Oh, I Forgot to Tell You!

There appears to be no Walmart on Dickerson Road.  I took pictures.  I need to upload them, but I thought the Walmart was supposed to be the anchor store and the Lowe’s looks just about ready to go, but I saw no Walmart.  Have they decided against it?

Edited to add:


Well, Don’t Go Hopping in Your Cars Just Yet

Crunk is about the most ordinary place on the whole road.  There’s a gas station and over, off the road, are some houses.  Nothing says “Crunk, unincorporated,” which we were really hoping for.

So, I declare Crunk a big dud.

And I’ve caught the Butcher’s cold, so I think I’m going to take a nap.

Those Crows in Dumbo

I’ve been giving it some thought and the thing is that I’m just not sure that it’s that obvious to everyone that the crows in Dumbo are racist caricatures–especially because, looking at them now, they don’t seem to be particularly negative caricatures and I think we tend to think that since racism is bad and evil that everything that is racist will be obviously bad and evil.

And let’s be clear–it’s easy to see the crows in Dumbo as good because they are good; they are nice to Dumbo when few others are and they do help him learn to fly and their intervention directly results in him being reunited with his mother.  But there is a world of difference between being good characters within the context of the movie and being non-racist.

But also, I don’t want to get into a bunch of high-faluting theory because I believe this is an important point and important within the context of what happened to Nathan Vaughn, especially since I keep hearing people say “depicting a black man as a crow isn’t racist; the crows in Dumbo aren’t racist. See?” and I don’t want to get distracted.

But the crows in Dumbo are racist caricatures.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or racist or that you should never let your kids watch Dumbo.  I, honestly, don’t know what it means.  That’s the thing about our history.  We have all this good stuff that is brought to us by some really ugly stuff and it’s really hard to know how or if you can salvage the good stuff.

I, for one, would have liked to believe that you can watch Dumbo and see that it’s racist and still enjoy it as a piece of great art.  Maybe you can’t, though.  I don’t know.

I do know that denying that it’s racist is problematic.  It borders on delusionally problematic if we’re going to use the fact that we don’t see racism in the depiction of those crows to dismiss the legitimate anger people feel when Nathan Vaughn’s and Barack Obama’s heads are placed on crows and sent out in a political mailing, as if one depiction of black people as crows that can be seen as positive (and “non-racist”) means that all depictions of black people as crows are non-racist*.

So, the crows in Dumbo.

Ask yourself this: What race of human being are the crows?  How do you know that?

Just think about that for a second.

Isn’t it weird that you can tell what human race an animal is supposed to be?  And why is it that you know what race those crows are?

Because those crows are based on white stereotypes of black behavior.

How powerful are those stereotypes?  So powerful that you’re sitting here 67 years after that movie was made and you know what race those crows are.

And when that movie was made, a hundred years after Thomas Rice put on blackface and called himself “Jim Crow”–trading on the idea that, if he painted his face and danced and sang, everyone would know what race he was caricaturing–what was the main crow called in the script?

Do I even have to tell you?

(And what race was the man who voiced that crow?  I don’t guess I have to spell that out for you either.)

Thanks to Rice, by the middle of the 19th century “Jim Crow” was a common slur used in reference to black men.  Calling a black man a crow, depicting him as a crow, depicting a crow as him… that’s old, old common American stuff.

And the reason I think it’s so important to think about the fact that you can tell that the crows in Dumbo are racially black is because it shows that we all kind of subconsciously accrue this junk.  No one had to tell you; you just pick up that how those crows are depicted means “how a black man acts.”

Which brings us back to Nathan Vaughn.  Did the people who put together that mailer know that what they were doing was just the latest in almost 200 years worth of equating black men specifically with crows?

I’m going to be honest with you.  I’ve thought about this a lot since my last post and I kind of doubt it.  Which, frankly, really sucks.  I mean, I think–in the same way we all know that there’s something going on with race and those Dumbo crows even if we never gave too much thought to what it was–whoever designed that probably had a sense that it would be “just perfect” to design that with Vaughn’s head on a crow.  I don’t believe that that person necessarily had any sense of why he or she thought it would be perfect.

That person knew it would be perfect and probably had no idea why it would be perfect.  That’s my guess (though until he or she comes forward, we’ll probably never know).

But for everyone who knows the long history, it was shocking to see.  And upsetting.  I mean, it’s powerful.  It’s a powerful image.

But it’s as powerful as it is precisely because of a long and ugly history that runs right through Dumbo, too.


