Old Things

I saw a dear old friend yesterday at lunch. I hadn’t seen her in years and it was good to catch up and too short.

Then I dreamed that a mutual friend of ours, who I haven’t seen since grad school, and I were on a car trip, driving home from somewhere in Michigan and we stopped at my Grandma’s house in Battle Creek, which was, of course, not her house this time, but the house full of people from where I graduated high school.

The guy who stalked me was there. He lived in that house. And he worked at Burger King. And I stole his hat and threw it through the brazier, which upset him and I told him I’d buy him another one. And then we left.

As dreams usually do, it sounds stupid when I type it up.

But man, it’s weighing on me this morning. It’s the two things that weigh on me all the time: In what ways am I hidden from myself in ways that are harmful to myself and others? How am I here when so many people I know are smarter or more creative or more deserving (which, yes, I hate that word) are not?

The magnitude of luck that has brought me to this point is immeasurable. That’s what I keep thinking.

But the thing about the weight of the dream is that it reminds me that lucky and happy are the same word at heart and part of the weight is that I don’t experience them as the same thing. Being lucky in this way–me being here, the guy who stalked me working fast food–it doesn’t make me happy. I feel grateful, don’t get me wrong.

But I’m always waiting for the world to be set back right. I am so far out beyond where I was taught I’d be allowed. I never feel like “Oh, well, it is what it is and the things I was taught were wrong.” Well, that’s not true. I feel like that in the light of day all the time.

But at night, I know the scales are uneven and tipped in my favor. And I know every story of the gods monkeying around with the fate of a person leads to that person’s eventual downfall. You can’t be lucky all the time.

And yet, I don’t have the things I want. I want to write a damn fine haunted house story that people love. I want it to be published by a publisher who will get it into bookstores. I want to be able to walk into Parnassus and Barnes & Noble in my own town and see it on the shelf.

And that’s farther out, scales tipped even more ridiculously. I can’t do it. There’s just no way to be that lucky, considering how far luck has brought me. It just can’t hold.

But I have to try for it.

Closer than You’d Think

On Friday, after the crowd sang Happy Birthday to me, I made a joke about it being the twentieth anniversary of my twenty-first birthday, and, even as I said it, I realized, then, that it was the twentieth anniversary of my Uncle B.’s death. Which must be true, seeing as that’s how physics work. Things that happened at the same time happened at the same time and thus retreat into the past at the same rate.

I never think of turning twenty-one. My Uncle B. is almost always in my thoughts. I go to the Civil War battlefields I know he enjoyed and I think about whether he’d be able to traverse them or not. I wander through museums and I look for the most obscure stuff and I try to suck all the meaning I can from them because I know it’s the kind of thing he’d enjoy. I try to treat children as interesting people with important things to say because that’s how he treated me and I know how important it was to me.

So, it feels to me that he must have died quite recently. Long enough ago that it doesn’t suck every day that he’s gone, but recently enough that it’s still strange that he’s not here, that my habit is still to take into consideration how he would think about things.

I have to believe this is why people came to believe there was something more to this world than just the here and now–this feeling that the long dead aren’t that far away.

Not 100% In Love

octagon afghan 1 octagon afghan 2

So, once I get all the ends tucked, this is how it will go together. Obviously, not with non-gray yarn, but I wanted to see what I was doing. I don’t love, love it. I kind of wish the squares were big enough to fit in the hole correctly, but they’re just a hair too small.

Oh well, I’m sure it will be fine. And, technically, this way appears to make my squares octagons.

One of the people who came Friday night told me he likes my writing because I write like a man. Today I realized I should have asked him how he knew about the severed dick I type with. And now I can’t stop giggling at the thought of trying to hit these stupid keys with a penis. I mean, maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I’d like to believe my dick would be all ikj azsmjk tfryhupolikjnhjgtf whenever I was trying to typle “I am typing.” I believe myself swaggery enough to have a three key dick, if I were to have one.

Just, guys, I love you but any variation of “you’re not like other girls” isn’t the compliment a lot of you think it is.

It Was Wonderful!

People came out and they bought books and I saw a lot of people I know and a lot of people I didn’t know. It was so much fun to see how excited people were about just how good it looked. I read a little and then everyone sang Happy Birthday to me and it was marvelous.

I wore the blue dress the Professor insisted I buy a million years ago, but I was too chickenshit to wear it before now. But then I put it on and I thought, “Well, I’m being brave in all kinds of ways, let’s just fucking be brave.”

And, if I looked too grossly rashy no one mentioned it.

The two best parts of the evening were when the little kids all played werewolf and howled in the front area and when I gave the book to Tom, who let me insinuate in the book that he’s a werewolf, and he was so delighted and surprised. It was really wonderful.

