The Last Debate

At this point, I am left feeling like I get why people can’t vote for Clinton. But my god, I don’t understand who is left who can vote for Trump. It boggles my mind. It requires such self-delusion and an utter unwillingness to engage with reality. I mean, he can’t even speak in full, coherent sentences. Forget who he’s running against, just the fact that he’s running makes me feel like our country is off the rails.

But one thing I noticed is that he did appear to be trying to make the arguments liberals usually have the most trouble refuting. I think he did kind of prepare for this debate. But the trouble with him is that, I think, someone gave him that list of arguments and he studied them, but he doesn’t understand why they’re compelling. He’s just been told they’re compelling and he believes it.

As terrifying as this is, in a lot of ways it kind of reminds me of Campfield (and maybe Durham), where it’s easy to imagine how unstoppable they’d be if they could just hold their shit together, but we really dodged a bullet because they couldn’t hold their shit together.

But, and I guess this is obvious, someone with these same ideas is going to figure out how to appear smart and thoughtful and not dangerous. If these are test runs for how to popularize and normalize this stuff, well, this test run is really close to winning the White House.

Doing What I’m Doing

I’m just about done with the peacock afghan. I’m really depending on one annoying thing shaping up in the wash, but we shall see.

I got my story done and sent off–the fiction one–and my other story done and sent off–my non-fiction one. I went to Tractor Supply. I got my hair cut.

It’s been a pretty jam-packed couple of days.

A while back a pretty well-known author announced she was going to be writing a short story a month and then she was kind of shocked when one of them was rejected because apparently she’d never been rejected before. And I’ll admit, in my pettier moments, that I have laughed at this long and hard because, whoa boy, the people who will dole out writing advice without first having subjected themselves to the hard parts of writing.

But I have been a little jealous of her determination. I haven’t sold anything this year. Which means I, as of yet, have nothing coming out next year. Along with the submitting and being rejected, there’s a lot of waiting. A drawback to failed novel (though I’m not ready to call Ashland failed, but I have also failed as of yet to place it) writing is that writing a novel takes a lot of time and concentration and when you’re doing that, you’re obviously not writing short stories. And when you’re not writing short stories, you have nothing to put in the pipeline.

Most of the stories I wrote this year are going to run right here at the end of October. Is that a wise publishing strategy? I don’t fucking know.

But I’ll tell you what. I love it. It’s literally one of my favorite things that I do all year–tell you stories for Halloween.

So, you know, you have to strive and struggle in some ways, but in other ways, fuck it. Do what you love in a way that brings you happiness.

Swept Away

Oh god, my fireplace and chimney need $2500 worth of work to make it safe to use. So, I guess I’m not going to sit in front of it in October. I’m going to spend the money to get it fixed, though, because I bought this house because it had a working fireplace and I would like a working fireplace.

We watch a lot of Adam Ruins Everything and last night he had one on real estate and he came down on the side of renting being a better option than buying for most people (though, in fairness, he also covered how the Airb&b business is making renting harder for people). And I think that’s not quite right. It’s just a different option. The price I pay a month has gone up in the couple of tax assessments we’ve had, but never by the amount a month my rent regularly increased. And there’s simply nowhere left in Nashville where I could have this amount of space for this amount of money a month.

You do also dump a lot of money into repairs. I’m going to dump a lot of money into the fireplace. I dumped a lot of money into plumbing. There’s always something big that needs to be done.

I guess it’s partially because I think a lot about the logistics of writing, but I feel like what we all want is a right way to do things, clear cut solutions to murky problems. Rent, don’t buy. Buy, don’t rent. Self-publish. Get an agent. Etc. Etc.

The way is never that clear. The right thing not always obvious. The world looks different to each of us depending on where we stand.

I read this terrific story over at Strange Horizons. And then I read this review of the story which was positive, but reads the story entirely differently than I do. Like, wow, that’s not how I read it.

If you want to discuss cocktapusses, please skip straight to the comments now. If you want to discuss the story, I’ll make my points below:

The witch cursed the dude because he’s an abusive ass. His abusive ass-ness therefore did not end when the curse was broken, because that’s just who he is–that monster. Loving him brings a different curse on the women who do it. Therefore, the way to break the curse, the current curse he’s causing, is to stop loving him. That’s what she comes to understand–he’s no longer cursed, she is. So the witch can’t lift her curse on him; she can only help the woman realize how to lift the curse on her.

