Why There Will Never Be a Tiny Cat Pants Orgy

Ahem.

Some of you may recall that I did a little housekeeping not two days ago and that I specifically said “let me know if any links aren’t working or if you should be here and you’re not.”

Hanni, Cabbit, Tequila Red, what if I’d sent out invitations to the Tiny Cat Pants orgy and just invited everyone to the right over there? I would have missed y’all and we’d be worse off for it.

Kleva, your link wasn’t working. That’s almost worse. Imagine my many extremely attractive sexually adventurous talented and skilled readers all a little distraught because they were expecting you and you never got your invite.

Okay, I’ve got y’all hooked up now and I’m still keeping an eye out for anyone else who’s linking in but too shy to ask for a link back out.

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Animals

1. “Look around nature. You don’t see any ugly tigers. You know what that means? Everyone can get laid.”–The recalcitrant brother. No, I don’t know what tigers have to do with it, but I’m sure there’s some wisdom in that nugget.

2. I’m a little jealous of people who look like their pets. After all, Mrs. Wigglebottom is long and lean and sleek and cute. I am neither lean nor sleek, though I think I’m cute, in my own way.

But today, the Professor said that I was just like Mrs. Wigglebottom, that I get a hold of something–like Mrs. Wigglebottom gets a hold of her slimy orange conk–and shake it and prod it and nibble away at it until I have everything out of it.

I think the Professor was likening herself to the chew toy, which I don’t know if I agree with, but it made me happy to think that I do bear some resemblance to that happy girl curled up at my feet.

3. Finally everyone is gone. The recalcitrant brother is gone. The parents are gone. The Butcher is at work. I am crying. Not because I’m lonely or sad, but because this fucking ape that carries my brain around in its head has had enough. It is tired and worn out and is lonesome* in a way that being around other people only exacerbates.

Actually, it’s this, that my body cries without me, that is the thing about it that annoys me most. Sometimes, even hippy liberals need to be righteously angry and put the fear of god into folks, but just when I’m like “Oh, you rotten motherfucker, prepare to feel the full force of my wrath,” I realize I’m crying. I’m not even sad. I’m pissed off. I want to yell and scream. I want to make my point in bold and daring ways, but there they are, those tears that say “Don’t take me seriously. I’m just an emotional girl.”

Ah, well, what can you do?

*I think it’s obvious to anyone who stops to think about it that lonely and lonesome are two different things. Lonely is cured by calling a friend or something. Lonesome is cured by… what… I don’t know. Lonesome is an existential problem.

The Kingmaker

Fido’s in Hillsboro Village is full of aging hipsters, sleepy-eyed grad students, and young families who’ve stumbled over from the children’s hospital in a haze of hunger and worry.

There are only a few people in line ahead of us, and when we approach the counter to order our breakfast, I can’t be sure, but I think I see a hint of recognition pass over our barrista’s face. If she knows the man I’m with, she does a good job of keeping it from him.

He gets a breakfast burrito and an elaborate drink involving honey. I get a bagel and some fruit.

A table opens up right before we need it and I’m immediately suspicious. I search the faces of the people at the surrounding tables, but I’m met with the visages of people who appear to be lost in their own thoughts.

I remind myself to be cautious and I sit down.

“Aren’t you going to get some coffee?” He asks. He’s an imposing figure, with a pleasant smile and a smooth almost graceful way about him. I take a deep breath and make some joke about having only been there a couple of times before. “Go ahead,” he smiles. “Steal some.”

I’m pretty sure he’s joking, but when I go up to the counter, they have a cup ready for me. A friendly girl with dark eyes hands it over to me and tells met to go ahead. She won’t take my money.

I pick the coffee called Mud. I fill my cup and sit down.

Most folks will tell you that the blogging powerhouse in Nashville is Mr. Roboto, a veritable Blogfather, if you will. Most folks are wrong.

The real power behind the throne, the man they call the Kingmaker, is the amiable pleasant man before me. A man they say is responsible for the untimely end of at least one prominent Nashville blog. I know if I’m going to have any success in this town, I’ve got to get the blessing of the Kingmaker.

I begin. I tell him about how Tiny Cat Pants started out small, as just a way for me to keep from emailing the same boring crap to all my friends and how one day I found myself with a lot of readers. He nods and says he’s seen me around in places he didn’t expect.

I can’t tell if that’s good or if he’s angry that I’ve expanded so quickly before coming to find him. I keep talking.

He picks up the camera he’s had sitting on the table and begins to snap pictures. I’m scared shitless, but I try not to show it. I’ve heard the rumors about the wall of bloggers in that room in his house, about how he sits in his big chair and points to one after another asking his dog, “Is this the one we do in today? Is this the one we do in today?” No one is sure what signal the dog gives, but whatever it is, there’s no reprieve.

We chat pleasantly for a long time and I start to relax. He smiles conspiratorially at me and asks, “So, do you think Jon Jackson is always at that Applebee’s?”

And, for a minute, I forget who I’m with. I smile back and say, “Oh, sure.” And there it is. I slap my hand over my mouth, but it’s too late. The Kingmaker leans back in his chair and looks over his shoulder. A small girl starts crying and a family gets up to leave.

“There,” he says, “That was easy enough. Welcome to the big leagues, B.”

I gather my things together and rush out. I’ve got my blessing–a link at Nashville is Talking and a link at Pith in the Wind–but at what cost? At what cost?

Of Course There’s No Monster in the Butcher’s Closet

The oldest nephew claimed he could not sleep because of the noises coming from the Butcher’s closet. Not the noises from the TV, which was so loud that I had to call the Butcher on the phone and tell him to turn it down. Not the noises from the dog, who was making every bark she could think of to alert us to the arrival of the recalcitrant brother. But the closet.

