I Wasn’t Offended. I Was Disappointed and Embarrassed.

I love my job. I love my specific place and I love the larger institution. I have felt very lucky year after year to be there, among such interesting people and I have tried my hardest to make sure that I am contributing interesting things to that institution.

The idea that, if I met a brilliant coach and married him, that my cute, but not gorgeous, fat ass would count against him if he tried to get a job at Vanderbilt?

That doesn’t offend me. It breaks my heart.

Unanswered Questions in Pop Culture History

Who was Jones? How regularly was Jones sent to fuck the singer when her man just didn’t feel up to it? Was she constantly turning Jones away or did she sometimes indulge? Was Jones just not very good? What kind of guy is like “Hey, you’re my friend. Will you go fuck my gal, since I’m not feeling it right now?” What kind of guy says “Sure?”

Christ, serves Jones right that the Missus is at the cafe at six-thirty with someone else.

Oops, Democrats Didn’t Know the Line was that Far Back

Steven Hale has another post about the TNDP and the shock Democratic leaders had upon learning just how few seats the Party thought they could hold. There’s a history here that explains why folks are nervous. The TNDP has, in the past, been happy to provide no support to Democrats they didn’t think had a shot at winning.

They claim things will be different this time, but I don’t blame folks for being nervous that they might be hearing that they’re on their own money-wise.

Good Morning

It’s Walt Whitman‘s birthday and the old fireplace (not the currently used fire pit) seems to be bringing forth either raspberries or black berries. The berries are still small and green, but I have my eye on them. It seems like a good omen.

I think I can finish-finish my draft tonight. I have a coda that I think I don’t want anymore. I want that information, but I think I can move it to the chapter that more deals with that and just let the book end how it ends.

I like it. It’s either terribly hokey or perfect or both. But it works for me.

Today is my Friday since I am attempting to take every Friday this summer off. We’ll see if it’s possible, but I want to. I don’t have money to go anywhere, so I don’t want to sit around my house for two weeks, but I need to use the vacation days and twelve three-day weekends in a row sounds lovely.

I’m going to spend one of them at Traveller’s Rest, where I have never been. I know! I know. I’m rectifying it.

Mrs. W. Takes a Little Trip

I gave Mrs. W. a Benadryl at three in the morning and then forgot about it, because I was mostly asleep. But when we walked this morning she kept having to stop and put her face gently in the grass and then grin at me. I was like “Dog, what is your problem? Are you stoned?”

But I guess she was a little!

I decided to go to this writing workshop in Lexington in July before I realized that Lexington is in the eastern time zone. I am going to have to get up before the butt-crack of dawn…I guess the small-of-the-back of the night to drive up there. Not my finest planning. And I’m going to miss Nathan Bedford Forrest’s raid on the Rutherford County Courthouse.

I hope they don’t get Josh Burrows of Captain Morgan fame to play him or I will be kicking myself all over Kentucky.

A New Feeling with the Ending

I’m just about through this round of revisions, which I think is the last I can make without letting someone else read it and say “Um, what’s going on here?”

That’s three revisions, three different endings, for the count. And I am pleased with this ending. There’s a place where I want to go back and really decide if it needs a bit more drama, but the truth is that, when you’re writing about upper-class white women in the second half of the 19th century, there’s not a lot they can do. Sue and Sarah have a bit more dispensation to move around on their own than their peers, but that’s because everyone is slightly terrified of Sue. Even then, Sue’s only ever out of her house or yard when she’d desperate.

I think it’s right that the action ends up being confined mostly to houses and yards and that the central question at the end is whether a woman like Sue is even actually welcome there. My Nathan-Bedford-Forrest-ex-machina even doesn’t feel as “What the fuck? Where did he come from?” as I’d feared, since everyone talks about him throughout the book. And I think his arrival does work as an indicator of just how fucked up and off-track the bad guy has gotten. I didn’t want to write a book that somehow ended up glorifying Forrest, you know?

