I really love how this turned out. I enjoyed working on it. I’m enjoying staring at this photo of it. I just have to wash it today to see if it is as great as it looks. I did make one mistake, but you can’t see it in this picture and I recovered from it okay, so I’m not going to point it out.
I’m also going to make another one of these as my next afghan, because I can’t bring any more yarn into this house until I have used up the yarn that’s here. It’s just become unwieldy.
Plus, I want to make something beautiful for my friends who’ve had an unimaginably rough year. Not that an afghan makes up for losing a child, but this is what I have to offer.
My other brother is getting married. He bought an engagement ring and gave it to his fiancee.
The Butcher would really like to marry his girl. He is slowly saving up for a ring. He asked my parents for help. No help came. My dad sat here and gave a recitation of all the good jewelry floating around my mom’s family and all the reasons the Butcher could not have a piece to use. I told the Butcher to bring it up to my mom, alone, again, and see if that pries something loose.
Then yesterday, I went into the other room and I brought out the ring I have from my great-grandma and I told the Butcher that he would need to take it to a jeweler and see what it is–maybe an aquamarine, maybe a light sapphire, maybe a costume piece of paste–but if it is something, then he’d just be saving up to have it reset, and it’s a nice size and has sentimental value.
I’m just so pissed. I can’t even deal with it. The world is so hard. Life sucks and is short and it hurts. Why can’t we watch out for each other? Why can’t we be kind when we can? Why can’t the boy get the girl with a ring his family helped him come up with? Why can’t we warn each other when there’s danger? Why can’t we just try, a little bit, to not be assholes?
I came home from walking the dog to find the Butcher a mess on the couch. Our old neighbor is dead. I don’t know what to say about it really. When he first told me, I had an uncontrollable urge to laugh, it just seemed so impossible that someone that alive could suddenly not be.
I still don’t know how I feel about it. How to make sense of it. I feel like I’m betraying the spirit of our relationship by not rolling my eyes and telling you all the ways the Professor and I would cackle about him. But I can’t bring myself to do so.
My goal to be open and generous with my parents kind of backfired on me, since they were feeling open in return and my dad told me something I’m having a hard time living with. I don’t want to be too specific, because it’s entirely possible that it goes along the Amelia Earhart line. But in general, the thing is that he knew a person who hurts people like me and he didn’t tell me. He let me hang out with this person. Obviously, this person didn’t hurt me or I would have known he was the type of person who hurt people like me. But my dad knew (or thought he did).
What the fuck?
They say that eventually it gets easier to deal with your parents because you know who they are and don’t expect them to be any different than they are.
I still don’t know. I am tired of finding out.
I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.
The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.
Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.
Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.
To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.
I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.
Here is my second thing for the Post. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I want to be funny and charming and knowledgeable and I think I pulled that off.
I think I have a better idea of why this is happening and what the trajectory could look like and, even though I would appreciate all fingers crossed, I think this will be a somewhat irregular opportunity that falls into my lap from time to time. Which is very lovely. And more may come of it. We’ll see.
In other news, my friend’s baby died yesterday. And, when I was at KFC picking the Butcher up dinner, there were kittens under a truck and I tried to coax them out, but they wouldn’t come and I came home knowing it was going to get down below freezing last night, with me having left those kittens behind.
I don’t mean to sound flip about my friend’s tragedy. There are things people can write about and things they can’t. When I try to wrap my mind around this, it feels like this terrible thing and then a blast zone around it of, like, twenty miles and words fail in the blast zone.
So, you end up trying to talk about the thing without talking about the thing. There are those kittens. There is that small boy. There is Jim’s death. There are a million other heartaches, piling one upon the other, and how do you go on, except to go on?
I don’t know what I’m getting at here except to say that I am so happy and so sad and I don’t really know how to reconcile the two.
Thanks, you guys, for everything.
Yesterday I went over to Coble’s and delivered the peacock afghan. Both she and her husband said that it looked better in person than it had in pictures–“even more beautiful”–and it always did because I could never get the duller green to photograph right. It always looked more brown than it actually is.
I haven’t read a book since September. I haven’t been able to find comfort in it. I have been thinking, though, that maybe now is the time to go back to Song of Myself. We aren’t anywhere Walt Whitman couldn’t have guessed we might go and yet he still found ways to love this place.
But I spent the weekend having good conversations with people I trust and crocheting and napping, glorious napping.
My friend from high school, the Man from GM, who no longer works at GM, which feels like a testament to how long this blog has been around–the Butcher is no longer a butcher; the Man from GM no longer works for GM–is here on a visit. It’s complicated. Not in a fun way, but just in the “this is the guy your dad thinks you should have married” way and in the “I am really nauseous from the new drugs and can’t really concentrate on anything more than that” way.
