My dad insisted I call the plumber right away when he decided he didn’t like how my bathtub was draining. I tried to refuse, because it just drains slow, always has, but then my washing machine line sprung a leak.
Because, I’m sure, the house was finally rejecting this shitty ass washing machine. But anyway, I called the plumber on Friday.
Because he’s awesome, he sent a kid out today. Right now.
And I have, apparently, messed up the whole morning by having the plumber come at an inconvenient time.
Insert eye-roll here.
The hardest part about it is that all the shittiness I feel manifests itself in me feeling like I’m gross. Like my body is so disgusting and that me being out in public is some kind of freak show spectacle. Like I am grossing people out by being where they can see me.
So, it’s like, I have to steel myself to run this emotional marathon with my people and do so while my mind tells me that I am imposing on the world by being a part of it, so maybe I should just find a way to be all kinds of smaller and less present and easier to stand.
It really makes me mad how my brain, when I need it to be the strongest and most on my side, is like “yep, we suck. Suck, suck, suck.”
It spins forward forever. There’s no race against the moment it starts to spin backwards.
Making a half hitch is super easy, in spite of my initial misgivings.
Oh, how I love that you can just come up anywhere; you don’t have to flail around looking for the little notch.
But also, also, this is some Falkland top that came with the spindle and it is so much easier than the fucking Merino. Has some of my anger at spinning been because of a crap random choice of fiber to start with?
I am kind of surviving this visit with my parents. Every morning I tell myself that there’s Xanax if I need it and every evening I don’t take a Xanax, I tell myself I’m winning.
Winning what, I’m not sure.
Apparently a central conceit of The Meg is that Jason Statham is a drunk. With a six pack. And yet, all the YouTube videos about what’s wrong with The Meg neglect to mention that, if you spend five years drunk in Thailand, you’re not going to have a torso like a god.
Anyway, I still think the best Jason Statham movie is Death Race. Kill the wife off early. Give him a director that understands that the gaze in a Jason Statham movie is on Jason Statham. Gratuitous Statham nudity. A gay subtext that is so in your face one wonders if it counts as subtext. Violence. Entertaining as fuck. Perfection.
But the most Jason Stathamy thing to every happen in a movie (or series of movies) has to be in the Fast And Furious franchise where Jason Statham murders a main character and half a hospital and yet, because of his willingness to save a baby, becomes a good guy. Only Jason Statham can make shit like that work.
Jason Statham would also fight my parents and win. I keep that in mind.
The guy working on the Mattie Green case down in Chattanooga sent me the one mention of the case in FBI files. It’s Dixie Knights leader, Jack Brown, bragging about the killing. In the file, they mention the names of a few Dixie Knights.
I spent some time looking the ones I didn’t know up. Stoner had a guy in Chattanooga he liked to use for bombings. Sometimes the FBI files mention two Chattanooga guys. But what we know, as well as we can know it, is that this Chattanooga guy was young and his uncle was in the Klan and he may have been in the military.
But the other thing we know is that the terror cell inside the Chattanooga division of the Dixie Knights was small. There might have been 100 members of the Dixie Knights but only maybe a dozen who knew about and plotted activities where folks might die.
And these folks, as far as I can tell, never squealed on each other.
Part of the reason is that the Dixie Knights in Chattanooga were a family affair. There were two Brown brothers and a son running the show. But there were also other family members.
Thanks to the FBI file, I learned of a family member also deeply involved, who had two sons–one of whom was a chemistry honor student at UTC and the other of whom was in the military.
If anyone was going to be entrusted with bombings and who would have the know-how and who would be protected… it’s one of them.
I woke up this morning feeling blue. I then spent a while interrogating what I was so bummed about. And there’s nothing. Nothing’s wrong.
So, then, this idea popped into my head that maybe I just needed to feel sad, for reasons I couldn’t articulate and that it wasn’t hurting anyone if I wanted to mope around.
And, you know, I almost instantly felt better.
I spent yesterday with the Butcher’s family. The Butcher made roast beef for lunch and we exchanged presents–I got a Turkish spindle!–and watched both Crank movies. They remain delightfully terrible.
Then I spent the evening with friends. And there was a history adventure!
And today I’m going to take the dog for a walk and feel my feelings.