That would just be weird and wrong. But it is important for me to show why Forrest was so appealing to these people, what they admired about him, and why, even as they claimed they kept that admiration after he was dead, their efforts to mythologize the South could not help to alienate him.

I don’t know. It’s a story that, if it’s ever published, will probably get me run out of town on a rail–ha, ha, good luck lifting me, boys. As they say, easy enough to catch, impossible to fetch–but it seems to me to be the truth of the matter. The myth of the Old South is weird to most people, offensive to people at the wrong end of it, AND insulting to the people who actually lived it, turning them, as it does, from people motivated by actual economic and religious issues (and slavery was an economic and religious issue) into people motivated by platitudes.

I mean, to simplify to the point of being flip, if I owned a beer distributorship and mistreated my employees, I’d fight you if you invaded my warehouse. But lord almighty, I’d die of embarrassment to find my grandkids telling your grandkids we were just having a disagreement over whether the beer tastes great or is less filling.

And that’s part of what I want to get at. We make myths so that we can live with things. In Sue’s family, their story of the first time they meet the Overtons is told as if Sue’s ancestor literally fucked the Devil and then outwitted him (which is, apparently, my favorite kind of story), which is less messy than an affair that ended with whole families murdered and the Overton in question hightailing it back from North Carolina to Virginia in the middle of the night. Even that Overton doesn’t want Sue to know the true story. He’d rather be a devil in her eyes than a weak mess.

But lying to ourselves is not without cost. And I don’t know if that cost is always worth it. That’s part of what I’m trying to see. Probably for some people it is and for some people it isn’t.

I don’t know. Probably I’m not getting at this very well which is why I had to make a story of it.

Lots of Good Stuff

1. Few things move me to email strangers, but this post made me email Andrew Sullivan. Dude links to an article about American Idol’s Southerners and a lack of recording opportunities for Southerners that doesn’t even mention Nashville. Here’s my theory–and I’m right–about why there are so many Southerners on American Idol. Southerners go to church a lot more than the rest of the country, which means there are a lot more Southern teenagers in church, some of whom are singing, and some of whom are getting solos. There are more Southerners not because they lack opportunities to record, but because they have more opportunities to perform in front of a crowd. They come with some polish.

2. Cool story out of Clarksville about two men who share the family farm. I know everyone’s experience with finding their slave ancestors–or hell, even if they want to find their slave ancestors–is a kind of weird personal journey, but I swear, for the people who want to look, the responses I keep hearing and reading over and over are like Jackie Collins’s, “I was glad to find them. They had a name. They were human. They were real.” I think white people are kind of worried that, if black people find out who their slave ancestors were, they will immediately cast about for the people who enslaved them and look to be pissed at them. But you know, it’s not about us white people. We aren’t the center of every American story. A person can want to know who his great-great-great grandmother was without then turning his whole life into a revenge fantasy against the man who fucked her over.

3. An interview with Dorothy Parker. I aspire to always be so vibrantly engaged with things.

4. The Chronicle has a story about the shut-down of the University of Missouri Press. A whole lot of college administrators seem to be under the strange impression that librarians will just be able to and have the time to teach themselves how to publish books.

More on the Tennessee Democrats

Steven Hale has pretty much the definitive story on the fall of the Democrats. The only piece that seems to be missing to me is the roll of the Rosalind Kurita episode. Maybe it doesn’t, but it seemed to me at the time–and still does–as a crucial pivot point that really read differently to the Democratic Party than it did to voters who traditionally voted Democratic.

I think the Party thought it was playing hardball with someone they perceived of as disloyal.

I think a lot of voters felt that this was a clear demonstration that the Party was so corrupt and so good-old-boy-ish that it would demolish anyone who put the good of the state over the good of the party.

