Progress on All Fronts

The story I was working on for Project X is finally out in rough draft form. The ending went down so exactly how I hoped it would that I literally typed the last period and said “Yes!” like some kind of golfer! When the Butcher got home, I told him all about it and he was like “Oh, so it’s like Silver Bullet, where the priest is the werewolf.”



Yes, it is. But in my defense, if you’re going to be a priest in a supernatural story, a hazard of the job is that bad supernatural shit is going to happen to you. You don’t have a lot of airline pilots killed in mining accidents. Not a lot of ministers get shot arresting criminals. So, when things go wrong supernaturally, who’s likely to be there doing his job to have it go wrong in his direction? And priests more so than most clergy because you know who I don’t trust to cast my werewolf out of me? A Protestant.

At least demon-possessed people exorcised by Catholic priests get to puke up pea soup, which, while unpleasant, is a liquid. It’s a little known, but true fact that Protestant-attracting demons force you to throw up casseroles. That’s not going to come up easy. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s considered this.

I’m just saying it’s an homage to Silver Bullet, even though my story takes place before silver bullets were the only way to kill a werewolf.

I’ve also started reading Carole Maso’s Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire which is not very long, but requires a kind of slow, thoughtful reading that means it takes a while. But it’s really cool to read her meditations on living in Normal.

I always knew I wanted to write, but had I given better thought to how one develops a life as a writer, I should have gone to Illinois State. So much talent right down the street.

And yet, obviously, the people I met at Wesleyan changed my life in ways I would not trade for anything. Still, it’s funny to think that all that was going on right over there and I was, except for rolling my eyes at all the people in love with David Foster Wallace and them sitting in on his classes, almost completely oblivious.

It takes me a long time to get thing, sometimes. I guess that’s all I can say about that.


Further Thoughts on the OA Music Issue

The writing is more even. Though there’s not anything that stands out as just the best thing ever, neither are you slogging through a bunch of WTF? The poetry is fine, though nothing is going to top last year, which was just amazing and made me want to wallpaper my house with it. And the writing about the songs and artists on the CD does appear to have been written by people who knew which songs and artists were going to be on the album, instead of just writing some stuff about how any old song by that artist might make you feel and hoping that it applies.

And then there’s really nice moments, like this one from Kevin Nutt’s piece on Rev. Utah Smith:

He turned his amp all the way up. He answered his guitar with whoops and hollers, singng lyrics, then chanting or preaching the words. Smith would don life-sized white angel wings hooked to invisible wires with which he’d soar around the temple without missing a note, according to New Orleans r&b legend Ernie-K-Doe, who attended gospel programs at the Two Wing Temple. Another report from Baton Rouge during the mid-1950s claimed that he flew around the church without the wires.

What was his secret? He sold his soul to the Holy Ghost.

That’s so nice. Just a nice bit of writing.

The Echoes of a Great Shake

The one thing about this story that really bugs me is that I don’t even believe in the Devil. I mean, I love him as a folkloric motif, but I just don’t think that I’m really wired to believe in angels and demons and kings of demons. It’s a kind of weird gap in understanding between my parents and me, too, because they do believe that the Devil is a real thing. So, it’s not like they failed to raise me right. I could just never get into it. And then I met more interesting Folks and that was that.

When I was younger, my dad used to frequently say that the Devil couldn’t have more power than what you gave him. I’m not sure how orthodox that belief is, but that was my dad’s belief. If you could resist the temptation of the Devil, then there wasn’t anything he could do to you. This always seemed not right to me, because, of course, evil shit happens to people all the time, and sometimes that evil seems so much larger and unmoored from the people who came up with it.

