All The Same Old Haunts

All right, so how this will work is that every evening for the whole of October, you will find one fake ghost story that I have completely made up. Even the ones that seem based on actual hauntings have been embellished and fictionalized. I think it will be good fun. I got a kick out of writing them and though they are not all great, you’re getting them for free, so what more can you ask for?

At the end, I’m hoping to link each post containing a story to the appropriate location on this map, but I can’t promise now that I’ll get around to it. Still, that would be cool, so I’m going to try. Look for each story at 9 p.m. every day in October. We start with a famous ghost, but after that, we’ll get to a lot of ghosts you’ve never heard of.  There are a few non-ghost stories, too, but I hope they’re spooky enough for you.

Ha. Whew, I’m a little nervous, but I think it’ll still be fun.

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Random Things, Because I’m Vaguely Incoherent Today

Honestly, it’s only been a day and a half, but I don’t understand why anyone would take steroids recreationally. First of all, yesterday, I sweated all day like a motherfucker, they taste like shit, and I’ve been vaguely nauseous since I started them.  Everything is improving, but seriously, who needs butt-sweat when just sitting at her desk? And I don’t yet feel like a professional wrestler or a pro football player.

But I have found you some cool things.

1. A story about heirloom apples. I don’t know if this means we in Middle Tennessee can go around looking for antique apples or if we need to send Casey out on an expedition farther east. But I am just tickled by this whole story. And also sad that these varieties are all endangered.

2. Speaking of football players, I have to agree with the folks over at Shakesville. Once even NFL players start talking like this openly, we’re now just waiting for public policy to catch up with where America’s heart is.

3. I want to tell you my favorite line in this post, but I also don’t want to spoil it for you before you get to it. But I laughed out loud right there in the middle of it.

4. I went to see Roger Abramson and wrote about it for Pith.

5. There’s a kind of cheesy genre of country song in which some pop culture reference is turned into some kind of pun or just touch-point for the song.  These are always popular but they are virtually impossible to do well.  It’s no surprise that one of the only artists who can actually pull it off, and turn cheese into gold (or something) is George Jones. The first time through this song, I think you’ll think it’s funny. I invite you to listen to it a second time, to let the real heartbreak sink in. There’s something nicely tragic about how he only has this cheesy shit to use as touchstones for his grief.

On “Not Rape-Rape”

On Twitter this morning, folks were talking about all the Hollywood folks who have come out in support of Polanski.  Even Whoopi Goldberg trying to claim this wasn’t a “rape-rape.”  Even, allegedly, Sharon Tate’s sister trying to draw some distinction between rape and rape.

Dude drugged and raped a crying thirteen year old girl who begged him not to. Then, when he thought his plea bargain might be reneged on after he couldn’t even be bothered to show remorse, he fled.

None of these facts are in dispute.  This isn’t one of these pseudo-gray areas where she seemed like she wanted it and then she “changed her mind.”  Or she was “seduced” out of her “no” by his persistence.

She was drugged by him (indicating that he knew she wouldn’t be even remotely compliant otherwise), and raped repeatedly as she said no over and over.

So, how is this not a rape-rape, even if we were to accept the idea that there is any such distinction between rape and rape?

Why would these Hollywood folks jump to his defense?

This morning, I realized something so gross I had to float it by y’all to see what you think.

I think they think that no only shouldn’t he be punished because he’s the great artist Roman Polanski, but that it wasn’t rape-rape because it wasn’t some gross, disgusting guy who raped her, which of course would be terrible, but the great artist Roman Polanski.

It wasn’t rape-rape because it was a great man, way out of her league, deigning to pay her some attention.

Rape as flattery.

It wasn’t rape-rape because she doesn’t have to be ashamed of who raped her.

(I hope by now y’all have seen Kate Harding’s great piece at Salon about this.)

Oh, Walt Whitman, And Jeans, and Walt Whitman

I’m just going to say up front that I thank the gods I am too fat to buy Levi’s jeans, because, no matter how much I think with my brain that these new commercials are stupid and pandering and I am embarrassed for America that the poet of our soul is reduced to shilling jeans instead of being read out loud by people right before silly orgies break out, my whole soul feels compelled to buy jeans when I see them. I want people to hear Walt Whitman and think of awesomeness and coolness and hipness.  I am completely in love with knowing that everyone who sees that advertisement is hearing what could be Walt Whitman’s voice, even if they don’t know it.

