Well, Look at This!

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I have a lot of ends to tuck and it still needs all its little motif spacers but it sure is pretty enough just like this.

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Closer to Done

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In a surprise to me, I’ve ended up loving to doodads, but kind of not liking the wavy side edges. This still feels very, very architectural to me, though, so the parts on the edge that stick out remind me of tiny turrets.

I’m oping it’ll be done by the end of the month. I won’t say I wouldn’t do it again, but I think it’s much more likely you’ll just see the squares and the doodads again.

Visit

My nephew came to visit me yesterday! Well, I went up there at lunch and spent a ton of time playing with him, but I had forgotten everything I wanted to bring him, so they stopped by later.

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He was so surprised! And he liked my light fixtures. And the dog, even though he seemed very overwhelmed by all the fur and slobber and loudness.

And I got more done on my afghan. I fucked up majorly. I mean, majorly, because I was so tired. I was trimming a tail and I cut the end of the seam. This should have caused the whole seam to unravel (picture how tugging opens a bag of dog food), but it didn’t. So rather than picking it apart, I just left it. I mean, I picked at it and tugged at it, but I couldn’t get it to come open, so… I don’t know. The nice thing about how these seams are is that it’ll be really easy to fix if it does come apart. But damn.

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Also, this morning, I saw a flock of turkeys in the field and the tom saw me. He puffed himself up real big, as if to tell me I’d better not even try to come near his family. Toms are fearless.

Happenings

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I love how this is coming together. I feel sort of bad giving someone an afghan that is more art that blanket. She can never put this in the dryer. It’s not particularly soft. But it’s so beautiful. I think it’s worth it.

I finished a draft of my manuscript yesterday. I need to have something to send to the editor so he can see what I’m up to and this is it. Or will be after I let it rest a little and look through it.

But I also heard from the National Archives and they have the Hattie Cotton file–200 pages–which they will send me. And the J.B. Stoner file, which needs to be read through by their legal team, but that can be done.

The whole Stoner file is 2,000 pages. Obviously, I’m not doing that. But Jesus Christ, how do you end up with a 2,000 page FBI file and one conviction? Like, what then was the purpose of keeping a file on you?

I just want his early years, and that also seems like a much more manageable two or three hundred pages. The archivist who is helping me even found that a bunch of Stoner’s ’58 file was in another spot, and made sure I would know to ask for it.

I suspect that’s either his Confederate Underground activity or his run-in with Bull Connor. In other words, the stuff they did actively try to get him for.

It’s really weird compared to fiction–the process of writing this. When I write fiction, I agonize over everything and am convinced I suck as a writer. Rereading this, I’m like, oh, hey, this is really good. This is really engaging. This is really funny. Like, I’m finding the writing part really easy (knock on wood).

The parts I’m struggling with are bigger-picture things: Should I interview so-and-so? Is there another investigative avenue I should be pursuing? Is there something I’m missing?

It’s a really nice change of pace. Also, those questions aren’t killing me. They just seem like stuff worth mulling over.

Am I…am I enjoying this?

Doodads

I found my doodad groove and worked up 11 done ones, so I could stick them to the end of the afghan that’s done.

Y’all. Y’all! Look at this.

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I love this so much. I want to put doodads on all my afghans. I’m making a peacock afghan next and I’m kind of already pondering how I can put some doodads on it.

Doodad Work

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I got all twenty-two doo-dad triangles done and I’ve now started on the first round of dangly bits.

It’s not so bad if you can get into a groove.

I got some good work on the manuscript done yesterday, too, and I’ve been thinking about how, even thought it’s obvious how close together horror and comedy sit in our brains–why we sometimes laugh at funerals and scream in delight–we don’t acknowledge that very well in real life.

Once something is funny, it’s not dangerous. Or at least that seems to be our overarching belief. And you can see how this bites us in the butt with a guy like Bill Cosby who joked for years about drugging women to have sex with them, but it was funny, so we took it as harmless, even though people were being harmed by him.

And, y’all, these racist terrorists are hilarious. I mean, there is not a stupid, fucked up thing they won’t do. Fuck each other’s wives, steal from each other, spend decades as FBI informants narcing on their friends, try to kill each other in the stupidest ways possible, etc. Literally standing there with blood on their hands insisting the Klan is a heritage association and not violent.

And they were also a deadly, evil blight.

Sometimes, I feel like making something funny makes it safe for us. So, I’ve been mulling over whether acknowledging the humor in my story is responsible.

