The Quilt

I got my hair cut! And I can’t stop feeling it, since so much is gone. The woman who cut my hair at SuperCuts was amazing. I told her what I wanted and she just whooped it up.

And then I came home and worked on the quilt. I now have all the single pieces sewn together. Next is sewing all the double pieces into four.

And I thought this was a fun pursuit why? Ha ha ha.

If this doesn’t start to get funner… oh god… I actually wrote ‘funner’. Quilting was supposed to help me write and it is literally making me stupider. More stupid?

I don’t even know.

Prove How Bad It Was

So, by now, you’ve heard of the national efforts to allow funding of abortions only in cases of forcible rape, though “forcible rape” has no legal definition. I want to stress what McEwan says in her post–”The proposed law effectively, if not by design, gives veto control over terminating pregnancies resulting from rape to the rapist.” If you are poor or otherwise without resources to pay for an abortion, this law guarantees that your rapist, by deciding how you’ll be raped, gets to control whether you can have an abortion.

And this is the “moral” side.

Of course, in Tennessee, Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, and Roe have signed on to co-sponsor the bill. I’m sure they’ll be asked by reporters just where they personally draw the line between rape victims not deserving of our sympathy and those who are.  But I want to get beyond that just for a second. You know I’ve been waiting for the ultrasound for abortion bill to be entered. I haven’t seen it yet, but I have little doubt that one’s coming–where women who want abortions will be forced to undergo an ultrasound and have to watch it.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about this because it involves such a level of sadism–that you would force a doctor to sexually assault a woman and force her to watch–that you can see people almost physically deny that that’s what it is, that it’s not that bad, that doctors have to do an ultrasound anyway, that they’re just trying to get a woman all the information she needs, etc. I don’t blame folks. Having to stare the truth, when it’s so ugly, right in the face is hard.

But this, deciding there’s a level at which a woman has been raped enough to entitle her to help with paying for an abortion, is a similar kind of sexualized sadism, in that it requires women to perform our degradation, to testify to our own violation in detail to whomever might require it, in order to receive medical care.

You know how we talked about how recent studies have shown that there really isn’t such a thing as the “accidental” rapist, the guy who thinks a girl is consenting when she isn’t? But how very deliberate rapists use the smoke-screen of the “accidental rapist” to serially rape women? By making all men, men who wouldn’t actually ever rape anyone, afraid of being accused of “rape by misunderstanding,” they have been able to create situations where well-meaning men provide them cover because well-meaning men don’t see that they are also being played?

I think we’ve reached a point where we may need to come to this realization about the abortion debate as well. Most people are having an intense discussion about which they feel strongly. And a small, but apparently influential, group have figured out that they can use people’s anxiety about the abortion issue to get laws passed that appeal to their sadism and allow them to get off by degrading women.

Dear Governor Haslam, Please Don’t Be Stupid

Oh, lord, I was prepared for Governor Haslam to be Republican (obviously) and I was prepared for him to be pro-business on some things and wishy-washy on others. After he was kind of blind-sided by that gun crap, I had even steeled myself for him being woefully unprepared.

But I never considered that he might be stupid.

Until now.

Now he’s claiming, possibly in all sincerity, that he didn’t know that implementing a rule freeze would affect Pilot, even though said rule freeze keeps them from having to update some of their fuel tanks.

One wonder who’s being played for a fool here? Are the people of Tennessee supposed to believe that an astute businessman didn’t have any idea what kinds of rules and regulations were affecting his family’s business? Or–and let’s have some sympathy for the people whose livelihoods are tied up in Pilot. Maybe they just learned that the guy who was President of their company doesn’t have any idea about the basic issues facing said company.

I mean, I don’t mean to belabor this, but I worked at a gas station one year right out of college (it was back in the 90s, kids, when we thought the economy was in the shitter because, when you graduated from college, you had to move home and work at a gas station. We had no idea there’d come a day when you graduated from college, moved home, and couldn’t find a job at all.) and I didn’t do anything more than work the register and I knew how big a deal the state of the tanks was and how you were constantly checking for water in them because god forbid you have a leak and have to replace those tanks.

And we’re all supposed to believe that a guy who was the President of the company didn’t constantly worry about the possible expense of having to replace those tanks? That he didn’t realize, even after he left the company, that this would be an ongoing concern of the company? And that, when he was elected governor, he didn’t realize things he does might affect that company?

I mean, is “I’ve been an idiot my whole adult life” really supposed to be more comforting than “Hey, I’m rewarding my family for helping me get to this office.”?

Marrowbone Creek or Ancient Alien Sidewalk?

The Butcher will watch the heck out of any TV show about ancient aliens. I try not to laugh because I have my ghost shows, but it is hilarious, how mad he gets about how stupid the shows are, and yet he watches and watches. One show we watched talked at great length about this underwater road in the Caribbean, which are these huge blocks of rock that seem to form a straight line, with precise straight line cracks between them.

