It came up in another thread, so let me just address it. There are things that burn me. Fucking up burns me. Being unrecognized for something I’ve done burns me. Having someone else take credit for something I’ve done burns me. People with power over me who refuse to recognize me as a human being burns me. People without a basic grasp of civics being politicians burns me.

Being mistaken for or accused of being someone with a cognitive disability has no sting. It’s a trait. Like being left handed or incredibly tall or incredibly short. It impacts your life some, obviously, if that’s a trait you have, but it says nothing about your value as a person. It is as insulting to me as someone mistaking me for being Russian.

But if that’s a word you’d use, it says a lot about you. It says, in fact, that you’re the kind of douchebag who’d use a hurtful slur against someone with a cognitive disability because it’s fun for you to hurt them.

And that’s really fucked up.

George Korda Says Some Stupid Stuff

George Korda has the biggest bit of concern trolling over at Knoxnews you’re bound to read all day.

Let’s start with the most hilarious part and work our way from there. Korda says, “Smart Tennessee Democrats will do everything possible to avoid such an issue-related litmus test for office seekers and get their colleagues to quiet down.” Well, who the fuck would those Democrats be, George? Where, exactly, do you see any evidence of anyone left with those types of leadership skills or who commands that kind of authority? And colleagues? Please.

There is no functioning party. Did Korda miss the part where the TNDP wants everyone to submit their questions in writing before the Party decides by committee what vague, non-committal answer to give? There is no Democratic Party in Tennessee right now. There are a bunch of people doing their best to impersonate a Magic 8 ball.

The situation is hazy. Ask again later.

If your analysis of the political situation in Tennessee is not premised on the fact that the Democratic party is in a non-functioning shambles, then your analysis is built on a false premise.

Second, for as long as I’ve been here, Tennessee Democrats have tried to win by being all things to all people. Who can forget Harold Ford Junior standing in front of the Confederate flag? It has not worked. Standing for whatever the dude you’re standing closest to at the moment stands for has not worked. Why is it better to stand for nothing and lose than to stand for something and lose?

Third, this is the internet. When you say shit like “It would be useful for Tennesseans interested in the subject to visit the SPLC and Public Advocate websites, read them, and decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with the ‘anti-gay hate group’ label” you should link to the things you think people should look at. (You can look at the SPLC’s take on Public Advocate here and Public Advocate’s take on itself here.) But please, let’s not pretend that they’re not an anti-gay hate group. They hate gay people and they are a group devoted to trying to curtail the rights of gay people. I don’t get what Korda thinks he’s offering readers by advising them to “decide for themselves.”  If you don’t think Public Advocate is, ya know, advocating for the hatred and oppression of gay people, you’re just not reading their site very thoroughly. It’s not a matter of opinion.

God, imagine Korda at lunch. “There is a food item here. The SPLC claims it’s a sandwich. Public Advocate says it’s a sub. You should look at it and decide for yourself.”

And then there’s this:

In 2006 a Tennessee ballot measure affirming marriage between a man and a woman passed with 81 percent of the vote. Clearly, Democrats either completely sat it out or voted for it. The margin is a pretty clear indication of Tennessee voters’ sentiments on this issue. They’re not alone. Homosexual marriage referendums have failed in every state in which voters have had a chance to decide the issue.

What he neglects to point out is that, in 2006, the majority of people nationally (58% according to Gallup) believed that gay people should not be allowed to be married. Six years later, 54% of Americans believe gay people should be allowed to be married. And regardless of one’s political bent, this is a no-brainer among young people.

The question is far from settled and all gay marriage opponents have managed to do is push back the date when it will be legal. Ooo, big victory there, folks.

But most importantly, Korda misunderstands what Democratic activists are saying. You can, indeed, call yourself a Democrat and oppose gay marriage. You’re just going to have a more difficult time fundraising among Democrats who do believe in gay marriage if you make that central to your campaign because you don’t really have anything to offer us beyond what Republicans are willing to toss us.

But if you advocate for the elimination or the oppression of gay people–and let’s make no mistake, Public Advocate wants gay people to either go away or to have their participation in the public arena severely curtailed–then, no, you shouldn’t get to call yourself a Democrat. You don’t get to work to harm core Democratic constituencies and still get to be a Democrat.

