Day 113 of My Life as an Unemployed Person dawned lovely (I only know this because it was clear and piercing when I woke up, late, to the nice but repetitive song of a bird in one of the many trees overshadowing our backyard), it dawned lovely and I didn’t get out of the house and on my way till noon, after conferring at length with myself, my closet (which is a cupboard, currently), and my mirror (in that order) on proper attire, unlocked my bike, and was off! to Coffee & Chocolate. 

Coffee & Chocolate may be my favorite Knoxville coffee shop, partly because its windows look out on monstrous Bradford pears, maples and dogwoods (which several trees are collectively called “Krutch Park”), partly because I don’t see anyone I know (or have met) here and that reminds me of some of my most intensely good hours, at coffee shops in Nashville.  I grew up, to a certain extent, in Nashville, where I lived solitary much of the time, and would jump on my bike when I needed to get away and be alone and go to a coffee shop.  Whether Fido or J-J’s, I opened the door flushed and flustered from the ride, stepped in and became ensconced in a private garden of thoughts and wonderings.  Once they even played The Innocence Mission for an hour at J-J’s.

As a child, I would go lose myself in the woods, or take a walk down silent country streets, sky tall and branches, always everywhere, like personal ambulatories.  When I was in Nashville for school, I didn’t venture into unknown country … or rarely, at least.  So Fido, Bongo Java, J-J’s — each came home in me and I knew them and their different personalities.  Since moving back to Knoxville I’ve ignorantly despaired of finding coffee places to come home to and then actually had the guts to call them and see what they were doing, and now we hang out and this one, Coffee & Chocolate, on the corner of Market Square, far enough away from both it and Gay Street, glass cases of enormous haystacks, truffles, gourmet s’mores, Nipples of Venus, I love.  Even the baristas here seem a safe distance from Gay Street, Market Square, even the Old City, which I’m more thankful for all the time.

So here I am, a cool spring day, with so much to think about, so much to process.  The wind is ruffling everyone so rowdily, but they’re all so full of light they don’t mind.  Spring is here, and if we don’t hope for rebirths and resurrections, then what on earth?  So we do.  And besides, the trees are throwing petals at our feet.


Day 113 is unfolding almost without creases, hour by hour.  As I read Behind the Scenes at the Museum (which I left at Marshall’s last night and am absolutely wroth that I’m not reading the last twenty pages of right now) I see something coming through the shadowy back of yet another page of my palimpsest heart.  Which is the point, and I feel very conflicted at times about finding myself coming round to an author’s point (thank you Foucault), but I can’t argue with this.  This book has to do with wit, of course,  but also memory, or what may happen when the complex and badly-repaired soul is shown an actual event, when the memory and thousand intricate adjustments of the years have written a subjective history over it.  And the subjective histories are so important,  no matter how different from the Actual Events of our living (which are…?) … how shocking, how dizzying to see blooming from behind the outlines of a lost memory.  Why is there so much grief, there?  Are all lost memories waiting to be called, are all lost moments, lost people?  This idea in Behind the Scenes of a metaphysical Lost-and-Found at the back of eternity is compelling for the same reason Hopkins’ promise in the Leaden & Golden Echo is (“kept far with fonder a care”).  And I don’t need to explain that, to anyone.

Somehow I’ve lost memories of my childhood, and high school is losing itself like days, except by bunches, months at a time.  All the time my sister and I could have had together, stolen or lost and my pages of Nashville memories with her are being inexorably written over, letter by letter, I can’t stop it.  Where are the years I missed of little sisters, growing up?  Why are memories of grandparents only coming through at edges, indecipherable, incapable of being made into words?  Where is Grace Hoomes?

And I say the words in my head, “Why does life have to be about  loss,” but then I know that it’s not about loss—it is loss; it’s about recovery.  I believe this so firmly I feel like Nike of Samothrace (plus head and arms) for the blink of an eye.  The drawing of a breath, beating of the heart.  If there’s something that’s about food, it’s hunger, and I’m compelled.


Now I’m reading Mark Jarman’s Epistles again.  What is my writing style?  I read Atkinson (Mitford, etc.) and write with a terse British clip … Jarman and I lengthen sentences with commas and saturated nouns … Woolf and I try to make long swathes of silk that change into water and back into silk.