It’s possible that the Kurita incident would have blown up in Democrats’ faces no matter what the Party did. But what it did do sent a couple of messages the Democrats still don’t want to take responsibility for sending. One is the primacy of party interests over state interests–though it sounds from Hale’s article like they may finally get this. The other is the message it sent to women about how the Democratic party treats female candidates. If you know you live in a state where the baseline–across parties–is not very woman-friendly and one party at least puts women in leadership positions, why would you leave your loyalty with the other party?

I mean, I know why I do. But why would a regular Tennessee woman?

Until the TNDP has some good answers to that question, all they can do is wait for the Republicans to fuck up so bad (while hoping their own Democrats don’t go down with them) that women will come back to them in disgust.

I would, if that is the strategy, invite all skeletons in any prominent closets to be dealt with now. Because voters whose motivation is disgust can be easily motivated to leave you for the same reason.

Blah blah blah etc.

I was busy today and I hurt my arm weeding. And I was only going to weed until it got too hot, but I weeded all of the front lilies instead, which was probably too much.

It’s Memorial Day and everyone is exhorting everyone else to remember those who died so that we could have this freedom. And I’m just not feeling it this year. I just keep thinking of the National Cemetery down in Chattanooga, those concrete boxes wet with rain, waiting for the earth to be scooped back so that they could be buried until needed. Which they will be.

Today on NPR they had a story about a guy trying to find some peace and healing in a sweat lodge. He feels like he’s become a monster because of the war and he would like his old self back.

I’m thinking about him, too.

And the next one, and the next.

I don’t know. To me gratefulness that doesn’t result in actual proper treatment for living service members and veterans isn’t really gratefulness.

We have a day to remember, but I just don’t see things in our society changing in ways that makes me think we actually do.

Things, Mysterious Things

I can’t help but feel like, if only I could figure out how to use the TSLA’s photo site better, I would be having a better time of this.

I did find this helpful 1862 lithograph. And here are some nice photos. I don’t know why this came up in my Google search, but it is thanks to my Ben Allen research that I know this is not a wedding ring, but a Masonic ring.

But here’s the mysterious thing.

No, not Downtown Presbyterian, which we are all familiar with, I’m sure. Look in the lower left-hand corner. Is that a cemetery?!

Now check this out–the Google Street view of the across the street from the Downtown Presbyterian church now:

Is that plaza a memory of the old church yard? A haunted spot in plain view?

Damn it, What is that Song?

I was working on revisions this morning and was thinking of that old folk song where a guy kills a woman (which, yes, I realize means that I’ve just narrowed it down to “all the old folk songs) and then the woman haunts the guy and so her murder is revealed. I believe it has a line like “Woman’s Name was a ghost.”

But I can’t come up with it and my Google-skills have failed me. Google seems to be claiming that the UK had all the vengeful ghosts and by the time the songs got over here, the women didn’t haunt the dudes any more.

So, I had to make my point a different way. But the point I was trying to make is kind of two-fold. One is that in the antebellum South, ghost stories provided a way to speak about things that you couldn’t speak about openly without upending the social order (which is probably still true today). But second and my more main point is that the prohibition against consulting with spirits was an important theological point.

If you imagine the plantation as a giant chandelier, the patriarch of the family was the hook by which the beautiful thing he maintained was attached to Heaven. If he consulted with spirits instead of relying on God, the who edifice would fall.

Anyway, I’m about 90 pages from the end, so, just about to get into the parts that make me most nervous. But I’m feeling like I almost have a draft I can show someone other than me.

I just need three things first.

1. A better idea of how 1860 Nashville looked so that I can give a better description of it.

2. A better idea of how late 1880s Nashville looked, for the same reason.

3. The song about the dead chick.

Well, and for me to read through the ending and feel like it works.

Jumping the Gun

I’ve been wanting to do an afghan in all different shades of blue. And since the country music conference is a lot of sitting around listening to things, I had time to work on it. It’s for a baby, obviously, because polkadots this tiny on a big blanket would drive me to drink. I know it doesn’t look like much here, but that’s 44 squares, just one shy of being half done.

