Swept Away

Oh god, my fireplace and chimney need $2500 worth of work to make it safe to use. So, I guess I’m not going to sit in front of it in October. I’m going to spend the money to get it fixed, though, because I bought this house because it had a working fireplace and I would like a working fireplace.

We watch a lot of Adam Ruins Everything and last night he had one on real estate and he came down on the side of renting being a better option than buying for most people (though, in fairness, he also covered how the Airb&b business is making renting harder for people). And I think that’s not quite right. It’s just a different option. The price I pay a month has gone up in the couple of tax assessments we’ve had, but never by the amount a month my rent regularly increased. And there’s simply nowhere left in Nashville where I could have this amount of space for this amount of money a month.

You do also dump a lot of money into repairs. I’m going to dump a lot of money into the fireplace. I dumped a lot of money into plumbing. There’s always something big that needs to be done.

I guess it’s partially because I think a lot about the logistics of writing, but I feel like what we all want is a right way to do things, clear cut solutions to murky problems. Rent, don’t buy. Buy, don’t rent. Self-publish. Get an agent. Etc. Etc.

The way is never that clear. The right thing not always obvious. The world looks different to each of us depending on where we stand.

I read this terrific story over at Strange Horizons. And then I read this review of the story which was positive, but reads the story entirely differently than I do. Like, wow, that’s not how I read it.

If you want to discuss cocktapusses, please skip straight to the comments now. If you want to discuss the story, I’ll make my points below:

The witch cursed the dude because he’s an abusive ass. His abusive ass-ness therefore did not end when the curse was broken, because that’s just who he is–that monster. Loving him brings a different curse on the women who do it. Therefore, the way to break the curse, the current curse he’s causing, is to stop loving him. That’s what she comes to understand–he’s no longer cursed, she is. So the witch can’t lift her curse on him; she can only help the woman realize how to lift the curse on her.

The witch clearly used to be the monster’s lover. That’s the parallel with them both having a collection of knives. We’re supposed to link them together. And that’s her good reason for cursing him in the first place–he did her wrong, so she cursed him to show outwardly what he is inwardly.

The witch isn’t promising the woman a life of ex-lovers. She’s saying, “If you break this curse, you may be on your way to becoming like me, a witch.”

Fun Work Day

The Butcher did have to work after all, but he took the dog to the park so I could sleep in and, since the dog is now sleeping his walk off, I’m going to get some writing done.

And put on some pants.

And get our chimney swept. I really want to spend my nine nights this year in front of the fireplace, at least, some of them.


I think I burst a cyst yesterday. I felt kind of weird most of the day and then I had this pain that was like a menstrual cramp but in the wrong spot and there was blood, though, mostly just clear liquid, like runny egg yolks.

Then all evening my side was sore. Even this morning, it feels bruised, but in a smaller, tighter spot.

I tried to work on my museum piece for the Scene that’s due next week. It went like hell. Not hell. But heck. I’m glad to have something down on paper, even if it’s shit.

My parents called, too, in the middle of it and I think a thing I have failed to realize about this all until just yesterday, because my dad is always threatening to die like in the next four seconds, is that my dad is terrified of ending up like my grandmothers–wanting to die and not being able to. His threat to die immediately isn’t wishful thinking for a worst case scenario, as I thought. What my grandma now, what his mom before, went through is his worst case scenario.

I have mixed feelings about assisted suicide. I am terrified that the abuses of it would be monstrous. But with my whole heart, I wish that my grandma could just decide enough is enough and know she had a painless way to opt out when she felt the time had come.

I don’t think life has any meaning beyond what we’re able to cultivate for ourselves. You look at all this shit and you think it must happen FOR A REASON, but it just happens for reasons, many of them stupid.

A lot of the reasons being that we’re just fragile, ill-designed sacks of blood and puss and poop and eventually the garbage bag gives out. Everything you can do to transcend the stupidity of our fundamental human state, to make it more than just sacks of shit sloshing around being jerks to each other, is important, I think.


