Two Weeks

Last night my parents finally called me, after I hadn’t talked to them in two weeks. If you have any doubts about who is their favorite, note who doesn’t get called once the Butcher has left. I tease. They did say they were calling in part because I was the only one of their children who never asked for money.

I laughed and said, “Not yet! Let’s not get too cocky here.”

My Uncle B is having heart surgery on Monday. My dad’s all “He’s lost 101 pounds.” And now I wonder if he lost the weight in order to have the surgery. Anyway, my parents are going up there to be there to make sure everything is okay, which I guess means they’re done having whatever weirdass fight they were having.

But, you know, I get it. One of the things I’ve been most surprised about is how wonderfully boring my life is these days. I like it, but I could see how, if you’re used to constant drama, it might feel weird to not fill your life.

I don’t really want drama. I want good fortune in both senses to fill my life. Lord.

One Month Down

It was both harder than I thought and easier. I still have no idea how I’m going to do this, but I’m feeling mostly dizzy about it instead of sick to my stomach.

October Things

1. Y’all better be getting your witches on. Stories, photos, anecdotes, art projects–if you want to put it in front of the eyes of Tiny Cat Pants readers, Tiny Cat Pants readers will be happy to put our eyeballs on it.

2. I’ve been invited to do one of East Side Story’s East Side Storytelling things on October 15. The venue and the musical act are a mystery to me, but put it on your calendar. I’ll be reading a little from A City of Ghosts and a little from Project X. And then the mystery act will perform some mysterious music. I’m hoping it’s Rob Zombie, but I don’t think we could get so lucky.

3. A City of Ghosts is also the October Book Club book. So, that’s pretty awesome. People when you read that stuff here, did you ever think “Wow, we’ll be hearing about this for the next four years?” Ha ha ha.

And I think that’s it.

Valerie June Victory

My co-worker knows all the cool music before it’s cool. But she hadn’t yet heard of Valerie June. So, I just sent her a bunch of Youtube links.

Victory is mine!

I’m Sure Obama is Crushed

Aside from the fact that 40% of the money in our state budget comes from the Federal government, if we’re trying to argue that Tennessee is somehow better off without the Feds involved, the way to do it is not to send a note to the President inviting him to “visist [sic] a few historial [sic], natural attractions like Ruby Falls, a true Chattanooga treasure” while he’s in town “celebrting [sic].”

My god, can we not even be petulant assholes competently?

From the Times-Free Press story:

Tennessee has attracted thousands of jobs during the Great Recession through a combination of business-friendly policies and strong tax incentives, but the state’s education system consistently ranks near the bottom of the pack.

Fewer than half of Hamilton County students in grades 3 through 8 can read at their grade level, according to standardized test results.


Bwah ha ha

Oh lord, people, this October just gets weirder and weirder. Because, honestly, I don’t have thirty-one stories on short notice about witches. I needed to start this three months ago! We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel… er… cauldron as it were here.

But I’m amusing the shit out of myself, so I’m hoping there are a few in there that you like, too.

Coke Marinade

It was fantastic. It did make the meat really tender and it mixed really well with the spices and it gave the meat a nice taste that wasn’t too sweet at all. And it did, when I first threw it in the pan, smell a little like a Chinese dish, so that made me wonder how many more Chinese restaurants, on top of the one where the waiter told me, use it as a tenderizing trick.

But I have to say, I was most surprised by how much it seemed to accentuate and compliment the garlic and chili powder. I didn’t use more of those two spices than the cumin or black pepper, but I could really taste them. Not in an overpowering way, but just like something in the Coke really brought those flavors to the forefront.

Anyway, I highly recommend it. The only thing I would warn you about, though is that, if you get a little of the marinade in your pan, it will foam up when it gets hot in a kind of alarming fashion.

Wild Men

Here’s the article. Here’s the photos.

There’s a book that is a collection of these that one of you recommended to me and I tried to buy it, but Amazon couldn’t get it for me. It’s hard to articulate how these make me feel. I look at them and I feel like something is working on my brain right below a level I’m used to feeling my brain firing on.

