New Things

The Butcher’s wedding looms. They’re trying to do a low-key thing, like afternoon wedding with cake and punch afterwards. It’s like they’ve never met our family, which should make the wedding super awkward, with all these opinionated strangers standing around.

I told the kids this weekend that I was going to be their step-aunt. They were more excited about having step-cats. Which, you know, fair enough.

I’m really happy for the Butcher and kind of excited to have the house to myself. And I’m sure it will also be lonely, but man, the dryer will be empty whenever I go to use it.

I think I’m going to win the cat argument, but it’s kind of a bummer because I think the reason I’m going to win it is that it’s sinking in to the Butcher how old the cat is. He didn’t get up to walk with us this morning and didn’t get up to get breakfast. He’s still asleep in the Butcher’s room as we speak.

Oh, god, I hope he’s not dead. Ha ha. I mean, I’m sure the Butcher checked before he left.

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Adventure!

Next weekend, I’m giving a presentation about how I go digging for interesting history stuff. So, I spent this weekend looking for interesting history stuff. Basically, I was trying to figure out if I could figure out where Bud Rogan was buried.

In order to do that, I ended up learning a lot about his family and some about the other black Rogans in Sumner county who came off the Rogan plantation. All of slave-owner Francis Rogan’s white sons fought for the Confederacy. One died. In 1860, Francis had 75 slaves. Seven Rogans joined the Union army. A tenth of his captives. One of them also died.

A couple of Rogans played professional baseball back in the day, men whose families trace back to the Rogan plantation.

And I learned that anywhere Titus Rogan–Bud’s uncle–was there was going to be a Baptist church. The Rogans, in general, seemed to be very religious and even now there are a number of Rogans in the ministry, but Titus, man, you found him in the census, you found a church with active Rogan support nearby.

The other thing that I found really amazing is that the Rogans formed a community out there in rural Sumner County that was bigger than the plantation, Rogana. Cragfont, the Winchester home, was south of Rogana. The Parkers were east of Rogana and a branch of the Franklins were west (hilarious trivia–these Franklins had a kid with the middle name of Armfield and another kid named Nathan Bedford Franklin, because, I guess, why not embrace the family business whole-heartedly?).

And when you look at records for the Rogans, what names come up? Parker, Winchester, Franklin. These families, from adjoining plantations, moved together and built communities together after slavery. A Rogan who knows a Parker today has a friendship based on two hundred years of relationships.

When you consider how much time and energy enslavers devoted to severing those kinds of ties, it’s really incredible. And it’s something I’d like to know more about.

Anyway, here’s a church I found that sprung up near a road Titus Rogan lived on. The congregation goes back to 1865, supposedly. I can’t speak for this building, but it’s obviously pretty old.

Leap

Today the dog leaped over the creek after treeing a cat. I was struck by his graceful confidence, which, though I love this dog, seems a confidence wholly unearned. He made it fine, though.

On Twitter, I saw a person recounting a story of her elderly grandmother’s surprisingly progressive response to a relative’s life situation, the whole family, really, way back in the early 1900s.

I didn’t quite believe the story. It seems a little too perfectly aligned with our politics today and less so with what I know of the politics of the time. On the other hand, who knows? The world is a big place and people have been surprising in it a long time.

But then someone jumped down the storyteller’s throat about how the terminology the grandmother had used in the story–remember, a story recounted as having happened in the early 1900s–was hurtful.

Which, I have to say, is pretty damn likely, being as it was the early 1900s.

And then the storyteller apologized and said she had made a mistake trying to cram the whole story into 140 characters and the grandmother had actually said the thing we would say now.

And then I knew the story was bullshit. But no one else seems to. They’re all just pleased about the apology.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter that the story is bullshit?

