Things I Like

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.

8. Why shouldn’t a man who’s friends with men pretending to be rednecks pretend to be a Christian while he’s fucking another man’s wife? The best line:

“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.”

5/4

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.

Things Afoot

–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.

How to treat werewolves.

Things to Read

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.

On My Plate

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.

Caboose

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.

 

Various Things That Probably Deserve a Whole Post

1. I was really glad to read this, because, again, it hits on a lot of my concerns. I know ‘honor’ is a loaded term, but I still want a social justice movement that prioritizes acting honorably–not nice, exactly, but not making yourself a weapon and then pretending like being a weapon carries no personal cost. This part, especially–”We must, by all means, judge and use that judgement to decide what needs to be changed and how; we must, then, put our shoulders behind it, stand tall and speak truth to power. But few of us are equipped to punish justly, and too many of us are all too eager to try.”

2. And I miss Lauren being more present on the internet for things like this thoughtful post–”But leaving the online feminist community, and the heaviness of that loss, weighed on me for some years. I guess it’s like grieving a toxic family. Eventually all the positive things you’re getting out of the relationship are over-shadowed by the emotional beat downs every Thanksgiving.” Deciding to do work that sustains you, even when it’s difficult, is something that I wrestle with. I’m glad to have never been a big, important feminist blogger, for that reason. But I wonder, a lot, if the ways I’m spending my time online sustain me. This place does. Twitter kind of does and doesn’t. I’m trimming the list of who I follow, even if it means unfollowing people whose work I really admire, just because I can’t have a stream of constant outrage running that close to me. Even though I believe the correct response to the world is a stream of constant outrage. I just can’t be open to it and be healthy. Which, yeah, raises questions about other online work. I don’t know. I’m not making decisions yet.

3. I really love these portraits of Polish witches.

4. You should read this about the name of Washington’s team.

5. And then this about why the Republicans involved matter.

Just Talking to Talk

I remain nervous, though not as stressed. I’ve got to find a little money to pull together for the Proto Pulp show, though I guess it can wait a few weeks. I have to bring my own tent. I don’t have a tent. But that’ll work out, too, I suppose.

The baby blanket I’m working on is coming together slowly.

The Butcher found a xbox version of Civilization, so I have to play that in my off-time until I have burnt myself out on it. It’s just the way it is.

I’m just fried. I’d like to sleep for a million years, now that my dreams are not so upsetting.

The World Keeps Turning

–I’d hoped to get a new computer this month, but the car and the plumbing killed that dream. And now my “r” isn’t quit working. Oh, wait, now it is working again. I shall take to complaining about everything on the internet!

I wrote a thing I like for Pith.

–I got to talk to the Professor last night. One thing about friends that’s hard to articulate is now nice it is to know that you can say all your worst things to them, articulate all your biggest doubts and ways you just can’t be the kind of person you wish you were, and to know that they will judge you fairly and tell you when you do need to pull your shit together and when you need to cut yourself some slack.

–Last night I dreamed that I was at a Gillian Welch concert and all these old country stars kept joining her onstage to sing hymns they didn’t know. In some cases, it seemed like they’d just forgotten portions of the hymns, but in other cases, it seems like they weren’t at all familiar with them but were just trying to fake it.

–After our last hilarious toilet paper disaster–in which the Butcher bought a huge thing of toilet paper, but each roll seemed to only have like ten sheets on it–he has gone the extreme other direction. The rolls are so big they barely fit on our holder. You can put one on, but you can’t then get any toilet paper off it, because it can’t spin. I laughed so hard last night, trying to imagine what actual use these rolls would be. I guess only for papering particularly tall trees.

–My level of stress has decreased considerably. But I still have days to wait before the situation is settled and then decisions to make based on how it gets settled.

Many Things

I didn’t have my pre-Christmas bout of the blues, but I think I’m having them now, just over lunch. Am I doing the right thing? I don’t know. About anything. I just don’t know.

I’ve got to get to the TSLA and get that off my plate.

We got the dog one of those nose leads. He hates it, but it cures every problem I have walking him, so we’re sticking with it. He’s such a sweetheart. The cats still hate him, though. A couple of the Butcher’s friends came over with their kid. She’s gone from speaking on or two words that only her parents can really understand to speaking whole clear sentences overnight it seems. And she told the new kitty, “You can jump into my arms and I’ll catch you.” The new kitty didn’t believe her, but I was impressed.