*Spare me the “But Nancy Pelosi’s head is on one of the crows!” argument.

Edited to add: A couple of links.  Here and here.

Feel Good Friday Heals the Sick, Raises the Dead, and Makes the Little Girls Talk Out of Their Heads

Mack likes to tease me about believing that all good music is ripped off, at some point, from black Mississippians.  The truth is, I believe all good American music somehow comes through Willie Dixon.  I’m not saying that he originated it all–though he originated some of the best.  I’m just saying, he is the giant, unacknowledged sun around which all good 20th century music spins.

And speaking of suns, er, sons…

I have no idea what’s going on with this video, but here’s Johnny Rivers’s version, which I love so much I about can’t stand it.  Just close your eyes and enjoy.

Could We Not Have Called One “Greenbrier, Jr.”?

I’m not saying I don’t come from a goofy state, myself.  Illinois has two state fairs, which, if you think about, pretty much defeats the purpose of a state fair and that’s pretty goofy.

But the other day, I was out near Ashland City, lost, and on my map, discovered that I was within spitting distance of a Greenbrier.  Not the town I was familiar with, but another Greenbrier.  I assume.  I didn’t go over there, on the off chance that it was somehow the same Greenbrier.  Some days you’re just not up for the kind of weirdness that has you being able to get to the same place by going west or east.

If I can work Google Maps correctly, you can even see the two Greenbriers here.

I find this confusing.  If one is unincorporated, should it really be on my map?  I don’t know.  Maybe, I guess.  But how did this happen in the first place?  Was there not someone, somewhere to say “Um, we’ve already got one of those?”

So, that’s bad enough.  But easily fixed.  The unincorporated Greenbrier will just heretofore be referred to on this blog as Greenbrier, Jr.  But what about all the Germantowns?  How many Germantowns does one state need?  I have no solution for how to keep all of them straight.

From the looks of that same Google map, it would appear that the little area up at the top of the ridge where I get my milk is called Germantown, which, confusingly enough, is given the exact same font prominence as Joelton and they are not the same size (I don’t believe, unless I’m completely wrong about how big Joelton is) and, unlike Joelton, Germantown does not have a song about it.

Three Things

1.  To the person searching for “can you love a man like a poem,” the answer is no.  Okay, maybe.  Sigh.  It depends on the man.  It depends on the poem.

2.  I’m glad to see this, but does it really take physically forcing people to talk to ordinary people for them to get that blowing the top off a mountain might be problematic?

3.  There are only three less healthy states to live in than Tennessee.  I eagerly await word from the new State government about what they’re going to do to combat this.  Clearly, by looking at the chart, you can see that all our problems are caused by gays and abortions.

So, I ask you today, Tennessee, to stop eating gay people and smoking aborted fetuses.  I pledge to stop smoking aborted fetuses, but I’m not sure i have the will-power to stop putting gay people in my mouth.

Oh, Come On!

What seven weird things do you people not already know about me?!  Do you not read me?  But if both Beth and Jim are telling me to come up with some, dang it, I’ll come up with some.

1.  I have a jar full of fingernail and toenail clippings.  It’s gross, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it because… well, I’m not sure why.  I don’t add to it or anything, but I have it and I can’t throw it out.

2.  I refuse to watch movies that might make me cry.  Life is sad enough already.  Why would I pay someone to upset me?  I can turn on my television and be upset for free.

3. It irritates me that my name is not Elizabeth.  Betsy is a fine name for a little girl and a fine name for your free-spirited grandma, but these intervening years?  I wish I had something less cutesy to fall back on professionally.

4.  My parents always thought I would go by Teckla so it wouldn’t matter if I had a cutesy first name, but I’ve developed a kind of feeling about that name, that it’s mine and I don’t want you to call me it.  I don’t want to just hear it out-loud used by normal people.

5.  I have an unnaturally deep worry that I’m crazy–I mean, full on crazy, like where my interpretation of the world is completely different than what other people interpret is happening.  And it’s always a relief to me when I say to someone “Do you remember…?” and they say “Yes,” because I worry I might be making shit up, just to entertain myself, and not realize it.

6.  I don’t understand why people eat Doritos.  I have never had a flavor of Dorito that tasted good to me and they have that weird powder that gets all over.

7.  I am left-handed!  But, I do do some stuff with my right hand–throw a ball, cut with scissors, etc.  However!  The Butcher is right handed except for the things I do with my right hand, he does with his left.

