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.

My Kardashian Dream

I’ve never watched an episode of any of the Kardashian shows, but that doesn’t prevent me from dreaming about them, apparently. I dreamed that I was taking a shower in their house (or one of their houses, I guess) and I got to use their shampoo and conditioner and it was amazing. My hair was so soft and luxurious and tangle-free.

I also kept having people open the curtain to talk to me or to get my opinion on whatever they were talking about, but it was totally worth it. Because of the bath products.

The Battle of Franklin

I wrote about it, in case you needed something to read today. I am still worried sick that I have the officers on the wrong sides. In general, I just don’t get war history. Generals, colonels, all that crap. I don’t even know what you call the people who fight in wars. I only recently learned they’re not all soldiers.

But I want to learn to understand this shit, too, because it matters.

Math is Not My Strong Suite

Remember that fond day when I thought I was halfway done with the endurance-test afghan and I was somewhat befuddled by it? But still proud and excited because I was almost done?

Yesterday afternoon, I stood with my piles of squares spread out on my bed and my calculator in-hand and I was like “The number I think I need is not the number that will make up a whole afghan.” And yet, I just could not figure out how to unfuck my thinking.

So, here’s the problem. I have my squares bundled into bundles of twelve. I want my afghan to be 36 squares wide by 48 squares tall (each square being just shy of two inches wide)–or three bundles by four bundles. So, how many bundles do I need to make?

My first guess was twelve. Much to my own pride, I realized that this was wrong, even before I spread the squares out on my bed.

But then I had been telling myself that, what I need is four bundles high, thirty six bundles across. And, well, I had thirty-six bundles–score one for me.

I make my post.

And then, all day, I’m like–this just cannot be right. It’s not enough squares. Even spread out on my bed, it’s not enough squares. But I can’t figure out how I’m fucking up. For the longest time.

And then I realize, I have forgotten to multiply. I don’t need 36 bundles–I need 4×36 bundles. I am only a quarter done.

I had a feeling of both extreme disappointment and extreme relief.

There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you have the wrong answer but not knowing where the flaw in your thinking is to fix it.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

We’re leaving here in an hour or so to go to Hooters in Chattanooga to have lunch as a family with our brother and his girlfriend and our niece and maybe a nephew.

I am excited, but on my walk this morning, I cried a little. I don’t want to make new traditions. And as nuts as they make me, I love my parents and am sad we’re not going to be together.

But anyway, I am grateful to spend Thanksgiving with these yahoos. Even at Hooters.

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.

Rigged

The system is rigged. And it’s perpetuated through violence. Both the violence that is actually perpetrated on people and the threat of violence.

I think a lot about whether it’s possible and how one might refuse to play the rigged game we’re born into. If you see that your neighbor is being treated unfairly in a bad way and you are being treated unfairly in a good way, most people’s instinct–if they recognize that unfairness–is to try to rectify it. Unless you’re told repeatedly that it’s deserved or not really unfair or whatever.

But it’s not a conscious decision on most people’s parts to treat you better. You can’t appeal to the leader and demand to be treated fairly. You just get to be treated unfairly well. Your neighbor continues to be treated unfairly poor.

But here’s the rub. Here’s one way it’s perpetuated–generation after generation. When it’s my son or brother or nephew in front of a cop’s gun, I want him to come out alive. And when he does, I feel relief and gratitude. Things have worked how they should.

I don’t want to give that up.

There’s a canard in feminist circles that homophobia is just a dude’s fear that other dudes will treat him how he treats women.

But there’s a similar dynamic at the heart of white supremacy–the threat that white people who buck the system will be treated like non-white people. And yet, when white people are the ones with the power to change things, white people willing to buck the system are what’s need. And yet, and yet, a system that changes in response to white people’s discomfort and not to non-white people’s suffering is still racist.

My heart hurts.

An Afghan of My Least Favorite Things

I’m making an afghan that is 90% end-tucking, which, as we all know, is my least favorite part of afghan making. But I am dying to try this and see how it ends up. I’m making tiny granny squares–just the first round, so about an inch across–and then I’m going to tuck a million ends and join the squares all together. By my estimate, to make it the size I want, I will need almost four thousand squares.

I’m not sure if this means this is solely an afghan or if we’ve moved into performance art territory.

Sarah Clark

A while ago, I read Kathryn Tucker Windham‘s take on the Harpe brothers, in which she mentions, in passing, that Big Harpe’s skull had eventually been absconded with by a Kentucky witch, so that she could cure her nephew. I feel like you can’t help but wonder about a woman like that, what would drive her to go touch the rotting remains of a guy everyone in Kentucky hated.

So, I wrote a story about her. I picked “Clark” as a last name because there are a couple of roads just north of Dixon–Guy Clark Road and Choice Clark Road–that indicate that people named Clark live there. Plus, if the Harpes had some victims in the area, it would more satisfactorily explain why his head was put where it was. I suspect the truth of the matter was that 41A just had more traffic 200 years ago, so they put the skull where they thought the most people could see it.

Anyway, that story is published! And you can read it. I hope you like it.

The Bear Hat

I have to get some pictures! It’s delightful, just as it is, in pieces. But tomorrow, my goal–after I get my oil changed–is to find a tapestry needle with an eye big enough for the yarn. Otherwise, I’m not sure how I’m going to get it together. But I’m kind of delighted with the problem! And I’m going to pick out buttons for the eyes.

And take pictures, because you all are going to laugh! It’s just really delightful. The ears, even now, are the greatest thing ever. But man, it’s going to be hot as all get out. In both senses of the word. Ha ha ha. Okay, mostly just in the “heavy wool” sense.

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!

