Sunday Funday

Went and had lunch with the Butcher’s family. My nephew can clap now. He’s not great at it, but he will be. He can also stand. He doesn’t know that yet, but as long as your hands are touching him, he can balance himself on his feet just fine.

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I’m slowly putting this afghan together, too.

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And the cat has a bump on her nose and she wants to be near me but she won’t let me get a good look at it. It looks like she may have scratched herself, but of course I’m worried it’s cancer or leprosy. But it does raise the question: can a cat give herself cat-scratch fever?

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This is Us

This country was founded on white people deciding that getting along with each other was more important than addressing the suffering of non-white people.

We don’t get to say, “This is not America.” It absolutely is.

But we are also a country founded on the premise that we can fix shit later. That’s the whole point of being able to amend the Constitution, of being able to pass new laws and repeal old ones, of having judges look over shit to see if it’s right.

Maybe I’m corny, but I believe we can become a more perfect union.

But we sure as fuck cannot get there by doing the same old “oh, let’s just be nice to the jerks so we don’t alienate them” bullshit we’ve been doing since 1776. We white Americans have to stop prioritizing getting along with white people we disagree with over ending the suffering of non-white people.

Tired

A thing I find most stressful about the current situation is that it requires thoughtful responses almost all the time and yet, I’m so stressed and scared that I’m worried I’m not thinking of something.

I guess how I would describe things is some folks think we’re in The Tempest, and I knew we weren’t, but I thought we were in King Lear, but really, all this time, it’s been Macbeth.

Thought I also kind of feel like I’ve been through the stages of being a woman in each of those plays? Anyway, if I get through this in one sane piece, I might get myself a cauldron, just as a joke.

Being the Person You Wish You Had

When I was younger, I always wanted to know someone who read tarot cards. Eventually, I taught myself, because no one came along.

Right now, I’m having to be the honest, compassionate, strong, certain but not too certain, leader I wish I had. It’s very stressful. And I am afraid all the time that I’m fucking up and that it’s going to cost the people who are putting their trust in me.

But there isn’t anyone else to do it.

Dog v. Baby

My smallest nephew–a baby–and my smallest niece–four years old (which, she informs me, is “not a big girl yet.”) came over yesterday.

Whew, my niece hates the dog. She was in hysterical tears about him and no matter how much we reassured her, she cried the whole time she was in the house.

Fortunately, I have a big outside she can play in.

All the crying got the dog worked up and upset though, so he was shedding and panting and just… I don’t think Sonnyboy has ever met anyone terrified of him before. He didn’t know what to do.

The baby, on the other hand, thought the dog was great. He rubbed his feet all over the dog. He put his foot in the dog’s ear. He put his foot in the dog’s eye. He put his foot in the dog’s mouth. He tried to put the dog’s nose in his mouth. I tried to make the dog understand that he could go anywhere else in the house, but he seemed to love it.

Ha ha ha. Lord. In real life, don’t let your baby put his foot in a dog’s mouth. Even writing it, it seems very stupid. But it’s not like it was some kind of “put your head in the lion’s mouth” trick. The baby was sitting on my lap, kicking around, and the dog came over and seemed not to notice the barrage of baby feet. Or seemed to enjoy it.

But then! Then he snuck out and took off and I finally found him four doors down, attempting to enter the home of three girls and their mom.

Like he’d had his fill of my family and was ready to try out a family with less kicking and crying.

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Agnostic

I made the pleasant mistake of listening to an interview with this professor at UC Irvine who has a theory that none of what we see/hear/feel is real, that we’ve all been bred over millions of years to filter an almost incomprehensibly complex reality down to the things we need to know in order to survive.

Part of his work is with synesthesia and his theory is that the phenomenon may be a different set of filters, not some kind of weird brain wiring. Or different sets of filters, I guess, depending on the type of synesthesia one has.

