Late in the Year

I’m late getting started on my usual nine nights. But tonight’s the night for opening wide the door so tonight I’ll get on it. I think I also resent how little I’ve been able to enjoy one of my favorite times of the year. I’m just a seething ball of resentment.

On the other hand, I got all my second-to-the-last rows done on my squares.

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The pieces of yarn are to mark the corners so that when I do the fancy, puffy round, I don’t miss them. It’s an excellent tip I got on YouTube. I think I’m going to do a braided join, even though they’re kind of hard and a huge yarn hog. They’re just really beautiful and I want this afghan to be beautiful and have a lot of visual interest even if it starts to fade over time.

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Sad and Tired

I think the thing I resent most about the work situation at the moment is that I should still be floating on air and thinking about a professional wrestler introducing me and just basking in the glow of that good fun.

And instead I’m up all night fretting about work and wondering what I could be doing differently to alleviate my stress.

And I forgot to show you my first complete square:

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How cute is that?! I love it so much.

Launched Successfully!

You guys, it was amazing. The other authors Chet put together were fantastic. Sara was delightful. I mean, who tells a ghost story and gets people in the audience nodding and cheering in agreement?

Then Chet introduced me, said something about wrestling being fake, and a wrestler came out and put him in a sleeper hold! And then the wrestler introduced me.

As I read, Death came out and just hovered next to me. It was fantastic. Every part of it was so amazing.

And the book looks so good!

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(You’re not allowed to take pictures in the back room at Third Man, so please don’t tell anyone you saw part of their rug back there.)

And look at the cake!

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How is this real life? Really.

5…4…3…2…1…Book Launch

Or, as it’s known this time of year, Boo-k Launch (tip your waiter, no need to applaud).

Book is up on the Third Man website.

Snazzy, celebratory cake will be ready for pick-up at 2.

I don’t have what I’m going to read picked out yet, but I’m mulling.

Costume made:

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Dire, yet humorous, warning posted on Facebook.

I am as ready as I can be. I am nervous as fuck. I am so nervous it won’t sell well and then I’ll be humiliated. I’m worried that my inability to pull my head out of my ass and get over this small depression is going to hurt the book. But I’m also super excited because the stories are good and I saw a copy of the book and it looks so great. So very great.

It has these cards that go with each story that look like… I don’t even know. Like Victorian goth trading cards? And the cover has this gold foil treatment.

It’s so great.

Five Left

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Every day this week, I have come home and thrown myself into the making of this afghan because I need something beautiful and I need to feel like I am capable and have good ideas.

It’s not possible in real life to have as much done on this afghan in as few a days as I have it done, but I’m clinging to how happy it makes me that this is even better than I had planned, how it works and looks good and will be so satisfying to see done.

And Now There Are Twelve

I went back and did another round of pokeberry. I just love it so much. I really hope it’s fairly colorfast, because, whew, I like it. I’m really hoping that a benefit of this design will be that, even if/as colors fade, it will still look nice.

Work continues to be terrible and heartbreaking and hard. I’m really ready for things to settle back down. I feel like I’m barely holding it together.

Which is not a great feeling when you need to be exciting and charismatic in order to sell your own chapbook coming out next week.

My doorbell rang at three in the morning, Saturday night/Sunday morning. I was up, with my glasses on, my phone in hand, and my body positioned so the door wouldn’t open more than a few inches without the person on the other side having to push my whole weight before I was even remotely awake.

Like I’d trained for what to do when a stranger comes to your door in the middle of the night my whole life.

Which, I guess, is a way I’ve always been. I feel weak and incompetent, but in the moment, I usually know what to do and can handle myself. I just fall apart afterward. And before. If I’m being honest.

But in the case of work, the “during” has been so long that I’m crumbling.

Anyway, at my door, it was a woman. She was cold. She’d been walking for six hours. Her car broke down. The whole thing was sketchy as fuck. She wanted to come in. I asked her if I could call someone for her. I ended up talking to “Darryl,” her friend’s husband. He was confused and pissed and he told me she didn’t even have a car. Which made her even more sketchy. But he said he’d come get her, if she kept walking. He had a kind voice, so I shut the door and locked it and went back to bed.

