Dancing with a Memory, Crying Teardrops of Her Own

I can’t remember the last time I heard Dwight Yokum’s “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose.” It’s at least been five years. It may be closer to ten. But sometimes I find myself singing without realizing I am doing it and this morning, I was singing that song, from start to finish, like I knew it. Which, I guess I do. The brain is a funny thing. How music lives in us is strange.

I submitted a couple of stories.. I asked around about some others. I did all I can do by this weird thing that consumes me. And now I’m going to work on an afghan.

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On Beltane Eve

Those of you who have cattle to run to the summer pasture, go right ahead. The rest of us are going to stay here and discuss creepy children. I don’t believe that everyone gets reincarnated. I remain completely uncertain about what happens when we die, if anything. But whoa dogey (for those of you still on cattle duty) some of those stories gave me the reincarnation heebie jeebies. I tell you what, though. I hope that, if your chance at life gets fucked up, like you get cancer when you’re three or some asshole murders you in your driveway, that you do get a do-over. I also hope that, if your life was sad, you’re not forced to try it again, if you don’t want to.

Also, the idea of these quaking aspens, just being alive for five or ten thousand years. It’s kind of creepy. Forests grow over them. They come back. Forests burn off. They come back. Deer eat them. They come back. When you think about something that lives for that long–and apparently they have one that’s 80,000 years old–it kind of gives me the willies. In a good way, but it gives me the willies. How long it is. How many different bird songs and animal noises came and went in that time. You’re 80,000 years old, almost all of your life was before the arrival of humans.

Evidence of an Unseen Flood

The dog and I tried to walk, but it’s too wet back there. We did, however, find firm evidence that the creek flooded this weekend, though it never made it far enough into the yard for us to see it. Thank goodness.

The Universe Sends Me a Strange Sign

Today I got a press release about the five Tennessee sites added to the National Register of Historic Places. Site #1?

Allendale Farm.

One of the Allens to own the house?

George.

They’re not my Allens, who are from Maryland and Virginia before arriving in Sumner County. These Allens are from North Carolina and then settled in Montgomery County (I’ve run into some Allens in Cheatham County and I suspect they’re these folks, as well).

So, it didn’t give me the full-on heebie jeebies. But it definitely gave me at least the heebies.

(I’m bummed the OED doesn’t have an etymology for ‘heebie-jeebies.’)

Mother

I’m spending my lunch hour being a baby AND listening to Natalie Maines’ new album (I put the “and” in all caps because those are two separate tasks that aren’t related). Nothing will aid my babydom, but time. I have mixed feelings about Maines’ album. I’ve really missed her voice. It still sounds pretty damn country to me. But I feel like her voice is too far forward in the mix–at least on these speakers–so I can’t quite not hear that she’s not in the same room as the instruments at the same time.

But so far–and I’m not yet all the way through them–I just feel like these are the wrong songs. I can’t quite explain it. They’re great songs. But it’s not quite working. It just sounds old, somehow.

I Lived My Life Wrong

I’m kind of a coward, so I don’t often fail at things. In my whole life, I either did things I knew I was good at or I didn’t care about being good at or I didn’t do them. I really wanted to play football in high school, for instance, but when people told me I was going to suck at it, I believed them. And, you know, as a coward, I would have sucked at football.

But the school I finished high school at? Their team hadn’t won a game–not a single game–in decades. I would not have sucked worse than that! (Though I should say that, in the two years I was there, they did win some games and conducted themselves in a pleasantly mediocre manner on the field.)

Anyway, I don’t really regret not playing football. I’m just saying, I’m not someone who puts themselves on the line about things she might not be good at.

So this whole fiction writing thing just fucking sucks. I have to do it. Nothing at all makes me happier (except my dog and she’s been eating the cat poop lately and giving herself the shits). I feel like I have the brains and credentials to say “Yep, this sucks. Here’s how it should be better.” or “No, hey, this is really good. Someone will want it.”

But I don’t.

And the weird part is that it’s not even depressing. Like two years ago, it was kind of depressing. Now it’s just like “Well, on to the next thing.” Because there is no choice.

And the other thing is that I probably do have to suck for a while–possibly a long while–but I am not sure I’ll ever know when or if I stop sucking.

It’s just fucking ludicrous. I do this thing I love with no clue as to whether I’m good at it in any marketable way, no idea how to improve that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars and involve taking massive amounts of time off work that I just can’t do, at least, not for four or five more years.

And yet, I keep on keeping on. Just because I like it. Even though I suspect I suck at it.

