Margo Price

Last night, the Butcher and Monty’s grown woman friend took me to the Ryman to see Margo Price. It was wonderful. She sang a song in which she called John Lennon a feminist and an asshole, and she mourned him. She did Proud Mary with a gospel choir. She played drums. She played piano. She smashed a guitar. The lighting was fantastic.

I kept thinking, too, that part of what makes her show so amazing is that she does really belt out songs. It’s like Brittany Howard or Tina Turner or Janice Joplin–let’s take this voice out for a ride and see what she can really do. It’s so much fun to listen to her and watch.

The other thing I really liked about it was that her stage presence isn’t Sexy. Which isn’t to say that she’s not pretty or anything. Of course she is. But her stage presence isn’t “don’t look at me,” but it’s also not “don’t you want to fuck me?” It’s more like the joy of watching an athlete do something well she’s trained for for years.

I kept thinking that her stage presence reminded me a lot of Barbara Mandrell, though I’m not sure how much of my memories of Barbara Mandrell’s shows are real and what’s been warped by time.

And Jack White was her special guest and his hair looked fantastic!

It made me want Jack White to do a whole duets album with women he knows.

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Girlfriend

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I was stalked when I was younger. I tried to get help, but “he said I was his girlfriend.” Apparently, back then, you could do whatever the fuck you wanted to someone if you declared her your girlfriend.

I try to leave that in the past, but things aren’t that different now and it comes back up.

I think of that poor dead girl in Texas, who got described as that asshole’s “ex-girlfriend” until her mom yelled loud enough that he was never her boyfriend.

It’s my birthday on Tuesday. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, about myself.

We like to think that kids are resilient, that they can bounce back from whatever happens to them. But that really is such bullshit. That poor girl isn’t going to bounce back.

I don’t think I’ve bounced back. Not really. And it wasn’t so much the being stalked thing. It was the discovery that no one in a position of authority would help me. That they, in fact, blamed me.

No, that’s not quite true. That’s not what broke me. It was discovering that people who loved me blamed me and would not help me. And that they would continually put me in situations they had to know were dangerous, because it was easier than standing up to their peers.

Sometimes I just feel so broken.

And a thing that has helped me get through life is the belief that things are better, that this kind of shit doesn’t happen anymore, because at least now people know that girls aren’t responsible for boys’ actions.

But instead, we’re having sincere conversations as a society about whether we can appease these assholes by forcing women to love them. The “give me a woman to abuse or I’ll hurt or kill a bunch of people” gambit is paying off. We are considering sacrificing girls to these assholes.

You can dress it up as much as you want in the Beauty and the Beast myth. You can try to argue that women just have some inherent “something” that enables us, if we try hard enough, to change men. You can say that makes us special.

But no one willingly gives up something they value. We’re expendable. We’re trash.

And yet, even knowing that’s what society thinks of us, we have to go out and be people in it. Frankly, I’m not very good at that.

Butt Stuff

I have diagnosed the dog with a condition I think of as “tender butt.” It’s like when someone goes to brush your hair or put your hair in pig tails and it’s just excruciating, but only located on his back half.

Which means he will let you brush the shit out of the front of his body, happily. But please don’t brush his back end. Or touch it or look at it too interestedly.

And which means that, during his spring blow-out, he looks particularly silly.

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This morning, he did let me gently rub his butt, which did result in a lot of fur coming off, but I think I could have gotten three times as much with a brush.

Also, all week, I’ve been waking up at 5:20. I’ve been able to get back to sleep, but it was freaking me out a little bit. Why that time? This morning I noticed that the last time my email had been checked on my phone was 5:19. So, I think my phone must ding, which wakes me up.

And apparently someone has audio of Jason Statham calling a dude a fucking faggot, though he apologized and said he didn’t remember saying it and… I don’t know. Can’t we just have one nice thing in this world?

Bah

I’m just so grouchy. I know part of it is PMS and part of it is work and part of it is just living in this country right now and feeling helpless to change things.

Twice this week I’ve found dead snakes on our walk. That also makes me mad. There’s just no need to kill a snake on neutral ground. I mean, I’d argue there’s no reason to kill a snake, period, but I accept people have different opinions when feeling trapped by one.

But if you have room to avoid it and it has room to avoid you, don’t fucking kill snakes.

 

Closer to Done

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In a surprise to me, I’ve ended up loving to doodads, but kind of not liking the wavy side edges. This still feels very, very architectural to me, though, so the parts on the edge that stick out remind me of tiny turrets.