The witch clearly used to be the monster’s lover. That’s the parallel with them both having a collection of knives. We’re supposed to link them together. And that’s her good reason for cursing him in the first place–he did her wrong, so she cursed him to show outwardly what he is inwardly.

The witch isn’t promising the woman a life of ex-lovers. She’s saying, “If you break this curse, you may be on your way to becoming like me, a witch.”

Fun Work Day

The Butcher did have to work after all, but he took the dog to the park so I could sleep in and, since the dog is now sleeping his walk off, I’m going to get some writing done.

And put on some pants.

And get our chimney swept. I really want to spend my nine nights this year in front of the fireplace, at least, some of them.

Peopled Out

The Butcher also has tomorrow off and though he’s excited about the two of us hanging out, I’m like “Noo, I had two days of alone time planned!” It will also be nice, but I am not an extrovert. I’m just a very enthusiastic introvert.

It was lovely to see everyone, though. And lovely to sit out in the sunshine all day for two days.

I’ll probably have thoughts when I can think again, but my brain is a little fried.

Luke Cage

We finished Luke Cage, which we both loved. Like all the Netflix Marvel stuff, I ended up feeling like it would have been better if it were ten episodes instead of twelve or thirteen or whatever it was.

I remain very tickled at the normalization of the mad scientist. I love that… oh wait… I guess SPOILERS

I love that the driving force behind the drama was that Luke Cage is a minister’s kid! Ha ha ha. That made me happy. I loved Shades and I was so relieved that he lived. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is about his character that I found so enjoyable, but I think it’s clearly that he’s a smart badass who is likes seeing women succeed. Like Luke Cage is all “I’m flirting with you by telling you you’re old” and Shades is all “I’m flirting with you by helping you cover up this murder and telling you you can achieve your goals and more.”

Like, seriously, who do you want to flirt with? Clearly, clearly it’s the guy who’s all “You are amazing” not the guy who’s all “you’re a little mature to be here, aren’t you?”

I can’t decide if the flashbacks went on too long or if they were just awkwardly done, but for me, they were the weak point of the series. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but only rarely did they tell me something that the subtext of the show didn’t already make quite clear and they seemed to drag on way too long.

But I was really glad to get to see Mabel in the flesh and I would have liked to have seen more of her. So, take that for what it’s worth.

And the music is amazing.

Get Through

I’m not saying that I’ve been mildly depressed for much of 2016, but I have realized how much I’ve told myself, just put your head down and get through this. Enough to have realized that you keep your head down because if you look up and see how much more terrible stuff there is to go, you will die of despair.

But what can you do? Such is life.

I find this political season utterly depressing. I’m not in love with Hillary for reasons that only matter if both major political parties are even semi-committed to trying to come vaguely close to appearing like they took Civics and understand our political system. But when it’s “experienced politician with whom I have some fundamental disagreements and, oh, by the way, dynasties are bad for a democracy” vs. “It’d be fun to be a strongman and jail my enemies and appoint a goat to the Supreme Court and run this country like a flamboyant dictatorship,” well, you have to go with the person who’s not trying to set himself up like a super villain.

We’re coming way too close to electing a terrible second-rate super villain.


I think I burst a cyst yesterday. I felt kind of weird most of the day and then I had this pain that was like a menstrual cramp but in the wrong spot and there was blood, though, mostly just clear liquid, like runny egg yolks.

Then all evening my side was sore. Even this morning, it feels bruised, but in a smaller, tighter spot.

I tried to work on my museum piece for the Scene that’s due next week. It went like hell. Not hell. But heck. I’m glad to have something down on paper, even if it’s shit.

My parents called, too, in the middle of it and I think a thing I have failed to realize about this all until just yesterday, because my dad is always threatening to die like in the next four seconds, is that my dad is terrified of ending up like my grandmothers–wanting to die and not being able to. His threat to die immediately isn’t wishful thinking for a worst case scenario, as I thought. What my grandma now, what his mom before, went through is his worst case scenario.

I have mixed feelings about assisted suicide. I am terrified that the abuses of it would be monstrous. But with my whole heart, I wish that my grandma could just decide enough is enough and know she had a painless way to opt out when she felt the time had come.

I don’t think life has any meaning beyond what we’re able to cultivate for ourselves. You look at all this shit and you think it must happen FOR A REASON, but it just happens for reasons, many of them stupid.