Talking Shop

This morning I read a post by an agent where she advised that writers not write about writing, because who cares? I found that a little vexing because I care. I like process posts. Not just writing them, but reading how other people have figured out how to do the work.

In that vein, you should check out Kat Howard’s piece on rejection.

I get rejected all the time. I can’t find homes for stories I know are good. I keep writing anyway, because it makes me happy.

But it seems weird to me to not talk about it. How can anyone know if what’s happening to them is typical or not if they have nothing else to compare it to?

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.

How Pleasant It is to Touch a Boob

This is a search term that brought someone to Tiny Cat Pants this morning. I can’t decide if this is a question–a person who has never touched a boob wondering about its general pleasantness or perhaps a poet, wondering if anyone else has ever started a poem “How pleasant it is to touch a boob.”

I am curious about how such a poem might go.

How pleasant it is to touch a boob.

I would know, of course.

I’m not a n00b.

A long time ago I liked a guy who liked me back but nothing ever really came of it except that he gave me a poem about awesome boobs, written, of course, by Lord Byron. Writing it down like that makes it sound tacky, but I found it charming and funny.

He has a wife now, and some adorable kids. Sometimes, I see their photos and I wonder if I should have tried harder to… I don’t even know, really… I’ve become someone since then that wouldn’t be a good fit for him. It’s hard to imagine the person I am now making the person he is now happy. But he made me happy once-upon-a-time and I hope the feeling is mutual.

Satisfying

Making this bear hat is more satisfying than I suspected. I may switch to hats for a while. I may have pictures later.

Bear Hats a Go Go

I need to sew together my new baby hat, but I have to do that in strong light, so I was waiting until this weekend. Meanwhile, I’ve started on the hat for Sam (or, if I put it on the Butcher and it’s a little small, the hat for my mom!) It appears I was right and buying bulky yarn and going up a few hook sizes are going to let me pretty much use the pattern as written and get an adult hat. The biggest challenge with the hat is going to be finding a tapestry needle with a hole big enough to take the yarn and then finding buttons with the holes big enough to fit the needle. I’m going to end up at Joann’s with a long strand of this yarn.

I’ll take some pictures as I get further along. I really love the color of the yarn. It’d be a nice hat even if it wasn’t a bear.

Oh, I do have a picture of that, though.

bear hat early stages

I would have liked a hook one size bigger than what I have here, but I don’t own one. The only thing I have bigger is the enormous. I’d be worried about how dense it is, except that both people who are getting one live in the Midwest.

Anyway, that’s the main color (thought it might look a little more pink in the photo than it does in real life) and the color under it is the ear, nose, and border color.

Friday?

I have no idea what days it is, really. I’m depressed about this state and what it means to be a woman in it. But I don’t see any easy fixes. The Democrats don’t really exist. There’s no legitimate opposition. No reason for them to temper their actions.

Two things made me feel incredibly old this week. One is Kim Kardashian, in that I see everyone having opinions on her in her various states of nakedness and I thought she looked cute and like she was having fun. You know when you feel like a grandma? It’s when you see a shiny, naked lady being all sexy and your first thought is, “Oh, she looks so cute.”

And the other is that I listened to the new Azalea Banks album and I liked it. I found it a little strange sounding and I couldn’t quite understand half of what she was saying, but my feet tapped. I don’t know exactly how to explain it. But it was the first piece of music I heard that was obviously marketed to adults which I found just felt weird about listening to because she sounds so young.

I still listened to it a bunch. But it was weird. I mean, I’m glad there’s youth culture and I’m also really glad I don’t have to keep up with it. I can just be interested in what I’m interested in and ignore the rest.

A Moment

I’m sorry to be vague about this, but I don’t like to blog about work. Still, yesterday, I was standing over someone sitting at a table trying to figure out what a regular person puts in a note to President Obama. It was my job to advise said person on the creation of that note. As if I have any experience writing personal notes to the President.

And there was this moment when we both kind of looked at each other in wide-eyed confusion and then burst out laughing.

It makes me laugh to think about it.

Anyway, dear Reader, life is weird.

“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.

The Curious Case of the Roasted Chicken in the Night

We had a roasted chicken for dinner Monday. I told the Butcher to put the carcass in the outside garbage or in the fridge.

Obviously, he did neither, or we wouldn’t be having this post. Yesterday morning, half the carcass was missing. Bones and all. I blamed the dog. I still do put some of the blame on the dog. And I worried all yesterday that the dog might die from eating those chicken bones. And I also figured, well, he would die doing what he loved–living inside and eating garbage.

But, dear Reader, when the Butcher and I got home from his celebratory senate-campaign dinner, there was a pile of poop between the toilet and the wall so enormous that you could have seen it from space. I have no doubt that some of you probably saw it in your peripheral vision, and just mistook it for another hill in the landscape. It was almost like a pooping horse amount of poop.

It was the kind of poop–when you look at the butts in our house who were present: the dog, the cats, however many mice–you would assume could only come out of a dog. But the dog cannot fit his butt between the toilet and the wall. The dog was also not the one languishing on the bathroom sink.

No, that was new kitty who apparently ate her weight in chicken and then, when her body was done with it, left it in the bathroom, because she didn’t want 8 lbs of poop in her litter box. (In fairness, I have no idea how, if she had pooped it in the litter box, she would have ever been able to cover it. She’d have been in their all day trying to bury it.)

I was disgusted. But, man, I laughed, too, because that cat has always been kind of a ridiculous bad ass. This just seems like par for the course. Of course she’s not going to let some silly dog have all the chicken. She’ll eat chicken until she can’t eat chicken no more and then she’ll leave the rest to the dog. And the dog, though ten times her size (if not more) will respect that.