But I do think things can be horrific and dangerous and also hilarious. And I think it is okay to laugh at dangerous things as long as we don’t mistake our laughter for an indication that the thing we’re laughing at isn’t that bad after all.

Which, you know, I often think is Mel Brooks’ position, but I’m not sure people really get that in his work, either.

And I’m no Mel Brooks, so I worry.

Never Enough

I’m out of yarn. Not completely but enough that I could either stop and buy yarn now or muddle on making aesthetic decisions I’m not quite satisfied with only to end up still needing to buy yarn, but now less happy with the look of the blanket.

While I’m waiting on yarn, I’m going to be doing the little decorative flourishes on the half of the afghan I have done and, I think, making my doodads. I had kind of decided to leave the doodads off, but I have time now and the odds and ends I have left are perfect for doodad construction. Plus, look at this doodad I made:

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It looks so cute! How am I supposed to resist adding those, even if it is a butt-ton of work?

Crochet Thoughts

I think I have decided that I like to crochet a lot, but not too much. Ugh, that sentence makes no sense. Okay, there are patterns that are just ‘do nothing but crochet in this direction for this long and then come back.’ Eventually those start to bore me. How many more feet of the same color can I stare at?

But the type of afghan like what I’m working on now, which has a lot of small parts that have to be put together, I also don’t necessarily like. I don’t like when the putting together takes as long as the making of the motifs.

A thing I think I have come to realize about this designer is that, for her, the joy is in the putting together.

And I have to tell you, once I realized this was what she loves about the process, it made me less resentful of how long it’s taking to get everything together.

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Anyway, on Thursday I’m going to talk to some folks about the bombing book. I am nervous as fuck.

I really want my book to strike the sweet spot where it is conversational and accessible to regular people and also I want historians to find it useful. But if ordinary Nashvillians can’t read it then I have failed.

But I haven’t read a lot of history books written like I’m writing this–with snarky asides and long meandering discussions of whether a person’s literary aesthetic informs their racist violence aesthetic.

So, I guess, if you have read a book like that, let me know. I’d like to compare approaches.

The Orangening

I keep saying this is an orange afghan, but so far, it’s not very orange. Here are the representative squares of the last three rows.

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Granted, that middle one isn’t orange, but it’s a variegated yarn that is very orange in parts.

Getting Some Stuff Moving Along

I had a really productive weekend. I got some good writing done. I’m about a third of the way into Wexler & Hancock’s Killing King. I had a lovely dinner with friends and then a lovely brunch with some other friends.

And I got a bunch of this afghan moved from “almost done” into “done.”

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A thing I have been fretting about with this afghan is that it’s got a kind of decorative doodad on the top and bottom and I have been worried that I might not have enough of the same color yarns to do the doodads. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me until right now, but I can finish my squares and then do the doodads. Then I can use the rest of the yarn on the filler triangles.

Also, because of the doodads, the afghan doesn’t have a border. I’m a little nervous about that.

I am a Patient Man. I wait. I wait. I wait. I wait.

If you know me in real life, you know that I’m waiting around for things. I’m waiting around for the FBI to send me files I FOIAed a year ago. I’m waiting around for the National Archives to tell me how much lead time they need to go through JB Stoner’s file before I can see it.

I do internet searches on my lunch hour, trying to think of combinations of words or phrases that might bring some heretofore unknown piece of information to me.

And I work on afghans.

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Hard

Yesterday, I did a reading at Cheekwood. The day before that, I found the grave of KKK leader Emmett Carr. While at Cheekwood, I was talking to C. about life and, anyway, I admitted that I have been crocheting so much because this bombing story is just so fucking hard.

It’s not just that I don’t think I can figure out who exactly did it, it’s that these dudes are terrible. I hadn’t realized how much I cling to the idea that overt racism can be an unfortunate character flaw in an otherwise lovely person. I mean, I think I know better than that, but you really confront your unconscious biases in a situation like this.

I think I’m a racist. No, I mean, I know I’m a racist. I think that’s terrible and I try to overcome it, but I’m not going to, because so much of white society is set up to guide me easily into racist positions and beliefs. I am a habitual racist and, like someone trying to quit smoking in the 70s, it’s hard to give it up because everything is set up to make smoking as easy and convenient as possible.

But I keep thinking of this reflex my mom has, whenever she’s recounting the story of something bad someone we know has done, to say “well, I’m also a sinner.” So, my mom can tell you about how their neighbor ended up being Ted Bundy II, and she’s still going to insist on seeing herself as also fatally flawed. And I find that deeply endearing but also frustrating, because there’s just a world of difference between my mom, who can get lazy and tired and not be her best self, and Ted Bundy, who has set out to be the worst of himself.

