More Afghan Squares

Look at this one!

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That purple just makes a really fabulous background to the rest of the yarn.

I have so much to get done today, so of course I woke up late. I’m trying to decide if I need my CPAP for one night, or if I can leave it here and travel very, very lightly. I was glad to have it in Birmingham, but I went to Birmingham in my own car. The hassle of trying to figure out how to get distilled water in North Carolina leaves me feeling less than excited about messing with it.

But, hey, I’m traveling for work. That’s fun.

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Hope for the Future

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This yarn is so beautiful, I can’t stand it. The purple is amazing, with the bluer parts and the pinker parts. The orange is bright and friendly, but also, how it pairs with the purple is a little mysterious somehow. And a tiny girl dyed that yarn.

Also, I really love the fuck out of the yarn. That’s Wool of the Andes Peruvian Highland wool in worsted weight. It dyes up very nicely and look at how beautiful my stitches look. I like how well it works for showing off the personality of the dyes.

Did I have this kind of inherent talent when I was four? I think I must have. I think we all must. And yet somewhere along the way, I feel like a lot of us lose the confidence in our ability to make beauty that brings us joy. We link art and creativity with suffering.

But it doesn’t start that way.

Oh, Hey, Remember My Short Story Chapbook?

It appears that it is finally on the verge of coming out. Jesus, Crawdad, Death will make its debut at the Southern Festival of Books and then there will be some kind of local event of some sort and I’ll probably go up to Detroit and do something there.

The cover is hilariously awesome, like what would happen if Judas Priest was all-women.

You’ll be able to order it from Third Man Records, if you don’t live here or in Detroit. I’ll put up a link when I have one. I mean, even if you live here or in Detroit, you can order it online, but you can also go get it in person.

I reread it last night and I was surprised by how much it seems to have been written right for this moment–full of angry women trying to do the right thing. Plus some murder. Plus some refusal-of-murder.

I hope you all like it.

I’ll Just Say It Now

I think Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed. Even aside from the rapey bits, he shouldn’t. He’s lied repeatedly. He had huge debts that are mysteriously gone and he has assets a man with his salary shouldn’t be able to have. But those things don’t matter and how he’s treated women–how so many people think women exist to be treated–doesn’t matter.

A thing I keep thinking, too, is how the default is still that women don’t know our own experiences–that we’re misinterpreting or misremembering or mistaken–and we wouldn’t want to ruin a man’s life over the flighty unpredictable nature of a woman’s inherently broken mind.

That’s supposed to be the kind position. “We believe you believe something bad happened to you, and we feel sorry for you, but we don’t believe it actually happened.”

An ocean of women, women as far as the eye can see, women in their 80s in nursing homes, little girls just old enough to be coaxed onto laps, women locked in convents and mental hospitals and prisons, women free to own our own homes and run our own businesses, women in public, women in private, wave after wave of women, endless unceasing recitations of our pain and we’re all nutty and slutty. None of us are telling the truth about what happened to us, but we’re too damaged to realize it’s not the truth.

Like how the fuck do you think you get an infinite army of damaged women, in the first place?

It’s almost as if there’s some brutal hazing ritual we all live under the threat of and most of us are subjected to.

I fucking hate it. I hate that our word counts for nothing.

Look How Cute This Is!

My plan was to just do thirty circle squares, but I think that’s going to be too small (even though she is, as she reminds me, just a little girl) and I think I’m going to have plenty of yarn, so now my plan is to do the thirty circle squares and then thirty regular squares and checkerboard them.

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Baby Blankets Galore

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I tucked my ends on all three afghans last night. Now I just need to throw them in the wash. I love all three of them for different reasons. The top one has a really nice weight to it. If that baby doesn’t feel cuddled when wrapped up in it, I don’t even know.

I like the modifications I made to the pattern for the second one–turning it into a rectangle, modifying the tops of the shells so they laid flatter.

And then I just love the fuck out of the pattern for the third afghan. So simple, but so good looking.

Now I’m ready to get started on the hand-dyed afghans. First up is my smallest niece:

There she is with the yarn we dyed at the beginning of the month. There’s the yarn after I wound it last night. And there’s my first square. Look how good that looks! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the yarn works up.

