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.

Advertisements

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.

Screwy

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?

Lunch

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.”

Stuff

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 newspapers.com 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.

Nerves

–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.

Bah

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.

Nerves

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!

NTB

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.

Nice Things

–I only have four more squares to complete on this afghan. Each square takes like an hour and a half, so it’s not going to be quick, but the squares are so big it’s also okay that it takes so long. I really love the pattern, too. It’s very satisfying.

–My next afghan is going to be me trying to replicate a picture my cousin A.’s daughter drew. Should be fun and I’ve being studying up on a crochet technique called Persian or something. I mostly ignore names of crochet techniques because they all strike me as vaguely exoticizing. And yet, I still call it an afghan, so… whatever. The point is that this is a technique for using two different color yarns in the same round without having to cut and tuck a lot of ends, which, as we all know, is my mortal enemy. Anyway, I’m excited. But I’m also hoping that she’ll like it. I’m going to make something very similar to what she put on paper but whether what she put on paper is what was in her head, I don’t know.

–My fireplace is ready to go, if it ever gets cold.

–I had such a nice lunch with nm yesterday and we got the giggles the way you do when it feels like you’re on a swing at the outmost point of its arc.

–I am kind of thinking of committing to writing a story a month next year, just for the habit of it.

–I’m ready for a really hopeful piece of pop culture. I’m ready to feel some hope in our culture, too, but small steps.

Bad Year for Allergies

For the past three weeks, on and off, I’ve felt like I have a cold that won’t quite come into existence. I know it’s just allergies, but it’s bugging the crap out of me. Finally though, apparently, fall is here and the 90 degree days are over.

The peacock afghan is satisfying so far, in part because it looks really nice and because it’s really fun to come up with something and then have it work! I spent so much time tucking ends yesterday though, that I made myself a solemn vow that I would tuck my ends as I went from here on out with this afghan.

I’m glad summer’s over. It feels like it’s been a long one.

Things

–I am fascinated by the ways people make themselves busy and important by creating work for others. Like not the normal way you create work when you have people who work under you. Like, if I hire you to ship things, I’m not talking about me coming to you and asking you to ship things. I’m talking about how, if it’s my job to put things in the box and your job to send the box out, and I’m the one who orders the boxes, since I’m the boss of the department, if I claim I can’t order the boxes until you measure the thing that goes in the box, even though you never otherwise touch the thing. So, then everything’s held up because I’ve decided that I can’t be bothered, that I don’t have time, to measure the thing I have regular contact with and which you otherwise never have contact with and that you must measure it.

That type of power move. One thing I’ve noticed a lot out in the working world is that you can tell a lot about someone’s internal measure of misery by how often they pull this kind of nonsense.

–I’m also fascinated by the ways things that seemed interesting to me and sad and romantic when I was younger–and I have to tell you, in the interest of being honest, I was a sucker, A SUCKER, for this–like, the poor man tragically stuck with the wife who didn’t understand him, but who finds me (or someone else) an irresistible balm to his pain. From my own end, I think this is because I rarely feel found, let alone looked for, (which sounds kind of sad, but I don’t mean it to. I just mean that the people who’ve come to like me have come to like me because they came to know me. I don’t think I have ever had the experience of someone seeing me and wanting me without knowing me. And I imagine, hearing from women who have had that, that it is neat for a while and then grows tiresome and somewhat terrifying.) and never being chosen in my own right led me to an ugly place where it felt awesome to be then chosen over someone else, to be the thing so awesome that a person would risk everything important to him.

But then you get old. Ha ha ha ha. I mean, it’s just a lot clearer here in my 40s that, aside from this being a really shitty way to see yourself or to treat another woman, no one is stuck in a marriage. So, there’s no romance. There’s just a pack of lies and those lies start with the lies the dude tells himself to justify his behavior.

But the thing I have observed, which, granted, is not a large sample size, is that a lot of men have affairs for the same reasons they might drink–because they’re bored with themselves and their problems and want some easy way to not have to think about that. The drama and excitement of an affair keeps a mind busy outside itself.

It can have nothing to do with the person being cheated on. And it certainly has very little to do with the mistress other than that she can be brought into the drama the cheater is looking to create for himself.

Obviously, the dynamic is different in a marriage that genuinely isn’t functioning. I know people who’ve cheated who’ve gone on to long healthy relationships with the people they cheated with, but those rare occasions happen because and when the marriage is a hot mess already. (And obviously, this has nothing to do with people who seek companionship while dealing with a partner with dementia or something.)