The problem is, and the reason the men in the house had no sympathy for him is, that the Butcher’s closet is full of crap and the space in front of the Butcher’s closet is packed with more crap. If there’s anything in there, it’s died from lack of food.

Fine, of course he should just lay down and go to sleep. But the fact was, I was already laying down and going to sleep, and so his constant, “Daddy, there’s a noise in the closet” and the return holler of “No there isn’t. Now go lay down.” was keeping me awake.

So, I went in there with my wiggly dog for protection, and sat down on the bed and listened. And sure enough, after a few seconds of sitting there quietly, I could indeed here a strange ass noise coming from near the closet.

“Nephew,” I explained, “the interstate is right out my window. And right out the Butcher’s window, across the railroad tracks, is a huge metal building. What you’re hearing is the sound of large trucks rolling by echoing off the building in some weird way, and coming in that window.”

I felt like a genius. Of course, his father had the brilliant idea of turning the bathroom fan on so that the nephew couldn’t hear the noise, which actually let him fall to sleep, but I figured out what it was!

Ha, I think, maybe, that’s a difference between my brother and I. I come up with explanations that let me live with the things that bother me. He comes up with ways of covering them up so he doesn’t have to pay attention to them.

Still, I must tell you that, upon seeing that little boy sleeping in the Butcher’s bed with his butt all up in the air and his legs tucked up under him, my uterus made a noise–“awlwuwlwulw,” or something similar–which means, I think, in uterine “I could coax something like that into being for you” and though my heart said, “Holy shit, that’d be fucking awesome,” it was my brain who said “One, you already have a house full of things that depend on you. Two, do you not read your own writing? And three, you’re going to trust an organ that looks like a weird space ship? Has anyone ever made a horror movie about the uterus? No, I don’t think so. Stick with me, B. Make some wise choices for once.”

Every Girl Needs a Kick-Ass Theme Song

Speaking of Rob Zombie, my kick-ass theme song is his “Pussy Liquor.” I could not love that song more. I love to put that CD in the car stereo, roll down all my windows, and turn it up as loud as I can take it.

I love it because it has a walking baseline and a big brass section, and this chorus that when you sing it makes you feel not like a regular office worker in the yakkity-smackity field, not like someone no one at Pith In the Wind finds funny*, not like a girl who can’t escape the Freudian psycho-drama at home, but like a dangerous, scary thing that might kill a man.

One, two, three, who should I kill?
Every motherfucker running up the hill.
One, two, three, what should I do?
Get fucked up and fuck up you.

It’s true, I would be driving a Camaro around if I could. Shit, I kind of am. Ask anyone at Daimler Chrysler and you get enough drinks in them and they’ll tell you that the lines of the Dodge Stratus are supposed to remind 30 something professionals of the Camaros they saw in the high school parking lots.

What can I tell you? It worked on me.

Anyway, I saw Rob Zombie’s house on Cribs once and was totally disappointed. It’s dedicated to scary things, but it itself is not very scary. When I get some money, I’m going to live in a crazy-ass scary house. I’m going to sit on the front porch in my bathrobe singing “Pussy Liquor” softly under my breath and terrify the neighbor kids.

*Worse than not finding me funny–or my preference, insightfully funny–they seem to think I’m serious! That I think Egalia and Brittney are crazy and need medically induced orgasms to cure them! What the fuck?

Housekeeping

I spent my lunch tidying up around here. I’ve now got all my Midwesterners and Tennesseans in the order I actually read them, which only makes sense to me, I guess, but it feels right.

I added another designation of people, so that Folks Who’ve Sent Folks My Way was not made up people who only send themselves.

I also added some links I’ve been nurturing in Bloglines and now feel confident you will enjoy or hate, either one.

And, I’ve now got the Queen, who I think thought she could quietly have a blog without anyone noticing. Ha, ha, ha. Read her. Marvel at the fact that I know anyone so creative and well-spoken. Marvel even more at how awesome her blogroll is.

Obviously, let me know if I’ve forgotten anyone or if you find links that don’t work.

Rumors of the Recalcitrant Brother

Supposedly, if he can okay it with the kid’s mom, the recalcitrant brother and my oldest nephew will be here in Nashville at about midnight.

I am excited, don’t get me wrong, and I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with him this weekend, but America, I remain as tired as ever of the way that the drama between my dad and brothers remains so central in my life in ways I can’t figure out how to control.

I mean, of course I want the recalcitrant brother to come and visit. But it pisses me off that he doesn’t call me or the Butcher to make plans. No, he calls my parents, who don’t even live here, and makes all these arrangements and no one sits down at any point and even bothers to say “Here’s the deal, he’ll arrive at around midnight… blah, blah, blah” let alone “Hey, B. It’s your recalcitrant brother. I’m thinking of coming up there next weekend (or tomorrow, or today) and I’m wondering if I can crash on your couch.”

I have to find out what’s going on at my own house by osmosis. And there’s never any consideration of whether or not I already have plans. There’s just this assumption that my life can be and should be rearranged in ways that they never ask of the boys*.

It goes back to my continual complaint. In my family, girls take care of people. There is no way that I can see to escape this dynamic without ceasing to take care of at least the people in my house which would mean that there would be no one to pay the bills, which would mean we’d live in a box under 440 with the rest of the hobos. Not that the cats would mind this…

I mean, folks, get this. I caught my mom on the back porch talking on the phone to her Insane Friend. (And when I say insane, I mean this woman’s husband cheated on her repeatedly and left her for another woman and she still let him have their house because his new woman had four kids still living at home, so they would need the space, and the Insane Friend thought that if she only sacrificed enough, her husband would realize what a good wife she was and come back home–to a house she’d given him, I guess. Who the fuck knows?) And they were discussing how sad it was that both me and Insane Friend’s niece had been living in Nashville for a while and were so lonely.

