day. I’ve seen other instances of this where the background image is one plate and then the people are another plate (or plates) and the photographer overlaps the plates to make a composite figure. Clue one, the people don’t seem to quite be sitting in the background the way you’d expect. Clue two, some of those guys repeat.
My walk this morning was glorious. I’m feeling kind of anxious, partially because there’s a lot to do that can’t be done until other people get their part done and then par… oh, god, actually, that’s all my anxiety in life–waiting to see if people are going to do their parts.
I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about Pink Lizzie and how sad it is that she’s fallen out of fashion.
And I have books to get at the library!
My parents aren’t spending any time down in Georgia. So, I’m wondering what’s going on with them. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
There are some mornings when I feel like I’d really rather be doing anything than going for a walk. And then I get to the hill and the exertion of trying to get up it seems to clear out all my cobwebs.
I want to be writing this Nashville book. But I’ve got to get some reading done first. Which means I have books I need to get from the library. I often stand in my own way.
The yarn from this last batch that I liked least when it was hanging on the hanger is turning out to be my favorite as it’s being worked into squares.
–The Butcher listened to All Them Witches. He didn’t get it.
–I love the yarn for the Kool-aid afghan so much. It’s just exactly right.
–The enthusiasm with which the Red-Headed Kid was willing to sniff the square I gave him to see that it did, indeed, still smell like Kool-aid pleased m.
–Patrick’s down in Berry Hill now has the same pork sandwiches he had when he was in the purple house. Knowing that, how am I supposed to sit here and eat my paltry homemade lunch?
–My neighbor has a pop-up camper in his back yard. Ha ha ha. Dude, I would have given you ours for free if you’d asked.
–Toby is such a good barker. I’m going to be sad when the neighbor is done dogsitting.
–Oh, and I wrote this.
A lot is going on here that isn’t really fit for public discussion. Nothing terrible or anything, but just a lot. I think I finally hit a wall at work. It’d just been so busy for so long and I’m having trouble shifting back down into “this is the normal amount of work.” I can’t stop worrying that I’m forgetting something terribly crucial. I need a couple of days off but I don’t think I can squeeze more than one out.
And I’m annoyed at people who I know are trying to be good to me, but I just feel surly and cross.
But the dog and I went for a walk today because the Butcher was asleep when I got up. And after he pooped (all behavior before pooping is squirrelly), he walked right by my side like a dream. When we got back to the yard, I took his leash off and he still never left my side.
My friend is getting married and my cousin is having a baby. I need to get back in a crocheting mood.
1. The more I think about this movie, the more I agree about this take. At the very least, the movie should have ended with Superman being devastated by his failing to prevent that magnitude of loss of life. People without any direct connection to 9/11 still are fucked up over it. You’re going to tell me that Superman, who is present for his city’s 9/11, and in fact is involved unwillingly in some of the destruction, isn’t really affected? I just don’t buy it. I’m all for making our Superheros more “real” if it means more human, not if it just means more brutal.
2. Everything here. Exactly. How can you justify not telling people the truth “for their own good,” when the consequences of this “but just lose the weight” attitude have been so devastating. I have long been feeling like a lot of urging to lose weight, by people who know you can’t actually keep the weight off, are asking you to be willing to try to wear a disguise in order to be treated well. And, if you won’t struggle to put on the disguise, then you deserve the abuse I heap on you.
3. “I don’t really care anymore,” she continues. “I stopped reading people’s opinions about my band about two months ago. It’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. There was a really good chance that if I kept reading [Internet comments] other people were going to ruin this for me, and I wasn’t gonna let that happen.”–from here.
I feel better than I did yesterday. But I still feel like crap. And I’ve switched from having a runny nose to being perennially stuffed up.
But I wrote this thing for Pith!
And I can’t decide if I’m irritated that someone else is working my side of the street or pleased that she did such a good job.
On the one hand, mentally, I’m feeling a whole lot better. But physically, I’ve entered a new, unpleasant place where my eyes are watering continuously, my nose is stuffed up and, every time I sneeze, 147 tons of snot comes out with it. If we could use snot for energy, NES would be writing me a check this month instead of the usual way it goes.
But, in good news, I’ve started the thing, the process, I wanted to start. Keep your fingers crossed for me. And the Butcher made me cupcakes and they were delicious, but lord, that man cannot frost to save his life. I should have taken a picture. But it was like, well, if the frosting and the cupcake ended up in the same general vicinity, that counted as “frosted.”
And the dog was pretty well-behaved at the party, except that he kept throwing himself into the hip of the roller-derby gal who was there. And then he pooped and his behavior massively improved.
We also watched Red Lights which comes so close to being a good movie that I couldn’t help but feel sad for it that it had fallen short.
1. I saw some fonts for Project X. And one is amazing. It’s somehow both very ordinary looking and deliciously unsettling.
