And Further

I think the thing is that I resent that I feel like a terrible person when it comes to my brother. Why can’t I just listen and be supportive and, if he needs help and I can give it, give it? People have been so kind and generous to me. Who am I to not pay it forward to my brother?

This isn’t a question you can answer. It’s not that kind of question. It’s the question that nags at me. It’s the question I have to answer, every day, in order to keep living this life. And every day, I choose being a terrible person, by my own standards, over not being.

I think it’s the right thing to do. For a lot of reasons. But mostly because I don’t think that jumping up to help my brother with every little thing is what he wants (I think), but just want I’ve been conditioned to think of as my role, and I don’t think it would help. My ideas about what would help involve me telling everyone what to do and then accompanying them everywhere they need to go in order to make sure they do it.

This is one of the stupidest things about my life–how I’m constantly teased for being “too bossy” (the sin second to fatness that makes me unlovable) when what at least half the people in this family want is a boss. Someone they can hate and resent who will make them do all the things they need to do in order to have a functioning life.

It’s a weird thing, to feel like you’re being continually asked to be the monster you’ve been shamed out of being.

But I also just feel like I don’t want to do it. I’d like to not want to do it and not feel bad about not wanting to do it. But, if I can’t get that, I’ll take just not wanting to do it.

But mainly I’d like to figure out a way in my own head to short-circuit this dynamic. Usually, stressful terrible things happen to people and you help them and things get resolved. Even if they hit a bad patch, it’s months (or a few bad years) and then shit gets together. Your help actually helps.

But I feel like, if I read back through the annals of TCP, I’d find something with my brother–something along these lines–once a month, once every other month at the most. Something happens. I get brought into it. I feel like how it’s being handled is a stressful clusterfuck, but I say nothing  and just make supportive noises because otherwise, I risk getting pulled deeper into the mess. No matter what’s going on in my life, there’s some bigger drama in his.

I’m so tired of it. And I don’t really understand how he’s not also tired of it. I don’t understand how he doesn’t take measures to save himself. Let alone his kids.

Working for What?

I keep meaning to say that I saw someone the other day comparing blogs to phonographs–this ancient technology no one but weirdos still uses–and it made me laugh. And it stuck with me. A decade I’ve been writing here (at least come this fall) and so many good things have come of it. It’s weird to think of that wonderfulness, shoot, just the opportunity for that wonderfulness fading away.

Anyway, our brother wanted me to look over his resume yesterday because he dislikes his job. And I spent much of the afternoon being irately angry at him. Like just who does he think he is that he gets to have three kids and a girlfriend who’s staying at home to take care of them and a wife who needs divorcing and he gets to decide that he’s working “too much.” Like, aren’t those the kinds of life decisions that generally result in people having to work really hard at things they don’t like in order to finance the whole thing? And, if he decides he’s going to quit this job in a pique, isn’t he basically just then relying on my parents to support his family? And you know I worry that the stress of dealing with our brother is going to kill my dad.

But then last night I was struggling with this story, my second one of the year, the second one I’ve struggled with like a motherfucker, and I wondered if it was too hard for no payoff. And it gave me some sympathy for our brother.

I read a post yesterday (man, I guess I should have emailed all these things to myself so that I can link to them, but it’s a guy whose being published by Angry Robot) and he was talking about the number of novels that (Oh, here it is!) he’s written that sucked and how his short stories sucked until he went to Clarion and so one and then he got good and now he has a publisher. And he says,

I’d been struggling to get a novel published for twenty-four years now, clawing at the walls of the Word Mines, and I had no hope of anything but oh God I couldn’t stop and I realized that I wasn’t going to stop, that the breath in my body would run out before I stopped writing tales and who the hell cared if I got published or not I was locked in.  I had to create.  I had to.

And boy do I know that feeling! But I also know our brother’s feeling–of doing something and being okay at it and just not seeing how it’s going to go anywhere. Or, in my own situation, frankly, not being sure what “anywhere” looks like.

I’m very lucky. I realize that. But I want to be good. No, I want to be great. And I don’t know how to be.

Ha ha ha ha ha. Lord, I’m sure you were like “Oh, Betsy has a new job she really likes. I’m sure her days of fretting and longing are over.” Wrong, buckoos. Fretting and longing are my default settings.

Worlds apart

I talked to my second-oldest friend in the world on Saturday. The only person I’m not related to I’ve known longer is his brother. When we were little, I kind of just assumed I would eventually marry him. I also assumed I was going to marry my cousin J., so all that nonsense I said last week about not giving a shit about polygamy? Well, little B. was counting on it.

