This Cat

You all know how this new kitty caused my realization that Garfield isn’t a vaguely funny fictional comic strip, but a hard-hitting documentary? Finding her face-down in a pan of enchiladas. Having to fight to keep her from eating off the other end of your cheeseburger while you’re on the front end. How she will eat your spaghetti if you leave it for a second to go to the restroom. And on and on.

Last night she tried to eat a cookie! Which I was also trying to eat.

So, this morning, I encouraged the orange cat to eat her breakfast.

The trouble with cats is that they don’t understand getting even. Because now the new kitty is moping around on the back of the couch because the world is unfair.

Damn straight, kitty. The world was unfair when you were eating off my plate when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Keeping Things Moving

I think one trick to being a writer (I don’t know, really, I just have some superstitions) is to have things at various stages. What’s being shopped. What’s just about ready to be shopped. What things are still in some kind of draft form. What’s being mulled over. Oh, yeah, and what’s been sold. Ha ha ha. That’s a thing I’ve learned. Being published can start to seem almost like an afterthought. It happens so much less frequently than submitting things that it’s really easy to come to believe that the cycle of submission and rejection is the end result of all this writing.

A local artist and I are mulling over a children’s book about the sisters who gave the land for the zoo. I was at the TSLA to see what kinds of things I might think about the sisters once I knew a little bit about them. It’s nice to discover that you like the “eccentric sisters” you might come to spend some time with.

But one thing that struck me about their “eccentricities” is that the biggest one is that they tried to run a farm on the land where there’d been a farm for 200 years, even once it was surrounded by the city. And, in order to preserve the farm in the face of urban encroachment, they had to become very, very modern in their own understandings of themselves–they really ran the day-to-day life of the farm–in ways that certainly seemed strange to outsiders. But nowadays, other than having cattle in the middle of town, what’s so weird about a female farmer?

But now I need to go to the zoo and just hang out at the house and get a feel for it at that end. The Butcher and I have been tossing around ideas, but I want to see that house for myself.

Non-Walk

It’s too wet out to walk the dog. The yard is in it’s favorite “muddy, bog” stage. I didn’t really figure that out until I was almost to the shed. But the dog pooped. I consider that to be something of a victory.

I had a busy weekend–finishing the afghan, researching at the TSLA, doing some Project X stuff with LT, dinner with nm and them, shopping all Sunday morning, and figuring out the new pattern so that I can get started on the next afghan. I like it. It’s from one of the motif books the Butcher got me for Christmas and I think it’s going to be pretty cool. It is making me wonder a little bit if I might try something a little less blocky next time or with different sized elements.

And I wrote this for Pith.

TSLA Ghosts

When you come across these in the microfilm, there’s a note that urges you to ask to see the originals, if you need to see what they have to say. I did not need to see what they had to say. Or, anyway, this seemed to be saying enough.

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Thoughts for When Your Thinker’s Thinking

I have set some goals for the year. Some writing goals. I’m going to attend a con. I’m going to submit my stories to SFWA-qualifying markets first and not try a couple, get frustrated, and then flounder around for someone to publish me. Because otherwise, I’m not getting full membership. I’m going to start keeping my eye open for reprint opportunities.

Then, I feel like, with the movie and potentially full SFWA membership, I might have better luck selling Ben & Sue.

I just want to see my book, published by a publisher who is not me, one the shelves of the bookstores around town. I want to look on my shelf and say “Yep” when I see it.

I don’t quite know how to make that happen. But I’ve got a plan. I can try some stuff. I can see how it goes.

Cutting

One of the reasons I think you need to write a lot–like in a space like this–while and before you’re doing other kinds of writing is to develop the habit of trusting that the words will come. Because sometimes you need to cut, a lot. I cut the whole final 2/3 of my parrot story and went another direction from the place I made the cuts. And I did that because I trusted that I didn’t need those words, that those were not the only words I might get for the story.

When the only writing you do is the writing that really matters, how do you trust in your ability to prune judiciously? I mean, obviously, people do. They’ve developed some other way of trusting that the words will come.

