The Cold Was Not Weird. It Was Terrible.

I’m still sick. Feeling better today, to the extent that I’m at least upright. And my right eye opens again, which I always appreciate.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my folk understanding of colds. Like, I’m experiencing this cold as being both a head cold (in that my symptoms are mostly in my head and the little coughing I do is because of sinus drainage. Other than being tired and having to pee all the time, my body feels fine.) and a cold in my eye (my right eye). The symptoms of a “cold in my eye” are that it’s red and watery and there’s some yellow gloop in it. It might feel hot or itch. The lids are swollen.

You can have a cold in your eye without having any other cold. I also recall my older relatives having colds elsewhere in their bodies. You could have a cold in your back, which I believe I have had once, though I can’t really describe it. It’s like a back pain, but different. Like back pain is pain in a spot and a cold in your back is kind of strange pain on a spot?

And I think I remember my older relatives having colds in their joints, which is different that being cold in your bones. Being cold in your bones is just a kind of way you feel unable to get warm in such a fundamental way that it feels like even your bones are cold. I think you get cold in your bones most frequently when it’s a clammy cold.

But I’m not sure what a cold in your joints might be and I haven’t heard anyone use it since I moved to the South.

Anyway, I don’t know that these even are real colds. I think they’re just folk understandings of something else going on. I’m not sure what my doctor would do if I told her I had a cold in my wrist, for instance. Would she think I just meant that my wrist was an uncomfortable temperature or would she know that I was having some kind of discomfort that was different from the usual discomfort joints have?

Stupid Cold

I have the weirdest cold. On Monday I was kind of spacey and felt like I might get a headache (but then never did). Otherwise, I felt fine. Yesterday, I was a sneezing machine. Otherwise, I felt fine. Today, I feel fine except that I’m all stuffed up.

It’s like I’m having each individual cold symptom one at a time.

I can’t decide if it’s more or less annoying than a regular cold.

SuperGenius Does Me Solid!

The SuperGenius sent me a link to the YouTube Channel of “Wyoming’s Dr. Jackson Crawford” (allow me to introduce myself as the Midwest’s Potluck Phillips) who stands around in beautiful scenery pronouncing Old Norse things.

It is delightful. In one of the other videos he pronounces “Asgard” in a way that made me realize it’s probably the same word as “Oscar.”

These Cats Disgust Me

Man, I had a busy weekend. Went to the TSLA. Wrote a piece. Ran out of time to write another piece. Did a buttload of dishes. Played with the kids. Walked the dog. Worked on these afghans.

Did I mention “did a buttload of dishes”?

Okay, so I know there was no mouse poop in the silverware drawer on Saturday because the silverware drawer was nearly empty until I filled it with all the silverware I washed.

So, it was with great alarm that I learned the Butcher found a ton, literally a metric ton, of mouse poop in the drawer Sunday morning. Was there a mouse orgy in the drawer? Could they not have done that late Friday night when the drawer was mostly empty instead of pooping on all my clean silverware?

But that’s not the only thing that pisses me off. I have two cats, both of whom regularly catch and kill things outside. One of whom likes to bring in the things she’s killed, sing about her kill, and then eat everything but the guts and heads, which she then leaves for me to step on in the middle of the night.

How in the fuck do I have two mousers and mice in the kitchen?

Ow, My Heart

We’re dogsitting Sonnyboy’s neurotic friend while his family is at Disney. So, this morning I slept in while the boys went to the park.

The Butcher told me that there was a point on the walk when the dogs seemed to be awkwardly playing with each other. Has Sonnyboy ever played with another dog before? Certainly not in all the time we’ve had him.

One thing I really respect about Sonnyboy is that he’s not bitter. If I had a boring life for the first four years (or whatever the human equivalent of that was) and then there was pizza and inside and cuddles and peanut butter and butt scratches and car rides, some part of me would feel like I had been up until that point cheated.

But the dog is just like “This is great!” Things were one way. Now they’re another. Just roll with it.

Nerves

I’m sitting here trying to think of something to write, but basically, I’m just nervous. I’m interviewing a person tomorrow and I want to ask him about a hard time in his life and what came of it and I just want to do right and to get an answer that helps me understand it. And I don’t want to make it suck too much for him.

