The Mysterious Ailment of ‘Cotton Crotch’

One drawback to having a ‘thing’ that your mom has is that you look back on your life and try to remember all the ‘things’ you’ve heard your mom complain about, especially when she complained about them with her sisters, so that you can prepare for the eventuality that you will get that ‘thing’ as well.

But once, when I was young and eavesdropping, I hear them discussing a mysterious ailment they all suffered from occasionally–cotton crotch. This ailment was decidedly unpleasant. It was caused specifically by wearing constricting clothing, in general, or underpants to bed, which is why my one aunt had to stop doing that immediately. And, if you got a case? a bout? of cotton crotch, you just had to wait for your period to clear it up, because nothing else worked.

I couldn’t ask my mom about cotton crotch because then she’d have known I was eavesdropping. And then I just assumed that, since I slept wearing underpants to bed, someday it would happen to me and then I’d know.

But it never has. And now my mom is an old woman. And I still don’t know.

I tried looking it up on Urban Dictionary, but the only entry they had for cotton crotch was as a phenomenon that happens when your tampon is too absorbent–which would seem not to be the case with my family’s cotton crotch, since theirs only comes around when you’re not menstruating. I know your mind (unless you know my mom) has immediately jumped to some sex thing, like my mom and her sisters are sitting around talking about what happens when you just can’t get wet with your husband. But remember, my mom only married into the Phillipses. She’s not uncouth. And my mom and her sisters are pretty earnest. If they were having issues with sex, it’s unlikely they’d be talking in metaphor about it. (It’s also highly unlikely that my one aunt, especially, wouldn’t have checked for children before sex talk.)

So, I feel fairly confident that it must be, in its own way, something straightforward and not something they’d be mortified to be discovered talking about. But I am still a chicken about calling my mom and asking her.

I could be, as a person familiar with pot, leaping to the conclusion that cotton crotch, like cottonmouth, has to do with unbearable dryness. I suppose it could not be the case. But I’m then having a hard time coming up with other things it might be. Something common? Something unpleasant? Something dealing with your crotchal area? Seems like maybe a yeast infection, but I know for a fact I’ve also heard them talking about having yeast infections, so I am confident that’s not it. Like I said, they’re earnest. And they don’t have cutsy names they use to cover up things–I had a vulva and a vagina my whole life. She never used other terms for them. So, I don’t think she’d not straight up call a yeast infection a yeast infection, if that’s what it was. Especially not around my aunt, who’s a nurse.

So, no, it must be some condition that doesn’t quite have a medical equivalent, I think. But what?

The Butcher is Back to Work

The previous situation fizzled out. And oh, the stories I could tell. But I’m trying to be thoughtful about the notion that sometimes the Butcher gets weirded out by how much of his life ends up here.

But he’s started a new job today, with a set schedule and a pay rate that doesn’t fluctuate based on arbitrary decisions made by consultation with the spirits. And the new engine for his car is almost here, which means he will soon get his car back.

So, that’s a relief.

Like a Landscape

One thing that confuses me, just a a fundamental level, are Biblical literalists. Like people who believe that the earth was literally created in six days. Which means that I’m conversely confused by people who think that an argument against Christianity is that the earth wasn’t made in six days. Maybe as someone who can’t ever remember not being able to read (I remember learning to write but I know I was reading long before then) and as someone who experiences the world as being almost indescribably strange and mystical, I just always thought those stories were metaphors–like a language that speaks to and has meaning to your soul first and then your brain scrambles to catch up.

I was reminded of that again yesterday at the doctor’s office, as I sat in front of a big machine and a woman peered deep into my eyeball, and took pictures of every inch of the back of it, and then made a giant map that would show the doctor this small portion of the landscape of my body.

Because I felt like a land there–a place that could be mapped. And I know that we think of goddesses being associated with the land and gods with being associated with the sky because of how a dude “plows the field” of his wife. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

But I swear, yesterday, I felt like I was realizing something different about what it means to be an embodiment of the land. Like some fundamental mystical truth was closer to being in a form I could articulate.

And, frankly, I’m not sure what that truth is. But the back of my eye tells you I grew up in Illinois. The shape I grew in is because of the land I grew on. Like, how much difference is there between me and dirt, in that case?



