Back to Work

I have been working a little on a draft of a book-length take on the bombing stuff. And I’m enjoying it. It’s actually fun to just sit down and try to spill out everything you know about something.

The dog and I got to go for our normal walk this morning, too, which was nice. Walking the driveway is a nice option for when otherwise it means no walking, but it’s boring.



I keep wondering how long we’ll do this. This meaning everything. Stand by while kids at school die. Choose meanness.

It’s hard when you believe in the power of words to say words upon words upon words and find that nothing changes.

Today it was too muddy to walk the dog, so we just went up and down the driveway ten times. I know, just based on how long it took, that had to be a shorter walk than our usual walk and it’s flat, whereas normally we walk up and down a big hill.

But the dog and I are both wiped.

Coming Along

The last of the yarn came yesterday and so I expect I’ll finish at least the body of it this week. Two more panels and then I’m going to use the rest of the yarn on the border.

It looks like I’m going back to the Post for a couple of posts, but no one has emailed me back, so I don’t know what I’m going to write about. So, that’s a little fun.

I also emailed the dude from Someone Knows Something because I just wanted to know if my FBI experiences are typical or if there’s something weird going on.

I’m sure a lot of you have already read this piece from The Week. It’s not a new feminist position. Just of the top of my head, I think Simone De Beauvoir was getting at something similar as was Charlotte Perkins Gilman back in “The Yellow Wallpaper”–it’s demanded of us to take unnatural positions and perform them as natural in order to be “good and normal” and our normal condition is considered madness. And those unnatural positions are painful. And our pain is so expected, so normalized, we can barely see the scope of how “well, being a woman is being uncomfortable” permeates our whole lives.

But I think Loofbourow’s article spells it out clearly in ways we’re not used to seeing. And spells out the implications of that clearly in ways I definitely think we’re not used to considering.


That sucks.


I’m going to have to rejoin the human race at some point, probably tomorrow, but I’ve spent the past two days just doing some shopping that needed to be done, looking into an ax murder that is pretty interesting, and crocheting while listening to podcasts and audio books.

Oh, and I mopped. I just wanted my house to smell like Murphy’s Oil Soap. And I’m trying to be mindful of the fact that it’s okay to do things half-assed. If I feel like mopping just the areas I can get to without having to move furniture, well, good, those are the areas that see a lot of traffic. They need mopping.

I’m trying to declutter my head. I have this feeling like I’ve been on the drugs long enough that my brain is figuring out now how to work this way, as opposed to the old, anxious way. And I feel like I just have to let these new connections be made.

When it gets above 20, I’m going to walk the dog.


I just keep thinking about how so very many of us are broken and how some of us use that brokenness as a conduit for empathy and some of us use it as an excuse to lash out.

God’s Gonna Trouble the Water

I’m waiting to see if the HVAC guys will come in the rain. I hope so, as I cancelled a meeting to be here.

I’ve been listening to a podcast about the West Memphis Three murders and kind of thinking about it in the context of my bombing story just in terms of how much faith we place in the idea that there are these impartial agents of justice who want to know the truth out there working for society’s benefit. And that’s just not the case. There are all these deeply flawed humans doing jobs or slacking at jobs.

Anyway, I don’t really have an opinion on who did it–murdered those little boys. I’m kind of listening to try to understand how they came to the conclusion that it was those teenagers.

But as far along as the podcast is in the case right now, I would be looking for someone who was a recognized authority figure to the boys (or how else do you keep three kids in place when something bad starts happening?), who was familiar with the area and probably recognizable in the area (otherwise, how did he/they escape without being seen? I think the answer is that he/they were seen but their presence was so ordinary and so easily explainable with other reasons that it didn’t register to the witnesses), and who is a serious hunter or outdoorsman.

It’s just hard for me to believe that there’s not some lead-up behavior and experience to this. Like, I get that people would know to throw a body in the water to hide it or maybe even remove evidence, but once you start talking about jamming things into the creek bottom with sticks to keep them from floating back up?

