How It Went

First of all, I SLEPT THROUGH MY ALARM!!! You want to know panic? Panic is waking up the morning you have to testify before a legislative committee and realizing you slept through your alarm.

But I got there mostly on-time and I got to see the inside of one of the big lawfirms in town which was beautiful. It’s one of those buildings where the elevator in the lobby doesn’t drop you off until the 16th floor. Like, I don’t know what’s happening on 2-15, but the elevator does not go there. And I was amazed at how quickly it takes you up to the 16th floor. Like only slightly longer than it takes the elevator at work to take me up one floor.

Anyway, so the testimony. I went last. They had an FBI agent and a judge and then a bunch of family members of victims of racial terrorism speak. I was really nervous beforehand, but I felt calm and collected saying my stuff.

I was trying to understand why, when I’m speaking in public, (and knock on wood this continues) I don’t feel nervous or fraudulent or whatever. All the stuff that makes it hard for me to function in my everyday life, when I sit down in the chair, in front of the microphone, or take that last step in front of the crowd, I know it will be fine. It all falls away.

And I don’t really have a good answer for it. I think it’s that, by the point where the thing is happening, it’s too late to do anything but that thing. It’s too late to be prettier or more prepared or whatever.

And it also helps that I’m not there to be me. I’m there to deliver information or read a story or introduce someone else or whatever. So whether or not I’m perfect, the task is the task and I know what the task is and that I can do it.

I need that calm confidence in the rest of my life!

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Testify

Tomorrow I’m going to testify before the Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Special Committee of the Tennessee State Legislature to tell what I know about the Looby bombing because there isn’t anyone else to do it.

I am both very excited and scared.

I also feel a kind of mix of pride and sorrow that I can say what I know and that I know things probably no one else in the state knows. It’s a strange thing to be sitting underneath the only brain who knows a big, important thing.

It’s also such bullshit. Why did it take 60 years for anyone to look into this? Why should I be alone in knowing this stuff? It’s not right.

Someone tried to kill that man, that hero, and then no one gave a shit. And he had to live in this community knowing that no one gave a shit enough to solve his assassination attempt. That sucks.

Anyway, I’m not the best person to do this, but Fate has made me the only person who can and so I will try my best and try to tell Looby’s story in a way that maybe will spur someone to give him some measure of justice.

Can You Fistfight a Dog? Should You?

This morning… okay, first, what you need to know is that, unless you check and make sure it has latched, there’s a 50/50 chance the kitchen door is not latched. It’s just shut. Since I walk the dog at the buttcrack of dawn and I’m not always 100% completely awake, sometimes, it’s not latched. I try hard, but I am also mostly asleep.

So, this morning, Señor Asshole bounds off as usual into the neighbor’s yard. And then, because it’s dark, he promptly vanishes, even though I talked to him again today about the importance of being a good boy.

Off I tromp through neighbors’ yards, looking through their garbage for him. No fucking sign.

I decide my only hope is to go to where we normally start our walks, out by the creek, and see if he shows up. I turn around to head back that way and who comes bounding from behind me? And then who trips over something in the neighbor’s yard and does a full front roll?

Yes, Señor Asshole.

But where has that motherfucker been? I’ve been in everyone’s back yards. I saw no sign of him.

So, we go for our walk. We get back. The orange cat is outside, which is… not where he was when we went for our walk. We get into the garage. There’s the kitchen door standing wide open.

So, I think that asshole came back to the house. INTO THE HOUSE. And left me wandering around the neighborhood for fifteen minutes, calling for him.

I’m going to have to start leashing him up before I even open the door, which I hate, because back when he behaved, the moments where he was in my back yard, near the door, doing his first pee of the day, gave me a chance to get the elderly orange cat situated with breakfast without the dog or the other cat bullying him out of it.

Still, it must be done. This is the third neighborhood gallivant of the week and it’s only Wednesday. That’s one day gallivant-free and I need like 95% gallivant-free walks.

Doctor

So, this thing has a name–viral sinus infection. There isn’t much to do for it other than what I’ve been doing. Just suffer and drink lots of liquids.

Now I want to talk about something hard and weird. Since I last went to the doctor, I’ve lost twenty pounds. Before that, I lost twelve. So, since the Butcher moved out, but also since I’ve got my meds straight, I’ve lost thirty two pounds.