A lot of the reasons being that we’re just fragile, ill-designed sacks of blood and puss and poop and eventually the garbage bag gives out. Everything you can do to transcend the stupidity of our fundamental human state, to make it more than just sacks of shit sloshing around being jerks to each other, is important, I think.


The thing that most depresses me about this political season aside from the fact that I’m voting with enthusiasm for a candidate I have historically felt little enthusiasm for because the alternative is the end of the Republic as we know it is that we’re now talking about rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment in ways that make me so painfully aware of just how many people don’t realize how ubiquitous the problem is.

Folks, it so many people you might as well round it to everyone. Every woman I know has been fucked with. Every single one. I don’t know how you might frame the question to get an honest poll answer, but something like “Has anyone ever deliberately touched you in a spot normally covered by underwear without your permission?” And I suspect that, if you could get men to feel safe answering the question, most of them would also answer yes.

And listen, the internet is full of this impulse to believe that, if only you told your story in the perfect way, you could get people to listen and believe and understand you, to change so that they didn’t hurt anyone the way you were hurt. And I’m here to tell you that isn’t always true. In fact, it’s often not true.

This is to say that you don’t need to share with me. I don’t often feel like sharing much with the internet anymore myself, because I just imagine the people who get off on suffering reading it and getting off on it.

But I still think a lot about the boy who grabbed me by the pussy. It was a tiny bit traumatic for me. I don’t want to downplay that. But it was more existentially confusing. Like, he seemed to think it would do something or cause something to happen if he did this, but he didn’t know what. And I also was too young to know what he was doing or why he was doing it. I just remember the uncertain smile. I have never forgotten that. I have often wondered what happened to him or what he saw in his life that brought him to do that to me in the hallway.

We were in second grade. I have been thinking of that, on and off, for almost forty years. I wonder if he thinks of it at all. Probably not.

Oh man!

I forgot to say, we do have Halloween plans! Not a lot because I’ve been busy moping around and having a strange summer and failing to sell this novel. But yes, something will be going on at the end of the month, in the penumbra of Halloween. We’ll have a short series of linked short stories (with music! which I’m really excited about) and one non-linked interlude long short story about a god, a preacher, and some baby-punching bikers.

Good times. I forget when it’s scheduled to start. The 25th or the 26th. But it is happening and some of them are good.

Answers to Questions

I’ve spent all week trying to track down what in the house stinks so bad. It just jumped up on the couch with me. Mr. “I roll in dead things!”

I was pondering my decision a few years ago to switch to wearing sneakers to the Southern Festival of Books and I realized after the Best of Nashville party last night, it’s because I have no dress shoes I can stand in for any length of time and not want to die.

This morning’s walk was, then, glorious. Put on normal shoes. Walk and feel everything that had been clenched slowly unclenching. Watch the dog find the very last remnants of the dead armadillo. Scream as he attempts to make one last roll in the carcass.

I think one of the reasons that death is so upsetting is that we do have, observably and obviously, some animating force, something that separates “alive” from “not alive.” But when you’re forced to look at dead things, the thing you realize is that the line isn’t all that clear. Certainly at this point, the armadillo is as dead as dead.

But what is that animating force? Is it just an illusion of firing nerves that dissipates when those nerves no longer fire? If so, is that why we can luck out and sometimes restart life when it seems to have ended? Is this why people’s personalities can change so much due to stress or accident or medical incident, because, ultimately, there is no core person there, just this hallucination of consciousness?

But if we are just a storm of electrical impulses, why? Certainly, a lot of this stuff would be easier if hearts never broke, if you never felt compelled to give a shit. The person who doesn’t suffer must have an evolutionary advantage over those of us who cry a lot. And yet, the criers have won, have persisted the most. Judging by our numbers, there must be some advantage to being aware, even if being aware is being sad. At least some of the time.

The thing is that it’s not really that clear, just based on observation, when life ends. Not that I’ve seen it intimately that often, but, with Sadie, the moment after she died was a lot clearer than the moment she died. Death, it seems, is something you can’t say for sure has happened until it’s already a little bit in the past. It must, then, be a thin line, one you don’t see so much as you see its wake. So to speak.

One minute, no, second, things are working–even if incredibly poorly–and then they are not. One minute your body is fighting off rot and the next it’s not.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I just look at that armadillo every morning and it blows my mind to have watched it go from something that looked no different than a live armadillo to now a claw and the curve of its armor. And on the one hand “how” is a simple question. Crows and buzzards. But on the other hand, I have no good answer. Nothing satisfying anyway.

