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.

Friends and Acquaintances

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.

Every Damn Year

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.

First Correct Use of “First Annual” in History?

I was telling the Professor that I go next week to get my boobs squished for science. It’s my first annual mammogram. (Is there any word that sounds older than “mammogram”? “Ma’am”–woman older than you. “O” starts the word “old.” “Gram,” a pet name for a grandmother. You don’t even have to know what a mammogram is to know it’s for old women.) And then I thought–It is my first annual mammogram. I know many people get annoyed by “First Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest,” but I think “first annual mammogram” is right. It’s like the exception that proves you should normally use inaugural.

Oh, speaking of things that go with “inaugural,” I’m working on my October thing and I was telling the Butcher about it and I was like “And then a buzzard with the head of Abraham Lincoln shows up” and he was like “seen it.”

How is this possible?

Is there anything in pop culture the Butcher hasn’t already encountered?

Taste the Rainbow

Taste the Rainbow

Here’s what each of the squares in my afghan will look like. I’m really pleased. I love this yarn so much. I know I say that. I wish I could get a picture that would capture just how beautiful it is, the way the plies wrap around each other is just about the most pleasing thing to look at. I can’t decide why. I like my cheap-o acrylic yarn, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about wool that just feels more magical.

I am completely drained from yesterday. My meeting with the artist went great. I worry that I don’t seem excited enough, when really, I’m just kind of overwhelmed that this is even happening at all. Like my needle is buried in “excited.” I can’t really seem more excited, even though I’m really thrilled. When she starts putting the prints together, I’m going to go get to see her studio! And she’s going to make sure that there are crows tucked in the book. We’re hoping to have books ready for the Proto-pulp show in September, but, if not, we’ll at least have some prototypes to show people. And, holy shit, you guys, of course I want you to buy my book, but if she sells the art separately, some of you are going to fall over for the spread that’s poor Tom, just a skeleton entwined with the roots of a tree.

The reading went very well. I think the other guy who was there and I were both kind of on the same page, that we were there to support Sara and to make her day go well. And I think she felt that it did go well and that she was well-loved and I feel like that’s also about all you can ask of a book signing. I did laugh, though, as I was coming home because all of Sara’s people are people I think C. and his wife would really enjoy and I’m was like “maybe my job here is just to try to figure out how to make these people run into each other.” I mean, we had an awesome argument over Hamlet. I can’t remember what about, but people toasted at some points and slammed their fists on the table emphatically at others and what more do you want in a fight about Hamlet?

I said the truth about how I felt about Project X as true and straight-forwardly as I know how to be. I don’t know if it will make any difference, but I have now done everything I know how to do.

Now I need to come up with a grocery list.

Brief Two Dog Days

The Butcher’s friend, the Black Dog, stopped by for a moment this morning because the Butcher had forgotten the keys to the Black Dog’s house and, thus, could not return the Black Dog to said house. The Black Dog and Sonnyboy walk together most mornings, but usually don’t, according to the Butcher, pay much attention to each other. This is the case even when they’re at the house. Sonnyboy is busy following the Butcher around and the Black Dog is sniffing everything and searching for the cats. The Black Dog’s disinterest in Sonnyboy is proportional to his curiosity about the cats.

I don’t know. I can’t quite make sense of Sonnyboy and the Black Dog’s relationship. Most dogs I’ve seen are either really excited about and curious about the presence of another dog or suspicious and wary. But these two dogs are about as completely disinterested in each other as you could possibly be and not violate some law of physics. It makes it really easy to do things with both of them, as there’s not really any competition between them for space or affection–not like when Sonnyboy is all “But why are you petting the cat when my head is right here? Do you need my head to be closer to where the cat is? Would that help you make the better petting choice? Oh, lord, why did the cat scratch me?!”

But it’s still odd to me. I can only assume that they’re just like “Oh, it’s you. Everything cool? Yeah? Cool.” and then they just don’t worry about the other anymore. Like they have each other figured out. It’s everything else that’s so fucking weird.

The Butcher and the Professor

I had a really good talk with the Professor last night about how I’m not exactly bummed or anything about turning 40. I mostly just, if I’m being honest, feel confused by it. Like, oh, okay, so nothing’s going to happen? And the Professor has this theory that we don’t really have realistic role models for how not to be like our parents, because, growing up, we saw our parents and their friends and then, anyone who wasn’t living like that was on TV, somehow changing the world. But here we are, 40, and maybe we don’t want to change the world or we realize that our ability to effect change is really limited, but we still don’t want lives like our parents’ so we have to figure out what it is we want from life instead.

