Dancing around the living room

My story. Eh, it goes. How will it end? Who knows? But it continues to feature a mysterious song sung and danced in 5/4 prominently in it. And so I needed a dance in 5/4 to do to the song. So, I moved everything out of the way and the dog got all excited thinking something was happening. I determined that a line of people (or a circle of people who needed to sing to you) could do a simple grapevine–step right, left in front of right, step right, left behind right, bring feet together. Repeat as needed in your giant circle or line while you sing said mysterious song.

But could you do a couple’s dance?

That took me most of the evening to figure out. I wanted to go grapevine, grapevine, turn, because I’m a Midwesterner and, to me, the most important part of a dance is whether I get to wear a twirly skirt and, if I get to twirl in said skirt. But, if I go grapevine, grapevine, turn, I couldn’t figure out how my partner was supposed to turn me around him. If we’re mirror images of each other–in other words, I’m leading with my right foot and my left goes behind, but he leads with his left foot and his right goes behind, when we turn, it’s going to be away from each other. Plus, if our feet are apart, how are we ready to lead with our lead feet?

So, what I worked out is that the turn has to come on the fourth count–right, behind, right, in front and pivot, step together–and he’s got to be doing the compliment–left, in front, left, behind and pivot, step together.

I’m still not entirely sure it will work, because my partner was the dog and, frankly, he was not cooperating.

Oh, you guys, he was being so naughty yesterday, since it’s been raining and he hadn’t had his morning walk either Monday or yesterday. He got out the back door on the Butcher, ran around my car while I was trying to park, got into the car and refused to get out and then ran, full speed, head back, tongue hanging out, around the yard. If he were a kid, he would have just been going “oOOOOOoooo” the whole way.

And then, he leaped into the house, just cleared all the stairs in the garage and sat and was like “Let’s have a treat!” and we were like “Okay,” because we’re terrible dog owners.

And this morning, he ate half a frozen pizza out of the garbage. And the Butcher told me, since I didn’t stop him, I have to clean it up if he’s sick when we get home. But it did seem like a big waste and it was a meat pizza. Plus, how he ate it was hilarious. He put the half down on the floor in front of him, put his paw on it, and then stripped the layers of things off of it. And when he was finished, I was like “Damn, that was awesome.”

The Butcher got mad at me because the dog is not supposed to be eating out of the trash and we’re supposed to be working on breaking him of it. But, much like his running around the yard like a wildman, it was so audacious and joyful I couldn’t be angry. And by the time the Butcher realized what was going on, it was too late.

For the sake of the dog, I need to get my shit together. But I’ve been in such a funk for so long (I hear you all saying “No shit”) that I’m having a problem stopping him from doing things that make him happy and make me laugh.

I don’t know. The next time I’m confronted with pizza, I may stand on it, just to see what the big deal is.

Anyway, the dog. Terrible dance partner. Wouldn’t even try to learn the moves. Hilarious eater. But kind of disgusting.


On the way home last night I heard a story on NPR about how pleasing we find repetition in music and how said repetition lets us shift our perceptions. I have this theory that, whatever your brain is able to do on drugs, you should be able to train your brain to do without drugs. Call it a mystical experience instead of a trip, but the same thing.

But it also makes me wonder if this is why I love routine so much. If everything just goes how it’s supposed to go, then I can let go of the part of me that frets over that shit and shift my perception to other things.

Things and Things and Things and Things

I am just about settled in my new office. The Butcher is back at work. I don’t understand but whatever. Fucking Aetna doesn’t cover my gynecologist, but I found out what an office visit will run me and I’m still going.

Which, lord, is just what it means to finally have a little money. It’s so bizarre. I don’t know how to explain it. But if I had called to make the appointment last week and she told me they don’t take my insurance (or rather, they tried to get on with Aetna, but Aetna wouldn’t take then), I would be shopping around for a new doctor, even though I really like her and she and her partner correctly diagnosed my PCOS and ended a lot of ongoing nonsense. Why would I leave a doctor like that?

But this week? I thought, “What’s the point in having a little money if I don’t use it?”

Of course, making that your mantra over all leads to not having any money. But if I’m going to indulge myself in some way, sticking with a doctor I like (because, please, let’s be honest, the next time my workplace changes insurers, she could be back in) seems like a good way.


That was my sleep. Solid. I don’t think I moved, just based on my arm being asleep beneath me. I walked. I had a banana with breakfast. I am now ready for my meetings and the rest of the office move.

