An Open Letter to Jack McElroy

Dear Jack,

You are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong, wrong, wrong. And someday one of your reporters may need you to take the State of Tennessee to school, so you need to get right on this.

But so what if Meador was a reporter? The First Amendment protects press freedom, but it doesn’t grant journalists any rights beyond those of other citizens. In fact, in this day of blogs and cellphone cameras, it’s hard to say what actually constitutes a reporter. An employee of an established media outlet may carry a press card and ID badge, but that shouldn’t make him or her any more legitimate in the eyes of the law than a self-published scribe.

Here’s the “so what” you’re missing. Meador was, in fact, cited for being drunk, so drunk that he “appeared to be intoxicated and unable to care for himself.” And that’s when he produced the video he took of his arrest in which no officer makes any mention of his alleged drunkeness. In fact, they’re discussing charging him with resisting arrest. How one resists arrest by falling when knocked to the ground by the THP, I surely don’t know.

But the issue, the important issue, here is not just that he identified himself as a member of the media–which I say is still an important and meaningful thing and that the THP ought not to be arresting reporters who are trying to cover a story the State is making efforts to literally hide in the middle of the night–but that not only did they appear to decide to make up a charge of resisting arrest, they made up that he “appeared to be intoxicated and unable to care for himself.” (Again, the State’s words, not mine).

Jack, they did this after they knew he was a reporter. After they knew he was a reporter, they made up things to charge him with and then falsely accused him of being so drunk that he couldn’t care for himself in order to discredit him. That wasn’t just about trying to jack Meador up as a person, though that would certainly be wrong. That was about trying to discredit Meador as a journalist–accusing him of being so drunk on the job that he needed to be arrested. Certainly, that was about not only trying to discredit anything he might say about his arrest as a citizen, but also anything he might report about his and others’ arrests as a journalist.

If you think the issue is just that they arrested a journalist, you are wrong. It’s that they arrested a journalist AND then, once they knew he was a journalist, they seem to have deliberately set out to fuck him over.

That should give you great pause.




Yes, I know, you already read these a million times. But it’s Halloween! It’s time for creepy things! So, here’s what I have to offer:

Bone“–Two supernatural entities walk into a bar and the bartender says…

Frank“–An evil doctor’s zombie henchman teaches a woman to drive.

The Witch’s Friend“–A little girl, a grandma, a god, and the biker gang that ties them together.

And A City of Ghosts is in book form or on Kindle. Or, if you’re ambitious, you can read rough drafts of all the stories here and here for free.

Or, if you’re into non-fiction, here’s my story about The Thing.

Shoot, it’s cool to see everything collected in one place like that, huh?

Happy Birthday, Butcher!

It’s the Butcher’s birthday today. He’s 31. That doesn’t freak me out as much as our other brother being 35, since I was 35 just last week. But here we are, my other brother and I hurtling towards old age, the Butcher tagging along far behind.

All things considered, I lucked out in the brother department.

May we all live happily and in good health into our eighties.

More About the Reporter They Arrested

You remember that earlier this evening the THP sent out an email accusing Jonathan Meador of being so drunk that he “appeared to be intoxicated and unable to care for himself.”

Meador was able to videotape his arrest. Judge for yourself how intoxicated and unable to care for himself he seems.

The second I saw there was no notice of what his blood alcohol content was at the time of arrest, I was deeply suspicious that this was a bullshit arrest. But hearing him identify himself to the police and hearing him interact with the protestors, it’s obvious that he wasn’t drunk, was able to care for himself at least until thrown to the ground, and that they knew he was a member of the media.

But go ahead, Haslam administration. Let’s have another mid-morning press release in which you explain this away as being something other than what it obviously is.

When Cheaters Prosper

SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell has sent a boot-in-your-ass letter to Alexia Poe, the Governor’s Director of Communications:

I expect the Governor to publicly apologize to him for this violation of his rights and to assure the people of Tennessee that this administration will not interfere with the right to a free press that has been a fundamental right in this country since our founding.