And I’ve wanted to believe, because I have to live in this world, that the Ted Bundys are rare and outnumbered by people like my mom.

But in a story that starts for someone “I’ll hurt children,” there are a lot more Ted Bundys than Betty Phillipses.

And they’re terrible all over. Their hatred of black people isn’t their only character flaw. They’re lousy spouses. They’re terrible parents. People flee from them, and rightly so.

It’s made me acutely aware of how much racism is built into the assumption that race terrorists can otherwise be good people–as if a willingness to hurt people doesn’t show a willingness to hurt people, because the people they’re hurting are black (or brown or gay or whatever).

But it’s also tough.

And I realized I’ve been crocheting so much because I need out of my head, out of the space I share with these people.

I keep thinking, why am I doing this? But it’s because the story as it’s been told to us is wrong and lets too many people off the hook. And I just can’t accept that.

Working on an Afghan, Going Round, Round, Round

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Slowly it grows. Or, actually, probably pretty quickly. I’m not sure if it’s going to be seven or eight rows tall. A lot of that will depend on how it looks at seven and how much yarn I have. You can see how much better the skulls in the middle of the afghan look. That’s because they’re being pulled on all four sides. I need to put a big enough border on this to help pull the outside squares, and thus the outside skulls, into shape. Which means I need to leave myself enough yarn to do so.

I need to do the third Third Man afghan, a wedding afghan for my cousin, and then a peacock afghan and then I think I’m taking a break from afghans for a second. I want to get that t-shirt rug done. I have this cool pattern for a deer head I want to try.

And I want to be writing. Which, hey, is a nice, weird feeling!

Back at It

After a week of not, I’m hoping to get back at the bombing story.

I can’t decide if the skull afghan is going slower than it should or faster. The skulls are pretty quick to make. I just need a lot of them. I think it’s that it’s basically a granny square and I feel like I should be able to pop those off much more quickly than these squares go.

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And half my yarn for the third Third Man afghan has arrived!

Anyway, I’m going to go burn a few minutes on the bombings.

Oh, Hey, I Also Finished that Thing

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My second Third Man afghan is done! Well, not washed yet, but done. I really like it. I’m glad I got to try some new things. I’m glad I wasn’t stuck doing those new things too much if I didn’t enjoy them.

I did that join I promised myself I would only use on baby blankets, because I thought this was a small enough afghan that it would be okay. And it was–just okay. But, holy shit, I took what I’ve learned this past year from some of my more difficult afghans, and look how fucking awesome that border turned out.

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Now I’m working on this skull afghan, which I like and am already annoyed by. I think it will lie flatter once washed, but we’ll see.

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And fuck it, here’s one of the nephew.

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It’s Fitting

Y’all, I have to make three Third Man afghans. The one I’m almost done with? Let’s say “circumstances” and, yeah, the person’s not going to want it. So, it’s going to a poet. And I will be making an afghan with no yellow or black in it for the person who was going to get this.

This is a weird town where the circumstances of some genius you don’t know affects your evenings for the next month or so.

But I find some poetic justice in ending up making three Third Man blankets.

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A thing I’m really enjoying, though, is that I’m trying all different kinds of things, different color changes, different techniques, because, if it’s too hard, I just do one of them.

I have a very, very important work meeting this morning. Then this afternoon I need to find my guts and call the vet about the orange cat. The Butcher came by to see him yesterday and he, of course, perked back up. But, sadly, not enough for me to be fooled.

I think part of my dread, if I’m being honest, is I’m afraid that the vet will say, “Well, we can do x and see if he improves” and x will involved me trying every day to shove a pill down his throat so that he and I can both come to hate each other and then he’s still going to die sooner rather than later, because he’s 18. But what kind of monster wouldn’t try shit to see if it helps? It feels cruel to say, no, I’d just rather kill him now.

And, my god, I don’t. I want him to just die peacefully in his sleep or die in a car accident where he’s the driver and we’re all left wondering how the hell that happened.

But I’m having a hard time figuring out how to know what medical interventions are “worth it” even if it makes him unhappy and what’s just saying “let’s be miserable together until we have no other option.”

He’s had a nice, full, long life. I don’t want him to suffer. So, I guess I’m hoping the vet will say something clear like “hey, we can give him this pill and all this will clear right up and he’ll be pissed at you about the pill, but he’ll get another five years easy,” in which case, hell yes. Or he’ll say “everything we can do is going to make him angry and afraid and won’t make him better. It’s just buying you a few more months, but they won’t be good months.” And then it’ll be clear.

