Old Habits

This morning, as I was getting out of my car, absentmindedly thinking about the dream I had and wondering if my subconscious is trying to just plainly tell me that I’m bad in bed, I reached down to push in the knob to turn my headlights off.

I have not owned a car that had headlights like that since I was seventeen. But I still floundered, confused, this morning when my hand didn’t find purchase on that knob. And then spent a moment being confused about just what the fuck my hand was doing.

I sometimes think that my memory works like the veins of coal under Illinois, shallow at the near end, shallow at the far end and too far down to reach in the middle. I have taken painful things and willed them down the hole, so to speak, sent them away. But I know they’ll come back eventually.

I mean, I reached for a thing today I haven’t touched in twenty-four years. And I recently realized I can picture exactly how T.’s blond stubble sparkled in the sunlight again.

I feel weird. Painfully weird. I think that’s a memory as well, come back to me as real as ever.

You can see why people believe in reincarnation. It feels like everything circles round and round in a life. Why would a life not circle round itself?

I Caught a Fleeting Glimpse Out of the Corner of My Eye

I did something yesterday I have been trying to do for over a decade. I made a plan for how to do it, how to really do it, about four or five years ago, I think. And I stuck to it and I didn’t take vacations and I didn’t visit people and I didn’t go out as much as I wanted. And now it’s done. Fuck you, Citibank. I hope the hackers take you out first.

I don’t feel relieved though. Which I thought I would. Mostly, I feel kind of numb and sad. I did not grow up that poor. But I made more money at 28 than my dad did when I was 18. I’m making more money now than I think my parents ever did combined. I made a lot of financial decisions that, I’m sure, from the outside, looked dumb as rocks. I had no ability, no knowledge, no wisdom from mentors to make better decisions. They were literally the best decisions I could make with the knowledge I had. I don’t beat myself up over it.

This, though, makes me cry. I feel like it’s the second cry you have over a bad car accident. The first cry is all fear and gratitude. And the second cry is when you realize how precarious things were, when you see that it was just as likely that you didn’t make it.

I am Done with Gardening

My eyes are swollen up again! I’m leaking some kind of weird clear liquid from my face. Skin-face not nose and mouth face where you might expect to find liquid. I have weird bumps. Things itch.

I am fucking done with touching things outside. This is the second time in a month. I had to show up for the launch of The Wolf’s Bane looking like a puffy potato and now I have to go to my very first con looking like, again, a puffy potato. With crusties.

2015–the year of writing wonderfulness and face disaster.

The Perils of Not Sharing

I know it’s a weird thing to say with a blog like this, but I am a private person. And one thing that aggravates me, but I can’t figure out how to get around it, is when someone does or says something that hits too close to home, to something I don’t want to talk about, and certainly not to that person. And yet, if they don’t pickup on the cue that I’ve changed the subject or stopped talking, I feel like I’m kind of being forced into disclosing something I don’t want to disclose to the person who’s already kind of trampling on my feelings.

I really hate it.

Especially because I’m pretty sure I’m a trampler myself, sometimes. But ugh.

Old Things

I saw a dear old friend yesterday at lunch. I hadn’t seen her in years and it was good to catch up and too short.

Then I dreamed that a mutual friend of ours, who I haven’t seen since grad school, and I were on a car trip, driving home from somewhere in Michigan and we stopped at my Grandma’s house in Battle Creek, which was, of course, not her house this time, but the house full of people from where I graduated high school.

The guy who stalked me was there. He lived in that house. And he worked at Burger King. And I stole his hat and threw it through the brazier, which upset him and I told him I’d buy him another one. And then we left.

As dreams usually do, it sounds stupid when I type it up.

But man, it’s weighing on me this morning. It’s the two things that weigh on me all the time: In what ways am I hidden from myself in ways that are harmful to myself and others? How am I here when so many people I know are smarter or more creative or more deserving (which, yes, I hate that word) are not?

The magnitude of luck that has brought me to this point is immeasurable. That’s what I keep thinking.

But the thing about the weight of the dream is that it reminds me that lucky and happy are the same word at heart and part of the weight is that I don’t experience them as the same thing. Being lucky in this way–me being here, the guy who stalked me working fast food–it doesn’t make me happy. I feel grateful, don’t get me wrong.

But I’m always waiting for the world to be set back right. I am so far out beyond where I was taught I’d be allowed. I never feel like “Oh, well, it is what it is and the things I was taught were wrong.” Well, that’s not true. I feel like that in the light of day all the time.