The fact that this is controversial, in the slightest, is both sad and hilarious.

An Evil Soul Producing Holy Witness is Like a Villain with a Smiling Cheek

You remember my new working definition of bearing false witness, that it’s “freeform gaslighting. You know what the truth is. You reserve the right to live in the truth for yourself. And yet you happily keep the people under your influence from the truth so that you can benefit from their fear and uncertainty.”

Well, check this nonsense. Remember when David Fowler was all “Poor people are like animals and we should stop feeding them“? Well, now he’s all

Bob Smietana of  The Tennessean recently wrote about a personal Facebook post of mine. He said I claimed there were “too many people on food stamps” and indicated my solution was to “stop feeding them.” This is false.

When he asked what my post meant, my explanatory statement to him, in full, was this: “The obvious point of the post is that government can foster and create dependence on government. Human beings can become reliant on the government. Ironically, the government even recognizes that beings can become reliant on others for their well-being, but doesn’t seem to see that when it comes to human beings. Government creating human dependence on government demeans human dignity and is antithetical to human freedom government is intended to protect.”

Dependent on the government for what, though? Food stamps. Literally food.  I’ve got my issues with Smietana who seems to think “religion” means “Whatever the Southern Baptists say” but he is completely right about this and David Fowler is lying and he knows it. He’s now at the point where he’s just making shit up about what he said so that he can keep the people on his side gaslit.

But his acting like an abuser doesn’t just stop with “I’m going to deny saying what we both know I said and demand you treat me like I said something else.”

No, people, now he’s crying about how mean liberals are. You see, he compared poor people to animals, but he’s the real victim here.

It’s rich. And then he drags poor Jesus into this mess:

But for us Christians, as long as we are speaking the truth and doing so graciously, then we need to grapple with something Jesus said:

Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you, and cast insults at you and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. Luke 6:22, 23 (NASB)

If we Christians remain silent when accused of being hateful, then we need to ask ourselves this question: “Were these words meant to be encouragement to stand firm when called a ‘hater’ or was Jesus wrong on this one?”

Of course, William Shakespeare is right about this. “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” Fowler’s followers ought to consider that.

Illinois Turns Me Libertarian

My dad, as you know, is/was a Methodist minster (Did I tell you guys he’s taking a part-time church? I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, clearly, someone in that house needs something to do. On the other hand, I wonder if we can just set aside this bullshit “we’re moving to Georgia plan” instead of having to pretend like it’s still real. On the third hand, I hope he’s not going back to work because they need the money. But on the fourth hand, clearly, someone in that house needs something to do.) and so we all have accounts at the United Methodist Ministries Credit Union in Illinois.

We’ve had those accounts since we were little. So, back then, I mean, when I was a minor, I probably saved like $350 in there. And then I got a couple of car loans through them and a personal loan to go to publishing school and I paid them all off years and years ago. That $350 bucks has just sat in there collecting interest or dividends or both or whatever.

Today I got a letter from the Credit Union saying that, since I hadn’t had any activity on my account in five years, the state of Illinois believes it has the legal right to take my money. So, I need to deposit something, withdraw something, or close the account. I haven’t decided which of the three I will do, but what the fuck? The credit union knows me. They clearly know how to reach me. Hell, they probably have my dad on speed dial, all the shit my brothers have pulled with them over the years. I’ve not disappeared.

But if I leave my money just sitting in an account accumulating interest and nothing else, the state of Illinois thinks that they get it? I can’t be a shitty, but frugal, saver without Illinois deciding to confiscate my money?

What bullshit.

The Professor Professes

Back a million years ago when I started this blog, I meant to call The Professor The Philosopher, because she wasn’t and she was. But I fucked up and then I just went with it. I figured, some day, off in the far future, so far off I won’t have to think about how it means her getting a job and moving away, she’ll complete her PhD and then the moniker will be true. Shoot, the Butcher hasn’t been a butcher for a million years. Names are just names.

But today! Today is the day that the Professor has been working toward. She defends this afternoon. It’s here so quickly. Too quickly.

But I’m really proud that she’s done it.

The Time-Travel Dilemma

Coble is talking a little about it:

Time travel is all about pulling loose one string, which can never be done without marring the fabric. The man he was all those other summers ago would just sort of look at me like I’d lost my own mind. I know that look. I get it a lot. If I were to travel across time it’d be the biggest waste of Suspending The Laws Of Physics.

