The Whites Creek Post Office

There’s nothing that makes me feel more like I actually live some place than going to the post office. Anyone can be a regular at a bar, but being known at the post office? That says… well… in my case it says we don’t get the mail out of our box often enough. But it also says “Yep, you live here.”

The Whites Creek Post Office is darling. You’d think buildings from the 50s wouldn’t age well, but this one is small enough that its anonymous office building aura takes on a certain charm.

Anyway, so yesterday I was there mailing a book–which means I am down to one extra copy in the house! But I bet you can still get copies from Amazon in time for Christmas, if you’re looking for a last minute gift. But don’t even get me started on the reviews. They’re fictional ghost stories. They cannot be rehashes of things you’ve seen on PBS unless PBS is ripping me off because they are made up. I literally am going to have to get some kind of shock collar and every time I go to read reviews, someone just shock me senseless, until I am conditioned to ignore them. And maybe you should not get anyone this book for Christmas because, apparently, I cannot handle people reading it and forming opinions on it. Excuse me. I have to go quietly sob in the shower now.–and I was coming out and a woman was coming in with these enormous boxes. So, I held the outer door for her, as you do. And she was kind of floored.

But then, a soldier got out of her SUV and bound over to open the inner door.

And I got in my car and I was fidgeting with my music and the soldier came out and she smiled at me so big and I was like “Yeah, that did feel awesome.” So, I smiled back.

And then we got married!

No, and then I was four cars behind an accident at the corner of DB Todd and Jefferson and it looked pretty bad, head on, but two of the cars in front of me were filled with healthcare professionals. Because this is Nashville. And because we were right by Meharry.

B. Phillipses for the Win

Well, I wrote a very funny (I think) Pith post in which I interviewed all of the B. Phillipses in my family, the ones who are still alive, anyway.

It was nice. And funny that all of them cracked jokes. Even the conservative ones.

I hope it will be as funny to outsiders.

This Novel-Writing Thing Will Be the End of Me

So, the truth is that one should probably not write a story of the no-good, terrible, very-bad church and the ministers who served there while at the same time feeling a great deal of anxiety about the impending visit of one’s parents.

I have concerns. One of my concerns is that nothing happens in the story, that it is, instead, just a bunch of people sitting around telling each other the stories of themselves that have gotten them into the situations they’re in. What kind of novel is that?! I’m also concerned that it’s too much that the woman who is turning into a flock of birds is also a rape victim, but the Professor asked me how many women are in my book and I was like “a shit ton”–the gal who’s becoming a flock of birds, the other gal who can become a flock of birds, the two women who are married to the dog family, the Watseka wonder, and the preacher’s daughter whose body she uses, plus the gal who’s becoming a flock of birds’ mom and her two nieces. And then the Professor pointed out that that’s pretty much statistically on-target–that one of them would have been raped. And yep, that’s true.

Anyway, I’ve just gotten to the part where the girl who is possessed by the Watseka Wonder is recounting her brief time as a sleep preacher and how her parents didn’t tell her that she was preaching in her sleep nor did they get her medical help right away because her dad was plagiarizing her sermons. And I had this moment where I thought, “Oh no! That’s the real story here. I wrote all this, but the real story is about the kind of man who could be so desperate that he would steal from his daughter and keep her sick so that he could be successful at the job that provided for them all,” and I was frozen with fear that I was writing the wrong story.

But then I realized, in a story in which parents are allowing their daughter to suffer for their own well-being, who thinks the story of the person benefiting from this arrangement is the compelling story?

So, I think I’m a little freaked out, too, because part of telling this story is dragging up a lot of crap for me, which is probably not good crap to drag up just before my parents get here.

And I also think that it has to be a story full of women’s stories because the women in my book couldn’t really do much, just because of their societal situations. So, if they’re going to participate in the narrative, it has to be through telling, not doing. Though I feel like telling, not doing, goes against every rule of fiction writing I could invent.

I need to get into, too, the ways in which members of the congregation would feel free to tell you all kinds of shitty things about your dad and to interfere in how minister’s kids are being raised.

