Well, Okay, It’s No Farm & Fleet

But I would marry Tractor Supply Company. I went there today and got a pig’s knuckle for the dog (verdict? Ten whole minutes of barking at it before she has settled into gnawing on it), morning glory seeds (for use only in planting, according to the package), plant food, Frontline for dog and cats, a cool basket to put a wedding present in and a wedding present.

It’s not until I go into Tractor Supply Company that I understand my parents’ love of Wal-mart. If I didn’t have to drive clear to Ashland City, I might go to Tractor Supply every day.

Had to come back to Bates’ for rose food, though. But only because Tractor Supply was out, not because they never had any.

I meant to try to mow the lawn today, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

The Yard Plays Offense and Defense

Whenever I go out to do anything in the yard, I’ve come to accept that the yard is just going to kick my ass, because the yard has more weeds than I can ever pull and it has beautiful plants in it I get distracted by.

I did learn the important difference between grass and non-blooming bluebells. Non-blooming bluebells pull out of the bed rather easily. Grass, of course, does not.

But the roses are blooming! And they look lovely. Even the crappy rose that never does very well put out one bloom as if it say “Don’t kill me!” And look at those allium! And my first peonies are blooming. They should be really gorgeous next week.

I Miss My Manuscript!

I think the next time I write a book, I’ll be better prepared for the sit-around-and-wait times. But ugh, good lord, this round is killing me. I was like an open dam, just gushing words for the book, for Pith, for here. And I’d spend an hour or two with the manuscript every night. Then I’d piss-and-moan about it here.

It was a process!

I miss my process!

I know letting it sit and being sure K. can finish it up without feeling rushed is crucial to the quality of the book and thus the likelihood of selling it. I know the last bit of feedback I’m going to get will be incredibly useful.

And my May 22nd goal of sending out my first query is just an artificial deadline, imposed by me, mattering to no one.

But these have been some of the most enjoyable months of my life. That is how I want my life to go. And so I sit here fantasizing about getting back into it.

Or fantasizing about casting the HBO series, which I feel is inevitable.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Seriously. Is Casey still around? I’m totally going to need him to go out for the part of Kevin, the wrestling folk artist of questionable morals. I can’t think of anyone working in Hollywood right now how just looks like a good ole boy in quite the right way.

Possibly my time would be better spent finding a stunt double to tell my parents about the book. I’m such a chickenshit.

Bunnies, Evil or Super Evil?

You know, sometimes I do feel bad when the cats bring home a half-eaten rabbit or mouse or mole. I’m not heartless and, though I know it’s the way of the world, it’s not something I revel in.

Unless I’m walking back to the house and I stop to check on my vegetables and I’m admiring all my seedlings, and I’m marveling at the peppers, and I’m trying to remember where I put the basil. Oh, right, by the tomat…

And where are my motherfucking tomatoes? And my broccoli?

This is why people container garden.

Oh, well, fine. I’ll just plant some more okra there. It’s beautiful. Still, there’s a whole yard of shit to eat. Go eat crap I don’t want to eat.

In other news, the white sage sprouting goes “eh.” I mean, I knew it was hard to sprout them, so I’m not disappointed, but I planted 24 and only 3 are up. Granted, they said 7-10 and it’s not quite been 14 yet. I feel like 14 is when I say “Okay, those didn’t work. Let’s replant.”

And I am still not satisfied with the lack of lily of the valleys in my garden. So, clearly, along the shed isn’t going to work out. I don’t know if they don’t get enough sunlight over there or what, but even the one that came up just kind of petered out in an ugly manner. I’m wondering about putting some on the back side of the dark spot in my garden, near where the Salomon’s Seal is thriving.

And I am about to have roses on one of my pink roses! And one of the irises I transplanted last fall is going to bloom this year. I take that as a sign they’re happy in their new home.

“Thank You, Butt Cramp”

I was walking back from lunch, where I witnessed the aftermath of a car accident in which both parties got ticketed. My guess is that, as happens, some moron tried to turn left onto Terrace Place from 21st as some other moron was trying to turn left from Terrance Place onto 21st and they met in such a way that the dude trying to go from Terrace to 21st ended up in the light pole. No one seemed harmed, but I noticed the cop seemed like he was taking a minute to reevaluate his life, thus leading me to believe it must have been an exceptionally stupid accident. I also saw a really, really buff college kid, like huge shoulders. I wondered if he was a swimmer, his shoulders looked so strangely muscular compared to the rest of him. Does Vandy have a swim team?

Anyway, so all that happened and I was walking down the hall towards the office when one of the kids who goes to school in the office next to ours said, in a perfectly pleasant voice to another kid just inside the door, “Thank you, butt cramp.” These kids have been next door to my office for years. And they are, to a letter, extremely nice and extremely polite. Shoot, when they use the bathroom, they wipe down they counters afterward (which is why I feel certain that the blood and poop issues are not caused by them), and they are constantly supervised.

