The House Dreaming

Oh, I forgot to tell you all about the weirdness this week. Monday night I woke up because I heard knocking, four evenly spaced knocks like someone was driving a nail. But the dog wasn’t barking, so I knew it wasn’t really happening, that I was caught in a dream, even as I was waking. But then, Tuesday night, I woke myself up because I said “Marie” in my sleep. And, believe me, when you do something weird like talk in your sleep with your CPAP machine on, you will wake yourself up, just because of the change in air flow through your body (instead of going down into your lungs, the air all rushes out of your mouth, thus leaving you with this weird almost suffocating feeling).

But the thing that stuck with me on both occasions was the way the house felt, so calm and at rest, that I almost wondered if it was me or the house dreaming.

Sometimes, I am Lucky

I just read this poem that blew my mind, about the Devil. I would love almost any poem about the Devil wandering around Tennessee, for obvious reasons, but this one I didn’t just love in that way you love a puppy you just met. I loved it in the way that makes you worried you’re going to be standing outside that poem’s window at four in the morning, hoping that poem will look outside and realize you are IT, when really, that poem is going to call the police. This poem makes me a fool for it.

I can remember being very young and writing my first and only fan letter to an author. I can’t remember who the author was, but I remember finding the publisher’s address in the front of the book, because it was, I think 666 Broadway (or 666 Something) in New York and I was young enough to be worried that even writing “666” might be problematic. I might get cursed or something. Clearly, my parents should have bought me a typewriter to protect me from just such occasions.

Anyway, obviously, I never heard back from the author. And this has been pretty standard for how the relationship between authors and me went for much of my younger life. They were off doing this strange wonderful thing I wanted to do, too, and they were so far above me that I was never even going to be a blip on their radar. Then I got the job at Wake and, when publishing poets, there’s a lot of… how shall we say… care that has to be taken. Poets, especially in a country as small as Ireland, all know each other and have their friendships and rivalries and it makes your life easier to take them into account. But the lovely thing about them was that they were incredibly friendly and gracious and whenever they were over here, you could just know them, as people.

In my current job, I’ve been very fortunate to just know some folks. And even count them as my friends.

And I have the great pleasure of having a couple writer friends I can talk writing with, send emails bemoaning my lack of talent, pshawing their emails bemoaning their lack of talent.

But, I don’t know, today, reading that poem, I had the same feeling I had when Nina Cardona said “Nashville author, Betsy Phillips,” like–yeah, this is how I want to spend my days.

I just started reading My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me and it is, so far, tremendous. I’ve got Cat Valente’s new book, Deathless, on the way, which I have a feeling is going to be a great follow-up. I will be up to my eyes in Baba Yaga, by then, for sure. Then I’m planning on following that up with So Much Pretty (warning, the review ends with an interview that takes a turn for the “That’s really your question?”), though I plan on finding that incredibly depressing.

So, ha, yes, obviously I’m to the point with my book where I’m staring at it thinking “well, it seems fine, but I suspect it sucks,” so I’m jumping out of it and into what other folks are doing.

The Mystery of the Cross Continues

You remember, when last we bothered to discuss the cross on the side of the road, that it was, as it had been since shortly after Christmas, just laying on the side of the road, looking discarded and forgotten.

It was still that way on Monday. Tuesday I didn’t walk the dog because I slept through my alarm and yesterday… well it was raining and I had to deal with the water heater.

So, some time, either Tuesday or Wednesday, not only did someone else finally notice the cross, they set it upright along the side of the road. Well, kind of upright. It’s leaning against a fence.

But man! I saw it today and it kind of gave me chills. Not the cross so much. Being a minister’s kid, I kind of have those down. But I know that thing was litter someone tossed on the side of the road, garbage as far as they were concerned. And I thought it was kind of interesting to watch it weather and all.

But I got the chills thinking about the person who saw it there and was like “No, that doesn’t just slowly sink into the mud. Not when I’m here to bear witness and do something about it.”

Cross-uprighter. It’s not something you can put on your resume. But for someone, that was something worth doing this week.

I don’t know.

That just really moves me. And it got “Up from the Grave He Arose” stuck in my head. So, if you hear me singing “with a mighty triumph o’er his foes” which is the best part of that song, melodically, that’s why.