But I’m afraid it’s going to be more nebulous, and I won’t know the right thing to do.

But, also, he’s outside right now, and I’m so relieved because it means he isn’t in here peeing on things without me realizing.

Stripes

If you’re not a crocheter, I don’t suppose anything about these two hexagons looks particularly hard, but these were, in fact, two of the  hardest things I’ve ever crocheted. In the one on the left, each stitch in the increasing rows is a different color, which, in real life means that each stitch is two different colors. Like, to make a double crochet, you wrap the yarn once around your hook (a yarn over), you put your hook through the piece where you want your stitch to go. You grab the yarn with your hook and pull it through your piece, then you grab it again and pull it through two loops on your hook and again, grab the yarn and pull it through two loops on your hook.

The important thing for this discussion is that the loop that’s on your hook to start with is the top of the stitch. So, the last thing you do on the stitch before becomes the top of your next stitch.

So, if you want your stitch to appear to be all one color, you need to build the stitch before it so that the last thing you do is draw through the color of the next stitch.

It’s a hard and weird rhythm to get into. And your yarn twists like a motherfucker. The one on the right involved carrying the black in the yellow stitches, which you can kind of see if you look too closely, and tucking in a lot of yellow ends.

I think the orange cat is dying. Or, rather, I think when I take him to the vet, the options are going to be “do a lot of shit for him that will keep him alive a little longer, but he’s 18” or “let him go.”

He’s peeing everywhere. He’s always been a spite pee-er, and I assumed the murder of my Roomba last week was in retaliation for some imagined slight.

But this morning, he peed on the floor of my room and he looked up at me wide eyed and confused. I just don’t think there was any time between “you need to pee” and “you are peeing” for him.

It’s the Butcher’s cat. The Butcher is out of town for his anniversary.

Since the cat doesn’t appear to be in any physical pain (though who can tell with a cat), I’m not doing anything today. I want to wait until the Butcher gets home tonight and talk things over with him. I don’t mind taking the orange cat to the vet alone, but I don’t want to spring it on the Butcher. If it’s not an emergency, I don’t want to take the cat to the vet without telling the Butcher that’s what’s happening.

I just want to cry about it, but I also am filled more with dread than sadness.

My heart is breaking. I just assumed he’d go out in a fight or an explosion. I didn’t prepare for frail and afraid.

One Down, One to Go

I finished one of my Third Man afghans.

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I’m hoping the other one will go fairly quick.

I also had two afghans delivered yesterday. One was in person, so I got lots of hugs, and the other was by mail. It was wonderful. I like making beautiful things that people love.

I’m still very busy and stressed at work. But when I talked to my dad about it last night, he was actually supportive and lovely. Is this what him not in pain is like? I guess I forgot.

I’m trying to be mindful of all my therapy lessons, to take time to name my feelings and not just put my head down and power through. I think it’s helping.

I’ve also been trying to fiercely guard my downtime and only agree to things I know are going to be nourishing. I still feel kind of paralyzed by busyness.

The Times and a Kong and an Afghan and a Cat

Here’s the Times article. “Nashville historian.” Lord. That is awesome and makes me laugh. I don’t know shit about Nashville. Everything I learn is a known fact on a mountain of unknown facts. Well, to me, anyway. But I’ll take it.

Nashville historian.

In unrelated news, a couple of Sonnyboy’s friends bought him a Kong and I remembered to bring it home yesterday. I put treats in it and put it on his bed and he was so disappointed. He just sniffed at it and sighed dejectedly and then laid down next to it.

I felt so terrible! Who doesn’t like toys?

But finally, he figured out that he could get the treats out of the Kong if he just moved the Kong around. BUT he then just dragged his bed with the Kong on top of it around.

Finally, when I was getting ready for bed, I heard him in the other room finally getting it.

This morning I put more treats in there and he carried it around the house to show me multiple times, so I think he likes it.

But man, I so understand his initial reaction. “Oh no! Something new and unknown?! I hate new and unknown things.” Same, dog. Same.

I just have one square left on this afghan. I had a reason for putting off the borders of all the squares until the end but I can’t remember what it was, but I’m going to trust I had some good reason and keep with it. And I am going to have so many ends to tuck. I weep for the amount of ends I have to tuck.

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Pray for Me, Dear Readers

Today I take the dog to the vet by myself and with him having only a cursory walk.

I don’t know much about lap-sized afghans, but I want to make two of them for the folks at Third Man Books.