2. The maintenance guy here at work had to rescue me a while back because the elevator was broken and I couldn’t get up the stairs by myself. Yesterday, the elevator was also broken and so he was waiting around for me to get here so that he could take me up stairs. How nice is that?
I don’t really include a lot of descriptions of people in my writing. I trust that the reader can come up with someone who fits into the stories I tell. But, since my eye thing, I’m really fascinated by the ways that bodies end up being a map of your life.
So, you can imagine me mulling over with great interest this article on how they’re going to look for Cervantes and how they think they’ll know when they find him.
–The botched execution in Oklahoma last night. The thing I don’t understand is that, in general, it’s very easy to lose your life. Lives slip away while people are sleeping. You’re driving down the road and a car crosses the center line and there you go. You get drunk at the lake and you pitch into the water and you don’t come back up. You pick up a gun you think is unloaded and try to demonstrate that fact to your buddy and, oops, he’s gone. So, why can’t Oklahoma cleanly kill a man? I mean, I’m opposed to the death penalty, simply because we don’t have a good way of keeping innocent people from being killed. But, even if I supported the death penalty, the problem of us not being able to quickly and humanely kill people is still a big one. And not just because we aren’t supposed to cruelly and unusually punish people, but because can you imagine being the people in that room last night? You have to live with that shit for the rest of your life.
–Crap at Vanderbilt. I honestly can’t understand what the fuck is going on in this case. But it feels to me like there’s what we know from the prosecution, what’s being insinuated by the defense, and then a third agenda that the defense is kind of hinting at and the prosecution is avoiding. I’d like to know more about that third part. Like, I don’t think that there were more people involved in the rape. But I do wonder how many people who helped cover it up are being deliberately left alone?
–Fucking Haslam. You can almost bet that, in any instance, he’ll follow the lead of the person who appears to be the toughest. A million medical professionals, women’s advocates, and people who know there aren’t any rehab beds can all say “Wow, this is a bad idea” but the big tough guys want it so that’s what he’s going for. You can see why, with this dynamic in place, women have fared so well under Haslam, since it’s pretty hard for us to be the baddest badass in any given room. But what’s more embarrassing for Haslam is, Jesus Christ, man, have you not seen how Ramsey plays you using this very dynamic?
Still, it’s interesting. I think Jimmy was obviously the “bad ass” of the two and Bill has always been “the reasonable one,” who doesn’t act rashly and who collects information and who shows that what his brother wants, though it seems ridiculous, actually makes sense, or can be made to work. And here we are, decades into these men’s adult lives, watching them both flounder around trying to or failing to replicate that dynamic.
–I started a new story. Just something to fiddle with. It’s the first thing I’ve written this year that doesn’t already have some place it needs to be.
–I’m waiting to hear back from my beta reader on the story that does have a home. She’s busy so I’m trying not to pester her every 20 minutes, but I totally want to pester her every twenty minutes.
–I have been following this Bryan Singer thing more than necessary. But, regardless of the validity of this guy’s claims, of course there’s something sketchy about powerful Hollywood bigwigs wanting a bunch of 18-20 year olds around them all the time, especially when there’s a level of titillation about just how close to 18 you can pluck them up. That’s not just a desire for youth. It’s a desire to skirt right up to the line of what’s forbidden. And, I’m sorry, but I just do not believe that people who are sitting around calculating the moment you’re 18 and “safe,” when drunk or stoned, aren’t all “Woo, I care not for this line.”
–But it irritates me the amount of places that are like “So? What’s the big deal? This has been going on in Hollywood with young women and old men forever and no one cares.” WTF? Of course people care. Just not, apparently, people anyone listens to. But, yeah, folks speak out against that weirdness all the fucking time.
–I’m really surprised by how much I’m enjoying my new job. I mean, I thought it would be fine, but no, it’s really interesting.
1. Cuddling with the dog.
2. My new job. Yesterday, I was all “All I have to do today are these two spreadsheets” but then I had to solve a problem for the MTSU bookstore and figure out if we had enough books for a big order, which we did, but then we had to reprint and I got to weigh in on how many we should reprint. And so my whole day just filled right up. Today I’m hoping that a book hits the warehouse so I can do all the things I need to do when that happens. And I’m going to try to get a letter out.
3. I started the short story I need to start.
4. When the cats want to come inside, they knock on the window. It never fails to amuse me.
5. I had a dream that I took the orange cat to visit K. at the Blair School of Music and he used the bathroom. Like went into the men’s room and just peed in the toilet. And in my dream, I was all like “Of course, my cat pees in the toilet. He’s civilized.” But in real life I can’t believe dream me wasn’t shocked!