Anyway, “Allendale” revisions. I have a rough draft of the revised part–the footnotes. I guess it’s not ruining it to tell you. The footnotes are written by poor George’s niece who has just discovered that he’s not in prison for Elias’s murder, but in a secure hospital, where she can go visit him. He was unable to aid in his defense because he believes his “life” since the night of Elias’s death is actually just an illusion implanted in him by the werewolf as it kills him in the basement alongside Elias, to keep him calm. His niece mostly believes he is a killer. And then he’s a ghost, the end.

Is it any good? Who the fuck knows?

Lord. What if “Frank” is the best thing I ever do?

Well, I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

And, really, it’s not even that I think I suck. I guess if I am honest, I think I write really well, things I enjoy reading. I struggle with figuring out how to improve things. I’m pretty terrible at that.

But the thing I suck at–and this is an objective sucking–is figuring out how to sell them. I don’t know what kind of writer I am. I don’t know how to look at a story and say “Yep, fantasy” or “this is horror.” I don’t know how, even when I read widely–and I read widely–which markets might want which of my stories.

And I don’t know how to feel assured, if they turn me down, that it’s because it just didn’t fit and not because the story needed something a little more.

I suck at the match game aspect of it. But since I don’t know how to improve at that, I fret over my work, like that’s the problem.

Everything’s a fucking knot, I tell you. This anxiety tangled with that anxiety wrapped around this fear. Trying to keep everything smoothed out so that you can work with it is the hardest part.

Update on the Charlie Brown Blanket

Argh, I am loving this so much! The trick is these half-squares. Or at least, I thought that was the trick until I got to the bottom corner and realized I had to come up with a quarter square. Luckily, I think I got it. Anyway, It’s officially half done. I’m going to do a multi-colored one to use up all my winter yarn (or maybe two, depending on how much yarn I have left over. Either way.)

Three Things

1. I wish I could be weeding, but it’s raining. I’m glad I got some stuff done around the yard yesterday.

2. I am loving this diagonal granny square pattern. The Charlie Brown blanket is going to be cool. I also cannot wait to make one with a bunch of colors.

3. I’m really struggling with the formatting on the upgraded Allendale piece. Right now I’m doing it story & footnotes style, but I’m not sure it’s working. But I am going to get a little work done on it while the Butcher sleeps.

So Long, George

George Jones has died, which is a total bummer. It’s a major loss of a great talent. But if you can get on Twitter and search for George Jones, you’ll see plenty of fans with old disappointments and old country singers with unforgotten grievances. I don’t quite know what to make of it. But, in a way, it’s nice to see.

Which, I know, I think on other days, I’d find it appalling, but today it strikes me as an important corrective to the hagiography.

You simply cannot overstate Jones’s importance to country music. But that didn’t make him an unproblematic guy.

I think letting him be complicated and disappointing and a genius does actually honor his memory more than white-washing him in death would do.

Fat and Ugly

The most disturbing thing, to me, about the worst of the Pith commenters is not what they say, which I am pretty much weened off of reading. It’s when people who like me read something and contact me, alarmed by what they’re reading. I’m never quite sure what to say to them. I really, genuinely appreciate their concern. I also genuinely feel sure that anything they do is as effective as spitting into the wind and could lead to needless trouble for them.

But I did laugh at this idea that I’m supposed to be insulted or hurt at being called fat and ugly. Yes, folks, I am. Been fat and ugly my whole life. Even when I wasn’t objectively fat or objectively ugly, there was always some asshole who was happy to tell me that I was fat and ugly. If fat and ugly is supposed to keep you out of the public square, I would have had to stay in my house and never leave starting about five.

I guess it’s supposed to be different, now that I’m grown, and I am actually fat and ugly. Except that now I’m fat and ugly and old, which means that I’ve been around long enough that I know fat and ugly is bullshit, a standard that has no meaning, except that the person trying to hold me to it hates me.

And I’m not sure at all why I’m supposed to care that someone I don’t know hates me.

Brothers

Life is weird sometimes. Having brothers is strange. Who are these men and what do they want from me?

I feel at my most uptight and least-pleasant when dealing with them, sometimes. People think I’m a good person. They have not seen me interacting with my brothers.

But I do aspire to figure out how to work it with them. How to always be someone who is open and, if not unafraid, afraid but doing it anyway.

I don’t know. It’s hard. Most love is a choice. But the love you have the longest is for people who are just thrown in with you, an accident of fate.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. Just that I talk to my brother all the time and I have no fucking idea what he wants.

And part of that is because I unfairly think that he only calls when he wants something.

I think he calls, most of the time, because he likes me.

I need to go ahead and trust that, without weighing it down.