And this is what interests me about time travel in the Sue Allen piece. I’ve got people living now who want to go back to the grand Confederacy. I’ve got people living then who want to escape to the future. I’ve got people who have traveled through time who can’t prove it, not really. And it’s a giant clusterfuck. Of course you’re not believed.

But more than that, in time travel stories, it’s always people who have good reason for doing it that do it. But it seems to me much more likely that it’s selfish idiots who would do it and, as such, would then not make much of it except for their own selfish gains.

There may be some heretofore unknown law of physics that would make time travel impossible, but I think, even if it is possible, human nature would make it a clusterfuck. Hell, we’re traveling into the future right now, very slowly, and we don’t bother to learn things about the past that could aid us in the future, even though those things are available for the discovering.

So, why would we be any different if we were allowed to skip forward or back in greater leaps?

How It Went–Spoiler: Amazing!

I was telling the Butcher about it–which is doubly nerdy, since he was there–and I was like “and then my favorite part was” about everything. All the parts were my favorite part–from the guy who told me he’s borrowed some from A City of Ghosts for his live-action role playing game (almost typed live action roll playing game, which is a LARP for foodies, I guess) (also, please tell me I’m the first person to make that joke, even if I’m not, because I’m so tickled at my own cleverness) to meeting grandefille, who I could not quite believe was a real person, even after I hugged her. She’s like a mythological creature: the internet’s fairy godmother.

Seriously, folks, in my live-action roll-playing game, you know I’m cinnamon roll. I don’t have the singing chops to pull off jelly roll, who has major skills, but is required by rules to sing a song containing a jelly roll double entendre every time Jelly Roll Morton comes up organically in conversation. (Mixed blessing, that, since Jelly Roll Morton doesn’t come up often, except in conversations about him, when he’s brought up all the time.)

The Barista Parlor is a great space. The coffee I had was delicious. It was their take on a cafe mocha, but it ended up being dark and not overly sweet and just lovely. The space is huge, but it filled up with people, which was awesome.

There were baked goods and books for sale and K. introduced me and then I read until she told me we were out of time. Everyone clapped and had a good time, I think. Another best part is that there were folks who seemed to come in just for coffee who ended up staying.

I tried to thank everyone and I’m sorry if I missed anyone personally. I just especially want to thank K. and B. for finally making me understand what the philosophy of a hurricane party is–yes, there is this awful thing, but not only will we not let it break you, we will thumb our nose at this dark moment by celebrating instead.

I’m still Midwestern, so incorporating that philosophy into my life is going to be hard (the Midwest’s philosophy: Something happened? Eat this casserole.) but I am going to do it.

Also, About this Evening

If you think you might enjoy it, please come. No pressure. The money for the living room is raised so don’t think it’s going to be like some Jerry Lewis telethon where everyone weeps and passes the hat a million times. We are well on the way to “If we do these things ourselves and do without these things, we can get the den done.” Well, well, well on our way.

So, please, if you think the stories might be interesting, feel welcome. Even if you think you’re not going to know anyone there. First of all, you probably know the Butcher, because he knows everyone. If you don’t know him, you might as well get meeting him out of the way. Second, these are demonstrably some of the nicest, most generous people in town. Whoever you sit next to, they’re going to be awesome.

And I’m going to read some good stuff.

It’s cool if you can’t make it, too, but I just don’t want anyone to think “Oh, I’m really curious about that, but it sounds like it’s just going to be a bunch of her friends, so I’ll just sit this one out.”

Don’t just sit this on out! What if this is me at my peak? What if it’s all me writing romance novels from here on out? Or writing poetry in my own made up language? I’m saying, this may be as good as it gets!

Don’t miss out.

Gearing Up for this Evening

I’m in a weird headspace today. I’m really excited about the reading tonight and I’m just focusing on that. One bit of advice they give you when doing readings is that you should only go on for about twenty minutes because otherwise, people get bored. “Sarah Clark” alone is twenty minutes. “Frank” is about the same. And then all the little stories. I think I’m sitting just at over an hour. Assuming I tell people a little about what they’re about to hear. Good thing it’s a coffee place.