And yet, I’ve long thought, “How can there be kids this well-behaved?” I mean, I don’t care what your student-teacher ratio is, what kinds of unique academic challenges you might have, there’s someone in your class you think is a butt cramp. And yet, never once in the whole time I’ve worked next to them, have I heard even a hint of rudeness.

Until today.

Today, a kid finally let fly with “butt cramp.” I don’t know if any adult other than me heard him and I bit down hard on my lip so that I wouldn’t laugh out loud, because I didn’t want him to get caught.

In fact, today, I want to call someone a butt cramp. I’m sure it’s supposed to be a politer euphemism for “pain in the ass” but I find it doesn’t mean quite the same thing to me. A pain in the ass is someone who is constantly, um, a pain in your ass. A butt cramp could shape up, you know? I feel like butt cramp leaves room for reconciliation. And it’s got nice poetic weight to it–“butt cramp.”

“Butt cramp” would be a good name for a cat.

Don’t even bother to object. You know I’m right. I’m totally naming our next cat Mr. Butt Cramp.

Edited to add: And come on! “You fucking butt cramp!” is just begging to be shouted at someone, probably an ump.

The Weather, The Morning After

We were very, very lucky here. Just seeing the pictures of the devastation to the south of us. I mean, it’s hard to even know what to say.  But who’s thinking about anything else? The internet has brought us closer. I sat on twitter and fretted over folks in Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, who seemed to just be getting pounded.

And then I watched nothing come from the few people I know in Alabama (they’re all fine) and it was eerie. You get used to the constant chatter, even if you only dip in and out of it.

Last night, on the Weather Channel, they were unclear if the storm that started in Mississippi, went through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, and into Georgia had just one sustained tornado on the ground or if it was just the same cell with tornadoes moving in and out of existence. I was reminded of the Tri-State Tornado of 1925, which appears to have been on the ground for at least 219 miles. There’s always been controversy about that tornado because it just seemed so improbable to scientists that you could have a tornado that would stay on the ground uninterrupted for that long. It defies how they understand tornadoes. And yet, all the evidence still left suggests that’s what happened.

In the coming days, we’ll get a better sense of this tornado, but I think what it shows is that, yeah, when circumstances are right, tornadoes can be on the ground for a long damn time.

Anyway, it’s bad. ‘Disaster’ seems almost like too small a word for it. Looking at the pictures coming out of Alabama, it’s really amazing that thousands of people aren’t dead.

Which is no comfort, of course, to the families of people who are.

Being Nice

I swear, after this, I’m moving on from HB600, but, like I said, I think what happened during that vote brings into stark relief the problems we Democrats have. So, Steve Ross has a good post about why it’s counterproductive to be mad at the handful of Democrats who voted for HB600 and not the Republicans. I, of course, am also mad at the Republicans, but I expect nothing different. I do expect people ostensibly on my side to, you know, be on my side.

Ross says a couple of things specifically I want to address:

It’s natural to be more mad at people on your side that vote against you. They’re right there. That other side is so far away. But to what effect? Do you really think any of those 8 Democrats are going to listen to you after you throw them under the bus? Probably not. So the question I ask myself before I start, “what is my intended outcome?”


Discrimination aside, at the end of the day, this bill restricts the ability of a community to hold itself to a higher standard for the good of the community, and removes a community’s ability to contract according to local standards. This bill restricts Nashville to a lowest common denominator, which is ultimately anti-competitive in a world where community standards are constantly being raised.

I want to be clear that this is not a matter of me thinking that Ross is wrong. This is just a point in the conversation where we’ve reached a fork in the road and where he wants to go is not a place I can travel. For me, there is no “discrimination aside.” I don’t believe that, for instance, for Glen Casada or Jim Gotto, there was any “discrimination aside.” This was exactly about a small group of self-identified businessmen who met in semi-secret at Lifeway to plot how they could continue to fuck over gay people and transgender people AND continue to do business with Metro and how they’re getting the state to let them, when they couldn’t make Metro do what they wanted.

I don’t care how they framed it to be palatable to the less pro-discrimination Representatives who voted for it. I’m not interested in treating the cover they gave those cowardly fuckers as if it has equal weight to the truth of the matter. And I’m not interested in coming up with ways to make doing the right thing more palatable to cowards.

Probably that is valuable work that needs to be done. I’m just not interested in doing it.

I don’t think you can be so nice to people who are more powerful than you–and let’s not be mistaken into thinking that you and I are on the same footing as even the representatives in our state legislature–that they will do anything more than make your particular life comfortable. You can be so nice that you become the exception, the pet that needs to be spoiled.

But I can’t think of a single historical example where people who behaved themselves ever got people with power over them to give them real justice. And I’m not that interested in whether Eddie Bass, Charles Curtiss, John DeBerry, Bill Harmon, Michael Ray McDonald, Joe Pitts, David Shepard, John Tidwell, and John Mark Windle listen to me. They didn’t listen to me before.

