to kill a momkingbird. worst pun ever.

[listening to mumford & sons as i post. i enjoy them muchly much. maybe it’s because i picture them singing in a bookstore after these videos, but i think of their music as writerly.]

So. My mom calls me yesterday, just super excited. [those of you who know her know this isn’t really news.] She could not wait to tell me she’d finished To Kill A Mockingbird. See the bookloving world has been all in a kerfuffle about T.K.A.M.’s 50th year, and while most people my age read it in high school, mom missed out. For some reason, she never picked it up. [my guess: it has something to do with the ominous title. my dear mother is an avid reader along the lines of Anne of Green Gables and Jane Austen fare. “Kill” doesn’t really enter the scene.]

It’s funny, last week she wasn’t sure she’d finish it. But when she called yesterday I could tell she was oh so excited. I asked if she liked it, “YES! I really enjoyed it…and oh my GOSH. it was worth the whole BOOK when she says that thing at the end about the mockingbird…and I just got to where I loved that little Scout girl. Very inquisitive and smart…”

She said this proves to her you have to stick with something. [that’s mom. ever the lesson-giver.]

That’s the thing about The Great Books, right? They change you, but first they challenge you. They have moments that make the whole process worth it, or even make you grateful that such a thing as reading exists.

I kind of want to revisit To Kill A Mockingbird now. Surely my capacity to appreciate it has evolved since Mrs. Hendrix’s sophomore English. No doubt I missed some depth while doodling on my notes— “very inquisitive and smart” though I was at sixteen.

i used to doodle in acronyms to myself. That’s weird, right? For instance, “I like a guy named Derek” would be ILAGND. I would have whole conversations with myself that way. I’d also doodle constantly. On folders, on notebook paper margins, the back of spelling tests. Didn’t matter whether I was bored or super-engaged. I doodled. Even now I’ll catch myself doodling on my notes during meetings. I haven’t written myself an acronymed note in a long, long time. If I did, it might be this: IWTGJTB.

my word.

My word, I think I found my word today.

In Eat Pray Love (both the movie and the book), Elizabeth Gilbert attempts to figure out her word. Her dreamy (and off-limits) Italian language tutor introduces the concept that every city has a word. The word of Rome, they decide, is sex. (In my experience, it’s first base then gelato, which is, I’d put forward, arguably superior.)

So it’s natural that E.G. (what with all the self-discovery-journey and the being-a-writer) wants to pin down just the right word to describe herself.

I don’t really know what prompted today’s pinning-down for me.
Maybe the fact that it’s back-to-school time and so my thoughts have turned to studenty things.
(My word is very English class.)
Maybe the fact that I spent a good chunk of my day knee-deep in trip planning and googling London literary destinations circa: Charles Dickens, William Blake, Samuel Johnson. hear that, fellas?
(My word is very do-that-with-your-Sunday-and-like it.)

Ready yet? Because…it’s kind of a big deal to claim a word as my own, right? I’m henceforth in a public relationship with this word after I claim it as my own. And honestly, it’s more that I want this word to be mine. I’m enamored with the idea of it. It is the Helen Hunt to my Jack Nicholson.

Google my word, and this is the first thing you see:

1. Of or characteristic of a professional author.
2. Consciously literary

Writerly. I love that it almost sounds made up. I love that it feels like it has texture. Heft. Dimensions.
I think it looks like a professor.
It smells like the inside of a musty library hardback.
It sounds like Billy Collins reciting, bringing to life, his lines.

It just makes me feel like being how I want to be. (which is what you want out of “the” word, after all.)
Last night I talked with a fellow-writer friend about writing. We had a really nice “OMG! me too!” exchange about the paralysis difficulties of just getting started. She said she feels writing is the one thing she’s good at, but it’s also the most challenging. I said I’ve been thinking about working on a book. A collection of essays, more like. I’ve been thinking, off-and-on with moments of serious intention, about this since I finished college. Each New Year and birthday marking another milestone where This Could Be The Year.

Could this be the year? Because it’s writerly to think about writing a book, but it’s oh so much more writerly to go ahead and write it.

my kind of town

It’s lovely to realize Springfield can still surprise me. Lots of changes downtown this weekend, and I was lucky enough to soak some up yesterday.