That’s a bit of knowledge that person must already have. Must already have in use in some way.

I’d be curious if there’s some innocuous analogous behavior? Like, is this something you do when you’re hunting x, if you need to ensure that the bait stays in the creek bed and doesn’t float up?

That just continues to strike me as a bit of specialized knowledge that could have narrowed the suspect pool.

When Last We Talked…

Thursday, oh boy.


Friday I learned I needed a new HVAC unit immediately and I had my first full-blown panic attack in a year and a half.

Saturday, I got some shit done and saw friends.

Sunday, I got some other shit done and saw different friends.

In my quest to take down the baby mobile-industrial complex, I put together the plastic part of the mobile and made some decisions on shape sizes.

I also went over to Fort Negley for their ceremony honoring the workers on the fort. It was really nice and I got to meet Zada Law and totally fan-girled out on her. I’m also still working on this afghan.



It went poorly in many ways.

I don’t know what to say about the shit at the Scene. I’m hoping to not have to be sad and speechless worse in the future. Steve and Laura are both super talented and lovely and my heart hurts.

Things with my nephew are not great. But I think I’ve talked my brother into finding him some counseling.

My brother is avoiding calling my parents because the situation sucks so much. Last night I had to clue my dad into how bad the situation sucks. It broke his heart. Which broke mine.

I’m waiting on the HVAC guy and then I’m going to spend the day crocheting, because at least that’s something concrete and beautiful and real and not sad.


Today’s the Day

We have to set up for the Southern Festival of Books this morning and do the festival all afternoon and then I have to come home, feed the dog and myself, then get ready and go back into town for the reading at Third Man tonight.

Argh!!!! These are all things that I love and am super excited about, but also, whew, am a little geared up about as well.

Did I tell you guys I need reading glasses? Worse than that, I don’t have enough eyeball slime, so I have to take fish oil. But not just “get it at the grocery store” fish oil. Prescription fish oil.

The burps.

Oh, dear readers, the burps.

It has once again confirmed for me that the set of the Fast and Furious movies must be a very stinky place.

Grave Mistake

I should not have gotten up and gone into work, even briefly, yesterday. Today I feel like utter crap. I slept twelve hours and I’m still tired.

Jessi Zazu died. That’s so fucked up. In my head, I figured she would, but it just seemed so unfair that my heart held out hope the Universe would have something in its pocket for her.


I will take a vacation day from work with no problem. Not even feel the least bit bad about it. Those are my days. I’ve earned them. See you when it’s over.

But man, I hate taking sick days. Even though I can’t really talk and I need a nap all the time. I still feel so guilty about not going in.

I have my story mostly done–the first draft, I mean. I just need for my protagonist to have a revelation. I need him to go from “Ha ha, suckers, I’m free!” to “Oh, shit, no, this is worse than where I was” but I haven’t yet decided what that revelation is.

I’ve been trying to put my brain on it while I’m doing other things, but my brain is all “snot, snot, snot, snot.”

Over the Hill

Since the weather’s been nice, we’ve walked to the school and back two days in a row. I love it because then the dog sleeps soundly instead of getting all in my business in the morning.

I swear, when it’s 60 degrees out, it’s impossible not to love Tennessee. And autumn here is my favorite.

The Butcher is going to be a dad next week. Next week! It’s wonderful.

I am a Technical Genius

I solved all of yesterday’s internet problems by…wait for it…finding a cord that wasn’t plugged in firmly and pushing it in.

No, no, I know. Such complicated technical know-how can be hard to follow, but believe me, this time tomorrow, I’ll be writing memos about how men just biologically aren’t good at tech and getting fired from Google.

I have only four more squares to go on the red afghan and then it will finally be finished. I’m not saying “never again,” because I’m an idiot, but I will be doing easier afghans for the next little bit.

Assuming these four squares don’t take a month.