I’m interested in them rethinking this bullshit pro-discrimination stand they’ve taken, whether on purpose or inadvertently, and not doing it again, because I’m interested in not only living in a state where it doesn’t suck to be a woman or gay or transgender or some combination therein, but also because I’m interested in belonging to a party where “should I help bigots fuck over vulnerable people?” isn’t even a dilemma for Democrats because the answer is always “no.”

If people feel thrown under a bus because I can’t play nice when they’ve helped make life harder for people, then I don’t really know what to say. Maybe they should feel thrown under a bus. Maybe while under that bus they should take a long hard look at the people they threw under there when making that vote.

The Weather, Day Two

My brother is in North Carolina, driving back to Georgia tonight. He called to shoot the shit on his drive and I was like “You’re doing what?!”

“I’m driving back to Georgia.”

And inside I was screaming, “Fucking West Georgia Motherfucker?!” He didn’t know I’m sitting here watching the weather channel point to all the tiny towns he hauls us all over whenever we’re down there, watching the weather people move their fingers across the name of the town where my nephew lives.

I should stop watching the TV, but I feel like, if I keep an eye on it, it won’t dare hurt anyone I know.

Anyway, my nephew says he’s planning on sleeping through it. My brother had no idea any of this was going on. I insisted he pull over and check the weather, maybe find a hotel for the night that will let him sleep on the bottom floor.

I’m waiting to hear that’s what he’s done.

A Few Quick Things

1. I really love that “Shady Grove” is the girl’s name. I used to think that it was a town, but listening to the song, no, clearly that’s his gal’s name.

2. A movie with Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Ludacris?! I’ve never seen any of the other The Fast and the Furious movies, but I swear, it’s as if they made this one just for me.

3. I think Missouri is wrong here, but my heart goes out to them. The Corps has no credibility in the Midwest and that makes a tough situation tougher.

4. Yep, I’m also disturbed by this trend to treat questioning Palin’s account of the birth of her son as somehow anti-feminist. I firmly believe she is reckless enough to have had her son exactly under the circumstances she claims to have had him and I’m not that excited about analyzing every detail of her story. That’s not what interests me. What interests me is that she says, repeatedly, that she’s released Trig’s birth certificate and she demonstrably has not. Why, after all this time, when she brings it up and says that she’s released it, doesn’t someone say “Excuse me. You have not.”? How is it not sexist to let Palin lie to you to your face and you just take it, like maybe she can’t help it, you know how women are. But that’s just me.

5. I have a lot of thoughts about this post, but my immediate reaction was “You know, I always wondered if internet trolls would dare behave that way in real life and…yep.”

6. The pun at the end of this post is practically legally required. I defy you to write about this without including one terrible pun. Donnie Wahlberg, wooooo! Ha, this post is apparently brought to you by celebrity guys B. has had crushes on.

The Weather: Day One

Well, we made it through Day One of the Weather Apocalypse in one piece. The dog is being weirdly antsy this morning, though, which is making me nervous. It’d be nice if we could name these weather events so that people had some sense of what it is we’re going through. “An endless, days-long line of storms, kicking off tornadoes” lacks brevity. And is there a scale, like there are for tornadoes? They’re making me feel like this is a Category 4 or 5 Shitstorm, but it’d be nice to have a term and an objective measure.

It’s supposed to be worse this evening. But… and what I am about to say you should never say, lest you come home to a flattened house… I’m feeling pretty okay about our safety. Knock on wood. The storms have been moving to the northeast and all our bad storms all come from the northwest–the tornado that took the trees down came right down Clarksville Pike from the northwest. The direction the tree in the back yard is lying? From northwest to southeast.

Which is not to say that we don’t get some wind from the southwest sometimes, but the terrain doesn’t really let it pick up the necessary steam from that direction. From the northwest, storms basically get themselves a chute down the ridge and then into some nice flat land towards Briley. They can really get going in that space. But from the southwest, it’s harder for them to get in here. They’d have to keep power over a lot of really hilly land.

Which isn’t to say that storms can’t.

Ha, but it is to say that I guess I’m trying to convince myself that it will be fine.


I’m getting nervous about these storms coming through. I think we have our hatches battened down as much as they can be and all the trees big enough to fall on the house are on the east side of the house. Flooding is pretty much my only worry. Oh, sure, and tornadoes, but you can’t do much about tornadoes, just hide and pray.

