Weekend Stuff

I went to see my nephew this weekend. He’s finally getting hair all over his head and I’m a tiny bit disappointed that the cinnamon roll swirl is gone. But he is delightful. I just like that whole family a bunch.

I’ve been working some on the latest afghan. I’m just enjoying the shit out of it, at least until this latest flower, which calls for bullion stitches:

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Bullion stitches are hard to do with yarn. They don’t look uniform. And I don’t like doing them. But I really really love that pop of yellow, so I think I’m going to pick these out and do an easier stitch.

All these flowers, though, man. I love them.

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Oh, shit, and there’s this guy:

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This is probably my favorite so far, though we’ll see how I feel when I get the bullion situation straight.

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Happy

I was driving home from work on Friday and just as I was crossing the bridge, I realized that I have only ever written fiction to save me. And now that I feel saved, I don’t know how to do it.

It gave me chills, that realization.

And I’m still not sure what to make of it.

I was thinking that one of the things I really admire about my friend, S., is that she has a way of strolling into a room and giving people the impression that they were expecting her, that of course she belongs there. Even her writing frustrations are borne from her knowledge that she’s doing good work and belongs in that community.

I have mostly lived places where reading and writing made you an outsider. And I guess, deep down, I still feel that way in some ways.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I thought maybe writing it out would give me some profound insight into it, but I guess not.

How to live in the world mostly happy? What kind of work to do with this happiness?

I don’t know. Not yet, anyway.

Heels, Toes

 

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I’m just enjoying the shit out of the variety of different motifs in this afghan. But I started in the middle of the pattern and after doing one of the next ones, I realize that the pattern writer had helpfully designed the motifs to teach you some skills and then become more complex, so I am going back to the beginning with the mostly black hexagons.

I have noticed an interesting thing I don’t know how to explain. A while ago I saw this video where a dude demonstrated how medieval white people walked before the wide-spread adoption of hard-soled shoes.  So, rather than putting your heel down first and then rolling forward onto your toes, they put the ball of their foot down first and then the heel. It’s kind of how you walk when you’re stumbling through the house in the dark, trying not to step on a Lego. Feel with your toe, find no Lego, put your whole foot down.

It’s a weird gate, but sometimes I try it out. And here’s a thing that blows my mind and I can’t explain it and I wish I understood it: If I’m walking the dog through mud and I walk normally, I sink into the mud. If I walk ball first, I don’t.

But it makes no sense! I weigh the same. It’s the same feet on the same body. All week, except for the day it was just too muddy to walk and we did the driveway, I’ve been testing it, because it makes no goddamn sense. And every time, same thing. Heel first, sink down. Toe first, no sinking. How is this possible?!

Witchcraft, I assume. Or physics, but really, aren’t they the same thing?

Goth Afghan

I’m trying to make a spooky, but beautiful afghan for one of my Goth friends. I would call her style kind of rockabilly goth? Anyway, so I decided that flowers would be fun. I’m following the Frida’s Flowers pattern, but with more Halloweeny colors.

Here’s what I have so far:

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The reds make me so happy. Anyway, I think the original colors are pretty close to goth, anyway. My goal is to get rid of the pink–much too happy–and way, way, way tone down the white. So far so good.

Walking

I keep wondering how long we’ll do this. This meaning everything. Stand by while kids at school die. Choose meanness.

It’s hard when you believe in the power of words to say words upon words upon words and find that nothing changes.

Today it was too muddy to walk the dog, so we just went up and down the driveway ten times. I know, just based on how long it took, that had to be a shorter walk than our usual walk and it’s flat, whereas normally we walk up and down a big hill.

But the dog and I are both wiped.

Post Awesome Let-Down

I wrote my last post for the Post and it ran. And now I’m kind of bummed. I like writing for them because I like trying to find things I think are nifty enough to bother them with. I like how saying, “I’m working on this piece for the Post,” gets doors open. I like that there are still editor-editors, and copy editors, and how much better my writing is, I think, for them. And I like seeing my name there.

