Running Away With Me

I was flipping radio stations on the way home and heard “Just My Imagination” by The Temptations. It’s a song I must have heard a million times,  but sometimes you luck out and you hear a song you know really well with fresh ears.

Such was my drive home.

And I just want to say that this is an incredible song, just beautifully sung. Eddie Kendricks sings so high without that scratchiness guys can get when they up there, and he gives each word a kind of softness to it that even the delivery of the song puts you in mind of a daydream. You can make out what he says, but this is also really a case where his voice is an instrument. What he’s saying is fine, but how he says it is really beautiful. And the contrast with Paul Williams’ scratchy, more earthy voice there on the bridge. Whew, doggie.

I still think “Papa was a Rolling Stone” is my favorite Temptations song, but man, you have to admit this one is near perfect.

Young Mothers

Holy cow, this interview with Lauren Bruce is amazing. I think there’s a lot of overlap between what Lauren is saying and what Kathy says in this post:

You know what I’d like to see? A story about abortion restrictions in red states written by a woman who actually lives in one. I’d like to see more stories about working-class women — women are disproportionately poor — written by actual, working-class women. But most importantly I’d like too see the larger sites at least acknowledge that some of those women are a part of their readership.

I think that, at the least, it’s time we start being more critical about stories about people that aren’t by those people and that don’t include the viewpoints and experiences of those people.

Two Old-Timey Things

1. Google is marking Mark Twain’s birthday with a mess. Huck Finn is making Tom Sawyer paint a fence?! That doesn’t make sense on at least two levels. I just don’t think it’s a compliment to fuck up a man’s iconic work like that.

2. Bridgett reminded me that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, which was one of the worst losses for the South in the Civil War and is regarded as one of the most colossal disasters in the history of warfare. I believe the Confederates lost more generals in this battle than had ever been (and it still may be a record) killed in a single battle ever. Yes, ever. So, that’s… um… kind of embarrassing. Even worse is that the Confederates basically committed suicide by soldier in order to stop the Union from retreating. I know there are many, many good reasons why the Confederates did not want to let the Union forces get to Nashville. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying that when someone is trying to run away from you, it makes them handing you your ass even more embarrassing.

We’re just two weeks out from the Battle of Nashville.

I read Lucy Virginia French Smith (or maybe Smith French)’s diary when she was up in McMinnville and the thing that struck me–well, two things–is that they’d hear of these battles quite quickly (in her case, she said she could even hear the guns from the Battle of Murfreesboro) and they’d always be framed as Confederate victories. Only days later would they learn the truth. It’s weird to think of those false days when they got to live with the idea that they were winning. I wonder if that’s part of what encouraged insurrections like the Klan. They’d felt as true an alternative history in which they’d had great victories. It seemed as possible as defeat.

Second was the absolute terror she felt after Lincoln was assassinated, sure that the Federal army would come into the South and slaughter everyone. And you know, frankly, it was a possibility. A very likely possibility. We don’t hear about it now because it didn’t happen, but Booth was willing to risk the lives of the very people he claimed to be acting on behalf of.

1867! 1867!

I am done with 1865, which is a relief, as I found it crammed full of crap. A ton of stuff has to happen in 1867, too–the finding of the cave, the death of a dog, the death of a wife, Ben Allen’s 12th birthday. Ha, yes, waiting around for Ben to get old enough to be a character. Sue’s off being married, becoming a widow, getting kissed in the privates by her cousin’s evil husband, rescuing people, commanding ghost armies, getting half-kidnapped by PSTD’d Union soldiers, and on and on. Her future husband is a child.

Ha, not that she’s not. But her future husband is my youngest nephew’s age. He’s all wanting to shoot at things and play football and be Mr. Sassypants. I assume Ben is similar. Sue’s already run into him once, but she was so busy being a medium and flirting with Lee Overton, that she didn’t notice. I plan on sticking him in the cave with her but I imagine he’ll be being a doofus, as my nephew would be if you took him to a magical cave. It will be weird to see them married in 20 years. Even weirder for Lee. Is there a greater age difference in a smaller number of years than the difference between 12 and 17?

