Bad

So, I wanted to say some things about my trip to the therapist, but I’m also not sure what I want to say. Sometimes I feel like the point is to just say some stuff, absorb some stuff, and let it work on me.

I told her about my unstoppable panic attack and she checked to make sure that I was still doing the things I needed to be doing in life and she gave me a hand-out to use to guide me through this stuff when it happens.

And then we talked a lot about the importance of happiness. How important it is to cultivate a habit of doing things that make me happy. Like, those aren’t just indulgences or spoiling myself, but making an effort, a habit, out of doing things I enjoy is crucial for my mental health.

Also, a thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is how we talked about how it’s okay for me to be bad at stuff and to not like stuff and to not have mastery of it. She said it can be very hard for people who have accomplished a lot (and lord, did I cringe when she said that, but also I’m working on accepting positive things people say about me) to have things they’re not good at, because the feeling is that if I set my mind to it, I should be able to do it and, if I can’t do it, then I’m a failure. Across the board. When really, we all have strengths and weaknesses and things we do well and things we don’t do well and it’s just normal.

Having weaknesses isn’t failing. It’s just being a person.

I’m trying to wrap my head around what it would mean to make a deliberate habit of doing things that make me happy. Not just stumble across them by accident or save it up for special occasions, but add it to the list of things in a day that have to happen, like lunch or pooping.

And I also wonder what it would be like to find something I enjoy that I’m not very good at and what it would be like to detangle mastery of it from enjoyment.

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The Baby Mobile Industrial Complex Has Nothing to Worry About

I finished it and, whoo boy, I am never doing that again. But I think it turned out kind of okay. I’m a little worried that it looks more tacky than homemade, but I am really proud of how it turned out from the baby’s perspective. Somehow that worked right.

You can’t see in that picture, but Cthulhu is sitting on top of the squishy pyramid.

The thing I dislike about shapes is that you stuff and stuff and stuff them until you think you can’t fit any more stuffing in and you hurt your fingers sewing them shut and you get the whole thing closed up and you realize it could fit more stuffing.

I’m glad to be returning to blankets.

Got No Diamonds, Got No Pearls, Still I Think I’m a Lucky Girl

I’m feeling somewhat better about this mobile nonsense. Last night I finished a sun and moon:

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And I was like, fuck it. I am giving this mobile a tiny Cthulhu. But I still need arms and wings before I can put it all together:

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His little face tentacles are killing me! They’re so cute. I’m not sure how to do the wings yet, but I have some ideas.

I have my therapy appointment today, which means I get to go in and talk about my week-long panic attack. So, that’s a tiny bit disheartening. I think it’s okay, though. I mean, it just feels like a thing that happened more than a set-back, if that makes sense.

Anyway, maybe I’ll finish up this tiny Cthulhu before I go.

Shapes are Hard

Y’all, crocheting shapes is hard. My pyramid looks more like an ottoman (which may tell us something about world history, though I’m not sure what). My cube is saggy and my ball is lopsided. In like four different ways. I can’t decide if my mobile is going to be “charmingly rustic” or fucking terrifying. Euclidian geometry is over-rated, right?

See the elephant in this picture? That’s me about this stupid project.

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The next time I say I’m taking on the Anything-Industrial Complex, remind me of how defeated I’m feeling by this stupid mobile.

Fox Ran Out on a Chilly Night

tiny fox

At my sister-in-law’s request, I have made a tiny fox for the mobile. Now I’m kind of thinking I may just do these two animals and have them playing hide-and-seek around the shapes. Anyway, at the least, I need to get some of these shapes done.

I like the arm placement on the fox better than on the elephant, but god damn heads are hard to sew on. Both the fox and the elephant have their heads on crooked, but by the time I realized it, they were already pretty firmly damn attached.