It was nice and I’m happy I got to do it.

Last night I dreamed I had lunch with an editor from the Scene who had written up a 25 page document about how they weren’t ever going to run my bombing story because they were under too much pressure from a group of businessmen who were bringing the Olympics to Nashville. And in the 25 page document, the editor revealed he knew where John Kasper’s bomb was.

So, what I guess I’m saying is that those two things feel related, though I’m not sure how.

You Can Take the Kids out of the Church, but…

I went to a poetry reading over lunch at Third Man. The boss also attended. Rule one in Nashville is “be cool,” so I tried to be cool.

But I was struck by how much his demeanor was like a minister who’s excited that the youth group meeting is going so well, but also knows they need that room for a board meeting right after.

So, when it was done, I felt this urge to help move chairs. I saw that one of the poets was also folding and moving chairs.

That was 15 seconds before we both learned that our dads were Methodist ministers.

And she also knew that hymn 88 is Amazing Grace, though that was two hymnals ago.

The Dog Had an Adventure. I Did Not.

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This is the field out behind my house. I’ve never been in it before, because there’s a wire fence all the way around it and scrub in the fence. But the dog has not been walked in two days because of the rain and he saw six deer come out of this field, so fuck me.

Off he went, into the field, leash dragging behind him.

Which meant I had to get through the scrub and over a wire fence (which is partially on the ground, I think thanks to the deer) and through so much mud. So very much mud. And I went and stood on the highest point in the field and yelled for the dog.

I yelled so loud and so long the neighbor’s dog chimed in. And who should finally come strolling up after a million years? This jerk.

And then I’m faced with how to get home with this doofus misbehaving dog, over a wire fence. Basically, I held it as low as I could get it and then tapped him on the butt until he got the idea he should jump.

He’s now exhausted and just happy as a clam, because he was made to be a farm dog who traipses off across fields after deer and leaps over fences and has adventures.

And, you know, I was pissed. But seeing him so happy and so in his element and, in fact, happy to see that I had shown up in the field to explore with him, I couldn’t stay mad.

But also, I’m glad I’m the type of reader I am because I knew, before taking off into a field I’ve never been in before, that I was going to need to be able to find the spot where the fence was down again. And I can’t tell you how nice it was to see this view once I’d found the stupid dog. Bet Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund wish they’d left a bright orange coat at the back of the wardrobe.

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Folk Wisdom

The line between “what you do” and magic is super thin. That line, I would argue, in the South is just what people at church wouldn’t give a second glance to.

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If you look right at that boy’s neck, you’ll see he’s wearing an amber teething necklace. Not to chew on. It serves no practical purpose. I tried not to make too big a deal about learning of it, because I want magic in life and I didn’t want to make anyone feel weird. But I was delighted.

Here’s him and the Butcher being cute.

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Good

It turns out that, if you have a rash and a persistent cold, they get you in to see a doctor right away. And it also turns out that I have a couple of spider bites, not a rash, and that the cold is actually a bacterial thing that’s probably the same thing that caused my sinus infection earlier this winter.

So, now I’m on antibiotics. And I got in to see the doctor right away and my trip to the pharmacy took literally ten minutes, if that and so I went and got my hair cut, which took no time, and so I went and got my dog’s prescriptions filled.

Which means all the chores I had for myself this morning are done and I can instead go see the Butcher and his family.

Everything worked so smoothly I kind of felt like it was a thank you from old Leander.

Also, you guys, my dad is delightful on pain killers. Funny and quick and smart and thoughtful. I’m a little bummed that I’m not going to get up there for his second surgery. I… wait for it… enjoy talking to him now.

A thing I’m glad about, though, is that it makes me feel less nuts. Why would I continue to let this dude into my life? Oh, right, because this is a facet of him and this used to be much more of who he was.

And I wonder if this is something that we can keep, without insulting him?

I don’t know. It’s just nice to talk to him now. Even if it can’t last.

Leander Woods

I’m only supposed to write two posts for the Post this time–one this week and one next–but I sneaked in one about Leander Woods. Once you read it, you’ll know why I couldn’t just not try to tell the nation about him.

