Words I Like

DO NOT PRESS PLAY ON THIS VIDEO AT WORK.

But literally nothing makes me happier than the way she says “I guess that cunt’s getting eaten.” Sometimes you look at the way words work together and you just know something is perfect. This sentence is perfect–the repeating “uh”s in “guess” and “cunt;” all those “t”s, especially the way it sounds like she’s adding one by pronouncing it “get” “ten” and “eat” “ten.” And it’s cheeky. I like it.

Recently, I wrote this paragraph:

My favorite thing about Harwell is her ability to be both sly as a fox and something of a mother hen to all the wayward chicks of the state house. A fox with chicks for children is never short of dinner, though, and I have to imagine she’s already licking her lips at the prospect of dealing with her fourteen most recalcitrant representatives.

And I’m really pleased with “a fox with chicks for children.” That is perfect, too. You’ve got the repeating fs, the repeating chs and the repeating os and is. I also like it because it’s almost in iambs, except for that “ren” fucking things up.

Thoughts I Have Thunked

1. I’m kind of pissed that it has taken Constantine so long to get good. It’s frustrating to watch now knowing it’s probably going to be cancelled. I wish, wish, wish we switched to a model where they just up-front said “You get x episodes to tell your story. If your ratings are good, we’ll give you x more episodes to tell another complete story, either with these characters or a whole new show.” That way, you could commit to watching a show knowing you were going to get a self-contained story, even if you only got one story out of it.

2. The dog teased me yesterday. We were on our walk and I said, come here, let me put your leash on, and he came over and just as I was about to put his leash on, he bounded away, and turned back and smiled at me. I laughed and then he came over and leaned against my legs and let me put his leash on him.

3. The performance art afghan. It’s… I don’t even know how to explain it to you. It’s ridiculous. So, I think I’ve decided that it’s going to be 30 x 40 tiny two-inch squares. Thus necessitating 1200 squares. I’m doing them in bundles of twelve, because I had thought I was doing 36×48, but I realized too late after I’d started bundling them in groups of twelve, that this would result in way too huge an rectangly an afghan. So, I need 100 bundles. I have 70 but I’m out of yarn. The yarn is on order. So, I am, at the moment, tucking ends. Every end tuck I remind myself is one more end I will not have to tuck after all 1200 squares are done. My biggest concern is making sure that the squares are well-mixed in the end. No, my biggest concern is that I’m not going to live through having to tuck 1200 squares worth of ends. It’s my least favorite thing about crocheting. Why would I assign myself a task that’s basically just end-tucking?! But I think it’s going to be really neat. Unwashable which I have mixed feelings about (M. do not fuck or bleed or sweat on my afghan, please.) but neat.

4. It’s unwashable because I just bought yarn that caught my eye, so it’s a mix of acrylics and wool and wool blends. Nothing will shrink at the same rate and some shit will definitely felt.

5. It does crack me up to think that most of my afghans are safe for fucking, bleeding, or sweating on. I should make afghans for swashbucklers!

Feel Like I’m Winning when I’m Losing Again

Ugh, this week. It’s been long. Some things have been going incredibly well. Other things have just been terrible.

I’m having a huge problem with an entity. Ha ha ha. That makes them sound like some kind of supernatural evil, when I’m just trying to be vague.

But in dealing with this entity, I have a bunch of really complicated feelings. This entity opened up the world for me when I was a young person. It made every bit of information in the world, seemingly, available to me and that felt life-saving in ways that made me feel very loyal to them. And I have friends whose lives have been profoundly changed by this entity’s ability to deliver information to an electronic device you can use even when your hands don’t want to work, allowing you to make the font as big as you need, no matter how shitty your eyesight is.

And, even though people have been complaining about this entity for years, I was mostly in the camp that people who can’t keep up with rapid change are, of course, going to complain about innovators. And even when this entity took on another giant entity this summer, I thought I saw both sides of the situation. I was more sympathetic to the other entity, but I felt like I could see and understand the point of view of the people who sided with this entity.

After nine months on this job, I feel like a total chump.

Everything bad you’ve heard about this entity is just the tip of the iceberg.

I find it really stunning.

Things

–I’m less bothered by the people who don’t believe that anything happened to Shia LaBeauf than I am the women I’ve seen who believe that he’s telling the truth about what happened to him, but that it’s not rape because the point of his performance art was that you could do anything to him. He had, apparently in their minds, pre-consented to having sex. They also seem to blame him for not crying out for help, apparently ignoring the part where her boyfriend was at the door–keeping anyone who might have heard and helped him at bay.