I burned through The Fall Line, a podcast about a pair of twins who went missing in Augusta back in the early 90s. It’s really engaging, but also heartbreaking. At this point, it seems like the family’s first goal is to just get the police to finally, finally actually investigate their disappearances and then second, hopefully, to get some answers.

It reminded me a lot of the kinds of issues I’ve seen in my bombing story–missing files, incomplete memories, people who seem obvious to talk to who haven’t been interviewed.

I was also thinking about the Joques Clemmons family, here in town, who must have known they were never going to see justice and who yet tried to give the city the opportunity to finally, finally do the right thing.

I have lost faith in institutional right things. But what else can we hope for?


Today I have lunch to talk about the big maybe thing I can’t talk about yet. I am a bundle of nerves. But a bundle of nerves who hasn’t gotten in the shower yet.

We only took a short walk this morning and still we had to rest in the middle of it, because it was so hot already.

We have a wall calendar at work upon which everyone is supposed to write their days off. Some of us had thought it was clearly established that this was in addition to emailing people, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So, those of us not town in that office often don’t know when people are here or not. Much to our ongoing frustration.

Our co-worker’s wife had a baby this week. We didn’t even know she was pregnant. I told my office mate when she came in and she stopped, looked confused, and asked me “Did you know anything about this?”

“No.” I said. “I had no idea.”

And then she asked, “Was this on the goddamn paper calendar?!”

And I laughed so hard.

I Communicate Just Fine. I’m a Writer.

I’m at the stage in therapy where the problem is the world being a bag of dicks and not me. I certainly do not need to work on my communication skills. I communicate for a living!

Ha ha ha. I kind of love that my biggest defense mechanism is that the world is wrong.

I finished a very rough draft of my bombing piece and I do have a big hole to fill that’s just going to have to wait on me getting files. It’s also 15,000 words long at this point, so I’m going to have to figure out how to cut it and–sadly–I think that means losing my funny bits.

I also watched the Jason Statham remake of Death Race which I think is the quintessential Jason Statham movie, since it involves driving, fighting, glaring, brief nudity, shirtless pull-ups, glowering, prison, and a baby.

It’s a weird movie, too, though in that it feels like it’s ostensibly made for men. I mean, I think action movies are made mostly for men. And sometimes I can’t decide if I’m really seeing what I think I’m seeing in the movie or if it’s colored by the fact that I watch Jason Statham movies because I want to see him take his clothes off and beat the shit out of some people. But I feel like the movie really invites the viewer–who is ostensibly mostly male–to spend a lot of time looking at Statham and the skeevy guard is obviously enjoying looking at Statham, so the film is modeling that it’s fine to take pleasure in how fucking hot this motherfucker is.

Which is fine with me. I benefit from it. But we live in such a homophobic culture and yet the movies we make for men are often full of “look at this man.”


Today as the dog was walking back to me after chasing a bunny, a word popped into my head–flourishing. I think he’s flourishing. I know he misses the Butcher–I do, too–but I feel like we’ve developed some kind of new understanding of what it means to live together without him. And we’re doing okay.

I really love this little baby blanket. The border is going to take a while, I think, but I think it’ll be worth it.

And I’ve decided to just lean into the paranoia of the bombing story in my draft, to just let the weirdness be at the center of it.

Random Thoughts

–I am grateful as fuck for the women writers I know.

–I really love this little pink afghan, and I still feel like it’s going weirdly slow and weirdly fast.

–I invented a burrito casserole yesterday. I’m sure it existed before and, if I had looked it up on the internet, I would have had a recipe, but instead I just made a recipe up myself.

–This dog. He makes me happy. I should put that in my feelings journal.

–This morning I am wondering if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this story. But oh well. I’m also wondering if I should break down and get a subscription to or if I can do everything I need to do over lunches at work.

Thinking Thoughts and Doing Stuff

Man, I came home from work and I did laundry, cleaned out the litter box, and did a load of dishes. And I started doing the points on my Batbaby Cowl. I also ate brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes for dinner and damn, it was delicious and no one is here to have other opinions.