Not to always bring up the Nazis–but my story is set in 1938, so, even though there’s no mention of them in the story, it’s heavy on my mind that this is going on in the background–but it’s easy to see how what they did was wholly thought-up and perpetuated and supported by people. It would be a hilariously awful cop-out, especially with all the bureaucratic evidence left behind, for people to say “It was the Devil who made me do those things” or “The Devil was truly in charge of Germany.” And yet, I feel like, if you’ve ever been to a rock concert or a sporting event, if you’ve ever been swept up in the frenzy of the crowd and had that feeling that you were not quite yourself, but instead some small part of some greater thing than you, then you know how you’ve helped make something you’re not in control of. And if you’ve ever stood on a stage and felt the power and energy of the crowd and felt, yourself, like you could guide it and yet not be sure that it wouldn’t destroy you if it got the chance

And, while I wouldn’t call that thing “The Devil” and I think calling that kind of energy “Satanic” isn’t really useful, I’m not sure it’s wrong to want to call that energy something that acknowledges that, even if a crowd brought it into the world, it can get beyond the control of the crowd, and, in fact, can come to control the crowd, then you know how it’s its own thing.

So, I guess my point is that I believe that evil is a force in the world. And I think we have to make great efforts to not get caught up in it. It is, very often, easier to do wrong than right (possibly because doing right makes you weirdly vulnerable in lots of ways). So, we should strive to do right, to live with honor.

But I think that, what my dad was/is trying to get at is that the Devil isn’t some all-powerful opposite of God. And that, even if (or especially because) I don’t really believe in the Devil, seems absolutely right to me. The Devil might be in opposition to the Church, but what can be in opposition to God and exist?

And that’s kind of been one of the issues running through this story. And it’s what’s shaken me so much that I kind of don’t know how to talk about it (not that you could tell from all these words). But it seems to me obvious that, if that is the set-up–the Devil in opposition to the Church–then when the Church is not doing good, it leaves room for the Devil to do it.

The Devil can do good if it opposes the Church.

And this is an enormous problem for a Body that is so often so certain that, because it is on the side of Good, and set up by Good to do good in the world, that everything it’s doing is good and ordained by Good.

It’s the crisis my protagonist is facing, and it’s funny, because it’s not even my religion anymore, but man. The realization bugs the fuck out of me.

The Prisonaires and other things

–This book looks great.

–I love winter, when the cats all want to cuddle.

–I do not love how much all of the animals love the new afghan, because it already smells bad. I need to wash it this weekend.

–I am completely sad about the story I’m working on, since it is so sad.

–But I think I’ve figured out how it fits into what comes next.

–I got to think a lot about copyright yesterday, so you know that makes me happy.

–I would just like to get the first draft of this story done. It feels like I’m constipated with it. One of the things you don’t realize about writing until you do it is just what a bodily thing it is. I was telling the Professor the other day that, when I was drafting the last part, I kept finding myself typing and then pacing and typing and pacing. I wasn’t pacing to buy time to think of what came next. I was pacing, in a way, to slow it down so that I could keep up. This story has been fits and starts and now it’s all ugh. I’m surprised my feet haven’t fallen asleep from the sitting and pushing required to get it out.

It’s Oxford American Music Issue Time!

This year, it’s Louisiana. I’ve only flipped through the magazine, which I left on my desk to read at lunch, but I put the disk in my car for the drive home and let me just say–this is like the old days. You know when you’d listen to it and song after song you’d be delightfully asking yourself “What the fuck is this?” And whoever curated this disk–I mean, whoever chose the order–did a superb job. Each song seems to flow naturally from the last without being too similar in tone or rhythm.

The only drawback is that I wish there were more women on it. But there are some treats, like possibly the only rap song featuring a xylophone and The Valparaiso Men’s Chorus’s version of “Hanging Johnny” which is so extraordinary that I almost couldn’t breathe the whole time it was playing.


Oh, Glenn Beck

I have so many thoughts on this.

1. That’s white grape juice.

2. Glenn Beck has never struck me as the kind of guy who could stick to one task long enough to collect enough pee in a jar to do this.