I feel a tiny bit bad about imposing on them. But I also feel like you have to take your shots when they’re lined up perfectly.

I didn’t have room to put in how he had enlisted at the same time as a William Woods, who died in the war, or how I also found a couple of Williams who seemed to fit the bill enslaved by the Cumberland Iron Works, but that’s out there for someone else to also find.

It’s hard to explain what a rush it is to search for someone and find him. Like, knowing Leander was from Georgia, it gave me a big clue about what types of situations he might be enslaved in in Tennessee and finding a “Leander,” no last name, which people born into slavery farther south often didn’t have, working under a guy named Woods. Well, that was amazing.

But the bigger rush was finding this guy who I could find before the war, during the war, and after the war, a guy with a large chunk of traceable history and Googling him to see what other researchers had written about him only to find nothing.

Whatever I was going to write, beyond that brief mention of him in the archaeology report, that was going to be the first thing written about him since he died.

Whatever happens to his story from here will happen because I wrote some shit and imposed upon the Post to run a third thing from me.

That’s fucking awesome and delightful. That’s some heady shit, right there.

The Franklin Story is Live

I think it turned out fantastic. I admit to still being slightly stung that the writer never contacted me. And I have nits to pick. Like, she certainly came closer to Franklin’s net worth when he died than I did, but Franklin had to have owned more than 600 slaves when he died. He had Fairvue, which could have easily kept 600 people busy and five more industrial plantations down in Louisiana. Those Louisiana plantations must have had a thousand people each on them.

I guess the Louisiana plantations could have already “belonged” to his minor children?

I don’t know. But I like the story a lot anyway, even if I wish I’d been a part of it.

Is it ugly to be jealous in public? I guess so, but fuck it. If more people had been ugly in public in the past, I would know how to deal with these feelings, because I would have seen it done.

Editing

I read this blind item the other day obviously about Dwight Yoakam, about how other famous guys were befuddled because whenever he showed up for a Hollywood doodad, all the women would gravitate toward him and the other famous dudes would be left talking to each other.

I don’t know what Yoakam has going on in terms of bedroom skills or if he planted that blind item just for fun or what, but I thought of it while getting edited by the Post. Like, oh, lord, yes, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience this and I wish others could also experience this. Come on, girls and boys, let’s go flirt with the Post and see what it can do.

I wrote a thing, as I do, in the way I do. It was about 1000 words long. They took my thing and cut it down to 890 and made me sound smart and engaging and, I mean, I feel like I write like the Mississippi River. I have a lot of power, but I’m going to wander. There are going to be some back channels. I might run backwards for a while. I might leave some parts miles away from where I’m going now.

The Post edits you like the engineers that messed with the Chicago River. You will be navigable. You will run the other way all the time. You will delight people. And most people will not even notice that that’s not how you used to be.

Edited to add: It’s up!

The Tail End of the Cold

I felt better after dinner last night. Not great, but better. And this morning I got up and walked the dog for the first time in three days. That felt tremendous.

I’m still a little stuffy, but damn, I’m glad that’s over with. Now I have to go into work and deal with ridiculous stuff.

But, hey, I wrote a short story about a surprise new species of crawdads and it turns out the world made a surprise new species of crawdads.

How Do Single Parents Do It?!

I’m definitely sick. I went to bed at 8:30 and only got up at 7 because the cat was complaining about his lack of breakfast. And you know he’s not opposed to peeing on things if he’s unhappy.

And just getting up and doing that wiped me out. Being sick when you’re a single parent must be hell.

Anyway, yesterday I went to get my stuck earring taken out and I ended up just replacing them all with new, higher quality earrings.

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The piercer and I were talking about how she got started and such and she was telling me about the first time she saw a woman covered in tattoos (as the piercer is) and how, when she saw that woman, her very first thought was “I bet nobody messes with her.”

And I keep thinking about the wonder of a woman who doesn’t get messed with.