It Strikes Me as Victorian

I’m not done putting my bright green row on my peacock motifs. I have exactly half the motifs left and I’m not sure I’m going to have enough green. I’m going to be so mad if I need to buy a whole other skein for like five motifs. Ha ha ha. We’ll see.

But I made myself up a column to see what it will look like with the green that will be the most plentiful green. I think I like it. I don’t think of this kind of dull green as being Victorian, but I think it’s the way it shows off the stitches or something. When I look ati it, it just looks very Victorian. I mean, I guess the peacock motif is very Victorian.

Anyway, I hope it looks okay. I’m nervous that it doesn’t look quite right.


Yesterday I went over to the State Museum to see some artifacts for a “spooky things at the museum” thing I’m doing for the Scene. And, man, the things they have are so…I don’t know. They are really spooky, which is excellent for my story, but they are also these intimate, very personal items created, often, at the saddest moment of people’s lives.

I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of that.


Well I’m back. I think it went well. I don’t really know. I brought a bunch of copies of “Allendale” to give away and I did, eventually, give them all away. So, for me, that was success. But other people were disappointed that book sales across the board were so weak.

I went to a few panels. The Legend Tripping Missouri panel was fun but weird and I left after one of the guys explaining all of the places you could go to look for cool stuff turned the panel into a ten-minute therapy session about the time he got possessed at a prison. Which is not to say that I don’t understand why you might need a therapy session after that, but…

I have to say–and I say that as someone who embarks on my own pack of weird shit from time to time–ultimately my problem with most paranormal researchers comes down to the fact that, if I were a ghost, these are exactly not the kinds of people I’d be reaching out to. I always, always, feel like I understand why paranormal researchers are reaching over, but I also always end up feeling like the great yawning need they have to touch something on the other side would, if I were on the other side, make me skittish about reaching back.

Like, to be blunt, consider it this way. You’re at a bar, which we’ll call The Spirit World, and a bunch of strangers stumble in looking to get laid. Do you approach the person calling out “I’m a virgin. God. Please, just touch me. I am here to be touched. Touch me, please! I have studied how to be touched. I think I may have been touched once before. Was that you? Please, touch me again.” or do you feel safer going up to the person who’s laughing with his friends and putting off more “I’m at ease in the world” signals?

I am not a huge Counting Crows fan, but there’s a deep truth in “We all want to be big, big stars. We got different reasons for that.” I don’t exempt myself from it.

My panels were a mixed bag. Our sexuality panel went well, I think, though I was the only one who cursed and I think I came off as kind of a fuddy-duddy. I also think my thoughts about sexuality are fuddy-duddy-ish. Oh damn, in some ways, I am metaphorically shouting “I am a virgin. Was that you who touched me?” Ha ha ha. But the thing is that sexuality is complicated and changing and there’s no real right way to do it (and a bunch of wrong ways) and once we get all the LGBTQIAetc. stuff worked out, like I said, young people will think the best way to organize your lives is to live in pods of eight people with no set gender or sexuality and a whole new set of words to describe the roles of people in the octopods and our current avante garde ways of handling this stuff will be seen as so old and square. And I’m okay with that. If past roles are too constraining, then we have to accept that present roles will eventually be as well.

Even if we fought really hard for them and they’re deeply meaningful to us.

That’s a tough thing to accept, but it’s the truth.

Anyway, and I was on a panel where half the panelists didn’t show up and there were only three audience members but it turned out really awesome and interesting anyway, because I guess those three audience members really, really wanted to talk about books.

I was also on a panel where the one guy on the panel was so super good that I was kind of like “Why doesn’t he just dominate the panel and the rest of us will shut up and acquiesce to his superior knowledge?” And then I laugh when I think about it because when in the history of the world has there ever been any moment when everyone in a room thought, “We should shut up and let this one dude speak the whole time because he’s really insightful and interesting?” BUT THIS DUDE WAS! He was the unicorn! He didn’t try to put his head in my lap, though, so maybe I’m not as much the “Was that you who touched me?” of the con as I fear. Anyway, go, dude, whose name I don’t remember, but how much do I need to remember it when you’re literally the only dude who has ever been on a panel where he should have just talked the whole time? Like won’t he be easy enough to find again? Eventually, mobs of angry men are going to chase him with torches and farm equipment out of jealousy. The rest of us can just follow the glow. The panel was on how we would fix the endings of things that we liked but which ended stupidly and dude was a genius at it. I did get to say “child orgy” a bunch because I had to complain about It.