I feel incapable of being my best self, I guess is what I’m saying and the situation calls for a kind of relaxed generosity of spirit I’m having a hard time mustering, because I really just want to eat like four thousand Tums and go back to bed.
This, too, shall pass. I adjusted to the metformin. I’ll adjust to this. But damn.
I have said this before, that I always expected that I would someday get married to a man who went down to the bar to sit with his friends and complain about how much he hated me while I sat at home on the phone talking to my friends about how much I hated him, and, though I love y’all, I have often felt like the people I’ve said this to have assumed it was just some sad quirk of my head.
I had coffee today with a woman who grew up in the same town I did. I said that to her and her eyes filled with tears.
“Yes,” she said, “that is how it was.”
Which, I mean, I knew. I knew. But to hear someone else say it…
A while ago I was at an event and there was a guy there and I was a little tipsy and I had an idea. So, I wrote him a note telling him to do something and I stuffed it in his hand. Then I went home. Many months past until yesterday.
I had lunch with a person who told me a lovely story about the guy doing the awesome thing I had instructed him to do. And the lunch person thanked me profusely, saying she knew it was because of me.
So, that felt super awesome. But it does make me wonder, should I have all along been leaving notes full of good ideas in people’s hands?
I had a couple of good long discussions this weekend and a short, but important discussion, and I am feeling like a human being again. Just sometimes it means the world to hear from other people “That is fucked up and I don’t know what to do or make of it either.”
It’s nice sometimes to know that you’re not overlooking some obvious solution.
I watched Spy again last night and I laughed again. One thing that really struck me is that one of the reasons I find Jason Statham so delightful in it is that he’s being funny. Like somehow him being funny doesn’t negate his handsomeness.
But, and I say this as evidence as kind of my own internalized bullshit, Melissa McCarthy is just objectively stunning. Like, she is really beautiful. But, much like Lucille Ball, since she’s sending out “funny” not “cute” cues, I didn’t notice.
I don’t know. I have a lot of thoughts. It pains me to be honest about them. But it means a lot to me to see Melissa McCarthy out in the world being beautiful, making movies, even comedies, where a lot of people want to fuck her. I’m embarrassed at this age to need that, but I do.
I need to be working on my short story, but this week, man, this week. I’ve just come home and hidden and worked on my afghan and been an emotional mess and worked on my afghan some more. I am liking the shit out of it, though. It’s going fairly fast and the motifs have an interesting amount of variety and it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something and no one hates me for doing it.
Yesterday, I went to the funeral for the father of one of my friends. It was sad and lovely. The funeral was in Sue Allen’s old house, which I found myself thinking about before the service and I wonder if she would have found that fitting–that her house became a funeral parlor.
I also thought a lot about the importance of ceremony in times like this, when you’re so flooded with emotion–knowing what to do, where to go, what to say, because you do and go and say the same things every time this happens–I think it’s part of what makes it possible to get through these things.
I hope, anyway, because I love these people.
Anyway, here’s to hoping that the weather breaks and that Fall is kinder to us than Spring and Summer have been.
This week, I’ve had coffee, I’ve had lunch, I’ve been to the Adventure Science Center and pointed at planets, I’ve had pizza and today I will celebrate Burrito Thursday, the greatest holiday of my people, with a friend.
There’s a song. For Burrito Thursday.
Burrito Thursday. Burrito Thursday.
It is the best day.
Don’t any of you be stealing my awesome song.
Share your thoughts on cockapusses below (I swear, this is just about to stop being funny to me, but not today.)
Last night, I arranged to go to Jim’s funeral with a couple of friends. This morning, I found myself at Jim’s funeral, but I realized, I hadn’t come with those friends and I didn’t actually know how I’d gotten to the church. I had the thought that I should pinch myself and see if I was dreaming and I pinched myself and I didn’t feel anything, so I knew that I was dreaming, but I couldn’t wake out of it.
Then, I was at the funeral with my friends and this was right so, for a long time, I accepted that it was real. But I thought, again, that I should touch my arm and make sure I could feel it, but, of course, I couldn’t. Dreaming again.
Finally, I was at Jim’s funeral, next to my friends. Everyone was crying and laughing as the occasion called for. I touched my arm. It was real.
I’ve never had dreams that vivid before. I would not have guessed the first one was a dream had my friends been there. I would not have guessed the second was a dream if the first hadn’t happened.
I think I had to subconsciously steel myself to go. I had to practice it in my head a few times so that I could make it through okay.