I got a follow-up personalized note about the Tennessee Democratic Unity Breakfast, mine for only $250, which I do not have, being from the poorer, untoward branch of the Democratic family. But I was thinking, oh, maybe I was a little hard on the Democrats this morning about our women problem, and then the email came, asking me to give them all my money to eat breakfast with Al Gore,

Co-CHAIRS (as of April 20):
Rep. Jim Cooper,

Rep. Steve Cohen,

Gov. Phil Bredesen,

Rep. Lincoln Davis,

Rep. Bart Gordon,

Rep. John Tanner,

Mayor Karl Dean,

Mayor AC Wharton,

Mayor Daniel Brown,

Vice-Mayor Diane Neighbors, Metro Nashville Council  Members Megan Barry, Tim Garrett, Jerry Maynard & Ronnie Steine,

Mike McWherter,

TNDP Chairs: Randy Button, Will Cheek, Jane Eskind, Houston Gordon, Doug Horne, George “Buck” Lewis, Dick Lodge, Gray Sasser, Bobby Thomas  & Bob Tuke,

TNDP Vice Chair Elisa Parker, TNDP Treasurer David Garrison and members of the TNDP Finance Council

PARTY SUSTAINERS: Bill Freeman & Olan Mills II

Yep, I count four women. Man, I’m tempted to write the TNDP back and tell them that I see one needs a penis to be properly unified and I can’t afford both a decent prosthetic penis and breakfast.

Eh, maybe I’ll get lucky and the Women’s Auxiliary Unity Breakfast (special guest of honor: the Memory of Al Gore’s Beloved Grandmother) will be more in line with pin money prices.

Tick, Tick, Boom

It’s funny. I can sleep through a thunderstorm no problem. But I woke up last night and knew there was a motherfucking tick on me. Could feel it. But every time I went to grab it, it would fall off, somewhere, down in the bed. Finally I caught it and flushed it.

But man, that made me laugh. Huge lightning and thunder doesn’t faze me. But that tiny tick sensation? I can’t sleep through that nonsense.

My cousin’s kid is in surgery this morning for his tumor, which they still don’t think is malignant, but it’s huge, like 11×7 inches. From what my aunt says, it sounds like they’re just going in between the ribs and cutting it up and sucking it out so that his recovery time is lessened. No word on whether my uncle interprets this as a message from God meaning, “No matter how bad things seem, I can still work in some good stuff” or “Go to church or next time I will kill your kid.”

Also, I remain in chicken-shit mode about discussing the book with my parents. Ha ha ha.

And I need to get to Tractor Supply and get some Frontline for the damn cats. We used to blame ticks on the dog, but she can’t get up in my bed any more and the orange cat has taken to napping there.

I’m feeling a little nervous about all the rain. God, I hope we don’t flood again.

HB 600

So, HB 600 passed the State House last night. So, here’s what we know: Republicans don’t believe cities have the same right to self-govern they think states have. Republicans (and some motherfucker Democrats) believe you should be able to be fired from your job for being gay or transgender. But at least most of the Democrats stood fast.

The Republicans own this. So, they’re going to have to explain to voters why they feel like they can override local decisions and they’re going to have to explain to international businesses why, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, their gay and lesbian and transgender employees would be safe and welcome here. And when they can’t do that, they’re going to have to go back to the voters and explain where the jobs are.

But this vote tells us some important things about the deep problems the Democrats in this state have. I saw all over Twitter last night this bullshit about how rural Democrats had to vote this way. Really? Rural Democrats don’t believe local governments should be able to make their own decisions? But the other thing I realized is that we, as a party, are doing to rural Democrats what Tennessee politicos are doing to rural Tennesseans in general–we let them have their culture war victories because they’re going to lose the economic war.

Rural Tennessee is going to empty out. The manufacturing jobs are gone. The types of farming you have to do to make money now, we don’t have good enough soil to do it and you don’t need many people to do it. And the factory-farming of livestock doesn’t employ as many people as more labor-intensive ways.

We could try to help small farmers take advantage of the locavore movement, but that would require letting go of boundaries like “urban” and “rural” and pretending like the two don’t have anything to do with each other. And I’m not yet seeing a lot of evidence for this catching on widely in state. We have a lot of “local” farms in Kentucky (in fairness, “local” farms are usually considered farms within a 200-mile radius of the urban center they’re feeding). And, even if everyone rural switched to farming, it’s hard to know if it would employ as many people as have been previously employed.

Plus, we’ve just waged war on teachers, which is a steady, family-supporting income for a lot of rural folks. People who used to or would have taught may find moving to town and looking for work where they’re not despised by the people they’re serving might be a better use of their time.

So, rural Tennessee goes conservative and then it goes empty. And we’re still all “Oh, no one call the rural Democrats out on their bullshit behavior!”

But, look again at who voted against this. There are a lot of rural Democrats who did the right thing. And some not-so-rural Democrats who did us wrong.

So, what are we actually talking about when we use the mask “rural Democrats” in this case?

What do the Democrats who voted for HB 600 have in common besides almost, kind of, fitting under the umbrella of “rural”? I’ll give you a hint–they all have wives.

Do I think women would be less likely to be assholes? Frankly, no. I mean, look at Mary Pruitt who couldn’t be bothered to vote on this at all.

But we have so few female Democratic politicians that “rural” has become short-hand for “socially conservative straight guys.” And, under the guise of talking about what “rural Democrats” will tolerate, we’re actually talking openly about what socially conservative straight male politicians are willing–or not willing–to do for constituencies that are different than them.