Then I was on the panel on race and diversity. That was my first panel. It was…not good. First, it was designed to be all white people. The moderator tried to get non-white people to join the panel and she did get a guy, but it didn’t really erase the fact that the panel was set up as “white people talk about whether or not to include non-white people in genre storytelling,” which is just at its core a racist set-up. You can’t un-racist a panel that is racist in its very conception. And so it was two white women (me and the moderator), the Asian guy who joined us, and the white guy who started the pre-panel banter complaining about how if we go down “this” road, we’ll have to rename Washington state because it’s names after slaveholders. Right then, I knew it was going to be at least a minor shit-show.

It was. Dude had apparently decided that sci-fi/fantasy wasn’t really that racist, ever, and that if people could just appreciate the history of the genre, they’d see that, so he would educate us on the history of the genre, which resulted in him saying “yellow peril” repeatedly while looking at the guy who had generously agreed to diversify the panel. And the worst part, the part that made me just want to crawl under the table and die, is that he did that thing…I don’t know if I’m adequately going to be able to describe this. You know how some people use racially charged terms in order to be straight-forward racist assholes? “Hey, [racial slur], I’m going to kick your ass.” Okay.

But then there’s another type of white person use of racial slurs where we use them to try to show that we’re down with the group we’re talking about, like our ability to use the slur in their company, even maybe, in our biggest fantastical dreams, with them, proves that we’re cool. Like, I guess, a good example of this is David Simon using the n-word in a Tweet. Or this guy repeatedly talking about “yellow peril” while looking at and nodding at this poor guy, like “Aren’t I wise? Aren’t I insightful? Aren’t I down?”

I wanted to die of the shame and embarrassment he should have been feeling.

Anyway, I tried to bring up the recent Fireside report and how it showed that basically, if you’re a black woman writing short genre fiction, you’re not getting published. (I didn’t talk about this at the panel, but it’s obvious to me that the problem is that most genre editors only know a handful of black women writers and they’re all working on novels. The editors don’t have a deep bench and they don’t have the self-awareness to realize it. Also, when you have some editors who are some shade of “puppy,” if you don’t make it incredibly clear on your submissions page that you’re genuinely open to diverse writers, diverse writers won’t submit to you for fear of accidentally submitting to one of VD’s buddies and we all know how VD thinks about and treats black women writers.)

Anyway, the white guy kept insisting that editors just want good works and I was like “If that’s the case, then where are the black women short story writers?” Like does he literally think that it’s more likely that black women just aren’t writing short stories, or not writing very good short stories, or is it more likely that they’re being met with obstacles they can’t navigate around? Talent is common. The talent is there. The problem is in the pipeline.

But then! Then he said that editors in sf/f have always been focused on good stories and not on writers’ attributes, as proven by the fact that, back in the olden days we had a lot of women and minority writers writing under names that gave the impression they were white men.

So, that was a shitshow. And I thought the moderator tried to complicate his responses and treat him with respect even as she did. But at some point, man, I just felt like she was, and I was, too, let me be clear, adding to the problem by being on the panel and talking to this guy respectfully.

But I’m also not sure what fighting with him would have accomplished. I can’t help but feel, too, that there’s a trap here for authors were talking about diversity and butting heads with a guy who would talk about “yellow peril” as if it proved how knowledgeable he was about Asians, where the discussion, even the fight, is performative nonsense–wheelspinning that lets us feel like we’re doing something without having to do the tough stuff. Even though this stuff, too, is tough. But it’s easier to say “I’ll be on this panel and argue about race” than it is to say “I’ll potentially tank my career by not publishing with people who don’t at least try to get this stuff right.”

For those of you in the know, you’ll also be amused to know that the dude claimed he was a chaplain.

Of what? Where? Conveniently, he never said, which, of course, leads me to believe that talking out his butt about race is not the only thing he talks out his butt about.


Day Two of Dreaming I’m Awake

This morning I dreamed I woke up and it was so dark that I rolled over to check my clock and it was like 5:15 so I still had a half an hour before my alarm was going to go off. I love that. Love nothing more than knowing there’s still time. And then my alarm actually went off and my first thought was “crap, what’s wrong with the alarm?”