This is why you don’t go to the future to pout. Or, shoot, if you do, spend some of that time in the future researching what happened to the people you knew in the past, so that you’re not caught off guard when you get back to the past with your meth-addled killer son. Oh, I guess I should have spoiler alerted that. There’s a meth-addled killer son.

I’m sad because I think the meth-addled killer son is going to have to kill the Macon women, whom I’ve just spent three chapters locating, rescuing, and reuniting. But the murders need to hit very close to home for Sue. So, some of the dead people need to be people Sue and therefore we are invested in. And I’ve got to work in The Thing. It may make its first appearance here in ’67. We’ll see.

“Obviously this Woman Reporter is a Homosexual”

Poor Ron over in the comments at Pith seems to think I have a much more exciting sex life than I do. But the part that gets me is this:

In case someone didnt educate you, the tongue is for taste and talking. The human rear is for body waste to be removed. The penis naturally fits in one place. Can you figure out where?

I’ve known a lot of dudes. Never have I met one who would publicly admit to being opposed to blowjobs and French kissing.

Until Ron.

Things Get Strange When You’re Writing

There are times when I’m working on the Sue Allen piece when I wonder about an MFA. Not because I necessarily want one. I don’t want to end up writing things that feel too workshopped or too un-stranged. But because the more I write this first draft the more I am daunted about the second. I feel like I’m going to need some real help not just beta reading–though I have always been lucky to have great beta readers–but I’m not sure I know how to flip the thing over and make sure all the working parts are in order, that things are paced right, that minor characters aren’t just brought on stage, given their lines, and hurried off again.

Maybe I’m still not sure this is even a first draft. It may just be tens of thousands of words of notes.

So, take for instance, last night. In my outline, it’s basically “Sue goes to get the Widow’s mother and brings her to the Widow. The Widow then gives Sue the information she needs to remove the curse and the Widow and her mother go north.” But already, Sue isn’t alone and I’m not sure she’s really cursed. Her sister, Sarah, is with her. And then, weirdly, when they get to where the Widow’s mother lives, she’s waiting for them. So, they head back to Nashville and run into the proto-Klan (it still being the middle of ’65). Not in my outline. They want the Widow’s mother. Not in my outline. And so Sue has to scare them off. Not in my outline. And she does in a way that ends up tying in nicely with the scene I’ll get to next, where the Widow and her mother are reunited, and that also plays nicely off her first encounter with Lee Overton, when he tries to show her how to switch from seeing ghosts to commanding them. Not in my outline.

So, that’s great. It’s some good stuff, I think. And my writing should be a lot more fleshed out than my outline. But these are some major scenes and some major thematic doohickeys just inserting themselves into the text. So, I feel like I’m not really going to know what’s in the book until this draft/thingy is done. Then I can go back and make sure it all sits in there how it should.

But it’s weird. Maybe there’s always the story you think you’re going to tell and the story you end up telling.

“Let’s Crappy Mustache It Up In Here!”

The Red-headed Kid is growing a mustache. A tiny crappy mustache, because he’s having a contest with his brother. The Butcher and he are now discussing which movies are like diarrhea and which are like terrible constipation. But the most important thing we all discovered is that none of us have finished The Fourth Kind.

If a movie is so crappy that the Red-headed Kid can’t finish it, it is crappy indeed.

How to Improve Vegan Food

Let me be clear. I am not a vegan nor even a vegetarian. But I have had an ongoing discussion about vegan food over the past three weeks with lots of people and I figure that if I, a non-vegan, am having this conversation repeatedly there must be some meat (so to speak) in it.

So, here’s the deal. Vegan food should taste good. If it does, people will incorporate those dishes into their diets. You may not win a philosophical victory–because they’ll still also eat meat–but you will be introducing people to tasty, healthy dishes. That is a victory.

