Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Fine Little Baby

A few weeks ago, I took Jude to one of my favorite Jackson hotspots that I don't get to visit as often as I would like: Lemuria. Lemuria ranks as one of my favorite independent book stores ever (second only to Square Books in Oxford--because Oxford is home and "one never graduates from Ole Miss" don't you know?). I have every intention of building up Jude's personal library with the classics. Our recent visit to Lemuria proved no exception as Jude came away with a T.S. Eliot book of cat poetry. (That's a whole other thread of topic but cats and books really do go well together, don't you think?) While in the checkout line, a new Eudora Welty biography caught my eye. (Aside: I'm at work on my lunch hour right now, and I don't have the title of the book on hand at the moment.) Anyway, I grabbed a copy, purchased it, and began reading as soon as I got home. I love Eudora Welty. Most times,it takes me a few readings before I begin to understand, but I love how she constructs a story. I particularly love the "June Recital" section of The Golden Apples--very coming of age, which is a favorite theme of mine to explore in literature. Needless to say, when I saw this new biography, I couldn't resist. A long time ago, I had read Eudora's One Writer's Beginnings,but one part of it didn't stand out to me until I read this biography that cited it. Eudora had learned that her mother and father had lost a child, a fifteen month old, before she was born. Eudora being a little girl when she found out, her mother simply told her, "He was a fine little baby." Those words--"fine little baby." Those words practically jumped off the page right into me. They were the perfect combination of words to accurately describe Jude. A fine little baby. Those words encompass absolutely everything about him: his smile, his voice, his way of concentrating very deeply on some random object, and so much more. When reading this part of the biography, I also couldn't help but feel for Eudora's mother as she had to find some way to explain to her young daughter that another baby just as loved as Eudora and her younger brothers had once existed. One day I plan to explain to Jude that before him, Jeffrey and I excitedly anticipated the arrival of another baby only to be met with disappointment a few days later. However, my miscarriage is a part of our family's history, a history with which Jude should one day become familiar. I know I won't be able to tell him without coming to pieces, but for Jude to know that about us, means he will know that we had always wanted him. We waited very patiently, and even not so patiently at times, for his existence to simply happen. And look what we got--a fine little baby.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Well, the city of Canton is all aglow with excitement this weekend as Hollywood has once again come into town to begin casting for the upcoming filming of "As I Lay Dying" (based on William Faulkner's brilliant work). I knew about this, but imagine my surprise when I came home from work and saw that the casting call was being held TWO DOORS over from my house! Here's a fun fact about Canton. Hollywood loves this place. And who can blame them? It's the epitome of small-town southern America with its glorious courthouse surrounded on all sides by locally owned businesses that shut down by 2:00 on Wednesdays in order to take care of odds and ends around town and at home. If you have seen the movies "My Dog Skip," "A Time To Kill,""Mississippi Burning," or "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou," then you have seen Canton. Beautiful place, huh? And here's an even "funner" fact. If you have seen "My Dog Skip," then you have seen my house. My house served as the home of Dink Jenkins, played by Luke Wilson. Yes, Luke Wilson has been in my house. So have Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, and Diane Lane. Unfortunately, someone else owned the house when all of that excitement took place. Still, how many people can say that their house appeared in a movie? So all of this should explain why Hollywood came to Canton this weekend. I have to admit, despite what my neighbors say, I have hoped really hard that Hollywood would come back and shoot another movie here in my lifetime.My neighbors assure me that when all is said and done, I will be ready for all of those celebrities to go home, but I still want to experience it at least once. Those who know me know my love of William Faulkner novels, so when Clarion Ledger printed up the details of this upcoming event--the filming of "As I Lay Dying," I just knew God had answered my prayers. So of course I showed up to the casting call. The line was long, the day was hot, and people had come from everywhere in hopes of landing a role. I knew without a doubt that I would not be cast as anything. The only female roles in the whole novel belong to Addie,Cora,Kate,Dewey Dell, and the second Mrs. Bundren. I'm too young for Addie and Cora (maybe "Young" doesn't quite cover it-- more like I don't look rode hard and put away wet), and I'm too old for Kate and Dewey Dell (though I really like Dewey Dell in the novel), but I do feel I have a decent shot at the second Mrs. Bundren. (Although, if this film portrays the novel anywhere near accurately, the second Mrs. Bundren wouldn't have a speaking part anyway.) I waited for several hours before getting called up and in the meantime buddied up with a few Ole Miss and Millsaps undergrad fellows who seemed quite taken with the fact that I teach college English courses. Jeffrey assures me that they were hitting on me, but I think these young men just have a thirst for academia and can spot a brilliant mind when they see one. Besides, I have a knack for communicating with this age group and making them feel at ease. Serving undergraduates (though mostly underachieving undergraduates) is my calling, after all! The try-out process was a little uneventful. Once I went inside, I waited some more. Then the casting director told me I looked too young for Addie and Cora and too old for Kate (I guess they've already picked a Dewey Dell). Then I asked about the second Mrs. Bundren. He looked me over and said "I like your look," took my information sheet, and sent me to the photographer for head shots. I don't expect to get called. Thousands of people are auditioning. The best part of the try-out was when I walked out of the door to head home. The first thing I saw were my two favorite people: Jeffrey and Jude. They were just walking up to check on me and happened to catch me at the perfect time. I've always known that I wasn't going to be a movie star, but when the opportunity presents itself in your backyard, you take it anyway. Besides, I can't be a movie star AND mother to a future Olympic gold medalist, AND wife to an up and coming rock star. That just wouldn't be fair to the rest of the world. Perhaps the only famous connection I'll ever have is the roof over my head, and that's pretty darn neat.