The thing that most depresses me about this political season aside from the fact that I’m voting with enthusiasm for a candidate I have historically felt little enthusiasm for because the alternative is the end of the Republic as we know it is that we’re now talking about rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment in ways that make me so painfully aware of just how many people don’t realize how ubiquitous the problem is.

Folks, it so many people you might as well round it to everyone. Every woman I know has been fucked with. Every single one. I don’t know how you might frame the question to get an honest poll answer, but something like “Has anyone ever deliberately touched you in a spot normally covered by underwear without your permission?” And I suspect that, if you could get men to feel safe answering the question, most of them would also answer yes.

And listen, the internet is full of this impulse to believe that, if only you told your story in the perfect way, you could get people to listen and believe and understand you, to change so that they didn’t hurt anyone the way you were hurt. And I’m here to tell you that isn’t always true. In fact, it’s often not true.

This is to say that you don’t need to share with me. I don’t often feel like sharing much with the internet anymore myself, because I just imagine the people who get off on suffering reading it and getting off on it.

But I still think a lot about the boy who grabbed me by the pussy. It was a tiny bit traumatic for me. I don’t want to downplay that. But it was more existentially confusing. Like, he seemed to think it would do something or cause something to happen if he did this, but he didn’t know what. And I also was too young to know what he was doing or why he was doing it. I just remember the uncertain smile. I have never forgotten that. I have often wondered what happened to him or what he saw in his life that brought him to do that to me in the hallway.

We were in second grade. I have been thinking of that, on and off, for almost forty years. I wonder if he thinks of it at all. Probably not.

Day Two of Dreaming I’m Awake

This morning I dreamed I woke up and it was so dark that I rolled over to check my clock and it was like 5:15 so I still had a half an hour before my alarm was going to go off. I love that. Love nothing more than knowing there’s still time. And then my alarm actually went off and my first thought was “crap, what’s wrong with the alarm?”

Which, then, I realized I was dreaming, which is when you’re supposed to try to lucid dream, but my alarm was going off so no dice.

Anyway, I’m packed, which means I’m going to sit here for twenty minutes worrying about what I might be forgetting.


I dreamed I woke up this morning to discover that the Butcher had left the light on in the living room when he went to bed. I went through the motions of getting my phone, going into the bathroom, turning on the light, going to the bathroom, etc. only to be completely confused and disoriented when my alarm went off and I woke up and it was pitch black in the house. It took me most of the walk this morning to shake the feeling that I had somehow woken up twice. I can’t remember the last time I had a dream that vivid.

I have a convention this weekend. It’ll be fine. I’ll enjoy myself once I get there. But I feel anxious about it. I have a big interview next week for a thing I’m working on for the Scene and I have to coordinate a photographer and I’m not sure how that’s going to go with me leaving town and everything. And then Southern Festival of Books and a lot of work projects. And Chuck is running low on A City of Ghosts so I need to have some printed up and I need a mammogram and a chimney sweep.And rejections galore.

This has just been a hard year. I’m trying to just keep my head down and power through. The way out is through, after all. But now that I know that god damn poem, it’s hard to feel that good about it.


The Peacock Afghan

God damn it, I really need a cockapus afghan and I need your thoughts on it below! Ha ha ha. No, the peacock afghan is going well. I kind of did up all the changing parts so that I could make sure the color combinations worked how I want and now I have a bunch of ends to tuck and then just the yellow and green rounds on the motif to put together.

I think the thing I find very satisfying about this style of afghan (and it’s going to be very heavily based on the beautiful butthole afghan) is that it feels like it goes quickly. Like there’s both a lot to do and yet not so much that you feel like it can’t be done.

But I’m still irritated at other iterations of peacock afghans I’ve seen, which are just making the peacock eye thingy and then appliqueing it to a different afghan. So you have two layers of yarned shit. How hot must that be?! I want an afghan where the eyes are a part of the structure of the afghan, not sewn on at the end.