I’m glad I read them out-loud ahead of time yesterday, too, because it made me realize that I need to be prepared for “We are Our Own Ghosts” to hit me right in the gut. It’s the end of it, really, from the moment the grandma tries to make Pinky understand how unmoored you can become, to the police officer crying in his car over it. I could switch to another story, but I want to read a story about a house. So, I’ll just cry at the end, if there’s crying to be done.

I was also surprised by how affected I was at the end of “Frank.” That is a good story. It’s kind of hard to imagine me ever writing something that perfect again, but we’ll see.

But damn, people, I have a bunch of words to pronounce tonight that I’m not actually sure how to say. Datura stramonium, physostigma venenosum, Micajah. This is how I feel like you know I’m missing some big chunks of formal education. I use a lot of words in my writing that I have never heard out loud. I’m not sure I would recognize them if I did.

I feel more confident about the Latin. You basically just ask yourself “What would sound most like a Harry Potter word?” and, even if it’s not quite right, it will sound okay to people.

But I honestly don’t know how to even give Micajah a guess. Is it Mike-ah-zhah? Mike-ah-gah? Mike-asia? Mik-ashia? Mik-ah-zhah? Would we pronounce it differently today than a 18th century mid-south serial killer would have? It’s honestly no wonder to me that folks took one look at his name and called him “Big” instead.

It makes me consider what I want from my writing and the truth is, I guess, that I want two things–I want to publish a book. I wish it could be Flock, and I will be dreadfully disappointed if it can’t be the Sue Allen thing, which I think is funny and sad and sharp-edged. And I want to write a ghost story I find genuinely spooky.

But I write things I enjoy. That’s a good thing to realize.

The Reading List is Set

Mrs. Wigglebottom slept through me reading aloud all afternoon. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. But I wanted to time everything and make sure that I wasn’t going to go over my limit.

So, here’s what I’ve settled on:

“We are Our Own Ghosts”–a story about a woman and a house and a disaster

“Sarah Clark”–a woman, the Devil, and Big Harpe’s Head

“Dodge City”–a ghost story along Murfreesboro Road

“Frank”–a zombie henchman teaches a woman to drive stick

The first part of the 1860 chapter of Remind Me of the Dreaming Dead. Basically, just Jack Macon’s funeral procession.

“The Devil Lives on Lewis Street, I Swear”–If my stories all take place in the same space, then the Devil spent much of the late 1700s falling tragically in love. Here’s the story of another woman and the Devil.

It did kind of make me worried that I’ve written nothing worth reading this year, and then I remember what’s in the hopper for October! I am so nerdishly excited for you guys to read that.

After Life by Rhian Ellis

I loved this book almost from the first word. It just never wasn’t terrific and sad and slightly creep. I don’t remember reading anything about it when it came out, so I’m glad I stumbled across it now. It’s set in a thinly-veiled Lily Dale and the main character is a medium. The writing is just delicious and, upon finishing it, it made me so heart-sick for my mom that I’m moping around doing laundry and missing her.

I’ve noticed more and more that paperback books have discussion questions in the back. I find them annoying, like blog posts that end in questions at the bottom. As if you want to have a pop quiz after reading a book like this.

But the worst part is that the questions are so… pedestrian. Like the first one is “What’s the significance of the title?” I mean, it’s a book about mediums. There’s a dead guy. If this is the first question you have about the book upon finishing it, I feel certain in saying that you probably didn’t like it very much.

And there’s a huge tell that whoever wrote the questions was certainly not the author and may not have even read the book–“Could this story have taken place anywhere else?” Um, yes. I venture to say very little would have had to change if they’d gone to Cassadaga, Florida or they could have just stayed in New Orleans. What a weird question.

Anyway, I’m nitpicking about the questions because the book is so peculiar and wonderful and sad that there’s not much other than that to say about it.

Bleh Eric Stewart Bleh bleh bleh

The Eric Stewart thing has temporarily broken me. I spent last night answering phone calls and emails from folks who were just… worn out… I guess is the best way to put it. It’s stupid at this point, but a lot of us keep hoping that there will be some kind of Tennessee Democrat who is folksy and personable and who wants to put people back to work and who is willing to find some way to put the best interests of the people of Tennessee first, and who actually likes the people who vote Democratic.

