Day Two of Dreaming I’m Awake

This morning I dreamed I woke up and it was so dark that I rolled over to check my clock and it was like 5:15 so I still had a half an hour before my alarm was going to go off. I love that. Love nothing more than knowing there’s still time. And then my alarm actually went off and my first thought was “crap, what’s wrong with the alarm?”

Which, then, I realized I was dreaming, which is when you’re supposed to try to lucid dream, but my alarm was going off so no dice.

Anyway, I’m packed, which means I’m going to sit here for twenty minutes worrying about what I might be forgetting.


I dreamed I woke up this morning to discover that the Butcher had left the light on in the living room when he went to bed. I went through the motions of getting my phone, going into the bathroom, turning on the light, going to the bathroom, etc. only to be completely confused and disoriented when my alarm went off and I woke up and it was pitch black in the house. It took me most of the walk this morning to shake the feeling that I had somehow woken up twice. I can’t remember the last time I had a dream that vivid.

I have a convention this weekend. It’ll be fine. I’ll enjoy myself once I get there. But I feel anxious about it. I have a big interview next week for a thing I’m working on for the Scene and I have to coordinate a photographer and I’m not sure how that’s going to go with me leaving town and everything. And then Southern Festival of Books and a lot of work projects. And Chuck is running low on A City of Ghosts so I need to have some printed up and I need a mammogram and a chimney sweep.And rejections galore.

This has just been a hard year. I’m trying to just keep my head down and power through. The way out is through, after all. But now that I know that god damn poem, it’s hard to feel that good about it.


It’s Hard Not to be Down

The other day we caught part of Kevin James’ new sitcom and then we watched the debates and some doofus congressman was complaining that Clinton too much like his bitch wife/mother.

Kevin James’s sitcom is also about a man trying to live with a bitch wife.

The only reason I can see that someone would continue to live with a woman he hates is that he does like the way she takes care of him. In other words, I don’t believe the slash in “bitch wife/mother” is as differentiating as we might hope.

The assumption is that you get to bring someone into your household who will meet all your needs in exchange for…what? That’s the part that confuses me. You bring this woman into your house and…is it just housing? You give her a place to live, a little money, social status, and in exchange, she’s supposed to meet all your needs and give you the illusion that she does in a state of ultimate bliss?

And I get that there are religious worldviews in this country that try to raise women to want only that, to expect only that. And to fear being the bitch.

But usually, if someone comes into your house and improves your life 100%, it’s because they’re getting something out of it, not because you deserve it.

I’m being somewhat inarticulate, but what I mean is that it seems like a lot of men think they “deserve” a certain kind of woman and then resent and hate the real person who can’t meet that ideal. But I’m fascinated how “deserve” blinds them to the fact that, if they got the perfect wife/mother who made them feel good all the time and met all their needs, clearly, that would be someone with an agenda that might not match up with the dude’s. Like, expecting that kind of woman sets you up to be disappointed in normal women and taken advantage of by the women who can maintain the illusion of pulling it off.

And then, once they grow hateful and resentful of their wives, why stay?

Do these guys never look at their guy friends in relationships with women that function and are between two regular people and wish they had that? Like, why are you stuck in a dynamic you hate? Why don’t they just leave their wives and find someone who’ll be kinder to them?

Watching that Kevin James sitcom, I didn’t feel like “Ha ha ha, we’ve all been there with the cute but unreasonable harridan who runs our lives and does things to us and our households we don’t like but isn’t it funny how we deal with it?” I felt like, dude, get a therapist and a divorce lawyer and buy a chair you like to sit in and sit in it.

I couldn’t watch it. It wasn’t funny. It felt like propaganda to reinforce to men that relationships are miserable and you should expect misery and propagate misery in order to maintain some balance.

But looking at Trump… clearly, his appeal in part is that he knows how to make people who feel like they deserve something they’ve not gotten feel like this is their opportunity for revenge.

And I wonder how many people out there are motivated by that. I’m frightened that it’s a lot.

Is My Superpower Tipsy Note Writing?!

A while ago I was at an event and there was a guy there and I was a little tipsy and I had an idea. So, I wrote him a note telling him to do something and I stuffed it in his hand. Then I went home. Many months past until yesterday.

I had lunch with a person who told me a lovely story about the guy doing the awesome thing I had instructed him to do. And the lunch person thanked me profusely, saying she knew it was because of me.

So, that felt super awesome. But it does make me wonder, should I have all along been leaving notes full of good ideas in people’s hands?

Bad Year for Allergies

For the past three weeks, on and off, I’ve felt like I have a cold that won’t quite come into existence. I know it’s just allergies, but it’s bugging the crap out of me. Finally though, apparently, fall is here and the 90 degree days are over.