I hope she ended up somewhere safe.

Two More

There’s just so much I like about these, but I think one of the reasons I’m most tickled is that one of the things I enjoy about looking at Julie’s art in person is that there’s a lot of repetition. Like, here’s a crow on a blue flowery background. Here’s that same crow, but on a green swirly background. Here’s that blue flowery background again, but this time with a rabbit on it. And so on.

And I feel like this afghan is going to capture that. Each motif is unique. I’m not using the same yarn combinations in the same order on any of them. But the shape is the same. The Queen Anne’s Lace in the middle is the same. The walnut is the same.

It’s really fun and satisfying to try to do a project that captures what you like and how you feel about another artist’s work in a different medium.

And, man, making something beautiful when you’re down in the dumps is a real gift to yourself. I’ll just say that.

I Did It!

I didn’t go to the thrift store. I didn’t do the dishes. I didn’t clean up the kitchen. I didn’t do any laundry.

Instead, I made these:

So far, this is everything I’d hoped it would be. And I can get  six motifs per skein of walnut yarn, which means I will have plenty to do the borders of each square how I want. Which makes me happy.

The all purple one in the lower left is the pokeberry.

I also discovered that, given time, the blue from the black beans and the blue from the indigo aren’t the same color anymore. Which is nice for my project, but it does give me some qualms about the black bean blue, but I’m trying to do each motif in such a way that, if someone fades, it won’t ruin the motif.  I’m looking at you, black bean blue. But I also have concerns about the pokeberry. If it really is colorfast, why wasn’t everything in 18th century America that color?

The Start

These are the start of the afghan I’ve been planning all summer. I have so much to do today, but I really just want to sit on the couch and make more of these. I just love this so much.

Sometimes I worry that doing rainbow colors is too hokey, that it’s cheating as a way to get out of having a color scheme, but this time, I don’t even care.

They look like wagon wheels or twirling skirts or flowers in an old timey movie. Windows in a church built by a quilting bee.

The only tricky thing is that I’m going to have to humble myself and either do my color combinations in the daylight or take everything into the bathroom where the light is best to pick colors, because I swear, last night, that one on the right was two oranges and a red, but in the daylight, it’s clearly one orange and two reds. Still beautiful, but just something to be aware of.

Same Old

Yesterday was just chaos. Work problems. Plumbing problems. Dog being a jerk and honking the horn with his butt and running off while I was on the phone trying to deal with work problems problems. Then stuck in traffic for a million years and dinner with the Butcher’s family and my parents and then home and being exhausted but for some reason, just puttering around not going to bed.

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But look at this baby getting tickled by his grandma.

The Blues

Y’all, I’m depressed. Not big D feel like dying depressed, but not answering my emails and not doing basic tasks and wanting to sleep and sleep and sleep depressed.

And I feel better just realizing it.

I need some things to wrap up and I need to get a handle on some other things.

But I’m not failing. This feeling of failure is just a brain thing.

Still, I wish my brain weren’t doing a thing when I have so much stuff I need to do.

Doing Things I Meant to Do a While Ago

I finished this afghan, which I don’t have a picture of yet, because I’m not going to spend any time this morning figuring out why my computer is being a dingus.

I ordered a cake for the event at Third Man Records on the 28th (4 p.m., if you want to come out!) and the baker asked me if the crawdads could be wearing luchador masks, so you know I ordered from the right place.

And I went to the new state museum. It was glorious. I cried a little bit. I can’t wait to go back.

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They had Eliza Allen’s parlor guitar! That’s lasted a ton longer than her marriage to Sam Houston. It just goes to show, ladies, put your heart in music, not love.

They also have this really fascinating early Klan robe.

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It’s pretty fascinating to me that it seems to borrow from Masonic imagery. The crescent moon over the star looks very Shriners-esque. But I’m most fascinated by the hood. It reminds me of a mummer’s outfit or the headgear from Courir de Mardi Gras.