How does that work?

I guess, “Behold the power of marketing.” Possible marketing is America’s barbaric yawp.

And wow, I really love these commercials, even though I shouldn’t.

The Rainmakers

You may recall, if you are old enough, how traveling con men would come into a community desperate for rain, make all kinds of vague statements and pronouncements, and take everyone’s money, and then leave town?

A lot of people in Cooper’s district are desperate for change.

But even if you never, ever listen to podcasts, even if you have no idea what Liberadio is, I’m asking you to listen to their segment with Ben Tribbett. And then come back here and tell me one concrete fact he lets out about anything other than himself. This is the executive director of Accountability Now! And he’s had meetings, but he can’t say with whom. He’s talked to Democratic politicians, but he can’t say whom. They have a strategy, but it’s vague. Yeah, they know Democrats might get redistricted out of existence, but think of it this way, maybe some of them will go on to be great politicians in other ways, but in what ways remain unclear. Oh, he’s seen Cooper with all kinds of lobbyists, eating dinner in fancy places. And of course he won’t name those lobbyists. He barely wants to tell O’Connell and Mancini the names of the restaurants.

There are three choices a person has in response to hearing this. One, these people are idiots.  They don’t really have a plan. They thought showing up here with some big names and some money and doing some hobnobbing counted as leadership.  Two, they think we’re idiots and, like the rainmakers of olden days, all they had to do is show up and make some vague promises, raise some money, and scurry on to the next town if things don’t work out.  They don’t have to be specific, because they thought we’d be so excited and distracted by their showmanship that we don’t notice that it’s all very vague and nebulous. Three, they mean well, but holy shit.

I honestly don’t know which one it is, but while yesterday I was feeling like maybe it was just me, after I listened to Mancini and O’Connell last night, I’m now convinced there’s a real problem.

It’s not an insurmountable problem, at this point, but let’s not pretend like this is all wine and roses except for a few sour grapes.

(Ha, it takes real talent to mix a metaphor that bad!)

At Least I Won’t Get Whooping Cough

Today I went to the doctor. Not for the big scary doctor’s appointment, but just for a physical and to bring my primary care physician up to speed on where I stood with stuff.  It was very comforting to hear her say that she thinks that my course of treatment is right and that she would have sent me to the same endocrinologist, if she had been the one leading treatment on this.

I really like my doctor, but I was wandering around from room to room getting poked and prodded and EKGed and X-rayed and looked at for close to two and a half hours and I am worn out. Blood pressure’s good, EKG was fine. She’s going to send copies of my blood work to the endocrinologist so he’ll have that ahead of time.

I know I have to stop getting myself so worked up about this stuff, but I still do.

I did get a tetanus shot, which these days also has diphtheria and whooping cough in it, too. I don’t even know for sure what diphtheria is, but I’m safe from it for another decade.

The Earth-Scorching Begins

I’m not liberal enough; I’m not feminist enough; I need to be more considerate to history.

Never mind the nonsense of taking Kleinheider’s tongue-in-cheek description of me and trying to hold me accountable to it.  This is exactly what I meant by bullshit.  Oh, we’re going to have a blog war about Cooper, let’s all rally our sides! We’re going to take on people who would logically be our allies because talking out our asses and acting like bigshots is so much more fun.

This is their great poll. Over 50% of folks in every demographic say that Jim Cooper opposing a public option would not have a real effect on their votes. And I’m the bad guy for saying what their poll says?

If this effort is primarily about providing our district with the best person to serve our interests and not primarily about some national bloggers trying to throw their weight around to see if they finally are the Washington movers and shakers they’ve always hoped they were, then where is the candidate? Why is all the early attention on the PAC and the names involved?

Because, right now, that’s the focus of the… what do you even call it? An “effort”?

And because I point that out I’m as bad as segregationists?

Please.

There’s a Saying in Tennessee, It’s “Most Things Folks Say Folks Say in Tennessee are Not Actually Said by Anyone in Tennessee.”

I have a lot of jumbled thoughts about the Cooper primary, which have become more jumbled in the course of the past day or so.

1. I don’t believe that Cooper should be safe from being primaried. He’s a politician and part of life is hearing from your constituents.  A primary challenger is, at the least, a strong voice from one’s constituents.

