Lisa’s mother

Lisa called me at work while I was in a meeting, three days before Thanksgiving.

I’ve never heard her like this. Well, I had heard her like this once before and it was at a moment previously and nearly exactly 10 years ago, 10 years minus one week, with the passing of her father. Jack, and now Mickey. With Mr. Foley it had happened in a gross one-month-or-so sequence with my dad then hers then my sister-in-law’s. I hesitate to write this previous co-incidence because of the stupid stupid terror of what I am thinking now but that cannot just cannot happen. Hearing her on the phone–no–just seeing the call from her was crushing. Phone calls do not happen between us.

Can she drive? She’s at work. She can, so we meet at home and pack more clothes than needed, planning for everything that might happen this week. Overpacking in the way you do. There’s every uncertainty of when you might start crying, being silently grateful that you’re silently not thinking about it and not crying, and then feeling guilty that you’re not. I cannot speak to what she went through.

July 2006

In Knoxville, her and her brother and I are given free executive suite rooms by the owner of a very nice downtown hotel because of his appreciation of Mickey. She had helped him or he her or some sort of collegial reciprocation had happened over the years, and we will realize and benefit from the fact that that had happened with many other individuals in Knoxville. So many. The arts community, government agencies, the mayor-now-governor, every large and small department had some cherished interaction with her. This over a period of twenty years or so I’m not sure. I’m half bragging because it’s impressive and so sweet and so impressive. Throughout the half week [this is Wednesday now] there were so many. The offered help is helpful yet also a burden of pride that makes it hard to accept offers that are humbly expansive. I speak for myself, of course, of my impressions and I guess even the most sincere acts in a time of anguish will be difficult at that time until there is some distance. “I’ll do anything.” “How can I possibly ask anything of you?”

Monday is check in, then to the house to meet Vicky, Narda, and Michelle. Narda and Michelle had entered the house on Monday and found Mickey in an unfortunate way. According to what I know medical examiner, police, and cleanup were called. We went to the house with the peppermint oil smell and the friends manning the phone bank for explanations. Red the beloved dog was there for however many days before discovery and now at the animal boarding place. All aspects are sad. (There are other aspects that I want to document here for my own flawed memory but that are too personal so won’t.)

We stay as others are informed, calls are made, and everything that can be done that night is done. L&M&I go to the hotel restaurant late and they are open and we order food and we eat and we reminisce and we enumerate what needs to be done the next day that is Tuesday. Already calendar clarity starts slipping. Is there something about the moment of finality that make time non-specific for those survivors?

Lisa and Mickey, Christmas 2008

Tuesday was busy.

We started at the house looking through all of Mickey’s paperwork. Folders that are well organized are still a volume of personal filing quirks that outsiders coming in just cannot immediately puzzle out. Which documents are valuable? The transitory–car oil change receipts, notes on a catering job, old credit card bills–are many and may contain buried within them a page or two of value. All but will and life insurance are found.

Documents are pulled aside and the bio cleaning owner arrives to assess the job. This is a delicate thing that you don’t think about but know has to happen. He’s incredibly cautious and caring and I weirdly can’t imagine being upset with his presence because of how he handles even the potentially awkward questions. Homeowners insurance should pay for everything minus deductible. Much like the funeral home (as I remember) he manages as much as possible without our involvement. He’ll contact insurance and knows all secondary sources to test (flies? dog urine?) for cleanliness.

We leave for Berry Funeral Home to prepare the cremation and next Monday’s service. Non-invasive autopsy has been managed by Mason after dealing with the police and medical personnel from the initial discovery. The funeral home will manage cremation, urn (no), obituary, service, and list of mourners.

The rest of the day and evening was mostly low-impact restaurant hopping. Late lunch at Stock And Barrel then return to the house for a follow up exam from the bio-cleaning guys (black light). Drinks at the Old City Wine Bar. Snacks at Kefe, a Greek place that Mickey would have loved (maybe she’d been there?). Hotel and beers.

Service is Monday. I don’t have many pictures of her.

Lisa’s 40th

Obituary copied here because I see the obituary link for my dad got 404ed:

Mickey Patricia Mallonee, 76, passed away unexpectedly in her home on November 19th, 2018 in Knoxville.