The Courir de Mardi Gras Wikipedia page goes to great lengths to disassociate their costumes from the Klan, noting that it’s much older. But I’m assuming, if there is influence, that it flowed the other way: the Klan took on the trappings of the Courir de Mardi Gras hoods.

I’m going to have to give some more thought to it, but there’s something intriguing–maybe some meat on the bone there–about wondering if the Klan is/was some kind of inversion ceremony, though running the opposite way–where instead of poor people mocking and charming the rich, this is about powerful people mocking and terrorizing those without power.

I’ll have to think on it.

 

The Southern Festival of Books Panel

You guys, it went so well. The room was packed. The Butcher’s family made it in time to hear me read. The panel was amazing. And the audience was really into it.

Sheree Renee Thomas brought a writer friend who had been mostly quiet and reserved before the event. But my god, he sat in the front row and smiled at everyone supportively and laughed when laughing was needed and shouted out when shouting was needed. It was really great. I was so grateful to him.

I think a lot about what makes or breaks a reading and I have long respected Chet’s (the guy from Third Man, who is always having literary events) ability to get the crowd to be open to stuff they might not be familiar with. But Thomas’s friend knew how to be an audience in a way that I now aspire to be for other writers. That kind of open responsiveness is just so great coming from another writer. It’s like if Penn & Teller tell you your trick is good. They know.

I read the first five pages of “Jesus Has Forgiven Me. Why Can’t You?” and it was perfect. I don’t know that I’d ever read it out loud except to myself as I was revising, so I had the fun experience of discovering that it was really great to read out loud as I was reading out loud. It was delightful.

Something is happening to me, or has happened and now I’m just noticing, but I felt completely at home reading that story in front of that crowd. Seeing nm laugh at places I hoped she’d laugh, in one case, wrote specifically based on a conversation she and I had had about what kind of forgiving Jesus would do. Having S. assure me I was dog-hair-less. The gushing text K. sent me later.

I felt beautiful. Like, not on a surface level. No, that’s not quite it. Not only on a surface level, though I looked in a mirror before the event and considered myself not just passable, but cute. But I felt so sure it was worth everyone’s time to pay attention to me. I felt like someone worth looking at.

I never feel that way. I usually feel like “oh, sorry you have to look at me,  but I’ll make it worth your time by being funny or charming or knowledgeable or quirky or whatever.” Or maybe I feel like you love me so you’re used to how I look and it’s not off-putting anymore, it’s just how this person you care about looks.

But yesterday, I felt beautiful. And sure of it. And I never want to forget how awesome that was.

Southern Festival of Books

I’m reading today at 4 in the special collections room at the library. I was going to read from “Little Sister Death,” but this morning I decided to switch to the opening of “Jesus Has Forgiven Me, Why Can’t You?”

Come by, if you’re in town.

Walnut Magic

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This is sort of the brown I’m ending up with, it looks like. My camera is having a really hard time with the color. And for good reason–the color is strange. If I were to tilt my hand back and forth when holding the wool like this, you’d see it change hue. Hold it one way, it looks really light. Hold it another way, it looks really dark. And it’s definitely got to do with the direction of the yarn, not the light. I still have some of the pokeberry yarn in the bathroom (don’t judge; I told you work has been a nightmare) and holding them together and moving my hand doesn’t produce the same color-shifting in the pokeberry.

It’s definitely something peculiar to the walnut.

Here’s another shot.

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It’s definitely not that dark, kind of somewhere between the two, but I thin this one gives you a different hint of how the color shifts. Those aren’t light patches in the yarn. If the yarn were pulled straight, you’d see a uniform color. Those lighter spots are, I think, because of the fact that that part is at a slightly different angle.

I need an art scientist to explain this to me. It’s as if everything else I’ve dyed with has been flat, so the color behaves how I expect in different lights, but this dye is… I don’t know… 3D? Like just moving it a little causes the light to hit it and reflect in different ways. Like the walnut imparted into the yarn a kind of facet-ness?