Every time we drive down Marrowbone Creek, I notice how the rocks in the bottom of the creekbed, from Eaton’s Creek Road to the Ashland City Highway, have these straight-line breaks. And I keep meaning to call the Butcher and tell him I have found an ancient alien sidewalk.

Mrs. W. got in the creek today and completely freaked out at how slippery the creekbed is, since it’s just these big hunks of slick rock. She kept giving me these “What the fuck?” looks and I was like “I don’t know. You don’t see me in there.”

Pick-a-Part

Holy cow, people of Nashville! Have you been to Pick-a-Part? We went today to see if we could get a part for the Butcher’s car and it’s like… I don’t even know. You pay a dollar and you go in and you have to bring your own tools, but there are rows and rows of of cars and people have wagons and wheelbarrows and blankets to lie on as they get under the vehicles and they carry big boxes of tools and you just descend upon the cars like vultures on carrion and you get whatever pieces you might need and you go up to the front and pay for them.

The other day the Butcher’s car decided to treat us to the vision of what Whites Creek would look like if the town were a rock concert and since then we’ve been fretting over how to pay for the part he needed, since he doesn’t have a job. Dad, of course, offered to pay for the part, but you know, you get to be a certain age and it gets depressing to have to ask your dad to cover your car parts.

But our awesome neighbor said to check out the Pick-a-Part before we spent $75 and, since they were having computer troubles, we ended up paying $2–the cost of entry–for the part. It wasn’t worth it to them to have us stand and wait for the computer to come up.

I bet the people with wheelbarrows full of car parts had to wait, though.

I’m sad pictures aren’t allowed, because it’s pretty amazing. I mean, people strip those cars bare. It’s something to see.

And the Butcher’s car seems to be working again. Knock on wood.

Don’t Have a Job? Maybe You Just Need to Make Friends with the Mayor

I feel like I should give you some kind of warning, especially if you are unemployed or under-employed, that what I am about to tell you is kind of disgusting.

The city has hired Jim Fyke, the former Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner, to work part-time for the city, doing some stuff they haven’t quite decided on yet, for $60,000 a year.

Part-time. $60,000 a year. To do some stuff they haven’t made up yet.

I’ll remember that the next time I go to review a park with knee-high grass because there’s not enough money to pay people to mow them.

Here’s a Little Story I Got to Tell…

As I said, I’ve been mulling over “Devil’s music” in relation to the book. When I was growing up, it was, in my communities, taken for granted that there was indeed Satanic music and it was heavy metal. Not the hairband heavy metal. Parents hated Guns & Roses, but no one thought they were Satanic. I mean Slayer, Dio, Judas Priest, Ozzy, and, still, a little bit Led Zeppelin. Weirdly, I don’t remember anyone thinking Metallica was Satanic, but they might have been just a little too popular. Not that Zeppelin wasn’t, obviously. But Zeppelin was pagan, in that Lord of the Rings way. So, I’m actually not sure how we drew the line–I just know somehow, the line was drawn and Metallica was on one side of it, the “safe” if not noisy and obnoxious side and Zeppelin was on on the other.

Possibly Zeppelin was on the Satanic side because they were playing old blues music, along with the whole backwards-masking rumors about “Stairway to Heaven.”

Anyway, we lived in almost exclusively all white communities. Meaning, if I think of all the places I lived, I can name you the non-white families–the Herreras and the Salazars, the Kings, the Garners and possibly that kid with the wonky tooth, and the Geitners. I could be missing one or two, but you get the idea.

So, even though rap music existed, it was considered black music and, since our communities didn’t have black teenagers in them, and you couldn’t hear rap on the radio (for the most part. You heard some Run DMC after Aerosmith covered them and you heard some comedy rap, like the Fat Boys. But if people were listening to You MTV Raps and having their minds blown, they knew to keep their mouths shut about it), there wasn’t a lot of cultural anxiety about it. After all, that’s why you lived in rural Illinois, to keep your good kids safe from that.

I mean, I can remember how outraged parents were about kids listening to Michael Jackson (in his Thriller days) and Prince, because they thought it was wrong that kids admired and thought Jackson, especially, was cute, because they were black.

So, I’m sure that kids who grew up listening to their parents rail against Michael Jackson were not flaunting a love of Public Enemy later, you know? Not if you wanted to keep those tapes or records.

The Beastie Boys managed to bring this to a head, I remember. They were performing “nigger music” (excuse the epithet, but let’s be frank), but there was some heavy guitar which kind of signaled “Satanic heavy metal” to people. So, there was some concern in the town we lived in when Licensed to Ill came out about whether children should be allowed to listen to it.