I don’t know. I have a hard time knowing if things I remember are real–partially because I think I do genuinely have a shitty memory and partially because I have been trained since childhood to believe that there is always some generous way to interpret a situation that will explain the behavior of assholes, so I have always found my own memories and feelings about things suspect. But that’s why I want to know things, true things. I want to see for myself things I can count on. Even if they’re painful or imperfect.

So, I can’t understand this other impulse to have a story–passed off as true–that probably isn’t true, but tells us that how things are now is how they always have been, we’ve just been denying it.

Senor Don Gato

This cat, the one who fashions himself as a four-legged Clint Eastwood, is driving me crazy. For some reason, he’s put himself in competition with the dog. If the dog gets head scratches, he needs head scratches. If you’re eating something and he thinks you might let the dog lick your plate, he’s going to need to lick your plate first. Are you trying to do anything the dog can see? The orange cat will need to sit in your lap then. Last weekend I sang a song to the dog and the cat harassed me for like twenty minutes before I figured out that he expected a song, too.

I don’t even think he likes this shit. It doesn’t seem to improve his mood. I think he just wants what the dog gets and so, if he gets it, that’s good enough for him.

But the worst part is that, at breakfast, he really wants to lick the last of the milk out of your cereal bowl and so he sits right up next to you, not quite touching, but close enough that no dog can butt in, and rests the very tips of his whiskers on your arm, as if to monitor the situation for any changes in arm motion that might indicate you are done with your cereal.

It feels like a army of Daddy-long-legs standing on my arm. It’s so weird.

 

Stings

Y’all, some Redditor thought my willapus wallapus piece was poorly written and as silly as I think that is, I admit, it stings a little. I’m not sure why. Like, I read that piece and I still find it funny as hell.

But here’s the thing that I have noticed over the years writing for Pith. No matter how obviously funny my posts are, a lot of guys don’t recognize them as even attempts at humor. Not me trying to be funny and them just not finding it a joke that strikes their funny bone, but legitimately, I don’t think that, once they’ve assigned a “female” voice to a piece in their heads, they recognize the signals that say “this is a joke.”

I mean, I’m fine with a joke not landing. They can’t all be winners. But the older I get, the more I write, the more comfortable in my writing I am, the more it weirds me out–this unrecognition.

***

There’s this guy where I work. I don’t work with him. He’s not even affiliated with my employer. He’s just with a group who also has office space in our building. Ever since he started, he’s kind of given me the heebie jeebies, though I can’t really say why. It’s a kind of over-familiarity and standing too close and…I don’t know. Nothing has happened. I keep an eye on him like a hawk. I don’t have any evidence of him deserving my bad feeling.

But yesterday he came up to me in the hall, saying he got a new phone and now he can’t get on the wifi in the building and would I mind typing my user name and password into his phone? Which he then shoved at me. Then he stood too close to me to try to show me how he just couldn’t figure out how to get hooked up to the wifi and I faked ignorance. I said IT had walked me through it over the phone and I didn’t remember what they’d done, but it was a few complicated steps. But he kept thrusting his phone at me.

But finally, he then changed to standing again way too near me and wanting to chat about where IT was and did I have their phone number.

The whole thing was just super weird. Like, every instinct I had said not to touch his phone for any reason and to get away as soon as possible.

***

Today this news is reporting on this pervert cop over in South Carthage who openly harasses women and everyone knows it. The women he’s harassing are all too poor to hire lawyers and sue the town and the mayor doesn’t want to kick him off the force because he’s just two years from retirement.

So the continued suffering of the women in South Carthage is more acceptable to the mayor than fixing the problem and maybe hurting his buddy.

And he’ll probably continue to get reelected.

***

It’s hard sometimes not to feel like I am not and will never be allowed equal footing, that it’s too hard to see me as a person.

High Blood

A long time ago, I read a book about rootworkers in Detroit. Don’t quote me on this, but I think it was called Walking Over Medicine. But in it the author talked about how a problem with getting people healthcare can come when people who practice folk medicine and recognize folk ailments talk in those terms to people who went to med school.