I think it should be nifty.

I Have Seen Something I Never Thought Actually Existed

You know how there’s the stereotype of the condescending “left-coast” vegan scholar who is going to enlighten the world with his mix of asshole cluelessness? I know a lot of scholars and so I didn’t think that person actually existed, just that it was a boogeyman to trot out in order to have something to complain about when complaining about higher ed.

I stand corrected.

Today I listened to an L.A. vegan give a presentation about animal cruelty in country music. He actually referred to a barn as an animal prison. And he put on a Bob Nolan song and exhorted us to listen to it from the perspective of the cow. Let me just say that, if you can hear the name “Bob Nolan” and know who he is and not think very naughty, Captain Morganish thoughts, you are a better person than I am. If a cow can hear a Bob Nolan song and think about anything other than how to get Bob Nolan to let it nuzzle his neck, that cow is a better person than me. In a perfect world, Bob Nolan and Idris Elba make a movie where Nolan sings and Elba looks over the top of his glasses.

Oh, oh, oh. I just read on Idris Elba’s Wikipedia page that he’s a hip-hop soul recording artist. Imagine a movie in which Bob Nolan, Idris Elba, and Dean Martin are firemen by day and tuxedo-clad singers by night. On weekends they work at a dude ranch, swapping charming bon mots and disparaging Jerry Lewis. Also singing.

While oppressing horses and cows.

I guess it will be an unhappy movie for the Critical Animal Studies folks.

It was disappointing because I thought someone could have given a really interesting talk about actual instances of animal cruelty in country music songs as a way of talking about how ruralness and masculinity and authenticity are encoded. Though, honestly, other than the poor gators in “The Battle of New Orleans,” (speaking of which, apparently Johnny Driftwood’s original was four minutes long, contained more cussing, and ended with fucking Andrew Jackson buying his men French hookers. Why hasn’t someone remade that?!) I can’t really think of any… well, I guess traditional songs like “The Wild Hog in the Woods.” But still, if you moved beyond just “But they all wear rodeo-inspired clothing, which celebrates animal cruelty and exploitation and is upsetting to animals,” there’d be some interesting stuff to say.

But here’s the thing. I think there are very good reasons to be a vegan. I even think that not wanting to harm animals or benefit from their exploitation is a fine reason to be a vegan. I’ve eaten vegan foods and found them yummy. I know vegans. But I honestly thought that guys like this–who believe it’s wrong to own pets, for instance–were fake.

Maybe it’s the fact that he doesn’t own a pet that is the problem. Y’all know I love Mrs. Wigglebottom and I think she can understand basic words and maybe even some kinds of sentences. She understands some tone things. I think I can tell when she’s happy and in pain and feeling puny. Though, not always, and that distresses me. And that’s the thing. I’ve lived with this dog every day for over a decade. I’ve slept with her nestled in the curve of my legs, butt to butt. I’ve put things in her ear. I’ve pulled things off her butt. I’ve cleaned up her poop. There’s simply not a person who knows that dog better than me.

And, at the end of the day, she is a mystery to me. She moves through the world in ways that are foreign to me. Most of the time, I have no idea what she’s thinking. I just hope that she is as happy to hang out with me as I am to get to hang out with her.

But I don’t know.

So, when this guy is all “Imagine this song from the cow’s perspective,” I had to laugh. I barely know how to imagine what my dog might think of something–I think she likes jazz; I’m pretty sure she’d prefer the window in the car be down; she’s probably game for a walk. I would never assume that I knew what a cow’s perspective was. And I certainly wouldn’t assume I could judge whether they were feeling oppressed by someone wearing leather shoes, you know?

