Sunday, July 20

"Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shinin' on me..."

Feelin' much better after getting out of Atlanta for a couple of days, even if it did come with a lot of questions and lecturing from -who else- my mom and grandma. Oh well, I think that will always be a part of being female AND the first-born to a Southern family.

The trip to Oxford was awesome. Up until this weekend, it existed as a fictional little plot of land in my head - something I had read about and researched but never actually knew what it was like. Well, I got to know it, and I loved it. The drive there took FOREVER (seven hours - my mom was driving). Plus, the scenery on US 78 is lackluster, needless to say; I was getting more and more skeptical about the town with every cow pasture we saw, and believe me, there were a lot. We finally got into town around 7 or so, but we all were pretty tired so we just ate at the Applebee's across the street from our hotel (exciting) and crashed out.

The next morning we woke up pretty early, ate a good breakfast, and then headed to Ole Miss campus for my tour at 11am with the graduate school. We had a guide named Aaron who was also a student in the Southern Studies Master's program, which was awesome. He was super nice and really informative. He drove us all around campus in a golf cart, pointing out the main buildings & the likes; the campus is so incredibly gorgeous. I mean, coming from Georgia State, anything with more than four or five rundown buildings and a library is going to blow my mind, but the campus really was exceptional; huge Greek Revival buildings and perfectly manicured lawns. I loved it.

After our general Ole Miss tour, our guide took us to the Barnard Observatory which is where the Center for Southern Studies is housed. I met a woman who is a student advisor, and she gave me a ton of literature about the program, lots of Faulkner-Yoknapatawpha Conference and Oxford Conference for the Book posters, and a ton of back copies of The Southern Register. I talked to her about my fear of taking the GRE, and she assured me I would be fine because of my GPA; the program is so small that it isn't as competitive as others, and they admit people more on the letters of recommendation and statement of purposes than the test scores. That eased my mind in a big way. Overall, the tour was great, and it was awesome to finally put an image and a feel to the place I've been pining after for about a year now.

After our tour, we all went to Downtown Oxford to eat and scope out the stores. Our first stop, upon recommendation from our guide, was Ajax Diner. All I have to say is: holy shit. I think I had the best sandwich of my life there. It was called The Big Easy, and it was country fried steak, mashed potatoes & gravy, and butter beans all on a delicious big bun. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Plus, their sweet tea was perfect; not too sweet but sweet enough to be delicious. After lunch, we went to the infamous Square Books to look around. I bought a magazine called Oxford American, Faulkner's Light in August, and The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. We walked around some more, saw Faulkner's statue in front of City Hall, and bought some Rebels gear. We left the square, went back to Ole Miss campus to drive around some more and take pictures, and drove down some side streets to look at houses which were all really cute, for lack of a better word. After that, we found St. Peter's Cemetery and went to Faulkner's grave. It's a pretty plain looking grave, and he is buried next to his wife. Apparently, locals put whiskey bottles and pennies on his headstone on a regular basis which I find hilarious. He was an alcoholic after all so he probably loves it. My mom also took it upon herself to take a wreath someone had put on his grave and move it to the other side because it was "hideous"; I hope he haunts her now. After all the sightseeing, we finally went back to the hotel to chill for a little bit. My mom and grandma ended up going out to dinner later on that night, and I just stayed in, ordered pizza, looked over all my information, and watched a lot of Cesar Milan before passing out at 10:30.

The next morning we woke up early, ate breakfast, packed up, and shipped out to Rowan Oak, Faulkner's house from 1930 - 1962. Seriously, I can't even describe what it meant to me going there; it's like my mecca. I've been wanting to go for so long and to finally get there was amazing. Rowan Oak itself is a surprisingly quaint house; it's a pretty basic Greek Revival style house, nothing too extravagant. It's private and on a good sized plot of land. I guess what I'm getting at is it's my kind of house. The University owns it, but if I win the lottery one day, I wonder if they'll let me buy it and be its curator it for a living. One can hope! Anyways, we walked around the house and the grounds for about an hour; I finally got to see where he wrote the outline for "A Fable" on the walls of his office. I had asked the guy that was at the front desk where he kept his phone because I had seen pictures of a little alcove where he kept his phone and behind it had written tons of numbers down. He told me it was blocked off because so many people want to see it and it gets super crowded, so I was pretty bummed. As we were leaving though, he came outside and told me he could bring me back to go see it because the house was pretty empty. Seriously, I was so stoked; that guy doesn't even know, but he made my day. I got to go back into the pantry where it was and take a couple pictures of it. Come to think of it, I should have asked him if I could have seen his Underwood typewriter because it too is blocked off...

After Rowan Oak, we shipped out. Luckily, I drove us home instead of my mom, and we made it in six hours, even with two separate stops. I'll be honest; if I had been driving the Focus, not the Escalade, I definitely would have made it in five and a half, ha. Either way, I was glad to get home and see Drake. Plus, Madison and his girlfriend got my spare key and went into my apartment and put Ole Miss stuff on my breakfast bar! I have a license plate holder, a beer mug, and a shot glass in addition to the shirt and car sticker I bought. I can't help it; it's going to be my first "real" college experience (sorry, GSU), and even at 23, I'll show some school pride!

In conclusion, it was a very successful trip. I'm so glad I have a feel for the town, and it eased my nerves about a lot of things. The shitty part is going to be waiting another year! Oh well, it will give me time to save some money and get my brain back in school mode.


mary said...

i know some IDIOTS who aced the gre and my magna cum laude miz is no idiot so you got this!! oxford sounds really awesome...i still want to make it down to atlanta this summer so let me know when a good time would be. once i figure out where i am going to be, you should come up here too.

and you know you can call me if you need to talk!!

Anonymous said...

great post.. it's always fun to read about someone else that loves that city as much as we do..