Cold Dark Night

Cold Dark Night

On a cold dark night in 1972. On the wet leaves in my parent’s front yard. In Tennessee when the dark melts thru your bones. My younger brother, Clay and I lie on a quilt looking at stars.

It was Christmas vacation. I was a nursing student at Austin Peay State University-independent and and immature-afraid and cocky- Clay was only 11 years old.

He looked up at the sky and said, ” Look at the fire in the sky, shooting bottle rockets into the stars.”

I said, ” Do you hear the wind in the trees whistling through the ghosts?”

He snuggled closer and said, ” Do mother and daddy love me?

When are you coming home? Why does Daddy leave us?”

Before I could answer we were cocooned in a sandwich of childhood fears.

On a dark cold night in September 1986 the policeman came and knocked on the back door.

” Are you the parents of Clay?” they asked.

” Yes, we are.” They knew in their hearts it was the worst news a parent never wants to bear.

” Your son has been murdered his body is at the morgue.

I can’t forget the cold dark night on Sept 25,1986. Clay Baby was 25 years old. And never again on a cold dark night would we look at the stars together.

I remember looking into the mirror

I remember looking into the mirror

I remember looking into a mirror when I was a girl. There were two brown moles the size of diamonds on the right side of my face. The same birthmarks as my grandmother, Laura. I called hers ” beautymarks.”

I remember looking into the mirror to curl my eyelashes with a metal instrument of torture. Diane said” Put the eyelashes in the blades and squeeze here.” I wanted to look and be just like Diane.

I remember looking into the mirror to examine the cut above my right eyebrow. Except it wasn’t a cut anymore. It was a scar. I don’t know how it got there but it still hurts.

I remember looking into the mirror and touching the deep fissure between my eyebrows that ran from my nose to my forehead. They say it happens to people who think and feel too much.

I remember looking into the mirror and seeing the broken tooth where Galen slapped me in the face.

I remember his Dad handing me the tooth in a Kleenex and saying, ” I found your tooth!” He was happy and thought I should be as well.

I remember looking into the mirror at my black and blue eyes. A family event that I was the pig.

I remember plucking my wooly eyebrows and thinking my mother needs to do this to hers.

I remember smearing lipstick on my parched lips hoping I would be desirable.

I remember looking in the mirror and watching the reflection of me age to my grandmother’s face.

Now when I look in the mirror I’m glad I’m still in there.

I I re

My Home

My Home

The palace of my family royalty was constructed out of brick and mortar in 1963 at the cost of $ 13,000- more money than my father said he could earn in ten years. It was a replica of “The Alexander”,  page fourteen of “Country Luxury Home Catalog” my mother ordered. The builder looked at the picture and said, “ I can do that.” He didn’t need the blueprints.  It had a long narrow front porch with four white columns and a ram’s head pediment that towered over a single wooden door.  The iron chairs balanced on each side were for “ Looks only” my mother said.  There was no sidewalk stretching from the circle driveway carved into the woods from to the entrance.  It all looked so good from the road.

The land was purchased from a Covington family elder and was paid in yearly installments to The Farmers Bank . Prior to the bank’s permission it was   a haven for rabbits and squirrels ; my father with his chainsaw and ax proceeded to make it his home and not theirs

A birch tree, much to large to cut by hand  stood as a sentry to all those who drove up to the real main entrance, the back door.  Carved intials and cupid’s heart s scared it’s gray skin.  A tree limb presented itself for a tire swing that dangled to permit playful fun. Oak trees intermingled with maples and sycamores provided leaves for raking and a canopy of shade in the summer. Those wooden creatures less fortunate became firewood for bonfires and firewood for the fireplace.

The house was nestled into a bed of limestone rock dug out by backhoes while just yards away a sinkhole the size of three tobacco barns threatened it’s  existence.

The King of the palace, my father was  in-name-only, “ The Judge, The Jury and The Executioner.” He liked to believe that it was his power that controlled.  In reality it was my mother, “ The Chief Cook and Bottle washer “ that sat at the head of the table and maintained  the bank statements in a drawer in her small desk in the living room.