I feel a million times better, though. I’d been sleeping like shit.

And my walk was productive. You know I’m mulling over a story involving a 5/4 march and, as I was walking, I was able to start to piece a lot more of it together. And that made me happy.

New Desk, New Office

new desk

The art on the corkboard is not mine, yet. The posters hanging up are not mine, yet. And there’s some kind of optical illusion at my desk that makes everything seem to be slightly listing right. But I’m in my new office, at least partially.

Oh, Right, Project X

Now is not the time for me to be dealing with Project X stuff. I am feeling way too stressed about all the things out of my control and all the things that could, at any moment, be going wrong without me knowing it. My desire for a complete check-list of things to do and a pencil with which to mark those things off is overwhelming. And since I can obviously get a pencil no problem, it’s the stress of not knowing if my to-do list is complete that is killing me.

That and the Butcher is, yet again, not working because the place he worked for a month never bothered to pay him and finally he just stopped believing them when they were like “The check’s in the mail.”

And taxes are due.

And I have to get this Easter shit straightened out.

Oh, god, so yes, Project X. When I’m feeling well the whole “let’s collaborate like collaboration is just people doing what feels good when they have time until it works” is fine. But, again, I want a to-do list with clear expectations and information I can communicate to the people I need to communicate with.

And so on Sunday, I had to go over to the house of a person I don’t know based solely on assurances that he’s a good dude and climb into his attic studio to record voice-over for the crowd-funding campaign. I thought, since I didn’t know what we were supposed to be doing, he surely would have been told. And he thought, since he didn’t know what we were supposed to be doing, I surely would have been told. And, you know, fortunately he wasn’t a rapist killer, but when we called to even find out if what we’d done was what was wanted? “Whatever you think works.”

I have no thoughts about what I think works. I think having a job where they goddamn pay you when they say they’re going to pay you works. I think listening to your daughter when she says she’s incredibly stressed works. I think knowing what the fuck you’re doing works. I think covering your brother’s bills and share of the groceries because he’ll be able to pay you back when the check comes works. What ever the fuck I think works is not actually how the world works.

But anyway, there’s a certain pleasure in standing in front of a good mic. And that part was really nice. Then to hear my voice fill the whole studio… It was a treat. I have a weird accent, though, I’ve decided. Something about how the Midwest and South are crossing streams in my voice, I’m ending up with something that is neither.

I honestly have no idea how this month is going to work out, on so many levels.

My co-worker keeps sending me this YouTube video, though, so I’m putting my faith in cheesy country music:

Here We Go Oh-oh-oh

Tomorrow is my official first day, but my boss said she’d see me about eleven today, so… yeah…. I think today is it. The new me doesn’t start until May 1, so there will just be a lot to do. And I don’t know if or how I’ll get it all done. I tell everyone I’m excited because it seems so ungrateful to just be stressed. But, honestly, I’m just stressed. I think I’ll feel excited later. But this month? I’m expecting long hours and just feeling like crying most of the time.

So, my dad wants us all to go down to my brother’s for Easter because my brother doesn’t yet feel like traveling with the baby–which I think really means that the car seat only fits in his girlfriend’s car and his girlfriend’s car isn’t sound enough to make the trip to our house. Which is fine. Except that this somehow translates from Mom and Dad going to my brother’s for Easter to my dad trying to figure out how we can all go. And I’m feeling a little unheard. Like all my talk about how busy and stressed I am must just be bullshit. Can’t we drive down there after work on Friday and drive back late Sunday and the Butcher and I could still get to work? And these questions come up and I just feel this kind of split reality where my brain is rushing ahead thinking “You haven’t listened to or taken seriously a damn thing either I or the Butcher has said to you about how crazy this month is for me.” and my mouth is just exasperatedly saying “And what about the dog?” which is supposed to mean, “Have you at all considered the logistics of this from our end?” Because, frankly, I feel like he hasn’t. The only logistics to be considered, always and forever, are my brother’s. He’s the one constantly in crisis, so let’s all constantly rearrange our lives to meet his needs.

I mean, for sure, let’s go down on Friday so that he can ignore us all of Saturday like he did at Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I finished David Cantwells Merle Haggard: The Running Kind, which is pretty breathtaking on quite a few levels. But the thing that stuck with me and seems of a theme to this post is how Haggard would find these really talented women singers and then marry them and then hoist himself up on top of their talent and they would find their careers as anything other than duet partners with him stalling out. And then we find out that he’s in hot pursuit of Dolly Parton and I swear, it’s just about as harrowing as anything in a thriller. Will he get her and thus stall her career out?

