I wonder how much longer everything is going to feel like marching through mud?
Things are just very, very stressful at work right now. And I can’t really talk about it. But I want to, because ugh. But also, I don’t want to think about it any more than I have to, because ugh.
I guess what I will say is that there’s a story in the Bible where some dude is an asshole king and he does something to piss of God and a hand appears and writes some words on the wall in front of him and everyone can see the writing, but no one can decipher it.
And finally, the king’s wife is like “Go get Daniel and he’ll read it.” And Daniel comes in and is all “you have been weighed and found wanting.” And dude’s kingdom falls.
I vaguely remember there’s some kind of pun or wordplay involved…
Ah, yes, cool. Wikipedia explains how Daniel reads the words first as nouns and then as verbs.
Anyway, let’s imagine another feast where a hand appears and writes on the wall in plain words “Your days are numbered. Your kingdom will fall.”
And then let’s imagine that panic sets in because everyone can read the words clearly and they’re afraid.
But then, let’s imagine, that the king and his top advisors set out in search for someone who can tell them what the writing really means, who insist that this also is some wordplay or trick and that they just need to find someone like Daniel who can properly interpret it as good news.
Now imagine sitting in that room, seeing the bad news clear on the wall, hearing the Medes and the Persians marching closer, and still sitting through day after day of “this is just a bureaucratic exercise. Let’s carry on as normal.”
I don’t need advice. I’ve got some stuff I absolutely can’t talk about going on.
But it’s like the rest of the country. Watching people who need to massively shift their understanding of what’s happening in order to react in any meaningful way failing to is hard and terrifying.
I’ve been thinking lately about counterculture. This idea that, if the dominant culture doesn’t fit you, you just make a new and precious room for yourself.
This works pretty well if part of the dominant culture isn’t searching out what’s unique and special and assigning it monetary value and then turning it into a commodity and selling it back to you. But once you have something precious outside this system, it becomes a part of the system.
As the song says, if you go against nature, that’s part of nature, too.
What is outside this exploitative soul-crushing madness that cannot be consumed by it?
Nothing. Because we are the eyes and ears of the system. If we find something or make something or do something or be something, we have alerted the system to it.
I watched the news yesterday. As that other song says, I watched the news today, oh boy.
And my natural impulse, upon seeing all the dead people, is to insist that this is not me, these are not my values, this was not my choice, this is not my America.
But it is, you know? And I don’t know how to change it. This is me, and I don’t like it.
I see why apocalypses are so attractive to people. It’s so much easier, so much more comforting, to believe that there’s an end, a finality, to all this stupid evil.
And much harder to bear to realize that we are in a long, an endless, line of people who woke up one morning and asked, “How can this go on like this?” Only to find that it does. Endlessly.
I still hate pictures of myself. I hate that, when I see pictures of myself, I reflexively think “disgusting.” I hate that I don’t even think this about other fat women my size. Or fatter. I still sometimes blame the fat, but it can’t be the fat if I find other big round bodies attractive or neutral.
And I’m really grateful for the drugs that don’t let my mind jump to that and then stick there and worry at it until I hate my life.
And I’m grateful for the therapy that has taught me to demand my brain slow down and articulate how it’s feeling, really.
But I’m also really grateful for a little dude who genuinely delights in seeing me. To him, I just genuinely and value-neutrally look like myself, a person he likes.
We were both covered in refried beans, because he likes them but can’t quite get them from his hand to his mouth without them ending up everywhere else.
I’ve been kind of feeling the itch again to write, to maybe delve back into the bombing story, to shake a few more bushes.
I got a call from a lender yesterday, or maybe a collections agency now that I think about it. My ex-sister-in-law had apparently put me down as a reference on a car loan and now they were looking for her.
I laughed. I laughed at the thought of her ever wanting my information associated with her. I laughed at the thought of anyone lending her money and thinking they were ever going to see it again. But mostly I just laughed because she has pissed so many people off in her life that I guess she had lost track of how much I hated her, because I have made it a life goal to not engage with her.
This is, I’m afraid, the drawback to wanting revenge. You’d have to spend so much time thinking about the person you hate and coming to understand them so that you can destroy them. I never want to spend that much time on her. So, I have never sought revenge.
But I did tell the woman on the phone they should just kiss that money goodbye because they’re never going to see it again.