We use “rural Democrats” as a term to give them cover, but it’s not really about where they live at all. We say “rural Democrat” because if we said “There’s only so much Democrats can get done because there’s a core group of socially conservative straight guys who feel like they’re protecting what they’ve got from everyone else,” we’d have to look the huge gender problem the party has square in the face.

And look at the nice psychological trick it plays on the people getting screwed over. Oh, sure, we’re getting screwed over, but it’s by those dumb, redneck, ignorant hicks. We might be fucked, but we can look down our noses at the dumb fucks hurting us.

But when you look straight at who’s doing the dicking? Socially conservative straight guys? The same motherfuckers that are always in power?

You’re not being asked to understand how the Democrats’ hands are tied sometimes by the hicks. You’re being told to continue to acquiesce to the same damn people we always have to fight each other for second place behind.

Sadly, it’s time we understand that. And when we look around and say “Where are all the women Democratic politicians? There’s not one openly gay politician at the state level? Why don’t we through more resources behind black candidates not from Memphis or Nashville?”, we need to get it through our heads that it’s not just because of voters. It’s because the Party still lets socially conservative straight guys call the shots and then lie to us about who’s doing the shot-calling.

We may not be a state where we’re ever going to get a plurality of the opposite of that. But god damn it, it’s time we start demanding and supporting socially liberal straight guys, or socially conservative gay women, or whatever other mix. Or fuck, at this point, I’d even settle for us ceasing to treat the socially conservative straight guy politicians like they don’t have to play the same game as everyone else, because they’re so special.

Don’t get me wrong. Most Democrats did the right thing last night. But the Democrats who did the wrong thing tell us a lot about the shape of our problems as a party.

What Now, Vampire?

Coble has a great post about people being tickled that the vampire and gal at the center of the Twilight books decided to wait until they’re married to have sex. And it got me thinking about how we seem to be in the middle of some big cultural shifts about what vampires are helping us work out. Early vampires, who were more like how our zombies are now, were actual reanimated corpses that emerged from the grave to suck the blood of the living and drain their lives from them, and it’s pretty widely accepted that those vampires are about our anxieties about death and about the problem of telling when someone is really dead.

Then Stoker came along and vampires became about sex and death, which were pretty closely linked for our foremothers because of the risks of pregnancy.

And since The Lost Boys, we seem to be in the middle of a grand unacknowledged discussion of vampire as abusive boyfriend–someone who appears normal, charismatic, even, but who wishes you great harm, even if he doesn’t mean to (I think you see strong strains of that on True Blood). And I know there’s a lot of discussion about the way that Edward in the Twilight crap seems to have some weirdly abusive tendencies, but Coble’s post really has me wondering about this movement from vampire as monster to vampire as superhero.

I don’t know what to make of it and I love revisionist histories of fictional beings as much as the next person, but it seems to me that the vampire is kind of blanding out. Now he’s just misunderstood.

But it’s interesting that we’ve gone back and given the “undead who will kill you” role to zombies and folks like Freddie Kruger and Jason. I wonder what other monsters will get assigned vampires’ other duties until vampires come back as genuinely scary?

(Unless “vampire children who kill you” is them coming back as genuinely scary…)

Didn’t Do It

I never did tell my parents about the book. I meant to, but we got busy and then our brother got here and that was kind of chaotic. And by the end, I didn’t feel like I could dump that on them, too. So, I don’t know.

I walked the dog this morning and I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it home. Shoot, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it over to our turn-around point. I don’t remember the last time I have been so very, very sore, and I think it’s just a matter of how I carry stress in my body, things I keep tensed, ways I hold myself. But it made me laugh at myself anyway, to be walking a walk we do at least three times a week, usually five and to not be able to walk it without hearing every muscle complain was just a testament to my weekend.

Next time, I will have to remember to do some stretches during our family together time.

So, blah, I don’t know what I’m going to do about the book or when I’m going to do it. I have time, of course, but I was just hoping to get it out of the way before it seemed like I was avoiding it.

Honestly, I think once they’ve had a few days to work it out, they’ll be fine with it, but it’s hard for me to insist on those few days when the stuff they have to work out about my brother is so enormous and troubling.

Nashville Voodoo

We went to Morgan Park today after my brother and his boys left to review it. It was good to do something together that wasn’t a screaming nightmare. Not that the whole visit was a screaming nightmare, but just that… I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m really and sincerely starting to wonder about mental health issues across the board.

I mean, it’s one thing to say my family is batshit crazy. It’s another thing when you’re sitting there wondering just exactly what is going wrong with people.

I will say that this visit had a strange effect on me in that there were instances when I felt really bad for my dad. I have long thought that I didn’t want to get married because I didn’t want to end up with someone like him. This is the first time in my life where I ever felt like I never want to get married and have a family because I don’t want to end up like him, having to constantly be vigilant about the needs of others because they just won’t be for themselves. I mean, I’ve gotten used to the fact that someone always has to stay with Mom when we’re out in public or she wanders off and can’t be found. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. But yesterday, in the middle of cooking the eggs for Easter, she wandered off into the backyard and got started on some other, complicated task, completely forgetting about the eggs.