The carport was our official living room.  It was an area on the east side of the house that remained under roof but only one wall. It was built in, so to speak. Not added on and never were there any intentions to let any wheels of any kind park on it.  It had metal chairs, a matching round table that were positioned around a porch swing.  This area was a place of entertainment and relaxation. People came by without invitation and were welcomed to “ drag up a chair”. The topics most discussed were the weather. .. whether it was frightening, redeeming or threatening.  Guests would sit and drink tea and coffee. .. all hours of the day …. Even at night… it was never to late to make a pot of brew for your guests.  They would sit in the coolness while watching tractors semis and hitchhikers go east toward Gallatin or west toward Springfield.  When a car did circle through the front driveway they knew three things: 1. We don’t know them, 2.  They don’t know us and 3. They’re lost and number one or two will ever be resolved.   Traffic making it’s way up the dusty main driveway to the backdoor had a mission: borrow something; a tractor, a baler or some money or sell something:  school fundraisers or encyclopedias.

The arriving guests would always be greeted in the same way, “ What do you know good?” “ What’s up or “What’s happening” ?  were not proper.  It was one late summer evening that this scene took place.

Sammy, a Cross Plains neighbor,  shouted opening the truck door and headed in the direction of the carport in a  lurching gait. “I think a storm might be coming up on us, Mr. Harold.”  Them cows are fit to be tied. You reckin’ they know something we don’t?” Sammy said while moving across the gravel in succeeding waves of muscular contraction all the while spitting tobacco juice in a Coke can. He bumped into the trunk of a dogwood tree- the tree ‘s bark showed the results of years of interactions with cars- the tree was always in a state of recovery. He nodded to the tree as if to ask for its forgiveness.

“ Drag up a chair, Sammy,” my father said while removing his city dress shoes for a pair of high top work boots. “ We’re fixin to talk about something important,” he laughed. He looked at my mother. She disappeared through the back door. “ Get us some tea, Bea.”  He knew she would deliver. My father continued the removal of his shoes.  His arms were two toned: White skin  under his cotton sleeves and burned to a crisp in the exposed area.  It was evident his desk job had limited day time confinement.

“ Do you know whose truck was parked in the widow’s driveway last night?” Sammy said as he found a chair that suited his satisfaction for size and direction.  His overalls loosely covered his round body.

“ Nope but I bet you do,” my father laughed.  “ Anybody we know?”

Sammy laughed and rolled his eyes. “ You wouldn’t believe it and I surely didn’t but I saw it with my own eyes.”

My mother  opened the door magically with a tray full of fried apple pies and a pot of hot coffee.  Their conversation suddenly changed it’s tone.

“ Mr. Harold, I would like to borrow your tractor.  Mine is in the shop.  They said they have to order some parts and I got a dead cow down that I need to drag  out of the field.” Sammy gobbled down an apple pie and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

“ No problem, he looked at my mother to gain her approval. She knew what work was lined up for tomorrow.

Black clouds darkened the sky.  The thunder cracked and lighting popped a tree in the front yard. A few raindrops fell on the windshields  and made  muddy streaks.

“ Let’s go inside,” my father said.

My father, mother and Sammy moved into the house to continue their conversation.

Sammy sat down in the sixth chair. It being the empty chair at the oak table closest to the back door-it being our kitchen table.  The  interior “ living room” was a spacious dark paneled room that included all the social rooms: the kitchen, dining room, den and living room. It took up 2/3 of the house’s square feet.  This chair being so close to the back door was an easy entrance to all family meals and conversations for visitors.

Sammy looked at his boots. “ Sorry Beamama, I think I got cow poop on your carpet.”

“ Oh, no problem,” my mother said.   She would clean it up tomorrow. Her reign included carpet cleaning as well as crowd control.

As the rain subsided Sammy concluded that it would pick the tractor up in the early morning.  He said his goodbyes and left.


It was my father’s evening ritual: eat supper, take a bath and then wrap himself in a terry cloth towel to settle in to watch the evening news.  It was September. The tobacco crop was harvested. The farmers called it “ cutting and housing”.  This was a big relief for farmers to know that they didn’t have to worry about  droughts,  floods or the bugs would destroy  their yearly income.

The box TV sat on a  ruined antique table that my grandfather had been so inclined as to “ shorten it” by cutting off the glass claws on the legs.  My father stared at the lights and sound coming toward him while he sat in a room of darkness in a tall wingback chair. It was turned up too loud. My father’s hearing loss had come at a high expense, the constant sound of diesel tractors. had been   My mother sat at the kitchen table smoking a cigarette. She had selective hearing- she didn’t hear when she didn’t want to.

“ Where is Clay?” my father asked her.  “ I haven’t seen him today.  I wonder where is he?”