Somehow, I doubt that apology is forthcoming, since the Governor plans on arresting people again tonight.

We feel that we have grounds to enforce the policy.

I just wanted to link to Matt Taibbi’s piece on why this is not just “losers” who are jealous of the success of “winners,” because I think he gets right to the heart of what a ludicrous belief that is.

And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners.  But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

In this country, we cheer for people who hit their own home runs – not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That’s why it’s so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn’t disappointment at having lost. It’s anger because those other guys didn’t really win. And people now want the score overturned.

All weekend I was thinking about this “jealousy” question, and I just kept coming back to all the different ways the game is rigged. People aren’t jealous and they don’t want privileges. They just want a level playing field, and they want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes

I would add that, specifically in Tennessee’s case, we would like the Governor to give up the “I made up a rule and called it a law” and “I’m using the THP to enforce a ‘law’ that’s not really a law” and “I arrest journalists who try to cover me violating Tennesseans’ first amendment rights” cheat codes.

Edited to add: The Boston Globe has a great story on the protestors.

And holy shit, the THP arrested Jonathan Meador for smelling like alcohol and appearing “to be intoxicated and unable to care for himself.” This says to me that they know the arrests won’t stand (otherwise, why didn’t they subject him to a breathalizer?) and are just making up bullshit reasons.

That’s really, really not good.

Can a Book Be both Bad and Amazing?

I just finished Chuck Palahniuk’s Damned and it is not good. The pacing’s all off. Some things are too repetitious and there’s a conceit at the end that seems designed solely to excuse the book–it’s not Chuck’s bad writing, it’s Satan’s. I couldn’t get into the book at all because the narrator just did not sound at all like a 13 year old girl and I finally just had to succumb to the male voice my brain want to give the text. And it’s another one of those “Surprise! I’m the set up for a sequel!” books.


That being said, there is a section in this book where Maddie, the main character, is left at boarding school over the winter holidays (much like Harry Potter and Ebenezer Scrooge) and she slowly comes to wander around the school and eventually the grounds naked. And then she gets stuck outside with her hand stuck to the door knob (the door is locked) and that part–from the moment she gets left behind until she gets back in her bed after getting back in the school has simply got to be one of the nicest, most well-done pieces of writing I’ve seen.

In spite of everything I just said about pacing and the problems of the narrator, I really did believe, in that moment, that I was reading something that not only was telling me something about that character, but also was telling me something about being a girl that I hadn’t quite realized.

The book’s not unreadably bad. I enjoyed it, kind of. And parts are really funny. It just felt like maybe it was a draft away from actually being done.

Welcome to Tennessee–Where the First Amendment is 2/3 Null and Void

After arresting protesters for peaceably assembling on Thursday night, Governor Haslam upped the ante by arresting protesters for peaceably assembling and arresting a Scene reporter who was there covering it. On Twitter, they were also saying that a Fox 17 camera person was injured, but I can’t find confirmation of that this morning.

I’m going to just link to Mike Byrd, who’s done a nice write-up that is succinct and makes sense. I don’t think I could pull that off right now.

I want to say that, when you live in a state where they make up “laws” on the fly AND wait until the middle of the night to arrest people for violating those made-up on the fly laws so that their actions remain hidden from citizens, when they wait until the middle of the night to arrest people AND they arrest journalists so that your ability to learn about what happened is curtailed, it’s sobering.

Who even knows what’s legal in Tennessee? Apparently it’s just at the whim of the Haslam administration. Who also knows for what you’ll be arrested? Apparently, if you look like an occupier, you’ll be arrested, but if you look like you just came from the theater, you will not. And once they start arresting journalists? Ugh.

So, that’s freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. If I were a religious person in this state, I’d be looking around nervously at this point.