But so very, very often vegan food looks fantastic and tastes like someone just dumped every spice in the cabinet into it. Take this dish I encountered at the library. S. and I met for lunch at the downtown library and there, in the case, was this fantastic looking vegan bean dish. Just from the looks of it, it appeared to have three or four different types of beans, onions, tomatoes, maybe some kind of squash, all in a kind of hearty thick stew. Mmm, can’t you taste it just me describing it?

Well, the dude behind the counter insisted that I should try it, which I thought was weird, but okay. And try it I did and… ugh… no. Not good. It was as if the cook thought “Oh, hey, mustard goes with beans because you put mustard in cowboy beans” and then thought “But I can’t just use yellow mustard because it’s supposed to be fancy, so I will use this fancy pants mustard.” But, of course, different mustards taste different. So, where as the kind of bland zip of yellow mustard might have been a nice compliment to the sweetness of the beans and onions, the fancy mustard’s spices clashed with and almost overwhelmed the taste of the beans. And it was weird because beans and onions and tomatoes all have good tastes that go together. You might not have even needed anything other than a little salt and pepper.

I had macaroni and cheese instead.

I get that spicing things when you don’t have the option of animal products can, at first, seem tricky. But really, vegetables taste awesome. You don’t have to do anything to them. The other thing is that we live in a world where a lot of cultures eat a ton of vegetarian or very-heavily vegetable based dishes. There is no shame in studying what spices they put together and ripping them off for your own vegan dishes. It’s honesty fine if the innovation in the recipe is just in the non-inclusion of animal products. It doesn’t also have to taste like something that has never existed in the history of the world.

But, on the other hand, a vegan dish shouldn’t be “just like” some meat-based dish. I don’t need vegan pork and beans, you know? Just feed me some yummy vegan bean dish. Hell even with yellow mustard and brown sugar and onions. That’s cool. I don’t need fake pork in it. Plus, I like tofu when it’s prepared as tofu. Again, we have lots of cultures who cook with tofu as a thing itself, not as a fake meat. Please, I beg you. Rip them off.

And then, invite me over for dinner.

“Before You Slip into Unconsciousness…”

I went to bed last night at nine thirty. And I slept like I was on the Olympic Sleep Team until 1:30, at which point I woke up feeling so refreshed and alert. If it hadn’t been the middle of the night, I would have felt like I woke up from the greatest nap ever.

I got back to sleep, but the second part of the night wasn’t as restful. I finally just had to get up at six. But hopefully that’s the end of my bone-tiredness.

So, yeah, I did read Greil Marcus’s book on The Doors yesterday and I liked it, but… (ha, I wonder at what point in that sentence you knew there was going to be a ‘but’?) I kept comparing it to Barry Mazor’s Jimmie Rodgers book. Not that they’re anything alike, except that they’re both about musicians whose music has, whether you realize it or not, kind of become ubiquitous and they’re not biographies of those musicians but books that try to really get at something about how the music itself works (though the “work” Mazor and Marcus are focusing on is different).

Something about how Mazor writes makes you want to search out the songs he’s talking about. I didn’t feel like they were “missing” from the text because, even if he was talking about a particular recasting of a Jimmie Rodgers song done by some band I don’t care for, I felt like Mazor described the song in a way that spurred me to look it up on youtube or to spend my dollar to get it on iTunes.

But lord almighty, Marcus’s writing does NOT make you want to go search out some of these live Doors cuts! I swear, it seems like every time he describes a live version of a song it’s like “there’s silence for three minutes and then Morrison makes some sounds that could be him pooping on stage or some attempt to break free of the limits of language.” (That’s not a direct quote, just a summary of many sentences in the book.) You know what I don’t want to spend a dollar on? Jim Morrison not singing while the other guys don’t play the song they’re all ostensibly performing.

But man, I thought it would have been handy to have clips of those specific performances right in the text!

Anyway, I liked the book. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I like reading brilliant people write about music that they love in a way that tries to get across the very personal things they’re hearing in the music that makes them love it. Hell, I like to try to write like that.

