I think I have the intro to the book exactly how I want it, at least for now. Time to move forward with the rewrite of as much of the rest of it as I can.

I have a new lawn guy. My third of the year. This guy is 78. This morning, he promised me he would try to live the two years it’s going to take to get my lawn back in shape.

The thing about country folks is that they joke with rocks packed in the middle. If it lands, it’s going to sting. Might hurt a lot.

He told me a story about borrowing some cash from the Korean mafia. I honestly have no idea if that was a joke or not.


I’m trying to support a friend going through a difficult life change and, honestly, one of the hardest parts is how blindsided and confused I am by the behavior of the person instigating the changes.

It’s like a funhouse mirror version of the person I thought I knew.

Ugh, this week. This year. This country. These people.


Let’s contemplate this baby nephew trying to get some pizza, insisting on drinking out of a regular cup instead.

Field Day!

For the first time, I got invited to Field Day for the Scene. I felt like an awkward doofus the whole time, but I also had a blast. And I got bit by so many flies. Yuck.

It was fun to see folks in that context, though. Like Erica is delightfully inclusive. Everyone get out there. Everyone cheer. Everyone have a good time.

And Patrick did a one-person double-play! He caught the ball (batter out) and then stepped on second (runner out). Which I guess happens all the time in professional baseball, but it was fun to see in wiffle ball.

Fort Houston beat us, though, and by the end of the day, I was so tired of their coolness–their friendly attitudes, their awesome shirts, their supportive cheering of children, their cute dogs–that I finally shouted, “You’re not even a fort” after they did one of their cool cheers.

So, you known, not my proudest moment.


I have this recurring dream lately where I go to visit a couple of my friends, who live in an apartment complex along the interstate, and are history buffs.

And the husband in the dream is all the time telling me I need to go to the restaurant–sometimes it’s a Hooters, sometimes it’s called a guy’s name–down the street, if I can.

The restaurant is located where the interstate is. Except sometimes the interstate isn’t there and, if I can figure out how to get through the tall grass and the brush, I could go to the restaurant, which I can see through the weeds.

But I never can get there. Even though I know there’s something important, or at least interesting, inside.

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.


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 Listener

The Professor’s kind of long-term academic interest is in the role of the listener in speech issues. I guess the common scholarly approach is to assume that the listening role is less interesting because you’re either listening or you’re not. And there might be some meat on the bone for why you’re not listening, but not that much.

The Professor’s interest has been in how listening is an activity, like speaking, where one has power and understanding the power(s) of the listener can help us better understand and then hopefully fix problems of injustice.

So, last night she sent me a paper about how there’s a growing, but loving, critique of objectification as the explanation for what’s going on when people do shitty things to each other. Like, it has been this incredibly useful concept, but now that it’s so ubiquitous, the ways it doesn’t always quite get at what’s wrong in a situation is becoming clearer.

In the paper, she talks about derivatization, which is this concept that is kind of catching on in scholarly circles, which she thinks is much more specific about what’s going on in certain situations. Basically, as you might have guessed from the word, it means viewing a person not as an autonomous being, but as a derivative of you.

So, if I’m understanding her correctly, I think it’s like, say I want to have sex with you. If I’m not derivatizing you, I might say “Hey, want to fuck?” and you might say “Nope.” and then I might be bummed, at least until you say, “But hey, I brought you this puppy to play with.” I respect and listen to your answer and, even if I’m disappointed, I’m operating under the assumption that you have your own reasons for doing things that I should respect since we are two equally valuable people in the world. Or three, I guess, depending on if you brought someone with you to help you wrangle the puppy.

But if I have a derivatizing mindset, then I am imagining you as a subordinate, derivative of me. In that case, I can only imagine your purpose is for me, not for yourself. So, you have a certain amount of freedom to do and act autonomously as long as that doesn’t challenge my view that I am the main point and you are the supporting argument that helps make the main point (whereas, when you objectify someone, you’re saying that you’re the subject, the one who can act, and the other person is the object to be acted upon. You can see how they’re similar ideas, but that derivatizing is trying to get at something a little more complicated where the person in the traditional “object” role is also acting.).

So, if I believe I should have sex with you and I derivatize you, then the cues I will recognize from you are the cues that indicate to me that you want to have sex with me–how you’re dressed, that you agreed to spend time with me, that you don’t physically stop me from having sex with you–while I don’t recognize the cues, because I don’t recognize you as someone with an agenda different than mine which needs to be considered, that say you don’t want to have sex with me, such as you saying “No.”

