The Dorkiest Post in the History of Dorky Posts, Includes Quilting

I turned down all my New Year’s Eve offers so that I could fiddle with S.’s sewing machine and get started on my quilt. It’s terrible. I mean, whew, doggie, terrible. But here’s the important thing, if you are about to set off on any new crafting skill. The first one will suck. No way around it. So, just get on with the sucking, you know? I thought I’d just do stacks of rectangles, but none of my rectangles are square so the stacks were, just six rectangles in, obviously not going to be square, so I have switched to squares, which are hilariously off-kilter.

But I really like the fabric and the quilt’s not for anyone but me, so I’m not too worried about it. Even just looking at what I have pieced together, it looks hilariously bad, but also really good.  So, I’m kind of digging it. I guess the trick is to use fabric you like so that it’s easy enough to overlook that you don’t know what you’re doing.

It’s funny. My mom taught me to sew and I don’t remember sewing a lot of things on her machine, but the biggest problem I’m having with S.’s machine is the muscle memory that keeps reaching for the wrong spot to lift up the foot. I even did all the bobbin stuff myself, which involved adjusting the tension, so I felt like a pro. And then, I threaded the needle on the first try! Only to then realize that the machine has an automatic needle threader. Hilariously enough, I can’t figure out how to use it, so I’ve just been threading the needle myself when I have to, which I have had to a few times when I am not careful.

I won’t tell you how many times I had to pull a whole seam out. Okay–four. But that’s when I developed my grand theory of “The first one is just going to suck and it’s okay.” It’s easy to be cheery about sucky things when you accept that that’s the learning experience. Plus, I don’t plan on becoming a grand quilt maker so I didn’t buy all the tools that I’m sure make your first time suck much less. But, if I do this again, I will, believe me.

Writing is going at a much slower pace. I know what I want to have happen in Chapter 5 (right now the last chapter) and I know where I am now, but I’m not sure how to get from where I am now to chapter five. And I’m very nervous about the next draft. I’ve never written something this long, so I’ve never really needed to do actual second drafts of things. I just wrote something and then edited it until I liked it.

But with something this length, I’m starting to get an understanding of why you’d need to actually rewrite things, and it scares me a little bit. I know it needs to be done, but I’m not sure how to go about it. Which, weirdly, brings me back to the quilting stuff. I may just need to come to accept that the first novel sucks and just do it for the sake of having written something that length to see how it goes.

And, like the quilt, I’m not sure “sucks” shuts off the possibility of “interesting”  and “beautiful” and “something I really love,” so there’s that. This quilting shit may be more useful than I know.

I need to go take a picture of what’s going on so you can see.

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Science! You have answers, we have questions.

I was telling the girls yesterday (“the girls” as in “my friends” not “the girls” as in “my boobs,” though I’m sure my boobs were totally eavesdropping) that, while visiting with my family, we had come up with a Mythbusters question for the ages.

We have all heard that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth.

And yet, my dog regularly eats poop.

So, I’d like to know, how long does it take a dog’s mouth to go from “I just had a goose poop popcycle” to “It’s totally not gross if I go in and try to French kiss the Butcher”?

A Noise I Like

For the first time in forever, I got up and walked the dog and, as such, was reminded of one of my favorite noises in the neighborhood. Not that we have a lot of noises in the neighborhood. Mostly just cars, birds, dogs, and sometimes children. But we also have the AT&T building. I don’t know what, exactly, this building does for AT&T. I’ve been walking by it for a couple of years and it appears that very tired men in crappy cars go into the building and… I don’t know. I never see anyone leaving it.

I like to imagine it’s a support group for people who can’t quite make the switch in their minds from Bell South.

“Okay, guys, just one more time. Repeat after me, ‘Hello, Ma’am, I’m from AT&T.”

“Hello, Ma’am, I’m from Allt&South.”

“Close, Earl, real close.”

I shudder to think what happens if they all have to start calling themselves uVerse.