But I also think that there’s a way in which this level of animal rights advocacy is actually about the preservation of hegemony. It’s like these yahoos have soaked in all the language of the Civil Rights movement and the feminist movement and then decided that, if they become the spokespeople for “people” (animals) even more oppressed, then not only are they the only ones who can correctly interpret what animals want or need, but they get to declare that the actual liberation of people comes secondary to their agenda.

The idea that you could look at the people who work rodeos or who hunt for food and see them as being high enough up on the “who’s fucking over whom” pyramid that they need a good scolding from academics about not be sensitive enough to the animals’ feelings is just hilarious to me.

Anyway, it wasn’t all bizarre exhortations to consider the cow. Earlier in the day, a guy gave a really interesting presentation about all the black musicians who played on hillbilly records back in the early days of recording. Lonnie Johnson, for instance, was one and the Mississippi Sheiks. They weren’t always credited, but new research has made their presence more visible.

And apparently a band could release the same song on both race and hillbilly records under two different names and they just kind of fudged on what race you were, depending on your audience. He showed documentation where the record execs were like “Make this hillbilly” on a race recording (not an exact quote, but you get the idea). It was really interesting.

Speaking of fudging, Sam reminded me of the big Melungeon news–turns out that they’re not Portuguese Indians, after all. Which I guess we all knew. Still, there must have been some later intermarrying with Native Americans. I’ll be curious if they look into that, next.

Fetal Twin Foot Nipple

I lost my awesome gynecologist to teaching and so have had to go to her old partner. I was nervous, which meant I was babbling, so I ended up explaining to her my fear of having some fetal twin issue–like a nipple on the bottom of my foot or an eyeball in my brain (thank you, Stephen King). And this is how I knew I was going to be fine with her as a gynecologist: she was like “Oh, I know. Some things, you just hear about and you become convinced you’re going to have it. It just gets stuck in your brain. I’ll have to go home and check myself for a fetal twin foot nipple tonight. It’s not rational, but you can’t help it.”

And then she said “Oh, but don’t worry. If you had some fetal twin issues, they would have manifested by now.”

You can age out of fetal twin issues? Fuck yeah. That makes me feel better about my birthday.

Well, I Like It

I’m having fun with this draft, I must say. I’m liking it a lot. But, like I told the Professor yesterday, I am having  a hard time trusting my judgement. After all, I really like Flock and can’t get anyone to pay me for the privilege of agreeing with me that it’s good.

You know when you don’t want to feel like you can’t trust your judgement? When you’re revising.

I was also telling the Professor how I came to be at the top of a bunch of stairs that, under normal circumstances, I would not be able to get down. They don’t have a railing and they slope downhill. And yet, I had my purse with me and my purse, if I hold it by the handle and bend over just a smidge, rests on the ground. Putting my purse on the ground gave me a sense of balance I don’t normally have under these circumstances, and I got down the steps no problem.

I even tried it again to make sure.

And this is like the flip side of how I experience being in my body when I’m having a panic attack. Under those circumstances, I feel like my body just will not do what my brain knows I can do. I really do experience it as if I have an animal self and a conscious self which are, under almost all circumstances, so closely aligned that I mistake them for being the same thing. But, under some circumstances, over which I have little choice, the animal and me become somewhat uncoupled, each acting autonomously and, since the animal is the body, my mind doesn’t really have any control over it.

But here I am at the steps, a known circumstance for decoupling. And yet, setting my purse on the ground prevents that. Even though my brain the whole time is “This is so stupid! The handle is slack! It’s vinyl for gods’ sake. It’s not, somehow, holding you up! Why don’t we just call the Professor right now and have her come get us before we fall down the steps?” and my body is already down the steps.

I know there’s no such thing as multiple personalities. But I have to tell you, I don’t think our personalities are as singular as we like to pretend, either.


1. The Library just needs to subscribe to John Scalzi’s blog and buy everything he features there, because I was all “Oh, I’m going to reserve this before I tell anyone about it!” and the NPL doesn’t have it. Grr. But come on! Menopausal werewolf women? I want to read this yesterday!