I’m oping it’ll be done by the end of the month. I won’t say I wouldn’t do it again, but I think it’s much more likely you’ll just see the squares and the doodads again.

Paschal Beverly Randolph

Yesterday, as I was working on this afghan, I found a new-to-me podcast, “Occult Confessions.” It’s either the kind of thing you will love or hate. I love it, but with the caveat that it feels very much like the kind of thing that’s going to end in a scandal. If you’ve ever been in academia, I promise you’ll know what I mean by about fifteen minutes into the first episode. The fault lines are clear. I could almost write the Chronicle article we’re all going to read in ten years right now.

That doesn’t have anything to do with the content of the podcast, though. That’s super interesting. And I learned about Paschal Beverly Randolph, who was a 19th century occultist I’d never heard of, who founded his Brotherhood of Eulis here in 1874 and then promptly disbanded it months later.

Here’s an interesting bit, though, His biographer is like “I don’t know why Randolph came to Nashville. Maybe a lingering fondness for J. B. Ferguson?”

But he came to our insane asylum, which, though I can’t remember the dude’s name–not Adelicia’s husband, but the next dude–was run by a Spiritualist. That has to be why he was here and specifically why he was there.

Visit

My nephew came to visit me yesterday! Well, I went up there at lunch and spent a ton of time playing with him, but I had forgotten everything I wanted to bring him, so they stopped by later.

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He was so surprised! And he liked my light fixtures. And the dog, even though he seemed very overwhelmed by all the fur and slobber and loudness.

And I got more done on my afghan. I fucked up majorly. I mean, majorly, because I was so tired. I was trimming a tail and I cut the end of the seam. This should have caused the whole seam to unravel (picture how tugging opens a bag of dog food), but it didn’t. So rather than picking it apart, I just left it. I mean, I picked at it and tugged at it, but I couldn’t get it to come open, so… I don’t know. The nice thing about how these seams are is that it’ll be really easy to fix if it does come apart. But damn.

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Also, this morning, I saw a flock of turkeys in the field and the tom saw me. He puffed himself up real big, as if to tell me I’d better not even try to come near his family. Toms are fearless.

Doodads

I found my doodad groove and worked up 11 done ones, so I could stick them to the end of the afghan that’s done.

Y’all. Y’all! Look at this.

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I love this so much. I want to put doodads on all my afghans. I’m making a peacock afghan next and I’m kind of already pondering how I can put some doodads on it.

Sunday

I’m up to the point where I should be fleshing out my Robert Gentry portion, but yesterday I just couldn’t spend that much time with him. Instead, I spent the morning doing chores, then I went to a birthday party, and then I kind of worked on my doodads.

They’re so fussy. But I still really, really like them and think they’re going to be great on the afghan.

Bah, okay, I should make the most of this time. Off to Robert Gentry.

Never Enough

I’m out of yarn. Not completely but enough that I could either stop and buy yarn now or muddle on making aesthetic decisions I’m not quite satisfied with only to end up still needing to buy yarn, but now less happy with the look of the blanket.

While I’m waiting on yarn, I’m going to be doing the little decorative flourishes on the half of the afghan I have done and, I think, making my doodads. I had kind of decided to leave the doodads off, but I have time now and the odds and ends I have left are perfect for doodad construction. Plus, look at this doodad I made:

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It looks so cute! How am I supposed to resist adding those, even if it is a butt-ton of work?

Hard Stuff

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My other brother’s going through some shit with his son and I basically told him yesterday that it’s okay to fuck up and not know what to do. It’s okay to fail in ways that you know you’re going to have to apologize for later. You can not know what to do so you just don’t do anything. It’s not great and it sucks, but…

I think my ex-sister-in-law always assumed my brother was her back-up plan. If her life didn’t work out, she could always get him to take her back. Him getting married seems to have thrown her for a loop.

It’s more complicated than that, of course. But it’s also not.

Anyway, it’s depressing me to think about. You like to think that there are adults in the room, but you get in the room and you see the adults are you and you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. And you realize no one ever has.

Social

I think social media is bad for me. Especially Twitter. I don’t think that means I’m going to quit it. I mean, I might make that decision in the future, but for right now, I’m just acknowledging that being this stressed about work and this stressed about my civic life and this stressed about whatever nonsense is going on is addicting but bad for me.

I’ve been listening to the new Janelle Monae and I think one of the points she’s raising throughout the album is that happiness is revolutionary, delight is resistance. Pleasure changes things.

I don’t know how to take that to heart, but I want to take that to heart.

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All my squares are done. I’m now on to triangles. I really like it. I hope it’s not too busy.

