Same Old

Yesterday was just chaos. Work problems. Plumbing problems. Dog being a jerk and honking the horn with his butt and running off while I was on the phone trying to deal with work problems problems. Then stuck in traffic for a million years and dinner with the Butcher’s family and my parents and then home and being exhausted but for some reason, just puttering around not going to bed.

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But look at this baby getting tickled by his grandma.

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The Blues

Y’all, I’m depressed. Not big D feel like dying depressed, but not answering my emails and not doing basic tasks and wanting to sleep and sleep and sleep depressed.

And I feel better just realizing it.

I need some things to wrap up and I need to get a handle on some other things.

But I’m not failing. This feeling of failure is just a brain thing.

Still, I wish my brain weren’t doing a thing when I have so much stuff I need to do.

Doing Things I Meant to Do a While Ago

I finished this afghan, which I don’t have a picture of yet, because I’m not going to spend any time this morning figuring out why my computer is being a dingus.

I ordered a cake for the event at Third Man Records on the 28th (4 p.m., if you want to come out!) and the baker asked me if the crawdads could be wearing luchador masks, so you know I ordered from the right place.

And I went to the new state museum. It was glorious. I cried a little bit. I can’t wait to go back.

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They had Eliza Allen’s parlor guitar! That’s lasted a ton longer than her marriage to Sam Houston. It just goes to show, ladies, put your heart in music, not love.

They also have this really fascinating early Klan robe.

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It’s pretty fascinating to me that it seems to borrow from Masonic imagery. The crescent moon over the star looks very Shriners-esque. But I’m most fascinated by the hood. It reminds me of a mummer’s outfit or the headgear from Courir de Mardi Gras.

The Courir de Mardi Gras Wikipedia page goes to great lengths to disassociate their costumes from the Klan, noting that it’s much older. But I’m assuming, if there is influence, that it flowed the other way: the Klan took on the trappings of the Courir de Mardi Gras hoods.

I’m going to have to give some more thought to it, but there’s something intriguing–maybe some meat on the bone there–about wondering if the Klan is/was some kind of inversion ceremony, though running the opposite way–where instead of poor people mocking and charming the rich, this is about powerful people mocking and terrorizing those without power.

I’ll have to think on it.

 

The Southern Festival of Books Panel

You guys, it went so well. The room was packed. The Butcher’s family made it in time to hear me read. The panel was amazing. And the audience was really into it.

Sheree Renee Thomas brought a writer friend who had been mostly quiet and reserved before the event. But my god, he sat in the front row and smiled at everyone supportively and laughed when laughing was needed and shouted out when shouting was needed. It was really great. I was so grateful to him.

I think a lot about what makes or breaks a reading and I have long respected Chet’s (the guy from Third Man, who is always having literary events) ability to get the crowd to be open to stuff they might not be familiar with. But Thomas’s friend knew how to be an audience in a way that I now aspire to be for other writers. That kind of open responsiveness is just so great coming from another writer. It’s like if Penn & Teller tell you your trick is good. They know.

I read the first five pages of “Jesus Has Forgiven Me. Why Can’t You?” and it was perfect. I don’t know that I’d ever read it out loud except to myself as I was revising, so I had the fun experience of discovering that it was really great to read out loud as I was reading out loud. It was delightful.

Something is happening to me, or has happened and now I’m just noticing, but I felt completely at home reading that story in front of that crowd. Seeing nm laugh at places I hoped she’d laugh, in one case, wrote specifically based on a conversation she and I had had about what kind of forgiving Jesus would do. Having S. assure me I was dog-hair-less. The gushing text K. sent me later.

I felt beautiful. Like, not on a surface level. No, that’s not quite it. Not only on a surface level, though I looked in a mirror before the event and considered myself not just passable, but cute. But I felt so sure it was worth everyone’s time to pay attention to me. I felt like someone worth looking at.

I never feel that way. I usually feel like “oh, sorry you have to look at me,  but I’ll make it worth your time by being funny or charming or knowledgeable or quirky or whatever.” Or maybe I feel like you love me so you’re used to how I look and it’s not off-putting anymore, it’s just how this person you care about looks.

But yesterday, I felt beautiful. And sure of it. And I never want to forget how awesome that was.

Walnut Magic

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This is sort of the brown I’m ending up with, it looks like. My camera is having a really hard time with the color. And for good reason–the color is strange. If I were to tilt my hand back and forth when holding the wool like this, you’d see it change hue. Hold it one way, it looks really light. Hold it another way, it looks really dark. And it’s definitely got to do with the direction of the yarn, not the light. I still have some of the pokeberry yarn in the bathroom (don’t judge; I told you work has been a nightmare) and holding them together and moving my hand doesn’t produce the same color-shifting in the pokeberry.