I keep thinking about this and the other podcast I listened to about the other professor who investigates paranormal claims and who starts from an assumption that people usually are describing something that happened to them, even if their interpretation of what happened is incorrect. He’s the guy who showed that the Kelly alien encounter was likely owls.

I guess the thing I find troubling and yet engaging is the thought that all life is like the Kelly encounter. Continually, something is happening to us, we’re giving it our best guess as to what it is, but we could be very, very wrong.

And I find myself feeling out of patience for people who dismiss paranormal claims now, because that first professor has made me feel like we don’t really understand shit about the world as it actually is.

Which is not to say that I’m now firmly in the camp that believes in ghosts (though ask me again after the sun goes down). But clearly people are having experiences and have had experiences throughout the ages. Their explanations and understandings of those experiences may be wrong. It may not be ghosts. There may be something else at play. Many times those things may be utterly ordinary (a cat! a psychological mechanism we don’t get! etc.). And sometimes we may not have a clear enough view of how reality actually works to know what’s really happening.

I don’t know. Regardless of the filtering we’re born with, it’s important to find predictive frameworks that work and don’t crush you in never-ending-depression. I mean, “people are shit and will eventually disappoint you” is a predictive framework that works. It will also give you a miserable life.

But I do think that realizing that we literally can’t perceive reality as it is, and are looking at the world through a very limited filter, makes me less patient with absolutes.

How can we ever say, with certainty, “this is” or “this isn’t”?

Doing the Strange, Hard Things

There’s so much going on that I wish I could write about, hell, wish I could even talk about, but it’s very draining and I need to be able to talk about it in depth a couple of times today. I’m just so mad and scared, though. And I need to be able to make wise decisions in ways that I have heretofore never done before. A thing needs to be done. I don’t know what I’m doing. But I must do the thing anyway.

JESUS, CRAWDAD, DEATH is still happening. It was delayed, but it seems to be back on track. I saw some potential covers and one is just so brilliant. They’re all great, but one is stunningly beautiful and hilarious. I hope that’s what we end up with.

The Butcher and his family came by last night. It always delights me to see the nephew and both times he’s been to my house he seems so delighted and surprised to see me.

He called the dog “Bah” which is what he calls the cat at home. The orange cat’s name, if you didn’t know, is “Hobbes,” which has me convinced that the littlest nephew has made the connection that that sounds means that thing, which is awesome and smart, but also I think he’s extrapolated that “Bah” refers to a furry thing, so there’s another furry thing, it must be “Bah.”

That, to me, feels like a big cognitive jump. Categorizing.

It’s funny and weird to think that he may have the ability to compare and sort things, to understand his world to that extent, before he can speak.

Being a baby must be so frustrating and weird.

And Anthony Bourdain… man. I don’t have anything intelligent to say. Just that once I read an article about David Foster Wallace and about how terrified he was that not only wasn’t he going to get better, but that he was going to ruin the lives of the people around him, slowly dragging them down with him. The implication being that, in Depression’s twisted way, he thought he was doing the loving thing by making it quick and getting it over with. Harm reduction.

And that really clarified things for me. How people who are so loved and, in some cases (though not DFW’s, at least not completely) so very deeply loving, could still take this course of action.

Sacrifice yourself so your loved ones can be safe (from you).

I think, sometimes, it’s unhelpful to completely get rid of one model of understanding mental health for another. I don’t have a better answer. Both together won’t work.

But as much as I know mental illness is an illness, and one that medical science is figuring out how to treat, as much as I myself have benefited from advances in medical science and would not have benefited from an exorcism–stay with me here–I wonder if the useful thing about the demonic model of mental illness was that it gave a clear metaphor for why you would do things you wouldn’t normally do, believe things that everyone else can see aren’t true, and why you’d resist getting help when it’s so clear you need it.

Because there is a way in which mental illness feels like a competing foreign entity with its own goals and agenda.

And I wonder if it’s easier to get help if you think something that is not you has come for you.

Instead of feeling, however accurately or not, that this is something you’re doing to yourself and therefore, further proof that you’re fucked up and you suck.