Anyway, I’m feeling weird about it. But I forge ahead, not knowing what the hell I am doing.

Children, Go Where I Send Thee

It’s not too late to just decide that, even though he’s singing the wrong words, yes, I said it, the wrong words. It goes “Children, go where I send thee/ How shall I send thee?” Who has ever heard of a song, a religious song, where the leader says something and the respondents back-talk him? “Where you gonna send me?” Please. You have been given an order, Tennessee-Ernie-Ford Back-talkers. Go where he sends thee. Don’t sass the man.

Plus, it makes no sense for the rest of the song. He’s not sending them to two-by-two, that’s how he’s sending them out.

But I believe Ford to be a reasonable man. So, once we dig him up and reanimate him, I think he will be persuaded by my reasoning. Which brings me back to the first seven words of this post.

It’s not too late to just decide that Tennessee Ernie Ford has the perfect voice for singing this song and that, if you can’t reasonably reproduce the essence of this performance, you just shouldn’t bother. I invite you to go to youtube and view the videos of people singing this song and tell me if you don’t agree. This song works best when it feels like an invocation, when the singer has either a strong enough voice–like Ford–or a voice like a serrated porcupine quill–like Ralph Stanley–to get the attention of Heaven and earth.

I’m sorry Natalie Merchant. You have a lovely voice, but the children cannot hear you over the video game they’re playing in the other room. And multiple choirs who perform this with some kind of backing track? Hang up your robes, you frauds. This is a song that begs for minimal accompaniment.

Ha ha ha.

Yes, okay, clearly, I’m a little stressed about the holidays since I’m talking smack about people singing Christmas carols (though it’s interesting to note that both Ford and Cash seem kind of unsure if this even is a Christmas carol).

But I think it’s interesting to consider why this song works, when it works, and, like I said, I think it’s because it works as an invocation. You have this loud strong “Chiiiiillld-ren, GOOOOooooo Where I Send THEeeee” and it’s worth noting that one of the reasons this works as a call to action or worship is that we’re so used to the iamb–da dum da dum da dum da dum da dum (Think of “This shit is bananas, B-a-n-a-n-a-s” for a good example of iambic feet) that when we hear trochaic feet, we pay attention. It literally sounds strange.

And when you’re trying to invoke the strange–the sacred–to perform the strange is an incredibly powerful way to shift the energy in a space. Especially when we’re talking song here, not just poetry so that some of the unstressed syllables aren’t just unstressed. They are literally not there. After “thee” there’s no unstressed syllable, for instance. You just wait for the next line to start.

And then, there’s the building repetitiveness of the verses, which is a great way to, again, allow your listener (or singer-along) to shift headspace. It kind of has a chugging monotonous quality that lets you sing along with almost the whole song the first time you hear it.

I don’t know. I thought I had maybe more intelligent things to say about it. These books on Spiritualism and Old-timey Methodism have got me thinking a lot about the role of music in worship and about how these old hymns and spirituals were designed for specific mood-altering work, to help the worshipper get in a mind-altered state.

I want to think about that some.

Sunday Blues

I’ve reconnected on Facebook with folks I used to know when I was young and interesting. They all have cool lives and husbands and wives and kids, some. I was feeling a little blue about it. As I am prone to do. Until one of them put up pictures of us from back then and I was cute! I know me, having lived with me all my life, so I know I didn’t know I was cute, in fact, probably thought I was too ugly. I sweated being ugly a lot when I was young, hoping people would just find me charming instead.

But here’s my point. I was cute and couldn’t see it.

I get the blues because I have a wonderful life, a cool life myself, and lose sight of it.

I was thinking about going to the park yesterday and how, for a cold day, we ran into a lot of people. Not a lot, but considering that we usually meet either no one or just one other person, six was a lot. Five of them were men. And the woman was with a man.

I was cheated out of a lot of things in life because I didn’t believe I could do them by myself. Until I came by Mrs. Wigglebottom, going to the park was one of those things.