Also, today I am going to the retina specialist. I’m freaked out. Everything will be fine. But I’m still freaked out.

I think this is a matter of how we approached going to the doctor when I was young. You went when shit was wrong. So, even though this is completely routine and, in fact, I’m going now, before things go wrong, so that he can watch and catch things before they go really wrong, I’m still freaked out about it like there’s a problem.

I had my mom write up what happened to her and how she came to have to get shots in her eyeballs. And it appears that the thing wrong with my mom is the thing the guy I’m seeing has written a book about. He’s literally written a book on my mom’s condition. Which makes me feel like I’m seeing the right guy if I’d like to avoid having needles put in my eyeballs.

Also, I stupidly told my parents they didn’t need to come down and take me to this appointment, because I am a grown-ass woman. But now, since the Butcher’s car is still sitting in a lot on Trinity Lane waiting for the arrival of its new engine, of course he has a job interview at the exact same moment I am having a medical appointment that will leave me unable to drive home.

Luckily, our friend is going to drop him off at the doctor’s office. But it’s just kind of a logistical headache.

Things I am Nervous About

1. The process to replace me is so grindingly slow that I am bracing myself for being the only one in my department for much of April. Every time I think about it, it makes me want to throw up. But I’m trying to prepare myself as much as I can ahead of time. And to figure out how to turn off the panic chipmunks. After all, my boss went on vacation and I ran the department and it didn’t fall apart. Still, holy shit.

2. I am completely nervous about speaking to the Demonbreun society. I have never had anxiety about speaking in front of a group before. But holy shit, I am now. The thing is that researching Timothy, Elizabeth, and Joseph has brought me such deep pleasure and interesting thing to write about and think about, but, at the end of the day, they’re not my people. I’m just a fan. These are their people. And I feel both deeply honored to get to share with them things they might not know and to give them avenues of research they might not have. It means a lot to me to get this right and to not fuck it up. I’m speaking of these people’s ancestors to them.

3. So, yes, rather than do any work on either of those things or work on the short story or the fucking afghan I’m trying to finish, I spent the evening playing video games.

So, yeah, that’s not good.

My Mysterious Rash

rashI broke out all on my upper chest area here on Friday, which I was bummed about because it seemed like it might be a food allergy and a food allergy to Indian food would crush me. But here it is, Tuesday, and it’s still there. This is one spot of it. It itches. But it hurts if you itch it.

On the other hand, if you look just to the northeast of it, you see a faint pinkness. That was a massive scar from my biopsy a million years ago. And now, look at it. You can hardly see it.

I find bodies interesting. The other day I found a black hair growing out of the side of my nose, just from right about where you’d get a piercing, laying across my cheek, like a good inch or so.

And I’d like to believe that, if I had slowly been growing a black hair out the side of my nose, I’d have noticed it long before it reached halfway across my cheek. So, the more alarming prospect is that somehow, my nose–which mind you, is not an inch thick–sprouted an inch long hair in an evening. Where was it storing all that pre-hair material? Should I be letting scientists take samples of my nose so that they can develop better treatments for baldness?

Would anyone use a treatment for baldness which was “Rub B.’s nose cells all on your head?” Could I set up some kind of blackmarket nose cell delivery business, where you come over and I wipe my outer (I promise, just my outer, no snot) nose all on your head?

In this new economy, is that my retirement plan?

Let’s be honest–yes.

A Shift

I’ve been around at the other place long enough now that people, finally, hunt me down to tell me things they think I should think about. Like my opinion matters. Or carries any weight. It’s weird, considering how futile it feels to try to get people to change their minds.

I don’t know. Mostly I just think it’s weird. Like, why now, after all this time, am I worth hunting down?

Maybe it’s just the problem with the media pool shrinking. Everyone still in the water stands out.

I Cannot Finish My Story

I am too tired to write the last couple hundred words. I am completely daunted about revising this from “people sit around tables talking to each other” to “things happen.”

But I got to invent a Led Zeppelin song and then have my bad guy steal it from the world.

See, before she fucked things up, J.D. Short’s ‘Wake Up Bright Eye Mama’ was never lost, so Led Zeppelin got to steal it and make it into one of their most famous hits. And now, sadly, we live in a world where Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bright-Eyed Mama’ will never be heard.