Books

Today I went over and signed expensive books. I was surprised to realize that they smell, because they’re bound in leather. Everything about them is just so nice. They look amazing. They smell amazing. The weight of it in my hand is amazing.

wolf 9 wolf 8

All The Feelings

People keep asking me if I’m excited about the book and I am, truly, excited and happy. But there’s just been a lot, which is gauche to talk about publicly, which makes me, more than anything, just feel sometimes relieved that it’s almost over. For eighteen months people have been telling me that it’s just about to happen and asking me if I’m excited and then seeming disappointed when I can’t maintain the same level of excitement or more excitement over that whole time period.

I’m relieved and satisfied and kind of sad and kid of happy. But I’m not unabashedly excited. I’m nervous. I want people to like it.

Maybe I’m wired screwy, but I don’t see the books and think “Woo!” for me. I don’t experience them as something awesome that is happening to and for me. I look at them as the culmination of a lot of hard work a lot of people did to make something nifty for whoever reads it. If anyone reads it. Which I hope they will, obviously.

I just don’t experience the end of this being me having books in hand. I experience the end of it as readers having books. I’m excited and nervous and hopeful to see what you guys will make of it.

So, I don’t mean to disappoint people when they look at the book and they ask me if I’m excited. I just don’t really think my excitement is all that important. I want the reader to be excited and I don’t yet know if that’s the case.

Friday

Just to recap for locals making weekend plans:

The launch party is at East Side Story at 6 p.m. I suspect actual doings won’t start until 6:30. You can pre-purchase copies here (and that’s the only way for out of town people to get books that I know of at the moment). You don’t have to pre-purchase copies. Plenty will be available at the event.

But once they’re gone, they’re gone.

The Cats Have Emerged from their Hiding Places

We’re done dog-sitting. The cats are out and eating a lot and rubbing themselves on things they have been unable to rub against for a week because the dog-friend would have to bark at them and try to sniff them.

Sonnyboy is exhausted. He behaved like a dream on our walk and is now snoring next to me. He was very good with the other dog, but he seems happier to have all the attention back on him.

I Watched a Lot of Movies

I felt pretty sick to my stomach yesterday so I basically sat on the couch and made octagons and watched movies.

First up was Bessie, which was on HBO. I really want to see it on the big screen or sitting closer to the screen. It was so beautiful and the costumes were amazing. I heard some complaints about the pacing but I didn’t notice. I really felt like I was watching something amazing. I really liked, especially, the way the movie got at how performing and being a performer is a give and take with the audience, something you do together, for and with each other.

Then we watched Sunset, though I sat outside and thought about “Ashland” for the first part. It was good, but we more enjoyed it for the “Oh, hey, it’s that guy!” aspects.

Then the Butcher fell asleep and I rewatched Lake Mungo, which might have also fallen under “thinking about Ashland.” This time I was really struck by how I still thought it was really good, but how much faster things seemed to happen, and how less dreamlike it felt. I also want to take to heart how, again, simple it is. I think that, in order for a haunted house story to work, it’s probably best to not convolute the plot.

And last, I watched As Above, So Below, which was… I don’t know… really stupid and not scary and somehow much, much better than it had any right to be.

I feel like I’m on the verge of figuring out what’s not working for me about the little bit of “Ashland” I have done.

I really want to see copies of the paperback of The Wolf’s Bane, but I’m trying not to be all nutty and pushing about it.

One Person’s Ruined Afghan is Another Person’s Wall Hanging

Well, I think I’ve found a home for the Hill House afghan, just as it is, as an art piece. So, that makes me feel better.

The octagon afghan is coming along very well. I only have 16 octagons left. But I have to do squares (which you can see the room for) which means that I need to find a way to make those squares with a knot at the center. I have a good idea how but I’m still a little gunshy after the Hill House afghan.

octagon afghan

The Hill House Afghan Disaster

I am crushed and sick to my stomach. I have never, ever, ever had an afghan do this. At first, I was like, maybe it’s just a matter of fixing this square, which kind of made me want to throw up, but at least it was a solution. But they’re all doing this. Every square. That damn starting stitch, which was so hard to learn and it didn’t have a knot, but it seemed solid. I should have known. I just should have fucking known. This “no knots” bullshit in crochet is what leads to this.

I don’t even know how to begin to fix this. I think the afghan is a total loss. FUUUUUUUuuuuuck. I loved this beautiful, weird afghan. And I’m bummed I have to show up to see C & M empty-handed.

I think the thing that most pisses me off is knowing that it’s just best to throw this away and start over. I mean, it’s also good. It’s Red Heart yarn. It’s not expensive. And the time it would take to frog it is more precious than the money it would take to repurchase the yarn and redo it. But it was so much work and I loved it. And it can’t be saved.

Bah.

the Death of the Hill House Afghan

How is this Real Life?

I went to lunch over at Two Boots and Muddy Waters came on. People started to whoop. Customers were whooping. And then they started to dance. And, even after that died out, when a new person came in, he or she would start dancing. Even though he or she hadn’t seen the others dancing.

It seemed like magic.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure it was this version of Mannish Boy. I’m going to guess it was the subliminal influence of Mick’s butt shaking that caused all the dancing.