I am relieved about Alabama, but I also can’t stop thinking of the women who defended Moore by telling about how their parents had let them date thirty year old men. I believe it. And I think it’s a continuation of one of the main cultural problems of the South–the culture preaches that children must obey and revere their parents who are worthy of glorification, while at the same time, the parents are doing really shitty things like selling their children’s playmates or half-siblings or giving grown-ass men access to them, or just in general valuing power and security over the well-being of the people in your household.

It’s not exactly internalized misogyny, more like internalized patriarchy–if my parents did it, it must be right; my own unease or the unease of others doesn’t matter.

And it’s insidious, because people rightly love their parents, often, even when their parents are shitty and dismantling this train of thought comes very close to telling people that their love for their parents is wrong.

But, damn, “well, my parents let me date a 30 year old when I was 14” is some fucked up shit. And not seeing that it’s fucked up is even more so.

Come at Me, Baby Mobile Industrial Complex

baby elephant

I’ve been working on my shapes. In that pile there are the makings of a cube and the start of a pyramid. They’re green, because that’s the Butcher’s favorite color. But instead of finishing those two things up, I made a little elephant for the mobile. I think it turned out very cute.

I kind of wish his arms were up a little higher, but he’s going to hang from something or drape over something and it won’t be noticeable.

I have five hangy-down parts on the mobile. I’m kind of planning to do five shapes and five elephants and pose the elephants playing on the shapes. But I’m cutting it very close on time. I should just get the shapes done, but people, look how cute that elephant is!

The 4 Way

Yesterday, I drove to Memphis to have lunch with a very old friend and his brother and then turn around and come home.

We met at The 4 Way, which is right behind Greenwood Cemetery. I got there first and they asked me if I was dining in. I said yes and that there would be two more people joining me unless they already had two white guys, in which case, I’d be joining them. Everyone laughed.

My friend and his brother walked to the restaurant, which I thought was a not-wise decision, but my friend walks all over his city, going by the rule that he’s fairly safe because he’s tall and minds his own business.

The food was fantastic and there was so much of it. And it was the kind of place where they got all our backstory even before the guys got there, so they were happy to let us sit at a table and talk and talk even though they were growing very crowded as church let out.

And then, when we went to leave, one of the staff, a woman, learned the guys had walked there and she scolded him and told him, “I’m going to need you to take a Lyft or a cab when you come here.” And he later remarked that getting scolded by a woman in Memphis is the start of a great blues song. Which, hell yes, it is.

I woke up at 5 this morning and just laid in bed being happy. Which I know is weird, but when you spend time with someone you love and have loved for a long time, and you tell stories and opine on Robert Plant and get teased by everyone who works at a restaurant you’ve never been to before, it’s just good.

And it filled my heart and it’s making me cry just a little bit to write about it. When do we get our Star Trekkian transporters so we can visit people who live far away instantly?

It Starts to Come Together

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I genuinely can’t fucking tell if this is beautiful or a mess. I’m a little worried that the people it’s for will take it and smile and the shove it way in the back of their closet. But the thing I love about it, which I think is starting to be obvious at this point, is how those popcorn stitches are. There’s something about the that reminds me of my Grandma Phillips’s house, which makes no sense.

Also, a fun thing with this pattern is that I got to learn how to make backwards popcorn stitches. On the popcorn stitches in the triangles there. I actually like how they look a little better than regular popcorn stitches.

I also think the illusion of wovenness is really starting to come together nicely.

I don’t know if I’ll finish this today, because I have to do a lot of shopping, but it’ll definitely get done this week. Then I need to whoop up a baby mobile real quick before Christmas and then my projects are a baby blanket of roses, a Bauhaus rug style baby blanket, two mermaid tails. And it feels like I’m forgetting a kid’s thing I have to do, and then a rug for myself.

I have the yarn for an outstanding afghan after that and I’m hoping there will be enough left over that I can get a second afghan out of it to send to LA, assuming LA hasn’t burned down by then.

Then I have an awesome goth afghan to make, and another peacock afghan, and an afghan of skulls (she wants skull granny squares, but I found this lace skull pattern I think I’m going to do instead), an a pizza afghan, and two afghans I haven’t given much thought to yet. And I may see if the pizza afghan is sincere about that or wants something else.

