Crochet Days!

So, this was how I spent my snow days. I love that the afghan is literally the exact same thing I did for the baby afghan, just in a different size yarn. It’s very heavy, though. Like, when you’re under that afghan, you’re going to feel snuggled.

I’m using the left over yarn to make an afghan in the style of a Bauhaus rug, so like vertical panels of horizontal stripes, and I had been debating whether to do it in the Tunisian stitch or moss stitch, but feeling the weight of it, I think I’m going to go with moss stitch, because the Tunisian is super heavy. I don’t want the person it’s for to get pinned beneath it.

My dad’s having one of his knees replaced tomorrow, so the dog and I have to get up there today. I’m hoping for clear roads.

And they announced that they’re not going to put a neighborhood on top of Fort Negley Park. I kind of think there might have been a slight dig/hat tip to me in the press release, when they mentioned that even critics thought the development was a good idea, just not in that spot, which had long been my argument. But also maybe that’s just my ego talking.

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Crochet Day

As soon as I can confirm that my 1:30 is cancelled, I have the day off due to the weather. I’ll be spending my day crocheting, of course.

And I think you guys know of my vast love for Tractor Supply, but I have to tell you, it has grown. I bought a heater for my garage, so I could keep it above freezing and not have to replace my water heater or washer again due to winter crap, and I tried to turn it on last night when it was still 65 here, but nothing happened because the garage was warmer than the heater was set to.

Dear Readers, when I woke up this morning, the heater was on!

I mean, possibly that’s what was supposed to happen. Probably. But I was so surprised!

Endured

This seems like it’s just going to be the kind of week that has to be gotten through, not enjoyed. But, in spite of that, it was already the earliest part of dawn when the dog and I walked this morning, instead of being pitch black.

It’s been so long since it was light when we headed out that I didn’t immediately recognize what was happening. I was like, “is there a fire?”

Yes, a fiery sun.

Anxiety, I am on to You

This morning, as I was walking the dog in the cold rain, I became convinced that, if we tried to go over the hill, we would slip. But I immediately recognized this as anxiety and not real.

Over Christmas, when I was sitting in my parents’ van, I caught sight of some crepe-y-ness on my neck. This weekend, I saw it in my regular mirror. Also, an old boyfriend of mine is about to become a grandfather.

And it just made me think about all the things I haven’t done. And whether I want to do them.

For so long, I wanted to write fiction. I haven’t done that meaningfully in a year. But also, I’ve done that. So… I don’t know if that’s a success or I’m failing. Duotrope wants me to reup my membership and I’m just like “Do I do this anymore?” Is it worth the money if I’m not writing?

Am I succeeding or failing? And, if so, at what?

For the first time in a long time, I turned my TV on last night to something other than Law & Order repeats. The Golden Globes were on, but I watched the last hour of Spy instead.

Worked some on the afghan. It’s not quite as fast as it was in baby size, but it’s still going pretty quickly.

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I’ll be honest, I think a lot of my free-floating anxiety revolves around whether I deserve to be loved. And the hard part about it is that I want to believe that, if someone so awesome came along and loved me, then it would prove to myself that I deserve it. But I also know that I have pushed people away, awesome people, or held it against them for being stupid enough to love me. I think I’m better about that in my crepe-neck old age, but maybe not as better about it as I’d like to be.

But, obviously, the outside validation isn’t the issue. I have to figure out how to accept and love myself. And I guess this is bugging me so much because I felt like I had kind of come to a frail truce with my body. I had gotten used to it, even if I can’t always see anything so great about it. And now it’s like “Love me with this skin, too” or “Love me with these weird bumps” or “Love me with a hair that sprouts here.”

And I just don’t know if I can. I was already doing as much as I could, which was not enough.

There’s a moment in Spy when she’s going into the casino and she kind of puts on a Mae West “kill them with charm and audacity” thing and it’s very attractive. And I guess I need to figure out how to strike myself as charming and audacious.

Anyway, that may be too much honesty for a Monday morning.