I don’t really know how the two parts of my post fit together. I do wonder if I’ve missed out on stuff. I also wonder if people look at my life and wonder if they’re missing out.

And now I’m embarrassed by how trite that is. But I don’t care.

My New Retirement Plan

I found this in the pathway at Bells Bend. I took it as a sign.

The dog and I went out to Bells Bend today, which, I must tell you, was an excellent day to go to the park. The leaves are all down, so the whole time you are walking along the river, you can actually see it, shining like a silvery ribbon in the sun. We walked 1/4 father than we were actually capable of walking and that is when I came up with my retirement plan.

When I am old and retired, I will work out at Bells Bend in a 4×4 golf cart where I go out and rescue people and their old dogs who have gone too far and cannot get back to their cars so that they don’t have to spend 15 minutes standing by the barn complaining about how, even though they can see their vehicles, they can’t possibly get back to them.

There was a man obviously living in his car in the parking lot. I thought about going and telling them at the desk, but it’s Christmas. And he lives in his car. Maybe his life is hard enough, you know?

The Professor came over and helped me repot my giant jade plant and the Butcher’s spider plant. I honestly can’t believe the Butcher’s spider plant was still even talking to him, as rootbound as it was. But it lives in the bathroom now, where it makes a cheery addition.

And now I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

But it’s a good tired.

Still, I must tell you, at least once a week, I’m stunned that this is a real place. And that I get to live here.

What a Weird Week

I have just been completely thrown off by this week. I’m glad I blogged the crap out of Pith last week because I’ve been a complete slack over there this week. But whew, not having a schedule really throws me off. And not knowing what days I was going to be working and what days I wasn’t did just completely throw me.

I have gotten a lot of my own writing done, so that’s good. But here’s the thing I realized as I was trying to fall asleep last night. For all of my schooling and reading, I don’t know how to write a book. So, I decided, I would just get a first draft of this one done and, even if it doesn’t go anywhere as a book, I feel like I need to get it under my belt as a process, you know?

Still, I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about folks here clamoring for a lesbian love scene and I’ve been wondering what happens when Abigail and Lurancy masturbate. I spent time yesterday farting around on websites devoted to people with multiple personalities, and I found folks who cover “what does it mean to date?” but I didn’t find anything about sex, specifically. Both probably because it’s so deeply private and because it seems like a lot of people who have multiple personalities who are functional rely heavily on understanding themselves as an internal family, often one that is healthier than their external one.

So, I think talking about sex within themselves might be problematic considering the metaphors they use among each other.

I also imagine, though, that people who are dealing with this have already worked this stuff out for themselves and discuss it, if they need to, in more private spaces than I feel comfortable prying.

It is interesting, though, to hear people really wrestling with more of what I thought I’d be wrestling with–does the fact that I experience this about myself make me crazy? Do I/we really have a disorder if I/we can function in the world and live happily?

As I write, though, I realize I’m kind of moving away from those questions with Hannah (the bird woman) because she and the people around her understand what’s happening to her in either a religious context or as a matter of physiological health that might be having some psychological repercussions, but is something that is physically happening to her.

But here we are in the middle of the third chapter and Abigail has just shown up.  And I do wonder if she’ll bring up more of those questions. But this also means we’re getting to Lurancy, which makes me feel more anxious about how to get up to Watseka.

It’s interesting. When the Spiritualists were first gaining popularity, there were a lot of theories about what was going on. And a very popular one was that each individual is an accumulation of her experiences and her memories. But of course, we don’t remember or consider important everything that happened to us. So, the thought was that it would be entirely possible to construct a whole other personality (or personalities) just by shifting the emphasis. I imagined it, as it was being explained, like a keyboard. The whole keyboard might be “Betsy,” and I might have only one song I play on that keyboard so often to the point where I conflate “Betsy the instrument” with “Betsy the song” as if they are the same thing. And they are saying that something could happen and another song would start to play occasionally, using a whole other set of keys (with maybe some overlap) and that song could just as easily be called “Sarah” or “Phil” since it would have its own memories and important life moments, even if they happened within the body of Betsy, using the same instrument.