But no, it’s always some guy who is really nice in person and who seems to have everything going for him who then decides “Oh, I bet I could get more votes if I just signal my conservative bona fides.” and out we go. Not real Tennesseans.

The only solace I can take is that the Democratic party is going to undergo an enormous change in the next four years. Because, right now, the TNDP knows next to nothing about what the Democratic politicians we have left need to keep getting elected. The caucus will force the change. And that will have ripple effects. I hope, anyway.

In the meantime, how do you make political space for yourself in a state where even the Democrats are quick to disavow you?

I don’t know.

A Frank Talk about Marriage for Eric Stewart’s Benefit

Marriage is, at its root–hell, at its root, trunk, branches, and leaves–about property rights. In the not-so-distant past, it was about a changing of control of certain property of a man’s–his daughter–to the control of another man–her husband. Even now, marriage is about property rights and inheritance and assets and all kinds of legal contractual stuff.

There has been a radical redefinition of marriage in the last 150 years–people of every class came to expect that they would be allowed to marry for love, first and foremost, not for the economic benefits it would bring to their respective families. So, congratulations! If you’re married to a person you yourself chose and you fell in love with that person before you got married and, indeed, it was because you were in love with that person that you felt like you should get married, you are participating in the most radical redefinition of marriage in the history of human kind.

Even so, there are a lot of people–not just “crazy” radical feminist, but some of them, too–who believe that the institution of marriage is irredeemably tainted by its roots and history as a means of moving property (a woman) from one household to another. They see everything about the wedding and the marriage itself as being too steeped in traditions they find ugly. Plus, they don’t think that you should have to have a magical kind of legal documentation–like a marriage certificate–to assure that your property rights and power-of-attorney wishes are abided by. Some even think that it’s old-fashioned, this notion that a two-person headed household is so uniquely suited to best comprising a family.

So, let me be clear–if you support marriage first and foremost for love, you have already accepted the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history. But if you support marriage? You support an institution steeped in tradition, for better or for worse. This is the position most people in this country find themselves in–they like both the radical redefinition AND the institution steeped in tradition.

But the most liberal position on marriage is that it sucks and shouldn’t be necessary and is irredeemable.

Supporting and encouraging marriage is a conservative position.

Conservatives should be able to get behind the idea that two people who love each other and who want to provide legal protections for each other and their household is a good thing. And, in fact, among young conservatives, this is already a no-brainer. Of course, we’d want to encourage the stability of married partnerships, unlike those liberals who all want to live in polyamorous communes where everyone is called ‘Ned’ and they wee because Chumbawumba broke up.

Denying people the right to marry based on who they want to marry isn’t a conservative position. It’s just being an asshole. It’s saying “I want this great thing that protects me and the person I love from all kinds of shenanigans and trouble to be off-limits to you and the person you love.” It’s saying “I want special rights, because of who my spouse is.”

Let me repeat. Opposing gay marriage, when you yourself are married, does not make you conservative. It makes you an asshole who wants special rights.

That’s point one. Point two, the GLBT community has worked hard to help elect Democrats. They are working hard right now to help elect Democrats. We are all supposed to be mad and upset that Mark Clayton is on the ballot for Senator as a Democrat because he belongs to an anti-gay hate group.

Being anti-gay is supposed to be an uncool thing for a Democrat.

Apparently Eric Stewart did not get the memo.

Stewart presents himself as a conservative on some issues. For example, the senator said he is opposed to same-sex marriage, noting Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I stand with the voters of Tennessee,” he said.

Let me be as clear as I can be. I’m a Tennessee voter. And I did not vote for that abomination of a state constitutional amendment. So, if you have to have voted for that abomination in order to be considered by Stewart to be a voter worthy of his standing with, well, then, sir, message received.

Every day Eric Stewart takes for granted that, if his wife is in a car accident, he’ll be allowed to see her at the hospital and that, in fact, he’ll be able to make the necessary medical decision to return her to health. Every day Eric Stewart takes for granted that when he dies, his assets and property will go to his wife and that some distant cousin of his he barely knows won’t be able to claim she’s the next of kin. Eric Stewart doesn’t worry a moment that, if he and his wife were to divorce, her church would help her take their children out of the country so that he would never see them again.