So, this thing has a name–viral sinus infection. There isn’t much to do for it other than what I’ve been doing. Just suffer and drink lots of liquids.
Now I want to talk about something hard and weird. Since I last went to the doctor, I’ve lost twenty pounds. Before that, I lost twelve. So, since the Butcher moved out, but also since I’ve got my meds straight, I’ve lost thirty two pounds.
My whole life I have tried so hard to lose weight. I have starved myself. I have exercised like a fiend. I have tried this crazy thing and that crazy thing. I have been called a liar by doctors. I have had symptoms of serious conditions ignored because the “obvious” solution was that I needed to lose weight.
I have loathed my body. I have felt utterly unlovable and unworthy of love because this is my body. I have felt crazy because all the “just”s people say–just eat less, just exercise more, it’s just physics, etc.–never worked for me. And when I said they didn’t work for me, the fault was mine. I was doing something wrong or lying.
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had an eating disorder, but I’ve had very disordered eating over the course of my life. And it was only when I was like “okay, fuck it. I just can’t hate myself any more. I can’t punish myself all the time. I just don’t have the energy for it.” that I started eating in less fucked-up ways and finding doctors who would, even as they nagged about the weight, would also take my symptoms seriously.
Here’s the thing. I’m not doing anything. I’m not trying to lose weight. I don’t walk Sonnyboy more or farther than I walked Mrs. Wigglebottom. I eat a little differently than I did when the Butcher lived here, but I eat what I want–cookies regularly included.
Okay, here’s the thing that concerns me. Last night, before dinner, I had the thought, “Well, if I’ve done this well without trying, what would happen if I skipped dinner?”
And I hate every part of that. I haven’t “done” anything. “Well” is a shitty word there, like being thinner is intrinsically better than being fatter. And, obviously, “what would happen if I skipped dinner?” is not healthy.
Thankfully, I’m on drugs, so my brain forms destructive thoughts more slowly which gives me an opportunity to head them off at the pass.
But my body is just doing a new weird thing that, frankly, goes with all the old weird things it’s done in the past. I’m not causing this. I’m going to try very hard to not put a lot of faith in it, because it seems to me very unlikely that I’m going to continue to lose weight or not find myself back at my normal weight in the future.
And I feel weird about it because I don’t have some great success story. I haven’t done anything. My body is just doing a thing.
The thing that concerns me is how easily I am ready to accept suffering if I think it will work.
Also, just as a last stupid thing, while we’re playing True Confessions on the Internet, I’m still really fucking fat. My clothes all fit the same. I still look exactly the same. All this vanity and self-undermining bullshit literally over a number.
I hate it.
I spent yesterday sitting around waiting for the chimney guys, sitting around while they decided if the chance of rain was too great for them to do what they needed to do, and then sitting around after they left.
Later, there was a car accident out front. No one was hurt. My poor neighbors’ beautiful truck was destroyed. I called 911 and it felt like it took forever for the police to arrive, but I’m sure it was just ten minutes or so.
So, here’s the thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with those things, I just wanted there to be some words on my screen before I got started. I bought some new clothes. In a perfect world, there’d be some kind of office uniform and I’d just wear the same thing every day and not worry about it. But in this world, it is the individual’s responsibility to try to figure out what the fuck to wear every day.
I was pretty much like “I will wear this t-shirt and this skirt and if anyone at work looks askance at it, I’ll say that it’s summer time.” But then I feel like I only have two outfits that are genuinely work appropriate.
Anyway, this is a long way of saying I bought some grown-up clothes. But I bought some grown-up clothes.
I think they look nice. But since my strategy has previously been to dress like a bland tent, looking in the mirror, I just felt like I was looking at my belly, my enormous, round belly swathed in different, nice clothes.
I feel like there is no moment where my feminism and my trying to accept myself and my desire to be a happy person fails so utterly as when I’m trying on new clothes.
The thing about having been all different kinds of fat is that I know, from personal experience, that there is no size at which I feel happy and confident in my body, no way it looks where I feel aesthetically pleasing and desirable.
Still, I look in the mirror and just feel like, ugh, fuck. And then I feel bad because I don’t feel fine and happy with what I see there. And then I feel bad because I feel so fucked up that the mirror has never shown me something I felt fine and happy with. In other words, I know from experience that being thinner wouldn’t make that moment in front of the mirror any less grueling. The thing that would seem to promise an end to it is just another way to feel bad and failing.