Cold

So, what I’ve discovered over these past few days is that I can walk the dog the whole way when it’s 17. I can’t when it’s 14. You’d think those three degrees wouldn’t make a difference, but they do. And there’s no dog-walks at all once it’s 10.

The dog doesn’t seem to mind unless the wind is blowing. He still wants to stop and rip apart all boxes and lick everything that once had a food particle in it.

I think I already said I’m giving my finger a chance to heal up before I get back to the mermaid tails, so I’ve been working on this afghan which is the baby afghan I did earlier but in bigger yarn.

So, this afghan:

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But adult sized. And with a few more greens and blues.

Here’s a good illustration of the difference in size:

Did I show you guys the baby blankets I made over break? It doesn’t see like it:

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Fun History Stuff

I wrote about an ax murder! It still remains my favorite thing about living here that you can read about stuff and the just go see where it happened. Not that there’s much to be discerned from going to see where this ax murder happened, but whatever.

On the Scene‘s facebook page, someone complained about the graphic image, which made me laugh, because I thought there was never a more chocolate-syrup-y looking bit of blood in the history of stage make-up.

Also, a reporter from the Washington Post is working on a piece about Isaac Franklin. I know this because a Franklin relative told me and the reporter contacted my editor to ask where the portrait of Franklin we used came from. I then contacted the expert on Franklin to see if she had contacted him. She had.

So, this isn’t about her. I’m looking forward to reading her story and it sounds like she’s contacting the right people. It’s really about my own ego, because y’all, I was so butt-hurt yesterday that she didn’t contact me. Like I’m some Franklin expert or have ownership of his story.

And the thing is, I want more people to be interested in history. I want more people to talk about the ways the past still influences the present. I want people to feel like history is available to them without them needing to go through gatekeepers.

And yet, my feelings were still deeply hurt and I was mad and insulted.

There’s no lesson to be learned from that, I suppose, except one we already know–which is that wanting to be recognized and valued and important are some of the wants that most easily cause you to get in the way of your own better impulses.

This Cat

You guys know I fret about this cat. He turns 18 this year and he’s in rickety shape. The Butcher and I had a long discussion where the Butcher admitted that the orange cat can’t go live with them, that it would just be too much to ask him to get used to being an indoor cat in a new house at this late in the game.

I don’t know if you guys remember how the tiny cat went. One morning she was bleeding from her mouth and I was trying to round her up into the carrier and get the dog back inside and it went like hell and she sprinted outside and was gone. My parents’ cat went the same way. He determinedly snuck out and went off to die.

These past few days, the orange cat has been feeling his oats again. Playing, running around, yelling at me when I’m in the kitchen, demanding a million head scratches.

But yesterday, when I got home from the grocery store, he went outside with the dog. I thought he’d come back with the dog, but he didn’t. I gave him a few minutes and then I started to worry because it’s so cold. I put on my coat and went out to the shed and called for him and he came out and meowed at me and we walked back to the house together.

This morning he dashed out as I was letting the dog in. It’s five degrees here. And he was gone. I called for him. Nothing. I tried to go about my morning, but I kept listening for him at the door. Finally, the fourth time I checked the door, there he was, strolling up, like it was perfectly normal for a rickety frail man to want to wander in freezing temperatures for twenty minutes.

Is this a part of his, as the Butcher put it, “New Year, New Cat” initiative? I kind of think that, even as he’s looking worse to us, he seems to be feeling better than he has in some time. I mean, he was motherfucking playing yesterday. And certainly in his younger days, he would have much rather gone to the bathroom outside, no matter what the temperature, than used the litter boxes.

I’m torn between trying to just enjoy this bout of young behavior and worrying that he’s at the age where even good news is bad news.

Also, can I just say, it’s 5 degrees here and my garage is 40? God bless that heater.

Rope Burn

I was hoping to get these two mermaid tails done, but it’s been so long since I’ve used huge amounts of that yarn, I forgot how hard it is on my skin, especially on cold days like these.

