Rebellion in the Wet Grass

Today when I walked the dog, I actually had a dog to walk, because someone, and I’m not naming names, but it was totally the Butcher, stayed up to watch basketball, so he didn’t get up to take the dogs to the park. And our walk was lovely. And at about the 3/4 mark, the dog pitched himself into the grass face-first in order to protest the head harness–as one does–and I shouted, “Oh, so it’s a rebellion in the wet grass, is it?!” and then I said, “that should be the name of your first bluegrass album” and he got up and trotted along side me. “Can you learn how to play the banjo?” I asked and he looked up at me like “Eh, we’ll see.”

I had a really interesting day at work yesterday. All of my days are interesting so far, but I was saying–when I was at my meeting at the Frist!!!!! (which, holy shit! gets you free motherfucking parking at the Frist!!!!)–that this first week has felt like watching a montage of interesting things fly by so quickly I can barely pay attention to it. But I’m starting to feel like I have my feet beneath me.

I’m having a little trouble believing this is my life.

In Which I Startle New Kitty’s Acquaintance

There I was, talking on the phone to the Professor in the garage, with the door to the outside world cracked a tiny bit so that I could watch the bird (we seem to have a baseball team’s worth of cardinals this year), when new kitty came hollering in the garage from said outside. Mrrrrrrroooowororowoowroroowechech. And hot on her tail was a black cat. He came into the garage. I stood up. He looked at me like “What the fuck is this thing?” and then he hightailed it back out of the garage.  He then tried to play it cool, skulking off like it was no big deal that he’d just encountered the new kitty’s ape. But I could tell he was shaken.

He was beautiful, though. I didn’t see any white on him–just solid back. And big. But his tail looked as wide as a raccoon’s, which is how I knew I’d scared the shit out of him.

Tired, Tired

I am just existentially exhausted. But the dog and I did go for a walk and it was nice. Like we’re finally finding our rhythm and enjoying spending time together. Like we’re walking together.

But, I tell you, still, I was telling someone about something that happened one morning last week and I said, “When I was walking the dog” and then I caught myself and said “She’s dead. I don’t walk her. The current dog goes to the park in the morning. I walk myself.”

And then I was sad.

My Demonbreun Talk

Well, the talk was to the Demonbreun Society, but about Joseph. They had this big room up on the 5th floor at the TSLA (which, let me just say, has a bathroom that is so perfectly 50s office building that it about hurt my heart) and there was barbecue and then I told them all the stuff I knew about Joseph and all of the stuff (mostly from the Provine papers) I had come to doubt about Joseph. And I told them of my growing suspicion that we were going to find that Joseph had some family tie to Timothy and that’s why he was willing to take on Timothy’s family for him.

So, here’s the awesome part. I got to speak with a couple of Durards, who are cousins. Who I’m going to leave nameless because I didn’t ask them if I could write about them. But the one’s dad is Joseph Durard, from a long line (except for one man) of Joseph Durards. They’re just not clear if they’re the grandchildren of the Joseph Durard whose father was Joseph Durard (whose parents were Joseph and Elizabeth) or if they’re the grandchildren of the Joseph Durard whose father was Timothy Durard (whose parents were Joseph and Elizabeth). But that’s not even the cool part.

The cool part is that the guy grew up like four houses down from this house! He knew my house. He knew the creek and the woman who lived here. He’s been to the Durard cemetery in Durard Holler and been denied entry by the property owner and those are his people in there. The Durards in the Methodist church on Brick Church Pike are his and the ones in the Methodist church cemetery on Old Clarksville Pike are his people. I said, “So, it’s your people I’ve been visiting!” I felt like I was meeting a neighbor.

And he knows where the big cemetery on Lickton is, which I have long wondered about.

And his hands were dirty in that way people who work on vehicles get dirty, with the grease all in the cuticles, no matter how hard you scrub. And it just made me happy because dude was so fucking brilliant. And it reminded me of the kinds of men I grew up around. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. But yeah.

And I met a woman who knew the Butcher. People, I repeat. I was at a meeting of the Demonbreun Society. And a woman there knew the Butcher.

Is there anyone in this town he doesn’t know?

