Dog v. Baby

My smallest nephew–a baby–and my smallest niece–four years old (which, she informs me, is “not a big girl yet.”) came over yesterday.

Whew, my niece hates the dog. She was in hysterical tears about him and no matter how much we reassured her, she cried the whole time she was in the house.

Fortunately, I have a big outside she can play in.

All the crying got the dog worked up and upset though, so he was shedding and panting and just… I don’t think Sonnyboy has ever met anyone terrified of him before. He didn’t know what to do.

The baby, on the other hand, thought the dog was great. He rubbed his feet all over the dog. He put his foot in the dog’s ear. He put his foot in the dog’s eye. He put his foot in the dog’s mouth. He tried to put the dog’s nose in his mouth. I tried to make the dog understand that he could go anywhere else in the house, but he seemed to love it.

Ha ha ha. Lord. In real life, don’t let your baby put his foot in a dog’s mouth. Even writing it, it seems very stupid. But it’s not like it was some kind of “put your head in the lion’s mouth” trick. The baby was sitting on my lap, kicking around, and the dog came over and seemed not to notice the barrage of baby feet. Or seemed to enjoy it.

But then! Then he snuck out and took off and I finally found him four doors down, attempting to enter the home of three girls and their mom.

Like he’d had his fill of my family and was ready to try out a family with less kicking and crying.

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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.

Hard Stuff

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My other brother’s going through some shit with his son and I basically told him yesterday that it’s okay to fuck up and not know what to do. It’s okay to fail in ways that you know you’re going to have to apologize for later. You can not know what to do so you just don’t do anything. It’s not great and it sucks, but…

I think my ex-sister-in-law always assumed my brother was her back-up plan. If her life didn’t work out, she could always get him to take her back. Him getting married seems to have thrown her for a loop.

It’s more complicated than that, of course. But it’s also not.

Anyway, it’s depressing me to think about. You like to think that there are adults in the room, but you get in the room and you see the adults are you and you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. And you realize no one ever has.

Ugly

I still hate pictures of myself. I hate that, when I see pictures of myself, I reflexively think “disgusting.” I hate that I don’t even think this about other fat women my size. Or fatter. I still sometimes blame the fat, but it can’t be the fat if I find other big round bodies attractive or neutral.

It’s me.

And I’m really grateful for the drugs that don’t let my mind jump to that and then stick there and worry at it until I hate my life.

And I’m grateful for the therapy that has taught me to demand my brain slow down and articulate how it’s feeling, really.

But I’m also really grateful for a little dude who genuinely delights in seeing me. To him, I just genuinely and value-neutrally look like myself, a person he likes.

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We were both covered in refried beans, because he likes them but can’t quite get them from his hand to his mouth without them ending up everywhere else.

Family Time

I am all familied out. I love these assholes, but lord, I am grateful to come home to my empty house.

I would have been burned at the stake in earlier times. Not because I’m proficient at cool magic or anything, but because I would have lived out in the middle of the woods alone, in a ramshackle hut with a weedy garden and I would have recognized all the local birds.

But look at these two dinguses.

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Hard not to love them.

Silliness

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This weekend, my nephew made a silly face at me. He’s often smiled at me and been delighted when I smiled back. But this was the first time he made a face that was different at me. I didn’t know how to do it back to him, but I loved it.

Friday Things

My cousin and her family are in town! Her kids are just so adorable. Her son is like some kind of Star Wars savant. And he gets so big-eyed and excited when he tells you everything he knows.

I spilled Sprite all over myself at dinner. That was pretty embarrassing. But my cousin’s daughter reassured me that she spills things all the time and it happens to everyone. And my step-niece said I could blame her, if I wanted.

And my nephew is in a new stage! Now, when he’s tired of you holding him, he just puts his arms and lets out and holds his body stiff. He goes from cuddle-bunny to dry starfish.

Which means he can prefer things and people! Like, he can want and unwant things. Well, like, he’s run into stuff he didn’t like before. But this seems like the first time I’ve noticed him being like “Okay, enough of this.”

I also went to lunch. In a way that is going to lead to another lunch. Which really necessitates me getting to the National Archives this summer. So, that’s exciting and a little terrifying.

Nice

I had a really lovely weekend hanging out with friends and not fretting about work. I went and hung out with my nephew, who is really working hard on figuring out how he might crawl in the future. He’s kind of got the notion that, if he moves his hands, he might move, but so far he’s just kind of pushing himself backwards.