And I think the beautiful butthole afghan, with slight modifications for a smaller motif, is the way to go.

I’m getting a lot of work done on the afghan, too, because I’m avoiding my problems. Ha ha ha. But no, it’s nice to come home and just not think about anything. Just listen to some podcasts and move my fingers around.

I sometimes feel like a liar. Not like a regular liar. But I feel like I have three really ingrained instincts–1. to shut down in the face of unpleasantness in order to have the unpleasantness over with as soon as possible; 2. to be the person who sucks it up and does what’s necessary to keep things moving; 3. to keep some important section of myself deeply private (and what section that is doesn’t even matter, just that I have a secret thing I don’t have to share). You can see, I’m sure, how very gendered that is and how it was fed by being raised a minister’s kid.

But it means that many of my interactions with non-friends are often fundamentally dishonest. The person standing before you, laughing along, is not the person standing before you who’s really thinking “Is this enough time to spend on this? Can I excuse myself now?”

So, I’m in this jam and it’s kind of self-inflicted, in that I have a few acquaintances, not people who are my friends, but people who could have, under other circumstances, become my friends, who have a view of me as someone who breezily blows off this online shit and who courts and loves conflict. I am “tough” and “a bad ass” and I “can take a little criticism, so who cares?”

This is fundamentally untrue most of the time. This year it’s been especially untrue. As you all know because I gripe about it so often. I have tried to draw firm boundaries and to make clear that I don’t want to hear the negative opinions people I don’t know have of me. These boundaries, it’s become exceedingly clear, are not firm enough, because these same people keep doing this same shit to me–making sure I learn of all people’s bad opinions of me. And then I sit around and question, well, did I not make it clear, clear enough? Am I making it clear but they’re just not able to hear it because who I am as a person is, in this case so incongruent from who they see me as that they just can’t make it jibe, can’t believe I am who I am telling them I am and not who they see me as? Or are they evil and they think I don’t notice?

But I think this is an older problem with me than just this summer. People perceive me as strong and outspoken and yet my oldest coping mechanism is to go quiet and cryptic and smile and get it over with. I hardly ever say “You’re doing a shitty thing to me.” I instead harden myself against them and try to move them along quickly.

You see why it feels like lying? Like, once I decide you’re not safe for me, I just pull some important part of me away from you, tuck it in a safe spot, and handle you as best I can until I can be done with you.

So, like these people. I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to hear this shit–but I can’t really be sure that I’ve been blunt enough, since they seem mostly like good people but they haven’t stopped and I am a woman raised to not be very direct–and my ability to be generous to people who are bothering me is not very well-developed, so rather than continue to try to get them to respect my boundaries, I just begin to fundamentally lie to them. I smile and nod and laugh on the surface and me and my true self just withdraw and wait it out.

I’m not sure if that’s a really fair way to deal with the world.

Ha ha ha. I’m not really sure why this has become the September of Introspection, but I promise, the month’s almost over.

Trying Not to be a Miserable Fuck

A thing that irritates me about myself is that I am not as brave in person as I am online and it often causes me annoyance. People assume I must love provoking people and must get a thrill out of their angry responses and thus it’s fine and part of the fun for them to share those angry responses with me. Please don’t do that unless you’re genuinely afraid there’s been a death threat I need to know about. I honestly hate it and find it very stressful to read all the ways I suck.

I do say things in writing I am often too…I don’t even know…not in the right frame of mind to say anything about in real life. Writing buys time for reflection that real life rarely affords, I guess is what I’m saying.

Anyway, I’m going to this thing on Sunday and one of the people who might be there is one of the people who hosted a Facebook discussion about how much I suck. I have since been talked down off the ledge by mutual acquaintances who believe she was trying to have a more nuanced discussion, something along the lines of “while I don’t agree with what Betsy’s said here, I am appalled at how people are treating her” and her friends took that as justification for having a discussion about my evil ways. And I am trying to be the brave, fearless person people seem to think I am based on my online persona and not let it bug me that I have to see her Sunday.