My whole life I have tried so hard to lose weight. I have starved myself. I have exercised like a fiend. I have tried this crazy thing and that crazy thing. I have been called a liar by doctors. I have had symptoms of serious conditions ignored because the “obvious” solution was that I needed to lose weight.

I have loathed my body. I have felt utterly unlovable and unworthy of love because this is my body. I have felt crazy because all the “just”s people say–just eat less, just exercise more, it’s just physics, etc.–never worked for me. And when I said they didn’t work for me, the fault was mine. I was doing something wrong or lying.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had an eating disorder, but I’ve had very disordered eating over the course of my life. And it was only when I was like “okay, fuck it. I just can’t hate myself any more. I can’t punish myself all the time. I just don’t have the energy for it.” that I started eating in less fucked-up ways and finding doctors who would, even as they nagged about the weight, would also take my symptoms seriously.

Here’s the thing. I’m not doing anything. I’m not trying to lose weight. I don’t walk Sonnyboy more or farther than I walked Mrs. Wigglebottom. I eat a little differently than I did when the Butcher lived here, but I eat what I want–cookies regularly included.

Okay, here’s the thing that concerns me. Last night, before dinner, I had the thought, “Well, if I’ve done this well without trying, what would happen if I skipped dinner?”

And I hate every part of that. I haven’t “done” anything. “Well” is a shitty word there, like being thinner is intrinsically better than being fatter. And, obviously, “what would happen if I skipped dinner?” is not healthy.

Thankfully, I’m on drugs, so my brain forms destructive thoughts more slowly which gives me an opportunity to head them off at the pass.

But my body is just doing a new weird thing that, frankly, goes with all the old weird things it’s done in the past. I’m not causing this. I’m going to try very hard to not put a lot of faith in it, because it seems to me very unlikely that I’m going to continue to lose weight or not find myself back at my normal weight in the future.

And I feel weird about it because I don’t have some great success story. I haven’t done anything. My body is just doing a thing.

The thing that concerns me is how easily I am ready to accept suffering if I think it will work.

Also, just as a last stupid thing, while we’re playing True Confessions on the Internet, I’m still really fucking fat. My clothes all fit the same. I still look exactly the same. All this vanity and self-undermining bullshit literally over a number.

I hate it.

Unsick

I’m still sick, but still going to the doctor and going to work. Last night, I went to bed at 8:30 and got up at my normal time and feel rested, so maybe that will just be part of the strategy until I’m completely well.

The dog’s day of being a good boy was followed by two days of him running around being a yahoo not listening.

The Butcher did come over and get my TV working again, which I appreciate. I listened to a lot of podcasts while I was sick, but I could have used a Law & Order marathon or two.

I’m just very grumpy. I wish I felt better. I mean, I do feel better than I did, but I wish I felt better than I do.

I fell in love with this pattern I saw on Etsy for a sawtooth star quilt pattern afghan and I decided to make one for my friends who just got married. So, I’ve been learning a new way to do granny squares. I’m a little concerned about how to piece it together in the end. I think I’m going to have to lay it out, get the color distribution how I want, and then… I don’t know. Tie it together? That’s my plan at the moment–tie it together and then put it together normally. Otherwise, it just feels like the chances of getting squares turned the wrong way is just to great.

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Also, I made a couple of other baby blankets:

Poor Dog

My two goals for today are to go outside and to take a shower. I took the dog for a brief walk. You’d have thought he’d been freed from prison. He ran everywhere. He ran to the end of the driveway. He ran over to the neighbor’s. He ran to the peonies. He ran the whole length of the back yard. He ran across the bridge. He ran back to me to get his leash on.

I told him before we went that I still wasn’t feeling great and I needed him to be a good boy, and I swear to God, he tried so hard to be a good boy. He sat when I put his harness on him. He came when I called him. He came right over to me so I could easily put his leash on. He made sure I got over the log okay.

It was so sweet! And he remembered the whole walk that I needed him to be a good boy.

Now, I know he has a whole repertoire of behaviors he thinks are “good boy” behaviors. Now, I know he’s put his brain to it and come up with his own list of things that make him a good boy. Which I also think makes him a very smart boy.

Literally my second favorite thing about him after “has a giant heart,” is watching him figure out how to be smart, how to know things. And he never was a stupid dog. He was a dog with an untreated medical issue who didn’t have enough stimulation. Get him on thyroid medication and give him some shit to learn and by god, he will teach himself how to learn to do it.