Which I assume must have something to do with the shape of the molecules that are giving the yarn its color, right? Something in the yarn now is tiny and shiny?

Anyway, walnut. I am excited to do more.

Poking at It

We had a disaster at work yesterday. It was already not going well and then our big project arrived and it was utterly fucked. I am giddy with despair. We’ll see what happens today, if it can be unfucked in time for all the events we have planned. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I have been dying with my first batch of walnuts.

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This is how it went in the oven.

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This is how it came out of the oven–brown but not the deep, rich brown I was hoping for.

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This is it back in the oven, trying for a darker brown. The thing about food-safe dyes–like Kool-aid or food coloring–is that they’re going to look very similar dry to how they look wet, just lighter, perhaps a little more muted.

But with the natural dyes, there’s a whole oxidation stage. Like, with food-safe dyes, once the yarn is cool, you can just wash it. There’s nothing to be done between “dyeing” and “drying” except waiting for it to cool. But natural dyes can change dramatically–as we saw with the cabbage dyes–once air hits them. Same is true with indigo. Same is true with walnut.

I assume the same is true with pokeberry. I mean, I didn’t see any dramatic changes, but I left it hanging for a while in the air in case it was doing something.

When the walnut oxidizes, to me, it looks like there’s a stage when it takes on kind of a silvery sheen and then gets a little lighter, a little darker, and then a little lighter again. In other words, you basically have to let it dry, unrinsed, to see what color you’re going to get.

It’s pretty fascinating.

Working

I think I have the intro to the book exactly how I want it, at least for now. Time to move forward with the rewrite of as much of the rest of it as I can.

I have a new lawn guy. My third of the year. This guy is 78. This morning, he promised me he would try to live the two years it’s going to take to get my lawn back in shape.

The thing about country folks is that they joke with rocks packed in the middle. If it lands, it’s going to sting. Might hurt a lot.

He told me a story about borrowing some cash from the Korean mafia. I honestly have no idea if that was a joke or not.

The Cuteness Continues

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You guys, how is this real?! It’s so beautiful and cute. Girly, but the kind of girly she can go goth with if she needs to in her teen years. The little dots from the join are wonderful. The way the orange dotted around on the border is wonderful.

I’m so proud of this.

It’s hard to express how satisfying it is to have a vague idea, put it into practice, and then have it turn out far better than you imagined. It feels like I’m having a conversation with the Universe. I bring what I have to the table and It brings… well… I won’t know until we get to working together. But usually, it’s amazing.

The Cuteness!

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I have all my squares done. I still love the purple background the best, but I’m very pleased with all of them. Sometimes it’s nice to do something simple and beautiful.

I’m doing the same join I did on the wedding afghan for my cousin–the single crochet, but going through all loops.

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Look at the adorable dots it’s giving me! Lord, I’m finding this afghan so satisfying. I assume that means she’ll hate it. Ugh.

The Travel God Who Couldn’t Sleep

So, I didn’t take my CPAP machine and, on the one hand, I felt like a god because I breezed through security and my bag stowed under the seat in front of me and, in general, I traveled lightly and quickly.

But I slept like shit. I slept like a person who took sixteen half hour naps over the course of a night. I never fell into a deep sleep. I kept checking the clock, thinking it must be time for the ordeal to be over and no time would have passed.

It was a huge and miserable mistake.

I wish they had some kind of travel sized CPAP, though, because that one-bag thing ruled. And I got home in time to make some purple squares, so all I have left is to make my pink squares, tuck some ends, and put this puppy together.

Nerves

I’m nervous about flying. I’m nervous about finding my way to the hotel. I’m basically nervous about everything. I’m even nervous about the Butcher staying here and watching the house, as if he didn’t live here.

But I’m also excited.

Here’s how the afghan for my niece is going:

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I think the ones with the purple backgrounds are my favorite. Everything looks like weird moons in a strange sky. But I’m betting she’ll like the pink ones best.

I think I’m on track for having it done in time for her birthday.