Anyway, they have an HVAC unit that that makes the most awesome noises. It comes on like a mechanical dragon clearing its throat, all cluuunnk cachunk cachuuooonk and then it purrs for a few seconds prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrpppppprrrrrr (ha, I’m 36 years old and I’m just now realizing ‘purr’ is an onomatopoeia.) and then it kicks into this heavy metal scream, “ooooooooEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” and then I assume they have heat or something.

Even though it kicks on almost every time I walk by, that initial cluuunnk cachunk cachuuooonk scares the shit out of me.

Sometimes I think, “Dang, they should get out there with some WD40,” but most of the time I just laugh at myself and think that I should remember to tell you guys about it.

Things Afoot

Ha, this was a weird day. But I got to see lots of people I like, so that was nice. The Butcher’s going to take me to the eye doctor tomorrow, because I know she’s going to dilate my pupils and I don’t know how safe I’ll be to drive clear home. I remember thinking last year that it was kind of stupid of me to be driving.

That’s right, Nashville. I’m being considerate of your safety.

I will wait until I’m on an overpass and drop rocks on you, like a civilized person.

Trouble in the Neighborhood

So, our neighbors got broken into last night. Not the ones with the baby nor the one Mrs. W. is madly in love with, but the ones on the other side of him. They work nights and came home to find someone had wiped them out. They said the cop told them it looked like the burglars had taken their time.

The thing that creeps me out about it is the thought of someone watching their home long enough to figure out that they aren’t there all night.

I’m glad we have Mrs. W. But even the couple with the baby have dogs, and Leo aspires to be mean. So, I worry that Mrs. W. would not stop or be able to stop someone determined.

I think we should get a grizzly bear and keep it out back.

Thoughts on Feminist Blogging

There’s another huge uproar in the feminist blogosphere. This one’s actually interesting because all sides have good points, instead of it just being a case of someone being an asshole and everyone else either rushing to condemn or defend. But I find myself caring less an less about that stuff. Maybe it would be different if I had ever been a more popular feminist blogger–my desire to keep my popularity might prolong my need to stake my side in these arguments.

But not only don’t I think you give a shit what I think about it, I don’t give a shit about having definitive feelings about it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of BitchPhD and how it was an important place for a lot of feminists while also being incredibly terrible for a lot of feminists. And the thing is, I really want to say that, yeah, that’s exactly right and really, though we should work for better,this is the obvious end result.

Feminism isn’t a monolithic movement. People are going to drop the ball and not give a shit about picking it up and that’s going to suck. And that doesn’t mean that they also aren’t influential and important to other people and that doesn’t mean those other people are endorsing every thing about the ball dropper.

But the thing that bugs me is that I can’t tell if I think that because of privilege–if part of being a white, somewhat educated woman is that, in exchange for a lot of bullshit I’ve had to put up with, I’ve come to expect we all kind of turn away from each other’s unpleasant parts.

But then I think, no, actually, that’s exactly what I’m getting at. A mechanism my small group has developed in order to make our space a little safer for each other does, in fact, make our space a little safer for each other. AND it probably is complete bullshit when exported into other groups and situations.

I keep thinking that I’m pushing 40. Oh god. And the feminist voices I would like to hear from are the women who are at this point, who are figuring out what’s beyond the great doctrinal arguments (though, I don’t mean to be flip about them. I think they’re crucial as well, just a young person’s game, most of the time) and into “how do I negotiate space for myself as a whole person if I’m the one who has to take care of my asshole dad?” or “I want my kid’s teacher to stop calling him a pussy, but I don’t want to cause trouble for my kid” or whatever.

And I feel like the women who are doing those things and who could best write about them don’t write about them because they are busy doing them.

And that makes me sad.

I understand it, but it makes me sad.

Tennessee Politics Will Break Your Heart

Today lots of folks are linking to this great piece that’s an open letter to the Tennessee Dems. It’s good stuff. But it’s the same good stuff liberal bloggers have been saying in Tennessee since I started blogging. Half a decade we’ve been saying “Just act like Democrats, tell us what your plan is, and we’ll get behind you.”