And I love that so much that, even if everything else in the story is an unfinished mess, I am happy.

Sonnyboy, The Bouncer?

So, because I trust Coble’s body, which says cold weather is on its way, I decided to walk the dog instead of spending the afternoon writing. So, there we were, walking, when who should drive up but my old neighbor! Blah blah blah, we’re sitting in the middle of the road, talking. It’s not that interesting except that Sonnyboy was not interested in greeting my old neighbor. No. Instead, he sat right up against me, right between us. He wasn’t mean or angry or aggressive in any manner. It was as if someone had put a disinterested ottoman between us.

But it impressed the shit out of me. And made me feel like he was just letting me know that he had my back.

Also, I will reiterate that, as much as he dislikes the head harness and has to let me know by rolling down the hill once we get off the road in an unusually obnoxious manner, it makes him a million times easier to walk which makes me a million times more likely to take him for spontaneous walks.

Why Joseph is On My Mind

I’m in the middle of working out the details, so I’ll leave it intentionally vague, but I might have occasion in April to talk to people who are intensely curious about him about the kinds of things I’ve discovered, so that it might aid in their attempts to do their own research on him.

The absolute biggest obstacle to researching him is that his last name isn’t standardized, nor that distinct, and his first name is “Joe.” If you know that Timothy Demonbreun spent time in Vincennes, was an important politico in Kaskaskia, and traded down in New Orleans, as well as doing shit here, when you come across anything about Timothy Demorgbbuelrembum or Timothy Mmmmbmbmbm or all the ways they could have slaughtered his last name, you can kind of sound out the last name, decide it sounds close enough to “Demonbreun” and put it on your list of potential Timothy Demonbreun sightings.

But that’s not exactly the case for Joseph. However, once you know that the guy who is “Joseph Deraque” in the State Papers and in the state legislature records is also the guy married to “Granny Ratt” and thus also referred to as “Joseph Duratt” or “Joseph DuRat” and that Elizabeth Girard in the 1850 census living with Demonbreun grandchildren with children all named “Durard” is our same old Elizabeth providing us with two more forms of his name.

And then, interestingly enough, even though, in the State Papers, in his first person account, they spell it Deraque, at the end of one of the narratives, it says “Joseph Deratte, his+mark Robert Hays Justice of the Peace.” Now, the reason this interests me are two-fold. Deratte or De Ratte is a last name French people had in the 1700s and it would seem to indicate that, though they were spelling his name Deraque, he signed it “Deratte.” Meaning, that’s his name.

So, if you were going to look for his parents in Canada, you could do worse than to start there.

(Just as a side note, I’m not going to be at all surprised if Joseph and Timothy also end up being related.)

Oh Joseph

My efforts to pin down where Joseph Deraque might have some from are thwarted by the realization that “Deraque” isn’t an actual last name. So, the question is what kind of name is “Deraque” the messed up version of? If we search for Anthony Fagot–remember, he’s Joseph’s boss–the only historical reference I could find to him, other than in Arkansas, was as a merchant in Ste. Genevieve. The “St. Louis” clue is, as of yet, right now, unconfirmed.

So, I couldn’t find any names even vaguely like “Deraque” in any other French cities. But, there in Ste. Genevieve, in the early records I could find, there are Durands, Durochers, and Girards. Durand and Girard are both names “Deraque” has been Anglicanized to, which makes them possible cousins of Joseph. But I also found a really interesting footnote that I’d like to confirm, should I figure out who to ask, that the “illiterate” French folks along the Mississippi had a habit of pronouncing things oddly. So, some people said “Prairie du Rocher” like “Prairie du Roe-she” but with equal stress on both syllables and other said “Prairie du Rock-eh,” with, as far as I can tell, almost no stress on the “eh.” How close to “Deraque” might “Du Rock-eh” come?

Anyway, Ste. Genevieve is the best lead I think there is.