The Orange Cat Learns a Trade

I’ll admit that I’ve always thought that the orange cat was our most boring pet.  The dog is… well, the dog.  And unlike the tiny cat, the orange cat cannot vanish like some kind of phantom, he hasn’t taken up residence under the house, he can’t make himself mysteriously have feet of lead which crush you when they step on you, and he doesn’t catch things.  He does occasionally professional wrestle and he threw up on my bed yesterday after scarfing down all his food like it his last meal.

But, in general, he doesn’t do anything except sleep and walk around looking at things with a slight air of disdain.  “Oh, you again.  Oh, the dining room again.  Oh, this mail on the kitchen counter again.  Whatever.  I only care so that I can locate the most valuable thing in the room and scratch it.  And even that bores me.”

So, imagine my surprise to discover that the orange cat seems to have taken up plumbing.

(Not to get distracted from my story, but did I tell you that the Butcher has offered to adopt his friends’ cat?  Why can’t his friends keep their cat?  Because for reasons two vets haven’t been able to figure out, poop slowly leaks out of her butt!  This would, apparently, not be a problem at our house because she could just live in the garage and outside.  I still think poop slowly leaking out of your butt is a problem, regardless of where you live, but what do I know?  Anyway, I have put my foot down in the semi-firm ‘no’ column.  At least, I hope that’s the ‘no’ column.  I’d hate to think what else might be semi-firm where a poop-leaking cat is up for discussion.  They need to continue to try to address the problem.  If it comes down to them having to put the cat down, fine, let it come live here instead.  But we need to be the home of last resort.  I say this only (and you can bet I’ll eat these words later and Rachel, don’t look) because I think that, if the cat were outside more (or at all), she’d be able to get some exercise and some grass down her and that could straighten things out.  Meanwhile, continue to pay vets, friends!)

Where were we?  Oh, yes, the plumbing.

It started when the recalcitrant brother and my dad were poking around in my walls trying to fix my leaking faucet and the orange cat got into the wall.  We assumed it was just to explore (since we all knew it wasn’t to catch anything–slacker) and eventually, he came out.

Since then, though, every morning, he gets up and pulls the stopper out of the bathtub and contemplates it.  Stares at it, sniffs at it, places his paw on it.  And not in a playful manner, but like he’s really trying to get some information about how this thing feels.

And getting it out in the first place cannot be easy.  It’s heavy.  It’s hooked in down there someplace, and he’s got no real fingers.  And I keep putting it back.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m appreciative that someone is working on my tub, but I’m a little worried about what the bill is going to look like in the end.  He’s clocking a lot of hours on that job, let me tell you.

And the Hooooooommmmmmmmmeeee of the Braaaavvee!

Just imagine me singing the National Anthem and waving sparklers behind Vibinc as he reads this aloud.

Edited to add: Oh, shit.  I forgot that we’re supposed to be doing East Tennessee outreach!  Okay, two thirds of the state, picture me singing the National Anthem and waving sparklers.  You guys to my right?  Imagine me standing in the dark there at Ruby Falls, doing my best Kate Smith impersonation, and as the lights slowly come up, there’s Vibinc talking

The truth of the matter, as Newscoma so often details is that rural America is losing so much so fast. They’re losing jobs and people and the richness of their community to forces that are hard to understand. To add insult to injury, by not contesting the 26 State House seats we left open in the last election they are losing one of the foundations of our Republic, debate. We are duty bound, as Americans, to rectify this situation.

as I come rising out of the water like an ample bosomed symbol of the future prosperity Tennessee so richly deserves.

Bow down, Tennesseans!  Bow down before my magnificent boob freckle!

Umm…. Yeah… Ooops… I got a little carried away there.  I mean, “Please consider voting Democratic in the future.  We’re considering getting our acts together.  So, yeah.  There’s that.”

Guess What? The Crows in Dumbo were Racist Caricatures, Too!

I am obviously not a black person and I am not going to sit here and speak for black people.  I am, however, going to tell you that it doesn’t matter how much Bill Hobbs protests, sending out a flyer with Nathan Vaughn’s head on a crow, is fucking racist.

It just is and I can’t believe we have to sit here and hem and haw about it otherwise.

And here’s the thing.  Yes, if that flyer or if Hobbs’s little “Obama’s a Muslim” act or Tinker’s “Steve Cohen is going to turn our babies into Christ Killers!” campaign happened to turn a few voters against the candidates under discussion, that would have been wonderful.

But that’s not their purpose.  And again, I am stunned that I have to sit here an explain this to folks.