Anyway, it was really nice to talk to him.

It’s hard not to get down about the world, sometimes. I mean, take what happened yesterday. That’s the world I want to live in–where a Methodist grandpa takes his grandson to the Jewish community center because it’s a community center where things people in the community are interested in happen. I want to live in a world where Jewish people have no reason to fear letting non-Jewish people into their buildings. I want to live in a world where Christians don’t feel threatened or uncomfortable going to the Jewish community center.

But I live in a world where people just trying to live in the world I want to live in pay with their lives.

But what can you do in the face of fuckers except persevere for as long as you can? It aggravates me when people are like “Just love each other” or “just be kind.” But I recognize that there’s a nugget of something radical there.

 

Not a Cover Song

So, hey, listen, I’m going to talk about the Hozier song “Take Me to Church” and I’m including the video because I’m assuming not all of us have heard it. But the video is really affecting. Like you’re going to watch it and then you’re not going to feel like talking about what I want to talk about. You may want to cry. So, fair warning.

Anyway, so Lightning 100 has been playing this song:

And I have been insisting to the Butcher that it’s a cover of a Rihanna song. He insists I’m nuts. So, today at lunch I found the Rihanna song and they aren’t the same song, at all.

But, my people, they are the same song. You’ll probably be asked to sit through a commercial on the Rihanna one, but as soon as it finishes, hit play on the Hozier song. Just let them play together. See if I’m not right.

More Pee

I can’t even be mad. But there, on the couch, right where Sadie peed, was pee this morning. Not a lot, which somehow made it sadder for me. Like he knew peeing on the couch was weird, but here was this smell and he just had to do what he had to do.

I sometimes feel like I’m living with… not a ghost, exactly, but a haunting absence. Something about the ongoing lack of Sadie haunts me. But for him, there are all these smells (that we thought we got rid of, but apparently not) of a dog he’s never seen. For him, it must really sometimes feel like he’s just waiting in someone else’s house for her to get back.

Things I Like

1. Cuddling with the dog.

2. My new job. Yesterday, I was all “All I have to do today are these two spreadsheets” but then I had to solve a problem for the MTSU bookstore and figure out if we had enough books for a big order, which we did, but then we had to reprint and I got to weigh in on how many we should reprint. And so my whole day just filled right up. Today I’m hoping that a book hits the warehouse so I can do all the things I need to do when that happens. And I’m going to try to get a letter out.

3. I started the short story I need to start.

4. When the cats want to come inside, they knock on the window. It never fails to amuse me.

5. I had a dream that I took the orange cat to visit K. at the Blair School of Music and he used the bathroom. Like went into the men’s room and just peed in the toilet. And in my dream, I was all like “Of course, my cat pees in the toilet. He’s civilized.” But in real life I can’t believe dream me wasn’t shocked!

6. Walking right at dawn.

7. This piece from the Scene. It references my Think Progress piece, but is so much better.

8. Why shouldn’t a man who’s friends with men pretending to be rednecks pretend to be a Christian while he’s fucking another man’s wife? The best line:

“I know his beliefs. When he ran one of his commercials, he said ‘I need your prayers,’ and I asked, ‘When did you get religious?’ He said, ‘When I needed votes,’” Heath Peacock told CNN. “He broke out the religious card and he’s about the most non-religious person I know.”

Welp

I’ve become kind of boring to myself. The blog has become kind of boring. The dog was peeing in the corner of my room, where Sadie peed when she was sick. So, Murphy’s Oil is not the cure-all I had previously thought. My story got rejected again. It’s hard to know about some rejections. There’s the kind of rejection that makes you feel like a story just doesn’t have it and you can’t see it. And then there’s the kind of story where everyone seems to like it almost well enough. And you wonder, or I do anyway, do you keep tinkering? Or since they all put their fingers on different things they think the problem is, do you keep searching for someone who will like it?

I don’t know. I’ll probably keep sending it out, I guess.

I have promised yet another story to a person to do some free crap with it. The march story, which I just have to hunker down and write.

I really hope I’ve got the dog situation resolved. He pees a lot in one squat. I mean, it’s impressive how much he pees. So, yeah, I really don’t need him doing that in the house.

Polygamous Marriage

I wrote a post at Pith on our curtailed second amendment rights here in Tennessee. No, really.