But one thing I think this book is just indispensable for is really getting at the heart of what went wrong for The Doors. Marcus, I think, has a great grasp on how easily they could have been some kind of “art band” that sat around and sneered at anyone who loved them unironically, if not for the popularity of their hits. And holy shit! I feel like I’ve read a lot about The Doors and I even liked the movie, but I’ve never read anyone who gets across so well the breakdown in the relationship between The Doors and their fans.

I mean, sure, I know the “Jim was a surly asshole drunk who hated everyone” aspect of the myth, but I didn’t realize just how nasty the crowd could be to them. I wish Marcus had speculated a little more on what brought that dynamic about, but I really, really appreciated him spelling it out so clearly. is a Thing!

And some day, I will have! If I have to become a super villain to do it, I will! (My origin story is, I know, incredibly stupid. But really, what does Lex Luther have to be so pissed about? “Oh, I’m rich. Boo hoo hoo!” I can’t get a .com I want. That’s at least a real thing.)

Doesn’t it look great? I’m doing a little tidying, trying to make sure it says just what I want it to say. But I love how it looks. My favorite thing is that, when I have a tab open for it in Firefox, there’s a darling “b” on the tab. It’s just a nice touch.

Soul Weary

I’m not physically tired from my trip, but lord, my soul is tired. I’ve spent all day just going to the park, building a fire, and reading the new Greil Marcus book about The Doors. And I keep having to remind myself that I need to do a small load of laundry. But my brain is just shot.

My parents, for some reason I don’t quite understand, have decided that they are not going to travel I40 between Knoxville and Asheville, if they can help it. So on the way over, we got on 70 at Knoxville. On the way home, we went up Future 26, which gave me a little anxiety attack. Not because it’s a particularly hard road to drive. They’ve done a fine job of putting an interstate through the mountains that doesn’t make you fear for your life. But the size of the mountains and the size of the interstate draped along them like some kind of artistic counterpoint… I don’t know. It was like an existential anxiety attack. I felt small and meaningless and like I couldn’t be sure I could keep the van from trying to respond to the awesomeness with some bold statement of its own.

Believe me when I tell you I wanted to get out of the van and make sweet love to I-81, so smooth and rolling, passing through beautiful vistas between Johnson City and Knoxville, but without the added fear of death. I swear, if it weren’t for fear of the witch-trial those East Tennessee Republicans would have had after the troopers caught me naked and smiling in the median, I would have. I will also say that Johnson City seems to have a Dairy Queen to person ratio of that approaching what Heaven must have. Is that the most Dairy Queen having city in the nation? And, if so, is it a consolation prize? You couldn’t be the capitol of Franklin, Johnson City, but here, have all the Dairy Queens.

The fire has this liquid sound I find kind of hits me in the gut. It’s like fire is how you reveal wood’s water nature.  No wonder alchemists thought they could turn lead into gold. Isn’t everything somehow hiding great transformations?

Once, in college, I heard a song. Just once. But it was catchy. I thought it went “I paint a design on the sign for you, mister.” I would sing it to myself sometimes, just to remind myself of the catchy song I heard once in college, in the dark, in my dorm room, the one with the hexagon window.

Today, I thought, “I could google that.” So I did. And I found it! He only says “I paint a design on the side for you, mister,” but it was enough to stick in my head, apparently. The song is even better than I could have hoped. It’s about a guy who paints the sides of vans. And right in the middle of this silly song is a verse that will kind of catch at the back of your throat, about how he was painting the bridge during an earthquake. Like, wow, yeah, everyone has shit.

I know that’s not a very profound thought. But I’m tired.

Anyway, here it is. Michael Hurley singing “I Paint a Design.” Really, it’s as if the internet exists to make sure less is lost.

Richland Park

I’ve Got a Mustang, It’ll Do 80…

On the way home from North Carolina, as we were sitting in traffic in Knoxville for hours and hours and hours and hours because of this mess, my dad said,
“If you’re sure you’re not going to have a family of your own, you should really get a hard-topped convertible.” People, I had no idea a hard-topped convertible was an accoutrement of spinster. I always thought the “spin” in “spinster” was your spinning wheel, which you were relegated to working on all the time because you had no man’s income.