Let Hobbs obfuscate all he wants about the “lib’rul media calling East Tennessee folks racist.”  But even he, in his own sneaky way, comes out and shows you his cards; he practically tells you how the trick works.

Vaughn lost because the Republican Party nominated a great candidate who voters liked and agreed with and who raised sufficient funds and flat out-worked Vaughn.

Hmm.  And why would that be?  What would Vaughn have been busy doing?

I don’t know.  Maybe responding to the attacks against him?

Those kinds of political flyers and ads and youtube videos aren’t about convincing voters.  They’re about baiting the candidate under attack into fighting that fight instead of campaigning.

And we all have things that we cannot let slide–our religion, our sense of self, our ethnic background, whatever.  It’s not going to be the same for everyone.  But if you find that thing and you can push that button, you can keep people distracted.  Especially if you can hold over them the threat of what you’re saying affecting voters.  But that’s just the attractive assistant designed to distract the audience from what the other hand is doing–and the other hand, in this case, was busy doing some vile shit.

This isn’t about the voters; this is about Hobbs and his ilk continuing their “I did something racist; I’m going to deny it’s racist because I can count on most white people, who are a majority of the people in the state, not seeing it as racist; and then I’m going to claim that folks are calling all Tennesseans racist and transform myself into a champion of the people by sticking up for them as not being racist.” magic tricks.

And it worked.

Let’s not pretend otherwise.

You Say “Grief Hallucination,” I Say “Ghost”

Via Sullivan, we learn that almost everyone sees dead people.  Oh, Science, I love you, I do, but the term “grief hallucination” has to be the most inadequate thing you’ve ever foisted on us.

I don’t know.  I get annoyed when religion wants to sit next to science, like they’re almost the same thing, and it annoys me to watch science try to barge in on superstition’s territory.

And the other problem that I have is that, if there’s anything I’ve learned from science, it’s that you need to be wary of things that start from an unexamined place–like saying that the universe is here, so it must have been created by Someone.  To me “Well, we know there’s no afterlife, so these must be hallucinations” sounds like the same thing–that we’re starting from a place we haven’t necessarily given full thought to.

Maybe there is an afterlife.  Maybe there isn’t.  Maybe these things are happening only in people’s brains.  Maybe they aren’t.

Here’s the thing.

My dad being a minister, you hear a lot of these kinds of stories, of people seeing loved ones after they’re gone.  Now, my dad has a world-view that makes sense of that–that some part of that loved one is able to reveal itself to you, even after the physical body is dead.  It’s not a scientific explanation.  It’s a superstition (using the word as lovingly as possible).

But the thing is, while probably 60% of those experiences would also fall under the “grief hallucination” scientific explanation–that you are missing someone so terribly that your mind wills them up like some kind of phantom–30% of them don’t.

A good third of the stories are the other kind–where the person does not know that the loved one is dead until after the “hallucination,” either because the “hallucination” informs them of his or her death or because they find out later.

So, Science, what’s that?

I think it’s something.  I don’t have to buy that it’s a ghost (though I want to, I’ll admit).  It could just be that we humans are connected in ways we don’t yet understand and we feel the loss of loved ones even before we have the knowledge that they’re lost.

But dismissing it as a hallucination seems to me like we might be missing out on a greater scientific understanding of what it means to be human.

I’m not arguing that we accept that those are “ghosts;” I’m just not willing to dismiss it as only a trick of the mind.

The Cervix

World, I have to show you something so amazing I about don’t know what to tell you about it.  A month in the life of a cervix.

I had no idea your cervix did that much.  I guess I just imagined it sitting up there capping off the end of your vagina, but it turns out that it’s moving around and opening up and closing.  Who knew?

I mean, aside from Rachel.

Edited to add: Rachel writes that the url for the site has changed.  Find it here, now.

Well, Watch Me Blush and Call Me ‘School Girl’

I’m reading over at The9513 the review of the new Johnny Cash album and I’m reading along–doo doo doo–and I hit

Cash later engages in the innuendo-heavy “The Legend of John Henry’s Hammer,” audibly smirking his way through lyrics rife with double entendres, much to the delight of inmates at both sets.

And I’m all like “What?  No.  I’ve heard that song one million times and I never heard any lyrics rife with double entendres.”

And then I just whoop out the Bruce Springsteen version, and even he’s got John Henry “swingin’ thirty pounds from his hips on down,” which is obviously not where one swings a non-metaphorical hammer!

