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.

 

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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.

Sitting Around, Thinking Thoughts

I spent yesterday sitting around waiting for the chimney guys, sitting around while they decided if the chance of rain was too great for them to do what they needed to do, and then sitting around after they left.

Later, there was a car accident out front. No one was hurt. My poor neighbors’ beautiful truck was destroyed. I called 911 and it felt like it took forever for the police to arrive, but I’m sure it was just ten minutes or so.

So, here’s the thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with those things, I just wanted there to be some words on my screen before I got started. I bought some new clothes. In a perfect world, there’d be some kind of office uniform and I’d just wear the same thing every day and not worry about it. But in this world, it is the individual’s responsibility to try to figure out what the fuck to wear every day.

I was pretty much like “I will wear this t-shirt and this skirt and if anyone at work looks askance at it, I’ll say that it’s summer time.” But then I feel like I only have two outfits that are genuinely work appropriate.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying I bought some grown-up clothes. But I bought some grown-up clothes.

I think they look nice. But since my strategy has previously been to dress like a bland tent, looking in the mirror, I just felt like I was looking at my belly, my enormous, round belly swathed in different, nice clothes.

I feel like there is no moment where my feminism and my trying to accept myself and my desire to be a happy person fails so utterly as when I’m trying on new clothes.

The thing about having been all different kinds of fat is that I know, from personal experience, that there is no size at which I feel happy and confident in my body, no way it looks where I feel aesthetically pleasing and desirable.

Still, I look in the mirror and just feel like, ugh, fuck. And then I feel bad because I don’t feel fine and happy with what I see there. And then I feel bad because I feel so fucked up that the mirror has never shown me something I felt fine and happy with. In other words, I know from experience that being thinner wouldn’t make that moment in front of the mirror any less grueling. The thing that would seem to promise an end to it is just another way to feel bad and failing.

Usually, what I end up asking myself is, “Fine, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime?” In other words, if I’m going to feel more confident or more socially acceptable when I “internalize my self-worth” or if I magically loose a bunch of weight or somehow stumble upon clothes that make me look so awesome that the bad thoughts are kept at bay, that’s great. Bring on that future day. But today I have to leave the house and I have to wear clothes and I have to go by reflective surfaces. So, I have to have something now or I have to do something now or I just have to accept that this is what it is right now.

This is life, right now.

So, anyway, I bought some great new clothes which I love, and I feel bad about it, but admitting it makes it suck less.

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.

Butt Down

My nephew hasn’t flipped yet. If he doesn’t flip, they’ll go in and get him. I watched a video of an ancient midwife flipping a baby just by rubbing a woman’s belly with her oily hands. I don’t feel confident enough to try that. Also, it would be weird.

The Butcher sent me a text yesterday that said, basically, that, if anything happens to him and his wife, he wants me to raise his son.

Of course I would.

But man, it made me cry to think of it.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Fisk to go through Looby’s papers, to see if he had any written-down thoughts on who bombed him.

I’m very nervous, because their library has really scary stairs. But I also acknowledge, it’s weird to have strong opinions on all the stairs you encounter.

I am a Technical Genius

I solved all of yesterday’s internet problems by…wait for it…finding a cord that wasn’t plugged in firmly and pushing it in.

No, no, I know. Such complicated technical know-how can be hard to follow, but believe me, this time tomorrow, I’ll be writing memos about how men just biologically aren’t good at tech and getting fired from Google.

I have only four more squares to go on the red afghan and then it will finally be finished. I’m not saying “never again,” because I’m an idiot, but I will be doing easier afghans for the next little bit.

Assuming these four squares don’t take a month.

I burned through The Fall Line, a podcast about a pair of twins who went missing in Augusta back in the early 90s. It’s really engaging, but also heartbreaking. At this point, it seems like the family’s first goal is to just get the police to finally, finally actually investigate their disappearances and then second, hopefully, to get some answers.

It reminded me a lot of the kinds of issues I’ve seen in my bombing story–missing files, incomplete memories, people who seem obvious to talk to who haven’t been interviewed.

I was also thinking about the Joques Clemmons family, here in town, who must have known they were never going to see justice and who yet tried to give the city the opportunity to finally, finally do the right thing.

I have lost faith in institutional right things. But what else can we hope for?

Chewed on by a Baby

Yesterday I went to a baby shower where there was a baby. She showed me how she can pull herself up and lower herself back down. She squished my belly and she chewed on my fingers.