Sadly, there was already a comment there by the time I got around to reading the post when it went live, so I had to see it. But I just want to say this. 1. It’s really fucked up to argue that you have to keep oppressing gay people or the polygamists are going to get out of line. So, I should be able to kick all my commenters to keep anyone who might be thinking about commenting in line? 2. I just could not give a shit less about polygamy among consenting adults as long as women are free to marry as many people at the same time as men are. I do not want to be and cannot foresee a time when I will want to be in a polygamous relationship. But I have now lived in this world four decades and I have seen a lot of people make for themselves defacto polygamous relationships and a lot of people in unwitting defacto polygamous relationships. I’m not frightened by or uncomfortable about the ones where everyone’s consenting and happy together coming into the legal light. And I’m for sure not bothered by the long-term mistress being able to have some legal protections.

I don’t foresee becoming some great champion of polygamous marriage, but I’m not opposed to it. It’s not some effective boogeyman to convince me that we can’t have gay marriage.

Repetition

On the way home last night I heard a story on NPR about how pleasing we find repetition in music and how said repetition lets us shift our perceptions. I have this theory that, whatever your brain is able to do on drugs, you should be able to train your brain to do without drugs. Call it a mystical experience instead of a trip, but the same thing.

But it also makes me wonder if this is why I love routine so much. If everything just goes how it’s supposed to go, then I can let go of the part of me that frets over that shit and shift my perception to other things.

Rebellion in the Wet Grass

Today when I walked the dog, I actually had a dog to walk, because someone, and I’m not naming names, but it was totally the Butcher, stayed up to watch basketball, so he didn’t get up to take the dogs to the park. And our walk was lovely. And at about the 3/4 mark, the dog pitched himself into the grass face-first in order to protest the head harness–as one does–and I shouted, “Oh, so it’s a rebellion in the wet grass, is it?!” and then I said, “that should be the name of your first bluegrass album” and he got up and trotted along side me. “Can you learn how to play the banjo?” I asked and he looked up at me like “Eh, we’ll see.”

I had a really interesting day at work yesterday. All of my days are interesting so far, but I was saying–when I was at my meeting at the Frist!!!!! (which, holy shit! gets you free motherfucking parking at the Frist!!!!)–that this first week has felt like watching a montage of interesting things fly by so quickly I can barely pay attention to it. But I’m starting to feel like I have my feet beneath me.

I’m having a little trouble believing this is my life.

In Which I Startle New Kitty’s Acquaintance

There I was, talking on the phone to the Professor in the garage, with the door to the outside world cracked a tiny bit so that I could watch the bird (we seem to have a baseball team’s worth of cardinals this year), when new kitty came hollering in the garage from said outside. Mrrrrrrroooowororowoowroroowechech. And hot on her tail was a black cat. He came into the garage. I stood up. He looked at me like “What the fuck is this thing?” and then he hightailed it back out of the garage.  He then tried to play it cool, skulking off like it was no big deal that he’d just encountered the new kitty’s ape. But I could tell he was shaken.

He was beautiful, though. I didn’t see any white on him–just solid back. And big. But his tail looked as wide as a raccoon’s, which is how I knew I’d scared the shit out of him.

Tired, Tired

I am just existentially exhausted. But the dog and I did go for a walk and it was nice. Like we’re finally finding our rhythm and enjoying spending time together. Like we’re walking together.

But, I tell you, still, I was telling someone about something that happened one morning last week and I said, “When I was walking the dog” and then I caught myself and said “She’s dead. I don’t walk her. The current dog goes to the park in the morning. I walk myself.”

And then I was sad.

My Demonbreun Talk

Well, the talk was to the Demonbreun Society, but about Joseph. They had this big room up on the 5th floor at the TSLA (which, let me just say, has a bathroom that is so perfectly 50s office building that it about hurt my heart) and there was barbecue and then I told them all the stuff I knew about Joseph and all of the stuff (mostly from the Provine papers) I had come to doubt about Joseph. And I told them of my growing suspicion that we were going to find that Joseph had some family tie to Timothy and that’s why he was willing to take on Timothy’s family for him.

So, here’s the awesome part. I got to speak with a couple of Durards, who are cousins. Who I’m going to leave nameless because I didn’t ask them if I could write about them. But the one’s dad is Joseph Durard, from a long line (except for one man) of Joseph Durards. They’re just not clear if they’re the grandchildren of the Joseph Durard whose father was Joseph Durard (whose parents were Joseph and Elizabeth) or if they’re the grandchildren of the Joseph Durard whose father was Timothy Durard (whose parents were Joseph and Elizabeth). But that’s not even the cool part.