I actually have rope-burn on my finger. Yesterday I had to switch over to a project with softer yarn.

I was trying to come up with a way to not have to go to the grocery store today, but, alas, I need shit.

The old cat was in fine form this morning. He played with a magnet for like twenty minutes, threw a pillow on the ground, and fought with the dog. I guess he woke up a kitten again, for a moment.

Also, the Butcher sent me this picture:

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He claims he righted Cthulhu after this picture, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I get up there and it still looks like this.

There’s something so very satisfying about seeing that look on his face.

Laundry Day

Today I attempt to do all the laundry. All the laundry. I’m literally in pajamas. Nothing else clean is left.

It’s kind of hilarious. But also maybe sad.

I hung out with the Butcher, his wife, and my nephew yesterday. Aside from accidentally seeing a man taking dick pics in a public bathroom, which was hilarious, it was nice and uneventful. The baby was cranky. But he slept a while.

I’m just savoring nice times. And, frankly, I guess spending all day in your pajamas is a type of nice time.

Another Reason I Would Not Care to Sell Crocheted Items

I’m making a couple of mermaid tails–one for a little girl who asked for one and one that actually fits my niece. And they’re not that fun. I’ve already made mermaid tails before.

I’ll do it, because I know the kids and I know they’ll like them, but in general, I wouldn’t want to have to do stuff I’m not excited about anymore just because that’s what’s selling.

I was talking to my therapist about my weeks-long panic attack and she talked to me at length about how to life your life while you’re having an ongoing panic attack. One of the important things is to do things that make you happy, at least one thing a day. Not for anyone else. Just for yourself. A good thing that doesn’t have a web of expectations or implications or justifications. Just “I’d like this.”

I was thinking about how my resolution for 2017 was to just like things, without feeling self-conscious about it or like it was necessary to couch it in sarcasm or irony or apologize for it or say things like “I know this may be stupid but…” and to share that like.

My goal for 2018 is to do more things I like just because I like them. I feel like I’ve been conditioned to believe that happiness is suspect, that orienting your life toward it is frivolous at best and dangerously hedonistic at worst. You can be happy, but only as a side-effect of doing shit for others.

I’ve had charity and obligation weaponized against me.

“Put others first” is a lovely sentiment and an important personal philosophy that I support if one has chosen that discipline. But it’s also damn convenient for some of those others, who aren’t doing the same.

So, I’m going to try to figure out what things make me happy to do. And I’m going to do more of them.

Solitude

I’m going to have to rejoin the human race at some point, probably tomorrow, but I’ve spent the past two days just doing some shopping that needed to be done, looking into an ax murder that is pretty interesting, and crocheting while listening to podcasts and audio books.

Oh, and I mopped. I just wanted my house to smell like Murphy’s Oil Soap. And I’m trying to be mindful of the fact that it’s okay to do things half-assed. If I feel like mopping just the areas I can get to without having to move furniture, well, good, those are the areas that see a lot of traffic. They need mopping.

I’m trying to declutter my head. I have this feeling like I’ve been on the drugs long enough that my brain is figuring out now how to work this way, as opposed to the old, anxious way. And I feel like I just have to let these new connections be made.

When it gets above 20, I’m going to walk the dog.

Baby Mobile Victory

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He loves it. It made me cry to watch him watching it. He could see everything. The big shapes were the right way to go. And his siblings liked the explanation that Cthulhu showed up because of all the weird, uneven shapes.

Being his aunt makes me so happy.

Day One

I think it went okay. I got them most of the day so they could do their Christmas shopping for each other and have dinner while the Butcher’s family was doing other things. I tried to put into practice everything that I’ve learned at therapy. And I’m trying to be aware of when I’m frustrated and when I’m concerned and when and whether those are separate things.

My parents kept asking me about weird things the orange cat was doing–like when he just stands there like he’s waiting for what he should be doing next to come to him or, like now, when he’s sitting on the couch and he appears to be asleep, but he’s in a position you know he can’t possibly be asleep in and I was just repeatedly like “He’s old. He’s just doing old, weird shit.”