And then I got lost in the bowels of the TSLA, and had to call for help. Which was not my proudest moment, in some ways, but in other ways, what?! It’s so fucking great.

Demonbreun Society

Today is the day I’m going to talk to the Demonbreun Society. My talk is unofficially titled “All the things I don’t know about Joseph Deraque and how I came not to know them.” I mean, a big problem for the study of our Joseph Deraque is that Durocher was a really common name along the Mississippi river and Joseph is a pretty damn common first name for a Catholic dude. So, it’s just not that easy to say “Oh, the Jauseph Duroche at Vincennes must have been our Joseph.” Well, not if the Mississippi Durochers had some sons named Joseph.

Or take the problem of Granny Rat’s Tavern. I’m not saying there’s not a deed to that land in a name that would indicate she was the proprietor. I’m just saying I didn’t find it. And we have a pretty good history of who all was trying to sell it starting about 1816 through about 1835, and those names are never her or people we normally associate with her. So, if she and Joseph were involved, it had to be between 1793–when she became “‘Rat” and 1816– and whose granny would she have been in that time period? Assuming the 1786 birth date is good for William, possibly his children, but his wives were all born (as far as I can tell, between 1800 and 1816) which just doesn’t give us any time for them to be having kids who could have called that tavern Granny Rat’s tavern before we start to know who owns it.

Or it could be that Granny Rat ran the tavern after 1835, but now, if we believe her birth date, we’re talking about her running a tavern in her 90s.

And to add intrigue, there was another Elizabeth Bennett, running around having illegitimate children with men in the same families that our Elizabeth’s kids married into. She lived in Robertson County for a while. And there’s at least some suggestion that one of her children may have lived with our Elizabeth for a while. This does not appear to be Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth Durard, using her mom’s maiden name. I think this is a niece.

And I remain of the opinion that we’re going to find Joseph in Timothy’s family tree.

Anyway, I’m excited. I should get in the shower.

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.

This is How It Happens

I’ve been thinking about that Aquinas nun running all over telling kids that masturbation makes you gay. It’s more than that. Apparently distant, unloving fathers and being molested also make you gay. Being gay might doom you to having hundreds of sexual partners. And on and on. Aquinas is defending her. She’s apparently out there showing God’s love.

Because, these days, they don’t hate you because you’re gay. They feel so very sorry for you because you’re gay because it means something bad has happened to you and you don’t have the necessary coping skills to do anything other than sin in response.

I spent much of the evening rolling my eyes. That an organization that sat back for decades while priests raped children is now going to turn around and lecture kids about proper sexuality? Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

But it’s interesting, isn’t it? Let me back up and say that the Butcher watches a hell of a lot of The Young Turks and I often play video games while they’re nattering on. So, I half listened and then became transfixed by the end of this piece:

I’ve read my fair share of the Los Angeles files–the ones that are available pertaining to Tennessee–and I can attest that what Jimmy Dore is talking about here is pretty typical. Folks often know something is the fuck wrong. They act all surprised and outraged later, but they know something is wrong all the while and they blame the victims for forcing them to feel uncomfortable feelings. Dore’s biting observation that the priest just disappears and that everyone is encouraged to pray for him, like his is the most difficult journey being taken in the congregation is pretty much how it works. The suffering of the children is rarely reckoned with. And the safety of children wherever the priest might next land is just not considered.

And child-molesting and homosexuality are, of course, conflated in ways that totally are awesome for the hidden child molester–after all if child-molesting is the provenance of gay men and gay men are easily distinguishable from straight men through all these stereotypes we have about their behavior and looks, then you have no reason to worry about any priest that doesn’t hit those gay stereotypes.

But what we’re seeing is that, here, even the rear-guard can’t make the “gay people molest children” argument anymore. Now gay people are the victims of child molesters. So, now, finally, in a twisted way, the consideration for suffering is now extended to victims of child molestation. And gay people. Who are the same or something.

But I also want to point out that this is more of that “I can bring apocalypse” thinking. And let me be clear, I am not saying that people who feel like being molested ruined them in some way are wrong for thinking so. What I firmly stand for is your right to understand your own experience in your own terms. And I stand in hope of you not believing that is the only truth of your life. But the perpetrators of evil and the bystanders don’t get to rest assured (either in satisfaction or in guilt) that they have witnessed someone’s total ruination. They don’t get to point and say “Oh, you’re gay. That means someone broke you.”