But I feel really drawn to them, like I’m seeing something that means something to me, only I never knew it.

Vinegar Vs. Coke

I’m making fajitas for dinner, but due to shopping at the Bordeaux Kroger, I couldn’t find a nice cheap steak to cut into my own strips and was force to buy “stir fry meat.” Which is expensive and always chewy. So, I am marinating it. In Coke. Which is something a waiter at a Chinese restaurant once told me is a good way to break down the connective tissue in meat you plan on cooking hot and fast.

So, I’m trying that.

But my check-out clerk told me she always uses vinegar and water.

I can’t quite decide which is less troubling to me. I mean, we’ll see how the Coke goes. I feel like I’m just coating my meat in sugar? Like, “meat, but more like candy.” But I have concerns that the vinegar would give my meat a slight pickly taste?


It was a good weekend right when I needed it. In a way, I feel like things are so weird because things are changing. Not the changes I know about, but it just feels like there are also some big shifts going on below the surface, larger forces moving around. And who knows how those things will work out.

But then the weather is like this and it reminds me that fall is coming and I feel better. The world turns. Things come around again. We’re always spinning.


1. I have finished all the revisions on Project X. I cannot tell you how proud I am of it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written. Nerdy, sexy, sad, creepy. Now I will somehow drag it kicking and screaming into fruition.

2. I finished my 20th story for October, though I’ll probably put it up on Halloween. It’s nicely creepy and involves a doll called “Bad Maddy.” Which just also makes me want to sing “Oh, Bad Maddy, ramalama.”

3. I read Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe. I really liked it, but once I thought to wonder whether the bad guy was loosely based on Jimmy Martin, that was the only voice I could hear for him. Rest your soul, Jimmy Martin, I’ve been called a motherfucker by no one better.

4. I have a story I’ve written that I think is really good that I haven’t been able to sell. And now I realize, I can’t sell it because it’s too much like Bledsoe’s Tufa novels, even though I started it before I read either of his books. Ha ha ha. Well, that sucks for that story. It has some witches in it. I might put it up in October. No, I know, one of you is tempted to say “No, they’re not that much alike.” But dude, my story contains the line “Easy enough to catch, impossible to fetch.” And his book contains a line like “Fit for catchin’, not for fetchin’.” Same damn ground. Covers the same damn ground.

5. Mrs. Wigglebottom and I did the whole loop at Cedar Hill Park today. Normally we just part at the playground and walk up the hill and back down. I figure this is about 2/3 of the distance, by the time we get back to the car. But today the weather was so beautiful and Mrs. W. had a spring in her step, so we just got to the top of the hill and kept walking, down into the flat sunny area by the tennis courts, up the hill by the duck pond, and back around. We went a little slower than I would have liked and a little faster than she would have liked.

But by the time we got back to the parking lot, she was dragging. I mean, just dragging. Like the walk was 100 yards too long. So, I said words of encouragement to her, as you do.

And this gorgeous guy in a Jeep with a VMI cover for the spare tire was putting on army boots and hoisting on a stuffed-full backpack. I thought he was young, but when he spoke, he had that kind of awesome deep man voice of, well, not someone IN VMI. He said, “Looks like you wore her out.” And I laughed and said, “She walked the whole loop, at her age!” “How old is she?” “Fourteen.” “Well, she should get the rest of the day off then.”

People, he had these beautiful biceps. And I know there’s no way for this to happen in real life without it creeping me out, but how come folks like that don’t want to pet me like a kitten? I mean, aside from the smell after walking that whole loop. Little old ladies, I’m going to need one or two of you to practice that kind of voice.

Project X: The Dinner

There’s lots about Writing that they don’t tell you. Actually writing is a craft–a mix of creativity and just sitting your ass down every day to do the work–and you can learn it and become better at it. It’s often hard, but you can look back and say “Okay, I was there in my skills and now I am here.” And you can find plenty of advice for how to do that and become better at it. Hell, you can go to school for it.