That security, which he takes for granted, is too much to grant to other people in love.

Like I said, that’s not being conservative. That’s being an asshole.

David Fowler Needs a Literal Come to Jesus Meeting

Let’s be clear. David Fowler is like an evil Lloyd Dobler. He doesn’t sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. He runs a lobbying organization. If our country were a pure, straight-up capitalist system, he’d be shit out of luck because he has nothing to put out in the marketplace for people to purchase. If he lost his job, he would have to get another job snookering people into giving him money in exchange for him sending out self-aggrandizing press releases, because he has no other discernible skills. He is skating by on the goodwill and generosity of his supporters.

In other words, capitalism works under the assumption that you make something I can consume and I will pay you what the market will bear for it. David Fowler makes nothing that can be consumed. He doesn’t help make anything that can be consumed. He gets by solely by convincing people that he can be a better advocate for their positions than they could be. Probably because they have real jobs and don’t have time to be standing up at the State Capitol all day.

If you had to choose who has more value–the guy who takes your money at the Quik-Sak and who needs food stamps to feed his kids or David Fowler–the Quik-Sak dude is literally contributing more of value to society every day he shows up to work since he allows you to buy gas and coffee and snacks and pee when you need to than David Fowler, who is taking your money to play with his friends all day.

And you know, playing with your friends all day is good work if you can get it. But when you forget that you’re just extremely lucky and not actually contributing that much to the world?

It’s pretty ugly.


People, Look at This

Look. Honestly, it’s just too much. I’m going to have to start being a lot nicer. But I can’t! People, this is it. It’s as good as I get.

All I can say is that this grouchy, awkward semi-reclusive jerk loves you guys.

Was Dave Mustaine Making White Power Music All Along?

Alyssa Rosenberg has a nice take on the whole Dave Mustaine controversy. Well, it’s not really a controversy. He’s a paranoid jackass. But this is what I want to say, I lived in towns in Illinois that were, for all practical purposes, all-white. Even if there were some black children (and by some, I mean one or two), they were living with a white parent or white parents. There were no black adults. I did not know a black person my own age until I went to college.

My dad had black minister friends. I knew their kids. But they didn’t live in the towns I lived in. Sometimes, when they tried to, people tried to kill them.

I don’t know if they ever were officially sundown towns, or if there just came a point when it wasn’t necessary to be. Everyone knew what rural Illinois was like and so it stayed.

Therefore, every single person I knew who was a Megadeth fan was white. As was everyone who was a Metallica fan, and everyone who was a Michael Jackson fan.

There was a way that racism functioned in those towns that is much different from how it functions in places that aren’t so starkly whites-only. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen it effectively addressed by activists. I assume because who gives a shit about racism in areas where there’s no one to be hurt by it? Maybe? I don’t know. We leave, though, folks. And carry that shit with us wherever we go.

Anyway, there was a way in which everything in our white world was obviously for us white people. Even a band like Megadeth was for us. The music moved us. The lyrics hit us in the gut.

You can get almost drunk on that belief–that this is all for us. And that “us” is a small, pure group of true Americans, who don’t really have a place in America other than what we’ve carved out right where we are. If you don’t have that sense that we have this unsullied spot, but that lurking out there are forces that seek to sully it, you don’t quite get how it was in those years.

We were growing up alongside Matt Hale, and, as it turns out, Wade Page. They didn’t have beliefs that different than ours. Uglier by degree, but not unknown to us.

And so, I wonder, now, when we were listening to Megadeth, who did we think they were talking about?

I don’t know. It’s hard for me to get at exactly the question I want to ask. But when we listened and we found those songs cathartic, who were the imagined bashed in? Shot? Murdered? Who did we imagine? Who did ole Dave?

If we imagine that all young people feel somewhat disenfranchised and at the mercy of forces beyond their control and we imagine the music that appeals to people in this state is on a spectrum with just regular, fun, angry music on one side of the line and music like Wade Page made firmly and obviously on the other side, today I can’t help but wonder if Dave was standing on the far side of that line all along, making music that appealed to those of us on the near side, sometimes for reasons we would never admit to, least of all to ourselves.

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so the one place that I felt was unchanging was my grandparents’ house in Battle Creek. I remember being there one summer and I was out talking to the pine tree in their back yard, as you do. I don’t know. I’ve just always talked to plants. I was born that way.