3. When Republicans sit around wondering why black people won’t vote for them, you can point to this.

4. The thing I find second-most delightful about this is that, in order for it to work as a parody that hits Obama-voters right in the heart, you have to assume that most Obama voters know Serrano’s Piss Christ. But, of course, most people aren’t familiar with it at all. So, you have this delicious moment where Beck’s trying to insult Obama voters by suggesting that we’re all hypocrites, because we’re fine with Serrano’s piece, but pissed about Piss Obama, as if we’re all erudite artsy-fartsy folks who are completely knowledgeable of contemporary art and the controversies surrounding it, while revealing himself to be an erudite artsy-fartsy person who is completely knowledgeable of contemporary art and the controversies surrounding it. Gosh, yes, Glenn Beck, those nerds who know Piss Christ are indeed nerdy.

5. Though I know and respect that folks feel that Piss Christ is terrible and offensive, I find it incredibly and profoundly moving. I get why, and again respect why, people read it other ways, but for me, it reads like an incredibly powerful statement of faith–that the power of Christ is such that he can make even the most refusy refuse sacred and beautiful. But, the lovely thing about what Beck’s done is that, if you had any question about whether Serrano’s piece is good (regardless of whether it’s offensive), seeing it in contrast to Beck’s piece surely proves it.

6. And yet, I have to tell you, I find Beck’s piece funny and kind of insightful. And it doesn’t hurt my feelings–and wouldn’t, even if that were real pee–though, let me be clear, that’s mostly because I’m standing up-wind from his true targets. A little splash of grape juice pretending to be pee doesn’t hurt me. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would see that and feel it full on in the face and be pissed. That reflects poorly on Beck and that’s on him. But is there a better piece of conservative contemporary art that shows what a conservative artist–in this case, Beck–thinks of people who are not like him? That we’ve replaced Jesus with Obama, that we’ve left it to him to take a stand for Jesus against Obama, that we need to see Obama being utterly disrespected? And what to make of the out-of-focus Christmas tree to the left? I find that really fascinating.

I’m not going to call Piss Obama good art, by any means, but that image–not just the Obama in the jar of white grape juice, but the whole picture–the Christmas tre in the background, the enormous room the tree sits in, etc.–just might be.

Trotter Head

As much as I struggled with this part of Project X, I am now enjoying it immensely. Not only does it contain the most best thing I’ve ever written, just in terms of its ability to tickle me–

Oh, what a proud moment this full moon was! If there is a pinnacle of Methodism higher than the moment a simple preacher and a deranged evil-doer watched as a senile old man loaded up with morphine dying of cancer wandered around the fairgrounds not being eaten by a Wolf, I can’t imagine what it might be.

I’m certainly thankful that John Wesley did not live to see this moment.

–it also contains a few sections of The Long-Lost Friend, for once my simple Methodist preacher realizes that the deranged evil-doer might be something more than ordinary, he, of course, needs to take extraordinary precautions against him. And so he’s begun reciting a spell that starts, “Trotter Head, I forbid thee my house and premises,” which is just delightful. I have no idea what a “Trotter Head” is, though, and Google is no help. The only on-point link is a link back to The Long Lost Friend. Where is an expert on 19th-century folk magic when I need one?

Still, I feel bad for my minister. He’s just made a friend, someone who understands just how shitty his local trotter head is, and that person is, of course, going to be a werewolf.

Of course. Occupational hazard of being a Catholic priest, I suppose.

Isn’t Angus T. Jones Mostly Right?

I’m a little befuddled by people’s hostility toward Angus T. Jones’s slamming of Two and a half Men. He says:

Please stop filling your head with filth. Please. People say it’s just entertainment. The fact that it’s entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to the television…It’s bad news. I don’t know if it means any more coming from me. But you might have heard it otherwise. But watch out…A lot of people don’t like to think how deceptive the enemy is. He’s been doing this a lot longer than any of us have been around…You cannot be a true, God-fearing person and be on a show like that.