But apparently it has to do with the wheel of a fancy car, which I will be able to afford, I’m sure, right after I purchase Edmund Baxter’s old house.

So, my parents. They were fine. They wander around naked quiet a bit and fight pretty much constantly and only didn’t sit in the back of the van and make out while I drove because my mom was still kind of mad at my dad for reasons I forget.

But they mostly behaved and they let me stay at the motel while they went to my sister-in-law’s house, so that was nice.

And the drive home from Knoxville is pretty much all downhill, with trucks. And long.

Boy am I tired.

Happy Thanksgiving

I am, as always, thankful for you guys. I am also thankful that the back-to-back of Thanksgiving and Christmas only come once a year. Ha.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make dinner. For my family, I am preparing turkey, mashed potatoes, corn bread, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams with marshmallows, and apple pie.

In other, happier, news, I have four baby blankets I need to be cranking out. I only have enough yarn for three, so it’s a good thing one baby is a little way off. Anyway, one blanket is done! Which is a good thing, since the baby’s been here for a while.


But I am thankful he’s here and safe and that his parents are happy. The afghan I started on last night is for the son of a woman who has a creepy streak, so it’s grey and purple and will probably have a green border. After all, we have to start with the spooky very young. I’ll have pics later.

I am going to go to North Carolina with them. There’s just no choice. They’re too old to do it with just the two of them in the time they’ve allotted. And they’ll try anyway and I will be sick with worry the whole time they’re gone.

And, yes, I get that this is exactly how they’ve set it up to go.

But what can you do?

Family. They know your weaknesses.

Anyway, turkey, football, and togetherness. What more could we want? I mean, aside from go-go dancers?

This is Going to be a Long, Weird Thanksgiving

I’m honestly not sure how this is going to go. My parents have only been here since 6:30 last night and I’m already feeling antsy and upset. The typical stupidity has taken on new contours as they’ve gotten older. I called my mom to specifically tell her not to dawdle because they were predicting tornadoes yesterday morning for yesterday evening and I didn’t want them to get caught out on the road in them.

And then my mom sent me texts about how they’d stopped to get their oil changed and stopped to get my dad a new driver’s license and stopped to do something else and stopped for lunch and I was like Jesus Christ if this is what they do when they’re not dawdling, I would hate to see procrastination. Luckily the weather forecast changed so I was like “Fine, I get it. I’m not the boss of you. I can’t order you to get here in a hurry.” And I was a little pissed, but what the fuck ever.

People, I wish it were passive aggressive “you’re not the boss of me” bullshit. My mom apparently hung up the phone with me saying repeatedly “don’t dawdle. Get here as fast as you can.” and turned and told my dad–and seems to believe that I said–“There are storms. Dawdle.” Like I wanted them to hang back and give the storms a chance to pass. At least at dinner it seemed to freak her out enough that she’s going to get her hearing tested when they get back.

But then they told my brother that they’d take my nephew back to North Carolina on Friday, since he has to work Friday night. So, rather than my brother just skipping Thanksgiving and driving to and from North Carolina today and tomorrow, he’s coming here today and Mom and dad are taking my nephew to North Carolina on Friday and then driving back here on Saturday and then going home on Monday.

They want me to go with them, which I don’t want to do for many reasons. I hate my sister-in-law. I don’t want to be trapped in a car with my parents for sixteen hours because I can’t be sure if I’m going to get sweet people or “No one will ever love you because you’re so fat and your house is so filthy and you’re stupid.” (Our house is, apparently, “so filthy” already–I heard that on the way to dinner, which is at the level of insanity of my dad yelling at my brother this summer because the tub wouldn’t drain and then me going and running the shower for a half an hour unable to replicate this not draining tub.) Plus the Butcher is working crazy hours and the dog can’t not go to the bathroom for sixteen or seventeen hours at a time. Plus, they didn’t ask me to go with them. They just announced I was going with them, of course, because they need three drivers.

