Tomorrow is D-Day!

Tomorrow, my nephew, Delano, who will have to have a nickname once he’s out in the world, will be born. I’m planning on going up and sitting in the waiting room and seeing him on his first day.

I’m so excited.

And worried, of course, but much more excited than worried.

 

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Pot Stickers Unstuck

I cooked potstickers last night, successfully. I didn’t make them. I’m not that ambitious. But I cooked them and they didn’t stick to the pot.

Usually, when I make them, they do. But I finally realized that I had been taught in the wrong order. You don’t cook them in water you let boil off and then brown up the bottoms–that will indeed let them stick to the pot. You set them in the pot lightly coated with hot oil, let them brown up, and then put in a little water, which, by the same action that deglazes a pan, pops those potstickers right off the bottom of the pan.

Dad called last night for their weekly call. In it, he let slip that he was helping the Butcher financially–which is fine with me–because they always buy groceries for our other brother.

And, like, I couldn’t even be mad. I just finally realized he doesn’t care about me as much as he cares about our other brother. I don’t mean that he doesn’t care about me at all or that he dislikes me, just that there’s a level of caring and nurturing and doting on that he does for our brother that he doesn’t do for me.

And it’s fucked up and it sucks, but I need to stop believing that he cares about the three of us equally. He doesn’t and it doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Oh well.

Like, I think I have long thought that he was capable of caring about us all equally if only I knew the right combination of words and deeds to express my needs to him. But no. There’s not something more I need to do to “earn” my father caring for me in the way he cares for our brother. If he can’t do it, whatever. He can’t do it.

His loss.

I Have Become Boring

Worse, I don’t mind it. Last night, I sat around listening to podcasts and working on this blanket. Tonight I will listen to podcasts and finish it up.

I don’t even feel bad about it. I think it’s curious to see how boring I can be and still be content, but I don’t feel like it signals anything’s wrong with me.

This morning, the dog and I walked through the most beautiful fog. It was very thick and dark gray, but it left a large area of visibility in any direction. So, like, clear for fifty feet around us but then almost impenetrable beyond that. So, it had the effect of being the only real things in a bubble of unreal nothingness.

Perhaps there’s a metaphor in there for how things are now.

I have moved from not being able to imagine the grace it would take to say “I am with you in Rockland,” to understanding that I am in Rockland and not sure what can be done in here.

Do you have to know and accept your circumstances in order to provide comfort to others, or is just being there, with someone, enough?

Inception

This past week, I’ve been having really vivid dreams that seemed utterly real. I dreamed, for instance, that I was told by the editor of the Scene to come to a Scene editorial meeting in the new coffee shop downtown before I went into my actual work. When I got to the coffee shop and stood around waiting for my coffee, I realized that no one was showing up for this editorial meeting. Then I realized, I hadn’t talked to the editor in person the day before, that I had, in fact, dreamed our talk and the existence of this meeting.

I got my coffee, went to my car, headed toward work.

My alarm went off. I woke up. There is no coffee shop in the place I dreamed it was. I still felt a nagging fear I was late for work.

I’m hoping that this is just my brain slowly rewiring itself for narrative. I miss writing.

I’m getting some good afghans out of my hiatus, though, I guess.

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Texas

I keep checking up on what’s going on and then regretting it. I have the same feelings I had during Katrina, that we really are on our own. And that because of that, people are going to die.

But at least people got pissed during and after Katrina.

I’m already tired and afraid that people are just going to shift into telling us how awesome he’s doing and how everything is fine.

It’s the gaslighting and the anticipation of gaslighting that’s wearing me down.

Good luck, indeed, Houston.

Fuck.

Today I Bomb the House

I’m trying to figure out how to do all the things I need to do in the right order. I need to go mail this package that I don’t want covered in dog hair before I can put the dog in the car. I want to put the dog in the car after I’ve washed him so that he is at his most optimally flea-free. I need to make sure the cats are both outside and that they have no secret ways of getting inside. Food must be covered up.

Etc. Etc.

Things like this I wish the Butcher were around for just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything that then results in me poisoning everyone.

