That’s all I have to report.
Tomorrow is my official first day, but my boss said she’d see me about eleven today, so… yeah…. I think today is it. The new me doesn’t start until May 1, so there will just be a lot to do. And I don’t know if or how I’ll get it all done. I tell everyone I’m excited because it seems so ungrateful to just be stressed. But, honestly, I’m just stressed. I think I’ll feel excited later. But this month? I’m expecting long hours and just feeling like crying most of the time.
So, my dad wants us all to go down to my brother’s for Easter because my brother doesn’t yet feel like traveling with the baby–which I think really means that the car seat only fits in his girlfriend’s car and his girlfriend’s car isn’t sound enough to make the trip to our house. Which is fine. Except that this somehow translates from Mom and Dad going to my brother’s for Easter to my dad trying to figure out how we can all go. And I’m feeling a little unheard. Like all my talk about how busy and stressed I am must just be bullshit. Can’t we drive down there after work on Friday and drive back late Sunday and the Butcher and I could still get to work? And these questions come up and I just feel this kind of split reality where my brain is rushing ahead thinking “You haven’t listened to or taken seriously a damn thing either I or the Butcher has said to you about how crazy this month is for me.” and my mouth is just exasperatedly saying “And what about the dog?” which is supposed to mean, “Have you at all considered the logistics of this from our end?” Because, frankly, I feel like he hasn’t. The only logistics to be considered, always and forever, are my brother’s. He’s the one constantly in crisis, so let’s all constantly rearrange our lives to meet his needs.
I mean, for sure, let’s go down on Friday so that he can ignore us all of Saturday like he did at Thanksgiving.
Anyway, I finished David Cantwells Merle Haggard: The Running Kind, which is pretty breathtaking on quite a few levels. But the thing that stuck with me and seems of a theme to this post is how Haggard would find these really talented women singers and then marry them and then hoist himself up on top of their talent and they would find their careers as anything other than duet partners with him stalling out. And then we find out that he’s in hot pursuit of Dolly Parton and I swear, it’s just about as harrowing as anything in a thriller. Will he get her and thus stall her career out?
And it’s not like he’s purposefully doing that. He’s not some intentional career serial killer. It just seems like he has an idea about how the world works–that he should get to have a great career and a great partner both singing and romantic and that he should also get to do whatever the fuck he wants while they raise kids and tolerate it–which is an idea about how the world works that the record companies are glad to go along with. And there’s no point at which Haggard seems to step back and say “Wow, the way I am in the world really curtails the lives of these artists I really admire. In fact, I couldn’t be how I am in the world without curtailing these artists I admire.”
Which is understandable. Holy shit. Who wants to look in the mirror and wonder if they’re some inadvertent Madame Bathory career-wise to the women you love?
What was my point? Oh, right. I sometimes think that my family expects from me a certain stalling out. Like I’m cheating the family if I have a job or ambitions that take me away from whatever drama we’re all supposed to be giving a shit about at the moment. But what can I do except feel hurt and keep on keeping on?
Which, ha ha, also, joke’s on them. Because I am terrified of stalling out. Afraid I have. Afraid all the writer I’ll ever be is “Frank.” But stalling out in that way doesn’t benefit them in the least.
But man, Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard.
There are many couplings I like to imagine (not in a lewd way, but…). I mean, my god, when you read about Loretta Lynn’s life with her shit-stain husband, don’t you hope that she and Conway Twitty were getting it on? And looking at Merle Haggard in his prime? Shoot, I hope Parton took him for a couple of test drives before deciding he wasn’t right for her.
I keep having this experience where I’m doing something that is normal consumerish doing something–buying a book, paying for lunch, visiting an exhibit–where, when I’m just about to complete my transaction, I’m encouraged to go review it on Amazon or Yelp or whatever. Like now, getting a product from you obligates me to not just give you money, but to turn in a report on my experience.
And I know I’m not the first person to make this observation. But it was like every interaction I had this week.
Yes, I am a blogger, but Christ, maybe I don’t want to be constantly telling the world about every instance of handing over money and whether it was worth it.
One of the things that tickles me is that, if he stands or sits next to you while you’re standing in the kitchen gossiping or just watching the birds, his head is right at hand level. So, he’s always coming over for head scratches, which makes me feel a little like Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, except that he always faces backwards. If I ever sent him off to attack my enemies, they’d get a good headstart in the time it took him to figure out what direction I wanted him to go.
In related news, insomuch that he loves to pee on my rosemary, I don’t have the heart to dig it up, even though it looks very dead. And then WPLN tweeted a warning not to dig them up until mid-May, at least, because they could look very dead and still spring back.
So, fingers crossed. Because it’s huge and I’d hate to start over.
I don’t really talk about work stuff on here, but I do want to say this. I’m completely bummed that my boss is retiring. I’ve enjoyed working with her and I’ve learned so much. And I think she does a really great job in a world where people don’t buy books like they used to.