One such folk ailment was “high blood,” which, when people complained about having high blood led the doctors to be very confused because often the people didn’t have high blood pressure at all. But “high blood” was a folk ailment. (I tried to look up “high blood” on Google, but it still seems like most scholars are linking it to blood pressure and I remember this author talking about high blood, low blood, thick blood, and thin blood and other types of blood. It wasn’t some cutesy way of talking about blood pressure.)

I’m fascinated by folk ailments, some of which seem completely social–like, if you don’t live in that community, you will never have this ailment–but others seems like a name for a constellation of symptoms that otherwise might not have a name. We talked about this before with having a cold in your eye or a cold in your back.

I don’t remember what the symptoms of high blood were. But I woke up in the middle of the night because the sound of my pulse in my ear was so loud. I don’t know if it was the front bringing rain pushing through or a minor cold or what, but my ear is stuffed up. Eventually, I found a way to lay that let it drain and the sound lessened. I went back to sleep.

But, when I woke up, there in the middle of the night to that loud sound, my very first thought was “This must be high blood.” It’s right there, in my head, high up.

But since I never understood what high blood was, I don’t know if I have it now. But I did think it was funny that that’s what came to mind, rather than, “Oh, shit, I better not be getting a cold.”

Nothing

I didn’t do anything all weekend. I mean, I finished that afghan and I did dishes forever and some laundry and walked the dog and wrote a Pith post. But I saw no one and had no real deadlines and slept a lot.

And I’m feeling pretty good this morning. It’s definitely not as bad as when I started the medication, but I’m feeling the change in medication. No use in denying that. And it was nice to have a weekend where I could just be all “I will be a weird ugly tired mess in my own home” and I was!

I’ve been trying to write stories about aliens, to expand my repertoire to include “sci-fi,” but I had to admit to myself this morning that I just don’t find them very interesting. I don’t know if this is a lack of imagination on my part, but we barely understand cephalopods. It took us a long time to recognize how intelligent they are because their intelligence is so different from ours. And those are carbon-based life forms distantly related to us.

I’m not convinced we would recognize aliens if they got here. And as for communicating with them, I just don’t believe we’d have a whole lot of success at it.

So, it’s hard for me to figure out what I would find compelling about unrecognizable things passing unnoticed among us having either no effect on us or no effect we ever noticed. Like, how often does an ant contemplate an eagle, you know?

Anyway, so that’s something I learned about myself: eh, aliens. Don’t want to write about them.

Which is weird because I like to read other people’s stories about aliens. But whatever, the brain is a weird place.

Goth Baby Blanket

So, I did my first zigzag afghan. I’m very pleased with how it turned out, even though I did it wrong the whole way through. I was a third into it when I realized the pattern was calling for working into the back loop instead of the front loop (I guess so you’d get a little puff on each row?) and I had worked into the front loop. But, I wasn’t going to frog a third of an afghan that had all been done one way. I just continued forward in my wrong manner, figuring the baby wouldn’t care.

Anyway, I love it. A friend wants me to eventually make a big one for her, but I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about it. If I could figure out how to do this exact afghan, but scaled up to adult size, I’d be on that in a second, but the spider webs between each chevron and the border aren’t going to scale up. So… I don’t know. I’ll have to think about how to do it.

But lord, do I love this. Vampires would wrap their babies in this.Wednesday Addams probably had one of these.

img_1389

Checking Things Off the Checklist

–Washington Post stuff, done.

–Dishes, done.

–Four metric tons of garbage hauled out from the kitchen, done.

–Oh, shoot! Cool afghans, done! And both their recipients were thrilled. S, that makes me very happy.

–Now I’m working on a goth baby blanket.

–And I have to prep for a talk I’m giving on March 3.

–And sleep for a million years.