I think babies like me because I’m easy to see and soft. I have dark eyebrows and blue eyes, so there’s contrast. And I have a very expressive face, so, again, there’s stuff going on to look at.

But here’s the thing. I was driving home from the shower thinking about how obvious it was that the baby thought I was awesome. This looks like a good finger to chew on. This looks like a good lap to climb in. And I realized, I don’t think I ever otherwise experience my body as good.

I’m trying really hard to just have neutral feelings about it, so that I can live in the world without constant despair. But I so rarely feel like this is great.

And you can’t argue with a baby or question its judgement, because they’re not really developed enough to have discernment or wrong opinions. If a baby experiences your body as pleasant, well, in some inarguable way, your body is pleasant. A baby isn’t out here trying to improve your self esteem.

I would like to be able to hold onto that.

I’m Afraid I Killed the Dog and Me

As you all know, it’s been the summer of “WTF, fleas?!” around here. I’m going to have to bomb the house. But before I do that, since I have to have a day when I can clear everyone out of the house for a few hours, I washed the dog in super-strength anti-flea shampoo. The kind that warns you that you should rinse yourself for twenty minutes if you even so much as look at your dog while it’s lathered in the stuff.

The result was that I had an enormous headache all night and I can tell the dog is feeling a little puny this morning. But those tiny fuckers are dead.

I also went all around looking at vinyl flooring and, yep, most of it is sticks and stones. I genuinely don’t understand, considering how many of us are living in mid-century homes, why flooring companies haven’t figured out that if they give us updated mid-century styles, we will buy them.

I truly hate shopping. I had thought I just hate shopping for clothes, but no, now’s the time to admit that I hate shopping in general. I miss the Professor, who I could count on to go shopping with me and make it at least not so fucking terrible that I want to lay on the floor and just cry until it’s over.

I needed S. and her tiny Bruce Willis-looking son, but I didn’t realize that I needed her until it was almost over. But when you have friends who like to shop and don’t find it the next worse thing to having a syphilitic nose, you should ask them for help. I guess I need that tattooed on me somewhere where I can see it regularly.

But also, can I just say how much I love that the dog gets in the tub on his own? I can’t really say when he started doing this, but he just does it and it is awesome.

Rock and Wood

My floor is still a mess, but we have a plan. My plan involves shaking my fist at the sky and asking “Why is all vinyl flooring either rocks or wood?” You can put whatever you want on vinyl flooring. Why can’t I have some cool retro flowers? Or anything but rocks or wood? I am baffled.

Because of Course

I don’t think the guy I’m supposed to be meeting today is going to come through. I don’t have a time and he hasn’t called me back.

I ran out of red yarn for this afghan. I still have twelve squares and connecting everything to go. So, that made me laugh.

I’ve started this join-as-you-go afghan. It’s my first. If it turns out as cute as it is so far, it won’t be my last. I’m using Red Heart’s new self-striping yarn and so far it’s really beautiful.

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I met S.’s son yesterday. He looks like Bruce Willis. Maybe all babies look a little like Bruce Willis.

I have made the mistake of falling in love with a kitchen floor. I hope my contractor says he can do it.

I finally have how to do those red squares in my head. But I don’t see how I get up to Goodlettsville before Saturday to get more. I’m going to be real pissed if I have to reteach myself those squares. On the other hand, only twelve more!

The Kitchen, The Horror

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to live in a Victorian mansion, with the gingerbread detailing and a turret and big old floor to ceiling windows. My Grandma Phillips always scoffed at this dream and told me what I wanted was to live in a new house that looked like a Victorian mansion.

I thought she was unfairly killing my dream of happiness.

Yesterday, the crew came over to figure out why my kitchen floor is buckling. The answer goes like this. One, the plastic hose on my fridge has a slow leak. But, while that would be enough to rot the floor under the fridge after years, and has, that’s not the whole answer. The whole answer goes like this–at some point they put linoleum tiles down on the hardwood in the kitchen. Directly down. This was the equivalent of basically putting a layer of plastic wrap on top of the floor. Humidity from the crawlspace rises up into the wood of the kitchen floor and it can’t escape into the house where the air conditioner can deal with it, because of the barrier. Except that water can still seep down into the wood through any leaks.

Then, at some point, they put a layer of plywood down and then linoleum on top of that.

When they pulled everything up, my house smelled like rain. The original hardwood just opened up and let out all the moisture. Before I went to bed last night, it was still cool and damp to the touch.

So, I need a whole new floor. On the other hand, my book review doesn’t suck as much as I thought it did and I got four squares done because I was sitting around here all afternoon.