1a. Maybe. It’s not a strong voice from one’s constituents if it’s actually a strong voice from Kos, Greenwald, and Hamsher. And I tend to be farther left than two out of three of them, so it’s not like I disagree with them that Cooper has pulled some bullshit.

1b. I’d like to see this touted poll for myself. (And I will try to do that later).

2. I’m not a leader and I don’t want to be a leader. So, I’m not going to marshal my readers to do anything. I, myself, don’t know what should be done.

3. Once the bullshit starts, it is nearly impossible to have any further meaningful conversation.  And the bullshit has started. Let’s start with this, “But there’s a saying in Tennessee — ‘Any mule can kick a barn down; it takes a carpenter to build one.'”

No there’s not.

If you knew anything about Tennessee, you couldn’t even say this with a straight face. We’re not a people who put primary value on a person’s learned skills. We put primary value on innate traits.  And no one in Tennessee who actually builds barns thinks you need a carpenter to do it.

Is it nice to have one? Sure. Can you and four buddies dick around for a couple of months and get one up? Sure. So you don’t need one; it doesn’t take one, as nice as it is to have one.

If Kos had said ‘Any mule can kick a barn down; it takes a man to build one,” even if I haven’t heard that, I would believe that to be a Tennessee saying. We do have a tendency, especially in our folk wisdom, to believe that life skills are innate to proper manliness.

And I get why the gender neutral “carpenter” is there, but it’s a signal that this campaign isn’t playing out in Tennessee, but on a national stage.

We’re just along for the ride.

3a. And check out the comments on Woods’s piece.  Tell me that Tammy Mcleaf isn’t just spouting talking points that struck a chord with her. And then come the folks calling Woods a shill for Cooper. Or over at Kleinheider’s where you have the reverse, the “voices of reason” who completely agree with Kleinheider.

Now, I love Kleinheider, but if he’s written more than two sentences, there’s probably one in there that I think is total bullshit. So, this idea that a person could read that whole post and agree with everything he says just strains credulity.

Unless, of course, you’re simply looking for a “pro-Cooper” outlet to shout your slogans of support.

3b. Which is why I’m feeling a little upset to be lumped in with the whole people just shouting support of Cooper. I’m not blindly supportive of Cooper. But it’s not as simple as “We have a poll and a wish and outside support!” and I want to hear real ideas about how one goes about running a more liberal candidate against Cooper and winning and I want to hear that from people who live here and can speak convincingly about the contours of the district.

I don’t think it can be done. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but I don’t think I am.

I would support and do support local efforts to primary Cooper, but I’m not that excited about being bullshitted.

At the end of the day, the national folks go home and we Democrats have to work together. They can afford to run a more scorched-earth campaign than we will be able to live with if they fail.

4.  I agree with much of what GoldnI says here, except of course for the parts where she wants to encourage people with more readers than her to contact Cooper, for reasons outlined above, and also because even if GoldnI has a smaller readership than the rest of us, she certainly is on the must-read list of people more powerful than us. To measure power in the blogosphere by numbers alone is to overlook the importance of influence. Influence which GoldnI has in spades.

This, especially, is where I think she says succintly what I have taken all this space to say:

A primary challenge would require an organic movement but a heck of a lot of money. Right now, we have neither, and no outside group is going to make them magically materialize. Besides that, we’d still have to contend with our unique approach to politics in Tennessee. I may be an unapologetic partisan hack, but I understand that most voters are not. They like Cooper even if they disagree with him.

A Real Garden Post

A Fake Gardening Post

I got laundry done. I got dishes done. I did a quick edit on the ghost stories and got them all scheduled to churn out one at a time across the month of October.  It was weird, to think that, no matter what happens next month, they will appear on your screen.  I don’t know. It kind of creeped me out a little bit.

They’re not all great, but the intentionally false internet ghost story is a tricky genre anyway, since most folks writing in it don’t confess it up front, thereby making it hard to judge yourself by your peers.

I took some pictures of the shasta daisies, which have just come up.  My mom tells me there are a lot of perennials that prefer to be planted in the fall–shasta daisies, all types of coneflowers, black eyed susans, etc. Sadly for almost all of those things, I planted them in the spring. So, I’ll be curious to see if the daisies bloom next year with the rest of the perennials or if they’ll need another year beyond that.