Now, obviously, this isn’t how people who were housing spirits while in a trance state understood what was happening to them at the time and it’s not how people with multiple personalities now understand what is going on with them, but it was the metaphor that kind of let me in to even wrapping my mind around not only how this would be possible, but what it might seem like.

The mind is a weird place, I’ll say that. And I think it’s obvious that evolution isn’t survival of the fittest so much as it is survival of the least unfit. Nature throws a lot of stuff at the wall to see what will stick and, as long as your variation makes it to the wall, it doesn’t go away. There’s room for a lot of variety and a lot of variety to be passed along.

It’s not hard for me to imagine that one personality who understands himself as human is and has been the majority experience of what it means to have a personality, but that there’s no reason why nature wouldn’t also spit out people with more than one personality, just because and, since it wasn’t a horrible detriment, just an uncommon variation, it pops up from time to time.

I don’t know. All this is kind of beside the point of what I’m writing about, since Abigail is having a straight-up spirit possession. But it’s still helpful to read the first-hand experiences of people who are living with something similar.

Human Sacrifice

One thing that I’ve been mulling over about the whole Belmont thing, for myself, is just what I think morality and the role of religious leaders in perpetuating it is. A lot of the comments on posts and stories about Belmont are about how Belmont has a right to impose moral standards on the members of its community. And I have to tell you, I’m just not sure about this.

First, I’m not sure that an action that hurts someone who is no danger to herself or others can actually be said to be a moral action. So, even if you believe homosexual activity is immoral, while I applaud your efforts to not participate in it yourself, I think once you try to impose your moral order on others without respect for their moral code, then you’re not acting morally.

Now, maybe you can’t act morally all the time, so maybe there’s a gray area between moral and immoral, you know?

But I was thinking this morning, again, about how Christians believe that the Bible explicitly forbids human sacrifice, first, in the story of Abraham and Isaac, where God tells Abraham that it’s not necessary to kill Isaac for God, and then again through the story of Jesus, where he sacrifices himself in a “perfect sacrifice” for all Christians for all times.

And yet, how many Christian families have turned their backs on their gay children because they think that’s what the Bible requires? Or used the Bible to justify their poor behavior towards their gay employees? How many Christians think that they have a Christian duty to make gay people suffer?

And how is that not human sacrifice?

That’s really the thing I most wonder about what’s going on at Belmont–how do they not see what they’re doing as a form of human sacrifice?

Issues of morality aside, do they not believe their god when He tells them such sacrifices are unnecessary?

I guess not. Can you imagine the enormous pain on every side of this issue that has been swallowed? And to say to people who cut off their own children “God didn’t want that” so that they could believe it? Or to say to people who rooted out the gay people among their staff and fired them that God didn’t want that so that they could believe it?

The cost of that conversion would be enormous and I’m not sure most people can do it, precisely because it would mean facing up to the pain they’ve caused people they otherwise cared about and the ways they’ve shortchanged themselves.

Feeling the Love

Over at Pith, Steve Haruch called me “our own.” I know, really, what else was he going to call me? But still, it made me feel loved.

And then, I got to see the page proofs for this book of antique Spanish erotica that I’ve been working on for years, and I see in the acknowledgements, “My special thanks also to Betsy Phillips, my editor at [my place of work], who freed the book from any potential ‘provincial’ airs and ensured that it would appeal to a wide audience. If the book breathes and moves, it is because of Betsy’s insight and daring vision.”

Insight and daring vision?

Shoot. That is the kind of thing that can carry a gal all day. And that my insight and daring vision pertains to naked Spaniards? I’m just saying, I’d like to live in a world where that was a marketable skill.

Walking the Dog, Just-a, Just-a, Just-a Walking

Is it just me or does Thomas seem alternately terrified and delighted?