I’m making two afghans right now, just like the one I just finished up. I think I said that already. It’s both going rather quickly and is taking a while. I’m not looking forward to making all those triangles.

We watched Alice Through the Looking Glass last night, which was an interesting movie about a female sea captain going on an adventure with her mom, which we didn’t get to see because instead we had to watch Johnny Depp being weird and Sasha Baron Cohen being unsettled for an hour and a half.

I admit, though, I am amused by Depp’s latest acting strategy where he just plays music icons–he’s Keith Richards in the Pirates movies, Michael Jackson in the Chocolate Factory, and Madonna here. But come on! Weird impressions aren’t something to build an acting career on!

Don’t Piss on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Russian Intelligence

America! What is happening?! Yesterday was the first day I felt like “Oh, hey, if a Trump presidency is this funny the whole way through, I might be okay.” Every time a person who had been at dinner or commuting or somewhere away from the internet got on Twitter and was like “Um, golden showers, what?” I got to delight again in how terrible this is.

Don’t get me wrong. I know the pee thing probably isn’t true. And, even if it is, except for the fact that Trump wanted them to pee where the Obamas had slept, it hardly seems worth getting bothered about (except you’re paying how much for that hotel room and you have to sleep in someone else’s piss?). But all these sanctimonious asshats who voted for Trump to return some dignity to the White House?

This is what you thought was preferable to Clinton? What would put the country back on track after Obama? THIS is the track you want the country on? Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Run

This morning the dog went to the park, so I was on my own for walking. And I was trying to remember the last time I ran. I have no fucking idea. Possibly years. And since I was alone in the dark, I ran, like a little kid, just full out for as long as it felt fun (which, granted, was not very long) and then I did it again.

And since I was alone in the dark, I didn’t have to think about how slow I was or how stupid I looked. I just felt happy. And not “happy because my body can do this” or “happy because this is good for me” or “happy for some other reason that justifies and excuses my happiness.” Just happy.

And yet, when I sit here to tell you about it, I find it curious how overwhelming the urge to justify it is, to attach some reason to it other than that it seemed like it might be fun and silly and make me happy and it was those things and did that thing.

Barista Parlor

Yesterday, we went to this coffee shop and I was being an asshole making fun of how they were probably going to bring us out fancy mustaches before we’d be allowed to get our coffee.

But then the coffee we had was so good that I kind of wanted to cheer for the coffee shop for sticking it to those jerks who were making fun of them, even though I was that jerk.

I have a couple of private new years resolutions, but one thing I want to do that I’ll say publicly is to just genuinely like things without feeling like I have to qualify it or strike some ironic pose or whatever. I just want to be able to be like “Yeah, this was lovely and I’m going to enjoy how lovely it was.”

In other words, I want to learn to feel about more things the same open happiness I feel when I listen to “Baby, I Love You” by the Ronettes.

The thing I love best about this song–and I love a lot about it, starting with its unabashed happiness and its joyful desire for someone you feel is good for the singer–is how it starts out with these large, loud piano chords. And you think, well, it can’t get any bigger than this and yet, somehow it does.

Taking Stock

–I haven’t read a book of prose since October.

–I haven’t sold a short story in a year.

–I sure haven’t sold this novel.

–I have written a (one) story in the past…um…probably also since October.

–I think I’ve been doing good work at the Scene and the drugs definitely help me feel like I’m not on the verge of getting shot or murdered in some other way by my commenters so I’m going to score that twice.

–I got to write for the Washington Post and they’ve asked me to come back again in February for a few posts.

So, I’m going to be honest. I threw everything I had into that novel. I know I have always had anxiety and I know it increases as you age, but I also suspect that writing the novel and trying and failing to sell it exacerbated the problem. And I feel like I’ve been nursing some wounds and trying to get back to the feeling of why I love fiction in the first place. But it’s taking me longer than I’d like.

But also, if I’m being honest, I sometimes wonder why I want to be a good fiction writer so much when I’m doing pretty okay in the non-fiction department. But also, I suspect, if I wanted it as bad on the non-fiction side, I’d be in just as much agony about where I am there, too. So, I still think that my attitude toward non-fiction, “this is what I do because it is interesting to me and we’ll see what happens” is the right one. And I’d like to get back to that place with fiction.