I kind of feel like I’m done begging for that. And I know, so many of my posts about politics are all about the things I’m done with. But, hey, the good thing about Tennessee politics is that it quickly whittles you down to just the bare essentials.

I’ve been reading a lot of interesting debates on the Republican side about how much payback there should be. And I am of two minds. On the one hand, if Democrats met Stacey Campfield with derisive laughter every day all day, I would be pleased as punch.

But some of the things I’ve been hearing and reading about how Democrats carried on? I’m really embarrassed by that.

And some of the things? Some of the things I’m hearing, I am literally begging the Universe aren’t true.

It’s depressing.

And I don’t have anything clever or insightful to say about it.

Oh, Blessed Routine, Where Have You Gone? When Are You Coming Back?

Yet again I failed to get up and walk the dog. Yet again I’m sitting here on the couch when I should be in the shower. And it’s Wednesday! Not Tuesday. Things are happening today I thought were happening tomorrow.

I don’t feel like I was gone from work very long, but man, I’m having trouble getting back into the groove of things, which is further throwing me off.

And I have to make an eye appointment today. My right eye is like “eh, I’m tired of looking at things.” But, you know, I would still like to look at things. So, its a battle.

How Will It Be if I Die an Old Maid in the Garret?

Ever since Coble introduced me to this song, I like to sing it in the car at the top of my lungs. The way they sing it, it just sounds so defiant, like, fuck yeah, how will it be if I die an old maid in the garret? It’ll be fucking awesome, because I will have done it.

And then sometimes I get to the end and it makes me cry. I mean, I’m not even sure what a garret is. I assume, without looking, that its what Rapunzel was stuck in–a high turret with no castle attached.

Oh, shit, it’s an attic? I’m not that bummed about having to live in an attic. I mean, yeah, if I have to live in my attic, that’s going to kind of suck, because I’m not great on stairs, let alone rickety fold-out ladders, and there’s no bathroom up there, but if they throw me a bucket, I guess I can manage.

Well, fuck it. I’m going to stop being sad about having to live in an attic. The only real question will be–how will I get my cauldron up there? Is a cauldron in an attic a fire hazard?

My Mom’s Present to My Dad

Oh, I forgot to tell y’all what my mom got my dad for Christmas, but I was telling S. about it yesterday and she was almost crying about it. So, yes, my parents are in their mid-sixties and fairly liberal. I mention this only to imply that nudity is not a big deal for them. Why, I remember once my friend C. walking into our bathroom only to find my mom cleaning the tub naked.

Kids, you may not believe this, but there was a time when men sat around the house in their underwear, like, in the middle of the afternoon. And not cute boxers, either. It wasn’t weird to go over to a friend’s house and see her dad asleep in a chair in his tighty-whiteys. Whenever folks tell you about the good old days, believe me, they are leaving out the random appearances of underwear of your friends’ dads.

Okay, so over at the motel, my mom gave my dad a present, which he then had to bring over here and call each of his grown children into the back room to see one at a time. It was a see-through red Santa-themed teddy.

My dad’s complaints, in this order:

1. It obviously wasn’t his size.

2. Since it had feathers across the top, it was tangible proof, evidence even, that my mom is trying to kill my dad because he’s allergic to feathers.

But seriously. My parents are always naked. Not always, but Jesus Christ, don’t go into their bedroom without getting verbal confirmation that they are clothed. Because, seriously, they are not just naked, they are naked yakkers. My mom especially is notorious for wanting to have long, important discussions while she’s nakedly flossing her teeth or something.

Seriously, if you can’t see my parents, but they want to talk to you, it’s probably best to just ask them if they have clothes on so that you’re not surprised mid-conversation.

Which brings me to my final point. Of all of the people in the world, why would my mom need a see-through anything? Lord knows, she’d probably wander around for forty-seven minutes naked before putting it on, briefly, to take it off again. If she thought my dad would appreciate seeing her cast in a red hue, she could have just thrown a red scarf over the lamp. Same effect, much cheaper.