But there are two realms associated with writing in a larger sense that you are kind of stuck working out for yourself. The first is how and where to sell shit. This is when knowing other authors who work in your genre is critical, because you know some stuff and they know some stuff and you can pool experiences. And someone can read your story and say “Well, damn, you should send this to [x]” and you may never have heard of [x] but then you spend an afternoon reading the magazine and, yep, wow, you’d love to be published by them. Or someone may say “I think you have to send it to [y] because who else is publishing things that long and experimental?” Even when you’re sure there’s no fucking way [y] is ever going to publish you.

The other is not just who to ask to beta read but when. This is something I’m still feeling out. But I had a group of readers look at Project X back in January and, wow, I got good, helpful insights from them and we fixed some problems, especially a voice problem the last two stories had. Then the head of the project read it and we added a romantic bit and reworked the ending some. And it felt “done.” Pretty much.

So, I asked K. to look at it. Then I had her and C. over for dinner last night to talk about what she was thinking about the project. And not only was it amazing–she hit on something with one of my stories that I kind of felt was a problem (and other readers had indicated was a problem) but I couldn’t figure out how to fix it and she had this fabulously simple idea (I mean simple in the sense of being straight-forward, non-convoluted, and works in the space without a lot of rejiggering) that I just wouldn’t have come up with. Obviously. Or I would have.

And it made me realize that this process of who reads it when is also kind of a crap-shoot of lucky fortuity. How do you get people to read it in the right order so that you can build on their suggestions? I think one thing I’m starting to figure out is that you don’t need, say, six people to read the same draft. What you need are two people to read what you think is going to be a final revision and then two people to read the next thing you think is going to be a final revision and so on. You don’t want all your beta readers to be reading the same draft, though you want to send them something as final as you know how to make it.

Anyway, for dinner, I served roasted grapes as an appetizer, my favorite brussel sprout dish (once again, thanks for that), and my apple pie. It went swimmingly. They seemed to love everything, not only in words, but in eating it! So, maybe I need to start playing host more often.

And by more often I mean at all. Other than my family, I can’t remember the last people I cooked for.

Did We Talk About This?

I can’t remember if we discussed my problem with old women wanting to grope me? But basically, I am an old woman magnet and they can’t keep their hands off me. They want to pet my arms and touch my butt and give me squeezes. Which would not be alarming if they were old women I knew or old women I wanted to sleep with.

But old women I know don’t seem to have this urge.

No, it’s strangers. Stranger old women who want to squeeze and rub me.

And so, last night, the Professor’s neighbor came over to say goodbye and she caressed my lower back and then tried to hold my hand. And I don’t quite know how to explain it, because, while it is obviously very sensual, it’s not sexual. I mean, I didn’t shout, “Stop, strange old woman!” at the Professor’s neighbor and it didn’t lead to smooches or anything.

But you know how, when you meet a really soft kitten? And you just can’t help yourself from reaching over and touching that kitten?

I am that kitten to some old women.

Gone to California

I saw the Professor at her Nashville apartment for the last time yesterday. I was bummed the whole way over, but then it was just a bunch of us hanging out in her apartment and it was nice and fun. I consider this a testament to the Professor that her going away gathering was less “Oh, we’ll miss you so much!” and more like people seeing off a ship.

Still. Ugh. Where are our transporter beams?

I could much more easily stand the Professor and the Butcher being in California if it still meant the Butcher and I watched Batman cartoons together or the Professor and I went and got coffee and shat the shit.

I guess Skype is supposed to kind of make up for this shit.

Ha ha ha. You know, a few years back I went and saw JR and Elias in Denver and we went up into the mountains and I thought I was going to die. I had to shut my eyes and, when we got to the highest point, I begged them to leave me and told them my parents would understand because I couldn’t go any further. (Note: My dad did actually understand.) The winding roads, the sheer drop-offs right next to those roads, the feeling like there just wasn’t enough between you and the sky. If I had been born 200 years before now, my ass would still be sitting in New York with the Phillipses who didn’t go anywhere, because fuck that shit.