The cool part is that the guy grew up like four houses down from this house! He knew my house. He knew the creek and the woman who lived here. He’s been to the Durard cemetery in Durard Holler and been denied entry by the property owner and those are his people in there. The Durards in the Methodist church on Brick Church Pike are his and the ones in the Methodist church cemetery on Old Clarksville Pike are his people. I said, “So, it’s your people I’ve been visiting!” I felt like I was meeting a neighbor.

And he knows where the big cemetery on Lickton is, which I have long wondered about.

And his hands were dirty in that way people who work on vehicles get dirty, with the grease all in the cuticles, no matter how hard you scrub. And it just made me happy because dude was so fucking brilliant. And it reminded me of the kinds of men I grew up around. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. But yeah.

And I met a woman who knew the Butcher. People, I repeat. I was at a meeting of the Demonbreun Society. And a woman there knew the Butcher.

Is there anyone in this town he doesn’t know?

And then I got lost in the bowels of the TSLA, and had to call for help. Which was not my proudest moment, in some ways, but in other ways, what?! It’s so fucking great.

Demonbreun Society

Today is the day I’m going to talk to the Demonbreun Society. My talk is unofficially titled “All the things I don’t know about Joseph Deraque and how I came not to know them.” I mean, a big problem for the study of our Joseph Deraque is that Durocher was a really common name along the Mississippi river and Joseph is a pretty damn common first name for a Catholic dude. So, it’s just not that easy to say “Oh, the Jauseph Duroche at Vincennes must have been our Joseph.” Well, not if the Mississippi Durochers had some sons named Joseph.

Or take the problem of Granny Rat’s Tavern. I’m not saying there’s not a deed to that land in a name that would indicate she was the proprietor. I’m just saying I didn’t find it. And we have a pretty good history of who all was trying to sell it starting about 1816 through about 1835, and those names are never her or people we normally associate with her. So, if she and Joseph were involved, it had to be between 1793–when she became “‘Rat” and 1816– and whose granny would she have been in that time period? Assuming the 1786 birth date is good for William, possibly his children, but his wives were all born (as far as I can tell, between 1800 and 1816) which just doesn’t give us any time for them to be having kids who could have called that tavern Granny Rat’s tavern before we start to know who owns it.

Or it could be that Granny Rat ran the tavern after 1835, but now, if we believe her birth date, we’re talking about her running a tavern in her 90s.

And to add intrigue, there was another Elizabeth Bennett, running around having illegitimate children with men in the same families that our Elizabeth’s kids married into. She lived in Robertson County for a while. And there’s at least some suggestion that one of her children may have lived with our Elizabeth for a while. This does not appear to be Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth Durard, using her mom’s maiden name. I think this is a niece.

And I remain of the opinion that we’re going to find Joseph in Timothy’s family tree.

Anyway, I’m excited. I should get in the shower.

Things and Things and Things and Things

I am just about settled in my new office. The Butcher is back at work. I don’t understand but whatever. Fucking Aetna doesn’t cover my gynecologist, but I found out what an office visit will run me and I’m still going.

Which, lord, is just what it means to finally have a little money. It’s so bizarre. I don’t know how to explain it. But if I had called to make the appointment last week and she told me they don’t take my insurance (or rather, they tried to get on with Aetna, but Aetna wouldn’t take then), I would be shopping around for a new doctor, even though I really like her and she and her partner correctly diagnosed my PCOS and ended a lot of ongoing nonsense. Why would I leave a doctor like that?

But this week? I thought, “What’s the point in having a little money if I don’t use it?”

Of course, making that your mantra over all leads to not having any money. But if I’m going to indulge myself in some way, sticking with a doctor I like (because, please, let’s be honest, the next time my workplace changes insurers, she could be back in) seems like a good way.

This is How It Happens

I’ve been thinking about that Aquinas nun running all over telling kids that masturbation makes you gay. It’s more than that. Apparently distant, unloving fathers and being molested also make you gay. Being gay might doom you to having hundreds of sexual partners. And on and on. Aquinas is defending her. She’s apparently out there showing God’s love.

Because, these days, they don’t hate you because you’re gay. They feel so very sorry for you because you’re gay because it means something bad has happened to you and you don’t have the necessary coping skills to do anything other than sin in response.

I spent much of the evening rolling my eyes. That an organization that sat back for decades while priests raped children is now going to turn around and lecture kids about proper sexuality? Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

But it’s interesting, isn’t it? Let me back up and say that the Butcher watches a hell of a lot of The Young Turks and I often play video games while they’re nattering on. So, I half listened and then became transfixed by the end of this piece:

I’ve read my fair share of the Los Angeles files–the ones that are available pertaining to Tennessee–and I can attest that what Jimmy Dore is talking about here is pretty typical. Folks often know something is the fuck wrong. They act all surprised and outraged later, but they know something is wrong all the while and they blame the victims for forcing them to feel uncomfortable feelings. Dore’s biting observation that the priest just disappears and that everyone is encouraged to pray for him, like his is the most difficult journey being taken in the congregation is pretty much how it works. The suffering of the children is rarely reckoned with. And the safety of children wherever the priest might next land is just not considered.