Clay was twenty six years old at the time of his murder.  Even at age twenty six he was going bald. He had a Clark Gable kind of persona but had some self image issues about an underbite. His mandible X-rays were on my mother’s desk.  He was earthy: a fisherman and a hunter who shot only rabbits and birds.  He liked to go frog gigging and seemed to enjoy the fun of living in the country. He worked as an ironworker but had been a laborer on the pipeline with my father. He worked on the farm in the tobacco and the hay fields. His genetic inheritance was more like the Baldwin side of the family, laid back and sensitive to the disease of alcohol.  He lived his life as a bachelor as did our brother, Dale three years older. The two of them lived a few miles away in the Reverend’s house. A house purchased by my parents from the family of the reverend who hung himself in a tobacco barn.  My mother said she heard his wife scream when she found her husband hand hanging from an oak tier.

Clay was my mother’s son. Dale was my father’s. Clay never argued with my father he just disappeared.

Dale being a younger version of my father seemed to take his blows head-on.  Dale was tenderhearted and very fragile.  When he was ten years old I saw him kneeling under a tree with a large kitchen matchbox in his hand burying a baby rabbit whose mother had been run over by a hay baler. At age twelve my father scolded him because he was “ not man enough” to drag our family pet dog out of the road.

On this night, Sept 26, 1986 our family began it’s descent into madness.

“ I don’t know where he is , Harold. Maybe he is with Dale.” My mother felt something wasn’t right either.

About that time the ten o’clock news came on. The announcer said, “ A Robertson County man has been shot on Douglas Ave. in Nashville. Police are on the scene. The family has not been notified.” The reporter’s face was lit in a shadows. Police cars and ambulances were packed into the corners of the TV screen. It may have been another night of regular programming after all murders, stabbing and car accidents are a regular part of reality TV news.

He turned the TV off and stared at the screen. They sat in darkness in silence. Then the walls were lite up by  headlights pulling into the driveway. My father ran. He knew that anyone that came to the backdoor could see through the door. It was half glass.  My mother disappeared into her room behind him.

The knock at the back door came as no surprise. My father now clothed in the shirt and pants he had removed before his bath stood with bare feet.  He opened the door. The officer , a young man about the age of my brothers seemed to be preoccupied with a clipboard.

“ What do you know good, officer?” My father asked the officer. His fear hidden behind his mask of smiles had been programmed and engrained. “ What do you know good?”

“Are you Harold Covington? “ The officer stepped inside and stood beside the sixth chair. The table reserved for all guests.

“ I am officer. Is something wrong? “  he asked his hands trembling and his voice cracking.  My mother peeped out from the bathroom and was standing in the hall .

“Your son, Clay has been shot. His body is in the  General Hospital morgue. We will need someone to identify the body. “  The officer placed a folded piece of paper into my father’s hand as he could not reach out and take it from the officer when it was offered.  “ I’m sorry.”

The officer left .

My mother came into the kitchen and lit under cigarette.  She didn’t say anything.  My father phoned Dale. He made another phone call to Sammy and asked Sammy to go with Dale to the morgue.


Why Art Matters ( to a Child)

Why Art Matters ( to a Child)

In today’s word of images, we know how much they impact us.  Visualization is used to sell, motivate and facilitate everything from automobiles to toothpaste.  We paste icons and logs on clothing, business cards and bumpers.  We react to colors of team sports, gay parades and political parties.  We are submersed in the world of art.  However, we teach STEM to our children at school:  Science, Technology, Education and Math.  All of these are left brain. Left brain that description of imitate, follow, judge and criticize.

Most art classes in schools are the first to be removed when the budget needs a cut.  When schools want to raise funds they enlist the donations of artists to sell and donate a portion of their sales to the school.  VioletChildren are taught to “follow and behave.”  There is little room for “creation and making a mess.”   Paints are rejected because they may stain the carpet.  Crayons are wrapped up in paper so that the tactile feeling of greasy wax is replaced by clean dry paper.

All children like to create.  It is only after the exposure to criticism and critique that we take the “art out.”  The child learns that what he does doesn’t matter.  It is with focus and exploration that the child begins to see that they too are responsible for the act of creation and expression.

Parents are at a loss with how to entertain their children. Sports are good to teach left brain and gross motor skills like running and throwing a ball.  Art as in painting, sculpting and playing musical instruments develops the fingers and fine motor skills.  When children are loud and out of control it is easy to take away all the colors.  Art therapy teaches that with colors, paper and time the child quiets and calms -even if the beginning was loud and messy.