And then my mom is like “How can we get them together?”

Yes, America, my mom is trying to make friends for her 31 year old daughter. I am ashamed to admit that I lost it at that point. First, I have friends. I tried to make a great show out of letting them meet in person a couple of my friends, so they know I do have them. Second, do you know how old this girl is? Twenty-two. Yes, nine years younger than me. (But only, for those of you wondering, two and a half years younger than the Butcher.) So, there I was yelling at my mother about how my house is not a fucking Home for Wayward Socially Awkward People and that it’s not her fucking job to make friends for me and not my fucking job to befriend every lost soul who makes her way to Nashville.

I am about ready to send the whole lot of them home and here they are inviting more people up. Well, what the fuck, America? Come on over. Just bring your own towels, because we’re out of clean ones. It’s easy enough to find my place. Just get on 440, head towards Memphis, and when you see the remains of a beer chicken failure, just climb over the retaining wall. Ours is the place with me sobbing quietly outside on the front stoop.

*I know I promised no more feminist crap for July, but I’m a liar. Sue me.

The Bell Witch

I had a great rant about patriarchal bullshit and Rattle & Snap all worked up, but the weather is so nice and cool and autumnal that, in honor of that, I’m giving the overtly feminist rants a rest until August.

[Someone go get Short & Fat some water and fan W, who’s looking a little faint. It’s okay boys, we’ll get back to that stuff.]

But this weather also has me thinking of ghosts, and what better ghost than Tennessee’s very own Bell Witch?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the legend, you can bring yourself up to speed here and here. You can even view some good photos here.

But the general gist is that the Bell Witch is one of the most famous American hauntings, well-witnessed and well-verified. Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about just what exactly the Bell Witch was–poltergeist, spurned lover, giant hoax.

And, my friends, I also have a theory.

Let us look at what we know. First, there appeared some strange animals. Then there were sounds and voices. Then there were physical afflictions on the Bell family.

And then, let us ask ourselves, if this were not something supernatural, who besides the Bells could have done this? “No one,” you say, “dear Aunt B. All of the legends say that whenever they went to examine the source of the noises, no one was there.”

But is that really true? Who in 1817 in Tennessee could have been physically present at almost all times and not be counted as someone? Able to move around the property without ever raising any suspicion? Who might have had knowledge of potions and concoctions that could give a powerless person some power over her oppressors? Who would have access to socks, shoes, or footprints necessary to do something “such as removing them from town, jinxing them, bringing them under control in love or money matters, or giving them an unnatural illness”? (and what illness more unnatural than John Bell’s?) Who came from a culture with a well-established history of using ventriloquism in their conjuring? And who would have had the most to lose from John Bell’s history of poor business dealings? Or, perhaps, an unwise marriage?

Yep, I suspect that the Bell Witch was right there under their noses the whole time, and that her legend is evidence of a great and lasting conjuration, perpetrated by one or more of their slaves.

George Never Lets Me Down

So, earlier in the week I was complaining to the Butcher about how outrageous it was that Dear George could get down to speak to the Boy Scouts about their tragic loss of 4 leaders, but could not bring himself to go to a funeral every now and then for the soldiers he’s expending in the War on Terror. Oh, excuse me. The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.

Jesus Christ. The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism? Well, it’s got one thing going for it. At least it’s honest. Wars have ends. Struggles go on and on and on and that’s what this mess is, a never ending struggle against desperate, violent idiots who don’t fear death. But do I think we’re going to start being up front about all of the other struggles we’ve wrongly labeled wars? Will we get the Struggle Against Drugs? The Struggle Against Crime? The Struggle Against Poverty? (Hee, it’s funny. The more you type ‘struggle,’ the more it seems like some wacky dance from the 60s.)

But more importantly, this “struggle” has for me the same bullshitty ring as “conflict.” And that’s why I loathe it. Loathe, loathe, loathe. 1. I don’t trust that Fucker as far as I can throw him and I have my suspicions that moving this from “war” to “struggle” will allow them to somehow fuck over the troops. I don’t know how, because I’m not in the military, but this seems like exactly the kind of dumbass thing that leads people who need help from the VA 30 years from now to find out that their benefits don’t cover such help because they weren’t in a “war,” they were in a “struggle.” I hope Short & Fat will come by and tell me my fears are unfounded.

But 2. Because I’m not in the military, I exactly get what they’re trying to do with moving things from “war” to “struggle.” A war has clear objectives, a clear enemy, and a clear purpose. It’s becoming clearer and clearer every day that we don’t have that. It’s even becoming clearer to patriotic families who can usually be relied on to encourage their children to join the military, hence the reason the Army is struggling to recruit people.

But a struggle seems less dangerous than a war. Sure, people might die in a struggle, but not as many people as die in a war. See, just by changing this word, it’s safe again to send your kids into the military.

Also, a struggle has no definite end. With a war, you have military families who want to know why they keep having to risk their loved ones over and over and over again when so many of the rest of us don’t. When you’re at war, it seems grossly unfair that some people are asked to repeatedly risk their lives while others of us don’t. With a “global war on terror,” the necessity for a large armed forces made up of as many young and able bodied Americans seems eventually necessary. The whole country ought to mobilize for a global war of any sort. But with a struggle, we don’t need to talk about a draft. A struggle can be handled by the armed forces we have.

