Here’s the Question

Do you think this man:

Resembles the man in the suit in this picture?

No matter how much I try to convince myself that I’m seeing things, I feel like I do. Nose, cheeks, mouth.

I’m going to have to ask my dad.

The top photo is one of Philip Phillips’s descendents. The man in the suit is my Grandpa Phillips (that’s my uncle Blain next to him and my dad playing the drum.)

Edited to add: Okay, I sent it to my dad and my dad’s first question is “Is this one of my dad’s relatives?” And I said, “That’s what I’m wondering.” And he said, “That’s for sure my dad’s nose and his ears. I can’t tell if he has dimples, but those could be our cheeks.” So, that’s Joseph Reno, who died in Kalamazoo, who is the son of Hannah Phillips, daughter of Jeruel Phillips, son of Philip Phillips.

If this is Luke’s family, he could either be the youngest son of Philip and Elizabeth, though his birth in 1808 would put his mom at 44 when he was born (not unheard of, but late) or the son of one of Philip and Elizabeth’s oldest sons–James, Reuben, Augustus, and Benjamin were all born around 1790.

Based on this picture of Joseph, I’m moving the odds of these Phillipses being our Phillipses from 25/75 to 50/50.

My dad, I think, is more convinced. He thinks this makes sense of why he was always told that the Phillips family wasn’t close–the white Phillipses didn’t want the black Phillipses discovered by their kids.

The Buddha

The Masons have it. And other items from Ben Allen. I am so excited I can hardly sit still. I’m going tomorrow morning to look at them. The man I talked to on the phone says they learned that Ben Allen and his buddies had seances in the basement of the Old Scottish Rite building–had a special room for it. They also learned that the Buddha was left on Allens’ front step, and not given to him by a Persian or picked up by him on some overseas trip.

That makes sense. Still, holy cow, I can’t wait to see it. He says they also have a jewel-encrusted sword Ben made for one of his friends and some other good stuff.

And he invited me to lunch.

Good lord, people. Between the Masons and the gun nuts, I am having to revise a lot of my prejudices.

Oh, plus, I had a nice conversation with my uncle all about the Masons, of which he is one, though he and Grandpa weren’t Scottish Rite, they were/are the other one, because they prefer the more mystic ceremony stuff.

From here on out, I am asking people about guns and their ties to the Masons, because those are interesting conversations. I will probably make some government watch-list or be on Ancient Aliens, but it will be worth it.

“This Song of Love”

This is absolutely one of my favorite songs sung in the shape note fashion. But I think it’s because it almost sounds like calliope music. If you’re not familiar with shape note singing, what you’re going to hear at first is them going through the song singing the names of the notes–Doe, Ray, Me, Fah, So, La, Tee, Doe–as they get the tune worked out. It sounds like there’s four parts–the women, the lead singer, and then maybe a couple of basses and a tenor. Then they’ll start to sing the words.

It’s a really incredible example of shape-note singing, but what I really enjoy about it is the way the melody flits between the lead singer and the women, with the other men sometimes reaching in to further it along.

I think because it sounds so strange to our ears, shape-note singing is often described as primitive, but honestly, if you just listen to everything that’s going on in that song–which, yes, sounds strange–that’s a sophisticated arrangement.

Anyway, I like it. It’s such a catchy tune, too, that I was hoping to hear what different gospel singers had done with it. But I can’t find any other version of it but this one on YouTube. Maybe it has another name?

Hit By a Wave of Fretting

I know I’ve said it before, but one of the hardest things for me at this stage in my life is that I’ve believed, for my whole life prior to my late 30s, that, if something is not right–either externally or internally–if you can figure out why it’s fucked up, even if you can’t fix that it’s fucked up, its fucked-up-ness cease to affect you. The explanation will be the solution.

But as I’m getting older and more used to the rhythms of my own quirkiness, I realize that “the explanation will be the solution” is just false. I mean, I can tell you why I get such vertigo in high open spaces, why certain stairways are just off-limits to me, but that doesn’t mean I still didn’t have to find a libertarian to haul me across the catwalk to Radley Balko’s talk.

And I know I didn’t used to have problems with something at that height even when I was in grad school, because I navigated the library just fine. But I also know that, with the exception of Monday and my trip to the Nashville Room, that it’s been many, many months since I’ve had problems at all. So, it’s worse than it was way back when and better than it was a while ago. But it’s not resolved, you know?

So, all day I was feeling good about “Sarah Clark” and proud and then, like fifteen minutes after I got my revisions turned in, I got this massive anxiety about myself as a writer. I spent the evening getting the final version of “The Witch’s Friend” copied from the website into a Word document because I am overcome by the need to “do the right thing” with it.

Oh, fuck. “The right thing.” Much like “deserves” it’s a boogeyman of a concept that floats around after me, often compelling me to good things, sometimes compelling me to waves of fretting that cannot be soothed.

I couldn’t work on Sue last night, which also caused me great fretting. I sat down to write what should be the most fun scene to write of this whole section–a full, formal seance–and I just finked out.

But anyway, I’m thinking about selling “The Witch’s Friend” on Kindle if I can figure out how to get it from a Word document into an ePUB. I’m not preserving all the links, but I would like the table of contents at the beginning to work. I guess this is going to require either a brief foray into XML or a long trip into Amazon’s website to see if they have directions.

A City of Ghosts is about 80,000 words, I think, and it’s $4.99 for Kindle. “The Witch’s Friend” is just about 20,000, so I’m not sure if I should just price it at $.99 or if I should price it at $1.99, so it seems like it’s a little more than just fishing for readers. But I am fishing for readers! I don’t know. Feel free to fret with me about this. I think $.99 is probably right.