And so what? Isn’t he right? The kinds of stuff you dump into your brain does have an effect on you. It’s not like watching movies where people shoot each other means that you’re going to run out and shoot people. It’s not a one-to-one correlation. But watching a ton of entertainment where women are reduced to sex toys or shrews or both does reinforce the idea that women are sex toys or shrews or both. And we do believe that there’s entertainment that’s not appropriate for children, right? People like ratings on movies and tv and video games for a reason. So we must believe that what we view has some impact. And he’s right that being on a show like that is pretty contrary to being a good Christian. So, what’s the problem? That he thinks the Devil is somehow involved? People, Two and a Half Men is a terrible show and you should not watch it! He isn’t wrong.

Is the problem that he’s been taking a paycheck from the show? He was eight when the show started–so not his choice to be on it. When the contract was signed making him the highest paid child star on television, he was seventeen. He wasn’t legally able to negotiate or sign that contract. But he’s responsible for “choosing” to be on the show? I call bullshit. Every contract he’s been under when it comes to that show has been made while he was a minor.

Plus, we don’t know what he does with his money. Maybe he does give it all to good causes. According to Wikipedia, he’s a do-gooder:

On June 7, 2008, Jones joined other stars including Dakota Fanning, Cuba Gooding Jr., Val Kilmer, and former Bringing Down the House co-star Kimberly J. Brown, in lending their support to the First Star Organization to help abused and neglected children.

In August 2008, Jones joined other stars such as Madeline Zima, Thom Barry, and Brandon Barash at the annual “Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy Camp.”

On October 4, 2008, Jones joined Miranda Cosgrove, Meaghan Jette Martin, Ray Liotta, Selena Gomez, and Shailene Woodley to attend the Variety’s Power of Youth benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

In October 2009, Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer presented Jones with the award for the Rising Star of 2009 at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Rising Star Gala.

Jones also supports the anti-bullying alliance co-founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE, B.A. Star whose mission is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.

So, what’s the problem? That he said out loud what anyone with two eyes can see? That the show is terrible and that it’s a weird thing for kids to be watching, let alone participating in?

I’m with Alyssa Rosenberg on this, when she says

But I’d actually like to hear in more detail what Jones thinks about the show where he effectively grew up. How did Two and a Half Men affect Jones’ views of women? What did the show’s perspective teach him about what it means to be a good man, and a successful man, if the two ideas are different? When he interacts with fans of the show, do they seem to be taking away different messages than the ones he thought he grew up conveying? How does he feel about Jake, the character he’s playing, specifically? I’d imagine Jones’ critique of the show might skew more towards the show’s deviations from Biblically-ordained gender roles, where mine might focus on the show’s dismissive attitudes about women. And I’m more likely to blame the work of Man rather than the Adversary for creating those images and disseminating those attitudes. But I don’t think Jones is wrong to take culture, or his role in producing it, seriously.

I think it’s great that Jones has matured into the kind of young man who takes seriously what he’s doing and whether it’s good for him and for society at large. We could use more of that, I think. He may mellow some as he gets older, may rethink his stance. But I think it’s good for him as a person–and natural for someone of college age–that he’s wrestling with these things, even if it’s maybe not good for him as a working actor.

Finding the Right Approach

I have now started the story I’m working on for Project X four different ways. Finally, I have the right approach, I think. And a conceit I find interesting. To boil it down to its simplest form–do angels and devils work together to keep people monotheist? Here’s how I’ve been thinking of it. Say you’re playing baseball against your hated rival. You loathe those guys. You want to win. But if a group of people set up a football game in your outfield, doesn’t the fact that your rivalry is so heated, so serious, make it more likely that some folks from both teams will go try to stop the football game?

If you guys were just farting around, it’d be less of a bother if someone was using the outfield for something else. Right? If you didn’t believe that this field was only for baseball, that baseball was the only real game, again, it’d be less of a bother.

So, if it’s a question of keeping the field clear for only baseball, to keep the fans from knowing that there’s any other game than baseball–since, obviously, if they go off to play some other game, they are never going to get to the World Series celebration with you, where it’s all awesomeness and happiness, and, instead, must go to some terrible, shitty place, like possibly Pekin–what is permissible? Are the good guys allowed to do some minor evil? Are the bad guys allowed to do some minor good?

