First Correct Use of “First Annual” in History?

I was telling the Professor that I go next week to get my boobs squished for science. It’s my first annual mammogram. (Is there any word that sounds older than “mammogram”? “Ma’am”–woman older than you. “O” starts the word “old.” “Gram,” a pet name for a grandmother. You don’t even have to know what a mammogram is to know it’s for old women.) And then I thought–It is my first annual mammogram. I know many people get annoyed by “First Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest,” but I think “first annual mammogram” is right. It’s like the exception that proves you should normally use inaugural.

Oh, speaking of things that go with “inaugural,” I’m working on my October thing and I was telling the Butcher about it and I was like “And then a buzzard with the head of Abraham Lincoln shows up” and he was like “seen it.”

How is this possible?

Is there anything in pop culture the Butcher hasn’t already encountered?

The Butcher and the Professor

I had a really good talk with the Professor last night about how I’m not exactly bummed or anything about turning 40. I mostly just, if I’m being honest, feel confused by it. Like, oh, okay, so nothing’s going to happen? And the Professor has this theory that we don’t really have realistic role models for how not to be like our parents, because, growing up, we saw our parents and their friends and then, anyone who wasn’t living like that was on TV, somehow changing the world. But here we are, 40, and maybe we don’t want to change the world or we realize that our ability to effect change is really limited, but we still don’t want lives like our parents’ so we have to figure out what it is we want from life instead.

I also was able to talk through with her my feelings of guilt and discomfort with the fact that I live so decadently. Like I do really have this internalized idea that there’s something shameful about deciding to just go ahead and be weird. And yet, what else can I do? I want to be happy and this is what makes me happy. So, I just have to keep on acknowledging that small voice and then ignoring it.

On my way home today, though, when I lamented to the Butcher my fear that I’ll never get a book contract, he told me to shut up because I’d already made more from my art in my lifetime than Van Gogh had made in his, so what more did I fucking want? Which made me laugh.

Times Like This

On the one hand, I’m going to be so happy when the Butcher’s car is fixed. Because this waking up at a quarter to six when I’m used to waking up at twenty after is doing me in. It doesn’t seem like it should be that big a deal, but it seems like I’m missing some crucial last part of a sleep cycle or something.

But on the other hand, I like having a half an hour a day where we just talk about shit. Not that we don’t do that at home, but… well, no, not really. We’re watching TV or each doing our own thing.

Anyway, I wrote this thing for Pith. What I’m mulling over is that we tell history like it is just one great person popping up, island after island, like Hawaii in metaphorical terms. But you can’t look too closely at any particular person without seeing all the ways they’re tired to the people who came before them.

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.

The Butcher

One thing that always amazes me about the Butcher is that, though he’s not the most ambitious person in the world–in other words, if there were a 5 ton boulder in the back yard, he wouldn’t move it without being asked. But, if you go to the Butcher and say “I need help moving this 5 ton boulder,” he’d be up for it.

Which I guess is my way of saying that I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, but he’s just like “We’ll just do it. We’ll do it like this as long as we have to and then we’ll do it like that once we get a little money.”

He had a political thing on Saturday. I couldn’t go because I can’t work on his campaign because of work. And I don’t want to get into it with work about what constitutes “working.” But he went with our friend, T., and apparently he rocked it.

And I’m really happy. He is awesome. And I’m glad he’s seeing that.

The Butcher is Back to Work

The previous situation fizzled out. And oh, the stories I could tell. But I’m trying to be thoughtful about the notion that sometimes the Butcher gets weirded out by how much of his life ends up here.

But he’s started a new job today, with a set schedule and a pay rate that doesn’t fluctuate based on arbitrary decisions made by consultation with the spirits. And the new engine for his car is almost here, which means he will soon get his car back.

So, that’s a relief.

The Butcher has Become a Crank!

He’s got his petition to qualify to run against Lamar Alexander. And, I admit, I’m kind of impressed that he’s gotten this far with it. But I also always wondered who these people are who run against a guy like Alexander. And it’s the Butcher!