Usually, what I end up asking myself is, “Fine, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime?” In other words, if I’m going to feel more confident or more socially acceptable when I “internalize my self-worth” or if I magically loose a bunch of weight or somehow stumble upon clothes that make me look so awesome that the bad thoughts are kept at bay, that’s great. Bring on that future day. But today I have to leave the house and I have to wear clothes and I have to go by reflective surfaces. So, I have to have something now or I have to do something now or I just have to accept that this is what it is right now.
This is life, right now.
So, anyway, I bought some great new clothes which I love, and I feel bad about it, but admitting it makes it suck less.
As you all know, it’s been the summer of “WTF, fleas?!” around here. I’m going to have to bomb the house. But before I do that, since I have to have a day when I can clear everyone out of the house for a few hours, I washed the dog in super-strength anti-flea shampoo. The kind that warns you that you should rinse yourself for twenty minutes if you even so much as look at your dog while it’s lathered in the stuff.
The result was that I had an enormous headache all night and I can tell the dog is feeling a little puny this morning. But those tiny fuckers are dead.
I also went all around looking at vinyl flooring and, yep, most of it is sticks and stones. I genuinely don’t understand, considering how many of us are living in mid-century homes, why flooring companies haven’t figured out that if they give us updated mid-century styles, we will buy them.
I truly hate shopping. I had thought I just hate shopping for clothes, but no, now’s the time to admit that I hate shopping in general. I miss the Professor, who I could count on to go shopping with me and make it at least not so fucking terrible that I want to lay on the floor and just cry until it’s over.
I needed S. and her tiny Bruce Willis-looking son, but I didn’t realize that I needed her until it was almost over. But when you have friends who like to shop and don’t find it the next worse thing to having a syphilitic nose, you should ask them for help. I guess I need that tattooed on me somewhere where I can see it regularly.
But also, can I just say how much I love that the dog gets in the tub on his own? I can’t really say when he started doing this, but he just does it and it is awesome.
I’m ready for this red afghan to be done. These last squares just take a while to make. They’re not hard, but they don’t go fast. I’m trying to make sure I do two a night just to keep moving forward on it. I think it’s going to be gorgeous, though.
I read this terrific book for Chapter 16. My review is due Friday and I’m just having a really hard time pulling anything coherent out of my head about it.
We’re still flea-riddled, even with everyone being treated. I’m going to have to bomb the house.
I don’t think my Roomba is broken. I think the wall outlet has a short. The house should be rewired. I don’t even want to think about how that would go with the quarter inch of sidewalk on the walls. But at least, when I plugged it into a different outlet, it came back to life.
Also, my chimney is fucked up and I have to get that taken care of.
I’m going to feel much better as things start getting done, but I feel like I’m doing an exceptionally bad job of getting them done.
I have to talk on the phone to everyone today. I’m already running late but I didn’t want to not post anything. My parents are about to arrive. I am worried there’s going to be some kind of interrogation about my mental health. I just want to be able to respond with the generosity and calmness and reassurance that will make them less anxious. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe I’m just projecting onto them.
The dog seems to be getting this whole “come when he’s called” thing and, best of all, he seems to really enjoy it. I know it can’t last or be counted on, but I’m enjoying it.
Also, I love this afghan so much. I feel very fortunate to have hit a string of afghans that give me great pleasure.
Jessi Zazu has cancer. The hits just keep on coming this year, I tell you what. I was watching her video where she talks about her diagnosis and shaves her head for her next round of chemo and I couldn’t help but feel like this is offensive, this cancer. Zazu is really trying to make the world a better place. She works so hard for her community. Her music is amazing. And she’s so young. There are so many old sacks of shit in this world. Let cancer take them.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way about this year, but I feel like the things that are supposed to make us happy–a very wanted baby, for instance, or our friends and mentors–have been shown to be so easily stripped away. And that we’ve lost many of the people I would have turned to in order to make sense of our current moment as a nation and as a world. We’re going into this next year, these next four years, without the people I’ve counted on to make sense of this stuff.
To find beauty and meaning even in very dark days.
I feel like all these massive floodlights have burned out or are burning out and it’s just left to those of us who still have matches to light the way. As the song says, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, but fuck if I know which way to shine it. Or if anyone can see it. Or if all I’m doing is giving away my position.
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.
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.