Mickey Patricia Mallonee was born and raised in Knoxville and graduated from South High School. She briefly attended the University of Tennessee, where she began dating Jack Otis Foley, also of Knoxville. Upon Jack’s graduation the two married and shortly thereafter moved to Moody Air Force Base where Jack completed his pilot training. Their Air Force career took the family to South Carolina, Alaska, Washington D.C., Nebraska, Alabama, Louisiana (where Mickey served as President of the Officers’ Wives Club), North Carolina (where she also served as president of the Officers’ Wives Club), Greece and England, to name a few. Col. Foley retired to Atlanta, GA, where their two children established themselves and continue to live today. Mickey eventually made her way back to Knoxville and soon began her trajectory into the arts and civic communities, becoming director of the Arts Council of Greater Knoxville. Soon after, she began her stint with the City of Knoxville as the Special Events Director for Mayors Ashe and Haslam, during which she had a hand in coordinating 700+ events a year, and became an alumnae of Leadership Knoxville. After “retiring”, she continued her contributions via participation on several boards including Knox Heritage, McClung Museum and Mabry-Hazen House. She loved the city of Knoxville, almost as much as she loved her children, and tirelessly worked to better the city and the community she adored. Her children will miss her immeasurably.

Mickey is survived by her daughter, Lisa Marie Foley and son-in-law, Scott D. Strader; son, Mason Wade Foley and daughter-in-law, Danice Johnson Foley; nieces, Vicky Llewllyn, Karen Williams, Pam Hays, Paige Mallonee Brooke; nephew, Mike Robinson… and her dog, Red.

She was preceded in death by parents, Michael and Adeline Mallonee; sister, Barbara Ann Robinson and brother-in-law, Eugene Robinson; brother, Bobbie “Buddy” Mallonee and sister-in-law, Cynthia Joan Mallonee, and ex-husband, Col. Jack Otis Foley, USAF, Ret., all of Knoxville, Tennessee

Service to be held at Berry Funeral Home, 3704 Chapman Highway on Monday, November 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm. Reception to follow from 4:00 – 8:00 PM at Historic Westwood, 3425 Kingston Pike. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to either Knox Heritage and/or McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee.Condolences may be offered at

Three Carlton Mellick novels

I had purchased Mellick’s novel “The Haunted Vagina” on a lark along with Chuck Tingle’s (yes, that Chuck Tingle) book “Buttception.” I had a nonsense plan to give each to friends of Lisa when they came into town for vacation shenanigans. On receipt of the books, I realized that they had toooo much shenanigans and kept them for myself. After reading “The Haunted Vagina” I was hooked on Melick and got two more. All contain a mix of bizarre yet elegant humanity.

The Haunted Vagina

It goes in one direction and then another that you cannot anticipate then further. That’s a very generic description but an accurate one w/r/t Mellick’s gross, magic realist prose. I was intrigued then disgusted (not really) and yet surprised, and finally fascinated. No spoilers, but what starts as a story of a man crawling into his girlfriend’s vagina and finding a world, a la lions witches and wardrobes, turns into a tale of love emerging from a previous, failed relationship. Failed relationships inform subsequent relationships as if they were birthed from them and here, in a way, they are. The humanity is hidden in grotesque honesty.

Every Time We Meet at the Dairy Queen, Your Whole Fucking Face Explodes

Another relationship story. Here, a teen boy falls in love with a quirky, loner girl. They start dating and, as referenced in the title, when they start kissing or she gets sexually excited her face boils and then explodes. Skin and muscle and maybe her tongue or an eye flies off, also causing damage to him too if he’s too close. Her father reconstructs her using flesh from odd human-faced dog-like animals that they keep in the cellar. Eventually, she acquires an exotic, mottled face after the stitches heal and disappear. A special drug in her blood blocks her pain and his if he’s in the line of fire.

This condition was passed down from her mother–now distorted from years of reconstruction–and from all previous generations of women in her family. The boyfriend becomes concerned about her differences, including the spider-infested bedroom she sleeps in, but he’s truly in love and they eventually can be together for longer periods of time, though without having sex. That’s held off until the truly odd, gross, sweet ending. Mellick really has a knack for that.


