This morning the dog went to the park, so I was on my own for walking. And I was trying to remember the last time I ran. I have no fucking idea. Possibly years. And since I was alone in the dark, I ran, like a little kid, just full out for as long as it felt fun (which, granted, was not very long) and then I did it again.

And since I was alone in the dark, I didn’t have to think about how slow I was or how stupid I looked. I just felt happy. And not “happy because my body can do this” or “happy because this is good for me” or “happy for some other reason that justifies and excuses my happiness.” Just happy.

And yet, when I sit here to tell you about it, I find it curious how overwhelming the urge to justify it is, to attach some reason to it other than that it seemed like it might be fun and silly and make me happy and it was those things and did that thing.

Sleep Tight

I had been super impressed with the fact that my medication wasn’t fucking with me too much during this joyful/stressful time.

Last night I went to bed at 10:30 and rolled over this morning to see if I could afford to sleep for a little while longer and it was 8:00!!! Ha ha ha. Lord.

Our other brother got engaged yesterday. I really like his fiancee. I hope she is eyes-open about what she’s getting into.

I’m just about done with this afghan. I have a couple of people waiting on specific things in line, but I think I’m going to make another one of these for a friend who’s been having a hard year first because I want to and this afghan makes me really happy and I need to get my stash way down before I bring more yarn into this house.

Bwah ha ha ha ha

Lord almighty, I took some cold medicine and that was pretty much it for me. So, let’s put “medicines will hit you differently” on the list of things they don’t tell you about going on this shit.

I had weird dreams. One of which is that I was on some dangerous adventure and I kept thinking I’d forgotten to take my birth control pills, but, like the adventure was a crawling through some dangerous undergrowth near some lava alone adventure, not a James Bond adventure, so I kept popping them like candy and at some point in my dream, I look down and it’s clear I’ve just been eating them all day, not even in any order.

My subconsciousness is both “must not forget to take medicine” and “must definitely not get pregnant while crawling near lava.” Which, you know, both good things.

In related news, the Butcher introduced me to Uber Eats, which has made being sick a whole lot less annoying, though I feel like such a capitalist pig every time I use it.

In unrelated news, I love this afghan I’m working on so much. It’s just so beautiful. It is a perfect scrap afghan, though I have to admit, I’d also love to try it with a color scheme.

Anyway, here’s a picture of the interior part and a picture of the octagon part. I didn’t lay out the triangles or the weird shapes, because I’m not sure how they’re all going to work. It’s going to involve math, though, and I’m already pissed about it.


WaPo, Round Two

Here is my second thing for the Post. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I want to be funny and charming and knowledgeable and I think I pulled that off.

I think I have a better idea of why this is happening and what the trajectory could look like and, even though I would appreciate all fingers crossed, I think this will be a somewhat irregular opportunity that falls into my lap from time to time. Which is very lovely. And more may come of it. We’ll see.

In other news, my friend’s baby died yesterday. And, when I was at KFC picking the Butcher up dinner, there were kittens under a truck and I tried to coax them out, but they wouldn’t come and I came home knowing it was going to get down below freezing last night, with me having left those kittens behind.

I don’t mean to sound flip about my friend’s tragedy. There are things people can write about and things they can’t. When I try to wrap my mind around this, it feels like this terrible thing and then a blast zone around it of, like, twenty miles and words fail in the blast zone.

So, you end up trying to talk about the thing without talking about the thing. There are those kittens. There is that small boy. There is Jim’s death. There are a million other heartaches, piling one upon the other, and how do you go on, except to go on?

I don’t know what I’m getting at here except to say that I am so happy and so sad and I don’t really know how to reconcile the two.




I have been thinking about how my parents, as Midwesterners, have discouraged us from feeling too high and mighty. M. and I were trying to explain this to C. the other day, the kind of innate pessimism of Midwesterners. Don’t hope for too much. Don’t think this is going to work out. Work hard and rise to the middle.

One thing that has always confounded and delighted me about living in Nashville is how, with just the luck of being where an editor could see me, I’m now in a position where U.S. Representatives know and read me. I just don’t think that would have happened if I had stayed in Illinois and I can’t quite say why except for, in Illinois, I just wasn’t one of the people that could happen for and down here, there’s not that same barrier, whatever that barrier is.

And yet, still, the idea that I have written something that’s appeared in the Washington Post is ridiculous to me.

I sent my piece in early and told them it was so I had time to rewrite it if they didn’t like it. They told me it was great and I needed to have more confidence in my writing.

I kind of joked it off by saying that all my critics who think I suck can’t be wrong. But I was more put in a mind of that conversation with C. and M. Some people are raised to believe that the world is for them, that they can fail and not have missed their one shot, and that they can do whatever they set their minds to, because why not?

But a lot of us were not. And I have always felt like I am getting away with something here, every step of the way. I know I say all the time that talent is ubiquitous. And I believe that. But I also think that a lot of talented people are trained to not take the shot, lest someone more deserving not get the chance to play. And I think a lot of us believe that we must not be that talented, really, because we see so many other talented people.