If they bloom next year, mark my word, I’m going to become an advocate of buying your perennial seeds in the spring when they’re for sale, but saving them until fall to plant.

Also, I am now an advocate for, oh, writing down what you planted somewhere so that you can know, without question, what the stuff coming up in your garden is.

I’m pretty good at recognizing a coneflower leaf, and I’m pretty sure I know which ones are black-eyed susans, but there are still a couple of things in there that I am completely clueless about.

Later I’ll post some pictures of the red coneflower.  Holy cow, if you have money to spend and if Bates has any more of them, I cannot recommend it enough.  The petals don’t turn that tomato red right away.  When the flower first opens, the petal looks like it has a base of yellow rimmed with red. Then the red kind of slowly overtakes all the yellow places.  I can’t get over what a stunning flower it is at every step of the way.

I’m still perplexed about the hollyhocks. Even the ones in the sun didn’t get very big.  I think it just may have been too shady for them over there.  But they’re still growing and still green so I’m going to let them do their thing.

None of the spiky stuff (foxglove, etc.) that is supposed to like shade came up.  I’m not done with that, though.  Next year, I think I’m going to try to plant some where the hollyhocks are now and along the side of the shed, where I had the peas.  If I don’t get any in those places, I’m going to just assume they don’t grown in my yard.

Also, I have a lot of gardening questions so I guess what I’m saying is that, though this seemed like a post about gardening, I’m going to have a more official Sunday gardening post this afternoon.

We Promise Not to Worry Our Pretty Little Heads about a Challenge to Cooper

The Butcher and I both heard about this challenge to Cooper yesterday, me from Southern Beale, him from a friend in Baltimore who was wondering if there really is any local opposition to Cooper. And today Gilgamark is talking about it.

This is very weird. I mean, maybe it’s not. I know when I get emails about health care, I tend to delete them. I know a lot of politics is “Hurray for our side,” but getting health care for people is so important that the whole “their side sucks; our side rules” nonsense is kind of gross to me. Especially when “our side” is pushing mandates.

So, it’s not surprising that I wouldn’t know about some national plan to ouster Cooper (though perhaps now is a good time to note that the Butcher is forming his own exploratory committee about the feasibility of running against Cooper). But this seems to have caught Southern Beale and Gilgamark off guard, too.

So, the national folks can just decide they don’t like how things are going here and swoop in and pretend to be voicing the will of some silent majority of Nashville voters who don’t think Cooper is liberal enough?

Is it just me or does that feel a little patronizing? “Oh, don’t worry, Tennessee liberals, we know better than you what you need and we’re here to make it happen?”

It’s funny, the other day, Daisy was talking about wanting some national folks to swoop in and help South Carolina. And now I have two responses: 1. Sorry, Daisy, the national folks can’t help you because they’re busy trying to unseat other Democrats. And 2. National “help” seems limited to the kind of help they’ve decided you need from the outside.

It’s not that pleasant.  It actually feels very similar to business as usual.

Oh, Coyote

Yesterday afternoon, I was out with the dog on a leash. Our neighbor opened her back door and her two dogs took off running towards the back of their yard.  Something large and with a kind of golden brownish black back came shooting up the creek between our houses. Mrs. Wigglebottom went silent, ears straight up, nose in the air, eyes wide, four legs firm on the ground.

The thing in the creek must have smelled her at the same time, because it did a quick u-turn and then, lickity-split, it was gone.

But it took Mrs. W longer to untense.

“A coyote” I said out loud just as I realized it and my own voice startled me.

But the creek bed, now that I think about it, is a perfect path for coyote. You can get from the hill north of Lloyd and that big pasture, under Lloyd and under the fence, through another pasture, under another fence, and, if you use the culvert in our front yard, you can get under Clarksville Pike and over to those hills. I don’t know how smart coyotes are about cars, but sticking to our creek bed would certainly help you avoid them.  And your likelihood of getting shot in our creekbed is slim and none.

Last night, I heard a coyote laughing and just now I heard it again.

I know they kill pets, but I have to admit, I kind of like them.

Earlier this summer Mrs. W and I saw a coyote with a really golden base coat crossing OHB and seeing that same color in my creek make me wonder if it’s the same coyote or a member of its family.

