Off to Memphis

I’m headed to Memphis, which seems a nice way to spend a day. I’m trying to arrange for some kind of adventure while also avoiding being stuck too much in the rain.

If you’re at the Mid South Book Festival, please be sure to say hello. I’ll be leaving shortly after lunch in order to get home before dark, as is my way, but I’ll be around all morning.


I got all caught up in Pith hullabaloo and I forgot to blog yesterday.

This weekend is the Midsouth Book Festival over in Memphis and I’m moderating a panel. I’m very excited and nervous.

The dogs and cats have reached some kind of understanding, but I still have to feed the cats behind the drum set, because they won’t come that far out of hiding. I imagine, if we set them up a secret path throughout the whole house, where they could just sneak around without being seen, they’d be quite happy.

I had no idea that fake NPR-ish supernatural podcasts were a whole genre, but they appear to be. I’m kind of excited about Limetown, and not just because it’s set in Tennessee and seems sort of aware of our history as a place for hidden government facilities and failed utopias.

I’m letting Ashland percolate while I have a busy couple of weeks. But then I’m diving in to revisions. I’m considering going down to Ravenswood and sitting on the porch again to do some. I looked into what it might cost to rent it for the day, just to be able to sit inside it and work, but the deposit! Holy shit. I mean, I just want to sit in a chair in a corner and type and occasionally wander around and check out views and such. Not bring 250 people in there for a wedding.

So, if any of you have an 1820s 8-room antebellum mansion you’d let me write in for free or for maybe $100, please holler.

Ha ha ha.

I’m too poor to even get in dead rich people’s houses.

Ten Hours

Y’all, I went to bed at 8 p.m. and slept soundly until the Butcher’s alarm went off shortly after 5. I then fell immediately back to sleep and slept until my alarm went off forty-five minutes later.

I feel fantastic.

And both cats are in the house along with the dogs. And no one is barking or hissing, so that’s nice.

Walking the Dogs

I plan to spend my day in a haze of grouchy exhaustion, doing laundry. That wasn’t my intended way of spending the day, but the Butcher and I seem to have had a misunderstand of just who is responsible for the black dog that belongs to his friends when he tells them “we” would be happy to dogsit. And so, when the dog spent three hours barking in the middle of the night, it was me who was home alone to try to deal with him.

I’m not ashamed to say that, after hours of tired trial and error, the solution was to drug him and turn on music so that he could not hear whatever it was that he was barking at outside.

Unfortunately, I had a difficult time sleeping soundly through the music. And then everyone needed to go outside at 6 this morning anyway, because that’s what time they go out.

So, dear readers, I decided they needed to go for a walk. Yes, both of them. At the same time. One of whom I have never walked before.

And I only almost cried once!

Sonnyboy was amazing. Like, disconcertingly amazing. Like all the lessons we’d been learning totally kicked in to overdrive. He came when he was called. He got his leash on. He didn’t tug. He walked nicely by my side. The whole left side of my body was having the best dog walk we’ve ever been on. Which was good because, sweet Jesus, the black dog was a tugging, twisting nightmare.

And then I don’t know what happened, but it kind of clicked in for him, too.

We didn’t go as far as we normally do, but everyone pooped and no one peed on each other.

The thing about the black dog, aside from being a fretful mess, is that he’s very, very bright. So, he understands how doors work. When he sincerely needs to go out and isn’t just being a giant nervous baby, he puts his paw on the door knob. Which, I admit, I find slightly terrifying. If he had thumbs, he would not need people.

We got back, we had breakfast. Everyone needed an intensive face scratching and now those fuckers are asleep. Where I’d like to be, but I am, instead, awake and getting on with my grouchy day.

I’m Missing a Door, Possibly Two

But I think my casual writer’s retreat was a success. I retreated, anyway.

Making My Own Writing Retreat

This weekend, I’m going to go sit on the porch of Ravenswood and think about revisions. I might tour Carnton. I can’t decide. I hate those stairs. As I hate most stairs. But I hate those stairs.