Anyway, I love you guys. Always know that.
I have a rough draft of my time-traveling Metallica story. It still needs some tweaking, but it makes me happy. It ended up not being so much about the band, but about fans of the band and what we want from artists with long careers and such.
I was telling the Redheaded Boy about it and I realized, though he’s younger than the fans in my story, he is exactly the kind of person I was writing about. He knew every iteration of the band. He has opinions on when and how they’re doing their best work. He is vague acquaintances of Dave Mustaine and told me Mustaine has the presence of an old lion.
I think I’m going to need to read this story to the Redheaded Kid to make sure I have the fannish stuff right. And I am, I find, a little nervous about that.
Jim Ridley, my editor at the Scene, died yesterday. I am devastated. He was only 50. I was blogging at the Scene shortly before he became editor and…god damn… I will write a post tomorrow. I’ve known his wife and worked with her for a million years. They have young kids.
Everything you read about Jim was true. He literally was the nicest, most patient person, almost unnaturally so. He felt big feelings. He was open to enjoyment.
He left everyone who knew him better off for knowing him. That’s an amazing legacy. Everybody has someone who thinks they’re a son-of-a-bitch, but I never heard of such a person who thought that of Jim.
It’s just stupid. The idea that there should be a guy like this in the world in the first place and then that he should die so young.
I hate that stupid “Who’s going to fill their shoes?” song, but it’s been running through my head ever since he went in the hospital because, really, who is?
And that’s the other sad truth. Nobody. Guys like Jim are unique. They make a certain splash in a certain way and when they’re gone, that splash is gone. Someone might come up at some point and make another splash but Jim’s will still be missing. The world will feel a little diminished because of that from here on out.
And that sucks.
The editor of the Scene is in the hospital. He’s been unconscious for a week. I feel very helpless. I wish there were something to do to fix him. Like, we all pitch in and build a house or paint a room or… you know. Something.
I saw him just the week before. The weather was lovely. I was on my way to a meeting in East Nashville. I’d stopped to get an ice cream cone at McDonald’s and I was crossing the Demonbreun Street bridge. He was walking toward me, out taking a stroll in the beautiful weather. I honked and waved. He smiled and waved back.
It was nice. It felt small-town-ish in a way that’s still possible in Nashville.
Jim is not that old. He has young children. It seems really unfair. Fairness, of course, being a concept like “deserves,” that assumes a kind of justice in the Universe that, in truth, doesn’t seem to exist.
Time is so short. We are so fragile. We’re all very ordinary and yet, irreplaceable.
I’m reading it and enjoying the hell out of it. I’m also having fun trying to decide if I should recommend it to nm–“It’s about a guy in St. Louis back in the 1880s who can see ghosts and battle demons!” or if she would hate it.
But I’m side-eyeing St. Martin’s, the publisher, because they did this book a little wrong with its layout–very cramped margins, almost uncomfortably long lines, chapters not page-broken, but just run inline. I know how fast I read and I know I should be on page 210 or so and I’m on page 174.
It’s a good story, but this is the first book in a long time I’ve read where I thought, “You know, this might be easier to read on a Kindle.”
Yesterday, we went to a four-year-old’s birthday party. It was rough. I mean, of course, it was awesome, but she had a bit of a melt-down after the presents, and that was rough.
But it was interesting to see how it worked, because I doubt we as adults are much different. There is some top end to joy. There’s only so much and then the needle is buried. Worse, when good things keep happening, because there’s no more room for happiness, you start to teeter over into “what the hell is happening?!”
There’s a little bit of terror in getting everything you want.
I hadn’t really realized that before. I got the terror in getting what you want and finding out it’s not what you needed. Or finding out that it doesn’t lead to happiness or all the things you might guess.
But what I saw yesterday is that getting what you want is like swinging out over an abyss. It’s awesome when you’re sure you’re going to swing back to solid ground, but it starts to get a little scary when you don’t hit the far arc of the feeling when you expect to.
Chris Crofton’s advice column hit me right in the gut today. I think this is the part that got me hardest:
When I drank, I felt good. The days I didn’t drink, I felt really low. I decided that I would drink every day. I only allowed myself to drink at night, so during daylight hours I felt awful. All I wanted to do was sleep — and I did. During college I started sleeping until 4 or 5 p.m. I went to see the school psychologist. That was the first time I was advised to quit drinking — the first of hundreds of times to come. I couldn’t imagine quitting. What would I do? Who would I hang out with? Also, I wanted to be an artist. Artists drink, right?
I guess everyone knows someone who only feels good when he drinks. But there’s something about seeing it spelled out.