I’m off the ledge, but let’s be frank. I’m not off the roof.

When I’m walking the dog, my mind tends to wander, like how things kind of bubble up when you’re trying to go to sleep, but when you’re trying to go to sleep, you can let things bubble up and if one of them is Jason Statham for some reason playing shirtless soccer in your front yard while all the women of Nashville drive by jealously, you can just roll with that. But when you’re walking the dog, or at least, when I’m walking the dog–if you’re also walking the dog, why are you so quiet every damn morning?–there’s no encouraging one train of thought to the exclusion of others. If my subconscious mind wants to chew on something, wants to move something to my conscious mind, it’s going to keep coming up on our walks.

So, every morning this week, I find myself imagining saying to this Facebook friend, when I have to see her on Sunday, “When was the last time someone asked you if you were afraid you’d be shot over something you wrote?” And then I imagine all kinds of responses. I run off crying to my car and come home and never leave the house again. I stare at her until she withers up into a heap of ashes. Whatever. In no scenario can I imagine what she could say to me that would sooth me.

And that makes me not want to go.

Here is the other thing, though (and, admittedly, my head is quite far up my butt here), I have been in relationships with people where they obviously spent a lot of time doing to me what I’m doing to my poor Facebook friend–imagining some pending interaction between us, gaming out the alternatives, and deciding that they already knew how things would go, so I should just also go along with and match up with their version of me.

I have hated that. And felt it entirely cruel and unfair and, frankly, nuts.

So, just for the sake of not being cruel and nuts, I am going to go Sunday and be a person and be open to her being a person and sometimes we bump against each other and hurt each other and Jason Statham cannot come and murder everyone who hurts your feelings.

But it also makes me feel a tiny bit of compassion for the people who have done this to me, since, when I want to do this, it comes from a place of fear.

I wonder if they were afraid of losing me. If knowing me, but leaving room for me to just be me and to have my own responses that you can’t anticipate necessarily ahead of time, was frightening to them, because it meant I might leave them or change my mind about them. Better to game out everything, to decide ahead of time how I will be and respond and then try to force me into it, better to make me predictable, and then they knew I wouldn’t be lost to them.

I have been lost to them.

It doesn’t work.

I’m babbling, but I wonder, a lot about how many of us, how much of the time, are motivated by fear and misery or the avoidance of it. I think I am, a lot. I have tried, since realizing this, to recalibrate my life to be motivated by happiness and pleasure and the pursuit of those things, but, in many ways, I feel like it’s a task akin to trying to learn to be right handed if you’re born left-handed. Even if you can switch, it feels weird. There are always times when you reach with your left hand. But unlike being left-handed, which is awesome and I like it fine!, how I was taught to approach the world makes it very hard for me to live in the world. I have to, for my own well-being, live differently, even if I often fail at it.

But, much the same way as not being a drinker tends to bring into stark focus how much the people around you drink and why, trying not to be a miserable fuck sure does show you all the ways people are miserable fucks and why.

Miserable fucks. Man. I’m trying not to be one. Trying being the operative word.

The Day I Shot that Bad Bitch Down

Yesterday was pretty grueling. For a lot of reasons I could outline in detail so that I can come back later and run my finger over the sharp edges of those reasons and remind myself how they hurt, but I’m trying to be nicer to myself. Long story short, don’t piss off the restaurant industry, especially not the part with a good PR machine.

One of the most frequent questions people ask me when they meet me is “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get shot?” This is so fucked up, I can’t even tell you. I mean, I get that this is growing pains, this is what it means to have worked really hard for a long time and to have built an audience and to have a kind of public persona people have opinions about. But it does fucked up things to hear over and over again not just some equivalent of “Don’t you know how people punish mouthy women?” but that specific question.

I am not afraid, not really. Fear is paralyzing. I am this word, this word I do not know, that is kind of raw but numb and sad and tired and resigned but also full of rage, that I feel and then keep moving.