The dog peed on the floor, because why not?
I trashed the first two chapters of my book and spent the day making a different first two chapters out of them. My book sucks.
It probably doesn’t suck. I feel like it sucks.
I still like the ending, though.
Just, blerg. Also, I had to do a huge load of towels because my dog can pee a gallon of water, apparently, and I had to do the dishes because I guess the Butcher doesn’t do that anymore. Or something.
So, happy vacation to me.
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.)
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.
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.
A while back, many years before she got married, one of my dear friends was hospitalized in Illinois. I asked my dad to go see her, because I would have felt better if someone I loved put eyes on her and I, being in Tennessee, was not able to.
It hurt and confused me.
This weekend, both he and my mom called and asked if I would go see their friend who is in the hospital and sit with his wife a while, since they’re at Vandy and know no one here.
I was pissed. Am pissed. But I went. Even though I had Saturday plans. Even though I don’t know these people. My mom says I’m a good person.
I didn’t do it because I’m a good person, though, really. I hate the idea of “good” almost as much as I hate the idea of “deserves.” They both seems like kind of bullshit mind-games we get stuck in with ourselves.
I did it because I want people to do that shit for me.
I did it because it wasn’t that hard and I could.
I did it because I heard in my mom’s voice how important it was for her.
But mostly I did it because saying “no” would have meant admitting–both to me and them–that I have a list of grievances against them I carry around in my heart, running fingers over regularly, telling myself I keep poking to see if it still hurts, but doing it to remind myself of the pain.
This weekend I had a conversation with a friend about how there are these kinds of conversations we remember our parents having from our childhoods where they complain about something their family does that really pains them. And now, here we are, thirty years later, and they’re doing the same damn thing they hated that their parents did.
The Phillipses know every slight, every wrong. We horde them in our souls and use them to justify all kinds of terrible behavior that then causes other Phillipses to compile their own “here’s how I’ve been done wrong” lists which they then also weaponize.
I hate that, mainly because when you’re devoted to “I hurt you because someone hurt me and I want you to soothe it but you won’t so fuck you,” you’re pretty miserable. And I just don’t want to be miserable.
I don’t expect to be able to get out of misery all together, but, if most of us find 60/40 misery/okayness normal, the main gift I want to give myself in this life is to have 60/40 okayness/misery. And a lot of that means not doing things I don’t have to do that would make me miserable.
Scrutinizing the “you done me wrong” list, as soothing as it can be, serves to reinforce the idea that I should be miserable, that this is the normal state. And so, most of the time, I try to not even look at the list, to forget that it’s there.
But whoa doggie, was it temping to bring it out and start reading from it on Saturday.
But I did not, because I don’t want to keep all my hurts fresh, even if I’m not as good as I would like to be about letting them all fade.
This week is doing me in. I just have to somehow get through today. Or at least enough of today. Then I’m coming home and hiding from the world.
You guys, I had a panic attack so bad today I thought I would die. I can’t shake it. I got home okay, but only because a stranger helped me. I don’t even know how to talk about it.
It’s not just the panic attack, out of nowhere on an otherwise lovely day. It’s the way I feel like, for my own safety and the safety of other people, I have to stop doing things I enjoy.
It makes me so sad.
I’m feeling less grouchy this morning, but man, that’s a rough day. Too much sugar, too much stress, too much of people’s expectations that I’m going to cheerfully make a bunch of food and stand around in the kitchen and wait to meet their demands.
But mostly, in my family, it’s about working so hard to find presents for people only to get to hear all the ways the presents have slightly disappointed them.
Or to hear how they will have to hide the presents, because, if someone were to ask them for said present, of course they would give it to them.
Yeah, no shit.
My parents even told one of their friends, who I don’t know, and who I’ve never met, that they would get her one of my afghans. Their plan is to just root through my closet and give her one of my “extra” ones.
The only two afghans I can think of in my closet right now (and I have zero desire to go look) are the afghan I made my grandma that she died in and a wool afghan that the Butcher stuck in the dryer and I can’t figure out if there’s a way to salvage it, but, since I hand-dyed it, I hate to throw it out. Neither of which I will give away.
If there’s some other afghan in there, at one level, fine. I might even be a tiny bit impressed and flattered that they think something I do might be a treat for someone else.
But holy shit.