I couldn’t find the Folsom Prison version online, but even when you see Cash trying to make it just an innocent song about a “steel-driving man,” once you have all the women coming to watch him because they heard him grunting and groaning…

Did they have steam-powered vibrators back in the day?


Have y’all seen this?  It’s like a giant family tree for universities and it is so brilliantly simple that I can’t believe it hasn’t been thought up before now.  Sometimes the amount of information just so easily available to folks who have a computer stuns me.

Wednesday Randomness

1.  Forget space shuttle launches, what about December 31?

2.  And I believe it shows what we already knew–that the GOP is now firmly the Southern party.

3.  My question is this: what are the Tennessee Republicans going to do to get us out of this financial mess?  Can you really keep taxes where they are and cut enough from the budget to get us out of this hole?  Income tax or no, where is the money to run the state going to come from if one in ten people are out of work?

4.  About the whole “crushing a beer can with your boob” thing?  Well, I asked the resident expert on strange things women do with their boobs to get money from men and it turns out… Well, let’s just say that, when I hear the term “crushing a beer can with your boob” I imagine some kind of feat that is going to involve more pain for the beer can than for the boob.  You know, a cool party trick you can show your friends.

But I’ve now seen the video and this looks like some kind of unfun thing you’d be required to do with your boob in hell.  And I think that woman has a garbage bag under her shirt!

I don’t know why that’s just the cherry on the shit sundae that is crushing a beer can with your boob for me, but it is.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to get drunk and try it.  It just means that day is coming later rather than sooner.

5.  I have a neighbor!  Who I know!  Who lives in my neighborhood and I know her!  Already.

6.  The Redheaded Kid called Mrs. Wigglebottom “Navy Seal Dog” last night for her ability to snore with her eyes open.  I had no idea that snoring with your eyes open was a skill they taught Navy Seals, but it made me laugh when he said it.

Things Afoot

I meant to give you guys a gardening update.  Did I tell you I nabbed all the crocuses at the grocery store up on the Rim once they went on sale?  And how I planted them along the dry creek in the back yard?  And how I drag everyone that comes to my house around my yard to point at all the places there may be plants at some point?

And, doing that, I’ve noticed a couple of things–One, the bulbs saraclark brought me from Andrew Jackson’s have sent up a couple of tiny green leaves just poking up through the dirt, as have the bulbs NM brought me, as has one of the daffodil bulbs that got planted in the front bed.  I hope that’s okay, since we’ve not even had winter yet, but I’m trusting that they know what they’re doing.  Also, I’m pleased to have some proof of life, as I was afraid I’d screwed up planting them.  Two, we still haven’t settled whether to pull the pine trees out of what I’d like to see become a peonie… peony… bed.

Dad is sure they’re there for some reason.  I think the reason that they’re there is obvious: because they grew there!  What I’d like to see there eventually is an archway covered with a climbing rose.  I wonder if I could transplant the one growing near the clothesline?  And hopefully people would walk through the archway rather than through my peonies.  I’m talking to you, especially, dog.

But also, I noticed that we have a shit-ton of moles.  So, I’m looking for a line on about a hundred pinwheels to set out in the yard to encourage them to go elsewhere.

Ha.  Our neighbors will love that.

In sad news, all the dead trees that could have been the basis for my bottle tree have now been chopped down and turned into fireword.

An Open Letter to Brantley Hargrove about Boobs

Dear Mr. Hargrove,

It has come to my attention through numerous emails to me and reading Pith that you are today blogging about boobs and from your blogging, it is clear that your experiences with boobs must be rather limited.  Luckily for you, I, myself, being Nashville’s (and now Whites Creek’s) resident token feminist and a boobular American have had quite a bit of experience with boobs–growing them, touching them, finding appropriate undergarments for them, developing a small fan-base for a faint freckle on one of them.  I have not yet mastered the skill of crushing a beer can with them, but that’s only because I’ve not yet found someone to teach me.  I’m sure my boobs are up for it.

I write this letter, in part, to inform you that I am greatly, greatly displeased to discover that I have to defend Saxby Chambliss.  I mean, my god, if only he had accidentally grabbed his grand daughter’s boob!  Oh glorious day of me laughing about that and emailing it to the large feminist cabal just waiting to descend upon Tennessee once I give the word.

Don’t make me defend that old fart.  It makes me a little nauseous.

But second, some day, a woman may want you to touch her boob and I feel compelled to write you for her sake.  Here’s what worries me.  You say, “He grabs her boob. She’s a little girl, no denying, but this isn’t just some accidental brushing. We’re talking straight-up cuppage.”