It’s definitely something peculiar to the walnut.

Here’s another shot.

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It’s definitely not that dark, kind of somewhere between the two, but I thin this one gives you a different hint of how the color shifts. Those aren’t light patches in the yarn. If the yarn were pulled straight, you’d see a uniform color. Those lighter spots are, I think, because of the fact that that part is at a slightly different angle.

I need an art scientist to explain this to me. It’s as if everything else I’ve dyed with has been flat, so the color behaves how I expect in different lights, but this dye is… I don’t know… 3D? Like just moving it a little causes the light to hit it and reflect in different ways. Like the walnut imparted into the yarn a kind of facet-ness?

Which I assume must have something to do with the shape of the molecules that are giving the yarn its color, right? Something in the yarn now is tiny and shiny?

Anyway, walnut. I am excited to do more.

Poking at It

We had a disaster at work yesterday. It was already not going well and then our big project arrived and it was utterly fucked. I am giddy with despair. We’ll see what happens today, if it can be unfucked in time for all the events we have planned. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I have been dying with my first batch of walnuts.

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This is how it went in the oven.

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This is how it came out of the oven–brown but not the deep, rich brown I was hoping for.

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This is it back in the oven, trying for a darker brown. The thing about food-safe dyes–like Kool-aid or food coloring–is that they’re going to look very similar dry to how they look wet, just lighter, perhaps a little more muted.

But with the natural dyes, there’s a whole oxidation stage. Like, with food-safe dyes, once the yarn is cool, you can just wash it. There’s nothing to be done between “dyeing” and “drying” except waiting for it to cool. But natural dyes can change dramatically–as we saw with the cabbage dyes–once air hits them. Same is true with indigo. Same is true with walnut.

I assume the same is true with pokeberry. I mean, I didn’t see any dramatic changes, but I left it hanging for a while in the air in case it was doing something.

When the walnut oxidizes, to me, it looks like there’s a stage when it takes on kind of a silvery sheen and then gets a little lighter, a little darker, and then a little lighter again. In other words, you basically have to let it dry, unrinsed, to see what color you’re going to get.

It’s pretty fascinating.

Working

I think I have the intro to the book exactly how I want it, at least for now. Time to move forward with the rewrite of as much of the rest of it as I can.

I have a new lawn guy. My third of the year. This guy is 78. This morning, he promised me he would try to live the two years it’s going to take to get my lawn back in shape.

The thing about country folks is that they joke with rocks packed in the middle. If it lands, it’s going to sting. Might hurt a lot.

He told me a story about borrowing some cash from the Korean mafia. I honestly have no idea if that was a joke or not.

The Cuteness Continues

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You guys, how is this real?! It’s so beautiful and cute. Girly, but the kind of girly she can go goth with if she needs to in her teen years. The little dots from the join are wonderful. The way the orange dotted around on the border is wonderful.

I’m so proud of this.

It’s hard to express how satisfying it is to have a vague idea, put it into practice, and then have it turn out far better than you imagined. It feels like I’m having a conversation with the Universe. I bring what I have to the table and It brings… well… I won’t know until we get to working together. But usually, it’s amazing.

The Cuteness!

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I have all my squares done. I still love the purple background the best, but I’m very pleased with all of them. Sometimes it’s nice to do something simple and beautiful.

I’m doing the same join I did on the wedding afghan for my cousin–the single crochet, but going through all loops.

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Look at the adorable dots it’s giving me! Lord, I’m finding this afghan so satisfying. I assume that means she’ll hate it. Ugh.

The Travel God Who Couldn’t Sleep

So, I didn’t take my CPAP machine and, on the one hand, I felt like a god because I breezed through security and my bag stowed under the seat in front of me and, in general, I traveled lightly and quickly.

But I slept like shit. I slept like a person who took sixteen half hour naps over the course of a night. I never fell into a deep sleep. I kept checking the clock, thinking it must be time for the ordeal to be over and no time would have passed.

It was a huge and miserable mistake.

I wish they had some kind of travel sized CPAP, though, because that one-bag thing ruled. And I got home in time to make some purple squares, so all I have left is to make my pink squares, tuck some ends, and put this puppy together.

Nerves

I’m nervous about flying. I’m nervous about finding my way to the hotel. I’m basically nervous about everything. I’m even nervous about the Butcher staying here and watching the house, as if he didn’t live here.

But I’m also excited.

Here’s how the afghan for my niece is going:

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I think the ones with the purple backgrounds are my favorite. Everything looks like weird moons in a strange sky. But I’m betting she’ll like the pink ones best.