Lovely, Boring Weekend

I told the Butcher that I have come to believe that, even though they serve the same purpose, cardboard boxes are clutter and wicker baskets are storage. So, I’m getting some baskets to put my yarn in.

I’m also just madly in love with this pattern.

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It’s so, so very satisfying. I’m going to use it again. I even voluntarily added picots!

My parents’ asshole friend’s cancer has returned. It probably returned six months ago when he first started having new medical problems, but he decided to play “fuck around all summer” and only now when to the doctor.

I’m deeply conflicted because I, in general, believe you have the right to neglect yourself to death. But when you have a wife who depends on you and friends who love you, it does feel like you have an obligation to do your best to be present for them. So, I’m kind of pissed at him for breaking my parents’ hearts. Which, granted, is not fair.

And then I wonder why they’re friends with this asshole in the first place. But you know, it’s because that’s what they’re willing to find acceptable in a friendship. They think it’s okay to be treated that way. And, truth be told, to treat others that way.

So, there you go.

Declutter

I’ve decided the next big thing I’m going to do for myself is hire housecleaners. Which means I have to declutter this motherfucker, so they can come in and work. And, frankly, I am as overwhelmed by the prospect of decluttering as I am by anything.

I think what I’m going to do is just set a timer for 20 minutes and do as much as I can every day in 20 minutes. The house isn’t that big and I don’t have piles of clothes or small aisles of a horde to navigate. But ugh.

I almost wonder if I could pay someone to come organize my house so that I can pay someone to clean it.

Hand-Dyed Afghans

I just have to finish up this baby blanket and then I think I’m ready to get started on the hand-dyed afghans.

I’m going to do the three kids’ blankets first, because they should be fairly easy to knock out and they’re ready to go.

Then I have three artists’ blankets: Julie, Jennifer, and Lesley.

Julie’s is dyed with all the stuff from my life and it’s waiting on walnut season. I also think I’m going to redye the pokeberry because, whew, this late in pokeberry season, I’m kind of thinking I might get a fuchsia instead of a pink. But I think what I’m going to do for the walnuts is get an aluminum pan from the store, the kind with really high sides, like you’d put a turkey in and I’m going to put the yarn and the walnuts and some water all in there and stick it in the oven. That should give me a very similar color over all the skeins and it means I’ll be dyeing on one day, once, instead of all week. This is the square I’m going to use for that afghan, though, obviously, in my hand-dyed colors.

Then for Jennifer, I’m going to do all the copper yarn I dyed. That’s also ready to go, in the amount the pattern calls for. Here’s the pattern I’m going to use. I’m not sure how it will work, but my plan is to go from the most teal on the insides to the most copper on the outsides of each motif. I think it’s going to be amazing, but I’m a little nervous.

My plan is to do Lesley’s last with the yarn I have left over from the previous five blankets and with this yarn I picked up last weekend, because, damn.

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But also, real talk, these three skeins of yarn cost me the same as what it costs me to get ten skeins of undyed yarn. Just economically, if I want to do projects that are hand-dyed, I need to do the dyeing myself.

That’s going to be a little trickier because what I want to do is transform this table runner into an afghan. On the one hand, it will be simple enough. Just add more motifs. But how to border it? I’m going to have to think really hard about the lessons I learned from the sunflower afghan.

I Like Nothing I Used to Like

It’s September. I’m not sure I’ve read a whole book for fun all year. I haven’t read or written any short stories. I don’t turn on the TV. I was enjoying an audio book while crocheting and it got to a part where a character was being really stupid and I just lost interest in going back to it. I’ve given up on a bunch of podcasts I, in general, have enjoyed.

“Given up” is too strong a word for it. I just didn’t go back to them. I drifted away and lost interest.

I’ve even been having a hard time blogging. Right now I keep staring over at this blanket and thinking I could get a little bit in on that before I have to get in the shower. It would mean abandoning this. I’m okay with that.

I don’t even have anything fun planned for October here.