Hattie Cotton, cont.

I got the FBI file on the Hattie Cotton bombing from the National Archives yesterday. I’ve only read through it once, so there may be some things I’m missing, but dang.

My whole part of the book on Hattie Cotton is wrong. The guys the Nashville police arrested were not involved and they knew they weren’t involved and they beat a confession out of them anyway.

Someone, still redacted, was running around town bragging about doing it.

And a Chattanooga Klansman called in a bomb threat to another school.

I want to say more about it, but even just trying to type this has involved me staring off into space repeatedly just being baffled at what everyone who was ostensibly trying to solve this case was actually doing and what, exactly, they thought their jobs were.

Racist

I got called a racist this weekend and, you know, as much as it stings, I think the guy is right. And also an asshole, but right.

Writing for Pith requires–at least from me–a certain amount of bravado. Sometimes I come down on the wrong side of the asshole line.

I don’t think there’s anything for me to do except acknowledge it and move on. But I have been struck by the people who want me to fight him, to comb through his social media and ruin his life, to make him sorry.

Like, first of all, I am a person and he is a person and we’re not going to fight for your entertainment. But secondly, you know what feels really racist to me? Going nuclear on a guy who was right because he dared piss me off.

Like, I’m trying to be a good person out here. I fail and fuck up sometimes. Why are folks hell-bent on tempting me into being worse? It’s really insidious.

Anyway, I also spent some time getting far enough on the afghan that I could do some doodad samples to see if I like the look.

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I love the doodads! Also, I love how the green works in this afghan, just a tiny hint under the raspberry. Anyway, in real life, I’m just starting the green round on the motifs, but I had to work ahead to see if I was going to be happy with it.

I especially love how the raspberry and the yellow go together, though I’m not sure why. There must be some color theory to explain it, but I don’t know it.

Victory is Mine!

The dog and I walked to the school and back and he’s so worn out he has let the Roomba hit him twice.

I’m just about ready to start the green round on these motifs and I just can’t wait.

And I have a couple of good people to talk to about Chattanooga, so I’m feeling less overwhelmed.

Fuuuuuhhhhhhhhuuuuuck

School bombing. Integrated religious recreational facility bombing. Lawyer on school integration’s house bombed. Ties to the Dixie Knights.

Nashville? No. Well, yes but that’s not what’s making me both excited and chagrined.

Chattanooga.

I don’t know shit. I do not know enough to write this book. I’m majorly panicking about it.

And no motherfucker has ever written anything about the Chattanooga bombings either!

Unwise

It’s weird, but I spent yesterday feeling really compelled to spend a lot of money. I must buy a car! I must buy some fine art! I must get a whole new dining room and living room! I must get another dog!

I don’t need to do any of those things. So, I’m assuming it’s just anxiety, trying to find some new way of expressing itself.

But it’s a really, really strong urge.

I also feel like I’m boring lately. I can’t decide if that concerns me or not, though.

That Afternoon

I have an official offer on the bombing book! And I got surprise art in the mail!

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And the yarn I need for my cousin’s afghan and to make Venus of Willendorf came in.

And yet, even after all that, I’m not sure fucking up my meds and getting stepped on by the dog was something I’d be willing to do again in order to have another afternoon like that.

Anyway, the book deal is still kind of a secret, but I think my readership here has dwindled down to people I’d tell a secret to anyway, so there you go.

This Morning

I’ve only been awake an hour and the cat swatted the dog who then stepped on my foot, which caused me to yell at everyone and refuse to give anyone morning pets. We got rained on on our walk. And I forgot to take my medicine last night.

Which… may explain why my morning went how it did.

I’m very frustrated with the FBI. The John Kasper files I got off of archives.org are much, much larger than the files the FBI sent me. The amount of stuff that’s missing is infuriating. A DC couple’s visit with Kasper in which Kasper brags about his violent friends? Gone. Most of the Hattie Cotton material? Gone. Stuff I care much less about, like all the women who were coming to visit him when he was living on Brushy Hill Road? Also gone.