I’m not opposed to drinking–obviously. I like it. It’s fun. But, man, sometimes you see someone you care about with a beer before noon and you wonder if the temperance people weren’t on to something*.
*Please note that I think prohibitions of most sorts are terrible ideas and ruin lives. But I also know that addiction is terrible and ruins lives. And I have sympathy for the wrong-headed idea of “just making it illegal.”
I best not be getting sick. I’m hoping this sneeze is just an allergy Claritin can’t touch. Tonight, I’m reading ghost stories, which, if you think about it, is pretty wild. Stuff I wrote here half a decade ago is still bringing…whatever…joy/thrills/something other than boredom to people.
My parents were briefly in town twice to go to my niece’s birthday party and then to return from it.
We had dinner last night with the black dog’s family and it’s really wild to see how much the little girl has gone from a baby to a child. And she’s delightfully bossy. She’s already thinking about what she wants to give her mom for Christmas so she was asking her dad to take her to the grocery store. He didn’t get that it was to buy a Christmas present, so he refused, and she was all “Well, I can’t go to the grocery store by myself. I’m just a little girl.”
It killed me.
I tried to sing “Once Upon a Dream” to her in my magical fairy voice, but it was too high a key for me to do very well. I should have gone for sultry.
I finally finished Jason Sizemore’s For Exposure:The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, which I have been trying to read for the past three weeks. But I’ve literally gotten no reading done in my effort to my writing and my afghan done.
Anyway, the book is a really good overview of what it takes to run a small press and I say that as someone who works at a small press in an entirely different context. Especially relevant, I thought, was the discussion about how your successes can jam you up just as much as your failures. The best part about the book is that, as Sizemore’s telling his stories, the people involved in the story are given room for rebuttal. Sometimes it’s just a snarky footnote, but often they get a chance to tell the story you just read from their perspective.
Which means I got to not only read about Sara Harvey being a literal angel, I then got to read her more modest but also funny take on the same story.
Anyway, good times.
Sonnyboy tried to convince Sam to leave his wife and just live in the living room of my house, in a big pile of dog hair and happiness for the rest of their lives.
But, before that, we had hot chicken and talked politics and writing and how quickly/slowly things change.
Sometimes, when I wake up in the middle of the night, the dog is sleeping in the hall, looking to my un-spectacled eyes, like a small cloud taking up most of the hallway, but not yet ambitious enough to become fog. And I have this sense of stumbling into something precious and mysterious and not for me. Like these are the moments that fill most of the house’s time–animals sleeping quietly while we’re not paying attention.
If a house can have memories, this must surely be what it remembers in its bones.
Today, I was walking back from lunch and I passed by the building where the Professor used to live. And I was struck by the notion that women in Nashville must always have walked home from lunch on beautiful days like this, thinking of their friends. I was just taking part in a history that doesn’t matter, that goes unnoticed, but that was always common.
If a city can have memories, women walking away from lunch must seem like the most ordinary of them, like the way you always remember what your grandmother’s kitchen looked like, or how a lightning bug feels in the hollow of your fist.
I am not the greatest friend. I just like you and flounder at it until you get tired of me. At least, usually. Yesterday, I saw the Professor, and it made me so happy and sad all at once. I need to find a new way to be her friend, but the old way meant so much to me and sustained me in ways that I can’t put into words, but only miss. There’s nothing you can say about the person who just stops by to tell you about something funny that happened to her. Who loves your cats and will watch your dog. The every-day-ness of it.
And now there’s a continent between us.
I was still glad to see her.
I just finished TJ Jarrett’s books, which are every bit as good as Beth told me they’d be and then some more. She’s just an exquisite poet. It’s just breathtaking, poem after poem that is just perfect and overwhelming and… ugh… she lives right here. Somehow she’s able to do this kind of work right here.
I need to do something to up my game. I’m not sure what, but man.
And it’s weird, too, that I don’t know her. She knows Beth. She knows Jessamyn. That’s two entirely different worlds I’m a part of. She and I should be standing in the same small space of people who know both of those women and recognize each other in it.
But we don’t.
I feel so low right about now and every damn year I’m surprised by it. I can’t believe it’s only Thursday. This week has been so long. I’m having lunch with a friend of my mom’s tomorrow. I don’t know why. I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. She knew my mom in grade school.
But I guess she’s in town for some medical tests and who wants to come to a strange city alone for medial tests and have no one to have lunch with? I sure as fuck wouldn’t.
So, that’s why I said yes.
I just feel like this time of year is the time of year when the things we want from each other and the things we’re capable of actually doing for each other stand in stark contrast, bleak contrast, to each other and it makes me sad.