And he rolls over like a pro, now.

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I also think he’s on the verge of understanding that the baby on the screen of my phone is him.

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And look at Fort Negley out there being beautiful and free.

Folk Wisdom

The line between “what you do” and magic is super thin. That line, I would argue, in the South is just what people at church wouldn’t give a second glance to.

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If you look right at that boy’s neck, you’ll see he’s wearing an amber teething necklace. Not to chew on. It serves no practical purpose. I tried not to make too big a deal about learning of it, because I want magic in life and I didn’t want to make anyone feel weird. But I was delighted.

Here’s him and the Butcher being cute.

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Good

It turns out that, if you have a rash and a persistent cold, they get you in to see a doctor right away. And it also turns out that I have a couple of spider bites, not a rash, and that the cold is actually a bacterial thing that’s probably the same thing that caused my sinus infection earlier this winter.

So, now I’m on antibiotics. And I got in to see the doctor right away and my trip to the pharmacy took literally ten minutes, if that and so I went and got my hair cut, which took no time, and so I went and got my dog’s prescriptions filled.

Which means all the chores I had for myself this morning are done and I can instead go see the Butcher and his family.

Everything worked so smoothly I kind of felt like it was a thank you from old Leander.

Also, you guys, my dad is delightful on pain killers. Funny and quick and smart and thoughtful. I’m a little bummed that I’m not going to get up there for his second surgery. I… wait for it… enjoy talking to him now.

A thing I’m glad about, though, is that it makes me feel less nuts. Why would I continue to let this dude into my life? Oh, right, because this is a facet of him and this used to be much more of who he was.

And I wonder if this is something that we can keep, without insulting him?

I don’t know. It’s just nice to talk to him now. Even if it can’t last.

Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become of Me

I’ve been kind of feeling the itch again to write, to maybe delve back into the bombing story, to shake a few more bushes.

I got a call from a lender yesterday, or maybe a collections agency now that I think about it. My ex-sister-in-law had apparently put me down as a reference on a car loan and now they were looking for her.

I laughed. I laughed at the thought of her ever wanting my information associated with her. I laughed at the thought of anyone lending her money and thinking they were ever going to see it again. But mostly I just laughed because she has pissed so many people off in her life that I guess she had lost track of how much I hated her, because I have made it a life goal to not engage with her.

This is, I’m afraid, the drawback to wanting revenge. You’d have to spend so much time thinking about the person you hate and coming to understand them so that you can destroy them. I never want to spend that much time on her. So, I have never sought revenge.

But I did tell the woman on the phone they should just kiss that money goodbye because they’re never going to see it again.

They Tried to Kick Him out of Rehab

Well, my dad is getting kicked out of rehab, because it turns out that under the new Medicare regulations, unless you have some complicating factor, you’re not supposed to be “entered” into the hospital after knee surgery, but just kept there for a few days for observation and then sent home for outpatient rehab care. You aren’t eligible for residential rehab unless you’ve been “entered” into the hospital.

This, apparently, is new.

So, my dad is improperly in in-patient rehab and is getting kicked out today.

It’s hard for me to put into words how scared and angry this makes me. I mean, he’s doing pretty good for a guy who just got a new knee, but he just had his first shower in a week yesterday. A person had to be there with him.

How is he supposed to safely get in his house? How is my mom supposed to handle things if he falls? Like how is “send the unsteady, fragile 73 year old home where his only caretaker is his frail 72 year old wife” a good plan?!

They have to move down here. They just have to be somewhere where there are younger people who can help them.

I feel so helpless being so far away and I’m so mad.

Bad Daughter

I might be obsessing a tiny bit over my parents’ fake daughter. I’m torn between feeling like it means that I have so failed them that they had to go outside and find someone who could do the things for them I can’t do and feeling relieved that it’s not me.

I brought the mermaid tails to work on when I was up there, but I was mostly too distracted to work on them. But I did finish the afghan.

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I didn’t do anything too fancy for the border, just a single crochet row of that amazing dark blue and then a row of half double crochet in white. That’s Scheepjes Stonewashed XL yarn and it’s really, really lovely.

And my favorite part is that it is that baby blanket I did, but in a bigger yarn. Same amount of squares. I did add two more colors–that blue and a dark green, but pattern-wise, it’s the same.

Here’s the comparison.

And it’s so cozy! It’s got a nice weight to it and it looks beautiful. So, I just need to finish up my mermaid tails so I can start on the Bauhaus afghan.