I also was able to talk through with her my feelings of guilt and discomfort with the fact that I live so decadently. Like I do really have this internalized idea that there’s something shameful about deciding to just go ahead and be weird. And yet, what else can I do? I want to be happy and this is what makes me happy. So, I just have to keep on acknowledging that small voice and then ignoring it.

On my way home today, though, when I lamented to the Butcher my fear that I’ll never get a book contract, he told me to shut up because I’d already made more from my art in my lifetime than Van Gogh had made in his, so what more did I fucking want? Which made me laugh.


Also, today I am going to the retina specialist. I’m freaked out. Everything will be fine. But I’m still freaked out.

I think this is a matter of how we approached going to the doctor when I was young. You went when shit was wrong. So, even though this is completely routine and, in fact, I’m going now, before things go wrong, so that he can watch and catch things before they go really wrong, I’m still freaked out about it like there’s a problem.

I had my mom write up what happened to her and how she came to have to get shots in her eyeballs. And it appears that the thing wrong with my mom is the thing the guy I’m seeing has written a book about. He’s literally written a book on my mom’s condition. Which makes me feel like I’m seeing the right guy if I’d like to avoid having needles put in my eyeballs.

Also, I stupidly told my parents they didn’t need to come down and take me to this appointment, because I am a grown-ass woman. But now, since the Butcher’s car is still sitting in a lot on Trinity Lane waiting for the arrival of its new engine, of course he has a job interview at the exact same moment I am having a medical appointment that will leave me unable to drive home.

Luckily, our friend is going to drop him off at the doctor’s office. But it’s just kind of a logistical headache.

Incoherent Thoughts about Jimmy Page

I won’t watch Woody Allen movies. I don’t intentionally listen to R. Kelly. Michael Jackson, who played such a formative part of my youth, is out.

I still listen to Led Zeppelin.

Which is why, really, I’m not going to look down on you for listening to R. Kelly.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think you can seek social justice through elaborate rule-writing and prohibition-enacting. Yes, in part, it’s the change/exchange problem. Deciding our problems are solved by careful enactment of proper rules of behavior means someone gets to put herself in charge of those rules of behavior. But, more than that, in terms of changing people’s minds, rule-making short-circuits that. It puts in place a practice rather than a change.

(I’m trying to thread a needle here, so let me be clear that I think rule-making serves many a useful purpose, especially in terms of drawing and maintaining healthy boundaries.)

But what I mean is that, I don’t think “If you’re a feminist, you don’t watch Woody Allen movies” is a useful thing for feminists. Sure, it gives a way to police all feminists and make sure that they’re “following the rules,” which, sure, we can disguise as “being supportive enough of victims” but really, it’s just about keeping other women’s behavior in check. “How can a feminist watch a Woody Allen movie?” once you get over the initial “with her eyes” part, is a useful question.

“How can I keep listening to Led Zeppelin, knowing what I know?” is a hard question. But a useful one.

I don’t, honestly, give a shit at this point if people think I’m a good feminist. I am, at best, an imperfect ally. And I’m not interested in signaling to others that my politics are right and getting the signal back from them that they have found my politics acceptable, because I just can’t get over the feeling that it’s a lie, a performance.

I care that, when I settle down in my bed at night, and it’s just me and my thoughts, that I can make sense of and make peace with my thoughts.

Last night, some twitter account started just to harass my friend tweeted at him and me and this other dude about what’s it like to know your wife is sleeping with a murderer. I tweeted back that I was shocked to learn my wife was cheating on me.

So, here’s the thing. I still don’t know how to deal with this. Do I still consider myself his friend? Yes. What does that mean for my friendships with folks who are directly impacted by his behavior, because they now, still, have to deal with the fall out from this? I don’t know. I feel weird about it.

But being tweeted at by an anonymous account didn’t make me feel ashamed to be found associating with him or something. Which I think was supposed to be the intended outcome. It made me feel like I’m already lumped in with the bad guys, so fuck wrestling with how to be a good guy. Which, I have to tell you, in this case, would be a mighty convenient way to view the situation.

I just don’t think it’s the right way. I don’t know if there’s a right way.