We were out of cereal and bread and eggs and anything a reasonable person could eat for breakfast, so I had stale pink lemonade PopTarts. I now feel kind of like death. I’m full, but I’m contemplating if there’s a place I could stop for something not made of nuclear waste for breakfast or else when I see nm at lunch, I’m afraid I’m going to literally be a jittery sugar-crashing mess.

The Last Post!

Argh, this was so much fun. And I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders being done with them.

Also, I have been fretting about whether it’s too flip to call the drugs I’m on “crazy pills,” so I just want to reiterate that this is all about me. I am deeply self-conscious about this and am really glad for the improvements, but also feeling not quite like myself while changing doses and saying the thing I’m nervous about hearing is just my way of feeling some control over it, like I can show myself that it doesn’t hurt or feel like a terrible judgment, that it’s okay.

In Which Your Narrator Learns an Important Lesson

Do not adjust your crazy pills the same week that you are trying to finish two pieces for The Post that you absolutely want to get 100% right and in which you have heavy-duty day job stuff going on.

But all my pieces are turned in! Tonight I may even do the dishes for the first time since…I genuinely can’t remember. It may have been two weeks. The kitchen looks like an annex of the dump.

But over at Pith I wrote about this weird happening in Nashville back in the 1880s–The Willapus Wallapus.

And on Tuesday, I wrote about Adia Victoria’s vexed relationship with Americana music.

Today I just sent them a post on hauntings. It should be good, I hope.

The Second Thing

My second thing went up for the Post!

I’ve got my third thing mostly written, I just need to clean it up this weekend. And at least I know what I’m doing for my fourth thing, I think, assuming it comes together quickly.

I went back to the doctor yesterday for my crazy pills check up and she’s upping my dosage. I wonder if I’ll go through another period of sleeping a great deal or what. But she seemed pleased by how things were going and agreed that we can see what the medication is helping and what I need to see someone over at this point and so I have to find a cognitive behavioral therapist.

Will I be non-fucked-up by Christmas? We shall see.

I’m still somewhat frustrated with my brain’s ability to pop up this bullshit that ruins my day. Today the Butcher told me this awesome news about a friend of ours who got this amazing job offer, basically a huge promotion at this place she’s only been working a year. So, it’s super great, even if she decides not to take it, I think, because it means she’s doing a really stand-out job and is working some place where they recognize her talent.

But I swear, my first thought was “Wow, that’s really great.” And my second thought was, and this is funny, so it’s okay to laugh, but also not funny, “I have done nothing with my life. I’m not even married to Jason Statham.” And I felt it, this wave of crushing failure and disappointment.

Which, yes, it’s funny. But come the fuck on, brain. I watch a couple of movies with an actor I enjoy over the course of a couple of months and now it’s proof of my failures as a person that I’m not married to him?!

Like, just what the fuck is my brain trying to do to me here?

But it’s also funny and curious to me because before I was medicated, usually when something funky with the anxiety would happen, I would feel this massive disconnect between my brain and my body and my sense of self would be in my mind with the alarm coming from the fact that even though I was having all kinds of rational thoughts about how ridiculous this panic attack was, my body did not give a shit and was going to just act like an animal without my input.

But this morning, I instantly knew my brain was being ridiculous and that here in my body, things were fine.

I’m also cutting myself a little slack here because I think I’m just having big feelings this week. I’m really happy about how the Post is going and I also feel a lot of pressure to try to make sure each post is good and that Alyssa didn’t misplace her trust in me when she asked me to do this. And I still feel some big unnameable feelings about Mr. X sniffing around–some mix of anger and sadness and longing and missing how nice it felt and then anger and rejection again.

But I also think that, no matter how fucked my brain is, it wasn’t going to just toss out, “I’ve done nothing with my life and I wasn’t good enough for Mr. X,” because my brain and I would have had a huge fight, if that had happened.

But I can’t help but suspect that was the asshole thing my brain was implying.