Songs for Sewing

So, I think I’ve come across a weak spot in the world wide web. I’m still working on my story and the main character sings, a lot. In the beginning of the story, he’s moping around singing “Ohio” by CSN&Y and then some “This Land is Your Land” and the whole family sings “The Rock Island Line” and one baby gets the Dead’s “Casey Jones” as a lullaby and another baby gets that Everlast song “What It’s Like” sung to her and then there’s a whole part in which the main character is singing a stream of American music at his granddaughter. Anyway, we’re just now at the point where the villain gives the narrator Betsy Ross’s thimble (did I mention how much I love this world?!), which she heretofore has been unable to make work.

And the main character sings a sewing song. So, I’m all, “refresh my memory, internet! What are some good songs to sing while sewing?” And all I could really find was “O Can Ye Sew Cushions?” that sounded like a song someone might actually sing while sewing, which is also about sewing.

This is weird to me. I feel pretty confident in saying that any task, like sewing or weaving or spinning or doing the dishes or whatever, would be greatly improved by singing. So, where are those work songs?

I modified “O Can Ye Sew Cushions?” for my purposes, but come on! Betsy Ross’s mom did not sing her a Scottish song. So, that sucks. I don’t know if the songs just don’t exist or if my Google skills have failed me in finding them.

I did learn that there’s some doubt that “Sarasponda” is an actual spinning song, though, so that’s cool/depressing.

The Car

You guys, when I got home last night, Sonny Boy was so excited. He rushed out into the garage and I thought he was going to be all “Oh, hey, B., it’s you.” But no, he was all “Oh, car! Car! Car, car, car, car, car, car, car. How I’ve missed you. How I’d like to go for a ride. Car, you are so awesome.”

And then he wouldn’t come out of the garage.

The Butcher told me he hung out in the garage all day, too. Like he was just sad his buddy was gone and waiting for it to get back.

So, the ranking, as far as I can tell is 1. The Butcher 2. The Car 3. Barking at the Whole World Like a Joyous Buffoon 4. Me 5. Treats.

I can live with that, I guess.

Even Modern Vikings Do Not Think the World Ends This Weekend

Everything about this story irritates me. Actual, ancient Vikings didn’t think the world was going to end this weekend. That’s a complete misrepresentation of, oh, everything. I can’t even imagine why an actual Viking would sit around predicting the end of the world. It just misunderstands everything about an Old Norse, pagan, worldview to think that this would even be a concern of theirs. The point was that even the gods die, but that things have a pattern. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but, in the Poetic Edda, the story of the end of the world is told in the past tense.

And, yes, there are many interesting reasons why this might be–the volva is merely saying what she saw in her vision and her vision is now over. Or that fate is set, so it’s completely knowable. Or, and my favorite, it’s an indication that time doesn’t work for the gods like it works for us. Balder is dead and has not yet died. Everyone knows how Balder will die and he is already dining with Hel. The gods fear Ragnarok and Ragnarok has already played out.

But old Norse folks had a very pragmatic view of death. Like, you might as well just do the shit that needs to be done because, if it’s your time to go, nothing you can do will forestall it and, if it’s not, nothing you can do will bring it on. But it’s also clear that no one thought you could know for sure how long a life you’d been granted. So, if you shouldn’t sit around worrying about when you’re going to die, why the fuck should you sit around worrying about when the world is going to end?

Also, apocalypse fantasies are for religions where there’s either pressure because of already occurring calamity–Why are we all dying from this strange rash? Oh, I predict the whole world is ending.–or because, fuck you, you’ll see I’m right when the world ends, you fuckers. Modern heathens aren’t under any more stress from already occurring calamity than the rest of our societies and Norse-ish paganisms aren’t exclusive. I can like Odin and believe that your love of Jesus is genuine and sincere. Just because Jesus isn’t the dude for me doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s real. And, I don’t give a shit if you think Odin is real. I’m not convinced Odin is real in the way people believe Jesus is real. And, of course, Odin wasn’t ever a person. And, even if you do think that Odin is as real as Jesus in the exact way Jesus is real, what polytheist is going to stand around going, “Well, these gods exist, but you’re delusional about those gods, so clean up your act, and worship like us, or you’ll be sorry!!!!” So, there’s no promise of final vindication in Ragnarok.