I have 4/6 of one done:

Also please note that these are the same squares with the same yarn and that is, indeed, how different that yellow can look. Which is why I had such a tough time–and still believe I might be wrong–matching it to the Third Man yellow.

Remember how I told you I wanted to do a motif from the goth afghan that was the flower from the one and the background of the other? I decided to give it a go for the other lap afghan:

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I may do a few with the center being the same color as the petals, just so there’s a little more variety. But we’ll see.

Sitting and Crocheting

I know it’s not the clinical diagnosis of “introverted,” but man, my life one-hundred percent improved when I read the internet meme definition of introverted as being someone who is drained by group events and recharges by being alone.

Because I had a wonderful time yesterday seeing friends and talking about music and just being a person in the world and I could have easily gone to bed at 7:30.

Anyway, this is the new afghan I’m working on.

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The Goth Afghan

I really love how it turned out.

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The only thing I’m a tiny bit bummed about is that I can’t get my phone to take a picture of it that really shows how lacy it ended up. If we get a good sunny day between now and the time I wash it, I might see if an outside picture picks up that detail.

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This kind of gets at it, though it also shows all the dog hair. Jesus Christ. Yesterday I made the mistake of looking at my couch in the daylight and I had to vow to never have people over until every pet I own is dead and I have all new furniture. I mean, I know it’s spring shedding season, but christ.

For my next afghan, I’m going back to the spiral pattern and I’m hooking my folks at Third Man Books up with something they can use in their freezing office. Though, by the time I get done with it, it might not be so cold in there.

The Dog Just Asked for Cat Food?

Okay, listen, for me to tell you this story, you’re going to have to accept some things that may be upsetting to pet lovers. In the morning, I give the cats wet cat food. I put some on a plate for the new kitty (who, no, at this point is not new) on the counter near her food bowl and leave a little for Old Grouchy Pants in the can, which I set on the floor, near the tipped over bag of cat food, because Old Grouchy Pants prefers not to get off the floor unless it involves getting on the couch.

They eat their wet cat food while I walk the dog and, when we get back, he eats whatever’s left in the can on the floor. And, sometimes, if he thinks I’m not looking, he stands on his hind legs and eats whatever’s left on the plate. But often that goes sliding around the counter and he can’t get to it.

Also, when the dog wants something, he leaps near it. So, like, if he wants to go for a walk, he goes to the back door and leaps up and down. Or if he wants to go for a car ride, he goes to the car door and leaps up and down. Or if he wants to come inside, he leaps up and down at the door.

That seems pretty straight-forward–the thing that usually happens here, I want it to happen again, so I will do my leaps.

But today he was jumping up and down kind of in the middle of the kitchen, looking at me expectantly, and I had no idea what he thought should happen there. He had his breakfast. He had a well-licked can of cat food by his feet.

Folks. Folks. He then picked up the empty can of cat food and brought it over by the counter and leaped with the can in his mouth. And, indeed, the new kitty had left a pile of wet cat food on her plate (no cat seemed to care for that flavor). Which, yes, I think put on the floor for him because I am not a monster.

But what the fuck?! Maybe it’s just the same as other leaps, but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like we’ve taken a step forward. Like, he understood that I wasn’t saying “no, you can’t have that,” but that I literally didn’t know what “that” was and so he did the logical thing of showing me what he wanted.

Is this dog ever not going to surprise me?

In unrelated news, I’ve started to join this afghan together.

I picked a continuous join that echoes the lacy parts of the motif that I love. Both because I love that lacy part and because I’m not convinced the hexagons are really the same size and it felt like I was going to get a lot of pulling and buckling that might have made me unhappy. I didn’t want to work this much on something that was, up until this point, so pleasing, to be unhappy with the end result. This gives each hexagon a little room to be not exactly the same size as its neighbors.

It’s small, too, which kind of annoys me. I want an afghan that, when I’m sitting on the couch, will cover me from shoulder to feet. Ideally, I want an afghan that, when I’m sick, I can wrap around me like a coccoon of warmth and healing. I don’t know about this size.

But in general, I love it and am very, very happy with how it is going.

Love

This has been, by far, my favorite hexagon to make of the bunch. Many others are more exciting and probably look neater, but I love the lacy petals on this so much. They’re easy to make and they look so cool.

What I would like to do is the middle of the other hexagon:

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With the lacy petals of the top one and just make a whole afghan of that.

Anyway, I’m almost done with my motifs and then I’ll have to pick a join. This has been very fun and satisfying to work on, I’ll say that.