What happens to the good man called on to do minor evil? Can he justify it to himself for the greater good? Or does he wish there were just some way to let some folks play football if they want?

(This is kind of the reason I hate the idea that all religions are the same or that all paths lead to the same place. It still assumes that everyone is playing the same game with the same goals. But look at, let’s say, soccer (football) and football (football). Here you have very similar terms–there’s a ball, the game is called football, two opposing teams face each other and try to move that ball down a field, there’s a goal, etc. Do you think that, when a soccer ball has gone in the net, it has gone the same place a football has gone when it’s carried into the endzone? And that’s my point for religions. They don’t go the same places. To think they do means you’ve not really let go of the metaphor that everyone is secretly playing your game, they just don’t know it.)

Oh, Right. Rickets

So, I am having a pleasant side-effect to the Vitamin D and that side-effect is, actually, pleasantness. A feeling of pleasantness. Like, if ordinary life is on a scale of puppies with “no puppies” being the worst day-to-day feeling you could have without feeling genuinely bad (warning, if you have a day to day feeling of any sort of number of dead puppies, you are probably depressed) and five puppies being the most awesome you could feel before being genuinely happy, I went from being a two-puppy gal to a four-puppy gal.

I don’t see “a general feeling of pleasantness” as a side effect of Vitamin D, but maybe because who would complain about it?

I’m Not Going to Say that to Her/Him

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few days is just how many times the people in my family say something like “But I’m not going to say that to him/her.” So someone is acting like an absolute asshole and is completely over the line, and the person being put upon complains about it to everyone else, but because he doesn’t want to “feed into the asshole’s drama” or some similar sentiment, he’s “not going to say that to her.”

I think the effect my family believes this has is two-fold. One, and most importantly, it means that the person being put upon does not have to engage with the person he’s mad at. Score one for the person being put upon. And two, it is supposed to deprive the drama-producing person of fuel for their drama fire, thus ensuring the drama will end more quickly than it otherwise would.

But what I’ve recently realized is that, for this strategy to work, it relies on the presumption that the asshole who is not showing any empathy at the moment, is, in fact, having empathy at the moment. Let’s assume that everyone acts in what he or she believes is his or her own best interest, that we are inherently selfish. Let’s say that something is going on–like maybe Person A said he’d buy groceries and Person B discovers there are no groceries. Now, if B is acting rationally, she might consider that Person A has been working long hours and may have forgotten, or got off work after the store closed. B might then decide to get the groceries herself or remind A. Either of these actions are in B’s interest, since they result in her getting the groceries she wants.

Now, say that, instead of doing either of those things, B calls A’s mother and complains about how shitty A is.  And now A is livid because it’s not B’s place to drag family members into their grocery mess and it feels like a weird violation of A’s boundaries and A’s mother’s boundaries. And yet, let us say that this spurs A to buy B’s groceries.

In my family, we seem to believe that, if we give B what she wants and never mention how pissed we are at the lines she’s crossed, she will somehow sense the lack of our forthright being-pissed-ness and figure out that we are so double-super-secret pissed that we can’t even  talk about it.

And yet, obviously, if she was that kind of psychic–that the absence of information somehow results in the spontaneous acquiring of much more information–she would have known why the groceries weren’t bought in the first place. She would have known that calling A’s mom was unacceptable and upsetting to A’s mom and likely to piss off A’s whole family.

In other words, even though ever bit of information we have about B suggests that she is not a psychic mind-reader who cares about the feelings of others, we expect that she will notice our lack of public performance of anger, psychically discern that we are super-duper pissed, and give a shit, even though she got her way.

It makes no sense.

And the thing I realized this weekend is that, because we do this–have this whole psychic empathetic drama (or failure of psychic empathy drama) amongst ourselves–the asshole is always let completely off the hook. She gets her way and she never has to hear grief over it.

Wow. That’s a lovely set-up.