Anyway, since we didn’t get an ice storm, for the first time all week, I got up to walk the dog and was met by almost 50 degree weather out there. I’m always surprised how constipated at a soul level I begin to feel when I don’t get to walk the dog for a few days. It’s just good for me, not even at a physical level, at some fundamental level to get out there.

They attempted to deliver my mom’s cacti yesterday and… I don’t know. I guess the Butcher wasn’t here? I’m going to have to tease him about that a little. Otherwise, maybe the mailbox is full? I’m going to put him on figuring it out.

This has just been a weird week. Not bad, but weird.

I’d need a whole morning of walking to get it out of my system, I think.

Disappointing Relief

I hurried home to beat the ice storm. We made a fire and waited. And waited. And waited.

I’m almost embarrassed that I left work early.

And yet, I am sure that, if I hadn’t left work, the ice would have come and I would have been stuck there.

And I got to come home and have a fire and hang out with the Butcher, so that wasn’t so terrible.

Hurrying

I’m hurrying up trying to finish work so that I can leave here before the weather starts. Well, and before traffic starts to get bad as people flee the ice.

I would just like to say that I’m seeing a lot of nonsense like this:

But what are the odds at this point in the saga that a figure like Assange would be under extradition from Britain to Sweden for a minor crime that seems outlandishly vague and unprovable even by Sweden’s standards … and is not under extradition from Britain to the US for the alleged, but oddly non-existent, “crime” of releasing all those government cables and data, procured by an inside source?

and

I guess if you live in a country where the government stakes out an interest in whether a condom breaks or not in consensual sex, you may never find out.

in the wake of Assange’s arrest in Britain and Michael Moore’s subsequent bailout.

I don’t have an opinion on Assange’s guilt one way or another, but the facts of what he’s charged with are not a mystery. You can read them in The Guardian, for instance. He is not charged with having sex after a condom breaks, but with holding down a woman, against her will, and having condomless sex with her, and assaulting another woman while she was asleep, and again, not using a condom during that assault. The “the condom broke during consensual sex” story is a myth. That’s not what either woman has accused him of.

Frankly, I’d expect Andrew Sullivan to do better than this, considering how he just berated Breitbard for failure to Google.

My Friend in the Top Ten

So, here’s the short version. A few years ago, Mark’s wife got a job offer in Nashville. They’d lived in Bloomington, Indiana for a huge chunk of their lives, plenty of friends, jobs they both thought were fine; they had a life. And then his wife got that offer. And the two of them realized that, if ever he was going to have an opportunity to see how far he could take this music thing, this was it. She’d take the job. He’d come to Nashville and see what happened.

And keep in mind, these weren’t kids fresh out of school.

So, it was a pipe dream. But it was his pipe dream, so they set out just to see how Nashville would treat him.

His album is critically acclaimed. I see now About.com considers it one of the top ten released this year.

That’s one of the things I love about Nashville most. It’s a place where cool weird shit can happen to people who deserve it.

As for the album, I will tell you what I told his wife. I like it. I think it’s great. Fine, whatever. But then I happened to have it on one night when I was driving home in the rain and it was like I was hearing something I’d never heard before. So, that’s my review–amazing in the rain.

Chapter Three Goes Along

I’m sorry to say there’s not yet any lesbian love scenes. But there is a little hint of preacher’s-wife/water-fowl sex:

I had two dreams when I lived there that I still remember now. Maybe calling them dreams is not right. I had two things happen there that stick with me, thirty years later.

One is the night when I was trying to get to sleep and I saw eyes all around me, everywhere in the dark. I rushed into my parents’ bedroom and I was crying and I woke my mom up and I told her, “There are witches in the dark, watching me. I can hear them like birds, flapping their wings. I can see their eyes.”

And she said, “But they’re kind eyes, Hannah. They have kind eyes.”

And I went back into my room and I saw that they did.

I asked my mom about that recently and she said she didn’t remember that at all.

The other is that I once had a dream that I floated up out of my bed and slowly floated down the stairs and then around the downstairs, like I was almost slowly swimming through the air, my arms making large, slow circles in front of me.