I guess the thing I’m trying to get at is that, for me, in all these cases, there’s a line, a moment when you’ve gone too far and you can’t get back to your familiar shore, so you have to stake out some new position. Like, you kind of knew about the Woody Allen thing, but you didn’t really pay too much attention, and you loved his movies, but then, maybe, you read Dylan Farrows account and it just rang true. And maybe you read all the other counter-arguments, hoping that they’d convince you that you could, once more, feel okay about watching Woody Allen movies, but they all seemed to be making excuses or missing the point.

And that’s it. This thing you loved? You can’t love it easily anymore.

Someday that’s going to happen to me about Led Zeppelin. Maybe it will be when one of my friends has a 14 year old daughter and I have to stare right in the face of how young that is. Or maybe it will come when my niece turns 14 and I try to imagine what it would be like to learn some rockstar asshole had his roadie kidnap her so that he could rape her.

I don’t know. Putting it that way, it makes me wonder if today might be the day, when one of their songs comes up on shuffle and I don’t say “Wow,” but instead say “Yuck.”

And, you know, fuck Jimmie Page for that.


One of my favorite things about Nashville is how easy it is to get someone to tell you a story. You just give them a little push and off they go, telling you something interesting. Yesterday, I had to go to the store because I forgot chicken broth and I was telling the guy who was checking me about about how I never can remember the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock and I always send the Butcher to the store for the wrong thing. And he told me about a guy they had in the other day who was buying four gallons of milk and five boxes of Jello among other things and the checker caught a glimpse of his list and realized that the guy’s wife had numbered her list–“F. gallon of milk. 5. Jello”–but dude was reading the numbers as an amount. and they could not talk him out of his mistake.

So, I know this guy who shares the last name with a minor character on True Detectives. It’s a pretty distinctive Louisiana name, so every time it comes up on the show, I have this moment where I’m like “Now, how would she be related to K.?” So, I asked him whether he’s watching the show and if it’s weird to have someone with his name on it. And he said that there was only one original guy with that name, so, even if he couldn’t understand why her family has been living that far below Lafayette, she must be one of them, because everyone with that name goes back to that one guy.

I love this so much. I mean, I love the ways fact and fiction can blur (in fun ways, not in distressing ways) and I love a kind of largesse that says “everyone, real and imaginary, with our name is ours.”

But I think it’s a similar thing–this idea that you have to be prepared to meet narrative with narrative, that people are telling stories and you best be ready to tell one right back.

My family is good at story-telling in some ways. I mean, we can tell a mean story, even a demonstrably untrue one, with the best of them. But we have trouble inhabiting a space it’s so easy to fall into down here–where everyone is kind of bullshitting (I mean, four gallons of milk? Really? I don’t know.) for the sake of amusing each other

Sometimes, when I meet new people, I think that I talk too much. I don’t know how to be quiet with you until I know you. But it’s also that I enjoy telling stories and I have this impulse that, if I tell you a great one, maybe you’ll turn around and tell me one even better.

Not an Excuse, But…

So, I have a friend, or, I guess, you can work with a dude for a year and drink with him regularly and now he’s not a friend, but just some guy you used to know in the course of a “full disclosure.” Saying he’s only someone I used to work with seems, to me, in my case, disingenuous. I liked the shit out of him and have cheered for him at various stages in his career. On the other hand, when he came through town last and saw his “friends from the Scene,” I wasn’t among the people he tried to get together with, though he apologized later, which is how I found out he’d been in town at all. So, that’s, I guess, the accurate assessment of our friendship. We kind of keep track of each other and I’ve been excited to see where his career might go.

So, here’s also the thing. He fucked up. Badly. And now a person is dead.

But, here is also the thing. As much as I read his story and imagined with growing horror what he was doing and what that would mean if he were writing about someone I knew–what if this were my friend V. instead of just some stranger?–I read his story and imagined with growing horror whether I would have written that story that way. And the thing that I keep coming back to is this: I’m not sure. Maybe not in this particular case. Maybe, if the circumstances were that I found out that a person I was investigating for a story about golf clubs was transgender and really, really didn’t want that to come out, I might back off. Maybe I might be smart enough to ask around about how best to handle the situation. Especially if I knew she’d tried to commit suicide before.

But I write about Scott DesJarlais regularly, about what a fucking tool he is. And I know he was suicidal at one point (I mean, say what you want and claim you knew the gun was empty, but sitting around with the barrel in your mouth does not make you non-suicidal) and I know he didn’t want the fact that he’d pressured his girlfriend into having an abortion to come out and I jumped right on the dog pile.