One thing I realized at the wedding is the extent to which my family’s bossiness is about managing anxiety. And to that extent, the amount they fear other people don’t like them is managed by being unlikable so that there is no need to fear.

At work, we’ve published a couple of books on abusers, on why they kill and whether they can be reformed. Abusers abuse because it works. It satisfies something in their brain (and I think because it also brings on soothing behaviors from others, but that’s kind of secondary to my point). It gives them a sense of order and control and power and it is very hard to get people to stop abusing. Sometimes, you can luck out and, if they abuse when they’re drunk or high, treating that addiction can end the abuse, but, in general, abusers abuse and they don’t change.

And it can be very difficult to tell if they have changed because real reform looks a lot like the honeymoon period during an abusive cycle and abusers can be very effective in their manipulations to regain access to people to abuse.

Along those same lines, abusers kill to maintain control over their victims. Which is why many murders happen when or shortly after the abused are leaving.

Since I’ve been thinking about the strength of the compulsions associated with anxiety, I wonder if there’s a compulsive component to abuse. I mean, this skirts very close to “Oh, they can’t help it. They’re just emotional/passionate/whatever.” And I don’t want to do that. The fact that abusers don’t abuse their bosses shows that it’s not wholly a compulsion.

But I was talking to friends this weekend and one of them has a strong background in brain things and she said that, as many things as can go wrong in a brain, there’s only a handful of underlying responses. Like, for instance, ADHD, anxiety, and addiction are all very different things, but they all seem to have to do with what’s happening with the serotonin and dopamine in your brain.

And if abuse allows you to regulate your serotonin levels by controlling your environment and keeping order in the people who surround you, and if the reward centers in your brain light up when you abuse because it’s cathartic and reestablishes control, I’m just saying, it makes sense to me why it’s so fucking hard to stop.

It’s not just that it works. It’s that it works and is pleasurable. Which is not something most people want to admit to themselves either about themselves or a loved one–that another’s suffering makes the abuser feel good.


–I made my therapist’s appointment. I even set up my portal. I have not called back to say I’ve set up my portal. I swear, every minute of dealing with this is just me having to make myself do things. I will just turn right away from things I find unpleasant or stressful.

And am I stressed? I had a dream last night that, when I got to the therapist’s office, I discovered that they needed $9,100 up front because they were tired of dicking around with Aetna and then I lost my credit card. And also had to go to work for the therapist.

–I’m nervous about my presentation tomorrow. I’m going in talking about something I haven’t solved yet. I think that’s the right approach. They want to hear about my process of discovering things and here I am in mid-process on this Rogan stuff, so it seems like talking about the Rogans is the thing to do. But it feels weird to not be able to say “Ta-da! Here’s the answer.”

–We watched Shoot Em Up the other night and I can’t stop thinking about it. I somehow feel better and worse for having watched it. I was trying to explain it to my coworkers–so there’s this dude and he ends up with a baby and he runs around shooting things with the baby and somehow he can’t afford ammunition but he can afford a robot baby and then the baby’s in a tank and he shoots a guy with his bare hands–because I want everyone in the world to watch this movie and then tell me how it exists.

Like, I get that it’s a send-up of action movies, but I am confused about how a thing can feel both so much like a parody and completely unpredictable. Like you both know and don’t know what’s going to happen in every single minute.

Plus, the main character and his prostitute girlfriend have sex throughout at gun battle. And I have to tell you, I kind of assumed that being shot at would end a sexual encounter. It made me feel like I’ve been asking the wrong questions of penises all these years because I kind of thought that when in mortal terror a penis was either in retreat or, if still hard, hard because of terror. It just never occurred to me that it might still be “Hey, dude, you worry about escaping. I’m going to keep going in here.”

