Screwy

I will take a vacation day from work with no problem. Not even feel the least bit bad about it. Those are my days. I’ve earned them. See you when it’s over.

But man, I hate taking sick days. Even though I can’t really talk and I need a nap all the time. I still feel so guilty about not going in.

I have my story mostly done–the first draft, I mean. I just need for my protagonist to have a revelation. I need him to go from “Ha ha, suckers, I’m free!” to “Oh, shit, no, this is worse than where I was” but I haven’t yet decided what that revelation is.

I’ve been trying to put my brain on it while I’m doing other things, but my brain is all “snot, snot, snot, snot.”

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Confessions

I think it’s time to admit that I am genuinely, for real, sick. Not just allergies, but a genuine cold.

I’m working on a story! I don’t know if it’s very good, but I am happy to be writing fiction again.

I need a nap.

For

Yesterday, I spent all afternoon holding my nephew while he slept. Well, he didn’t only sleep. He opened his eyes and looked around a little bit and he did an enormous pooping. And my mom absconded with him for a while.

But mostly he and I sat on the couch and he dozed on and off and I felt at peace.

The thing about a baby is that I want him to feel comfortable and safe and cozy. And the thing I realized is that I’m set up to make a baby feel comfortable and safe and cozy. Softness might not be coded “sexy” in our society, but children like it.

A thing that kept passing through my mind on the way home is what’s a body for? Like, in terms of our society. And the message we women get from the time we’re very little is that our bodies are for pleasing men. And this is achieved by being young and thin and every troll on the internet will insist this is because of evolutionary biology–men are looking for healthy women to reproduce with.

But if reproduction is the ultimate goal, then the female bodies most pleasing to babies, the ones that allow them to thrive, would be most highly prized.

(And let me be clear: I don’t think a body is “for” anything, except the things the person who is that body wants to use it for.)

It got me thinking that part of the role of objectifying women is to socialize men into prizing women who give the appearance of being for nothing but whatever a man decides. And part of the clusterfuck of it is that it’s not even what an individual, particular man decides, but the things that will give him the most status–so what the generic group decides.

It’s fucked up for everyone.

But anyway, it was wild to sit there and realize that my body was doing something it could do really well, something it seemed almost custom designed for. Like, for once, I felt comradery with tall people or strong people. She shall reach the things on the high shelf! He shall open all jars. I shall keep the nephews warm and cozy while they sleep.

And Rose Came to Visit!

We spent the afternoon hanging out in the hospital with the baby. I let Rose take some pictures, and it’s fun to see what a three-year-old thinks you need pictures of.

She also took one of the Butcher’s wife’s ankle which tickled me.

And here’s one I took of the baby, sucking his thumb.

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When you’re a baby these days, they make you wear mittens on your hands so you don’t scratch yourself. It also makes it harder to suck your thumb.

On his second day, he decided he didn’t like being wrapped like a burrito and he sometimes prefers to be put up on your shoulder. He was opening his eyes a little bit, but he always looked like he wasn’t sure said eye-opening was a good thing.

He both seems so impossibly tiny and like there’s something really screwy about nature’s idea that something that size should come out of your vagina.

He’s Here!

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He’s under the heat lamp here, which is why he appears to be so red and I appear to be covered in a fine layer of dirt. But in real life, he’s not part tomato. I just noticed that my toes made it in the picture, too.

He has the Butcher’s ears and he looks like my dad when he scowls. He kind of generally looks like his mom in a way that, when you see them together, they obviously fit, but is hard to articulate. So far, as far as I observed, his likes are being held–especially by his mom and dad, being wrapped up like a burrito, and putting his tongue out. His dislikes are poopy diapers and the whole process of being born.

I sang to him. That was his first song. I saw him make his first sneeze. I saw his first poop. There will just be so many firsts these coming days.

The Butcher let everyone hold him, but once the baby came back to him, he cuddled up with him and that was that. He held him for the rest of the time I was there.

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Harvey Here

I should have left work about a half an hour earlier, but I was an idiot. The drive home was brutal. Everywhere you looked was just a wall of water. It wasn’t flooding yet, but we had to crawl because you just literally couldn’t see anyone until you were within maybe twenty feet of them. Driving over the bridge, I had a tiny panic attack because you couldn’t see the other half of the bridge for all the rain. I had to fight the urge to turn around because I was convinced the rest of the bridge had washed away and people were just driving off into the river.

Luckily, thanks to the medication, it couldn’t resolve itself into a massive anxiety attack. I was able to recognize that it was not true and keep going.