My dad was a reluctant participant in these discussions. My dad is old-school Midwestern, but from the city, which means he never, ever met an ethnic or religious joke he didn’t find funny, no matter how tasteless, but he would not stand for overt racism. He didn’t care for Michael Jackson, but we were allowed to listen to him and I can remember one of my first pairs of earrings were hearts with Michael Jackson on them, which I wore every day until my ears got infected. And my dad refused to let discussions about whether it was okay for Michael Jackson to be listened to happen around him. He insisted Jackson was talented and worth kids’ attention.

But, as far as my dad was concerned, the Beastie Boys were three white kids. And, well, they might be Satanic. And while it was fine for us to listen to Satanic music over at other people’s houses, we couldn’t have it in the house. So, he and some of the other parents in the church set out to listen to Licensed to Ill.

Sadly, of course, children were not allowed to be there for the listening, so I don’t know how it went. I just know that, when he came home, he forbid us from ever owning that tape.

My next birthday, my best friend bought it for me, covertly.

And there was “Paul Revere.” I know the Beastie Boys have expressed some mixed feelings about the album in general. I know I, as an adult, have some mixed feelings about the album and this song in particular.

But holy fuck, when I heard it as a twelve or thirteen year old? It blew me away.

It still, at some level, blows me away.

We worry a lot, as feminists, about what kinds of messages this culture sends young girls. And I never heard what happened to the sheriff’s daughter as being anything other than a rape. And there are lots of reasons I should have identified with her–I, too, was the daughter of the kind of man boys like to rage against, I, too, was a girl, etc.

But I never did. I always identified with the bravado and the complete outlaw disregard for social order.

And I appreciated that you knew you were in danger with the subjects of that song. There was no guessing, no mixed signals. These were not good kids everyone in town liked who would hurt you and no one would believe you. They were actually quite terrible and everyone knew it.

I didn’t know, at that age, that you’d still get blamed, if you’re a woman who hangs out with terrible men and they do bad things to you.

At that age, I could hear men speaking like this and feel a kind of joy at their frankness.

Hell, maybe I still do feel a kind of joy at their frankness. Even if it’s obvious now that it’s mostly bravado.

So, anyway, I owned the tape and my parents knew I owned the tape and I listened to the shit out of it, but they never took it away from me.

And I felt like I was hearing messages from the wider world, a scary but awesome place I would have to be ready to join, sooner or later.

It’s funny. I didn’t mean for this post to be so thematically coherent, but I looked up Licensed to Ill on Wikipedia to see if it was “License” or “Licensed” and I see that they used a ton of samples from Led Zeppelin. Ha ha ha.

What Are They Doing?

I am now intensely curious about what people mean when they say they are writing. I read something the other day about Nicholas Sparks talking about writing The Notebook and how he worked from 9 in the morning until midnight for six months writing it. I will refrain from writing snarky things about The Notebook and just say that I literally don’t understand that.

Did he honestly sit in front of a computer (or with pen to paper) struggling with each word so that it took him, I don’t know, ten minutes between each one? And yet, somehow, he had the self-discipline to force himself to sit there, rather than just being like “Um, I think I’ll see what’s on TV and try this again later”?

I’m good for a couple of hours a day and after that, I could stare at things for hours, but nothing more is going to come, you know?

On the other hand, I did just stare off into space for five minutes between this sentence and the last one, thinking, instead about how I want to write about “the Devil’s music” in the book.

It’s bad. It’s like I’m a baker who’s putting together a wedding cake and the cake has to cool before I can assemble it, and I haven’t even gotten it out of the oven and I’m still anxious to make roses and plan my piping.

The quilt, on the other hand, is barely coming along. I should have planned bigger pieces, because sewing all these tiny things together is taking forever. And I don’t have my rhythm of writing, working on the quilt, writing, while I’m stewing, so that’s no good.

And the weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend, so… yeah… poor quilt.

Ha, I should take pictures.

But it’s funny. I can put in one hour on a quilt that seems to be going nowhere and I feel totally justified in saying that I’m making a quilt. I mean, just look at my dining room table! Of course something is going on in there.

But if I’m not actively spending an hour or two on the novel every day?

I feel weird about saying that I’m “writing” a book.

The “Lilith”

I thought a huge red flag that the Marie Claire article is bullshit should have come when Lee says Miller says “This means that nearly every Sunday, at the First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama, you’ll find me mounting the pulpit in a collar and cassock, my black ankle-length robe.” Because I know no, zero, zilch, Methodist ministers who wear a cassock. Sure, you sometimes find Methodist ministers in collars, especially in heavily-Catholic areas or when they need to get in and out of Catholic hospitals without bother or when they’re trying to pass themselves off as Lutheran so as to get in on the better potlucks (ha, just kidding. Methodist potlucks are the best.).

But a cassock? We’re not Episcopalians.

Ha ha ha.