I think all that will take me through the first half of 2018.

It’s Okay to Have a Weeks Long Rolling Anxiety Attack, Right?

Somehow my ex-sister-in-law is out of jail, so she thought she’d go get my nephew and take him to Florida before returning to her home–to the extent she has one–with him. In violation of the custody changes my brother got made in the wake of her going to jail.

So that was fun. And by fun I mean, terrifying and stressful and aggravating.

She brought him back yesterday after my brother convinced her that the court order that says she can’t do that really does say she can’t do that. She told him that she felt like he had set her up to violate the court order by letting her take my nephew.

I guess he’s supposed to quit his job and stand guard at his house 24/7 and then fist fight her?

Like, how’s one dude supposed to stop a woman from showing up with no notice and picking up the almost adult kid she has brainwashed into believing that she’s being framed and that there are legal maneuvers her court-appointed attorney can use to get her off of those thirteen felony charges?

The problem with framing her or setting her up or whatever other paranoid choice of word she wants to use is that it, by definition, embroils you more in her madness. Unless you absolutely for sure knew that, by tangling yourself up in her life for this little bit, you could ensure she’d never bother you again, it’s not worth it. Just back away slowly and make sure to the best of your abilities that she doesn’t know where you are or how to contact you.

Also, for some reason, we’re keeping this from my parents. Which I both don’t understand and do understand. Like, on the one hand, this is stressful enough, why wouldn’t we get everyone on the same page and working together? On the other hand, it’s hard enough. Having to deal with my parents trying to analyze it and take over directing what should happen would be nightmarish.

So, my brother doesn’t want to tell them. I’m not telling them.

Frankly, I’m terrified for my brother and his family. I’m very worried about the level of brainwashed control she has over my nephew and I’m concerned that, for the rest of his life, he’s going to end up supporting her. I’m concerned that he might lash out at my sister-in-law or my niece as he deals with the reality that his mom is not being square with him about what’s going on. I’m deeply concerned that the reason she wants him back is that her Plan B is to blame some of her shit on him. I completely do believe she’d do that.

I’m also concerned that, as the reality of her situation sets in, she might feel pushed to act more desperately.

I thought all this nonsense would be enough to revoke her bond, too, but apparently not.

My brother made a police report, so he’d have it documented for court, but this all is still, supposedly, just a civil matter.

Anyway, I have all my triangles made. I’m just tucking tails now, which, oddly, is fine because I’m having trouble concentrating on anything else.

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HVAC Day

I got a lot of crocheting done. My goal was to observe and keep the dog out of their hair, which left me much time for crocheting.

The dog was so good! He barked at first and tried to make everyone give him a million scratches but then he settled down and just chilled.

One of the guys called him a friendly polar bear and I swear Sonnyboy took it as a compliment. I’m like “you don’t even know what a polar bear is!” but he was like “I am super awesome.”

Anyway, here’s where the afghan is at this point:

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I genuinely can’t decide if it’s awesome or horrible. I also think putting it together is going to be a little bit of a bear, but we’ll see. I just have nine more triangles to go.

One thing I really like about the palette, though, is that it’s very busy, but it’s not too loud because the colors are pretty muted.

God’s Gonna Trouble the Water

I’m waiting to see if the HVAC guys will come in the rain. I hope so, as I cancelled a meeting to be here.

I’ve been listening to a podcast about the West Memphis Three murders and kind of thinking about it in the context of my bombing story just in terms of how much faith we place in the idea that there are these impartial agents of justice who want to know the truth out there working for society’s benefit. And that’s just not the case. There are all these deeply flawed humans doing jobs or slacking at jobs.

Anyway, I don’t really have an opinion on who did it–murdered those little boys. I’m kind of listening to try to understand how they came to the conclusion that it was those teenagers.