And I can’t even talk about how things went with my brother. I honestly thought there was a moment today when he and the Butcher were going to come to blows over the state of the nephews. It’s funny. Sometimes I think my brother feels very judged, but damn, when someone actually judges him, out loud and to his face, it’s fucking ugly. I think that, if I weren’t so tired and burnt out, I’d wonder how their relationship is going to come back from that.

I feel bad because I just switched completely to bitch mode and stayed there all day today, yelling at people to get in the shower, yelling at them to get out, yelling at them to go to the bathroom, yelling at them to get out, yelling at them to get in the car, yelling at them to stop hitting or trying to hurt each other, yelling at them to get out of the car, yelling at them to come eat, yelling at them to get up, etc., etc., etc.

But at some point today, I had just had it with the chaos and was ready for some fucking order, and so I set out to instill it. Which, really, sucks as a way to go through life. Possibly every one of us should be seeing a shrink, but I just ran out of the ability to give a shit about it and I wanted people to just to their shit and get on their way. I’m sure it was unpleasant. I feel tired and terrible about it, but I just fucking broke.

Anyway, the sign at the fountain at Morgan Park says that there used to be a sulfur spring there and that the water was used in some voodoo practices. But I don’t think that can be right. There are so few Catholics in town, let alone black Catholics, that it seems like the chances of there being some kind of ongoing historical voodoo practices in Nashville are very slim.

I think it’s more likely the water was used in hoodoo practices, since an ongoing tradition of that is pretty demonstrable in the Nashville area.

But what can you do? Just be nerdy about it, I guess.

Easter in the Yard and at Morgan Park

The Easter Count


Number of people who have cried: 1

Number of people who expressed a desire to cry in the Old Hickory United Methodist Church Women’s Bathroom: 1

Number of instruments played: 2

Hours of duration of playing: 3 (approximately)

Number of people who ate candy rather than interact: 4

Number of people who came to blows: 2 (children)

Number of people who almost came to blows: 2 (adults)

Number of people who had to yell nonstop from 9:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. to get people in the car and to church on time: 1

Number of practice drives to church: 2

Number of people told to “shut the fuck up” in front of the whole family: 1

Number of people called a shitty dad: 1

Number of people who have refused to brush their teeth: 1

Number of people who complain about the cooking, but don’t help: 4

Number of people who are clearly tired of all this togetherness: 7

Number of people now blogging while hiding in the other room: 1

We Might Not Make It To Easter

Lord, we are about ready to kill each other. But two funny things. 1. When we walked into the Tammy Wynette exhibit at the Hall of Fame, it was obvious that someone in there was farting. 2. When we were in Golden Corral, a dude sitting next to us at Golden Corral was sleeping between courses. It was amazing.

Well, I Guess I Should Go Use My New Washing Machine

I need to get started on the laundry, get the dining room kind of useable, and wash the dog this morning. The new washing machine is so smart, though, that I feel like, if I sit here long enough, eventually it will come in the house, get all the dirty shit, and just do everything.

So, instead, even though I had breakfast, I’m sitting here fantasizing about the kugel nm made last night. I had no idea what it was, so I ate all of my broccoli and some of my chicken before trying it, just in case I needed to be like “Oh, it was fine. I’m just really full.” Oh, but it was delicious. I had two helpings and would have gladly eaten the whole thing. I don’t even know how to explain it. It was like, if you could somehow have the comfort of chicken soup in a loaf. And it was so delicious.

Did I tell y’all I forced my parents to agree to switch churches for Easter? We’re going over to Jay Voorhees‘ church, because I read his blog and I follow him on Twitter and I feel like I can just say straight up to him, “I had a lovely time at your church, but no, please. Have you read my blog?” and that will be that. I can deliver my family to a church I can comfortably NOT be a part of on a regular basis. That will be nice.

And so I am looking forward to going. No, I know! Keep that in mind, ministers wary of social media. I mean, sure, having people who have completely had it with the church and who consider themselves polytheists feel like yours would not be a bad church to go to might not be a victory, but everyone else in my family is!

So, that’s a weird turn of events, for sure.

And I think I’m going to have to explain the book to my parents, this weekend. Possibly today while we have some alone time. So, that’s kind of giving me the nervous shits. I think they’ll be okay with the Devil stuff, but I’m concerned about preempting worry that some of the other stuff is autobiographical. But, at the least, if I were going to write autobiographical stuff about my relationship with my dad under the guise of fiction, it’d be a lot more complicated and a lot funnier.

Okay, fine, I have procrastinated all I can. Shower and then dog wash and then clothes wash. We’re all about to be so fabulously clean here I about can’t stand it.