During the library fiasco, a person I thought was my friend said–or at least I took it as her saying–that there are people who complain and people who do things and she seemed to feel as if I was in the complaining group and thus wasn’t really putting myself out there in any meaningful way. What have I done for the city, after all?

Which, I have to tell you, on the one hand, I think is a good point. My work matters very, very little. It’s just me with an opinion. That’s what they pay me for. But if it isn’t worth anything, why does it cost me so much? Like, I think that’s the mindfuck part. I agree that the stakes are low, but let me run you down the list of people who other people think probably want to shoot me. People who, judging by their words and their behavior, I have to agree may indeed want to shoot me. Maybe I’m not doing this for the city, maybe I don’t feel like I’m doing much, but it can’t be that I’m doing nothing because look at this bullshit in response to it.

The other mindfuck part is the people who seem to think I must just delight in being provocative and so wouldn’t I love to hear all the ways people are upset with me, all the things they’re saying behind my back, like these terrible things must be what I want so sharing them with me is just you making sure I see how I’m succeeding.

But I don’t want success in this realm. That’s the other, other mindfuck. I want to write stories, fiction stories, people enjoy and find moving. This I do because Tennessee needs loud, opinionated women and someone was stupid enough to give me a chance to be one for a while and I’m holding the line as long as I can so other women know that this is a possibility.

I’m doing this because it needs to be done. That’s the reason. Not to “fix” the city or to “tell” people who deserve to be told or to make myself feel important when I’m not or whatever. This is the work that needs to be done. Of course someone better than me could be doing it. I know that every day. And I am hopeful and joyful to see what that person or those people will get up to when they appear.

Hmm, Cold?

I stayed in last night and went to bed early. I didn’t think anything of it. Like I didn’t think I felt sick or anything. I just suddenly felt like bed was a good idea. I dreamed, like literally dreamed, I slept so long a new neighborhood rose up around me and the Butcher ran our house as a kind of halfway house for his newly divorced friends. I woke up, like, literally, this morning, woke up and it had been ten hours since I went to bed.

I feel that pre-cold thing, where it could go either way. I could get sick. I could not get sick. It’s too early to see how this is going to resolve.

But I do know that I need to get the writing I need to get done this weekend done today, because there’s no guarantee I’ll be up for it later.

Nice, Funny Thing

Last night, Jim Cooper introduced me to his wife and described me as funny, but “uses words not in your dictionary.” He meant cuss words. He seemed aghast and delighted by them.

It was lovely. It also reminded me that, though, to me, I am a weird, boring introvert from nowheresville who drives a ten year old car and hasn’t weeded her flower beds in a year, there is some public notion of me I need to be mindful of.

It’s hard to talk about because my level of fame is tiny. Tiny. I don’t know how to stress how tiny it is. Like, if a normal person ever gets .5 fame, I have .6. Someone like, say, Kid Rock, a person my parents don’t know, has 1000 fame. Beyonce is like 1000000000000 fame. So, really, in the grand scheme of things, I have no fame.

But there’s enough of a public sense of me that the gap between who I am and who my public self is is noticeable to me. There’s me, just me, and then there’s this version of me that people I don’t know know. And that version of me is more real to them than I am.

That version of me isn’t me, but we have some responsibilities to each other and I sometimes forget that.

Bad Afghan Math and Weird Dreams

I am in love with this afghan. It’s so beautiful. But it’s going to be huge! And I thought I had done my math correctly so that it would be reasonably sized, but I had not. Apparently.

After having a bunch of people recommend it, I finally read The Serpent King. It was every bit as good as you’ve heard. Hard going for a minister’s kid, but worth it.

I had a dream last night that I was magical and evil, but I only used my powers to open men’s hotel rooms and attach multiple penises to them–the men, not their hotel rooms. Not like a ton of penises, just one or two more than usual. I had a briefcase. You know, with the extra penises, so I could choose which one(s) to attach.

Here’s the thing, though, when I woke up from the dream, it was scary as fuck. Like, “Whoa, if I had power, I would surely abuse it.” Like, I thought I’d gained some insight into my own self that I could never unsee.

