Be Strong

I used to have this idea that you’d get to a certain age and you’d just wrestle adulthood away from your parents. Somehow you’d make them see that they were incapable of making decisions for themselves and, though it would be hard and would suck, you would now make decisions for them.

This isn’t always how it goes, though. Of course. My parents don’t feel incapable of making decisions for themselves.

My dad heard the doctor say that he should try to get back to his regular life and he’s driving again. He and my mom called me from the van last night on the way home from my grandma’s.

I feel sometimes like I’m talking to two people in a slow-motion suicide pact. But, honestly, if I knew they knew they were Thelma-and-Louise-ing it, it would be easier for me to accept. I’d hate it, but I could respect it.

It’s the not knowing if they know they’re deliberately trying to die that’s so grueling. It feels like, if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing, someone–me–should step in and stop them.

I don’t know how to do that.

I have this recurring dream that I have woken up back in Illinois and my life is just following my parents around taking care of them and I have this sense in the dream that I have left something good behind or lost it, but I can’t remember for the life of me what it is.

Which isn’t deeply cryptic.

I grew up expecting to be trapped in Illinois. I have, for my whole adult life, felt like I had slipped out of some unfortunate fate. And now I have this sense that fate is coming for me, that I’m going to end up back where I was destined to be. And it makes me so fucking miserable.

There aren’t any stories about destiny that I know of where it’s not a good thing–you are destined for greatness, after all. There’s no hero’s journey where you’re destined to be the small, lonely caretaker of people who have a hard time imagining anything better for you.

I mean, I know “destiny” is the same level of bullshit as “deserves.” But knowing and not getting caught up in it are two different things.


I was at the Southern Festival of Books or napping all weekend. I realized walking the dog this morning that I don’t have anything spooky lined up for October this year. Frankly, the thing that scares me is the idea of my dad dying up there in Illinois and us being helpless to stop it.

The amount of people who call me and tell me my dad needs to be at Vanderbilt is… I mean, it feels like it’s every fucking body who knows him. And I’m like, yes, I know. But he’s not senile. He’s not incapable of making his own decisions.

This, how things are right now, is what he wants. Except he wants to be able to return to driving all over the damn country.

And yet, I’m going to be honest, I’m fucking terrified of them coming down here and what that means for my life. And that makes me feel bad. Like a shitty daughter.

But, like I told S. yesterday, if they wanted someone who could take care of them in their old age, they should have gotten me help when it was first obvious I was depressed and anxious, gotten me on meds and in therapy. You know, back when I was 14. But here I am thirty years later, just getting my shit together and I’m only this good and capable.

And I can’t have them living with me. I can’t even have them needing to see me all the time. So, this whole thing is spooking me.

The Shining Afghan

I’m making a friend an afghan that looks like the carpet from The Shining. I went with Red Heart because I want it to be sturdy as shit.

But whew, the difference between crocheting with Red Heart and crocheting with yarn you made yourself is wild! Like switching between sandpaper and silk.


My dad made it through his procedure. He says he’s feeling better. He’s letting my mom drive around town, which is so frustrating.

But it’s also informative. Watching how they make bad decisions, decisions they know are bad, and then when nothing goes wrong immediately, they decide that their decisions are okay, which then leaves them in positions to make worse decisions.

I don’t know how to have nuanced discussions about aging without falling into ageism. And, obviously, I think it’s bullshit when people who are 50 or 60 can’t find jobs because employers think they’re “too old.”

But something happens to folks after 70. And it’s not like it happens to everyone or that it happens all at once. But the difference between my parents at 60 and 65 was, like, oh, they had a few more health problems. And between 65 and 70, same. But who they were at 70 and who they are now pushing 75 is… I mean, it’s just a lot different. And I don’t think they 100% see it.

And when I see people pushing for the retirement age to rise to 70 or 72, I’m just like, Jesus. That’s going to be a fucking sad mess.


It’s so beautiful. I’m almost done, which is both a delight and a bummer. But I needed something easy after the circle afghan.

My dad made it through his heart crap.

I went and scared myself shitless at the Masonic lodge.

Yesterday I slept a lot.

And wrote a draft of my thing for the Scene.


My uncle had two stints put in his heart last week or the week before. My other uncle died of a heart thing. My grandpa on my mom’s side also died–twice–from a heart attack. The second one they couldn’t bring him back from.

My dad is going in today to have electricity shot through his heart in an effort to scar it in such a way that it deadens the electrical impulses that are causing one of his valves to misfire.

He is dying. His heart will kill him. I’m trying to wrap my head around that. I haven’t even begun to process that this is how I’m going to go. I always thought it would be pneumonia.

So much of life is deeply stupid. And hard. And in the end, we all die. And yet, we seem to do what we can to make it worse and harder, to make sure that other people suffer. And for what? It doesn’t get us out of death.