I’m looking forward (in excitement and terror) to see what I can do with the job. But I’m sad to see her go. I’ll not see the likes of her again, as they say.
I’m weepy and emotional in general this week. But sometimes I feel like all this interesting stuff is wasted on me. I can’t tell you how, while I’ve been so excited and it’s so neat, it just hurts my heart so much that my Uncle B. is not here to share it with. He’s been dead twenty years, but these past couple of weeks, it’s just been like a dagger in my heart. Grief is so fucking weird. It comes fresh when it comes, no matter how long it’s been.
But even today, I had this thought that I should call Uncle B. and tell him about all the stuff I’m finding out about. I mean, he would have so loved it.
It makes me sad, but also it makes me feel close to him, still, which is nice.
Oh, you guys. It was like being backstage. I mean, I guess it was backstage. There were huge pieces of exhibits and pictures and hallways and offices filled with oil paintings of long dead Tennesseans. And every nook and cranny was filled with smart people doing interesting things.
So, yes, the sheet music. It’s in a display. Which means I have walked by it without realizing it. But that also means it’s pretty solidly behind glass.
But I told them all I know about all the Rock City Marches and they’re fascinated. They, like other folks, were disappointed that I didn’t record the versions I have. And they were contemplating whether they could put on a little recital or at least bring some musicians in to record.
So, the gist is this–I didn’t get to see the music. But they seem stoked about briefly retrieving it and making a scan of it and putting it together with the other marches.
It was so awesome. Maybe I missed my calling. Maybe it’s not as awesome when it’s your job, though. I don’t know.
Still, wow. Just wow.
I am so excited about going to the state museum that I woke up early–like that was going to get me to the museum sooner. I’m really too busy to be doing this, but, like I said yesterday, who the hell knows why this weird, lovely shit is happening to me? It might not happen again. If I can say yes, I feel like I have to.
I think I’m just going to let the ‘Cosmos’ piece be my last Think Progress thing, though. I’m out of energy. That’s going to be the thing that slides. Plus, then, I’m going out on a high note.
Bah, I’m distracted and disorganized. Will things around here improve once I settle into a new routine? God, I hope so.
Of course the State Museum has tracked down its copy of the Rock City March just as I’ve run out of time to go see it.
I wonder, is there a point when you’re going to be so far behind anyway that you feel okay saying “Well, fuck it, yep. Let’s go to the state museum?”
Is this that point?
Yesterday was not a good day. I’m completely freaked out about my ability to get through April in one piece and yesterday just made it seem like I was in over my head and destined to fail.
I don’t really feel any more confident in my ability to get my head above water today. But at least today I feel like I at least have a better sense of what needs to happen in April and what things I can get started now.
I don’t know. Who knows? Maybe it will go easier than I think. But here’s the thing. We have two seasons. Each season has ten to twelve books on it. In April, we’re getting seven books in from the printer. A fully staffed department that knew what it was doing would have trouble getting those all in and then back out the door.
We’ll see how this goes.
So, my lunchtime experiment of listening to songs in 5/4 was pretty interesting. But actually the video nm posted was more helpful. On my walk this morning, I tried it out–moving like those dancers move–to see if I thought a marching band could be set off to a march in 5/4. It felt plausible to me. There’s a noise a band makes when it’s marching and, if you’ve been in one, you know what I mean–that quiet schup schup schup schup of people taking steps the same size at the same time. And walking in 5/4, in the manner of the dancers, gives you a sound more like schup schup schup schup pip, but it’s a noise you can get used to, a rhythm that’s easy enough to fall into.
“So, you’re going to hang out in my grandma’s chair in a painting that was in her living room. The guys from Duck Dynasty or your band doing a reasonable impression will show up in canoes and play.”
Next week, folks. My new job starts next week. I would, I think, feel better if I didn’t know what I was doing. But, instead, I feel like I know enough to know that I’m just going to suck so bad for a little while.
The Butcher said I’m writing about “middle-aged people things” for Think Progress, which is depressing, but true. Here’s my latest post on Hannibal. He then lectured me about Vincent Van Gogh and accused me of being a dumbass for wanting to be a known writer.
So, that was a fun ride to work. Mostly, though, my writing anxiety revolves a lot around the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing.
And what if “Frank” was as good as it gets? Talent is finite and I spent mine on one zombie story?
In other news, I’m listening exclusively to songs written in 5/4 for lunch today. I need to remember to ask @txmere if there’s any well-known dance that is done in 5/4.
I think my Demonbreun presentation is set. And I busted my ass all weekend on the afghan so I think I’ll be able to finish it up tonight. I’m pretty frazzled and miss seeing people, but I’ve got a lot of shit I need to get out of the way before April and I’m getting it out of the way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ post yesterday and it put me in a mind, too, on top of his points, of how we white people, even progressives, tend to talk about Native American issues as if Native Americans are gone or almost gone. We’re really hung up on this idea that we can ruin you good. That any encounters with us must end in your ruination.