Paranorman, Spoilers Only

What the ever loving fuck? Is this what it’s like to get three-quarters of the way through a burger only to find half a pube in it?

Someone explain this bullshit to me.

There’s a little girl. A genuine little girl, not some Judy-Garland-playing-pretend situation. And the town accuses her, tries her, and executes her for witchcraft. Which, you know, is a pretty fucking terrible thing to do. So, she curses them, which is the only fucking thing she can do in the situation.

And she’s the motherfucking bad guy? None of those assholes who fucking murdered her even have to, oh, you know, face her and apologize?!

The movie even calls her a bully. They fucking murdered her and she’s the bully because she’s hurt and scared and angry?

What lesson, exactly, are kids supposed to take from this piece of shit? That adults can do whatever they want to you and as long as they have a good excuse, you just need to get the fuck over it?

Fuck that shit.

If a children’s movie can’t have compassion for the little murdered girl at its heart… I just don’t even know.

I wish I’d never seen that.

Since I'm making this up as I go and I'm not actually sure what it's going to take to be done, like I'm not sure how many squares, I decided to start with the brown squiggle. I'm working on another two rows (this is two rows her, technically), which I think will make it thick enough to please me.

Since I’m making this up as I go and I’m not actually sure what it’s going to take to be done, like I’m not sure how many squares, I decided to start with the brown squiggle. I’m working on another two rows (this is two rows her, technically), which I think will make it thick enough to please me. Oh, and you can see the border for the other blanket there.

It's a balalaika! Thanks, Dad!

It’s a balalaika! Thanks, Dad!

I’ve Got Them Old Balalaika Blues

1. The Butcher is finally home, one $500 car repair and lunch with my parents later!

2. For some reason, this meant that the cats and dog had to go stand in the creek and refuse to come inside.

3. Yes, that was me in my bathrobe out in my front yard yelling at the animals.

4. I assume they have their bizarre customs–standing in the creek, for instance–and they respect that I have mine–yelling at them about it.

5. My dad sent the Butcher home with a balalaika. Which is weird. I didn’t even know my dad owned a balalaika. But, if you’re in need of one, feel free to come over and get your fix.

6. Fuck the zig zag afghan. I’m going to tell you a great truth about it–it’s boring. I have made many afghans in my day, none as soul-crushingly boring as the zig-zag afghan. You win for now, zig-zag afghan! You win, for now.

7. In related news, the Charlie Brown baby blanket I’m making is instead going to be a diagonal granny square afghan. So, imagine those squares, but tilted up like diamonds. The best part is that I’m having good fun learning how to make granny triangles, so that the whole thing ends up square. So, I’m winging it, but I think I’ll still end up with a blanket that is gold with a recognizable chocolate squiggle. I’m making up the pattern myself, so I’m not sure how many squares it will involve. But I’m anxious to see what other kinds of granny-esque afghans I could make both with my knowledge of how to do this tilted version and with my knowledge of how to make triangles, now.

A Few Things to Be on the Lookout For

1. I have an unplanned post for Think Progress going up today, about Hemlock Grove’s two-screen strategy. Mostly points I made here, but with better editing.

2. I’ll have a post at Pith up at some point today about the “Manuel” rebates at Pilot Flying J. It needed a little reworking in light of the fact that I didn’t realize it hadn’t been widely covered (and by “not widely covered” I mean that apparently no one has mentioned it) that Pilot Flying J sometimes called their manual rebates “Manuel” or “Manuel rebates” and that the one group of non-“stupid” people they deliberately targeted for these rebates were Hispanic people, because of the perceived language issues. Hello, Civil Rights Act. Gas stations discriminating against customers based on race is one of the explicit targets of the Public Accommodations section.

3. I just want to state this as plainly as I can. This shit happens because he is, I believe, a sadist. It’s not just that he wants attention (which I also think he does). He wants negative attention. He wants to know that he’s shocked and upset people. That is his goal. I don’t believe that he’s motivated by positive attention, so there’s no use in asking why he does this stuff when only a small minority of people cheer him on. People vote for him because he’s very adept at maintaining access to his victims. If that means that he’s got to knock on doors and put forth a public persona that makes people think that the media must be wrong about him, that’s what he’ll do. He works hard to maintain access to his victims. He’s got a stronger psychological motivation than almost any other politician at the state level for keeping his voters. If he loses his office, his pool of victims shrinks dramatically.

The rose is growing new branches that will then wind up the chicken wire that I guess I need to get into place before long. I cannot believe this shit is working!!!

The rose is growing new branches that will then wind up the chicken wire that I guess I need to get into place before long. I cannot believe this shit is working!!!