It’s supposed to be better because he chose to be a public person and he’s a vile jackass, but is it? I’m not sure.

I’m also not sure because I think a lot of writing–in my case, a lot of blogging–is pretty formulaic. I think, in fact, people’s own narratives about themselves are pretty formulaic (hence why Tarot cards work). And the whole “scrappy reporter sticks it to the rich and powerful” is a pretty strong narrative. It’s at the heart of the phrase I’ve seen bandied about against my friend–Afflict the comfortable, comfort the afflicted. I feel fairly certain that this was the strong, simply narrative at the heart of the urge to uncover this woman’s fraud (let me be clear: about her education and credentials). How dare you, rich and powerful person, try to pull one over on the public?

But it’s at the point that the simple narrative falls short that I feel uncertain. If you discover that your framework for the story is the wrong one–that this isn’t a powerful person fucking over the unwitting–how certain are you that the other simple shorthand ways you have for explaining the situation are workable, not outdated, not so bloody fucking violent? I’ve known my friend a long time and we’ve had a lot of discussions about writing and justice and sticking it to The Man. And it would have never occurred to me that, sitting in his writerly toolkit, unused but waiting in case he needed it, was “trans women are unstable frauds.”

So, I kind of don’t know how to process that. And, frankly, obviously, that’s not just a narrative he had on hand, ready to snap it into place when the story he was telling became strange to him, but one his editors also saw and thought seemed plausible and fine.

I feel kind of disjointed and incoherent about this. But I’ll just say this. A lot of the discussion of this story is about how my friend is some obvious villain. But I am certain that, if anyone reading this had sat down and had a beer with him before this happened, you’d find a guy you liked, a guy you thought was on your side.

And I get why everyone is all “Oh, not me! I would never…” But I just don’t believe it. And, in part, I don’t believe it because I would have believed my friend when he said something similar (and, in fact, as people have pointed out, he pretty much did when talking about the Kellers).

I feel like saying “Oh, not me! I would never…” is a lie. For me, anyway. I feel pretty certain I’d never write about a trans woman this way or go around outing her to her acquaintances. But I’m not certain I’d never fuck someone over in my writing as badly as my friend fucked over this woman. I’m especially not certain because I know I think there are a lot of people who deserve to be raked over the coals. I mean, who cares if fucking DesJarlais has some nights of discomfort?

I don’t know. I don’t really have a point. A woman is dead. And my friend seems to obviously have contributed to that death. And everyone else seems so angry and certain that this is beyond what a decent person would do. And yet, I know my friend and I’d call him a decent person. So, that certainty scares me.


The way in which I’m most fortunate in my life here in Nashville is that I have friends that, when I’m like “I am in complete chaos and I don’t know what I’m doing,” are like “I will meet you at 1:30 and pull you through your own shit.”

Everything Changes, But Not as Quickly as You’d Like

I’m a little money ahead going into the new year, so of course my check engine light has come on and both my fridge and my water heater seem to be leaking. I’d be bummed, but I have to admit, I feel really lucky that I got a little money ahead before this stuff happened. Though I was also hoping to set it aside to print the children’s book. Which, I’m hoping, is not going to be that expensive. I don’t know. Ugh. But excited ugh.

The trouble with signs and omens is that I never know how to read them. But I’d like to take this as a sign that the year of things I feel ambiguously about is over, from one dead of winter to the next.

My friend, S., has been waiting to hear about three things and yesterday, she found out that all three things are happening for her.

And the person who is reading the Ben & Sue project keeps emailing me just to tell me that she likes it so far and it makes me feel like maybe this will be the year I find an agent.


I couldn’t walk this morning because it was so muddy under the thin layer of snow. But I did stand back by the creek for a while and watch the water go by. One of my co-workers wants me to adopt a dog she knows. She doesn’t mean it this way, but I feel like she just wants me to solve a problem she has–since I have pit bull experience. I looked up dogs at animal control and found that I was clicking on all the black and white ones to see their pictures. So, that’s where my heart is. Nothing yet about the lab. That’s also the funny thing about people–they need decisions from you so quickly, but they move slower than you can stand when the time comes.

One of my long-time friends has had a professional disappointment the likes of which kind of stops me short. I thought the problem was solely him not getting the support he needed from group a, but really, it’s that group b–a bunch of people who are all our friends and who have previously had a professional relationship with said friend–kind of forgot about him. In other words, if group b had offered their support to him, the ways that group a didn’t come through for him would have mattered much much less. But b was awol.