He’s still the animal in this house most likely to come when you call him and most aware of what’s going on in all rooms of the house at any given time. So, I guess I’m not that concerned. I mean, I am concerned in that, yes, he’s 18, which, for a cat is ridiculous, but he doesn’t seem to be in pain, so if he kind of fritzes out every once in a while, well, maybe that’s to be expected.

And This One’s Done, Too

The flat braid join is a lot of work, but it’s nicely sturdy and it looks great. I will definitely keep it in my baby blanket repertoire, even though I probably won’t use it on adult sized blankets.

My parents are here, but they’re staying with the Butcher. I’m curious to see how that goes. I’m also super relieved.

The Flat Braid Continuous Join

I really wanted to get started on joining these squares together last night, because I’m learning a new join and I wanted to see how it went. So, I finished up a few squares before work and I messed one up. I put three stitches in the corner instead of five and then I tucked my damn ends. In a regular join, there are ways to work around that, but since I haven’t done this join before, I didn’t want to knowingly have a mistake to deal with.

So, I fixed it. It didn’t bum me out. I just waited until I had all the other squares done to make sure I had enough yarn to fix it and then I picked apart the end-tucking and added some yarn and thus upped my corner to five.

I’m sure part of it is the drugs. I don’t get washed over with feelings of “oh shit, I fucked this up beyond repair!!!” over minor things anymore. (Knock on wood.) But I think part of it is just that I’ve been doing this long enough now that I have enough experience to know how to fix things and to know if I should bother to.

Maybe that’s part of what mastery and experience gives you–not the ability to do things right but to know how to recover from the inevitable mess-ups.

Anyway, look how cool this is.

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Random Things

–The dog ran off this morning and was gone for a half an hour. I thought I was going to throw up. When he finally came strolling back in, he did.

–I’m fascinated by these crochet sculptures by Yulia Ustinova. Have you guys seen these? I read recently a thing on Twitter, which I’m not going to get right, but something like “capitalism is saying that all the wealth should be concentrated into the hands of a few. Neoliberalism is saying half of those few should be women.” And you know how much stock I put in the change vs. exchange problem.

So, yes, I know it’s not really a victory to just switch up what society considers attractive in women, that it doesn’t get at the real problem, not really. BUT, but, but. There’s still something really amazing about looking at sculptures–at things that by definition encourage you to look at them and appreciate them–and finding them beautiful and they look like you.

–I see folks going after Meryl Streep for not knowing about Weinstein and it just… ugh. I mean, yes, folks. It’s always easier to go after the women than to continue to hold men’s feet to the fire. That’s the same old bullshit there’s always been. If we’re going after women, go after the women who knowingly served up other women to these jerks. But let’s focus on the jerks first and for a long time.

–I keep having dreams in which I have massive panic attacks. And I know this should maybe concern me, but I find it comforting, like my brain is trying to adjust to not having them in real life.

–As soon as I get all these squares done, I’m going to try a continuous flat braid join. If you’ve done that before and have any pointers, feel free to give them to me.

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Broken

I just keep thinking about how so very many of us are broken and how some of us use that brokenness as a conduit for empathy and some of us use it as an excuse to lash out.

Maybe I’ll Be Fast As You

Sometimes I worry that maybe all I do is sit around crocheting. After all, I just finished a mobile and I now have all the flowers done for the baby afghan I’ve been working on. But I also went to two parties this weekend and saw my nephew and walked the dog and went shopping.

I think I’m finding the time because I don’t watch TV anymore and I haven’t been reading much for pleasure lately. I keep wondering if I should cancel cable or at least scale back to the Law & Order only package (oh, would that there were such a package). But I also think that my interest in it might come back. I’ve been a TV watcher my whole life and I didn’t quit for reasons. I just lost interest.

Anyway, this flowery baby blanket. I had a pattern picked out and then as I started to work it up, I realized it was shit.