Dogsitting

We’re dogsitting Sonnyboy’s friend. He is fascinated by the cats. I am a little frightened for him, because this morning, the orange cat got behind the couch and growled to draw the dog’s attention. Then the new kitty attacked him from behind.

Like some kind of two-cat lion pride.

He didn’t seem to mind, though. He’s back in the other room trying to sniff the new kitty. Sonnyboy keeps going into the other room to try to talk his friend into being cool, but it’s not working.

In other news, my eye seems much improved, though still pretty hideous looking. The Butcher’s like “Well, you’re staying home today, right?” But this is literally the one week this month I cannot be out of work, certainly not for itchy aesthetic reasons. I am going to try to get home early, just because all the animals are in the house and there’s going to be a thunderstorm. That seems like a lot to ask of everyone.

And last, but not least, here is a weird thing I can’t figure out with this newest afghan. The octagons are the same height and width as the squares. I guess they involve a little less stitching because you’re minus the corners, but the stitching is a little more complicated because it’s eight sides.

But, if I want something the same size as the Hill House afghan, I need 63 squares. Folks, I have 24 octagons done. Since I started. On Sunday. And this is with me having this weird eye shit and farting around with Ashland and dog-sitting and gardening. I have six more that just need borders. If I don’t go out tonight, which, let’s be honest, I’m not going to looking like this, I’ll finish those up. I’ll have thirty done.

Why is this going so quick?! I just don’t understand it. I could easily be done with the octagon part of this afghan, at this pace, by Memorial day. Literally the only way my brain can make sense of this is that the octagons must be smaller than the squares. But I keep measuring them and they’re the same.

Now, granted, I have all the inset squares to do and piecing this together is going to be a weird challenge, so it’s not like it’s going to be the fastest afghan in the world–the finishing of it may be the challenge. But I’m boggled about this part.

Eye, Day 2

Imagine yesterday’s picture, but with my eye swelled shit and a nifty rash on my face and a different nifty rash on my hands. I got in to work early and went over to the employee clinic. The doctor was suitably appalled, but she doesn’t see any sign of infection and there’s nothing still in my eye, if it is indeed a sting. She couldn’t tell if it was a bite or if it’s just some allergy. The rashes are just what my body does when something is going wrong–secondary rashes. My body’s way of saying “something bad is happening.” Thanks, body. As if I didn’t notice.

So, now I’m hopped up on steroids and Claratin. Fingers crossed.

Spring, You Jerk

My right eye is so puffy and swollen I can barely open it. I don’t know if I got stung (something hit me in the eye yesterday on my walk, but I thought it was some dust or something) or if it’s allergies.

But I have a sales meeting at 10 that I have to be sharp for, so no Benadryl. And I don’t think I can put a contact in it, so I’m just going to be wearing my glasses and, behind my glasses, a shocking amount of swelling.

I Thinked My Thoughts

I’ve been mulling over whether now’s the time to grab onto the golden ring of non-fiction writing and I think I’m not going to. The thing is this: I don’t really like it that much. I obviously don’t dislike it. And I look forward to finding other weird things to tell people about.

And maybe I’ll never be a really great fiction writer.

But that’s where my heart is. And since I’m never going to be massively successful at either, why not stick with the one I like best?

I’m, still, a bag of nerves. I’m trying to keep from emailing and demanding updates on The Wolf’s Bane ever 15 minutes.

Swing

Our front porch kind of sucks because it doesn’t have a roof. It’s more, in fairness, like a small front patio. So, you can’t really sit out on it without being blinded by the afternoon sun. I’m sure when the 50 year old hackberry was full sized, this was less noticeable, but it’s pretty unfortunate now.

So, I’m asking every member of my family to go in on a porch swing with an awning as a birthday present for me. They haven’t said whether they’re willing to do this, but there have been secretive phone calls.

I’m crossing my fingers. Because, if we ever have nice weather again, I’m kind of dreaming of sitting on my front porch, making afghans and watching the world go by.

Nerves

The Wolf’s Bane comes out next week. It’s been such a long slog. And I’m nervous something will happen and that the books won’t be there or they’ll all cause people rashes or… I don’t know.

But, ugh. And woo.

The Next Afghan

Seriously, y’all, even if I’d only ever learned this motif from this book, this would be the greatest Christmas present ever. So, we did the hexagon version and the quadragon version… ha ha ha. I really wish quadragon was a word. But the square version is what I just finished up. And next on the docket is the octagon version. I’m doing this up for my friend, Tracy, who used to have a nickname around here, but I don’t remember what it was.

The tricky thing about this is that, when you put octagons together, there’s a square of emptiness (warning, there are a lot of hexagons at that link, which is aggravating). I want to fill that square of emptiness. But with what? A regular square or a twisty square? See that yellow part in this octagon. Could I stick that in the empty part? I don’t know. We’ll have to see.

ts afghan