So, patriotic Americans, there’s no need to worry about your sons and daughters under Dear George’s leadership. This is just a struggle, a minor state of conflict we’ll have to be embroiled in for decades, but no worries. We’re just reframing the whole thing to more accurately reflect the amount of thought you need to give this–very little–because George Bush loves Patriotic Americans and would never do them wrong.

From Egalia:

Bush cancelled his trip to the Boy Scouts Jamboree due to bad weather.

Meanwhile, more than 300 scouts became sick from bad weather, or from extreme heat, while waiting patiently for Bush to show.

This is Why I Love This Thing

I stumbled upon Twyla while reading Peg’s blog and I remember thinking “Wow, this is someone so unlike me, but from whom I could learn a lot about patience and understanding and healing.”

It’s really amazing, when you think about it, that total strangers unveil themselves for other total strangers to read, laugh at, dismiss, or be deeply moved by.

This morning, over Fruit Loops, I was reading Summer’s latest entry and I felt that same way–like I was very lucky to have stumbled across this writer.

I don’t think Twyla and Summer have a lot in common as writers. I’m not even sure if they’d like each other’s style of writing. But reading something like this–

I knew I was, as someone who had long called herself a feminist, supposed to feel like a subject. Like a valuable woman deserving of equal rights and equal pay and equal say. Like a woman who both knows her own worth and believes in it. Empowered.

Yes, I knew–had even memorized–the schpiel, I had just failed to internalize it all. Sure, I had gotten the right things into my head, into my philosophy, into my worldview…just not into my selfview. No, though I wanted—desperately wanted—to feel it all down in my guts, the rhetoric had never made it quite that far.

–which feels like a kind of truth I immediately recognize but don’t know how to articulate for myself made me want to draw Twyla’s attention to Summer and Summer’s attention to Twyla.

So, there it is. You may read each other and say “Wow, I have no idea why Aunt B. thought I’d like this,” but I hope you read each other and appreciate in each other what I appreciate, that brave openness to beauty and self-discovery.

"I Hope When I’m Their Age, I’m Still Nailing my Wife"

I don’t like to think about my parents having sex. I assume they do. But I don’t want to hear about it. I’m glad the Butcher is so nonchalant about it. I’m glad he enthusiastically approves. But not me. I prefer strict boundaries between their sex lives and mine. I know that and they know that.

But that did not stop there from being a point tonight over dinner when I realized that my parents were discussing their sex life in front of the Professor.

Really, America, what has this family come to? Are we now discussing all of our most intimate moments with our family members’ friends? Am I obliged to call up the other Reverend and explain the myriad ways I went fumbling around young stoners in my parents’ basement in high school? Because I cannot do that. No matter how much they think chatty jokes about “knobs” are acceptable, I cannot talk about sex with my parents’ friends or with my parents, especially not in front of the Professor.

Still, if it had to come to this, I’m glad that I am not the only person who has to have the image of old minister/old school teacher sex seared onto her brain.

What is Wrong with my Boobs?

I could just email the Shill–expert in all matters mammary–but then I wouldn’t have anything to write about this evening and I thought some of you could use some reassurance that all my problems are not just psychological.

Okay, so I have some boobs, obviously. Here’s one; it’s the one covered in tye-die, for those of you who need visual aids.

And I have some bras, none of which I like that much because I have slopey shoulders and so I’m always fighting with the straps. Also, I slouch at work, which means that, when I stand up, I have two big red smiles, one under each tit. I don’t like that. But also annoying is that the underwire, where it meets in the front, tends to stick out after a while. All of my bras start out with underwires that look like happy “u”s and end up looking like mangled corkscrews.

But this is not my complaint today.

Here’s what’s bothering me, America. This morning, in the shower, I found dead skin in the fold of my boobs. I don’t think it’s raw or anything. It doesn’t hurt, but it occurs to me that I’ve never looked at the underside of my boobs. I could have a large rash there and never know it.

Hold on.

Okay, I just checked in the bathroom and I don’t have any horrible disfigurments, but it does look kind of dry under there. Is it just the weather? Is my skin too dry? Too damp? Should I start lotioning or powdering? Do I need new bras? To stop wearing bras? Now, I’m worried that it might smell funny.

Maybe I should have asked the disgruntled folks who were walking out of The Devil’s Rejects if one of them would be so kind as to sniff my under-boob before they left.

Well, I Think I’m Funny

Though I long to write long loving posts to The Devil’s Rejects, I will spare you and instead focus on Morgan and Jerry Lewis.

Morgan says:

Look, I’m not trying to be a chauvinist or anything, but there just aren’t very many hilarious girls out there. Face it, comedy might not be your niche. Try being thoughtful instead. There’s a real fine line, though, because the girls that are “too cool” never say anything funny. So, I guess, make a few funnies, but just don’t push it.

Jerry Lewis says:

A woman doing comedy doesn’t offend me, but sets me back a bit. I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.

Now, frankly, I think Morgan is taking the bigger comedic risk here, because he’s trying to insult women at the same time that he, himself, is trying to be funny. He runs a great risk, if his humor falls flat, of being seen as a fool.

Jerry, on the other hand, is taking little risk for himself at all. He’s got nothing to lose by revealing himself to be a jackass. Those of us who love Dean Martin have long suspected it. It is unfortunate, though, because he also speaks for the MDA and his comments could have hurt them.

But none of this analysis brings us any closer to understanding whether or not women are actually funny. I think I’m funny and many people who know me in real life spend a great deal of time laughing around me (or maybe at me, hard to say).

Can one’s sense of humor, her comedic timing, her ability to move audiences be linked to her gender? Or might one’s ability to perceive different funny things be linked to one’s gender? I’m almost certain it’s the latter, not the former, as my observations suggest that only men with very small penises don’t find me delightfully humerous.