In other words, really, we’re trained to self-stack the deck against us so that our “betters” don’t have to waste time doing it.

And I certainly have that tendency, myself, ingrained in me since birth, passed off as “pragmatic” and “realistic.” But I’m trying to not let it stand in my way too much.

Anyway, I don’t really know how long this gig will last or what it will become. I’m taking it one piece at a time. But if they ask me, I’m going to say yes.


Yesterday I was a human being for most the day. I mailed some crap and walked the dog and ate lunch out and saw a baby and did some Christmas shopping and watched Dirk Gently and today I am supposed to write my Pith post and clean the bathroom and do some laundry. I just now finished up one of those things and not the one that brings me clean underwear.

And I need a nap. I may take a nap. It’s getting better. It’s just a slow climb.

Slowly, Slowly

I had a dream I thwarted a bank robbery with my mad shooting skills. I have no mad shooting skills in real life, of course (that I know of), but in the dream I disarmed one of the robbers and shot the others and was the hero.

And it got me thinking that one of the appeals of action movies is the unbridled confidence. Your body can do these things. You will hurt the right people. You can keep going. A certain kind of swagger that signals “I know what’s going on and have control of the situation.”

I don’t think I’ve ever had that swagger.

I am slowly feeling more myself. I find the whole thing embarrassing. I was explaining to S. earlier that it’s both the embarrassment of finally admitting I’m not heading in the direction I want to be heading and the embarrassment that it’s taking this much to try to get me back on track. And I don’t know why I can’t be the same level of kind and understanding to myself as I would be if this were a friend going through this.

I mean, I do have friends on these same medications and I don’t really think of it at all. I mean, I do now because I have questions and they have answers (turns out the drymouth is totally normal). But in general, I think it’s good that they…

Oh shit. Okay, I think I just realized part of it, too. I find it embarrassing that my friends all realized there was a problem and had the guts to go get help. I am embarrassed that I suffered for so long, with it slowly getting worse, because I was chicken. And I guess, too, that I feel like this is a lot to go through if it doesn’t work. I’m afraid, too, of it not working.

God, this is depressing. Please tell me your thoughts on cockapusses…oh, shit, or was it octacocks? below.


Lord, I want to nap all the time. Slip myself under a warm blanket and just sleep. And this is better than it was! Now I just want to nap. I am not napping.

No, instead, I’m going to turn myself to Walt Whitman this evening. I will report back if I learn anything hopeful.


Yesterday was the first day in two weeks that I haven’t felt the gentle cocoon of a nap wrapping around me every single second of the day. I still feel like my mind is very still in ways that I feel uncertain about. I mostly experience my head as this storm of ideas that, when I need to write, I just surf down, seeing what connections are being made. I trust that something is always happening in there.

I have spent a lot of time lately staring off into space, waiting for those connections to get made and they’re not quite happening or not happening very quickly. I can also sense that is changing, so I’m not yet worried that I’ve lost my mojo or something. But it’s quieter in here, like the nap cocoon has receded physically, but maybe not mentally.

So, I haven’t told my parents and I don’t know why. I mean, on the one hand, it’s not their business, so it’s not a big deal. But I have now lied to them about it and let the lie go two conversations. My dad asked me if I’d read his Christmas letter and I lied and said I haven’t been getting on the computer at night lately and then when he called last night and asked if my cutting off of electronic devices had helped my sleep, I said I hadn’t been doing it long enough to tell. But really, I’m just napping on the couch under the afghan I’m trying to crochet.

I’m not opposed to lying to my parents, for many reasons, but I am not sure why I’m lying now. Which goes back to the cloud in my head. Certainly, way down in my brain somewhere is the reason, but I can’t get to it.

Though now that I’ve slowly written this all out, I think that it’s because, in part, I don’t want to hear that I just didn’t try hard enough. It’s amazing, when you think about it, that I have a master’s degree, a good job in a field I love, a side hustle writing for the Scene, and enough short-story sales under my belt to qualify me for the SFWA, plus a bunch of friends I adore, a bunch of afghans that make me happy, and my hobby of going around looking at things AND YET everything wrong with me is supposedly because I don’t try hard enough. If I just tried harder, I could be thin and pretty and married and not be afraid of heights and open stairwells and so on. I’m just kind of embarrassingly lazy and unwilling to work on my problems, as identified by others.

I think, fundamentally, I can’t do this part–where it’s weird and uncomfortable and I’m kind of uncertain about what’s going on in my brain–while also having to ward off the usual bullshit.

And my parents aren’t monsters. There’s a good chance that, if I told them, they’d not chastise me for not trying hard enough to fix this through sheer force of will. But I’m still protecting myself.

How Can I Keep from Singing?


The ripples are killing me! I think they might somewhat resolve in the wash, but I blame those three rounds of back-post-double-crochet, where you can see the afghan already not taking on a square shape. But I think the weight of it will eventually pull those rows straight. We’ll see. If it were wool. I’d figure blocking would fix it. But one drawback to acrylic is that you have to live with a certain amount of “I do what I want!”