But then I’m like “Well, I don’t know as many ministers as my dad does,” so I call him up to ask him about this cassock ridiculousness. And he’s all “Of course they do, Betsy. Look at the Cokesbury catalog. The denomination you grew up in has ridiculous elements.” And then I have to hear this rant about the Order of St. Luke and how they play dress-up and call each other “Brother” (though, in the Order of St. Luke’s defense–and please keep in mind, I know nothing about them. They could eat puppies for all I know.–I wouldn’t call this get-up a cassock).

But I’m flipping through the Cokesbury catalog and I encounter something I feel we should talk about as a group.

Please turn to page 13. The “Lilith.” Every other women’s robe is named after a woman who appears in the Bible. And then there’s the “Lilith.” On page 13.

So here are my questions. Do we believe that there’s someone over at Cokesbury who knows the legend of Adam’s first wife? If so, is calling a robe for a woman pastor “Lilith” a joking nod to women’s equality in the church and the trouble it causes or a sly insult? And then, can it be coincidence that it is the “Lilith,” the name associated with demons and night and magic (though I’m glad to see the Wikipedia article goes to some length to question those associations) is on page 13? But does that mean another Cokesbury employee with a sense of mischief?

Two? Who didn’t get caught?

And why have I not met them?

I mean, aside from being in exile from the church and in the middle of writing a book about being a Methodist minister’s kid in which an illicit menage a trois with Satan is not any worse than what goes on in the church? Aside from that…

Ha ha ha.

I amuse me.

The Marie Claire Article about Reverend Miller

Thanks to a FoTCP, I’ve seen the now-infamous Marie Claire article. I do think that Miller got done mildly wrong–that the article, even if it is an “as told to…,” puts words in her mouth in ways that makes her seem kind of gossipy and silly in ways that could undermine her authority as a minister. But, having read the article, I’m even more shocked by the responses to it that are anything other than “Wow, Miller seems to have been purposefully portrayed as silly and frivolous by Marie Claire and Deborah Jian Lee. What an asshole move on Lee’s part.”

Once you get beyond Lee’s ladymag tone, Miller says she’s celibate and wants to meet a nice guy who loves her for who she is and supports her in a job she loves. That this is scandalous or cause for shaming Miller or for being embarrassed to share a profession with her is bizarre.

In fact, once you accept the conceit that this is a story written by Lee but in a 1st person that is supposed to be Miller, any reasonable person has to see that there are only two sentences you actually know for sure come from Miller and aren’t made up by Lee.

WARNING: These are the words of a Methodist minister in a story about… sex… You might want to read through your fingers. “Oh, I work in communications for a nonprofit. But tell me about you,” and “I’m a pastor at a church.”

That’s right. Twenty words out of the whole article appear to be actually attributable to Miller. Everything else? It’s the product of a bizarre attempt on the part of Marie Claire and Lee to pass of this fictionalized account of Miller’s sexuality as an actual first-person tell-all.

People railing against Miller’s tone or word choice or saying she sounds drunk need to understand–this isn’t a transcript of a conversation Lee and Miller had. This is a piece of creative writing on the part of Lee designed to make you feel like you’re hearing from Miller when you aren’t.

If there should be outrage over this piece, it should be on behalf of Miller, not focused on her.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but I have little doubt this is going to cost her her job anyway. She’ll get blamed because she wasn’t smart enough to not participate, instead of sympathized with for being the main character in someone’s weird fiction.

And that sucks.

I hope I’m wrong.

Chapter 5

Whew, could it get any more depressing around here? Now you see why I had to write in the Satanic menage a trois into chapter 5. If you can’t reward people with some hot, transgressive devil sex, they’re not going to do the work of slogging through all the church nonsense, because it’s fucking depressing. At the end of chapter 5, Hannah and Kevin are talking theology and Kevin, who you may remember is a local professional wrestler, is talking about how he’s come to understand religion (meaning, for him, Christianity) is like wrestling. He asks Hannah if she thinks, when a wrestler gets tossed into the crowd and the crowd pounds on him a little, if that has any effect on the outcome of the match.

Of course it doesn’t. The outcome is predetermined. Sure, how the winner wins might be improvised as they go, but the wrestlers know who wins before they get into the ring. Even if the action is real and the wrestlers are athletes, the victory is already secured. What the audience does matters not one whit.

I didn’t know I had those kinds of thoughts about religion and wrestling until I wrote that part and now I can’t stop mulling it over. I think it’s right that Kevin believes it. But I’m not sure if I believe it.

But I am still resisting the urge to start rewriting. I have no self-restraint, so I’m as amazed as anyone that I’m managing it.

Inheritence

I slept like hell last night. I kept waking up to find I was crying. The thing that was running around all night in my brain like some loose animal is, “Do I do this, too?” And I think the answer is yes. It has to be yes. You can’t know such a large cross-section of Methodists, especially clergy, and know how they work and see another cross-section out on the internet acting in the exact same way and chalk it up to coincidence.

It’s not.