But I was also thinking about this part of it. How in the hell did you pack up your beloved sister or your kid and put them in a wagon heading west knowing you probably would never hear from them again?

I get texts from the Butcher all the time. I will get regular phone calls from the Professor. I will see the Butcher at holidays. Once the financial stupidity is passed, I can go visit the Professor easily and then go see Dr. J and her baby and, hell, the Butcher while I’m making my grand tour of California.

And I still want to just never leave my bed! And I am the product of my ancestors. Is there a whole series of stories I’ve missed about the aunts of my ancestors who just then laid by the fire for the rest of their lives, back home, once the boat sailed?

The other day, when Mrs. W. and I were finishing our walk, I was like "Holy shit, what came walking out of the AT&T yard this morning?" Because I am not bright.

The other day, when Mrs. W. and I were finishing our walk, I was like “Holy shit, what came walking out of the AT&T yard this morning?”
Because I am not bright.

The McMahons

The Redheaded Kid brought me dinner and then we watched wrestling and shot the shit for a while. He’s taken up dipping, on top of smoking, which I find alarming, but also, damn it, I could have had the perfect birthday present for him. I mean, obviously, the next step is for the dude to just make himself some tobacco tea and drink it straight and I totally would have put some loose tobacco into some teabags for him.

I don’t watch wrestling regularly anymore, because the answer to the question “Whatever happened to [x]?” where [x] is some wrestler I used to like but haven’t heard of in a while is “[X] is dead.” And I have a hard time watching these folks do their thing knowing that the near future for a lot of them–these young, athletic people–is “[X] is dead.”

But we watched last night because there was nothing else on. And two things struck me–one, ugh, the writing for the women’s division still sucks. We watched a tag team match with only one woman who had any talent–which, you know, fine. It’s not like Kevin Nash is a great wrestler.–but she also was the only one with any charisma–which is why Kevin Nash had the career he did. And again, fine. Lots of wrestlers suck painfully in this regard as well. But then give them a match that a.) matches up to their abilities and b.) gives the fans someone to cheer for. They have people on staff who could write better matches in their sleep. Get them sleeping and fix this mess.

But the other thing is that the McMahons are Republicans. And yet, you know they have to keep their finger on the pulse of what their audience wants and sell it to them. And they sell a jingoist patriot as a bad guy. Holy shit.

It seems to me that this might be a fundamental problem for the Republican Party. But one they should keep a close eye on. Right now, yes, the people they want to vote for them love to boo the people who make up their base. So, those two groups aren’t coming together. But if there’s any way to make people cheer for someone who hates them, the McMahons will figure it out.

The Red-Headed Kid Had a Birthday!

The Red-Headed Kid is mowing my lawn. It’s awesome because it means Mrs. Wigglebottom gets a visitor once a week, which I can tell just delights her. But it bums me out because I don’t actually get to see him except for like the five seconds when he arrives before I leave.

Anyway, he turned twenty-eight on Monday and he’s having a hard time of it. As you might imagine. Since I’m sure, no matter how much you’re like “Oh, I’m not going to die at thirty now!” it’s probably very hard to get that deadline out of the back of your mind. It becomes a number around which a lot of psychic energy gets expended.

He told me that he’s having a hard time, too, because he realizes he’s going to have to come up with some long-term plans, or goals, or just something to work toward, and, really, he’s never had to do that before.

I didn’t have any good advice for him. I tend to flounder. It goes with my wallowing. I mean, practically, they’re the same motion, just one is less fun.

But then something becomes unbearable–for me it was the thought that I wasn’t going to at least try to be a writer–and you do it because not doing it sucks worse.

Lucky for folks who get that feeling early, I guess. But you can’t time it.

Two Douches

1. This Canadian guy. My favorite part is that his mom isn’t talking to him. But, by god, I don’t want to live in a world where a drunken guy can’t swim to the United States from Canada and get two governments and his mom pissed at him.