My chimney is officially fixed. I spent all day sitting around while they did their thing. I worked on a baby blanket.

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I like kids projects because they go so quickly. I love how this yarn is working up. I’m glad I’m giving this to an artsy person, because I’m hoping she’ love the same things about it I love, how the pattern of the square is very formal and traditional, but the colors of the yarn smear across it like a kid just learning to color. I’m still mulling over if 8×10 is the right size or if that makes it just a little unwieldy and I should go down to 7×9.

I also want to figure out how to make the interior of the square into the border…how to change the motif from something that works in the round to something that would work straight.

This week, also, I made this awesome mermaid tail for my niece!

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That’s the same self-striping yarn from Red Heart I used for the afghan I just finished, so you can see it’s pretty damn versatile.

Also, the family I made the afghan for came to get it and the child of the family said, “Wow, this is beautiful.” So that was awesome.

Bah

I haven’t written any fiction in months. I haven’t read any books that aren’t for this story in ages. I haven’t been able to figure out what fiction does for me in the current political climate, so I’ve turned away from it.

I also have some concerns that maybe the medication has dampened it somewhat.

I try to keep reminding myself that things have seasons. It’s always eventually October again. Some summers are just hotter than others.

Over the Hill

Since the weather’s been nice, we’ve walked to the school and back two days in a row. I love it because then the dog sleeps soundly instead of getting all in my business in the morning.

I swear, when it’s 60 degrees out, it’s impossible not to love Tennessee. And autumn here is my favorite.

The Butcher is going to be a dad next week. Next week! It’s wonderful.

Soft

One thing I can’t get over is how soft my new clothes are. This may be why rich people are so happy. It’s not the money itself. It’s that every time your hand brushes your thigh, whew! I mean, I could legit rent myself out to people who just want to touch soft things.

So… um… babies, mostly. And you can’t let babies carry money, because they’ll put it in their mouths. So, maybe not the brilliant idea it seemed at the beginning of this post.

But my point is that I’m enjoying the fuck out of my new clothes.

Nothing I Can Do, Total Eclipse of the Sun

You know, when you realize everyone has an outlet to write about what they saw and you’re not going to come up with anything creative, just lean into the cliche, I say.

Anyway, yesterday was the solar eclipse and it was amazing. I’m still stunned by how fast it was. It seemed like it took forever for it to get dark and for the sun to be just a sliver, but then it was completely dark and we all took our glasses off and looked up at it and it was… I don’t even know. Everyone went quiet, except for one guy who would occasionally shout things like “Look at the twilight on every horizon!” or “Look at such and such planet.” But it didn’t seem like there was enough time to look at everything.

We saw the wiggly snake shadows, but luckily, you could see them on the edges of totality. I didn’t see any crescent shadows, but I also didn’t go looking for them.

It was just so fast. Is the moon always hurling itself across the sky at that speed? Of course it must be.

The thing I most remember is how, at the totality ended, this bright sliver of sunlight shot out and we all instinctively reached for our glasses or looked away. Literally, just a tiny slice of sun hurt to look at. But it seemed like a flash. Like literally one second it was dark and the next second the flash of light and the sun was back.

You could see through the glasses that it was still, by far, mostly covered, but you couldn’t look at it with your bare eyes anymore.

It was extraordinary.

New Dress Day

Today I’m wearing one of my new outfits. I’m nerdily excited.

Yesterday at Kroger… well, two things. One, this very old man in overalls yelled out “I’m back and this time Mama’s with me!” which… I don’t know… struck me as equal parts hilarious and sweet. Like, that’s a line and you don’t know if it’s the stinger at the end of a romcom or the opening line of an action movie sequel.

The other is that I went right at noon so there were a bunch of people in their church clothes shopping and there was a young woman in this yellow lace dress and I wanted to take her picture or have someone make art of her. The dress was, I guess, pretty see-through but the way the lace was done, it felt very, very modest. Like instead of you looking at her thinking that the lace was giving you a peek at this woman’s naked form, it was more like she was just providing the most appropriate backdrop for this lace.