We are, white people, obsessed with this idea that we can cause apocalypses.
I don’t want to downplay the amazing destruction we’re capable of. Because we are capable of it. But I’m fascinated by this idea that we do all this shit and then want to either say that you deserved your utter destruction because of your inferiority or say that your utter destruction is understandable in light of our unparalleled dominance. Even when people demonstrably haven’t been utterly destroyed.
And, in a world when it’s so hard to get white people to say “Oh, yeah, that was pretty shitty,” maybe arguing that we tone it down about how shitty it was sounds strange. But I’m convinced that there’s something wrong with our continued fantasy–even in the face of proof that people live on and in ways that mostly work for them–that we have utterly destroyed our foes.
It’s like, even when we want to talk about societal ills, we need to have reflected back to us our unparalleled power to utterly destroy. We want to believe we can end things. The amount in which we’re invested in this idea that we’re strong enough to end histories, if not History itself, is pretty amazing.
What I love about history, about finding things no one has thought about in decades, is the feeling that I’m hearing a secret whispered from a ghost.
…ooo I loved that song ooo…
…ooo I thought I figured that out once but I was wrong ooo…
…ooo This is where I lived ooo…
I’m going to see Dave Rawlings Machine and John Paul Jones is going to be on the stage and I will be happy. My seats are in the balcony, which I am a bit worried about, but it’s too late now.
I have to run to Hendersonville this afternoon and everyone here at work is so sorry I have to make the trip. Oh, darn, I get to be driving around in this sunny afternoon. How will I cope?
Yesterday, K. hooked me up with a guy who could play all the Rock City Marches I had. It was amazing to be sitting in a room, the three of us, listening to music we weren’t sure anyone had heard in decades.
I really love the feeling of going into the TSLA and finding things and knowing that I might be seeing something that no one has seen in years. But this experience of turning around and sharing it with others is also really amazing.
But, yes, as I say in my post, I ended up apparently a Rock City march short. But on Twitter, a guy from the State Museum offered to see if he could track down their copy.
How is this my life? I honestly don’t know. I have all these incredibly interesting people I know who all are happy to help me feed my curiosity. I don’t even know why. But it’s pretty awesome. My hope is that it’s awesome for them, too.
I am very proud to bring you my Kelis Grand Unification Theory of all Awesomeness. My only warning is that I discuss earworms. Which means songs that, if you hear them, will indeed be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, or, in the case of “Neanderthal Man,” your life.
Walking the dog during the day: Doot doot doot. Let me protect you from this truck. Let me act like I’m going to poop, when really I’m just eating this thing. Did I mention I hate the head harness? I’m rolling down the hill! And I finally pooped. Doot doot doot.
Walking the dog first thing in the morning because the Butcher is still asleep for some reason (a girl is my guess): It’s dark! Where do I pee? It’s really dark. Where are we going? What’s that noise? Stop! What’s that noise?! Oh, wait, wait, I hear something. I stepped on something. Oh, it was you. Sorry. Did you hear something? OH HOLY SHIT! There’s a bird!!!! What’s that noise? Why did you step on me? Well, duh, I had to stop right in front of you. There was a noise. I see the cat!!! What’s that noise?
The dog makes me physically walk quicker, but today’s walk took ten minutes longer than usual. And he didn’t poop. Because, apparently, you cannot poop when birds are watching, or something.
I’m thinking about writing about my Kelis is a genius theory this evening, but it’s going to require listening to “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, and I just don’t know if I can do it.
I’m really tempted to title my Joseph Deraque talk “Everything I Don’t Know about Joseph Deraque.” Because, people, the list of things I don’t know is substantial and growing. Was he the Jeuseph DuRoche from Vincennes? Is he related to the Durochers over along the Mississippi? Why did he and Richard Finnelson change their minds about moving the Indians against Nashville? How many kids did he have? When was he born? When did he die? Did he and Elizabeth really ever own Granny Rat’s tavern?
I do have two things I want to be sure to do during my talk. One is to try to put Timothy, Elizabeth, and Joseph in some kind of context, just to explain that the French way of living in the world was very different than the English/American and that it’s not surprising that a.) Timothy would have had a church wife and a Nashville wife, because French traders worked by kinship ties and the way to get kinship ties with a group is to become a part of a woman’s household; b.) that there are rumors that Joseph and Elizabeth were both half-Indian, even though the more I dig into it, the less likely this seems to be true as we understand the term. It just doesn’t preclude this being a judgement about their behavior and ease in living in non-English/American approved ways. Just keep in mind that Sam Houston was a Cherokee Indian, straight up, beyond dispute, at the time and now we couch it in terms like “adopted,” because we can’t understand a racial or ethnic identity that doesn’t have some genetic component.
The other is to warm people away from using my beloved Provine Papers as any kind of fact. Because, damn, half of figuring out what we honestly don’t know is figuring out if the only source for it is Provine. If the only source for it is Provine, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be wrong.