I remain, as ever, very grateful for you guys. Your support throughout the years has meant the world to me. It’s literally changed my life. And you folks, who read or have read or will read this are some of the best things in it.
I’ve started putting the afghan together. I’m loving the green seam so much. It’s just a fun piece to look at. There’s always something fun going on in the yarn or in the construction of the piece.
And it feels really good to take an idea from thought–whoa, that pattern is beautiful. I wonder how it would look if it were copper?–to trying to come up with yarns that looked to me like copper weathering–to seeing it all come together.
One of the reasons I took up spinning was that I felt a religious imperative to do so after this year’s nine nights. Spinning and weaving gods are all over, in so many cultures. And yet, I haven’t ever read a good consideration of why it’s so important that we know who the fiber artists in any pantheon are or what it might say about people’s theology and understanding of how the sacred works and how fate works for fate to be something that’s spun and then woven.
I have been thinking about it, though. I’m not claiming my thoughts are coherent or right, but here are some of them.
First, yarn is an energy storage system. I hadn’t ever realized what I was looking at before, because my yarns have always, before now, been factory-made and stabilized before I got them, so I wasn’t ever forced to think about it. But yarn is an energy storage system. You take fibers and you twist them and, in the twisting, you put energy into the yarn that you can later access (even if “later” is just the two second in the future in which the twist will climb up the freshly-drafted fiber).
But you can also see this by tying a weight of any sort to the end of any string and setting that weight to spinning. At some point, enough energy builds up in the twisted yarn that the yarn can set the weight spinning in the other direction.
So, when you’re spinning yarn, you’re putting energy into fiber by twisting it and then transforming it into something new.
What, then, are we being told when we’re told that the Norns spin the fates of people? Are we, then, the medium the energy/fate is being twisted into?
I tend to dwell a lot on what happens after we die. But, if we look at it this way, nothing happens. We just untwist and go back to our component parts. Without the energy of the twist, there’s no yarn. There’s just fiber. Without the energy of fate, there’s just this pile of carbon.
Except that spinners are constantly reusing old fiber. And, if not spinners, birds pluck fiber up and put it in nests.
I don’t know. I think it suggests a varied and impossible to guess at afterlife.
I keep thinking how male gods, especially God, have these rich philosophical lives. They compose and recite poetry. They argue theology with prophets. They write books.
And we’re accustomed to viewing female gods only through the stories of those male gods.
What do female gods think about the nature of the universe? How do they understand how things work? What does their sacred text we should set our minds to contemplating look like?
I can’t tell if I have it like “am done with it” hate it or “it’s hard and I suck at it but I will persevere” hate it, but after last night’s fiasco, spinning and I are on a break.
But I’m still chugging along on the copper afghan. All my octagons are done and now I’m working on squares and trapezoids. I’m really pleased with this. Each motif, on its own is not exactly pretty, but when I lay them out and I look at a handful of pennies, it’s so fucking satisfying.
Part of the thing is that, when you’re working on an individual piece, you focus on the part that has the most color, because that’s what you spend the longest working on. But your eye is always going to go to the smallest bits and the larger bits become the background. So, as much as this is a pink/brown afghan, your eye is drawn to the blues.
I hope I’ll be able to start putting this together this weekend, but that may be optimistic, considering the state of my kitchen and bathroom.
I don’t take a daily multivitamin because I’m convinced they make me sick. As irrational as I know this is, I believe it. I can read articles. I can talk to my doctor. It doesn’t matter. I believe that the multivitamin sends some signal to my immune system that it doesn’t have to try as hard as usual and then, bam, I’m sick.
The doctor told me I need to start taking a multivitamin with iron, because I’m slightly anemic. So, I went to the store, read labels until I found one that listed iron. I started taking it.
Yep. I’m sick.
The thing that irritates me about how my mind works, though, is that my co-worker was sick and her son had an ear infection. My other co-worker was sick. My nephew has a double ear infection. My mom and dad are just getting over being sick. And I’ve seen everyone this week.
Obviously… OBVIOUSLY… it’s just the season of people being sick.
But this morning, as I reached for the vitamin, my brain was like “No, don’t take it. You don’t want to be sick.” I pulled my hand away before I realized what I was doing. Then I was like “What the fuck? Take your vitamin.” And I did, but still!