Now I wish there were some way to rope in cocktapusses, to bring this discussion back to important matters. Okay, then, tell me in the comments below–if a cocktapus were caught mid-coitus in a gun battle, how many cocks would shrivel, how many would stay erect but only in terror, and how many wouldn’t let a little thing like getting shot at by a room full of bad guys ruin the vibe?

Checking Things Off the Checklist

–Washington Post stuff, done.

–Dishes, done.

–Four metric tons of garbage hauled out from the kitchen, done.

–Oh, shoot! Cool afghans, done! And both their recipients were thrilled. S, that makes me very happy.

–Now I’m working on a goth baby blanket.

–And I have to prep for a talk I’m giving on March 3.

–And sleep for a million years.

We were out of cereal and bread and eggs and anything a reasonable person could eat for breakfast, so I had stale pink lemonade PopTarts. I now feel kind of like death. I’m full, but I’m contemplating if there’s a place I could stop for something not made of nuclear waste for breakfast or else when I see nm at lunch, I’m afraid I’m going to literally be a jittery sugar-crashing mess.

Talking and Talking

I have gotten nothing done on the afghans since Monday. The Butcher’s been busy in the evenings all week so I’ve been using my time to get ahead on my Post stuff. Transcribing interviews is no-joke time consuming work. I’ve got two written (rough drafts, obviously) and one I feel pretty certain I can knock out fairly easily and one that is more tentative and I’m depending on an old guy with a wife I know has been in poor health (and knock on wood isn’t dead) with a job he works only half the year to check his work email during the half of the year when he isn’t at work. I don’t know if I’m going to be lucky enough to swing it. Fingers crossed, though.

I had lunch with a brilliant acquaintance and I got to show him a map the TSLA recently digitized and he was hugely excited to see it. But talking to him always makes me sad because it makes me realize how much we lose of our past all the time and how unimportant it is to people that we’re losing it.

I’m taking S. out on Saturday to do some exploring based on that map, though, and I’m very excited. I’m going to write it up for Pith, I think.

I have been trying to evaluate whether the drugs are working. I feel like this month has been a good test, since I had to do lots of new things and hear things I maybe didn’t want to hear and such. And I definitely feel a difference. I’m not obsessed with worry that people might shoot me. I don’t have to pee at least five times before any high-stress activity like, say, interviewing a congressperson. I haven’t had any anxiety issues on foot, but I haven’t needed to take the kind of stairs that do it to me or been in a high open space.

There’s still a thing that happens when I’m driving, though, that I dislike and terrifies me. Definitely, on the meds, it doesn’t spiral into “Oh my god. Stop the car. Stop the car. You’re going to die. Stop the fucking car. Okay, the car is stopped. Never get back in that fucking deathtrap.” But instead I’m having these moments more like “Oh shit! You’re going to die. Stop the car or at least move left! Do something. Oh, cool. You didn’t die. Carry on.” And it happens so suddenly that I am instinctively jerking the car or moving my foot toward the brake until a half-second later I get what’s happening and recorrect.

And so far, it’s been fine. Like, I haven’t been a danger to others. I’m not even sure it’s noticeable to others. And I’m able to realize what’s happening and diffuse it. But, okay, this is what it’s like. Say you are driving on a road and your passenger shouts “No! A dog!” You don’t see the dog but your passenger’s obvious distress tells you there is something you need to do. But what, since you don’t see the dog? Maybe at the last second you think you see something right at the right edge of the road. You might both brake and move left.

And that’s fine, if there isn’t a car on your left.

But my brain is still tossing that level of panicked alarm at me over culverts and narrow shoulders which I see coming a long way off (though my brain doesn’t care until we’re right on top of them). And I’m reacting. And someday, if my brain doesn’t immediately kick in with “Oh, wait, just a steep drop-off, no worries” I am worried I could have an accident.

So, when I go back to the doctor for my check-in, I am going to ask her about recommending a shrink who can help rewire my brain so I’m not all “Culvert! Culvert that I totally saw coming but now am anxious about” in the first place.