I got home okay and the dog was able to get out and pee. But after that, the yard started flooding. The creek alongside the house was roaring. It was so loud I could hear it everyplace in the house. And the low spot in the yard where the creek should be also was a creek.

And before dinner, the front yard was full of water.

But even after dinner, even though it was still raining, the water in the front yard was down quite a bit. I would bet this is when Whites Creek started flooding.

And this morning, the yard is clear. I’m going to be able to get up to the hospital.

Tomorrow is D-Day!

Tomorrow, my nephew, Delano, who will have to have a nickname once he’s out in the world, will be born. I’m planning on going up and sitting in the waiting room and seeing him on his first day.

I’m so excited.

And worried, of course, but much more excited than worried.

 

Pot Stickers Unstuck

I cooked potstickers last night, successfully. I didn’t make them. I’m not that ambitious. But I cooked them and they didn’t stick to the pot.

Usually, when I make them, they do. But I finally realized that I had been taught in the wrong order. You don’t cook them in water you let boil off and then brown up the bottoms–that will indeed let them stick to the pot. You set them in the pot lightly coated with hot oil, let them brown up, and then put in a little water, which, by the same action that deglazes a pan, pops those potstickers right off the bottom of the pan.

Dad called last night for their weekly call. In it, he let slip that he was helping the Butcher financially–which is fine with me–because they always buy groceries for our other brother.

And, like, I couldn’t even be mad. I just finally realized he doesn’t care about me as much as he cares about our other brother. I don’t mean that he doesn’t care about me at all or that he dislikes me, just that there’s a level of caring and nurturing and doting on that he does for our brother that he doesn’t do for me.

And it’s fucked up and it sucks, but I need to stop believing that he cares about the three of us equally. He doesn’t and it doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Oh well.

Like, I think I have long thought that he was capable of caring about us all equally if only I knew the right combination of words and deeds to express my needs to him. But no. There’s not something more I need to do to “earn” my father caring for me in the way he cares for our brother. If he can’t do it, whatever. He can’t do it.

His loss.

I Have Become Boring

Worse, I don’t mind it. Last night, I sat around listening to podcasts and working on this blanket. Tonight I will listen to podcasts and finish it up.

I don’t even feel bad about it. I think it’s curious to see how boring I can be and still be content, but I don’t feel like it signals anything’s wrong with me.

This morning, the dog and I walked through the most beautiful fog. It was very thick and dark gray, but it left a large area of visibility in any direction. So, like, clear for fifty feet around us but then almost impenetrable beyond that. So, it had the effect of being the only real things in a bubble of unreal nothingness.

Perhaps there’s a metaphor in there for how things are now.

I have moved from not being able to imagine the grace it would take to say “I am with you in Rockland,” to understanding that I am in Rockland and not sure what can be done in here.

Do you have to know and accept your circumstances in order to provide comfort to others, or is just being there, with someone, enough?

Inception

This past week, I’ve been having really vivid dreams that seemed utterly real. I dreamed, for instance, that I was told by the editor of the Scene to come to a Scene editorial meeting in the new coffee shop downtown before I went into my actual work. When I got to the coffee shop and stood around waiting for my coffee, I realized that no one was showing up for this editorial meeting. Then I realized, I hadn’t talked to the editor in person the day before, that I had, in fact, dreamed our talk and the existence of this meeting.

I got my coffee, went to my car, headed toward work.

My alarm went off. I woke up. There is no coffee shop in the place I dreamed it was. I still felt a nagging fear I was late for work.

I’m hoping that this is just my brain slowly rewiring itself for narrative. I miss writing.

I’m getting some good afghans out of my hiatus, though, I guess.

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Texas

I keep checking up on what’s going on and then regretting it. I have the same feelings I had during Katrina, that we really are on our own. And that because of that, people are going to die.

But at least people got pissed during and after Katrina.

I’m already tired and afraid that people are just going to shift into telling us how awesome he’s doing and how everything is fine.

It’s the gaslighting and the anticipation of gaslighting that’s wearing me down.

Good luck, indeed, Houston.

Fuck.

Today I Bomb the House

I’m trying to figure out how to do all the things I need to do in the right order. I need to go mail this package that I don’t want covered in dog hair before I can put the dog in the car. I want to put the dog in the car after I’ve washed him so that he is at his most optimally flea-free. I need to make sure the cats are both outside and that they have no secret ways of getting inside. Food must be covered up.

Etc. Etc.

Things like this I wish the Butcher were around for just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything that then results in me poisoning everyone.