I’m not a straight dude, so maybe other people were looking at her and being all “bare skin! Woo!” but I don’t think so. I think the way the dress was made, the intricacy of the lace, that’s what there was to see. The dress is what you looked at.

 

No One Ever Needs to Set Out to Discover Why Granny Squares are so Popular

Months. Long, hard months involving tears:

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Two weeks:

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And I even learned a good way to make picots:

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So, there’s your answer. They’re easy to learn. They go quickly. They look fantastic. Anything where you can have fabulous success early on is going to be hugely popular.

Also, I suspect, if someone calls you up and says, “Grandma, I need an afghan for the TV show I’m in the crew on,” this is what Grandma can work you up on a moment’s notice.

Everyday I Work on the Illinois River I Get a Half a Day off with Pay

As the song goes, yesterday was a long hot summer day.  Therapy, lunch, one terrible thing, working on this afghan, and another terrible thing.

Neither terrible thing are mine to talk about, but I want something from this world it cannot give me. I want good people to have okay lives. Or at least lives that make sense.

I feel like I never know what to say in these situations. The world needs a kid of generous compassion applied gently that I don’t know how to give.

This is, I think, one of the things that when I was younger led me away from creationism. If we were created by a wise and caring being, even with a fallen world, why is it so hard to be good to each other, to know the right things to say, to genuinely be soothing and helpful?

Instead, we’re just lonely sacks of meat and shit bumbling around trying to make the most of it and often failing. Each of us alone in our flesh bags trying to bridge the insurmountable gaps between us.

Sitting Around, Thinking Thoughts

I spent yesterday sitting around waiting for the chimney guys, sitting around while they decided if the chance of rain was too great for them to do what they needed to do, and then sitting around after they left.

Later, there was a car accident out front. No one was hurt. My poor neighbors’ beautiful truck was destroyed. I called 911 and it felt like it took forever for the police to arrive, but I’m sure it was just ten minutes or so.

So, here’s the thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with those things, I just wanted there to be some words on my screen before I got started. I bought some new clothes. In a perfect world, there’d be some kind of office uniform and I’d just wear the same thing every day and not worry about it. But in this world, it is the individual’s responsibility to try to figure out what the fuck to wear every day.

I was pretty much like “I will wear this t-shirt and this skirt and if anyone at work looks askance at it, I’ll say that it’s summer time.” But then I feel like I only have two outfits that are genuinely work appropriate.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying I bought some grown-up clothes. But I bought some grown-up clothes.

I think they look nice. But since my strategy has previously been to dress like a bland tent, looking in the mirror, I just felt like I was looking at my belly, my enormous, round belly swathed in different, nice clothes.

I feel like there is no moment where my feminism and my trying to accept myself and my desire to be a happy person fails so utterly as when I’m trying on new clothes.

The thing about having been all different kinds of fat is that I know, from personal experience, that there is no size at which I feel happy and confident in my body, no way it looks where I feel aesthetically pleasing and desirable.

Still, I look in the mirror and just feel like, ugh, fuck. And then I feel bad because I don’t feel fine and happy with what I see there. And then I feel bad because I feel so fucked up that the mirror has never shown me something I felt fine and happy with. In other words, I know from experience that being thinner wouldn’t make that moment in front of the mirror any less grueling. The thing that would seem to promise an end to it is just another way to feel bad and failing.

Usually, what I end up asking myself is, “Fine, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime?” In other words, if I’m going to feel more confident or more socially acceptable when I “internalize my self-worth” or if I magically loose a bunch of weight or somehow stumble upon clothes that make me look so awesome that the bad thoughts are kept at bay, that’s great. Bring on that future day. But today I have to leave the house and I have to wear clothes and I have to go by reflective surfaces. So, I have to have something now or I have to do something now or I just have to accept that this is what it is right now.

This is life, right now.

So, anyway, I bought some great new clothes which I love, and I feel bad about it, but admitting it makes it suck less.

Is the Bug With Me?

There’s just a lot of shit I wish I’d paid closer attention to. I know, in the end, we’re all made up of atoms that are held together by… I don’t know… masking tape? But today, when I was walking the dog, I squashed a bug on my forehead. Like disgustingly mashed it against my skin.