And so I would happily–though with much anxiety–tell them to drive their own fool selves across the mountains doing my brother’s job for him.

But my god, people, every time I see them they are visibly older. And now my mom’s just making crap up that people say to her rather than admit that she’s not catching bits of conversation?

They drive me insane. They make me so mad. But that, put in the scales of “how will I live with myself?” does not even come close to outweighing how terrified I am to send two little old people on this stupid-ass trip by themselves.

I am a hostage to their frailty and bull-headedness and possibly insanity.

God, I love the holidays.

Waiting Around on Parents

I’m waiting around on my parents. You may be, as well, since they are apparently stopping every place between here and Kankakee. If that’s the case, you’ve probably noticed that they’re running slow.

So, I invite you to check out the Austin City Limits featuring the Americana Music Awards. Some notes–I don’t care who knows it. Robert Plant is sexy as hell. Apparently one of two things happen when you become an Americana artist–you are either issued a gospel choir or Buddy Miller. I think I would prefer Buddy Miller because he knows Robert Plant (I pray to all that is holy that I never meet Robert Plant because I will have a fan girl episode of such epic proportions that the whole music industry would have to invent a derogatory term worse than ‘gherm’ to call me. I would single-handedly and forever ruin Nashville’s reputation as a place celebrities don’t encounter a lot of bullshit.) I don’t really understand the appeal of the Avett Brothers. They’re not terrible or anything. I just can’t quite get into them. I did, however, run out and buy Elizabeth Cook’s new album (newish) based on her performance here. I find Justin Townes Earle to be hit or miss. But his hits are amazing.

Okay, mom says that their “toa” is 6:30, which I’m guessing means “time of arrival.” I must… um… everything is done.

Wow. That’s weird.

Oh, Is the Recession Over?

The kid over at Tennessee Talking Points is pissed that the grown-ups aren’t doing more to smooth his/her way in the world. Yes, I did laugh briefly and say to myself “Welcome to what Generation X has been living with. Smoke some pot. Watch Clerks, and relax. Here’s your flannel shirt.”

But then, I thought, well, I owe it to a fellow liberal to point out the shortcomings in the strategy of being very angry at the government for not doing what is so super obvious to you. There’s only one point, but I’m about to make it repeatedly.

  • “We don’t need all the old hardware—the outdated bombers, airplanes and weapons that politicians support just to keep jobs in their district.” Okay, then what will the people who work at those defense jobs do for employment?
  • “To be sure, they need to pay their fair share, but so do the 46% of Americans who pay no federal income tax at all.” Okay, then, what jobs do you have for these people that would give them enough of an income to qualify for federal income tax?
  • “We have to raise the age to account for longer life expectancy, we have to means test it for benefits and we have to raise the taxable income cap. ” Okay, what jobs will these old people do? And if they’re still doing the job you’d like to be promoted into someday, what will you do in the meantime?

Here’s a true fact. If Congress honestly knew how to fix our budget problems, they would. I don’t say this as some Pollyanna who believes in the general goodness of people. I do not. But I do believe that people are inherently self-interested and politicians moreso. And anyone, regardless of party, who could turn our budgetary issues around without completely stalling out our fragile economy would be set for years. All this talk about primarying. Bullshit. Not if they did it and it worked. If there were a way to do it, it would be done.

But no one wants to go back to their districts and say “I voted to cut spending to the only employer in our area.” No one wants to go back to their districts and say “Your young people are moving away because, since you’re never going to retire, there’s no room for them to advance here.” No one wants to say “We had to close our hospital because we can’t afford to serve everyone who can’t afford healthcare.” And not just because those are unpopular political positions, but because it fucking sucks to see your friends and neighbors rolled over by forces larger than them.

The crux of the matter is this: It is a long American tradition to not know what the fuck to do to solve our problems, to push off onto generations better able to see solutions the implementation of those solutions, to need the impetus of pissed off youngsters in order to reform. It is quintessentially American to hope that the people who come after us will have a clarity that we lack and see fixes we are blind to.