But for me, a lot of it just is that I have to pull a lot of words out of my ass all the time. Even if they suck, even if every bunch of words isn’t a winner, I figure I can always revisit it later. That knowledge, pulled from blogging, has served me well. On accident. Because I certainly didn’t know how useful that shit would be when I started this blog.

Oh, This Day

It started with rescuing the dogs from the skunk adventure, which was funny and terrible, and then I had a really good lunch meeting, and then I had to explain to someone what a butt plug is, which was just… ugh… embarrassing. And then I finished The Boy Who Drew Monsters which really pissed me off. I can barely abide by movies where the problems people have would be solved if they’d just listen to each other, I cannot abide by a whole book where part of the reason things are dragging out is that no one will listen to their damn kid.

I’m tired and grouchy and also happy. I am a swirl of mixed emotions.

Important Life Lesson

If your dog ever gets sprayed by a skunk–a quart of hydrogen peroxide, a 1/4 of a cup of baking soda, and some really mild soap. Rub your dog with this mixture. Let it sit. Rinse.

The smell is still going to sit in your nostrils all day at work, though.

Or so the Butcher is learning the hard way right about now.

Let’s Look at Cool Things Together!

Lesley Patterson-Marx is working on her illustration for The Wolf’s Bane. She’s got photos up at Instagram!

Here are some early sketches.

Here’s the final drawing.

Here’s some artsy stuff I don’t understand, though I love the orange glow.

And here’s a wall of prints.

Her picture illustrates the herbal of Mrs. Overton. Here’s a picture of Mrs. Overton, for comparison (I love everything about that portrait. The look in her eye that the painter captured just warms my heart.)

Perhaps a Song The Band Did Back in the Day?

I’ve been at an impasse with my pirate story for a few days. Not a writer’s block impasse, thank goodness. But that kind of impasse where you kind of know what happens next, but you’re just not sure. Characters aren’t quite standing in the right places for them to get to the places they seem to be going. But you don’t want to go back and move them if you’re not sure about the destination.

So, I wait. I just mull over different possibilities–do these people get along? Do they not? If not, why not? And I go back and read what I’ve already written and I reconsider what that information means. Sometimes, it suggests something more than it did when I first put it down, especially once I have the conflict more firmly settled on the page. Those details might now tell me more about how the story ends.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing with the pirate story. Just waiting to see what was going to make sense.

This morning, when I opened the garage door and let the dog out into the night, I started singing “Sweet Pauline, the Pirate Queen. Prettiest gal that I’d ever seen. Mean and tough and quick with a knife. She wouldn’t be a gentleman’s wife.” And I laughed, because it was totally a little bit a rip off of “Amanda,” though faster, but also because I knew it meant that the ending was almost ready.

Seeing the Square

tails2

The other cool thing about this picture is that you can really see how a granny square, at least one of mine, comes together. I chained 4 and slip-stitched them together, then I chained three to make my first stitch of the round. That stitch tends to look just a little different than the other stitches. If you’re ever trying to figure out how something was crocheted, learning to identify that starting stitch can be really helpful. Here, in the red circle, you can see how that starting chain-3 stitch looks more like a braid than a twist. You can also sometimes tell up at the top, where the blue circle is, because it doesn’t seem to quite come together. But, depending on the yarn, this isn’t always true. The furrier yarn just southwest of the square we’re looking at hides its starting point almost completely.

The Afghan that Never Ends Comes Closer to Ending!

tails

All the squares are connected and the border is completed. All that’s left is to tuck all the ends on the connective tissue. I don’t know how long this might take. But I will say that it looks good. I have never made an afghan that appeared to be so simple but was such a pain in the ass. And I probably won’t again (though it is a good way to use up ends, so maybe it wouldn’t be so terrible to do it over a few years?). But it’s going to be really cool. I’m really proud of it.

Empty Apologies

Today one of the Vanderbilt rapists testified in his own defense. He apologized to his victim, claimed he didn’t recall what had happened, and his victim vomited.