I still feel bad. And I have a shit-ton to do next week, so I kind of need to get better faster.

The Butcher is in Illinois making another attempt to get a ring. I think this will be successful. I hope, anyway.

We dogsat the black dog all week and he was really easygoing and fun this time. But when his family came to pick him up and he settled right back in with his little girl, I felt like he’d never been truly happy here.

Also, now that he’s less anxious about being here, he didn’t run around and find all Sonnyboy’s bones. He just found the bone he wanted and “buried” it under the dog bed every day.

At least being sick has been good for one thing–I’ve gotten a lot done on these afghans. I just zone out, turn on some podcasts, and count to three a lot. That I can handle.


I’m sitting here trying to think of something to write, but basically, I’m just nervous. I’m interviewing a person tomorrow and I want to ask him about a hard time in his life and what came of it and I just want to do right and to get an answer that helps me understand it. And I don’t want to make it suck too much for him.

I’m making two afghans right now, just like the one I just finished up. I think I said that already. It’s both going rather quickly and is taking a while. I’m not looking forward to making all those triangles.

We watched Alice Through the Looking Glass last night, which was an interesting movie about a female sea captain going on an adventure with her mom, which we didn’t get to see because instead we had to watch Johnny Depp being weird and Sasha Baron Cohen being unsettled for an hour and a half.

I admit, though, I am amused by Depp’s latest acting strategy where he just plays music icons–he’s Keith Richards in the Pirates movies, Michael Jackson in the Chocolate Factory, and Madonna here. But come on! Weird impressions aren’t something to build an acting career on!


I spent all day getting new breaks. I should have brought something to crochet, but instead I took along Kendra DeColo’s My Dinner with Ron Jeremy, which I read through three or four times, and a notebook in which I started a short story. It felt good to be writing fiction again.

There was a woman there, in the waiting room, when I got back from lunch. Her husband is cheating on her. She’s kind of known for a while, but let herself not know it, because trying to figure out what to do about it was too much with the health problems she’s been having and the fact that she spent the summer at her parents’ helping her dad recover from some bad health problems. She said she knew she hadn’t been easy to be married to.

And, you know, I believe her. What other choice do you have when someone tells you a story that you get caught up in?

But his actions, as she described them, don’t sound like those of a man in a marriage that has stagnated. They sound like the actions of a man who wants the thrill of almost getting caught. The highwire act of believing that he has, once more, pulled something over on his bad old wife.

As an outside observer, I feel a tiny sliver of sympathy for his mistress, who it sounds like has been through a bad break-up and, I imagine, is finding comfort in the feeling that she is so special this man will risk torpedoing his whole life for her.

But it doesn’t sound like it’s her that’s so great. It sounds like he’s almost drunk in love with the thrill of the transgression.

And who can’t see the trap for her in that?

Anyway, sitting there listening to this broken-hearted stranger, I felt so bad for her. But also amazed that here on this ordinary day was this extraordinary story. But, of course, that’s how it must always be. The world is full of things happening.

Also, I should say, I really love DeColo’s book. There is a kind of living with sorrow she gets at that I appreciate.

Emotional Work

I read this article yesterday, which I can’t find now, about how men farm their emotional work out to women, without even realizing that they’re doing it and how the author found the constant, unspoken expectation that she would manage the feelings of the men in her life to be grueling. And thus she’s only dating women.

Ha. That’s a little flip. It was more interesting than that.

But I am interested in how people enforce and reinforce hierarchies and it is true that the person who gets to farm out labor–emotional or not–is in charge. And I have noticed that a lot of power struggles in organizations do come down to someone trying to farm work off onto someone else. AND, most interestingly, I have noticed that refusals to do the extra work are often met with “you hurt my feelings” or, more bluntly, “you’re being a bitch.”

In other words, when the person making the power play fails to farm out physical work, they often resort to trying for at least make the other person do some emotional work to soothe them.

I don’t find that to be only a tactic of men, though.