The Glass Ceiling

We were just talking and my co-worker is outraged that Tennessee schools can now teach creationism in science class and legally hate on Muslims and all the things that are going on in the state legislature this session and I said to her that I don’t really find it angry-making. What I find it is, for me, anyway, is sad.

Rather than sit down with Tennesseans and say “The old jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back and there aren’t going to be enough new jobs to go around, so if we want to compete as a state, we’ve got to be the brightest, most tolerant, most accommodating motherfuckers in the land,” we’re instead saying “Oh, sure, you can hate on gays and Muslims and women and teach what you think are Biblical truths all throughout your public school systems” to a bunch of Tennesseans. We’re basically saying, “Y’all go stand under this glass ceiling! Have fun. You can have every shitty thing you want, but we’re just neglecting to tell you that winning on every shitty thing means you never get to rise up high enough to get the good stuff.”

And that sucks. And I love you, Tennessee, so I know you’ll sit under your glass ceiling and convince yourself that you want to be there and that it’s better there than it is where the people who shooed you over under it live.

But I wish that weren’t so.

Do Other People Fight With their Dogs?

I’m having a huge fight with Mrs. Wigglebottom, but I feel kind of stupid about it, because, though she’s clearly sullen, I know she doesn’t get what the problem is.

But it pisses me off that, no matter how good she is when it’s just us here, no matter how well she listens, how predictably she behaves, whenever she gets a bug up her butt to do what she wants, that’s what she does. Yesterday, she ran over to the neighbors’ and ignored me as I yelled at her to stop and then, when I went and got her, she went trotting after the Butcher like “Oh, man, I’m having this great adventure and making B. angry! It’s awesome.”

And the worst part is that she looks so damn guileless and happy, like being able to run around while some angry woman chases after you hollering things you aren’t paying any attention to is just the best damn thing in the world.

Eh, who knows? Maybe it is.

And, sadly, this is the same damn fight we’ve had her whole life.

Deathless by Catherynne Valente

I keep meaning to come back to this and talk about it, but poor Deathless has suffered by not being problematic in ways that stick in my craw like So Much Pretty, which I needed to write about immediately after finishing it. I didn’t want to write about Deathless except to say “Wow.”

I think I’ve told you that I had a Russian minor in college, even though I never really got the hang of the language. I mean, three years of Russian and I can kind of talk about drinking and milk and possibly some farm animals. So, if you run into any drunken Russian three-year-olds, I should almost be able to keep up. But here are the important things I learned about Russian culture, in no particular order:

1. Russians have memorized a shit-ton of poetry. Maybe not younger folks, but people my parents’ age and older know a shit-ton. When you mention Pushkin to an old Russian, he doesn’t just know the name, like you might know who Shakespeare is, he can recite Pushkin’s poetry for hours (or maybe just what will feel like hours when the only Russian you know is ‘moloko’ ‘vodka’ and ‘corova’ and for some reason, Pushkin didn’t write a lot about drinking vodka and milking cows).

2. Any Russian who lived through World War II is a scary bad ass.

3. ‘Pivo’ is ‘beer’ in Russian and ‘Piva’ is ‘beer’ in Polish. You can thank me the next time you get back from Chicago.

Anyway, part of studying Russian at my college was that you had to at least take a Russian Literature class in translation–so I read Eugene Onegin in English and some Akhmatova and The Master and Margarita (which I have to hope strikes you as “Oh, of course”) and, I think, Crime and Punishment (though I may have read that in another class).

So, all this is kind of a huge preface to my review of Deathless, a book about Russia, specifically during the rise of Communism and the Second World War and the Siege at Leningrad. But it’s also a book about folkloric Russia–Baba Yaga, Koschei The Deathless, the little sprites that live in people’s houses, etc.–and how the folkloric map and the real map intertwine.

The main character is Marya Morevna who becomes the bride of Koschei and who lives through the Siege. But I felt like it was really a kind of beautifully despondent meditation on how people get steamrolled by history, which I know makes it sound utterly depressing. But it’s not. It’s a beautiful book, exquisitely written. You can tell Valente is also a poet, because just at the sentence level, it’s gorgeous. But reading it is like that moment when you’ve been crying and crying and crying and you finally take that cold hiccuping breath that means you’re done.

This book is that cold breath.

I wondered what Russians would make of it, if they’d also feel like it felt just right or if they’d feel like they were hearing about their own home from a stranger.

Valente does some really nice things technique-wise. One, she doesn’t shy away from the kind of weird folkloric trope of the asshole who kidnaps the girl and wins her love, but she doesn’t play it as exactly some kind of troubling, irredeemable rape thing, either. Instead, she does a really nice job of casting it in a kind of D/s dynamic (there’s some light bondage, but it’s all consensual and really gets at what, for some folks, is so cathartic about such encounters). And just when you’re like “Oh, that’s nicely handled,” she comes back over the same ground, in fact, pretty much literally, with different characters in those roles and shows how it’s not the activity but the people doing those things and what they need that makes it work. It’s just a nice bit of insight topped by an even nicer bit of insight.