Logistics

The Butcher is moving out soon. Soon-ish. They need to make some space for him up at The Butcher’s Soon-to-be-Wife’s house. But then he’ll be up there. I thought I would be sadder, but it’s just up in Gallatin and I like seeing him happy.

I don’t know. I guess as it becomes more real, it might be a bummer. But for right now, I’m kind of looking forward to it.

I did broach the subject of him leaving his cat here. He was not happy with my suggestion, but the cat is seventeen years old. He likes it here and he knows here. We’ll see. I just think you shouldn’t uproot an ancient cat unless you have to.

So, This is What Nice is Like

My first post for the Post is up!

The reaction to it has been really wonderful. I mean, I’m sure someone someplace is saying something shitty about it, but I didn’t, myself, hear from a single asshole. I heard from a ton of people who loved it.

And it feels pretty wonderful to have written something that found a large audience of happy people. It kind of reminds me of my New Shackle Island piece, but on a much larger scale.

I also got to have this weird experience where I wrote this and then someone at the Tennessean wrote this. And on the one hand, certainly we need to get the park fixed, so I’m all for a higher profile discussion, and also, if the information has been in the Tennessean all along, then hell yes, who is better to comb through their archives and get a definitive answer than the Tennessean?

But come the fuck on! If you’re going to use the piece I wrote as the outline for your piece and just use the quotes I already found instead of finding your own, then use my name.

Ha ha ha. It is super flattering, though. I don’t think I’ve ever written something before that caused the Tennessean to feel compelled to also address it.

And thirdly, last night when I got home, the dog went for a gallivant in the neighbor’s yard and I called for him and he ignored me and then I said, “Come on, buddy. It’s too muddy for me to come get you.”

And he came home!

 

Some Broken Hearts Never Mend

A long time ago, I liked a guy and I thought he liked me. He fucked my roommate instead. I was angry at her, because I knew she knew how much I liked him, and angry at myself for “misreading” the situation.

Years later, we were both at the same wedding. Hell, we were all three at the same wedding, but this isn’t about her. And he was obviously delighted to see me to the chagrin of his wife. And later, when he was good and drunk, he told me that it had been me and he chickened out and then he kissed me on the forehead and I left and cried for a million days.

That was many years ago. He has a wife and kids and, I guess, a nice suburban life. She has a husband and kids and a nice medium-sized town life. I don’t want those things. Sometimes, though, I look back at those moments and it feels raw, like I got cheated out of someone I would have enjoyed specifically by that someone, who compounded it by then telling me he just didn’t have the guts to be with me.

I hate the feeling that I’m hard to be with. It makes me feel like things are wrong with me, fundamentally, that I don’t know how to recognize, let alone decide whether I want to fix.

Yesterday he picked a teasing fight with me on Facebook about which one of us was the bigger Jason Statham fan–which, of course, would be him, but, of course, I was not going to concede.

I didn’t even realize that bruise was still tender. But man, it felt weird to be having a delightful fight with a person I always found delightful who didn’t find me delightful enough to try for and yet, who still, obviously, finds me somewhat delightful.

I forget all kinds of important, nice things. Why do the bad things linger?

And the other thing that kind of makes me uncomfortable is that I’m not any prettier than I was when we were young. I’ve had a long time to become set in my ways, so all the ways I was strange, well, I’ve grown stranger still. And he’s married. And lives a long way away. So why come not only poking around–which, fine, people are curious–but letting me know he’s poking around when I’m doing neat shit?

Like, now I’m cool? Now I’m worth knowing? Or maybe that’s unfair. I do think he always thought that.

I don’t know. I just don’t understand and I guess I never did.

I would have liked to watch Jason Statham movies with him, though. That would have been nice.

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

It’s really real. It’s happening. Remember yesterday when I was all “I have two things completely done for the Post. I am super awesome. Now’s the time to make Jason Statham jokes. Maybe contemplate cocktapusses.”?