But at night, I know the scales are uneven and tipped in my favor. And I know every story of the gods monkeying around with the fate of a person leads to that person’s eventual downfall. You can’t be lucky all the time.

And yet, I don’t have the things I want. I want to write a damn fine haunted house story that people love. I want it to be published by a publisher who will get it into bookstores. I want to be able to walk into Parnassus and Barnes & Noble in my own town and see it on the shelf.

And that’s farther out, scales tipped even more ridiculously. I can’t do it. There’s just no way to be that lucky, considering how far luck has brought me. It just can’t hold.

But I have to try for it.

Eye, Day 2

Imagine yesterday’s picture, but with my eye swelled shit and a nifty rash on my face and a different nifty rash on my hands. I got in to work early and went over to the employee clinic. The doctor was suitably appalled, but she doesn’t see any sign of infection and there’s nothing still in my eye, if it is indeed a sting. She couldn’t tell if it was a bite or if it’s just some allergy. The rashes are just what my body does when something is going wrong–secondary rashes. My body’s way of saying “something bad is happening.” Thanks, body. As if I didn’t notice.

So, now I’m hopped up on steroids and Claratin. Fingers crossed.


Our front porch kind of sucks because it doesn’t have a roof. It’s more, in fairness, like a small front patio. So, you can’t really sit out on it without being blinded by the afternoon sun. I’m sure when the 50 year old hackberry was full sized, this was less noticeable, but it’s pretty unfortunate now.

So, I’m asking every member of my family to go in on a porch swing with an awning as a birthday present for me. They haven’t said whether they’re willing to do this, but there have been secretive phone calls.

I’m crossing my fingers. Because, if we ever have nice weather again, I’m kind of dreaming of sitting on my front porch, making afghans and watching the world go by.

I Do Not Have Enough Yarn for the Hill House Afghan

Which, obviously, I kind of knew this weekend, but I did nothing about it. And now I’m a little aggravated with myself. I’m really nervous about this Isaac Franklin piece. And I have a rash all over my hands, on my neck, on my stomach, and my feet itch so much I can only assume it’s about to pop up there.

But my seeds are planted (except the hollyhocks) and my plants are in. And I spent a bunch of time out in the glorious sun. So, I think it’s worth it.

Things Happening

1. As previously noted, The Wolf’s Bane is out May 22nd and there will be some kind of party and I would love to see you there.

2. I also have a story in this anthology, and though I don’t know a lot of people with $100 to throw around, if you are and this looks like fun, here you go.

3. I have a big non-fiction thing in the works. I just found out last night that my pitch was accepted and it’s due next Wednesday. I am really excited and also kind of want to throw up. But woo!

I’m the Man

I always have such mixed feelings about going back to Illinois. The Butcher was telling me about how he was poking fun at a girl from Gallatin recently for her claims that she’s a country girl. And then he had a list of things that make a girl a country girl and I scoffed at his list because, by his standards, I was a country girl. And he said, “Yeah, you are a country girl.”

I don’t feel like a country girl. But I kind of blame that on “Nashville.” I remember standing around this guy’s shed while he worked on his car and he probably had a Confederate flag with Bocephus’s face on it. I know he played Junior’s music loudly. And I remember listening to “Country Boy Can Survive” and feeling like it was saying something about me, about my people, even if they were my people only uneasily. But moving here, I’ve learned the hard way that the flag was right–“country” and “Southern” are the same thing to people like Hank Jr. So, all that music I thought was for me, because I did want to spit some chew in that dude’s eye, really wasn’t. I wasn’t, as it turns out, from the right “country.” I still like country music, of course, but I never don’t feel like an interloper now.

Back before that, when I was in junior high, my friend C., lived near a kid who was a year older than us, who had an older brother who was in high school. I am positive we were in junior high, though we may have been freshmen. The guys lived with their dad, who I guess was an asshole, but I never remember him being around.

This one time, we went down there and they were listening to Anthrax, the “I’m the Man” EP. The boys were smoking cigarettes and drinking their dads’ beer. I don’t think they have this genre of kid now, but they were kind of gangly and underfed looking, with longish hair that might have looked “surfer-dude”-ish in other circumstances, but at that time just meant that they wanted to head-bang but too long hair would have caused them trouble with their dad. They always wore black t-shirts and jeans–almost always Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, or Slayer. Sometimes Dio.

Guys like this were often my friends, often my secret, unrequited crushes. They seemed to have this way of slouching through life that suggested that, even if everyone else was willing to act like everything was okay, they knew it sucked and they wouldn’t pretend otherwise, which made me feel less alone and crazy. Other than C., I don’t think I knew a girl who was willing to say that we were living in a hellhole and, mild as it may be, it wasn’t a place a girl ought to live. I missed her when she left. Her mom begged me to make her to come back, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it (if I could have done it).