I spent my walk this morning thinking about how this concept would be useful to me in understanding these bombings. And it is really helpful. This is, after all, what White Nashville wanted–for Black Nashville to accept the agenda of White Nashville and the view White Nashville had of Black Nashville as its own. And when you look at the history of racist violence against black people in Nashville, it’s happening at moments when White Nashville is forced to see that Black Nashville doesn’t see itself only as a supporting argument for life revolving around White Nashville.

It also helps me think about what’s going on in abusive situations–that the violence is directly working to replace the agenda of the victim with the agenda of the abuser in the victim’s head.

So, in other words, the purpose of violence–or at least a purpose–is to break down the victim psychologically in order to replace the victim’s self-agenda with the perpetrator’s agenda.

It’s really brilliant and I may not be explaining it one hundred percent clearly here, since, unlike The Professor who read a bunch of stuff and then wrote a paper, I just read a paper and wrote a blog post. But I love how much it’s given me to think about.

Everyday I Work on the Illinois River I Get a Half a Day off with Pay

As the song goes, yesterday was a long hot summer day.  Therapy, lunch, one terrible thing, working on this afghan, and another terrible thing.

Neither terrible thing are mine to talk about, but I want something from this world it cannot give me. I want good people to have okay lives. Or at least lives that make sense.

I feel like I never know what to say in these situations. The world needs a kid of generous compassion applied gently that I don’t know how to give.

This is, I think, one of the things that when I was younger led me away from creationism. If we were created by a wise and caring being, even with a fallen world, why is it so hard to be good to each other, to know the right things to say, to genuinely be soothing and helpful?

Instead, we’re just lonely sacks of meat and shit bumbling around trying to make the most of it and often failing. Each of us alone in our flesh bags trying to bridge the insurmountable gaps between us.

I’m Afraid I Killed the Dog and Me

As you all know, it’s been the summer of “WTF, fleas?!” around here. I’m going to have to bomb the house. But before I do that, since I have to have a day when I can clear everyone out of the house for a few hours, I washed the dog in super-strength anti-flea shampoo. The kind that warns you that you should rinse yourself for twenty minutes if you even so much as look at your dog while it’s lathered in the stuff.

The result was that I had an enormous headache all night and I can tell the dog is feeling a little puny this morning. But those tiny fuckers are dead.

I also went all around looking at vinyl flooring and, yep, most of it is sticks and stones. I genuinely don’t understand, considering how many of us are living in mid-century homes, why flooring companies haven’t figured out that if they give us updated mid-century styles, we will buy them.

I truly hate shopping. I had thought I just hate shopping for clothes, but no, now’s the time to admit that I hate shopping in general. I miss the Professor, who I could count on to go shopping with me and make it at least not so fucking terrible that I want to lay on the floor and just cry until it’s over.

I needed S. and her tiny Bruce Willis-looking son, but I didn’t realize that I needed her until it was almost over. But when you have friends who like to shop and don’t find it the next worse thing to having a syphilitic nose, you should ask them for help. I guess I need that tattooed on me somewhere where I can see it regularly.

But also, can I just say how much I love that the dog gets in the tub on his own? I can’t really say when he started doing this, but he just does it and it is awesome.


The guys came over last night and I made paella for them. They were a little dubious at first. And then they went back for seconds. Huge piles of seconds.

It made me feel like I had powerful magic.

It also made me a little sad because I was planning on leftovers for dinner tonight.

New kitty has taken to pooping in the bathroom (on the floor, not any place useful) when there are fireworks. The litter boxes are clean but she doesn’t seem to care. She must register her displeasure, though there’s nothing I can do about it.


Last night we went to a friend’s wedding (and, y’all, her dress was adorable and perfect for an outdoor wedding AND IT HAD POCKETS and I died of jealousy and delight at that dress and then was revived by barbecue) and it was full of children.

The child I was sitting next to was trying to decide if dogs have a tooth fairy (no) and she was alarmed that the tooth fairy only ever brought me quarters. The tooth fairy brought her a doll with fairy dust on it, but the fairy dust did to make her fly (the girl, not the doll), which was kind of a bummer.

I tried to argue that it was for the best, because how could her mom come and rescue her if she was flying around and needed help.

Ah, but she thought her mom would be excellent at flying rescues, because she had been a lifeguard.

I don’t think you can argue with that. I can’t, anyway.