My chimney is officially fixed. I spent all day sitting around while they did their thing. I worked on a baby blanket.

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I like kids projects because they go so quickly. I love how this yarn is working up. I’m glad I’m giving this to an artsy person, because I’m hoping she’ love the same things about it I love, how the pattern of the square is very formal and traditional, but the colors of the yarn smear across it like a kid just learning to color. I’m still mulling over if 8×10 is the right size or if that makes it just a little unwieldy and I should go down to 7×9.

I also want to figure out how to make the interior of the square into the border…how to change the motif from something that works in the round to something that would work straight.

This week, also, I made this awesome mermaid tail for my niece!

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That’s the same self-striping yarn from Red Heart I used for the afghan I just finished, so you can see it’s pretty damn versatile.

Also, the family I made the afghan for came to get it and the child of the family said, “Wow, this is beautiful.” So that was awesome.

Over the Hill

Since the weather’s been nice, we’ve walked to the school and back two days in a row. I love it because then the dog sleeps soundly instead of getting all in my business in the morning.

I swear, when it’s 60 degrees out, it’s impossible not to love Tennessee. And autumn here is my favorite.

The Butcher is going to be a dad next week. Next week! It’s wonderful.

Soft

One thing I can’t get over is how soft my new clothes are. This may be why rich people are so happy. It’s not the money itself. It’s that every time your hand brushes your thigh, whew! I mean, I could legit rent myself out to people who just want to touch soft things.

So… um… babies, mostly. And you can’t let babies carry money, because they’ll put it in their mouths. So, maybe not the brilliant idea it seemed at the beginning of this post.

But my point is that I’m enjoying the fuck out of my new clothes.

Nothing I Can Do, Total Eclipse of the Sun

You know, when you realize everyone has an outlet to write about what they saw and you’re not going to come up with anything creative, just lean into the cliche, I say.

Anyway, yesterday was the solar eclipse and it was amazing. I’m still stunned by how fast it was. It seemed like it took forever for it to get dark and for the sun to be just a sliver, but then it was completely dark and we all took our glasses off and looked up at it and it was… I don’t even know. Everyone went quiet, except for one guy who would occasionally shout things like “Look at the twilight on every horizon!” or “Look at such and such planet.” But it didn’t seem like there was enough time to look at everything.

We saw the wiggly snake shadows, but luckily, you could see them on the edges of totality. I didn’t see any crescent shadows, but I also didn’t go looking for them.

It was just so fast. Is the moon always hurling itself across the sky at that speed? Of course it must be.

The thing I most remember is how, at the totality ended, this bright sliver of sunlight shot out and we all instinctively reached for our glasses or looked away. Literally, just a tiny slice of sun hurt to look at. But it seemed like a flash. Like literally one second it was dark and the next second the flash of light and the sun was back.

You could see through the glasses that it was still, by far, mostly covered, but you couldn’t look at it with your bare eyes anymore.

It was extraordinary.

New Dress Day

Today I’m wearing one of my new outfits. I’m nerdily excited.

Yesterday at Kroger… well, two things. One, this very old man in overalls yelled out “I’m back and this time Mama’s with me!” which… I don’t know… struck me as equal parts hilarious and sweet. Like, that’s a line and you don’t know if it’s the stinger at the end of a romcom or the opening line of an action movie sequel.

The other is that I went right at noon so there were a bunch of people in their church clothes shopping and there was a young woman in this yellow lace dress and I wanted to take her picture or have someone make art of her. The dress was, I guess, pretty see-through but the way the lace was done, it felt very, very modest. Like instead of you looking at her thinking that the lace was giving you a peek at this woman’s naked form, it was more like she was just providing the most appropriate backdrop for this lace.

I’m not a straight dude, so maybe other people were looking at her and being all “bare skin! Woo!” but I don’t think so. I think the way the dress was made, the intricacy of the lace, that’s what there was to see. The dress is what you looked at.

 

No One Ever Needs to Set Out to Discover Why Granny Squares are so Popular

Months. Long, hard months involving tears:

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Two weeks:

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And I even learned a good way to make picots:

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So, there’s your answer. They’re easy to learn. They go quickly. They look fantastic. Anything where you can have fabulous success early on is going to be hugely popular.

Also, I suspect, if someone calls you up and says, “Grandma, I need an afghan for the TV show I’m in the crew on,” this is what Grandma can work you up on a moment’s notice.

Everyday I Work on the Illinois River I Get a Half a Day off with Pay

As the song goes, yesterday was a long hot summer day.  Therapy, lunch, one terrible thing, working on this afghan, and another terrible thing.