Anyway, there we were, all sitting around listening to the same song over and over. They offered us beer. I declined. I can’t remember if C. did or not. They offered us cigarettes. We said yes. I think C. had smoked before. I hadn’t. The older brother sat right next to me and helped me light it. He smelled like stale beer, but pleasantly, and smoke, obviously. And, more than anything, I wanted him to kiss me. But his hair hanged in his face and I couldn’t read his expression.

The Drawback to this Weather

The Butcher’s been sick. I’m feeling a kind of grogginess that makes me wonder if I’m getting sick.

I miss walking in the mornings so much. But who knows how long it will be again until the backyard isn’t utter mush. I wonder if the neighbors would mind/notice if I put in a paved walking path back there?

The Kind of Day I’m Having

I have a long day and I won’t get home until late. At some point, I have to go pick up my prescriptions. I am bummed because I forgot my pills and, if I don’t take them with dinner, I feel shitty when I take them without food.

Just now.

I mean, just fucking now, four hours into my day, I realize–I have to go pick up my prescriptions. I just take pills from the new bottle with dinner.

Ta da.

Ever Onward

Well, yesterday was kind of an existential low point. But, as they say in The Crow, it can’t rain all the time.

And tonight I’m going to make the Butcher a scarf. Then I will finish up the hexagon afghan.


I made it into work, but the phone is out and the internet is spotty. I’m staying just a couple more hours and then I’m going home. And probably not coming back until Monday.

This is How The Shining Went, Right?

I was cooped up in the house for three days writing. Now I’ve been cooped up in the house for two days because we’re iced in. I’m going to try to get to work today just so I can have a change of scenery. I don’t know why something that is so awesome when you elect to do it–sit around on the couch, snuggling with the dog–is oppressive when there’s no other option.

But it is.

I have gotten a lot of work done on my afghan, though.

One Thing I Wonder about

It has been… not exactly comforting, but maybe a little bit comforting, to be approaching the age my parents were when I was stalked. The question I have has the hardest time making peace with is “How could you let this happen?” and now I see how this is all the amount they knew about how the world worked. These are all the skills for coping they had.

I was thinking about coming into math class and the teacher telling me that my stalker had left his notebook. She said, “Your boyfriend left his notebook. Why don’t you go bring it to him?”

And I flipped out. I stood up and sent my desk skidding across the floor. “He’s not my boyfriend.”

I remember her looking at me in utter confusion and annoyance. “Well, he says he is.”

Like that settled the matter. The dog had peed on me. I was his tree.

I wonder if she has any regrets. I wonder if she ever realized something was wrong.

To me, even now, the most upsetting part of it was the utter loss of control over the narrative of your own life. The feeling of knowing you have one life–where you hang out with this group of people and you aren’t dating anyone, even though you’d like to–and a lot of people believing you have a different life–where this guy, who you’re terrified of, is your boyfriend–just because he says so.

I felt, often, like I was suffocating under the weight of his fantasy of me. Like the longer it went on, the harder it was for me to have my very basic understanding of myself respected by other people.

I guess that’s why the bystander stuff in the Vandy case bothers me so much. A lot of people saw what was happening to me and either didn’t recognize it for something they needed to worry about or actively sided with his version of events. As if it was just “he said/she said” and not “he’s doing things/she said.”

Why am I Here?

I did something stupid the other day. I stumbled across the Facebook page of the guy who stalked me. Part of it was accident, but the part where I recognized the name and clicked through is on me.

He lives, generally, in the same place he did when I knew him. He has the same kind of job he had in high school.

Now that I’ve been around the block a few times, it’s obvious to me that he was mentally ill. I don’t want to brush off the stalking, which pretty well fucked me up from there on out, as just him being “crazy.” I think he would have always been the kind of guy who thought the world owed him the woman of his choosing, regardless of her wishes. But I imagine he would have been more on the “women only like jerks and not me” end of things, not on the “Breaking into your house to leave you a different brand of grape pop, because I don’t like the brand you drink” end.

I guess I’m making light of things. I thought he was going to kill me. I think he thought he was going to kill me. It wasn’t just silly home break-ins. He kidnapped the Butcher, briefly.

But the point is that I think the entitlement helped organize his thoughts, gave him something clear to work for and to do with himself, even when nothing else in his mind was clear.

So, I do have sympathy for him at that level. I can believe that he was suffering, too.