I saw a bunch of folks this weekend and did a bunch of stuff. It was good. Now I have to hope I can carry those good feelings throughout the week.

Off Day

I worked on the bombing book. Then I took the dog to the Paradise Ridge Park, which I hadn’t been to since it opened. I did a leisurely 3/4 of a mile. I can’t even begin to approximate how far the dog walked, since he had to run back and forth to each side of the trail, sniffing and peeing everywhere. I have no idea how much distance his exuberant zig-zagging added, but a lot. He also made a friend, which is another nice thing about rural parks. The people who go there tend to have big dogs and are happy to meet another.

We went to McDonalds for lunch.

I yakked on the phone with the other Betsy about a really cool project she’s working on.

And then I spent the rest of the day crocheting.

I’m very torn about the doodads. They’re very fussy to make and a lot of work and I might not even have enough yarn to do them. But my trial one looks so neat I can’t quite bring myself to give them up.

So my new idea is to do the whole afghan and just see if I have enough yarn to do them and, if I run out of yarn before finishing the afghan, then I’ll totally feel justified in buying enough to finish my doodads.

I woke up today in a panic because I thought it was Sunday and I didn’t want to have to go back to work yet. Which I think means I desperately needed a day off.

Defeated

Some things happened at work yesterday. Nothing truly terrible, but the kinds of things that make me sad and tired.

So, I’m taking today off as an emergency mental health day.

So far I got up an hour late and had some breakfast. I’m already feeling like more of a human being than I did all afternoon yesterday.

Delights

This morning when I woke up at 5:45 in the morning, very early in the morning, morning, morning, I learned of the existence of a roll playing game called “Jason Statham’s Big Vacation.”

And I would like some credit for not immediately, before six a.m., calling C. and screaming into the phone “You must take today off work, teach me how to play role playing games, find six other people who would find this as hilarious and awesome as me, and then we must play this game. Today. I’ll buy lunch. Woo!!!!”

Y’all, Wesley Snipes tries to ruin Jason Statham’s holiday. It’s wonderful.

Second, yesterday morning, I went to a women’s breakfast and talked to all these very prominent community members about Fort Negley. I was halfway through my talk when I realized I had been going on and on excitedly about body parts while these women were trying to eat. I was mortified.

They didn’t seem to mind, though.

And the questions and answer session was really fun. I think they had a good time and I had a great time.

Third, though not really delightful, many years ago, a dude gave me this old poster he had found in a barn that was just a bunch of anti-Semitic nonsense. I think he thought it was mysterious, so he framed it and gave it to me. I turned the poster over and used the frame for something else.

Recently, he made noises like he might want the poster back so he could “study it and figure it out.” (Or so he could have an excuse to reinsert himself back into my life, I suspect.)

So, I took it out last night to look at it for the first time in years, and thanks to all this bombing nonsense, it’s utterly clear what it is–a map of the cosmology of Christian Identity, which I don’t think is still called that, but is a weird, racist theology that posits that Cain was a result of Eve fucking the serpent.

And I laughed because it made me feel like I’ve been on the path to writing this book for a long time.

But I tell you what, too. It made me wonder about the owners of that barn. You might have met some run of the mill racists back in the day out west who’d fallen into Christian Identity, but in the South, if you were into Christian Identity, it was a pretty sure indication that you were a violent racist, that you were trying to provoke a race war.

Like I said, made me wonder about the owners of that barn.

The Orangening

I keep saying this is an orange afghan, but so far, it’s not very orange. Here are the representative squares of the last three rows.

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Granted, that middle one isn’t orange, but it’s a variegated yarn that is very orange in parts.

Getting Some Stuff Moving Along

I had a really productive weekend. I got some good writing done. I’m about a third of the way into Wexler & Hancock’s Killing King. I had a lovely dinner with friends and then a lovely brunch with some other friends.

And I got a bunch of this afghan moved from “almost done” into “done.”

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A thing I have been fretting about with this afghan is that it’s got a kind of decorative doodad on the top and bottom and I have been worried that I might not have enough of the same color yarns to do the doodads. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me until right now, but I can finish my squares and then do the doodads. Then I can use the rest of the yarn on the filler triangles.

Also, because of the doodads, the afghan doesn’t have a border. I’m a little nervous about that.

Family Time

I am all familied out. I love these assholes, but lord, I am grateful to come home to my empty house.

I would have been burned at the stake in earlier times. Not because I’m proficient at cool magic or anything, but because I would have lived out in the middle of the woods alone, in a ramshackle hut with a weedy garden and I would have recognized all the local birds.