And yet, I have watched the video (and again, thanks, because there’s nothing more delightful than having a bunch of people ask you to watch some video that may contain old men groping little girls and then you watching it in fear of what you might see) and I see no boob grab.  No “straight-up cuppage.”

Women, usually, have two boobs.  There are certain circumstances in which they might have more or fewer, but, in general, we have two.  Those two boobs are usually easily found, even by touch, by starting at a woman’s shoulders and brushing lightly down and in.  You will feel a rise of flesh and–tada–there is a boob, located on one side or the other of her chest.

We would have to ask Rachel over at Women’s Health News, but I have never heard of a woman having one boob located on her torso right about where her stomach or liver is.  And it’s highly unlikely that Chambliss’s grand-daughter has one, lone boob right there.

So, clearly, he’s not grabbing her boob.  Her boob is not located in the center of her chest.

But second, let’s talk about “cuppage.”  Here’s a general rule for telling if you’re cupping a breast.  Put your hand on your desk, palm down.  See how your hand is flat?  You cannot cup something with a flat hand.  To successfully cup a breast, you should, at the least, bend your fingers slightly.  It’s a more successful motion, depending on the size of the breast, if you also tilt your wrist slightly to support the boob as you are placing your hand around it.

Again, as a general rule (and all women are different, so please be sure to ask the woman you’re with before trying any hand-to-boob contact), cupping a breast, with rounded fingers and a supportive wrist, is a pleasant experience for a woman (or icky experience for a girl).  Open-handed patting on one’s boobal area?  Normally not very erotic (unless we’re playing “Stacy Campfield and the Naughty Planned Parenthood Volunteer” but that’s a whole other letter).

Open-handed patting in the middle of one’s torso?  Nothing to get too worked up about.

Which brings me to my last, non-teasing, point.  Are we really to the point where a man can’t pat his prepubescent granddaughter on the belly without it being suspect?

It’s like this morass of stupidity–a man can’t touch a girl because we ascribe a kind of sexuality to little girls and so his touching her might be misconstrued by someone as being sexual, even if it is clearly not.  And yet, what fucks little girls up is not being touched by relatives in ways that others might misconstrue, but it’s when they’re touched by relatives in ways that are sexual.

I don’t know.  This just strikes me as wrong on all kinds of levels.  I think it’s wrong to insinuate that there’s something untoward about a man patting a girl on the torso, when we all can plainly see there’s nothing weird going on there.  It both makes too big a deal about something clearly innocent and, by extension, makes real claims of groping seem less serious.

And to what end?  Chambliss is despicable for all kinds of reasons.  But this is just not one of them.

Yours truly,

Aunt B.

Edited to Add: I can’t believe I’m about to get deeper into this nonsense.  And yet, now that Jack says, in the comments over at Pith, “Aunt B, I hope you’re kidding. If that’s where your liver is, I’d get to the emergency room immediately.” I, of course, cannot let this go.

Here is Chambliss holding his grand daughter:


Please note where his hand is.

Here is a man’s torso with his liver visible:


Please note that, even adjusting for the girl being smaller and, well, you know, a girl, Chambliss’s hand is square over her liver, not her boob.  If you’d like to learn more about livers, you can check out the website where I borrowed this photo.

Anyway, the fact remains that I am right.

Well, That Was Fast

So, the Tennessee Legislative Session hasn’t even convened (won’t until January) and already the Republicans are pissed at each other and shocked, shocked, shocked to find evidence of secret backroom deals being made.

It’s all very interesting, but I do want to touch on one thing that seems to be shaping up as conventional wisdom.

Terry Frank says:

Well allow me to correct them.  Tennessee Chairman Robin Smith made it very clear that if you are Republican and you abandon the party on crucial votes such as leadership votes, then adios amigo.  The Party Structure stands ready and willing to do the heavy lifting.  The enforcing.  (Example:  like the Democrat Party with Kurita!)

Two things, one minor, one major.  The minor thing is that it’s pretty obvious that the Democrats’ treatment of Kurita helped cost them the election.  The major thing is that the Republican majority in the house is one.

Yes, I know, we’ve all been acting like it was a landslide, but it’s just one.

So, Robin Smith can say all she wants that Republicans need to fall in line on crucial votes or they’re out of the official party system, but that’s a hell of a game of chicken she’s playing.  She’s really going to oust Republicans when it would cost Republicans their majority?