It was also weird because the dude who ran the counter recognized my name, knew me from the Scene. I still don’t know how to handle that shit gracefully.

I also put a border on my Bauhaus blanket! And now I just have many ends to tuck.

But look how awesome it is!

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It’s exactly what I hoped and better. I love the red border.

But I’m not buying any more yarn until those mermaid tails are done.

Yep, a Cold

This definitely is a cold. But I have too much to do to be sick. So, that’s a bummer.

I’ve started the border on my current afghan. So, here’s the thing. Normally, when you’re making a row with single crochets, at the end of the row, you just do one chain to turn. And the moss stitch is just a single crochet and a chain. But at the end of my rows, I did three chains so that, when I did the next panel, I’d have an easy place to attach the panel with a chain-slip-stitch-chain join. Easy peasy. Each row joined as I went.

But I also then put those three chain turns on the outside, where I knew there wasn’t going to be a panel, not for any good reason, but just because it seemed easiest.

But it has made putting a border on this thing super easy. And often when you do a border down the edge of your blanket, it looks a little wonky because you’re just kind of guessing where stitches should go. But here there’s a deliberate place for stitches to go!

I feel like I’ve stumbled on a miracle.

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Cold

I’m a little afraid I’m coming down with a cold, and considering how together I need my shit to be for the next couple of weeks, well, let me just say I’m thrilled.

Our mayor had an affair with her bodyguard. I don’t care about the personal moral aspect. If one tall, balding accomplished guy is good, I can see why you’d think two would be better.

But I do care about the civic moral aspect of it. All the stuff. Did he feel free to say no? Did others in his department get denied opportunities they would have otherwise gotten because of his relationship to the mayor? People don’t normally retire with two weeks’ notice. How much of a jam did that put his department in?

And I think a problem the mayor has is that she’s now asking the city to believe that all the trips with him were on the up and up, that she would have taken those trips regardless of whether he was her security detail or if someone else was, and that she used her best judgement in taking those trips. Except that clearly her best judgement can be deeply flawed.

I really like Megan and it sucks to see someone you like and admire fuck up this bad. But it’s not any less fascinating. You have goals and ambitions. You know that you’re going to need extraordinary luck and good-will to accomplish them. Why would you risk that?

I guess that’s mostly rhetorical. We know why people risk that. And yet it’s still baffling every time. To me, at least.

I’ve Liked You for a Thousand Years

The Scene is up for sale. I don’t really have any grave opinions on that. If the current owners aren’t interested in running alternative papers, then by all means, they should get out of it.

But also, of course, the Scene is very dear to me and I want it to be okay. So, I’m hoping that someone who understands the importance of irreverent, smart writing steps up to buy it.

And I hope the people I care about are okay.

There is No New York Times Cake

I kid because otherwise I’d have to sit with my pleasant feelings and just enjoy them and we all know how bad I am at that.

There’s no guide for this shit, you know? And I have friends, now, whose friends appear in the New York Times, who see the names in that paper and know those people and have their whole lives.

But my whole life, the New York Times was… I mean, if a small-town Midwestern girl ended up in the Times, either something very, very shitty had happened to her or she’d become famous. It just wasn’t otherwise a possibility.

I had dinner Saturday with some people who wanted to talk about being a writer and I realized that all the advice I had was insufficient, because you also have to be really, really lucky.

I am, in many ways, really, really lucky.

And I’m proud, too, that I’ve been working hard and trying to do good work and people have noticed.

I still had to clean the litter boxes last night, though.

Like with all formulations of “when x, then I’ll be happy,” the truth is that there’s no “x” that can do that.

You just have to figure out how to be happy independent of all the x-es.

Showing off

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I just like this so much.

This morning, the dog lied to me. He made like there was a squirrel he needed to chase, so I dropped his leash so he wouldn’t yank my arm off. But really he just wanted to run through everyone’s back yards while I got mad.

One of my neighbors was working on his car, down on the ground, under the car, and the dog plopped himself down on top of my neighbor. I repeat. This asshole saw someone on the ground and put himself physically on top of that dude. 120 lbs of surprise dog on a dude.