I swear, if I have to go back to the therapist for the intrusive thought of “don’t take vitamins; they’re making you sick,” I’m going to be so fucking pissed.
So, it turns out that walking while holding onto someone is super awesome, because you can go a lot faster than you can by yourself, because of all the pesky balancing you have to do alone. This is my nephew on his way to climb some stairs!!! He just learned how to walk, like, four seconds ago and he’s already stepping up steps when he has someone’s hand to hold.
He’s like the Henry Rollins of babies, too. Shuts his own fingers in a drawer? Just a grunt of pain. Gets his feelings hurt because he can’t ride in the car with his momma holding him? Tears. Such crying and tears. If he’s not shirtless and fronting a Black Flag cover band by St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be shocked. He’s at least going to be writing cringingly sincere poetry about his struggles by then. And beating up anyone who tries to make babies feel self-conscious about crying.
Can you imagine the balls of the FBI saying it’s going to take another look at the Mattie Greene case, discovering that they destroyed the file on it–not decades ago, but merely years–,having to borrow a copy from the SPLC, and then closing the case because there’s no one left to talk to, when motherfucking Ed Fields lives just down the road?
I’m going to write to him. He’s not going to respond, I don’t think. But he’s alive, so I have to try.
I think that the hardest ways of thinking to change are the most basic. Like, if it gets in there early that your body sucks, you can be a forty-four year old woman trying to live a happy life whose brain still shouts “you’re so ugly” in moments of anxiety.
And I think there’s a very fundamental belief we all have that some people need to be appeased and other people’s jobs are to appease.
I think this belief is at the core of racism and sexism. It’s not the only thing going on with racism and sexism, of course. Both brambles have grown large and tangled and prickly in their own ways. And I’m not sure, at this point, that removing this taproot would kill either plant. But it’s there, in the dirt, nourishing the hatred.
I do whatever I want, but black people need to be perfect or they deserve what they get.
I do what I want, and I’m fucking pissed that the world hasn’t handed me a beautiful woman whose only goal is to please me and increase my status among my male peers.
The most insidious part of it, to me, is how often I fall into the role of appeaser. How logical and rational it seems that, if only I would devote myself to doing what some person wanted, then he or she would not hurt me or stop hurting me.
The other day, someone on Twitter said that my joking about Kid Rock’s publicist was going to cause people to continue to vote for Trump. As if me having a laugh and a moment of happiness was the cause of people making a continued choice to hurt me and people like me.
As if I was failing in some way to be a good person because I was not constantly monitoring myself to make sure that I wasn’t provoking anyone, but only appeasing.
There’s a difference between kindness and manners and making sure people are comfortable AND appeasing. One is about exerting yourself as a person with power on equal standing with a peer you want to make or maintain good relationships with. The other is about some kind of expectation of grovelling.
It’s a fucked up thing that, in a country of supposedly free and equal citizens, we have this unspoken assumption of some people’s duty to appease others.
You guys. YOU GUYS. I dyed this yarn last night with a technique I saw on the Chemknits YouTube channel as a part of her Hanukkah series. She used acid dyes and I used food coloring, and I didn’t know what I was doing exactly, and she did some practice runs. So, they didn’t turn out exactly the same, but holy shit. This is three colors–red, blue, and yellow.
I know, yes, I KNOW, this is how color works. But it still feels like magic.
Oh, but wait, you say are those all the colors? No. I also got these:
I’m so bummed I’m out of bare yarn because I want to do a million of these.
My nephew can walk! He makes all these hilarious monster noises while he’s doing it–grunts and growls and squeaks. But he can do it. He’s not great at sharp turns, but he can turn over large distances. And I love how he holds his little hands up like a hula-hooper.
Who knew? Maybe that is the best position for balance? I should try it when I’m just walking around, see if it helps. Fists in front of your chest, elbows out and a little lower than your shoulders.
Speaking of shoulders, I am trying to spin up the rest of that green for my wrap and I do think I’m going to have shoulders like a motherfucker by the end of this. Like, apparently, there’s some muscle that runs from your shoulderblade to your shoulder? I can feel it! For the first time in my adult life, that muscle is kind of sore.
Shoot, y’all, I’ve also been up to a lot in the crafting department.