2. A school over in Charlotte is infested with bats, who bit a teacher, who is now, weirdly, sparkling. Please note the lengths to which they go to keep from having to say “poop, bat poop.”

3. Oxford University is going Yeti hunting.

4. “The werefox interpretation of the ballad is not traditional.”

5. It’s hard for me to express how much I love my birthday present. Every time I look at them, I smile. I was thinking that, if I ever do sell the Sue Allen thing, I am going to celebrate by commissioning the Bell Witch in her hare-headed dog aspect, the Wampus Cat, and The Thing. How awesome would that be?


1. The Scene has a really cool cover story this week, which I felt skirted a little too close to my territory, but I’m just being possessive.

2. W. has a couple of posts about Civil War Tennessee which I enjoyed about parts of the state that wanted to secede in either direction–Union and Confederate.

3. Governor Baby is going to campaign for his Republican friends. I am dying to see whether he actually has coat-tails anyone can ride. In my opinion, if Governor Baby can actually help people get elected, then you know the poll that showed Obama beating Romney in Tennessee isn’t completely full of shit and that the state may indeed be more moderate than given credit for (though Obama is simply not going to beat Romney here. That part is wrong no matter what.). But if Governor Baby’s endorsement means nothing, then you have evidence that the Republican party is much more conservative than Governor Baby can fake being.

In that case, it will be interesting to watch to see if Governor Baby accepts his positioning as a moderate and works that side of the street more heavily to try to drum up enough Democratic support to get reelected.

Oh, the Electric Guitar

The most awesome thing they had at the Country Music Hall of Fame this time was an old, kind of rotted tiny body of an electric guitar. One that someone had hand-made like 90 years ago. All the electrical parts were missing, but I still felt like… I don’t know. We’re such an innovative species.

A Good Day

I spent a genuinely nice day with my parents yesterday. We went to the new park and walked around and then went to the American Pickers store and walked around and then went to that Indian restaurant on Demonbreun which my parents did not complain about at all, even though the food all touched on their plates and was weird. But, like me, they are a sucker for any culture that can cook well with cauliflower.

Okay, and then this is the coolest part–we were leaving and my parents were going on about how delicious everything was and I said I was only sad because I wanted my parents to be able to try those cheeseballs in the sweet sauce, but their dessert was that carrot stuff instead (which my parents also loved) and people, I am not even kidding you, they insisted we sit back down and they made us some of those cheeseballs. And then they didn’t even charge us for them!

So, my dad fed the three of us for about twenty bucks, which he then raved about for the rest of the day.

Then we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and we all sang loudly in the conch shell things, because, as awesome as the Museum is, you’d think there’d be more singing along, but there is not.

And then we sat in the atrium and had a pop and people-watched until there was a fire drill and we got run out of the building.

Then we went shoe-shopping and looking for frames for the posters.

Then we went to The Pharmacy for dinner, which I think my parents also liked. I couldn’t tell. My dad was disappointed that there’s not a place in town that could make him a Black Cow–a root beer float with chocolate ice cream. I thought, if any place, The Pharmacy could whip that up, but they don’t have chocolate ice cream.

Then finally we found some frames and then we came home and I was so tired.

And I’m still kind of exhausted now, but it was nice. Like “We all just went to a Del McCoury concert!” nice.

Ladders, Monsters, and Birthdays in General

Leave it to the Butcher to know what will cheer me up on a strangely hard birthday. My parents got me a ladder, which is nice and what I needed, but the Butcher remembered me waxing on about some locally made posters and so I woke up this morning to find that I was sharing a bed with a Sasquatch, a yeti, a kraken, and a Loch Ness monster. I’m hoping I can pick up some 11×17 frames fairly easily today because I’d prefer my Dad and the Butcher work together to hang them.