It’s a weird feeling. On the one hand, I have never felt more deeply troubled about living in Tennessee. If we can’t agree on basic things like how laws are made, that they should be enforced equally against everyone, and that I, as a citizen, have the right to learn about what happens in my state through the press and not through state issued press releases, then we are in pretty precarious times.

But on the other hand, when I look through Chris Wage’s pictures, and I see these amazing, ordinary people, my fellow Tennesseans, it makes me so incredibly proud.

On Wednesday, these were a handful of people I think most people in the state thought were a little corny. By now, Saturday morning, they are on the front line of a fundamental battle in this state over whether we still live under the Tennessee State Constitution–

That the printing presses shall be free to every person to examine the proceedings of the Legislature; or of any branch or officer of the government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions, is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers investigating the official conduct of officers, or men in public capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all indictments for libel, the jury shall have a right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the court, as in other criminal cases.

And the U.S.–

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Bill Haslam could have let the occupiers occupy until the cold weather sent them home. The fact that he can’t do that indicates something so troubling about how he and his administration see the scope of their power that it should make us all angry.

Why Haslam’s Response to Occupy Nashville Should Concern Lawmakers

From The Tennessean:

“If we’re going to have laws, we have to enforce laws,” Haslam said.

A rule you made up yesterday is not a law. If the governor doesn’t understand who makes the laws and how they come into being, maybe some legislators from his party need to sit him down and explain it to him. It would be quite difficult for any law to have been passed yesterday because the General Assembly isn’t meeting.

So, here’s my question for you, lawmakers: Do you feel certain that Haslam understands and respects the job you do? Because from where I’m sitting, he appears to not know the difference between a law and a rule.

Also, I continue my belief that this makes the governor look like a wuss. He’s afraid of fifty people because they’re dirty? Because crimes have been committed against them? Well, hell, Haslam, that’s a lot of people in your state. You going to hide in your limo for the rest of your term?

Honestly, This Should Concern Everyone in Nashville

Woods has an extended excerpt from Gibbons’ press conference today. Let me just highlight this:

Well, really that’s something you need to ask General Services. I’m aware generally of the reasons and that was public safety and health conditions on the Plaza. And I am aware of the fact that representatives of the protesters themselves approached the state earlier this week asking for some assistance addressing the problems they were facing. They were concerned about public safety. They were concerned about health concerns. The policy that’s in place I think is a very reasonable policy that will allow the protesters to continue to peacefully assemble under the right circumstances. What the Department of General Services was trying to do was strike a balance to ensure they had the right to peacefully protest but at the same time address the concerns they had as well as others over public safety and health concerns. [bold is mine]

Holy shit. This administration thinks that they get to determine the “right” circumstances for peaceful assembly? That makes my blood run cold.

Oh, and then get this nonsense.

Q: Commissioner, if you follow the letter of the policy, it says the Plaza is closed at 10 o’clock. Does that mean people who attend an event at TPAC can’t walk across the Plaza afterward?

Gibbons: Well, there’s also somewhere in here it says without specific authorization. I cannot speak for the Department of General Services on that but obviously they going to take the approach where if there is an event where they want to make an exception and authorize people to be there at 10:30 or 11, well I’m sure the Department of General Service will work with folks on that.

This is so typical. I love you, Tennessee, but the amount of people who think that everything they think is wrong should be illegal, but that they should get to make exceptions for the “right” kind of people is out of control.

But please, notice that the Governor is afraid of fifty people. Other Occupies have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. And our governor has to sneak up on fifty people in the dead of night.

But what’s worse than sneaking up on fifty people in the middle of the night is stripping everyone in the state of their constitutional right to peaceably assemble.

That hurts everyone.

My Correspondence with the Governor’s Office

This morning I wrote:

Dear Governor Haslam,

Setting time limits and monetary requirements on when people are allowed to gather on taxpayer-funded state property to exercise their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances is unconstitutional.

Having people arrested for not following your unconstitutional rules is morally bankrupt and bad manners.

Shame on you. You know better.