So, even though he’s done this good, interesting work, it kind of doesn’t matter. Or, at least, if it’s going to matter, it’s going to happen in a way that can’t be mapped out and counted on.

I guess the thing I think is that I do such a shitty job of letting the people I genuinely care about know that I care about them and spend enough time with them. And it’s scary to think of how important it is to show up and hang out with people you don’t necessarily like and who don’t necessarily like you just so that you are a person for whom shit gets done.

One of the Ways I’m a Terrible Person

When I was a kid, an adult did something shitty to me. Not like life-shattering betrayal of trust shitty, but just ordinary shitty. The kind of ordinary shitty, though, that kind of ruins a little bit of being a kid for you. Like “Oh, this person is just pretending to be nice and pretending to be friends with these other adults, but really, she’s a liar who is deliberately doing things to undermine the people who think she’s their friend.” Until her, I didn’t really understand that grown-ups would lie. I thought they might not always tell the truth, but it was just because they didn’t know what the truth was, not because they had some agenda that was furthered by just trying to fuck things up for people.

Anyway, something terrible has happened to her community. She is fine. But I saw her on the news, hugely upset, going on about how she and the members of her church were staying late to help the victims of this terrible thing, because they’re Christian and that’s what they do.

And I felt this kind of rage burn through me so quickly and then burn out and then I laughed. And I realized I was laughing because she was so upset and scared and miserable.

I would like to be a more forgiving person. Not for the sake of the people who have wronged me. But just for my own sake. But I hadn’t thought about this woman in a million years. Isn’t that the benefit to moving away? Folks go on with their lives. You go on with yours. And you don’t have to give a shit about each other anymore. If you’d have asked me yesterday morning about her, I think I would have had to struggle to bring her to mind. My first memory of her would not have even been the shitty thing, but the really awesome thing she’s well-known for in the community (which I’m not mentioning, because it would, I think, make her immediately recognizable).

I didn’t know, in other words, how pissed and hurt I was still by her. Yesterday morning, if you had asked me if I had forgiven her. I would have laughed and said yes, of course. That was so many years ago. And I would have believed it.

But seeing her face. It just opened up some part of me I didn’t even know was walled off. And there I was “Ha ha, this time it sucks to be you.” And it felt good to see her crying.

So, here is my question. If you design an interior space in your psyche that lets you navigate life with as little continuing trauma as possible, if you just wall off the unpleasant shit you have no way of resolving and learn to maneuver around the spot you just don’t use any more so deftly you even forget it’s there, and you base your ideas of yourself on the interior that no longer includes those walled-off spots, how can you truly know you’ve moved beyond something? That you’ve truly forgiven someone? If the wall is there, just waiting to crumble, how can you ever, really, move beyond old hurts?

The Curious Case of the Butt Pat in the Night

Now that I’ve got all of Memphis pissed at me (for those of you keeping track, that’s fans of Gail Kerr, mid-century modern architecture enthusiasts, Methodists, and now Memphis folks), it brings to mind my favorite story.

A million years ago, my friend B., was in college in Memphis and I went to visit her. She lived in a big old mansion in a really run-down part of town. It was her and like ten or fifteen other art students and theater majors.  She was the only one I knew, though.

So, we went to bed and I fell asleep and after a while, there was a tapping on my butt. I looked over at B. but she was fast asleep. Clearly not her. So, I made the reasonable assumption anyone in my situation would make. This must be the time of night everyone who wants to switches partners. And here I was, being called on to be a gracious guest to someone else in the house. I pretended to be asleep and not notice. The tapping on my butt continued.

And I got to mulling it over. I mean, fuck it, right? I’m in Memphis, with a bunch of arsty-fartsy interesting people. So, okay, I guess let’s do this.

I sit up.

It’s her damn cat. There is no exciting debauchery the likes of which would scandalize my parents. It’s just the cat for whatever cat reasons tapping on my butt.

The New Afghan May Be Salvagable

I think the trick is going to be adding borders until it’s the right size. It is really pretty, but I’ll have to take a picture of the back and show you guys how hilarious it is. I mean, you all know how much I hate to tuck ends and I have made an afghan that requires tucking at the end of every single row.

I’m going to make an afghan for the Red-Headed Kid next. Fittingly, he wants it to be red.