And then I wondered, how many of the atoms from that bug are now in my forehead?

Am I a mosaic of everyone who’s ever rubbed up on me? Are the dog and I sitting here now, him on the floor, his butt resting on my shoe, with atoms drifting between us?

How long would we have to sit next to each other to be fully intermixed?

Kids Today

When I saw the video yesterday of the kid throwing his jacket over the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest or the kids posing, fists raised, next to the crumpled tin busted Confederate monument, I felt my heart swell.

I feel like a lesson we learned from the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s was “Just don’t respond and they’ll get tired of beating their fists on your faces.” Which is not at all the lesson of those protests, which were to make the current situation untenable. If everyone’s fine with you sitting around not complaining about the bad things that happen to you, then you’re not making the situation untenable.

Seeing these young people being proactive makes me proud.

Sumner

Last week, fittingly enough, The Dollop had an episode about the caning of Senator Sumner and how everyone in the South was all “Ha ha, he got what was coming to him! Oh, ho ho!” and everyone in the rest of the world was like “Holy shit. These people aren’t just fucked up. They are a danger to the wellbeing of our government.”

You can imagine I was reminded of that watching the president unable to say that white supremacists are wrong and that racist ideology is evil. I think to him, he had been so accustomed to how much the American media loves both-side-er-ism that he just assumed his condemnation of all violence would be good enough.

After all, he doesn’t want to alienate the only broad group that openly loves him.

But it felt like a turning point, even before that woman’s murder. Not that things like this hadn’t been happening all along, but with Sumner’s situation, the South had been dueling and fighting for ages. But something about an action can make clear stark divisions, unbridgeable disagreements.

And that was this weekend. Calls for love and peace aren’t going to cut it. Praying about it–unless you’re doing like the pastors in the streets this weekend and praying with your arms locked to try to keep violent racists corralled–isn’t enough. Saying you saw violent people on both sides makes you look like a fool.

The stakes are clear and undeniable now. You’re either against them or you’re with them.

And a bunch of us, who don’t all get along and don’t share the same goals and don’t work well together, are going to be standing against them. I hope it works. I hope it’s not too late.

Everything Old is New Again

So, I went over to Fisk to go through the Looby papers. If you like mid-century architecture and you haven’t been to Fisk’s library, you should rectify that now. It’s a work of art inside, with all the kinds of sharp angular brutish shapes you’d expect from mid-century modern with this two story curving flowing staircase in the middle. It’s just amazing.

Anyway, it was something to spend all morning immersed in the aftermath of 1950s racists and then spend the evening watching these evil bozos at UVA.

We have never dealt with this full-on. We’ve always pretended like, if we just ignore it or are nice enough to them, they’ll eventually be good people.

Which, in turn, lets them continue to fester.

This Afghan is Humbling

So, I put together my outside squares and… it’s too big. Even though I counted repeatedly and thought these squares were 27 stitches wide, which is pretty damn close to the 30 stitches of the other squares, they’re 37.

How did I fuck up COUNTING?! Counting? It’s barely math. Dogs can count.

Here’s what I think I’m going to have to do. I’m going to take a square out of each side of the outside round.

It makes me daunted to even think about it. I know it can be done, but damn.

Also, then, my plan is to figure out the middle point on each side and mark it so that I can adjust all along the side and not have a bunch of stitches that don’t match at the end.

I have also considered lighting the afghan on fire, tossing out the outside row and just putting a border on what I have done, tossing out everything inside the outside row and just filling the the border with some simple stitch that doesn’t make me cry, and moving to a country where yarn doesn’t exist.

But I’m going to try fixing it first.

Butt Down

My nephew hasn’t flipped yet. If he doesn’t flip, they’ll go in and get him. I watched a video of an ancient midwife flipping a baby just by rubbing a woman’s belly with her oily hands. I don’t feel confident enough to try that. Also, it would be weird.

The Butcher sent me a text yesterday that said, basically, that, if anything happens to him and his wife, he wants me to raise his son.

Of course I would.