Betsy Phillips

They wrote:

October 28, 2011

Dear Betsy:

Thank you for writing to Governor Haslam and sharing your concerns regarding the Occupy Nashville protests.  Listening to and learning from Tennesseans is very important to us, and we appreciate hearing from you.

We all have a right to peaceably assemble, and those assemblies should be safe, sanitary, and non-destructive.

Criminal activity and deteriorating sanitary conditions over the past several days on Legislative Plaza created an environment that is unsafe for the protestors, state employees, and everyone who lives, works and enjoys downtown Nashville.  Therefore, permits will be granted to protestors on a daily basis from 9:00am until 4:00pm.

While this administration wholeheartedly supports freedom of speech, assembly and petition, it is our responsibility to keep people safe on state property.  Abiding by these hours allows for a safe event, while ensuring the people’s right to peaceably assemble.

Again, thank you for writing.  We look forward to working with you and all Tennesseans to make our great state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

Kindest regards,

The Governor’s Office of Constituent Services

I wrote:

I notice that you didn’t address how you’re charging Tennessee taxpayers to peaceably assemble.

Also, when the crimes are being committed AGAINST the protesters, infringing on the rights of the protesters rather than protecting them reeks of victim blaming.

I saw on the news last night that THP will provide officers for free for entertainers and athletes who need their protection.

It is a shame these poor kids don’t warrant the same consideration. Instead, they get arrested.

Is it just because they lack a bus?


Betsy Phillips

It Must Be So Awesome to be a Rich Person in Tennessee

Last night on Channel 5, they aired a story about how all entertainers and sports figures and people who are friends with people in the government need to do in order to get a THP escort anywhere is call and ask.

And then the taxpayers pay for it.

Yes, if you are Joe Rockstar and you want a THP escort from the Bridgestone Arena to your hotel in Franklin, taxpayers will foot the bill. It doesn’t cost you a dime.

But if you want to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of your grievances? A right guaranteed to us all–even the poor people–in the Constitution, Tennessee now thinks they can say when you can protest–conveniently during work hours for most people, charge you for protesting–$65 a day, and require you to carry a million dollars in liability insurance.

To use land bought and paid for by taxpayers.

And who in Tennessee isn’t a taxpayer?

So, you pay for it and then have to pay to use it.

Honestly, I return to the thought I had earlier–most people do not understand the rules we’ve agreed to live under and, in the cases when they do, they don’t like it.

So, here are a bunch of folks sitting out on legislative plaza–a public space owned by the state–protesting. For weeks. This is their constitutional right–to assemble and petition the government. There’s no time limit in the Constitution. No wording on how long they can be there or how it’s cool if they have to pay.

And Haslam’s administration decides to start charging them–Tennessee taxpayers who already pay through their tax dollars for Legislative Plaza–to use Legislative Plaza to exercise their First Amendment rights.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter if they’re “outside agitators,” which they are not, because everyone who purchases something in Tennessee becomes as much of a tax payer as people who live here. Welcome to Tennessee, where your stake as a tourist for as long as you’re here is as great as my stake as a resident.

And the thing is that, as much as I like to believe that Haslam and his buddies are a bunch of nincompoops, they aren’t. Every single one of them knows (and now it seems that the courts may agree) that you can’t have Free Speech that the government dictates the time, place, cost, and expression of.

They just don’t like it. So, they ignore any obligation they have as political leaders to try to find some Constitutional solution (I’m guessing because that Constitutional solution is “Wait for it to get so cold that they go home.”) and just go straight for the Cartman-esque “I do what I want.”

And they get to.

It just makes me so angry. If you don’t like the Constitution, work to change it. If you like the Bill of Rights when it applies to your side, then grow the fuck up and defend it when it’s invoked rightly by your political opponents. And if you can’t live by the law, don’t run for office.

So, just to clarify, now in Tennessee, in order to exercise your Constitutional rights, you have to pay to play.

If that’s not deeply corrupt, I just don’t know what is.