This should be depressing, but I feel free. Happy.

Nothing brings me pleasure. Not in the sense that I am unhappy. But that doing nothing, wanting nothing, being alone with my thoughts or music or both, this state of “nothingness” makes me happy.

I’m really feeling the weight of the rat race–that we all must be striving and trying and wanting and buying. That everything is commodified. That everything I love will be taken from me and turned around and sold back to me and so my only power, limited as it is, is in choosing how to spend my money.

It’s empty for me.

I just want to like things and dislike things and feel the stakes are low. I don’t want to feel so fucking compelled to participate–like I “have” to read this book or watch this show or have this many stories in the pipeline.

There are enough real “have to”s in the world. I’m so fucking tired of my entertainment (both that I consume and that I make) being turned into one. No, I don’t have to find out what happens next. I don’t have to keep hearing no until it’s a yes. I don’t have to keep up with the things everyone else is keeping up with, even if it’s “so good.”

Pleasure can’t be coerced. Not for me, anyway.

So, I’m enjoying neglecting to be compelled.

Stranger

I’m trying to support a friend going through a difficult life change and, honestly, one of the hardest parts is how blindsided and confused I am by the behavior of the person instigating the changes.

It’s like a funhouse mirror version of the person I thought I knew.

Ugh, this week. This year. This country. These people.

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Let’s contemplate this baby nephew trying to get some pizza, insisting on drinking out of a regular cup instead.

Kavanaugh

First, I hate that it’s become kind of a requirement for women to trot out their personal pain in order to get people to give weight to their political opinions.

Suffice to say, I’m a Gen-X-er. I lived through the 80s and 90s. As it did to all of us, bad shit happened to me.

I had thought that what I wanted in the wake of that was for it to not happen to women in the future. I was fighting for that.

But it turns out I should have also been fighting for it to ever stop for women my age. Not just being assaulted but the blame for having been assaulted back then.

Here’s a thing that I have come to realize: many, many men think this is what women are for. One of the perks, then, of being powerful is that you have access to more women to use this way.

But here’s the thing I have only just realized and I hate it: a lot of folks, men and women, who consider themselves progressive believe this, too. The “progressive” stance is that women aren’t just for your amusement, we also can be doctors and lawyers and reporters and whatever. Which means a dude can seem like a feminist hero–cough cough Al Franken cough cough–and still believe that women are for him to do what he wants to to. After all, he believes we should be able to do everything we want to, as well.

It makes me so mad. It hurts my heart. So much of our pain doesn’t matter because people believe pain just comes with the territory of being a woman. This suffering is what we’re for. To suffer for men’s pleasure.

And I wish I could unknow that, truly.

A Slight Tragedy

I had been suffering from what I thought was a minor cold, involving me feeling stuffed up and headachy. But I never had a runny nose nor did I have any boogers. So, it was hard to breathe, but there wasn’t anything in my airways clogging them up. My airways themselves were just mad and inflamed.

Last night, I had one last idea for the copper yarn and I threw a skein in the dye pot. At the moment the whole house filled with the smell of hot wool, I could feel my nose shutting.

I’m fucking allergic to wool. Maybe it has to be hot and wet to trigger it, but that’s what’s making me stuffed up.

And I still have all the walnut I need to dye for Julie’s afghan. So, I think while I’m waiting for the walnuts to start falling, I’m going to have to investigate if I can somehow solar dye with walnuts, and keep the wet, warm yarn outside.

Things

Sorry I haven’t been around. I’ve been super busy at work and, you know, it’s been really nice. Things had been so bad for so long and so stressful that just having a bunch to do and getting the support we need to do it is a joy.

In my typical midwestern fashion, I’m loathe to say that, because it means the universe will know about my happiness and try to squash it like a bug, but I’m going to tempt fate anyway.

Jealousy

Someone asked Curious Nashville if the Looby bombing had ever been solved. They’re looking into it.

Let me be clear, up front, that I put on my big girl panties and offered to help in any way I could.

But I was so mad! My whole gut reaction was “So, you think you’re going to swoop in and answer this question I’ve been working for two whole years on?” Like this story is mine, or something.