Only One Person Sends Me Mix Tapes

So, my old friend, Elias is putting together a zine of commentaries on mix tapes. One time, Elias put together a zine and I submitted an article about how I had nearly drown myself attempting to masturbate with the bathtub faucet. I think I later wrote about it here. Oh, I did! And, while I don’t think that post’s as funny as what I wrote for Elias, it does recount the story of my Grandma’s Papist conspiracy regarding Catholic boys and sex.

Ha, this blog used to be so good.

Anyway, so the second part of the current submission is to submit commentary on a mix tape you’ve been given. But the only person who ever sends me mix tapes is Elias and I lost them all in the flood. So, I’m kind of stymied on that. I am contemplating writing commentary on the songs on those mix tapes that I then incorporated into my own musical library–you know what I mean? The songs that became not just songs on a mix tape but songs I like independently.

Here’s a snippet of one of them.

Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” I don’t know how old I was when Elias sent me this song on tape, but it was on the same tape as Howlin’ Wolf doing “Sittin’ On Top of the World” which is worth every penny you might pay for it just for the way that he says “I had to take Christmas in my overalls” and it sounds like “overhauls” and Muddy Waters singing “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”

I know I’d certainly heard Blues music before, but I can’t say I really heard what the bid deal was until those three songs. The thing that kills me about “Killing Floor” is that the drive in the song, the real urgency, is expressed by the drums (which you’d expect) and the piano. The motherfucking piano.

In a song filled with exquisite and talented guitarists.

It takes, I think, real confidence in your own talent and that of your band to trust the pianist. In any popular music of the 20th century anyway. Sure, if you only have piano accompaniment, that’s one thing. Or if you play the piano, Jerry Lee Lewis, that’s another thing (let us note and then never speak of this bizarro duet with Kid Rock). But I was and remain blown away by how Howlin’ Wolf’s songs so expertly use the piano as a vibrant ensemble instrument, one with great rhythm capabilities.

Anyway, I feel like I remember playing the tape in my big gold Caprice Classic, which might have made me still in high school. And I felt like I was hearing some great mystery that had been, until then, hidden from me.

But there it was coming through my speakers, cracking my whole world wide open.

Anyway, needless to say, I’m excited about participating.

Slowly Settling Back in

These days of eating, eating, eating have taken their toll on our fair hero. I used to think that when I was younger, but little did I know what a body could do to you when it got tired of your behavior.

I have to get the ball rolling over at Pith, but I’m not in that big a hurry, I must admit. It’s kind of nice to not think about politics and such for a while.

I think the quilt is going to be a nice writing exercise. I’d be interested, actually, to see the brain scans on this because, let’s say that the part of your brain that writes is a room with no light and writing usually involves you going into that room from the hallway with a small candle to see what’s there. For me, working on quilting or crocheting or some other creative project is like working in the next room and peeking in to the writing room from another door. I see things I can’t see from the hallway, or from a different direction.

Ha, people gave my book for Christmas. How fucking wonderful is that?

I Will Bequeath Every Half Finished Thing in My House to My Nephews!

Ha, people, so I went up to Joann’s to spend my Christmas loot on fabric for a quilt. Yes, even after I said I wasn’t going to. Even though I have 190 things around the house to do including finishing up another quilt. Even though I have yet to secure a sewing machine (though I have a kind person who is going to lend me one).

I don’t know why. Because I got it in my head and that’s all there was to it. Anyway, here are the parts. Imagine, if you will, stripes. Like this, maybe, but not really. Oh, wait, no. Like this, but running up and down instead of across.

Anyway, the cat seems to like it.  I’m a little worried the more purple stuff may be too modern and look weird in the thing, but I felt like, without it, I was going to end up with a mostly orange quilt that somehow wasn’t vibrant. Once everything’s out of the wash, I’ll be ironing and cutting strips. Woo hoo.

We All Made It Through the Day!

I feel like all we did was eat and eat and eat. And go to church that one time and eat some more. Whew, it’s a lot of family togetherness.