Neither terrible thing are mine to talk about, but I want something from this world it cannot give me. I want good people to have okay lives. Or at least lives that make sense.

I feel like I never know what to say in these situations. The world needs a kid of generous compassion applied gently that I don’t know how to give.

This is, I think, one of the things that when I was younger led me away from creationism. If we were created by a wise and caring being, even with a fallen world, why is it so hard to be good to each other, to know the right things to say, to genuinely be soothing and helpful?

Instead, we’re just lonely sacks of meat and shit bumbling around trying to make the most of it and often failing. Each of us alone in our flesh bags trying to bridge the insurmountable gaps between us.

Is the Bug With Me?

There’s just a lot of shit I wish I’d paid closer attention to. I know, in the end, we’re all made up of atoms that are held together by… I don’t know… masking tape? But today, when I was walking the dog, I squashed a bug on my forehead. Like disgustingly mashed it against my skin.

And then I wondered, how many of the atoms from that bug are now in my forehead?

Am I a mosaic of everyone who’s ever rubbed up on me? Are the dog and I sitting here now, him on the floor, his butt resting on my shoe, with atoms drifting between us?

How long would we have to sit next to each other to be fully intermixed?

Kids Today

When I saw the video yesterday of the kid throwing his jacket over the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest or the kids posing, fists raised, next to the crumpled tin busted Confederate monument, I felt my heart swell.

I feel like a lesson we learned from the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s was “Just don’t respond and they’ll get tired of beating their fists on your faces.” Which is not at all the lesson of those protests, which were to make the current situation untenable. If everyone’s fine with you sitting around not complaining about the bad things that happen to you, then you’re not making the situation untenable.

Seeing these young people being proactive makes me proud.

Sumner

Last week, fittingly enough, The Dollop had an episode about the caning of Senator Sumner and how everyone in the South was all “Ha ha, he got what was coming to him! Oh, ho ho!” and everyone in the rest of the world was like “Holy shit. These people aren’t just fucked up. They are a danger to the wellbeing of our government.”

You can imagine I was reminded of that watching the president unable to say that white supremacists are wrong and that racist ideology is evil. I think to him, he had been so accustomed to how much the American media loves both-side-er-ism that he just assumed his condemnation of all violence would be good enough.

After all, he doesn’t want to alienate the only broad group that openly loves him.

But it felt like a turning point, even before that woman’s murder. Not that things like this hadn’t been happening all along, but with Sumner’s situation, the South had been dueling and fighting for ages. But something about an action can make clear stark divisions, unbridgeable disagreements.

And that was this weekend. Calls for love and peace aren’t going to cut it. Praying about it–unless you’re doing like the pastors in the streets this weekend and praying with your arms locked to try to keep violent racists corralled–isn’t enough. Saying you saw violent people on both sides makes you look like a fool.

The stakes are clear and undeniable now. You’re either against them or you’re with them.

And a bunch of us, who don’t all get along and don’t share the same goals and don’t work well together, are going to be standing against them. I hope it works. I hope it’s not too late.

Everything Old is New Again

So, I went over to Fisk to go through the Looby papers. If you like mid-century architecture and you haven’t been to Fisk’s library, you should rectify that now. It’s a work of art inside, with all the kinds of sharp angular brutish shapes you’d expect from mid-century modern with this two story curving flowing staircase in the middle. It’s just amazing.

Anyway, it was something to spend all morning immersed in the aftermath of 1950s racists and then spend the evening watching these evil bozos at UVA.

We have never dealt with this full-on. We’ve always pretended like, if we just ignore it or are nice enough to them, they’ll eventually be good people.

Which, in turn, lets them continue to fester.

This Afghan is Humbling

So, I put together my outside squares and… it’s too big. Even though I counted repeatedly and thought these squares were 27 stitches wide, which is pretty damn close to the 30 stitches of the other squares, they’re 37.

How did I fuck up COUNTING?! Counting? It’s barely math. Dogs can count.

Here’s what I think I’m going to have to do. I’m going to take a square out of each side of the outside round.

It makes me daunted to even think about it. I know it can be done, but damn.

Also, then, my plan is to figure out the middle point on each side and mark it so that I can adjust all along the side and not have a bunch of stitches that don’t match at the end.

I have also considered lighting the afghan on fire, tossing out the outside row and just putting a border on what I have done, tossing out everything inside the outside row and just filling the the border with some simple stitch that doesn’t make me cry, and moving to a country where yarn doesn’t exist.

But I’m going to try fixing it first.