But I remember overhearing my grandpa saying to my cousin M. something about how weird I was.

I don’t remember his exact words anymore, but I remember how it stung, how it made me feel like I didn’t fit in even at the one place I thought was stable and always accepting of me.

I don’t suppose, in the end, he meant anything terrible by it. And I guess I was weird.

But I have never forgotten the way my breath caught in my throat and my cheeks burned to hear it.

Icy Hot

Have I complained about my shoulder lately? It doesn’t really matter, just that it’s very slightly fucked up, the kind of very slight fucked upness that means that I keep injuring it a tiny bit so that it’s always kind of sore. But barely. Like on a scale of  1 to 10, I’d give it a .5. It mostly feels like I’ve been lifting something a little heavier than usual.

Today, the Butcher brought me Icy Hot and it is so glorious.I kind of just want to sit here and shudder in relief. Honestly, someone out there invented Icy Hot and that person is a genius.

In other news, I’m reading Rhian Ellis’s After Life and dying of jealousy on almost every page. How does this book exist and I’ve only heard of it just now?

The Women on Your iPod

When I was in college, I took Social Dance and I was regularly partners with this guy I fully expect could have been the Republican Senator from Iowa if the Republican party were still filled with people who appreciated tradition, history, fine scotch, cigars, and minding your own business. You know, the kind of guy who is wrong about everything, but is wrong so brilliantly that you don’t mind dancing with him, even though he’s terrible, because he really wants something from it, and even if you don’t quite get what it is that he wants, you like that he’s trying something he’s terrible at.

Anyway, sometimes we didn’t dance in class. We just had an hour of stretching , which you had to do with a partner. Now, if you’ve ever known anyone like a mid-90s college Republican, you can appreciate the dilemma this caused for him. He was not comfortable touching a woman he didn’t know and trust, but he certainly couldn’t carry on with a good girl in such a manner.

He needed Miss Kitty, I guess. I mean, I know, to type it out, it sounds degrading–like he needed a floozy he liked or something. But it wasn’t exactly that. He needed a woman he could trust whose morals were different than his. Back in the old days, kids, Republicans did trust people whose morals they didn’t always agree with.

I’m not saying it wasn’t problematic, just that it was clearly his hang-up not mine, so it didn’t really affect me other than that I could do him this favor by being his partner.

This is a long preamble to say that, when we had those stretching days, the instructor always put on music by women, only. And she said, explicitly, that she only bought music by women and that, if she wasn’t listening to the radio, she only listened to music by women, because so much of what she heard otherwise was by men. That blew my mind. And she had hours worth of awesome music.

I don’t listen to music only by women, obviously. But I have never forgot the idea she gave me–that your own collection could be really deliberately curated, not just to include music you like, but as an antidote to shortcomings of the broader world.

And if you’d asked me about the split of artists on my iPod, I’d have said it was about 50/50. I think I hear one woman’s voice for each man’s voice that I hear. But I just counted up and I have 82 different women singing to me on my iPod and 155 men.

I know Kathy says that tallying up isn’t really the point, but there’s something about seeing it so starkly. I think the post Kathy’s referring to is partially right–there are a lot of women working in genres that aren’t my bag, because that’s where women are funneled to. But the world is so wide. It’d be nice if we could imagine women inhabiting all of it.

Freefloating Anxiety

I have a lot of free-floating anxiety this morning, like I am forgetting to do something hugely important, but I don’t know what it is. I’ve been having nightmares the last couple days. One was about how my parents tricked me into being late for my own reading on Saturday, by taking me out to eat in LaSalle/Peru.

It’s weird. You know how… or maybe you don’t… I assume this is true for everyone, but maybe not. I have a house in my dreams that is “my old house.” And it’s based loosely on the parsonage we lived in when I was in kindergarten. It’s the last place I lived before the Butcher was born. Anyway, it’s that house, but filled with more staircases and secret passages and more stories than you can rightfully count. And it’s always attached to a church. But that  church usually looks more like the church where we held my grandpa’s funeral crossed with the Aledo church than it does the church that would have belonged to the parsonage “my old house” is based on.