I had to take a break from writing this post after that paragraph because I’m so fucking mortified even just remembering it.

The guy thought it was hilarious. Thank god.

Coming Along

The last of the yarn came yesterday and so I expect I’ll finish at least the body of it this week. Two more panels and then I’m going to use the rest of the yarn on the border.

It looks like I’m going back to the Post for a couple of posts, but no one has emailed me back, so I don’t know what I’m going to write about. So, that’s a little fun.

I also emailed the dude from Someone Knows Something because I just wanted to know if my FBI experiences are typical or if there’s something weird going on.

I’m sure a lot of you have already read this piece from The Week. It’s not a new feminist position. Just of the top of my head, I think Simone De Beauvoir was getting at something similar as was Charlotte Perkins Gilman back in “The Yellow Wallpaper”–it’s demanded of us to take unnatural positions and perform them as natural in order to be “good and normal” and our normal condition is considered madness. And those unnatural positions are painful. And our pain is so expected, so normalized, we can barely see the scope of how “well, being a woman is being uncomfortable” permeates our whole lives.

But I think Loofbourow’s article spells it out clearly in ways we’re not used to seeing. And spells out the implications of that clearly in ways I definitely think we’re not used to considering.

Anyway.

That sucks.

Charlotte Pike Unsubstantiated Theory

There are two main explanations for how Charlotte Pike got its name: 1. It ran by Charlotte Robertson’s house; 2. It ran to Charlotte, TN (which was named after Charlotte Robertson).

Both these explanations have the same problem: they’re not true. Charlotte Pike did, yes, kind of run near her old house, but not even close enough to be seen from the house. It didn’t run to her house.

And while it’s easy now to look at a map and assume Charlotte Pike ran vaguely out along what is now 70 and then up 47, the Old Charlotte Pike rambles around in the hills east of Pegram and then hooks up with McCoury Lane. Also, if you look at the names of other pikes spoking out from Nashville and where their namesake villages are, you can see that the villages were fairly far away from Nashville on the east side, the side settlers came from–Gallatin Pike and Lebanon Pike and Murfreesboro Pike, for example–but look how close in Goodlettsville and Whites Creek and Nolensville, Franklin, Ashland City, and Leiper’s Fork (the old Hillsboro) are.

I think you can see a ring of towns around Nashville about a day’s cart ride from town. That’d be like Brentwood, Belle Meade, Antioch, Whites Creek.

And then another ring of towns the next day out. That Franklin, Pasquo, Leiper’s Fork ring. The distance Pegram is from town. So, if you were going to name that pike for where it went, Pegram Pike would seem to  be the most natural name.

But the old Charlotte Pike didn’t go to Pegram. The Old Charlotte Pike, when you’re two easy days or one long day from Nashville, is in the middle of nowhere. Up in the hills east of Pegram.

The Robertsons owned furnaces. One of their earliest ones was the Charlotte Furnace, named for the matriarch of the family. And I think if you followed the Old Charlotte Pike a hard day’s journey from Nashville, and knew how to look, you’d find that old Charlotte Furnace.

Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become of Me

I’ve been kind of feeling the itch again to write, to maybe delve back into the bombing story, to shake a few more bushes.

I got a call from a lender yesterday, or maybe a collections agency now that I think about it. My ex-sister-in-law had apparently put me down as a reference on a car loan and now they were looking for her.

I laughed. I laughed at the thought of her ever wanting my information associated with her. I laughed at the thought of anyone lending her money and thinking they were ever going to see it again. But mostly I just laughed because she has pissed so many people off in her life that I guess she had lost track of how much I hated her, because I have made it a life goal to not engage with her.

This is, I’m afraid, the drawback to wanting revenge. You’d have to spend so much time thinking about the person you hate and coming to understand them so that you can destroy them. I never want to spend that much time on her. So, I have never sought revenge.

But I did tell the woman on the phone they should just kiss that money goodbye because they’re never going to see it again.