The Devil’s Rejects

Quick review: Awesome. Beautiful. Definitely my favorite movie I’ve seen all year. Part Black Label Society picnic. Part American Gothic. I told Taketoshi and I’m telling you, I’d kind of written off Rob Zombie as director after House of a Thousand Corpses, figuring he had an interesting career making fucked up home videos and not much more, but this… this was something else, America. Wow.

Men, I let you down again

It’s hot. I need to wear shorts out tonight. I need to leave the house in mere minutes.

So, I must confess, I did use the Butcher’s electric shaver on my legs.

Breathe through it, boys.

I promise I’ll try not to do it again.

America, Give Me Your Money!

America, give me your money and I will flush it down the toilet along with my own. Really, you’ve never met a girl so gifted at just handing her money to corporate America for no reason other than her own stupidity.

USBank (motto: Us bank, you customer): $120 in overdraft charges, due, in part, to my own inability to read my own fucking handwriting. You’re welcome.

Citibank (motto: Hook ’em when they’re broke in college and keep ’em paying that shit off forever): $200 in interest a month, roughly.

Other credit card (motto: We’re here for you when your employer tells you after you’ve moved to take the job that the pay is actually $5,000 a year less than you were told.): $200 in interest a month, roughly.

The credit union (motto: Even poor people need easy access to crippling debt!): Whatever the fuck the car payment is, plus the loan I had to take out to cover moving into this place.

The Government: $270 a month in student loans.

America, let me tell you what’s going to happen. I’m going to win the lottery. Not the whole shebang, but enough to pay off Citibank. I’m going to be so nervous about putting that check in the mail that I’m going to want to drive to a Citibank office and hand them the check in person.

On my way there, I will wreck my car, giving myself selective amnesia, so that I can remember nothing I learned after high school graduation, and thus, I’ll be unable to work, and the only thing I’ll have to show for my life is that I finally paid off one credit card.

Is the Tiny Cat Emily Dickinson?

She hasn’t left my room in days, preferring to spend the hot afternoons curled up on my suitcase near the air conditioning vents and the nights sitting on the window ledge staring out onto the parked cars in the driveway.

Like any cat, I suspect, the wide world of the back yard and the tiny world of my room are both equally interesting. Cats, with their openness to quiet and their appreciation of nuance, give me a lot to think about.

Watching the cat watching me last night, I got to thinking about the numerous things I appreciate about her. Out of everyone in our house, she’s the bravest. When the hermit crab came tumbling out of my pajamas and I shrieked and shrieked because I thought it was a mutant mouse, and the dog and the orange cat ran downstairs to hide under the endtable together, she burst into the bathroom, even though a shower had just taken place in there, and immediately began swatting the crab away from me.

Of everyone in the house, she is the quietest–except when she cries out before coughing up a hairball–which allows her to move through the house mostly unnoticed.

And, of everyone in the house, she most knows how to comfort you when you’re feeling down. The Butcher leaves, as does the orange cat. The dog acts as if your sadness is a personal insult to her. But the tiny cat will come and lay down near you just to let you know you are not alone.

Is she writing poetry, though? That I cannot tell.

Important Things I Learned Today

1. There seems to be one lone concrete pillar not connected to any piece of road over near the new Briley Parkway exit onto I40.

2. My parents both need constant reassurance that I am not a lesbian. They worry because I seem to be alone and they worry that I have found someone and am not telling them.

3. However, even though I am secretly marvelous enough to have a lesbian lover and important enough to her that she would put up with being forced to disappear whenever my parents came to town, I am too fat and ugly to ever get a man.

(As you might imagine, it does a number on a girl to try to follow the logical acrobats necessary to make sense of this, to try to figure out how that all fits together. Is it worth the effort to become beautiful so that I can take scores of male lovers they won’t approve of or should I figure out how to act on impulses I don’t have so that I can remain myself and take scores of female lovers they won’t approve of?)

4. Other girls they know, just like me–fat, alone, etc.–are really fucked up and so I might be as well.

Ah, y’all, it should make me mad, usually, this shit makes me mad, but I’m just tired.

Perhaps these are the callouses Short & Fat speaks of, the parts of your heart that get thick in response to constant bruising.

Ha, I only wish I had more unique issues.

Good night, all.

Come Back Later

I’m spending another 100 degree day driving my parents around Nashville and its suburbs.

Who knows what great mysteries will be revealed to us?

Yesterday I learned that my parents can handle skipping church without turning into quivering messes and that, if they’re trapped too long in a car with me, they will be so desperate for interaction with other human beings that I shouldn’t have been at all worried about them asking many embarrassing, confrontational questions of our dinner guest, because they had so many stories about people I didn’t even know (let alone the Beckett defender knowing them) that they had to have heard, I don’t think our guest got a word in edgewise.

Both of these things are interesting bits of knowledge in their own ways.

Anyway, check back later to see what other pearls of wisdom I discover out there in the hot suburbs.

You Guys

One method of good literary criticism, I think, is where you look for the parts of the story that upon close inspection seem to not quite hold together. Then, when you find the weak spots in the manuscript, where the motivations of the characters seem not to jive with their behavior, you try to figure out what’s really going on.

I read a comment on a website on Friday and I think I must have bookmarked it at work, because I don’t have it here with me now, that said “Men are hurt by the patriarchy, women are oppressed by it.” And I laughed when I read it, but it stuck with me and I started to wonder if that was exactly true.

One of the things I’ve been mulling over this week is, frankly, just how fucked up you guys are. No offense, but as a general rule, we don’t go around beating the shit out of each other; we’re not killing each other; that’s all you guys.