And it’s not like he’s purposefully doing that. He’s not some intentional career serial killer. It just seems like he has an idea about how the world works–that he should get to have a great career and a great partner both singing and romantic and that he should also get to do whatever the fuck he wants while they raise kids and tolerate it–which is an idea about how the world works that the record companies are glad to go along with. And there’s no point at which Haggard seems to step back and say “Wow, the way I am in the world really curtails the lives of these artists I really admire. In fact, I couldn’t be how I am in the world without curtailing these artists I admire.”

Which is understandable. Holy shit. Who wants to look in the mirror and wonder if they’re some inadvertent Madame Bathory career-wise to the women you love?

What was my point? Oh, right. I sometimes think that my family expects from me a certain stalling out. Like I’m cheating the family if I have a job or ambitions that take me away from whatever drama we’re all supposed to be giving a shit about at the moment. But what can I do except feel hurt and keep on keeping on?

Which, ha ha, also, joke’s on them. Because I am terrified of stalling out. Afraid I have. Afraid all the writer I’ll ever be is “Frank.” But stalling out in that way doesn’t benefit them in the least.

But man, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard.

There are many couplings I like to imagine (not in a lewd way, but…). I mean, my god, when you read about Loretta Lynn’s life with her shit-stain husband, don’t you hope that she and Conway Twitty were getting it on? And looking at Merle Haggard in his prime? Shoot, I hope Parton took him for a couple of test drives before deciding he wasn’t right for her.

You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

I don’t really talk about work stuff on here, but I do want to say this. I’m completely bummed that my boss is retiring. I’ve enjoyed working with her and I’ve learned so much. And I think she does a really great job in a world where people don’t buy books like they used to.

I’m looking forward (in excitement and terror) to see what I can do with the job. But I’m sad to see her go. I’ll not see the likes of her again, as they say.


I am so excited about going to the state museum that I woke up early–like that was going to get me to the museum sooner. I’m really too busy to be doing this, but, like I said yesterday, who the hell knows why this weird, lovely shit is happening to me? It might not happen again. If I can say yes, I feel like I have to.

I think I’m just going to let the ‘Cosmos’ piece be my last Think Progress thing, though. I’m out of energy. That’s going to be the thing that slides. Plus, then, I’m going out on a high note.

Bah, I’m distracted and disorganized. Will things around here improve once I settle into a new routine? God, I hope so.

Hunkered Down

I think my Demonbreun presentation is set. And I busted my ass all weekend on the afghan so I think I’ll be able to finish it up tonight. I’m pretty frazzled and miss seeing people, but I’ve got a lot of shit I need to get out of the way before April and I’m getting it out of the way.


A Thought

What I love about history, about finding things no one has thought about in decades, is the feeling that I’m hearing a secret whispered from a ghost.

…ooo I loved that song ooo…

…ooo I thought I figured that out once but I was wrong ooo…

…ooo This is where I lived ooo…

Things I Wonder

My walk was uninspiring. Somehow, I walk the same amount that I walked with Sadie, but it seems shorter and like everyone is out to hit me with their cars. Or trucks as the case may be today.

But it was long enough to have this realization:

I worry about being a shitty writer in the same way other women worry about being ugly or fat. It is the thing I do to myself to undermine myself and give myself an excuse to blame my feeling anxious or frustrated on something presumably controllable–my willingness to keep doing something I’m bad at. My unwillingness to discipline myself into better behavior.

The afghan I need to have finished by the end of the month is all crocheted up. And most of the tails are tucked. I can finish the rest of them up tonight and start piecing it together. I have no idea how that’s actually on track.

But I have to say that it makes me angry that I can compose a to-do list of overwhelming magnitude, power through it, and get to this point and rather than feeling satisfied at being on-course, I’m all, “no one will ever publish my fiction again.”

I have to learn to be kinder to myself.

State of My To Do List

I think I’m down to Keep doing Think Progress posts; Finish the Afghan; Finalize Demonbreun talk. And I need to remember to finish my taxes, now that I found the pile of papers I put “in a safe place.”