My mom and I went Christmas shopping for my dad. One of the things I hate about Christmas is that my dad won’t tell anyone what he wants and then he acts all hurt–and I think is genuinely hurt–when he doesn’t get anything he wants. So, at Christmas, my mom had a million presents to open and the rest of us had like one or two. And it hurt my dad’s feelings that she didn’t have a million presents for him. Which I felt bad about, but, really, it’s his own damn fault for not telling anyone what he might like.

He also repeatedly tried to talk me into writing “real” stories about “real” things. And I laughed him off, because it’s ridiculous. But everyone wants to be the boss of everyone. Never doubt that.

Anyway, my mom. We’re shopping for my dad and she’s talking about how people have run him down to her before and how she hates that and has decided those people have small, boring lives. “I get to have Brent Phillips,” she said. “My life is never dull.”

My reader finished up this draft of Ben & Sue and I think she has figured out what’s not working with the last 1/4. I’m really excited. It’s like, duh, finally, I feel like I have some idea of what to do to make it work for me.

Big changes are afoot, things I don’t feel comfortable talking about here. But I’m trying to handle them gracefully. I’m just scared. I have to make some decisions. And other people have to make some decisions. And I have to hope our decisions all line up.

All the Facts I Know

dogThis is him at the vet’s, where we will meet him tomorrow and decide if we like each other.

He is, as promised, a young adult male, fixed and shot up with all his shots. His foster family calls him Rufus (which I don’t know if we’ll keep, if we decide to do this.). His hobbies, as previously stated, include sitting in laps and cuddling. The other pictures showed him looking pretty chill. His foster family wants to make sure that he ends up in a home where he won’t just live in a backyard, neglected. And, since we’re looking for someone to sit on the couch with us and watch TV and go to the park and go for long car rides and to turn our faces to the warm sun with and who will snore so that we can fall asleep, I think they’ll be pretty pleased with our goals for him.

I think the thing the fosters don’t want for him is to be treated the way that some folks treat their hunting dogs. It’s really odd. You meet some hunters and those dogs–even if they’re not indoor dogs, ever–are really exquisitely taken care of. They have shelter and they have each other and they have plenty of room to move around and their owners spend a lot of time with them. And then there are folks who just basically tie their hunting dog to a tree in the back yard or in a too-small pen and they’re more like racing greyhounds. They just get out to do their jobs and otherwise have small lives.

But anyway, it doesn’t matter. Because the only thing this dog will be retrieving are balls and toys and sticks.

Dream Truth

Right before I woke up, someone in my dream said to me “You came the way to get here.” Which, you know, in broad daylight, makes no sense. But to my dreaming mind, it meant that there was one path that could have brought me to this moment–the one I took to get here.

I find that comforting.

Many More Things

On Saturday, S. and I went to the vegan cafe over in East Nashville and I got this sandwich which seemed to be attempting to single-handedly overturn any stereotypes one might have about vegan food being light-weight and not very filling. I could only eat half of it. It was literally the heartiest thing I’ve every eaten. The half I didn’t eat? It became a lumberjack in a sustainable forest in Oregon. I got a postcard from it today. It’s growing a beard so that it fits in with all the other lumberjacks. Even though it’s only half-a-sandwich high, it still has been above quota every day since it started work. It has a girlfriend now–an apple who grew on an old heirloom tree who works at a hairdresser in town, putting women’s hair in elaborate updos for special occasions. On weekends, they rock climb and make their own butter.

Which is weird, when you think about it, since he’s a vegan sandwich, but I guess a sandwich made by vegans might, himself, be only a vegetarian.

I’m just saying–this sandwich was the most ambitious sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

Then that evening the Butcher had a fire and introduced K. and C. to the joys of s’mores made with Kit-Kats.

On Sunday, we went to see Into the Woods, which was amazing. The wolf had this elaborate feather mask and it was just so great and awesome.

And I made curried chicken for dinner last night.

Which means that, when I went for my walk this morning, I smelled like curry and my coat smelled like fire. I smelled like heaven. Anyone who smelled me would have immediately fallen in love with me. So, it’s a good thing, I guess, that I didn’t run into anyone.

Many Things

–I forgot to say that the afghan for the co-worker is done. I just need to run it through the wash and take some pictures of it. The end tucking was hilariously terrible, but I think I’m making my piece with it just being a chore that must be done.

–My oldest nephew is, as of Sunday, living with my brother. I have feelings. One big feeling I have is that I kind of hope he does go into the military. It scares the shit out of me so much. I can’t even begin to tell you. But I wonder what it would be like for him to be in a place where, when a person with authority over you told you he was going to be someplace at, say, 6 a.m., so you’d better be there, that, when you got there at 6 a.m., he was there. My nephew is awesome and dependable. He doesn’t need the self-discipline the military imposes. But I imagine he’d flourish in a situation where knowing that everyone around him was doing what they said they were going to do or there were clear consequences would be very good for him. From the outside, it looks like every problem my nephew has goes back to trying to count on people who can’t be counted on and then acting out because he’s frustrated.