Phillips Family Excitement

I got a phone call this morning. Right as I was getting in the shower. It sounded suspiciously like the voice my dad used when he pretended to be my Great Grandpa Frank. I should back up. I sent a letter on Monday to the grandson of Barlow Phillips, who is alive, still, and living in Marshall, which is the next town over from Battle Creek.

This morning, he called me. And he sounded like my dad. But older. He is funny and smart, so whip-smart. His son is in Memphis, weirdly. He didn’t know much about the family, contrary to what my Uncle B. thought. But he said one thing interesting.

His dad got his job at Fort Custer after World War I through Hildreth Phillips. He wondered if that was my grandpa. My grandpa would have been ten. Now, we Phillipses are precocious, but I doubt any of us are getting folks government jobs at ten.

But the other Hildreth Phillips? The one I have wondered about whether he’s related to us or if it’s just the coincidence to beat all coincidences? He would have been in his forties.

I can accept that there might be two unrelated Hildreth Phillipses in Michigan at the same time. I suppose. I cannot accept that the one Hildreth Phillips got a relative of the other Hildreth Phillips a job AND that his son would be under the impression that the Hildreth Phillips who got him a job was related to them, if they were not, in fact, related.

The other Hildreth?

The great-grandson of Asa Phillips. I suspect Hildreth’s grandfather Jonathan may have been Luke’s brother.

But more than that, I loved that Barlow’s grandson was funny and charming and sharp. I love that he sounded like my dad. It felt like a different possibility for growing old as a Phillips.

This is Not Just What I Look Like

One of the reasons that I get so excited about being distantly related to Lizzie Borden or Jonathan Moulton or whomever is that when I was growing up in these small towns where everyone was related to everyone, of course, we were related to no one. We had cousins, but they were all in Michigan. And this notion that there are a shit-ton of people out there, all vaguely distantly related to me is… I don’t quite know how to explain it. It makes me feel like, yeah, I am from here.

This rich tapestry of people spreading out across American from the early 1600s.

Which, yes, I guess, makes us the smallpox blanket of people.

So, that’s maybe not so cool for everyone.

But it brings me to the other thing that really upsets me about this whole doctor visit. I look like the people I come from. My body is shaped like my grandma’s. I have huge boobs like my other grandma. I have blue eyes like my favorite uncle. I am big and fat like a ton of the Phillipses (no pun intended) and their ancestors. I don’t just look like me.

So, when someone wants to suggest ways that I can dramatically be thinner? Sometimes, depending on how it’s delivered, I experience it as “these traits you share with the people you love, the things about you that remind you of them, are gross and should not exist.”

Which kind of feels like you, and the people like you, your family, should not exist.

Because, I have to tell you, I have watched the people in my family for generations struggle to be thinner. And I don’t know of a one who’s lost weight and kept it off. Believe me, while I am weak-willed and will eat cookies for dinner, I can tell you, the self-loathing about being fat that some of them have and the self-discipline they have especially about things that would allow them to lord over other Phillipses and prove how much better they were than the rest of us, if there was a way to be thinner and stay thinner that worked for my family, someone would have done it. And that person would be bragging about it every damn day.

So, it’s not as if we are people who have been saddled with fat and who can, if disciplined enough, remove the fat and keep it off and still be people. Not overall. It may work in individual cases, but I have not yet seen it. We are fat people. It’s an inherent trait. The same way that we’re grouchy assholes who abuse drugs and each other.

Yes, we can successfully take steps to mitigate those traits and not everyone is expressing those traits, but they’re there.

But here’s the crucial difference, I think. I do think that, when my family is not being grouchy assholes who abuse drugs and each other, they are happier. And I long, so much, for the people in my family to be happy. It’d be good to mitigate those things.

It’s not important to me that my family mitigate being fat. I don’t look at them and think “There are all the gross and disgusting fuckers who I love” the same way I look at them and think “God damn it, can we just try to be happy for like five seconds and not be assholes to each other?”