Kung Fury

At last, a reason to break out my “Scandinavia” category again!

Though, just as a side note, can I say that all season on Arrow, I have been dying for Dolph Lundgren to do the salmon ladder. Do you think he still could? I do. He’s also really tall, though, so possibly he would just reach up and set the bar on the highest rung and do a pull up. But that’s also fine!

I also feel like Dolph Lundgren is more interesting looking now than he was in his younger days. And I would support him showing up in all kinds of pop culture stuff to raise his eyebrows and then beat someone.

Where were we?

Oh, right. On Netflix right now there’s this awesome short film, “Kung Fury,” which is about as perfect a thing as you will ever see. I don’t know anything about Iron Fist, but I think “Kung Fury” has already devastatingly pre-parodied it so well it will be hard for me to take Iron Fist seriously. The movie has a triceratops cop and Thor kills Nazis. And every time they need to do a special effect beyond their budget, the movie just stops and there’s fuzz for a minute, like an old damaged VHS tape. It’s just outstanding.

Why, Scandinavia, why? It’s getting so you know that if a horror movie is made in Australia or New Zealand, it’s worth checking out and if you want to sit around yelling in delight, “What the fuck is this?!” you just look for a Scandinavian movie that is not a drama (which is no knock on Scandinavian dramas, but even an interest in Norse mythology and a love of seeing Mads Mikkelson mostly naked could not get me through Valhalla Rising. In some alternate universe, I am still watching that movie. It still has ten years to go. But in this world, I turned it off after Mikkelson got out of the cage for good. Wikipedia calls Valhalla Rising an “adventure drama,” which leads me to believe that the Danes have some weird ideas about both adventure and drama. In my mind, Denmark is a lovely country where you eat fish, boat places, and generally have a good time, so maybe having to be really bleak and boring for seventeen years is an adventure for them? I don’t know. Just get your shit together, Denmark. If you’re going to have Mads Mikkelson naked and tied up, setting him wandering around America with Christians is not what we want to see happen next.)

I’m off track. But anyway, “Kung Fury.” It has no cocktapusses, but it does have a lot of exploding heads. I highly recommend it.

Guess what? Possum butt

This morning, we were walking and I was steadily watching the curve in the road because all walk, cars were coming around it too fast and seemed to not be seeing us. So, I registered a lump on the pavement but did not look too closely at it.

Then we were right up on it. A dead possum. And Sonnyboy stuck his tongue out and touched his tongue to the possum’s butt. “No!” I shouted and tugged him away. “Don’t eat that.”

But he didn’t seem to be eating it. He seemed just to be tasting it. Which, I admit, made me laugh, because he puts everything in his mouth to see if it might be food–Kleenex, carrots, mail–but not the possum. It he wanted to keep outside of his mouth while he decided if it was worth trying to eat.

And then, when we got back to the grass, I saw him eyeing a plastic bag in the bushes and I dropped the leash and shouted “Get it, get it!” and he ran up on it and was like “Yep, plastic bag. Knew it all the time.” And then I said, “Okay, come back, Rufus,” and he did!

My brother is officially telling people he’s married now, so, also, that’s nice. His oldest son Photoshopped Godzilla into one of the pictures and everyone agrees that it’s the best one.

I like when we can eek out a little happiness.

Do What You Want to

I have been feeling so decadent lately, just sitting around doing what I want to, or not doing what I don’t want to, for a whole week.

This morning the dog ran off on me. I think there’s another animal that’s been up near the houses, maybe the orange cat new kitty has been fighting with, maybe a coyote (though I hope not), and apparently that requires a lot of peeing all over the neighborhood.

I hollered and hollered and finally, when I yelled, exasperated, “Fine, I’ll just go for this walk without you,” who should come loping out of the darkness?

No use in getting mad at him. As much as he’s improved at being a dog over the past year (did I tell you all my theory that this may be due to the thyroid medicine? I mean, that’s the theory–he’s learning to brain because his brain is working in ways it didn’t before.), he still does not understand anger. It doesn’t mean to him, “Oh, shit, I have pushed things too far and should shape up.” It just means, “what the fuck is going on with her and am I going to get hurt out of it?” He just does not make the connection between my anger and his behavior.