I read that Joe Hill writes his book and then, once he has a handle on what all the problems are, he just rewrites it, fresh, not using the old first draft even as a guide. I guess then he picks and chooses from between the two versions what he likes best. I kind of envy that and find it frightening. More what I want is to make room for something to grow along side my draft in my brain.

Of all the things in the book, I am the least concerned about the house. I could walk it in my sleep. But I still feel like sitting at a house like that is useful. And finding one the right age is tricky.

On an unrelated note, I haven’t forgotten about October. I just don’t have anything terribly cool lined up for ye olde blog. I do, however, have a couple of uncool things, I think.

Back to the Black Book

If you want an illustration of how Ashland is going, I set aside my baby blanket after a gross miscalculation about how much yarn I would need and started an old-fashioned granny square, something that would sit in my hands and require no thought.

Reports from my readers are coming in and, I swear, even when you say to yourself, “Yeah, something’s not quite right here and here and here but I can’t figure out what it is” and then you say “Hey, guys, can you help me?” when they say “Yeah, something’s not quite right here and here and here and I think it’s this and this and this,” my immediate reaction is “Why does everyone hate me and think I suck?” Like, seriously. At this point, having been through this a few times, I know the feeling will pass. But it’s ridiculous.

I’m going to say that, in a way, I kind of get the Puppies. Not in the slating or the cozying up to that Nazi, but I get the massive amount of pouty hurt that they run around with. I feel that same pouty hurt. I totally get the impulse to say “Well, why can’t my shitty thing be good enough? Lots of shitty things are good enough! Fuck it! My shitty thing is good enough and I will destroy everyone who says it isn’t!”

Plus, that approach has its victories. It’s satisfying.

Whereas, the thing I have to do now is not satisfying. It’s scary. I have to crack this thing open and fix a lot of things. And, at the end of all that work, there’s no guarantee that it will be good enough.

That sucks and, like I said, is scary. But that’s the way to get to where I want to go.

So, I’m moving the black book full of notes back into my purse and I’m back to mulling and mulling and making granny squares with my hands so my mind can focus on other crap.

There Was a Secret Society in the Secret Society

This story about these folks who cracked this 250-year-old code is really, really neat. And that they might have been a secret-society front for the Masons is even neater.

One nice thing about living in Tennessee is that I might, indeed, someday have to join a secret society in order to talk about dangerous ideas like “my vagina is not your property” and “I like smart people.” I already have the rest of the members of my order picked out.

Two Things Have Happened–One Semi-Expected and One Not

  1. I am teaching the dog to come when he’s called, specifically so that I can put a leash on him for our walks. This has been somewhat frustrating, because he just so steadfastly refused to get it for so long, but also, I thought, if there was anything he was going to get, it was coming when he was called to the leash because he and I both enjoy walks. We needed just to make it from one happy scenario–running around the back yard like a wild man–to another happy scenario–going for a leashed walk–with the transition being he came when he was called. The reward–the walk–was built into the problem. It has taken some time, but he seems to now have it down. Today, I said his name and “let’s put on your leash” and he came right over to me so I could put on his leash. Score one for us.
  2. After our walk, I was putting away something in the yard while Sonnyboy was lollygagging in the garage. I came back from the shed and he was no longer in the garage. I looked over to the neighbor’s and there he was. I said “Okay, [his real name], come here.” Once! I said it once! And he did. And I died. And I am writing this to you from dog heaven, where dogs come when they’re called and get leashes for walks like pros. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic. But I at least think, after two long years, either he has kind of learned his name or he at least is like “Oh, that girl is making noises. This could be interesting.” Either one is okay with me.

There’s a Reason You Let Chili Simmer

I was so hungry last night that I whooped up some chili and we ate it. Skipping the part where it simmers for a half an hour or an hour or an afternoon or four freezing days or however long.

And it was… interesting. You’d eat a bite and it would be bland. Then another bite would be very salty. Then another that would be a different kind of spicy. And then there’s a big clump of tomato paste.

It was still tasty, but we laughed. It will be delicious tonight.