But even in the time it took me to walk the dog, I lost the sense of what was so ugly about it (except for the nonconsensual part, obviously) and it just now strikes me as funny. Like, of all the evil plots in the world, that one is surprisingly one of the dumbest. I mean, what was the menace? “Try to buy comfortable underwear now, gentlemen!”

Was I going to take over the world while men were distracted trying to figure out how to pee, now?

Back to Work

I think I had a nice vacation. I’m ready to have a vacation where I actually leave town and go to a different place and do different things, but alas, it was not to be this time.

Today I went to the Mill Creek Baptist Church graveyard, which I have never been to before. It was so beautiful. I do feel very lucky to live some place so gorgeous. I also feel slight pangs of regret at not buying a cheaper house in town when we first moved here and thus being a millionaire now.

Tomorrow I go back to work.

Some Things I Am Learning About Myself

I say I want to take a social media break. I intend to take a  social media break. But I spent a lot of time waiting around for shit on social media. A lot. I’m genuinely surprised.

I had a really nice brunch yesterday with M. where we discussed all kinds of writing and Ashland. He had a broad suggestion for the first chapters that, when he said it, had the right sting and relief of being right. I think I’m going to take part of my vacation to go ahead and have another look at the manuscript.

I’m not going to think about how much it sucks that the first part needs something and the first part is what I’ve been querying on. Ha ha ha. Of course I am. I’m going to dwell so hard on that I want to throw up. But I’m going to try not to fall down that hole.

We’re leaving the dog with friends when we go to the wedding and I am nervous. I just don’t want him to run off or get lost. Just be here when I get back. That’s all I want.


I’m taking a vacation for the next two weeks. I’m just going to my nephew’s wedding and then…I don’t know. I kind of want to go somewhere, but I haven’t decided and I haven’t talked to the Butcher about leaving him with the dog and I don’t have the money to go anywhere particularly cool.

But I’m not at Pith and I’m not at work and that counts for a lot I think. I’m also going to try cutting down on social media. I love feeling connected to all my friends, but it also is, I think, making me way anxious. We’ll have to see how that goes, though. I want to rave about F&SF, so that’s got to happen there.

I’ve been giving some thought to what I want to be working on next. The first half of the year, I was busy with non-fiction stuff, getting something ready for October, and a couple of short stories, some of which weren’t very good and some of which were too personal for me to do anything with but write them and be glad to be done with them. But I miss the way writing Ashland organized my time.

I am trying to figure out how I want to incorporate the musical component of this October’s stories. And what I’ll do if the artist whose song is at the center of one of the stories doesn’t put the song in a format I can easily link to or embed before October. But I’d like to get that stuff all lined up and in the hopper and off my mind. It’s just going to be a week’s worth of stories this year, but I think they’re pretty fun. Plus, music!

I don’t really know. I just have to do some stuff to recharge, I think. It’s been a hard  year so far and I’d like to change the energy.


The new venue is great. The weekend was long. I’m still feeling a little frazzled.

Our cats are kind of dog-like, having been raised around at least one dog. They’re friendly. They kind of go for walks. But at the end of the day, they’re cats. As dog-like as they can be, at some point, you can hit a wall where they’re like, “Yeah, that’s too far.”

Sometimes this weekend, I felt like a cat among dogs.

I was on Twitter when a guy came up to me, touched my hand to get my attention, and then told me to smile. Like a fucking asshole, I did. I’m so mad at myself. But some of the other authors were delighted when they went up to hug him and he gave them surprise kisses.

So, here’s the thing. If you’re cool with surprise kisses, congrats. This minor celebrity just laid one on you. But how does he know that everyone who approaches him would be open to a kiss? I include myself in this group, so I speak from self-knowledge–there are a lot of socially awkward people at conventions. It’s very likely that a hug might be all they’re game for. I can’t help but wonder if and how many women got kissed who didn’t want to be.