Which, I mean, is not surprising. How recently did he finally get that his behavior could delight me?

But I realized, based on Christmas, I come from a loud family that uses a current of anger to shock people into behaving. I have very few skills for motivating someone who doesn’t understand all the yelling.

I think dogs teach you things. This dog is teaching me a hard thing I barely have the skills for.

Exciting Things

–Both short stories I published last year (though not for lack of trying to publish more, just for the sake of honesty about how hard the grind is) appear on Tangent’s list. They gave “Jesus Has Forgiven Me. Why Can’t You?” three stars! That puts me in the same company as Alyssa Wong and Kameron Hurley and a bunch of other people whose work I really admire. So, that’s amazing.

–You can vote for your favorite Apex Magazine story of last year. Cough. Cough. “The Four Gardens of Fate.” Cough. Cough. (Though you would also not be wrong to vote for any of Ursula Vernon’s stories and, my god, I still am not done thinking about “After We Walked Away” by Erica Satifka. I’m just saying, there might be more deserving stories, but this is about self-promotion!)

–I wrote this funny post for Pith, which even made me laugh as I was writing it.

–As you recall, before Christmas we had had kind of a bummer on the “How to get Future Mrs. Butcher a ring” plan. But I had advised the Butcher to talk to my mom alone about this and see what she could shake loose. He did that AND he called my aunt who called my grandma and now there is a Grandma/Aunties conspiracy to find a good ring for the Butcher. AND my dad has given a heartfelt, tearful speech about how he’d love for the Butcher to use the diamond from the ring they gave me for Christmas a few years ago once my dad learned that I had offered that ring to the Butcher. Which, yes, makes me wonder if I was too dense to get that the “women in your family are just sitting on useful rings for you that they will not share; here are all the reasons why” lecture at Christmas was directed at me, but, folks, I told you that I’m on drugs that–though the fog is lifting–massively fuck with my head so…yeah, I’m going to miss out on the lectures only obliquely aimed at me.

But maybe that’s ungenerous. Maybe the generous thing to think is that we’re all fucking broken and messes and we’re all trying and often failing to be the kinds of people we want to be and, if we can, we should give people opportunities to try again and maybe they’ll have their shit together this time.

–We got to watch the video my mom shot of our brother’s wedding and it was lovely, as weddings are, but in the background, my niece was marching…literally marching…around. Like, damn, she heard that weddings had marches and by god, she was going to make sure this wedding was not lacking in marching. Back and forth and back and forth. By the end, the Butcher and I had the giggles so bad.

–Also, we got to see video of my niece doing dangerous train stunts and it further cemented for me that she is my idol. After all, when was the last time any of us climbed out of a moving locomotive and across a coal car and into the passenger area and back? We are not Old-Timey James Bonds. But my niece is, apparently? Also, if you want to talk about how age mellows you, my dad would have thrown a shit-fit if we had climbed all over Santa’s train at the mall like the stunt crew for Captain America, but his granddaughter does it and he’s shooting video of it and showing it to anyone who will look.

–I’m genuinely not sure that “Jesus Has Forgiven Me. Why Can’t You?” is a better story than “The Four Gardens of Fate.” I mean, I trust others’ judgement on these things, but I’m just saying, as the writer, it’s hard for me to say. I like them both. I kind of thought “Four Gardens” was better. But maybe funny counts for more than I thought?

Sister-in-Law, I have one again

Our brother got married yesterday. The one who got engaged last week. We’re not supposed to tell anyone. I’m not really sure on the reasons why and, frankly, I feel too old to keep dramatic secrets any more that don’t appear to have good reasons behind them.

I was thinking about making some resolutions for the year–like to try to be nicer or less painfully weird or to go do more stuff or whatever–but I kind of settled on just trying to be more like my niece who makes faces appropriate to any situation.

Here’s my favorite picture of us:

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And here’s the picture that they sent yesterday:

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So, my theme for 2017 is going to be trying to take over the world and dramatic faces if I have to wait for cake.

Jemima Clancy?

jemima-clancy

This is a map of Nashville from 1805. Here’s a link to the original, if you want to compare how the map maker made certain letters. And here’s a later, cleaner version of that 1805 map.

