It Turns Out that I Actually Didn’t Want to Write That

Even with my awesome outline outlining the false story of how the Martins became birds and the actual true story of what happened out east and even with an empty house and an awesome fire, it still took me a good three hours to write the pages that tell that story.

Every part ended up being upsetting to me.

But the true story, especially.

“I found a cemetery outside of town with twenty-three headstones all carved ‘Martin.’ All ending in ‘April 21, 1854.’ Even children. Even babies. Big, thick, new padlock on the gate, even now, but I reached through to touch the stones I could. And I stayed there until I couldn’t stand it no more.”

My Favorite Christmas Decoration

Sorry it’s so dark, but I’m having a fire and writing, which requires ambiance. Ha ha ha.

Anyway, I know this is supposed to be Santa, but I just don’t believe it for a second. The great white beard, the outfit made for wandering, the tree hanging by his side as, perhaps, he once hung down the side of a tree?

I would have this in my house all year round.

Hell, I may.

Being Your Friend Doesn’t Mean I Cover for Your Mom

So, this is mildly interesting if you’re into Palin gossip. It’s also completely unsurprising. I just think this has got to go to prove how much we are no longer a rural society because, people, of course. Jesus Christ, of course. Do people actually not know women like Sarah Palin? Do they just not exist in cities? I don’t know.

But that’s not what I find interesting. What I find interesting are the comments, multiple comments berating Cho for revealing this bit of gossip. As if, because Cho considers herself Bristol Palin’s friend, she has some obligation to keep her mouth shut about how poorly Palin’s mom treats her.

I’ve been giving this a lot more thought than is warranted, probably because I come from a family where people pick on babies are we’re all supposed to pretend to not notice it for the sake of… I don’t know… not hurting the baby maligner’s feelings I guess, but I am noticing more frequently the ways bad behavior is covered up. And this idea that it’s a violation of the bonds of friendship to notice and refuse to be silent about a friend’s mom’s bad behavior towards that friend?

As if it’s a favor to the friend and not a way to protect the mother?


Woman Assaulted in Jackson

I’m just going to be honest, stories like this scare the shit out of me–people just standing around watching a woman being beaten, the police seeming to decide it’s not a crime worth investigating once they learn she’s a trans woman.

I have seen too many women just this fucking week discover that the police didn’t really feel the crimes committed against them constituted anything that should be bothered with.

But this has got to be the most horrifying. And that her mom had to watch. I just can’t fucking stand it.

But Life is Pretty Weirdly Awesome

So, this morning we learned that NASA is about to announce they’ve discovered a new life form here on earth. But then we learned that the truth, though not as exciting in some regards, is even stranger.

Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues designed an experiment to take a particular type of salt-loving bacteria called GFAJ-1 from Mono Lake’s mud sediments, wean it off phosphorus, and see if it could switch its diet to arsenic. In the paper published today, the researchers report that some of the bacteria could survive on arsenic and incorporate it into their cellular biochemistry. Instead of the usual phosphate-rich DNA, they observed arsenate-rich DNA. Heightened levels of arsenic also showed up in the cell’s proteins and fats. The scientists used mass spectroscopy, radioactive labeling and X-ray fluorescence to confirm that the arsenic was really being used in the biomolecules rather than merely contaminating the cells.

This just blows my mind. I mean, it blows my mind that there might be forms of arsenic-life around here that we just haven’t found. That’s weird enough. But there’s something truly weird about being able to switch an organism from phosphate to arsenic.

I know science-folks are probably already laughing, but if there’s one thing you can say about life, it’s that nothing is ever settled. You’d think that phosphorus v. arsenic would be something a life-form would just have to choose at the moment of existence and stick with it. But no. We may find that some can switch back and forth.

Mud Blossoms

You know, a funny thing about life is that you do get to points where you feel like you’ve seen it all. I mean, no, not Paris, but within your little realm, that you have seen or at least imagined every possible thing that might happen.

So, this morning, I was out walking the dog for the first time since this damn cold and I was lamenting not getting new shoes since mine are worn smooth and so they’re incredibly slick on the frost, when I realized that I could step on the mole hills and gain traction because they had a little give.

God bless the mole hills. They’re such a pain in the ass 3/4 of the year but I was happy to see them today.

But, please, examine this picture carefully and tell me if you have ever, ever seen anything like this. I was cutting across the AT&T yard when I noticed about a million of these. You may have to enlarge the photo by clicking on it to get a really good look, but they appeared to be very tiny, beautiful geysers of frozen mud.

My hypothesis is that the ground was already weak along the mole hills, and that the mole tunnels filled with water earlier in the week, and that last night it was cold enough that the water in the mole tunnels froze and since water expands when it freezes and the tops of the tunnels were weak, it allowed for this weird almost Play-dough protruding out of the ground.

But in all my years, I have never seen that before. It’s weird how you can be surprised just walking through the AT&T yard, you know?

Anyway, on my walk, I was thinking a lot about the Spiritualist movement and how it was a weird kind of element of the Progressive movement. The same white people who were abolitionists and suffragists in the 19th century were, in no small number, also Spiritualists. So, this morning, I was thinking about the weirdness of the Spiritualists towards the end of their heyday all getting Native American spirit guides (something that happened a lot in the 70s and 80s, our 70s and 80s, when mediumship had a resurgence).

I was thinking, on my walk, that, to really understand this, you have to be able to keep two different images before you. Yes, there’s an element of incredible racism–viewing the Other as a site of spiritual knowledge and guidance, but not even the real Other, just your imagining of him. And I think it’s important to keep that knowledge before us at all times. When you have run a people off and killed them and stolen their land, when you turn around to be all “But they are so wise and knowledgeable and we love them!” it is never going to not be deeply problematic.

But I’m also considering the other thing–which is that Spiritualism was widely popular along side of Manifest Destiny and Bloody Kansas and so on. And, in a way, it serves as a powerful counternarrative to “We can do what we want. God gave us white people this country.” Spiritualists were always hearing from the spirits of slaves and Native Americans and other crime victims often through the mouths of women. Hell, even the Foxes thought they were hearing from a murdered peddler at first. Even if we think that the Spiritualists were full of shit, they were full of shit in a way that served as a strong counter-critique to the prevailing narrative of what it meant to be an American.

It’s something.

Anyway, there’s no way I’m going to be able to thematically tie mud blossoms back into Spiritualism, but just consider this the internet equivalent of going on our walk with us. The post just peters out not because the thoughts are done, but because we’re back at the house.