I now really want a shower, but I’m recovering from all this good-boy-ness.

Grave Mistake

I should not have gotten up and gone into work, even briefly, yesterday. Today I feel like utter crap. I slept twelve hours and I’m still tired.

Jessi Zazu died. That’s so fucked up. In my head, I figured she would, but it just seemed so unfair that my heart held out hope the Universe would have something in its pocket for her.

Quiet

I had to walk the dog this morning, since two days without a walk is the far end of his tolerance. After that, he starts pooping in the house. And I knew, since he hadn’t had any exercise in two days, that he was going to run all over tarnation.

I have no voice. Not even a squeak. So, I’m glad that I’m an animated person, because I realized, every thing I say to the dog has some visual component.

“Good boy,” is usually paired with me lowering my hands and wiggling my fingers in a scratching motion, no matter how far he is from me.

“Come here,” usually comes with snaps or claps.

So, there I was, doing all my things in silence. He didn’t seem to mind.

I’m not feeling much better and the lose of voice sucks, but I still think I’m on a slight up-hill trajectory. So I’m going to try to take a shower and go into work for a little bit.

Screwy

I will take a vacation day from work with no problem. Not even feel the least bit bad about it. Those are my days. I’ve earned them. See you when it’s over.

But man, I hate taking sick days. Even though I can’t really talk and I need a nap all the time. I still feel so guilty about not going in.

I have my story mostly done–the first draft, I mean. I just need for my protagonist to have a revelation. I need him to go from “Ha ha, suckers, I’m free!” to “Oh, shit, no, this is worse than where I was” but I haven’t yet decided what that revelation is.

I’ve been trying to put my brain on it while I’m doing other things, but my brain is all “snot, snot, snot, snot.”

For

Yesterday, I spent all afternoon holding my nephew while he slept. Well, he didn’t only sleep. He opened his eyes and looked around a little bit and he did an enormous pooping. And my mom absconded with him for a while.

But mostly he and I sat on the couch and he dozed on and off and I felt at peace.

The thing about a baby is that I want him to feel comfortable and safe and cozy. And the thing I realized is that I’m set up to make a baby feel comfortable and safe and cozy. Softness might not be coded “sexy” in our society, but children like it.

A thing that kept passing through my mind on the way home is what’s a body for? Like, in terms of our society. And the message we women get from the time we’re very little is that our bodies are for pleasing men. And this is achieved by being young and thin and every troll on the internet will insist this is because of evolutionary biology–men are looking for healthy women to reproduce with.

But if reproduction is the ultimate goal, then the female bodies most pleasing to babies, the ones that allow them to thrive, would be most highly prized.

(And let me be clear: I don’t think a body is “for” anything, except the things the person who is that body wants to use it for.)

It got me thinking that part of the role of objectifying women is to socialize men into prizing women who give the appearance of being for nothing but whatever a man decides. And part of the clusterfuck of it is that it’s not even what an individual, particular man decides, but the things that will give him the most status–so what the generic group decides.

It’s fucked up for everyone.

But anyway, it was wild to sit there and realize that my body was doing something it could do really well, something it seemed almost custom designed for. Like, for once, I felt comradery with tall people or strong people. She shall reach the things on the high shelf! He shall open all jars. I shall keep the nephews warm and cozy while they sleep.

And Rose Came to Visit!

We spent the afternoon hanging out in the hospital with the baby. I let Rose take some pictures, and it’s fun to see what a three-year-old thinks you need pictures of.

She also took one of the Butcher’s wife’s ankle which tickled me.

And here’s one I took of the baby, sucking his thumb.

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When you’re a baby these days, they make you wear mittens on your hands so you don’t scratch yourself. It also makes it harder to suck your thumb.

On his second day, he decided he didn’t like being wrapped like a burrito and he sometimes prefers to be put up on your shoulder. He was opening his eyes a little bit, but he always looked like he wasn’t sure said eye-opening was a good thing.

He both seems so impossibly tiny and like there’s something really screwy about nature’s idea that something that size should come out of your vagina.

He’s Here!

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He’s under the heat lamp here, which is why he appears to be so red and I appear to be covered in a fine layer of dirt. But in real life, he’s not part tomato. I just noticed that my toes made it in the picture, too.

He has the Butcher’s ears and he looks like my dad when he scowls. He kind of generally looks like his mom in a way that, when you see them together, they obviously fit, but is hard to articulate. So far, as far as I observed, his likes are being held–especially by his mom and dad, being wrapped up like a burrito, and putting his tongue out. His dislikes are poopy diapers and the whole process of being born.