Here’s the thing about crochet flowers–at least 3-D ones. Each layer of the flower is actually two rounds. There’s a round that creates a lattice and then a round where you build your petal on that lattice. Over and over. But how you join the lattice means the world about how your flowers look in real life.

If you build your next round of lattice on the petal beneath it, your next petal is going to have a very noticeable gap between it and the petal below. (This isn’t always bad. Some designs utilize this tendency to beautiful effect.) It will also have a tendency to spread in weird ways. But, for a photo, you can fake it. You can scrunch everything up so that it looks like it’s sitting upright and together and beautiful. And you can’t always tell from just looking at the pattern if the designer has accounted for this tendency and so all is well or didn’t account for it and so is squishing everything together to make it look okay.

So, obviously, that was the problem with this first pattern.

But once I knew what I wanted, I went to my big book of problematic granny squares and flipped through for something similar, but okay. Of course, being my big book of problematic granny squares, the pattern had obvious problems–like the pattern was for a twelve-round square, but the picture with it clearly showed an eight round square. Or one of the lattice rounds repeatedly said to make a half-double crochet and then two chains, but then said I should have 8 chain-3 spaces when I was done, which I simply could not have, because I had been making those spaces with two chains, as directed. And I had to ignore pretty much all of the slip stitches it called for, because they were stupid.

But I’m now used to the ways the patterns in that book are fucked, so I was able to anticipate.

And anyway, here’s what I’ve got:

Bad

So, I wanted to say some things about my trip to the therapist, but I’m also not sure what I want to say. Sometimes I feel like the point is to just say some stuff, absorb some stuff, and let it work on me.

I told her about my unstoppable panic attack and she checked to make sure that I was still doing the things I needed to be doing in life and she gave me a hand-out to use to guide me through this stuff when it happens.

And then we talked a lot about the importance of happiness. How important it is to cultivate a habit of doing things that make me happy. Like, those aren’t just indulgences or spoiling myself, but making an effort, a habit, out of doing things I enjoy is crucial for my mental health.

Also, a thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is how we talked about how it’s okay for me to be bad at stuff and to not like stuff and to not have mastery of it. She said it can be very hard for people who have accomplished a lot (and lord, did I cringe when she said that, but also I’m working on accepting positive things people say about me) to have things they’re not good at, because the feeling is that if I set my mind to it, I should be able to do it and, if I can’t do it, then I’m a failure. Across the board. When really, we all have strengths and weaknesses and things we do well and things we don’t do well and it’s just normal.

Having weaknesses isn’t failing. It’s just being a person.

I’m trying to wrap my head around what it would mean to make a deliberate habit of doing things that make me happy. Not just stumble across them by accident or save it up for special occasions, but add it to the list of things in a day that have to happen, like lunch or pooping.

And I also wonder what it would be like to find something I enjoy that I’m not very good at and what it would be like to detangle mastery of it from enjoyment.

The Baby Mobile Industrial Complex Has Nothing to Worry About

I finished it and, whoo boy, I am never doing that again. But I think it turned out kind of okay. I’m a little worried that it looks more tacky than homemade, but I am really proud of how it turned out from the baby’s perspective. Somehow that worked right.

You can’t see in that picture, but Cthulhu is sitting on top of the squishy pyramid.

The thing I dislike about shapes is that you stuff and stuff and stuff them until you think you can’t fit any more stuffing in and you hurt your fingers sewing them shut and you get the whole thing closed up and you realize it could fit more stuffing.

I’m glad to be returning to blankets.

Got No Diamonds, Got No Pearls, Still I Think I’m a Lucky Girl

I’m feeling somewhat better about this mobile nonsense. Last night I finished a sun and moon:

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And I was like, fuck it. I am giving this mobile a tiny Cthulhu. But I still need arms and wings before I can put it all together:

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His little face tentacles are killing me! They’re so cute. I’m not sure how to do the wings yet, but I have some ideas.

I have my therapy appointment today, which means I get to go in and talk about my week-long panic attack. So, that’s a tiny bit disheartening. I think it’s okay, though. I mean, it just feels like a thing that happened more than a set-back, if that makes sense.