The book I’m going to be talking about at Think Progress today just utterly fucking blew my mind. But I have to say, it made me understand why scholarship in the past takes the attitude that Native Americans were savages who needed conquering. Because when you read scholarship that isn’t racist (or isn’t racist in that way; let’s leave the door open for our descendants to see in us uglinesses we can’t see in ourselves), the magnitude of the American Project and what was lost, or what we attempted to make lost, is kind of hard to look straight at.

But anyway, there’s something weird about going out into the night after finishing a book like that and looking up knowing that the people who looked up at that sky 200 years ago, many of them, had this rich utterly different cosmology. I always look for Orion in the night sky. It’s familiar to me. But, when standing on this ground, looking up at those stars from this spot, to know that I’m looking at a hole where the souls come in… That those stars had this utterly different meaning and may still. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

We’re supposed to be comforted by a coherent world-view. It grants surety to know that we all agree this or this. But I’m more and more wondering about what I’m not hearing. Though, I should say, honestly, that hearing these stories was hard.

I’m rambling here but to come at this from another direction, being St. Paddy’s day, I’ve been thinking about my mom’s grandmother, Marie Corcoran, and the ongoing shittiness she experienced from my mom’s grandfather’s whole family because she was Irish and Catholic. About how my own grandfather, who was one of the most awesome people I know, sent the Butcher a letter right before he died insisting we were Orange Irish, if the Butcher ever heard anything about us being Irish.

God, how that must have stabbed his mom right in the gut, to know her own son lied about his ancestry, about her identity.

And yet, I’m not less Clayton Rich of the shitty bigots than I am Marie Corcoran, Clayton’s wife and victim of said shitty bigots. Where shall I stand?

In discomfort. More and more.

The First Item on My To-Do List is “Make a To-Do List.” The Next Item is “Panic.”

Oh, lord, people, I am already feeling like I got hit by a metaphorical ton of bricks and I am not nearly done with the things I have to do. But I do need to sit down and make a list and then just start plowing through those things.

Anyway, the meeting with the artists for Project X was amazing. Oh, you guys. I can’t even tell you. There’s a creepy church and a huge wolf that somehow appears to be made mostly of empty spaces. Dr. Jack’s pseudo-veve for raising the devil is so fucking thoughtful–the shape of the symbol intentionally looks like looking at a wolf head on. There’s a wolf tarot card that is just so fucking awesome. And the moon in it is mindblowing. And then the art for Mrs. Overton’s section brings her to life. Like, I just saw it and was like “Man, this section went from nothing to being a portrait of this woman’s soul.” We still have two parts that don’t have art, but we’re getting a map for the one and they have an idea they want to talk to a paper maker about for the other–making paper from “the coat of Mr. Merritt.” Which, granted, since you haven’t read the story doesn’t mean much. But I’m blown away.

And, if we do some kind of crowd-funding for the project, I’m going to make the new version of Allendale one of the gifts.

The pain in my hip that I’ve been suffering from all week finally went away, but my hip muscles are now grouching because they’re sore from compensating for the hip pain. And, though this was annoying, it made me laugh.

I have the day off today, so I have to run a billion errands and read a book on tattoos. And make my to-do list. And panic.

How the Headshots Went

It was a bit like having my senior picture taken, but more anxiety producing, because I’ve been feeling so “German Grandpa” lately. But it turns out that the friend of the Butcher’s really is a professional photographer and her pictures of me–every single one I saw on the camera–looked so good. I can live with looking like that, anyway. She said I should see finals today or tomorrow.

The thing she did a really good job of was setting me at ease. And she worked quickly, which was also nice. I had to wear make-up, like some kind of person who wears make-up, which was weird and, more disturbingly, even though I washed my face before I brushed my teeth, I still found lipstick on my toothbrush this morning. I was all “Oh, gross, something red is growing on the handle of my too… Oh, that’s lipstick.” That’s a whole peril of girldom I have somehow missed out on up until now.

But she made me feel like my hair was so pretty (again, not something I’m really used to) and she kept holding it and moving it and so I wore it down to work today and one of the women who works down the hall was all “Wow, you look really good with your hair down.”

So, apparently, I have just been failing to seduce my way into everyone’s beds because I braid my hair to keep it out of the way! Who knew?

Anyway, I’ll share when I get something to share.

Poor Neglected TCP

Blogging around here for the next few weeks is going to suck, I imagine. But my goal is to point you to the interesting things I’m writing other places and to at least keep track of the stuff that’s going on so that I can process my feelings about it later.