This World is Not My Home

My dad has a new knee. He’s already up and walking on it and doing all his exercises. I always thought the biggest challenge was going to be getting him to take it easy and not overdo it.

I felt bad for leaving my mom up there and relieved to get home. Eight hours in the car with a big dog is a lot.

But he loved the Midwestern snow with no ice. He would go out in my parents’ back yard for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. He’d try to convince you to go out there with him. I did and it was glorious. I think we actually played. I kicked snow at him, he zoomed around, and then leaped at me pretending to bite my hand. He even got down in play posture before he would zoom off.

But he and I were both very stiff from that much time in the car. I’m jealous that he’s going to be able to spend all day sleeping while I’m at work.

The cats both looked surprised to see us when we got home, like they had just come to accept that they owned the house now, with the exception of random spot-checks from the Butcher.

My parents have a fake daughter. She calls them “mom” and “dad” and they introduce her as their daughter. They gave her an afghan I made and told her it was from me. I hadn’t met her before. I hadn’t really realized the extent of the weirdness.

I kept waiting to get a scammy vibe from it, but if she’s trying to con them, she’s going about it very, very slowly. Or all she wants is for someone to occasionally buy her lunch, so the con has worked? I don’t know.

I think she was a little jealous of me and I was of her. But I can’t have the kind of relationship they want to have with someone because it would crush me, so, I guess, as long as it’s just weird and not exploitative, whatever. Everyone’s happy.

I still don’t like it. But it’s not my business.

I wish they lived closer, though not next door.

Baby Mobile Victory

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He loves it. It made me cry to watch him watching it. He could see everything. The big shapes were the right way to go. And his siblings liked the explanation that Cthulhu showed up because of all the weird, uneven shapes.

Being his aunt makes me so happy.

It’s Okay to Have a Weeks Long Rolling Anxiety Attack, Right?

Somehow my ex-sister-in-law is out of jail, so she thought she’d go get my nephew and take him to Florida before returning to her home–to the extent she has one–with him. In violation of the custody changes my brother got made in the wake of her going to jail.

So that was fun. And by fun I mean, terrifying and stressful and aggravating.

She brought him back yesterday after my brother convinced her that the court order that says she can’t do that really does say she can’t do that. She told him that she felt like he had set her up to violate the court order by letting her take my nephew.

I guess he’s supposed to quit his job and stand guard at his house 24/7 and then fist fight her?

Like, how’s one dude supposed to stop a woman from showing up with no notice and picking up the almost adult kid she has brainwashed into believing that she’s being framed and that there are legal maneuvers her court-appointed attorney can use to get her off of those thirteen felony charges?

The problem with framing her or setting her up or whatever other paranoid choice of word she wants to use is that it, by definition, embroils you more in her madness. Unless you absolutely for sure knew that, by tangling yourself up in her life for this little bit, you could ensure she’d never bother you again, it’s not worth it. Just back away slowly and make sure to the best of your abilities that she doesn’t know where you are or how to contact you.

Also, for some reason, we’re keeping this from my parents. Which I both don’t understand and do understand. Like, on the one hand, this is stressful enough, why wouldn’t we get everyone on the same page and working together? On the other hand, it’s hard enough. Having to deal with my parents trying to analyze it and take over directing what should happen would be nightmarish.

So, my brother doesn’t want to tell them. I’m not telling them.

Frankly, I’m terrified for my brother and his family. I’m very worried about the level of brainwashed control she has over my nephew and I’m concerned that, for the rest of his life, he’s going to end up supporting her. I’m concerned that he might lash out at my sister-in-law or my niece as he deals with the reality that his mom is not being square with him about what’s going on. I’m deeply concerned that the reason she wants him back is that her Plan B is to blame some of her shit on him. I completely do believe she’d do that.

I’m also concerned that, as the reality of her situation sets in, she might feel pushed to act more desperately.

I thought all this nonsense would be enough to revoke her bond, too, but apparently not.

My brother made a police report, so he’d have it documented for court, but this all is still, supposedly, just a civil matter.

Anyway, I have all my triangles made. I’m just tucking tails now, which, oddly, is fine because I’m having trouble concentrating on anything else.

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Another Weird Thing about Mobiles

I have been studying my enemy–the Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex–for clues as to how to shape a less expensive mobile for my nephew and another weird thing I noticed aside from how hella expensive they are is that, though the baby is underneath the mobile, most mobiles are cute from the angle their parents will see it at.