Although I look online now and see a lot of coyotes are very golden. It’s just the ones I’ve seen up until now have been more gray.

The Side Flower Beds

I was complaining today about the beds between our house and Bobby’s, which are completely overgrown with weeds and which kind of got destroyed in the great flood of 09. Whenever I go out to look at them, I think, you know, I could just mow everything down and let it go to grass.

But there are some gorgeous lilies in there and some beautiful irises.   And it’s a good, sunny spot.

And the whole yard will probably not regularly flood like that again.

Still, I’m a little distraught over the state of it.

And the person I was complaining about it to says, “And fall will kill those weeds soon enough.”

Maybe it’s just the kind of day I’m having but it felt like wisdom.

So, advise me on this, internet. Will my marigolds reseed themselves? I noticed that I have some baby marigolds just coming up even this late in the season. Will seeds that fall overwinter and grow up next year, do you think? Is overwinter a word?

Wouldn’t it be nice if it was?

It’s Almost October!

I’ve been working on the fake ghost stories and I finally have a rough draft of every single one. You, my friends, will be seeing those rough drafts roll out one at a time over the month of October (as nm’s husband said, “you can have it fast or you can have it good” and, in this case, y’all are getting them fast).

In the meantime, I made a map. You can see where all of the stories take place (kind of) and my plan is to link to each story from its location as they get posted here, so that by the end of October, the map will be an actual way to navigate the stories.

I don’t know. I almost wish they were better, but you know, I’m not that great a writer, so they are what they are. I’d need to let them sit for a long time before I could go back to them and say “Oh, right, here’s what’s not working.”

Still, I’m excited.  Here’s the map, if you’re curious.

Back in My Day…

I have a lot of sympathy for Grant Alden, though at this point, I read him primarily to see if he can keep up his “I’m a 95 year old man” impression clear until he’s 95. I like to wonder if there was some guy in the 1930s who sat around bemoaning the rise of the phonograph because, damn it, sheet music was important and being a sheet music critic was a skill.

Anyway, I saw this post over at Alas and it just reminded me of reading Alden’s piece yesterday.

Tiny Cat Pants Could Go to Kindergarten!

Today Tiny Cat Pants is five years old. I think it’s suffice to say that I would not have near as rich and exciting a life as I have if not for blogging and the great people I have met through it. I know I get mushy on y’all all the time, but I really do feel very fortunate to have some of the greatest, most thoughtful commenters. I’m very lucky and very grateful. My life had been changed immeasurably for the better because of blogging and because of you guys.

In some other ways, though, things have not changed much since Tiny Cat Pants started. I still like to drive around and look at things. My cat’s butt hair still falls out (though knock on wood we’ve got that licked). I still live with the Butcher who knows everyone in town. I still regularly fail to seduce cute people in spite of my best efforts. And if you come over, you will be cut, scraped, and bruised by our ridiculous pets.

Every day I’m delighted I get to do this.

Are We Being Blackmailed by Senator Henry?

I kept waiting to see if other bloggers would write about this, but no one has.  The gist is this–our legislators are considered part-time and they are paid a paltry amount, less than $20,000, which might not be that bad if they really only met for three months a year or something. But being a state legislator is a full-time part-time job.

No one, I don’t think, would argue that it isn’t.

So, in order to compensate for having a full-time job that doesn’t really lend itself to letting you have another job, a lot of our legislators take advantage of the fact that they can get reimbursed for the days they spend in Nashville.

Henry argues

The annual salary of the legislator is $19,009.08. For five or six months per year, he or she can only sketchily engage in his or her normal occupation, from which he or she and his or her family make their living. In view of the months that legislative service takes from a legislator’s time earning income, it seems to me that we Tennesseans stand a better chance of retaining a part-time, as opposed to a full-time, legislature if we do not doubly penalize the legislators, not only by consuming their time, but also by requiring them to live in a hotel in Nashville much more expensively than they can live at home.

Sure, this seems reasonable. But what about the legislator from Lascassas who managed to supplement his income by a hefty amount while not required to live in a hotel in Nashville at all, since he could drive home every night?

The truth is that, while all politics has a bit of the old wink-and-nudge, this is “wink-and-nudge” built into the system at its core. It’s “Yeah, sure you make $19,000 a year, but wink, wink, nudge, nudge, there are ways around that.”