And why would you behave like that? That’s a rhetorical question.

I have been thinking a lot about why I froze and smiled instead of scowling and telling that dude to suck my butt and I have decided it’s because I refuse to believe, in this day and age, that guys don’t know that women don’t like it when you tell them to smile. They know. So, already when you’ve decided that your pleasure is more important than my comfort, we’re in a kind of hostile situation. I want the moment to end without the hostility levels rising. The cost of me acquiescing is only my pride, so I acquiesce and you leave me alone.

I don’t know. It’s not really a big thing. Just in a weekend where no one knew what panels they were on until the last minute and I had to do a lot of running around town as well as doing the convention and meeting a lot of strangers and being “on,” it just stands out as a “WTF?” moment. Like we’re all trying to do our best here, dude, except you.

Hard Heart

I’ve been writing about Orlando over at Pith this week in various forms and on Thursday, I had a post about gun liability insurance. I heard, then, yesterday, from quite a few of my friends who are gun enthusiasts who wanted to talk about my post, and who, yes, utterly disagree with me.

But they were being awesome. They wanted to talk and to be heard and to try to have some kind of understanding.

It’s me. Something has happened to me. In order to write publicly like I do for Pith, in order to open the emails from strangers and see the things they want to show me, in order to be able to reassure my mom or my friends that the things they’re reading about me aren’t going to translate into something bad happening to me, I have had to do something ugly to myself.

And I try not to think about that ugly thing too often, but I felt it yesterday, seeing these people I care about and who I know care about me trying to have a respectful conversation with me and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let the hardness recede enough to engage with them, to be their friend.

A thing I had not appreciated until I got into my 30s is that this is a truly unpleasant aspect of “fame.” I’m using the term very loosely here. If “being famous” is a universe, I’m “famous” at a small pebble in that universe level. What I mean by “fame” is that some group of people knows of you and has opinions about you that come to form some level of reality for you when they don’t actually know you. To use a very concrete illustration, it’d be like, if some guy, let’s call him Joe, Joe owns a restaurant and he reads my blog, He learns that I’m allergic to strawberries and so, when I go to his restaurant–even though I don’t know him or know he reads my blog–I’m never served strawberries. At that level, I guess it’s fine and kind of nice and fun. But what if Joe reads my blog and decides I don’t like men? I might not actually notice if I never get a male server, so maybe that doesn’t matter, but what if he’s back there spitting in my food?

Every one of us has a thin layer, a protective vernier, that is other people’s interpretations of our actions–the way they see us that is not necessarily how we see ourselves. One of the great delights in having dear friends is that you both simultaneously have someone you can trust who shows you the difference between how your perceive yourself and how the world perceives you and who will come close enough to you that they are inside that bubble–they see you for who you perceive yourself to be.

But being famous, for better or for worse, involves a thickening of that vernier. Some of it is intentional. I think I have hardened my heart intentionally so that I can do the work. But a lot of it is done by people who don’t know you to you. They develop these ideas about who you are and they interact with, or attempt to interact with, their ideas of you, not you.

It’s really disconcerting, unsettling.

It’s as if you enter a conversation with someone and come to realize that they’ve mistaken you for someone else. Possibly someone worthy of the hatred they feel toward them.

So, you build a thicker layer so that interacting with people who mistake you for a person they hate isn’t so fucking grueling.

Maybe you even begin to perform the layer so that you can feel like no one can touch your soft, vulnerable innards, because they won’t even suspect they’re there.

Maybe, at some point, you yourself forget that you are not the fake layer of misinterpretation that has been generated around you.

I don’t really have an ending to this post. I guess, just, at my level, way, way, way down here, this very tiny, inconsequential level of fame makes me feel like I’m losing my mind and my ability to interact like a normal human being with the people I love.

I genuinely don’t know how anybody with real fame does it.

(Also, there’s something terrible and funny about the fact that “fame” in this case just means I blog for an alt.weekly and people hate my opinions.)