So, the arm I bought has five fingers from which to hang dangly things. My thought is to do five large simple shapes–like baseball size so that, if they fall off, he’s not in any danger of choking on them–that are easy for him to see and will look interesting from any angle.

But I also found some adorable patterns for smallish–like smaller than baseball sized but still bigger than his mouth–elephants and I’m tempted to try one and see how long they take. I know I can work up five simple shapes in an afternoon. But if the elephants are easy, I’m kind of tempted to work up five elephants as well and figure out how to attach them to the underside of the shapes. Like, it wouldn’t be that hard to take the sphere and work it into a hot air balloon and stick the elephant in the basket looking over the side down at the nephew.

I’m kind of waiting on the yarn to decide, but that’s what I’m leaning toward.

Every Round Goes Higher, Higher

The bad thing my nephew is going through drags on. The person in charge of deciding wants to see how some things unrelated to my nephew shake out today and then he’ll make a decision tomorrow.

I think part of the thing is that he’s sixteen. There are legal things to consider, but also, he’s almost an adult. What he wants needs to weigh heavily. But I don’t see how the legal things and his desires line up unless the adults in his life are able to act with a kind of generosity I would find miraculous.

I know this goes without saying, but a kid deserves the same foresight and consideration you’d give a dog. You need to be able to feed and shelter a kid, give him room to play, and affection and guidance. And if you’re not prepared to take care of that kid and put his needs first, don’t get a goddamn kid. And, yeah, if you have a kid, you often need to set aside what you want for what he needs. For at least the length of your legal responsibility for him.

I hope he realizes he’s getting massively dicked over here and isn’t thinking that he deserves this or brought it on himself.

I’m Climbing Because I Can’t Fly

Today my middle nephew has to go through something awful and I’m a bundle of nerves for him. The whole thing is awful, but it’s compounded by the adults around him making a long series of decisions that stretch back years that didn’t put him and his well-being first. And now, he’s really being fucked over in ways that will impact him long-term.

And that sucks. And I truly hope he can hold out until he’s 18 and then he picks a good direction and heads that way and never looks back. I’d miss him, but, if it meant that he was safe, I’d wish him well.

Anyway, I’m back to the afghan that looks more like a series of UFOs than I anticipated. It has six of these big dohickies and each one takes just a hair longer to complete than I wish it did. But I love those long front-post stitches.

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Also, please note the cat licking his crotch in the background.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our earlier discussion, about opting out. I don’t have good thoughts about it yet, but I’m thinking a lot about it.

A thing I’m concerned about is the same thing I’m always concerned about–that old Maya Angelou adage that most people don’t want change, they want exchange. They just want to be the people on top for a while.

And this is my concern in the current moment. It can’t be enough to elect more women or hire more women if the women are just going to do what the men do, but slightly different.

I was talking to the Man from GM the other day who told me about a weird date he had with an ad exec and she spent the whole evening telling him about cars and how they work and what makes a good one. Like, not opinion things, which people have when they find out he designs and engineers car stuff, but actual “let me tell you about cars, sir” stuff. I laughed and told him he’d been mansplained.

But after I got off the phone, it nagged at me. I mean, it’s still mostly funny, but the world isn’t better if everyone’s arrogantly assuming that their opinions on things have as much or more value than the hard-earned knowledge of the expert.

That’s not change. That’s just exchange.

I can’t remember if I ever told you how the Man from GM got his job at GM. He was a freshman in college and GM had engineering students come tour the facilities and he was on one of those tours. The guy giving the tour asked if they wanted to see the new Corvette (this was back in the 1990s, when GM was working on a complete redesign of the Corvette). Of course they did.

So, off they go and there they are, standing before the prototype and the dude is telling them some stuff and pointing some stuff out, but basically, everyone is standing there ooo-ing and ahhh-ing politely. The Man from GM though is on his back, under the car, shouting out questions about what he sees.

He is the first student, ever, in all the tours where they’re shown the Corvette prototype, to get under the car. The dude running the tour tells him he has a job on his team when he graduates, if he wants it.

The Man from GM is obnoxious. Don’t get me wrong. The kid on his back shouting up questions from beneath a car while you’re trying to give a quick tour is obnoxious. But I still think a lot about how his enthusiastic, excited curiosity served him well. And as I get older, I think about how wise that tour-guide engineer was to recognize what an asset that enthusiastic, excited curiosity could be.

I don’t really have a way to tie this all up into a nice, thematic bow, so I guess I won’t try.

The Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex

My nephew is at the point where he would really enjoy a mobile. He likes to look up. He likes to look at things. He likes it when things are moving. And he likes noise.

So, I get online to see what a mobile for him would cost and they’re all like $40-$50! This wouldn’t have been so insulting, but my search also brought up a result for just the arm with the spinning and the music–less than $15. In essence, I’m paying $35 for five stuffed Christmas ornaments.

I can crochet five stuffed shapes.

So, I bought the arm and some cotton yarn and some stuffing and when it all gets here, I’m fucking making that kid a mobile for less than $25. Take that, Baby Mobile-Industrial Complex.

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I mean, look! He is ready for some mobile-watching action.

Nephew Mind Blown

Last night, I ate a S’more and while I was holding my nephew. I got some marshmallow on my finger and then, like any good aunt, I stuck it in his mouth instead of licking it off myself.

I think I broke him. Not in a bad way. But I don’t think it had occurred to him before that that things could taste radically different. He just sat there, completely still, eyes wide.

How is this real life? I just don’t know.

Well, It Happened

My ex-sister-in-law finally shat the bed hard enough that she may not be able to wiggle out of consequences for her terribleness.

I thought I’d feel more pleasure in it. I’ve been waiting a long time for her actions to catch up with her.

But the sheriff in the county has a Facebook page where he posts arrests and under his post about this were comments from other people who’ve been through the wringer with her. And it just made me so sick and sad. My first thought was “Why didn’t someone do something about her earlier so that there wouldn’t be this trail of people affected by her?”

But the amount of people who have tried to do something for her and about her is enormous. People have tried to intervene in her life from the moment it was obvious something was wrong when she was very young. They tried repeatedly. They keep trying.

Nothing worked.

And there’s no good outcome here. Regardless of how this turns out, she has kids who needed her to be better than this. And she wasn’t. And the repercussions of that are going to echo down for their whole lives.

That really sucks. And I’m really sorry she doesn’t get that and is, I think, incapable of getting that.

Smile

You guys, my nephew smiled at me. A real smile. Quite a few times. I got a little choked up over it.

I want to go hang out with him today and let him smile at me a million more times, but we both have shit to do.

And, also, while I held him, he babbled in my ear, just being a noisy little pumpkin.

How is this life? How is he a thing in the world?

I tried to get a picture of him smiling, but he was not cooperating. You can kind of see the start of one here.

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Purple Afghan

I love how it turned out.

I also love that it looks almost as nice on the back as it does on the front. Trust me, too, when I tell you that, in real life, it has a really lovely “old sweater” comfy vibe.

Yesterday, the animals met the baby. It then took the orange cat some time, but this morning, as I was getting dressed, he came into my room, meowed loudly so I would look at him, and then he peed right by my closet. On purpose.

So, I fucking guess he figured out what happened to the Butcher and why.

But before that, he seemed mildly curious about the baby, so it wasn’t a total disaster.

But this dog. Oh, this dog. First of all, when you come to my house, normally, you have to be greeted by one million loud barks and jumps and maybe you even need a dog on your lap.

But the second he saw the baby, he went quiet. He still greeted everyone and leaned on everyone who sat on the couch, but he didn’t bark. He sniffed the baby so gently and then licked his hand. And then, later, on, licked his head. And he didn’t bug my sister-in-law while she held the baby.

And when I held the baby so the baby could reach over and pet him, the baby drooled on him and that was fine. I’m not 100% sure if he, at two months old, can really grab things on purpose yet but he sure likes finding new things in his hands from time to time.

I think Sonnyboy really got that this was a puppy. Or as close as we weird things can come to making a puppy. And, in typical Sonnyboy fashion, he was open to it. Okay, there’s a baby now. Let’s fix its hair and not make a lot of noise and give it some room.

I said this on Twitter, but I mean it all the time. I think Sonnyboy is a great dog and I am so glad to know him. But from the start, he should have been a family dog. I know he doesn’t feel cheated. I know he’s delighted to have a home and a couch to sleep on and a wide group of people who love him. And also, for some reason, lots of chicken biscuits to eat on our walks (seriously, people. If you’re not going to eat all your chicken, don’t buy it.). He’s happy to be out of whatever stupid situation caused him to need to be rescued. But he would have been a great family dog.

And who ever left him tied to a tree in rural Smith County cheated him out of that. And I don’t think I’ll ever forgive that. This is a dog who should have been raised up from puppydom with a child. And he might not know he’s been cheated, but I see it.

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