I don’t know. Anyone who’s seen how people act around people with even marginal amounts of fame can’t possibly be surprised, I wouldn’t think, by this story.

But I think it’s a two-fold problem: we have a hard time as a culture accepting that men can be raped and we have a really hard time believing that women can commit the same kinds of wrongs that men can.

Still, man, people are weird about famous people. I have a harder time believing this didn’t happen than I do believing that it did.

–The Butcher made me listen to the slowed-down Robert Johnson recordings this morning. They’re going around again, for some reason. There are two hurdles that someone would have to overcome before I put any stock in this: 1. Both of his recording sessions were fucked up? But no one else who recorded on those days with that equipment was? 2. He had friends and people who knew him. Some of whom died very recently (and hell, some of whom might still be alive). Is there even a single person who heard him perform live who then listened to the records and said “Wow, that doesn’t sound like old Bob. It’s too high or something.”? He had a lot of musician acquaintances and friends who would have been familiar with recording processes. Did any of them say “Oh, god, that’s not at the right speed.”?

–Last night, I made chicken noodle soup for dinner and the Butcher caught me singing “Oh, black pepper, ram a lam” and he laughed so hard it kind of makes my day to think of it now.

I don’t think business ever had ethics, but otherwise

–The Nashvillains book is harder than I imagined. Here in the middle anyway. I have been thinking a lot about Alfred, lately, Andrew Jackson’s slave who’s buried in the Hermitage garden. A man long held up as an example of just how benign slavery could be and how much slaves might love their owners. His was, I guess you could say, a best-case scenario. Scroll on down to the green sign.

I have to give credit to the Hermitage, though, for trying to reckon with it.

I don’t know how to, really. I find myself using words other than “slave” to try to get at the scope of it, just because, to me, it’s become a kind of mental shield as well as a descriptor. It lets you narrow down to just one part of it. And, because of the weight of history, it feels almost inevitable. So, I’ve been using “enslaved person” but I’ve also been using “prisoner” and “captive.” Something that makes it clear that these people are not in this situation by accident of birth, but because of someone else’s ongoing decision to keep them in this condition.

But I have a mental block against that, too. I want to see the past as clearly as I can. And I still find this so horrific it’s hard for me to look straight at it. You just kept some people prisoner at your house. That was the fashion of the day. You sold your prisoners to others or exchanged them for new prisoners. You kept your prisoners’ children prisoner as well, but you often let them play with your children. Sometimes you raped your prisoners and they had your children. You took those children, your own children, captive as well.

This was normal. It’s what people aspired to–to be rich enough to afford your own prisoners. It was a mark of status to have captives.

It’s ludicrous. But I think it also sheds light on what was going on with guys like Jackson–whose prisoners had guns and could read and write, even though it was illegal for you to let your captives do so–or the Macons–whose prisoner, Jack, practiced medicine, even though it was illegal.

Why would men who imagined themselves free enough to own property and bad-ass enough to hold prisoners for generations submit to any kind of overarching authority? Each man is is own pirate enclave.

It’s one of those things that does make me wonder how the Confederacy would have ever actually governed, when so many slaveholders thought laws about slavery were dumb.

A God Who Hates Looking at Boobs Smiled Upon Us!

Hooters was closed. We got to go to a Chinese restaurant instead. My niece is adorably evil. It went well.

I’m also a tad confused about this afghan, which I thought was going to suck. The nearest example to what I want to do I could find on the internet had a woman claiming it took her a year. I didn’t think it would take me a year, but I thought it might take me a few months. I’m already almost done with my squares. Yes, then, it’s a lot of tail tucking, which we all know is my least favorite part, but I just started it last week.

I’m a little bummed that this vacation is almost over. It’s a good reminder that I need to find a way to take some real time off.

Like a Boss

Hats mailed.

Checks deposited.

Oil changed.

Car washed.

Car windows cleaned.

Laundry started.

Dog walked.

I just have to drop off some books and all my errands will be done!

Tomorrow we’re going to Hooters for Thanksgiving. I have mixed feelings.

Many Kinds of News

Bad news–I’m sick. My eyeball hurts and won’t stop watering. I am at home waiting for the cold medicine to kick in so that I can sleep.

Good news–I sold a story. I think that’s two this month, by my counting, and three in the last three months? Which is lovely and also weird as all get out because I hadn’t sold a story in a long, long time before that.

