I’m on a side mission to track down the music the Rock City Guards would have heard at their great public marches. And it turns out that there’s at least four possible pieces of music! I can’t tell if they might all be variations on a theme (though I don’t think so), but one is a march in 6/8 time, which, ugh, just shoot me now. I can’t imagine trying to march to that.
I’m over there wondering about just who’s being left out of our It City.
It was so dark on my walk this morning. And yet, somehow I still missed it when the stars faded and only Venus was left.
So, that was the end of True Detective. I liked it but I didn’t love it. The hallucination could not have been cheesier. And I feel pretty sure that those injuries were life-ending. But the maze was creepy as fuck and so sad.
I don’t know. I just really felt like, in part, we were being lead toward Hart’s daughter being at least tangentially involved–girls from school talking about it and upsetting her, at least.
But I was glad to have my walk. It’s very dark out there, but noisy. Someone was snorting in the bushes when I walked by.
I’m so grouchy. Like even just sitting here I’m getting annoyed with myself about how much work I have to do on the afghan but I’m not doing it. And I’m tired. And I’m waiting on the photographer so I’m nervous and just feel fat and ugly and stupid. And I’m too tired to stop myself from going down that path.
Life requires, sometimes, a kind of steadiness I just don’t feel capable of generating.
I’m sitting here last night kind of failing to work on my afghan (turns out it’s hard to work on an afghan when you’re playing Civilization) and I get a text from the Butcher. He has found someone to get me some headshots. Sunday at 4. At no cost to me, because he “has taken care of it.”
I am looking at all the other headshots involved in this thing I need a headshot for and, at this point, I’m just hoping for something that makes me look friendly and approachable. I’ve studied the genre and the trope seems to be–stand by a wall, cover your double chin, get shot from above. If you have long hair, let it hang loose and flowing. If you have a beard, rock it. I don’t think I can grow a whole beard before tomorrow. But maybe one chin hair?
I wonder if it would be funny to try to get a headshot that embodied all the rules at once?
The other day, I was talking to my coworker about something stressful and there was a lull in the conversation and I said, “Jesus Christ!” and my coworker asked how my dad would feel about me taking the Lord’s name in vain.
And I said, “If it’s in vain, that’s on him. Because I’m calling for help.”
I have to tell you, that seems to be how this year is shaping up. I’m trying to take a Molly Bloom-like attitude where I just say yes to everything, accept everything and that it will all work out. But whoo doggie.
The thing is that I really do feel like I’ve got this. I know I can do all the stuff I have to do. I just have to get used to the pace. I’m not yet used to the pace, though.
Anyway, I think weird, cool things are afoot. I’ve been talking to a fellow fan of Joseph Deraque and it’s been interesting. He’s found a Joseph Duroche on a roster list with Timothy and he, like me, is so tempted to read that as Joseph, our Joseph. But who knows?
I think I’m going to turn “Allendale” into a chapbook.
And I need to get a head shot. Which I’ve needed for a few years, but I’ve just dicked around about it and not gotten it done. And now I really need one.
Last night I dreamed Paul Rudd and I were having dinner at Cracker Barrel, where he proceeded to break up with me. I said to him, “Paul Rudd, I got a blue Mustang for you.” As if that would mean that he couldn’t break up with me. And then I said. “Paul Rudd, do you know how hard it is to get a horse to stand still while you paint him?” And then I winked. Like that was the most clever joke Paul Rudd was ever going to hear, and thus would win him back.
So, this morning, I told the Butcher that I had a dream Paul Rudd broke up with me and he said, “Why would Paul Rudd break up with you?” which I thought was a really lovely compliment. Why, indeed? Some brothers, perhaps even this particular one at an earlier point, might ask why Paul Rudd would possibly want to date me.
But then I told him the dream and the Butcher said, “Oh, well, that explains it. How weird would it be to date someone who constantly called you by your first and last name?”
1. I laughed so hard when I came up with this headline and then I couldn’t actually think of anything else to say about it. It just sums the whole problem up.
2. Stonehenge really rocks? I mean, like musically?
3. Rep. Rick Womick pulled a gun out during a meeting at the state capitol. See, this is the thing. He thinks he’s a responsible gun owner. When he’s legislating about where guns go, he is, in fact, thinking, “People like me will be carrying guns,” not realizing how fucking terrifying his behavior is.
Last week, I awoke with a cut on my fingertip. This is odd because I sleep on a mattress and not on a bed of nails or with a sword dangling over me. My bed is, by definition, a soft, not cutting thing filled with soft, non-cutting things.
Oh, which reminds me! Not only did I have that cut, but then on Monday I burned that same finger, right on the cut, by touching too-hot lasagna. My finger is cursed!