I sang to him. That was his first song. I saw him make his first sneeze. I saw his first poop. There will just be so many firsts these coming days.

The Butcher let everyone hold him, but once the baby came back to him, he cuddled up with him and that was that. He held him for the rest of the time I was there.

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Harvey Here

I should have left work about a half an hour earlier, but I was an idiot. The drive home was brutal. Everywhere you looked was just a wall of water. It wasn’t flooding yet, but we had to crawl because you just literally couldn’t see anyone until you were within maybe twenty feet of them. Driving over the bridge, I had a tiny panic attack because you couldn’t see the other half of the bridge for all the rain. I had to fight the urge to turn around because I was convinced the rest of the bridge had washed away and people were just driving off into the river.

Luckily, thanks to the medication, it couldn’t resolve itself into a massive anxiety attack. I was able to recognize that it was not true and keep going.

I got home okay and the dog was able to get out and pee. But after that, the yard started flooding. The creek alongside the house was roaring. It was so loud I could hear it everyplace in the house. And the low spot in the yard where the creek should be also was a creek.

And before dinner, the front yard was full of water.

But even after dinner, even though it was still raining, the water in the front yard was down quite a bit. I would bet this is when Whites Creek started flooding.

And this morning, the yard is clear. I’m going to be able to get up to the hospital.

Tomorrow is D-Day!

Tomorrow, my nephew, Delano, who will have to have a nickname once he’s out in the world, will be born. I’m planning on going up and sitting in the waiting room and seeing him on his first day.

I’m so excited.

And worried, of course, but much more excited than worried.

 

Pot Stickers Unstuck

I cooked potstickers last night, successfully. I didn’t make them. I’m not that ambitious. But I cooked them and they didn’t stick to the pot.

Usually, when I make them, they do. But I finally realized that I had been taught in the wrong order. You don’t cook them in water you let boil off and then brown up the bottoms–that will indeed let them stick to the pot. You set them in the pot lightly coated with hot oil, let them brown up, and then put in a little water, which, by the same action that deglazes a pan, pops those potstickers right off the bottom of the pan.

Dad called last night for their weekly call. In it, he let slip that he was helping the Butcher financially–which is fine with me–because they always buy groceries for our other brother.

And, like, I couldn’t even be mad. I just finally realized he doesn’t care about me as much as he cares about our other brother. I don’t mean that he doesn’t care about me at all or that he dislikes me, just that there’s a level of caring and nurturing and doting on that he does for our brother that he doesn’t do for me.

And it’s fucked up and it sucks, but I need to stop believing that he cares about the three of us equally. He doesn’t and it doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Oh well.

Like, I think I have long thought that he was capable of caring about us all equally if only I knew the right combination of words and deeds to express my needs to him. But no. There’s not something more I need to do to “earn” my father caring for me in the way he cares for our brother. If he can’t do it, whatever. He can’t do it.

His loss.

I Have Become Boring

Worse, I don’t mind it. Last night, I sat around listening to podcasts and working on this blanket. Tonight I will listen to podcasts and finish it up.

I don’t even feel bad about it. I think it’s curious to see how boring I can be and still be content, but I don’t feel like it signals anything’s wrong with me.

This morning, the dog and I walked through the most beautiful fog. It was very thick and dark gray, but it left a large area of visibility in any direction. So, like, clear for fifty feet around us but then almost impenetrable beyond that. So, it had the effect of being the only real things in a bubble of unreal nothingness.

Perhaps there’s a metaphor in there for how things are now.

I have moved from not being able to imagine the grace it would take to say “I am with you in Rockland,” to understanding that I am in Rockland and not sure what can be done in here.

Do you have to know and accept your circumstances in order to provide comfort to others, or is just being there, with someone, enough?

Inception

This past week, I’ve been having really vivid dreams that seemed utterly real. I dreamed, for instance, that I was told by the editor of the Scene to come to a Scene editorial meeting in the new coffee shop downtown before I went into my actual work. When I got to the coffee shop and stood around waiting for my coffee, I realized that no one was showing up for this editorial meeting. Then I realized, I hadn’t talked to the editor in person the day before, that I had, in fact, dreamed our talk and the existence of this meeting.

I got my coffee, went to my car, headed toward work.