Which, then, I realized I was dreaming, which is when you’re supposed to try to lucid dream, but my alarm was going off so no dice.

Anyway, I’m packed, which means I’m going to sit here for twenty minutes worrying about what I might be forgetting.


I dreamed I woke up this morning to discover that the Butcher had left the light on in the living room when he went to bed. I went through the motions of getting my phone, going into the bathroom, turning on the light, going to the bathroom, etc. only to be completely confused and disoriented when my alarm went off and I woke up and it was pitch black in the house. It took me most of the walk this morning to shake the feeling that I had somehow woken up twice. I can’t remember the last time I had a dream that vivid.

I have a convention this weekend. It’ll be fine. I’ll enjoy myself once I get there. But I feel anxious about it. I have a big interview next week for a thing I’m working on for the Scene and I have to coordinate a photographer and I’m not sure how that’s going to go with me leaving town and everything. And then Southern Festival of Books and a lot of work projects. And Chuck is running low on A City of Ghosts so I need to have some printed up and I need a mammogram and a chimney sweep.And rejections galore.

This has just been a hard year. I’m trying to just keep my head down and power through. The way out is through, after all. But now that I know that god damn poem, it’s hard to feel that good about it.


It’s Hard Not to be Down

The other day we caught part of Kevin James’ new sitcom and then we watched the debates and some doofus congressman was complaining that Clinton too much like his bitch wife/mother.

Kevin James’s sitcom is also about a man trying to live with a bitch wife.

The only reason I can see that someone would continue to live with a woman he hates is that he does like the way she takes care of him. In other words, I don’t believe the slash in “bitch wife/mother” is as differentiating as we might hope.

The assumption is that you get to bring someone into your household who will meet all your needs in exchange for…what? That’s the part that confuses me. You bring this woman into your house and…is it just housing? You give her a place to live, a little money, social status, and in exchange, she’s supposed to meet all your needs and give you the illusion that she does in a state of ultimate bliss?

And I get that there are religious worldviews in this country that try to raise women to want only that, to expect only that. And to fear being the bitch.

But usually, if someone comes into your house and improves your life 100%, it’s because they’re getting something out of it, not because you deserve it.

I’m being somewhat inarticulate, but what I mean is that it seems like a lot of men think they “deserve” a certain kind of woman and then resent and hate the real person who can’t meet that ideal. But I’m fascinated how “deserve” blinds them to the fact that, if they got the perfect wife/mother who made them feel good all the time and met all their needs, clearly, that would be someone with an agenda that might not match up with the dude’s. Like, expecting that kind of woman sets you up to be disappointed in normal women and taken advantage of by the women who can maintain the illusion of pulling it off.

And then, once they grow hateful and resentful of their wives, why stay?

Do these guys never look at their guy friends in relationships with women that function and are between two regular people and wish they had that? Like, why are you stuck in a dynamic you hate? Why don’t they just leave their wives and find someone who’ll be kinder to them?

Watching that Kevin James sitcom, I didn’t feel like “Ha ha ha, we’ve all been there with the cute but unreasonable harridan who runs our lives and does things to us and our households we don’t like but isn’t it funny how we deal with it?” I felt like, dude, get a therapist and a divorce lawyer and buy a chair you like to sit in and sit in it.

I couldn’t watch it. It wasn’t funny. It felt like propaganda to reinforce to men that relationships are miserable and you should expect misery and propagate misery in order to maintain some balance.

But looking at Trump… clearly, his appeal in part is that he knows how to make people who feel like they deserve something they’ve not gotten feel like this is their opportunity for revenge.

And I wonder how many people out there are motivated by that. I’m frightened that it’s a lot.

Is My Superpower Tipsy Note Writing?!

A while ago I was at an event and there was a guy there and I was a little tipsy and I had an idea. So, I wrote him a note telling him to do something and I stuffed it in his hand. Then I went home. Many months past until yesterday.

I had lunch with a person who told me a lovely story about the guy doing the awesome thing I had instructed him to do. And the lunch person thanked me profusely, saying she knew it was because of me.

So, that felt super awesome. But it does make me wonder, should I have all along been leaving notes full of good ideas in people’s hands?

Bad Year for Allergies

For the past three weeks, on and off, I’ve felt like I have a cold that won’t quite come into existence. I know it’s just allergies, but it’s bugging the crap out of me. Finally though, apparently, fall is here and the 90 degree days are over.