Quandary news–I try to have three or four stories out on submission at any given time. I am down to two. One of which I think I’m going to stop shopping, because I have something else to do with it. I have nothing that feels quite ready to take their places in the “pieces I’m shopping” category. So, I wonder if I have to take some time away from the book to get some short fiction in the hopper.

WTF news–my dad is, as we speak, having surgery. A surgery none of the three of us kids knew anything about until my mom texted us to tell us that he was getting ready to go in. BUT THEN she tried to throw my niece’s mother under the bus by saying that she’d told her about the surgery. As if it’s the responsibility of some girl who’s not related to us and only known us for a couple of years to assume that she’s the only one who knows something and that she needs to tell the people who should have been told in the first place!

WTF?

–The glass on the oven door exploded while the Butcher was laying on the couch, sick. So, we’ll have to figure out how to deal with that and do so.

–I saw an old friend at lunch, someone I hadn’t seen for ages, and it was good, but also a little sad.

–I finished the bear hat for my niece except for the eyes, which I’m hoping to do a little different than I did for the first hat. I’d really like to find buttons with big enough eyes that I can use yarn, not thread, to connect them.

–Last night, the dog got a potato out of the bag and carried it around in his mouth all evening. Occasionally, he set it down on me, but mostly, he just carried it around. Eventually, I threw it out.

–And this morning, on our walk, he found a cup of apple sauce. I’m not sure where. I was just thinking my own thoughts when I looked down and there he was, carrying a cup of apple sauce.

“Sorrows”

On the way in to work this morning, the radio was playing that new Jenny Lewis song where she announces that she’s been the only sister to her own sorrows. It’s not the best lyric in the song (that would be the bit about talking to child brides on their summer vacations–ouch and ha ha), but it’s the one I like the best.

We have this church in town, the oldest Catholic church in town and possibly the oldest church building in town (an older one isn’t coming to mind), named St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows. It’s usually just called St. Mary’s, because most of the Catholic churches in town are named for saints–St. Henry’s, St. Patrick’s, St. Lawrence’s. etc.

But holy shit, St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows is the most beautiful name for a church. I think you could build a whole religious belief system just around that name. It’s a very short poem–all the recurring “s”es and the way the vowels work–that long a, followed by the short a that almost sounds like an e, into those ees, and then down into the os, like you’re descending into something dark, and calm, and sad. That one T that stands out because all of the other sounds muddle together. The Sisters of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows would be even more perfect.

It’s just such an aesthetically pleasing phrase.

Hot Spot

This morning, out on my walk, I went through an incredibly hot spot. I was walking along Lloyd and it was cold. Then, there was a spot just where the trees start, where there was no breeze and it was really hot. If it’s 50 out, that spot was 80. Sometimes it’s warmer near the creeks, but not that warm.

I was trying to decide what could leave a hot spot in the air like that and I settled on maybe someone had been parked there and left just before I got there.

Either that or I was standing in the ghost of someone’s grandpa. Which, you know, is a little awkward.

Nerves!

I’m getting ready for my TSLA reading tomorrow. And I’m helping the printer put the finishing touches on the physical copies of Allendale.

And the two hard things I had to do this morning got done.

Whew!

Sleepy John

I wrote about him and it’s published!

And I sold a story this weekend. Some day, when I’m feeling more certain that it’s not some huge faux pas, I’ll give you a sense of how grueling it can be to find the right market for a story. It’s hard enough to know when a story is good. But say you do know. You can know a story’s good and still it’s hard work to find the editor who loves it.

I will say this for rejection, though. It is ongoing. It’s a thing you can get used to. Whereas the thrill of being published is like fireworks–beautiful and wonderful and over too quickly.

My niece has a mullet. Very, very short, fine hair all over her head except in the back where she’s got a curl.

Yesterday, I took some friends on an informal tour of Mt. Olivet. It was really fun and some women drove by and tried to get in on it!

And then there was a thing on NPR about a guy who’s written about occultism and rock & roll. I feel like this review will give you a great idea of why I’m dying to read it.

And we may even have Thanksgiving plans that make sense. So, score one for a nice weekend.

Photos of a Lot of Things

Just Gotta Do All I Gotta Do

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?

Keeping in the Habit

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:

Pre-October Huddle

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.

Woo.

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.

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.

A Couple of Things

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.

The Morning is Cool

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.

I Never Remember the Lesson

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.

 

Little Things

–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.

Things to Say that Can’t Be Said

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.

Things I’m Thinking About

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.