Not to mention that it’s hard for me to understand why/if the Norse would have thought that Ragnarok would have ended our actual world or if it was some kind of mystic metaphor. I mean, these are people who traveled extensively. They knew there wasn’t a serpent around the edges of this physical world. Yes, Midgard is our realm, but it’s also a mythic place. I’m not convinced that things that happen there have a 1 to 1 correlation with things that happen here.

But worse yet, this all appears to have started as a bit of a lark–as a way to advertise a cool event. And rather than take it as a kind of joking way to advertise a cool event, we’ve now got this nonsense, where news outlets are passing it off as an actual Viking belief.

The Red Sun

I had to drive in early today to drop my car off to get the oil changed. And the sun was this beautiful orange-red ball right at the horizon, against these turquoise clouds. And, even though some dude cut through the intersection and I almost got hit braking to miss him, it was hard to be too mad, since the morning is so beautiful.

There are buds on the big oak in the back yard. Though it still doesn’t quite feel like it can possibly be, spring is coming.

The idiot daffodils came up last fall. Their idea of “enough” winter to sprout is literally twenty minutes below 40 and then a warm-up. “Oh, must be spring.” And now they’re all brown and burnt from the cold. But I notice that the second spot of daffodils has also sprouted. And I trust that second spot.


One thing that blows my mind is how much True Detective rattles around in my head afterward. I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, so I was in that not quite awake, probably still dreaming, headspace and I was thinking how, even at my age, the idea that life is short is an illusion (though, in fairness, so is the idea that life is long). I have all these days stretching behind me, which I have spent similarly in order to preserve the illusion that life is short. Days alike are days that blend and merge.

I’m surprised by how much my nighttime thoughts turn to my Grandpa Phillips. He’s not someone I miss, by any stretch of the imagination. But maybe being the person a living person’s mind wants to mull over and understand is, in some ways, just as good as being missed. But I was thinking of him, being 40, sitting on the toilet in the dark, thinking back on his many days. I came to no conclusions. I just felt that we both had done that.

Ha, well, this is depressing. Let’s all contemplate every bit of how awesome this looks.

True Detective

Are y’all watching this? We watch it with the Red-Headed Kid on Mondays or Tuesdays, but I swear, I am about to tell him he needs to get over here on Sunday nights or lose the right to watch along. This waiting is killing me. Luckily, we got to watch it last night and, damn. I sometimes have a hard time believing this is even a real TV show. It’s just so smart and beautiful. I can’t remember the last time I sat around theorizing about what was going on in a show and I felt confident that the show creators had given as much thought to the clues in the show as we were. I’m convinced that every show I loved for having an overarching mythology was ruined by the fact that the writers, even though they promised to have carefully thought shit through, actually never had. They weren’t writing a grand conspiracy theory but a great game of improv. Tell me, honestly, that X-Files or Lost couldn’t have been mightily improved if they were given, say, four seasons right off the bat and allowed no more. Knowing the length of your story when your story is a conspiracy is important.

Anyway, let’s speculate:

We’re all of the opinion that Cohle is deep undercover in the present and that Hart is probably in on it. Something, we think, comes out about Hart’s daughters (maybe the visibly troubled one, maybe not) and Hart, though prone to violence against people who hurt children, can’t get at the guy who did it (perhaps his father-in-law molested them?) or he can get at that guy, but can’t get at all his friends, so Cohle, having nothing to lose and wanting to finally end this whole Yellow King (in other words, what’s going on with Hart’s family ties into the Yellow King) goes after them.

We’re all sure that Cohle would not be being interviewed if he didn’t want to be.

Our outlier possibility is that Hart is the Yellow King and Cohle figures that out.

I would love if we got some honest-to-god supernatural shit. But it fucks with my brain the way we don’t. So, I like it.

More on Sound of Noise

Okay, so here are some other things I loved about it. There’s a man and a woman at the core of it. They might even be said to have a very tiny thing. But it doesn’t go anywhere! And that’s not a tragedy. It was really fun to listen to. In that way, it kind of reminded me of The Innkeepers. (Just in that way, though. South of Noise is not at all, even in the slightest, a horror movie.) And, for a movie about music and making music, there are a lot of really delicious silences.

It makes me wonder just how outlandish a central premise you could come up with and still frame it with “real”ness.

