Murder in Music City

I’ve decided to incorporate the yarn I have left over from the copper blanket. Because I don’t want to spend any more time or money on this evil thing.

I’m listening to Murder in Music City which I bought as a physical book a while back but then just left it sitting on my pile.

It’s good. I have some quibbles with the writing. He’s king of tangents (and that’s saying something coming from me) and he over-identifies some people while not with other people.

But nothing strikes me as implausible about his facts. His research seems very good and he makes a very subtle but clear argument for why his asking questions about this spooks people into revealing themselves–they have kind of come to suspect he might be the kid at the murder scene.

I’m listening with an ear to my own obsessions, but so far I’m not hearing anything that sheds too much light.

The story is just very, very sad and the fact that people are willing to just live their lives, knowing they sent an innocent man to jail, is infuriating to me. That just seems so typically Nashville to me. We simply must pretend that all is well, even when we know it’s not.

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I Hate the Afghan So Much It Has Become a Form of Respect

I don’t have enough yarn to finish this fucker. I had already made my peace with not doing the two outside rows of granny squares, but now it’s clear I’m probably not going to have enough to finish the triangles.

I want to laugh about it. This afghan has kicked my butt at every step. It’s going to continue to kick my butt clear to the end. My plan is to finish up as much as I can to see where I am before I buy any more yarn. If I get farther along than I think I’m going to, then I’ll be happy. If not, I’ll have a feel for how much yarn I need.

I’m still leaving the side panels off, though. It’s supposed to be an afghan, not a bedspread, and it’s already enormous.

Procrastination, Woo Woo

I have to do my taxes today. It’s literally the only things I have to do. I’m guessing I don’t bother to turn to them until late this afternoon.

Maybe I’ll learn to make art yarn…

Or I could decide what photos I want for the book…

Maybe take the dog for a walk if we get a break in the rain…

Chagrin

The idea was that these two panels would be identical, but I ran out of red when working on the top one and then almost ran out of the acorn.

The real shit, though, is that I don’t think I’m going to have enough yarn for the side panels. Which, on the one hand, means that when I get these three panels done and sewn together, I’m done with this asshole blanket.

On the other hand, of course this blanket is just assholes all the way down.

Chicken

I’m on slightly better terms with this afghan only because I was playing chicken with this yarn and won! Which is good, because as close as I think all these tans look, when they’re right next to each other, you can see the differences. So, if this hadn’t been enough yarn to finish that triangle, it would have really annoyed me.

I also feel like I’m getting faster at them, which also makes them less annoying. If we count each set of diamonds with their four framing triangles as a block, I have thirty blocks to do. And I already have four blocks done! I may finish this afghan before I’m 90.

Wallowing in My Dislike

So, each side of the diamond gets these weird triangles, which then get sewn together thusly:

This is supposed to result in a somewhat straight line. It does not. It may pull straighter once the border goes on, but I have my doubts.

I just sincerely loathe things afghan. I resent how hard it is. I resent how often the directions are just “eh, whatever.” I resent that I have to motherfucking whipstitch things together. I have to do all this piecework and sew?! Do I look like I want to be quilting?

I only hope this part goes quickly.

Alarm

I slept straight through my alarm. It’s really a wonder what having a boss who actually gives a shit about things does for your ability to rest.

Also, I spun up a shit ton of this fiber, which I love:

I just love everything about it. I love all the bright colors. I love how they twist around each other. I even love how my shitty spinning skills leave me with weird clumpies because, with this fiber, the clumpies look intentional, like I meant to have a cool, decorative lump.

This yarn just does it for me. I can’t wait to put it in my afghan.

Speaking of afghans, this fucker.

The diamonds are done. That’s about all I want to say about that.

I’m on to the next part. It’s also ridiculously hard, though less so than the diamonds. And I’m like, but how does this give me a straight edge to sew the panels together? Friends, it does not.

I’m glad I’m doing this in wool, which should be a little more forgiving, but there’s no way this fucker lays flat. And when I look at the picture on the pattern, I think it’s draped in such a way to hide that it doesn’t lay flat.

Let’s Call it Nope-Plying

I tried to teach myself to N-ply yesterday, so I made this beautiful multicolored yarn to practice on and, as I kept fucking up, I kept getting very mad at myself because I was fucking up bad enough to make the beautiful yarn unusable. So, instead, I whooped up this gray yarn and plied the two together.