I’m still feeling a little off-kilter. Perhaps birthdays and family and dead family and cat-sitting and country music conferences are just too much all at once.

Still, as the song goes, I hope this day is good.

Ha ha ha, this is exactly why I love Don Williams. It’s not just that his voice is so effortlessly beautiful, it’s that he sings songs that sound like the only kinds of prayers I could ever sincerely pray.

This is a good version, too, because it’s heavy on the mandolin.

Chattanooga Thoughts

One of my stories got rejected while I was in Chattanooga. It’s stupid to be bummed about it because I knew it wasn’t quite right for the market and they knew it wasn’t quite right, but they still took a lot of time to consider it and wrote me a lovely personal rejection.

But still, tomorrow I turn thirty-eight and I am devoted to a life that circles around me having enough time to do something that I’m just not that good at. I’m good enough at it that I don’t feel like I can just quit. It’s like, you know, if you’re a pitcher and your opponents are routinely scoring eight runs on you, it’s time to give up your dreams of the Big Leagues. But say that your top speed is just two miles an hour slower than where the scouts would like to see you? How long do you spend pushing yourself in the back yard–and I’m not just talking about how long after dark, I mean, how many evenings with only the fireflies for company? How many months? How many years?

And yet, I just can’t stop. I can’t conceive of my days spent not writing. I’ve got nothing else to organize my life around. I don’t enjoy anything else as much.

I wanted to say something about the day in Chattanooga. I guess I still feel strangely disconnected from the battlefields, though I go to them. The dying in the hospital or the long trek from Bridgeport to Anderson’s Crossroads and down to Chattanooga feels more real to me. To be so far from home, in this beautiful place, not sure if you’re ever going to get safely where you’re supposed to be.

But the thing that really stuck with me were the lines of vaults at the National cemetery, the ones crowded side by side above ground waiting for the ground to be opened to them, and the ones already in the ground waiting for the dirt to cover them. I had thought they were in the dirt more. Like the dirt was a muffin tin, the vault the aluminum foil, and the war dead the cupcake batter. But there is no muffin tin. It’s more they dig out all the dirt to form a cake pan, place the vaults in the cake pan side by side, row upon row, and then frost the whole thing with dirt and grass, to give the appearance of a solid cake.

It looked very efficient. If you like order, then there’s something appealing about that. And even in the older part of the cemetery, David Ransom was so easy to find. Everything is so well-marked. Well-ordered.

Is that better than having your remains left under the Bridgeport football field?

I can’t say. The only people I know of who would still visit Ransom–us–went both places. The football field is in a lovely part of Bridgeport, up on a hill, surrounded by lovely trees. There’s frequently the sound of children.

The cemetery is enormous and very quiet and, from Ransom’s grave, the whole city seems so far away. And the cemetery keeps filling up, dead upon dead upon dead.

Oh, that reminds me, on our way down, we stopped to go to the bathroom at a gas station at the bottom of the mountain, the first exit after Monteagle. And there, next to the gas station, was a small cemetery with a crumbling stone cairn. In front of it was a marker and I can’t remember the dude’s name, but it said “He deathed this life” on such and such a date.

Isn’t that something? “He deathed this life.”

But that’s kind of how I felt about the national cemetery–that is a place for the process of deathing.

And the football field, obviously, is still used for living.

This is a hard birthday. I’m not sure why, but it is.


This is what I have to say on the matter. Mooney was no saint, to put it mildly. And he certainly deserves derision.

But not for things he didn’t do. He didn’t, for instance, break the law to marry a girl nine years his junior (and let’s be clear, that would make her almost literally half his age–a young man marrying a child) or almost nine years his junior, even though that’s what scholars say about him.

Not to mention that a story in which her father breaks the law to give her to a man makes her father look like a monster. Is it fair that this should be his reputation if not earned?

Maybe it’s a stupid story, but I just don’t think “man cleared of crime” actually is. And I don’t understand why the hostility against that coming out.