When I realized that, I basically shoved them into a file on my computer and relied on the archives.org files. But last night, I was thinking, maybe the FBI files contain some unredacted names that I might need, so I decided I should browse through them.

And I came across a thing I hadn’t seen before. Either I missed it in the archives.org version or it’s not in there, but it confirms my belief that one person was working with the FBI and that the FBI kept back vital information from the Nashville police.

So, hey, that’s nice to have.

Field Day!

For the first time, I got invited to Field Day for the Scene. I felt like an awkward doofus the whole time, but I also had a blast. And I got bit by so many flies. Yuck.

It was fun to see folks in that context, though. Like Erica is delightfully inclusive. Everyone get out there. Everyone cheer. Everyone have a good time.

And Patrick did a one-person double-play! He caught the ball (batter out) and then stepped on second (runner out). Which I guess happens all the time in professional baseball, but it was fun to see in wiffle ball.

Fort Houston beat us, though, and by the end of the day, I was so tired of their coolness–their friendly attitudes, their awesome shirts, their supportive cheering of children, their cute dogs–that I finally shouted, “You’re not even a fort” after they did one of their cool cheers.

So, you known, not my proudest moment.

The Looby Bombing, cont.

I went back out again to look at the location of the Looby bombing. It wasn’t very helpful other than in making me feel like I need to have printed out pictures from the era to take with me.

Every time I go there, I feel like I’m seeing something important, but I just don’t have the skills or the context to understand or even recognize what the important thing is.

Like something is staring me straight in the face, but I don’t know enough to see it.

It’s Done!

I finished the afghan. I’m very, very pleased with how it turned out.

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This morning, the dog and I met a very elderly neighbor and, you guys, the dog was so gentle with him. He went up politely and sniffed the guy, but did not jump. I was just so proud of him.

I have some addresses of the families of some people from my book. I’m trying to decide how to contact them in a way that’s safe for me and yet not off-putting to them.

I remain confused by the lack of curiosity among local journalists as to who did this. I had thought it was because they knew and just, for whatever reason, couldn’t report it.  But that really doesn’t seem to be the case.

Another weird thing about the Looby bombing I just noticed recently, because of the new historical marker, is that the offices for the sit-in movement were right behind Looby’s house.

This still says to me that the fact that they didn’t use the alley or plant the bomb behind Looby’s house matters. If they had known the area, they would have had to think behind the house was a better spot.

Rest

I’ve been trying to let the bombing story rest for a bit. I sent it off to the editor. I’m contemplating the safest way to contact some of the people I feel like I need to try to contact. But I’m also trying to leave it be for a little bit, so I can come back and see with fresh eyes what it needs.

I am also almost done with a couple of massive, massive things at work.

And I finished the afghan.

I’ve started the peacock afghan. 112 motifs. Hopefully they’ll go fairly quickly. Though I’m still debating whether I should run the motifs on the diagonal instead of up and down. And, also, how to handle the doodads, which would work for up and down, but I’m not sure how they’d work on the diagonal.

Ooo, This Afghan

Okay, so I tried to get a picture of the whole front done, but the cat was having none of it.

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Still, except for a few ends to tuck, it’s done! I think the key for doing an afghan like this in the future would be to figure out how to do it join-as-you-go, because really, the most odious part is all the joining of the small pieces. Anyway, I plan on a loose blocking this weekend.

And you guys! Look at how it looks backlit!

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It’s so beautiful! I can’t even stand it.

Margo Price

Last night, the Butcher and Monty’s grown woman friend took me to the Ryman to see Margo Price. It was wonderful. She sang a song in which she called John Lennon a feminist and an asshole, and she mourned him. She did Proud Mary with a gospel choir. She played drums. She played piano. She smashed a guitar. The lighting was fantastic.