That, my friend, is your responsibility as an American. Not to sit around and complain that you are being handed a broken country–we all were–but to step up and take your turn making repairs the people after you can build on.

You’re not being cheated because we’re not handing you a perfectly functioning country. You’re being shown the truth.

Welcome. Now get to work.

Things I am Learning While Writing This Thing

1. The most popular rifle available during the Civil War was the Springfield. I don’t think there was actually a dominatrix in Black Bottom who would beat you with one after the War, but why the hell not?

2. Crinolines did not go out of fashion right after the War. One had to sit carefully in them or they would flip up on you and show the world your pantalettes.

3. ‘Pantalettes’ is a word I just learned tonight. I thought they were called “bloomers” but no, those came later. ‘Pantalettes.’ Suddenly, ‘panties’ makes sense.

4. Could someone kiss your intimate region (i.e. your cooter) while you were wearing a hoop skirt? Yes, but not easily. Would you be able to watch? No. Could your sister watch from an upstairs window? Yes. Lesson? This is not a very historically accurate book so far.

5. I was kind of bummed by the lack of historical accuracy, but then I thought, well, fuck it. No book is really 100% historically accurate. It’s all kind of a dream you have about the past. I’m just upping the dream feeling of it.

6. I have planned the book to end in roughly 1887. I’m still in 1865 right now, but I’m about done. Sue just needs to go out to Tuscalum to see about a woman. Then is 1867, when bad things happen. I kind of have the book set up to have two climaxes. There’s 1867, when the cave is discovered, Lee Overton kills his wife in order to marry Sue, and then Lee goes through the cave thinking he’s going to the spirit realm only to wind up in Nashville now.

7. Then it is 1887–the year Lee returns. And thus the actual climax of the book is the final conflict between him and the woman he thinks wronged him.

8. Here’s what I wonder about, though. And I know it’s a common problem with time travel books. But there’s Lee, sitting in 1867 and he jumps forward to 2010, then back to 1887. He’s also, obviously, dead in 2010, since he was born in 1837. So, is it like a straight line? Livinglivingdeaddeadlivingdead? Or is Lee’s life a straight trajectory of livinglivinglivingdeaddeaddead, even if that’s on a timeline that includes a big jump forward and back? Is time more like a large spiral? Imagine a spring big enough that 1867 and 2010 are on the same timeline and yet also appear to be running parallel with each other. Is it then just a matter of leaping between coils? He’s never dead between the 1800s and now from his perspective, because to him, he’s just up or down a coil?

That’s partially why I decided to let him both be gone 20 years and age 20 years, so that it would seem as if the whole timeline turns at the same rate. You can jump eras, but you can’t get outside the passage of time. If 20 years go by, 20 years go by, no matter where you spend them.

Still, I wonder what was in the casket for all those years. I wonder if, when he died, he just waited snuggly in his grave, knowing he was going to blink back on in a hundred and thirty years.

It kind of hurts my brain to think about.

Didn’t the Republicans Win?

I have to say, there’s a certain something that, once Southern Beale pointed it out, I’ve not been able to unsee: the rise of the unnamed, put-upon Republicans.

In Beale’s post, there’s a quote from Ron Ramsey: “Most people don’t want to be cited publicly. … They are dealing with the Department of Revenue, the Department of Environment and Conservation, and think there will be repercussions.”

Then Jeff Woods has this quote from Governor Baby:

But after drawing withering criticism in the media and elsewhere for his crackdown, Haslam is biding his time and walking gingerly around this topic. The public swamped the governor’s office with complaints about the arrests. Of 400 emails to the governor’s office, only 11 supported Haslam. He now acknowledges both sides in the controversy and casts himself as caught in the middle.“

You know, this is one of those that there’s a lot of opinions on. I have a lot of people who thought that when we went in and tried to implement a curfew that we were wrong,” the governor told reporters last week. “I’ve had a whole lot of people say I can’t believe that’s happening on that property. If I went and set up a tent there four weeks ago, would you have let me stay? So there’s a lot of passionate feelings around it on both sides.”