Anyway, back to my story–the cut, not the burn. Where did this mysterious midnight cut come from?
The answer came last night. I woke up because my finger–a different finger–felt like it was being grasped by a cactus. Not hard, but it felt like ten tiny needles were holding it in place. I opened my eyes, as you do when you’re wondering if sentient cacti have crawled into bed with you and there was the orange cat, holding my finger with his claws, staring at it, like he was trying to decide if he could get away with biting it.
As best as the Butcher and I can figure, I must be twitching my hand in my sleep and, since the orange cat has taken to sleeping with me since the arrival of the dog, the cat has been having to resist the temptation to attack my hand for months now.
Last week, it apparently just got too much for him.
So, you know my plan to return to my ‘Allendale’ story. I think I told you all that I drafted up an entwined story that would go with it–the story of what happens when poor George’s niece gets hold of the story. But I hadn’t looked at that draft in a long time. Since it’s too cold and wet to walk, that’s what I did this morning.
It needs some polishing. But damn. It’s in better shape than I remember. I’m going to have fun bringing that up to speed. I really want this to somehow be this October’s thing. It just feels like a nice circle to me. The drawback is that the second story is all in footnotes to the first (because we never outgrow our first loves–so make sure your first love is baby carrots, my friends). So, how exactly to format it and get it set up to be the October thing I’m not sure of, unless I just print the damn thing. But I really don’t want or have time to do all the shit I did for A City of Ghosts. So, I don’t know. I need to think about it.
I’m feeling pretty okay about my presentation to the Demonbreun Society, too. I want to get some more visual stuff together for them and I need to run over to the TSLA and make some copies from the Provine Papers. But I feel like I have a good outline of the topics I want to cover with them.
So, I think all that leaves on my plate here at home to sort out is this afghan.
One thing that always amazes me about the Butcher is that, though he’s not the most ambitious person in the world–in other words, if there were a 5 ton boulder in the back yard, he wouldn’t move it without being asked. But, if you go to the Butcher and say “I need help moving this 5 ton boulder,” he’d be up for it.
Which I guess is my way of saying that I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, but he’s just like “We’ll just do it. We’ll do it like this as long as we have to and then we’ll do it like that once we get a little money.”
He had a political thing on Saturday. I couldn’t go because I can’t work on his campaign because of work. And I don’t want to get into it with work about what constitutes “working.” But he went with our friend, T., and apparently he rocked it.
And I’m really happy. He is awesome. And I’m glad he’s seeing that.
I read Diddy Wah Diddy by Corey Mesler this weekend and it was really good. It’s kind of a dreamlike mythologizing of Beale Street. Lots of sex and singing and just rolling around in language like a pig in mud. If you’re a fan of Memphis, you’ll have feelings about this book. You’ll either love it or hate it.
But the thing that I’m lingering over, just from a technical standpoint, is how he nails the ending–which is, of course, as it must be in a book like this, about Elvis. And I think Mesler gets it exactly right–that feeling of Elvis being so excited about what he was hearing, about him stealing it, about people feeling like him stealing it at least meant that it was going to get heard, and about Elvis being too young to know just what his role was.
Let me put it this way. If Diddy Wah Diddy is a mythology in the old sense of the word (and Mesler goes to great lengths to assure you that it is) and Beale Street an Olympus of sorts, then Elvis is an unwitting Prometheus.
But all that is more about plot. I kind of mean something different when I say he nails it. What I mean is that how he handles that plot point technically, as in how he writes it, is satisfying. The ending doesn’t go on too long, but it hits the right sweet and sad notes that the story is over. I haven’t put the book on the shelf yet, because, as a writer–and one who’s not very confident in her endings lately–I want to understand the mechanics of what he’s pulled off. The physics of it.
Speaking of endings. I finished my short story. I’m not quite satisfied with the ending. See above. But I sent it to my beta reader anyway, because, if there’s a flaw with the ending, its roots are going to be earlier in the story. And, earlier in the story, the parts that I am most unsure of are whether it fits the mythology (in the newer sense of the word) that the guys who created this world have made up. So, I need a sense of whether all that is working.
You know I struggled with how to tell that story. It took me a while to settle on the narrator. I probably wrote close to 14,000 words of what is now about an 8,000 word story. All the same scenes and characters just told in different ways until one clicked for me. The most important thing I cut was a whole discussion of my current narrator’s parents, who had her when they were teenagers and are not doing a great job of co-parenting her now.
That is still the case. But other than the clues that they appear to all be living in her grandfather’s house and that he was a hobo until the 80s and that the narrator is clearly older than 13 or 14 and she mentions a step-dad, I cut all that out. It’s just a thing about her, not some central trauma to her life.