Anyway, that’s a long preamble to the point I wanted to make. He’s still working the same kind of job he had in high school. Everything else about him aside, he was one of the smartest people I ever met (though the Butcher says that, at 17, I may have been mistaking “loud” for “smart”).

I always thought that, if I somehow discovered that this was his life, I’d feel like some kind of justice had been served. But the truth is that I’m not sure why that’s not my life. Maybe this goes back to why I just get so frustrated with this idea that talent is somehow uncommon and thus talented people, no matter what else they do, have to be tolerated. Everyone is talented.

Why is this my life and that his?

I don’t know. I really don’t. The Butcher says it’s because I try things. But I experience myself as being terrified of almost everything and just doing the things I’m less terrified of doing than I am of not doing. I don’t feel like I’m motivated by any positive goals. I don’t want anything. I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to have kids. I don’t want some ideal career. I have no goals.

I just don’t want to be stuck back there.

My whole life is just me saying “no” and learning to make it stick.

Ha, honestly, that’s why this whole writing thing is so tough for me. It is the exception. It’s the one thing I do want. I want to write a book someone else publishes. I want to write something that makes people say “Whoa.” I want to fucking crack myself open against the mystery of the universe and see if anyone else thinks what comes pouring out is cool.

But why am I here and not there? Just fear? I don’t think fear can propel a person through a whole life.

I get why people settle on “Well, I deserve it” or “Well, that’s just God’s plan.” Because the world being a confusing place that makes no sense, where some people get really lucky and others don’t, is not very comforting.

I’m Having “An Incipient Event”

I’m putting “Getting a giant Q-tip repeatedly poked in my eye” near the top of my list of unpleasant, though not terrible, experiences. My poor eye today feels like… well, like someone spent an afternoon poking a giant Q-tip around in it.

But the long and short of it is that “something” is happening. You don’t see blue flashes for no reason. But my retina is attached as of right now. So, they’re going to see me again in six weeks, and I’m supposed to come in before then if I see more flashes or something strange and different other than that.

I didn’t see the guy I saw last year (though I’ll see him at the next appointment), but this guy said that, even in a “special case” like mine–really thin retinas with scarring–he thought I was young to have a tear yet. So, from his mouth to my retina’s ear.

I am bummed. Not horribly depressed or anything, but it just feels like it’s been a long time of one medical thing after another, which have all turned out to be nothing. But still going through them is pretty grueling.

Flashing Blue Lights

Well, this afternoon, I’m having an emergency appointment with a retinologist. Never have I been so grateful that my eye doctor made me go last year to see him so that they’d have a baseline for the day when my retina inevitably tears. Which, hopefully, is not today?

I mean, the upside to it tearing is that, when it tears, they think they may be able to fix the blind spot, which is unaddressable until then.

The downside is that it’s kind of terrifying.

So, anyway, last night before I went to bed, I saw this really bright blue flash, like a cop car, but not followed by any other flashes. I didn’t immediately think anything of it, because, at that point, I was like, well, maybe a cop car did go by just once and flash his lights. Then, this morning, in the dark of the living room, there was another bigger flash and I was like “Oh, shit, that’s not right.” But I talked myself into it being maybe the precursor to a migraine.

But I don’t have a headache. So, when there was another one right before ten, I called the eye doctor who told me to immediately call the retina specialist. And now I have my emergency appointment.

Here’s the thing–and maybe it says something fucked up about me–but because there’s no pain and because I feel 100% confident they can fix whatever’s wrong–I’m more curious than scared.

And this time the Butcher is coming with me, so I won’t be stuck wandering around barely able to see by myself.


You guys, I’m having such a nice day that I’m afraid I’m really boring. Nothing perturbs me. No deadlines weigh heavily on me. No one has annoyed me. I have nothing to blog about, except that blogging also makes me happy, so why not continue the awesomeness of my day?

It’s funny how you can just have a down day and not thing anything of it, but I’m having an up day, just in a good mood, and there’s no reason. Still, I’m going to roll with it.

I Can See It!

I’m wearing my new contacts today and the very first thing I noticed is that I can see my blind spot! It’s not as bad as I’d feared, but it’s basically like a small, dark crescent in my line of vision. I can still see the things that are there, they’re just dimmer than the surrounding stuff. I don’t know if this means that the vision isn’t 100% gone or if my eye just darts around enough to compensate.

But it’s cool.

Well, and upsetting, but mostly cool.


The bathroom is clean. The kitchen is clean. The short story is almost just right. The afghan is very close to having all its squares completed.  The dog is napping.

And it’s the solstice!