But as far along as the podcast is in the case right now, I would be looking for someone who was a recognized authority figure to the boys (or how else do you keep three kids in place when something bad starts happening?), who was familiar with the area and probably recognizable in the area (otherwise, how did he/they escape without being seen? I think the answer is that he/they were seen but their presence was so ordinary and so easily explainable with other reasons that it didn’t register to the witnesses), and who is a serious hunter or outdoorsman.

It’s just hard for me to believe that there’s not some lead-up behavior and experience to this. Like, I get that people would know to throw a body in the water to hide it or maybe even remove evidence, but once you start talking about jamming things into the creek bottom with sticks to keep them from floating back up?

That’s a bit of knowledge that person must already have. Must already have in use in some way.

I’d be curious if there’s some innocuous analogous behavior? Like, is this something you do when you’re hunting x, if you need to ensure that the bait stays in the creek bed and doesn’t float up?

That just continues to strike me as a bit of specialized knowledge that could have narrowed the suspect pool.

When Last We Talked…

Thursday, oh boy.

Friday?

Friday I learned I needed a new HVAC unit immediately and I had my first full-blown panic attack in a year and a half.

Saturday, I got some shit done and saw friends.

Sunday, I got some other shit done and saw different friends.

In my quest to take down the baby mobile-industrial complex, I put together the plastic part of the mobile and made some decisions on shape sizes.

I also went over to Fort Negley for their ceremony honoring the workers on the fort. It was really nice and I got to meet Zada Law and totally fan-girled out on her. I’m also still working on this afghan.

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Thursday

It went poorly in many ways.

I don’t know what to say about the shit at the Scene. I’m hoping to not have to be sad and speechless worse in the future. Steve and Laura are both super talented and lovely and my heart hurts.

Things with my nephew are not great. But I think I’ve talked my brother into finding him some counseling.

My brother is avoiding calling my parents because the situation sucks so much. Last night I had to clue my dad into how bad the situation sucks. It broke his heart. Which broke mine.

I’m waiting on the HVAC guy and then I’m going to spend the day crocheting, because at least that’s something concrete and beautiful and real and not sad.

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Another Weird Thing about Mobiles

I have been studying my enemy–the Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex–for clues as to how to shape a less expensive mobile for my nephew and another weird thing I noticed aside from how hella expensive they are is that, though the baby is underneath the mobile, most mobiles are cute from the angle their parents will see it at.

So, the arm I bought has five fingers from which to hang dangly things. My thought is to do five large simple shapes–like baseball size so that, if they fall off, he’s not in any danger of choking on them–that are easy for him to see and will look interesting from any angle.

But I also found some adorable patterns for smallish–like smaller than baseball sized but still bigger than his mouth–elephants and I’m tempted to try one and see how long they take. I know I can work up five simple shapes in an afternoon. But if the elephants are easy, I’m kind of tempted to work up five elephants as well and figure out how to attach them to the underside of the shapes. Like, it wouldn’t be that hard to take the sphere and work it into a hot air balloon and stick the elephant in the basket looking over the side down at the nephew.

I’m kind of waiting on the yarn to decide, but that’s what I’m leaning toward.

Every Round Goes Higher, Higher

The bad thing my nephew is going through drags on. The person in charge of deciding wants to see how some things unrelated to my nephew shake out today and then he’ll make a decision tomorrow.

I think part of the thing is that he’s sixteen. There are legal things to consider, but also, he’s almost an adult. What he wants needs to weigh heavily. But I don’t see how the legal things and his desires line up unless the adults in his life are able to act with a kind of generosity I would find miraculous.

I know this goes without saying, but a kid deserves the same foresight and consideration you’d give a dog. You need to be able to feed and shelter a kid, give him room to play, and affection and guidance. And if you’re not prepared to take care of that kid and put his needs first, don’t get a goddamn kid. And, yeah, if you have a kid, you often need to set aside what you want for what he needs. For at least the length of your legal responsibility for him.

I hope he realizes he’s getting massively dicked over here and isn’t thinking that he deserves this or brought it on himself.