We’re all caught up in this way of relating to each other that is crippling to all of us. I know some feminists really would like to just flip the tables, let y’all be under our yoke for a thousand years or two. I reject any philosophy of revenge in this vein, because I think it reaffirms a view of history I reject–you ought not to draw some line from the Old Testament to Greece and Rome into Germany and England and over to us and call it a true version of our cultural heritage. But it’s an impulse I understand, this desire for turning the tables, if only because I long to be the person at the dinner table who gets to have her stories heard.

But I’ve been thinking about how homophobic y’all are–straight men–and how weird it is, because it’s not any of your business. Gay men aren’t waiting for you to drop your guard so that they can sneak in and touch your penises. So, why are you so fucking hostile to them? Why do you beat them up and ridicule them and threaten them and, sometimes, kill them? It makes no sense.

But I’ve been watching you for a long time now, and I’m working on a theory.

Here’s what I’ve noticed. There is often something really, really fucked up between fathers and sons. I think it has to do with the competing pressures you feel to both “be your own man” and “carry on the family name.” And the complimentary pressures fathers feel to “toughen you up” or “teach to fight” or “teach you to be a man” and to keep you in a position of submission to them so that they can teach you everything you need to know about taking up your proper position in the family.

You must navigate between being your own person and being the next in line.

As I said, I’ve been watching y’all and this is what it seems like from where I’m standing, that you guys are constantly struggling with your fathers and sons over these contradictory impulses.

It’s not pretty.

But gay men, as they have become more publicly visible, have obviously escaped that problem. They aren’t going to take their place next in line. (One might suspect as more and more gay men are adopting children this might once again become a problem, but that remains to be seen, I think.) And they clearly are their own individual selves.

The problem the straight man has is balancing the two. If he is utterly subsumed into his family, he’s not an individual. If he’s too individual, he’ll lose his place in the family. Either one of these outcomes is pretty terrible.

Or seems pretty terrible. We have a lot invested in our cultural myths.

But gay men really embody an alternative to that. Many of them have been rejected by their families and, in return, have rejected their families. Many of them have moved to more gay-friendly places and created their own close communities of friends that reaffirm and support them.

In other words, they’ve found a way out of the conundrum that makes a lot of men so miserable.

And now, we can see why so many straight men react so violently to gay men. It’s that, in part, we want to believe that we’re miserable because there is no other choice. Any proof of other choices must really threaten us right to the core.

And now it becomes clear why so many homophobes* insist being gay is a choice, not because they care whether two men touch because they choose to or because they were born to, but because they’re responding to many gay men’s decision to choose not to participate in a core cultural struggle that is making a lot of men of all sexual persuasions miserable.

That, my friends, is what I suspect the real threat is.

Let’s for a second reconsider the notion of that continuum of history I just rejected, because, frankly, so many Old Testament stories are foundational myths of our culture. So, here we have this problem–this fucking Biblical foundation myth–of Jacob both striving to receive his father’s birthright at the same time he’s kicking God’s ass because he’s not going to submit to any authority.

These foundational myths, repeated over and over, and reinforced in church and in school, really shape how we see ourselves. They start to feel RIGHT, NATURAL, ORDAINED BY GOD.

Even if they make us miserable, we have to keep perpetuating those types of ways of relating to each other, because what other choice do we have? Abraham almost killed Isaac. Isaac was tricked into giving Jacob Esau’s place in the family. Jacob wrestled God. That’s just how men are–violent, lying, rebellious creatures who must be brought into line.

Rejecting that notion of manhood means, in great part, rejecting our foundational myths. To most people, obviously, that’s unacceptable.

And if some group of people–especially people that seem so much like us–find ways of escaping that, it’s both a threat that must be eliminated, and, since from our perspective we’re still accepting the cultural myth as true, rebellious creatures who must be brought into line.

At least, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.

* I hope it’s obvious that I’m using this word in a way that continues our discussion about how, while I believe it’s fine to hate whoever the fuck you want, I can’t understand why you have to take that next step into acting against them, and that this post is, in part, about attempting to do that.

The Parents are Here

As we were sitting down to dinner at the “Florida Seafood” restaurant on Nolensville Road (their unofficial motto must be “Let’s see how much we can get these folks to eat!” because they brought out so much food I thought for a minute we’d misordered, like the place was like that Italian place “Boppo de beppo” or “Bello de poppi” [help!], where you order a couple of items and everyone shares. But no, they just want everyone in Nashville to have an abundance of food in front of them. So, if you like seafood not too fancy but tasty, I’d recommend it.) I realized that my mom can’t read the menu. She’s holding it right up to her face in order to see the words.

Gentle reader, as you may recall, my dad is recovering from major surgery on his right ankle. He can put NO pressure on it, so he can’t drive.

I think you see why I’m VERY alarmed and yet very grateful that they are down here in one piece. Seriously, if you see a stout man pushing himself around on a scooter (he’ll be the one shouting “Weee” as he zips by you), watch what van he gets into and drive your car in the opposite direction. Mom claims she can see distances just fine. I will be testing her on it today, rest assured.

But anyway, I wanted to brag on what they brought me. First, they brought the Butcher down a drill and some saws. Now, he can build his own frames. That will be cool. And they brought us some light house figurines–hell if I know why–and so I volunteered to take the one that looks like the light house Elias and I once saw and the Butcher took the one from Boston.