The newer map renders the name you see there on Lot 80 as “Jemima Clancy.” The hitch in that particular interpretation is that, in 1800, there were only three Clancy families living in the USA. None of them in Nashville. Which isn’t to say that by 1805 someone’s widow or daughter couldn’t have been here, but is to say that a land-owning woman named Jemima Clancy anywhere in the country probably would have left more of a trail than her name on one map.

There were Chaucys living in the country, but not many more than Clancys and, though it’s rare to find women on census records that old, no Jemimas and no one living in Nashville.

There were quite a few Cheneys. And I did find two Jeremiah Chaneys. The senior Jeremiah lived at Marsh and Barren Hundred, Washington, Maryland, which is an amazing name for a place. His son, who I’m just digging into, was also Jeremiah Chaney and he served in the Revolutionary War and lived (and died) over in Overton County.

So, my question for you dear readers is, do you think that name could be “Jeremiah Cheney?”

Decadent

This year, for the first year ever, we have the week between Christmas and New Year off. I spent yesterday doing nothing. I’m going to spend today doing nothing. Truly nothing. Tomorrow I’m going to see friends and the weekend will be normal. But two days of nothing. It feels so good.

I see that Amanda Palmer has a five-year work visa for Australia and has decided Trump will be good for punk rock. I was going to read the story, but honestly, that made me laugh so hard I didn’t bother. Trump will be good for political writing, said Betsy Phillips, as she got on her rocket and headed to the moon for five years.

I don’t blame anyone for leaving for Australia if they can, but leaving for Australia while looking forward to enjoying the work of the people in pain who can’t leave? Lord almighty.

NTB

I spent all day getting new breaks. I should have brought something to crochet, but instead I took along Kendra DeColo’s My Dinner with Ron Jeremy, which I read through three or four times, and a notebook in which I started a short story. It felt good to be writing fiction again.

There was a woman there, in the waiting room, when I got back from lunch. Her husband is cheating on her. She’s kind of known for a while, but let herself not know it, because trying to figure out what to do about it was too much with the health problems she’s been having and the fact that she spent the summer at her parents’ helping her dad recover from some bad health problems. She said she knew she hadn’t been easy to be married to.

And, you know, I believe her. What other choice do you have when someone tells you a story that you get caught up in?

But his actions, as she described them, don’t sound like those of a man in a marriage that has stagnated. They sound like the actions of a man who wants the thrill of almost getting caught. The highwire act of believing that he has, once more, pulled something over on his bad old wife.

As an outside observer, I feel a tiny sliver of sympathy for his mistress, who it sounds like has been through a bad break-up and, I imagine, is finding comfort in the feeling that she is so special this man will risk torpedoing his whole life for her.

But it doesn’t sound like it’s her that’s so great. It sounds like he’s almost drunk in love with the thrill of the transgression.

And who can’t see the trap for her in that?

Anyway, sitting there listening to this broken-hearted stranger, I felt so bad for her. But also amazed that here on this ordinary day was this extraordinary story. But, of course, that’s how it must always be. The world is full of things happening.

Also, I should say, I really love DeColo’s book. There is a kind of living with sorrow she gets at that I appreciate.

Beauty

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I really love how this turned out. I enjoyed working on it. I’m enjoying staring at this photo of it. I just have to wash it today to see if it is as great as it looks. I did make one mistake, but you can’t see it in this picture and I recovered from it okay, so I’m not going to point it out.

I’m also going to make another one of these as my next afghan, because I can’t bring any more yarn into this house until I have used up the yarn that’s here. It’s just become unwieldy.

Plus, I want to make something beautiful for my friends who’ve had an unimaginably rough year. Not that an afghan makes up for losing a child, but this is what I have to offer.

My other brother is getting married. He bought an engagement ring and gave it to his fiancee.

The Butcher would really like to marry his girl. He is slowly saving up for a ring. He asked my parents for help. No help came. My dad sat here and gave a recitation of all the good jewelry floating around my mom’s family and all the reasons the Butcher could not have a piece to use. I told the Butcher to bring it up to my mom, alone, again, and see if that pries something loose.