Still, I’m pleased with it. Even if I end up tinkering with it a little more.
And I think that means all I have on my plate for my spare time this month is to make an afghan I don’t have enough yarn for yet and to put together something for the Demonbreun Society about Joseph Deraque (Deratte?) I can feel proud of sharing with them. I just have to remember to bring the John Sevier’s story about Joseph meeting the Welsh Indians, even though I think it’s complete bullshit. Still, who doesn’t want to hear a weird, cool complete bullshit story about their ancestor?
Once that’s out of the way, I’m going back to Allendale. I’ve been having some thoughts and I’d just like to get that into a form I feel satisfied with. Maybe we’ll revisit it in October.
One of our younger relatives posted some pictures of him/herself engaged in an inappropriate activity. To Instagram, which means the Butcher saw it, which means I saw it. And now I’m bummed.
Because it’s just so fucking stupid. And the internet is forever. And I have long been worried about whether this nonsense in the Phillips family is going to affect the next generation and the answer is yes.
I spent so much of my young adult life worried about my brothers going to jail, worried about them fucking up so bad that they couldn’t come back from it.
And tonight I learned that’s not a worry I get to put behind me.
One drawback to having a ‘thing’ that your mom has is that you look back on your life and try to remember all the ‘things’ you’ve heard your mom complain about, especially when she complained about them with her sisters, so that you can prepare for the eventuality that you will get that ‘thing’ as well.
But once, when I was young and eavesdropping, I hear them discussing a mysterious ailment they all suffered from occasionally–cotton crotch. This ailment was decidedly unpleasant. It was caused specifically by wearing constricting clothing, in general, or underpants to bed, which is why my one aunt had to stop doing that immediately. And, if you got a case? a bout? of cotton crotch, you just had to wait for your period to clear it up, because nothing else worked.
I couldn’t ask my mom about cotton crotch because then she’d have known I was eavesdropping. And then I just assumed that, since I slept wearing underpants to bed, someday it would happen to me and then I’d know.
But it never has. And now my mom is an old woman. And I still don’t know.
I tried looking it up on Urban Dictionary, but the only entry they had for cotton crotch was as a phenomenon that happens when your tampon is too absorbent–which would seem not to be the case with my family’s cotton crotch, since theirs only comes around when you’re not menstruating. I know your mind (unless you know my mom) has immediately jumped to some sex thing, like my mom and her sisters are sitting around talking about what happens when you just can’t get wet with your husband. But remember, my mom only married into the Phillipses. She’s not uncouth. And my mom and her sisters are pretty earnest. If they were having issues with sex, it’s unlikely they’d be talking in metaphor about it. (It’s also highly unlikely that my one aunt, especially, wouldn’t have checked for children before sex talk.)
So, I feel fairly confident that it must be, in its own way, something straightforward and not something they’d be mortified to be discovered talking about. But I am still a chicken about calling my mom and asking her.
I could be, as a person familiar with pot, leaping to the conclusion that cotton crotch, like cottonmouth, has to do with unbearable dryness. I suppose it could not be the case. But I’m then having a hard time coming up with other things it might be. Something common? Something unpleasant? Something dealing with your crotchal area? Seems like maybe a yeast infection, but I know for a fact I’ve also heard them talking about having yeast infections, so I am confident that’s not it. Like I said, they’re earnest. And they don’t have cutsy names they use to cover up things–I had a vulva and a vagina my whole life. She never used other terms for them. So, I don’t think she’d not straight up call a yeast infection a yeast infection, if that’s what it was. Especially not around my aunt, who’s a nurse.
So, no, it must be some condition that doesn’t quite have a medical equivalent, I think. But what?
The previous situation fizzled out. And oh, the stories I could tell. But I’m trying to be thoughtful about the notion that sometimes the Butcher gets weirded out by how much of his life ends up here.
But he’s started a new job today, with a set schedule and a pay rate that doesn’t fluctuate based on arbitrary decisions made by consultation with the spirits. And the new engine for his car is almost here, which means he will soon get his car back.
So, that’s a relief.
One thing that confuses me, just a a fundamental level, are Biblical literalists. Like people who believe that the earth was literally created in six days. Which means that I’m conversely confused by people who think that an argument against Christianity is that the earth wasn’t made in six days. Maybe as someone who can’t ever remember not being able to read (I remember learning to write but I know I was reading long before then) and as someone who experiences the world as being almost indescribably strange and mystical, I just always thought those stories were metaphors–like a language that speaks to and has meaning to your soul first and then your brain scrambles to catch up.
I was reminded of that again yesterday at the doctor’s office, as I sat in front of a big machine and a woman peered deep into my eyeball, and took pictures of every inch of the back of it, and then made a giant map that would show the doctor this small portion of the landscape of my body.
