Ghosts and Gardens

Whew, I finished what I think might be my favorite ghost story, about the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention building downtown. This year I’ve been more aware of how weird it is to root fiction so firmly in non-fictional places.  There are some places, like New York, where, by now, the city is just kind of instinctively a place and a fictional place. It’s a place you can visit and a place you hear stories about and a place that serves as a backdrop to fictional stories, some of which let a lot of the real leak into them.

And, certainly, parts of Nashville are already fictional places–the Ryman, the Grand Ole Opry, the Hall of Fame, WSM, WLAC. They are real things and they are also a part of our national dreamscape.

And last year I didn’t really fret about pulling a fictional blanket over some factual places. I kind of liked wondering if any of the stories would become true. This year, though, I do fret a little about it. Not enough to stop me, but just enough to give me something to wonder about as I reread.

I can’t remember how I was going to tie this into gardens, but I like the two “G” sounds there in the title of the post, so I’ll leave it.

Here’s how the story opens, at least the first draft:

Cities scar and bruise like people do. A wound opens and tissue builds around it when an interstate slices through a neighborhood. Folks will worry the loss of a beloved church like they worry the tender spot where a tooth has gone missing.

And then, in some cities, there are spots where the routine evil done there can make a place feel gangrenous. You turn your head from it. You catch your breath in your throat. You deliberately stop knowing what went on there. It was something that happened a long time ago. Something that doesn’t matter any more.

And you make your way past it like that city block is the shadow at the far end of a dark hallway. You will yourself to not look. You will yourself to not see. You close your eyes and dash past, and feel like you have just avoided having to know something about how the world works that you can’t explain.

Such was the case for the old hotel at the corner of Cedar and North Cherry. Patrons would complain about the loud cries and moans and wails. Other patrons would complain about the spectral men who stood outside their doors, engaged in casual discussion about selling people using words polite people now kept quiet.

An Open Letter to the TNDP

Dear TNDP,

Yet again, I have received another press release from you on a Friday that reads like it was put together by the guys who make Mad-Libs–Chip Forrester is [a negative emotion] about something some Republican has or hasn’t done.

In this case, Forrester is demanding to know if Haslam is sufficiently frowny-faced about the Gulf Oil Spill.

“Mr. Haslam’s family business has made a fortune selling gasoline and diesel fuel,” Forrester said. “Is he more worried about the fortune of his Big Oil buddies or the struggles of ordinary people like those affected by the oil spill in the Gulf?

Let me be very clear in what I am about to say.


People died. People lost their whole life’s work. People are getting sick from what happened there and they may die. Whole ecosystems have been damaged probably beyond repair. And, let me repeat, people fucking died.

And you want to score political points on the corpses of those dead people?!

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Not only is this not a way to have a discussion about who should be our next governor, this is not a way to have a discussion about how to make sure what happened in the Gulf isn’t repeated.

God damn. Y’all maybe better get out and walk around some and interact with the general public and remind yourself that this is not just some kind of rhetorical game here.

Deeply grossed out,

Aunt B.

I’m Easily Startled

After the whole dome light incident last night, I was a little freaked out and having trouble sleeping. Every noise was a killer zombie ghost who was going to touch my shoulder in a spooky manner before… I don’t know… slamming a bunch of doors. I was doing the whole little kid thing where you pull your covers over your head, like they will magically deflect the axes of any supernatural serial killers.

The trouble is, when you live in a house with another person, three cats, a dog, and possible a mouse that some idiot cats won’t catch, there are a lot of noises in the night. Is that ghostly snoring or just regular snoring? A ghost is walking down the hall! No, just the cats. A phantom peed and forgot to flush.

All thoughts I had last night.

Finally, I just had to convince myself that, if there were a ghost making odd noises, the dog would bark at it. So, no matter what I was hearing, if the dog was sleeping through it, it was just the noises of the house.

And so I was finally able to sleep.

I also need to remember to check and make sure nothing from my car is missing, in case a living person is the one who switched on my light.