(Now, let’s just acknowledge that it’s a bit strange, when you find yourself between 400 people on one side and 11 people on the other, to cast yourself as being in the middle of any thing. But more importantly, note the “whole lot of people” who remain nameless.)

And then over at Pith, Rick Womick is telling Steve Gill about more nameless people: “As for my fellow legislators, I’ve gotten multiple phone calls of support and text messages of support. Those who are not wanting to speak out publicly are not wanting to come out and condemn me either. They are quietly supporting me in the background.”

Here is my question: Didn’t the Republicans win? Do we not live in a state where the Democratic party is a hopeless clusterfuck of “As long as I get mine, fuck the rest of you” and well-meaning people who get burnt out throwing themselves against the immovable wall of the “I got mine” folks?

So, why are so many Republicans, who seem to be thrilled with the behavior of prominent Republicans, not willing to come forward and say so in public? If these are popular and wide-spread opinions, if the majority of Tennesseans put you in office, why are so many Republicans not willing to say “Yes, I believe this”; “Yes, I saw this”; “Yes, I, too, experienced this” and put their names on it?

The Republicans are in charge. The Democrats are in disarray. Who are these Republicans afraid of?

Is this really such a state full of chickenshits that even when the political costs could not be lower, Republicans still won’t step up and own their positions?

Did I Have a Good Idea?

One thing about a state like Tennessee, you’re never sure when you say something like this whether it spurred someone to try something like this. Could have been something I said. Could have been that it was just utterly obvious. Either way, I’m glad to see Democrats proposing something.

But, on the off chance it’s my influence, I’m kind of pissed that I didn’t blog last week that Democratic leaders should come clean my bathroom.

Or make me cookies.

Yes, I am all for democracy until I start to dwell on the fact that being dictator would mean people would have to bring me cookies whenever I wanted, which would be frequently.

Really, it shows why dictatorships don’t quite work–even when you’re joking about being one, your mind immediately goes to how you’d abuse being dictator for your own gains. It probably also shows why it’s hard to pass dictatorships down to your kids. If they’ve never wanted for anything, how can they have the drive necessary to boss everyone around? Being a dictator is going to turn you into a sociopath, but your kids will start out there.

Still… cookies.

I Think I Invented a Fetish…

I’m slowly working on the Sue Allen thing and tonight I was trying to draw a parallel between the discomfort of losing the Civil War and the discomfort of being a medium for one of my characters. And as I’m going on trying to explain how some veterans like it–being a medium–because it lets them revisit death in a safe context, I found myself creating a dominatrix who worked in Black Bottom and who, before the War, would whip you for money and who, after the War, would beat you with the butt end of a Springfield rifle if you do desired.

And just like that, I think I have my retirement plan. I’m going to go from Civil War reenactment to Civil War reenactment being a period-appropriate dominatrix.

Now you’re jealous you didn’t think of it first, aren’t you?

The House is Clean

We are as ready as we will ever be for Thanksgiving. Some family bullshit is going down that has me a little stressed, but it’s minor, typical crap, so I am trying to breathe through the ridiculousness. But you know me, I’m getting wound up and anxious anyway.

The Butcher’s friend who is a girl came to visit again this weekend and I just like the shit out of her, but I have to tell you, I keep putting my foot totally in my mouth. Because I want her to know that the whole family likes her, but I don’t want to be all “Get married, right now so that we can have you forever!!!!!” like I’m trying to brainwash her into joining a cult. But instead, I keep doing this dumbass crap like “Okay, even if you and the Butcher break up…”

WTF?! No wonder the Butcher doesn’t bring girls around here until he really really likes them. I am a complete doofus. I should just stop talking about their relationship trajectory at all. Ugh. I am just mortified. And overthinking things.

But it is good to see him happy. And kind of planning for a future. Last week he opened a bank account.

I guess living off the grid is good for your 20s but not for your 30s? I don’t know, not being an off-the-gridder myself, but it’s nice.

I Really Love the Public Square