This is the way in which we are shaped, and it is a shape people in parsonages take on most severely.

I was thinking of it this way. Imagine a guitar string. You know they come in their little envelopes in curled circles. And then you feed the string through the hole in the bridge, up over the saddle, across the body, up the neck, and through the hole in the tuning peg. And before you can even begin to actually tune it, you turn and turn and turn that peg until the string is straight. And because it was curved gently in its packaging, it will pull straight.

But now, instead, imagine that a whole group of people have a tradition of putting a bend in one of the guitar strings. I mean, a real sharp pinch. Who knows why? And, sure, maybe there’s disagreement across the country about which string to bend and how narrow or wide the bend has to be, if it works to just fold it over and pinch down or if you need a couple of pairs of pliers. But one string is going to have a bend in it before it’s put on the guitar.

Even after you tune the guitar, you will still feel that kink in the string when you run your fingers along it. The string is forever changed by the force it took to apply the bend. Even if it’s practically straight, even if it still works like it should, you can feel it, where the bend was put in it.

I would like to believe that I am not like that–that I don’t unleash such cruelty onto people under the guise of knowing better than they do what’s best for them, that I choose the side of the person who is suffering or floundering above my own personal sense of wanting to keep order and reaffirm my own self-righteousness, that I act with humble compassion in the face of someone else’s struggle instead of jumping in to reassure myself and others that I would never be so stupid.

But the truth is that I am like that. This is what we are shaped to be, by the very forces we believe are making us better people.

There is no escaping it, really.

And I do, actually, when I am not so blindsided by how terrible it is, have great compassion for the Methodist ministers who move through the world this way. It’s a tremendously difficult job in and of itself. It’s hard on your marriage. By the time you realize how terrible it can be on your kids, it’s too late. And you are at the mercy of people you have to have authority over while, at the same time, they resent you having authority over them. And maybe they won’t take it out on you, but they’re always watching and waiting for your spouse or your kids to slip up, so they can take it out on them.

You have to have a lot of strength. You have to believe you’re doing God’s work so that your congregation believes you are doing God’s work. You might doubt privately, but doubting in public is not just dangerous for you, it threatens the tenuous position of every minister.

And I have a lot of compassion for the people in the congregation who just want, damn it, for at least their minister to be able to live in the way the minister claims God wants them all to live. Prove it can be done before you nag me about doing it.

But I was taught that a component of compassion is continuing to open yourself up to the ways people are fucked up towards you, that, if you can understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and can empathize with them about it, that you must still meet with them in ways that continue to hurt you as long as there’s some possibility of it eventually causing improvement in them.

And that’s fucked up.

That’s the bend in the string along which a gal will break. Along which we often break. Along which I broke.

And yet, fuck me, if I do not continue to put a bend in one of my strings. I know it’s stupid, but it’s how we do.

 

Why I Dance Out the Church Door

Every time I think that I never have to step foot in a church again, except as a favor to my poor father, it makes me smile. I feel such great relief, such relief I can’t even begin to express. Maybe it’s not that interesting to you why a minister’s daughter would leave the church and be so happy about it. But it’s something I really would like you to understand about me.

And I worry that you might think that I spend Sunday mornings as far away from the church because my dad was particularly assholish.

So, as much as reading the posts I’m about to share with you made me feel shaky and weepy and grossed-out, I’m actually glad to be able to share them with you. So that you can see for yourself, better than I could ever express.

Here’s the background you need. Marie Claire interviewed a female Methodist minister about her sex life. I haven’t read the story yet, but if she speaks as frankly and honestly as the quotes make it sound, I’ll be searching out the article. Here’s a blog post that deals compassionately with the pseudo-controversy. I call it a pseudo-controversy because it’s really only a controversy not because of anything the minister did wrong, but because of the terrible and cruel judgmental busybody nature of church-folks, especially other pastors.

Over at Beauty Tips for Ministers, the blogger and ensuing commenters stress, continually, the youth of the pastor and decide that her speaking frankly and honestly about her own experiences is or should be so shameful–and people I am not even kidding, look for yourselves–that they remove her name from the post. They strip her of her identity, because they have sat in judgment of her and decided that she is either foolish or perhaps drunk or definitely for sure not able to make her own decisions about her life, but needs to be protected from herself, after being sufficiently badmouth, of course, by people who would never, ever be so dumb.

A grown woman, stripped of her name, in order to “protect” her. They take away her identity in order to “protect” her. It literally makes me want to throw up. They convince themselves in the comments that this is the compassionate thing to do, because she couldn’t possibly know what she’s doing.

Look how many commenters say she should have a mentor or media training. As if the problem is that she went out without a chaperon.