Still, I have a new appreciation for Grandma Phillips’s love of new construction. You can’t find in a new house sixty years worth of kitchen floor damage.

But if we look at one of these long enough, maybe we can forget about the other.

Frustrations

I’m ready for this red afghan to be done. These last squares just take a while to make. They’re not hard, but they don’t go fast. I’m trying to make sure I do two a night just to keep moving forward on it. I think it’s going to be gorgeous, though.

I read this terrific book for Chapter 16. My review is due Friday and I’m just having a really hard time pulling anything coherent out of my head about it.

We’re still flea-riddled, even with everyone being treated. I’m going to have to bomb the house.

I don’t think my Roomba is broken. I think the wall outlet has a short. The house should be rewired. I don’t even want to think about how that would go with the quarter inch of sidewalk on the walls. But at least, when I plugged it into a different outlet, it came back to life.

Also, my chimney is fucked up and I have to get that taken care of.

I’m going to feel much better as things start getting done, but I feel like I’m doing an exceptionally bad job of getting them done.

Obsessive Thoughts

One thing I’ve noticed is that the more fucked up I feel about other things, the more I feel like I’m fat and disgusting. I saw a really cute picture of myself from Saturday night and it was like dueling voices in my head “oh, I look cute and happy there”/”I am fat and disgusting.”

On the one hand, I’m glad I can recognize now that that’s an obsessive thought, but on the other hand, it’s really grueling.

My parents called yesterday to tell me more how to run my life. I think it makes me angry for two reasons. One is that I can run my own life just fine, thank you. I can ask for help when I need it and take care of other things myself. I don’t need people calling me up to ask if I’ve done this or that thing they think is necessary or to tell me that I need to be sure to ask this or that. I mean, we literally had a fight over whether my kitchen door would open completely once the floor was fixed.

My dad was saying that it would and I was saying that was the whole point of getting the floor fixed, but he was so hell-bent on arguing with me that he just carried on with the argument even though we were both on the same side.

Also, I’m pissed because they decided I’m going to go up there for at least two weeks in January to help my mom while my dad has knee surgery and rehab. This is something I would have gladly agreed to do, which I guess is why they felt free to just skip the part where they asked me and made this plan with me and went straight into telling me that this is what I would do. So now I’m pissed and resentful, but what can I do? Someone needs to go up there and sit with them and neither of my brothers can really do it.

Yesterday I broached them coming down here to do the surgery and in-patient rehab. Then there’d be three adults who could pitch in. I wouldn’t have to take an indeterminate amount of time off work. And it wouldn’t completely fuck the schedule of my secret big thing.

Which I guess is also why I’m super pissed. I’m doing important and interesting stuff. (Though, fuck, I cringe to write that.) Why is my life the life in the family considered expendable? Why is it that I’m the one who has to go take care of them? I have accomplished all these things. Why do they work so hard to make me feel like I’m a failure because my house isn’t to their liking?

I think they want me to feel terrible about myself so that they can control me. I don’t think they know that. Not in a way they can articulate.

I don’t know what to do about it or whether anything can be done about it. The point, I’m learning in therapy, is for me to figure out how I’m feeling more quickly and then react in the moment in ways that make me feel better.

That’s the goal–to respond to them in ways that I can live with. Not to make them change.

Not there yet.

Therapy

Hard day at therapy yesterday. But one thing I really like about this form of therapy is that it’s not so much focused on talking about feelings until there’s some catharsis, because, frankly, I know how to do that. Welcome to my blog, for instance.

But it’s a lot of “here’s how I feel. Here’s how I’d like to feel. How do I get there?” It gives me shit to do. Steps to take.

 

Bodies

Yesterday, I stumbled across a blog post about an Instagram account that’s some woman in Australia, I think, who takes pictures of herself in poses similar to ones celebrities post on Instagram, but with often hilarious ensuing results.

I had a weird experience looking at her pictures next to the pictures of the celebrities, in that, rather quickly, I found myself preferring to look at her. Her more ordinary body doing more ordinary things.

And it got me thinking of how advertising tries to show you an ideal to strive for–but the point is that you can’t get there or why would you need to keep buying things? The people need to be otherworldly and they need to have no ordinary people around them or your eye goes to the ordinary person.

It’s not just the lie. It’s the lie without comparison.

I Have Good Friends

One thing that I hate most about anxiety is that, even when good things are happening, I don’t always appreciate them. I feel like good things are happening to me right now, but they just seem so inconsequential.