I’m Climbing Because I Can’t Fly

Today my middle nephew has to go through something awful and I’m a bundle of nerves for him. The whole thing is awful, but it’s compounded by the adults around him making a long series of decisions that stretch back years that didn’t put him and his well-being first. And now, he’s really being fucked over in ways that will impact him long-term.

And that sucks. And I truly hope he can hold out until he’s 18 and then he picks a good direction and heads that way and never looks back. I’d miss him, but, if it meant that he was safe, I’d wish him well.

Anyway, I’m back to the afghan that looks more like a series of UFOs than I anticipated. It has six of these big dohickies and each one takes just a hair longer to complete than I wish it did. But I love those long front-post stitches.

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Also, please note the cat licking his crotch in the background.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our earlier discussion, about opting out. I don’t have good thoughts about it yet, but I’m thinking a lot about it.

A thing I’m concerned about is the same thing I’m always concerned about–that old Maya Angelou adage that most people don’t want change, they want exchange. They just want to be the people on top for a while.

And this is my concern in the current moment. It can’t be enough to elect more women or hire more women if the women are just going to do what the men do, but slightly different.

I was talking to the Man from GM the other day who told me about a weird date he had with an ad exec and she spent the whole evening telling him about cars and how they work and what makes a good one. Like, not opinion things, which people have when they find out he designs and engineers car stuff, but actual “let me tell you about cars, sir” stuff. I laughed and told him he’d been mansplained.

But after I got off the phone, it nagged at me. I mean, it’s still mostly funny, but the world isn’t better if everyone’s arrogantly assuming that their opinions on things have as much or more value than the hard-earned knowledge of the expert.

That’s not change. That’s just exchange.

I can’t remember if I ever told you how the Man from GM got his job at GM. He was a freshman in college and GM had engineering students come tour the facilities and he was on one of those tours. The guy giving the tour asked if they wanted to see the new Corvette (this was back in the 1990s, when GM was working on a complete redesign of the Corvette). Of course they did.

So, off they go and there they are, standing before the prototype and the dude is telling them some stuff and pointing some stuff out, but basically, everyone is standing there ooo-ing and ahhh-ing politely. The Man from GM though is on his back, under the car, shouting out questions about what he sees.

He is the first student, ever, in all the tours where they’re shown the Corvette prototype, to get under the car. The dude running the tour tells him he has a job on his team when he graduates, if he wants it.

The Man from GM is obnoxious. Don’t get me wrong. The kid on his back shouting up questions from beneath a car while you’re trying to give a quick tour is obnoxious. But I still think a lot about how his enthusiastic, excited curiosity served him well. And as I get older, I think about how wise that tour-guide engineer was to recognize what an asset that enthusiastic, excited curiosity could be.

I don’t really have a way to tie this all up into a nice, thematic bow, so I guess I won’t try.

The Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex

My nephew is at the point where he would really enjoy a mobile. He likes to look up. He likes to look at things. He likes it when things are moving. And he likes noise.

So, I get online to see what a mobile for him would cost and they’re all like $40-$50! This wouldn’t have been so insulting, but my search also brought up a result for just the arm with the spinning and the music–less than $15. In essence, I’m paying $35 for five stuffed Christmas ornaments.

I can crochet five stuffed shapes.

So, I bought the arm and some cotton yarn and some stuffing and when it all gets here, I’m fucking making that kid a mobile for less than $25. Take that, Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex.

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I mean, look! He is ready for some mobile-watching action.

Baby Blanket Two Done

I finished this baby blanket. The outer border was weird but I like it. I just didn’t expect, with how much work the pattern does to keep the blanket laying relatively flat, that it would end with this purposefully frilly stuff. But it’s an easy pattern I got from Red Heart and I just ignored their color suggestions and did each round its own color.

I had one slight fuck-up, but a thing I’m glad about is that I’ve been crocheting long enough that I kind of know how to recover from fuck ups without having to undo everything.

I keep trying to reach the bottom of my burn-out, and I think, maybe, I finally have. At least, I listened to a book while I was working on this and I was able to pay attention to the whole thing.