I finished entering corrections into the manuscript. I’m going to give it  read-through when I have some quiet time and then send it to nm. I have–as you’ve probably noticed–really mixed feelings. When I’m reading the manuscript, I feel caught up in it, like, yes, this works. But when I’m just thinking about it, all I can do is fret and feel like it doesn’t, in some fundamental way, work. It may be that I’m just not there yet. I might not yet be the writer who can write that book.

But I don’t know. Maybe, also, I’m looking for an excuse to chicken out because the next part–sending it out to try to find an agent and getting rejected over and over and over again sucks so bad.

I think I may have managed to salvage the cooking pot of my grandmother’s I thought I ruined by burning beef stew in it. But I took oven cleaner to it last night and it seems to have finally gotten the carbon off the bottom.

Oh, and this will be exciting. My dad is planning on him and my mom going to Thanksgiving down at my brother’s. He doesn’t think that the Butcher and I can come, because they don’t have a table. So, the questions this raises are as follows. 1. Does my dad not realize that my brother is going to try to sucker him into getting my youngest nephew in North Carolina and bringing him down? 2. How much do you want to bet that he has NOT said that out-loud to my mom, because you know she would throw a fit at the idea of us not being made welcome at Thanksgiving? 3. How long between that phone call and another phone call in which my dad, having endured the “What the fuck”ing of my mom, makes plans for us to join them on Thanksgiving? 4. Do we want to join them? I don’t know. I do want to see that baby, though. And I don’t get to see my nephews often enough. And what are the holidays for if not being too cramped in inadequate places while people fight?

Tonight’s story is kind of how I imagine Coble’s childhood would have gone, had she been a witch.

Kindness in all Places

NM and I went to lunch where I proceeded to fret about the dog and my ability to a.) judge when the time comes and b.) afford it because of some fucked up shit that I’m too angry about to go into. We’re a ways away. But it’s clear we’re talking months, if not weeks, instead of the wonderful years we had before us.

And, as I said to her, I just don’t want to fuck it up. As I’ve said to y’all.

And the woman at the table behind us came over and said that she’d overheard what we were talking about and wanted me to know it would be okay, that I would know when it was time.

And then we went to JJ’s where there was a pit bull puppy waiting on its owner and I wondered that Mrs. Wigglebottom had ever once been so tiny and then I let the puppy give me a million kisses and everything did, indeed, seem like it would be okay.

The Fourth Graders!

They were wonderful. The other two authors were amazing. I think they liked my story fine.

But they were super-impressed to learn that I’d published A City of Ghosts myself.

“Then how did you get edited?”

“My friend, Kristin, did it.”

“Who took the picture?”

“My friend, Chris.”

“But who made the cover?”

“My friend, Beth.”

“Yeah, but look inside. You couldn’t do that.”

“No, my friend, Samantha did.”


They were blown away. It was pretty awesome.

The Difference Between the Side for Shaking and the Side for Spooning is Substantial

Here’s how I remember my first (or maybe second) Thai meal. One time I ate Thai with Coble and Sarcastro and another time I ate it with JR and Elias. I just can’t remember which order.

Anyway, I was in Colorado for work. But I was hanging out with JR and Elias in my spare time. We went to this little Thai restaurant and Elias ordered everything hot. I remember the waitress trying to dissuade us. I remember it being delicious. And then I remember my eyes watering and snot involuntarily running down my face and my skin melting off the back of my head and all my whole upper body just disintegrating into a beacon of fire. Viggo Mortensen saw me from a distance and was like “Crap, are they filming another Lord of the Rings without me?” Hunter S. Thompson came by our table. He was riding a cheetah named Betty Grable. The ghost of Jerry Garcia was wearing a tutu and singing “Sugar Magnolia” while my arms turned to jelly. The cooks from the back room came out to laugh at us. I started speaking in tongues. In the language of angels, I predicted the world would turn into a giant bread pudding. How many lifetimes did we sit at that table? How did we get home? Did we really dance down the aisle at someone else’s wedding set-up at the Stanley Hotel or was that part of dinner?

I have no answers.

But I was reminded of that experience a little bit last night, because I made stir-fry for dinner. I marinated the skirt steak in Coke, as is my new favorite trick, and I meant to add a few shakes of red pepper. But my stupid hand shook two or three times before my stupid brain realized that the flap on the red pepper flakes I had open was not the one with three holes for shaking on your pizza but the one with one, big gaping maw, which no one ever needs, ever.

It wasn’t as hot as hallucinatory Thai, by any stretch. But it was hot enough to make my teeth feel strange in my mouth.

And delicious.