Friday Roundup

It’s Inauguration Day, Friends. I drove 8 hours from Hattiesburg, Mississippi north to Meridian, into Alabama, then Georgia, and finally crossed into Tennessee at Chattanooga. Less than two hours later, I arrived at my hotel in Knoxville for the night. Now, I’m eating cheese and crackers and broccoli and hummus and watching each of the three balls start.

What a strange day. And beautiful. Let’s begin with beautiful: At the Mississippi/Alabama border, the sun broke through the same gray bank of clouds I’ve been living under since sometime last week in Oakland at my dad’s cabin. The rest of the day, everything around me as I drove on, growing greener, hillier, warmer.

I had a long, detailed, excellent conversation with Sister #1 who’s up in Maine.

I asked and received decent coffee at McDonald’s this morning.

And this drive today was easy, seemingly fast–no traffic.

Now, the strange: listening for hours to the swearing in, etc. commentary on NPR.

Aware of lots of feelings bubbling up by the time Jackie Evancho starts singing. Weepy. (This is why I called Sis #1.) Because I learned this morning that our old, swell family dog, our Labradoodle Daisy, is falling ill. Had a seizure last night.

Because I am driving north to get back to our home and town for a brief stay to move forward the ending of my marriage.

Because here is Laurel, Mississippi, the birthplace and home of Leontyne Price, remarkable opera diva. Shacks, rotting and mold-covered wood houses to my left and right, the poverty I can’t now place her in.

Because then I cross into Jones County, Mississippi, the site of a remarkable rebellion by deserters who wished to secede and form their own government in 1863. They lived in the swamps there, among runaway slaves, literally establishing dwellings, methods for finding and preparing food. Among the Bald Cypress. Moss, stone. On The Water.

Because as I listen to the President give his speech, I think of what my tour guide at Whitney Plantation, the only plantation museum in the US to tell the story from the point of view of the enslaved, just said the day before about healing: Every single American must face and acknowledge and embrace our total history in order for this country to heal.

Perseverance. Opportunity. Freedom. The end of things. The beginning. All the closed eyes, still.

But I will leave you on a good note of the strange: This evening, as I was checking in, I get a call from Mexico. Kimball Wheeler, soprano, and one of Jan’s first students is calling. We’re gonna talk about Jan in about five minutes, so here’s the roundup–and sleep tonight. We all get to rest and rise again.

Margaret-Love: about my visit with writer Margaret-Love Denman in Oxford, MS

Bon Mot Radio Show with Rick Agran: You can hear Part One of my 90 minute interview about Jan and the book here!

On the Road Again: traveling along the Gulf Coast and the beautiful Historic Michabelle Inn.





About dhaines54

Dawn Denham (formerly Haines) lives in the hill country of North Central Mississippi where she's writing a book about her mentor at the Eastman School of Music mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani and teaching writing at Oxford High School. Her work has been published in Poets and Writers magazine, Brevity, Zone 3, Literary Mama, and WILLA. Her book with authors Jacqueline Raphael and Susan Newcomer Writing Together: Transforming Your Writing in a Writing Group was the first book of its kind published in the US. Her essay Aleatorik about her mother’s death won the 2012 Solstice magazine Creative Nonfiction prize chosen by Jerald Walker and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received an MFA in Nonfiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MA in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Arizona, and a BM in Voice from Eastman School of Music.
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