There’s no sacrifice you can make that lets you stay here. And, when this is the human condition, I’m not sure why you’d want to.

But I hate watching him miserable. I’m sad.

And I’m pissed that it’s come to this and they’re still so far away from everyone.

My Gradient is Getting Gradient-er

It’s working! I also think I’m as wide as I need to be, so after this, I think I’m not going to do any more increases.

I just love all the variations and all the little pops of weirdness. It’s very soft, but if I’m being honest, it’s also a little scratchy. I’m hoping that will work itself out when I condition it.

Also, I’m writing something for the Scene. Yes, I know. But it’s for Halloween!

The Cloak Begins

I had to frog the hood three times, but I finally made it work. Now I’m working on the cape part and debating whether I want hand holes or not.

You might get a better sense of the gradient here:

I can’t remember if I told you, but I’m using those clusters to hide the shaping of the cloak. Those are where the increases happen when they need to happen.

I also ordered a cloak pin from Etsy.

The yarn is so soft. An so beautiful. I know I made it, but I’m still in awe of it.

I am curious about how you block a non-flat object, though. It’s going to benefit from some shaping, but I’m not sure how to do it.

Small Updates

I was on the “I Don’t Speak German” podcast. So was Sonnyboy, but hopefully that’s not very noticeable. It was hard work, but I managed to say “like” nearly one million times. (Ugh.)

I finished the circle afghan!

That was very hard. So much counting. But I love it. It’s very sturdy, but I also love how fragile it looks, like it might pop apart at any moment.

And I’ve started the cloak. I love the yarn so much it makes me want to cry.

This is the hood, so the plan is for it to be a little more plain than the cape part.

But up close on the yarn!

Look at how weird and beautiful that is. Look at how relatively uniform in size it is. Look at all the little bits of color. The silk threads! God damn it. I’m so proud of this. The stitches look so great.

An Artist Needs Me

I got an email from an art professor yesterday whose student needs some yarn that looks a little rustic, with thick and thin parts, and red to kind of resemble blood vessels.

This is exactly the kind of yarn I can spin!

I also recorded an episode of “I Don’t Speak German” about the book. It should be out on Wednesday.

Pushed It

I’m feeling slightly lousier today. Maybe going from death’s door to two full days of work was not the way to go.

My goal for this weekend is just to take it easy.


The truth of the matter is that I really love how this looks, but I’m not really enjoying making it. It’s a lot–A LOT–of end tucking and there are no shortcuts on the construction. You just literally have to count and recount everything.

Did the Masons and the Triangle Afghan Try to Kill Me?

You know, sometimes I write shit like that assuming it’s obvious that I’m joking, and someone will make a comment to me in real life about how I’m paranoid.

And it makes me wonder if I’m not as funny as I think I am (seemingly impossible) or if some of my friends aren’t as funny as I think they are (also seemingly impossible).

And yet, even though I know this may be chalking in the ledger of ways I think “everything is about me,” I’m still going to title this post that, because I still think it’s funny.

Anyway, coincidentally, after spending the day in a room still tainted with the stale farts of Andrew Jackson and then finishing up the triangle afghan, I got sick. Sicker than I’ve been in a long time. Like, I’m still not entirely sure what day it is kind of sick.

Sometimes you get sick and you can still lay on the couch and crochet with a Kleenex up your nose. And sometimes you get sick and you stay in bed for three days, not quite asleep, not quite able to pay attention to the podcasts you’re ostensibly listening to. This was the latter.

But I’m still alive. Masonic Devil Farts be damned.

The Franklin Masonic Hall

I’m bummed I didn’t get to go on the tour, because apparently there’s a ton of Civil War graffiti upstairs and I’m sad I missed out. But I’m so excited they’re figuring out ways to restore and save this building.

The conference I went to is in the very same room where Andrew Jackson and the Chickasaw Nation negotiated the treaty that led to their removal. And the conference was, in part, about Indian removal.

It was the best small conference I’ve ever been to. Every talk built on what came before and gave information relevant to the talk after it. At least the day I was there, they stayed on schedule. The talks were all top-notch and interesting.

And I learned new stuff. Like massive new stuff. Like the fact that all the Native American tribes I’ve been taught were ancient and Southern–Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, etc.–developed in the 1700s and 1800s in the wake of massive, massive slave trading that cleared out a lot of the local population. Which is the other thing! The reason a place, say, here, was empty of Native Americans when Europeans got here (though we can debate about how empty it was) is because there was a massive, massive trade in Indian slaves and whole towns were wiped out so that the populations could be sold into slavery in the Caribbean.

So, basically, these tribes formed from the survivors of the slave trade banding together and fighting back. But it took all these disparate people and nations seeing themselves as a group with common interests that needed to work together. And then they did fight back enough to mostly end the Indian slave trade.