I feel like many of my stories are obviously not quite here, like we have all moved over together into unreal Nashville (or wherever). But this movie was very “real” except for the central two things. And I kind of like thinking about that, moving one or two strange things from “unreal” into real.

Like everything is the same as it is here, but you can use butterflies as a heat source. Like, how little a change could you make?

I don’t know. I’m thinking about it anyway.

Lovely Weekend

I got no writing done, which is not ideal, but the dog went over to his friends’ house with the Butcher yesterday and, after a couple of hours, demanded to come home, where he just lounged around the house with me. So, that’s nice. I did accidentally throw a cat at him, which was not good, and he barked at the cat, very close to the cat and made his “I could bite you, you know!” faces at her, but he didn’t bite her (of course) and I think the cats are figuring out that he’s just kind of a lug, but harmless.

Oh, yes, here’s how you accidentally throw a cat at a dog. You’re in the kitchen, cutting up meat for your maiden attempt at paprikash, when the cat you thought was safely outside (for this very reason) comes out of nowhere, from some direction behind you, and lands square on the big chunk of as-of-yet not cut up meat. You will, just be instinct, holler, “What the fuck?!” grab the cat, and toss her away from the meat. But, of course, even though this happens in a split second, the dog has decided that, at his new house, it must be customary for everyone to get as close to the meat as possible, so here he comes. And there will be a kind of cat-dog mid-kitchen collision that ends up in barking and hurt feelings.

But, America, I have to still eat that meat! I feel fairly certain that I got all the cat cooties off it, but I’m glad I’m not serving it to guests.

The recipe I found for paprikash is basically an onion, two red peppers, a shit ton of meat, some garlic, and liquid that is beef stock, tomato paste, caraway seeds (I think, some kind of seeds) and all the paprika I had in the house. I added some Worcestershire sauce just because the smell kind of seemed like it needed it. And then the Butcher is going to put the liquid on the meat and veggies and stick it in the oven in a covered casserole dish all afternoon.

I’m already convinced that the next time I make it, I’m not going to want two red peppers, but I’m also already convinced–without yet tasting it–that I will make it again, just because it smells so fantastic.

I’m sure the cat hair and toxoplasmosis will only add to it.

Bah, This Year

I was thinking of thinking of this year as the year of big changes. But between the car repair bill and the plumbing bill and the heating bill in January and the heating bill and the tax bill here in February, I think this may be the year that takes all my fucking money.

I’m depressed. I know I should be relieved that I had a plan to have a little extra money set aside in order to take care of a couple of non-essential things and thus have the money to cover this essential shit. But I’m bummed.

And there’s some fucked up in my student loan, them saying I’m overdue, when they pull my loan payment straight from my account. So, I have to call on Monday and see what that’s about.

I know, I know, I know this is a better feeling than the one where they send you overdue notices and you know it’s because you haven’t paid them.

I know all this shit is supposed to make me feel like a responsible person–my financial issues are all manageable these days. But I still hate it.

Another Process Post

So, yeah, this current short story. I had 3,500 words that I knew hit a lot of the plot points I wanted to hit, but represented two different approaches to hitting them. Both of which didn’t quite work. But they were helping me solidify my thoughts on how the story should go, so I went with each one until it was clear that approach couldn’t carry me through the whole story.

Now I’ve figured out the problem–what about this story I found compelling and therefore whose perspective matches up with that compulsion. The thing is that I am pretty much obsessed with the past–its effects on us, how little of it we know relative to how much influence it has on us, the struggles to even understand what we do know, etc. You read me. You know.

So, I had been trying out telling the story from a limited third-person point of view both from the perspective of the hero and of the villain. But part of why it wasn’t working is that they’re both old. And, frankly, people who think they know better than you their own interpretations of history and then try to force them on you as the only interpretation are, at best, tedious. No one wants to read a story that’s basically “I know so much more than this other character. How can I teach this other character everything she needs to know in time?!” At least I don’t. Because part of the thing about history is that it’s like your grandmother’s jewelry box. Everything’s in there, but what you find valuable–what you pick up and put down–changes depending on your needs.

So, obviously, the compelling perspective is from the person who must do the sorting for herself.

I struggled for weeks to get those first 3,500 words, but I have gotten this 3,000 in two days.