Anyway, maybe I’ll finish up this tiny Cthulhu before I go.

Shapes are Hard

Y’all, crocheting shapes is hard. My pyramid looks more like an ottoman (which may tell us something about world history, though I’m not sure what). My cube is saggy and my ball is lopsided. In like four different ways. I can’t decide if my mobile is going to be “charmingly rustic” or fucking terrifying. Euclidian geometry is over-rated, right?

See the elephant in this picture? That’s me about this stupid project.

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The next time I say I’m taking on the Anything-Industrial Complex, remind me of how defeated I’m feeling by this stupid mobile.

Fox Ran Out on a Chilly Night

tiny fox

At my sister-in-law’s request, I have made a tiny fox for the mobile. Now I’m kind of thinking I may just do these two animals and have them playing hide-and-seek around the shapes. Anyway, at the least, I need to get some of these shapes done.

I like the arm placement on the fox better than on the elephant, but god damn heads are hard to sew on. Both the fox and the elephant have their heads on crooked, but by the time I realized it, they were already pretty firmly damn attached.

I am relieved about Alabama, but I also can’t stop thinking of the women who defended Moore by telling about how their parents had let them date thirty year old men. I believe it. And I think it’s a continuation of one of the main cultural problems of the South–the culture preaches that children must obey and revere their parents who are worthy of glorification, while at the same time, the parents are doing really shitty things like selling their children’s playmates or half-siblings or giving grown-ass men access to them, or just in general valuing power and security over the well-being of the people in your household.

It’s not exactly internalized misogyny, more like internalized patriarchy–if my parents did it, it must be right; my own unease or the unease of others doesn’t matter.

And it’s insidious, because people rightly love their parents, often, even when their parents are shitty and dismantling this train of thought comes very close to telling people that their love for their parents is wrong.

But, damn, “well, my parents let me date a 30 year old when I was 14” is some fucked up shit. And not seeing that it’s fucked up is even more so.

Come at Me, Baby Mobile Industrial Complex

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I’ve been working on my shapes. In that pile there are the makings of a cube and the start of a pyramid. They’re green, because that’s the Butcher’s favorite color. But instead of finishing those two things up, I made a little elephant for the mobile. I think it turned out very cute.

I kind of wish his arms were up a little higher, but he’s going to hang from something or drape over something and it won’t be noticeable.

I have five hangy-down parts on the mobile. I’m kind of planning to do five shapes and five elephants and pose the elephants playing on the shapes. But I’m cutting it very close on time. I should just get the shapes done, but people, look how cute that elephant is!

The 4 Way

Yesterday, I drove to Memphis to have lunch with a very old friend and his brother and then turn around and come home.

We met at The 4 Way, which is right behind Greenwood Cemetery. I got there first and they asked me if I was dining in. I said yes and that there would be two more people joining me unless they already had two white guys, in which case, I’d be joining them. Everyone laughed.

My friend and his brother walked to the restaurant, which I thought was a not-wise decision, but my friend walks all over his city, going by the rule that he’s fairly safe because he’s tall and minds his own business.

The food was fantastic and there was so much of it. And it was the kind of place where they got all our backstory even before the guys got there, so they were happy to let us sit at a table and talk and talk even though they were growing very crowded as church let out.

And then, when we went to leave, one of the staff, a woman, learned the guys had walked there and she scolded him and told him, “I’m going to need you to take a Lyft or a cab when you come here.” And he later remarked that getting scolded by a woman in Memphis is the start of a great blues song. Which, hell yes, it is.

I woke up at 5 this morning and just laid in bed being happy. Which I know is weird, but when you spend time with someone you love and have loved for a long time, and you tell stories and opine on Robert Plant and get teased by everyone who works at a restaurant you’ve never been to before, it’s just good.

And it filled my heart and it’s making me cry just a little bit to write about it. When do we get our Star Trekkian transporters so we can visit people who live far away instantly?