The deeper I get into this and the more interesting the story gets, the more I’m terrified that someone’s going to come along and solve it before me.

And yet, it’s really okay if they do. The point is for the city to get an answer, not for me to win at answering it first.

And I need help shaking trees.

But man, trying not to let my ego fuck me up is hard.

Back to Work

God, I don’t know what’s become of me. I had a wonderful vacation and now I’m feeling actually excited to get back to work and to hear what they’ve been up to.

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Unfortunately, this is me, now, consumed by this baby blanket that has grown out of control.

I hope my co-workers will still treat me as they always have.

Birmingham, cont.

I’m still processing Birmingham. Part of it is just realizing how inadequate I am to the task. I keep having to remind myself that my goal is to say what happened in Nashville and why. It’s not to perfectly nail down how this terrorist network worked. Not to identify everyone in it.

But I’m also very excited about the work and I hope the National Archives gets to the Looby file sooner rather than later.

Birmingham

I stayed at the Tutwiler, because it’s right across the street from the research library, and lord, I’m not sure I’m cut out for that kind of fancy. It was fun, though. Just like, I was driving a ten year old Corolla with one hubcap. Lord. That’s not what people who stay at the Tutwiler drive.

I had some good success in the city archives, especially in the files on the bombing of Bethel Baptist and Temple Beth-El (neither bombing was successful). Nashville shared their list of suspects in the JCC bombing with Birmingham. It’s a weird list. Like, I tried to find the people they named either in newspapers or census records (which aren’t perfect, but they’re a good place to start) and one of their suspects either was or had the same name as a college football player, two of their suspects appear to be black (?), two I couldn’t find at all. One, at least, did know John Kasper, but he’s another Catholic dude.

And I’m really starting to get suspicious of the ways the Nashville police constantly jumped to “It was the racist Catholics.” Like, sure, I guess, maybe. But also, maybe, racist Catholics didn’t have any loudmouth advocates in the Church who would have hollered about their treatment, unlike local racist Protestants.

I’m really glad for the opportunity to get to go see places, too. I think it tells you a lot. But it got me thinking a lot about the contrasts between Birmingham and Nashville. In Birmingham, you can go see this stuff. These places still exist. Not in Nashville. There’s still a Hattie Cotton school, but it’s a new building. The JCC was demolished to make room for 440. Looby’s house and his neighbor’s house were torn down.

On the other hand, we don’t have any neighborhoods left in Nashville that are as blighted as the neighborhood where Bethel Baptist is. It reminded me a lot of a town after a natural disaster, where they’ve come in and knocked a lot of houses down, and there are still more houses that are falling down, and yet still people live there and try to make a go of it.

Down the Rabbit Hole

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I had a good trip to the Nashville room at the downtown library yesterday. I looked at a ton of pictures and got some names and saw both an awesome picture of Emmett Carr and an awesome picture of Looby and King that I don’t think I had ever seen before.

But a thing I realized is that what I know about these bombings is so different than what other people know that I sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist when I start talking about it.

Even that I view the JCC bombing as one of our integration bombings is completely mindblowing to people. They do not know that was part of the same campaign of terror.

On the one hand, it’s cool to think of how much stuff I’m going to be able to share with people. On the other hand, it does make me wonder if I’m reading too much into stuff.

Vacation, The First Four Days

The Butcher threw two birthday parties for the nephew, because he wanted one for the family and one his friends could drink at. My job was to take my parents someplace for the drinking party.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

I tried, but my dad had NO intention of not being present at both parties. But also, if anyone drank at the second one, I didn’t notice it.

Here’s him with both his cakes. By the second party, they had wised up and just let him eat wearing only his diaper.

And my niece and I got her wool dyed. In spite of her worries, she was fine at it.

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I wish the grape Kool-aid smear on her face was showing up better. In real life, it looked like a magical charm or war paint.

Today I have to run some errands and then go to the library! Hurray.

And now I’m kind of leaning toward Dynamite Nashville: The Plot to Stop the Civil Rights Movement. Simple, straight-forward, easy to remember.