Because I felt like a land there–a place that could be mapped. And I know that we think of goddesses being associated with the land and gods with being associated with the sky because of how a dude “plows the field” of his wife. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
But I swear, yesterday, I felt like I was realizing something different about what it means to be an embodiment of the land. Like some fundamental mystical truth was closer to being in a form I could articulate.
And, frankly, I’m not sure what that truth is. But the back of my eye tells you I grew up in Illinois. The shape I grew in is because of the land I grew on. Like, how much difference is there between me and dirt, in that case?
Aside from being wildly nearsighted with really thin retinas, I have Presumed Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome, which, apparently, you get from a fungus that grows in the Ohio Valley? I don’t know. I’m going to have to learn more about that part.
Also, today I am going to the retina specialist. I’m freaked out. Everything will be fine. But I’m still freaked out.
I think this is a matter of how we approached going to the doctor when I was young. You went when shit was wrong. So, even though this is completely routine and, in fact, I’m going now, before things go wrong, so that he can watch and catch things before they go really wrong, I’m still freaked out about it like there’s a problem.
I had my mom write up what happened to her and how she came to have to get shots in her eyeballs. And it appears that the thing wrong with my mom is the thing the guy I’m seeing has written a book about. He’s literally written a book on my mom’s condition. Which makes me feel like I’m seeing the right guy if I’d like to avoid having needles put in my eyeballs.
Also, I stupidly told my parents they didn’t need to come down and take me to this appointment, because I am a grown-ass woman. But now, since the Butcher’s car is still sitting in a lot on Trinity Lane waiting for the arrival of its new engine, of course he has a job interview at the exact same moment I am having a medical appointment that will leave me unable to drive home.
Luckily, our friend is going to drop him off at the doctor’s office. But it’s just kind of a logistical headache.
1. The process to replace me is so grindingly slow that I am bracing myself for being the only one in my department for much of April. Every time I think about it, it makes me want to throw up. But I’m trying to prepare myself as much as I can ahead of time. And to figure out how to turn off the panic chipmunks. After all, my boss went on vacation and I ran the department and it didn’t fall apart. Still, holy shit.
2. I am completely nervous about speaking to the Demonbreun society. I have never had anxiety about speaking in front of a group before. But holy shit, I am now. The thing is that researching Timothy, Elizabeth, and Joseph has brought me such deep pleasure and interesting thing to write about and think about, but, at the end of the day, they’re not my people. I’m just a fan. These are their people. And I feel both deeply honored to get to share with them things they might not know and to give them avenues of research they might not have. It means a lot to me to get this right and to not fuck it up. I’m speaking of these people’s ancestors to them.
3. So, yes, rather than do any work on either of those things or work on the short story or the fucking afghan I’m trying to finish, I spent the evening playing video games.
So, yeah, that’s not good.
I broke out all on my upper chest area here on Friday, which I was bummed about because it seemed like it might be a food allergy and a food allergy to Indian food would crush me. But here it is, Tuesday, and it’s still there. This is one spot of it. It itches. But it hurts if you itch it.
On the other hand, if you look just to the northeast of it, you see a faint pinkness. That was a massive scar from my biopsy a million years ago. And now, look at it. You can hardly see it.
I find bodies interesting. The other day I found a black hair growing out of the side of my nose, just from right about where you’d get a piercing, laying across my cheek, like a good inch or so.
And I’d like to believe that, if I had slowly been growing a black hair out the side of my nose, I’d have noticed it long before it reached halfway across my cheek. So, the more alarming prospect is that somehow, my nose–which mind you, is not an inch thick–sprouted an inch long hair in an evening. Where was it storing all that pre-hair material? Should I be letting scientists take samples of my nose so that they can develop better treatments for baldness?
Would anyone use a treatment for baldness which was “Rub B.’s nose cells all on your head?” Could I set up some kind of blackmarket nose cell delivery business, where you come over and I wipe my outer (I promise, just my outer, no snot) nose all on your head?
In this new economy, is that my retirement plan?
Let’s be honest–yes.
My husband is coming home from World War II. We like popular music, but nothing too daring. Who do we want to hear? I’m looking for someone big in ’46. Ubiquitous. But my sense is that Perry Como might be just a few years later than that. But someone like him.
I’ve been around at the other place long enough now that people, finally, hunt me down to tell me things they think I should think about. Like my opinion matters. Or carries any weight. It’s weird, considering how futile it feels to try to get people to change their minds.
I don’t know. Mostly I just think it’s weird. Like, why now, after all this time, am I worth hunting down?
Maybe it’s just the problem with the media pool shrinking. Everyone still in the water stands out.