In unrelated news, here’s the third square of my afghan:

IMG_2279Each tiny square in the square is only three rounds. It’s so fucking delightful. You get that awesome thing in three fucking rounds.

So, my plan is that this square will fill the middle of the afghan and it will go something like this:

IMG_2282Tiny squares in the middle. A row or two of the flat flowers around that and then the big flowers on the outside. I’m a little nervous about the squares all being different sizes, but I figure this is what lacy joins are for.


The guys came over to watch the game and I learned that second only to the Red-Headed Kid’s bizarre and openly sincere and heart-felt love of Reba McIntire, is his deep knowledge of hockey. Like people’s minor league stats and obscure rules exceptions and just all kinds of stuff.

It’s fun and nice to realize that people you’ve known forever can still surprise you.

Also, can I tell you how adorable it was when I got home and he was sitting in the porch swing out back just waiting for someone to show up and let him in and then the dog was so excited to see him that he forgot to pee.

The dog was all “Oh, hey! It’s you! Come in my house! Come up my steps like this! Bark! Bark! Bark!” and only once the Red-Headed Kid was moving in the right direction did the dog sprint back down the steps and run out to pee.


I went to see a friend in the hospital yesterday. It’s weird. Not that she’s in the hospital. That tends to be where you live for a bit after they cut you open. But that she’s my friend and I’ve known her a while and I’ve always liked her and thought good things about her.

But seeing her in what I know has to be a tremendous amount of pain already sitting up and walking around and tracking the numbers they want her to track and just doing it because it needs to be done.

I left the hospital and I had to sit in my car a minute just like “Wow.” I mean, I don’t quite know how to get at it. It was both extraordinary just on its face and extraordinary in how much it was business as usual for her.

It made me think a great deal about whether I always recognize the ways people are doing things that would, if I noticed, blow my mind.

Is Happiness Interesting to Me?

I like to think of myself as someone who has no great enjoyment of drama. But one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as I’m doing my feelings journal is that I don’t analyze and dwell on and poke and prod at happiness the way I do other emotions.

I think part of that is that I worry that happiness evaporates under too much scrutiny–if you think about it too hard, you come up with reasons why you shouldn’t be happy.

But my goal for this whole hard process is not just to stop metaphorically jumping at shadows in the dark, but to learn to live not scrutinizing the dark for shadows. Ha ha ha. But I don’t know if “scrutinize the light” is the way to course-correct.

The Butcher and the Red-Headed Kid came over for dinner last night. We were watching TV and it said something like “Interesting people make jokes. That’s what makes them interesting.”

And the Red-Headed Kid said, “Is that true? What about people who make jokes to mask anxiety? I don’t want to be interesting.”

Interview with Apex Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Jason Sizemore

As a part of Apex Magazine’s subscription drive, I was supposed to run my interview–which, for the record, I did in a timely manner–with Jason Sizemore YESTERDAY. But I flaked. So I’m running it today. Also, they have a lot of nifty things up for grabs in their store, like that cool She Persisted print that I can’t believe no one has nabbed yet. Apex was the first place to pay me for my fiction, so I have strong feelings of loyalty for them. Also, the more they’re able to thrive, the more I get to say “Oh, yeah, I was published by the same folks who published Famous Author X.” I enjoy that. Okay, enough. Here’s the interview:

1.  Hypothetical situation: Both the podcasts TANIS and The Black Tapes have a new episode, but you only have enough battery left to listen to one. Which do you choose and why?

Why would you ask such a cruel question?

Let’s get this straight: I love both shows equally. They’re some of the best cross-genre work I’ve encountered in any media. My hat goes off to Paul Bae and Terry Miles for their ability to make believable audio drama out of some fantastic research.

Having said that…I must go with The Black Tapes. I have an audio crush on The Black Tape protagonist and narrator Alex Regan. If I’m down to my last battery, I want Alex Regan to accompany me to the end.

2.  Can I admit I’m nervous that The Black Tapes and TANIS don’t have an end game and thus might trail off into some True Detectives-like nonsense that makes me feel like I’ve wasted my life? That’s not my question. Just an observation. Trying to end stories sucks and it’s hard to do well. You read a lot of stories. What makes a good ending?

If I had to guess, Paul Bae and Terry Miles will be tapped for television at some point. The big bucks will draw them from TBT and TANIS, and the shows will be wrapped up. If the journey is fantastic but the destination is a bit of a drag, does that mean the experience is a waste? No.