–I wrote this thing for Pith. I feel kind of like a chump sometimes for picking on Gail Kerr, but sometimes she says stuff and I’m just like, “Oh my god, is this what women here think feminism is?” and I just… ugh.

If you need to live in New York in order to get published the traditional way, then New York publishers can’t bemoan the rise of self-publishing. Not everyone can afford to move to New York. Or wants to live in New York.

–I think I have a good start to the kids’ story. I know the story I want to tell. But damn, finding the right voice, the right approach? Hard as fuck. I’m going to get a draft done and then ask some kids to come have hot chocolate with me and let me read it to them. And then see what they say.

–And the red afghan comes along.

–And I got to watch Sleepy Hollow at its real time, because the Butcher fell asleep watching football and I stole the remote! I wish there were a way that I could arrange for Tom Mison to say something about “baffling mysteries” to me. The directors on that show must have a blast. “Now, I need you to look at the camera with your steely blue eyes” and “Okay, now you give a look halfway between ‘I would like to fuck you’ and ‘I would like to fucking slap you upside the head.’” “Okay, Orlando, why don’t you do something completely surprising that both seems out of character and yet fitting. No, whatever. I trust you.” “Where’s the horseman’s AK-47? Has anyone seen the Horseman’s gun?” I mean where does dude even keep his bullets?!

Well, That Went Well

I’m really happy with how the witches turned out. I had a few duds, but it was a strange summer and I got started late. And I really like the good ones, so it balances out.

Thanks again to the guest witches–Jess, W., Helen, Beth, and Lora–because I know it takes a lot of guts to put your work in front of an audience and I really, really appreciate you being willing to share that stuff with us. Plus, oh my god! They were so good! I hope it gave you a thrill, too.

So, that’s another October full of spooky shit here at Tiny Cat Pants. Thanks to everyone for reading along and commenting.

I love you guys. But you know that.

Assorted Things

–The Butcher agrees that the afghan is basically a cloud of sleepiness.

–It’s the Butcher’s birthday. I told him he better get on it, because at this age, Jesus was saving humanity.

–There were a few moments on Thursday when it really struck me that the Butcher and I were going to have to do this kind of clean up work for our family regularly, from here on out. And it made me sad and relieved.

–I’m blogging over at Think Progress, starting tomorrow.

–Tonight is one of my favorite stories of the bunch as well as the last guest witch. I will be out to dinner with the Butcher, so let’s hope everything goes off without a hitch.

–I went to the doctor yesterday. I have, according to her scale, dropped at least twenty-five pounds since last year (this is not accurate for all kinds of reasons, but its accuracy is not germane to what I am about to say). I don’t know if you remember last year, but last year was the year that I supposedly dropped almost 20 pounds between seeing the gyno in May and the endocrinologist in June and then, when I saw this doctor in October, I had supposedly gained that all back and then some. Which I told her. And now, it’s all magically gone. She didn’t even ask me about it. In real life, it’s incredibly difficult to lose twenty-five pounds in a year. And you for sure don’t lose twenty pounds in a month unless something has gone majorly wrong. (And my endocrinologist spent a lot of time trying to figure out if something was going wrong with me or if it was possible that the scales were fucked or what. We settled on fucked scales or operator error, eventually.)

But I am a person who loves order and routine. I eat the same things every day. I wear the same clothes week after week. I go for the same damn walks. I haven’t taken up some aerobic hobby. If she had asked me how I “lost” the weight, I would have nothing to tell her. I’m not living any differently now than I was a year ago, with the possible exception of walking less because the dog wasn’t up for it as often.

I feel like, if I weren’t fat, this would be a cause for greater concern–the mysterious disappearance of twenty-five pounds. But I’m fat, so aren’t I lucky?

I feel fine, though, so… I mean, I’m chalking it up to my fucked up endocrine system and it just still doing what the fuck it wants as it feels like doing it.

But I find it a little strange that she thought nothing of it.

And I Have a Cold

I can’t even be mad about it. It’s just one more ridiculous thing. Plus, I just don’t think you can put your body through “Here’s bad news. Here’s good news. Here’s a death and burial. Here’s some exciting crap!” and not have your body be all “And here’s something to knock you off your feet for a few days.” I’m reading a story at the East Nashville Boofest this afternoon. If you’re there, come on by. The other storytellers seem like they’re going to be awesome, too. We’ve been encouraged to wear a costume, but I just didn’t feel well enough yesterday to go buy one.