But this, to me, is the richest part. I mean, this is exactly the stuff I saw repeatedly and had hoped that the Church would have grown out of. This poor pastor can’t even fuck up, if that is indeed what she’s doing, without being turned into an object lesson for other young women:

This is not how young women empower themselves. Do you hear me, young ‘uns? Learn this fast and learn it well: over-sharing to this extent is not the way to achieve our shared goal of humanizing the clergy. What you are doing by providing salacious details on your sex life to the media is not empowering yourself or making clergy or Christian life more hip and relevant. More on this later.

Seriously, in the Church, every time you think “Well, for better or for worse, at least now they have to see me as a person,” they take that from you and turn you instead into a lesson for others.

The shaming continues over at Reverend Chris Roberts’ blog, where he is “not comfortable with my colleague writing about her masturbation or speaking about her orgasms.” I laughed out loud about that, that Roberts feels that some person he doesn’t even know three states away from him is open for criticism because she made him uncomfortable. I mean, shoot, at least he’s honest, right? He admits, “Now I don’t want to seem a prude. I’m not afraid to talk about sex. Yet I cannot deny my traditional and orthodox views on matters around the family and marriage and sex.”

But he doesn’t seem to understand that this isn’t about him. He spends one paragraph expressing some little bit of compassion for her and three paragraphs talking about how it affects him–”I am not comfortable,” “I would be as opposed,” “I disagree,” “The article is embarrassing for me,” “I am filled with disappointment,” etc. And he has the gall to call Miller “self-absorbed,” “self-serving,” and “narcissistic.”

Whoo boy.

Well, for better or worse, there’s nothing new here. They are who they’ve always been and I am who I am. And every once in a while it’s good to be reminded of how it goes.

Reverend Miller is obviously going to be getting a lot of advice. I’d advise her to consider how nice it is to be free of folks who would strip you of your name, say you need counseling, and publicly shame you. It takes a long time to get over it, but leaving can be a great relief.

Is It Too Early to Start Drinking?

This day is just a quicksand of stupidity. Do they even have quicksand any more? When I was growing up, it seems like people, real and fictional, were constantly falling into quicksand and then I remember there was a news story about how you should just float on your back until help got there and that was the end of quicksand as a terrible threat. I guess. That’s how I remember it.

I wrote this post at Pith. The commenters are wearing on my soul.

Amanda Marcotte has this post about how it feels like everyone’s just standing around watching things go down the shitter. That’s pretty much how I feel.

I have another post for Pith coming up about how pointless Campfield’s efforts to deny birth certificates to babies of illegal immigrants is because it violates federal law. But I don’t want you to miss out on the juiciest part of the legislation, where you can see him for all his “but we must make men the bosses” glory–

SECTION 6. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 68-3-305(a)(3), is amended by deleting the subdivision in its entirety and by substituting instead the following language: (3) If a surname is not chosen by the parents within the ten-day period described in § 68-3-301, the father’s surname shall be entered on the certificate as the surname of the child. Within the ten-day period, the father may file and submit a sworn statement to the hospital that states that the parents do not agree on a surname, in which case the father’s surname shall be entered on the certificate as the surname of the child. SECTION 7. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 68-3-305(a)(4), is amended by deleting the language “birth certificate” in its entirety and by substituting instead the word “certificate”. SECTION 8. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 68-3-305(a)(5), is amended by deleting the subdivision in its entirety and by substituting instead the following language: (5) If, within the first year after the child’s date of birth, the parents cannot mutually agree on a surname, either parent can submit a signed, sworn statement that acknowledges the disagreement, states the father was not available within the ten-day period described in § 68-3-301 to participate in the choice of his child’s surname, and requesting that the name be changed to the father’s surname, in which case the father’s surname shall be entered on the amended certificate as the surname of the child.

Yes, he wants to legally establish that, if parents can’t agree on what last name goes on a birth certificate, the man always wins.

I think this is the true intention of the bill, since Campfield may be a lot of things, but he’s not stupid. He wants the fuss about the part of the law that can’t ever get passed, but will win him points, and he wants people to ignore the part of the law that would, for instance, mean your rapist can name your baby.

Oh, Damn It. There’s More Snow.

Here are the series of questions I ask myself. Why aren’t other people trying to go to work? Is it because schools are out or because conditions are too bad? Is there ice? Is it worth it to even try?

I’m going to try to go to work. The snowplow has been by twice, it’s not snowing hard, and its fairly warm, so it shouldn’t be too icy.

Plus, I am so damn tired of being stuck in this house. Not that being stuck at the office is much better, but at least it’s a change of scenery.

Maybe for fun we could take bets on how long it will take for Casada and Ketron’s free-speech bills to wind up in court. I mean, I don’t have very high standards of expectations for our state legislators, but the whole “money=speech” thing? That was trumpeted by people on the right. Not that long ago.

So, I’d love to know how Casada and Ketron think this bill and this one pass First Amendment muster. They can’t curtail free speech and curtailing who can give what how? Well, I’ll be interested to see how it goes.