Third Man

I should have worn sunscreen. I should have even thought to wear sunscreen. But I did not. I think people really enjoyed the reading. Sheree Renee Thomas brought her friend who was such a fantastic audience person at Southern Festival of Books and so I was able to talk to him and thank him for being so awesome.

Every time I get to read with her and Caroline Randall Williams, I just feel so out of my league. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but they’re just so good. It makes me feel so very lucky. Lucky to be with them and lucky to be seeing them.

Caroline, at this point, is like some kind of priest for her Lucy poems. She has them memorized. She knows exactly how to move an audience. She fucking took the mic off the stand and walked around! And her boobs looked so great.

I told Ciona that I tend to wear bras based on emotional comfort, so I was wearing the bra I do my dyeing in, and then I showed her all the spots of color, because it was just the kind of day where you stand outside in the good weather drinking beers and discussing boobs. Ciona and her friend were momentarily confused and worried that I was… I don’t know… sometimes practicing suicide in my bra, but the green spots clarified things.

But Caroline had a whole fortress of undergarments. Which, you know, makes sense, but is not something anyone ever taught me. At some point, I’m just going to have to ask Sara Harvey to append her History of Underwear lecture with notes specifically for me about what does what, how, and why you might want that.

Chet told everyone that Sheree’s next book is coming out from Third Man so that the story she was reading was from the future. And I think she thinks of herself as someone with a kind of Afro-futurist bent, so it felt doubly fitting.

We were sitting together when Jack White came through and it was so much fun to watch her play it cool and then freak out once he was out of sight.

But mostly, Ciona and I grabbed a couch end and talked about making art and weird connections and strange coincidences. And I went home early to feed and medicate the dog and my Lyft driver and I talked about horror movies and The Skeleton Key, and I was just like, how is this my life?

Also, now both of my favorite pictures of myself were taken on Third Man property. This one from when my nephew was very wee.

And this one from yesterday.

Also, bonus picture of me with a delightfully wicked look on my face:

Apparently There’s No Sign-In Sheet?

Yesterday, as I was scrolling on Twitter, I came across a thread where it’s basically like, “See how many of these symptoms of autism you might have” and I was like “Oh, ha ha, fun” thinking I’d have like two or three, because I’m a nerd.

I have all of them.

I have this strong urge to tell you a story about this, to line up all the evidence and lay it out in a neat and convincing order.

Hopefully you can see the humor in that.

The worst part is that all my arguments with myself about it reveal to me that I have some pretty deep-seated ugly believes about people with autism. I can’t be autistic because I’m funny. I can’t be autistic because I have friends. And a social life. Kind of. I don’t make people uncomfortable, except, you know, every conservative in the state. I have a good life. I’m happy. Blah blah blah. On and on.

And then there’s the ugly hollow feeling I feel when I think “Oh, this, me, is what people wish didn’t exist.” Followed up by, “oh, no, because I’m one of the good ones.”

That’s pretty ugly. But it just keeps bubbling up. I guess I’ll see for how long.

So, on the one hand, I don’t feel any different than I felt earlier in the week. I can’t really see how knowing this might make any difference to my life. Like, I don’t think I’m suffering from it in any way. But also, I’m very fortunate to be able to arrange my life to suit me. That may not always be the case.

On the other hand, I have some existential vertigo. Like, oh, is this why x happened that way or why I’ve always felt y? And that’s not fun.

And I do wonder if there’s something I’m supposed to do now? Like, if things seem okay, do I need to try to get an official diagnosis? And this one is really hard for me–can I trust myself to know if things are actually okay?

The whole thing is weird and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Which, yes, also on the checklist.

Which, I guess, I also dislike: finding out that all my charming quirks, which I believed were unique to me and made me special are actually common enough to be boxes to check off.

So… yeah.

I’m going to read at the Third Man 10th Anniversary this afternoon and I need to be my charming and witty self, so I’m going to try not to dwell on this.

But dwelling on things. Or, you know, obsessing over them. It’s my way. It’s also on the list.

I Knew It

Yesterday, I found out a bit of information that made a weird thing that has been bugging me for over fifteen years make sense.