I was all convinced last week that I was going to make a quilt. But I realized last night that I was fretting over the quilt, like it was giving me something to do, a purpose to focus on while they were here. I think, instead, I’ll focus on finishing the quilt in my attic. When the time comes. No need to use the quilt as a way to avoid the novel.

Anyway, I think it went pretty well. The brothers seemed to like their Yee Haw industries calendars. Mom was delighted with her magnets and cacti. And Dad only complained the obligatory amount about his CD. The Butcher got me a set of blue dishes, which I am so tickled by. I like that our dishes kind of just have a “cobalt blue” theme so that, when we need dishes, as long as they have some blue, they look right. My parents got me glass doors for the fire place.

Ha, this is funny, because it is so typical of them. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate some glass doors for the fire place. I always wonder when the fire is out but the coals are obviously still red and I’m ready to go to bed, is it safe to close the flue? I think not. Those coals are obviously doing something in there that could be putting off a chemical that would kill me. So, being able to close the glass instead will be nice.

But it’s not something I asked for or even really thought “Gosh, I need that.”

But my dad had become convinced that my power bill was outrageous in the winter and that this would help bring it back into a reasonable state.

Which I know sounds plausible, right?

Except that my dad has no idea what my utility bills are.

See?

It’s weird.

But whatever. It’s been like that my whole life and I assumed I was the crazy person. I still may be a crazy person, but having a little space is good for the realization that some shit you’ve been taking as true–like how much people can know about you–is just made up and has, weirdly, nothing to do with you, but is about their need to soothe themselves.

Especially in this case, where my dad was feeling guilty for buying my brothers’ presents for everyone.

But seriously, like I told him before about the money shit–I don’t care. Waiting around for the Big Get-Even (as Tom Petty so artfully said) is a way for people to remain too tied to each other in too fucked-up ways.

Yonder Breaks a New and Glorious Morn

We went back to the Methodist church my whole family claims to dislike. I should have know that meant they actually liked it a great deal. The service tonight was lovely. And the minister asked my dad to help with communion.

Apparently this is a courtesy given to visiting ministers. I thought it would have been more appropriate if he’d been placed on a horse in the sanctuary in honor of the church’s circuit riding heritage, but alas, apparently I’m the only person who’s ever thought of ceremonial horse-riding for Methodist ministers.

This, over here to the left, is a sight I spent most of my life, it feels like, looking at–the back of a pew and the tops of hymnals. Going to church, especially the singing, always makes me cry. I feel like I’m visiting a place I can never go home to. And I feel deeply ambivalent about that.

I like where I am now and I’ve met cool Folks who have greatly improved my life.

But I do miss it.

They read the part where Eve fucks it up for everyone and it just made me so sad. Oh, damn it, this old story. I’ve been gone almost twenty years and you’re still going on about that.

It made me sad.

Just affirmation that my problems with the Church aren’t solved by time.

But it was good to go, like running into an old boyfriend, and seeing that he’s doing what he wants to be doing. I’m glad for the Church and glad I didn’t end up there.

What It’s Like to Go to Kroger with the Family

“We need cheese?”

“What do we need?”

“What did you say?”

“What, what did he say?”

“Which said what?”

“Where’s your mom?”

“Um, where’s Mom?”

“My phone’s ringing.”

“It’s your son for you.”

“The Butcher?

“No, the other.”

“No, he’s right here with us.”

“No, he’s not.”

“Mom looks lost.”

“Did you find mom?”

“Did he find mom?”

“I found mom.”

“What’d he say?”

“What’s she want to know?”

“AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!”

My Parents’ Friends

Well, this is unfortunate. My parents are telling their friends about my blog and encouraging them to come read it. While complaining that they are not allowed to (which is not true, though I am glad they don’t read it).

It’s unfortunate because I really don’t want to hurt my parents. Neither do I want them in every aspect of my business. Shoot, I haven’t even told them about the Belmont stuff because I think they’d be uncomfortable. And I’m really proud of that work.