I don’t like it. If you don’t make enough, you need to sell that to your employer, who is, in this case, Tennessee taxpayers and voters. Pretending what you make is okay while you reach your hand in the till is just fundamentally dishonest.

And arguing that we should allow it to continue without too much scrutiny is really disgusting.

But this is the part that sticks in my craw

My thought is that salary and payment of expenses be considered separately in the law. To take a punitive approach, however, to legislative compensation may well lead to a legislature made up of retirees, wealthy individuals and idlers, or ne’er-do- wells.

In that case, the laws would less well reflect life as it is lived by most Tennesseans and, in my opinion, the quality of the laws would suffer.

First there’s the little blackmailing bit. If you don’t let us continue to milk this cow, we’ll go home or we’ll stick you with really shitty laws.

But then there’s the hilarity of this idea that the state legislature is made up of anything but retirees, wealthy individuals and idlers, or ne’er-do-wells already. Senator Henry, look around you! It is physically impossible in some cases to do less well than some of your peers; even if I had all day and a gymnast’s body, I could not contort myself into the ethical pretzels your colleagues get in.

Your worst case scenario?

THAT’S WHAT WE HAVE.  Right now.

And how could the quality of laws suffer?! Seriously, did you even read this out loud to another person before you submitted it to the Tennessean?

I mean, I don’t blame you for blocking out what went on in the first part of the year, but Sweet Jesus, let’s be honest.

Basically all we’re being threatened with here is that, if we don’t let legislators have their extra money, they’re going to stop pretending that things are better than they are?

I, for one, would welcome that.

(h/t Kleinheider)

Okay, Who Do We Know Who’s a Folklorist?!

I’m innocently watching NCIS, working on the baby blanket for my cousin, when all of a sudden they start singing a song about a goat.  And I about fall over.

Now, I’m looking through the archives and I see I have never told you about The Old Woman and the Pig.  Grandma Avis used to sing us this song when we were little. An old woman is sweeping her floor and she finds two gold coins and she decides, in her fortune, to go to the market and buy a pig, which she does.  She heads for home and she gets to the style and the pig won’t cross it.  No matter what she does.

So, she goes a little way and she finds a dog and she says (and this part you sing), “Dog, dog, bite that pig, pig won’t go.  And I see by the moonlight, it’s almost midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago.”  But the dog would not, so she went a little farther.

And so on.  Until the hammer begins to break the knife, which begins to cut the rope, which begins to hang the Butcher, who begins to kill the ox, who begins to drink the water, who begins to quench the fire, that beings to burn the stick, which begins to beat the dog, which finally bites the pig, which begins to go and the old woman gets home.

You can see a variation of it here.

I cannot stress enough how this is the foundational text of my young life. My mom even made my grandma a needlepoint thingy commemorating this song.

I also should mention that this is the side of the family who claims to have been secretly Jewish.

So, I ask you, America, can you even begin to guess how I about fell over while watching NCIS, then, when they began to discuss the song “Chad Gadya,” which is, coincidentally, a song about a guy who buys a goat with two coins and the goat gets bit by a dog, who gets hit by a stick, which gets burnt by a fire and so on. There’s even a butcher who kills an ox.

How can those not be two versions of the same song?

So, clearly, this begs two questions. 1.) Did my family learn this as an English folksong or is this proof of the secretly English Jews story? 2.) And holy shit! Is this not proof that we should teach our kids everything we want passed down for generations in the form of a catchy song?

I’m working on one right now–Give your Aunt Betsy chocolate cake; it’s easy to make, chocolate cake.  Give your Aunt Betsy apple pie and chocolate cake; it’s easy to make, chocolate cake.  Give your Aunt Betsy great big hugs and apple pie and chocolate cake; it’s easy to make, chocolate cake.” etc. etc.

People won’t know who the hell I was in 300 years, but they’ll remember that I liked chocolate cake. Maybe they’ll make chocolate cake for their aunts. Aunts around the world will cheer in memory of me, the woman who made chocolate cake and being an aunt synonymous.

Anyway, I am tickled.

Random Things That Caught My Eye

Roger Abramson is moderating a panel on drug legalization next week.  Looks like fun.

This column raises such a good point about calling liars “sluts.”