I don’t see them as gross and disgusting at all. That’s my family.

I don’t know. I had a point, but I just got caught up on the idea that someone could look at my grandpa and see him as round as a Christmas ornament, sitting in his chair at his game table, smoking his ubiquitous cigar and think that his biggest problem was his weight. I mean, lord almighty, if you had to make a list of all of the health concerns that should have been addressed at the Phillips household and you put “they’re fat” at the top or even in the top ten, you are either a fucker or a fool.

How incredibly short-sighted you’d have to be to gaze into the house on Riverview and see only a family that needed to diet and exercise.

So, that’s it. In short, I feel like I’m being asked to reject some fundamental part of my family as fucked up and disgusting, something that makes me a “problem.” And this is funny considering what my family is like and how “fat” is really, the most neutral thing about them.

And I love them.

And that’s that.

The Small Rebellion of Being Who You Are

So, Ryan wrote this really beautiful post on how he was kind of caught off-kilter by his emotional response to seeing Chas Bono on Dancing with the Stars.

My personal reaction to Chaz has surprised me.  I didn’t expect to feel emotional about it, I didn’t expect to feel as invested as I have in him competing on a silly dancing television show.  But I found myself mesmerized watching the first episode, voting as many times as I could for him to stay on, and watching every week to see how he does.  Last night when he was eliminated I was emotional again hearing him say how his life would have been different if he could have seen someone like him on television when he was younger.  I was emotional because until I saw it, I never realized the sheer impact of seeing someone like Chaz on national television, not being studied on a talk show or the butt of jokes on a sitcom, but dancing alongside everyone else, could do for someone.

One thing Ryan’s post got me thinking about is how there is this is kind of a weirdness in activism, one that, I think, has been really helped by blogging. The weirdness is that what makes a good activist is often personal discomfort. You are so outraged that you must do or say something. And that’s great. We need activists.

But not everyone is an activist. And I think it can be hard for people who want to imagine a way to live their lives in some quiet manner to find people who are living their lives in a quiet manner to view as inspiration. People who are in great discomfort now want to know that there’s some hope for it to be resolved. But this is what Ryan is getting at about Chaz. He’s just appearing on some stupid show, in the same manner everyone else appears on the stupid show. It’s like activism of the mundane.

And I think that’s one of the things that blogging has really done well–allowed people who otherwise wouldn’t have it a chance to develop a voice and a platform and to tell their ordinary, unique stories.

As terrible as the statistics Ryan offers up about the realities transgender people in our country face, I don’t think that, even ten years ago, you could have easily found those statistics unless you were already a part of the activist community. And now, it will be completely ordinary for you to click on that link and read them.

Change can’t work without the in-your-face crowd. It just can’t. You need the radicals to open up room for the non-radicals. So, I hope this post isn’t construed as somehow criticizing the front-line activists. But change comes when the avant-garde (in the literal sense) have opened up the possibility and people who aren’t as radical have stepped in to take it.

But then, the people who are farther back need to know, somehow, that there is an ordinary, happy life available. That the possibility has been opened up and you can take it. That’s one thing that I think blogging has been really good at–providing glimpses of how boring and ordinary everyone’s lives are. I think that, without the mechanism of blogging (and Facebook and Twitter), it’d be a lot harder for people to know of the possibilities.

Anyway, it seems like one of the things that’s always used against minorities–racial, sexual, class, and gender–is that “they’re” not like “us.” “They” do all these things we would never do–have too many kids, have sex in “bizarre” and “wrong” manners with the “wrong” partners, have partners they can’t or don’t feel real connections to like “we” do, and deserve the shitty things that happen to them because they are so different than “us.”

Any time one of “us” comes out and says “Hey, I am the ‘them’ you’re talking about,” it opens the possibility that hearts and minds will change. But more importantly, it reduces the power of the boogey-man used to terrorize members of those minority groups into keeping quiet or being ashamed of who they are. You’re not a monster or so totally fucked up that things will never get better. You’re like your mom’s friend, or the girl you know at school, or the guy who wrote that post on the internet.