But man, it made me cry to think of it.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Fisk to go through Looby’s papers, to see if he had any written-down thoughts on who bombed him.

I’m very nervous, because their library has really scary stairs. But I also acknowledge, it’s weird to have strong opinions on all the stairs you encounter.

I am a Technical Genius

I solved all of yesterday’s internet problems by…wait for it…finding a cord that wasn’t plugged in firmly and pushing it in.

No, no, I know. Such complicated technical know-how can be hard to follow, but believe me, this time tomorrow, I’ll be writing memos about how men just biologically aren’t good at tech and getting fired from Google.

I have only four more squares to go on the red afghan and then it will finally be finished. I’m not saying “never again,” because I’m an idiot, but I will be doing easier afghans for the next little bit.

Assuming these four squares don’t take a month.

I burned through The Fall Line, a podcast about a pair of twins who went missing in Augusta back in the early 90s. It’s really engaging, but also heartbreaking. At this point, it seems like the family’s first goal is to just get the police to finally, finally actually investigate their disappearances and then second, hopefully, to get some answers.

It reminded me a lot of the kinds of issues I’ve seen in my bombing story–missing files, incomplete memories, people who seem obvious to talk to who haven’t been interviewed.

I was also thinking about the Joques Clemmons family, here in town, who must have known they were never going to see justice and who yet tried to give the city the opportunity to finally, finally do the right thing.

I have lost faith in institutional right things. But what else can we hope for?

Chewed on by a Baby

Yesterday I went to a baby shower where there was a baby. She showed me how she can pull herself up and lower herself back down. She squished my belly and she chewed on my fingers.

I think babies like me because I’m easy to see and soft. I have dark eyebrows and blue eyes, so there’s contrast. And I have a very expressive face, so, again, there’s stuff going on to look at.

But here’s the thing. I was driving home from the shower thinking about how obvious it was that the baby thought I was awesome. This looks like a good finger to chew on. This looks like a good lap to climb in. And I realized, I don’t think I ever otherwise experience my body as good.

I’m trying really hard to just have neutral feelings about it, so that I can live in the world without constant despair. But I so rarely feel like this is great.

And you can’t argue with a baby or question its judgement, because they’re not really developed enough to have discernment or wrong opinions. If a baby experiences your body as pleasant, well, in some inarguable way, your body is pleasant. A baby isn’t out here trying to improve your self esteem.

I would like to be able to hold onto that.

I’m Afraid I Killed the Dog and Me

As you all know, it’s been the summer of “WTF, fleas?!” around here. I’m going to have to bomb the house. But before I do that, since I have to have a day when I can clear everyone out of the house for a few hours, I washed the dog in super-strength anti-flea shampoo. The kind that warns you that you should rinse yourself for twenty minutes if you even so much as look at your dog while it’s lathered in the stuff.

The result was that I had an enormous headache all night and I can tell the dog is feeling a little puny this morning. But those tiny fuckers are dead.

I also went all around looking at vinyl flooring and, yep, most of it is sticks and stones. I genuinely don’t understand, considering how many of us are living in mid-century homes, why flooring companies haven’t figured out that if they give us updated mid-century styles, we will buy them.

I truly hate shopping. I had thought I just hate shopping for clothes, but no, now’s the time to admit that I hate shopping in general. I miss the Professor, who I could count on to go shopping with me and make it at least not so fucking terrible that I want to lay on the floor and just cry until it’s over.

I needed S. and her tiny Bruce Willis-looking son, but I didn’t realize that I needed her until it was almost over. But when you have friends who like to shop and don’t find it the next worse thing to having a syphilitic nose, you should ask them for help. I guess I need that tattooed on me somewhere where I can see it regularly.

But also, can I just say how much I love that the dog gets in the tub on his own? I can’t really say when he started doing this, but he just does it and it is awesome.

Rock and Wood

My floor is still a mess, but we have a plan. My plan involves shaking my fist at the sky and asking “Why is all vinyl flooring either rocks or wood?” You can put whatever you want on vinyl flooring. Why can’t I have some cool retro flowers? Or anything but rocks or wood? I am baffled.