Preachers’ kids love the Devil? This explains why I have be unable to refrain from teasing my dad about my mad plumbing skills, which practically require me to chase girls and show the world my butt. What did I ever do before my dad got on Facebook?  I just don’t know.  It was the Devil, Dad, my love for the Devil makes me tease you about you turning me gay. Well, that and your homophobia.  But mostly the Devil.

–Reading Dooce has made me all worried that this rash is not poison ivy but shingles.  Don’t worry.  It’s not an itchy rash on my [expletive] but an itchy rash on my arm, which seems to be getting worse, not better, even though it’s been two weeks since I weeded. My [expletive] has its uses, but weeding my garden appears to not be one of them. I need to remember to have my doctor look at it next week when I’m in there.

Constitution Day

I know I’ve been a little remiss in not talking about how Constitution Day went.  It went fine. Casey kind of scared the shit out of me when about the second thing he said to me was, “Don’t worry. We have security on notice and I have a couple of big guys who can handle things sitting in the audience.”  And then I was very nervous about speaking and I felt like my voice shook the whole time.  And everyone was very sweet.

But here’s why I haven’t written about Constitution Day. I have spent much of my blogging career writing about how wrong Terry Frank is, about what an idiot she is, how stupid what she says is, and on and on. I don’t have to tell you if you’ve been reading along. And I fully expected, going over there, that I would come home and be all “Oh my god, Terry Frank said this…” and “Terry Frank said that…” and we would all be mildly shocked and horrified and have a good laugh.

This is an asshole attitude to have.

I felt excused in my asshole behavior because Frank’s got a radio show and a tv show and is friends with politicians and I’m “just a blogger.”

But, if there’s one thing my departed drinking buddy and his soon-t0-be departed friend have insisted week after week after week is that “I’m just a blogger” is an asshole excuse.

And here’s the thing.

I really liked Frank.  Not in the “Oh, gosh, I hope I can call her on the phone and talk about boys” way, but I was and still am struck by how much I liked her. She was calm and self-assured and gave a great talk that was well-researched and thoughtful and she was graceful and thoughtful herself.

Every question she answered, even when she disagreed with a person, I think that person felt listened to, considered, and engaged with.

I don’t say this mildly–it was really, really impressive.

And I felt like the proper response was to just be really impressed and to take some notes on how to steal those tactics for myself.

Did we disagree on stuff?  Yes, on most stuff. But there were only a few times when I felt like “Okay, what you think about things and what I think about things are so different that there just is no common ground.”  Mostly, when we disagreed, I felt like “Okay, we disagree, but we’re in the same ballpark. I see where you are and how you got there and I can see that you see where I am and how I got here and while we might not have a way to make some happy compromise on this issue, these are issues on which the world is big enough for us to work out our own ideas.”

And, frankly, I felt like coming back here and talking about how it went, in detail, with an audience I know mostly agrees with me, would have been opening up Frank for ridicule.

Because that’s the dynamic that I’ve set up here.

And I really felt like that would be cruel and really gross and contrary to the spirit of the day. It would have broken frith after the fact.

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I don’t know.  One thing that’s weird about writing very intimately in a very public way is that people come to feel like they know you. And really, most of the time, this is so awesome. I have made great and dear friends from blogging.  But sometimes there’s this dynamic of “I know you, so you owe me.” And usually the things that people ask of you seem harmless enough, usually, they are harmless enough.

But sometimes it escalates into this realm that’s really, really distressing, where people want something from you and you feel like it shouldn’t be too much to ask to give it, but then they keep asking for more and more or you can’t figure out what, exactly, would satisfy them.

And eventually, you have to be like “Fuck it, I do what I do. If you don’t like it, suck my butt.”

Shoot, I am way off track here.

But what I’m trying to say is that the nature of the beast sets up these dynamics where, in order for you to continue to do what you do, you have to harden your heart to people.

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I have been doing this five years tomorrow. And I am tired of that dynamic.

I don’t know if I’m tired of it forever or just for now or what.  But I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of reading something, writing something snarky and biting about it, having Kleinheider pick it up, and then his commenters going off about what an idiot I am.

I’m tired of the whole dynamic of “I will protect myself from things that scare me by ridiculing them.”

I’m not saying that ridicule isn’t an important tool.

It’s often my only tool.

I’d like to be a better writer than that.