In the morning, my mom found me curled up at the bottom of the stairs.

“I think that was the only time you ever sleepwalked,” she said to me, when I asked her about that.

“Do you think it’s possible that I actually flew?” I asked her.

“It would explain so much,” she said, “Wouldn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“This. That this is not something new, but something that was always with you.”

“So, you think it’s really happening?” I asked. We were sitting at her kitchen table. She turned her face from me.

“You’re going to think this is crazy,” she said, “But all your life, I wondered if you weren’t an angel.”

“Ma,” I shook my head. “Come on.”

“No, I know,” she said, “But sometimes, I’d think I saw that your shadow had wings. Even when you were very young. I thought there was something birdlike about you.”

“Why do you think that was?” I asked.

“Well, don’t tell your father, but before you were born, I met a swan who swore he was Zeus…”

“Funny, ma, funny,” but come on. It was.

Hilariously Poor Pitches

I just got an email that says, “As a writer, I’m sure you’ve had days where you’ve wondered what’s most on the minds of your readers.” I don’t know if this makes me a terrible writer or what, but I can safely say I have never once wondered what’s most on the minds of my readers.

Maybe it’s just because I have this idea of y’all as being uniformly smart and interesting, but I just figure y’all have yourselves taken care of and that it’s not my job as a writer to tell you about yourselves.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but that struck me as funny.

I thought nothing could be worse than not finishing Chapter 2, but I have to say, being finished with Chapter 2 is worse. I’m worried these first two chapters are going to seem really strange and out of place when I suddenly switch to focusing more on Midwestern church stuff, but part of what I’m trying to get at, too, is that she lives in a society completely set up to help her through this. As religious as the South is, it’s actually a good place for a Christian to go through a crisis of faith that doesn’t involve a disbelief in God, because you can talk to people about it. Religion’s not an inappropriate topic of conversation. And, in the narrator’s case, she happens to fall in with people who know immediately what’s happening to her and can send her to people who’ve experienced the same things.

And yet, it doesn’t really help her.

So, then we turn to the meat of the story. But is it fair to ask folks to sit through two chapters of side-dish before we get to the meat? Would I feel less anxious if I just made it one chapter? Maybe.

And then, what do I have to say for the rest of the book? I just don’t even know.

Argh.

And people want to know if I sit around wondering what’s on my readers’ minds. Shit, I can’t even figure out what’s on my mind.

It Happened in My Eye

I have bad eyesight. Now, I know, some of you are saying “No, I have bad eyesight.” Fine. I’m sure you do. In a new place, I walk the route between my bed at the toilet at least twice before I take my contacts out because I know I’ll have to do that walk at some point without being able to see where I’m going. Or to put it another way, if I were to try to read something with just my normal eyes, it has to be as close to my face as the width of my hand.

So, I wear hard contacts. I hear about these marvelous soft contacts, but I have never been able to wear them because my contacts are not about “Oh, light, let me bend you just a little and focus you where I want you,” but about wrestling light to the ground like an unruly calf, hog tying it, throwing it in the back of the pick-up truck, driving it back to the other pasture, and then letting its mom tell it a thing or two about wandering off, before letting it into my eye. Seriously, my carbon footprint just from the constant commuting in a very tiny truck my contacts have to metaphorically do is off the charts.

And so, just now, I put my right contact in, which is the first one I always put in. And something is very wrong. There’s this weird, painful pinching and it’s not where it’s supposed to be and I can’t even feel it someplace else for the noise of the pinching.

It’s terrible.

But I have to remain calm and put my other contact in, right? Because I can’t see what the hell is going wrong with my right eye if I can’t see out of my left eye. And so, even with the weird pinching sensation, I stay calm and I get the left contact in.

I look around my eyeball for the right contact. I don’t see it. But my eye is already bloodshot as hell and I see my eyelid looks weird. And so, I lift up my eyelid just a hair and what is sitting there, between the eyelid and my eye upside down?! People, it was curved towards me.