The peacock afghan is satisfying so far, in part because it looks really nice and because it’s really fun to come up with something and then have it work! I spent so much time tucking ends yesterday though, that I made myself a solemn vow that I would tuck my ends as I went from here on out with this afghan.

I’m glad summer’s over. It feels like it’s been a long one.


Y’all, today I did some shit. I finished my book review–Girl meets house. House has ghosts. Girl comes to regret loving house.–which I started last week and thought was stupid, but when I looked at it again today, I could figure out how to fix it. When I got back to the house after getting the dog his medicine, I thought, if I’m having a day where I can figure out how to fix things, let’s figure some shit out.

I fixed the story I wanted to submit to the anthology. But was it blasphemous enough? It did involve a woman kicking two pantheons to the side and racist bikers punching a baby and I came up with the best title ever–“Many Strangers Walk the Road to Emmaus”–but I took a look at a story I swore would never see the light of day because it was two personal and too painful and I ended up thinking that it was much more blasphemous, if more subtly so. Let me put it this way. I would let my dad read “Many Strangers Walk the Road to Emmaus.” I will never let him read “Lefty.” I’m not sure if someone who’s not a minister’s kid will get all the core heresies of “Lefty,” but I still decided to submit it anyway.

Taking into account the feedback I got on one of the rejections of the Metallica time-travel story, I rewrote the ending a while ago and then let it sit. I went back through it today and decided, yep, the feedback was right and the new ending is much better. I sent it out again.

I read through my story about the woman who gives birth to crawdads in Walmart and I loved it all over again so I sent it back out. So, that’s three submissions and the book review.

Sometimes shit just breaks loose. I’m not sure why.

The Peacock Afghan

God damn it, I really need a cockapus afghan and I need your thoughts on it below! Ha ha ha. No, the peacock afghan is going well. I kind of did up all the changing parts so that I could make sure the color combinations worked how I want and now I have a bunch of ends to tuck and then just the yellow and green rounds on the motif to put together.

I think the thing I find very satisfying about this style of afghan (and it’s going to be very heavily based on the beautiful butthole afghan) is that it feels like it goes quickly. Like there’s both a lot to do and yet not so much that you feel like it can’t be done.

But I’m still irritated at other iterations of peacock afghans I’ve seen, which are just making the peacock eye thingy and then appliqueing it to a different afghan. So you have two layers of yarned shit. How hot must that be?! I want an afghan where the eyes are a part of the structure of the afghan, not sewn on at the end.

And I think the beautiful butthole afghan, with slight modifications for a smaller motif, is the way to go.

I’m getting a lot of work done on the afghan, too, because I’m avoiding my problems. Ha ha ha. But no, it’s nice to come home and just not think about anything. Just listen to some podcasts and move my fingers around.

I sometimes feel like a liar. Not like a regular liar. But I feel like I have three really ingrained instincts–1. to shut down in the face of unpleasantness in order to have the unpleasantness over with as soon as possible; 2. to be the person who sucks it up and does what’s necessary to keep things moving; 3. to keep some important section of myself deeply private (and what section that is doesn’t even matter, just that I have a secret thing I don’t have to share). You can see, I’m sure, how very gendered that is and how it was fed by being raised a minister’s kid.

But it means that many of my interactions with non-friends are often fundamentally dishonest. The person standing before you, laughing along, is not the person standing before you who’s really thinking “Is this enough time to spend on this? Can I excuse myself now?”

So, I’m in this jam and it’s kind of self-inflicted, in that I have a few acquaintances, not people who are my friends, but people who could have, under other circumstances, become my friends, who have a view of me as someone who breezily blows off this online shit and who courts and loves conflict. I am “tough” and “a bad ass” and I “can take a little criticism, so who cares?”

This is fundamentally untrue most of the time. This year it’s been especially untrue. As you all know because I gripe about it so often. I have tried to draw firm boundaries and to make clear that I don’t want to hear the negative opinions people I don’t know have of me. These boundaries, it’s become exceedingly clear, are not firm enough, because these same people keep doing this same shit to me–making sure I learn of all people’s bad opinions of me. And then I sit around and question, well, did I not make it clear, clear enough? Am I making it clear but they’re just not able to hear it because who I am as a person is, in this case so incongruent from who they see me as that they just can’t make it jibe, can’t believe I am who I am telling them I am and not who they see me as? Or are they evil and they think I don’t notice?