But in marriages where one person thinks everything is okay, if not perfect, but at least working and making them happy and the other person is secretly running around? Then that cheater tends just to be a perpetual cheater. No relationship can satisfy him, because he’s not looking for satisfaction. He’s looking for escape.

This, I think, is why open marriages don’t work for folks like this. The thing he’s getting out of an affair isn’t the non-monogamy. It’s the drama. If everyone’s okay with what you’re doing, then you’re not getting the charge you need from it.

But again, what’s that have to do with the women involved, except cause them pain?

Nothing.

One Down

I finished the baby blanket I was working on last night. There’s an anthology I want to submit to. I need to get writing on that story. I need to do something more for Ashland. I don’t know what. I’m waiting for a couple of small presses I think it might be right for to reopen to submissions.

One needs an indomitable spirit for this kind of work. I don’t have one of those.

Floundering, always floundering. Just trying to flounder forward.

Who Else Could Take Over?

This day. Christ. This day.

So stupid.

The Butcher is supposed to clean the kitchen in exchange for me cooking our meals.

Today he was pissed at me because he found maggots in the recycling. But it’s not my job to clean the kitchen. I felt like fighting with him about it, but I just let him rant and then he cleaned it up.

I know it’s just the nature of this moment, but I am tired of being frazzled and over-extended and on. But I don’t see a chance to get a break from that until July, if I’m lucky.

I feel like I should be more grossed out, but I can’t bother to care.

Hmms, a Series of Hmms

  1. I see people already saying that they’re not going to read the issue of Apex I’m in because of their distaste for one of the other authors. So, that sucks for me.
  2. I have pieced together my first big square in the Grateful Dead afghan to see how it looks, so that I feel motivated to continue to make so many little squares. It’s awesome.
  3. I think you could probably tell something about how my writing is going by how my crocheting is going, but I did have a breakthrough on the Napier piece and I think I have a good draft.
  4. I’d like to have a great draft, but I can’t get the person who could give me access to the Napier papers to call or email me back.
  5. I have a fear, which I hope is unjustified, but I don’t know, that the reason this person isn’t letting me see the Napier papers is because she can’t find them. I’m going to continue to believe that, even if that’s true, they’re still there, just lost and not gone lost.
  6. I guess the thing about 1. that makes me feel most icky is that I think it’s absolutely right that, if you don’t like someone because of their atrocious behavior, you’re not obligated to read their stories or support their art or to support the places that would give them an outlet. I think the readers are doing the right thing. I also think that I don’t want editors making decisions about stories based on authors’ reputations. I want them to publish the stories they like (though, obviously, personal feelings do shape what we like), regardless of who writes them, because I don’t want editors to turn into the police of whether we all have the right kinds of politics. So, I guess that what’s happening is exactly right. But man, you know, I didn’t get to choose what issue my story was going in. I didn’t have any say in who else was going to be in the issue. And I worked really hard on that story. I want it to rise or fall based on whether people like the story, whether I have succeeded or failed. And that’s not going to happen and it bums me out.

Things oh things

  1. It smells so bad outside, but the dog and I went for our walk anyway and at the far end of our walk was a young dead skunk who’d been hit by a car. I have nothing against skunks, so it was a little bit of a bummer to see one dead. But I was super impressed with the radius of stink left in its wake.
  2. It looks like I’m writing a piece about the Napiers for the Scene for Black History Month. The black Nashville Napiers are descended from a white guy who was one of many Napiers who owned a furnace and was in the metal smelting business. He never married–the white guy. As far as the census shows, he was usually the only white guy even living on his plantation. Sometimes there was a young white guy, too, possibly a nephew, I’d guess. But otherwise, just him, like a king surrounded by serfs all tied to him and his land.
  3. So, Napier was, on the surface, a bachelor. Montgomery Bell was, too, I think. He came to mind because of the furnace connection. And Isaac Franklin nearly was. Nowadays, if someone’s a bachelor, the possibility that he’s gay suggests itself. But in those days, it seems like a lot of gay guys just went ahead and got married. Marrying for love wasn’t the only reason people got married. You didn’t have to like your spouse. Family pressure and all that. Getting married was the easiest path. So, I feel like staying single was some other marker back then. It meant something else, but I’m not sure what. Other than that you probably were fucking your slaves. But you could do that and be married.