In art we learn a language.  There are relationships and connections.  Shapes, colors, lines and movement help us to see the world through a different set of lenses.  Suddenly a child may notice the colors of the leaves on the tree or how to tell their friends what color their cat is.  In art we learn to ask for what we need, “Can you pass me the red crayon, please;” and ask for help, “how do I make gray?”

Problem solving is another aspect of art that is forgotten in scholarly articles.  A child learns how to deal with frustration, “I made the wrong color;” or I wish I would have made it a different way but it’s too late now.”  Children with guidance and acceptance learn that we all make mistakes.  Most of our mistakes in life are not life threatening.  After many years of frustration without insight the child learns that he is incapable and unqualified to “live their own life.”


The History of the Cigarette

The History of the Cigarette

Tobacco Connections

What do James Albert Bonsack and “Buck Duke (James Buchanan Duke) and Edgar Cayce have in common?  Hopkinsville, KY and tobacco.  James Albert Bonsack won the contest “to build a machine that would wrap tobacco into cigarettes.  The present form of tobacco was plugs, snuff, dip and chew.  It was a luxury to be able to afford a personally made wrapped cigarette.   In 1880 James Albert won the contest.  In 1890 he sold the patent to James Buchanan Duke.   Both are known to be the inventors of the modern-day cigarette.  Bonsack’s machine could make 120,000 cigarettes a day vs the handmade kind of only 210/day. Bonsack was paid seventy-five thousand dollars by a subsidiary company, Allen and Ginter of Richmond, VA.

james albert Bonsack
The Inventor of the Cigarette Machine

Little is known about James Albert Bonsack.  He was born in a small town in Roanoke County, VA.  He died a rich man and is buried in West Laurel Hills Cemetery in Montgomery County Pennsylvania.His grave is simple.  He is not listed as a famous grave as are David Hayes Agnew, MD the surgeon of the Union Army and President Garfield. Other famous neighbors in Bonsack’s resting place are William a Breyer, the founder of Breyer’s ice cream who died of smallpox.  Another important person listed in the West Laurel Hills Graveyard is John Thompson Dorrane, the inventor of condensed soup for Campbells Soup.    His grave is not noticeable, not large and has no plague or engrave words “The inventor of the cigarette rolling machine.”

james Buchanan DukeThe first organized attack occurred at Trenton when a band of armed and masked men burned the tobacco warehouse and factory of an independent dealer who had bought non-association tobacco. A little later they appeared at Elkton and dynamited the warehouse there.In 1904 Buck Duke married Lillian Fletcher McCready, the same year as the The Black Patch Tobacco Wars started.  He divorced her in 1907, married again and then in 1907.  The American Tobacco Association “lost the war” due to 35,000 farmers who refused to raise tobacco.Buck Duke is known to be one of the founders of Duke University.  His family is famous for Duke Electric Power Company in North Carolina.

He and James Bonsack are the “Cigarette dealers of death.”  More can be found about James Albert Bonsack and cancer.  James Duke is known for wealth, education and business.

Another investor into Duke ‘s American Tobacco Company was Oliver H. Payne of Standard Oil Company.  At the same time there were Night Riders in Hopkinsville, Ky.  The fisherman of Reelfoot Lake was the Night Riders of Reelfoot Lake. Probably no event in the region’s history, apart from the Civil War, polarized the population of Obion County as did the Night Rider episodes of 1908. Nearly a century later, public opinion still varies greatly regarding the character and motivation of the men and women involved in the Reelfoot violence. For seven months in 1908, masked horsemen rode roughshod over a portion of Obion County and imposed their brand of justice with whip, arson, and shotgun. But if the riders are judged guilty of excesses, their adversary, the West Tennessee Land Company, with its example of callous greed, must share in that guilt. Unfortunately, when the State of Tennessee intervened in the matter, it too showed scarcely more restraint than the other participants in the events.Night riders

Simply stated, the Night Rider episode was a dispute over title to Reelfoot Lake and the surrounding land. Created by the cataclysmic forces of the 1811-12 earthquake, the lake and its wildlife supplemented the diets and incomes of subsistence farmers in the area. Although claims on the land existed prior to the earthquake, the local population regarded the lake as public domain. When the West Tennessee Land Company quietly purchased old claims and made plans to drain at least part of the lake and convert it to cotton production, the region’s residents reacted violently.