This is I think his most recent book and is a much more conventional sci fi story. Like the movie Groundhog Day, a man relives every day after he falls asleep. Unlike Groundhog Day, a large portion of the population suffers the same affliction and periodically more people “awaken” to live this repeated immortality.

To stave off the chaos of consequence free theft, murder, or rape, laws and a police force are created. Some people are hundreds or thousands of years old and have forgotten most of their lives. Newly awake people must go to group therapy to deal not only with the idea of being immortal, but being immortal with a hangover, horrible injuries, or as with one woman we meet, being nine months pregnant and knowing you’ll never see your child. This is a considerably more grim and more realistic Groundhog Day. The ending is as carefully human as that of his other two books I read, just less bizarre.

Where do we go?

[ed. draft started back in July]


The basic idea is that if someone possesses any moral failing then they have no ground to criticize others’ flaws. It’s considered a high skill of propaganda perfected, of a sort, by the Soviet Union when any government or NGO outside of their walled society would denounce their corruptions or human rights abuses. After all, don’t other countries have bought-off politicians? Governments that have committed just-this-side-of war crimes? Lynchings? The basic flaw with this defense is that if something is wrong it is wrong no matter who is doing it. Being accused of murder by another who has murdered does not make you a non-murderer. If only the flawless were permitted to criticize then we all would devolve, without valid dispute, into the worst that has occurred.

There is a pot and blackness of kettle type of support to whataboutism. There is a mocking of hypocrites. Yet it certainly doesn’t absolve murder or equate degrees of murder. Reporters in the United States have been put in free speech zones. Reporters and opposition leaders in Russia have been assassinated. There is no equivalence.

National Monument in Vitkov

Trump said, during his Helsinki debacle an interview, that “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?” This is the sweet sweet temptation of whataboutism. Its siren call etc. is compelling. If the US spies and subverts, its acts ameliorate the corruption of Putin (and no not that of the Iranian leader, and no not that of the Syrian president (or maybe so), but yes that of the North Korean leader, and yes that of the assassination-frenzied Philippine president, and yes that of other authoritarians whom the president-small-p, re their power, covets-captital-C) and bars any societal self-reflection and self-correction when we commit moral crimes or even offenses. Can we fail and hate ourselves and still be nobler than ruthless autocracies? As per Trump: no, we can’t.

Liu Bolin, Shadow II, discovered back in 2011. Even the disappeared leave a mark.

While researching the history and rhetorical qualifications of whataboutism, I found a Stack Exchange discussion on How can I respond to Whataboutism? which had answers nuanced and in great detail. I cannot add anything valuable to it. Read those questions, answers, and the in-betweens.

Enumerated, or at least bullet pointed, points from notes for my previously intended essay:

  • Arguments made in support of the Trump/Putin summit. Can there be any? Is there any world that can defend Trump’s actions?
  • False equivalence – US spying, a corrupt murderous Putin and oligarchs, and now Trump may be equally corrupt. Is this satisfactory to us for our leaders? Have we become that because whataboutism says we were already that?
  • (In war, do we look the other way when someone tries to shoot us even if they missed? (I really feels this has nothing to do with whataboutism. What did I have in mind?))
  • Keep your enemies close.

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton met Russian representatives in private like Trump did with Putin. What is the difference?

What happened every other time Putin met with US presidents

The difference is one of quality. Neither previous presidents praised Putin with fawning earnestness or held his veracity above American intelligence or had any history of compromat. A private meeting should be met with greater concern. Roger Ebert–in interviews I cannot find or am remembering incorrectly–repurposed the law of the excluded middle to be a flawed premise. In logic, the law states that a statement is true or not. However, we tend to try to apply that speciously to intent. Trump has suggested (again, cannot find the quote) that not talking to Putin or Kim Jong-un will result in nuclear war. Talk or not-talk is not-war or war and supposedly there is no in between. I often think of conservatives as having black and white and not gray thought. This is a perfect example.

Rashomon (and uncertain equivalence)

[ed. written after Helsinki and cleaned up now, after the midterms]

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