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that “Bad Maddy” is, so far, the most widely read of the witch stories. I definitely thought that was one of the better ones in the bunch, but I wouldn’t have put it among my favorites. Still, it’s gotten some nice link love and spread far and wide. That’s really cool.

I’m debating whether to put a border on the black, white, and gray afghan when the time comes. I’m also worried that I’m not going to have enough red yarn to finish sewing it together. But I am loving it. I really hope Jess likes it, too. But I am so pleased with how it’s turning out.

Things are Things

My coworker is out on maternity leave and I have been doing a fundamentally crappy job of filling in for her. It’s very detail-oriented work and I hate details if they’re not interesting to me. Like tell me Ben Allen had 42 tiny tigers carved out of ivory and I will never forget it. Tell me that something has to be printed, added to a database, copied, filed here and finally mailed? Wouldn’t it just be easier if I made a pile on the co-worker’s desk and she could do it when she got back?

The Butcher has gone on some thing. I guess a gig, a “go here, do this crap, take this money” thing. So, I get my parents all to myself this weekend. I have mixed feelings.

And I need to get started on my yearly time-set-aside. I should have started it last night, but I was/am so stressed out and exhausted.

Mrs. W. left me two giant disgusting gifts on the floor when I got home from work yesterday. And I feel so bad for her because she’s so ashamed. Or I guess whatever it is that dogs feel. She was slinking around, just out of sight, trying to suss out if I was mad at her.

I wish there was a way that I could make her understand that I’m never going to be pissed about accidents that happen because she’s a million years old.

“These things happen,” I tell her. And then I get the mop.

Anyway, on a happier note, tonight is the biggest failure of a witch story of the whole month. I just reread it to confirm to myself that it is terrible and it is! Probably, I should not run it. But I’m going to. I mean, it’s a Friday night. Who among you will be here to read it? And then they’re pretty good from here on out. It will be quickly forgotten, I trust.

I will say this: I think the puzzle has a solution. I mean, I intend for the story to pose an answerable question. But I also think that writing very short mysteries–hell, perhaps all mysteries–is really hard. And I’m kind of delighted to fail so gloriously. It’s like a belly flop. Yes, it’s stupid, but there’s something wonderful about it.

And it’s given me a new appreciation for the guy who wrote all those Encyclopedia Brown stories.

Things to Read

1. I made Pith. Which is weird and lovely. God, I like those folks.

2. Joy Crelin, who publishes Betwixt, has a good interview here. I’m really happy “Beyond, Behind, Below” found a home with her.

3. Have I told you all how much I love Sleepy Hollow? It’s ridiculous and silly and sweet in a way I just love. And since Elementary is struggling a big to find its feet here in the second season, I’m glad to have a show with a bit of sweetness at its core. The recaps at IO9 are hilarious, too. “‘I CAN’T SEE YOU, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT.’ – Either one of them to the other one if, heaven forbid, there’s ever fog in this town.” I love, too, that the cast has reached out to the one black woman on the real Tarrytown police force. I hope she gets a hot time traveler to work with, if she wants one.

4. This article on James Franco is brilliant and funny–”Franco has 13 projects listed on his IMDB page that are (or are rumored to be) somewhere between concept and execution — and those are just acting. There’s also directing, writing, cinematography, and an unbilled job as the provider of morning pastries for the cast of NCIS.”

Things are in the Pipeline

Just your weekly reminder that, if you want to participate in the witch festivities, you have until the end of October. I’m happy to take anything–pictures, fun facts, astute observations, charming stories.

I’ve already had a couple come in and they are fantastic.

Things, Because I Got Busy on Facebook

1. Sure, let’s elect a plagiarist. Why not? Lamar, it’s time to stop appeasing these jackasses and just eat their lunch.

2. “Better to stay indoors until one can safely discern between the dog and the wolf.” I just want to marry this sentence. Or die of envy that someone else wrote it.

3. Gail Kerr’s right–something is starting to stink here.

4. Over on Facebook, Coble was talking about this. It’s supposed to be Native American-inspired or something. Here’s my problem–aside from the fact that it’s 3/4s of a million dollars–is this supposed to be inspired by Native Americans who lived here? Because I’ve now Googled the art and clothing of every tribe that was thought to have been in the Tennessee area and one thing stands out–they all had access to and made ample use of a vibrant red dye. I couldn’t identify it, but obviously it’s something pretty prevalent here, because it was very popular. So, where’s the red on this thing? Is this a tribute to Native Tennesseans or just some abstract concept of Native Americans?