Y’all, the older I get, the more I’ve come to realize that the whole “they’re going to take our spots” anxiety is because a lot of old mediocre white guys have been coasting by on the idea that white guys should give jobs to each other and keep each other employed no matter how crappy one of them is.

The idea that you, who actually try, might be valued for your trying is a threat to them.

Which is not to say that, if you’re a white guy who tries, you have it made. The coasting guys have ways of keeping you down, too. But the coasters. They are fascinating to me.

Delights for the Eyes

So, I got this cool self-made-batt kit and I made a giant fiber burrito and then stretched it out into roving.

And I made this ridiculous yarn. And then I ordered more fiber so I could make more ridiculous yarn and put it in my afghan.

And, y’all, I may finally get merino. I still have no idea why anyone would want to spin merino by itself, unless for some reason you think spinning a kitchen sponge is fun. But all the things that make it super annoying when you’re just trying to spin a basic worsted make it perfect for this kind of thing.

It was nm, I believe, who I was telling that the thing I hate most about merino is that it’s like the kindergartener you can depend on to figure out how to hold hands with everyone else in class and bring them along everywhere. But I usually only want a couple of kindergarteners at a time, so to speak. I don’t need merino finding a way to hold a million hands with itself.

But in a batt preparation like this, where you have sparklies and silk and I swear maybe some cotton and a few different kinds of wool, you need someone who knows how to hold hands with everyone, even the folks–like the sparklies–that don’t normally hold hands. So, you just make sure you have some merino touching everything and everything sticks together. You can tug it into a nice thin (well, not thin in my case, but someone with better skills!) line for spinning. You can get this amazing thing.

So, merino. If you just need a wool fiber to move from point a (your hand) to point b (the spinning wheel), I’m still not sold on merino. But if you need something that you can card on a drum with a bunch of other stuff and roll up and stretch out and twist around other bits and bobs before going to the spinning wheel, merino’s the fiber for the job.

I also spun some shetland this weekend which I really liked. It was mixed with silk, so it had an interesting shine.

But it’s a little scratchy. It was really fun to spin, though. If I didn’t have to consider its end use, I might be a bigger fan. What I liked about it was it has a nice, long staple length, the fibers, even in the combed top, slid next to each other pretty easily, and it feels sturdy. The only other thing I didn’t like about it was that, even though the colors in the braid looked super, super saturated and vivid, everything became a little more muted in the spun yarn. I honestly think that’s part of what the silk is supposed to be doing–making sure the colors stay somewhat vivid.

I’m going to be curious to see how it blooms, because it compacted a lot more than I expected. Like even in the thing spots, there’s a lot more fiber than you’d think. It feels like that must eventually boing back.

Laundry Day

My plans for today fell through so, instead, I am doing just a butt-ton of laundry and fiber crap. I took the dog for a long, long walk and now he’s happily asleep.

I readded in the stuff about the Atlanta Child Murders, in the conclusion, as suggested.

And now I’m going to try to have a day where I do nothing important and think nothing important. We’ll see how it goes.

I Have the Browns

This is that motherfucking afghan I’m still working on. That I set aside and did easier afghans, but am now back to because I’m so embarrassed by the prospect of it still sitting here waiting to be done.

The diamond shapes are so hard. For me, anyway. I can, if I’m lucky, get two done a night. And the thing that pisses me off is that they just don’t look that hard. No one’s going to look at this blanket and think “Oh, I bet this part took you the better part of an hour a piece.”

Plus, I haven’t been able to memorize the pattern for the diamonds. After this many! Which also kills my ability to speed through it. I keep trying to tell myself that the diamonds are the vast majority of the blanket, so, once they’re done, the blanket’s mostly done, but it’s a struggle.

Conspiracies

I put a whole big long section in the book about the Atlanta Child Murders and then, last night, I took it out. It’s not that I don’t think there might be meat on that bone, so to speak. It’s that I can’t bear to look.

There is a conspiracy at the heart of my book. But then there is conspiratorial thinking, where there’s a boogeyman in the basement of a pizza joint, which we know because someone ordered broccoli on their slice.