I start reflexively whispering, oh my god, oh fucking god. Because how am I going to get it out. It’s trapped between my eyelid and my eye, suctioned to my fucking eyelid. I am quite possibly dying. I’m trying to imagine how to explain to the Butcher that he’s just going to have to hold me down and pry my eyelid open and pluck that fucker out with tweezers. I’m imagining fucking tweezers IN MY EYE.

My eyes are watering like there’s no tomorrow.

And I pull open my eyelid one more time to look at it and I don’t know how or why, but it just slid forward and floosh out onto my cheek.

And so I put it in correctly and everything’s fine.

But holy shit.

My Respect for Dooce Grows

Because I love you guys, I am leaving in every picture I took today, from the ones with my glove in the way to the ones where Mrs. Wigglebottom is just wiggling like there’s no tomorrow. I will say, a couple of them capture her better than any still shot could.

“Radical Spirits”

I finished up Radical Spirits yesterday which makes me an expert on Spiritualism in the 19th century! Ha, no, of course not. It’s the channeling of the 19th century spiritualists that tell me things that makes me an expert.

I kid, historians who spend their whole lives studying this stuff. I kid.

The take-away from Radical Spirits is just how tremendously influential the Spiritualist movement was in giving women room in the public sphere to speak and be heard, but how, once women having a more public role in society became less marvelous (in the sense of something people stood around and gaped at), Spiritualists lost influence and mediums had to up the stakes, basically by knowingly conning people. And, even then, as Braude says (though I’m paraphrasing), looking at a woman in a sack nailed to the floor just wasn’t that spectacular.

So, in a way, Spiritualism’s success at liberating women was the thing that finally did it in as a wide-spread movement.

And yet, the idea of that power lingered so long you can’t help but appreciate why the con artists would have gotten in on it at the end, with even more spectacular spectacles!!!!

But it’s also funny how you basically never hear anything about the Spiritualist movement. I guess because there being a wide-spread non-Christian movement that was highly influential and devoted to freedom and equality that lasted the better part of a century but powered by ghostly visitations throws a lot of monkey-wrenches.

I just find it funny how it’s dropped out of public knowledge.

We lose things so easily here in America (possibly everywhere, but this is the place I know).

Chapter Two Has Done Me In and I Have Done It In

Good god, the last five or six pages of chapter two were so hard to write. And not because anything particularly hard to deal with happened. It’s more just like I can’t quite convince myself that this is a book. And then I get irritated with myself because of course it’s a book. It might be a book that sucks, but it’s a book.

But here I am writing chapter two in which it ends up only two things really happen. The narrator goes out to Scottsboro and then the narrator goes to Kentucky. Dinner is made.

And everyone sits around and talks a lot. They tell stories.

But this is what people in my life do! We don’t do things. We drive places, we look at things, and we tell each other stories.

But that’s not the only thing that’s kind of weirding me out. The other thing that’s weirding me out is that, in the past, I’ve always written the kinds of things I like to read. This narrative, though, keeps kind of fucking with me in that regard.

Some of it is hard to tell. When I reread it, I might not like to read some of it just because it’s a first draft and it isn’t working.

But some of it is that we keep meeting these people who seem like a big deal, but who then fall by the wayside, because they only have some minor purpose with regards to furthering the story.

And I guess I should tell you that there’s been a lot of time between each of these sentences. I started this post an hour ago.

But the thing is, this is how I experience things, how I’ve always experienced them–that you get to know people, some of whom are important some of whom only seem important and you invest everything you’d invest in people and then you’re up and gone or they’re up and gone or you thought they were really interesting, but they didn’t really like you. Or visa versa. But it doesn’t matter because your time together is so short.

And so of course it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense.

It’s an ancient problem of mine. And one I’ve never come to terms with.

And yet, I feel like it’s crucial for the book that it be in there, not just talked about, but written into the shape of the book.

And yet, I feel like all these characters are telling stories more interesting than the main one.

And I feel like, if the book needs to be weird, it’s not as weird as it needs to be.

And I also feel like I need to just fucking stop worrying about it. It’s just a rough draft. Get it out so I can see how to fix it.