So, folks, if you are reading, fair warning that you may read things that alarm you. Telling my parents about it will not create an opportunity for them to help me or save me or fix me or straighten me out. It will merely upset them and upset me.

I don’t mind if you read along. That’s fine. I’d just ask that you respect that one of the things that has most fucked me up is the propensity for church people my whole life to run and tattle to my parents so that my parents could help me or save me or fix me or properly discipline me in the way those church folks thought was most appropriate.

Don’t add to that.

The Most Awesome Trophy

The Butcher made this for the winner of his fantasy football league. And I’m sorry, but this is just the most awesome thing I’ve seen all day. Well, not all day, but this morning. Look at how he used rice and beans for ballast.

Wishes

I wish I had a sewing machine. And a deer skull. And money.

I made a list of wishes the night of the solstice, a wish per slip of paper and crumpled them up. None of the wishes were for the things listed above, which I didn’t think to put on my list. But there my wishes were, those other wishes, crumpled and I took them out on the night of the eclipse and I threw them in the creek. Except that the wind caught them and they all blew up on the side of the creek.

And I considered reaching down and pushing them into the water.

And then I realized two things. 1. This must be why they tell you to toss over your shoulder and not look back. 2. If having your wished blow back at you isn’t a lot like life in general, I don’t know what is.

Complaints so Far

1. The house isn’t clean enough.

2. The garage isn’t clean enough.

3. The Butcher is going to his friends for dinner on Thursday so they have to have dinner just with me.

The Butcher had my car and they needed him to meet them at the motel to help unpack. He called and asked if I wanted him to swing by and pick me up so that I could see them last night. I was like, “What are you talking about? I’ll see them when they come over to the house.”

And he actually said, “I don’t think they’re going to want to come over to the house. It’s almost nine. I’ll just load the stuff that needs to come to the house and bring it on over here.”

And I sat there dumbfounded for a second, and said, “They’re going to want to come to the house.” And he got mad at me! “I say they’re not.”

Yeah, buddy? Who’s gloating on the internet?

I wish it were legal and ethical to give your parents pot brownies without their knowledge. I feel like, if I could figure out a way to keep them from realizing what I was up to, lobbying for a “But come on! This is how every visit goes!” exception to many, many drug laws would be fairly easy. I’d just unleash them down at the State Capitol and we’d get parental marijuana passed in this state no problem.

Ha, I kid. They won’t even alleviate the suffering of cancer patients. Of course, most cancer patients won’t come to their houses and tell them the 90 things that are unacceptable insults to them. Which means, maybe, cancer patients should consider hiring my parents as their lobbyists. Sorry, NORML, your ways are slow and too hippified. You’re too nice.

Probably all the pot.

Which is why my folks need it.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Lord almighty, I would forgo every present they ever got me if they would learn to be happy. Not funny or amusing or delightful, which they are, often, but just happy. A little bit. If their default wasn’t “Oh my god, something is fucked up! I don’t know what and I don’t know where, but it’s obvious something has not been done right.”

Not just because them moving through the world like this is so painful to their kids, but because it is so obviously painful to them.

Government Waste?

This is the most hilarious thing I have read all day. So, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security work together to produce this map. Upon which they have nothing to stick but the ACLU for Nashville. In fact, of all of their incidents, only one–a bomb threat–could legitimately be said to be a terrorist threat. But they also only have sixteen incidents.

For sixteen incidents, only one of which might be a terrorist threat, we have to have a fancy map and two departments working together? They couldn’t just email each other a list?

But the best part is that anyone could put together a map like this, to be shared among departments, for free on Google maps. You might not have fancy icons (though, I don’t know. Kids today can do some shit.), but it would be free. I can’t help but wonder how much we’re paying Globalincidentmap.com to give us flashing icons.

Waiting on My Parents

The older they get, the more nervous I get about them driving down here by themselves. So, I’m sitting here mildly fretting.

I guess I should watch TV or something instead, like a normal person.

I just hope the time goes well.