To me, it’s just the flip side of what Jimmy Dore experienced–either victims are just treated like nothing happened or they’re now treated like something happened so devastating that they’re ruined for life. Either way, the starkness of those choices lets people off the hook. The problem is too small/too large for anything to be done about it.

They still get to use their homophobia as a shield to keep from seeing what’s going on in their midst.

8:30-5:45

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.

A Life of Reports

I keep having this experience where I’m doing something that is normal consumerish doing something–buying a book, paying for lunch, visiting an exhibit–where, when I’m just about to complete my transaction, I’m encouraged to go review it on Amazon or Yelp or whatever. Like now, getting a product from you obligates me to not just give you money, but to turn in a report on my experience.

And I know I’m not the first person to make this observation. But it was like every interaction I had this week.

Yes, I am a blogger, but Christ, maybe I don’t want to be constantly telling the world about every instance of handing over money and whether it was worth it.

Life with Sonnyboy

One of the things that tickles me is that, if he stands or sits next to you while you’re standing in the kitchen gossiping or just watching the birds, his head is right at hand level. So, he’s always coming over for head scratches, which makes me feel a little like Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, except that he always faces backwards. If I ever sent him off to attack my enemies, they’d get a good headstart in the time it took him to figure out what direction I wanted him to go.

In related news, insomuch that he loves to pee on my rosemary, I don’t have the heart to dig it up, even though it looks very dead. And then WPLN tweeted a warning not to dig them up until mid-May, at least, because they could look very dead and still spring back.

So, fingers crossed. Because it’s huge and I’d hate to start over.

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.

Wasted

I’m weepy and emotional in general this week. But sometimes I feel like all this interesting stuff is wasted on me. I can’t tell you how, while I’ve been so excited and it’s so neat, it just hurts my heart so much that my Uncle B. is not here to share it with. He’s been dead twenty years, but these past couple of weeks, it’s just been like a dagger in my heart. Grief is so fucking weird. It comes fresh when it comes, no matter how long it’s been.

But even today, I had this thought that I should call Uncle B. and tell him about all the stuff I’m finding out about. I mean, he would have so loved it.

It makes me sad, but also it makes me feel close to him, still, which is nice.

I Have Been into the Bowels of the State Museum

Oh, you guys. It was like being backstage. I mean, I guess it was backstage. There were huge pieces of exhibits and pictures and hallways and offices filled with oil paintings of long dead Tennesseans. And every nook and cranny was filled with smart people doing interesting things.

So, yes, the sheet music. It’s in a display. Which means I have walked by it without realizing it. But that also means it’s pretty solidly behind glass.

But I told them all I know about all the Rock City Marches and they’re fascinated. They, like other folks, were disappointed that I didn’t record the versions I have. And they were contemplating whether they could put on a little recital or at least bring some musicians in to record.

So, the gist is this–I didn’t get to see the music. But they seem stoked about briefly retrieving it and making a scan of it and putting it together with the other marches.

It was so awesome. Maybe I missed my calling. Maybe it’s not as awesome when it’s your job, though. I don’t know.

Still, wow. Just wow.

Woo

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.

Gah

Of course the State Museum has tracked down its copy of the Rock City March just as I’ve run out of time to go see it.

I wonder, is there a point when you’re going to be so far behind anyway that you feel okay saying “Well, fuck it, yep. Let’s go to the state museum?”

Is this that point?

Falling Short

Yesterday was not a good day. I’m completely freaked out about my ability to get through April in one piece and yesterday just made it seem like I was in over my head and destined to fail.

I don’t really feel any more confident in my ability to get my head above water today. But at least today I feel like I at least have a better sense of what needs to happen in April and what things I can get started now.

I don’t know. Who knows? Maybe it will go easier than I think. But here’s the thing. We have two seasons. Each season has ten to twelve books on it. In April, we’re getting seven books in from the printer. A fully staffed department that knew what it was doing would have trouble getting those all in and then back out the door.

So… yeah.

We’ll see how this goes.