I’m trying very hard to make sure that the story of my conspiracy stays as grounded in as much solid evidence as I can find. I’ve now spent years on these Nashville bombings. I learned about the Sanders family and their potential ties to the Atlanta Child Murders last week.

But if I put them in my book, I’m granting them as much weight as the stuff I’ve been mulling over for years, and that’s just not true. I haven’t vetted that information carefully. I read an article and spent some time on Reddit.

So, I think, if I include it without doing a buttload of research, I risk undermining the information I have that is backed up by research. I also risk giving it the weight of researched speculation, when really, it’s not. And, if I’m wrong about the likelihood of Klan involvement (which could come out as they’re relooking into these murders), then I risk undermining the rest of the claims in my book.

And, frankly, I don’t want to do the research. It’s too heartbreaking and fucked up.

But it is also really fucked up that there are so many families and family networks all connected by their involvement in the National States Rights Party and their friendships with Stoner who keep popping up whenever bad shit happens to black people.

Still Thinking

They’re relooking into the Atlanta Child Murders. I spent some time on Reddit yesterday trying to understand how people felt about the possible Klan ties. (Long story short: many people believe that the guy convicted of two of the murders was not responsible for all of them and that the task force that was developing leads on the Sanders family was on to something.)

The main arguments against it seem to be that the Klan didn’t kill children, that they wouldn’t either have the guts to go into black neighborhoods in broad daylight or, if they had, of course they would have been spotted, that the killings stopped after dude was convicted, and that the idea that the Atlanta police would have taken the idea of a race war seriously enough to take action to keep such a plot from coming to light is ridiculous.

But Klans with ties to Stoner did kill children–four of them in a church. I think we can give a million examples of the Klan going into black neighborhoods whenever. I don’t know enough to say if the killings stopped or if child murders just stopped being attributed to the one guy. But members of the Sanders family did start dying off in 1985, so it’s not like we’d be looking at a pattern that extended another twenty years or something. We’d just be looking at a few years of potentially related but unattributed murders. Unless, of course, the pattern simply moved. Either they moved on to women, like they said they wanted to do or they stopped hunting in Atlanta

I don’t want to get bogged down in this for the book, obviously, but I don’t think–based on the patterns I’m looking at–that it’s really so unreasonable to put some weight on the KKK theory.

Tying Up Loose Ends

I’m back to working on this afghan because I’m so pissed it’s still in my house. It’s also super hard for me. And I need to just admit that to myself and make my peace with it. I swear, if I weren’t this far into it, I’d switch the pattern to something else.

I also need to be deciding on what pictures are going in my book. But I haven’t really gotten around to it.

But I think the dog’s anti-inflammatory is working. Yesterday he was running everywhere. Not the zoomies, but genuinely like “Woo this is fun and fast.”

I am Like a Dog

I realized yesterday, as I was blathering at C and M that I’m like Sonnyboy. I like people so much that I’m just like “Here I am in your lap! Barking. Showing you all my tricks.” when, if I would just calm the fuck down, people would have a chance to enjoy me.

I also turned over two of my afghans to their intended recipients yesterday and, whew, holy shit is that satisfying. Like, yeah, I put that smile on their faces.

When you’re little, you think that “it’s better to give than to receive” is some bullshit moral platitude that’s supposed to make you less greedy. But now I realize it’s true. Giving a gift that is genuinely appreciated is one of the best feelings in the world.

Delights for the Eyes

I finished the blanket for my pending niece! Let me count the ways I love it. I love how beautiful the dahlias are and how much they remind me of waterlilies. I love that the green isn’t overwhelming, even though there’s a lot of it. Somehow I got the border to balance it out. I love the tulips so much. I was nervous about using the orange, but it was absolutely the right call. And the daisies on the outer edge make me so happy. And there’s just going to be so much for the baby to touch and yank on. I’m really proud of this one.

I’m also learning how to use acid dyes and here are my fuck-ups from last night. I was trying to replicate in acid dye a thing I do pretty well in food coloring–three primary colors to get a rainbow of awesomeness. From left to right, we have “grabbed the black instead of the red,” “too much red!,” and “fuck it, orange.”

But let me tell you something. I love each of these. I think they’re so beautiful. I can’t get over it. I’m wishing they were dry right now so I could spin them. How awesome is it to have such beautiful fuck-ups?