Ugh. And I still haven’t made plans yet to get to Watseka.

Self-Avowed Feminist, Gail Kerr, Has some Opinions about Emily Evans

You may recall a while back when Gail Kerr told us all about feminism and how hard women like her had it back in the day and how it was just an unacceptable level of sexism for unnamed internet folks to refer to one of the gubernatorial candidates as KimmieMac. I should have cut and pasted the relevant parts into that post, because you can’t click on the link and get anywhere anymore. No matter. The point is just that Gail Kerr thinks of herself as a feminist and that sexism is bad.

Fine. Happy to have you in the fold and thanks for all the trails you’ve blazed.

I’d just say that the point of blazing trails is not to then leave burnt out shells of civilization in your wake so that no one can follow you. It’s not actually good feminism to salt the earth where you’ve been.

But Kerr is busy salting:

Councilwoman Emily Evans: Oh, she wishes. Dean probably does, too. Evans, for whatever reason, fancies herself as Dean’s antagonist. No one is sure why she is so blatantly hateful to the current administration, but she makes no bones about it. If there were a Metro Council flag for “taunting,” she’d draw repeated penalty markers.

To her credit, Evans has positioned herself to be a person who asks tough questions and looks at the fine print on deals the Dean administration brings to the Metro Council. The problem is that she often comes across as the class know-it-all who revels in media attention.

She has spent her first term on the council paying less attention to district-centric issues than countywide ones — her expertise is in the bond market, so that’s a natural inclination. But it’s been hard to see past that to find her vision as an advocate for anything.

It’s easy to be against everything. It’s harder to run for mayor and be for something. And that would be her downfall in a race against Dean.

Plus, who would finance her campaign? She would watch her Belle Meade district constituency dry up like leaves on hot air if she ran against him. Try her again in 2015, perhaps for an at-large seat or, if she can moderate her tone to be a tad less shrill, vice mayor.

What, Kerr? Did you run out of room for “dowdy,” “frumpy,” “get back in the kitchen,” “whether she’s considered her husband,” “thinks too much,” “putting her career ahead of her children” and “bitch”?

I don’t give a shit if Kerr hates Evans. You’re not doing your job as an opinion columnist if you don’t have opinions about the people you write about. And you’re not doing your job as a politician if you haven’t made some enemies.

But I do give a shit that Kerr’s problems with Evans are basically just that she’s a woman who is too much–to smart, too ambitious, too opinionated, too vocal–and that Kerr uses a cross of junior-high insults and specifically gendered insults to get her opinion across.

We’ve had the “shrill” discussion here more times than I can count, where women say “that is used against us in specific ways” and others say “well, I don’t mean it like that and I’d describe everyone that way if they were, so I refuse to believe you when you say that it has a specific gendered meaning that is used against women” and we go round and round and the women all end up emailing me and asking me if it’s really so hard to understand that “shrill” is used as a red-flag against women in a way it is not against men?

And I say, “I just don’t even fucking know. It seems obvious from this side of the table.”

Fine.

Gail Kerr sits on this side of the table. She has written passionately about her experiences with sexism in this town. And still, when it came time to turn on Evans, that’s the well she went to.

It cannot continue to be the only well we draw from. Women, especially.

Ask yourself this. Say we’re not talking about Emily Evans. Say we’re talking about your brilliant, opinionated daughter.

Would you want her to read that column?

Would you want her to read a woman advocating that another woman, a brilliant, opinionated woman, should maybe work more on being friends with everyone and less on being smart? That maybe a smart, opinionated woman shouldn’t consider running for mayor, but just settle for vice mayor, where she might be better suited?

Is that the message we women are sending to each other now? Aim for the middle? Don’t stand out? Be friendlier?

And fuck me, Martha, does Gail Kerr really think that what Nashville needs are more nice leaders and fewer smart ones?

That’s Kerr’s stand?

“I want stupider, nicer leaders?”

Here’s my stand:

“Nashville deserves better.”