Playing in the Dark

There are a number of quarries in and around Knoxville where lanky, dusty men used to blast marble out of the hills before the Depression. In fact, if you read the odd town-centric indie publication here or there, you’ll eventually dig your way into a vein of prose in which some loafered, office-bound journalist will wax poetic about the geological intricacies of East Tennessee’s pink marble. We should all dream so big. In earnest, marble from Mead’s Quarry has made it all the way to New York and the District of Columbia. These old holes in the ground, however, have become the stuff of dreams nowadays. They tend to attract college students and hometown creatures alike to their emerald green waters, beckoning the sweltering and the summer-skinned to the coolness of placid depths. As for myself, though, I go in the deep dark of winter.

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The Other Endgame

First things first: spoiler alert. This is going to get messy, because I got messy.

I got the last good seat at the 9:30 showing of Avengers: Endgame—the only seat left from which I wouldn’t have to crane my neck at an obtuse angle. I shuffled in to the row, which was mostly empty at that point, except for the dating couple next to my seat. I apologized before plopping down beside the lady, which made the moment more awkward than it would have been anyway. A little while later, a large man and his young son scooted past us and sat next to me. These were to be my companions for the journey. We had come for entertainment, yes, but also for closure. After twenty-one films of waiting for post-credits questions, we demanded answers.

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Thoughts on Finishing the Work

On Good Friday, Bill Wolf and a gigantic cadre of musicians brought Wolf’s Easter: Stories & Songs show back home to Knoxville. It was the show’s first return to the city in five years and its first time at the historic Bijou Theatre. It was also the culmination of many months of effort for the players and the production team.

It ended with me driving home in the rain. Of course, even then, it was never really over.

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Over Heard

My daughter’s dance class:
A brave octet of blue-clad torsos, all
Delicate and strung tight with snare drum ribs.
They gallop like crabs

Gone dizzy with light.
A lone piano chord sends them spinning.
We’re born from beneath a throb of human
Song. We hear sound raw,

Drink it in gulps, and
Wheel away laughing.

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Abby Wheeler, Creator of Heartworks

Heartworks is a brand new, up-and-coming organization dedicated to serving the refugee and resettled population in Knoxville through art therapy classes, painting lessons, conversation, and relationships. Abby Wheeler is currently working closely with Knoxville Internationals Network.

ADAM WHIPPLE: So tell me how you got started. What was the impetus behind creating Heartworks?

ABBY WHEELER: Well, I have wanted to be a missionary since I was six years old. I went to college for intercultural studies at Johnson, and I met my husband, Matt. He has Crohn’s disease, so he cannot live overseas, because he gets infusions every six weeks. It’s like a $20,000 medicine every six weeks, if we didn’t have insurance…

ADAM: Yeah, and if you’re overseas, you’re dealing with whatever their government feels like healthcare should look like.

ABBY: Exactly, and just exposure to different things. So I thought, ‘Now I have no idea what I want to do,’ since this is literally since I was six years old. So, Kenny [Woodhull] was my professor at Johnson, and he helped me kind of explore what’s at the heart of my dream. I discovered that I really just wanted people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, especially Middle-Eastern refugees, to experience healing and wholeness. And with my personal experience with art, I thought it was a great way to promote healing and wholeness.

ADAM: Is that where you wanted to go?

ABBY: Yeah, I went to Jordan for a summer, and I loved it. And then, I grew up taking art lessons since I was in third grade. All growing up it was my safe space.

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