I think I’m on track for having it done in time for her birthday.

More Afghan Squares

Look at this one!

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That purple just makes a really fabulous background to the rest of the yarn.

I have so much to get done today, so of course I woke up late. I’m trying to decide if I need my CPAP for one night, or if I can leave it here and travel very, very lightly. I was glad to have it in Birmingham, but I went to Birmingham in my own car. The hassle of trying to figure out how to get distilled water in North Carolina leaves me feeling less than excited about messing with it.

But, hey, I’m traveling for work. That’s fun.

Hope for the Future

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This yarn is so beautiful, I can’t stand it. The purple is amazing, with the bluer parts and the pinker parts. The orange is bright and friendly, but also, how it pairs with the purple is a little mysterious somehow. And a tiny girl dyed that yarn.

Also, I really love the fuck out of the yarn. That’s Wool of the Andes Peruvian Highland wool in worsted weight. It dyes up very nicely and look at how beautiful my stitches look. I like how well it works for showing off the personality of the dyes.

Did I have this kind of inherent talent when I was four? I think I must have. I think we all must. And yet somewhere along the way, I feel like a lot of us lose the confidence in our ability to make beauty that brings us joy. We link art and creativity with suffering.

But it doesn’t start that way.

Oh, Hey, Remember My Short Story Chapbook?

It appears that it is finally on the verge of coming out. Jesus, Crawdad, Death will make its debut at the Southern Festival of Books and then there will be some kind of local event of some sort and I’ll probably go up to Detroit and do something there.

The cover is hilariously awesome, like what would happen if Judas Priest was all-women.

You’ll be able to order it from Third Man Records, if you don’t live here or in Detroit. I’ll put up a link when I have one. I mean, even if you live here or in Detroit, you can order it online, but you can also go get it in person.

I reread it last night and I was surprised by how much it seems to have been written right for this moment–full of angry women trying to do the right thing. Plus some murder. Plus some refusal-of-murder.

I hope you all like it.

I’ll Just Say It Now

I think Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed. Even aside from the rapey bits, he shouldn’t. He’s lied repeatedly. He had huge debts that are mysteriously gone and he has assets a man with his salary shouldn’t be able to have. But those things don’t matter and how he’s treated women–how so many people think women exist to be treated–doesn’t matter.

A thing I keep thinking, too, is how the default is still that women don’t know our own experiences–that we’re misinterpreting or misremembering or mistaken–and we wouldn’t want to ruin a man’s life over the flighty unpredictable nature of a woman’s inherently broken mind.

That’s supposed to be the kind position. “We believe you believe something bad happened to you, and we feel sorry for you, but we don’t believe it actually happened.”

An ocean of women, women as far as the eye can see, women in their 80s in nursing homes, little girls just old enough to be coaxed onto laps, women locked in convents and mental hospitals and prisons, women free to own our own homes and run our own businesses, women in public, women in private, wave after wave of women, endless unceasing recitations of our pain and we’re all nutty and slutty. None of us are telling the truth about what happened to us, but we’re too damaged to realize it’s not the truth.

Like how the fuck do you think you get an infinite army of damaged women, in the first place?

It’s almost as if there’s some brutal hazing ritual we all live under the threat of and most of us are subjected to.

I fucking hate it. I hate that our word counts for nothing.

Look How Cute This Is!

My plan was to just do thirty circle squares, but I think that’s going to be too small (even though she is, as she reminds me, just a little girl) and I think I’m going to have plenty of yarn, so now my plan is to do the thirty circle squares and then thirty regular squares and checkerboard them.

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Baby Blankets Galore

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I tucked my ends on all three afghans last night. Now I just need to throw them in the wash. I love all three of them for different reasons. The top one has a really nice weight to it. If that baby doesn’t feel cuddled when wrapped up in it, I don’t even know.

I like the modifications I made to the pattern for the second one–turning it into a rectangle, modifying the tops of the shells so they laid flatter.

And then I just love the fuck out of the pattern for the third afghan. So simple, but so good looking.

Now I’m ready to get started on the hand-dyed afghans. First up is my smallest niece:

There she is with the yarn we dyed at the beginning of the month. There’s the yarn after I wound it last night. And there’s my first square. Look how good that looks! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the yarn works up.

Lovely, Boring Weekend

I told the Butcher that I have come to believe that, even though they serve the same purpose, cardboard boxes are clutter and wicker baskets are storage. So, I’m getting some baskets to put my yarn in.

I’m also just madly in love with this pattern.

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It’s so, so very satisfying. I’m going to use it again. I even voluntarily added picots!