The peacock afghan is satisfying so far, in part because it looks really nice and because it’s really fun to come up with something and then have it work! I spent so much time tucking ends yesterday though, that I made myself a solemn vow that I would tuck my ends as I went from here on out with this afghan.

I’m glad summer’s over. It feels like it’s been a long one.


Y’all, today I did some shit. I finished my book review–Girl meets house. House has ghosts. Girl comes to regret loving house.–which I started last week and thought was stupid, but when I looked at it again today, I could figure out how to fix it. When I got back to the house after getting the dog his medicine, I thought, if I’m having a day where I can figure out how to fix things, let’s figure some shit out.

I fixed the story I wanted to submit to the anthology. But was it blasphemous enough? It did involve a woman kicking two pantheons to the side and racist bikers punching a baby and I came up with the best title ever–“Many Strangers Walk the Road to Emmaus”–but I took a look at a story I swore would never see the light of day because it was two personal and too painful and I ended up thinking that it was much more blasphemous, if more subtly so. Let me put it this way. I would let my dad read “Many Strangers Walk the Road to Emmaus.” I will never let him read “Lefty.” I’m not sure if someone who’s not a minister’s kid will get all the core heresies of “Lefty,” but I still decided to submit it anyway.

Taking into account the feedback I got on one of the rejections of the Metallica time-travel story, I rewrote the ending a while ago and then let it sit. I went back through it today and decided, yep, the feedback was right and the new ending is much better. I sent it out again.

I read through my story about the woman who gives birth to crawdads in Walmart and I loved it all over again so I sent it back out. So, that’s three submissions and the book review.

Sometimes shit just breaks loose. I’m not sure why.

The Peacock Afghan

God damn it, I really need a cockapus afghan and I need your thoughts on it below! Ha ha ha. No, the peacock afghan is going well. I kind of did up all the changing parts so that I could make sure the color combinations worked how I want and now I have a bunch of ends to tuck and then just the yellow and green rounds on the motif to put together.

I think the thing I find very satisfying about this style of afghan (and it’s going to be very heavily based on the beautiful butthole afghan) is that it feels like it goes quickly. Like there’s both a lot to do and yet not so much that you feel like it can’t be done.

But I’m still irritated at other iterations of peacock afghans I’ve seen, which are just making the peacock eye thingy and then appliqueing it to a different afghan. So you have two layers of yarned shit. How hot must that be?! I want an afghan where the eyes are a part of the structure of the afghan, not sewn on at the end.

And I think the beautiful butthole afghan, with slight modifications for a smaller motif, is the way to go.

I’m getting a lot of work done on the afghan, too, because I’m avoiding my problems. Ha ha ha. But no, it’s nice to come home and just not think about anything. Just listen to some podcasts and move my fingers around.

I sometimes feel like a liar. Not like a regular liar. But I feel like I have three really ingrained instincts–1. to shut down in the face of unpleasantness in order to have the unpleasantness over with as soon as possible; 2. to be the person who sucks it up and does what’s necessary to keep things moving; 3. to keep some important section of myself deeply private (and what section that is doesn’t even matter, just that I have a secret thing I don’t have to share). You can see, I’m sure, how very gendered that is and how it was fed by being raised a minister’s kid.

But it means that many of my interactions with non-friends are often fundamentally dishonest. The person standing before you, laughing along, is not the person standing before you who’s really thinking “Is this enough time to spend on this? Can I excuse myself now?”

So, I’m in this jam and it’s kind of self-inflicted, in that I have a few acquaintances, not people who are my friends, but people who could have, under other circumstances, become my friends, who have a view of me as someone who breezily blows off this online shit and who courts and loves conflict. I am “tough” and “a bad ass” and I “can take a little criticism, so who cares?”

This is fundamentally untrue most of the time. This year it’s been especially untrue. As you all know because I gripe about it so often. I have tried to draw firm boundaries and to make clear that I don’t want to hear the negative opinions people I don’t know have of me. These boundaries, it’s become exceedingly clear, are not firm enough, because these same people keep doing this same shit to me–making sure I learn of all people’s bad opinions of me. And then I sit around and question, well, did I not make it clear, clear enough? Am I making it clear but they’re just not able to hear it because who I am as a person is, in this case so incongruent from who they see me as that they just can’t make it jibe, can’t believe I am who I am telling them I am and not who they see me as? Or are they evil and they think I don’t notice?

But I think this is an older problem with me than just this summer. People perceive me as strong and outspoken and yet my oldest coping mechanism is to go quiet and cryptic and smile and get it over with. I hardly ever say “You’re doing a shitty thing to me.” I instead harden myself against them and try to move them along quickly.

You see why it feels like lying? Like, once I decide you’re not safe for me, I just pull some important part of me away from you, tuck it in a safe spot, and handle you as best I can until I can be done with you.

So, like these people. I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to hear this shit–but I can’t really be sure that I’ve been blunt enough, since they seem mostly like good people but they haven’t stopped and I am a woman raised to not be very direct–and my ability to be generous to people who are bothering me is not very well-developed, so rather than continue to try to get them to respect my boundaries, I just begin to fundamentally lie to them. I smile and nod and laugh on the surface and me and my true self just withdraw and wait it out.

I’m not sure if that’s a really fair way to deal with the world.

Ha ha ha. I’m not really sure why this has become the September of Introspection, but I promise, the month’s almost over.

What Can Be Done?

I think one of the things that gets me down about America is that I don’t see a good path through. I say this as someone who loves to lecture, but lectures aren’t going to work. People’s pain doesn’t seem to work. These snuff videos don’t seem to work.

Oh, lord, that’s a genre whose meaning has changed. Do you remember–and maybe you don’t if you’re young enough–the fear of the snuff film? Had anyone ever made a film of someone dying? And I’m not sure what was supposed to differentiate this from news footage, maybe that it was artfully rendered? But the point was that someone could watch someone really dying for their entertainment.

It’s hard to imagine this being something so taboo it was mostly rumors and urban legends, since it’s an entertainment so freely available to us now.

One thing I keep hearing floated is the disbanding of police and the eradication of prisons. I keep thinking of Fish and Gacy, though. Maybe I should just be thinking of that guy the Nashville police shot the other day, who had been terrorizing his ex-girlfriend and whose family came out in support of the cop who shot him. Obviously, someone who’s a minor level drug dealer can be reformed. Someone who vandalizes a house could be made to understand how much that sucks through some kind of restorative justice. Maybe even three-fourths of folks like the Vandy rapists could be made to understand how what they did was wrong and hurtful and destructive. Maybe you can talk a lot more people into not being fuckers than we’re currently doing. I can believe that.

But I have been a woman since I was born and if there’s one thing you learn in a body like this, it’s that a lot of people enjoy the suffering of people like me. If a person commits a crime against me and it’s not motivated by need–like, sure, you can probably reform the person who steals and pawns all my band gear for drug or food money–but by the pleasure he takes in my pain, what does getting us together and sitting around discussing how much pain he caused me do but confirm for him that his goal was met and that, bully for him, he’s still causing me pain?

And why does your committing a crime against me create an obligation in me to fix you?

I like a lot of the ideas I’ve heard about restorative justice and I see how it could sometimes work in circumstances where everyone was committed to not ruining lives and to having positive outcomes.

But, like I said, I’ve been a woman a long time. I know the tremendous pressure we’re put under now to not jack the people who’ve wronged us up. I don’t see how this won’t be more of the same–where we just bear all of the pain and suffering and suck it up so that the community is not disrupted. It seems like a good situation for bad people. And a free trip to the candy store for people whose goal is the continued suffering of their victims or their victims’ families.

I could be more convinced that we should just do away with the police, but we didn’t used to have police and, when we didn’t, you had to find the person who wronged you or hire someone to do so. And possibly things are so bad right now that this arrangement wouldn’t change things, but I just think this ends with poor people literally never getting justice.

Here, I think, is the problem. Humans are self-serving, fucked-up messes and the institutions we create reflect that. We look at something as deeply fucked up as America is right now and we imagine that the solution is to burn it down and build something better in its place. But it’s us. The same fucked up people who are doing this thing. How are we not going to create new unfair systems?

I genuinely don’t know what a solution is here. I have been one who has spent twenty minutes untangling a terrible knot in yarn and I have been one who just cuts the knot out and goes on with less yarn. And a lot of times, there’s no difference to the end afghan. But I’ve never been in a situation where, when there was a difference, I didn’t wish I’d spent the twenty minutes to get the yarn unknotted, rather than coming up short when I needed it.

Charlotte and Such

One point that both criminal justice reformers and people opposed to the growing surveillance state have made is that, under close scrutiny, everyone is an outlaw. In other words, we all break laws every day, often without realizing it, and almost all of the time, nothing comes of it.

The number of people who drive over 30 miles an hour down Lloyd for instance is nearly everyone because of the hill. If you don’t ride your breaks, you’re going down the hill at 40. On an empty stretch of road, it’s very easy to decide it’s not that important to ride your breaks down the hill.

But the thing is, there’s always something. All of us have done something wrong in the past few days, weeks, months. If we’re subjected to enough scrutiny, the things we’ve done wrong will come out.

So this is the situation the State has developed into (I don’t want to say “set up” because one very troubling aspect of this is that it’s not directed by anyone. It’s not a plot by a person you can point a finger at [or not that alone]. Often it seems to rise up organically because, somewhere in our collective unconsciousness [ugh], we believe this is what authority does, so, if we have it, we do it.) is one where every citizen is also mildly criminal. Sometimes, not even criminal, just potentially criminal, but I still say, dig hard enough and there’s something.

Therefore, when the State needs to justify violence against us, there is always something they can use.

One thing that deeply troubles me–and I swear we’re still talking about Tulsa and Charlotte, but follow me here–is seeing CNN debating whether the guys who tried to bomb New York “deserve” due process. I mean, we should have seen this coming with Guantanamo, but here we especially are–this idea that, in order to have rights, you have to be a good person. Being spoken in the mainstream, being normalized, while we just blithely ignore how few of us, under close scrutiny, look very good.

In order for the State to disguise the giant rights-grab it’s doing to all US citizens, it relies on racism, on the belief held by many non-black citizens that black people are just more criminal, badder and more dangerous than the rest of us, when really, as studies have shown time and time again, they’re just under more scrutiny. But if we accept that black people are likely bad people, then we don’t question why the State is killing people who’ve called for roadside assistance or who were sitting in their car reading books or who got pulled over for having a tail-light out or who didn’t speak with the right kinds of deference, or who were sitting next to a dude with autism, or who ran away, or who failed to run away and on and on and on and on and on.

Is it escalating? That I don’t know. We didn’t keep track of police shootings. We didn’t have activists shining a light on things that used to be hidden and swept away. But it also does feel like the State’s response to a segment looking more closely at what its doing is to respond more violently.

I don’t know what a solution looks like. But America has always been at war with its black people. We call it ancient history, but here it still is.

Butcher Appreciation Day

Ha ha ha. He hasn’t been a butcher in a million years. But what kind of nickname would “Guy Who Does Some Crap I Don’t Quite Understand And Goes on Trips” be? Nicknames, once given, shall not be updated.

Anyway, while he’s out of town, I’m coming to appreciate all he does, like keep the cats entertained, the dishes, filling the dog’s water bowl every evening, going to the grocery store, getting the mail, rolling out the garbage, bringing the cans back in.

I’m just like, my god, there’s another basic thing that needs doing in this house all the fucking time. And I’m not doing the litter box. Those jerks can just poop outside like regular animals.

I haven’t been doing something for the book every day he’s been gone, but I have gotten a lot more done for the book than I have most of the summer. That feels good. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again–writing is one skill. It is hard but, if you read a lot and know what you like, you can flounder toward writing something you’d like to read and, eventually, write something that you enjoy reading. You can share it with your friends. They may also like it.

The submission process is a whole other equally as difficult skill set. I mean this for both short stories and this damn novel. They’re often conflated into one thing–like if you just write well enough, the submission process is a minor technicality, nothing to worry about. But folks, no. It, too, is hard and requires skills you don’t know you need until you’re crying because you don’t have the skill and you’re not sure how to cultivate it on such short notice.

So, I guess what I want to say is that I was a little fucking snobby about people not being real writers if they’re not submitting. But I also want to acknowledge somehow that this second part means something, too, and has weight and leaves scars. And for most of us, it’s an ordinary, tough, part of being a writer that is mostly invisible to outsiders.

Also, last night, in the dark, I stepped on mouse entrails. I heard the new kitty singing. I knew what it meant. I still did not tread carefully.


I think I mentioned that my cousin lectures me pretty much all the time on how to take a compliment gracefully, because apparently I don’t know how. I thought of her last night when at the thing I was so worried about because people kept saying such nice things about my work.

It’s especially weird to hear people describe me as brave. I think, if you read here, you know why. I don’t feel brave. I feel afraid and anxious and like a walking mess. I guess I don’t quite understand what brave really means when applied to me. Brave is actually doing shit which I do not do. I am, at best, brave-adjacent.

So, anyway, when complimented, I’m trying not to launch into my usual, “Oh, no, it’s not that big a deal,” because it annoys my cousin and it then spurs the person into trying to talk me into it being a big deal, which then prolongs the massive discomfort I feel.

I am, instead, trying to just say, “Thank you.” But I feel like I must not have a very good poker face because I can tell by their reactions that people don’t believe that I believe their compliments.

It’s funny to think about it too much. I mean, first of all, I know I look at other writers and I see them getting heaps of praise and I kind of envy that, like, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone thought I was so awesome? And then I send my fiction stories out into the world and they make barely perceptible tiny ripples and I still envy the people who are good at it.

Meanwhile, I go out back, wrestle with pigs, and when people cheer for me, I don’t know how to take it. It doesn’t make me feel satisfied. I feel like it’s kind of embarrassing that people have noticed I have this dirty hobby.

I think, though, that this is really unfair to myself and I need to stop doing it. I need to just view writing as writing and not look down on one way I do it.

Anyway, there was no massive blow-up like I was so worried about. She didn’t even talk to me and I was busy talking to other people.

Sometimes You Don’t Know What You Need Until You Get It

I had a couple of good long discussions this weekend and a short, but important discussion, and I am feeling like a human being again. Just sometimes it means the world to hear from other people “That is fucked up and I don’t know what to do or make of it either.”

It’s nice sometimes to know that you’re not overlooking some obvious solution.

I watched Spy again last night and I laughed again. One thing that really struck me is that one of the reasons I find Jason Statham so delightful in it is that he’s being funny. Like somehow him being funny doesn’t negate his handsomeness.

But, and I say this as evidence as kind of my own internalized bullshit, Melissa McCarthy is just objectively stunning. Like, she is really beautiful. But, much like Lucille Ball, since she’s sending out “funny” not “cute” cues, I didn’t notice.

I don’t know. I have a lot of thoughts. It pains me to be honest about them. But it means a lot to me to see Melissa McCarthy out in the world being beautiful, making movies, even comedies, where a lot of people want to fuck her. I’m embarrassed at this age to need that, but I do.

Trying Not to be a Miserable Fuck

A thing that irritates me about myself is that I am not as brave in person as I am online and it often causes me annoyance. People assume I must love provoking people and must get a thrill out of their angry responses and thus it’s fine and part of the fun for them to share those angry responses with me. Please don’t do that unless you’re genuinely afraid there’s been a death threat I need to know about. I honestly hate it and find it very stressful to read all the ways I suck.

I do say things in writing I am often too…I don’t even know…not in the right frame of mind to say anything about in real life. Writing buys time for reflection that real life rarely affords, I guess is what I’m saying.

Anyway, I’m going to this thing on Sunday and one of the people who might be there is one of the people who hosted a Facebook discussion about how much I suck. I have since been talked down off the ledge by mutual acquaintances who believe she was trying to have a more nuanced discussion, something along the lines of “while I don’t agree with what Betsy’s said here, I am appalled at how people are treating her” and her friends took that as justification for having a discussion about my evil ways. And I am trying to be the brave, fearless person people seem to think I am based on my online persona and not let it bug me that I have to see her Sunday.

I’m off the ledge, but let’s be frank. I’m not off the roof.

When I’m walking the dog, my mind tends to wander, like how things kind of bubble up when you’re trying to go to sleep, but when you’re trying to go to sleep, you can let things bubble up and if one of them is Jason Statham for some reason playing shirtless soccer in your front yard while all the women of Nashville drive by jealously, you can just roll with that. But when you’re walking the dog, or at least, when I’m walking the dog–if you’re also walking the dog, why are you so quiet every damn morning?–there’s no encouraging one train of thought to the exclusion of others. If my subconscious mind wants to chew on something, wants to move something to my conscious mind, it’s going to keep coming up on our walks.

So, every morning this week, I find myself imagining saying to this Facebook friend, when I have to see her on Sunday, “When was the last time someone asked you if you were afraid you’d be shot over something you wrote?” And then I imagine all kinds of responses. I run off crying to my car and come home and never leave the house again. I stare at her until she withers up into a heap of ashes. Whatever. In no scenario can I imagine what she could say to me that would sooth me.

And that makes me not want to go.

Here is the other thing, though (and, admittedly, my head is quite far up my butt here), I have been in relationships with people where they obviously spent a lot of time doing to me what I’m doing to my poor Facebook friend–imagining some pending interaction between us, gaming out the alternatives, and deciding that they already knew how things would go, so I should just also go along with and match up with their version of me.

I have hated that. And felt it entirely cruel and unfair and, frankly, nuts.

So, just for the sake of not being cruel and nuts, I am going to go Sunday and be a person and be open to her being a person and sometimes we bump against each other and hurt each other and Jason Statham cannot come and murder everyone who hurts your feelings.

But it also makes me feel a tiny bit of compassion for the people who have done this to me, since, when I want to do this, it comes from a place of fear.

I wonder if they were afraid of losing me. If knowing me, but leaving room for me to just be me and to have my own responses that you can’t anticipate necessarily ahead of time, was frightening to them, because it meant I might leave them or change my mind about them. Better to game out everything, to decide ahead of time how I will be and respond and then try to force me into it, better to make me predictable, and then they knew I wouldn’t be lost to them.

I have been lost to them.

It doesn’t work.

I’m babbling, but I wonder, a lot about how many of us, how much of the time, are motivated by fear and misery or the avoidance of it. I think I am, a lot. I have tried, since realizing this, to recalibrate my life to be motivated by happiness and pleasure and the pursuit of those things, but, in many ways, I feel like it’s a task akin to trying to learn to be right handed if you’re born left-handed. Even if you can switch, it feels weird. There are always times when you reach with your left hand. But unlike being left-handed, which is awesome and I like it fine!, how I was taught to approach the world makes it very hard for me to live in the world. I have to, for my own well-being, live differently, even if I often fail at it.

But, much the same way as not being a drinker tends to bring into stark focus how much the people around you drink and why, trying not to be a miserable fuck sure does show you all the ways people are miserable fucks and why.

Miserable fucks. Man. I’m trying not to be one. Trying being the operative word.


–I am fascinated by the ways people make themselves busy and important by creating work for others. Like not the normal way you create work when you have people who work under you. Like, if I hire you to ship things, I’m not talking about me coming to you and asking you to ship things. I’m talking about how, if it’s my job to put things in the box and your job to send the box out, and I’m the one who orders the boxes, since I’m the boss of the department, if I claim I can’t order the boxes until you measure the thing that goes in the box, even though you never otherwise touch the thing. So, then everything’s held up because I’ve decided that I can’t be bothered, that I don’t have time, to measure the thing I have regular contact with and which you otherwise never have contact with and that you must measure it.

That type of power move. One thing I’ve noticed a lot out in the working world is that you can tell a lot about someone’s internal measure of misery by how often they pull this kind of nonsense.

–I’m also fascinated by the ways things that seemed interesting to me and sad and romantic when I was younger–and I have to tell you, in the interest of being honest, I was a sucker, A SUCKER, for this–like, the poor man tragically stuck with the wife who didn’t understand him, but who finds me (or someone else) an irresistible balm to his pain. From my own end, I think this is because I rarely feel found, let alone looked for, (which sounds kind of sad, but I don’t mean it to. I just mean that the people who’ve come to like me have come to like me because they came to know me. I don’t think I have ever had the experience of someone seeing me and wanting me without knowing me. And I imagine, hearing from women who have had that, that it is neat for a while and then grows tiresome and somewhat terrifying.) and never being chosen in my own right led me to an ugly place where it felt awesome to be then chosen over someone else, to be the thing so awesome that a person would risk everything important to him.

But then you get old. Ha ha ha ha. I mean, it’s just a lot clearer here in my 40s that, aside from this being a really shitty way to see yourself or to treat another woman, no one is stuck in a marriage. So, there’s no romance. There’s just a pack of lies and those lies start with the lies the dude tells himself to justify his behavior.

But the thing I have observed, which, granted, is not a large sample size, is that a lot of men have affairs for the same reasons they might drink–because they’re bored with themselves and their problems and want some easy way to not have to think about that. The drama and excitement of an affair keeps a mind busy outside itself.

It can have nothing to do with the person being cheated on. And it certainly has very little to do with the mistress other than that she can be brought into the drama the cheater is looking to create for himself.

Obviously, the dynamic is different in a marriage that genuinely isn’t functioning. I know people who’ve cheated who’ve gone on to long healthy relationships with the people they cheated with, but those rare occasions happen because and when the marriage is a hot mess already. (And obviously, this has nothing to do with people who seek companionship while dealing with a partner with dementia or something.)

But in marriages where one person thinks everything is okay, if not perfect, but at least working and making them happy and the other person is secretly running around? Then that cheater tends just to be a perpetual cheater. No relationship can satisfy him, because he’s not looking for satisfaction. He’s looking for escape.

This, I think, is why open marriages don’t work for folks like this. The thing he’s getting out of an affair isn’t the non-monogamy. It’s the drama. If everyone’s okay with what you’re doing, then you’re not getting the charge you need from it.

But again, what’s that have to do with the women involved, except cause them pain?



We binge-watched Galavant on Netflix over the past week. It is delightful. I don’t know why I never searched it out when it was on live. I guess because I never heard anyone say, “Wow, this is weird and delightful.”

Timothy Omundson is wonderful in it. His character goes from sniveling baby to kind of dorky but regal and, even though he’s stunningly handsome and his eyes are so dreamy, I bought him every step of the way. For a silly show, they give him a ton of character development and he just sells the shit out of it. But we’ve loved him since Lassiter, so I guess it wasn’t that surprising.

I was surprised by Vinnie Jones, which, I admit, is silly of me. I can’t help it. I’m a sucker, just a sucker, for the “big bad guy with softer side.” Like, will you punch bad guys and snuggle this kitten? Okay, fine, I’m in. The guys were kind of appalled at his singing, but I adored it. I mean, everyone else in the cast has a perfectly passable (and often far better than passable) voice and Vinnie just sounds like an everyday dude singing and I think that takes real guts. To just be yourself, have your own voice, flaws and all, when you know everyone else has some level of professional training at it. Plus, also, screw them. He has a really lovely voice in the kind of way that you know, if you saw him tomorrow out singing to a little kid in that very voice, you would have to lay down on the ground and just wait for the smiley tears to stop. (And possibly, judging by his life, Vinnie might kick you while you were lying there, but that’s a chance you’d have to take.)

I mean, that’s the thing about beautiful things. We try to equate beauty with flawlessness and perfection, but, if you had to say whose singing was going to hit you right in the feels every time if you had to hear it for the rest of your life, it’d be Vinnie Jones’s above Joshua Sasse’s, with no offense to Sasse, who has a very lovely voice.

I guess what I mean is that there’s beauty in bravery and daring, not just in perfection, and I often prefer the beauty that’s brave over the beauty that’s perfect.

Back Up on the Horse

I’m making myself a vow that I’m going to do one thing for Ashland every evening that the Butcher is not home for the rest of the month. There is no other way. It just has to be done.

I finished the short story I’m working on. The tone is weird. Maybe it’s not weird. It makes me feel weird to read it. I have written a lot of those stories this year. Most of them have been too personal to send out. This one may be, too, but I want to submit something to this anthology, just because I need to get back up on the horse in the short story department, too.

My parents called and eventually asked how things were going. I told them about a problem I was having and my dad said he told me I should have done all my writing under a pseudonym. He never told me that, but whatever. It’s too late now.

The pseudonym he says he recommended is just my middle name with my same last name. I don’t know anyone in real life with my middle name. I’ve never heard a person say it who I did not first tell it to. Maybe that would be different if I went to Sweden and hung out in their nursing homes.

But, as it is, it feels like a very private thing. It’s not a secret or anything, but it’s just something that feels like a thing my great-grandmother left me, which I cherish, but I wouldn’t recognize it as my name, as a way to identify me. It just doesn’t seem like something for everyday use.

I’m overthinking it. I’ve just been bummed and frazzled for a while and I can’t shake the feeling I’m screwing up in a bunch of ways I don’t realize. And I don’t think I actually am. I think this is just a shitty thing my brain is doing to pass the time. That’s frustrating.

Fake Park?

Yesterday, I went down to Murfreesboro to wander around the wetlands that used to be Black Fox’s camp. I don’t think I’m nuts for trying to do this. I came across a few pictures of the area where it appears people go hiking. I found a brochure someone had done for the city about the area.

But it turns out it’s just a wooded area behind some houses in a subdivision. I couldn’t even figure out if there was a place to park, let alone if there were real marked paths.

I felt so dumb.

I wish there were more ways to learn about Nashville’s, and Tennessee’s, Native American history. I’m just not finding the resources I want. Like, I don’t know what questions I have, but I know the stuff I find doesn’t satisfy them.

I also find it really frustrating that the conventional understanding so clearly makes no sense. Like, if there weren’t people here to trade with, why was Timothy Demonbreun here?

But more than that, when you say Jean (or Charles or whatever his name was) Charleville came from New Orleans before New Orleans existed as a city, how do you explain how a Frenchman coming from the south–Creek territory–was accepted as a trader by their enemies, the Shawnee? Like, we all know the Creek and the Shawnee fought and we all know the French intermarried with everyone. So, wouldn’t a French guy coming up from the south have been seen as Creek or Creek-allied?

I’ll tell you why we don’t. Because we’re so committed to the “no one was here” narrative that we don’t learn basic Native American history (which is also not our faults because finding basic Native American history is not that easy). We don’t think of Nashville being able to become Nashville because of what was going on in the Creek Nation or the Cherokee Nation or with the Shawnee or whatever, so we don’t look.

But it matters.

The Peacock Afghan Prototype

So, as we all know, this is what a peacock feather looks like:


I spent the evening trying to come up with a motif that would kind of reflect this and that would utilize the skills I’m learning in the current afghan. I think I’ve got it.


So, the purple part will be dark blue. The inner orange will be light blue. The first ring of beige will be some delicious golden brown. The next ring of orange, though, I think needs to be that kind of electric yellow-green, if I can find a yarn to match it. Then the decorative beige along with the outer beige (which will be the connective tissue of the afghan) needs to be just a fucking stunning green.

These motifs are slightly smaller than the motifs for the current afghan I’m working on, so I’ll need more. That part might do me in. The motif making on the current afghan went kind of delightfully well. Maybe I can fall into a rhythm with these. Fingers crossed. But no starting on this until the other one is finished.

Low-Key Week

Knock on wood, this week has been quieter and less stressful than previous weeks. I’m really enjoying working on this afghan. I’m also tickled because it’s so small compared to my normal afghans! But that’s only because I make giant, unwieldy afghans.

The other day I was listening to the NPR music podcast and the guys realized that there’s a certain kind of voice they like because it reminds them of Kermit the Frog.

I think there’s a certain size afghan I like because it reminds me of how I used afghans as a kid. I don’t think of an afghan as something you can just drape over your lap. I want you to be able to lay completely under it on the couch. I want it to make a good roof for your living room fort. And we are bigger than we were when we were small. Should our afghans not grow to fit out new sizes?

Still, I admit, I’m staring at this thing, wondering if it’s too small. I’m making it, though, for a kid who’s not even in pre-school yet. It will be fine.

But I have these thoughts because of the pending peacock afghan, which will use this afghan as its base.

Also, I think the hypnotism scene in this week’s Tanis is a master class in suspense. I am so jealous of their ability to make nothing happening terrifying. And the revelation at the end? It made sense of so much, I think.

Fantastic Afghan

People, this is blowing my mind. It’s been fun to work on. It’s turning out awesome. I feel like running around to all crocheters and yelling, “You can do this!” The pattern is free here. But the crucial part is that the woman who designed the pattern has a series of YouTube videos that takes you through the construction of the afghan and shows you a couple of tricks for making a smoother finish. I don’t know this Jesse at Home woman, but I hope someone buys her cupcakes whenever she wants, because this afghan makes me so happy.

If the peacock afghan works out how I think it’s going to, it’s truly just going to be a modified version of this afghan.


Okay, This is Fantastic

I put together the first row of this afghan and it is unbelievable. I want to carry it around today and just stare at it.


But also, my next afghan…did I tell you about this? I want to do a peacock afghan. I’ve been sketching out some ideas for the way to do the peacock part. But this! This is how to put them together. If I can get the right green for it, that will be the trick.

But I’m pleased to see how awesome this looks and to know it’s going to teach me useful skills for the next afghan.

The Next Afghan

This afghan, the beautiful butthole afghan, has two colorways that lay then side by side in the completely afghan. I am pretty much done with the warm colorway (just have to tuck these last tails) and then I’ll be on to the blues. It’s going pretty fast and I’m curious to see how I feel about the joining, which, I think, is where a lot of the trickery of this afghan is going to be.

But as I’ve been working on this afghan, I’ve been thinking about the peacock afghan people have been putting up on Facebook. I dislike it for the main reason that the motifs don’t form the afghan. They’re just appliqued to an actual afghan which you also have to make, which, a.) would be hot as hell and b.) make two afghans to end up with one afghan?!

This afghan is eye-shaped motifs. The part of the peacock feather that interests people is an egg-shaped motif. If I learn how to connect eye-shaped motifs, aren’t I really, really close to knowing how to connect egg-shaped motifs? I think I am. In fact I think I could make the egg-shaped motifs eye-shaped and then my joining would be exactly what I’m about to learn.

I may be about to get in over my head, but I’m excited.

I Should be Writing

I need to be working on my short story, but this week, man, this week. I’ve just come home and hidden and worked on my afghan and been an emotional mess and worked on my afghan some more. I am liking the shit out of it, though. It’s going fairly fast and the motifs have an interesting amount of variety and it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something and no one hates me for doing it.

Yesterday, I went to the funeral for the father of one of my friends. It was sad and lovely. The funeral was in Sue Allen’s old house, which I found myself thinking about before the service and I wonder if she would have found that fitting–that her house became a funeral parlor.

I also thought a lot about the importance of ceremony in times like this, when you’re so flooded with emotion–knowing what to do, where to go, what to say, because you do and go and say the same things every time this happens–I think it’s part of what makes it possible to get through these things.

I hope, anyway, because I love these people.

Anyway, here’s to hoping that the weather breaks and that Fall is kinder to us than Spring and Summer have been.