I’m liking it, though and I think I’m almost done. I mean it’s for a kid. It doesn’t have to be huge.

So, on the other matter, the crazy-pants matter, I have decided I do notice a difference, aside from the fact that, if I sit down for too long, especially in a sunny spot, like right here on the couch, all I can think about is napping. No, also, I feel like singing again in the mornings. I’ve made up a song for the dog. I tried out a Lana Del Ray-ish version of “Wild Rover.” I realized I knew all the words to Liz Phair’s “Polyester Bride.” I have thoughts about All Them Witches.

That’s nice. I missed that.

My Excuse

Sometimes this week, I’ve felt guilty or like I wasn’t doing my part because I just can’t spend all day thinking about all the ways this is going to be terrible and then railing against them on social media. But I can’t do that and function in the world.

And I realize that may be “normalizing” but…I don’t know. I don’t really have any good conclusion. I am afraid. And the dog needs to be walked. So, what do you do, but walk the dog? Laugh with friends? Go on?

Slowly Rewiring

So, the doctor says that the drug works differently on different people. If you find it keeps you awake, you should take it in the morning. If it makes you sleepy, you should take it with dinner. Okay, but when then is the safest time to try to take it the first time?

I picked evening, figuring both that anxiety is a kind of weird alertness and that it’s an easier thing to recover from if you can’t sleep at night than it is if you’re falling asleep during the day.

And whoa, I have been sleeping. I think I could easily sleep ten hours a night. But I’m having vivid, crazy dreams. Like just jumbles of random semi-connected things. When I compare them to the dreams I had been having lately that were so literal and so real I mistook them for reality, I feel like my mind is resuming a kind of lightness.

Maybe I’m being overly hopeful because I just really want this to work. I still had problems in the convention center yesterday, with the big open balconies, so yeah. I mean, I know it’s not even been a week and that’s not enough time. But I’m just saying. I may be noticing things that aren’t actually happening yet.

In unrelated news, this kid’s afghan is hard as heck! I messed up the third square so bad I’m just going to have to abandon it and do a new one. I have set myself a hard task.

I Went!

I went to the doctor. I described my life. She said there’s no need to be embarrassed. Anxiety is very common. She thinks I have general anxiety disorder, which I was going to argue against, but then, like, I can’t use the stairs without having a panic attack, so I guess I’m arranging my life a lot so that I don’t notice that I have this thing that affects me all the time, which is nuts, but okay.

So, she’s going to do what she can for me, which is basically sertraline every day and alprazolam for when I’m having a panic attack, so that I don’t, you know, get stranded in rural Tennessee again.

If this doesn’t help–though I am wondering how I’ll judge “help;” I guess I’ll have to wait and  see–then I get to go to a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety who can either prescribe other drugs or work with me to develop ways to retrain my brain or both.

But I had to laugh when she was describing all the ways these drugs would help me because it sure as shit seemed like I could get the same effect from becoming a pothead.

Anyway, I was embarrassed and it was horrible, but it was also fine and I’m glad I gutted up and did it.

But I also want to say, just for the sake of thoroughness and trying to understand myself, that I think I was avoiding this because, at some level, I have internalized my dad’s belief that some forms of mental stuff is just because you’re soft and a baby. And I am soft and a baby, so I kept waiting to work up the strength of will to get over it.

But I told the doctor, too, that the hardest part about the panic attacks–which you guys know–is the feeling that I can’t integrate what my senses tell me–everything is fine, look, you are not falling–with the sense that I am, in fact, falling and going to die. And, you know, obviously, I don’t want to die, especially not in a really unpleasant way, so if all it took were willing myself to be better, I would have done it before now.

So, that’s that. Victory is mine. I have a mental illness, which I kind of knew, considering the panic attacks, but I also got to be in denial about because I never had a doctor say it to me. The upside is that I guess this means I don’t have to break myself of the habit of saying crazypants or lunatic or nuts or whatever, because now I’m just reclaiming the terms, which is good, because I can’t give up lunatic, because I love the idea of the moon reaching in you and pulling at you and making you do things. The moon, the inescapable hypnotist.

Ha, I should write a story called “The Inescapable Hypnotist.” Not tonight, though.


Today I get to go talk to my doctor about my panic attacks. I am, as you can imagine, very anxious about it. I’m hugely embarrassed, just in general, and I am mortified that, as a part of talking about my general anxiety, I have to thread the needle through talking about how stressful it is that people make jokes about people wanting to shoot me while also not being paranoid about being shot.

Like, how is this a life? Why would someone do this?

The Butcher wants me to get a gun “in case” and that’s making me more stressed. And yet, I admit, it’s tempting.

I try not to miss Sadie much or at least not to dwell on the missing of her much, because dead is dead and it’s not good for either of us to stand too long at that door. But I did feel a level of “Sure, try to fuck with me. That will go well for you.” when she was around that, bless his heart, I don’t feel with old Sonnyboy here, who is sad today because it was too cold this morning to practice his boss hill-rolling skills.

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.