About Caroline Langston

A native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Caroline Langston is a convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church. She is a widely published writer and essayist, a winner of the Pushcart Prize, and a commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Mama and The Help

7261678144_86dcaa47b6_zIn memory of my mother

 “How come we don’t have a maid?” I asked my mother. It was the summer of 1973 and I was five.

Across the street at the neighbor’s, Lula wore men’s white cotton socks with sandals and came outside to greet the mailman every afternoon. She was slow moving and wide, with skin the color of wood varnish.

“Come and let me love on you,” she’d say, but Mama always stiffened a bit, as though she were not quite comfortable. [Read more...]

The Collision

deerAll I saw of the deer at first was the eye: domed, amber and pellucid, set in a pallid furry temple. I saw that, and the briefest flash of a muscled flank as the deer charged from the trees and straight into the front right fender of my car.

If this were a short story, or a scene in a movie, this would be the moment when time would suddenly lengthen, stretch into slow motion: I’d have some kind of clarifying and revelatory last-minute realization. That’s not merely a literary conceit: I have experienced those moments when experience seems literally toculminate, the universe to distill to a point.

[Read more...]

Breaking Up with My Job

leavingjobLast week, I left the job where I have worked for the past seven-and-three-quarter years. There’s not much to say about the job itself—that’s the other life I don’t write about in this forum, the one where I live under another name entirely, although in this day of the online permanent record, you can connect all the dots in a minimum of keystrokes on Google.

There’s also little to say because it was a very good job, the kind of rare position that is always being written about in our papers of record for its flexibility and humane part-time hours, along with its intellectual challenge. Despite my commitments to domesticity, volunteerism and full-on mothering, it never made sense not to work, and it’s been good for my mental health, to boot. (I guess that means I should write about it, but I’m not going to do it here.)

[Read more...]

In Memoriam

roadside-memorialIf you live long enough in a place, people will start to die there, but the phenomenon of time’s passage is often framed more romantically. Consider the lines of the classic Beatles song (emphasis mine):

There are places I remember…
Some have gone and some remain
All these
places have their moments
with lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all.

I’m not immune to this tendency myself. I am a Southerner, after all, and a Mississippian, a member of the tribe for whom the phrase “a sense of place” is endlessly and (often) sententiously invoked.

A real joke: How many Southerners does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Three. One to call the yardman, one to mix the martinis, and one to talk about how lovely the old one was. [Read more...]

Elsa Blue and Frozen Power

ElsaFrozenFor Chad Thomas Johnston

Along with Kermit green, Barbie pink and—Lord have mercy—SpongeBob yellow, we can now officially add another color to the commercial childhood color spectrum:

Elsa blue.

Not the uninspiring medium light-blue of the golden-haired Disney Cinderella, the color of hard-sided Samsonite suitcases and redolent of 1950s animation, but a far more rarified shade, mixed with white and the tiniest drop of yellow-gold. A color that is just a step closer to Tiffany blue, and I bet you anything that this is not a coincidence.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, and have been preoccupied with your life of craft beers and reading Teodor Adorno, “Elsa blue” is the chief signifier and synecdoche of the 2014 animated film Frozen that recounts the story of two orphaned princesses in the Norwegian-inspired kingdom of Arendelle, the older of whom—the now-Queen Elsa—has the lethal and hidden power to create snow and ice.

[Read more...]


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