But I think this is an older problem with me than just this summer. People perceive me as strong and outspoken and yet my oldest coping mechanism is to go quiet and cryptic and smile and get it over with. I hardly ever say “You’re doing a shitty thing to me.” I instead harden myself against them and try to move them along quickly.

You see why it feels like lying? Like, once I decide you’re not safe for me, I just pull some important part of me away from you, tuck it in a safe spot, and handle you as best I can until I can be done with you.

So, like these people. I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to hear this shit–but I can’t really be sure that I’ve been blunt enough, since they seem mostly like good people but they haven’t stopped and I am a woman raised to not be very direct–and my ability to be generous to people who are bothering me is not very well-developed, so rather than continue to try to get them to respect my boundaries, I just begin to fundamentally lie to them. I smile and nod and laugh on the surface and me and my true self just withdraw and wait it out.

I’m not sure if that’s a really fair way to deal with the world.

Ha ha ha. I’m not really sure why this has become the September of Introspection, but I promise, the month’s almost over.

What Can Be Done?

I think one of the things that gets me down about America is that I don’t see a good path through. I say this as someone who loves to lecture, but lectures aren’t going to work. People’s pain doesn’t seem to work. These snuff videos don’t seem to work.

Oh, lord, that’s a genre whose meaning has changed. Do you remember–and maybe you don’t if you’re young enough–the fear of the snuff film? Had anyone ever made a film of someone dying? And I’m not sure what was supposed to differentiate this from news footage, maybe that it was artfully rendered? But the point was that someone could watch someone really dying for their entertainment.

It’s hard to imagine this being something so taboo it was mostly rumors and urban legends, since it’s an entertainment so freely available to us now.

One thing I keep hearing floated is the disbanding of police and the eradication of prisons. I keep thinking of Fish and Gacy, though. Maybe I should just be thinking of that guy the Nashville police shot the other day, who had been terrorizing his ex-girlfriend and whose family came out in support of the cop who shot him. Obviously, someone who’s a minor level drug dealer can be reformed. Someone who vandalizes a house could be made to understand how much that sucks through some kind of restorative justice. Maybe even three-fourths of folks like the Vandy rapists could be made to understand how what they did was wrong and hurtful and destructive. Maybe you can talk a lot more people into not being fuckers than we’re currently doing. I can believe that.

But I have been a woman since I was born and if there’s one thing you learn in a body like this, it’s that a lot of people enjoy the suffering of people like me. If a person commits a crime against me and it’s not motivated by need–like, sure, you can probably reform the person who steals and pawns all my band gear for drug or food money–but by the pleasure he takes in my pain, what does getting us together and sitting around discussing how much pain he caused me do but confirm for him that his goal was met and that, bully for him, he’s still causing me pain?

And why does your committing a crime against me create an obligation in me to fix you?

I like a lot of the ideas I’ve heard about restorative justice and I see how it could sometimes work in circumstances where everyone was committed to not ruining lives and to having positive outcomes.

But, like I said, I’ve been a woman a long time. I know the tremendous pressure we’re put under now to not jack the people who’ve wronged us up. I don’t see how this won’t be more of the same–where we just bear all of the pain and suffering and suck it up so that the community is not disrupted. It seems like a good situation for bad people. And a free trip to the candy store for people whose goal is the continued suffering of their victims or their victims’ families.

I could be more convinced that we should just do away with the police, but we didn’t used to have police and, when we didn’t, you had to find the person who wronged you or hire someone to do so. And possibly things are so bad right now that this arrangement wouldn’t change things, but I just think this ends with poor people literally never getting justice.

Here, I think, is the problem. Humans are self-serving, fucked-up messes and the institutions we create reflect that. We look at something as deeply fucked up as America is right now and we imagine that the solution is to burn it down and build something better in its place. But it’s us. The same fucked up people who are doing this thing. How are we not going to create new unfair systems?

I genuinely don’t know what a solution is here. I have been one who has spent twenty minutes untangling a terrible knot in yarn and I have been one who just cuts the knot out and goes on with less yarn. And a lot of times, there’s no difference to the end afghan. But I’ve never been in a situation where, when there was a difference, I didn’t wish I’d spent the twenty minutes to get the yarn unknotted, rather than coming up short when I needed it.