My alarm went off. I woke up. There is no coffee shop in the place I dreamed it was. I still felt a nagging fear I was late for work.

I’m hoping that this is just my brain slowly rewiring itself for narrative. I miss writing.

I’m getting some good afghans out of my hiatus, though, I guess.

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Texas

I keep checking up on what’s going on and then regretting it. I have the same feelings I had during Katrina, that we really are on our own. And that because of that, people are going to die.

But at least people got pissed during and after Katrina.

I’m already tired and afraid that people are just going to shift into telling us how awesome he’s doing and how everything is fine.

It’s the gaslighting and the anticipation of gaslighting that’s wearing me down.

Good luck, indeed, Houston.

Fuck.

Today I Bomb the House

I’m trying to figure out how to do all the things I need to do in the right order. I need to go mail this package that I don’t want covered in dog hair before I can put the dog in the car. I want to put the dog in the car after I’ve washed him so that he is at his most optimally flea-free. I need to make sure the cats are both outside and that they have no secret ways of getting inside. Food must be covered up.

Etc. Etc.

Things like this I wish the Butcher were around for just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything that then results in me poisoning everyone.

My chimney is officially fixed. I spent all day sitting around while they did their thing. I worked on a baby blanket.

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I like kids projects because they go so quickly. I love how this yarn is working up. I’m glad I’m giving this to an artsy person, because I’m hoping she’ love the same things about it I love, how the pattern of the square is very formal and traditional, but the colors of the yarn smear across it like a kid just learning to color. I’m still mulling over if 8×10 is the right size or if that makes it just a little unwieldy and I should go down to 7×9.

I also want to figure out how to make the interior of the square into the border…how to change the motif from something that works in the round to something that would work straight.

This week, also, I made this awesome mermaid tail for my niece!

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That’s the same self-striping yarn from Red Heart I used for the afghan I just finished, so you can see it’s pretty damn versatile.

Also, the family I made the afghan for came to get it and the child of the family said, “Wow, this is beautiful.” So that was awesome.

Bah

I haven’t written any fiction in months. I haven’t read any books that aren’t for this story in ages. I haven’t been able to figure out what fiction does for me in the current political climate, so I’ve turned away from it.

I also have some concerns that maybe the medication has dampened it somewhat.

I try to keep reminding myself that things have seasons. It’s always eventually October again. Some summers are just hotter than others.

Over the Hill

Since the weather’s been nice, we’ve walked to the school and back two days in a row. I love it because then the dog sleeps soundly instead of getting all in my business in the morning.

I swear, when it’s 60 degrees out, it’s impossible not to love Tennessee. And autumn here is my favorite.

The Butcher is going to be a dad next week. Next week! It’s wonderful.

Soft

One thing I can’t get over is how soft my new clothes are. This may be why rich people are so happy. It’s not the money itself. It’s that every time your hand brushes your thigh, whew! I mean, I could legit rent myself out to people who just want to touch soft things.

So… um… babies, mostly. And you can’t let babies carry money, because they’ll put it in their mouths. So, maybe not the brilliant idea it seemed at the beginning of this post.

But my point is that I’m enjoying the fuck out of my new clothes.

Nothing I Can Do, Total Eclipse of the Sun

You know, when you realize everyone has an outlet to write about what they saw and you’re not going to come up with anything creative, just lean into the cliche, I say.

Anyway, yesterday was the solar eclipse and it was amazing. I’m still stunned by how fast it was. It seemed like it took forever for it to get dark and for the sun to be just a sliver, but then it was completely dark and we all took our glasses off and looked up at it and it was… I don’t even know. Everyone went quiet, except for one guy who would occasionally shout things like “Look at the twilight on every horizon!” or “Look at such and such planet.” But it didn’t seem like there was enough time to look at everything.

We saw the wiggly snake shadows, but luckily, you could see them on the edges of totality. I didn’t see any crescent shadows, but I also didn’t go looking for them.

It was just so fast. Is the moon always hurling itself across the sky at that speed? Of course it must be.

The thing I most remember is how, at the totality ended, this bright sliver of sunlight shot out and we all instinctively reached for our glasses or looked away. Literally, just a tiny slice of sun hurt to look at. But it seemed like a flash. Like literally one second it was dark and the next second the flash of light and the sun was back.

You could see through the glasses that it was still, by far, mostly covered, but you couldn’t look at it with your bare eyes anymore.

It was extraordinary.