I don’t know. This seems so obviously designed to fail to pass Constitutional muster that I can’t believe they’re actually serious bills. I think they’re more designed to be “fuck you”s to labor and state employees.

And, you know, I’m really starting to be suspicious of the “fuck you” legislation. What are we supposed to be distracted from while we’re distracted by this nonsense?

Liveblogging the State of the Union

Ha, just kidding. I have it on in the background just so I’m not the last to know when the Kenyan Muslim liberal take-over is announced. But I was working on the quilt instead.

I received the older Methodist hymnal in the mail. None of the songs have titles and “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” is not the opening hymn. I can only assume John and Charles Wesley came back from the dead and laid the smack-down on that nonsense.

But here’s the interesting thing. I know “Old 92″ was popular with old people–”Amazing Grace.” But the hymnal in which “Amazing Grace” was 92 came out in 66. And I was hearing people say that in the 70s.

I guess it just goes to show that traditions well up quickly and then feel like they’ve always been there.

Aw, damn, I was a little moved by Obama talking about gay people in the military. Just when I’m like “blah blah blah blah blah” he says something that makes me go, “Oh, right, things are different.”

I hope he can genuinely do something for the Dream Act kids. Otherwise, that seems cruel to bring it up.

I also hope I live long enough to hear a State of the Union Address close with a rousing rendition of “We are the Champions.”

The Deer, An Update

I think Mrs. W. was pissed at me for not letting her go over and smell the deer up close. I’m all “You have a great nose. You can smell from right here.” But what do I know about how things smell? Maybe even dogs want to get right up in it, examine how a dead heart smells different than a dead nose which must smell different than a dead hind end. Maybe there’s a poetry in it I’m missing out on, I don’t know.

But she was mad at me.

Briefly.

That’s the nice thing about dogs. Intense but fleeting emotions.

Also, I think whatever killed the deer ate its innards out, so the musings on a dead heart are probably not applicable. I hope we’ll see buzzards on it yet, but no sign today. And tomorrow it snows, so who knows when we’ll get by it again?

I Feel Vindicated about Taco Bell!

I never had actual Mexican food until I was in grad school. I grew up in the rural Midwest, which was predominately white in some places and exclusively white in others and, even though our parents would diligently take us to ChiChi’s, I believed “Mexican food” was what you got at Taco Bell and I knew Taco Bell sucked and so, thank you, no. I’ll have a hamburger.

Plus, we never lived any place with a Taco Bell, so it was like you had to drive some distance to eat this shitty food.

Things are different now, even in Illinois. My parents’ favorite Chinese restaurant is run and owned by a couple of Chinese families in a very small town in central Illinois and, when my dad took me there, we were the only non-Hispanic people in the joint. Hurray for change.

And thank god I finally learned that Taco Bell was nothing like actual Mexican food.

Anyway, because Alabama is suing Taco Bell for false advertising, we learn that they don’t actually put meat in their foods, but what they call a “taco meat filling,” which is only 36% meat, which, interestingly enough, is not even enough meat to qualify as “taco meat filling” under the law in Alabama.

Yum. Glad I don’t eat there.

When They Know You

I read both of these posts today, which, weirdly enough, cover similar ground–the dangers of being known beyond your boundaries. Here and here. The meditation on the ribbon pretty much blew me away. And the idea of folks coming after your commenters? That’s a nightmare I never even considered.

So Much to See

Lots interesting on the internet today.

1. I like the idea of trying to revitalize that strip of Charlotte along the 12 South lines. There’s no reason for it not to be and there are a lot of cool buildings there. I linked to the blog instead of the actual story because the comments cracked me up. “Literate” says, “This is about the most ignorant *article* I’ve read in the past decade. I kept looking for its redeeming merits, and found none.” Considering the things that have been on the internet in the past decade, I think we have to assume “Literate” just woke up from a Rip VanWinkle length nap.

2. This is a good article about how multi-generational crime families bubble up in our communities. I also am tickled by the photo, though I can’t make heads or tails out of the caption. Are those supposed to be the names of the Lego people or the names of the people who made the Lego scene?

3. So, Americans, it’s wrong for you to procure drugs illegally for fun, but fine for states to do so in order to kill people. Yes, let’s just break laws in order to punish people for breaking laws. I’m sure that makes sense somehow.

4. Emily Evans gets into how one of the big draws for outlining communities is that their public schools don’t suck.

5. MOMA has put some fonts in its collection. I’d have to see Beowulf on paper to know if I liked it, but I like that they’re trying to solve the problem I have with laser printed books–the type is too uniform.

6. “Do you like David Sedaris?” I don’t know why, but that one cracked me up.

7. The best part is the disclaimer in small print at the bottom.

Seriously Unserious

The thing that just does me in about politics, especially at the state level, is how deadly serious it should be–the state legislature’s ability to help or fuck people over is enormous and that responsibility should not be borne lightly–and yet how, over and over again, you learn how unserious they are about it.