I just feel like narrative has let me down, has fallen short of being enough to express this moment. All my stories feel like lies. All stories I hear feel like lies. I don’t watch TV any more. It feels like lies.

Crocheting is the truth. You either make a stitch or you don’t. You either recover sufficiently from a fuck-up so you can go on or you can’t. You’ve either made the thing or you haven’t. I’m very grateful to have something that honest in my life that I can do.

Happiness

I have a theory that, as we age, we distill down to our essence. So, if you’re a miserable person who just fakes being okay, as you get older, you’ll be less willing or able to fake being okay and your misery will come out.

One of the main reasons I’ve been trying so hard to get my shit together is that I want to be happy at my core. I want, when life has knocked all the extraneous shit off me, for me to be someone I can live with. Want to live with.

The Kids are All Right

Last week, K and I went to this fundraiser for a local arts group that helps kids develop their poetry skills. One of the things that delights me about Nashville is that it has a somewhat vibrant poetry scene.

The kids were fantastic. Their poems were so beautiful and thoughtful. And they had them memorized! And here was the coolest part: when someone got nervous and forgot a bit or stumbled, everyone would snap for them, to fill the silence with supportive noise.

Is this the thing that beatniks were doing when they snapped? The thing that became a joke? Because it was beautiful. I loved it. And I felt sorry and mad that I had only encountered it as a joke that made fun of poetry audiences.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that everyone is good. But I do believe that most people’s badness is small and surmountable until life breaks them. And once you’re broken, it’s hard to know how people will put themselves back together. (I’m slowly making my way through the Dollop episodes on Trump and Jesus Christ…)

I want so much for these kids to get a chance to fulfill this potential and to not be crushed and broken.

I think another hard thing for me about all this stuff coming out now is that you see how the whole system–every system, our whole society–functions through crushing and breaking and discarding people. You are not supposed to be okay. This doesn’t work if you’re okay.

It’s disgusting. And yet, I don’t see how to disengage from it. You can pull back. A lot of people certainly have. But it’s a comforting fiction to believe you can get out of it. That you can be safe from it. That you’re not replicating it.

 

Another Fancy Baby Blanket

This one isn’t done, but it’s coming along.

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This yarn just makes everything look super fantastic. I feel a little awkward about it because it makes everything look super complicated and like I’m super talented, but if you look closely, you can see that the most complicated thing in here so far is the front post work. Everything else is really straightforward stitch work and the most complicated part is just keeping the count right.

I also got my first look at the layout for the chapbook. It’s very exciting.

I think I’m boring, but I mean that in a good way. I spent my weekend doing exactly what I wanted and I feel happy and rested and ready for my week. I feel very lucky.

I still think either the pattern is wrong about how to do those slip-stitch rounds or the picture on the pattern is wrong, but I did the first one how it said to, so I did the second one how it said to.

Opt Out

A thing I have long known is that the abuse of women is ubiquitous (the attempted abuse of everyone is ubiquitous, but that’s a matter for another post). But seeing it on social media day in and day out is wearing me down.

I keep thinking of how “you have no other choice” is used against women and how so many women have opted out of things because of that. You have to tolerate some level of violence from your 19th century husband, so some women just didn’t marry, settled into being spinster aunts. You have to expect you’re going to have to sleep with people to get roles, so some women just went home from Hollywood. And on and on.

Generations of women who tried to withdraw from the bullshit as much as they could.

Maybe I’ve done that, too. I don’t know.

And I think about all that talent, all that potential. It’s like we live in a world split in two between realized dreams and dashed dreams. And the realized dreams aren’t better. They’re just the dreams that didn’t get sacrificed.

I think a lot about how we still have human sacrifice, we’ve just made it more invisible. Instead of killing a person wholly and outright for our benefit, we just kill little parts of them and convince ourselves they deserve it.

People are right to be mad. I am mad. But I’m also feeling overwhelmed and sometimes like I’m drowning in it.