Lovely change #1: Bistro Market.
It’d be fun to track how many times this place makes folks say “I feel like I’m in a different city!” I know I said it, and I heard it from a handful of people on B.M.’s opening day. I don’t think we say this as a big slam to Springtown, either. It’s just more hushed admiration that we [shucks, little old us] actually have a place like this downtown now. Bistro Market has some Whole-Foodsy perks like grind-your-own peanut butter and a wall of trailmix/granola/spice bins. The place was packed at late lunchtime yesterday, and you could feel the energy from people ordering food, browsing the aisles and pausing in awe (a starbucks?! ooh sushi! gelato?!) which brings me to…

Lovely Change #2: Gelato


gelato in florence. note: caffe crunk

It’s an embarrassment of yumminess riches that downtown has not one, but TWO, gelato joints grand-opening on the same day.
It’s just dumb how happy this makes me. After my Bistro Market salad bar I got a small (and so worth the $2) chocolate hazelnut from their gelato bar [because this is a thing we can now do, SGF]. I don’t think it’s possible to sing enough praises for the tiny spoon. I fell in love with tiny spoons in Italy, where I first met gelato 2 summers ago (I believe I had the stuff 17 times in less than 2 weeks…) and the spoons just make it that much better. They force me to slow down and allow for intentional, indulgent bites.
While B.M.’s chocolate hazelnut had nuthin’ on the Nutella-flavored gelato of Rome, it has the right texture and temperature. (I’ve described gelato before as the hybrid of ice cream, marshmallows and Will Smith: just perfectly cool and smooth. And it somehow never leads to brain freeze. I KNOW! IT’S SO GOOD!)

Okay Okay enough about the gelato…except, not. Because…

Lovely Thing #3 is: More Gelato

tiramisu gelato

a picture is worth a thousand yums

Gelato Mio has been tempting me all summer long with facebook posts and free samples at the outdoor market on Park Central East (another lovely Springfield summer surprise, this.) and I have been giddy with disbelief that a gelato place (run by real, European-rootsed gelato lovers) is NEXT DOOR to the place where I spend a majority of my weekend nights. Yup. Gelato Mio is one alley away from The Skinny Improv, so you better believe I snuck over to their free sample stand during intermission at least once a week.
Last night was their grand opening as well (can we sustain two gelaterias downtown, Springfield? I think we can. We must.) and G.M. did not disappoint. (Unless you count the too-long line that prevented me from sampling at intermission. This, after all, is a very good thing for them.) So after the show we hightailed it over there and went gaga a bit over all the choices (champagne raspberry?!). I asked an employee his favorite of the day. This was a standby trick in Europe that served me well. He said of today’s flavors (but not of the 600+ in their repertoire) his favorite was rocky road. It was rich, sweet and satisfying (I like my gelato like my men! that joke never gets old, y’all!), and more than enough in a small scoop serving.
Next time I’m going to get a fruit variety. I tried mango and it was a revelation.
And guess what? There gets to be a next time. Heaven.

So finally…

Lovely Thing #4: Members Only
Tummies full of gelato, Jeff, Dan and I headed over to Patton Alley to meet Michelle for quite possibly the most fun nightlife option our fair city has to offer. If you haven’t seen Members Only yet, you must make it your top priority to find their next show and get yourself there. They’re so good. It’s so fun. I just can’t…
M.O. is an 80s cover band with all of the awesomeness and none of the lameness that particular band-genre implies. For one thing, they’re young and not so bad to look at. (The throngs of dancing ladies at their shows can’t be wrong.) For another thing, they dress in cute, not-too-over-the-top throwback stagewear. And one more thing, they are SO awesome. Dudes can go from Bon Jovi. to Michael Jackson. to Journey. and not miss a beat. This was the cap-off my week needed oh so badly. There’s nothing like rocking out with friends and strangers, making yourself just a sweaty hot mess and feeling so so so ALIVE.
If there’s a feeling I could capture and carry around with me in a vial, it’s belting Don’t Stop Believin at the top of my lungs last night. Just joyful and silly and unselfconscious and communal and nostalgic. (So many things I love about life! Yes, all this from an 80s cover band.)

So thanks, Springfield. It was a pretty good day.