Think of this, state employees, as the state legislature looks to make even more painful cuts to the budget that could cost you your job–there’s a good chance they aren’t going to make Amazon collect sales tax on in-state orders when the new distribution centers go in.

 

In Which I Learn Two Things

Lesson 1. If you’re walking the dog and for some reason, she wants to get way up into the bushes and won’t come out and yet won’t poop, she’s probably eating something. Look around you and notice what there might be to eat. Like, say, the huge deer right over there. Could the dog be eating some of its innards? Could be.

The deer surprised the heck out of me. I have never had just the heck surprised  out of me. Usually, if I’m surprised, I’ve had the hell surprised out of me, or the fuck surprised out of me, but this really was just a “heck” of surprise. You can’t really tell from this picture, because I couldn’t get much closer because the dog wanted to explore the carcass and I didn’t want the dog to do so, but I thought it looked like a pretty recent kill. I didn’t see much blood, but there was just the wound across the back. But there was also no flies and no smell.

Then I started to get a little uneasy. I know it’s possible a dog could have brought her down, but I know there are coyotes in that field. I feel like I should learn more about them, but I was like “Well, let’s be moving along on the off chance that whoever did this is still around and wouldn’t take kindly to our sniffing at its breakfast.” The dog was in complete disagreement, of course. She thought there was much more worthwhile sniffing to be done.

I admit, I wish I could set up a little blind near the deer and wait for the vultures to find it. That would be awesome to watch, in a gross way.

Lesson 2. The new cat is an expert tree climber. Who knew?

Like everything else she does, her tree climbing technique appears to be a mad dash towards the tree coupled with an enthusiastic scramble up into it. Once in the tree, though, she leaped from branch to branch like she’s been climbing trees her whole life. Possibly she has been.

I said, “Come here and I’ll take your picture” and she totally moved to a lower branch so I could. Hopefully this cuteness will make up for the gross deer picture.

“Distaff Elvis”

Peter Cooper has a great article on Wanda Jackson in which he refers to her as “like a distaff Elvis.” I actually think, as far as turns of phrase go, that’s really an amazing one. Those two words–”distaff” and “Elvis” carry so much weight.

But, when I read it, it was like nails on a chalkboard.

I don’t know, it’s been bothering me all day. And I think the problem with it is that, in a fluff piece, it’s too honest. Ha ha ha. I mean, it cuts right to the heart of the matter–Jackson needs a word that explains how a person with as much talent as her never had the success of her peers working the same part of American music. Oh, right, she’s from the “distaff” side, the side that stays at home and spins, and struggles if she does not.

It’s hard to imagine how saying someone is like a “spear Wanda” would even make sense.

I don’t know. It is an amazing turn of phrase.

It just took my breath away is all.

Stewing Again!

Ha, I was just rereading last night’s post when I realized that I am making stew this afternoon. So, how can I pass up the chance to point out a whole weekend devoted to stewing?

Other than that, I have nothing to add. I only had one carrot. I think I’m going to be sad I didn’t have two.

Stewing

It’s hard, but I am letting my draft stew. If I feel like I must work on it, I open up my outline and make notes. Right now, all I want to do is sit down and work on it, but instead, I’m going to write this post and work on the quilt.

One thing I’m nervous about is whether it’s derivative, if you’ll read it and be all “Oh, god, this is just like…” whatever. But I had an epiphany at the park. And I think it came from getting the hymnal. I like covers.

If you went through my iPhone and looked at all my music, you’d see I have multiple versions of lots of songs. I like hearing what different people do with the the same source material.

For instance, I’m really digging Town Mountain’s “I’m on Fire,”which is not a song I would have thought of as a bluegrass song, but when you hear them do it, you hear how it can be.

And when Tori sings it, I can’t say that it’s better, but it definitely sounds like her.

Ha, oh lord, check her doing “Whole Lotta Love!”

And so, of all the things I might worry about, as long as I’m not inadvertently plagiarizing anyone–and lord, if there is a lot of fiction out there about ministers’ kids, I don’t remember it and it seems like the kind of thing I’d have turned to–I think a lack of originality is fine. I like it, anyway.

I’m mulling on the title, some, too. I had been calling it The Preachers’ Daughters, because there are a ton in the book. A flock, if you will. But it really is just about one–The Preacher’s Daughter, but then I worry that this doesn’t do enough to warn away the people who might be offended. Like, say, The Satanic Verses, you know what you’re getting into there. “Do I want to read about Satanic things? No, I do not. I will stay away.” So, now, even though it’s not the whole book, I’m wondering about calling it The Devil and the Preacher’s Daughter, which sounds vaguely like an 80s miniseries that would star Kris Kristofferson.

So, I’m leaning towards The Preacher’s Daughter, but I haven’t made up my mind.