I need beauty like this in my eyes, because my heart is a mess. Stuart Wexler sent me looking for how my bad guys might tie into the Atlanta Child Murders. I found this Spin article.

I have to figure out how to write about this, because I need to put it in my book, but it’s hard. It’s not just that JB Stoner was a person in the world. It’s that so many people decided over and over again to just let him keep on keeping on.

The ironic thing about the decision to downplay the involvement of the Klan/NSRP in some of those murders in order to prevent a race war is that there is a race war in this country, ongoing. With casualties piling up. And we’re busy gaslighting the families of the dead rather than admit it.

Whoa!

Okay, so, on the one hand, I love my drum carder, because it blends everything together so nicely. On the other hand, it blends everything together so nicely. What if I want really dramatic color changes in my yarn?

And then I found the above video. And I tried it on my drum carder. And holy shit!

Obviously, I don’t yet know how I’ll like it plied up, but this! This is what I’ve been wanting. Blended colors, but not to the point of heathering.

And it’s so much fun. You get a burrito of fiber and stretch it and stretch it and stretch it. And I feel like, once I really get the hang of spinning it, it’s going to be more consistent, too.

Bah Bah Black Sheep

I spun the fiber I failed to completely dye black. The two on the left are the “black” merino mixed first with colors to make it like a darker storm cloud and then in the middle a certain kind of brown I had in my head. It may have turned out a little redder than I expected, but that almost may just be the light.

But, and then, there’s that “black” like a bruise at the right. Holy shit.

The first black I tried to dye it broke into blue and purple. Which means, if you look closely, you can see blue and purple under the black there.

It’s so beautiful.

Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer True

Look at these adorable daisies, which, yes, are not done and are not lying flat yet, but still, I love them so much! And they make me laugh, just because every name they’ve thrown out for the baby is here: Dahlia, Tulip, and Daisy.

Also, I’m just going to admit that the afghan I’m making for Busy Mom is fucking hard and that’s why it’s languishing. And it makes me mad that it’s so hard for me because that, up there, looks complicated and I’m rocking it. Why is this other one such a fucking nightmare?

Writing

I think my relationship to writing is changing pretty dramatically. I haven’t written fiction in ages. My nonfiction output has slowed to a trickle. It’s even hard for me to decide if it’s worth anyone’s time for me to write here some days.

I catch myself thinking “Once you’ve written this book, you can be done writing.”

Which, ha ha ha. But also, is that what I want? I don’t think so. But I think you have to listen to the things your brain spits up, at least consider them.

I keep having this nightmare where I go home to visit my parents and suddenly they’ve gotten me a job, which I go to, even though I know I have this other life–usually in North Carolina, where I went to grad school. And I keep trying to get back to the other life, but I live with them now and I have this job. And I just feel robbed.

And I always wake up disoriented, because I’m neither in Illinois or North Carolina. But here, in this life.

And yet it feels so real that I’m starting to worry that some version of me out in the multi-verse is so unhappy and near enough to me that her sadness leaks into my world.

I feel very lucky and it still feels very fragile, even though it’s been my whole adult life.

Flower Garden Afghan

Look at how cute those tulips are on the border! I’m super happy with this. I’m going to put daisies as the outside edge and then it’s done.

I spent an hour or so yesterday talking to a woman who’s master’s thesis is on hot chicken and appropriation. It was such a good conversation and I’m still thinking about what my own personal definition of appropriation is and whether it can be completely avoided.

To me, I think, it comes down to the difference between borrowing and stealing. When you borrow something, the person you’re borrowing from knows they are participating in the exchange. When someone asks you where you got your coat, you say, “Oh, I needed something cool, so I borrowed it from Jane” or “Jane lent it to me.”

But when you steal something, you don’t say where it came from. Maybe you try to pass it off as something you made yourself. Or you misrepresent the exchange–and probably this is where it gets tricky. You insist you borrowed it. The person whose coat it was says you stole it. But you have the cultural capital to make your version the truth, even if it’s factually not.

But sometimes someone lends you something that wasn’t only theirs. Like, if one sibling in a family lends you the family silver and you deliberately only asked that sibling because you knew the others would say no, you have permission, but don’t the other family members have a legitimate gripe?

I think so.

Anyway. Tulips. I like them.