Who can blame her?

When you know what they did to her, what the fuck good is a “sorry” anyway?

I’m not against apologizing. I think that, if you’ve wronged someone and you do genuinely feel contrition and it wouldn’t bring your victim any more trauma or sorrow to hear from you, then, yes, apologize. But then don’t expect anything in return.

Sometimes, I guess, what I mean, is that futile gestures are all we have–so you make them, because what else is there?

But when you’re trying to be found not guilty of someone’s rape is not the time to apologize for it, you know? It’s not genuine contrition if you’re still trying to slip responsibility.

Asked and Answered

I don’t know why it surprises me, but the answer to the question, “Why am I so grouchy and eating all these cookies?” is always the same.

Also, I only have one row, the border, and the row end tucking on the afghan left. So, I figure that’s another 10000000 days.

Research, Smesearch

I got the marriage certificate for Belle Phillips. It claims she didn’t list her parents. I paid $13 for the privilege of suspecting someone doesn’t know how to read an old handwritten book.

I Make Myself Happy

My story about Andrew Jackson’s parrot is now called “Sweet Pauline the Pirate Queen, Governor of Tennessee.” It’s about how Andrew Jackson’s parrot briefly was elected governor of Tennessee. And how she’s really Pauline Lafitte, the pirate sister of Jean and Pierre.

The only part I’m stuck on is how one would say “Sweet Pauline” in French.

Well, not the only part. The only two people who would come to her inaugural ball were Mrs. Polk and Mrs. Acklen. So, that’s kind of a bummer. And she had to murder the assassins the other Governor of Tennessee sent after her. Also kind of a bummer. But her eggs know the answers to all questions, so that’s nice.

Those Darlins “Be Your Bro”

During the Vandy rape trial, witness after witness has described seeing the victim in some state of distress–the roommate saw her being raped on down to the people who just saw her passed out in the hall, undressed, sick and injured–and doing nothing. Just getting out of the way.

Over and over, the students describe why they didn’t call the police or why they helped in the cover-up. Two words keep coming up–1. “afraid,” which I get. I can imagine being afraid. But 2. “brother.” These guys, these alleged rapists, were their “brothers.” They didn’t want to stand against them.

We joke “bros before hos” and Those Darlins sing all about how they “wanna be your bro.” And most of the time, it is funny. Being your friend is awesome. You seeing me only as something to “stick it in” is not that fun. Ha ha ha.

And then something like this will happen to illuminate just how far the distance between bro and something to stick it in is. What woman doesn’t want to be your bro if it means I get help, even when I’m in the wrong, if it means I get your concern, even to the detriment of the people I’ve hurt? Being your fucking bro is awesome.

I don’t know. I suspect I might have, in college, been the kind of person who would have seen something wrong and not really recognized my obligation to help. But I don’t know. Someone passed out? Someone I knew? I feel like I might not have been the right kind of help, I think I would have tried.

But you don’t know, do you? Not until you’re in those circumstances. Maybe it’s not about identifying with the people doing the terrible things as it is trying to avoid being lumped in with the the kind of people this stuff can happen to.

Anyway, I wrote about it some more over at Pith.

Memories

Sometimes, when I wake up in the middle of the night, the dog is sleeping in the hall, looking to my un-spectacled eyes, like a small cloud taking up most of the hallway, but not yet ambitious enough to become fog. And I have this sense of stumbling into something precious and mysterious and not for me. Like these are the moments that fill most of the house’s time–animals sleeping quietly while we’re not paying attention.

If a house can have memories, this must surely be what it remembers in its bones.

Today, I was walking back from lunch and I passed by the building where the Professor used to live. And I was struck by the notion that women in Nashville must always have walked home from lunch on beautiful days like this, thinking of their friends. I was just taking part in a history that doesn’t matter, that goes unnoticed, but that was always common.

If a city can have memories, women walking away from lunch must seem like the most ordinary of them, like the way you always remember what your grandmother’s kitchen looked like, or how a lightning bug feels in the hollow of your fist.