So, this week–headshots moved to tonight. Which is good, because the ones the Butcher took of me are… well… what he had to work with. Wednesday, I have to run around all over the place. And not forget the Butcher in the afternoon. Thursday, I think we’re meeting about Project X. Friday I have to get my inspection and tags. Saturday we have some crap I’m drawing a blank on. Next Wednesday, apparently–I’ll find out the details this afternoon–I’m going to go speak with a group about Nashville’s slaves, including Allen.

I’ve got a book I’ve got to read so I can do an interview for Think Progress and a book I’ve got to read to help a friend. I’ve got to do said interview for Think Progress. And K. has totally hooked me up with a guy who can sight-read the four marches! So, I’ve got to schedule a time for that. Plus, this afghan. And, of course, my job. The new position starts in two weeks, but I’ve been really ramping up.

So, ha, yes, this is all invigorating. Or something. I feel like I can do it all. I just have to keep track of it all. Not let anything slip through the cracks.

What I’m saying is that TCP may slip. But think of all the interesting shit I’ll have to say when this has all settled down!

Meanwhile, the Methodists

Did I Have a Theme for This Year?

The other day, I was talking to my coworker about something stressful and there was a lull in the conversation and I said, “Jesus Christ!” and my coworker asked how my dad would feel about me taking the Lord’s name in vain.

And I said, “If it’s in vain, that’s on him. Because I’m calling for help.”

I have to tell you, that seems to be how this year is shaping up. I’m trying to take a Molly Bloom-like attitude where I just say yes to everything, accept everything and that it will all work out. But whoo doggie.

The thing is that I really do feel like I’ve got this. I know I can do all the stuff I have to do. I just have to get used to the pace. I’m not yet used to the pace, though.

Anyway, I think weird, cool things are afoot. I’ve been talking to a fellow fan of Joseph Deraque and it’s been interesting. He’s found a Joseph Duroche on a roster list with Timothy and he, like me, is so tempted to read that as Joseph, our Joseph. But who knows?

I think I’m going to turn “Allendale” into a chapbook.

And I need to get a head shot. Which I’ve needed for a few years, but I’ve just dicked around about it and not gotten it done. And now I really need one.

In Which I Break Up with Paul Rudd

Last night I dreamed Paul Rudd and I were having dinner at Cracker Barrel, where he proceeded to break up with me. I said to him, “Paul Rudd, I got a blue Mustang for you.” As if that would mean that he couldn’t break up with me. And then I said. “Paul Rudd, do you know how hard it is to get a horse to stand still while you paint him?” And then I winked. Like that was the most clever joke Paul Rudd was ever going to hear, and thus would win him back.

So, this morning, I told the Butcher that I had a dream Paul Rudd broke up with me and he said, “Why would Paul Rudd break up with you?” which I thought was a really lovely compliment. Why, indeed? Some brothers, perhaps even this particular one at an earlier point, might ask why Paul Rudd would possibly want to date me.

But then I told him the dream and the Butcher said, “Oh, well, that explains it. How weird would it be to date someone who constantly called you by your first and last name?”

Fair enough.

Like a Landscape

One thing that confuses me, just a a fundamental level, are Biblical literalists. Like people who believe that the earth was literally created in six days. Which means that I’m conversely confused by people who think that an argument against Christianity is that the earth wasn’t made in six days. Maybe as someone who can’t ever remember not being able to read (I remember learning to write but I know I was reading long before then) and as someone who experiences the world as being almost indescribably strange and mystical, I just always thought those stories were metaphors–like a language that speaks to and has meaning to your soul first and then your brain scrambles to catch up.

I was reminded of that again yesterday at the doctor’s office, as I sat in front of a big machine and a woman peered deep into my eyeball, and took pictures of every inch of the back of it, and then made a giant map that would show the doctor this small portion of the landscape of my body.

Because I felt like a land there–a place that could be mapped. And I know that we think of goddesses being associated with the land and gods with being associated with the sky because of how a dude “plows the field” of his wife. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

But I swear, yesterday, I felt like I was realizing something different about what it means to be an embodiment of the land. Like some fundamental mystical truth was closer to being in a form I could articulate.

And, frankly, I’m not sure what that truth is. But the back of my eye tells you I grew up in Illinois. The shape I grew in is because of the land I grew on. Like, how much difference is there between me and dirt, in that case?