And I can see how this is an abusive dynamic, right? Holding people responsible for not correctly guessing your needs is abusive. People can’t read your mind and to expect them to somehow know that you’re leaving things unsaid is bullshit. But it also works from the other side, too. This reliance on the un-held fight lets the people being stepped on create a kind of bear cage around the abuser where the people being abused don’t have to directly confront the abuser and potentially end up being hurt worse,  but they still get some semblance of emotional catharsis.

But meanwhile, the abuser faces no consequences for her abuse.

And, just to add to the fucked-up-ness, because everyone’s having a vivid emotional life with not only each other, but the versions of each other that live only in each person’s head, the imaginary each others with whom they have these enormous cathartic un-fights with, they feel a kind of intimacy with each other that seems to me nearly impossible to break. They know this other person so well because she takes up so much of their mental real estate that they never quite see that what’s in their head is the doll-house version of her that doesn’t really resemble the real person.

Ugh. It’s fucked up. And it breaks my heart.

What is Happening to Me?

I talked to my brother. I straightforwardly told him my concerns about his situation’s affect effect (fuck you, world, I used to know the difference between those) on our dad’s health. We then had a long, fruitful conversation.

People, let me repeat–I straightforwardly told him my concerns.

I kind of wonder if I’ve been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with a pod person. I have feelings. Confusing feelings.

It’s weird.

Rattling Bones

–I’ve been working diligently on Rachel’s afghan. I’m doing it backwards from the one I made me. I’m making all 212 small squares at once–even the ones that will serve as the innards for the bigger squares. Then I’ll do all the squares that get a second stripe. Then all the ones that get a third. Her afghan is a lot more full of blues and greens, so I’m excited to see how it comes together. It contains a really bright orange, which is either going to work amazingly or not at all.

–I’m struggling with the story I’m working on for Project X. I have started it twice now and neither start is exactly right. They both might make interesting stories, but they aren’t right for this project.

–So the dog and I went out and drove down Haunt Hollow Road, which Grandfille told me about. It is not in a hollow, which is kind of weird, but it does run through some really nice farmland and it does contain a high cemetery to road ratio. We stopped at the only church on the road and it had a historical marker, which Mrs. Wigglebottom was completely uninterested in. However, the marker said that the church was probably the oldest in the county (though I’m not sure what county we were in) and that the original building had twelve corners in honor of the twelve disciples. But it was completely silent on whether this meant that the building was a dodecagon or how it was configured to have twelve corners otherwise. What the fuck, historical marker? How can you leave out this vital information?

–You know that old joke about the shipwrecked Baptist (this is literally my favorite joke, ever)? He’s marooned on an island and finally, after ten years, he’s rescued by a passing ship. The captain is all “This is unbelievable! How did you survive?” and the Baptist credits God for providing him everything he needed. He shows the Captain where he found fish and fruit and how he found downed trees to make shelter from. “And I made this church to worship in and give thanks to the Creator.” He said. And the Captain’s all “Wow, okay. So, my only question is what’s that other building?” “Oh, that’s where I used to go to church.”

I thought of that joke and had a little snicker at it because this Baptist church, which used to be twelve-cornered, according to the historical marker, split–as Baptist churches are wont to do–and the two congregations just kept using the same church. Just apparently scheduled services for different times. I have to tell you that I find that so charming that I almost can’t stand it.

–I drove the new part of 840. I don’t recommend it to people who need to use the bathroom or would like a snack. At least, not yet.

Everyone Was Nice

We had a very pleasant Thanksgiving. Everyone was nice and everyone behaved themselves and my parents scrubbed my house from top to bottom. My dad asked me a question–how much did I pay for my house?–which he knows the answer to, because he and my mom gave me the downpayment and that, coupled with everyone being nice to each other, freaks me out a little bit. My dad is nicest when he’s not feeling well.

There’s shit going on–family shit–that I’m not going to go into specifics about. But there comes a point when you ask yourself, “Could the stress of my brother’s life kill my dad?” and you realize that your dad thinks that it will. In fact, he may be planning on it and trying to arrange things for posterity.