I kept thinking, too, that part of what makes her show so amazing is that she does really belt out songs. It’s like Brittany Howard or Tina Turner or Janice Joplin–let’s take this voice out for a ride and see what she can really do. It’s so much fun to listen to her and watch.

The other thing I really liked about it was that her stage presence isn’t Sexy. Which isn’t to say that she’s not pretty or anything. Of course she is. But her stage presence isn’t “don’t look at me,” but it’s also not “don’t you want to fuck me?” It’s more like the joy of watching an athlete do something well she’s trained for for years.

I kept thinking that her stage presence reminded me a lot of Barbara Mandrell, though I’m not sure how much of my memories of Barbara Mandrell’s shows are real and what’s been warped by time.

And Jack White was her special guest and his hair looked fantastic!

It made me want Jack White to do a whole duets album with women he knows.

Girlfriend

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I was stalked when I was younger. I tried to get help, but “he said I was his girlfriend.” Apparently, back then, you could do whatever the fuck you wanted to someone if you declared her your girlfriend.

I try to leave that in the past, but things aren’t that different now and it comes back up.

I think of that poor dead girl in Texas, who got described as that asshole’s “ex-girlfriend” until her mom yelled loud enough that he was never her boyfriend.

It’s my birthday on Tuesday. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, about myself.

We like to think that kids are resilient, that they can bounce back from whatever happens to them. But that really is such bullshit. That poor girl isn’t going to bounce back.

I don’t think I’ve bounced back. Not really. And it wasn’t so much the being stalked thing. It was the discovery that no one in a position of authority would help me. That they, in fact, blamed me.

No, that’s not quite true. That’s not what broke me. It was discovering that people who loved me blamed me and would not help me. And that they would continually put me in situations they had to know were dangerous, because it was easier than standing up to their peers.

Sometimes I just feel so broken.

And a thing that has helped me get through life is the belief that things are better, that this kind of shit doesn’t happen anymore, because at least now people know that girls aren’t responsible for boys’ actions.

But instead, we’re having sincere conversations as a society about whether we can appease these assholes by forcing women to love them. The “give me a woman to abuse or I’ll hurt or kill a bunch of people” gambit is paying off. We are considering sacrificing girls to these assholes.

You can dress it up as much as you want in the Beauty and the Beast myth. You can try to argue that women just have some inherent “something” that enables us, if we try hard enough, to change men. You can say that makes us special.

But no one willingly gives up something they value. We’re expendable. We’re trash.

And yet, even knowing that’s what society thinks of us, we have to go out and be people in it. Frankly, I’m not very good at that.

Butt Stuff

I have diagnosed the dog with a condition I think of as “tender butt.” It’s like when someone goes to brush your hair or put your hair in pig tails and it’s just excruciating, but only located on his back half.

Which means he will let you brush the shit out of the front of his body, happily. But please don’t brush his back end. Or touch it or look at it too interestedly.

And which means that, during his spring blow-out, he looks particularly silly.

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This morning, he did let me gently rub his butt, which did result in a lot of fur coming off, but I think I could have gotten three times as much with a brush.

Also, all week, I’ve been waking up at 5:20. I’ve been able to get back to sleep, but it was freaking me out a little bit. Why that time? This morning I noticed that the last time my email had been checked on my phone was 5:19. So, I think my phone must ding, which wakes me up.

And apparently someone has audio of Jason Statham calling a dude a fucking faggot, though he apologized and said he didn’t remember saying it and… I don’t know. Can’t we just have one nice thing in this world?

Bah

I’m just so grouchy. I know part of it is PMS and part of it is work and part of it is just living in this country right now and feeling helpless to change things.

Twice this week I’ve found dead snakes on our walk. That also makes me mad. There’s just no need to kill a snake on neutral ground. I mean, I’d argue there’s no reason to kill a snake, period, but I accept people have different opinions when feeling trapped by one.

But if you have room to avoid it and it has room to avoid you, don’t fucking kill snakes.