He doesn’t expect to win, but I think he’s learning a lot about things just by trying. Even as weird an attempt as he’s making.

I wonder at what point his run becomes serious enough that it affects Pith?

I told him that, if Alexander bothers to spend even ten minutes doing opposition research on him, he should consider that a victory.

“No one has ever loved me as much as this dog, who’s only known me for a month, loves me.”–The Butcher

Money Attracts Problems

I think it must be wild to have a baseline of so much money that a couple hundred bucks arriving at Christmas isn’t a guarantee that your car will break down or you’ll need to hire a plumber or the whole back of your yard will break off and go floating above the Fontanel and get you sued for blocking their view.

But, here in the real world. money ahead is money spent on a problem you just don’t know you have yet.

The Butcher’s car broke down on Briley. He is, apparently, out of oil. Which, you know, is no good. But the weird part is that there’s no evidence of a leak. Our driveway harbors no oil slick. The car doesn’t smell like it’s burning oil. The oil is just gone.

And whether the car can come back from being run without oil?

Who knows?

Excitement

I’m a little trepidatious, I have to admit. There’s no way to prepare the cats. They’re just going to be pissed for a while. But I was also not able to sleep all night, like a little kid who knows that Christmas is right around the corner.

The Butcher said last night, “I am glad to have a dog again.”

And my parents are being adorable about this. My dad is all insisting that we take a letter of recommendation from the owners of the Butcher’s dog friend. I am not doing so, but I will have my phone with me which has pictures of Sadie on the couch and being adorable and sleeping with the cats and all the stuff that we hope another dog will want to do. Come, Rufus, fill the empty spot on our couch.

As for “Rufus,” I’m not in love with it. But I can live with “Roo.” And the Butcher likes “Rufus” a lot, plus it’s what the dog is used to being called. We’ll probably just roll with it. No idea yet what he’ll be called here. But we’ll see.

Unrested

I set a timer to wake me up every three hours. And I learned that, in my sleep cycle, the three hour mark has me deep, deep in some hard sleep. But I got up and got the dog out and we had a successful pee-in-the-bed-free night! But man, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I have no idea how new parents do it.

The Butcher got home way late last night.

A couple of the texts he sent me yesterday have me nervous that he’s not convinced that this is the right course of action.

But then, he didn’t wake up to find him and her sleeping in her piss two nights in a row. He didn’t have to clean up accidents during the day two days before that. And the way you can run your finger in the hollow spot between her back rib and whatever is supposed to be just under her rib is new, from yesterday. And he’s got to see for himself how she shakes when she breathes in, like it hurts her.

I’m glad, then, that I scheduled it for Thursday, even if it means a couple more nights of shitty sleep on both her and my part, because clearly, we turned a dreadful corner while he was gone and he needs to see that there’s no coming back from it.

But I really hate that for him. What I learned early Sunday morning, he’s got to learn first-hand today.

It’s a terrible business, waiting around for Death.

Gabby’s

The Butcher and I went to Gabby’s for lunch. They were getting their application for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives together. I said to the Butcher, “You know we’re going to have to take Mom & Dad here if they get on TV.”

“They’ll make us take them here if they just hear they’re trying to get on TV,” the Butcher said. “So, I hope it’s good.”

It was good! And, even though they tell you to clean up after yourself, they cleaned up after us.

I like hanging out with the Butcher. On our way home, we were talking about how, if you’re going to be a place with a line, you have to keep that line moving fast or we’d rather be at a place with a waitstaff. And I floated by the Butcher my theory that Nashville’s willingness to stand in lines is a public ritual grieving the death of Opryland–like you may take our beloved themepark from us, but you can’t stop us from recreating the queues from that themepark all over town in memorium.

The Butcher thinks it’s more that people in Nashville like to be seen and how can you be seen if you’re not standing around outside?

And then we lamented the loss of the IHOP that sat at Broadway and 21st where we used to eat lunch together when we first moved to town, which was the friendliest and sunniest and just, in general, best IHOP ever.