I’m an anxious mess about, in no order, getting the lawn mowed, getting the kitchen ready for the guy to come in and fix the floor and the steps, coordinating getting to the therapist with getting the guy fixing the floor paid, how little progress I’ve made on the bombing story in recent weeks, whether I’m supposed to be doing something but just don’t know it with the secret project.

And there’s madness at work. Most frustratingly, me trying to pay people who won’t return my calls and emails so they can get paid.

I was supposed to have lunch with a friend today and I just had to cancel because I was feeling so overwhelmed and anxious–like, if I work through lunch, maybe I can leave early and get the house in order. The dude comes at 7 in the morning!

I’m just ranting here.

I feel helpless, like the country is going to shit and there’s nothing to be done about it. I have so much I need to do in my private life, but everything is anxiety producing. I need to get the kitchen floor fixed, but what if the economy tanks and I lose my job and then I don’t have that money because I chose to fix the floor?

So, anyway, that’s my headspace today.

On the other hand, I think I may have solved the dog’s flea problem.

Changing Paths

I have switched outer squares. I admitted to myself that I didn’t like the flower square I was making because the flower was too small and my idea of just filling it out with other, different flower squares was supposed to mask my unhappiness with the square.

There’s probably a lesson there. But I’m going to try real hard not to learn it.

I did, however, find a square I like that I think will make a fine outer loop. Also, it’s pretty “border”y, so that will let me have a simple border for the whole thing:

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Reasons I like it (even if the edges aren’t looking exactly straight here). It’s got kind of pokey features similar to the interior motif. It’s got open areas like the interior motif. It’s got a roundness to it that reminds me of the other square and, like the other square, it’s built on eight repeats in each round. And it’s got dimension without being too heavy. And the flower is nice and huge. Plus! Popcorn stitches.

I also think I have solved the dog’s flea problem. I can’t find any evidence that anyone else is having problems with the Serestro collar, so I don’t think it’s that fleas have developed an immunity to it. But what are the chances I’d get two collars in a row that would fink out?

So, this morning, I scrutinized Sonnyboy. He had no fleas near the collar or on his head or neck. None on his upper shoulders. And then, beyond his harness, on his back and back end, a ton of fleas. So, if the collar is working on the front end, why isn’t it working on the whole dog?

After our walk this morning, I took off his harness.

I don’t know why that should matter, but my fingers are crossed.

Also, my dad went to the doctor and he is cleared to drive again. His doctor thinks it was just some cartilage breaking loose, so he’s got a cane and hopefully can limp along until his scheduled surgery.

Oops

Well, dear readers, I didn’t need to worry about the strange size of the outer square because I fucked it up! But now! Now that I understand how I fucked it up, I have an interesting (to me at least) quandary.

Now that I better understand how to construct these flowers, do I do an outer ring only of this particular version or should I go through my whole motif book and do a bunch of different flowers? I’m leaning toward the latter, because the rest of the afghan is so repeaty. I think I have room for some variation here.

Anyway, fucked up on the left. Right on the right.

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Red/Read

Yesterday I didn’t even get out of my pajamas. It was too hot to walk the dog and I was just emotionally drained so I read some in this book I’m reviewing for Chapter 16–which so far is so good that I’m continually stunned at the author’s ability to get really complicated ideas across in a straight-forward and engaging way–and worked on this afghan.

So, the outer loop came together how I thought it would.

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And I am still really in love with that outer square. So easy and yet it looks so complex and lacy. But my concern was that I didn’t want the middle part of the afghan to be too distorted by connecting it to that ring of squares. So, I needed a join that would both connect both pieces fairly snugly while not stretching the outside rows of small squares without me having to tuck another ten thousand ends.

I settled on a chain-one join.

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You do a single crochet on one piece, chain one, then do a single crochet on the other piece. I’m not in love with it, but I’ve convinced myself it’s not too bad. Here’s how the whole thing looks:

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And from this perspective, the join doesn’t stand out, which is all I can ask of it. But I was feeling daunted because the outer ring, if you remember, is supposed to be those big old three-d flowers and I was like, god damn it, I’m going to have to come up with another join that makes me want to pay someone else to do it, because that square is yet another size.

But, y’all, if I just don’t do the last round in this square (or take the last round off this square, as the case may be), then it’s the same size as the squares I already have. No fancy join necessary, just my usual. Whew.

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I am a little bit worried about how the afghan is weighted. You don’t normally see ones that are so lacy in the middle and then more solid on the outsides. Usually, it’s solid middles, lacy borders. But I like it, so fuck it.