On the night of October 19, 1908, after several weeks of increasingly violent activities, events moved swiftly to a tragic stage. Masked riders kidnapped Tennessee Land Company officers R. Z. Taylor and Quinton Rankin from Ward’s Hotel in Walnut Log. Rankin was murdered, but Taylor escaped into the swamp and was presumed dead. He survived by hiding under a cypress log and was found more than twenty-four hours later, wandering and disoriented.

Governor Malcolm Patterson personally took charge of matters and arrived in the lake region with the Tennessee National Guard. By the end of October, nearly one hundred suspects were incarcerated in a makeshift camp set up by the Guard. The suspects received very harsh treatment while in the custody of the state, and two died while awaiting trial. Eventually, six were found guilty in the murder of Quinton Rankin and sentenced to death. The Tennessee Supreme Court overturned their convictions in 1909.

Public opinion favored the plight of the Reelfoot Lake people. Consequently, the state took ownership of the lake from private ownership.

Oliver Hazard Payne was born in 1838 in Ohio.  He died in NY without ever having been married or having children.  He was the organizer of the American Tobacco Trust, he organized US Steel Company and the Standard Oil Company.  He served in the Civil War as a Colonel. His resume would state that he was a US Senator, a US Congressman.

The connections aren’t distant.  You can make a cigarette machine, but nobody will ever know your name.  You can form a business and get elected.   Even Edgar Cayce, the psychic from Hopkinsville might have been able to predict our future.cigarette-dark-smoke-background-vector-11699420 (1)

What is a Brain?

What is a Brain?

What is a brain?  A brain is found inside a hollow hole in the head.  It is attached to the body so that you have somewhere to hold your eyes, your ears, your mouth, your nose.  All these parts are dependent upon the brain, a mass of twisted gray gooey tissue about half the size of a five-pound bag of sugar-in some it has been described as a vegetable-the size of a green pea. “You P brain.”  Which means you probably are at a deficit when it comes to brain mass.Tumors.  These are cancerous.  They seem to be attracted to Nashville.  They are tourists who come to Nashville to ride the scooters on the sidewalks, fall off the pedal taverns and consume too much alcohol in the pub crawl on Broadway. The symptoms of these tumors are sudden changes in slurred speech and stumbled gait, periods of yelling “yee haw” Brain image

The brain is used to function- something like a control panel- a switching gears- a monitor of sorts. For males it is mostly a GPS locating and surviving.  It finds attractive women and food- not necessarily one in the same as in pretty women don’t have to know how to cook.  The real brain that males are controlled by is the one in their pants, behind the zipper, below the waistband.  In females the brain is mostly liquid- alcohol, diet cokes and Starbucks Latte.

Occasionally the brain is called upon to solve problems, but most problems are dealt with.  Consequences of “not using the brain” are evident when one wakes up in strange places with strange people.  The brain is a complex organ.  Complex in the fact it has three regions of the brain: sex, food, and sleep.

The brain is like a Wi-Fi connection.  It picks up signals and clues from the outside world. The noise in the background of gut feelings and bad past experiences is regularly ignored and overridden by another set of bad choices and new mistakes.

When one speaks of “out of mind” they are really saying, “I have a brain (I think) but it is clear at this moment that I was aware of its functional capabilities in the maintaining of my health.

The brain has sixteen billion neurons and not enough sense to balance the checkbook and remember passwords on fourteen different online accounts: Amazon, Citibank, google, yahoo, Comcast, ATT, six credit cards, the electric, water and gas company.

Brains can move all parts of the body except the body after a crucial number of four snooze alarms have been pounded into the nightstand.

Brain disorders can be described as a neurological disorder. Not all neurological disorders are brain disorders but all brain disorders are neurological A neurological disorder is any disorder of the nervous system. Structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities in the brainspinal cord or other nerves can result in a range of symptoms. Examples of symptoms include paralysismuscle weakness, poor coordination, loss of sensationseizuresconfusionpain and altered levels of consciousness. There are many recognized neurological disorders, some relatively common, but many rare. They may be assessed by neurological examination, and studied and treated within the specialties of neurology and clinical neuropsychology

One brain disorder that occurs in young adults is Math. It is characterized by night sweats, muscle tremors and panic attacks.  Mostly when books, tests and pencils are required to answer questions in statistics, algebra, geometry and calculus.

