04 August 2011

store up that mississippi summer angst

This is the color Mississippi should always be on maps.
It is naptime here.  This means that I'm taking a moment to rest as well.  I spend a few minutes on pinterest (or more than a few, and then naptime is gone....); I read through my blogroll to see if there are posts that command my attention; I return emails from the morning; and, of course, facebook is ubiquitous. 

[Yes, facebook is actually everywhere now.  It always rearing its two sided head.]

So, just a few minutes ago, I was perusing my news feed.  And noticing the large percentage of complaints about the heat.

On the one hand, don't complain.  It doesn't make it better.  "You fussing about it isn't going to change anything, so just smile" comes out of my mouth 17-43 times per week.  I believe it.  I don't always live by it, but I do believe it, and I do try.

But....friends.... On the other hand....
Therapists make a lot of money for a reason.  We like to (need to?) vent.  To bitch and moan, pardon my french.  We need to just let it out.  It's the human condition.  Life is a pickle, and we want everyone to know about it.

[Of course for most of us, life's perfectly delightful, and we need to shut the heckfire up.  However, again with the flipside, life is subjective, and while a chimney fire and wolves circling the house is stressful for Laura Ingalls, a bat in my kitchen is stressful for me].

So, rather than put on a cheerful face, I'm going to take a minute to complain.  Don't keep reading if you don't wish to; you've been warned.
My children, reading this years from now, know that when you said, "it's so hot," and I said, "Aww, darlin', I know, but aren't you thankful for Air Conditioning?" what I was really thinking was the following:

It's freakin' hot.

It's too hot to go out; too humid to play.
What will we do on this sweltering day? 

We are actually having to make an effort to stay hydrated.
Here's a potty training tip:  Do it in Mississippi August, so that your kid just won't have to go to the bathroom.... he's sweating all moisture away.

My side porch is a wreck.  I keep walking out there, getting an item, and coming back in for a few more hours, because that's the best I can do.

Every year in August, every single year, I try to come up with a reason we need not live here anymore.  Just yesterday, a friend and I were contemplating Colorado.  I know; I need to do a winter there (or anywhere that has pleasant summers), before I make up my mind, but still.

I want to be one of those people with two residences, "Ann Lowrey Forster lives in Maine and Mississippi" - you know - two actual places to live.  Six months here, six months there.  Let me tell you where I wouldn't be in August.  Here.

My air is on 79.  It won't ever stop running, even in my well-insulated, all storm-windowed house.

We were all complaining in June.  Come back, June.  Come back to me.  I can barely remember June.  It's like in apocalyptic stories when they forget what sugar tastes like.  This is me, not being able to remember needing a jacket.

For goodness sake, it's too hot to swim. 

I was reading a Eudora Welty essay earlier this morning.  Whenever I read a Mississippi author, I stop and take a moment to be proud.  And maybe a little bit prideful.  I love that I live in and come from a state that has produced such amazing literature, art and music.  So, we're fat and uneducated and poor.  So what.  Put our list of authors, musicians and writers up against any other state's and I dare someone to say that we aren't in competition for the number one spot.

I'm not the first, or even ten-thousandth person to note how prolific we've been in the arts.  We Mississippians rock.  Or at least sing the blues and create fabulous sentences.

Most great art comes from pain, right?  Even the psalms; the great ones come from the times David's life is really very difficult.  We don't write out of joy.  We write out of pain.

When people notice a pattern, they try to find a cause, right?  So, folks have asked, 'Why, Mississippi, if you cannot teach your children to read and write, and you have long ago cut art from schooling to save what little tax revenue you have, and so on and so forth, why, Mississippi, with all that, have you also produced Falkner, Welty, Walter Anderson, Rick Bass, Larry Brown, Willie Morris and on and on we go.  Why, Mississippi?

And people have said, "Well, clearly it must be pain.  Pain is what always creates great art." 

And they're right.
But you know what they've said is the pain?

Race relations struggles
Lack of Education

But they're wrong.  I'll tell you why we get great art, why our authors kick the tails of authors from every where else in this great nation, why we invented the blues.
I know why.  And every Mississippian around today also knows why.


That's why we write well.  That's why Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil.  That's why we paint and sculpt and draw.  Jim Henson created the muppets in the middle of an August heat wave, I guarandamntee ya.

Art is therapy, and we need a lot down here, or else we'll sweat to death.

So, friends, maybe we should all quit complaining on facebook.  Not because it's unattractive and ungodly and not helpful, but because if we complain, we get rid of the pain, and someone has to be the next Barry Hannah, the next B. B. King, the next Wyatt Waters or Ellen Douglas or Walker Percy.

We must store up our Mississippi Summer angst, so as to create great art.  I've not the talent or the time, but those of you out there who do, take your grief and put in on a canvas or in a novel or a measure of music.

Sweat-droplet topped lips are waiting to be described in perfectly detailed imagery; go, now, and create.

I'll stay here and complain enough for the both of us.


  1. You might not have the time, but I think you have the talent to create a great novel. I love everything your write!

  2. aren't you sweet, sarah denley!