I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

The Acorn Situation

Okay, Science-y types, you’re going to have to take a minute to explain this acorn situation to me.  I get that, throughout the east coast and sneaking west towards the Mississippi, there are no acorns.  I heard it on NPR last night.  I read about it online.

And I listened to your explanation that different oak trees have different cycles for when they produce acorns and that some years they produce more and some years they produce less and this year, apparently, they’re producing none.

All well and good.

How is that decision made?

See, I can buy that each kind of oak might have a cycle that it acquires genetically, so that a particular oak produces acorns one year and not another.  And I can see how every tree of that kind that is that age (or the right number of years in the cycle older or younger) might not produce acorns in the same year.

But what, exactly, is the mechanism for conveying to a whole population, across different types of oaks, across different states, that there should be no acorn production?


It’s hard for me to not get all woo-woo about burning wood off my own land in my own fireplace.  And it occurs to me that one of the things about a fire–in that woo-woo way–is that you have all four elements.  The wood that is burning, obviously.  The flame.  The ashes that will go into my compost pile to become dirt and the hiss and spit of water as it steams out of the wetter pieces.

I have done less woo-woo-y blogging lately and yet I feel like it’s because movng out here has made me feel more constantly woo-woo-y.

I’ve been thinking a lot about words and writing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going to up and quit blogging.  But I think that I have always used words… often used words like little posts to fence in small understandable meanings to things.  I have tried so hard to master words in order to master my life and my environment.

And, don’t get me wrong, that’s been great and important for me to do.  I could not have gotten here if not for that.

But now I am here and I have a kind of security I haven’t had before, ever.  And I feel like that means I can let go of some things.  I can fumble and not know and drift and babble.  I can say nothing.  I can let my animal-soul run and experience things there aren’t words that will work to explain to you what it is that happened to me out there.  I will know things in ways there aren’t words.

I was telling Theriomorph the other day that I feel like there’s a rhetorical motion some bloggers make that appeals to me, a kind of urge to openness, to understand and mull over and revise and reconsider.  And it doesn’t have to do with political bent or whether someone’s a feminist or not or whatever.

It has to do, for me, with that motion.  And I don’t know for sure how to describe it to you.  I see it in bloggers I know, like Coble and Bridgett, and bloggers I don’t, like Chris Clarke and Nezua.  And they are clearly not the same kinds of writers, don’t write about the same things, don’t write in the same ways.

Most of us blog like we want our writing to take the shape of Algiz–there we are with our pitchforks, ready to run the monster out of town, ready to skewer our enemies, ready to lift and toss and sort and move things around.  It’s not a bad form for one’s writing to take.  But it requires sure-footedness and solid ground.

The other motion, I think, is a kind of spinning.  Think of us, twirling through space, and every year, at the winter solstice, at Newgrange, the rising sun spills along the long passage into the heart of the tomb and for about twenty minutes, the floor of that dark interior chamber is illuminated by the sun.  It’s thought that the ancient spirals carved at the entrace to the tomb represent the sun and the motions that it makes spinning through the sky.

The tomb still floods with dawn every winter solstace, even after 5,000 years.

It meant something then, to our ancestors, though we can’t be sure what.  And yet, people still go to stand there and watch the light because it means something still to us, though I don’t think we can say what.

It is a language our bodies speak, though we don’t know it, and sometimes you just have to put your body there and let it do its thing and let the shape of things speak to it.

And that motion?  The turning out and in at the same time?  That is a motion I want to learn to make and I want you to feel it when you read me, feel that motion behind my words.

Eh, well, what can I tell you?  The fire makes me all thoughtful.


I know only a handful of you care about this PCOS crap (though I’m grateful to the ones of you that do!), but I thought I’d update you anyway.  I went back to the doctor today and she’s upping the dose of the metformin and we’re going to see how that goes.  She’s concerned about the episode I had a couple of weeks ago and if it happens again, she might pull me off the Pill.

I really, really don’t want that to happen, as I’m enjoying the novelty of not suffering through eternal, heavy bleeding.

And they took blood to check my liver and kidney functions and to see if I’m anemic still or if that’s straightened itself out.

I’m waffling about how I feel about the whole emphasis on whether I’m losing weight.  I mean, I feel great.  I feel really great and I’m just enjoying moving around in my body a whole lot.  To me, that’s so nice.

And, you know, if we’re saying “this is what I eat; this is how I move; this is what I weigh and this is how my body works (not processing the insulin and stuff) and if we get the medical stuff straightened out, we should see some weight loss” then that’s one thing–using the maintainance of weight or the loss of weight as an indicator of whether the medicine is working properly–that I think I can live with.