2. Lance Armstrong. Holy shit!

The lawsuit, filed in 2010 by Mr. Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis, alleged that Mr. Armstrong and others defrauded the government when they took sponsorship dollars from the Postal Service with the understanding that there would be no use of performance-enhancing drugs on the team.

But Mr. Armstrong, in a 25-page rebuke of the allegations, said the Postal Service should have known that he was doping. Allegations that he had used performance-enhancing drugs had received news coverage. But the officials “did nothing,” the filing says. Armstrong was denying his use of performance enhancing drugs during this period.

What is this? I laughed out loud when I read it. Really? America’s boyfriend, who lied and looked sincere for years now says it’s our fault for trusting a liar? Someone needs to check and see if that man even had cancer. At this point, there’s no depth to which I think he wouldn’t descend.

That’s Not What Little Girls Are Made Of!

A number of you are fired for not telling me about this… and I’m going to apologize ahead of time for this pun, but I cannot resist… cockamamie theory that Eve was not made out of Adam’s rib but his, you know, “rib.”

From here:

The authors then continue to support their argument with alternate translations of the Hebrew word for “rib” (which they say could mean “support beam”) and claim the raphe of the human male scrotum is what Genesis 2:21 is referring to when it says “The Lord God closed up the flesh.”

I have been laughing all afternoon at the idea of a woman being formed out of a baculum. Thanks for passing it along, Rachel. The post, not the baculum. Though, it would be cool to have Adam’s baculum. I wonder if that would be considered a relic of Adam or Eve? I wonder if Adam and eve are even saints? (The internet says ‘no.’)


Mrs. Wigglebottom Still Has a Wiggly Bottom

Whatever thing is blooming that has my allergies going haywire also has poor Mrs. Wigglebottom all congested. It’s terrible. She’s just a snotty mess. I gave her a Benadryl to dry her up, which resulted in her pacing around all night, wanting to be up in my bed, not wanting to be in my bed, wanting to stand outside, not wanting to stand outside, whining and panting incessantly, and just acting like a dazed idiot.

Finally, she fell asleep out here in the living room. But now I’m the bad guy for taking her for a walk this morning anyway. But I need her to sleep through the night.

Still, it’s funny. She walks so slowly that it’s literally hard for me to keep pace with her. I feel like I’m learning to mosey or something. If there’s any benefit to walking incredibly slowly, I guess I’m going to learn it.

It’s Not As Hard, Hard, Hard as It Seems

One thing I’m surprised about is how much there always is to do. Because, I have to tell you, except for when he was trying to impress a girl, the Butcher didn’t do all that much around the house. But someone else half-assed sweeping and half-assed cleaning out the litter box is an immense improvement over me having to do it.

If I ever have money, I will happily pay someone else to clean my house.

It just feels like so much to be aware of and responsible for. And, my god, if I can find the trimmer and figure out how to use it, I’m going to. The yard so needs it.

I feel like I’m doing well, but then this morning I realized that the Professor and I aren’t going to have a long lunch in my office ever again and I just felt so sad.

What can you do but get used to it?

It’s the year of things I feel ambiguous about. I want the people I love to have rich, full lives of wonderfulness. I don’t want to be left behind.

I want to put on “Going to California” and mope about it, but, if you listen to the song even twice in a row, it becomes painfully obvious that it’s incredibly stupid. Like the kind of dumbfucking stupid that makes you start to question whether Led Zeppelin is even a good band. Don’t ruin Led Zeppelin for me, Led Zeppelin!

At least all the animals want to cuddle with me. That part’s nice.

The New Hostess

I got some cupcakes. They are smaller and somehow not quite as nice. They’re not as tall. There’s not as much room for the creamy middle. Somehow it feels like a metaphor for corporate America. Even the things you want as a shitty indulgence has been made mediocre. Corporate America: Won’t Take You Clear to Hell in a Handbasket, but Will Charge You The Same Amount to Walk the Road to Heck Yourself.