Who does this? I genuinely don’t think that my parents know how to understand me as a person in my own right. Because I’m a woman and because I’m not married, I’m this defective support system that might be put to use whenever they want.
Anyway, my dad liked his afghan. Both because he genuinely liked it and because I think he knew if he hadn’t, I would have motherfucking quit this family.
But he never tells you what he wants for any holiday and then he loves to sulk when you don’t end up getting him something he likes and he always makes this big production out of how your failure to get him something he likes proves that you don’t really care about him, because you’re not paying attention to him.
So, as you can imagine, it makes buying presents for him suck. It becomes this terrible, fraught thing where your goal is to get him something he likes and his goal is to prove to himself and you that you don’t really love him.
He’s been halfway talking about getting a ukulele for a couple of years. Mom and I found a cheap, but okay, one for him, figuring that, when he hated it, it wouldn’t sting that bad because it was just $30.
But Jesus Christ! He liked it at first! But then, after he got it tuned and strummed it a little, he announced that he refused to play it because he couldn’t get a clear sound on it because the neck was so small and we should have known to get him a bigger one. And he had this look on his face… like I can’t even explain it. Like he was pleased and relieved to find that the present he, for a second, enjoyed, really sucked. And I wanted to beat him to death with the turkey.
It took every ounce of myself to just tell him he could exchange it then for one he liked.
But, you know, it made his day. He got exactly what he wanted.
So, I guess that’s good.
This, I think, is what the gnarled root of an ancient, dead tree must feel like.
Or what it is to be one of those bus-sized globs of Wet Wipes and kitchen fat that clog up the sewer drains.
I am a sharp pain up the left side of my face, watering, burning eyes, and an occasional sneeze that sounds like a wet earthquake.
This is an improvement.
I’m trying to be hopeful.
Bah. I’m still sick. And I still have a big day full of important work things.
I am unhappy.
The headache and the sneezing have now congealed into a sore throat and nausea. I’m trying hard to kick it today, because I HAVE to be in the office the rest of the week.
The Butcher went to the store for me first thing this morning and bought me some cough drops. I know it’s just psychosomatic, but I swear, the second I put one in my mouth and tasted that cherry/medicine flavor, I immediately felt a little better.
My phone physically works. It’s not broken in the sense of broken in reality. The screen is fine. The body is fine. It is in one piece.
But 50% of the time, if not more, it won’t let me answer calls. It’s pretty regularly failing to connect with wi-fi.
It’s got some programming issue. My guess is that it’s too old to keep up with the newest iteration of the operating system.
And I find that really irritating. They lose interest in keeping my phone relevant and that makes it “broken” in a way that means I need a new phone.
It’s going to suck if cars get to this point–“oh, sorry, we just don’t fix cars that are five years old.”
When you point out that most community-devastating violence is perpetrated by young men, it’s mostly ignored. We want to talk about what a “dangerous” religion Islam is or how violent white supremacists are or how devastating street gangs are or how nutty the loner who complains about not being able to get a hot girlfriend on the internet is.
But here we are, with another fundamentally inexplicable tragedy.
And I’m just going to say it. We, as a world, don’t know what to do with or for young men. We live in a series of pyramid schemes. Either it’s straight up capitalism where many of the resources end up in the hands of very few which leaves very few resources for most of the rest of us. Or religious structures where power ends up in the hands of a very few and so on. Or political structures or whatever. Etc. Etc.
But it’s a pyramid scheme. You have more people in the structure than can ever get all the benefits of that structure. But, in order to keep people participating, you have to make it seem like everyone in the in-group can get those benefits, if they follow the rules and do what they’re asked.
There are always young men. Every year we keep making more. All our various pyramid schemes can’t fit them all in. Our pyramid schemes have made promises to them the schemes can never fulfill.
The pyramid schemes need violent young men.
That’s the terrible, terrible truth. The truth I can’t bear but is what it is. This state of things is what the world wants and has arranged itself to need.
The schemes need violent young men to drive people to invest in them because they claim to provide order and security and meaning in this chaotic world. The schemes need violent young men to punish the people who don’t invest in the schemes. And the schemes need violent young men because the schemes need a way to get young men out of the way. The schemes need young men dead or in prison or locked in battle. Out of the way.
Because, if young men stick around and refuse to violently impose the schemes, if they, in fact, refuse to participate in the schemes, the pyramids can’t stand. And then all the old powerful farts lose their power.
And we can’t have that.