Today I am all “Oh, fuck, I only have half the things I’m supposed to have for the Post done and the only things I have any opinions about are Jason Statham and cocktapusses.”

Anyway, I’ll just be sitting over here, freaked the fuck out.

Scandinavia, if you ever loved me, you need to release a weird movie that doesn’t involve putting Madds Mikkleson in a cage for eight hours right now.

I am on it

2 things for the Post done to my satisfaction.

1 short story submitted to a new market.

2 emails asking about submissions I haven’t heard about way after they said I’d hear.

1 pith post written

1 dog walked

1 email sent about an interview for another Post post.

In unrelated news, I tried to watch The Transporter last night and, frankly, what I need is a station that plays Jason Statham movies nonstop so that I can flip back and forth between Law & Order and Statham glaring at things. I also still wish we could submit someplace “doing boring things in a menacing way” to Jason Statham. Like, can he make cleaning out a litter box scary? Can he make holding a puppy terrifying? Can he make grocery shopping exciting?

Can he make working all morning on your writing tasks full of kicks and punches and evil looks?

The Crowd

I unintentionally learned this week about the lynching of Eph Gizzard from the Woodland Street Bridge here in town. The thing I keep thinking about is the crowd. It’s very easy for me to imagine the raw fear of Gizzard.

And I feel like, as ugly as it is, I can imagine being in the mob. I can understand the heady mixture of anger and self-righteousness and bonding and, once you’ve broken into the jail and beaten a few cops, that feeling that you can do whatever you want and no one can stop you.

But the crowd. The description of people lining the bridge and crowding the roofs of commercial buildings and houses? The city like vultures.

This isn’t the only time I’ve read of Nashville doing this. During the Battle of Nashville, papers reported that citizens came out and sat on (or stood, I suppose, on) the roofs of their houses and buildings to watch the battle and, as it became more and more obvious the Union was going to win, the vultures grew more and more quiet.

And it makes me wonder what the scene was really like when the Trail of Tears passed through. Some stories of people lining the streets and reacting to the condition of the displaced people in horror and trying to feed them and give them blankets only to be rebuked by the military escorts do survive. But I wonder how many then were standing on rooftops, watching like vultures?

I mean, I guess, at one level, these are just spectators–the crowd at a ball game or at a rock concert but for death instead.

But I still can’t quite find a way into those heads. But I experience their evil on par with the mob’s.

It Happened!

The Butcher is getting married! The Butcher’s Wife sounds like a New York Times Best Selling Novel. Or the nickname of a mysterious assassin. “The Butcher’s Wife killed three of our agents in Moscow and we still don’t have a good picture of her.”

Ha.

It’s Happening!

So, the Butcher did get a ring from my grandmother, the provenance of which is unknown. The family story has always been that somewhere along the line my grandma lost her solitaire and her mother’s solitaire. But then she had a couple of solitaires for the Butcher to look at, which were supposedly the “replacements” for the solitaires she lost.

The Butcher got one of those rings. When he took it to the jeweler to get it resized, the jeweler was like “You know, this setting is easily over a hundred years old. It’s not going to resize well and it’s already lost a couple of diamond chips. The cost for you of me bringing this setting back into shape or you just resetting it into a new ring are not that different.”

So the Butcher went with a new ring in the right size. But I remain confused by the jeweler’s pronouncement that the setting was so old. I mean, I don’t doubt him. It looked really old. And the diamond’s cut also looked very old-fashioned to me, with more of a rounded top (it’s almost like looking in a very tiny marble. It does have some facets on top, but they’ve very, very subtle).

If this is the ring my grandma bought to replace my great-grandma’s ring, why is it so old? My grandma continues to surprise me, but of both of my grandmas, she strikes me as the least likely of the two to go into a pawn shop. And if my grandma lost both her ring and her mother’s ring at the same time (unless I’m misunderstanding the story), that had to happen during World War II, after my grandma got engaged–otherwise, she didn’t have a ring to lose.