Gearing Up

It’s a kind of funny loop. I’m feeling good and sociable and excited because I have this nine-night doohickey set aside for woo-woo stuff, which means that folks are coming out of the woodwork to be all “let’s do dinner!”

The Man from GM is coming through on Sunday. My parents will be here on Tuesday. I can’t get out of those things, but I’m excusing myself from everything else.

So easy to just slip by carving time out. But I need to carve that time.

It’s nice to pick your own times for ritual, but I’m already like ‘Argh, Friday! I’m not ready.”

But I am ready. As ready as I need to be. Everything else is just window dressing.

Still, I’d like to get some white sage.

And some long matches.

And some wood for the fire.

My 6th Cousin 4x Removed

Oh, New Englanders. Is there anyone you aren’t going to prove me eventually related to?

In this case

So, that makes a guy who sold his soul to the devil, the bad guys in The Crucible, and the most infamous ax murderer in American history.

I Have to Join a Cult Before They’ll Mutilate Me

My trip to the doctor this morning was fine, except for the whole “you’re fat” part. I got to hear about the wonders of Weight Watchers and I got told that she wouldn’t recommend me for lap band surgery until I had tried on my own to lose weight.

It was as if you thought you were in the same car with someone going in the same direction and all of a sudden, the car splits in two and she is going down a road you are not on.

I feel like I totally failed to advocate for myself, but I’m sure the look of dawning horror on my face as she described chipperly how she’d be happy to let them mutilate me once I’d shown, through my adherence to the cult of Weight Watchers, that I was trying. God, that trying nonsense.

I’m a bad fatty, because I don’t even fucking bother to try. But you know why? Because no trying is enough. Eat “right.” Exercise. Eat less. Exercise more. Eat less than that. Exercise more than that. Join this program where they take your money. Join that program where they take your money. Make it your second job to lose weight. Let them cut you open in a “minor” way and mutilate your insides. Let them cut you open in a major way and mutilate your insides. Turn your whole body into a source of constant deprivation and suffering.

And for what?

All the health problems I had, I had when I was a “normal” weight. They just remained undiagnosed because they’re conditions fat people have. Well, now I’m fat.  The heart issues that are lurking, are coming down both sides of my family tree like a slow moving lightning strike aimed straight at me at some point.

So, basically, I should get thinner so I look right.

I fucking hate it.

I hate it so much.

That we can sit there and she can, in her chipper voice, talk about what I’d have to do to prove that I deserve to be mutilated.

Like it never occurs to her that I don’t want to be mutilated at all. I don’t want to join a cult to get to deserve that.

I just want to feel okay in my own body and not like I don’t deserve to exist as I am.

The Polk Building

Oh, I forgot I was saving up this weirdness from the Southern Festival of Books to tell you at Halloween time! And now it’s time.

Okay, so I’m reading and I finish and I’m kind of standing there, talking to people and signing a book, when a woman comes up to me and asks me if I know about that building right there–and she points to the Polk Building–and how it’s haunted.

No, I do not.

Well, she tells me, while it was being constructed, a man fell down the elevator shaft and died. And that dude apparently had some opinions in the afterlife and there was a period where it was a very regular occurrence that the elevator would arrive at your floor before you called for it and that assholes in the building would find themselves trapped in and shook around in the elevator for no reason.

She said that, eventually, it got so bad that they had to redo the elevators, which resulted in them no longer shaking assholes. However, apparently, there are still times when the elevator will open to let you in before you have called for it.


Nashvillians, can you confirm?

Book Club!

I skyped in to a book club this evening, who was reading A City of Ghosts for October. It was really neat. They had good questions and were really nice about the book. And they seemed to like it, so that was awesome.

Technology is really amazing. I can sit in a room here and talk to folks in Michigan.

We live in the future.

Well, someone’s future.