But then, they started unpacking the cool shit. They brought down three paintings that my great grandmother Teckla painted (I’m named after her. Don’t laugh, motherfuckers, Beckla is a fine name. No, just kidding. Teckla my middle name. What kind of woman was Teckla? She once beat up Amelia Earhart in grammar school and, though she was born Theckla Annie Albertina, when my mother was born Mom Anne, Theckla changed her name to Theckla Anne, and by the time I was born, had ditched the “h” because folks in America didn’t get that it was just supposed to indicate a heavy “T” sound and not the “th” sound we know.) and there’s this awesome one of the trumpet vine out back behind their cottage at the Indiana Dunes and some railroad ties that my mom then told us about jumping off of all the time when she was a girl.

But the coolest things they brought me were three books. 1. An illustrated Bible that belonged to Teckla’s husband when he was a boy, given to him, I think, by his aunt. 2. An old family Bible from the 1830s with a big section in the middle filled out with birth and death dates of the Payne family, who, I’m pretty sure, were in-laws of Teckla’s husband’s. 3. An elegant old illustrated edition of Tennyson’s poems.

This volume broke my heart. I don’t know much about Teckla’s husband’s side of the family. I know he had an aunt who lost her fiance in the War at Chickamauga and that said fiance was fighting along side her brothers. But this book is beautiful–leatherbound, every page is two color, there’s an awesome frontispiece of Tennyson. You look at this book and you feel like you know something about the people that owned it, that they loved literature, that they loved beautiful books, and that they felt it was important to have a good library.

It made me feel very close to them. Now, if the Super Genius ever comes back from Las Vegas, I will have to ask her to use her library learning to give me some advice on how best to preserve these things, as they’re already not in the best of shape.

Oh, and dear reader, speaking of ways in which I felt very connected to my larger family, even though I have to go through the house and hide the alcohol from these old school Methodists who birthed me, my parents brought down with them a wrapper that went around an old liquor bottle from Fisser Likore (seit 1845), which is the distillery my great great grandma’s (Hulda Annie Albertina) husband’s family owned in Germany. I tried to look it up on the web, but I don’t speak German or Belgian and the only Fisser distillery I could find in Europe was this one.

I suppose national boundaries could have shifted or the company could have moved or gone out of business and another taken its place. I don’t know, but I’m still happy to have some distillers in the family tree.

Maybe I’ll order some whiskey from them and sit around and drink it while I read Tennyson out loud to the neighbors.

Surprising Things in My Bedroom–Not for Sex

1. The ice cream scoop. I don’t know why. I suspect the littlest nephew must have brought it up there for some reason the last time he was here stored it in my dresser for his own reasons.

2. A lightning rod. This was my graduation present from my parents when I finished my M.A. It’s awesome and it has two glass lightning rod balls on it, which I keep meaning to make the start of some awesome collection of lightning rod balls, but I don’t know where one even begins to find them. I guess I could start climbing old houses and just stealing them, but I’m afraid of heights. Plus, my lighting rod is full. Where would I keep the extra ones?

3. This awesome clay skull run through with nails and screws and one industrial staple that I got at one of the art fairs over at Centennial Park. My littlest nephew is fascinated by this and he’s all the time asking “What’s that for?” and saying “That’s scary.” And so I explain to him that it’s supposed to be scary enough to frighten the scary things in the dark and he laughs and makes me tell him that every time he comes to visit.

4. All of the old pictures of my dead relatives that my aunt was going to throw away after my grandma died. Well, I guess that’s only surprising to my aunt, who didn’t think anyone would want them.

5. The bones from a Thanksgiving turkey. I don’t know. I thought it’d be cool to have them, but it was a lot of work to boil the flesh off–a lot of work, and my Dad laughed at me the whole time I was doing it–and then I couldn’t think of anything cool to do with them, so they’re just hanging on my closet door, waiting for inspiration to strike.

And one surprising thing NOT in my bedroom.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. This is my favorite book in the world and I was in the mood to read it again this morning after arguing with Taketoshi last night about the relative merits of Calvino versus Beckett.

As you may have guessed by now, gentle reader, I like to instigate people just to hear them go off about things they love and Taketoshi, apparently, really loves Beckett. Now, my experience with Beckett is limited to faking that I was paying attention to a videotaped prisoner production of End Game, pretending to have read Molloy, and skimming through Malone Dies, twice.

I’ve never read, seen, or even been in the same town as a production of Waiting for Godot, but, gentle reader, as is my way, I claimed, basically, that it was crap.

And, Taketoshi unleashed the most glorious torrent of defenses of Waiting for Godot and impugned his students and me for failing to get the beautiful and heartbreaking ways that the play keeps revealing itself to a dedicated audience. It was marvelous to watch.

Still, I like Calvino better, and I love Invisible Cities best of all, and I have, on occasion, teared up at the end, when Marco Polo and Ghengis Khan seem to dissolve into dreams of each other. And, I have been known to read from it out loud just to prove to people how glorious it is.

It’s just so beautiful and it makes me happy and sad at the same time, and it makes me appreciate you, dear reader, as the most integral part of this relationship. Without you, I have no stories to tell. Yes, I have things that happened to me, but you give shape to them.

One of the best things about Calvino is, as I was telling the Beckett defender, that he gets that, when a story is told, the teller can think she is saying one thing and the listener can get another thing out of it, but rather than being depressed or forlorn about that–that we can’t ever really make ourselves completely understood to each other–he celebrates both acts as creative acts. I tell my story. You hear your story.

I dream of you dreaming of me.

Puff, Puff, Pass

So, after I quit my job at Casey’s I went to work for the local newspaper. The sole reason for the newspaper to exist, as far as I could tell, was so that little old ladies could read columns devoted to little old ladies in the next town over having lunch with each other.

That, and to provide some sandwiching material for the car ads.

I was hired because I could work a computer. My job? Designing said car ads.

America, I am no artist. I have no eye for composition or fonts or placement.