I think the other thing she does really well–and man, believe me, if I had Valente on my couch, I would be pouring wine in her glass until she spilled for me how she got this so right, because I think, until you read it done, you don’t really know that it’s a possibility, and I am dying to know how she came up with it and then how she executed it so well–is to give a kind of dream-space to the tragedies that hover in the background of the book, so that the reader works through them without being done in by them. What I mean is that it’s impossible to read a book about Russia set in this era and not be thinking of the weight of history, the enormous avalanches of tragedy that kept sweeping over the Russian people.

Valente sprinkles the text liberally with her own translations of Akhmatova’s poetry, invoking, without coming out and beating you over the head with it, Akhmatova’s situation at the time the book is set, and “Requiem” is felt strongly in its absence. (She’s got Pushkin all over the place, too, a testament to his pretty much single-handed salvation of the Russian language as something worthy of respect and capable of great beauty.) But Lenin and Stalin get scant mention. Except, towards the end of the book, there’s this whole elaborate dream-like world in which all these historical larger-than-life characters are set loose to act out their parts, while harming no one.

It’s really something you just have to read for yourself, but it’s almost as if, in rendering them almost folkloric, making them kind of lighter than history, she gives the reader a way to face and acknowledge the larger context of the book and work through it without it breaking the spell of the book.

And, for me, at least, I felt like it gave me a way to understand how people go on in the face of these vast historical forces. Of course it is too much to bear. And yet, for some people, in some instances, you make it through, as if the danger were never that serous, even though, of course, it was. I’m making it sound a lot more trite than it is in the book. Like I said, I’m not sure it’s something you can really talk about. You just have to read it and see if it works for you. But for me, I found it stunning.

So, ha, upon rereading, I feel like I’ve made it out to be a really depressing book, but it’s not. It’s really beautiful and it feels weirdly hopeful at the end. Like, god damn it, something is still going to be beautiful and subversive, even in the darkest of times.

I don’t know. I really liked it.

This Should Be Interesting

Remember how there was all that brouhaha about how making the HPV vaccination mandatory for girls would turn girls into giant Slutty McSluttersons? Well, guess who’s getting oral cancer like we’ve returned to the halcyon days of everybody smoking?


I bet the “controversy” over vaccinating kids against HPV quickly and quietly goes away.

Paying for Affection

Do y’all remember that show on HBO a while back about strippers? I think it was called G-string Divas or something. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. The premise of the show was, well, naked women. It’s HBO after all. But the interesting thing that was going on in the show is that they’d talk to the men about the strippers and stripping and the men would go on and on about how the women liked them, and how they came to make the women like them, through showering them with money. And then they’d go talk to the women, who would speak very frankly about how they could tell which men would be willing to give up a bunch of money if the women pretended to like them and so the women pretended to like them. And the women would often discuss how they really didn’t like the men at all.

I used to watch that and think “Man, how could any guy watch this show and still go to strip clubs and think he could trust any encounter in there as real?”

But then I finally got it, I think after the 400th music video with strippers fawning over the stars or the 400th movie in which, yes, the main female character is a prostitute but she does really love the main male character (see, for just one example, Jonah Hex). At some level we do know that the woman we shower money on in exchange for her affection is probably acting like she likes us in order to earn that money, but we hate that. I think we really, really, really want to believe that we are so awesome that we’d be the exception, that we’d be the person a gal like that would really love, if only circumstances brought us together and money is just the circumstance that brings us together. And I’m not saying that there aren’t occasionally strippers or prostitutes that come to care genuinely for their clients as people and friends and not as clients, but that is a small sliver compared to the large psychic space we afford that fantasy culturally.

At least, wanting to believe is one part of it. I think there’s another, kind of more sinister urge, to tell women in precarious situations that everything about them can be bought, not just their bodies, but even space in their hearts. It is a way to abuse women–to insist that, no matter what you make us do, you can also make us love you.

I’ve been reading a lot about The Help lately, since the movie is coming out and over at the discussion at Shakesville, someone linked to this post, which is all about the history of the trope of the loving mammy. If you follow the internal links in the piece or just start reading anywhere in the whole blog, you get an amazing, in-depth history lesson in the trope of white women who love the black women who raised them and who assume that the black women loved them back AND that the bond between these white women and black women is so special, the white women can then speak for those black women.

And I thought–damn, that’s a lot like the stripper/hooker problem. It may be the rich white woman equivalent of the stripper/hooker problem–you (or your family) is giving money to a woman to love you and to provide you with the fantasy that this love is genuine and untainted by the fact that this woman is being paid for her affection and you have the privileged of never having to know that. Which is not to say that there aren’t women who worked in white households and raised white children and didn’t come to really love and care for them. Of course there were and are.

But the need for our culture to believe that’s the pervasive and common dynamic and to tell stories over and over again in which that’s true?

Yeah, then, you have to figure there’s something not quite right and worth thinking critically about going on there.