But look at these two dinguses.

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Hard not to love them.

I am a Patient Man. I wait. I wait. I wait. I wait.

If you know me in real life, you know that I’m waiting around for things. I’m waiting around for the FBI to send me files I FOIAed a year ago. I’m waiting around for the National Archives to tell me how much lead time they need to go through JB Stoner’s file before I can see it.

I do internet searches on my lunch hour, trying to think of combinations of words or phrases that might bring some heretofore unknown piece of information to me.

And I work on afghans.

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Can This Dog Count to Five?

Long-time readers of this blog will need a moment, I’m sure, to collect themselves after laughing that this is even a question.

But when it’s too muddy to do our normal walk, we’ve taken to just doing laps up and down the driveway. It’s not perfect, but it gives Sonnyboy a chance to poop.

Today, I said, “Let’s do five.” Meaning, five times up and down the driveway.

And without complaint, he did five times. And then went in the house.

Like he had fucking counted the laps.

I am 100% sure this cannot be. And I am also 100% sure the only explanation for it is that he knew we’d done five laps.

I don’t know how to test this, though.

But clearly, what I mistook for stupidity was this dog’s genius eccentricity. Or something.

Ha.

Hard

Yesterday, I did a reading at Cheekwood. The day before that, I found the grave of KKK leader Emmett Carr. While at Cheekwood, I was talking to C. about life and, anyway, I admitted that I have been crocheting so much because this bombing story is just so fucking hard.

It’s not just that I don’t think I can figure out who exactly did it, it’s that these dudes are terrible. I hadn’t realized how much I cling to the idea that overt racism can be an unfortunate character flaw in an otherwise lovely person. I mean, I think I know better than that, but you really confront your unconscious biases in a situation like this.

I think I’m a racist. No, I mean, I know I’m a racist. I think that’s terrible and I try to overcome it, but I’m not going to, because so much of white society is set up to guide me easily into racist positions and beliefs. I am a habitual racist and, like someone trying to quit smoking in the 70s, it’s hard to give it up because everything is set up to make smoking as easy and convenient as possible.

But I keep thinking of this reflex my mom has, whenever she’s recounting the story of something bad someone we know has done, to say “well, I’m also a sinner.” So, my mom can tell you about how their neighbor ended up being Ted Bundy II, and she’s still going to insist on seeing herself as also fatally flawed. And I find that deeply endearing but also frustrating, because there’s just a world of difference between my mom, who can get lazy and tired and not be her best self, and Ted Bundy, who has set out to be the worst of himself.

And I’ve wanted to believe, because I have to live in this world, that the Ted Bundys are rare and outnumbered by people like my mom.

But in a story that starts for someone “I’ll hurt children,” there are a lot more Ted Bundys than Betty Phillipses.

And they’re terrible all over. Their hatred of black people isn’t their only character flaw. They’re lousy spouses. They’re terrible parents. People flee from them, and rightly so.

It’s made me acutely aware of how much racism is built into the assumption that race terrorists can otherwise be good people–as if a willingness to hurt people doesn’t show a willingness to hurt people, because the people they’re hurting are black (or brown or gay or whatever).

But it’s also tough.

And I realized I’ve been crocheting so much because I need out of my head, out of the space I share with these people.

I keep thinking, why am I doing this? But it’s because the story as it’s been told to us is wrong and lets too many people off the hook. And I just can’t accept that.

Oh, Oh!

Y’all, I just realized on my walk this morning that the people I’m looking for–the thing that separates them from more run-of-the-mill racists–are willing to target white people.

That’s the line they’re willing to cross that even other violent racists aren’t.

And that’s why the “community,” even if I don’t have a sense of the full scope of it, seems so small. Because inside the subset of “I know and work with other racists to achieve our racist goals” is “I’m willing to harm and kill black adults to do it” and inside that is “I’m willing to harm and kill black children” and inside that is “I’m willing to harm and kill white people.” The deeper into the subsets you go, the more people you lose.

And as much as the people in the smallest subset may appear to be loners in their own communities, they knew and knew of each other.

Log Jam

I have too many afghans with deadlines.

But look at how this is going!

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I also watched the trailer for Megalodon a bunch of times. Because I’m only human.

And, you know what? I like Randy Orton. Everything about him is true. It is stupid to wear a hoodie with no sleeves. His tattoos make him look like he has fake arms. He always looks pissed off that he has to be alive in the world.

And yet, I still like him as a wrestler and I always look forward to seeing his matches.