The Butcher

The Butcher and I went to Two Boots Pizza for lunch. It’s not set up for how Nashville eats lunch, but if you want someplace where you can eat by yourself, this is the place for you.

We were just shooting the shit, which was nice, and I realized that one of the things I most missed while he was gone was feeling like I had someone who was right there, on my side, in any fight.

Not that I have many fights.

But both my brothers, in their own ways, have my back.

I’m lucky about that.

Sick House

The Butcher has Hand, Foot, and Mouth, which is a virus that causes a painful rash where the name states. Normally little kids get it, but sometimes adults get it and then spend the weekend moping around on the couch because they’re miserable and they’ve already watched all the documentaries about happiness on Netflix.

So, it’s weird. And it means I’ve had to cook him dinner, feed him, and take his dishes to the kitchen. And do the dishes. And the grocery shopping.

Basically, it’s like when he was gone, but with more rashes.

Beef and Noodles Dreams

The Butcher made beef and noodles for dinner, which were delicious, even though I burned myself on them three times–doing the noodles for him, spilling my dinner on my lap, and then touching the bottom of the pot while putting the noodles away. So, that wasn’t fun. But then I had the best sleep I’ve had in ages.

But I had this really vivid dream that Mayor Dean turned downtown Nashville into a historical reenactment place, like Colonial Williamsburg, and we were all required to work there, but I didn’t have money for costumes, so I decided to open a historical brothel, figuring we could all be naked. But I couldn’t find a landlord who would rent to us or, if they did, who wouldn’t harass my girls.

So, I rented a cart, piled all my girls in it, and went around town trying to find new places while the tourists cheered us.

I woke up in a panic because I had no way to pay for the rented cart.

How is This Weather Possible?

It’s all I can do to go into work. The walk this morning with the dog was perfect. Cool and green, with a sweet slight breeze. You know how Wallace Stevens says “It was evening all afternoon?” In some ways it’s been autumn all summer long.

I feel a little guilty about how relieved I am that the Butcher is home. Like I’m putting my happiness above his unhappiness. But I am relieved.

Old Hag

Yes, I am jealous a little of the Butcher’s ability to remember lots of things. And of his ability to tell how a movie or tv show will end five minutes from the beginning.

But never have I been as jealous as I am upon learning that the Old Hag regularly rides him.

How is this something you fail to mention to your sister who loves creepy things until today?

Anyway, he was napping at a friend’s house, waiting for the air conditioner repair man to show up when he realized someone was in the room with him. He attempted to get up and show the “repair man” where he needed to go, but he could not, because he was paralyzed.

Ta-da.

Do Dogs Get Pissed?

I’ve seen dogs get mad. Obviously, they get aggressive. And I’ve seen dogs not like a particular person.

But I’ve never seen a dog behave like Mrs. Wigglebottom is behaving. Hell, I’ve never seen Mrs. Wigglebottom behave how Mrs. Wigglebottom is behaving. If you’ve been over, you know that you arrive, there’s much barking and bottom wiggling and attempts to sit on your lap and to get all of the butt scratches you have to give.

But when the Butcher returned home, Mrs. Wigglebottom got up off the couch and went and got in my closet. No barking, no wiggling. And, like right now, since she’s sure the Butcher is asleep, she’s in there sleeping on the floor where she can keep an eye on him, but when he stirs, she rushes into my room so that, I guess, he doesn’t see that she cares?

I don’t know how to understand this, since it would seem to take a level of emotional sophistication both that I didn’t know dogs had and that I’ve never seen her exhibit. Because it’s like she has two contradictory emotions. She seems glad he’s home–in secret, where he can’t see it–and completely unbothered by his reappearance, less than impressed, even.

The End of This Nonsense

cat

I was trying to get both the cat and the dog into the frame, but failed. but the thing on my lap is also resting on the dog’s head. This is how we have to do it these days. Everyone must be right on top of me, because I might someday leave and not come back.

Did I tell you that, when we got home from my parents’, the dog ran to every room to see if she could find the Butcher and, when she realized he wasn’t there, she went back outside and tried to get back in the car?