But I’ve got to tell you, I hear that voice, too, you know.  The one that says “Oh, well, you only accepted that you were fat because you thought that’s just how it was, but really, you could lose a bunch of weight and you could finally be beautiful and you could finally be worth being loved.  Oh, B., health-shmealth!  Finally, an acceptable body is coming your way!”

And I know better, you know.  I know that voice and I know what living with it getting to be the boss does to a girl.


Well, you know.

Anyway, so I went and we’re proceding as planned.

Gay People and Straight Women–Our Freedom is Your Freedom

Yesterday we hashed and rehashed the Salon.com article I keep meaning to get back to and this morning we talked about the Republicans making another effort to let gay people know that they’re really, really unwelcome in Tennessee.

And I just want to put this question and answer from Rodriguez along side of the House Republicans’ website:

You said recently the real issue behind the anti-gay marriage movement is the crisis in the family. What do you mean?

American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn’t declining, it’s increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people — it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women’s movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually — even form our sense of what a sex is — sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers.

Now look at the things on the Republicans’ lists to promote “strong families and communities”–reinforcing the community power of the church, reinscribing the traditional gender roles of marriage participants, and limiting women’s rights to control what happens to our own bodies.  They’re exactly the things that Rodriguez points to as being the tenents of the male-structured society.  (Woo hoo!  Yes, I’m going to say it–the Patriarcy!!!!)

What I wonder, and I’m wondering from my own specific position, is when it occurs to the Patriarchy that it has sown the seeds of its own destruction.  How many of us have heard our fathers say, “It’s my way or the highway?”  And how many of us have seen the traditional male-structured society say something similar to women of all sexual persuasions and gay men–“it’s my way or the highway.”?  Look even at what the Tennessee Republicans are up to here–“If you’re not going to hook up with someone from the group of people we tell you to hook up with and under the circumstances we tell you to do it, you can’t do it at all.”

And what’s happened?

Did we meekly return to the kitchen or the closet?  Yeah, some of us, but a great many of us hit the highway.  And we didn’t fall apart without the “traditional” men.  Would we have rather they come along with us?  Yes, of course.  Who wants to leave behind the people they love?

But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and if that means leaving behind the folks who kicked you out in the first place?  Well, there you go.

So, what we see is that women of all stripes and gay people have been working to find something other than traditional roles that they might fit in.  And we see the Republicans continuing to insist that the only acceptable roles are those traditional roles.

The Republicans will lose this particular war, eventually, though.  They’re already losing it.  Because it’s not about gay marriage or women killing babies or whatever.  Rodriguez is right.  It’s exactly about anxiety over changing gender roles.

And yes, the world changes quickly and the dramatic changes can be alarming.  But even Republicans want in on some of those changes.  Dolores Gresham, Beth Harwell, Susan Lynn, Debra Maggart, and Donna Rowland aren’t at home raising children or helping raise grandchildren.  In what universe of “traditional gender roles” does the woman pack up and head to the state capitol to make laws?!

And yet, there go those Republican women, defenders of traditional values, flaunting the fact that some of those values aren’t good enough for them.  Ha, ha, ha.

Can We Pass a Law Requiring the TNGOP to Hire an English Major to Write for Them?

World, I bring you

If someone enters into one of these unions in another state, we do not want any ambiguity in our law to prohibit the recognition of that union in Tennessee.

I’ve taken it out of context just for a second, so that you’re not biased by the surrounding paragraphs and I’m going to ask you, just based on that sentence, are the Tennessee House Republicans for or against civil unions?

Clearly, this sentence means, “If you enter into a civil union in another state, when you come to Tennessee, we do not want any ambiguity in our law to…” aw fuck.  You can’t even paraphrase it.  This sentence clearly says–“We House Republicans want to make sure civil unions are recognized in Tennessee.”  That’s what it says.

That’s not what they mean.

What they mean is something along the lines of “If someone enters into one of these unions in another state, we do not want any ambiguity in our law; the recognition of that union is prohibited in Tennessee.”

I don’t know.  There’s something both galling and hilarious about folks who can’t even make their position clearly understood trying to impose their moral will on the rest of us.

Ha, maybe I shouldn’t have pointed that out.  No, Republicans!  I take it back.  Please, work towards removing any ambiguity in our laws that might accidentally prohibit the recognition of same-sex unions in Tennessee!