Aphasia.  The difficulties of people with aphasia can range from occasional trouble finding words, to losing the ability to speak, read, or write; intelligence, however, is unaffected. Expressive language and receptive language can both be affected as well. An example is when a wife has lost the ability to communicate and with frustration is hopeless explaining to her husband 1. Where the garbage can is 2. What day is trash pick up   3. What color the recycle bin for compost, glass and paper is 4.  When the trash man comes that the can at the curb cannot come to the house without supervision.

Coma.  A coma is a deep state of prolonged unconsciousness in which a person cannot be awakened; fails to respond normally too painful stimuli, light, or sound; lacks a normal wake-sleep cycle; and does not initiate voluntary actions. Coma patients exhibit a complete absence of wakefulness and are unable to consciously feel, speak or move.Comas can be derived by natural causes, or can be medically induced. Brain disorders characterized by binging on TV series of Game of Thrones, murder-mysteries, horror films, sci-fi, drams and documentaries.

Alzheimer’s  is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gradually worsens over time. Extended training, education and internships seem to contribute to the loss of the ability to function in activities of daily living.  Victims of this disease are said to “spend more time on making a living than actually living.”

Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause a long-term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember that is great enough to affect a person’s daily functioning. Other common symptoms include emotional problems, difficulties with language, and a decrease in motivation.  Dementia seems to cause impaired judgment caused by sunshine, testosterone, birth control bills, sand and college students on spring breaks.

Speech Pathology Social communication difficulties involving how people communicate or interact with others.  Southerners can recognize this immediately from aliens who speak in foreign languages known as Yankee Lingo.  Most Yankees know how far south the Southerners are from in the number of syllables in the word, “ Shiiiitt.”

Memory Loss or Amnesia  can be caused temporarily by the use of various sedatives and hypnotic drugs. The memory can be either wholly or partially lost due to the extent of damage that was caused. There are two main types of amnesia: retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a date, usually the date of an accident or operation.  One example of amnesia after a weekend of the wife visiting her mother was exacerbated by the sudden discovery of a tube of fiery red lipstick and a pair of twisted G-string thongs under her pillow.

The husband suddenly suffered memory loss, amnesia and a cardiovascular stroke.

Endorphins. Literally means that we produce our own morphine. The surge of endorphins pulsating the feeling of vitality and superiority, Delusional desirability can be caused by men observing the cheerleaders at the county high school games, especially in Dickson and Cheatam counties in Tennessee. high school cheerleaders

Too tight to pay a professional.  Who then must spend the money to call the ambulance and take three weeks off after brain surgery?

Brain damage and paralysis. Brain damage can be caused by comas, TBI, strokes,  Can be a result of watching too many sports  such as NBA, NFL, SEC, Major League, Bowling Channel, Tennis Chanel, College Basketball, football and baseball, ESPN 1, ESPN 2, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, World of Wrestling, World Fishing Network, Playoffs, March Madness, The Final Four and all Olympics.

Brain abscess. Infection of the greasy part of the gray matter. Causes swelling of the ego.  The patient has feelings of superiority and narcissism.  Treats family, friends and colleagues like dirt.

It stinks and is very painful for people who are exposed to people who have brain abscesses.

This is caused by ingesting one’s own bullshit, lies and flattering words.

Cerebral hemorrhage also known as a stroke.   Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. Another condition that’s like a stroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA) It is a sudden excruciating stabbing pain in the head that happens after one opens the bill from the credit card company, the phone company and the garbage can at the same time.  The term CVA should be changed to a more appropriate terminology for the actual feeling:  A mental bloodbath.

Intracranial Hypertension.  It is an unexplainable severe headache and blurs vision effects.  It has root causes in eating hot dogs at the Tiger Market while filling up your Cadillac Escalade with high fumes and 4.50 per gallon…then strolling into the filthy bathroom to scratch off your recently purchase entire roll of lottery tickets hoping that you have become a winner.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lowest part of your rectum and anus. Some people think they are as smart as artificial intelligent robots (AI) When they are really (IA) Idiotic Assholes.

They analyze, preach, explain and force feed their opinions on politics, women, religion, gun control and gluten free diets to everyone they meet.  Hemorrhoids are not life threatening even though they are difficult and painful.   Hemorrhoids are not the same as hemorrhage.  Even though you would like to relieve their symptoms by hitting them over the head with a hammer until they are unconscious.