Then yesterday, I went into the other room and I brought out the ring I have from my great-grandma and I told the Butcher that he would need to take it to a jeweler and see what it is–maybe an aquamarine, maybe a light sapphire, maybe a costume piece of paste–but if it is something, then he’d just be saving up to have it reset, and it’s a nice size and has sentimental value.

I’m just so pissed. I can’t even deal with it. The world is so hard. Life sucks and is short and it hurts. Why can’t we watch out for each other? Why can’t we be kind when we can? Why can’t the boy get the girl with a ring his family helped him come up with? Why can’t we warn each other when there’s danger? Why can’t we just try, a little bit, to not be assholes?

Hard Times

I came home from walking the dog to find the Butcher a mess on the couch. Our old neighbor is dead. I don’t know what to say about it really. When he first told me, I had an uncontrollable urge to laugh, it just seemed so impossible that someone that alive could suddenly not be.

I still don’t know how I feel about it. How to make sense of it. I feel like I’m betraying the spirit of our relationship by not rolling my eyes and telling you all the ways the Professor and I would cackle about him. But I can’t bring myself to do so.

My goal to be open and generous with my parents kind of backfired on me, since they were feeling open in return and my dad told me something I’m having a hard time living with. I don’t want to be too specific, because it’s entirely possible that it goes along the Amelia Earhart line. But in general, the thing is that he knew a person who hurts people like me and he didn’t tell me. He let me hang out with this person. Obviously, this person didn’t hurt me or I would have known he was the type of person who hurt people like me. But my dad knew (or thought he did).

What the fuck?

They say that eventually it gets easier to deal with your parents because you know who they are and don’t expect them to be any different than they are.

I still don’t know. I am tired of finding out.

Sleep Tight

I had been super impressed with the fact that my medication wasn’t fucking with me too much during this joyful/stressful time.

Last night I went to bed at 10:30 and rolled over this morning to see if I could afford to sleep for a little while longer and it was 8:00!!! Ha ha ha. Lord.

Our other brother got engaged yesterday. I really like his fiancee. I hope she is eyes-open about what she’s getting into.

I’m just about done with this afghan. I have a couple of people waiting on specific things in line, but I think I’m going to make another one of these for a friend who’s been having a hard year first because I want to and this afghan makes me really happy and I need to get my stash way down before I bring more yarn into this house.

Amelia Earhart

Last night at dinner my dad was telling the Butcher’s girlfriend about how my dad had counseled my friend E. to either marry my friend J. or break up with her so that she could get on with her life–over ice cream. My mom kind of rolled her eyes. She did not believe my dad and E. had some secret bro-friendship where they ate ice cream and talked about marriage that my mom didn’t know about.

I was pretty sure that it wasn’t true, either, because I thought it was supposed to be a parable for my brother’s sake. My dad wants him to shit or get off the toilet.

But I suppose there’s the third option where my dad does think this happened.

Years ago, like when I was in college, my dad told me that my great-grandmother (last name Fisher) had gone to high school with Amelia Earhart, had a locker next to her, and hadn’t liked her and, in fact, one time punched her for not being “feminine.” Which I thought was a weird story because everything else about my great-grandmother that I know involves her finding ways to do her own thing, fuck the haters, so why wouldn’t she like another woman that was like “fuck the haters, I’m going to figure out how to do this thing?”

But I liked this story because it was kind of funny and reminded me that otherwise great people can have some boneheaded ideas and miss the greatness in their midst and be assholes.

The last time my parents were in town, I mentioned this story and my dad flat out denied he ever told me it. He even laughed and said what I said here–that my great-grandmother might not have been friends with Earhart, but that Earhart was the kind of person she would not have had problems with.

And it kind of shook me. Did I just make up this story and then come to believe it? Something like the Shazam/Kazaam thing?

But I feel like I kind of know me, right? And I sure as fuck did not know independently of him telling me that Amelia Earhart ever went to my great-grandma’s high school. I also rarely wear make-up and can’t get my act together very often to act “feminine” other than to the extent that I naturally seem that way, so why would I want a story in which “my side” gave comeuppance to the person not properly enacting femininity? My dad is the one with the hang-ups on people playing their proper gender roles.

Plus, if I wasn’t told this story, if I somehow discovered that Amelia Earhart also went to Hyde Park High School on my own, I would have known that my grandmother graduated three or four years before Earhart went there. They weren’t the same age. Their lockers never would have been next to each other. They weren’t there at the same time.