I’m the paltry second prize. But a second prize they’re willing to fight over.

The Butcher is coming home, though. So, that should make these guys happy. I’m happy, too. And sad for him. I’m glad he was brave enough to try for something he wanted and I’m sorry it didn’t turn out how he hoped.

Gratitude

The Butcher moved out in typical Butcher fashion–he took the balalaika and left his bed. If you didn’t hear the wind whistling through the big empty part in my heart, you might not even immediately get that there was an absence.

I have had my heart broken in many ordinary ways–people stopped loving me, people died, I lost track of them, not quite meaning to. But this way is new. This feeling like you both don’t want it to happen and that it’s exciting that it’s happening and good things could come of it.

I want the Butcher to have a big, rich life, because that’s what he let me have. If he hadn’t moved in with me, I couldn’t have stayed here. He gave me the chance to pursue my life. If there’s something he wants, by god, I want him to have it. I just wish he were having it across town. That way we could still hang out on Saturdays, still make our private jokes when they occur to us.

Anyway, he left. He cried and I cried and we were both very grateful to the other. And then he left, and I cried some more.

I tried to work up a way to be annoyed at him or pissed, but it wasn’t enough to keep this from sucking.

In a bit, I have to go through the house and see what I need from Walmart. Walmart. Honestly, it just adds insult to injury. But it makes it tangible. I can’t offload the unpleasant crap onto the Butcher anymore.

How will we share the pleasant stuff?

Living with a Ghost for a Day

I hit the Butcher’s car this morning. Not hard enough to do any damage. But, in my head, he’s already moved out. I’ve had to make the adjustment so that I can somehow deal. So, I just wasn’t expecting it to be there when I pulled out of the garage.

It’s a good thing in general. People weren’t made to live with their siblings their whole lives. And, my god, is there a better time to see about a girl than when a girl wants to see about you?

But I’m still so sad. I want to just sit on my couch for a hundred years and stare off into nothing.

I guess I’ll start doing that tomorrow.

Miserably Happy

You guys, I had such a nice weekend. But I also am covered in bug bites, the worst of which are places I picked ticks off. I spent yesterday sleeping in and then writing a Pith post and working on a baby blanket for my cousin and working on the Sue Allen project. And then I went to bed early. It was lovely. Except for the seed ticks I had to pick off.

Seed ticks are the devil. The big black ones are annoying, but you can feel those. But those little red seed ticks will get right in the creases of your knees or at the leg band of your underpants and just… ugh… The Butcher told me he once found a seed tick on his dick. I was like “And you still go outside?!” Because, I tell you, the first time I find a tick in my vagina, that will be the moment I start walking outside with a flamethrower. Just FSSSHHHHHHHSSSHHHHHH to clear burn a twelve-foot radius of charred death around me wherever I go.

A tick on your genitals is how anti-environmental super villains get started. It’s an origin story no one would argue with.

Perhaps I should add that in to the Sue Allen project. The villain is evil, but it’s understandable because he once had a tick on his dick. It makes him sympathetic, I think.

God, I hope The Butcher doesn’t become a supervillain now.

Anyway, I have to laugh a little bit because, revising the Sue Allen project, I’ve come to realize that the ending still doesn’t work for me. It’s still where my hang-up is. But, the switch in narrator and my desire to focus on the characters who change means probably the middle third is going to change majorly and then the last third… I’m going to end up rewriting it again.

But let me just explain my failure to you. My goal in the old structure of the book was to briefly introduce you to John and his dad here in the present. Then we switch to focusing solely on Sue and her life at which point John reenters the narrative as the bad guy. Kind of like Hemlock Grove. But, while I don’t think that Sue’s story is actually that boring, the absence of John isn’t as much mysterious as it is confusing.

So, instead, I’m reshaping the story so that the narrative focus is on these two women who both see ghosts and who share a complicated relationship with both a ghost and Lee Overton.

I think it works better, but it’s a strange process–creating a first draft of something out of a failed eighth draft of another. I’m not sure how revisions are going to go.