But adding a powerful ending that makes sense and provides satisfaction can turn a good work into something you’re talking about decades later.

Short fiction has one advantage over longer forms of entertainment: the ending doesn’t have to “pop” to the degree of a novel, movie, or television show. As you indirectly pointed out, the longer you ride along with something, the bigger the expectations at the conclusion. Your ending needs to be “earned.” This means it needs to fit into the overall plot and theme. A classic conclusion fail is LOST the television series. Not enough information was given to the viewer to earn that ludicrous and obvious pull of our emotions in the last church scene. A classic conclusion success is the Ambrose Bierce story “An Odd Occurrence at Owl Creek.” The big twist is earned because the reader *knows* the unlikelihood of everything proceeding it.

3. I think of Jennifer Pelland’s “Ghosts of New York” a lot, even all these years after I first read it. There’s something really amazing about the way she’s able to tell this tragic story that, by the end, I wanted with my whole heart to be true. And I feel like that’s a story I could imagine people in a hundred years reading to try to understand the post-9/11 U. S. I kind of consider it Apex’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” in terms of its potential longevity. Do you have a couple of other Apex stories you think could have that kind of staying power?

A handful come to mind immediately: “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon, “Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix” by Jennifer Giesbrecht, and “The Gentleman of Chaos” by A. Merc Rustad.

4.  One trope in horror is the monster who seems like a normal person or maybe even better than a normal person. Vampires are aristocratic and cool. The werewolf is mostly the guy down the block. But eventually, their true nature comes out. Do you think this is a fundamental truth or wish fulfillment. In other words, do you think bad people eventually always show their true colors to the world and vindicate their victims or do we like stories where that’s so because we only wish life were like that?

A more practical way to view this phenomenon is to realize that most of the time we already recognize that they’re monsters, but because of their place in society or social structure, we let it go because we mistakenly see it as advantageous or benign. Ignore the monstrous side of something, then perhaps you’ll earn their favor.

I cite the election of Donald Trump as the ultimate expression of my point.

5. If your cat, Pumpkin, grew overnight to be the size of a tiger, do you think he would eat you?


Hard to say. He’s fiercely loyal. Wants my love and attention. He’s also well-fed.

I would answer with “probably not???” and hope for the best!

jason and pumpkin

Jason Sizemore is the Editor-in-Chief of Apex Magazine. Sadly, shortly after this photo of him was taken, Pumpkin did indeed eat him. Happily, after a few days, Sizemore reappeared at his desk with no memory of the gruesome incident. He seems fine and himself, though maybe a little taller than he used to be, so his family mostly decided to not ask questions.

Sizemore is the author of the short-story collection, Irredeemable, which I liked a lot, though, if I’m being honest, I find a little intimidating. You tell yourself “editors edit, authors auth, and they’re two different skills contained in two different people.” But no. Not for him.

He also wrote For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher,
which is part memoir, part roast. It famously contains the story of the time Sara Harvey saved Sizemore from an East St. Louis hospital.

Also, rumor has it that Sizemore has three small pebbles embedded in the palm of his left hand from a childhood bicycle accident while he was fleeing the Pilot Knob witch child. That can’t possibly be true. Everyone knows that witch child was over by Marion, not up in the Kentucky hills where Sizemore was a kid. But if he didn’t have an encounter with the witch child, how is it that he can control the weather now? You can follow him on Twitter @apexjason. He or one of his spectral doppelgangers is probably following you already.


If You’re Not Salty, What Are You Worth?

My parents always call me on Tuesdays, on their way home from dinner with my grandma. Last night, they wanted to talk about their friends who they’d seen recently and my dad was on a tear about how abusive–his word–they are to their daughters-in-law. “We all know [our ex-in-law], but I don’t blame her at all for [my brother] being a jackass. That’s his choice.” Which I thought was funny, but it also makes me sad. Why do my parents hang out with these people they think are terrible?

My cousin is still made that my other cousin came to her town and didn’t see her dad. The Butcher has done the same thing and that’s all right. But that’s probably not germane to my story. I think it’s been almost two years she’s been pissed about this. And I’m not saying I can’t hold a grudge. Y’all read me. You know how I am. But she’s not walking along all okay and then something brings it up and she’s pissed again. She’s actively still trying to litigate this and get people on her side and…like…whoa. It’s tedious and disturbing and sad. And she’s wrong, which also may be beside the point. But why is she still so actively engaged with being pissed? I suspect it’s not that my other cousin didn’t stop to see her dad. But that, unlike the Butcher, he didn’t stop to see her.