But he flat out denied ever telling me that and I felt kind of crazy about it. And then I saw him telling this elaborate story and I checked with E. and he said it never happened and I felt a tiny bit vindicated.

Keep from Getting Hurt

My dad’s sister thinks that my dad’s brother is a pain to deal with because his overriding instinct is to keep from getting hurt, so he just lashes out and pushes away before you have a chance to get him.

I think this is a pretty good insight.

The talk of the family, apparently, is how the fat ones among us cannot lose weight and how mysterious this is. My cousin, who ever has a personal trainer (!!!), is still fat. (My uncle, who they dare not talk to about fatness has lost a lot of weight on a gluten free diet but is still fat.)

On the one hand, after years and years of hearing how no one will love me if I don’t lose weight, I am, shall we say, keenly aware of the shift in the discussion. And I’ll die happy in my dotage if I never have to hear about how my weight makes me unworthy of love again.

On the other hand, when I first got diagnosed with PCOS, I told the women in my family, “Hey, I have this endocrine disorder and it usually runs in families and you might want to get it checked out.” That was years ago. And I am not a scientist, obviously, but it’s pretty apparent to me that PCOS is called that because the most easily recognizable symptom of the endocrine disorder is cysts on your ovaries, but the cysts don’t cause the syndrome. If I had my ovaries removed, I would still have the syndrome because my endocrine system is fucked up, and the cysts are just a symptom. The syndrome should just have a name like “whew, doggie, your endocrine system is fucked the fuck up and causing some weird shit throughout your body syndrome.”

And, again, I am not a scientist, but if the more proper name for PCOS is instead WDYESIFTFUACSWSTYBS, it seems quite possible to me that men could have some iteration of WDYESIFTFUACSWSTYBS themselves.

So, I’m finding it very hard to respond to this change in direction of the discussion of our bodies with the kind of grace and generosity that I am striving to interact with my family this Christmas with (that may be too many ‘with’s but I’m not sure), because I feel like nothing that happens to me is ever real until it is replicated by other family members. So, I can say, “Hey, I have this endocrine disorder my doctor says runs in families” and la la la, whatever. Poor broken Betsy. But now that the aunt on the starvation diet and the cousin with the personal trainer are not able to lose weight and it’s just baffling them and their doctors, by god, something is wrong!

Yes, fuckers, an endocrine disorder runs in our family.

Anyway, I got to spend a fun twenty minute telling my parents that the most important thing any of us can do is to eat as well as we can, and make vegetables a big part of our meals, move around a lot, and do that because it’s good for us whether or not we lose weight from it and try to let go of the idea that our weight tells us anything about our worth or whether we’re trying hard enough to be good people.

I suspect that will remain unheard until someone else in the family also says it.

I am often very frustrated with my uncle and his approach to life, but my god, I get it. It’s just at odds with my efforts to be the kind of person I want to be in this world.

Which, ha ha, probably wouldn’t bitch about her family behind their backs on the internet, but baby steps.

This Day

I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.

The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.

Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.

To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.

I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.

Family Traditions

sadies-afghan

My aunt sent me this picture of an afghan my great-grandma Sadie made for her. It’s a simple five-round granny square with a picot border. I wish I could better see how the squares are put together, but that’s okay. I suspect this is just a scrap afghan, with yarns left over from other projects.

It’s hard for me to put into words how this makes me feel. Sadie is my great-grandmother on my dad’s side. I learned to crochet from my mom’s mom. I know this is just because crocheting was ubiquitous. It’s not weird for people on both sides of your family to have done it. But it makes me feel something. Like here is a message that works on a level beyond words and at that level, I am reading it, and then I have to wait to see how it might translate into something I can make sense of.

Like I am doing something we do.

And you see that square that looks like a campfire? I want to make a whole afghan like that someday.

My aunt told me that my dad and his younger brother didn’t get afghans. I wonder if that’s because there was a certain age she gave them at (I know my grandma, her daughter, gave us all something she needlepointed at a certain age, though I can’t remember what age that was) and she died before my dad and uncle reached that age?

Anyway, it makes me glad I crocheted an afghan for my dad last year.