I washed my two afghans. There was no bleeding! Or at least, no bleeding onto other colors in the afghans. I wasn’t in the washing machine to see what was happening.
I’ve got five of thirteen octagons done. Here’s one of them.
I tried to dye some yarn with colored sugar. It didn’t go that well, but I salvaged it with some food coloring overdying.
And I’m working on spinning up my roving so I can make my wrap. And holy shit, is standing easier! It just takes so much less time. I drafted all this roving first and then just spun it as is. I’m no good at drafting while spinning yet, but that’s the next skill I want to accomplish. But I’m trying to hold off on doing so, because I need this yarn to be pretty uniform and, if I level up in the middle of it, it will be really noticeable in the final project.
I was pretty worried that I’d managed to fuck up this roving by trying to add “spots of yellow” which then appeared to turn the whole thing green and I was feeling pretty bummed about how weird a wrap would look with one purple stripe, one blue stripe, and then a whole field of green, but spinning it up, you can see a tone of blue and some bits of purple, so I think it will all look like it makes sense together.
On Friday I went over to the dedication of the new slave market historical marker dedication. What is there to say about it, really? Here is the first and most fundamental theft perpetrated against black people on American soil. We steal you. We steal your children. We steal your parents and all your loved ones.
And now the improvement is just that we steal your money and your culture.
Yesterday, I was able to hear the first part of Adia Victoria’s panel on the blues. It was her, Joshua Asanti, Ann Powers, Caroline Randall-Williams, Langston Wilkins, and Jamey Hatley all talking about the power of music and specifically the blues and what it means to have this art form made by black people now being pretty exclusively the domain of white people.
Randall-Williams said a lot of smart stuff, but I felt a little indicted by her comments about how much well-meaning white people like to preserve and curate and protect artifacts. She didn’t, I don’t think, mean it as an indictment, just an observation. But it felt true in a way that embarrassed me.
Mostly, I loved sitting in a room listening to people be so smart about art. And I spent my evening just listening to music and thinking about the things they said.
A thing I worry about, as a white person, though, is can we stop stealing? Can we envision a world, specifically a culture, in which we don’t plunder from others? Where we’re not raised to see that theft as the natural order?
What would it look like to be good people in meaningful ways?
Last night I went to hear Ansley Erickson talk about her book about schooling in Nashville. I was really struck by her willingness to call what happened/happens to black people in Nashville (and throughout the South) as theft and plunder (and her insistence on crediting Ta-Nehisi Coates).
And it made me think about the way “taxpayer” has been racialized. In our culture, when you hear “taxpayer,” you can rest assured the speaker envisions white people. So, if you are a black woman in public housing, you’re a welfare queen, living off the taxpayer. As if you’re also not a taxpayer.
But it also got me thinking of just how very much of our culture is white people trying to make sure no black people treat them the way they’ve treated black people.
Okay, whew, this was about a hundred times easier the second go-through. And those swirls, man. I just love them. I’m also patting myself on the back because I’m really pleased with the dye job. Each of the four different yarns in this piece fits together so nicely that I think it’s really tough to tell where one color ends and the others begin. Which is just what I wanted, since, obviously, things don’t verdigris in a uniform way.
The crows were out again this morning. A small contingency circled out and flew over us and it made me wonder if the dog and I are the subject of a crow lesson or a crow story. Like, let’s go look at these two blobs. You have nothing to worry about from them.
I wanted to make a blanket that looked like old pennies or at least reminded me of old pennies.
Here’s my first motif.
Look at those beautiful swirls! And how the variegation in the yarn does look like how copper discolors. And it’s so squishy and fun to touch.
I also ended up one stitch short on each side and I can’t figure out how. I’ve mostly convinced myself that the pattern is wrong. Round 13 calls for a pattern of five clusters, a front post triple crochet, and then two clusters. Seven clusters all together, times 8 sides is 56 clusters. Round 14 calls for four clusters, a front post double crochet, an increase (so two clusters), and then three clusters. But this can’t be right, because that assumes a base of eight clusters (seven plus room for my increase), but I only have seven.
Okay, I’m glad we talked this through. I’m right. The pattern is wrong. Hopefully it won’t throw too much off. The octagons will all be the same size. I’ll just have to see if I need to fudge the other shapes. I might be able to hide a one stitch difference in the seam.