This made me perfect for the job, because a real graphic designer would have given a hearty “fuck you” to the place long before I did, because the car dealer in town had an even worse sense of graphic design than I did.

Still, I learned a lot about cars, or at least their various profiles, and a lot about the strange ways of bosses.

My boss was a lovely stoner named Ray. Ray didn’t think we knew he was a stoner because, well, duh, Ray was a stoner.

The newspaper offices were set up like this: There was a front area that lined the street. It was regular size. Above it was the apartment where the man who ran the printing presses lived, got drunk, and beat his girlfriend. She would say she fell in the bathtub, but we all knew better, those of us–woman–who worked until late at night, because we could hear it.

He was weird, the Pressman. I guess you’d say he was gross. He had a long mullet and disgusting teeth, and he was always wearing his coveralls with nothing under them, and they were so tight you wondered if his barrel chest wasn’t going to bust the zipper.

He had died once, a heart attack, and they cut him open and brought him back. I asked him what it was like being dead. He said, “Nothing.” I asked if he saw a light and a tunnel or anything and he said, “No, there was nothing.” That scares the shit out of me.

Here’s the worst part, America. He was sexy. Fuck if I know why. He was as dangerous as a grizzly bear, maybe that was part of it. But holy shit, does it still scare me about myself that I sometimes prayed to be left alone with him in the back room.

The back room was enormous, open three stories to the ceiling and lined with letters from the old press. It contained the light tables and the dark room and the bathrooms, and a walled off area with no ceiling that was Ray’s office.

Ray, the “clever” stoner, would come in at about one every afternoon and sit in the office for about a half an hour. Then he’d come out, go over to the drug store, buy up two or three bags of Cheetos, and come back.

That was the first clue, for the astute.

The second clue, for the stupid, was that he’d then go into his office and shut the door, and a few minutes later, large billowing plumes of smoke would come rising out from where he had no ceiling.

I am Old–The Concert Edition

As you know, I rarely leave my house, except to go to work and walk the dog. I can be enticed out with the promise of alcohol and food, but I’m headed right back home as soon as possible.

So, it’s with some surprise that I report that I was at an actual music concert last night, with actual live musicians, and a crowd. The Butcher had been tipped two tickets to Ben Folds and Weezer by someone who needed a tenderloin cut. (I’m hoping that’s not a euphemism for anything.)

My first thought, once the show started, was, “My god, it’s only Ben Folds. Why is it so loud?” Of course, it wasn’t Ben Folds; it was the opening act, who sounds remarkably like what someone who doesn’t know a lot of Ben Folds might think most of his songs might sound like, if that makes sense.

So, you know, I might not have enjoyed the opening act so much, except that I was playing “If the people around you were Nashville Bloggers, which ones would they be?” The balding man in front of me, who looked a lot like Stabler from Law & Order SVU, I almost convinced myself was Rex L. Camino. I leaned forward a couple of times and whispered “Tiny Cat Pants.” He looked at me weird and his wife glared, but, if it was old Rex, he did not let on for a second that he knew what I was talking about.

If that was you, Rex, were all those kids yours or just the curly haired one? And, either way, were you mortified when Ben Folds broke into Dr. Dre? (There’s a post here, America, about this weird new trend of bland pop acts recasting gangster rap songs as bland pop songs, but I’m too tired this morning to try to understand it.) I must say that it tickles me to think of a bunch of nine year olds running around yelling “motherfucker,” though I am less pleased by the thought of them singing “Bitches ain’t shit.”

Weezer had an awesome set–this cool dragon that wound around the drummer and up the back wall–and they sang some songs. I think they were great, but I was really, really tired by that point and the flashing lights from the stage were slowly hypnotizing me. So, if any of y’all were there, I was the one in the seats acting like a chicken.

Liz Phair and Other Things

Liz Phair is an artist I found too late. I finally heard “Exile in Guyville” about three years ago and I wanted to talk to everyone about how brilliant “Help Me, Mary” is, how it says in two minutes what I tried much of my teen years to say. It says a lot about how awkward and afraid I felt, and how I really wanted some supernatural force to help me channel those feelings into a way not to be angry, but also have my revenge. “Temper my hatred with peace, Weave my disgust into fame, and watch how fast they run to the flame.”

But everyone already knows that album is great. They’ve listened and loved it and moved on.

Sometimes, I think about writing a horror novel.

The problem is that I don’t know what I’m afraid of, supernaturally, that could sustain me through a book. I mean, I think ghosts are freaky, because I don’t know. If I knew, I’d get used to them, used to having them around, and the messages from them would seem more like postcards from a stranger than fearsome missives from beyond the grave.

Vampires? God, who hasn’t see The Lost Boys and thought Michael was crazy for wanting out?

And the monsters in real life–murderers, child molesters, etc.–I don’t really care to spend so much time with.

The things I fear, like losing my family or having to be vulnerable with someone I care about without two or three stiff drinks before that, aren’t really the stuff of horror novels.

Could you imagine?

He came into the office and stood there before her, while she finished up a phone call. She looked over at him, at the same time she was pretending to pay attention to Amanda’s latest in-law story. He was just as cute as always. She could hardly wait to hug him hello.

She winked at him and slowly opened her desk drawer. The cool darkness slowly revealed the shimmering glass of the small whiskey bottle. She could almost feel it in her hand, the warm liquid burning down her throat.

But then, as she reached for the bottle, she realized it was too light. She gave it a shake. And another. “God, no,” she gasped. Ignoring Amanda’s worried inquires, she dropped the bottle to the ground.

Gentle reader, it was empty!

See, America, I don’t think you’re coming to Barnes & Noble to hear me read that shit.

Well, knowing you, America, you would show up just to point and laugh.