It doesn’t always look exactly the same–“my old house.” I think that’s part of the multiple staircases and uncountable floors. It shifts as dreams demand. But it is always recognizable as “my old house.” It is the place I used to live, according to my dreams, and I must always return there.

I bring that up because I’m starting to realize that I live in a different landscape in my dreams, too. I still live in Illinois. Everything is flat and straight and all towns are parallel or at right angles to each other. And so, LaSalle/Peru was just far enough away to make me dreadfully late for my reading, but not so far away that I couldn’t make it (though I didn’t, because I left everything I needed at K. & B.’s apartment).

I don’t really remember my nightmare last night, just that I woke up thinking, “I must remember about the couch. That’s pretty brilliant.” But what was brilliant about my couch? I can’t remember.

Should You Bring Your Kids?

Some folks have asked me if Saturday’s event is going to be kid-friendly. And I’ve responded by saying that there’s some cussing and some sex, but it’s not graphic. I think kids will be more bored than scandalized. But I’m not a parent, so I feel kind of uncomfortable saying “Oh, it’s fine.” So, I thought I’d give y’all a head’s up so that you can make an informed decision on whether to bring your kids.

Here’s what I’m planning on reading and what it contains.

“Sarah Clark”–The Devil, gambling, murder, witchcraft, revenge, a child with yellow fever

“Bone”–a gal has to save her girlfriend from meddling assholes. It’s basically Cerridwen meets Odin and Loki.

“Frank”–a zombie henchman teaches a woman to drive. Some sex, some cussing. I think there’s an f-bomb, if I’m remembering right.

The first chapter of my Sue Allen project–racism, mild cussing, a guy is an asshole to his kid, frank descriptions of drug use (though it’s clear the kid is worse off for it)

The first part of the second chapter of the Sue Allen project–racism, ghosts. That’s about it.

Some stories from A City of Ghosts, which I haven’t picked out yet–probably some mild cussing. Likely the Devil. Obviously, ghosts and sadness and shit.

So, if your kids are interested in sex and cussing and ghosts and sadness and shit, bring them. If they’re likely to play quietly in a corner and not care, bring them. If you want to warp them, bring them. Otherwise, don’t.

How Would You Know?

I know, by now, it’s become passe to wonder what the hell is going on at The Tennessean, but what the hell? Why is this story so stupid? Songs are usually less than four minutes long. Which means that it would take less than ten minutes to listen to both songs and provide your readership some guidance as to whether the lawsuit seems to have merit. I don’t expect and I think it would be inappropriate for the reporter to pass judgement on whether the song was the same–unless it’s just so blatantly obvious.

But why can’t the story be written from the assumption that, at the least, I don’t have access to Carmichael and Curry’s version? If we’re going by the who, what, when, where, why, and how rule of journalism and the who is Curry and Carmichael what allege that their song was stolen, the why has to be short for “why are they making this claim?” Right?

So, The Tennessean, why are they making this claim? I have a million paragraphs on the whos and potentially the hows. And like half a sentence devoted to why they’re making this claim– that the song has “nearly identical lyrics, pitch and rhythm to the track he co-wrote with Louisiana fiddle player Britton Curry.”

Why can’t we read the similar lyrics? Why can’t we know what key both songs are written in? Why can’t we hear whether they both have the same time signature? These aren’t opinions. Those are facts.

Why isn’t there a paragraph about the specifics of the claim? Here’s what I wonder–is there no one left at the major daily in Music City who knows enough about music to write music stories that actually deal with content, not personalities? Maybe no one is left there who can give an educated guess about rhythm or key. But my god, someone ought to be able to give a guess as to what the lyrics are, right?

Somebodies that I Used to Know

So, that Gotye guy makes a song that is, I know, stuck in your head just from reading the title of this post. And a bunch of people cover it on YouTube. And so he remixes their covers into this.

People, this brought tears to my eyes. I was telling the Butcher a few days ago that I really feel like we’re living through a great moment in music, like everything I thought the early 90s was going to be like–strange and cross-pollinating and aware of its roots, but striving for new shit–but so far no one has come along to tell me that I can stick this cookie up my yeah! So, thanks for staying quiet, Fred Durst.

And this seems to me to be the best of what the future might be like. I make something. You respond. I respond to your response. We all feel like something strange and wonderful just happened.

It’s really great.