I mean, I love my dad, but he’s not nice and kind at every moment sustained for three days straight. But he was, and I imagine it’s because he wants us to have nice memories of him.

It’s terrible to even try to describe. But I know it’s what he’s up to. He’s going to be the man he wishes he was all along. Which is lovely and, if it meant, like it has for my Grandma, a late in life blossoming into something sweet and lingering, who would not want that?

But he does it because he thinks his time is short and he wants to be remembered like this and not like this and…

And yet, I’m so fucking pissed at him and my brother about this. It’s so stupid. Why should my brother get to rob us all of a father? If this is some big get-even for how we came up, if my dad owes him, when do we get to consider the debt settled?

I wish they’d hash this shit out in therapy, rather than like this.

And I’m frightened for my brother, who is doing… I don’t even know… his own version of sitting someplace among people who hate him seeing how much he can take before it kills him. And why? If he’s not going to do anything with his life, if he’s not actually going to live it, can’t he be half-alive at my parents’ house or in our den or someplace where he’s safe and fed and no one is intentionally dicking him over?

If this does kill my dad, how am I ever supposed to forgive my brother for it?

We are Surviving!

Somehow we have not all killed each other AND they left me home alone while they went to Lowe’s. I should take them to a concert every year because, I swear, ever since the Del McCoury thing, they have been much more pleasant to have around.

They did clean everything, the whole house from top to bottom. And I sat here and let them and decided not to give a shit.

And my whole Thanksgiving meal turned out excellent and everything was done at the same time.

But I am so exhausted. Whew.

In Other News…

–The Redheaded Kid brought us delicious chocolate pecan pie.

–And told us that his sister-in-law had her baby a month ago! I guess he’s just failed to mention it in the intervening weeks.

–And he hugged my mom! Who knew the Redheaded Kid touched people?

–And he told us this hilarious story about how his younger brother, who is a grown-ass adult man, refuses to wear pants and has full-body Sonic the Hedgehog pajamas.

–Our friend, TJ knows the most random crap so ages ago I put him in my phone so that I could text him about shit I don’t know. Yesterday, I finally used it–asking him the difference between a pole cat and a skunk. (None.)

–My dad is convinced that he’s seen some weird skunks down here, that he claims are mostly white with black stripes. I think our skunks look pretty much like this. He keeps insisting that he sees out by Percy Priest Lake, alive, and then dead along Old Hickory Boulevard between our house and their motel, this skunk. Which I pointed out is not white with black stripes, and doesn’t live in the area, but my dad says we cannot believe scientists about this.

–You heard it here first, folks. We have white skunks with black stripes in Nashville, but The Scientists are keeping it a big secret to… um… not alert Mexico to the fact that Tennessee is stealing its skunks? Not to incite panic in the nativist skunk population who will be upset at the undocumented skunks? I don’t know. But I will keep you informed as I find out.

–My mom, who is not very political, was telling us about this upsetting lunch she had with two of her friends she used to work with who seemed, from the story, to take her out solely to inform her how Obama was going to round all the farmers up and put them in a prison outside of Kankakee.

–I am constantly amazed at how people’s paranoid fantasies always have them at the heart of it, and yet, they never realize it. We have a big old country and a lot of places a lot more isolated, where “good” Americans wouldn’t ever have to see the Farmer Prison, wouldn’t ever have to even really face that it was happening–if it was, which is it not–and these two think that the Farmer Prison is just going to happen to go right along I-57? Then Obama is the dumbest evil genius ever.

–The Midwest, I love you, but the Farmer Prison isn’t even a real thing and I already feel terrible for the people who have to staff it. If we wanted to keep farmers preoccupied wouldn’t it just be easier to lock all the bathrooms at their local coffee shops?

Happy Thanksgiving

I have a lot to be grateful for this year. Honestly, this has been one of the most amazing years of my life. From the ceiling over my head right now to the amazing book readings of October to the art people made inspired by me to… well, to everything.