Bobby Wilks, Digging up Bones

Bobby Wilks, Digging up Bones


Bobby Wilks

27 Nov 1936- 09 July 2010

I’m diggin’ up bones, I’m diggin’ up bones,
Exhuming things that’s better left alone.
And I’m resurrecting mem’ries of a love that’s dead and gone.
Yeah, tonight I’m sittin’ alone, diggin’ up bones.… M

Cadillac Bobby WilksIt’s 1984.  The town is Cross Plains, TN.  A town founded in the late 1700’s and has grown to a population of 1000. I am a local.  My great parents are buried in the graveyards around the highway that runs through the 4-way stop where Thomas Drug, Graves Market and Tate Chevrolet do business. Robertson County Tennessee just ten miles south of the Kentucky state line has a dividing line down 31 W highway between Robertson County and Sumner County.  My daddy said, “ Sumner county line is where my world ended.”

In the fall of 1984 I was divorced, a registered nurse and the mother of two children who attended East Robertson Elementary.

We lived on the same road as the school and the Greenwood Church.  Turn down on Greenwood Road and through and open vista of soybeans and cornfields there was a big barn owned by the Yates family.  It was a tobacco barn used for Burley tobacco.

Entertainment in these rural communities is one of baseball, basketball, football.  This year it was between all those seasons and it just so happened to be almost Halloween.  The parents of the kids were going nuts because the kids were going nuts. “ For Halloween let’s have a haunted house. “  It all seemed possible.  The old ways of cars and kids driving miles to find Reeses’s Peanut Butter cups, Milky Ways and Sugar Daddies seemed expensive:  the gas costs more than the sugar.

“ The Yates barn might be a good place.”  Another said, “ Yeah, but can we ?” Gayle said, “ Yes, I’ll ask Steve.  Steve being the brother of Jeff and Ernie and Gayle’s husband.  “ Steve, will help us.  He’ll love the idea!”And so our Halloween Haunted House of 1984 was dreamed up on the back of the Ford tailgate at the last of the baseball season 1984.

We decided that we needed ghosts, corpses, and witches.  Melanie said she’d be the corpse “ and lie in the casket, rise up when the kids walked by and then look at them.”  Chris Faulkner said she’d be the witch.  Her friend thought of a barrel of dry ice from Baskin and Robbins ice cream that we could get as a place ‘ to boil the kids alive.’ Steve though he could represent Chain Saw Massacre by taking the chain off the chain saw and chasing the kids when they came out of the barn.   Bob added that he had metal box springs that could cover the dirt floor and then by covered by plyboard to make the floor move.  John said he’d spray the kids with water to force them to move quickly through the maze. The can was a tobacco spray can most used to spray for weeds.  The probable chemical rinsed out before was probably Roundup.  Nobody asked why they smelled funny.

Melanie’s husband went to the Milldale Funeral home in Orlinda to ask Bobby if we could borrow a casket.Milldale Funeral Home

He said, “ Yes!”  He didn’t ask any questions.  He laughed and said, “ How many do you need?”  John said, “ Just one, I think, but I’ll get back to  you if we need more.”  John, was green in the face when he said, “ Bobby wanted to know if we needed more?

Halloween came.  The barn was dressed in black plastic for walls. The floors were wobbly, Melanie laid in the casket under the candles and the flashlight shining under her chin.  The witch laugh echoed through the noise of the chainsaw.  Ropes led the way into the wobbly floor room. Fifteen kids showed up to be “ scared too death.”

After the scare was not scary anymore Steve brought the tractor with the wagon full of hay.  Fifteen kids, parents and strays bailed in to meander and look up at the stars in the Southern sky while throwing straw and screaming.

Soon it was time to come back to the barn.  We ate hot dogs, marshmallows.  A few drank beer in red plastic cups that camouflaged the alcohol.

A few weeks later I asked, “ Did the casket get taken back to the funeral home?”  “Melanie’s husband took it,  Steve said. Steve laughed and said, “ Bobby said, it was used so it wasn’t a problem that Melanie got makeup all over the satin interior.”

corpse in a casket







I never thought I would enjoy being a part of a group of women. I’m what you might call a little edgy in that annoying way, and I can be obnoxious at times, so I’m allowed to say something as cliche’ as that last sentence. We should all be allowed our cliche’s. It’s part of being a writer.

I don’t remember the first time I walked into the Creative Writing class where I met the other ladies of Skirts Up. I was in a very weird time in my life. I was drinking and I was working. As far as I had been concerned, I was done with writing.