So, in the very earliest case scenario, she got engaged (I think in 42, right before my grandpa enlisted), lost the ring and her mother’s ring, and went to a pawn shop and got two old ones? Why would she have had her mom’s engagement ring then?

But in the more likely scenario, she got her mom’s ring when her mom died after I was born. Thus putting the loss within my lifetime and I can damn well tell you that my grandma in my life was not going to pawn shops. So where did she get a ring that old?

My guess is that she didn’t lose her mom’s ring, or at least, not the ring that the Butcher ended up with, but over the years got confused and believed she’d lost this ring, when really, it just sat in a pile of junk in her house, safe and sound.

And now the Butcher has that diamond and is about to put it on his girl’s finger.

I’m really thrilled. I like her a lot and I like how happy he is with her. But, shhh, it’s a secret for now.

Respite

I have to find a way to stay engaged enough to, oh, you know, do my job for Pith and yet not sit at my real job paralyzed in front of the computer waiting for the next bit of bad news.

Speaking of Pith, this weekend we went out to look at a part of town where the Trail of Tears had gone through and there was an old Indian village. A thing I will never tire of is the moment when I realize “Oh, shit, that’s what this is.”

Like, for instance, when you’re driving up 18th Ave and you’re going up hill but it makes these stair-step jogs, as if you’re crossing a series of terraces, that’s because you’re driving through an old quarry–the old quarry the state capitol and the old state prison came out of.

And so there was a moment when I looked at that old map of the Whites Creek Road when I realized, holy shit, the Trail of Tears could not have gone up the Whites Creek Pike, because the Pike didn’t go in until the 1840s. Here, along the river, this road on this map, is it. Here’s the way it went.

Who had seen this map in recent years? Just whoever digitized it at the TSLA and whoever put it online and then who really looked at it? Let’s say a hundred people looked at the map when the TSLA announced it was online. How many people realized what they were looking at? That number’s hard to guess, but maybe ten, maybe fewer? Of that amount, who would have realized that other people didn’t know this? And of that amount, who would have a platform to say “Oh, hey!”

I can’t tell you how much it blows my mind, how much it delights me–always delights me–to feel like I might know something no one else knows yet.

But I also had another experience with this map, before I went out, where a friend was telling me about the Indian village that was there and he mentioned the mounds and I was like, “you mean these bumps?” and I pointed to them on the map. So, in that moment, I was in a small group of people who had seen the map but didn’t know what they were looking at.

And he was the one person, the first person, to look at that map and realize what he was seeing–the only known rendering of those mounds. Archaeologists have known they were there, but no one’s ever seen a picture of them or a drawing of them or an indication on a map of where they were. Until last Friday.

It was amazing.

But here is the sorrow to go with delight. Those mounds, most of which were burial mounds, were there when the Cherokee were forced through town. The scope of the shitty thing we were doing as a country is hard to realize, hard to focus on, it’s so large. And while I do think that the trauma of the Indian wars was partly the driving force behind walking them through settlements they had tried to stop–look, you didn’t destroy Nashville. You didn’t destroy Clarksville. We’re destroying you.–and I’m not sure we were trying to send any less blunt a message than that, it’s hard not to read into it a message of “look how we live on top of your dead, how we knock down your mounds, how we erase you from the landscape.”

Because that’s the other thing that struck me doing the research–when the Trail of Tears came through, we weren’t certain that those weren’t old villages of tribes we were familiar with. Some folks had begun theorizing that they were not, but that wasn’t widely accepted.

Hell at that point they were still not sure where saltpeter in the caves around here came from. (Hint: batshit).

So, you know, the “empty Eden” story we tell about Nashville when we got here has to be so much bullshit. We arrived at a place full of villages. Creepy, empty villages, but villages. And we didn’t know how old they were or who they belonged to. We just settled in those villages and fought off the people who came to drive us out.