As I’ve said before, for a long time, I owed every good thing in my Nashville life to Charles Wolfe, who, rest his soul, was the kind of guy that would have never occurred to. He was just someone who shared his enthusiasms widely and I benefited from it. It’s weird to think about, because it gets right to the heart of the inherent unequalness of these sorts of things. Someone can do so much for you without even knowing it, because from their end, it seems like so little, so not a big deal. I’m sure Charles Wolfe liked me fine but gave me no more than normal thought. He certainly didn’t set out, ever, to make my life awesome.

And so it is, I’m sure, with you guys. You have given me this awesome life, for which I am profoundly grateful. I have no idea if you ever feel the magnitude of that.

But I hope, a little bit, that you do.

Let’s Count the WTFs in this Story

Here’s the story.

1. There’s going to be a distillery in my back yard?! How motherfucking awesome is that?!

2. Could the Butcher get a job there?

3. WTF? Joelton-area? It’s in the heart of motherfucking Whites Creek. My town has a name and it’s not “Joelton-area.”

4. The Fontanel is owned by the Country Music Hall of Fame now? When the fuck did that happen?

Oh, Family

I feel like I just want to shut down before Thanksgiving. I’m not really sure why. Some of it is frustration with the shoulder. Some of it is feeling like my parents are going to arrive and find like fifty things wrong and not up to their standards and I’ll have to hear all about it, because the Butcher will be at work. And some of it is that my other brother is going through a rough patch lately and I feel terrible and helpless about it.

Which is my way of acknowledging that I’m just writing this post because the urge I had to just not bother to write anything kind of scared the shit out of me.

I need the pipes to not freeze up, you know? So, I have to keep the faucet open. Even if it’s just this rusty crap coming out.

This is a Weird Week

My parents arrive tomorrow. They are bringing dinner. I keep thinking that I should start pondering the next story in Project X, but I can’t write while people are at my house, so I don’t actually need to be thinking of anything.

So, today is my Monday and my Thursday. And tomorrow is Tuesday and Friday.

I’m going to attempt to not be grouchy the whole time they’re here, but I’m feeling pretty grouchy.

There is No House Cleaner

Let’s say the normal person’s standards for a clean house are here —-.




Mine are here —–.












The Butcher’s are here —–.

I told him a week ago that, if he couldn’t get one of his friends who needs money to come sweep and mop and dust and clean the bathroom to tell me that instant and I would hire someone to do it.

Yesterday, the Butcher cleaned the house.

And I fucked my fucking shoulder a-fucking-gain “helping.” Because cleaning the house sucks, which is why I wanted to hire someone to do it in the first place. Who can sit around and watch someone they love do it?

So, I’m just fucking pissed at myself. I don’t feel like I’m back to square one, but if I was on square six on a one to ten square system with ten being “fine,” I fucked myself back to three.

And then I want to be pissed at the Butcher, but he never said to help him.

So, there you go. I only have my dumbass self to blame. I kind of want to cry about it. But I’m still basking in the glow of my 8500 words.

Still, it’s going to be an interesting Thanksgiving, since I can’t lift, carry, or open anything.

I Have Fried My Brain

The dog is washed, the bathroom is cleaned (except for sweeping and mopping, which I can’t really do at the moment), and the story is done. I want to throw up or die or die and then throw up. I’m not really sure. I have never had a story knock around that hard in my brain. I about couldn’t keep up with it. But once I had it, what could I do?

8500 words in basically two days. It has mentally flattened me. Part of the trouble with shitty first drafts is that they are just that–shitty first drafts. And even though you might sometimes take a shit and long to call someone else into the bathroom to peer into the toilet with you and marvel that such a thing erupted from your body, you can’t do that.

And so it is with the shitty first draft. I want to show it to someone and say “How the hell did this come out of my body?” But it would be rude and probably gross.

I need to get up and do the dishes. I guess that doesn’t require great thoughtfulness.