Which white learned from when they scaled up the African trade. And, in fact, apparently, it was the fact that they chose everyone with a common feature (black skin) from a whole continent that made it so hard for Africans to fight back against it. Like, there had to be a whole paradigm shift in Africa about why people were being enslaved. If you’re enslaved because your enemies captured you and sold you to white folks, then your neighbors learn that the trick is not not be enemies with the enslaving group. But that’s actually no help, because people weren’t being enslaved because they were at war with the wrong folks. They were being enslaved because they were black/Africans.

But no one in Africa–a whole fucking continent, after all–viewed themselves as having some huge commonality with other “Africans.” Just like we wouldn’t feel like we were in any grave danger if someone invaded Mexico and started kidnapping everyone with blue eyes. It would be weird and a shame, but it would take a long, long time for blue-eyed people in Alaska, say, to realize they should be terrified.

Anyway, super fascinating and I’m sorry I couldn’t go to the second day.


I’m going to the Franklin Masonic Hall today. Me and Andrew Jackson putting our butts in the same seats.

I’m so close to being done with the triangle afghan. So, of course, I spent the week spinning.

I just don’t want beautiful things to be over.

That’s probably a metaphor for my life right now, but it is also true.

But Do I Want a University?

Y’all, I am heartily considering going to law school hoping that I graduate before Becki Fallwell decides to get divorced, because, whew, her lawyer will be set for life.

“My husband passes intimate pictures of me around to his buddies without my consent.” “My husband brags about hurting me during sex.” “My husband threatens anyone who opposes him with FBI investigations.” “Here’s every news story in which he’s doing these things.”

If I had a quarter of Liberty University, the very first thing we would do is have a big lawn dance to “Truth Hurts.”


I had a really nice weekend. On Friday, my coworkers surprised me with a 20th Anniversary party at work. I got good advice on the book. I got my garage cleaned up so I can put my car back in it. The weather was amazing.

The only hard lesson I had to learn was that alpaca fiber is way, way dirtier than llama. I made a skein of yarn yesterday mostly from alpaca and it hit soap three times–when I first picked it, when I set the twist, and this morning when I was alarmed at how dirty the rinse water was.

I’m using Dawn, but I kind of wonder if I should switch to dog shampoo.

I think I’m about done with the triangle afghan.

I had been thinking about squaring it off but I really like the hexagon shape.

The Hood

So, I did make a tiny prototype! And it does give you a cute point at the back! And I’m lucky my cat didn’t murder me.

I’m also 3/4 done with this bad boy. Maybe more. Once I finish it and the circle afghan, which, bless its heart has just been languishing in my basked, I can start on the cloak.

The Final Gradient

My only worry is the hood, now. I’m half-heartedly working on a prototype, but it’s really boring and I have a lot of other (okay two other) interesting projects I should be working on).

But basically, imagine a U. My neck and head will go in the U, as if we’re looking down on the hood from above. Like (o). When I make the hood as tall as I want, do I put in a seam or do I want a flat panel at the top?

I don’t know. Maybe I should do some smaller prototypes.

The Gradient

I think I’m done spinning for the cloak. It will just be whatever size it is from the yarn I have. I’m prototyping the hood, just to make sure I feel confident before I use my good yarn on it.

This, basically, is my gradient. It’s not too bad, I don’t think. I’m really proud of how the yarn turned out.

Shoot, Y’all

I’ve been busy. I settled on all my photos for the book and I paid for permission to use all of them. So, that’s done. I had an awesome meeting at Fisk. I took my boss to Swett’s.

I had lunch with C. and M. I got my car fixed.

I spun all of the dark yarn for my cloak and I’ve moved on to the lighter yarn.

This week I’m taking a couple of days off to sit someplace different and work on my book.

I guess I should also do laundry and clean my bathroom.


So, this is my prototype for the collar of my cloak. My idea is that the shells will be where I hide my increases, which will also give my cloak a decorative element. Then shaping the cloak as I go will just be a matter of either using the shells for increases or not.

What I’m mulling over at this point is whether I’d be happier if the collar was a little bigger to start with. Right now it’s the perfect size and I know it will stretch out a little as it gets more weight, but I also want, I think, a drawstring at the collar and, as it stands now, I think that would need a little more room.

More Cloak Thoughts

My subtle gradient is working! Note that it’s lighter on the right and darker on the left.

I did some math yesterday, which sucked, but basically, I have nine bags of fiber that I’ve divvied up into my gradient. Each bag is giving me between 100 and 120 yards of yarn. According to my gauge, I need a foot of yarn for every square inch of cloak I want to make.

I remain unsure of how many square inches of cloak I’m attempting to make.

That’s outstanding question 1.

But I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough yarn planned for it. Which means I need to clean up some more of that gray llama and set up another gradient. I can’t match this one, since I used much of my good shit all up to make it, so I’m thinking of just trying to go from a very light gray to a dark gray and use that at the top of my cloak.

Question 2. Do I want hand holes?