Third, I know a person who is well-respected in his profession and extremely well-respected in his hobby and who has incredible opportunities based on his hobby and, I mean, really cool shit. Radio interviews, displays at local museums, etc. And he’s still really hung up on whether or not these people he wants to respect him do. And based on some imagined slights he’s decided they do not and so everything he’s accomplished seems to not feel like a sufficient enough victory.

In all three cases, it seems to me that the people involved do not see their own worth. Don’t believe that they can have happiness and good friends or that their accomplishments count without the right validation.

And maybe this is myopic on my part, but I’m trying to learn to be happy. Which means finding a way to heal–and not just top off–the gaping hole in my soul that can’t be filled. So, I observe carefully the ways that hole tricks people into continuing to feed it.

Am I Cool Enough?

There’s kind of a hierarchy of cool in Nashville. At a basic level, it starts with are you cool enough to be on the list to get into places free instead of having to pay? But then, once you’re in, do people recognize you? Are they happy to see that you’re there? And maybe some folks see you and acknowledge you, but are you cool enough to get the good seats? The special treatment? Etc.

I’m not very good at figuring out where in the cool hierarchy I am and there’s nothing more embarrassing than thinking you’re at a higher level than you are and having to find out in public that you’re not. So, I usually go for the cool that is “The list? Pshaw. I paid my way in.” Like I’m too cool for cool. Though I once ended up on a list twice and, I admit, that delighted the shit out of me.

But sometimes shit’s expensive and you just have to try to use your cool cred. So, I was kind of laughing this week because an internet friend is coming to town and she has what would be considered a cool job in nerdy circles.

So, I asked a friend who works at an expensive place people like to visit if he could comp us tickets. I told him who she was and he knew her. So, he tried to push me off on the people in his organization who would be more appropriate for dealing with her, since they would probably want to make contact with her, maybe show us around themselves.

So, the more appropriate contact got a hold of me and told me that the tickets would be there for me. Have fun. No personalized tour. They didn’t need to meet her. In other words, exactly what my friend could have done for me.

Among these young whippersnappers, we did not have the cool cred my friend assumed we had! That made me laugh. But I was also relieved, because I like being the tour guide and this way I can point and sing and tell stories myself without the facts getting in the way. Ha.

Still, I admit, sometimes it’s nice to be cool.

Some Broken Hearts Never Mend

A long time ago, I liked a guy and I thought he liked me. He fucked my roommate instead. I was angry at her, because I knew she knew how much I liked him, and angry at myself for “misreading” the situation.

Years later, we were both at the same wedding. Hell, we were all three at the same wedding, but this isn’t about her. And he was obviously delighted to see me to the chagrin of his wife. And later, when he was good and drunk, he told me that it had been me and he chickened out and then he kissed me on the forehead and I left and cried for a million days.

That was many years ago. He has a wife and kids and, I guess, a nice suburban life. She has a husband and kids and a nice medium-sized town life. I don’t want those things. Sometimes, though, I look back at those moments and it feels raw, like I got cheated out of someone I would have enjoyed specifically by that someone, who compounded it by then telling me he just didn’t have the guts to be with me.

I hate the feeling that I’m hard to be with. It makes me feel like things are wrong with me, fundamentally, that I don’t know how to recognize, let alone decide whether I want to fix.

Yesterday he picked a teasing fight with me on Facebook about which one of us was the bigger Jason Statham fan–which, of course, would be him, but, of course, I was not going to concede.

I didn’t even realize that bruise was still tender. But man, it felt weird to be having a delightful fight with a person I always found delightful who didn’t find me delightful enough to try for and yet, who still, obviously, finds me somewhat delightful.

I forget all kinds of important, nice things. Why do the bad things linger?

And the other thing that kind of makes me uncomfortable is that I’m not any prettier than I was when we were young. I’ve had a long time to become set in my ways, so all the ways I was strange, well, I’ve grown stranger still. And he’s married. And lives a long way away. So why come not only poking around–which, fine, people are curious–but letting me know he’s poking around when I’m doing neat shit?

Like, now I’m cool? Now I’m worth knowing? Or maybe that’s unfair. I do think he always thought that.

I don’t know. I just don’t understand and I guess I never did.

I would have liked to watch Jason Statham movies with him, though. That would have been nice.



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?

Hard Times

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.

This Day

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.

WaPo, Round Two

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.



It Must be America

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.

A Person in the World

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.