Looking back, I think we were all in weird places in our lives. There was a lot of crying, and a lot of sharing; all in the context of our stories. I think that sharing made it possible for us to reach each other in what could have been just another classroom setting. I think that sharing was something new that I hadn’t experienced before in the context of writing.

Over the last ….I think five years, I’ve learned to put myself on the page. I’m not finished by any means, because you never stop learning to be yourself. What I’m getting to is I never would have known how to even start cutting through my Fear and Loathing attitude and really start to carve myself into a story’s page without my fellow Skirts-Uppers.

We all learn something from each person we meet.I’m glad I know ya’ll. 🙂


Did you check behind the fridge?

Did you check behind the fridge?

“The clear awareness of having been born into a losing struggle need not lead one into despair.”-Christopher Hitchens

When I was younger, I believed that there was an ultimate truth. I believed there would be some great sentence, or some unconditional knowing that would resist the chaos. This sacred state of being would allow for all the upsets, and all the cruelties; not just in my life, but in the lives of the ones I loved, and the lives of the people and creatures and things around me. I felt like this truth, and this understanding would allow me solace; a garden in the eye of the hurricane if you will.

I went to college looking for this. I partied looking for this. I took on habits looking for this. I did yoga looking for this. I made out looking for this. I made love looking for this.I read the Bible. I read the Bhaghavad Gita. I prayed. I cursed. I went straight edge. I decided straight edge was boring. I tried a juice fast. I did meditation. I drank REALLY EXPENSIVE WINE. I read Eat,Pray, Love. I threw Eat Pray Love into a donation bin with gusto. I re-watched Star Wars and tried to make Yoda’s words fit whatever shitty situation I was going through. I made Dalai Llama quotes my phone wallpaper. I had a band, and looked for truth in the music. I studied philosophy. I studied Psychology. I tried Nihilism.

I fucking quit.

And then, I did all that shit all over again.

And yet…..

The universe did not share her secret song.

The great lord of all things big and small did not whisper his delightful husky words of enduring and overcoming peace into my ear.

And you know what?

I guess that’s okay.

Maybe there is a great Novocaine truth to take the edge off the cruelties of this existence, and to answer that resounding, sleep depriving “Why?” .

Maybe, I just never read the right bumper sticker.Perhaps it was put on a Volvo that drove too slowly to pass me, or a Dodge, driving North when I was headed East. Maybe I missed the bible verse. Maybe I drank a red, when I needed white. Maybe I was sick that day in Philosophy.Maybe I just haven’t done enough Breaths of Fire while internally staring at my third eye.Maybe I should’ve stayed through Sunday night that year I went to Bonnaroo. Maybe.

Wherever it is, if it even is,my elusive ultimate truth, is far too elusive for me. Either way I can’t spend any more time looking for it. Too much work.



A brief review of Sequels

A brief review of Sequels


I actually watched the 2016 Ghostbusters movie the other night. I also recently (as in a couple months ago) saw The Last Jedi. These two movies are connected to some of the most relevant content of my life. I refer to, of course, the all too godlike films of the 70’s and 80’s which now sit on irrevocable pedestals in the minds and hearts of so many people around the world. I felt like I needed, as a writer, to make a statement about these two films, because I loved the originals so much, and the studios are cashing in on nostalgia.

Ghostbusters 2016 had a lot of potential to be a funny movie, even though sequels are usually not that good. (Except for some movies, especially Temple of Doom, I would be a different person without that movie. A sadder person with a hole in my soul, unsure from whence said hole had come from.) I liked the actors, but the writing wasn’t worthy of them, or the franchise.

The Last Jedi also had a lot of potential, and I am sorry to say that the writing was lacking as well. By the end of the movie, I didn’t feel like anything had happened. Well, people died, but nothing meaningful happened, and that’s pretty depressing.

I was guilty of wanting sequels, because when you fall in love with a character, you want to see them more. Unfortunately, that leads me to something else that I can say about these movies. Maybe a group of people catching ghosts is an archaic idea in this day and age. Maybe the Star Wars universe just doesn’t have enough happening for 9+ movies. ( Also, I wish they weren’t making a Han Solo movie, because I’m pretty sure Disney doesn’t believe that Han shot first.) Maybe I don’t want my heroes old, dead, or obsessed with how many wontons are in their soup. Maybe I got what I wished for and I didn’t want it when I got it. I suppose that’s life, and they are just movies,but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.