Panic Attack Dream, Day Two

I dreamed I had just escaped from a prison and was hiding in a bank, but had to go up a fire escape and then drive at night in the snow to complete my escape.

I couldn’t drive.

I had a panic attack in a nearby diner. I woke up before I learned if that led to my recapture.

But this one wasn’t as bad. I think  it was a genuine dream and not also something that was happening to me physically.

Panic Attack Dream

I dreamed I had a panic attack. I was late for a flight that had been moved up on me without me realizing it and I couldn’t find the plane and then I had to get on top of the airport terminal and…ugh, I just curled up in a ball and cried.

And when I woke up, my body was clenched up.

So, you know when you see the dog running in his sleep and “mrph”-ing when he’d normally be barking? I genuinely think I had a panic attack in my sleep and dreamed about it.

That’s not even the worst part. I had a huge cup of coffee with S. today and ate peanut butter M&Ms for dinner.

So, my theory that they may be triggered or exacerbated by caffeine and sugar seems to have another data point in its favor.

Sleep for a Million Years

I feel I’m over this cold, but I have to tell you that I’m still sleeping, happily, a million years a night. Friday and Saturday night I went to bed at ten and got up at eight. Last night I went to bed at nine.

But I’m feeling so much better that it’s kind of a relief. I saw friends. I went cemetery wandering. I went looking for an old fort. I finished the vexing afghan. I babysat some kids. I did the interview I was supposed to do.

It was lovely.

Holy Crap. I’ve Been Really Sick

I really haven’t written anything here since Friday?! Damn. In my defense, I was really busy and then, also, really sick.

I am still kind of sick, but the kind of sick where you walk the dog and go to work, which is better than the sick of yesterday, where I watched a movie and then played Civilization on the easiest setting over and over again, just to have something for my brain to do while my body sat very still and tried to get over itself.

I am excited to report that the afghan is all pieced together. I’m just waiting on the rest of the yarn so I can do a border. Which will require math, which I’m a little bummed about, but I will get it!

And I have a longish short-story outlined, so we’ll see how that goes.

I just need to get well enough to do things.

Like a Bobber on the Water

I’m in the middle of an extraordinarily busy time. I’ve basically filled out my calendar, loaded up my car, and am heading from one thing to another to another. Like a bobber out on the water.

There’s the restaurant up in Ashland City, right on the river, and you can sit out on the deck and watch the boats go by. We never go there unless our parents are in town. I’m not sure why. It makes me happy.

Maybe I should schedule some time to go sit on the deck by myself and see what comes of it.


I went to bed with a headache that wasn’t bad enough for me to take anything for it. It seemed like the kind of minor headache that you sleep off. But then I woke up with this piercing pain that ran from my eye to my temple.

I took some medicine, but it hurt so much that I was like “There’s no way anything over the counter could touch this,” but I guess that’s just years of migraine suffering talking? Because literally twenty minutes later, the headache was gone.

I’m weirded out. What is this beastly magic that fixes what it’s supposed to fix on the first go?

Ha ha ha, it also makes me realize what bears migraines are. I’ve certainly had migraines that hurt less than this headache, but they were much, much more persistent.

We watched the first episode of Preacher last night. I liked it okay, though it felt kind of hollow at the core for me. Like, I just didn’t believe the main character was very familiar with church. He’s a preacher now, but the conceit is that he’s also a minister’s kid. I didn’t recognize him as one of the family, I guess.

But the Butcher thought the church scenes were pretty accurate, so it may be just a matter of perception.

The chick from Shield is acting up a storm, though. It’s almost disconcerting to watch how good she is.

No Rest

The Butcher and I drove down to Georgia for our nephew’s graduation open house and then back. It was a long day. I kind of wish we all lived closer.

I’m tired, but I woke up, fully woke up at what I thought must have been seven or eight this morning and I got up and went to the bathroom and came out of the bathroom and was startled by a confused dog standing bleary-eyed in the hall. I looked at the clock and it was early, really early.

But I was awake so what was there to do but take him for a walk?