6. Walking right at dawn.
7. This piece from the Scene. It references my Think Progress piece, but is so much better.
“I know his beliefs. When he ran one of his commercials, he said ‘I need your prayers,’ and I asked, ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘When I needed votes,'” Heath Peacock told CNN. “He broke out the religious card and he’s about the most non-religious person I know.”
So, my lunchtime experiment of listening to songs in 5/4 was pretty interesting. But actually the video nm posted was more helpful. On my walk this morning, I tried it out–moving like those dancers move–to see if I thought a marching band could be set off to a march in 5/4. It felt plausible to me. There’s a noise a band makes when it’s marching and, if you’ve been in one, you know what I mean–that quiet schup schup schup schup of people taking steps the same size at the same time. And walking in 5/4, in the manner of the dancers, gives you a sound more like schup schup schup schup pip, but it’s a noise you can get used to, a rhythm that’s easy enough to fall into.
–I think Think Progress is acting up, since my awesome post from yesterday is missing and my post for today has not yet appeared.
–You all know I think Kelis is an underrated genius, right?
–Dave Rawlings Machine tickets go on sale on Friday. But I have no money, so that’s making me sad.
–“The Ghost River section of the Wolf River received its name from the loss of river current as the water ‘flows’ through open marshes and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps.” Words cannot express how much I love this.
1. I laughed so hard when I came up with this headline and then I couldn’t actually think of anything else to say about it. It just sums the whole problem up.
2. Stonehenge really rocks? I mean, like musically?
3. Rep. Rick Womick pulled a gun out during a meeting at the state capitol. See, this is the thing. He thinks he’s a responsible gun owner. When he’s legislating about where guns go, he is, in fact, thinking, “People like me will be carrying guns,” not realizing how fucking terrifying his behavior is.
I read Diddy Wah Diddy by Corey Mesler this weekend and it was really good. It’s kind of a dreamlike mythologizing of Beale Street. Lots of sex and singing and just rolling around in language like a pig in mud. If you’re a fan of Memphis, you’ll have feelings about this book. You’ll either love it or hate it.
But the thing that I’m lingering over, just from a technical standpoint, is how he nails the ending–which is, of course, as it must be in a book like this, about Elvis. And I think Mesler gets it exactly right–that feeling of Elvis being so excited about what he was hearing, about him stealing it, about people feeling like him stealing it at least meant that it was going to get heard, and about Elvis being too young to know just what his role was.
Let me put it this way. If Diddy Wah Diddy is a mythology in the old sense of the word (and Mesler goes to great lengths to assure you that it is) and Beale Street an Olympus of sorts, then Elvis is an unwitting Prometheus.
But all that is more about plot. I kind of mean something different when I say he nails it. What I mean is that how he handles that plot point technically, as in how he writes it, is satisfying. The ending doesn’t go on too long, but it hits the right sweet and sad notes that the story is over. I haven’t put the book on the shelf yet, because, as a writer–and one who’s not very confident in her endings lately–I want to understand the mechanics of what he’s pulled off. The physics of it.
Speaking of endings. I finished my short story. I’m not quite satisfied with the ending. See above. But I sent it to my beta reader anyway, because, if there’s a flaw with the ending, its roots are going to be earlier in the story. And, earlier in the story, the parts that I am most unsure of are whether it fits the mythology (in the newer sense of the word) that the guys who created this world have made up. So, I need a sense of whether all that is working.
You know I struggled with how to tell that story. It took me a while to settle on the narrator. I probably wrote close to 14,000 words of what is now about an 8,000 word story. All the same scenes and characters just told in different ways until one clicked for me. The most important thing I cut was a whole discussion of my current narrator’s parents, who had her when they were teenagers and are not doing a great job of co-parenting her now.
That is still the case. But other than the clues that they appear to all be living in her grandfather’s house and that he was a hobo until the 80s and that the narrator is clearly older than 13 or 14 and she mentions a step-dad, I cut all that out. It’s just a thing about her, not some central trauma to her life.
Still, I’m pleased with it. Even if I end up tinkering with it a little more.
And I think that means all I have on my plate for my spare time this month is to make an afghan I don’t have enough yarn for yet and to put together something for the Demonbreun Society about Joseph Deraque (Deratte?) I can feel proud of sharing with them. I just have to remember to bring the John Sevier’s story about Joseph meeting the Welsh Indians, even though I think it’s complete bullshit. Still, who doesn’t want to hear a weird, cool complete bullshit story about their ancestor?
Once that’s out of the way, I’m going back to Allendale. I’ve been having some thoughts and I’d just like to get that into a form I feel satisfied with. Maybe we’ll revisit it in October.
I now dare you to try not to think about what a weird word “caboose” is. The OED says it’s a Dutch word, and they make a compelling argument, but that “oose” sound always reminds me of the places my brother’s lived–“Tallapoosa” “Chattanooga” etc.–which are all Indian words.