My parents’ asshole friend’s cancer has returned. It probably returned six months ago when he first started having new medical problems, but he decided to play “fuck around all summer” and only now when to the doctor.

I’m deeply conflicted because I, in general, believe you have the right to neglect yourself to death. But when you have a wife who depends on you and friends who love you, it does feel like you have an obligation to do your best to be present for them. So, I’m kind of pissed at him for breaking my parents’ hearts. Which, granted, is not fair.

And then I wonder why they’re friends with this asshole in the first place. But you know, it’s because that’s what they’re willing to find acceptable in a friendship. They think it’s okay to be treated that way. And, truth be told, to treat others that way.

So, there you go.

Declutter

I’ve decided the next big thing I’m going to do for myself is hire housecleaners. Which means I have to declutter this motherfucker, so they can come in and work. And, frankly, I am as overwhelmed by the prospect of decluttering as I am by anything.

I think what I’m going to do is just set a timer for 20 minutes and do as much as I can every day in 20 minutes. The house isn’t that big and I don’t have piles of clothes or small aisles of a horde to navigate. But ugh.

I almost wonder if I could pay someone to come organize my house so that I can pay someone to clean it.

Hand-Dyed Afghans

I just have to finish up this baby blanket and then I think I’m ready to get started on the hand-dyed afghans.

I’m going to do the three kids’ blankets first, because they should be fairly easy to knock out and they’re ready to go.

Then I have three artists’ blankets: Julie, Jennifer, and Lesley.

Julie’s is dyed with all the stuff from my life and it’s waiting on walnut season. I also think I’m going to redye the pokeberry because, whew, this late in pokeberry season, I’m kind of thinking I might get a fuchsia instead of a pink. But I think what I’m going to do for the walnuts is get an aluminum pan from the store, the kind with really high sides, like you’d put a turkey in and I’m going to put the yarn and the walnuts and some water all in there and stick it in the oven. That should give me a very similar color over all the skeins and it means I’ll be dyeing on one day, once, instead of all week. This is the square I’m going to use for that afghan, though, obviously, in my hand-dyed colors.

Then for Jennifer, I’m going to do all the copper yarn I dyed. That’s also ready to go, in the amount the pattern calls for. Here’s the pattern I’m going to use. I’m not sure how it will work, but my plan is to go from the most teal on the insides to the most copper on the outsides of each motif. I think it’s going to be amazing, but I’m a little nervous.

My plan is to do Lesley’s last with the yarn I have left over from the previous five blankets and with this yarn I picked up last weekend, because, damn.

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But also, real talk, these three skeins of yarn cost me the same as what it costs me to get ten skeins of undyed yarn. Just economically, if I want to do projects that are hand-dyed, I need to do the dyeing myself.

That’s going to be a little trickier because what I want to do is transform this table runner into an afghan. On the one hand, it will be simple enough. Just add more motifs. But how to border it? I’m going to have to think really hard about the lessons I learned from the sunflower afghan.

I Like Nothing I Used to Like

It’s September. I’m not sure I’ve read a whole book for fun all year. I haven’t read or written any short stories. I don’t turn on the TV. I was enjoying an audio book while crocheting and it got to a part where a character was being really stupid and I just lost interest in going back to it. I’ve given up on a bunch of podcasts I, in general, have enjoyed.

“Given up” is too strong a word for it. I just didn’t go back to them. I drifted away and lost interest.

I’ve even been having a hard time blogging. Right now I keep staring over at this blanket and thinking I could get a little bit in on that before I have to get in the shower. It would mean abandoning this. I’m okay with that.

I don’t even have anything fun planned for October here.

This should be depressing, but I feel free. Happy.

Nothing brings me pleasure. Not in the sense that I am unhappy. But that doing nothing, wanting nothing, being alone with my thoughts or music or both, this state of “nothingness” makes me happy.

I’m really feeling the weight of the rat race–that we all must be striving and trying and wanting and buying. That everything is commodified. That everything I love will be taken from me and turned around and sold back to me and so my only power, limited as it is, is in choosing how to spend my money.

It’s empty for me.

I just want to like things and dislike things and feel the stakes are low. I don’t want to feel so fucking compelled to participate–like I “have” to read this book or watch this show or have this many stories in the pipeline.

There are enough real “have to”s in the world. I’m so fucking tired of my entertainment (both that I consume and that I make) being turned into one. No, I don’t have to find out what happens next. I don’t have to keep hearing no until it’s a yes. I don’t have to keep up with the things everyone else is keeping up with, even if it’s “so good.”

Pleasure can’t be coerced. Not for me, anyway.

So, I’m enjoying neglecting to be compelled.