And child-molesting and homosexuality are, of course, conflated in ways that totally are awesome for the hidden child molester–after all if child-molesting is the provenance of gay men and gay men are easily distinguishable from straight men through all these stereotypes we have about their behavior and looks, then you have no reason to worry about any priest that doesn’t hit those gay stereotypes.

But what we’re seeing is that, here, even the rear-guard can’t make the “gay people molest children” argument anymore. Now gay people are the victims of child molesters. So, now, finally, in a twisted way, the consideration for suffering is now extended to victims of child molestation. And gay people. Who are the same or something.

But I also want to point out that this is more of that “I can bring apocalypse” thinking. And let me be clear, I am not saying that people who feel like being molested ruined them in some way are wrong for thinking so. What I firmly stand for is your right to understand your own experience in your own terms. And I stand in hope of you not believing that is the only truth of your life. But the perpetrators of evil and the bystanders don’t get to rest assured (either in satisfaction or in guilt) that they have witnessed someone’s total ruination. They don’t get to point and say “Oh, you’re gay. That means someone broke you.”

To me, it’s just the flip side of what Jimmy Dore experienced–either victims are just treated like nothing happened or they’re now treated like something happened so devastating that they’re ruined for life. Either way, the starkness of those choices lets people off the hook. The problem is too small/too large for anything to be done about it.

They still get to use their homophobia as a shield to keep from seeing what’s going on in their midst.

8:30-5:45

That was my sleep. Solid. I don’t think I moved, just based on my arm being asleep beneath me. I walked. I had a banana with breakfast. I am now ready for my meetings and the rest of the office move.

I feel a million times better, though. I’d been sleeping like shit.

And my walk was productive. You know I’m mulling over a story involving a 5/4 march and, as I was walking, I was able to start to piece a lot more of it together. And that made me happy.

New Desk, New Office

new desk

The art on the corkboard is not mine, yet. The posters hanging up are not mine, yet. And there’s some kind of optical illusion at my desk that makes everything seem to be slightly listing right. But I’m in my new office, at least partially.

Oh, Right, Project X

Now is not the time for me to be dealing with Project X stuff. I am feeling way too stressed about all the things out of my control and all the things that could, at any moment, be going wrong without me knowing it. My desire for a complete check-list of things to do and a pencil with which to mark those things off is overwhelming. And since I can obviously get a pencil no problem, it’s the stress of not knowing if my to-do list is complete that is killing me.

That and the Butcher is, yet again, not working because the place he worked for a month never bothered to pay him and finally he just stopped believing them when they were like “The check’s in the mail.”

And taxes are due.

And I have to get this Easter shit straightened out.

Oh, god, so yes, Project X. When I’m feeling well the whole “let’s collaborate like collaboration is just people doing what feels good when they have time until it works” is fine. But, again, I want a to-do list with clear expectations and information I can communicate to the people I need to communicate with.

And so on Sunday, I had to go over to the house of a person I don’t know based solely on assurances that he’s a good dude and climb into his attic studio to record voice-over for the crowd-funding campaign. I thought, since I didn’t know what we were supposed to be doing, he surely would have been told. And he thought, since he didn’t know what we were supposed to be doing, I surely would have been told. And, you know, fortunately he wasn’t a rapist killer, but when we called to even find out if what we’d done was what was wanted? “Whatever you think works.”

I have no thoughts about what I think works. I think having a job where they goddamn pay you when they say they’re going to pay you works. I think listening to your daughter when she says she’s incredibly stressed works. I think knowing what the fuck you’re doing works. I think covering your brother’s bills and share of the groceries because he’ll be able to pay you back when the check comes works. What ever the fuck I think works is not actually how the world works.

But anyway, there’s a certain pleasure in standing in front of a good mic. And that part was really nice. Then to hear my voice fill the whole studio… It was a treat. I have a weird accent, though, I’ve decided. Something about how the Midwest and South are crossing streams in my voice, I’m ending up with something that is neither.

I honestly have no idea how this month is going to work out, on so many levels.

My co-worker keeps sending me this YouTube video, though, so I’m putting my faith in cheesy country music: