Jemima Clancy?

jemima-clancy

This is a map of Nashville from 1805. Here’s a link to the original, if you want to compare how the map maker made certain letters. And here’s a later, cleaner version of that 1805 map.

The newer map renders the name you see there on Lot 80 as “Jemima Clancy.” The hitch in that particular interpretation is that, in 1800, there were only three Clancy families living in the USA. None of them in Nashville. Which isn’t to say that by 1805 someone’s widow or daughter couldn’t have been here, but is to say that a land-owning woman named Jemima Clancy anywhere in the country probably would have left more of a trail than her name on one map.

There were Chaucys living in the country, but not many more than Clancys and, though it’s rare to find women on census records that old, no Jemimas and no one living in Nashville.

There were quite a few Cheneys. And I did find two Jeremiah Chaneys. The senior Jeremiah lived at Marsh and Barren Hundred, Washington, Maryland, which is an amazing name for a place. His son, who I’m just digging into, was also Jeremiah Chaney and he served in the Revolutionary War and lived (and died) over in Overton County.

So, my question for you dear readers is, do you think that name could be “Jeremiah Cheney?”

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Decadent

This year, for the first year ever, we have the week between Christmas and New Year off. I spent yesterday doing nothing. I’m going to spend today doing nothing. Truly nothing. Tomorrow I’m going to see friends and the weekend will be normal. But two days of nothing. It feels so good.

I see that Amanda Palmer has a five-year work visa for Australia and has decided Trump will be good for punk rock. I was going to read the story, but honestly, that made me laugh so hard I didn’t bother. Trump will be good for political writing, said Betsy Phillips, as she got on her rocket and headed to the moon for five years.

I don’t blame anyone for leaving for Australia if they can, but leaving for Australia while looking forward to enjoying the work of the people in pain who can’t leave? Lord almighty.

NTB

I spent all day getting new breaks. I should have brought something to crochet, but instead I took along Kendra DeColo’s My Dinner with Ron Jeremy, which I read through three or four times, and a notebook in which I started a short story. It felt good to be writing fiction again.

There was a woman there, in the waiting room, when I got back from lunch. Her husband is cheating on her. She’s kind of known for a while, but let herself not know it, because trying to figure out what to do about it was too much with the health problems she’s been having and the fact that she spent the summer at her parents’ helping her dad recover from some bad health problems. She said she knew she hadn’t been easy to be married to.

And, you know, I believe her. What other choice do you have when someone tells you a story that you get caught up in?

But his actions, as she described them, don’t sound like those of a man in a marriage that has stagnated. They sound like the actions of a man who wants the thrill of almost getting caught. The highwire act of believing that he has, once more, pulled something over on his bad old wife.

As an outside observer, I feel a tiny sliver of sympathy for his mistress, who it sounds like has been through a bad break-up and, I imagine, is finding comfort in the feeling that she is so special this man will risk torpedoing his whole life for her.

But it doesn’t sound like it’s her that’s so great. It sounds like he’s almost drunk in love with the thrill of the transgression.

And who can’t see the trap for her in that?

Anyway, sitting there listening to this broken-hearted stranger, I felt so bad for her. But also amazed that here on this ordinary day was this extraordinary story. But, of course, that’s how it must always be. The world is full of things happening.

Also, I should say, I really love DeColo’s book. There is a kind of living with sorrow she gets at that I appreciate.

Beauty

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I really love how this turned out. I enjoyed working on it. I’m enjoying staring at this photo of it. I just have to wash it today to see if it is as great as it looks. I did make one mistake, but you can’t see it in this picture and I recovered from it okay, so I’m not going to point it out.

I’m also going to make another one of these as my next afghan, because I can’t bring any more yarn into this house until I have used up the yarn that’s here. It’s just become unwieldy.

Plus, I want to make something beautiful for my friends who’ve had an unimaginably rough year. Not that an afghan makes up for losing a child, but this is what I have to offer.

My other brother is getting married. He bought an engagement ring and gave it to his fiancee.

The Butcher would really like to marry his girl. He is slowly saving up for a ring. He asked my parents for help. No help came. My dad sat here and gave a recitation of all the good jewelry floating around my mom’s family and all the reasons the Butcher could not have a piece to use. I told the Butcher to bring it up to my mom, alone, again, and see if that pries something loose.

Then yesterday, I went into the other room and I brought out the ring I have from my great-grandma and I told the Butcher that he would need to take it to a jeweler and see what it is–maybe an aquamarine, maybe a light sapphire, maybe a costume piece of paste–but if it is something, then he’d just be saving up to have it reset, and it’s a nice size and has sentimental value.

I’m just so pissed. I can’t even deal with it. The world is so hard. Life sucks and is short and it hurts. Why can’t we watch out for each other? Why can’t we be kind when we can? Why can’t the boy get the girl with a ring his family helped him come up with? Why can’t we warn each other when there’s danger? Why can’t we just try, a little bit, to not be assholes?

Hard Times

I came home from walking the dog to find the Butcher a mess on the couch. Our old neighbor is dead. I don’t know what to say about it really. When he first told me, I had an uncontrollable urge to laugh, it just seemed so impossible that someone that alive could suddenly not be.

I still don’t know how I feel about it. How to make sense of it. I feel like I’m betraying the spirit of our relationship by not rolling my eyes and telling you all the ways the Professor and I would cackle about him. But I can’t bring myself to do so.

My goal to be open and generous with my parents kind of backfired on me, since they were feeling open in return and my dad told me something I’m having a hard time living with. I don’t want to be too specific, because it’s entirely possible that it goes along the Amelia Earhart line. But in general, the thing is that he knew a person who hurts people like me and he didn’t tell me. He let me hang out with this person. Obviously, this person didn’t hurt me or I would have known he was the type of person who hurt people like me. But my dad knew (or thought he did).

What the fuck?

They say that eventually it gets easier to deal with your parents because you know who they are and don’t expect them to be any different than they are.

I still don’t know. I am tired of finding out.

Sleep Tight

I had been super impressed with the fact that my medication wasn’t fucking with me too much during this joyful/stressful time.

Last night I went to bed at 10:30 and rolled over this morning to see if I could afford to sleep for a little while longer and it was 8:00!!! Ha ha ha. Lord.

Our other brother got engaged yesterday. I really like his fiancee. I hope she is eyes-open about what she’s getting into.

I’m just about done with this afghan. I have a couple of people waiting on specific things in line, but I think I’m going to make another one of these for a friend who’s been having a hard year first because I want to and this afghan makes me really happy and I need to get my stash way down before I bring more yarn into this house.

Amelia Earhart

Last night at dinner my dad was telling the Butcher’s girlfriend about how my dad had counseled my friend E. to either marry my friend J. or break up with her so that she could get on with her life–over ice cream. My mom kind of rolled her eyes. She did not believe my dad and E. had some secret bro-friendship where they ate ice cream and talked about marriage that my mom didn’t know about.

I was pretty sure that it wasn’t true, either, because I thought it was supposed to be a parable for my brother’s sake. My dad wants him to shit or get off the toilet.

But I suppose there’s the third option where my dad does think this happened.

Years ago, like when I was in college, my dad told me that my great-grandmother (last name Fisher) had gone to high school with Amelia Earhart, had a locker next to her, and hadn’t liked her and, in fact, one time punched her for not being “feminine.” Which I thought was a weird story because everything else about my great-grandmother that I know involves her finding ways to do her own thing, fuck the haters, so why wouldn’t she like another woman that was like “fuck the haters, I’m going to figure out how to do this thing?”

But I liked this story because it was kind of funny and reminded me that otherwise great people can have some boneheaded ideas and miss the greatness in their midst and be assholes.

The last time my parents were in town, I mentioned this story and my dad flat out denied he ever told me it. He even laughed and said what I said here–that my great-grandmother might not have been friends with Earhart, but that Earhart was the kind of person she would not have had problems with.

And it kind of shook me. Did I just make up this story and then come to believe it? Something like the Shazam/Kazaam thing?

But I feel like I kind of know me, right? And I sure as fuck did not know independently of him telling me that Amelia Earhart ever went to my great-grandma’s high school. I also rarely wear make-up and can’t get my act together very often to act “feminine” other than to the extent that I naturally seem that way, so why would I want a story in which “my side” gave comeuppance to the person not properly enacting femininity? My dad is the one with the hang-ups on people playing their proper gender roles.

Plus, if I wasn’t told this story, if I somehow discovered that Amelia Earhart also went to Hyde Park High School on my own, I would have known that my grandmother graduated three or four years before Earhart went there. They weren’t the same age. Their lockers never would have been next to each other. They weren’t there at the same time.

But he flat out denied ever telling me that and I felt kind of crazy about it. And then I saw him telling this elaborate story and I checked with E. and he said it never happened and I felt a tiny bit vindicated.

Keep from Getting Hurt

My dad’s sister thinks that my dad’s brother is a pain to deal with because his overriding instinct is to keep from getting hurt, so he just lashes out and pushes away before you have a chance to get him.

I think this is a pretty good insight.

The talk of the family, apparently, is how the fat ones among us cannot lose weight and how mysterious this is. My cousin, who ever has a personal trainer (!!!), is still fat. (My uncle, who they dare not talk to about fatness has lost a lot of weight on a gluten free diet but is still fat.)

On the one hand, after years and years of hearing how no one will love me if I don’t lose weight, I am, shall we say, keenly aware of the shift in the discussion. And I’ll die happy in my dotage if I never have to hear about how my weight makes me unworthy of love again.

On the other hand, when I first got diagnosed with PCOS, I told the women in my family, “Hey, I have this endocrine disorder and it usually runs in families and you might want to get it checked out.” That was years ago. And I am not a scientist, obviously, but it’s pretty apparent to me that PCOS is called that because the most easily recognizable symptom of the endocrine disorder is cysts on your ovaries, but the cysts don’t cause the syndrome. If I had my ovaries removed, I would still have the syndrome because my endocrine system is fucked up, and the cysts are just a symptom. The syndrome should just have a name like “whew, doggie, your endocrine system is fucked the fuck up and causing some weird shit throughout your body syndrome.”

And, again, I am not a scientist, but if the more proper name for PCOS is instead WDYESIFTFUACSWSTYBS, it seems quite possible to me that men could have some iteration of WDYESIFTFUACSWSTYBS themselves.

So, I’m finding it very hard to respond to this change in direction of the discussion of our bodies with the kind of grace and generosity that I am striving to interact with my family this Christmas with (that may be too many ‘with’s but I’m not sure), because I feel like nothing that happens to me is ever real until it is replicated by other family members. So, I can say, “Hey, I have this endocrine disorder my doctor says runs in families” and la la la, whatever. Poor broken Betsy. But now that the aunt on the starvation diet and the cousin with the personal trainer are not able to lose weight and it’s just baffling them and their doctors, by god, something is wrong!

Yes, fuckers, an endocrine disorder runs in our family.

Anyway, I got to spend a fun twenty minute telling my parents that the most important thing any of us can do is to eat as well as we can, and make vegetables a big part of our meals, move around a lot, and do that because it’s good for us whether or not we lose weight from it and try to let go of the idea that our weight tells us anything about our worth or whether we’re trying hard enough to be good people.

I suspect that will remain unheard until someone else in the family also says it.

I am often very frustrated with my uncle and his approach to life, but my god, I get it. It’s just at odds with my efforts to be the kind of person I want to be in this world.

Which, ha ha, probably wouldn’t bitch about her family behind their backs on the internet, but baby steps.

This Day

I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.

The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.

Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.

Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.

To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.

I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.

Family Traditions

sadies-afghan

My aunt sent me this picture of an afghan my great-grandma Sadie made for her. It’s a simple five-round granny square with a picot border. I wish I could better see how the squares are put together, but that’s okay. I suspect this is just a scrap afghan, with yarns left over from other projects.

It’s hard for me to put into words how this makes me feel. Sadie is my great-grandmother on my dad’s side. I learned to crochet from my mom’s mom. I know this is just because crocheting was ubiquitous. It’s not weird for people on both sides of your family to have done it. But it makes me feel something. Like here is a message that works on a level beyond words and at that level, I am reading it, and then I have to wait to see how it might translate into something I can make sense of.

Like I am doing something we do.

And you see that square that looks like a campfire? I want to make a whole afghan like that someday.

My aunt told me that my dad and his younger brother didn’t get afghans. I wonder if that’s because there was a certain age she gave them at (I know my grandma, her daughter, gave us all something she needlepointed at a certain age, though I can’t remember what age that was) and she died before my dad and uncle reached that age?

Anyway, it makes me glad I crocheted an afghan for my dad last year.

The KKK Reality Show

Yes, of course, it will have the effect of normalizing this nonsense, but that’s not the purpose of it. Look at how long it’s been in the works–they’ve been filming a year.

I think this is BLM backlash. White people are upset by the idea that there’s systemic racism that we all benefit from and participate in, often unwittingly, so here comes a show to reassure us that we’re not the real racists. It’s those guys.

And the “those guys” they pick aren’t even the largest racist movement in the country currently! They’re not looking at the alt-right. Just the KKK.

See, then? The problem is small and weird and not us. Let’s all point and laugh and feign shock.

Crunch, Crunch, Crunch

Oh, you guys, this silly dog. We had a little precipitation this weekend so the leaves in the yard were all frozen and crunchy and the dog was doing this hilariously weird run where he had the same posture and gate as if he was running really fast, but it seemed to be designed so that each of his feet would hit the ground with enough force to give him a really satisfying crunch.

Crunch, crunch, crunch, he ran around the yard. And again I felt lucky to see it.

I’ve been trying to understand how I will tell if the medication is working and I do think that my feeling that getting to witness the dog and his joy at life is the luckiest thing every day is one.

Bwah ha ha ha ha

Lord almighty, I took some cold medicine and that was pretty much it for me. So, let’s put “medicines will hit you differently” on the list of things they don’t tell you about going on this shit.

I had weird dreams. One of which is that I was on some dangerous adventure and I kept thinking I’d forgotten to take my birth control pills, but, like the adventure was a crawling through some dangerous undergrowth near some lava alone adventure, not a James Bond adventure, so I kept popping them like candy and at some point in my dream, I look down and it’s clear I’ve just been eating them all day, not even in any order.

My subconsciousness is both “must not forget to take medicine” and “must definitely not get pregnant while crawling near lava.” Which, you know, both good things.

In related news, the Butcher introduced me to Uber Eats, which has made being sick a whole lot less annoying, though I feel like such a capitalist pig every time I use it.

In unrelated news, I love this afghan I’m working on so much. It’s just so beautiful. It is a perfect scrap afghan, though I have to admit, I’d also love to try it with a color scheme.

Anyway, here’s a picture of the interior part and a picture of the octagon part. I didn’t lay out the triangles or the weird shapes, because I’m not sure how they’re all going to work. It’s going to involve math, though, and I’m already pissed about it.

 

The Oxford American Music Issue: The Blues!

So, as you guys recall, I heard from the new-ish editor of the OA, who noticed that we used to talk a lot about the Music Issue and wondered if I’d like to talk about this one. I declared my feud with the OA over, but I should be clear that I’m not sure the new-ish editor knew about the feud. I mean, I’m sure there’s a whole side part to that job that is just learning new, weird shit about what happened before you got there and dealing with the reverberations of that. And let’s be honest, “picked a years’ long fight with a random woman on the internet” has to be way down the list behind all the other stuff he got up to.

But anyway, I wasn’t going to turn down an issue devoted to the Blues or pass up the chance to mull it over with you all.

But do we even remember how to do this? Who knows?

For starters, I really love the music in this issue. I’ve been thinking a lot about the approach of it. I think there’s a tendency when you’re compiling a blues compilation to ask yourself “Who will fans expect to hear here?” The problem with that approach is that a lot of blues fans are devoted to the “the blues had a baby and we called it rock & roll” mythology, which means they expect to hear the folks that influenced rock music, which leads to the “the blues is a lone, rural musical savant with a guitar, almost always male” bias. Which, on the one hand, fine. I love me some Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters as much as the next person (maybe more so in the case of Muddy Waters) and you’d be hard-pressed to put together a bad compilation that revolved around them.

But, on the other hand, that means reinforcing the sexist biases of the blues fans who would go on to be rock stars–you get a really male-heavy version of the genre, a genre whose biggest foundational stars were women.

The OA collection is easily half female, ranging from Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas to Ida Cox, Koko Taylor, and the more prominent Ettas, down to Adia Victoria and Alabama Shakes. Bessie and Mamie Smith aren’t on the CD, but they are well-considered in the issue.

I have to say, even as someone who bristles at the “lone Mississippi dude with a guitar” framing of the blues–in other words, as someone who intellectually knows there should be more women–I still find this CD wonderfully disconcerting. Here’s what it sounds like to put women back into the story of the blues with the prominence their influence warrants. It sounds strange.

It kind of makes me weepy to think of it too much, this idea that trying to hear the long, influential female traditions of the blues placed into their proper context, not as some add-on curiosity, sounds strange. I have to sit with this some more.

I also want to single out this version of Ida Cox’s “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues,” which is such a perfect song you kind of wonder why someone doesn’t remake it every year, but when you listen to Cox do it, you also feel like she is the only one who can do it justice, that everyone else is just singing along with her when they do their versions. Though, I’ll be honest, I’d be really curious to hear what the Knowles sisters might do with it, if they knew it and loved it. Anyway, I mostly know an earlier version of the song, so it’s really fun to hear Cox revisit it here.

A big shift in the issue for me is that I know a bunch of the folks in here. I adore Jewly, who I think is brilliant. I admire the shit out of Ann Powers. And y’all! NM is in the magazine. I’m not going to be too specific as to where or how as to not out her, but holy shit. I’m just reading along and there’s my friend, saying smart things. So, how can I even talk about the writing?

Except to say that I will always be biased toward the pieces that talk about what listening to the music feels like, that help me hear what it is in the music that so deeply moves the writer that he or she wants to write about it. And this year, as well, those remain my favorite parts of the music issue.

Anyway, we can talk about the music issue or cocktapusses or just sit here quietly together thinking about how nice it is to like things and to settle old feuds.

 

WaPo, Round Two

Here is my second thing for the Post. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I want to be funny and charming and knowledgeable and I think I pulled that off.

I think I have a better idea of why this is happening and what the trajectory could look like and, even though I would appreciate all fingers crossed, I think this will be a somewhat irregular opportunity that falls into my lap from time to time. Which is very lovely. And more may come of it. We’ll see.

In other news, my friend’s baby died yesterday. And, when I was at KFC picking the Butcher up dinner, there were kittens under a truck and I tried to coax them out, but they wouldn’t come and I came home knowing it was going to get down below freezing last night, with me having left those kittens behind.

I don’t mean to sound flip about my friend’s tragedy. There are things people can write about and things they can’t. When I try to wrap my mind around this, it feels like this terrible thing and then a blast zone around it of, like, twenty miles and words fail in the blast zone.

So, you end up trying to talk about the thing without talking about the thing. There are those kittens. There is that small boy. There is Jim’s death. There are a million other heartaches, piling one upon the other, and how do you go on, except to go on?

I don’t know what I’m getting at here except to say that I am so happy and so sad and I don’t really know how to reconcile the two.

 

 

Glorious

I am doing something stupid, which is letting the dog run big loops in my two neighbors’ yards in the morning before we go for our walk. He doesn’t consistently come when he’s called and he’s definitely too far away for me to control him with anything other than voice commands.

But when I see it, I just can’t bring myself to stop it. There in the dark, this pale blob, circling and circling and then running straight at me, tongue lolling, smile on his face. He pants and looks up at me like whoa, this is a good life.

And then this morning, he slid/rolled down the hill a good three or four feet and he wasn’t afraid. He loved it. And he leaped up and looked at me and then launched into this beautiful roll. And I felt so lucky to see it, so lucky to be there for it.

How often do we see miracles and just not realize it?

Yesterday, thanks to Facebook, I realized it was the third anniversary of the day we got him. If the vet’s initial assessment of his age was right, this makes him seven. I hate that with my whole heart because I can’t find any breed that he might be even a small part of that has a life expectancy longer than 10-12 years. We could, realistically, only have left as much time as we’ve had with him.

And yet, he seems so young to me because he is still learning things. He’s not yet set in his ways. There are still new things.

And even if it’s only for a short time, I feel very lucky to have him.

Confidence

I have been thinking about how my parents, as Midwesterners, have discouraged us from feeling too high and mighty. M. and I were trying to explain this to C. the other day, the kind of innate pessimism of Midwesterners. Don’t hope for too much. Don’t think this is going to work out. Work hard and rise to the middle.

One thing that has always confounded and delighted me about living in Nashville is how, with just the luck of being where an editor could see me, I’m now in a position where U.S. Representatives know and read me. I just don’t think that would have happened if I had stayed in Illinois and I can’t quite say why except for, in Illinois, I just wasn’t one of the people that could happen for and down here, there’s not that same barrier, whatever that barrier is.

And yet, still, the idea that I have written something that’s appeared in the Washington Post is ridiculous to me.

I sent my piece in early and told them it was so I had time to rewrite it if they didn’t like it. They told me it was great and I needed to have more confidence in my writing.

I kind of joked it off by saying that all my critics who think I suck can’t be wrong. But I was more put in a mind of that conversation with C. and M. Some people are raised to believe that the world is for them, that they can fail and not have missed their one shot, and that they can do whatever they set their minds to, because why not?

But a lot of us were not. And I have always felt like I am getting away with something here, every step of the way. I know I say all the time that talent is ubiquitous. And I believe that. But I also think that a lot of talented people are trained to not take the shot, lest someone more deserving not get the chance to play. And I think a lot of us believe that we must not be that talented, really, because we see so many other talented people.

In other words, really, we’re trained to self-stack the deck against us so that our “betters” don’t have to waste time doing it.

And I certainly have that tendency, myself, ingrained in me since birth, passed off as “pragmatic” and “realistic.” But I’m trying to not let it stand in my way too much.

Anyway, I don’t really know how long this gig will last or what it will become. I’m taking it one piece at a time. But if they ask me, I’m going to say yes.

The Fate of the Furious

a. I am slightly embarrassed to see The Rock and Jason Statham in their big muscles potentially fighting on screen. I have those fantasies in private, Hollywood. Stop watching me when I’m home alone.

b. Do you think all those guys have to eat like The Rock to keep up those muscles? Does the whole place just smell like fish farts constantly?

c. C. owns greyhounds who, and I swear I am not making this up, have to wear pajamas in the winter because they have so little body fat. Do you think Jason Statham and The Rock are constantly cold? Do they wear pajamas between takes?

d. This must be a disproportionate amount of men with completely shaved heads, right? I feel like I see very few completely bald guys in real life, but the trailer would lead you to believe that half the men you see in the world are going to have no hair.

e. If Vin Diesel auctioned off a chance to play D&D with him, at this point in my life, I might bid.

Unreal

This all still doesn’t feel real to me. Last night I was reading some about just how much Russia has been able to influence the election and how many Republicans knew about it and went along with it and I find myself only able to really comprehend things like how this must signal some kind of battle between the CIA and the FBI.  Or laughing at Trump discounting the news stories because the sources are the same as those that lied us into war in Iraq (and yes, I know it’s not true, but it still made me laugh out loud to see it. Are Republicans now admitting that they lied us into a war? Are there any qualms yet in the intelligence community about going along with it?).

I genuinely don’t know what it means for our country. Or for the world, really. If Russia had invaded and set up a government to its liking, we’d all know to be appalled and frightened. The signal would be there that life is different. But this is nebulous, unrecognizable, hard to make sense of. Which makes me think it’s a better form of warfare. How do you resist the subtle influence? Where is the stand to be made?

Most alarmingly, were we so full of hubris when we were doing this to other countries that we just assumed it couldn’t be done to us? Did we not learn from what we were doing how to build defenses?

Is the Dog Getting Smarter?

This week, the dog has developed a really annoying thing where he stands near the couch and barks at the Butcher like he needs to go out, but then when you put him out, he comes right back in.

I mentioned as a joke to the Butcher that maybe Sonnyboy just wants him to go outside for some reason.

But my god, people, today the dog barked at the Butcher and barked and it was super annoying and the Butcher got up to brush his teeth and go to work and the dog just stole his space on the couch!

I think the dog has been trying all along to trick the Butcher into getting up so that he can have the warm spot on the couch! But, before this morning, the attempt always ended with the dog outside and not near the couch.

Today, though. Today it worked.

I would be more frightened, but last night our neighbor came over to deliver a misdirected package and to get us to sign a petition and the dog was so shocked to see him at our house–the man who lives right next door, whose yard the dog has to examine thoroughly before we can go on our walk–he fell out. The delight! The yard runs both ways! If the dog can get there, the neighbor can get here! How does it work? What magic is this?

So, even though he’s clearly learning to brain, he’s not at evil genius levels yet.

Ghosts

Last night I dreamed I was trying to seduce one of the Butcher’s friends at my grandma’s house by letting him sleep in her bed and play video games on my phone. Because nothing says “let’s have sex” like “here is my grandma’s bed. Lay in it and be distracted by this phone.” (Ha ha ha. This reminds me that we saw this commercial last night for some KY product. A guy and a girl are making out. A baseball team is standing in the room. He tells the baseball team to get lost because he’s got some kind of new KY spray. The commercial ends. We sit in silence. I try my damn hardest to make sense of what I’ve just seen. I turn to the Butcher and I say, “Is she supposed to squirt the spray in his eyes to keep him from being distracted by the baseball team? I don’t get what the spray does.” But it turns out that the spray is supposed to keep you from coming too soon and apparently a way dudes thought you could keep from coming too soon in the past was to imagine baseball? But how could that even work when Mark Grace played baseball?!)

Anyway, it got me thinking of how much I dream of my grandma’s house and I wonder if that’s a problem for the people who live there now. Do they have any sense that I am there some nights wandering around?

This morning, before our walk, Sonnyboy was back beyond the creek sniffing something in the trees and I could barely make him out. He was a formless shifting light spot in the treeline and I thought, this is how he will look when he’s a ghost.

And it make me wonder how much of ghostliness is just a longing for those places where we felt most at ease.

Emotional Work

I read this article yesterday, which I can’t find now, about how men farm their emotional work out to women, without even realizing that they’re doing it and how the author found the constant, unspoken expectation that she would manage the feelings of the men in her life to be grueling. And thus she’s only dating women.

Ha. That’s a little flip. It was more interesting than that.

But I am interested in how people enforce and reinforce hierarchies and it is true that the person who gets to farm out labor–emotional or not–is in charge. And I have noticed that a lot of power struggles in organizations do come down to someone trying to farm work off onto someone else. AND, most interestingly, I have noticed that refusals to do the extra work are often met with “you hurt my feelings” or, more bluntly, “you’re being a bitch.”

In other words, when the person making the power play fails to farm out physical work, they often resort to trying for at least make the other person do some emotional work to soothe them.

I don’t find that to be only a tactic of men, though.

Daring

Y’all, have I been misinterpreting what the dog wants from the hill? Today it was raining, so the hill was slick and he threw himself down, as he does, and wiggled/slid his way down the hill on his back head first and then he leaped up like “Ta Da!”

Has this been it? Not rolling down the hill but sliding? Did I get to see the culmination of months of effort today? I can’t be sure.

I called my parents last night and told them about the anxiety and the drugs. Basically because I realized there’s a good chance that I’m still not going to be 100% at Christmas and obviously they would notice.

It was awkward and in the middle of it my dad switched mid-stream to talking about when they were going to come down for Christmas. And I said, “So, just to be clear, this makes me crazy.” And my dad said he already knew that about me. And we laughed. It was awkward and uncomfortable. Or, at least, I felt awkward and uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure what to make of their reactions. They didn’t really have any questions. My mom volunteered to drive me up and down windy mountain roads to see if the medication was working.

And then they wanted to eat dinner, so we got off the phone.

I don’t know. I don’t know what to make of it or how to feel about it.

The afghan I’m working on now is really beautiful, though, and it makes me happy. Also, my little cousin got her afghan in the mail yesterday, while she was home sick from school, and she loved it. So, those are the feelings I’m going to glom onto.

Sick as a Dog

Yesterday, I let the dog eat the last little bit of cat food that had been spread out on the counter and a half an hour later, he puked in the living room and twice in his bed. He may have puked some more outside, but he also ate a bunch of grass, came in the house, and threw that up. And he had the hiccups!

I don’t know if it was the cat food or if it was just the weekend full of kids overstuffing him with treats and him getting into the garbage or what but he was not well. The thing about him, though, is that it’s really tough to tell how bad he might feel, because he’s just such a happy-go-lucky dog. He kept his dinner down, mostly. The Butcher found a little puke this morning, but nothing like the mounds from yesterday. And now he’s curled up on the couch around his bone, snoring away, so I hope we’re past the worst of it.

But we had a disconcertingly nice walk this morning, because he wasn’t pulling on me at all. That was the only clue I had that he was still feeling puny. Otherwise, he gave the hill a good wiggle down and he pooped, so everything is moving through him, which I take as a good sign.

So, I don’t know. I worry. But he seems to be on the mend.